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A don’t ask don’t tell relationship is a non-monogamous relationship between individuals who agree to have intimate relationships with other people that are kept private from their primary partners. The term references the former military policy "Don’t Ask Don’t Tell," where same-sex attracted military personnel served without disclosing their sexual orientations.
A don’t ask don’t tell relationship is sometimes abbreviated to the acronym DADT.
A don’t ask don’t tell relationship differs from many other non-monogamous relationships because the individuals involved don’t share details about their other relationships. This non-disclosure is very different from the openness seen with relationship triads and quads, sister wives, and even polyamorous couples where primaries and secondaries happily socialize together. People in DADT relationships likely won’t know the names of their partner’s other lovers, or even whether they’re seeing anyone else at all. This discretion aims to minimize the jealousy that can come with non-monogamous relationships.
People in DADT relationships enjoy the love and security that comes with a committed relationship and the freedom of being single. When a DADT relationship works well, it can be liberating to enjoy yourself in another relationship without needing to update your partner on every detail. A greater sexual freedom can also come with DADT.
To monogamous couples, DADT might seem like cheating. However, there is no deceit in a DADT relationship as both parties agree that they will not disclose their other sexual encounters.
A DADT relationship is also not one without rules. Just like with other relationships, the members of a DADT relationship negotiate the rules that feel best for them. For example, they might state that their partner cannot form a romantic relationship with another person, but sex is OK, or that friends are off limits.
Some critics wonder whether keeping secrets is compatible with emotional intimacy. Others question whether intimacy is ever achievable outside the confines of a traditional monogamous relationship. While this relationship model aims to eliminate jealousy, jealousy can also still occur. Sometimes the things you don’t know can become much scarier than those you do.
As with all non-monogamous relationship models, practicing safe sex is also crucial. Condoms are the best way to prevent sexually-transmitted infections passing from one partner to another.