Open relationships just as satisfying as monogamous ones, study reveals

June 28, 2018, University of Guelph
Jessica Wood. Credit: (University of Guelph)

A new University of Guelph study has revealed that people in open relationships are as happy as their coupled-up counterparts

"We found people in consensual, non-monogamous relationships experience the same levels of relationship , psychological well-being and sexual satisfaction as those in monogamous relationships," said Jessica Wood, a Ph.D. student in applied social psychology and lead author of the study. "This debunks societal views of monogamy as being the ideal relationship structure."

In consensual, non-monogamous relationships, all partners agree to engage in multiple sexual or romantic relationships.

Between three and seven per cent of people in North America are currently in a consensual, non-monogamous relationship.

"It's more common than most people think," said Wood. "We are at a point in social history where we are expecting a lot from our partners. We want to have sexual fulfillment and excitement but also emotional and financial support. Trying to fulfill all these needs can put pressure on relationships. To deal with this pressure, we are seeing some people look to consensually non-monogamous relationships."

However, consensually non-monogamous relationships still attract stigma, she added.

"They are perceived as immoral and less satisfying. It's assumed that people in these types of relationships are having sex with everyone all the time. They are villainized and viewed as bad people in bad relationships, but that's not the case."

Published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, the study surveyed more than 140 people in non-monogamous relationships and more than 200 in monogamous ones and compared them to each other.

Participants were asked about their satisfaction with their current relationships. For non-monogamous situations, the questions pertained to the respondent's main partner. Among the questions, the researchers asked how often respondents considered separating, whether they confided in their partner and what was their general level of happiness.

The researchers found people in non-monogamous relationships were just as satisfied with the relationship they had with their main partner as those in monogamous ones.

Wood's analysis found that one important predictor of is not relationship structure but rather sexual motivation.

"In both monogamous and non-monogamous relationships, who engage in sex to be close to a and to fulfill their sexual needs have a more satisfying relationship than those who have sex for less intrinsic reasons, such as to avoid conflict," she said.

Ultimately if you are fulfilling your psychological needs and are satisfied sexually, you are more likely to be happy in your partnership no matter the relationship structure, she added.

"This research shows us that our choice of is not an indicator of how happy or satisfied we are in our primary relationships."

Explore further: Trust, satisfaction high in consensual open relationships

More information: Jessica Wood et al, Reasons for sex and relational outcomes in consensually nonmonogamous and monogamous relationships, Journal of Social and Personal Relationships (2018). DOI: 10.1177/0265407517743082

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2 / 5 (1) Jun 28, 2018
"This debunks societal views of monogamy as being the ideal relationship structure" is a logical fallacy. Just because someone can be as satisfied in an open relationship doesn't mean one isn't more ideal than the other. Recently monogamy has been falling out of favor culturally. Monogamy no doubt increases overall fitness (genetically speaking) however. So considering what the final result of a relationship is (successful offspring) a monogamous one is statistically more ideal than an open one. At least for humans.
5 / 5 (1) Jun 28, 2018
"This debunks societal views of monogamy as being the ideal relationship structure" is a logical fallacy. Just because someone can be as satisfied in an open relationship doesn't mean one isn't more ideal than the other. Recently monogamy has been falling out of favor culturally. Monogamy no doubt increases overall fitness (genetically speaking) however. So considering what the final result of a relationship is (successful offspring) a monogamous one is statistically more ideal than an open one. At least for humans.

According to genetics, monogamy is a very recent adaptation and has shaped human culture and genetics very little in the short time it has been dominant. Most males who successfully mated had more than one mate.
not rated yet Jun 28, 2018
WARNING: Mechanical Turk pseudoscience!
From the above you would expect a survey of random individuals. But read the paper: it those that signed up to Amazon's Mechanical Turk to be paid.
Here it matters. It would not be hard for the participants to guess what the researchers were looking for and answer appropriately. They had an incentive since they did not know whether the questions might not filter them for a further online task. There is no objective evidence about the real sustained happiness of any of those that answered. A good paper to give students for "spot the five big errors in this research."
not rated yet Jun 29, 2018
"Open relationships just as satisfying"

-Except when reproduction is the intent. Biologically speaking, men do not want to waste time and resources courting a woman who may already be carrying another man's baby.

The best chance a male has of ensuring the survival of their genes into the next gen is to impregnate as many females as possible. A female on the other hand has much more invested in each pregnancy and therefore prefers quality over quantity.

And the traditional way of discerning relative quality in potential suitors is to compel them to compete for repro rights.

As we are tropical animals there is no sure way of separating us completely from our urge to procreate. But as we are also domesticated animals, much of our behavior has been conditioned to suit the necessities of the tribe.

This includes monogamy and polygamy during times when the tribe needs to grow; and alternatives which inhibit procreation when overpopulation becomes a problem.
not rated yet Jun 29, 2018
males who successfully mated had more than one mate
Humans have a long history of systematically eliminating those attritive elements which have kept our numbers in check. The result was endemic intertribal conflict over resources. This constant warfare depleted males and led to an excess of females. The best way of recovering quickly was to promote polygamy.

After the US civil war there was an excess of widows and unwed women. The mormon religion was concocted solely for the purpose of quickly populating resource-rich regions in the US midwest, by shipping these women west and binding them in polygamy.

This religion was sufficiently different from xianity that the practice could remain isolated, and quickly eliminated when demographic quotas had been reached.

With the advent of religion, tribalism transitioned from being an unconscious reaction to unnatural conditions, to a conscious effort to optimize its function.

From group selection to intelligent design.
1 / 5 (1) Jun 29, 2018
Uhhmm otto, you might want to reconsider your last comment by actually researching the history of the Mormon Church. Starting forty years before the "War of Northern Aggression". You'd be surprised how many of those women traveled all the way from the British Isles.

As for the conclusions assumed by the commentators to this article. Pull your heads out of your assumptions and read the damn article.

There are a variety of social mores foisted on how the sexes conflict upon one another. Eventually, many produce descendants. Some do not, for a variety of reasons. Some of those reasons are rational, some are irrational and some are just plain weird. Especially when you see the results of government enforced standards.
not rated yet Jun 29, 2018
It originated back east then was relocated to Utah to fulfill it's intended purpose. You ought to consider thinking for yourself rather than accepting propaganda at face value.

Oh sorry willis it's you. In your case carry on being the dimwit psychopath you are.

"War of Northern Aggression" - what a retard.
not rated yet Aug 08, 2018
Regardless of the conclusions of the article, the source of it is:

"Journal of Social and Personal Relationships", which Wikipedia says:
It was established in 1984 by Sage Publications, originally in association with the International Network on Personal Relationships, which merged with the International Society for the Study of Personal Relationships to form the International Association for Relationship Research.

If anything, it is a fun club to meet like minded people.

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