More is better?
When you think of an open relationship, what comes to mind? If you’re like most people, you might feel that couples who have additional romantic or sex partners can’t possibly have a good relationship or sex life.
But the beliefs many people have about polygamy (relationships where people have more than one partner) might actually be far from the truth. At least that’s what a recent Canadian study found. The researchers were interested in using science to debunk the stigma surrounding open relationships.
To do this, they tracked down over 140 couples in consensual, polygamous relationships and over 200 who were monogamous. Then they asked the participants questions about how satisfied they were with their partner, like how often they thought of breaking up with him or her, and whether they had a good sex life.
Pressure to fulfill all demands
Couples in consensual, open relationships were just as satisfied with their partner – including sexually – as those who felt monogamy was right for them, the research showed.
Why would a consensual, non-monogamous relationship be right for some couples? Nowadays people expect a lot from their partners, explained the study’s lead researcher, Jessica Wood, in a press release.
People want it all: fulfilling, exciting sex as well as support, on both an emotional and financial level. That’s obviously a lot to expect from one person. So for some couples, the possibility of having a romantic or sexual partner outside the relationship can help deal with the pressure of satisfying all these needs.
Immoral and less satisfying
Despite this, open relationships still often carry a stigma with them. ‘They are perceived as immoral and less satisfying,’ explained Wood. ‘It's assumed that people in these types of relationships are having sex with everyone all the time. They are villainised and viewed as bad people in bad relationships, but that's not the case.’
So what’s the take-home message from this research? Different types of relationships work for different people. While monogamy is right for some couples, an open relationship might be a healthy and happy option for others - as long as both partners give their consent.
Reference: Reasons for sex and relationship outcomes in consensually non-monogamous and monogamous relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships Published March 23, 2018.
*To protect the identity, names have been changed and the person/s in the picture is/are models.
This article was first published on September 19, 2018.