Open and monogamous relationships are ‘equally happy’

family law

People in open relationships are just as happy as those in monogamous ones, a new study suggests.

In a survey of 2,124 people, researchers from the University of Michigan (UM) found that those in consensual open relationships experience high levels of satisfaction and ‘passionate love’. This is the intense feeling people feel in the early stages of dating someone new.

Each participant was asked about their current relationship and their partner to gauge their levels of happiness in certain areas. These included commitment, trust, jealousy and ‘passionate love’ as well as overall satisfaction.

Lead author Terri Conley is a UM associate professor of psychology and women’s studies. She explained that “the outcomes for monogamous and consensual nonmonogamous participants were the same – indicating no net benefit of one relationship style over another”.

However, the research team did notice one slight difference. Perhaps surprisingly the people who were in open relationships reported lower levels of jealousy and higher levels of trust than their monogamous peers.

Although the researchers started from the commonly held assumption that those who did not limit themselves to one exclusive partner do so because they do not care enough about their main relationship, their findings do not support this idea. Such participants reported higher levels of satisfaction, passion, trust and commitment with their “primary mate” than they did with any of others they had.

Non-traditional relationships are becoming increasingly common. Last year, thousands of people called on social media giant Facebook to recognise three-way romantic relationships. An online petition demanding this change gained more than 3,000 signatures from around the world.

The full UM study was published in the latest issue of academic journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.

Photo by ghatamos via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

Stowe Family Law Web Team

View more from this author

2 comments

spinner - March 31, 2017 at 12:34pm

I assume monogamy became the accepted social norm because fathers wanted to know the children they were spending their time and money raising were their own, we now have cheap and easy DNA test’s that can tell us that. Another reason maybe that people want to be in love and feel like that other person is so special that they only want to have sex with that person, this is still valid and some people will feel that for the whole of their lives together but a lot of people don’t. Another reason maybe control for controls sake and one partner controls the other and sees controlling who they have sex with as one aspect of that control. Either way I think open or polygamous relationships should be seen as valid as long as it’s not just one sex that can have this type of relationship as with various religions.

Paul - April 5, 2017 at 1:43pm

History has shown us that manogomy does not come easily to us humans. Perhaps its just not for all of us. The laws of natural selection favour people breeding with many partners as possible to have young with a more varied pool of DNA.

Leave a comment