A new study has revealed that people in open relationships are as happy as those in monogamous relationships.

“We found people in consensual, non-monogamous relationships experience the same levels of relationship satisfaction, psychological well-being, and sexual satisfaction as those in monogamous relationships,” said Jessica Wood, a Ph.D. student in applied social psychology at the University of Guelph in Canada 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.

According to the researcher, between 3 and 7 percent of people in North America are 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, these relationships still attract stigma, she noted.

“They are perceived as immoral and less satisfying,” she said. “It’s assumed that people in these types of relationships are having sex with everyone all the time. They are villianized 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, she explained.

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 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 relationship satisfaction is not relationship structure, but rather sexual motivation.

“In both monogamous and non-monogamous relationships, people who engage in sex to be close to a partner 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.

Source: University of Guelph

Photo: Jessica Wood. Credit: University of Guelph.