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.