Who’s Into Polyamory? A Demographic Comparison of Polyamorists and Monogamists

Who’s Into Polyamory? A Demographic Comparison of Polyamorists and Monogamists

Polyamory is a concept that different people define in different ways, but common to most definitions is the capacity to develop more than one emotionally close relationship at the same time with the consent of everyone involved. Public interest in polyamory is on the rise and there’s a growing amount of research on the subject, too. However, we still don’t know all that much about who is actually practicing polyamory.  

Polyamorists tend to be stereotyped and portrayed in the media as young, wealthy, White liberals—in other words, they tend to be seen as a pretty homogeneous group. But is that actually the case? We sought to answer this question in a recent study just published in the Journal of Sex Research

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How Do Monogamous And Consensually Non-Monogamous Relationships Compare? (Video)

How Do Monogamous And Consensually Non-Monogamous Relationships Compare? (Video)

Studies have found that people overwhelmingly rate monogamous relationships as superior to consensually non-monogamous relationships on virtually every dimension you can think of [1]. For example, monogamy is seen as promoting better relationship quality in terms of enhancing intimacy, safety, honesty, and communication. Even on qualities that have nothing to do with relationship functioning, such as paying taxes on time and taking a daily multi-vitamin, monogamy is seen as better for promoting them. Do people’s perceptions match up with reality, though? Are people in monogamous relationships necessarily much better off?

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Experiences With BDSM And Group Sex Among Friends With Benefits And Romantic Partners

Experiences With BDSM And Group Sex Among Friends With Benefits And Romantic Partners

Do people engaged in casual, “no strings attached” sexual relationships engage in similar sexual activities compared to people in committed romantic relationships? There is some research to suggest that the answer is yes, at least when looking at relatively conventional sexual practices. For instance, in a 2014 study I published on this subject, I found no differences in experiences with kissing, mutual masturbation, oral sex, vaginal intercourse, and anal intercourse when comparing people who had a friend with benefits (FWBs) to those who had a romantic partner [1].

However, we didn’t inquire about participation in less conventional sexual activities, such as BDSM and group sex. It’s possible that we might see different engagement in these activities based on relationship type, given the fact that these relationships--romances and FWBs--tend to differ in terms of both sexual exclusivity and sexual communication [1].

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The Unique Benefits of a Consensually Non-Monogamous Relationship

The Unique Benefits of a Consensually Non-Monogamous Relationship

In a consensually non-monogamous (CNM) relationship, the partners involved agree that having more than one sexual and/or romantic partner at the same time is permissible. Although interest in CNM relationships appears to be on the rise, these relationships continue to be widely stigmatized, with people tending to see them as inferior to monogamous relationships in most ways [1]. This is interesting when you consider that research comparing the quality of CNM to monogamous relationships reveals few differences and suggests that CNM relationships are not inherently less satisfying or stable. Findings like this suggest that perhaps those who view CNM relationships as inferior simply have a difficult time imagining the potential benefits that these relationships afford.

So what exactly are the benefits of a CNM relationship anyway? And how are the benefits similar to or different from those afforded by a monogamous relationship?

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7 Things You Should Know About Consensually Non-Monogamous Relationships

7 Things You Should Know About Consensually Non-Monogamous Relationships

In consensually non-monogamous (CNM) relationships, the partners involved agree that having more than one sexual and/or romantic relationship at the same time is acceptable. There are a great many myths and misconceptions about CNM relationships, so let’s take a moment to clear things up and look at what research has revealed about them. Here are seven things you should know about CNM relationships, according to science.

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What Would You Say If Your Partner Asked To Sleep With Someone Else?

What Would You Say If Your Partner Asked To Sleep With Someone Else?

Most Americans who are in relationships have a spoken or unspoken agreement to be monogamous. In other words, they've agreed not to have sex with anyone but each other. Let's imagine for a moment that you're one of those folks. Got it? Ok, now let's suppose that your partner approaches you one day and says they would like to have sex with someone else. How would you respond?

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Would Your Ideal Relationship Be Monogamous Or Open? 1,000 Americans Weigh In

Would Your Ideal Relationship Be Monogamous Or Open? 1,000 Americans Weigh In

Would your ideal relationship be completely monogamous, completely open, or somewhere in between? One thousand Americans adults were recently asked this question as part of a national YouGov survey and the results were fascinating.

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Why Some People May Be Better Suited To Consensual Nonmonogamy Than Others

Why Some People May Be Better Suited To Consensual Nonmonogamy Than Others

Given how high the rate of infidelity is, some people have argued that humans are, by nature, not very well suited to monogamy. Others have gone even further and argued that we’d probably all be a lot happier if we were consensually nonmonogamous instead. But is that likely to be the case? Would everyone be better off if they were in some kind of sexually open relationship?

According to data I presented at last month’s meeting of the International Association for Relationship Research, probably not. Rather, my data suggest that whether we respond favorably to monogamy or consensual nonmonogamy is, to some extent, a matter of personality.

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Americans’ Interest in Consensual Non-Monogamy is on the Rise

Americans’ Interest in Consensual Non-Monogamy is on the Rise

When it comes to romantic relationships, monogamy is the rule for most people. However, many folks agree to some form of consensual non-monogamy (CNM) in which they permit each other to have multiple sexual and/or romantic relationships at the same time.

A new study published in the Journal of Sex Research suggests that Americans are increasingly interested in learning about CNM. The author of this study, Dr. Amy Moors of the University of Michigan, determined this by analyzing Google search trends in the United States between the years 2006-2015.

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Why Monogamy Isn't Necessarily Safer Than An Open Relationship

Why Monogamy Isn't Necessarily Safer Than An Open Relationship

There is a widespread belief that monogamy is inherently safer and healthier than consensual nonmonogamy (which occurs when partners openly agree to have multiple sexual and/or romantic relationships simultaneously). Indeed, it would only seem intuitive to think that people who have agreed to be monogamous would have a much lower risk (or perhaps no risk at all) of contracting any kind of sexually transmitted infection (STI), while those who are consensually nonmonogamous (and who are therefore having more sexual partners) would be at significantly higher risk. Research has found that this isn't necessarily the case, though.

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Do Cheaters Practice Safe Sex? (Infographic)

Do Cheaters Practice Safe Sex? (Infographic)

Although people almost universally agree that cheating is wrong, infidelity remains incredibly common. Most discussions about cheating tend to focus on the powerful emotional consequences of it; however, there are also some important health risks associated with infidelity. The reality is that when people cheat, not only do they tend to take very few safety precautions, but most people also lie about it to their partners, thereby creating opportunities to spread STIs. Check out the infographic below for some statistics on the risky sexual practices of admitted cheaters.

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The Sex Lives Of Friends With Benefits (Infographic)

What do "friends with benefits" do beneath the sheets? And do they ever want more than just casual, "no strings attached" sex? Check out the infographic below for the answers. The statistics presented here are based on the results of two recent studies of predominately heterosexual persons who reported currently having at least one friend with benefits.
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Are People In Monogamous Relationships More Satisfied?

It is a widely held belief that people in sexually monogamous relationships are happier and healthier than their non-monogamous counterparts. For instance, when asked to describe the benefits of monogamy, most people say that being sexually exclusive promotes trust, meaningfulness, and commitment.1 But is this the case in reality? Are monogamous couples really the most emotionally fulfilled and committed to one another? According to a new study published in the Journal of Counseling Psychology, the association between monogamy and relationship outcomes depends upon the partners’ level of attachment anxiety.
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How Darwin Can Save Your Marriage (VIDEO)

In this Big Think video, psychologist Christopher Ryan discusses how we live in a world that upholds sexual monogamy and fidelity as relationship ideals; however, this sharply conflicts with what he believes is a natural human tendency toward non-monogamy. Ryan talks about how human beings are programmed to be "titillated" by that which is new and how our need for sexual novelty goes unmet in completely monogamous relationships.

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Sex Question Friday: I Want A Non-Monogamous Relationship. How Do I Find Someone Who Wants The Same Thing?

Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a reader who wants to have a non-monogamous relationship but isn’t quite sure how to find like-minded partners.   

How do you find out who is non-monogamous these days? So many people are afraid to divulge this kind of information for fear of being judged.

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What Is Sex Like With A “Friend With Benefits?”

“Friends with benefits” (FWBs) are a popular type of sexual relationship these days, with several survey studies of college students finding that about half of them report having had one or more previous FWBs [1]. However, it is important to note that FWBs are by no means limited to college campuses—for instance, Internet research has found men and women in their 50s and 60s reporting experience with these relationships too [2]. As a result of their popularity, one of the questions people often have about FWBs concerns the quality and nature of the sex. Specifically, how does it stack up to the sex one might have in a traditional romantic relationship? A new study published in the Journal of Sex Research provides some answers.
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Does Oxytocin Help Men Stay Faithful To Their Wives?

A flood of headlines has appeared over the past few days claiming that the hormone oxytocin may be the key to helping men with wandering eyes stay faithful to their wives. Here is a sampling of just a few of the more splashy media claims I came across: “Oxytocin Keeps Committed Men Away From Attractive Women,” “Love Hormone Promotes Monogamy in Men,” and “Oxytocin May Promote Fidelity (If Only Petraeus Knew).” But is this really true? Could oxytocin actually stop a would-be cheater? And would David Patraeus still be in charge of the CIA if only he had just had a little more of the “cuddle drug” in his system? Based upon my reading of the research, I think we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves here.
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How Does Parenthood Affect The Sex Lives And Relationships Of Gay Men?

How Does Parenthood Affect The Sex Lives And Relationships Of Gay Men?
Researchers have known for years that parenthood has some predictable effects on heterosexual couples. Specifically, relationship satisfaction typically decreases [1] and sexual activity usually drops off markedly once kids enter the picture [2]. Given the significant increase in gay couples raising children through surrogacy and adoption in recent years, researchers have begun to explore whether similar effects occur among persons in same-sex relationships. Perhaps not surprisingly, the answer appears to be yes.  
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Featured Book Series: Sex at Dawn

A brand new addition to the blog is the Featured Book Series, in which I will review and analyze books relevant to human sexuality that I hope will be of interest to readers. Think of this as an opportunity to get some ideas for summer reading material, as well as an opportunity to participate in a virtual book club (discussion is encouraged!). I’m kicking things off with Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships (2010; Harper Collins). I realize this isn’t a new book and some of you may already be familiar with it, but I’m starting here because it is fresh in my mind from having assigned it in my Human Sexuality course this past semester. This is actually the very first time I have assigned a mass-market paperback as reading material in a college course, which should tell you that this is a book I think is definitely worth checking out.
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How Common is Cheating?

How Common is Cheating?
Most societies throughout the world promote monogamy as the ideal relationship state. As a result, a large majority of people have come to believe that any form of sexual activity with someone other than one's current romantic partner is unacceptable and morally wrong [1]. For instance, United States public opinion polls indicate that 88% of adults think having an affair is immoral. Despite how widely this belief is held, people do not seem to practice what they preach, given that we are confronted with media headlines almost every day about the latest celebrity or political figure caught having an affair. So just how common is cheating?
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