Studies have found that people overwhelmingly rate monogamous relationships as superior to consensually non-monogamous relationships on virtually every dimension you can think of . 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?Read More
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 .
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 .Read More
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 . 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?Read More
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.Read More
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?Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.