People in open relationships are no more sexually or emotionally satisfied than monogamous couples, study finds
- As long as couples have sex to be close to each other or to fulfill their desires
- Couples who get intimate to avoid an argument are less likely to be happy
- People in open relationships are viewed as ‘immoral’, researcher says
- Past research suggests up to 7% per cent of people in the US are polygamous
- As many as 48% in the UK are interested in being in an open relationship
People in open relationships are no more sexually and emotionally satisfied than monogamous couples, new research suggests.
As long as couples have sex to be close to each other or to fulfill their desires, there is no difference in how content people are with their partners, a study found.
Those who get intimate for less personal reasons, such as to avoid an argument, are less likely to be happy in their relationships regardless of whether it is open or monogamous, the research adds.
Lead author Jessica Wood, from the University of Guelph, said: ‘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.
‘This debunks societal views of monogamy as being the ideal relationship structure.’
Up to seven per cent of people in the US are in open relationships and as many as 48 per cent in the UK are interested in being polygamous.
People in open relationships are just as satisfied as monogamous couples (stock)
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WHAT IS IT LIKE TO FALL IN LOVE?
Falling in love is like being ‘high’ on drugs, research suggested in May 2017.
Meeting somebody special gives people the same buzz as cocaine and other illegal substances, a study found.
Findings suggest the feeling of giddiness people experience when falling for somebody triggers certain brain cells.
Previous research implies specific brain cell activation causes a surge in the ‘feel good’ hormone dopamine, which is also released after recreational drug use.
Researchers believe the findings give an insight into how we can influence social interactions, which may one day benefit patients suffering from autism.
The scientists, from Emory University, Atlanta, analysed prairie voles, which, like humans, are one of the few monogamous mammals.
They examined the voles’ corticostriatal circuit, which is in the brain and is involved in how people alter their behaviour to get rewards.
The researchers examined the circuit’s activity in female voles while they were in the same space as males for six hours.
Results, published in Nature, suggest the animals’ brain cells fired up quickly when they began to bond, which was expressed through mating and huddling.
The animals also showed preference towards their partners compared to new males when given the choice the next day.
How the research was carried out
The researchers analysed 142 people in open relationships and 206 who were committed to one person.
The participants were asked how sexually and emotionally satisfied they are with their partners, as well as how sexually fulfilled they felt.
Those with multiple partners focused on their main one.
Questions included whether they considered separating from their partner and if they confided in them.
‘It’s assumed these people are having sex with everyone all the time’
Speaking of polygamy, Ms Wood said: ‘It’s more common than most people think.
‘We are at a point 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.’
Ms Wood acknowledges, however, there is still a stigma surround polygamy, adding:'[it is] perceived as immoral and less satisfying. It’s assumed that people in these types of relationships are having sex with everyone all the time.
‘They are villainised and viewed as bad people in bad relationships, but that’s not the case.
‘This research shows us that our choice of relationship structure is not an indicator of how happy or satisfied we are in our primary relationships.’
The findings were published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.
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