ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Perhaps the grass is equally green on both sides. A new study finds that people in open relationships are actually just as happy as individuals who prefer monogamy.
Researchers at the University of Michigan surveyed 2,124 people at least 25 years old about the quality of their relationship and/or partner. About 90% of those who took part were recruited from Craigslist. The sample group was found to consist of 1,507 individuals in monogamous relationships and 617 people in consensual nonmonogamous (CNM) relationships. Fifty-one percent of CNM participants were in polyamorous relationships, 25% identified as swingers, and 25% were in open relationships.
Participants were polled on areas including “satisfaction, commitment, trust, jealousy and passionate love, which is the intense love feeling often described in new relationships,” according to a university news release.
Those in CNM relationships were found to be equally satisfied as those who enjoyed monogamy. There was also no difference found in the level of passionate love between monogamous and nonmonogamous people.
“Overall, the outcomes for monogamous and consensual nonmonogamous participants were the same—indicating no net benefit of one relationship style over another,” says Terri Conley, associate professor of psychology and women’s studies at the university, and the study’s lead author, in the news release.
Yet when it came to matters of jealousy and trust, the researchers found people in open relationships actually exhibited lower levels of jealousy and “significantly” higher levels of trust than their counterparts. This finding goes against a number of recent studies that found the average person believes monogamous relationships are more satisfying, trusting, passionate, and less jealous than other types of relationships — which led the researchers to believe a bias is held against nonmonagamous people.
According to the study, prior research shows that about 20% of Americans have been in a consensual nonmonogamous relationship at some point in their lives. As many as 5% of people in relationships identify as being swingers.
The study, Investigation of Consensually Nonmonogamous Relationships, was published this week in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.