The Surprise Advantage Of An Open Relationship

Illustration: Louisa Cannell
In a world where we’re increasingly delaying marriage, or shunning it altogether, and a fling is a mere swipe away, there is growing acceptance of all kinds of relationships. The idea of an open relationship, in particular, is striking a chord with many young people.
Nevertheless, many of us continue to idealise traditional monogamous relationships, thanks to Western culture’s obsession with happily-ever-after fairytales, rom coms and soppy love songs. (However unlikely it may be in reality, some of us still dream of finding that one special someone...) But perhaps we’re needlessly overlooking open relationships. According to a new study, people in open relationships are just as happy as those in monogamous relationships and there are other benefits.
The study, by researchers at the University of Michigan, analysed the relationships of more than 2,100 people over 25 years-old, 1,500 of whom were in monogamous relationships and around 600 in committed, non-monogamous relationships.
The relationships were ranked for their satisfaction, commitment, trust, jealousy and passionate love (the intense lovey feelings experienced in new relationships) – and the findings might surprise you.
There was no difference between monogamous and consensual open relationships when it came to relationship satisfaction and feelings of passionate love. But those in open relationships were less jealous and showed higher levels of trust. (However, it’s not clear whether trust is a symptom of open relationships, or whether trusting people are more likely to be drawn to open relationships.)
The researchers also wanted to find out whether there’s any truth in the assumption that people in relationships are less happy in their primary relationship than monogamous couples, because they care about each other less.
Individuals in open relationships did indeed show greater satisfaction, trust, commitment and passionate love in their relationships with their primary partner than in their secondary relationship. Those in open relationships also showed less commitment to their relationship than those who were monogamous.
Dr Terri Conley, an associate professor of psychology and women's studies at the University of Michigan, who led the study, said: “Overall, the outcomes for monogamous and consensual non-monogamous participants were the same – indicating no net benefit of one relationship style over another,” reported MailOnline.

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