Study Reveals 5 Benefits of an Open Marriage

Open Marriage

I recently came across a study published in March of 2017 in the SAGE Journals. The study, titled, “Investigation of Consensually Nonmonogamous Relationships,” investigates CNM (consensual non-monogamous) relationships, specifically relationships in which the participants identify as swingers, polyamorous or in open relationships, in comparison to the more traditional monogamous union. The focus of the study was to shed some light on the benefits (if any) of a consensual non-monogamous relationship by examining individuals in both consensual non-monogamous and monogamous relationships.

Through the course of the research, the panel conducting the study found some very interesting and beneficial aspects for those who choose to participate in CNM relationships. Overall, the study concluded that when a CNM relationship is pitted against the more traditional monogamous model there is no difference in satisfaction, commitment or passionate love for those in the two relationship models! (Even those who conducted the study were somewhat surprised!)

This finding goes against what so many want to believe when touting the praises of one relationship model over another. Which, on a side note, we shouldn’t be in the habit of doing anyway. I always tend to revert back to the belief that if a couple has taken the time to communicate and agree to a specific relationship model, we as a society should be applauding those couples instead of stigmatizing them for finding a prototype that works for them.

The fact that the study was able to scientifically acknowledge the CNM relationship model as not only a viable relationship option but in some cases a more advantageous option is groundbreaking! This research opens up CNM as a feasible choice and shows that it just might be a healthier option.

Before listing some of the revelations of this trailblazing research, I want to point out that the focus of my article isn’t meant to discount the benefits of a traditional monogamous relationship because like a CNM relationship model, monogamy is just another relationship model. My review of this recent research is meant to bring attention to some often ignored or discounted (and now scientifically proven) facts about a relationship style that can and does have just as strong of a foundation as more socially accepted models. So with that said, here are the findings:

1. Jealousy

The study concluded that those who participate in a CNM relationship actually reveal lower levels of jealousy and higher levels of satisfaction than those in a more traditional monogamous relationship. The study determined that one reason behind this finding is in part due to the fact that those in CNM relationships are allowed these extradyadic behaviors, whereas those in monogamous relationships are not. Those in CNM relationships are also not as driven to look through their partner’s phone, email or social media accounts as a more relaxed gender norm appears to be present.

2. Trust

Again, the findings showed a significantly higher level of trust among those in a CNM relationship model (especially those in polyamorous unions) compared to those in traditional monogamous relationships. One of the most interesting revelations of this particular issue was the way in which trust was viewed in each model. Monogamous participants believe that a CNM relationship would seriously undermine their trust in a partner, while CNM participants praise the high levels of trust in their relationship as the cornerstone of the union. The study states that this may be due in part to the fact that those in CNM relationships tend to, “remove barriers to trustworthiness by easing strict lines of sexual faithfulness.”

3. Abuse

I didn’t see this category coming when I read the data, so I was really encouraged by these findings. According to the research, abuse (or as the study calls it, intimate partner violence), often categorized by isolation and restricted access to others, is a notable social issue in society today. As per the definition, individuals who engage in abusive behavior wouldn’t be likely to tolerate a CNM relationship, but because those in CNM relationships not only have access to, but mutually encourage extradyadic relationships, abuse does NOT fall in line with the tenants of a CNM relationship model. A BIG thumbs up to another beneficial aspect of a swinging/open/poly marriage!

4. Social Support Networks

I found this notable topic to be quite compelling and couldn’t agree more with the outcome. This deals with our support group and the way in which we perceive our relationship. I’ve talked in the past about what can happen when we focus all our attention on our partner; when we expect our partner to be our EVERYTHING! The study found that those who rely exclusively on one person and/or force that person into an “on call, 24/7” schedule, as can often be the case when talking about a traditional monogamous relationship, are, “associated with poorer psychosocial outcomes, as evidenced by the psychological fallout of divorce.” But, “on the other hand, the social support literature indicates that people who have a large array of (all types of) relationships (like those in the CNM community) have better outcomes in times of stress.”

5. Failure

I know what you’re thinking: “Wait, how in the world does failure end up on this list?” According to the study, researchers found that when dealing with a monogamous relationship, if the marriage dissolves, the marriage is deemed a “failed relationship.” However, when dealing with, say for instance, a polyamorous relationship, a subsequent relationship doesn’t mean the dissolution of the previous relationship. I don’t have to fall prey to viewing my relationships from the standpoint of success or failure… they’re all successes because of what each relationship brings to the table. In a swinging/open/poly relationship, there’s no fail zone… I love this!

I think one of the most important pieces of information I took away from this study was the validity of the swinging/poly/open relationship model from a scientific standpoint. Yes, I tout the praises of my relationship model all day long, but to have the backing of such an extensive study brings a weighted credibility to the lifestyle. The more forthright those of us within the lifestyle can feel about this incredible relationship model, the more we can begin to debunk the myths and stigma surrounding the lifestyle. And as more studies are conducted and more scientific research confirms the benefits of CNM relationships, I hope that couples will feel free to create a tailor-made union that fits their needs.

The “Investigation of Consensually Nonmonogamous Relationships” study is incredibly thorough and although I barely skimmed the tip of the iceberg of information available within its findings, I hope my article will entice you to curl up with a blanket, a favorite drink and take the time to read the entire study… it may change the way you view alternative relationship models.

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6 Comments

  • Greg D says:

    Hi Jackie! Just read the article. I’m not an active member of the Lifestyle, though I’ve dabbled in the past and at some point would like to engage in a discussion with my wife about exploring it. I digress. I am curious about the 5th facet you mentioned from the study: Failure. You surmise there is a no-fail zone in a poly- type lifestyle due to the idea that all relationships are viewed as successes because each brings something to the table. I’m curious about how that applies to a primary relationship in a poly household? Does the study talk about what happens if the primary relationship dissolves, for whatever reason? Or am I still being too binary in my perspective? Would love to hear your view on this. Thanks!

  • Richard says:

    Great read,.excellent information

  • Over60 says:

    Married for over 40 years and now having issues with each other in the bedroom and with intimacy in general. I wish there were more “groups” for older married couples who want to enhance their social interactions at their age.

  • Another fantastic post and insights Jackie! I enjoy OpenLove101 tremendously. (warm smile)

    Two things caught my interest I wanted to toss out here, see what you and/or others thought…

    First, was to your paragraph about touting one relatiionship model over others — something we should avoid. In theory this is a true and valuable mental posture. However, in actual practice it can be tricky. In my energized explaining and de-mythalizing (is that a word?) our open, swinger, polymory lifestyles to the curious, the newbies, or the cautiously reluctant (opposed?), listeners/readers start to feel “pressured” if I/we go into elaborations or discussions of say… more than 3-8 minutes! Hahaha. This isn’t necessarily a feeling caused by my/our passionate words. Obviously, chattering at the speed of light isn’t near adequate time or clarity to really do our wonderful, healthy, now scientifically proven lifestyle full justice. Right? Certainly not enough to do serious debunking or correcting of opinions or propaganda in tactful dignifying ways. And then afterwards NOT saying anything (in less-than 3 to 8 minutes) always gives me a feeling of regret that I didn’t speak-up for what I/we believe. Perplexing and frustrating sometimes.

    Second, about #3 – Abuse. We also find abuse to be more possible (more prevalent?) in the SSC BDSM lifestyle. Most experienced veterans in organized PUBLIC Dungeons consider BDSM relationships to be more At Risk — especially when the woman is the apparent submissive or bottom — if the Dom, usually the male, refuses to practice our art inside a group at a publically legal dungeon. There is a lot to be said positive and safely about accountability, support, awareness, and education for each other as a whole in an alt-lifestyle rather than as a one-couple private secret show. Which begs the question… where is abuse, the worst kinds, usually found? Privately or publicly (openly)?

    As a closing thought, I sometimes have difficulty understanding the fixation on sex — whether right, wrong, toe-curling, or immoral — at the expense of all other human interactions. Isn’t integrity, dignity, managed and demonstrated by actions/words toward self and others, as important as SEX, if not more important? Do we not fixate enough on non-sexual dynamics?

    Thanks Jackie/John. All the best to you both! (humbly tips his hat)

  • Sahaja says:

    Good to read an unbiased study on non monogamous sexual relationships and benefits thereof for couples that are swingers. It will also encourage more couples to try swinging with an open mind as a desirable lifestyle.

  • Ross says:

    Sounds good. I want to believe this. But how do we know that this study was unbiased?

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