Monogamy isn’t for everyone. In fact, 12 per cent of Canadians say they would ideally be in an open relationship, according to a new research from the University of British Columbia.
A nationally representative survey of about 2,000 Canadian adults found that four per cent of those in relationships were in an open relationship, while 20 per cent said they’d been in an open relationship in the past.
Nichole Fairbrother, the study’s lead author and assistant professor in the UBC department of psychiatry, said the findings suggest that more people would like to be in an open relationship than already are, possibly because of the stigma associated with these types of relationships and the difficulty talking about it with a partner.
“Even with the stigma, however, it still appears that a sizeable number of Canadian adults are either in or would like to be in an open relationship.”
What is an open relationship?
UBC defines an open relationship as those in which individuals agree to participate in sexual, emotional and romantic interactions with more than one partner.
This includes, polyamory (engaging in multiple romantic relationships) and swinging (engaging in multiple sexual relationships outside of a relationship, alone or together, with minimal or no emotional or romantic involvement).
For the study researchers had about 2,000 Canadians between the ages of 18 and 94 answer an online questionnaire from market research firm Ipsos.
An almost equal number of men and women answered the survey.
Men were also more likely to have reported being in an open relationship
Of those respondents 55 per cent were married or living with a romantic partner, while 31 per cent were single, ten per cent were separated or divorced and nearly four per cent were widowed, said Fairbrother.
“Researchers found that people engaging in and preferring open relationships tended to be slightly younger. Men were also more likely to have reported being in an open relationship and to identify open as their ideal relationship type,” she said. “Relationship satisfaction didn’t differ significantly between individuals in monogamous and open relationships.
Fairbrother said researchers believe that the reason for why greater numbers of men tend to prefer open to monogamous relationship could be partially due to the greater prevalence of open relationships among same-sex male couples.
“Given that a significant minority of respondents say they prefer open relationships, it may be useful for mental health providers to consider ways of making it easier for couples to talk about their relationship preferences in therapy,” she said.
The researchers have also collected survey answers from hundreds of UBC and Ryerson University students to analyze the characteristics of people who prefer different relationship configurations.