3 Surprising Statistics About Open Relationships

1. Open relationship-oriented people talk about difficult things:

There are more than thirty sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) in the world today, according to the World Health Organization (WHO, retrieved August 24, 2020), and more than one million individuals are infected each day. The only known methods of protection against STI’s are abstinence or safer sex, including the use of barrier methods (such as condoms) and non-intercourse acts.

Nothing makes anyone want to jump into bed with someone more than discussing one’s history of STI. Admittedly, it’s rarely a part of what we see modeled as appealing sexual behavior. What we do see in droves, though, is that having an STI is what is maximally unattractive, aside from sympathetic portrayals of people with HIV and AIDS (i.e., in movies). It seems that it’s generally assumed that “good” people with an STI do not have drunken one-night stands.

63% of consensually non-monogamous partners discuss sexually transmitted infection history before engaging in sexual activity, compared with 34% of sexually unfaithful monogamous couples (Conley, Moors, Ziegler, & Karathansis, 2012). Many thoughts spring from this deceptively simple observation, but one take-home point is: consensually non-monogamous partners seem to be more aware of and willing to address the risks in advance of unprotected sexual activity, likely in part because of the active discussions they typically have. People in sexually unfaithful monogamous relationships frequently are unaware of the psychological damage to their partners (as well as themselves), and maybe wrapped up in the melodrama of an affair, versus the practical possibility of an STI.

2. Open relationship-oriented people commit:

A 2012 survey of polyamorous individuals conducted by the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom found that 65% answered “yes” to a question asking whether they would be open to being married to more than one person at the same time. This means people who practice polyamory are willing to pledge to share a history of joint accounts, good financial habits, good and bad professional patches, assets, and being committed to sacrifice creature comforts for more than one person.

3. Open relationship-oriented people are making indirect tracks toward federal protection:

According to Elisabeth Sheff, Ph.D., on the Psychology Today website, in 2018, Levine, Herbenick, Martinez, Fu, and Dodge published a study based on the 2012 National Survey of Sex and Behavior. In it, they found that the prevalence rate of consensual non-monogamy (CNM) was highest among gay men (32%). This may seem unsurprising, stereotypic, or very surprising, depending on your conceptualization. In 2020, The Supreme Court of the United States found that any employee who is fired for being gay is not properly protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Bostock v. Clayton County, GA). Since gay men are now protected at work for their sexuality, and they also practice the act of consensual non-monogamy more than any other population, it is possible that a legal argument may be made stemming from it in defense of CNM and other types of open relationships.

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