The Success Rate of Open Relationships



When most think about open relationships, they believe one thing: it won’t be successful. The idea is that no matter how much all parties agree and communicate, jealousy will always be a factor and in turn, open relationships cannot work. Most people believe --and adamantly promote the idea-- that open relationships are doomed to fail

This misconception, however, misses a huge point: almost all relationships end in failure. We need to look no further than the divorce rate --roughly half of the marriages in the U.S. end in divorce-- to see this plainly. Thus, it is to cast judgment without really looking in the mirror to simply say polyamory is doomed to fail because of jealousy.

Indeed, according to the University of Rochester, the success rate between open relationships is quite similar insofar as two crucial factors remain intact: (1) open and honest communication and (2) a lack of one-sidedness or selfishness.


The problem, fundamentally, is that open relationships are so taboo that many who are in them are either (1) not willing to participate in studies and (2) many who are not are simply afraid to be themselves and enter into one --about 2-9% of marriages are open in the U.S. Such stigma not only thwarts our scientific efforts to understand things, but it also stultifies beautiful emotions, like love. In any case, of the studies that we do have, things seem rather promising --and in many cases, more promising than ordinary monogamous relationships.

For instance, a study conducted by social scientist Timothy Wolf concluded that 76% of open marriages reported having a better than average or outstanding marriage.


Negative studies show that jealousy is a big factor in open relationships. Where about 80% of those in open relationships experience it at some point. But, what such studies do not account for is the above-mentioned happiness and success rate. Nor does it account for the fact those in monogamous relationships experience high rates of jealousy as well. Jealousy is simply a trait of human nature, not something that is contingent on the sub-type of your relationship. Jealousy is ameliorated by open communication, in an open relationship, or a monogamous relationship. If you feel jealous, talk about it with your partner[s]: you’ll likely find relief from being honest with your feelings.


It seems, however, that the above 76% figure can be explained by the fact that those in polyamorous relationships seem to be better on average at communicating than those in monogamous relationships, according to a study published in PLOS ONE. And in doing so, they just so happen to manage jealousy better as well.


In light of the scientific data on the matter, those who are really interested in an open relationship ought not to worry about potentially failing. You are either as likely to fail or succeed as your monogamous counterparts, or more likely to succeed and less likely to fail. Simply keep in mind the importance of communication, and your worries --which are almost purely based on irrational external stigma-- will almost definitely be mitigated. If it doesn’t work out at first, that is probably not because of polyamory itself. Moreso, it is because you simply have not found the right people yet. This is exactly the same as monogamy, except with more than one individual. Find people who are willing to work with you and are honest about their intentions and feelings. It will be trial and error, but once you find people you can work with, an open relationship can be a beautiful and successful way to orient the romantic sector of your life.

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