These Are the Chances Your Partner Wants an Open Relationship, Study Says

Research shows that a significant number of people fantasize about turning "the one" into "a few."

We use apps. We ask friends to set us up. We chat up that person across the bar. Being on the lookout for "the one" usually means putting yourself out there pretty often. But what if the person you end up with happens to be looking for "a few?" Actually, according to new research, chances are pretty high that your partner wants an open relationship. A study from the famed Kinsey Institute at Indiana University found that one in three people in monogamous relationships fantasize about being with another person besides their spouse.

In the new study, which was published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, 822 adults who reported to be in a monogamous relationship were asked to describe their favorite sexual fantasy, PsyPost reports. The results showed that 33 percent of respondents said their "favorite sexual fantasy of all time" involved being in a sexually open relationship of some kind. On top of that, 80 percent of study participants who listed an open relationship as their ultimate fantasy said they intended to make this fantasy a reality at some point in the future.

young couple with relationship problems arguing in the backseat of a car

The findings also showed there was a demographic skew in those who reported being interested in open relationships: People who identified as male or non-binary were more likely to be interested in open relationships than those who identified as female. Respondents also trended towards being slightly older and non-heterosexual.

Besides the Kinsey Institute study's results, there is other evidence that interest in open partnerships, which are known as consensual non-monogamous relationships (CNMR), have been on the rise. "Searches related to polyamory and open relationships have increased on internet search engines over the past decade," study author Justin J. Lehmiller writes. "'How-to' books and guides to CNMRs have [also] begun to proliferate, and increases have occurred in both popular media depictions and coverage in mainstream news outlets."

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Other studies have also shown that open relationships may be more popular than you think. A 2019 Canadian study published in the The Journal of Sex Research and 2018 research from Temple University both found that four percent of respondents reported being in a CNMR—which means one in every 25 couples, Psychology Today reports. The Canadian researchers even concluded that "only a small proportion of the population is involved in open relationships, but interest has increased. 'Open' appears to be a viable and important relationship type."

But the question remains: Does this arrangement work? Well, a 2018 study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found that "despite [the lifestyle] attracting stigma," couples in open relationships reported being as happy as those in strictly monogamous ones. "This debunks societal views of monogamy as being the ideal relationship structure," lead author Jessica Wood, PhD, said in a statement. "It's more common than most people think." And for more on how this actually works in practice, I'm Married But in an Open Relationship. This Is What It's Like.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more