Polyamory, swinging and open relationships are fairly common, study finds

New research published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy suggests that polyamory, swinging and open relationships are more common in the United States than thought.

The study found that about one in five single Americans had engaged in some sort of non-monogamous relationship arrangement in their lifetime. The findings were based on two nationally representative samples of adults in the United States of America, which included a combined 8,718 people.

“While most people presume sexual commitment to one partner (sexual monogamy), some people have consensual agreements with their partners to engage in sex and/or romance with other partners,”
the study, led by Mara Haupert of Indiana University, said.

The study specifically examined the prevalence of consensual non-monogamy, which the researchers defined as “any relationship in which all partners agree that each may have romantic and/or sexual relationships with other partners.” Consensual non-monogamy includes polyamory, swinging and open relationships.

The study found 21.5 percent of individuals had been involved in a consensual sexually nonexclusive relationship at some point in their life.

Demographic traits such as age, education level, income status, religion, region, political affiliation, and race were not associated with consensual non-monogamy — suggesting that non-monogamous relationships are equally present across almost all strata of society. The findings show that “there is no single ‘type’ of person who engages in consensual non-monogamy,” the researchers said. However, gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals were slightly more likely to have engaged in a non-monogamous relationship than heterosexual individuals.

However, the researchers said their findings could be skewed because the study only included people who were currently single.


  1. Clifford Paul Tindall on

    What a useless fucking piece. “However, the researchers said their findings could be skewed because the study only included people who were currently single.”

    The time is took me to read this is gone forever. Time I will never get to experience ever again…wasted…on horseshit.

    • Why does that caveat make it “horseshit”? Single people aren’t capable of reporting on their histories?

      • The problem is that they skewed their amostrage. It’s conceivable that by selecting only people who are single, the researchers biased their results in favor of people for whom a stable monogamous relationship is less desirable, and that would probably be positively correlated with people who’re more willing to enter polyamory, swinging and open relationships.

        • the assertion that currently-single people are “more likely to willingly enter polyamory/swinging/open relations” doesn’t really make sense, at all. in order for a person to have been in any of those types of relationships, they would have had to not be single at the time, and to the contrary, each of those relationships would account for 3 or more non-single people attesting to the same type of relationship. of course it would be nice to see a similar study poll people who aren’t single as well, but to assume it would tilt the numbers farther in favor of monogamy is baseless, it could logically go either way or remain the same. like duh.

          • If you´re comparing serial monogamy and polyamory/swinging/open, you´re right. But for simply monogamous couples, once they´re hitched they´re off the market, period. So amostrage containing only single people will be biased to exclude them. How bad is that bias? I don´t known. And that research can´t answer that question neither.

          • Matthew Eppelsheimer on

            For an Internet comment thread that started sadly typical, this got incredibly informative! Lucid and fascinating, and honestly more information-nutrition-dense than the article. I learned several new things!