Scientists Say Open Relationships Are Just As Good As Monogamy

Suddenly, three is no longer a crowd.

While you'd be forgiven for thinking that people in committed relationships are generally happier people, a new study has revealed this isn't necessarily the case.

The study by the University of Guelph in Ontario,  published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationshipsfound that couples in open relationships -- those who date and sleep with other people -- are just as happy as their monogamous counterparts.

Couples in open relationships are just as happy as monogamous couples. Image: Getty.

To come to this conclusion, the researchers conducted a survey of 140 people in open relationships and more than 200 others who identified as being in monogamous ones -- and the results were interesting, to say the least.

The interviewers asked questions about people's relationship satisfaction, how often they considered separating from their partner or partners and whether they'd confided in their significant other about their needs.

One of the study's co-authors, Jessica Wood, a PhD student in social psychology from the University of Guelph, said this new research debunks the stereotypical view of monogamy being the ideal relationship structure.

As she explained, there's still a stigma in society that people in open relationships are unhappy, immoral and less satisfied with their relationships, and it's assumed they're having random sex all the time.

"They are villainised and viewed as bad people in bad relationships, but that's not the case," Wood said.

"We found people in consensual, non-monogamous relationships experience the same levels of relationship satisfaction, psychological wellbeing and sexual satisfaction as those in monogamous relationships."

The study also revealed that, despite misconceptions, open relationships are more common than most people realise, and those involved are indeed just as happy -- if not happier -- than monogamous folk.

One of the key findings that came out of the study was that the most important predictor of a healthy relationship -- in terms of happiness -- is being on the same page sexually.

"We are at a point in social history where we are expecting a lot from our partners. We want to have sexual fulfilment and excitement but also emotional and financial support," Wood explained.

There's always room for one more on reality TV show Sister Wives. Image: TLC.

She added the expectation we can fulfill all of our needs from one relationship isn't always a reality, and this has led many people to seeking a consensually non-monogamous relationship instead.

"In both monogamous and non-monogamous relationships, people who engage in sex to be close to a partner and to fulfill their sexual needs have a more satisfying relationship than those who have sex for less intrinsic reasons, such as to avoid conflict," Wood said.

While this new research is great for those of us who embrace the "friends with benefits" or "no strings" approach to dating, as Wood explained, it doesn't necessarily mean you have to be more open in your relationships to be happy.

As long as you're meeting both your emotional needs and sexual desires, you'll be happy and satisfied regardless of your relationship preference, she said.

Feature image: Paramount Pictures.