Open relationships can be ‘healthy’ for some couples: study

Thinking about opening up your relationship? It might have a positive effect on your happiness, according to a new study.

New research found “no evidence” that consensual non-monogamy (CNM) negatively impacts life satisfaction or relationship quality for romantic partners.

Instead, the study, recently published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, found evidence that opening up a relationship can be a healthy, viable option for some couples.

“We found no differences in relationship quality or well-being before versus after people opened up,” Samantha Joel, an assistant professor in Western University’s Department of Psychology and co-author of the study, said in a statement.

“There were also no differences found when we compared people who did versus those who did not open up their relationship over the course of the study.”

Joel, along with researchers at York University in Toronto and the University of Utah, tracked 233 individuals who were planning to engage in consensual monogamy, but had not yet done so.

The researchers followed them for over two months and compared participants’ relational, sexual and personal well-being to when they were monogamous versus after they opened up their relationships.

They also compared non-monogamous couples to the couples who decided to remain monogamous throughout the study.

“Those who engaged in CNM experienced significant increases in sexual satisfaction, particularly if they did so with the explicit goal of addressing sexual incompatibilities within their relationships,” researchers wrote.

Respect, openness and honesty are important parts of all relationships — monogamous or otherwise, experts said. Wynn said couples should treat open marriages just like “regular” ones.

“You make open marriages last the same way you make monogamous marriages last: through communication, love, and mutual respect,” she said.

“Maybe participants in an open marriage have to be more intentional about their communication but these are the bases of all relationships, romantic or otherwise.”

— With files from Global News’ Arti Patel

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