Comment: More men would prefer open relationships than women would. But the group with the highest satisfaction were those in monogamous relationships whose preferred relationship type was monogamous.

The Journal of Sex Research

56:6, 695-704, (2019)
Nichole Fairbrother, Trevor A. Hart & Malcolm Fairbrother

Open relationships are those in which individuals agree to participate in sexual and/or emotional and romantic interactions with more than one partner. Accurate estimates of the prevalence of open relationships, based on representative, unbiased samples, are few, and there are none from outside of the United States. We present findings from a nationally representative sample of 2,003 Canadian adults, administered in 2017 via an online questionnaire. Overall, 2.4% of all participants, and 4.0% of those currently in a relationship, reported currently being in an open relationship. One-fifth of participants reported prior engagement in an open relationship, and 12% reported open as their ideal relationship type. Men, compared with women, were more likely to report prior open relationship engagement and to identify open as their ideal relationship type. Younger participants were more likely both to engage in and to prefer open relationships. Relationship satisfaction did not differ significantly between monogamous and open relationships. Having a match between one’s actual relationship type and one’s preferred relationship type was associated with greater relationship satisfaction. Findings suggest that, while currently only a small proportion of the population is in an open relationship, interest in open relationships is higher, particularly among younger adults, and open appears to be a viable and important relationship type.