According to new data released by the Kinsey Institute, 20 per cent of couples have engaged in extra-marital shenanigans with their partner’s approval. For the purpose of a good buzz work, the kids are calling this CNM (consensual non-monogamy), aka an open relationship.
That’s a whopping one in five people. So why have has CNM become so prevalent and accepted in today’s seemingly conservative society? Well the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships suggests that CNM is a way of satisfying sexual needs that just aren’t attainable in relationships.
According to the journal, “having multiple partners is a way for people to achieve greater sexual need fulfillment, and this, in turn, enhances each relationship.” Essentially, the happiness that people get from sleeping with another extra-marital partner, spills over into their main relationship.
As the study authors note, getting everything you want from one partner, emotionally and physically, is extremely unlikely, so the concept of CNM makes sense. I guess you could think of it like a supplement to your marriage.
However before you initiate an awkward conversation with the missus, a separate study produced by the University of Michigan suggested that while a consensual open relationship definitely won't hurt your partnership, it won't necessarily make you happier than if you remained monogamous. Terri Conley, who lead the study, suggests that “overall, the outcomes for monogamous and consensual non-monogamous participants were the same – indicating no net benefit of one relationship style over another.”
“Because the idea that consensually nonmonogamous (CNM) relationships are functional (i.e., satisfying and of high quality) is controversial, we included a basic study to assess, in a variety of ways, the quality of these relationships. In that study, we found few differences in relationship functioning between individuals engaged in monogamy and those in CNM relationships.”
This supporting study suggests that perhaps the benefits of CNM relationships are psychological, and that research suggesting reported sex benefits may be affected by bias (shots fired). Basically, Conley and her team agree that the thrill of adding another partner to the mix may be perceived as heightened excitement, without actual increased satisfaction. Hey, perceived excitement is still excitement right?!
Moral of the story; engaging in a CNM relationship definitely won't hurt your relationship, so if your significant other is up for it... why not give it a try? As for this journalist, well the struggle to find one partner is challenge enough, so I'll focus on that.