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In my last post, I wrote about people’s interest in threesomes.
Some, like swingers, are more focused on about their nonexclusivity—as opposed to the typical approach of cheating.
Previous research has found that, among the general heterosexual population, about 4 to 5 percent are engaged in some form of consensual nonmonogamy.
But is the for such an arrangement limited to these 4 to 5 percent—or are there many more out there who desire it but don’t dare seek it out or don’t believe they could ever find it?
In a study just posted online ahead of publication in the , Amy Moors and her colleagues at the University of Michigan explored attitudes toward, and willingness to engage in, consensual nonmonogamy among 1,280 heterosexuals.* Unlike many similar studies, participants were college students: They were recruited via social networking sites and were 18 to 67 years old. None had any first-hand experience with consensual nonmonogamy; they were either single or in a monogamous relationship. Openly nonmonogamous relationships are highly stigmatized in our culture.
So one important question was: Do people think it’s acceptable for others to have such a relationship if they so choose?
Two questions in the study asked about such general attitudes toward consensual nonmonogamy.Participants rated the following statements on a scale from 1 ( Overall, attitudes toward consensual nonmonogamy for both sexes were slightly above the neutral midpoint of the scale, indicating they found it fairly OK for others to engage in open relationships if they so chose.In fact, more than 80 percent of participants chose at least a 4 on that 7-point scale for the second statement. Just because people were comfortable with others to determining the relationship arrangement that worked best for them doesn’t mean they are As you can see from the right portion of the graph above, participants’ own interest in an open relationship was much lower than their approval of it for others.Men (mean = 2.64) scored significantly higher than women (mean = 1.99), but neither sex even approached the neutral midpoint of the scale.Such low means are not at all surprising: We are all socialized to view monogamy as the norm (with cheating as a dishonorable, but not entirely unexpected option).Consensual non-monogamy, on the other hand, is not only stigmatized, it is also quite rare, and very few people have had the opportunity to see, hear, or learn about this relationship arrangement as a possibility.