Why Do So Many People Want Open Relationships?

Committed, monogamous relationships used to be the norm. When you started dating someone, you eventually became exclusive and it was just you and your partner against the world. These days, open relationships are gaining traction, so what’s changed?

One in 10 people want an open relationship these days.

At least in Canada, according to a Canadian study of 2,003 people performed by Inverse.com. While that’s only 10% of those polled, it still seems like a pretty high number considering monogamy used to be a given. In the US, between 2-4% of people say they’re currently in a relationship.

A whopping 20% of people have been in open relationships before.

About 1/5 of participants in Inverse’s survey revealed having been in a relationship in which they were allowed to date/sleep with other people. Not only that, but 12% of respondents said they considered an open relationship to be the most ideal type of romantic connection.

Even if we’re not in open relationships, that doesn’t keep us from wanting one.

It can be a pretty awkward topic to broach with your partner. After all, telling your S.O. that you’d like to see and have sex with someone else—perhaps multiple someones—isn’t exactly an easy conversation to have. Participants in the study were three times more likely to say they want an open relationship than they were to actually report having been in one/being in one currently. Makes sense.

Open relationships are more common among men.

Raise your hand if you’re surprised here. No one? I didn’t think so. According to the survey, 25% of men reported having been in an open relationship compared to 15% of women. Not only that, but 18% of men said being in an open relationship was their ideal arrangement, whereas only 6% of women felt the same. Huh, wonder why that is?

Ultimately, more research needs to be done.

While this was a relatively small study that had no scientific controls placed on it and wasn’t held over a long enough period of time to get any significant data, it’s pretty clear that open relationships are on the rise and it’s interesting to think about why that might be. What’s changed in our society and our psychology to make monogamy less fulfilling or desirable? It’s certainly worth studying more.

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