"Are Open Marriages More Successful Than Traditional Couplings?"
A surprisingly good piece came out of nowhere this morning on ABC News.com. You can't get more mainstream than that.
By Russell Goldman
Aug. 10, 2007
...Do marriages fragile institutions traditionally built on the fidelity and sexual intimacy of two people work when the doors of the bedroom are thrown wide open?
"That's like asking if monogamy works," Deborah Anapol, a psychologist and author of "Polyamory: The New Love Without Limits" told ABC NEWS.com. "Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn't. It depends almost entirely on the people involved and their willingness to tell the truth and do the work."
"Polyamory," which literally means "many loves" is a new name for an old practice.
"There were a few studies on open marriage in the early '60s and '70s, but the phenomenon seemed to die out and it was just called cheating after that," said William Doherty, a professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota.
"It resurfaced as polyamory, and some groups have imbued it with a spiritual side. They see it as a pathway to personal development. They see it as a high road; it's not cheating, it's growing their relationship," he said.
...It is difficult to determine just how many married people are involved in open marriages. A study from the 1980s suggested it could be as many as 6 percent of all couples, but most experts believe that number is excessively high.
"At least 95 percent of married and cohabitating Americans expect sexual exclusivity," said Judy Treas, a sociology professor at the University of California at Irvine.
As for the success of open marriages, "there have been no scientific evaluations of how well open marriages work," Treas said. "The jury is still out."
Despite the small niche, there is a thriving industry built around the polyamorous. Self-help books, specialized marriage counselors, and retreats, which include everything from courses in Eastern philosophy to the chance to hook up with strangers, are targeted at people in open marriages....
In the open marriages of the 1970s, couples would often set rigid rules about whom they would allow to engage in sex with their partners.... Contemporary practitioners of polyamory have changed the rules, and in many cases thrown them out all together, said Dossie Easton....
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