Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan M.

March 4, 2013

New research: Gay nonmonogamy outcomes

Huffington Post Gay Voices

New research results are published on outcomes of negotiated nonmonogamy among gay couples. Although the full paper requires payment or access through an academic library, there's a link to the abstract and introduction below, and Zach Stafford summarizes the results in an article at Huffington Post Gay Voices:

"Monogamish": Two Is Company, but Is Three Really a Crowd?

By Zach Stafford

When I think about dating and relationships, especially when talking with friends, I tend to come to the same conclusion: Monogamy isn't possible. I feel that in the gay world, no matter how committed a couple appears to be, or how beautiful their life together looks, or even how perfect they seem, there always seems to be the threat of infidelity lurking in the background. Countless dinner parties, nights at bars, Pride events and everything in between suggest one thing to me, over and over again: Most men don't really seem interested in sticking with just one person.

I used to resent this aspect of "the gay lifestyle," as some call it.... I found myself really disheartened by this image, because what I wanted for myself was the traditional life -- one marriage for life, with some kids -- not a life in which I'm constantly in clubs and in the beds of men whose names I don't know.

...Dr. Jeffrey T. Parsons, director of Hunter College's Center for HIV Educational Studies and Training (CHEST), worked with a team of researchers to investigate a relatively unexplored area of social research: monogamy and commitment among gay and bisexual men. After surveying over 800 gay and bisexual men in the New York City area, Dr. Parsons and his team found that "the diversity in types of non-monogamous relationships was interesting.... Typically gay men have been categorized as monogamous or not, and our data show that it is not so black and white."...

In 2010 researchers at San Francisco State University carried out a similar study that revealed just how common open relationships are among partnered gay men and lesbians in the Bay Area. As The New York Times reported, "The Gay Couples Study ... followed 556 male couples for three years -- about 50 percent of those surveyed have sex outside their relationships, with the knowledge and approval of their partners." That figure is remarkably similar to what CHEST found.

Now, I know what you are thinking: These can't possibly be happy, healthy relationships, right? Well, here's what CHEST's survey found:

Men in fully monogamous partnerships showed significantly less illicit drug use and significantly reduced sexual health risk when compared to all other groups of men (single, open, and "monogamish"), suggesting a benefit to monogamy. But CHEST's findings also indicated that non-monogamous partnerships provide other types of benefits to gay and bisexual men. Men in "monogamish" relationships indicated lower rates of depression and higher life satisfaction when compared to single gay men.

Dr. Parsons added, "Our findings suggest that certain types of non-monogamous relationships -- especially 'monogamish' ones -- are actually beneficial to gay men, contrary to assumptions that monogamous relationships are always somehow inherently better."

So being in a "monogamish" relationship seems to mean that you may do more illicit drugs and take more sexual health risks, but you may actually be happier as a person. Easy enough, right? Not really. It's a little more complicated.... There is a lot boundary setting and a lot more talking before these types of relationships happen and are successful.

The Advocate recently put together a great guide to nonmonogamy that lists some basic things to think through before opening up a relationship: the whos, whats, whens and wheres. I think this guide would be a great starting point for any couple thinking about opening the doors of their relationship....

Read the whole long article (Feb. 27, 2013).

Here are the abstract and first two pages of the CHEST study (click "Look inside"). Reference: "Alternatives to Monogamy Among Gay Male Couples in a Community Survey: Implications for Mental Health and Sexual Risk" by Jeffrey T. Parsons, Tyrel J. Starks, Steve DuBois, Christian Grov and Sarit Golub: in Archives of Sexual Behavior, Feb. 2013; first published online Dec. 21, 2011.

Here's CHEST's press release about the study.


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