"Wish you were in an open relationship? So do many Canadians"
For statistics like that, Canadians had to extrapolate from surveys in the US, but now they've got their own — from a new study based on a nationally representative sample of 2,003 adults.
And yes, the numbers from the two countries match up.
This caught the attention of major Canadian media. The study's lead author published a summing-up piece on The Conversation, a Creative Commons site for academic journalism, which was then reprinted by outlets including the Toronto Star, Vancouver Sun, National Post, and the Canadian Chinese-language site 51 News.
Wish you were in an open relationship? So do many Canadians
More than one in 10 Canadians would like to be in an open relationship, according to our recent study of 2,003 Canadian adults.
By Nichole Fairbrother
...Open relationships can include polyamory, swinging and a myriad of other individualized relationship agreements.
In U.S. studies, anywhere from 2% to 4% of adults report being in an open relationship.
The study I conducted with Trevor Hart (department of psychology, Ryerson University) and Malcolm Fairbrother (department of sociology, Umeå University) is the first to provide a reliable report on how common open relationships are outside of the U.S. We found that 2.4% of all Canadians, and 4% of those who are romantically attached, report being in an open relationship.
Twenty percent of participants reported prior engagement in an open relationship, and 12% reported open as their ideal relationship type. [So three times as many partnered people want to be in one as are! –Ed.]
Men were no more likely than women to say they are currently in an open relationship. However, significantly more men (25%) said that they had been in an open relationship at some point in their life, compared with women (15%).
And, whereas 18% of men listed open as their ideal relationship type, only 6% of women did.
...Individuals in open relationships were younger than those in other types of relationships. Participants who reported that open is their ideal relationship type were also younger....
When it comes to relationship satisfaction, participants in open relationships are no more or less satisfied than those in monogamous relationships.
...What was maybe most interesting is that having a match between one’s actual relationship type and one’s preferred relationship type was associated with the highest levels of satisfaction — for both open and monogamous relationships. ...
...One of the questions people often ask about open relationships is: “Can they last?” There is some evidence that the length of open relationships with primary partners may in fact be greater than that of monogamous relationships.
More research into the length and health of open relationships could go a long way to reducing the stigma that often surrounds these kinds of relationships.
The findings also have clinical implications for mental health providers. Given that a significant minority of the sample preferred open relationships, it may be useful for clinicians to consider and investigate ways to make it easier for couples to talk about their relationship preferences in therapy.
The whole article (April 30, 2019).
Here's their study itself, online April 1 (all but the abstract is paywalled). They hired Ipsos to do the expensive scientific polling.
Chatelaine ("Canada’s leading women’s media brand") published an interview with Fairbrother: Do Many Of Us Really Just Want An Open Relationship?! A New Study Says Yes (April 29).
I hope that the research we conduct on open relationships will also benefit people in monogamous relationships. In our culture I think many people believe that if they truly love someone they won’t experience attraction to anyone else. Perhaps, if our research makes it easier to accept that attraction outside one’s couple can happen, it may make it easier for couples to talk about it when it does. Hopefully our research will help to make conversations about open relationships and attraction outside one’s couple easier to have.