There is a widespread belief that open relationships are destined to fail. People assume that open relationships are less healthy and less happy than monogamous relationships.  Another commonly held belief is that open relationships primarily benefit men. Is there any validation to these beliefs? Recent research based on alternative relationships shows that such beliefs are empty myths.

In one study based at the University of Oklahoma, researchers looked into health, happiness and sexuality in open relationships amongst adults aged 55+ in comparison to the general public. Surprisingly, the results showed that health, happiness and sexuality were actually higher amongst adults aged 55+ who were in an open relationship. Interestingly, the results remained intact when researchers compared men and women separately, suggesting that both men and women benefit equally from open relationships.

Another study based at the University of Michigan polled 2,124 people of at least 25 years about the quality of their non-monogamous relationship.  Participants were questioned on areas including satisfaction, commitment, trust, jealousy and passionate love. It turns out that those in non-monogamous relationships were found to be equally satisfied as those in a monogamous relationship.  The overall outcomes were the same amongst both relationship types.  One difference prevailed – that of jealousy and trust.  People in open-relationships showed significantly lower levels of jealousy, and higher levels of trust in their relationships.

So are people in open relationships happier? Both studies seem to imply that people in open relationships are just as happy as those in monogamous relations.  At times, open relationships can be less stressful, as the issues of trust and jealousy aren’t a concern as in monogamous relationships.




Matthew Bartolo is a counsellor specialising in Sex & Relationships. He offers counselling to both individuals and couples, and runs the sex education services within Willingness. He can be contacted on

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