If you’re one of the many, many, many people out there that believe that your coupled friends have it great because they’re in a monogamous relationship, a new study released by the University of Michigan could make you rethink the idea that being paired up equals happiness.
I’ll admit I was one of those believers. Even though my 20s taught me how to appreciate my single life (heck, this blog was born from those lessons), I still hoped to be in love because I thought it would make me happy. That said, I went through a ton of toxic lessons before I find a partner that completely makes me a believer in the benefits of coupling up!
But I digress.
Back to the study. The bottom line here, is that according to the study, there’s no support for the belief that coupled people have a more satisfying intimate life.
“These findings do not support the perception that people in monogamous relationships have better sex than consensual nonmonogamous individuals,” said Terri Conley, U-M associate professor of psychology and the study’s lead author.
Researchers conducted two studies to assess relationships. One study involved surveying more than 2,000 people aged 25 and older. Their primary partners were of the opposite gender, and the average relationship lasted about 10 years.
According to lead researcher, Conley, monogamous people often grow accustomed to same sexual interactions with one person. Meanwhile, for nonmonogamous individuals, having additional partners offers more variety and yields higher levels of satisfaction than the primary relationship, Conley said.
In addition, the study suggests that a commitment to only one person may threaten an individual’s sense of free will, creating pressure by that partner or society to restrict themselves.
While I won’t belabor the nitty gritty of the data, the study does go on to present some ideas based on the their findings:
- The most straightforward possibility is that nonmogamous people manage to avoid the falling into a habitual cycle that monogamous relationships are prone to.
- A second, related, possibility is that nonmogamous participants experienced more sexual satisfaction than monogamous participants simply because they feel less reactance (or less restriction, for layman’s speak)
- Finally, it is possible that nonmogamous people simply devote more effort to increase sexual satisfaction.
- The study does even make a note when it comes to swingers, suggesting they simply put more time and effort into their sexual relationships than members of other relationship styles.
That all said, and without having the nuts and bolts of what went into the study, I can see how the researchers could come to these conclusions when you consider that the coupled respondents has been in a relationship for a decade. (I mean, wouldn’t you expect there to be some type of ambivalence after ten years?!)
This is all pretty eye-opening that’s for sure and it’s certainly a way to think about all of this. The jury is out on how on how much of it I take to heart, but it’s got interesting ideas.
As I chew on this, if I can put an idea on the table here, I’d also say here that maybe, we can ignore the reality that being in a monogamous relationship just takes a bit of work, too. I mean, how can they not? And, to that end you can argue that any relationship takes effort.
So, just just put in the work!
If you want to purchase the study, you can from the Journal of Social & Personal Relationships!
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