New US research suggests that couples who are free to date other people as part of an open relationship may actually enjoy higher levels of satisfaction and trust, and lower levels of jealousy, than those in monogamous relationships.
The perhaps surprising findings come from a new study by the University of Michigan, which looked at different relationships among 2,124 people over age 25.
Participants were asked about the quality of their relationship with either one or both partners, depending on if they were in a monogamous or consensual nonmonogamous relationship, and asked to rate the different relationship components of satisfaction, commitment, trust, jealousy and passionate love, which is the intense love feeling often described in new relationships.
The team found no differences between monogamous and consensual nonmonogamous participants in terms of satisfaction and passionate love.
However, the team found that ratings of jealousy and trust were actually better for those in heterosexual open relationships, contrary to what society often presumes about the benefits from monogamy, considered by many to involve high levels of commitment, trust, and love.
The study also revealed that individuals in nonmonogamous relationships had higher levels of satisfaction, trust, commitment and passionate love with their primary partner than in their secondary relationship, going against another possible assumption that those in nonmonogamous relationships do not care enough about each other to be happy in their primary relationship.
"Overall, the outcomes for monogamous and consensual nonmonogamous participants were the same -- indicating no net benefit of one relationship style over another," concluded the study's lead author Terri Conley.
The results can be found published online in journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.