The Good Vibrations community has a lot to say about non-monogamy!
Inspired by recent public talk about non-monogamy in popular culture, especially the super-interesting discussions about Jada and Will Smith and Jada’s relationship with August Alsina, we put together a survey to ask about people’s feelings, desires, and experiences with and about open relationships. 942 respondents participated in last month’s survey, and by the time we were done, the Falwells had been outed by their former pool boy and it sure looked like they might be part of the hotwife subculture! How about that!
But let’s talk about you! We asked how you describe your current relationship. Over 12 percent are single but wanted to date. Almost three percent have no interest in relationships. Over 5% are dating more than one person and not in a relationship;
over 3 are dating just one person, but do not define it as a relationship; just over 43.5% are in a monogamous relationship, while almost 26.5% are in a non-monogamous one. About 6.5% do not feel these choices described your situation, many stating that they are poly, married, “monogamish,” or monogamous but desiring to open their relationship (“Monogamish” is Dan Savage’s term for mostly monogamous but flexible enough to contain some occasional play with others): “It's really frustrating & vague,” said one, “but I'm devoted to a person but we aren't monogamous. Monogamy is unnatural.” A few more disclosed that they are having affairs.
We asked whether respondents had ever been in a non-monogamous relationship; almost 27% had, almost 49% said no, and 24.31% said “Eh…sorta.” Next, we asked about participants’ thoughts about being in a non-monogamous relationship. Almost 13% definitely want to try it. Another 24.69 said they are open to the idea. Almost 18% aren’t sure how they feel, while a bit more than 23% aren’t actively interested but not entirely opposed. A little over 13% would never consider it, 1.63% do not date at all, and almost 7% commented or addressed the question from their own angle or added detail: “I think it is far better in theory than reality,” said one. “ Not for me, but fine for other consenting adults with good communication,” said another. “I would only do it after at-length discussions with my partner to be clear on boundaries, expectations, and time-boxed check-ins with one another. I'm intrigued by the kink of sharing my partner but there are so many potential issues that could easily come up that could destroy the almost 20 years of trust we've built,” said a third.
We asked whether non-monogamy was your primary relationship style. 19.69% said yes. 19.47% prefer it but are open to monogamy. 36.11% say it depends on the partner or situation, while 14.44% prefer monogamy but have tried non-monogamy. 10.28% had more to say: “It is not. I honestly love being with 1 person. I have very little energy for people nowadays,” said one. “I don't necessarily HAVE to be dating more than one person (I've been dating only my one partner for a year), but I am loathe to think that future relationships should be limited just to fit the concept of monogamy,” said another. It “would require a really open minded and unjealous partner,” said a third, while others shared that they were interested in swinging or disliked experiences they had had with open relationships in the past.
What deters you? “It wasn’t for me,” said 9.19% who have experienced non-monogamy. 42.7% are monogamous now and do not want to change. 26.49% feel they didn’t have the time for more than one partner. 52.7% cite “fear of physical / emotional vulnerability.” 7.78% are concerned about religious and/or cultural restrictions, while 20.27% are afraid of friends and family judging them. For almost 25% it’s nothing specific, it just isn’t your preferred relationship style, while over 13% have other reasons or wished to comment: “Germs” said one, and several others cites STIs or Covid-19. “From what I see in other friends’ relationships, when they try open relationships it usually is the beginning of the end of those relationships,” said another. “I want a relationship that is deep, intimate, and trusting. Knowing I'm not important enough to be the only one for someone means they can't offer the level of intimacy and commitment I want,” said a third.
We asked if workshops or other resources would be if interest; several think you should be teaching them yourselves (experience!), while almost 21% say you are interested in resources, over 40% are curious, almost 38% aren’t interested, and 2.16% have more to say: “I am but too shy” and “The information sounds interesting but my girl would probably take it as I’m not satisfied with her which isn’t the case so truthfully I probably wouldn’t attend.”
We asked our respondents’ age. Almost 11% are over 18 and under 25. Almost a quarter are 25-34. 27.77% are 35-44, 22.29% are 45-54, about 10% are 55-64, and 4.29% are over 65. 48.39% identify as cis female and 36.95% as cis male, while .72% stated they are trans women, 3.93% are trans men, 1.43% are agender, and a combined 18% (approximately) identify as nonbinary, gender non-conforming, genderqueer or genderfluid. Also noted: undecided, metagender, intersex, furry, and “Straight but not narrow.”
Finally we asked about sexual orientation: 2.86% are gay, 52.56% heterosexual, 4.41% are lesbian or dyke-identified, 42.79% stated they are bi, pan, or queer, and 1.91% identify as asexual. Of the 3.46% who feel those choices are not sufficient for them, some are still questioning or undecided; a number disclosed they are bicurious or heteroflexible; and a few identify as demisexual. Our favorite: “Lesbian with bisexual hiccups every once in awhile.”
While not everyone is seeking to open up relationships, or even grappling with the issue like Jada and Will Smith (or, for that matter, like the Falwells), it seems clear from our survey results that non-monogamy is alive, often well, in many cases mindful and careful, and hard or uninteresting for others to navigate. In short—as in other things having to do with sexuality, people are diverse in their desires and experiences!