For young gay couples, open relationships are out but monogamish is in
Did you hear the latest? Young gay couples aren’t fond of open relationships. Yep, it’s absolutely true – at least according to a recent quantitative study.
In some ways, the data aligns with other research that suggests 20 and 30 something gays put a premium on intimacy over sex.
We’ll give you some background about this study and highlight the finer points. Bear in mind that all research involving human subjects should be viewed through the lens of caution to avoid painting any group with a wide brush.
OK – let’s jump right in!
What’s the research about?
To begin with, this study was conducted by social scientists Blake Spears and Lanz Lowen and is entitled: Choices: Perspectives of Younger Gay Men on Monogamy, Non-monogamy and Marriage.
At its core, this research sought to explore the perceptions and viewpoints of gay men about monogamous vs. non-monogamous relationships.
The principle investigators surveyed more than 800 single, monogamously-coupled, and non-monogamously coupled gay men between the ages 18-40 years old.
What did the research find?
According to the study, the vast majority of younger gay men (age 30 and younger) prefer being in a emotionally supportive, monogamous relationship.
Here are some direct quotes from the published material:
“We see this in the overwhelming number of relationships that are monogamous (86 percent). In addition, 90 percent of the single younger gay men were seeking monogamy. This is a sea change compared to older generations of gay men.”
What about Monogamish?
The study also examined the concept of monogamish; a 25-cent term used to describe a couple that doesn’t play apart but will have threesomes.
In this area, the research seems to suggest younger gay couples are OK with this concept “75 percent of our 45 ‘monogamish’ respondents reported mostly having three-ways and always playing together as a couple.
A few couples mentioned sex parties and bathhouses, but were clear they always played together.”
What about open relationships?
One of the interesting things that came out of this study is how younger gay men are moving quickly away from the idea of open relationships.
While there’s no universal agreement on what “open” means, younger gay couples (according to the study) consider this to be a dynamic where either party in the relationship can do whatever they want sexually with others, outside of a three-way.
As suggested by the study, younger gay couples believe that open relationships are a thing of the past, belonging to gays of yesteryear.
Because of societal changes regarding how people view same sex relationships (and marriage), being “open” is no longer necessary.
Implications for the future
Obviously, more research needs to be conducted on same sex couples in order to gain a more accurate perceptual snapshot.
But the principles of this study offer the following insight for all of us to think about.
“Despite the myths and horror stories, both monogamous and non-monogamous couples can have enduring, healthy and happy relationships,” suggests Spears and Lowen.
The researchers add:
“Oddly, we heard both monogamous and non-monogamous respondents complaining of the lack of support for their respective relationships.
To the degree monogamy and non-monogamy can be more fully discussed in the community, the better. … As a community, let’s stop proselytizing our preference as ‘the right way’ and demonizing that which we don’t embrace.
We need to create norms in the community, where both monogamy and non-monogamy can be rationally discussed and considered.”
One thing we we’ll be interested in learning more about as research continues is how gay couples define monogamy. Depending upon the age and generation of a given duo, you might get varying responses.
To be fair, other data seems to suggest differing views about same sex relationships and monogamy. It’s interesting stuff to be sure!
What’s your definition of monogamy and monogamish?
By: Conrad Braxton