Stigma Over Open Relationships Changing, Says Study

A new psychological study by Kevin Zimmerman from Iowa State University suggests that “the stigma over open relationships could be changing, and in the future, this lifestyle might even become the norm.”

Clients in Sexually Open Relationships: Considerations for Therapists

The author seems to have a good grasp of the territory of open, polyamorous, and otherwise non-monogamous relationships. As quoted in the Huffington Post Blog about the article:

Zimmerman raises the question of whether we could be socialized to believe that to be devoted to a second person is to love the first less, even though this standard does not apply when discussing adoring more than one child, for example.

Zimmerman explains that open relationships are different from infidelity or cheating because partners agree on the sexual boundaries of the relationship, and there is no deception about sex. Successful open relationships typically involve those who privilege authenticity over conformity in their relationships. ‘Open’ relationships can be characterised by more honesty and better observation of boundaries.

While many people, especially in more conservative parts of our culture, believe that non-monogamous relationships (especially polygamy) are always bad, and inherently anti-feminist, Zimmerman challenges this ideas, saying

‘open’ relationships are sometimes seen as raising the status of women, releasing them to be with whom they want, bestowing greater power over their own bodies.

Additionally, Zimmerman correctly points out that monogamy is actually far less dominant that we’ve been led to believe:

Of the 185 human societies investigated in one study, only 29 restricted their members to monogamy… .

What do you think?  Are open relationships becoming less stigmatized? Is that true of only some types of open relationships?  Are there “good” or “bad” kinds of open relationships?

No matter what, change is on the horizon, and our society seems to be becoming more and more open to the possibility of “open.” 🙂

May you always love boldly, safely and well,

~♥ Dawn

PS: Want to set up a time to talk with me about open relationships, polyamory, monogamy, and/or how to design your own best relationships? I’m happy to do a free 30 minute, or a 1/2 price 60 minute phone session with you. Get clear on what your relationship structure is, and underlying assumptions about rules and boundaries, and your relationship/s will be easier and happier! Or call me (510-686-3386) to set up a time for a free intro session!

∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

[© 2013 Dawn M. Davidson]


2 thoughts on “Stigma Over Open Relationships Changing, Says Study

  1. Jay

    It isn’t clear that this article is a new study, rather a survey paper or roadmap. It also seems to borrow heavily from Geri’s earlier paper…

    1. Uncharted Love / Love Outside the Box Post author

      Hi Jay: I agree that it isn’t clear exactly what this “study” is. You can get a bit more by going to the actual abstract. I also agree that it references Geri Weitzman’s earlier paper, and also heavily draws on Ryan and Jetha’s “Sex at Dawn.” Still, I find it encouraging that there are some writing in the mainstream press that the stigma is easing. That’s great news!


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