People in open relationships are less likely to get an STD than those in monogamous couples who just step out on their partners, according to a study published in current issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine.
A survey from the University of Michigan’s psychology department found that of 1,647 respondents, 801 had sex with someone other than their primary partner. For 493 subjects, it was part of a “negotiated non-monogamous relationship”, while 308 admitted that they had just been unfaithful.
Researchers found that condom use was less frequent for vaginal (27% lower) and anal sex (35% lower) in encounters where one of the participants was creepin’ around. The data also revealed that drug and alcohol use was 64% higher during these hook-ups. (No shock there).
The study’s author, Terri D. Conley, says couples might want to rethink blanket monogamy as a safety measure:
Monogamy can be an effective method for preventing the spread of STIs, but only if couples test negative for STIs at the start of the relationship and remain faithful while they are together. If people do not find monogamy appealing or feasible, they clearly need to think about the risk this poses to their partner and consider whether an open relationship would suit their needs better, and better protect their relationship partners.
Why would someone in a closed relationship engage in more risky behavior? One commenter had an interesting theory:
The men in “monogamous” relationships who try to cheat on their wives and girlfriends with me often exhibit faulty and outdated thinking—having a Madonna/Whore view of women, for instance, or justifying why cheating doesn’t hurt their wives.
And they often have the same logic failure when it comes to STIs, dividing people into assumed “clean” (six-figure income, works out at the gym) and “dirty” (low-income, uneducated) categories, which makes them feel safe not using condoms with the first group.
What’s your take on this study, Queerty readers: Is it applicable to gays and lesbians or is our dynamic different?