STUDY: Gays More Monogamous Now Than In The Swinging ’70s

A new study published in the September issue of Family Process reveals that the percentage of gay men who cheated on their partner dropped from 83% in 1975 to  59% in 2000. For lesbians, the rate dwindled from  28% to 8% in the same period.

The study, conducted by San Franciso’s Alliant International University, surveyed 6,684 gay and straight couples in the two time periods on a variety of areas besides fidelity, including housework, finances, communication and decision-making. The gays and lesbians in the study were either in civil unions or committed relationships.

Researchers attribute the shift in queer monogamy to both the specter of AIDS and increased acceptance of same-sex couples in society.

We hypothesize the advent of online porn helped too.

Oh, and if anyone cares, the percentage of heterosexual men who cheated on their wives dropped from 28% in 1975 to 10% in 2000; among married women, it fizzled from 23% to 14%. Was there some advancement in vibrator technology we don’t know about?

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  • Michael

    The question remains – is monogamy the “natural” choice for mankind, especially the “man” part? HIV definitely scared a lot of people into relative sexlessness, or at least domesticity, which seems on balance to be a good thing overall, as never in the modern era has homosexuality been more accepted in mainstream society as it is now.

  • sam

    Not very surprising. It would seem the common element in the majority of affairs is in fact… shockingly…men. Not heterosexuality. Not homosexuality :P Men.

  • JQD

    Sorry, sam, but by that study, lesbians and straight men are similar, with straight women being slightly less. Gay men in 1975: 83%, straight men in 1975 : 28%. Those are strikingly similar features.

    I would like to know how they clarified what constituted cheating.

  • JQD

    Those are *not* strikingly similar *numbers*. This is what I get when I try to fix a friend’s computer and type comments at the same time. -Sigh-

  • Ian Bower

    Quote: ‘…reveals that the percentage of gay men who cheated on their partner…’
    Erm, isn’t that somewhat prejudicial? I have been with my partner for thirty seven years and we both have sex with other people. We don’t cheat on each other. Our’s is an honest and open relationship. There are many other couples I know of who are the same. No, it’s not always ‘cheating’.

  • Ian Bower

    Do I detect something of an ‘Uncle Tom’ in your assertion?

  • Lefty

    Everyone is more monogamous now than in the ’70s – those bitches were sluts.

  • doublestandard

    I always miss all the fun 8-(

  • doomsday1038

    The most successful gay male relationships I know of are open ones.

  • Rey


    Michael, there’s a lot of diversity in “mankind.” People are not biological clones of each other. Even among long-term couples, the relationship can have both monogamous and open phases.

    I agree with you that domesticity has its benefits. A monogamous relationship accelerates the deepening of a relationship since the attention and time of both partners are focused inward. An open relationship has its fun perks, but it benefits one or both as individuals not as a couple in a relationship.

  • Tony

    “The most successful gay male relationships I know of are open ones.”

    Really, the worst gay relationships I’ve seen were open ones. Are at least the “very open” ones.
    That said, I’ve been in a monogamous relationship for over ten years now. I would never leave some sort of openess off the table, but for the most part, I’ve found it easy and comforting to be monogamous. I guess it’s just my (and my partner’s) nature.

  • Ronbo

    Does monogamy every third weekend count?

  • raimondo

    @doomsday1038: Can’t imagine what you consider success in a relationship. Surely it’s fidelity and trust. Or is it merely sharing bills, hollidays, haircuts and babes???

  • Jim Hlavac

    The question that comes to my mind is — where did they find the couples? If in San Francisco only, then they might find that those gay folks there are a bit more randy than, say, gay folks in Louisiana where I am. And if the couples were found by a public call to “tell us about your life,” than it might also skew the results to people who were not truly representative of gays at all, but merely the results for these particular gays who spoke.

    And any data from 1975 has got to be so questionable as to defy explanation; especially about gay couples, for in 1975 the sex itself was illegal, and I doubt many couples could have been found who said they were couples. And did they also talk to near 7000 gay and straight couples in 1975? And did they talk to an even split between gays and straights — that is 3,500 of each? Or more of one or the other?

    And given a divorce rate of some 50% among heteros, well, I would think the cheating rate is a tad higher than is admitted.

  • Reed Braden

    Dammit, Queerty! I’mma get fired if I keep reading your blog at work and people keep thinking it’s porn. If it’s a SFW article, you essentially censor yourself from those of us who only have internet at work by posting NSFW pictures next to it.

    I wish I could have read this, but I had to scroll down as quick as I could.

  • Jim Hlavac

    And well, looky here, I go to the article and I find this: “The study of 6,864 men and women — responses were collected from 6,082 individuals in 1975 and from 782 in 2000” Nothing says “new study” more than 11 year old data from 782 people versus 6,082 in 1975. What, the phones stopped working? They couldn’t find 6,082 people in 2010 or 2011 (it’s September already, isn’t it?) to compare to those they had in ’75? It took them 11 years to crunch these numbers? And still no break down as to how many of what sort anyone spoke to at all is reported or how they found them. Got to love “studies says” stuff, eh? Blah.

  • Cam

    @doomsday1038: said…

    “The most successful gay male relationships I know of are open ones.”

    Actually pretty much every open relationship I know have goes on for a while but invariably ended up the same. One of them met somebody that they liked better and it ended up breaking up.

  • George412

    This study I’m sure doesn’t account for all the open relationships which for the most part is considered cheating in my book. It also doesn’t account for lies. I’m sure more people would lie about the cheating question than they would about finances, housework, communication, etc.

  • Dodgy

    Let’s clarify a little here. The Study does not show that people are more or less monogamous. It shows that people currently in committed relationships have less likelihood of reporting having cheated.

    This may mean that people in relationships cheat less.

    It could equally mean that relationships in which at least one partner cheats are more likely to end shortly thereafter, this could be because cheating has become less acceptable, or it could mean that it is more likely that someone cheating will be caught, via incriminating phone and internet messaging, for example. The greater the data-trail, the more likely to get caught and the more likely the relationship will end

    It may also mean that it is less acceptable to admit to having cheated, without affecting the facts of cheating or otherwise.

    In these terms, really, the study doesn’t say much at all…

  • Andrew

    @Reed Braden – Totally my thoughts! I could hardly read the article, I was scrolling so fast!

  • Thomas Maguire

    I am only monogamous when I am not whoring or something.

  • Ian Bower

    @Rey: Yet ALL of my heterosexual, monogamous married friends have been divorced. For some (possibly many) monogamy may engender boredom, frustration and ultimately division. Each to their own.

  • christopher di spirito

    Everyone I know partnered or married is monogamous, including me.

    I suppose there are exceptions but I’m talking about successful, fulfilling and long term relationships. My philosophy is, if you want to fuck a new man every Saturday night, cool, but then why get married? It’s counterintuitive.

  • Mike in Asheville

    @Jim Hlavac: I checked the link too and agree with your thoughts. Did the researchers even think to cross check simply notions, such as, since 50% of marriages end in divorce, and infidelity is the number 1 reason, can these numbers be true? And that is among those who marry, how about the many more living-together couples who split?

    This study is nonsense.

  • ewe

    I have to pinch myself all the time. I am still here. As far as this study goes i think it’s basically bullshit. There are more “openly” gay people today than in the 1970s.

  • Hyhybt

    @christopher di spirito: I have a similar question: why do people want to go through the trouble of FINDING a new man every Saturday night (or however often) if you already have one worth keeping?

  • The Gays will make it Bachman2012 (John from England)


    It’s based on people.

    I am a very sexual person but I do NOT find many man that sexually attractive that I need to f*ck them. I think that because I don’t get off on the chase or nec ‘variation’ for the sake of variation. Many people in open relationships tend ton find many people attractive. I bet a lot of these couples are into pretty white bread looks-mainstream black, white, asian etc men-and behaviors.

    Also when it comes to relationships, many of these people in these relationships don’t always go in LTR with someone who shares the same values, interests, dreams, aspirations but someone who they get on well with and are very attracted to.

    I am very particular at who I spend my time with and so the idea of jumping in and out of bed with a bunch of men I find to be predictable conformists, loses my interest quicker then you can say…..

    Anyhow, gay men need to stop lumping us all in one group. Lol, I envy guys who constantly have hard on’s for anything with a pulse. Must be so easy to find a relationship i you wanted to.

  • Bryan

    @christopher di spirito: I’ve been wondering the same thing myself and no one has given me a really good answer. Now I get those people who enter a relationship with the intention of being monogamous, then shit happens and so to keep the relationship alive, they spice it up by trying new things and opening it up. But I don’t get the people who want to f**k other men, but still enter a relationship anyways. Why? It’s just an unneeded complication.

  • Bryan

    @christopher di spirito: I’ve been wondering the same thing myself and no one has given me a really good answer. Now I get those people who enter a relationship with the intention of being monogamous, then shit happens and so to keep the relationship alive, they spice it up by trying new things and opening it up. But I don’t get the people who want to f**k other men, but still enter a relationship anyways. Why? It’s just an unneeded complication.

    Oh and didn’t know Lesbians stuck together that much. That percentage is really low.

  • Jacob Woods

    There are a couple of things to keep in mind. If the survey conducted was on people in committed relationships and civil unions, you would expect to find less fidelity. And was the study in the past compared to people in committed relationships and partnerships?

    Surveys tend to have a bias towards making people feel good about themselves. If gays and lesbians are looking for less promiscuity in their community, there is a problem in that they could have been answering falsely.

    Surprisingly though, I find the study large enough to contain some value, but overall, I feel this is more of a biased propaganda study that doesn’t hold a lot of academic value to me.

    I am an lgbt activist and supportive. Gay myself. That doesn’t mean I buy this research as is. Plus, I have come across other very conflicting studies on the topic. Some which I feel were conducted very well.

  • Steve

    The 1970’s were fun. There was a period when all of the (known) sexually transmitted diseases were curable. Stonewall had just happened, so gays were much more ‘out’ than ever before. Gay bars and baths were easy to find, and even advertised, for the first time. The Rockefeller drug laws were just being written, and were not yet in effect in most of the country. Basically, for the first time in modern history, you could get high and f*ck your brains out with no consequences.

    Since then, the drug laws have become truly Draconian, and the diseases have become deadly. Being gay, as a couple, is more accepted. But getting high and f*cking your brains out with anonymous men at the baths is, obviously, much more dangerous.

    Gay people are not quite as stupid as some would like. Self-preservation does occur.

    Does the study actually reveal anything new, or does it just confirm what almost everyone already knew?

  • Jack

    Why do polygamists always try to justify their “open relationships” and make them sound so natural and healthy? I don’t care if you cheat on your husband or not or if you call it cheating or not. You do you. Stop trying to tell everyone how normal you are.

  • PopSnap

    Ugh, those figures are sickening and one reason why I can be bitter about being gay once in a blue moon. I know I’m not the only gay guy who wants things like a husband and a family and a white picket fence, but it sure does feel like it sometimes. And everybody acts like it’s all hunky-dory that gay men cheat on one another ALL. THE. TIME. It is never addressed in our community and even applauded at times. How is that happiness? How is that fulfilling? Do they take pleasure in being disgusting, horny, vapid skanks?

    I could go out and sleep with a nameless guy whose face I can hardly remember because I was so damn plastered like 60% of gay boys do every weekend. But where’s the meaning in that? Where’s the romance? It’s emptier than Sarah Palin’s brain and that’s pretty goddamn empty. Sex lasts for 45 minutes, maybe an hour if you’re good at it or brought your friends along. But real love? Honest, trusting, caring, committed, “I can’t live without you” love? That lasts a lifetime.

  • StudioTodd

    @Jack: The same question could be asked of “monogamists.” Why are they always trying to justify their “closed relationships” and make them sound so natural and healthy?

    BTW, it’s a contradiction of terms to describe a person’s sexual behavior in an open relationship as “cheating.” As long as it’s within the boundaries agreed upom by the couple, it can’t be “cheating.”

    Also, people generally don’t speak about the benefits of an open relationship unless it happens to be the topic at hand. If you don’t want to hear a differing opinion, don’t join in the conversation.

  • Little Kiwi

    PopSnap, you are destined to die alone because your concept of love and relationships are about as insightful as those of a slightly-retarded 8 year old girl from 1950.


    we get it. nobody wants to fuck you and clearly nobody wants to be in LOVE with you either. so you’re bitter and angry.

    Jack too. you guys who get your teeny panties in a bunch about couples who have committed romantic yet openly-sexual arrangements are truly pathetic. we get it. YOU don’t understand it and you waste time and energy being upset at what you don’t understand.

    it’s just so freakin lame. not everyone relates to sex and sexuality in the same way. you don’t understand it and you judge and you assume and you get all angry. newsflash – it’s not helped you land a boyfriend.

    and it never will.

    some thoughts….

  • jeanluc capri

    I don’t agree with this survey! The guys I have been so far, age ranging from 18 to 38, wanted just one night stand! Making me feel used and a sexual object. Infedelty among gays is common! The Women I have been, want to see me again and want a long term experience! The guys are constantly looking for the ideal prince. Good luck finding one!

  • Jonathan

    @PopSnap: Your words could be an epilogue for the story of my life as a gay man and one of its central themes, defining my sexuality in my own terms rather than those generally accepted within gay culture as you aptly describe.

    In the 14th year of the single most important relationship of my adult life with the man I love and adore from head to toe has itself always been monogamous and is something from which our bond has strengthened and the intimacy between us has only deepened with each passing year.

  • Interesting

    @StudioTodd: I have rarely met monogamist gays telling other gay men to be monogamist. I have met a lot of open relationship types who for some reason get angry when I say that’s not for me. I didn’t say it wasn’t for them. I said it wasn’t for me. In fact, I am going to out on a limb to say that’s probably the norm because I have lived in several major U.S. cities and dated a lot of guys. I have been in a lot of different circle of gay men. I have never once scene couples who are monogamist tell non monogamist couples that they shouldn’t be. I believe that’s just the excuse that the open relationship type of guys use because that’s what is preached by straight society rather than because it is some kind of norm in the gay community.

  • Interesting

    @StudioTodd: Let me add, I just realized when I have never met it. Its because if you are a monogamous type of guy, your interest is not on what a large number of people thinks about relationships. Its about finding someone compatible with you. As a general rule, if I meet someone I like who is not compatible with me, I am not focused on convincing them they should be like me because that’s counter productive to my goals of finding someone like me. I can’t imagine most guys when searching for someone to be with for a life time are really that focused on trying to convince open relationship guys other wise. I think many open relationship guys are threatened somehow by someone who makes a different choice.

  • Jonathan

    @Interesting: Misery loves company.

    Aside from that, my experience is that most gay men are typically intolerant of any behavior that doesn’t mimic their own, in particular, regarding sexuality.

  • Interesting

    @Jonathan:Yes, when I pointed out to some friends who took me to a “club” that turned out to be a bath house when I said I wanted to date one time, they couldn’t understand why I said that’s not what i meant by dating. That for me, I enjoy sex more with someone I am in relationship with or at least like, they told me that I was acting like a girl.

  • Interesting

    @Jonathan: Forgot, had to go through a crazy conversation later in which they told me they thought I was better than them. Never figured out how my own choices somehow became about them.

  • Jonathan

    @Jonathan: Uh, prologue me thinks ;-)

  • ewe

    @Interesting: That was not nice of your friends to say that but i must say myself that I will not ever compare any intimate relationship i am in to a straight relationship which is the underlying premise of this whole charade disguised as a study. I tend to be much more openminded and tolerant of going outside my primary relationship for sex without feeling like our love is somehow being jeopardized and i know quite a few people who feel exactly the same way. There should be no judgement regarding that point of view. As a matter of fact it is very realistic in any long term commitment.

  • ewe

    Btw that does not mean we are void of rules and boundaries.

  • Interesting

    @ewe: although I am extremely liberal about what others can do with their own lives, I am very conservative about what I do with my own because its just how I feel. That’s along way to say-no judgement. Just different that’s all.

  • alphacat123

    I don’t like the use of the word “cheat.” That’s a loaded, presumptuous term. Doesn’t the author remember the concept of “open relationships”? If the relationship is “open,” then by definition having sex with someone else is by definition NOT “cheating.” Poor reporting.

  • ewe

    @Interesting: I was not trying to imply anything about you personally.

  • ewe

    @Interesting: I also think it’s fantastic if people find each other and never have a desire for anyone else.

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  • JoeyO'H


    Your membership here should be suspended!

  • Avenger

    Gay men can’t be trusted with fidelity. No matter how long term or “committed” the relationship is said to be, at some point one or both of them is gonna give into temptation and mess around with somebody else.

  • Lefty

    @ewe: Well said.
    So many loaded terms being bandied about here.

  • CJ

    I find it amazing (but not surprising) at how many people take offense at this survey and want to come up with 10,000 reasons why it is faulty in one way or another. Yes, it needs to be updated again. But, the statistics as presented are still valid.

    We all know the realities of most (not all) gay men and their desire for promiscuity. But, we take offense at acknowledging these facts publicly it seems. IMO some people should stop being so defensive and just realize that gay men have a more challenging time in monogamous relationships for a variety of reasons. Thus, we find “open relationships” MUCH more prevalent with gay couples than straight couples. And, cheating amongst gay couples is obviously higher too. These statistics only tell us what we already know and see. If you can’t see these things, I’d say that you’re simply denying reality. And, as it pertains to cheating, look at who you hang around with. Statistics also show that you become like your friends. If you’re going to gay clubs with your partner, socializing with a lot of promiscuous guys OR socializing with guys that do not respect monogamy, your chances of cheating on your partner escalate considerably.

    These statistics are out there if you’re willing to seriously look at them vs. fight against them. Keep in mind, if someone wants to have an open relationship, that’s entirely THEIR business and I’m not here to judge anyone’s personal preferences or choices. But, in all honesty, it’s not a life that is for me or my partner of many years. We realize the increased risks we face as gay men as it relates to cheating. Thus, we live our lives accordingly and don’t go out to gay clubs where the guys are often 1/2 naked and on the prowl. It’s not a sacrifice to us. We’d rather invest into our relationship, protect our values on monogamy and raise our kids in an environment where their parents are more committed to each other, the family and unconditional love vs. the sexual escapades that we experienced in our youth. I wouldn’t normally be so bold in saying these things. But, it seems like many people here are defensive of any hint that gays are more promiscuous or more apt to “cheating” than those outside of the gay population. If you doubt that, you’re living under a rock. Read the statistics and get your head out of the nightclub and grindr mindset for a second. If you want to live promiscuously, or in an “open” relationship, that’s your choice. Hey, I lived the promiscuous life for years too. But, let’s not kid ourselves about how much more likely it is for gay men to cheat than it is for non-gays. We don’t even need statistics to tell us these things.

  • Little Kiwi

    I don’t know why so many of you plebeian idiots keep talking about “cheating” in the same breath as openly-sexual relationships.

    gays are not more promiscuous than straights. men are more promiscuous than women. duh.

    and in openly-sexual relationships when you have two men, if they’re two men who understand each other’s sex drives, appetites, desires, and their communication and trust is strong enough they can make their own rules.

    it aint cheating, dudes.

    the way some of you associated “commitment” with monogamy only proves me right – you’re gonna think your relationship is healthy because it’s monogamous, but from many of you it seems you want monogamy for all the wrong reasons.

    monogamy should be something that both partners want because they only have desires for each other. from reading these posts it’s rather clear that many of you “want monogamy” because you’re scared of being seen as a “promiscuous gay stereotype” , you’re jealous and insecure about your relationship stability, or you use monogamy as a “trap”

    none of those are the ‘right’ reasons to be monogamous as they all come from an insecure place of defensiveness and negativity.


  • CJ

    @Little Kiwi:

    Little Kiwi says: “gays are not more promiscuous than straights”

    There is a difference between an “open relationship” and a monogamous relationship where cheating occurs. You can, of course, even have cheating in an open relationship if the mutually agreed upon “rules” are broken.

    You say that it “seems rather clear” that these people only want monogamy for the wrong reasons. But, you fail to recognize that each person/couple has their own reasons for open relationships too. Let each person/couple decide for themselves w/o throwing mud on the other. I’ve lived the promiscuous life – and the monogamous life. The promiscuous life wasn’t for me. But, in my early days it is obviously what I wanted at the time.

    Your statement of “gays are not more promiscuous than straights” obviously lacks any facts. Statistics and the majority of gays will confess (often hesitantly) that promiscuity within the gay culture is far easier and prevalent than within the straight culture. My promiscuous straight friends agree. Not that “friends” are reliable statistics because everyone has their own circle of friends with their own biases. But, your statement also disregards statistics that may be old — but couldn’t be more obvious. It isn’t like we’re talking about a 55% to 45% spread. At BEST, the gay statistic is at 59% for cheating and is at 28% for the WORST amongst straights. (Comparing the worst and best amongst the two samples).

  • Mykey

    What people fail to realise is that you may be in an open relationship but still hope that your partner won’t fall in love with that other person they bed and leave you! Now that would hurt! Also, most people in relationships would rather not know what their partner’s upto while they’re separate. You know, what you don’t know, won’t hurt you…

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