STUDY: “Monogamish” Gay Couples Happier Than Single Or Monogamous Guys

threeway 2A study conducted through Hunter College confirms what a lot of gay men will tell you: being in a monogamous relationship isn’t the only road to happiness.
Surveying more than 800 gay and bisexual men in New York, researchers at the school’s Center for HIV Educational Studies and Training (CHEST) discovered that many subjects received physical and mental health benefits from relationships with some degree of openness.

“The diversity in types of non-monogamous relationships was interesting, and something that hasn’t been explored very much in research studies,” claims Dr. Jeffrey Parsons, who authored the study. “Typically gay men have been categorized as monogamous or not—and our data show that it is not so black-and-white.”

Roughly 40% of the survey’s respondents said they were partnered, with 58% of those men claiming to be in strictly monogamous relationships. Of the 32% in non-monogamous pairings, though, 47% were “monogamish,” a phrase popularized by Dan Savage to refer to relationships that were mostly closed, but with a little wiggle room.

Not unexpectedly, men in fully monogamous partnerships showed significantly less illicit drug use and unsafe-sex practices. But the guys in “monogamish” relationships showed lower rates of depression when compared to single gay men, and higher rates of life satisfaction than singles or guys in open or closed relationships.

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #chest #monogamish #monogamy stories and more


  • Fidelio

    I dunno. I don’t get the whole open or open-ish relationships. Alot of my friends are in open relationships or “What I don’t know won’t kill me” type of relationships, which I find odd. Maybe I’m just a prude or my Latino chauvinism. Who knows.

  • GreatGatsby2011

    Woahwoahwoah! So you’re telling me that people are happier when they get to have their cake and eat it too??

    Mind…. blown!

    Did we really need a study to tell us this? How about a study as to whether or not being in a fist fight hurts more than being in a tickle fight? I’m dying to know the answer to that one.

  • sheavanhorn

    I’m not sure if you have your understanding of the study correct. I don’t think the study claims that “monogamish” men report higher rates of life satisfaction. In the CHEST published study, it states, “Preliminary research indicates that men in gay relationships characterized by open arrangements report similarly high levels of relationship quality and satisfaction as men in monogamous partnerships with other men (LaSala).” I’m a proponent of couples engaging in their own rules, but I think your interpretation of the study as presented in this article sends an inaccurate message to happily coupled men; that they’d be happier if they changed it to “monogamish.”

  • viveutvivas

    I think the above article suggests a causal relationship that is the wrong way around. It is quite possible that confident/satisfied/non-depressed guys are just in the first place more likely to be able to deal with an open relationship, and thus to have one, than insecure/depressed guys.

  • John Doe

    @sheavanhorn: I concur.

    Anyone relying upon Queerty for an interpretation of a study or the communication of various facts should be aware of various past inaccuracies.

    Twice in the past 2 months I’ve seen Queerty publish stories that were incredibly OFF and Queerty never fixed their mistake when readers mentioned this in the comments area. (Not that I expect them to read every comment…. but it might be a good idea to start). One error related to the twisting and misunderstanding a tweet by Ryan Seacrest and the other was a story that Brazil recently celebrated their first same-sex marriage. The latter is obviously wrong, as Brazil celebrated their first same-sex marriage over a year ago. Days later the erroneous information was still there.

    In regards to this study, we really need to know the raw data and the dynamics of these relationships before drawing a firm opinion or conclusion. Are couples less “monogamish” earlier in a relationship vs. after 3 or 4 years? What about comparing people in their early twenties vs. people in their forties? There are going to be variations in the level of monogamy and commitment in various stages of relationship. It’d be like comparing monogamy with a DATING heterosexual couple to a MARRIED heterosexual couple. There are bound to be differences that are very difficult to quantify. Not to mention the subjective factor that many people DO have a honeymoon period in relationships and friendships. As well, happiness has a wide variation of definitions. Is a married couple of 15 years with 2 teenagers in the house more “happy” than two guys in their early twenties who are non-monogamous? It really depends on the couple AND it depends on what you’re saying “happy” means. Happy and content are often two different things.

  • Chad Hunt

    The problem with most relationships is Honesty. What happens more often then not is we say we want monogamy but what we really want is for our partners to be monogamous while we are not. Hypocritical to be sure but that is often the truth.
    re occasion
    People rush into monogamy way to quickly. They do it out of fear of losing the other person.

    I have been in all types of relationships. Monogamous, Open, Polyamorous, Monogamous (with my job exception)

    I have been happy in each.

    My current relationship has been for over 8 years. When we first met we had an open relationship. After dating for a while we decided on a monogamous relationship with the exception of my porn career. Anyone in the porn industry will tell you that Porn Sex is rarely fun and a lot of work. Often you are paired with people you don’t even like etc. It is a job and no emotion etc is involved in it. From here we moved into a play together relationship on rare occasion. Now, for several years we have committed to a monogamous relationship.

    I have been in the past in a polyamorous relationship where the 3 of us were monogamous together and all had great love for each other. However the third party decided it was not comfortable for him to try to explain his relationship with family, friends, co-workers etc so he left the relationship.

    My current bf is not open to the idea of Polyamory so we are just monogamous.

    Again the best way to be happy in any relationship is honesty with ourselves on what we want and honesty with our partners on what we want with them.

  • Fitz

    I think that part of whats missing from statements like this is any kind of age-related context. More plainly; when I was 20-25 ish, I really NEEDED monogamy. I am so glad that I was monogamous at that point in my life. Sex is less charged for me, and can be simple fun– but at that age it was all the melodrama of “do you love me and only me”. I laugh at it now, but it was once important to me.

  • Doogle Snorf

    The study has some interesting information, however the methodology is lacking. The sampling method does not really represent the cross section of gay individuals, and the study does not follow the participants over any lenght of time. While the claims of the article may or may not be true for the gay population in general, the study certainly does not provide evidence for the claims being made in the article.

    A more accurate title would be: “Monogamish” Gay Couples Living in New York City Who Attend Gay Community Events Happier Than Single or Monogamous Guys According to Snapshot Study

  • Barry

    Just read this study with a critical eye. First, this is correlational study and not a cause and effect study. Therefore, we do not know what variables are improving the couples relationship. Also, were the monogamous couples unhappy because of their relationship being closed…well we do not know that either. Point is that a number of variables could cause the results to be the way they are. I would also love to know where they got their samples and was the sample random. I would just say this study does not prove that monogamous relationships are unhappy or non monogamous relationships are healthier or less healthy. More studies would need to be done clearly.

  • Bumper

    To each his own I guess. Not for me though. My worries would we be about communicable diseases. Please have respect for your body and mine. I don’t need what you picked up and I don’t want to practice safe sex in a relationship. We need to stop buying all this crap.

  • audo_r

    @sheavanhorn: I completely agree. Firstly, couples have to be open and honest, and set their own rules. This article does not seem to really present all the angles of the study. How one defines ‘happiness’ is quite relative. Will a married couple in their late 30s, with 2 kids, view happiness the same as a couple in their early-mid 20s, with no kids? More than likely these two couples will view ‘happiness’ differently. So what variables are we using to symbolize happiness?

    Going back to the idea of couples making their own rules, I say: if a couple prefers to be completely monogamous, and that works for them, then great. If couple prefers an open relationship, and that works for them, then great. It depends on the couple. The key is having an open and honest conversation about what both partners expect. I truly believe that in most cases, this lack of open discourse is where things go wrong (e.g., cheating, betrayal, heartbreak, etc.).

    So like sheavonhorn says, this article seems to suggest that happily monogamous couples would be happier if they were monogamish. However, that very well may not be the case if both partners in the couple simply prefer monogamy.

  • MMDD

    To each his own, but I personally don’t want to have sex with anyone else except my husband. Quite frankly I’ve just never understood why you would want to sleep with someone else if you’re in a committed relationship–but I guess that’s because I’m both gay and monogamous by nature.

  • homomasculine

    Dumbest shit in the world, and it’s all in a matter of personal opinion. I’ve been with my partner for many many many faithful and sexy years, we did the ‘penis dance’ (not anal sex), and we wounded up mixing our baby-making juice. It was the most sacred feeling i ever had, and literally felt we were joined, along with our legs being tangled and our bodies compressed. It’s the closest I ever felt with a another being, and it was an expression of how I felt me and my partner were physically (one man). Why the hell would i share that with a random stranger i don’t care about? How can anyone get into sex, without caring for the person? Isn’t it empty, and unsatisfying? Maybe I’m just the minority, but when i tried sleeping around, it felt empty, and I felt like a horny mongrel. When i actually did care about the person, I was doing all i could to make him scream my name.

    Open relationships and anything this slutty, is a bunch of cowards and boys who haven’t man up yet and learn the value of commitment.

  • shymeee

    I don’t buy it. What factors went into choosing candidates? True random would include gays from all areas of the gay universe, not just a certain sector of New Yorkers. I mean, 800 closeted gay men from rural Pennsylvania – many with bluecollar, conservative religious roots- would most definitely bring a whole different spectrum of answers. Also there is a conflict if Dr. Parsons, himself, prefers monogamish over monogamy. In reality the study confirms ONLY that the majority of 800 sampled, “out’ gay New York men, claimed to prefer a more open relationship.

  • OpenYep

    I find it ridiculous that so many monotonous (ooops, I mean monogamous) guys are being so judgmental of open relationships. Monogamy is a hold over from straight relationships. It was clearly in the best interest of women to have a monogamous relationship. Offspring of monogamous women were much more likely to survive past infancy with a good man close by to protect the family. Men who were not monogamous were much more likely to pass on their genetic material even if only a small portion of their infants survived. (Let’s face it a man can fuck a lot of women in 9 months)

    I had an 11 year relationship with my husband (ended by his death–cancer). We had a home together, adopted children, traveled, had great friends and great sex. But, we were not monogamous. Neither of us abused the privilege and we trusted each other to always use safer sex outside of our relationship.

    I laugh at our friends (all “monogamous”). At our parties, the more fem guys would chat about the guys that they were sleeping with and the butcher guys would talk about who we were sleeping with. At the end of the night, my partner and I would compare notes and laugh–happy that we could always be honest with each other.

    Prior to my awesome open relationship, I allowed myself to be talked into a relationship with a guy who wanted monogamy. Of course, after 5 years, he left me for someone that he was sleeping with. (So much for monogamy.)

    If you want monogamy, fine. But understand two things. (1) there is a more than 50/50 chance that your hubby has got some on the side. AND (2) just because it works for you, doesn’t mean that it will work for everyone.

  • MMDD

    @OpenYep: And yours is hands down the most judgmental of all these posts. Neither your friends nor your former boyfriend were monogamous; they were liars, plain and simple. Don’t paint everyone with one stroke based solely on your own experiences, which, by the way, have clearly left you quite jaded.

  • mermodfreres

    I’m on the monogamous side of the stadium — my current bf says that I need to lose my “innocence” and realize that most gay men will ultimately wander. And while he presses for us to become “more” than just boyfriends, he is now having to realize that I only want one man in my bed. Ever. And while he’s a great guy, our relationship will likely have a definite shelf-life. It’s a shame but like all the previous posts demonstrate: there are many opinions on this topic.

    One of my dear, dear friends regularly has sex with multiple men on a weekly basis (not his partner). He and his partner have been together for over 15 years (“open” for most of it) and still love each other. It works for them. I, on the other hand, would have my partner’s bags packed and on the curb if he did that to me. But that’s my preference.

  • Cazin

    I don’t know why articles about what other people do within the confines of their private lives seem to generally attract quite a number of mean-spirited and snarky comments from self-righteous people (on both sides of the issue).

    The simple truth is that only the individuals involved in each specific relationship know what is best for them. For many people, monogamy is an important requirement to a happy and healthy relationship, but for many others, monogamy is not the right choice for them. But, the common components of any happy and healthy relationship are honesty, trust, commitment, respect, kindness, generosity, and most importantly, love. One doesn’t need a study to reveal these key ingredients to a successful relationship.

    Frankly, I think it is high time for everyone to get out of everyone else’s bedroom and to just let others decide what works best for them. Also, people need to learn the value of keeping their personal lives private, and unless you are sleeping with someone or planning to do so, you should keep the details of your intimate life between you and your partner(s).

  • yaletownman

    I think the reason that so many monogamous men want to demonize open relationships is because they need to make them bad or wrong in order to control the person they are in relationship with. It’s the same ole b.s. that religious people use “see you can’t do that because the bible says it’s bad”. They don’t have to be honest and take ownership of the real reasons they are against them which are within themselves. If you don’t want to have an open relationship then own the reasons why you don’t. If you are too insecure and find them threatening then just be honest with yourself and stop trying to make other people bad so that you don’t have take a look at yourself. If they are too complicated for you then own it. Any reason you don’t want an open relation is a valid one but that doesn’t mean that just because it’s not the same for others they are bad or wrong or immoral or f’d up. The only rules in the game of love are those that are right for YOU but don’t put them off on others. That’s the only thing here that’s wrong, bad and immoral.

  • single4life

    I accept I will be single for life being a gay man that believes in monogamy. I have one long term long distance companion that provides me with the intimacy I need when we are on the same continent. I pretty much consider myself a non-practicing gay. I am happy and healthy and that is what matters most. I do not need to sleep with multiple men to boost my self esteem.

Comments are closed.