Most people in exclusive relationships get tested for STDs together or separately, never use condoms again and instea,d rely on birth control. This seems like a sure-fire way to prevent STDs, but a new study may have you second-guessing.
A study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, compared the relative safety of monogamous relationships to open relationships (consensual non-monogamous) in terms of sexually transmitted diseases.
Justin Lehmiller, director of the Social Psychology Graduate Program at Ball State University, got 556 participants together for his study, who were ages 18 or older and in relationships (351 monogamous and 205 consensual non-monogamous). Of that, 77.9 percent identified as heterosexual, 3.8 percent as gay/lesbian, 14.4 percent as bisexual and 4 percent wrote in their own identity.
The participants were asked about their current relationship, past sexual experiences, condom use, how often they get tested for STIs, and any additional sex partners outside of their primary partner.
Participants were also asked if their primary partner was aware if they were having sex with other people. This was all to find out if more sexual partners, meaning being in an open relationship, would increase one’s risk of contracting an STD. Surprisingly, results determine they do not.
Even though participants had more sexual partners, people in open relationships were not any more likely to have an STD than those in monogamous relationships. It turns out, people in open relationships were safer about sex, wore condoms with all their partners and were tested regularly. They were also less likely to lie to their primary partner about extra sexual experiences.
With the non-monogamous group, 72.4 percent reported sexual involvement with someone other than their primary partner. Of that, 36.7 percent said their “primary partner did not have specific knowledge of this information.” A third of the sample wasn’t being completely honest, but they weren’t breaking any rules since they were in an open relationship. With open relationships, there’s really no room for jealousy.
In the monogamous group, 24.4 percent said they were sexually involved with someone other than their primary partner. Out of that, 75 percent said their primary partner had no knowledge of this information. They were all basically lying to their partners and getting it in with a side-piece.
Those in the monogamous group were also less likely to wear condoms with a side sex partner. If someone’s in an exclusive relationship where they’re not wearing condoms, they might practice this with outside sex partners. They also probably won’t get tested for STDs as much. Also, if we’re being honest, if you’re in a relationship where you’re not using condoms, and your partner finds condoms, that will cause a series of questions or even an argument.
This proves what many of us know but don’t want to believe: there’s major cracks in monogamy!
Lehmiller writes in his paper, “The present findings reveal that monogamy is often implemented imperfectly. Persons who have made monogamy agreements often break them, and when they do, they are less likely to take safety precautions, get tested for STIs, and disclose those extradyadic encounters to their partners than persons who agree to some form of negotiated nonmonogamy … Thus, many people in monogamous relationships may not be as safe as they assume.”
He also found one in four people in the monogamous group were cheating which lines up with past research on infidelity.
In an email, Lehmiller told Fusion, “The potential danger of monogamy is that, if your partner puts you at risk by cheating, you’re unlikely to find out until it’s too late.”
“People in open relationships seem to take a lot of precautions to reduce their sexual health risks. They have more open communication with their partners, a greater likelihood of using condoms with all of their partners, and higher rates of STI testing. Altogether, this means that open relationships aren’t as risky as people think.”
Ladies, don’t play yourself. You may think you’re his only one, but this is no reason to slack on getting tested!