When you think about monogamy, you think about two people who are so into each other that they don’t need anyone else. You think passion and romance, right?
Conventional wisdom says that if you’re in a monogamous relationship, you’re safer from sexually transmitted diseases as opposed to those in open relationships. But it turns out that may not be true.
According to an article in Fusion, people in monogamous relationship are as at much risk for STDs as those in open relationships. And the twist? People in open relationships might be safer.
In a new study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, researchers surveyed 556 participants, aged 18 or older and of various sexualities, about their relationships, past sexual experiences, condom use, how often they tested for STDs, and if they had any additional partners aside from their current one (whether to the knowledge of that partner or not).
In the monogamous group, 24.4 percent reported sexual involvement with someone other than their partner, and a whopping 75 percent of that number kept the information from their partner.
Meanwhile, in the non-monogamous relationships, 72.4 percent of participants were sexually involved with people other than their main partner and 36.7 percent of that number kept the information from their partner. However, as established in non-monogamous relationships, both would expect their partner to be involved with someone else.
So despite the high percentage of participants in open relationships having multiple partners, how are they safer from STDs?
Researchers suggest that the knowledge of other sexual partners drives individuals to practice safe sex, such as wearing condoms and getting tested frequently.
Meanwhile, non-monogamous couples might not wear condoms as much, even with side partners — especially if they lie about the side partners. They also might not get tested as frequently.
“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 non-monogamy,” said Justin Lehmiller, social psychology graduate program director at Ball State University.
But what about those monogamous participants who didn’t cheat? Lehmiller compared their STI rates with the non-monogamous participants, and found no difference at all.
“People in open relationships seem to take a lot of precautions to reduce their sexual health risks,” Lehmiller said.
So take a lesson from those in open relationships and practice safe sex by using condoms and get tested as frequently as you can. You never know.