Non-Monogamy in LGBTQ & Heterosexual Relationships

I decided to venture out of my own monogamous lesbian relationship and find which cohort was more flexible around open relationships vs monogamy.

K Meraki
K Meraki
Nov 18, 2019 · 6 min read

I was feeling curious about other people’s views on relationships. Steamy, I know. So I had a chat with some gay men, lesbians, and a few straight women on their thoughts around open relationships and monogamy. I also dug a little further and looked at two different studies on monogamy/non-monogamy for gay and queer folk.

(Image by rawpixel on Pexels)

I had a discussion with a gorgeous gay man in his 50s, and I asked him what he thought about monogamy in the gay community. (He always giggles when I ask him about gay topics.) He said that before gay rights “back in the day,” the idea of long term monogamous relationships wasn’t a thing. He felt that it was more of a heteronormative lifestyle that gay men didn’t really want to follow. He said that back in the day gay men rebelled and that a lot of the ones he knew didn’t want marriage because they thought it was too heteronormative.

“Bugger you, you don’t like us so we’ll do whatever we want!”

“Back then, it was more about the underground scene and underground meetings.” He went on to say that he did feel that people’s priorities do change as they get older though. “Those who decide to get married are more focused on children, paying off a mortgage and other adult things, and less on sleeping with other people.” He felt that open relationships were more of a thing younger people did.

On the flip side, I spoke with a gay guy who is in his mid to late 20s. He stated that he wanted a monogamous relationship, but felt that it was hard to find someone who wanted the same thing. He felt that gay guys just want to “sleep around” and have “all been with each other.” He said that he was sleeping with a guy and found out he had a boyfriend, but the boyfriend didn’t know he slept with other men.

When he questioned him about cheating on his partner, the guy said that he was an adult and can make his own choices.

(Image by Vinicius Vilela on Pexels)

I did some research around gay men and monogamous relationships, and I found this article by Samuel Leighton-Dore: Study finds younger gay couples are more inclined towards monogamy (2018). The article consisted of a study that had 832 participants aged between 18–39 years old. A participant explained:

“I don’t feel supported by the gay community in having a monogamous relationship. In fact, the norm seems to be open relationships, and we feel judged, and even pressured, to open things up, when people find out we’re monogamous.”

The statistics were as follows:

  • 86% of couples were monogamous
  • 14% were non-monogamous
  • 90% of single participants were wanting monogamous relationships.

The study also showed that 49% of couples that were together for two years or less were monogamous, while 28% were non-monogamous. Interestingly 42% of couples that had been together for six years or more were non-monogamous, with 22% being monogamous.

A younger gay male I spoke with recently, who is in his mid-20s and in a long term relationship, explained that “after a while, the sex gets boring with the same person.” He went on to say that you have to go out and have fun. When he said fun, I assumed he didn’t mean going out for brunch with his partner and walking the dog afterward. That’s what I do. Classic lesbian.

(Image by Karina Irias on Pexels)

I then took this topic to a lesbian woman in her 50s who has been in a monogamous relationship for 13 years. I asked if she felt lesbian women were more monogamous than gay men. “Definitely.” She did agree, however, that after a few years into a relationship the sex does become “same old, same old.” She went on to say in the animal kingdom, males generally go off and plant their seed wherever they can and she felt that it was similar to people.

“We are like animals, except humans have morals.”

She said that if a person is open with their partner about who they sleep with, they wouldn’t be carrying guilt in their conscience. To wrap it up, she said that she wouldn’t like an open relationship and wouldn’t like it if her partner slept with others.

I had a brief discussion with a lesbian friend, in her early 20s, and she felt that open relationships were weird, but that was because she felt insecure. She understood the view of people who had open relationships around not owning people but thought that non-monogamy was more of a younger generation thing.

She felt that it was around younger people “not being able to commit.”

I recalled speaking to a lesbian in her late 30s a while ago, she said to me that she preferred to have a non-monogamous relationship over a monogamous one. She felt that it would be fine, as long as it was more of a one-night stand type thing and that she would not see the person again.

(Image by Rosemary Ketchum on Pexels)

I found an article titled Here’s The Salacious Sex Statistics On Queer Women In Non-monogamous vs. Monogamous Relationships by RIESE(2015). This article featured data from 8,566 participants, and they were between the ages of 18–36 years old. The survey stated that 55.97% were in a monogamous relationship, 29.17% were single, and 14.86% were “in a non-monogamous relationship of any form.”

Let’s take a look at the statistics:

Transgender women: 40% were monogamous and 60% non-monogamous.

Cis-women: 82% were monogamous and 17% non-monogamous.

Genderqueer: 71% were monogamous and 29% non-monogamous.

Lesbian: 85.6% were monogamous and 14.35% non-monogamous.

Bisexual: 70.4% were monogamous and 29.6% non monogamous.

Queer: 68.4% were monogamous and 31.6% were non-monogamous.

Lastly, I asked four heterosexual women what their thoughts were around non-monogamy as straight women. They were aged between 26–33 years old. Three of the women were in relationships of various lengths and one was single. All of them said that they would feel jealous and prefer their partner to be “theirs.”

One stated that she felt it can get complicated when other people start to get involved, based on people she has known who have opened their relationship up. The single woman shared that she would prefer to focus on one partner, and give them her love instead of trying to share it around with others.

(Image by Lucxama Sylvain on Pexels)

Do what you want

Stats show that gay males and queer folk were more flexible when it came to non-monogamy. The least flexible around non-monogamy seemed to be straight cis-women, and the study showed that lesbians were the most monogamous from the group, followed by straight cis-women.

There is no right or wrong answer to how people should approach relationships. Everyone does things differently, and there are always people in each cohort that are monogamous and non-monogamous in 2019. Be who you are and do what (and who) you like. I’ll be sitting by the fire drinking a cup of tea and holding hands with my sweetheart (monogamously).

Candour

Stories that celebrate the openness about the joys…

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store