Dating & Relationships

Americans’ Interest in Consensual Non-Monogamy is on the Rise

June 29, 2016 by Justin Lehmiller

When it comes to romantic relationships, monogamy is the rule for most people. However, many folks agree to some form of consensual non-monogamy (CNM) in which they permit each other to have multiple sexual and/or romantic relationships at the same time.

A new study published in the Journal of Sex Research suggests that Americans are increasingly interested in learning about CNM. The author of this study, Dr. Amy Moors of the University of Michigan, determined this by analyzing Google search trends in the United States between the years 2006-2015.

Specifically, Moors looked at search trends for three types of CNM: polyamory, swinging, and open relationships. What she found was that searches for polyamory and open relationships significantly increased across the decade (see data below), whereas searches for swinging decreased.

Moors compared these trends to those of other popular keywords in order to determine whether these were unique patterns. In other words, were people just searching for more of everything over time, or were they specifically searching more for information on polyamory and open relationships? The results supported the idea that this was indeed a unique pattern.

These findings suggest that Americans are increasingly interested in learning about certain departures from monogamy—specifically, polyamory and open relationships. Whether this means people want to practice them (versus just learn about them) is a different question that these data cannot answer, though.

Also, we can’t say based on these data who exactly has become more interested in CNM. Is it limited to certain subsets of the population, or is the interest broad-based? We need more research to know.

Either way, it’s clear that interest in learning about relationship diversity and variations on monogamy is on the rise in the United States.

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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