It seems that finding romance, love, and sexual intimacy is a central part of our life experience for most people and although people engage in romance in a variety of ways, alternatives to classic “couple/dyad” are largely overlooked in relationship research to date.
Now scholars and the media alike have recently started to argue that the rules of romance are and relationships are changing, suggesting that interest in consensual departures from monogamy may become popular as people navigate their long-term coupling.
Although this academic and popular interest in consensual nonmonogamy (CNM) is increasing, still very little is known about the actual prevalence of CNM.
The Findings From Two National Samples of Single Americans
By using two separate U.S. Census based quota samples of single adults in the United States (Study 1: n = 3,905; Study 2: n = 4,813), the present studies show that more than one in five (21.9% in Study 1; 21.2% in Study 2) participants report engaging in CNM at some point in their lifetime.
Its interesting that this proportion seems to remain constant across age, education level, income, religion, region, political affiliation, and race, but varied with gender and sexual orientation.
Specifically, men (compared to women) and people who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual (compared to those who identify as heterosexual) were more likely to report previous engagement in CNM.
These findings suggest that a sizable and diverse proportion of U.S. adults have experienced CNM, highlighting the need to incorporate CNM into theoretical and empirical therapy and family science work.