As stated in my previous blog, this author may due some analysis of an interesting study regarding open relationship. For those of you may not have read the previous blog regarding this interview study, it is a small study involving 86 gay male couples in a long-term open relationship and secure enough to discuss how the dealt with being in this type of relationship. Many came from San Francisco and California with the remainder coming from either large metropolitan states (e.g. NY or IL) or internationally.
The study primarily focused on how they dealt with managing their relationship from the start of discussing opening it through how it is maintained. It goes on to examine what non-monogamy looks like, the boundaries involved, and the impact it has.
Like any study it has limitations. Granted ethical considerations can limit the research being done, especially when it comes to sex. In addition the small sample size and limited geographical representation tends to represent open relationships in more metropolitan areas while under representing the issues couples, in open relationships face in suburban or rural areas. The fact this study examines gay male couples is not a major limitation, this author feels, since open relationships are common with gay males it offers generalizations that can be made about open relationships for heterosexual and lesbian couples.
The strength of this study lies in its examination of the boundaries and defining what is non-monogamy. By defining non-monogamy it covers all types of threesomes such as cuckolding, friends with benefits, threesomes and poly relationships thereby making it easier to generalize to non-gay open relationships.
Nonetheless, the when reading the article it becomes apparent the author interchangeably uses the words open relationship and non-monogamy. There are some like this author who feel there is a distinction between the two. This author believes the degree to which emotional monogamy exists in the relationship along with the context of the agreed sex outside of the relationship defines if the relationship is open. Likewise, the degree to which non-monogamy exists is defined by the degree to which physical and emotional monogamy exists in the relationship. Since this article deals with gay couples in an open relationship then the two terms most likely can be used interchangeably; however, a limitation of this article is the fact the author did not define the terms from the beginning and for some it can create confusion that the two different words mean the same.
Another strength of this article is the use of statistics and the use of participants’ answers to support points raised. For example the authors, at the beginning, talk about opening up the relationship. It provides statistics for how long it took to open the relationship and then drew on some of the comments made to further support their statements.
A third strength of this article is the time it devotes to boundaries and the extent involvement occurs. The section on boundaries specifically relates to gay couples in an open relationship, it can provide heterosexual couples who are struggling with the concept of boundaries insight on boundaries. Likewise the section regarding involvement. It is a detailed section that is well worth reading since it can provide insight for non-gay couples wanting to learn more about the risks of emotional involvement.
Overall the article is constructed in a very logical and understandable way. The one area, for future research, should be is how the couples arrived at the decision to open up the relationship. Granted the authors states there is no road map to non-monogamy but does not support the claim, to the extent they do with other parts of the article. There is some mention about how the open relationship started but not the events leading up to that point.
Another area for consideration is a comparison of heterosexual couples with gay male and lesbian couples who are in an open relationship. By doing this, it will help others to understand some of the common principles that underpin an open relationship. Likewise those who struggle with being in an open relationship versus those who are secure with it. While there are some limitations to this article, this author feels there is useful information for anyone wanting to further understand open relationships.