A quarter of Americans are interested in having an open relationship

Jamie BallardData Journalist
April 26, 2021, 3:00 PM UTC

Monogamy isn’t for everyone. Some people may find that they are happier in open or non-monogamous relationships, where they can have more than one romantic and/or sexual partner.  How many Americans would be interested in an open relationship?  

A YouGov poll of more than 23,000 Americans finds that about a quarter (25%) of Americans say they would be interested in having an open relationship. Men (32%) are more likely than women (19%) to say they would be interested in a non-monogamous relationship. Among married couples, this is also the case: 30% of husbands would be interested, while fewer wives (21%) feel similarly.  

About two-thirds (68%) of Americans say they would not be interested in having an open relationship.  

Millennials are more likely than older and younger Americans to be interested in open relationships  

Millennials are more likely than any other generation to express interest in having an open relationship, by a notable margin. Four in 10 (41%) Millennials would be interested, while Generation Z (29%) trails 12 points behind, followed by Generation X (23%). Baby Boomers (12%) are the least likely to express interest in an open relationship. 

Based on other findings, it may not be surprising that millennial men (45%) are more likely than millennial women (35%) to say they would be interested in trying out an open relationship.  

Gay, lesbian, and bisexual Americans are more likely than heterosexual people to express interest in open relationships  

Additional data from YouGov Profiles suggests that Americans who identify as heterosexual/straight (22%) are about half as likely as sexual minorities (46%) – meaning those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or “other” – to say they are interested in having an open relationship.  

This trend is, again, strongly connected to generation. Among millennials who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or other, 52% would be interested in open relationships. Fewer Gen Z (42%) and Gen X (43%) respondents who identify with these labels agree, and 30% of Baby Boomers in this group are similarly interested.  

 

Previous research from YouGov suggests that although the majority of Americans don’t express interest in open relationships, they may not be convinced that humans are naturally meant to be monogamous. A May 2020 poll found that while 36% of Americans believed human beings are naturally monogamous, just as many (37%) took the opposite view. Men (41%) were more likely than women (33%) to say that they believed humans are not meant to be monogamous.  

See full results here.  

Related: One-third of partnered men wish they were having sex more often  

Methodology: 23,194 US adults 18+ were surveyed between April 12 - 18, 2021. The responding sample is weighted to be representative of the US population.    

Image: Gender Spectrum Collection