Alternatives to Monogamy Among Gay Male Couples in a Community Survey: Implications for Mental Health and Sexual Risk.

Published: December 21, 2011

Abstract

Researchers have documented the psychological and physical health benefits of being in a relationship among heterosexuals, although there has been limited research to examine such benefits among gay and bisexual men. Gay and bisexual men demonstrate considerable variety in the nature of their relationships, particularly in terms of the degree to which they are monogamous. In order to better understand the psychological and behavioral impact of same-sex relationships on the health of gay and bisexual men, demographic characteristics, psychological factors, sexual behavior, and substance use data were examined in a sample of 819 gay and bisexual men who self-identified as single (n = 503) or were classified as being in monogamous (n = 182), open (n = 71) or monogamish (n = 63) relationships. Monogamish relationships were those in which both men have agreed that any sexual activity with casual partners must happen when both members of the couple are present and involved (e.g., "threeways" or group sex). Findings indicated that being in a same-sex relationship had health benefits compared to being single among gay and bisexual men. Men in monogamous relationships reported the least amount of substance use compared to all other groups, and less substance use during sex than single men or men in open relationships. Men in monogamish relationships demonstrated psychological and sexual health benefits relative to single men and men in open relationships. Gay and bisexual men in monogamish relationships more closely resembled those in monogamous relationships, in terms of psychological and sexual health benefits, rather than men in open relationships, suggesting that varying forms of non-monogamy should be explored for their relevance to health behaviors.

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