Fantasies About Consensual Nonmonogamy Among Persons in Monogamous Romantic Relationships

Abstract

The present research explored fantasies about consensual nonmonogamous relationships (CNMRs) and the factors that predict such fantasies in a large and diverse online sample (N = 822) of persons currently involved in monogamous relationships. Nearly one-third (32.6%) of participants reported that being in some type of sexually open relationship was part of their favorite sexual fantasy of all time, of whom most (80.0%) said that they want to act on this fantasy in the future. Those who had shared and/or acted on CNMR fantasies previously generally reported positive outcomes (i.e., meeting or exceeding their expectations and improving their relationships). In addition, a majority of participants reported having fantasized about being in a CNMR at least once before, with open relationships being the most popular variety. Those who identified as male or non-binary reported more CNMR fantasies than those who identified as female. CNMR fantasies were also more common among persons who identified as anything other than heterosexual and among older adults. Erotophilia and sociosexual orientation were uniquely and positively associated with CNMR fantasies of all types; however, other individual difference factors (e.g., Big Five personality traits, attachment style) had less consistent associations. Unique predictors of infidelity fantasies differed from CNMR fantasies, suggesting that they are propelled by different psychological factors. Overall, these results suggest that CNMRs are a popular fantasy and desire among persons in monogamous romantic relationships. Clinical implications and implications for sexual fantasy research more broadly are discussed.

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Correspondence to Justin J. Lehmiller.

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Lehmiller, J.J. Fantasies About Consensual Nonmonogamy Among Persons in Monogamous Romantic Relationships. Arch Sex Behav 49, 2799–2812 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-020-01788-7

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Keywords

  • Sexual fantasy
  • Consensual nonmonogamy
  • Polyamory
  • Swinging
  • Open relationships
  • Cuckolding
  • Infidelity