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Comparing the Self-Reported Health, Happiness, and Marital Happiness of a Multinational Sample of Consensually Non-Monogamous Adults with Those of the U.S. General Population: Additional Comparisons by Gender, Number of Sexual Partners, Frequency of Sex, and Marital Status

Abstract

The primary objective of this cross-sectional study was to examine the associations of self-reported health, happiness, marital happiness, frequency of sexual activity, and number of partners from a multinational survey of individuals who are consensually non-monogamous (CNM) or open to being CNM, completed in 2012 with 4062 respondents. We compared data from this survey with the 2010–2014 US General Social Surveys (GSS). This study explored these variables and their predictors by gender (including 612 non-binary-gendered CNM individuals), marital status, number of partners, sexual frequency, age, education, and income and were broken down by behavioral sexual orientation, marital status, and other relevant categories. Respondents in our CNM sample generally reported being as healthy (sometimes healthier; e.g., all respondents M–W Z = 7.66, p < .001, η2 = 0.007), happy (frequently happier; e.g., multiple-partnered Z = 15.43, p < .001, η2 = 0.069), happy in their marriages (in some cases happier; e.g., multiple-partnered females Z = 2.61, p = .009, η2 = 0.067), and reported having more frequent sexual activity (e.g., all Z = 29.54, p < .001, η2 = 0.094) with more partners (e.g., all Z = 60.75, p < .001, η2 = 0.393) compared to corresponding individuals within the GSS. This study contributes to knowledge about commonalities and differences between the general population and those who are CNM regarding health, happiness, and happiness in marriage, including differences in optimal number of sexual partners and sexual frequency.

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  1. For example, in another CNM data set from 2000, actual partner numbers were provided for up to 99 partners in the past year. Those who had 99 or more partners in the past year were coded as 99. The average (mean) of the range for 11–20 partners in that data set was 14.75. The mean of the range for 21–100, excluding 99 was 27.89.

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Correspondence to Derrell W. Cox II.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The research upon which this article is based received retrospective approval from the University of Oklahoma Institutional Review Board. It was classified as Exempt as no identifiable information was provided. Approval Letter is submitted with supplemental materials.

Informed consent

All individual participants included in the study provided informed consent by completion of the voluntary survey and returning it at their expense in 2000 or 2001 or by clicking through the consent statement with the online version of the survey completed in 2012. Data from these surveys was provided to the lead author without identifying information and was approved for retrospective analysis by the OU IRB.

Research involving human participants and/or animals

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Cox, D.W., Fleckenstein, J.R. & Sims-Cox, L.R. Comparing the Self-Reported Health, Happiness, and Marital Happiness of a Multinational Sample of Consensually Non-Monogamous Adults with Those of the U.S. General Population: Additional Comparisons by Gender, Number of Sexual Partners, Frequency of Sex, and Marital Status. Arch Sex Behav 50, 1287–1309 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-021-01973-2

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-021-01973-2

Keywords

  • Consensual non-monogamy
  • Health
  • Happiness
  • Marital happiness
  • Sexual frequency
  • Sexual partners