Risk of STIs Lower in Open Relationships Than in Those Marked by Affair

Condoms in wrappersAccording to a recent article, people in open marriages may practice safer sex than those who have extramarital affairs. In open marriages, partners agree that they do not have to remain monogamous. This could mean inviting others into the relationship or looking outside the relationship for sexual gratification with one or more people. In a recent study, researchers found that individuals in open relationships were much more likely to use condoms when they engaged in nonpartner sex than individuals who cheated on monogamous partners. In fact, those who cheated were roughly 30% less likely to have protected sex when they engaged in extramarital relations. When they were under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they were over 60% less likely to practice safe sex.

“Our research suggests that people who are unfaithful to their monogamous romantic partners pose a greater risk for (sexually transmitted infections) than those who actively negotiate nonmonogamy in their relationship,” said Dr. Terri D. Conley of the University of Michigan’s Department of Psychology, who led the study. It could be that the impulsive nature of affairs contributes to the risky behavior. Having an illicit relationship in and of itself poses a risk to the monogamous relationship, so the fact people who have affairs are more reckless with their health is not surprising.

If neither partner has an STI, then the risk of disease is not affected by condom use, provided the partners are faithful to one another. Partners who are in open relationships may have a lower chance of contracting an STI when they go outside of their relationships, but Conley warns that these types of unions often have other problems. Open marriages can offer freedom and diversity, but they can also lead to conflicted emotional feelings and jealousy. Ultimately, every type of intimate relationship has its risks and rewards, and it is up to each individual to decide which one is the right choice for him or her.

Humphries, Linda. “Open relationships” and protected sex. (n.d.): n. pag. Tallahassee.com. 14 Nov. 2012. Web. 19 Nov. 2012. http://blogs.tallahassee.com/community/2012/11/14/open-relationships-and-protected-sex/

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  • Elise

    November 30th, 2012 at 4:47 PM

    This is a little weird.Because even thought the affair by itself may be impulsive the act of sexual intimacy is not and anybody who is looking for safe sex will use protection.I think it has more to do with the individuals in each group than anything else.Maybe those that seek extramarital affairs have that thrill of unprotected sex thus resulting in higher rates of STI?


    December 1st, 2012 at 1:46 AM

    When it is an open relationship,sexual encounters are often well thought out and this time and planning increases the chances of a person having safe sex and not jumping into the bed without any form of protection,as is usually the case in a fling or affair.I think this is a fitting reward to all the cheaters out there ;)

  • JOSH

    December 2nd, 2012 at 12:00 AM

    Well as long as you are being. Ateful the risk should decrease. But a blanket statement like this should be a warning bell to the cheaters out there and honestly I don’t mind that at all!

  • Doug

    December 2nd, 2012 at 5:08 AM

    Well just how stupid are these people in the first place?!
    I don’t understand the whole rationale behind getting married and then wanting to keep the relationship open to have others in your life too. I can’t grasp that concept, how either a man or a woman either one would be willing to accept that.
    I guess my thought about it is if you wnat to be with other people, then fine, be with multiple people at once But then why drag a marriage into it? If you know this about yourself before getting married, then why choose to get married to begin with?

  • leonard

    December 2nd, 2012 at 10:46 PM

    The whole thing is soooooo gross!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Carolina

    December 2nd, 2012 at 10:48 PM

    Wait a minute, there, Leonard. What do you think is gross? People who don’t have the exact same belief system as you? You think it is gross when consenting adults go outside the box and do what seems natural to them? I think your attitude needs an adjustment.

  • robby

    December 2nd, 2012 at 10:50 PM

    i think this article is right on the money my Uncle was one who had a affair and got a std. he ended up dying from complication last spring. i’d give anything to have him back for the holdiay season. So sad. :'(

  • pearce

    December 3rd, 2012 at 4:02 AM

    You know, this does make sense.

    People who have these open relationships are probably way more afe when it comes to sex because it is not that whimisical secretive thing like it would be if you are having an affair.

    When you and your partner have already decided that it’s okay to cheat on each other, or I guess I could say have relationships with other people they see this kind of disclosure as remaining respectful of their partner. Therefore they also continue to respect them by also practicing safer sex.

    Those having an affair are all about the heat of the moment, get carried away, and don’t think about the consequences of their actions for themselves or their families until it is too late or they have gotten caught.

  • W.T

    December 3rd, 2012 at 9:45 AM

    I know ppl that will NOT have safe sex just coz they think unsafe sex is more fun n feels more real! I wud never do such a thing myself but I can see how that’s related to what’s said here.

    Thrill+excitement=unsafe sex



    So it all equates well for these ppl.God save em!

  • Joe

    November 1st, 2015 at 3:04 PM

    I don’t buy this nonsense. If the woman has sex with a male lover, a condom has value to a point. Penetrative sex is likely safe. But what about oral. She may give him a BJ with a cover on, much to his chagrin. But what about her. Does she get a puss* cover when he goes down on her or is not allowed to go down on her. If you exchange saliva or fluids from mucous membranes, the risk of STI due to non exclusive sexual activity increases. To presume a condom will be used for all forms of sex is a stretch and then lovers avoiling oral sex and kissing leads to really boring sex.

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