What Americans Think About Open Marriages

What Americans Think About Open Marriages, by George Hawley.

Since the [General Social Survey] was first conducted in the 1970s, it has consistently asked the following question: “What is your opinion about a married person having sexual relations with someone other than the marriage partner — is it always wrong, almost always wrong, wrong only sometimes, or not wrong at all?” …

In 1973, about 70 percent of respondents described extramarital sex as “always wrong.” In 2016, this percentage was actually higher — about 76 percent. …

Maybe there is a yawning generation gap that on this subject, with devoted, steadfast Baby Boomers on one side and decadent, sex-crazed millennials on the other. This is also not the case. Among GSS respondents under 30-years old, about 74 percent claimed that adulterous sex was always wrong, only slightly lower than the overall percentage. …

The GSS … also asks, “Have you ever had sex with someone other than your husband or wife while you were married?” … [In 1991, when it was first asked,] among married (or formerly married) GSS respondents, about 15 percent reported having sex with someone other than their spouse while married. In 2016, this percentage increased to about 17 percent — a difference within the margin of error.

Are the sexual revolutionaries about to reshape society?

It is possible that beliefs about monogamy within marriage are about to undergo a revolutionary change, but there are reasons for skepticism. Aggressive efforts to normalize polyamory are not new, and there is little reason to believe that a new batch of articles on open marriages will have a greater long-term impact than the free-love movement of the 1960s, or the rumors about “key parties” a decade later. …

There have been some changes however:

Americans are much more approving of premarital sex; in 1972, about 36 percent of respondents said sex before marriage was always wrong, compared to about 20 percent in 2016.

hat-tip Stephen Neil