Nearly half of gay men have had an open relationship

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Nearly half of gay men have had an open or non-monogamous relationship, a survey has found.

The claim comes from a survey carried out by FS Magazine and gay men’s health charity GMFA.

The magazine surveyed 1,006 gay men in the UK – and unsurprisingly found that a lot of them have liberal views about sex.

According to the survey, 41% of men have previously experienced, or are currently in, an open relationship.

Three quarters of the men who had tried them believed that open relationships are ‘great’.

Of these, 75% said they have rules in place with their relationship – for example only allowing threesomes with both people involved – but 21% admitted to breaking the rules at least once.

Despite their prevalence, a lot of men who have never tried open relationships hold negative opinions of them.

33% of men in monogamous relationships believe that ‘open relationships are not real relationships’ – while 19% believe relationships end up open because gay men can’t be monogamous.

Attitudes are similar among single men with no experience of the issue – with 29% of single gay men believing gay men have open relationships because they can’t be monogamous.

But for some men, open relationships are a way to explore sexuality without being confined by monogamy.

Francis, who has been in an open relationship with his partner for a decade, explained: “We tried monogamy, he cheated. We tried again, same result.

“We had a grown-up series of conversations over time and saw therapists separately.

“We decided that we valued our relationship above all else, but also felt it was an important part of being gay men to celebrate our sexuality with others.

“We agreed to threesomes together and it has been great.”

Matthew Hodson, CEO of GMFA, said: “Most gay people will have grown up encountering attitudes that told them that they were not ‘normal’, outside of convention.

“It’s not a surprise that many gay and bisexual people seek sexual satisfaction and relationship set ups that are outside of the norm.”
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However, he warned about high STI rates – adding: “If you’re used to having unprotected sex with your main partner it may be difficult to regain the condom habit when you have sex with others.

“This isn’t to suggest that such risks can’t be managed – clearly some couples do this very well, but it’s a challenge which requires excellent communication, honesty and trust to meet.”

Ian Howley, Editor of FS magazine, added; “If we can break down the stigma and stereotyping of open relationships, then gay men who are in monogamous relationships and may be thinking about having sex with someone who is not their partner, might be more open to having an honest talk with their partner about their needs and desires.

“If you are so anti-open relationships but your partner is not feeling the same way, do you think he’s going to discuss something like this with you? Think about it.

“Communicating with your partner on a regular basis about your relationship will help you maintain happy and healthy relationship”

“Open relationships with agreed boundaries can encourage honest discussion of any risks that have been taken.

“If you’ve made fidelity the foundation of your love it can lead to partners not being entirely honest about what’s going on outside of the marital bed – and that’s when the risks start getting serious.”
Nearly half of gay men have had an open relationship
Read more in the latest issue of FS Magazine.