A study to be released next month is offering a rare glimpse inside
gay relationships and reveals that monogamy is not a central feature for
many. Some gay men and lesbians argue that, as a result, they have
stronger, longer-lasting and more honest relationships. And while that
may sound counterintuitive, some experts say boundary-challenging gay
relationships represent an evolution in marriage — one that might point
the way for the survival of the institution.
New research at San
Francisco State University reveals just how common open relationships
are among gay men and lesbians in the Bay Area. The Gay Couples Study
has followed 556 male couples for three years — about 50 percent of
those surveyed have sex outside their relationships, with the knowledge
and approval of their partners.
That consent is key. “With
straight people, it’s called affairs or cheating,” said Colleen Hoff,
the study’s principal investigator, “but with gay people it does not
have such negative connotations.”
The study also found open gay
couples just as happy in their relationships as pairs in sexually
exclusive unions, Dr. Hoff said. A different study, published in 1985,
concluded that open gay relationships actually lasted longer.