If the idea of adding another partner to your relationship sounds pretty nice – after all, another person to bring you a morning coffee would be quite handy – then you might be interested to know you’re not the only one. A new survey of men in the UK has revealed that one in three are open to having more than one wife or long-term girlfriend.
The study, carried out by researchers from Swansea University, asked 147 men and 246 women if they would be open to the idea of a polygamous marriage – more than one spouse – if it were legal and consensual. Overall, the idea wasn’t hugely popular, but 30 percent of men expressed openness to it, compared to only 11 percent of women.
Participants were also asked about their willingness to engage in polygyny, where a man is in a relationship with more than one woman, and polyandry, where a woman is in a relationship with more than one man. The idea of being the one who has to share, rather than the one being shared, wasn’t met with much enthusiasm, although men were about 4 percent more interested than women in sharing a partner. The concept of the participants themselves having more than one partner was the more popular of the two.
“Comparing polygyny and polyandry directly, men were three-and-a-half times more likely to say ‘yes’ to the former than the latter, while women were twice as likely to say ‘yes’ to having more than one partner, compared to the idea of sharing their partner with someone else,” said lead author Andrew Thomas in a statement.
Polygamy amongst humans is not a new thing – one study has shown that it appears to have been present in Bronze Age families, whilst many cultures around the world practiced polygyny and polyandry historically and to this day. It has, however, drawn a lot of attention in recent years.
“It’s a hot trend with more and more couples talking about opening up their relationships to include other people. However, these types of relationship are far from new,” explained Thomas. “While most seek monogamous relationships, a small proportion of humans have engaged in multi-partner relationships throughout human history, especially polygynous marriage where one husband is shared by several co-wives.”
“This study shows that a sizable minority of people are open to such relationships, even in the UK where such marriages are prohibited. Interestingly, many more men are open to the idea than women – though there is still interest on both sides,” the researcher concluded.
Humans aren’t the only animals open to non-monogamy either – it’s thought to exist throughout the animal kingdom, from a trio of owls raising a fluffy chick to the New Zealand goose who spent 12 years with two partners.
The study is published in Archives of Sexual Behavior.