Relationships that don’t strictly adhere to the idea that you should exchange sex, love and affection with one other person may be “healthy”, says a new study.
Researchers found that if the practice - known as non-monogamy - is consensual, then it could actually lead to a number of benefits for some couples.
These include increased life satisfaction and relationship quality, as well as significant a boost in sexual contentment, for both partners.
The study, conducted jointly by Western University, York University and the University of Utah, is the first of its kind to be conducted.
Psychology professor Samantha Joel, who lead the study, said: “Consensual non-monogamy relationships and those who practice them are often stigmatised.
“Monogamous relationships are generally assumed to be of higher quality than non-monogamous ones, even among consensually non-monogamous individuals."
However, the researchers found only positive outcomes for the primary partners in a romantically-involved couple engaging in non-monogamy.
They recruited participants interested in it, but who had not yet taken the step, and asked them to “open up” their relationships over a two-month period.
Professor Joel added: “We found no differences in relationship quality or well-being before versus after people opened up.
“There were also no differences found when we compared people who did versus those who did not open up their relationship over the course of the study."
According to the findings, recently published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, partners who had previously wanted to address sexual incompatibility within their relationship, actually experienced increased sexual satisfaction.
It comes as relationship expert Anna Williamson revealed how to avoid a lockdown break-up.
Sharing her advice with Yahoo Style UK, the star of E4’s Celebs Go Dating explained: “Being honest and taking each day as it comes is key.
“With a world that has many uncertainties at present, it’s important to focus on what you do know, what you can control, and what you will be actioning in order to keep your relationship happy, healthy and together.
“Compromise and respect is essential, particularly if you live with your partner.
“This rule is even more crucial if you’re having to juggle working from home and kids under your feet, as my husband and I are.”
Anna also insisted that arguing is normal, and communicating with your other half about what you ‘want’ and what you ‘need’ is key.
She elaborated: “Do you want half an hour per day to exercise alone to boost your mental and physical wellbeing, or do you need it?
“Do you want some time for the two of you to connect in whatever way you’re able to – dinner together or a FaceTime chat if you’re separated by isolation – or do you need it to feel close and loved?”