Understanding Monogamy and Gay Couples

February 25, 2008

What does the research say about monogamous gay male relationships?

Many people assert arguments such as, ‘Men weren’t designed to have one partner, they’re biologically built procreate as often and as much as possible’.

But the biological argument often contradicts scientific research in developmental psychology showing that children are happier and healthier when raised by two loving parents. It then follows that to have two loving parents in a child’s life on a continuous basis, it’s best that they are in a committed relationship. But what about monogamous?

So what’s the right answer?

A researcher at the University of Windsor, Ontario, conducted a fascinating study examining gay male monogamy.

What he found was that:

  1. Monogamous value systems were most often present in:
    • Younger gay couples
    • Men new to gay relationships
    • Men whose younger years were spent in cultures with little exposure to same-sex life


  2. More common was an “allegiance” to masculine values of adventure and autonomy, and this extended to sexual life. Non-monogamy was often an assertion of sexual self-determination.

What do you think?

Monogamous values are more present in younger couples, but could it be that as gay men come out at younger ages, and as homosexuality is more accepted by the larger population, the interest in ‘sexual self-determination’ will decrease?

– Gay Couples Institute Research Team

Relationship Innovation in Male Couples. Adam, Barry D.; Sexualities, Vol 9(1), Feb 2006. pp. 5-26.


  1. My partner Mark and I have been in a monogamous relationship for the past 7 years. We are both in our early 30s. Part of the reason we came in contact with each other was because we had both been hurt by unfaithful partners in the past and did not want to share our partner with others, so we were looking for monogamy and an exclusiveness.

    Monogamy works for us and we wouldn’t change it. We used to think that we were the only monogamous gay couples and every one else was having three ways and in open relationships. What we’ve since discovered is that monogamous gay couples are in fact around and in large numbers. They just are not easy to find. Monogamous gay couples, in our experience, are not on gay website or go to clubs… because that’s the scene and places where single gay men and open gay couples are looking for sex. When you’re part of a monogamous relationship, you’re not after that, you just want to make friends.

    People need to stop saying gay relationships aren’t this or aren’t that and realise that every relationship, gay or straight, are unique and need to accommodate the needs of the people involved. The rules for one relationship is entirely different for another. As long as both people in that relationship are happy with their arrangement and both follow this agreement, it’s a relationship.

    Comment by Adam — June 11, 2011 @ 8:38 pm

  2. Hi Adam,

    Thanks for posting this comment. I think it’s great for a lot of other couples to read.


    Comment by admin — June 14, 2011 @ 8:38 pm

  3. Adam,

    Thank you for giving me hope. I have been hurt in the past. I have almost given up on finding a monogamous partner. It is comforting to know that it is possible.

    Comment by Thomas Hill — July 9, 2011 @ 11:58 am

  4. We have many organizations for everything in our sub-culture except one for those wanting a monogamous relationship. Why isn’t there a national organization with local chapters where gays can have social events with others who have or want to be in a monogamous relationship? It would appear to me to be far more healthy to me than all of the zillion sites for hookups. This is the element missing in our community to fill the void missing that the straight world enjoys – courting, dating, flirting, and getting to know others based on non-sexual events. Bringing like-minded individuals, and couples who feel “alone” in their monogamous relationship together to celebrate in a secular way.

    Comment by m_doctor — October 30, 2011 @ 7:01 am

  5. I am in a mind frame of really wanting to change my views of monogamy for i have always thought that a relationship is monogamis, this is proving to be hard to find.
    I love the man im with but he has lived a life of never needing to be faithful as he has never been in a relationship, now that he has committed to me in the sence that he loves me he is really finding it hard to break his life long habbits of being a travelling man who googles gay bars and saunas everywhere he goes for random sex.
    Do i stay strong to my views or do i try to accommadate by changing my views on monogamy so i dont get upset when it happens again, every man i have been with has slept around on me and i dont want to be hurt by this feeling anymore.

    Comment by Ben — May 6, 2012 @ 5:09 pm

  6. Sorry to hear you’re in this predicament. This is a quite common situation, the major problem is that it’s happening unilaterally. You both need to believe that it’s good for the relationship; if not, it has the potential to separate you.

    Comment by admin — May 7, 2012 @ 7:26 am

  7. I would argue that the desire for monogamy is a very human need, and one of the characteristics that define us as a species. The myth that men are less faithful persists, but doesn’t have a basis in reality. This speaks more to the unwillingness of culture to see men as equal to women in their need for commitment, loyalty and constancy. The associations with power and control of the sexual “betrayer” rather than that of the “betrayed” is valued highly in male culture. This machoism is just as pervasive in gay culture as it is in straight culture.

    Comment by Annij — June 16, 2012 @ 9:32 pm

  8. I’ve been in a manogomos relationship for 4 1/2 years.I’m 32 and my partner is 33 he has hinted in the past that he would like to play with others and would like me to also. I’m his 4th long term relationship and he had kept monogomos in his past relationships so i thought it would pass and he was drunk talking. He’s my first real relationship and only my second partner as i came out abit late. We just took off on a weeks vacation and i didn’t know the resort was a gay orientated resort until we were halfway here. I thought i could relax and enjoy it but then i jumped into the hot tub to find that another guy was masturbating him. I was very calm and asking him to stop. I then asked my partner why he thought that was ok especially when he didn’t say anything to me and in previous discussion he said we could play with others together and had done once with another couple but i was drunk and “consenting” we had more drinks and he fonvinced me to try and have fun with the same guy i did’nt like seeing him in bed with soemone else when i came back from the shower he’d already started. We wre at the resort now and he told me it’s over because we are too different. He’s normally such aluvly guy and i’m still head over heels in love with him. I want to leave he reort tommorrow but as he says our relationship is now over he has left me in my room and gone back out to the pool area i’m so embarrased anh hurt, if he says he has slept with someone i will be broken harted but i don’t want to go check to see what he is doing because he just told me i try to control him and am just hoping he is behaving. This really really is not a good holiday !

    Comment by David — January 3, 2013 @ 7:32 am

  9. David,

    I’m glad you found this article, given that you need advice fast. I think you guys need to press pause on this whole thing and emotionally calm down. The relationship is not over, that is just the fear of the moment talking. Once you can see straight again you should make a commitment to both doing our free online self study course. This will build a path toward working like a team again. Right now you are working like adversaries.

    While at the resort, why don’t both of you check Amazon for some books on nonmanogamy and read them together? You might be able to download the kindle app and read them right then and there.

    As always, let us know if we can help. I wish you both well.


    Comment by admin — January 3, 2013 @ 8:19 am

  10. I just got out of a year long relationship with a man that I loved dearly, and still do. While dating and getting to know one another, he would casually mention his uncertainty about wanting to be in a monogamous relationship. He openly shared ambivalence about remaining committed to me sexually, if off on a business trip for example. I tried to push past this expressed uncertainty, in an effort to get comfortable being uncomfortable, while making my beliefs and values crystal clear- an expressly stated desire and need to be in a sexually exclusive relationship. As time went on, we became more serious; him verbalizing that he wanted to be monogamous with me, and moving in together. However, even after moving in together, he talked about being distracted by other people while we were being intimate, and suggested that he was considering acting on these distractions. I became very angry, and hurt as I felt that we discussed this issue at length and that he decided that I was enough. My frustration with his comments was generally met with defensiveness and little concern for how these statements hurt my feelings.

    Overtime, my trust for this man began to erode. I developed resentments and expected that he would either cheat or continue to hurt me emotionally. At times it felt a little emotionally abusive as I tried to create a boundary, but did not feel that it was being respected. Suspicion set in, and our relationship ended about 2 weeks ago. This man asked me to give him credit for being in a committed relationship, something he thought he would never do. I stated that there are no hostages in this relationship; I told you what I wanted from the beginning, and you decided that my desires were congruent with your own. He also told me that he would no longer be responsible for my trust issues.

    Now, I feel terribly discouraged and disappointed. I don’t have any monogamous gay relationships to reference for hope. However, I don’t want to succumb to an open relationship, which from my perspective seems fashionable or trendy with gay men my age(29). I want partnership, commitment, and a family…am I asking for too much? I don’t think so, but gay pop culture seems to suggest otherwise.

    Comment by Alan — March 31, 2013 @ 11:50 am

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