People in Open Relationships Less Likely to Contract STDS Compared to Cheaters

Cheaters use condoms only 48 percent of the time, report finds.

Posted: 04/26/2012 02:16 PM EDT

Dating in the age of AIDS has never been easy, especially for African-Americans.

But for many people who are married or in what they believe to be monogamous relationships, they may believe they don’t have to worry about condoms, STDs or HIV anymore. But a new study suggests that isn't the case, especially if your mate is cheating on you.

Researchers from the University of Michigan found that people who cheat on their partners are more likely to not use condoms and discuss their STD risks with their partners compared to those in open relationships. People in open relationships have clearer lines of communication and therefore not hiding their actions or living in secret ways that cheaters are, the research found.

Researchers surveyed 308 people in "monogamous" relationships and 493 people in open relationships and asked them about their most recent hookups with partners outside of their primary relationships. According to, here's what they found:

—Forty-eight percent of cheating folks reported using a condom during sex with someone outside their relationship, compared with 66 percent of folks in open relationships. 

—Thirty-four percent of people who cheat reported talking about their sexual history and previous STD testing before engaging in sex, compared with 63 percent of those in open relationships.

—The cheaters were also less likely to sterilize sex toys or put condoms on them before using them, compared with those in open relationships.

Now, one would think that stepping outside your relationship would make people be more careful in terms of safer sex, but past studies show that cheaters don't really think about the mental or physical risks they might be posing to their primary partners. Plus, if condoms are found by the other partner, that can be used as proof that they are cheating.

The researchers recommend couples begin having honest communications about what they define as monogamy and what the consequences are for breaking that trust.

In the end, your health should trump your relationship, and if you believe that your partner is cheating on you, however difficult, perhaps now is the time to talk about reintroducing condoms back into the relationship or showing him or her to the door.

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(Photo: dpa/Landov)