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Meet the Monogamish

January 4, 2012

Why do most people assume that all nonmonogamous relationships are destined to fail? Because we only hear about the ones that do. If a three-way or an affair was a factor in a divorce or breakup, we hear all about it. But we rarely hear from happy couples who aren't monogamous, because they don't want to be perceived as dangerous sex maniacs who are destined to divorce.

This state of affairs—couples who experimented with nonmonogamy and wound up divorced won't shut up; couples who experimented with nonmonogamy and are still together won't speak up—allows smug and insecure monogamists to run around insisting that there's no such thing as happy, stable monogamish couples.

"You know lots of couples who have had three-ways and flings who aren't divorced," I told the skeptics a few weeks ago, "you just don't know you know them." In an effort to introduce the skeptics to some happily monogamish couples, I invited coupled people who'd had successful flings, affairs, three-ways, and swinging experiences to write in and share their stories. The response was overwhelming—I may do a book—and I'm turning over the rest of this week's column to their stories.

My husband and I have issues like any couple, but I still smile when I see him walk into a room, and he still takes my hand when we're walking down the street. For the past seven years, we have been "monogamish." It started off with a discussion of "If you ever cheat on me and it's a one-time thing, I wouldn't want to know." Then, when he turned 40, we had a threesome with a female friend. When I actually saw him "in the moment," I didn't have the jealous feelings I had always feared. There is no question that our relationship is our first priority, but just the possibility of a little strange now and then makes him feel like a stud. (And I reap the benefits!) I don't much care for sex without emotion and affection, so my flings have been rather limited. We haven't told our families or more than a couple of friends. I don't want to deal with the judgment of others.

For the first five years of my marriage, everything was great: lots of sex, both GGG, lots of love. Then my wife's libido failed. Whatever the problem was, she couldn't articulate it. After a year where we'd had sex twice, I reached out to someone else. I used Craigslist and I was honest: I explained that I had no intention of leaving my wife and that I was looking for someone in a situation similar to mine. It took months to find the right person. We struck up a years-long affair. At the same time, I had a wonderful-yet-sexless marriage. Then, after nearly four years, a strange thing happened: My wife's libido came back strong. To this day, she cannot explain why it left or why it came back. With the reason for my affair gone, I ended things with my fuck buddy. And you know what? Years of honest talk made this easy. She understood; we went our separate ways.

So I had a four-year affair without getting caught. Here's how I pulled it off: I never told anyone about it ever, I chose a partner who wanted exactly what I wanted, we didn't film ourselves (as hot as that sounded), we used condoms, I kept my computer clear of any evidence, and we never called or texted each other.

My husband and I are monogamish but also LMGs—legally married gays. We feel tremendous pressure to be perfect. The thing is, we are perfect. We love each other, we support each other, and we have amazing sex with each other—and the occasional cameo performer, who is always treated with respect. (We have a rule about not inviting someone into our bedroom who we wouldn't be friends with outside the bedroom.) That said, the fact that Ron and Nancy down the street are swingers will raise eyebrows, but it won't impact the perceived legitimacy of mixed-gender marriage. But if Ed and Ted happen to invite a third into their bedroom, that would prove the gays are destroying marriage/the country/the fabric of the universe. Even other gays get judgmental. So, at least for now, our monogamishness is on a strictly need-to-know basis. And who needs to know? Just our sex-positive doctor and the occasional hot third who gets a golden ticket into our bedroom.

I agree with you that we rarely hear about successful marriages that are open. How do I know? I just discovered that my parents are swingers—and they have been married for 26 years!

My husband, almost exactly 10 years older than me, confessed a cuckold fetish to me shortly before our fifth anniversary. I said no, but a seed was planted: Whenever I would develop a crush on another man, it would occur to me that I could sleep with him if I wanted to. Five years later, my boyfriend of two years, who happens to be exactly 10 years younger than me, was one of the guests at our 10-year anniversary party. My boyfriend is a good-looking grad student who adores me and values my husband's advice about his education and career plans. He treats my husband with the perfect blend of affection and contempt. ("Gratitude and attitude," my boyfriend calls it.) I enjoy my boyfriend, but I love my husband more than ever. My husband is not allowed to have sex with other women (he doesn't want to, anyway), and he's not allowed to have sex with me without my boyfriend's permission (which he usually—though not always—gets). Our families would be appalled. We simply don't live in a part of the country, or move in social circles, where we could be honest about any of this with anyone.

From the outside, my husband and I look like a boring vanilla married couple. In fact, people have included me in judgmental conversations about open relationships. But the truth is, for nearly as long as we've been together (three-plus years), we've had a semiopen relationship. My husband is bi. When he told me after a few months of dating, years of Savage Love reading helped me to keep an open mind. Long story short: We worked out rules that were mutually agreeable. Now he can hook up safely with guys and come home to a loving wife with whom he can be completely honest.

I'm a happily married woman... and so is my girlfriend. Maybe it's cowardly of us, but no matter how simple our relationship seems to us, the people we care about would not understand. Yes, we do this with our husbands' blessing. (We even double-date from time to time!) No, there's nothing lacking in our marriages. Our parents, relatives, children, friends, and coworkers know we're close. But I don't see the need to tell anyone the entire truth. I was on the fence about sending this e-mail—that's how little fuss we make about it. Then I thought, if I do send it, and if enough people send their stories, maybe one day we can go public and it won't be a big fucking deal. That'd be awesome.

Find the Savage Lovecast (my weekly podcast) every Tuesday at @fakedansavage on Twitter


Comments (361) RSS

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Kevin_BGFH 3
Paul, I think you accidentally left your caps lock key on.


Also, there is absolutely no information about a lawsuit on that website. It simply states that a lawsuit was filed, but doesn't provide a source, citation, or proof of any sort. Anyone can write that a lawsuit was filed, but that doesn't automatically make it true.

And since the Santorum website does not break any laws, including defamation or libel laws, and is protected by the First Amendment, I doubt a judge will let it go to trial.
Posted by Kevin_BGFH on January 3, 2012 at 5:28 PM · Report this
Paul's link seems like a simple attempt to reverse Rick's google standing. Jesus, it took somebody long enough to attempt a counter.
Posted by Mike Leung on January 3, 2012 at 5:46 PM · Report this
I Hate Screen Names 5
@1/2: It describes the lawsuit in the future tense. That's because they're going to have a hard time finding a lawyer willing to risk his or her professional credibility by filing that nonsense.

If nothing else, Rick Santorum has (wisely) expressed no interest in filing a suit, and anyone else would lack standing.
Posted by I Hate Screen Names on January 3, 2012 at 5:56 PM · Report this
The second letter writer (with the 4 year long fuck buddy) isn't like the others though, right? He's a cheater, not a monogamous partner.
Posted by bananafish on January 3, 2012 at 6:11 PM · Report this
@6, if the topic is "open marriages," then you're right, Mr. Craigslist doesn't fit. But if the topic is "people who look monogamous but aren't" then he fits.
Posted by EricaP on January 3, 2012 at 6:20 PM · Report this
A book on the topic would make sense, and I'd welcome it in the hope that Dan would feel less compelled to continue flogging this particular horse.

As it would be half-written by others it seems like it would be a pretty quick and easy way to make a few bucks.

I'd hope Dan would include a section on how to do non-monogamy badly, and how it occasionally works out unhappily--an essentially positive examination of any subject need not whitewash the downsides and the risks.

I personally don't mind either monogamish relationships or making a few easy bucks--apologies if my weary and cynical tone implies otherwise.
Posted by Functional Atheist on January 3, 2012 at 6:48 PM · Report this
This is great. I once opened up to my fairly traditional, southern friend that I don't think I could sustain a long-term relationship with strict monogamy (on both sides, I'd want him to be happy).
She looked a little taken aback but admitted that if everyone has different sexual interests and needs, why wouldn't we all have different relationship needs? I think bringing it up in the hypothetical helped, it is easy to rationally think about it but difficult to look at two friends and not assume one of them is unhappy in the situation.
Posted by Dynomite on January 3, 2012 at 6:51 PM · Report this
I'm struck by the thread running through these letters of (more or less) "...and then it turned out that..."

People change over time, yes, and even discover unrealized aspects of themselves, but it's such a shame that we can't know ahead of time all the essentials such as willingness to be monogamish. (cue Mr. V's rebuttal in 3, 2, 1...)
Posted by Mr. J on January 3, 2012 at 7:01 PM · Report this
That second guy is not really an example of a successful open relationship. And while he didn't get caught, she has to know, right? How could she not? And as for the wife; Maybe she was having her own four year affair. It fits. Great communication guys. NOT.
Posted by HIPPUS on January 3, 2012 at 7:13 PM · Report this
@10 I think many in the younger generation perceive themselves as having different options than we did twenty years ago - and they do talk about this when entering long term relationships...
Posted by EricaP on January 3, 2012 at 8:35 PM · Report this
mydriasis 13
I know it's not fair, but I always read these and feel kind of sad for the LWs.
Posted by mydriasis on January 3, 2012 at 8:36 PM · Report this
How did he not say anything about the "Santorum Surge"??
Posted by chichaca on January 3, 2012 at 8:55 PM · Report this
Mr J - I'm not sure what you expect me to rebut, but, if you wanted to sting, you succeeded. And I thought we got on so well.

I don't see a lot of respect floating around throughout most of these examples, but, in the end, these people seem happy enough, as they are entitled to be, and in general I'm quite pleased about that and hope that long may it continue. Ms Cute or Mr Ank might think that it's because I wouldn't wish the participants on anybody else, but I couldn't possibly comment.

X1 and X3 strike me as particularly appalling, but then I have an abnormally strong dislike of smarmily privileged couples. Individual mileage may well vary. I'll admit to hoping T5 all stay together for life, although I do have some fellow feeling for the wife in that regard, as a vast majority of my relationships have been with non-contemporaries, and I have gone both older and younger.

But, rather than close on a negative thought which I won't mention, I'll agree with X7 that maybe a happier day will arrive when none of these arrangements will be anything like a big deal.
Posted by vennominon on January 3, 2012 at 9:02 PM · Report this
@8 "I'd hope Dan would include a section on how to do non-monogamy badly, and how it occasionally works out unhappily--an essentially positive examination of any subject need not whitewash the downsides and the risks.'
There are already several books like that. "Open" and "The Ethical Slut" come to mind. Also open blogs. Lots of info out there for the poly-curious!
Posted by danfan on January 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM · Report this
We are a relatively straight/very gay positive couple in our forties with two small children. We just had our polyamorous friends over for dinner. The night before that, they babysat out kids. They are so normal, despite the fact that they are in a permanment live in triad, that their relationship rarely comes up in conversation. When it does, they are open and accepting, as are we. Life's rich pageant offers options outside of monogamy and we see those other options working every day. Our lives are richer for these friends
Posted by p2d on January 3, 2012 at 9:55 PM · Report this
Eva Hopkins 18
I have several pals in LT poly relationships. A couple of t hem are out about it, a couple of them aren't. One of t he couples that isn't, her & her boyfriend work together. Husband's all good with everything, nobody minds, everyone's cool w/ each other - but gossipy busybodies @ work would make their lives very difficult.

The 2nd & 3rd letters: Hmmm. This is not my understanding of monogamish as it's been previously used in this column. Both LW's has affairs & didn't get caught, although LW #2 seemed respectful of his wife, relatively speaking. But I don't think including the 4-year affair was a good example of someone being happily monogamish. That's someone who was a CPOS & now brags about how they didn't get caught. Why include that?

Do I misunderstand monogamish? Mostly monogamous, with some occasional acknowledgment - from checking out guys/gals together, to occasional guests stars or weekend passes, whatever the couple jointly agrees to? And this is different from being open or poly basically in terms of frequency or degree of extracurricular activity?

The other letters seem to jive w/ the term, though. Yes, I'm a nitpicker.
Posted by Eva Hopkins on January 3, 2012 at 10:23 PM · Report this
Neptune 19
The last letter made me smile so much. I'm so glad she shared!
Posted by Neptune on January 3, 2012 at 10:51 PM · Report this
I would like a book with stories of monogamish relationship - I really don't care how little work it might be for Dan, I think the topic is interesting and the fact that this is normal people makes it even more readable.

I, myself, am in an loving open marriage going on succesfully for a few years now.
Posted by The monogamish on January 3, 2012 at 11:33 PM · Report this
I think this is great, but the Craigslist guy and the four-year affair guy/girl do not fit the monogamish bill, they fit the cheater bill. Maybe the Craigslist guy can get a pass if he specified having his wife's permission and you edited that out for some reason, but "I had a four year affair and didn't get caught" is unambiguous.

Dan, you are one of the most prominent voices you defends the monogamish. One of the things that's hardest to get people to understand is that "monogamish" or "open" is not cheating because of the magical "consent" that you sprinkle on top. It's not cheating if the mutually agreed upon rules say it's not. These two people are nonmonogamous without their partner's consent. That ain't monogamish, that's cheating. Please don't harm the extremely worthy cause of bringing to light the "happy monogamish" by mixing the two.
Posted by Lynx on January 4, 2012 at 12:27 AM · Report this
I think this is great, but the Craigslist guy and the four-year affair guy/girl do not fit the monogamish bill, they fit the cheater bill. Maybe the Craigslist guy can get a pass if he specified having his wife's permission and you edited that out for some reason, but "I had a four year affair and didn't get caught" is unambiguous.

Dan, you are one of the most prominent voices in the defence of the monogamish. One of the things that's hardest to get people to understand is that "monogamish" or "open" is not cheating because of the magical "consent" that you sprinkle on top. It's not cheating if the mutually agreed upon rules say it's not. These two people are nonmonogamous without their partner's consent. That ain't monogamish, that's cheating. Please don't harm the extremely worthy cause of bringing to light the "happy monogamish" by mixing the two.
Posted by Lynx on January 4, 2012 at 12:28 AM · Report this
Arg, double post. That's what I get for trying to spellcheck on the fly, sorry :(
Posted by Lynx on January 4, 2012 at 12:28 AM · Report this
Adam_west 24
@22 I completely agree, there is such a difference between cheating and monogamish, and I think lumping the two together is really counterproductive.

@18 I agree with your definitions, it is exactly how I saw these terms and was also surprised that some of the letters were included. If this is about 'looks monogamous but isn't and still married ' then thats fine, but why not be more clear on the definitions?
Posted by Adam_west on January 4, 2012 at 1:59 AM · Report this
Thought it was about seemingly monogamous relationships that aren't actually, but still are working well. Thus cheaters are included, even if the other party is not aware of the lack of monogamy.
Posted by dropdeadpoet on January 4, 2012 at 2:39 AM · Report this
The Wild Sow 26
Is the 3rd paragraph a separate letter? Or a continuation of the Craigslist guy's story?
Posted by The Wild Sow on January 4, 2012 at 3:20 AM · Report this
It's funny, I would have put 'having a threesome' happily into monogamy, not monogamish. Maybe attitudes/expectations are already changing...
Posted by misquiteth on January 4, 2012 at 3:38 AM · Report this
I'm also (like Ms Hopkins@18 above) curious about you people's (and Dan's) take about the relationship between open marriages / non-monogamy / monogamishness and CPOS-ness. I suppose Dan included letters like #3 above to note that people can have affairs without getting caught (it does happen), and having an affair, even without your partner's consent, does fall within the boundaries of non-monogamy (albeit non-consensual non-monogamy). Maybe that is the reason. Or is Dan suggesting that cheating is OK, if the cheater can make sure there are no consequences (no STDs, the lover disappears without a trace after the end of the affair, the partner never finds out about it and therefore never feels hurt)? From all he said in other situations of CPOS-ness, I suppose he shouldn't be saying that, but the presence of that letter does suggest he might be. Hm!...
Posted by ankylosaur on January 4, 2012 at 4:14 AM · Report this
I don't think it counts unless both partners are OK with third parties, in whatever form. Some of these sound like it's only successful because they're able to hide it 100% from the person they're married to. To me, it doesn't count if one person would be devastated to find out what's been going on.
Posted by Cat804 on January 4, 2012 at 4:38 AM · Report this
@15 Mr V

"Sting"? Heavens no! Have you not in the past espoused that perhaps less information about one's mate at the beginning is preferable? I believe it's a compliment that my sieve of a brain retains this information. As Elinor said, "I think very highly of him - that I greatly esteem him... I like him." And you might consider the possibility that the unspoken feeling also rings true, although I'm not at liberty to engage in such discussions.
Posted by Mr. J on January 4, 2012 at 5:03 AM · Report this
Shine a light on all areas of non-monogamy. Take the opposition's ammo away.
Posted by ?? I guess ?? on January 4, 2012 at 5:15 AM · Report this
Maybe the guy who didn't get caught after four years, is married to a withholding witch who's sexual inactivity was very emasculating for him emotionally. You don't know. And by being a preachy wannabe hyper ethical asshole you sound like a right winger, like Sphinctorum! Check yo self fool!
Posted by scorpio of Id. on January 4, 2012 at 5:35 AM · Report this
To clarify, I took X2 as also including what what appears to be X3 on its own. Assuming they were different people and there were really eight total instead of seven, they ought to have been separated.

I thought I might have a less unfavourable opinion of the group as a whole after a night's rest, but if anything, they're potentially worse. This has nothing to do with their not being monogamous (personally I was always prepared to accept a nonmonogamous partner). It's just that so many of them don't seem to realize that other people aren't toys.

X1: "(And I reap the benefits!)" LMB.

X2: I might like a few questions, but at least X2 apparently treated his outside partner respectfully, which is more than others we've seen have done.

X3: Are we sure this isn't a contiunation of X2? And, no, probably it wouldn't have been all that hot.

X4: I was so close to liking X4, despite the claim to perfection. But that closing line is easily the worst of the bunch. Who died and made X4 Willy Wonka?

X5: Innocuous, though there could be a bit of a time warp somewhere.

X6: They're all happy; good for them, and I just hope they're good at compartmentalizing. If it were not for making a resolution to fight the "You Deserve Better" mentality, I can't be certain I wouldn't be tempted.

X7: I really need a bit of cross-examination on this one. If H7 is basically having Play Dates With Peers, carry on. Yet I'm just getting this vibration that there's a serious Toy User here. He's an obvious choice. But I'm sensing a curious novel in this one...

X8: An excellent choice with which to conclude on account of the closing sentiment (though it could be interesting to know a bit more about what the husbands are or aren't permitted or encouraged to do with whomever). In my youth I saw many married women who were so homosocial that it hardly seemed to make any difference whether a pair of best friends were "more" or not. But, after the letter last year about the discovered affair that resulted in a retaliatory round of emails by the discovering child, it might be better for the families not to be close.
Posted by vennominon on January 4, 2012 at 6:06 AM · Report this
Mr J - ah, thank you. I think what threw me is that Charlotte Lucas espoused the philosophy that it is as well to know as little as possible of the *defects* of the person with whom you are to pass your life. One would have to consider a tendency to nonmonogamy to be a defect to make that leap. And, of course, we have the example of Charlotte's own marriage, which made her own philosophy all the wiser.
Posted by vennominon on January 4, 2012 at 6:20 AM · Report this
I agree that being a cheater doesn't really match the spirit of what I think of as monogamish.

My husband and I have been together for nearly 20 years. We've had an open relationship for probably...11 years? This includes swapping with close friend couples/a foursomes/threesomes involving these parties, and an occasional business trip hookup or three, which we are both aware of; there is nothing concealed here. Call: "Guess, what? I totally just got laid!"

We're not polygamous or swingers who take out personal ads/hit clubs for this purpose (not to suggest that there's anything wrong with that, we just don't fall into those two categories.) We're your basic urban yuppie couple who appear to be monogamous and the people we've messed around with are, too. We always insist on playing safe. We're not open about it because it's personal and family members would probably be judgmental.

Our philosophy is that a wedding band shouldn't cut off every other possibility for a the excitement of banging someone new ever again. Life's too short (or maybe too long) to only enjoy one flavor of ice cream for the rest of it.
Posted by frenchscarf on January 4, 2012 at 7:14 AM · Report this
At first my response to the third letter (about the four year affair without getting caught) was the same as many others here: Why the heck was that included? But after rereading, I'm inclined to agree with #33 that the third letter wasn't really a seperate letter, but a second paragraph to the first letter. Perhaps it was an editing oversight that made it start out in bold like the beginning of a new letter, but if you read, both of the letters are about a four year affair, and the second one begins with "So," which COULD be the beginning of a seperate letter, but would make a lot more sense in the context of, "So, because of what I outlined above, I had a four year affair." Dan, clear this up!
Posted by DrReality on January 4, 2012 at 7:15 AM · Report this
nocutename 37
I agree that the examples of what looks like plain old cheating, though they fit the definition of undetected non-monogamy, probably don't belong in either this column, or a book about the possibilities of successful non-monogamous relationships. However, the contrast between tones in examples/letters 2 and 3 is so great that it almost serves to move #2 into the "happily non-monogamous" camp!

I have to confess that reading these happy stories is making me sad and blue. I was married for 22 years to a man that was wonderful in so many ways--but our sex life wasn't one of them. I tried so hard to improve that sex life, suggesting opening the marriage, or swinging, among other things. He would have none of it. In fact, we could never have a useful discussion about sex, which is a topic he seems to be uncomfortable with. Finally, we divorced. I have been trying to find a real relationship that integrates hot sex with other aspects of life, for the past 4 years, and have been unsuccessful thus far. I just don't seem to "click" with anyone easily.

When I read erotica, the stories that always seem the most fantastical, the most fantasy-like, are the ones that feature hot, wild, kinky sex between a married couple (this includes non-monogamy, btw). The idea of a loving, humdrum (in the sense of the quotidian quality of marriage: "did you get the dog food?" "can you pick the kids up from soccer practice?" "don't forget, we're supposed to go to the Smith's tonight"), supportive relationship including exciting sex is so outside the realm of my experience. That's what I'm looking for, and I suppose my heart should be gladdened that others have found it, are living it.

I should be, but I'm not.
Posted by nocutename on January 4, 2012 at 7:16 AM · Report this
"Game on!" Santorum tweeted. ""Thanks to all of you, we pulled off our #iowasurprise! Keep us going to NH, SC & beyond."

What's an Iowa Surprise Dan?
Posted by Africanized Chihuahua on January 4, 2012 at 7:40 AM · Report this
@25 That depends on your definition of working well. Cheating without getting caught yet is not working well because the partners don't agree on the basic ground rules of their relationship. Most of the stories I've heard about failed non-monogamous relationships blew up because of a lack of communication. Cheating and lying isn't a successful monogamish couple, it's a time bomb.
Posted by sec on January 4, 2012 at 7:54 AM · Report this
mydriasis 40

One comes out of the bathroom with a handful of santorum and throws it in their partner's eyes.
Posted by mydriasis on January 4, 2012 at 8:14 AM · Report this
oh yes. So who do you like better? POPEVIL,As I lay dying, thats all.
I called LIVELINE from florida today...oh basic membership message is wild.
Posted by dann on January 4, 2012 at 8:20 AM · Report this
It's clear from the way this column is formatted in the Georgia Strait (…) that X3 is a continuation of X2.

I'm not sure why everyone is so down on X2. If you're going to make a contract with another person that they will get their sexual needs met exclusively by you (e.g. a typical marriage contract), you have, I think, an implied obligation to make a sincere effort to meet reasonable desires. If you stop doing this for an indefinite period lasting years, I think it's perfectly reasonable for them to get their desires met elsewhere. Ideally your communication would be better than this couple's seems to have been, but as far as can be told from the letter that's as much the wife's responsibility as the letter writer's. I would have divorced the wife if I'd been in the LW's situation, but I don't think any of the individuals involved would have been made better off by that.

This letter actually seems like a textbook example of strict monogamy, with even the mention of anything else being taboo, not being a good solution to every problem that comes up in real marriages. Which is the point of Dan's column.
Posted by Old Crow on January 4, 2012 at 8:28 AM · Report this
I wouldn't worry about it. Santorum won't get far. He's a doosh, and people can tell, no matter how many god-hates-everybody people he has or how many tons of purple confetti the righteous bestow upon this travesty of humanity lol.

Obama will win again, it's been a slow news season and no one really gives a poop about any of the Republican candidates, so not to worry: Santorum will be out of the running soon enough. Even dooshbags end up in the trash at some point.
Posted by Santorum = Schmeggma Of The Cretins on January 4, 2012 at 8:43 AM · Report this
AFinch 44
What's an Iowa Surprise Dan?

So, um, I'm not Dan, but I'll take a stab: they grow corn in Iowa, so the Iowa Surprise is when you get undigested kernels in your Santorum! Mmm..crunchy!
Posted by AFinch on January 4, 2012 at 9:13 AM · Report this
Rob L 45
Any such lawsuit would be quickly thrown out on First Amendment grounds. Besides, American courts don't award apologies.
Posted by Rob L on January 4, 2012 at 9:22 AM · Report this
@37, :( I'm very sincerely sorry your relationship experience has been so persistently full of unhappiness and incompatibility. I hope 2012 brings you a partner and lover who blows your mind and grounds you and restores you and your faith in the possibility of such earth-shaking compatibility.

@ Everyone else, on first reading, I assumed italicized paragraphs 2 and 3 were separate stories because the initial phrases were in bold print. After my second reading, I'm joining the chorus of commenters left confused and uncertain about whether they're two short anecdotes or one longer. (Dan??)
Posted by MarleyBarley on January 4, 2012 at 9:22 AM · Report this
I definitely think this is a book, Dan. Go for it. I'll buy it.

Interestingly enough, today (1/4/12) on "Good Morning America" at about 8:25 a.m. (EST), there was a segment on a triad couple with a toddler. The well-spoken female (to two males) discussed their life very positively. So, non-monogomous seems to being going public. A book from you would keep it moving.
Posted by Bugnroolet on January 4, 2012 at 9:23 AM · Report this
@37 nocutename
That you haven't clicked with anyone yet is merely a matter of bad luck and of having standards. And you have perfectly reasonable standards at that. I continue to maintain that you are a catch.

I can't offer advice as to where else to turn in your search. But don't despair. He's out there.
Posted by Mr. J on January 4, 2012 at 9:33 AM · Report this
AFinch 49
On the actual subject of the column, the last three letters really made me smile, and so did the first one. In these cases it seems to me that the secret of this is that the monogamish outside partners don't compete with the primary partners for that primary spot in the relationship. The are adjuncts and that seems to be what makes it work. That seems true for the 'cheating' letters as well, though those are clearly not 'working' (to my thinking) as they involve deception.
Posted by AFinch on January 4, 2012 at 9:33 AM · Report this
Mr J @48 - I agree in spirit, but should you reword your conclusion? I don't think you mean to imply that there is One Mr Right out there for Ms Cute. She might require more than others who are less discerning, but the number of possible good matches for her must be considerably higher than one.

Ms Cute, I'm sure your odds are better than mine were. And when I was more or less where you are now, though after a death rather than a divorce, it took rather a while, but I was eventually vouchsafed the ideal relationship that ran its course and has since let me Retire from Romance in what has surprised me by being blissful peace. It would be lovely, I suppose, if I could tell you I'd have made it here anyway, but at least I can attest that there is a here and it can be blissful. Take from that what you will.
Posted by vennominon on January 4, 2012 at 10:17 AM · Report this
I'd like to hear from the Other in paragraph #3 ("So I had ...) and paragraph #6 (My husband, almost exactly ...) Especially #3 because she's female. I'm trying to keep an open mind. I have no doubt that the monogamish relationship works for the married couples who wrote in. Their reasons work for them, and their solutions work for them. The missing element seems to be the point of view of the Other.

She wanted exactly what he wanted. She had a husband at home she didn't want to leave but who didn't want sex with her so she wanted a committed sex buddy? She was fine when the affair was over and had no problem? She didn't consider herself dumped? I suppose it's possible, but I can't help wondering if she really wanted a relationship with someone who was committed to her, someone who would help her when she was in a tight spot, someone who she could rely on emotionally and financially. I wonder is she settled for the sex with the married guy because it was better than nothing, and I wonder if she wonders if she might have been better off looking for a relationship where she's the primary object of affection.

The same goes for #5. He's a grad student who's completely happy fucking his married older friend? He wants nothing else? He's not dating someone his own age? This arrangement works because he gets an older mentor in the form of her husband? He's not interested in being the primary focus of an emotional/ sexual relationship?

I guess it's possible, but I sure would like to hear it from Special Thirds themselves.
Posted by Crinoline on January 4, 2012 at 10:30 AM · Report this
@49 poly ethicists will tell you that the problem with having "primary" partners vs. adjuncts is that one is essentially using the adjuncts as sex toys, as means not as ends in themselves. I think this is more often true of adjunct-women, some of whom would like to have a real emotional relationship to go with the sex, and are hurt to find that they get pushed away when no longer convenient. The cuckold group and the girlfriends (and to some extent the gay couple) represent the other option -- all parties care for each other and treat each other as people, not disposable toys.
Posted by EricaP on January 4, 2012 at 10:39 AM · Report this
Robin8 53
Gee, I would have thought the reason why we don't hear about that many happy nonmonogamous couples is that their personal lives are none of anyone's business.
Posted by Robin8 on January 4, 2012 at 10:39 AM · Report this
nocutename 54
Thank you for your kind words, Mr. J, and your good wishes, MarleyBarley.
Didn't mean to subject you all to my self-pity.
Posted by nocutename on January 4, 2012 at 10:40 AM · Report this
nocutename 55
Thank you for your perspective, Mr. Ven. I know that you are Retired from Romance, but this is the first time I think you've described that retired state as being blissful, which is nice to hear.

I'm also sorry for your loss, however long ago it may have occurred.

Crinoline (@50), I too, wondered how the "other" woman in example #2 felt when the man's wife regained her libido and he subsequently broke things off to resume a sexual marriage. The lw suggests that years of honest talk left the "other woman" in perfect understanding and they agreed to go their separate ways; I am pretty sure that even if she "understood," she wasn't happy. I might be projecting here, but it is likely she felt used and discarded, after a four year affair, and it probably didn't help much that I'm sure her erstwhile boyfriend told her, "hey, I've always been honest with you."
Posted by nocutename on January 4, 2012 at 10:52 AM · Report this
@42, it's not so much about being down on the guy, as not wanting "cheating" mixed up with monogamish. You can have legitimate differences of optinion on how douchebaggy or not cheating is under what conditions. That isn't the issue here. The issue is that non-consensual going outside the primary relationship isn't a "monogamish" relationship, it's cheating.

Supposedly this is about celebrating nonmonogamy; couples who decide to open their relationship and it went well for them. Key is that it's couples who opened their relationships, not people who went outside the relationship without permission from their partners, who assume they are in a monogamous pairing.
Posted by Lynx on January 4, 2012 at 11:01 AM · Report this
I don't think it is appropriate to project so heavily onto the Thirds. Yeah, maybe they are all getting a really raw deal and are settling for something they don't want because they have been manipulated into it. Or maybe that is just how YOU would feel in that situation because that's not what you are into.
Women are just as capable as men of wanting a safe but basically NSA sex relationship, and don't need to be seen as sad, deprived victims who must REALLY want love and companionship instead of the discreet hot sex they claim to want. And grad school is a difficult time to seek a monogamous lifepartner but a great time to be in a temporary relationship that provides fun hot sex and bonus mentorship - sooner or later he'll finish and move on to a place and situation where he can look for a different kind of relationship if he wants that.

Some of you guys remind me of my mom telling me that I should put on a coat because she would be cold if she went outside without one. People actually do have different wants and experiences, and it is okay for people to say they like things that you wouldn't like. They're not lying and not wrong.
Posted by tau on January 4, 2012 at 11:20 AM · Report this
I live in the Bible Belt, been married 20 very happy years, and for the last 5 we have done a little soft swing play and gone to clubs. We already had great sex averaging 5 times a week but this has made it even better. Because it is not talked about much my wife use to worry how bad or wrong we were but now she sees how happy we are and how eveyone else has realtionship problems and we dont, so it is easier. But I really wish it would get more out in the public eye to show people swingers are not only normal, but very happy and solid. I hope my 3 daughters when they find a husband can have as good of commuication and happy relationship as we have, and if that means they try it too, then good for them, but we will never tell them about us. Also it funny the people we know who we have found out or ran into at the club, its everywhere just no one is talking. Thanks for bringing it out more.
Posted by Shaker on January 4, 2012 at 11:50 AM · Report this
@ 37: Hi. I was moved by your letter. I get where you're coming from. Bless your heart for sticking it out in a physically-loveless marriage. I don't know how anyone does it.. I applaud your trying to salvage what you had.

I suppose at the end of the day it's not that big of a deal, if marriages physically open up here and there every so often, to keep things alive and the participants, happy.

I'm in love with someone I've loved very greatly and deeply for over sixteen years. I tend to laugh off the idea of wanting anyone else, because I still am into him. We have our moments of duress like anyone else, but I've never encountered another soul like him before..

It's still an ongoing, beautiful thing. I'm not yet ready to wanna share him with others within the confines of our physical relationship. I'm in love, I'm happy being just with him and just happy, period. Maybe one day, long since secure in the dynamics and realities of our mutual bond, I may dabble more actively with the idea of a lil' treat of strange from some good, clean friend, etc..

Hang in there, nocutename. Love found me, scared me shitless in awe for the first five or ten years, began to grasp the magnitude of what we share at years 11-16 and now, sixteen+ years into it, I'm genuinely in love with him more than ever.

A very-intense-1st-impression/love-at-1st-sight thing that wound up being a lot more true and enduring than I ever imagined happening to me, let alone anyone else...

When love finds you, and it improves you as a person...that's how you know :-) .

Top Of The Afternoon, Everyone.

Posted by dance party in the corner on January 4, 2012 at 11:55 AM · Report this
I think letters 2 & 3 (I agree, they read most logically as a single letter) are an example of Dan's concept of "least worst option." While this is not the same as being successfully monogamish, it is still arguably more successful than destroying a relationship that is great in all ways except sex.

I can't help suspecting that the reason his wife could not articulate the reasons for her problem is the same reason that he could not articulate his solution. On the other hand, as much as I wouldn't recommend it due to the possibility of it blowing up in their faces, don't-ask-don't-tell seems to have worked out okay in their case.
Posted by avast2006 on January 4, 2012 at 11:59 AM · Report this
@50 Mr. V
No, I didn't mean to imply that there is a single Mr. Right. There are many possibilities for each of us. As the boy in "Super 8" says, "Go! You can live!"
Posted by Mr. J on January 4, 2012 at 12:06 PM · Report this
@ 60: I read something somewhere yesterday that struck me as applying to what you were saying:

It was this thing about communication within therapy situations.

The moderator/author of the article basically said the aggrieved couples actually articulate and communicate with one another well: it's just that they aren't happy with what they have. Voicing dissatisfaction without any headway towards resolution = bad communication.

It's a shame when anyone's relationship with someone else slips through some cracks on account of somehow being misunderstood, no matter how you may or may not try to be understood.

Articulate within yourself first, verbalize and actualize it thereafter. I love who I'm with, and I enjoy their company probably more than anyone else I've ever known. I'm blessed. May each of you all one day find, or have, great love find you too. Peace.
Posted by dance party? i'll d.j. for a bit ;) on January 4, 2012 at 12:14 PM · Report this
@53: "Gee, I would have thought the reason why we don't hear about that many happy nonmonogamous couples is that their personal lives are none of anyone's business."

Well, that's true enough, as far as it goes. However, a happy monagamish couple often can be subjected to societal repercussions (losing jobs, losing friends, being expelled from church or other societies, being voted out of office) that a happy monogamous couple would not suffer. Thus the intensified desire for privacy.
Posted by avast2006 on January 4, 2012 at 12:22 PM · Report this
@37: Hang in there. You'll find him. Love kind of sneaks up on you.
It did for me.

My definition of Iowa Surprise is a combination of @40's and @44's views:
it's a handful of santorum with undigested kernels thrown in the partner's face.

Dan, let me know when your book is out!
Posted by auntie grizelda on January 4, 2012 at 12:42 PM · Report this
It's awfully hard to give a crap about monogamy issues when I can't even find a boyfriend!
Posted by wayne on January 4, 2012 at 12:53 PM · Report this
It's nice to read this, and coincidentally, I was thinking along similar lines recently and thought a great next step for the It Gets Better Project would be a "Let's Get Real" one. So many people (myself included) are living alternative lifestyles and not talking about it. A book would be great!
Posted by polychick on January 4, 2012 at 12:55 PM · Report this
mydriasis 67

Deal. But only if they yell "surpriiiiiiiiise!"
Posted by mydriasis on January 4, 2012 at 1:10 PM · Report this
Tim Horton 68
@57 - I was a 3rd to two different older women in my early 20s. One was a woman married to a guy with a cuck fetish who knew about me. The other told me she was DADT, but I think she was really a CPOS. I was abosuletly thrilled for the hot No-Strings sex with older married women. But both women were jealous of me dating others. Go figure.
Posted by Tim Horton on January 4, 2012 at 1:12 PM · Report this
Tim Horton 69
The inclusion of the letter from the cheater fits well with the theme of sticking it to smug monogamists. Even if you think you are in a monogamous relationship, you probably aren't. I would venture to guess the number of couples who say "I do" in their 20s and remain strictly monogamous - till death do they part - is statistically close to zero (divorce, cheating, ethical non-monogamy). But then again, I am very jaded on the topic. See @68.
Posted by Tim Horton on January 4, 2012 at 1:17 PM · Report this
FYI, I am the person who wrote letter 1. I know that editing is necessary and undoubtedly my letter was not clear, as I dashed it off quickly after reading Dan's request in the column, but I would not call my husband's experiences 'sex without emotion and affection.' He is friends with his FWBs - often, we both are. I think I made that point in my original letter, but it was so much longer originally that cutting was certainly necessary. We are going to the wedding of one next month, have had many visit us and one even lived with us for awhile when she ran into financial trouble. In fact, when we first talked about this, I told him that it was important to me that he treat these women with respect and affection. Just FYI....
Posted by tamar on January 4, 2012 at 1:22 PM · Report this
mydriasis 71

What a douchey thing find joy in.
Posted by mydriasis on January 4, 2012 at 1:50 PM · Report this
Dan Savage must like having sex with dogs, a lot!
Posted by TruthHurts on January 4, 2012 at 1:54 PM · Report this
@ 13: Why feel sad for them? Do they seem sad? Seems like you may have some lingering romantic expectations that are in conflict with the reality of these people's lives.

More generally, I don't understand the apparent strong desire some people have to see nonmonogamous relationships fail. Surely enough relationships (from all across the monogamy spectrum) fail every day to supply us with more than enough such cases. If you're not directly suffering because of someone else's relationship, why would you wish them ill? It doesn't reflect well on you. Are you that insecure in your own choices?
Posted by Chase on January 4, 2012 at 1:57 PM · Report this
@ 57: Very well put. SLLOTD comments are FULL of projection, though. It's pretty revealing at times.

@70: Thank you for clarifying!
Posted by Chase on January 4, 2012 at 2:03 PM · Report this
#33 - I am happy to reap the benefits, because after we married 9 years ago (and after five years together with great sex) his libido basically died. I think he is probably not cut out to be monogamous with anyone. Something about knowing that I don't have to be the last woman he ever sleeps with seems to make a difference to him sexually, and while I like sex, I especially like sex with him and knowing he is happy.
Posted by tamar on January 4, 2012 at 2:05 PM · Report this
Married man here, been happily married for about a decade now. Before we married, we lived in a poly situation with one other, whose details are not important. Unlike a lot of poly folks, long-term poly was not really our goal. Our situation allowed all of us to treat each other with respect, and love, and to allow a transition from one person to another to happen without anger or recriminations or deception. We are all very happy with the results; two people who had been in a LTR and both wanted to dissolve it, did so, without any of the horrid fallout that often comes with break-ups. And she and I started an LTR that continues to this day, again without "fighting over a woman." To this day, we're all friends. Not FB lurkers, but for-real, actual friends. That means a lot to us all.

I know, that doesn't seem very exciting -- it's not a big, long-term polyfest with lots of partners and drama. But it's what we did. We treated each other with respect, we talked openly, and we were all better for it.

Part of our personal, informal-but-serious wedding vows to each other also included the possibility of other partners, later in life, once our marriage was clearly solid. So far that has not happened, but both of us are confident that, if one of us takes a shine to someone else, that all we have to do is ask.
Posted by nuh_uh on January 4, 2012 at 2:16 PM · Report this
mydriasis 77

Woah woah woah. I don't wish them ill at all. Nor do I wish for nonmongamous relationships to fail.

It's just hard for me to understand, that's all. I've seen a lot of people (especially women, especially young ones) talk themselves into "liking" relationships that they don't. I'm not saying that's the case with the LWs - it's just how it tends to read for me. I said upfront it's not fair or rational, it's just how they come off when I read them.

Am I overly romantic about relationships? Perhaps. Especially if someone thinks the expectation of monogamy is overly romantic.
Posted by mydriasis on January 4, 2012 at 2:30 PM · Report this
I think that marriage (or LTRs) can mean different things for different people and insisting on a narrow definition for it is stupid and really nobody's business.I agree with @18 that there needs to be a distinction between a couple that's monogamous maybe 90% of the time and occasionally engages in one-offs with other people versus couples that do so frequently and/or with long-term thirds or fourths or whatever. Regardless, speaking as a woman whose experience fell into the latter category, let me tell you it can lead to bucketloads of pain. Notice that I said 'can'. While Dan has always advocated for clarity and caution when entering into these types of arrangements, I think that there are probably many who don't heed that advice or are naive and don't appreciate how things can change or how fucking complicated feelings can get. Are there more couples for whom this is a disaster (as many therapists would no doubt tell you) or more couples for whom it works great and enhances their relationship so they don't go to therapists? Who knows? This seems to be about removing any stigma attached to non-traditional relationships and I'm all for that, but it's not good/bad or right/wrong. And here's a theory that's probably going to get me into trouble with this crowd: my suspicion is that, at least as far as straight couples go, when things go south with these types of arrangements it is more often the woman who gets hurt. And should it become more of an acceptable lifestyle and society-sanctioned option, that would continue to be the case.
Posted by wiser on January 4, 2012 at 2:38 PM · Report this
I think that marriage (or LTRs) can mean different things for different people and insisting on a narrow definition for it is stupid and really nobody's business.I agree with @18 that there needs to be a distinction between a couple that's monogamous maybe 90% of the time and occasionally engages in one-offs with other people versus couples that do so frequently and/or with long-term thirds or fourths or whatever. Regardless, speaking as a woman whose experience fell into the latter category, let me tell you it can lead to bucketloads of pain. Notice that I said 'can'. While Dan has always advocated for clarity and caution when entering into these types of arrangements, I think that there are probably many who don't heed that advice or are naive and don't appreciate how things can change or how fucking complicated feelings can get. Are there more couples for whom this is a disaster (as many therapists would no doubt tell you) or more couples for whom it works great and enhances their relationship so they don't go to therapists? Who knows? This seems to be about removing any stigma attached to non-traditional relationships and I'm all for that, but it's not good/bad or right/wrong. And here's a theory that's probably going to get me into trouble with this crowd: my suspicion is that, at least as far as straight couples go, when things go south with these types of arrangements it is more often the woman who gets hurt. And should it become more of an acceptable lifestyle and society-sanctioned option, that would continue to be the case.
Posted by wiser on January 4, 2012 at 2:40 PM · Report this
sorry for double post :-(
Posted by wiser on January 4, 2012 at 2:41 PM · Report this
Whatever works, but protect the kids in the family while you're at it. My parents are still married after my mom had a years-long affair. They go to church and not to the therapy they probably need. I don't know what the problems were and I don't want to know. The issue I had with the whole situation was that my mom invited her boyfriend over for a meal when I was about 12. Kids aren't stupid and I was no exception- I figured it out from the way they were acting. I think that your kids deserve not to know about your sex life. Bringing partners around, even though they don't stay the night or you never have sex at the house just isn't a good idea. The main clue I had was that my mom was really excited and in a big hurry to go see this guy who was supposed to be "just a friend". You might think you're being slick, but from someone who's been there I can tell you for certain you're not fooling anyone but yourself. Your kids probably are smarter than you think they are. If you don't keep it strictly to hotels and outside of the house, your kids will probably figure it out on their own. Don't bring your freaky friends by the house because you want for them to see how cute your kids are. Just keep it casual and outside the house, ok? That goes double if your marriage is a mess. Not judging anyone, b/c life is complicated. I don't even hold a grudge towards my parents anymore now that I've had some of my own relationships and I know how hard it can be to make things work. However- you can't keep something like that hidden for long if you bring people by the house. Be discreet!!!
Posted by Discretion on January 4, 2012 at 2:48 PM · Report this
@57 I agree that women sometimes want "a safe but basically NSA sex relationship" -- but I also believe that more female-adjuncts get emotionally hurt than male-adjuncts do. (Compare Tim@68 with wiser @78/79)

I'll disagree with wiser, however, about whether women generally get hurt more than men when relationships end -- my experience tells me that it's not so clear-cut.

@81 Great advice. Sorry you had to go through that.
Posted by EricaP on January 4, 2012 at 3:02 PM · Report this
Sex at Dawn is a great book on this I think, and I agree Monogamy is possible, and we did it for our first 15 years and were happy, but it is not natural, and I think were closer and more happy now. When the majority of relationships have cheating how can we say monogamy is the norm, apparently not. Funny thing is I have never cheated yet people would think we were strange if they knew we were soft swingers, even thought we have 20 very happy years together, but have a friend cheating and they think that is OK?
Posted by Shaker on January 4, 2012 at 3:07 PM · Report this
mydriasis 84
Dan's promotion of Sex at Dawn made me lose a lot of respect for him.

Evo psych is mostly garbage to begin with but the premise of the book is pretty deeply flawed it's hard to imagine anything other than a personal/political/social bias directing their conclusions.

I won't get started though.
Posted by mydriasis on January 4, 2012 at 3:25 PM · Report this
Is not getting busted the same thing as having a committed nonmonogomous relationship ?
Posted by Xam on January 4, 2012 at 3:34 PM · Report this
@ 77: Thanks for the clarification (and the self-awareness). Perhaps it's not so much that the expectation of monogamy is overly romantic, as it is that overly romantic expectations nearly always involve monogamy. People for whom monogamy is a conscious personal choice generally don't have much reason to expect others (aside from their partners) to follow suit. People who feel bad about non-monogamous choices made by others may have something more going on. Might be worth exploring why these feelings come up for you. Just a suggestion - I'm trying to be conscious of my reactions to other people's relationships and the reasons for them, too.

It's true that many people talk themselves into liking relationships that aren't really a good fit for them (I'm cynical enough to think that's most people, in fact). Do you ever feel that way when you hear someone talking about how happy they are with their monogamous relationship?
Posted by Chase on January 4, 2012 at 3:37 PM · Report this
Sex at Dawn has its flaws, but there's a lot more to their argument than evo psych.
Posted by Chase on January 4, 2012 at 3:41 PM · Report this
Yeah... There's a lot of lying in these relationships, and most seem like waspy self involved douchebags...
Posted by Nattie on January 4, 2012 at 3:43 PM · Report this
@82: just to be clear, I'm not talking about when relationships end in general; I'm talking about who gets hurt when a relationship ends as a direct result of the non-monogamy.
And I could be wrong when it comes to couples in their 20s and 30s, but the reality of western (and perhaps especially American) culture being what it is vis a vis what makes a woman sexually desirable, I find it easier to imagine middle-aged men being very enthusiastic and reaping considerable benefit if it is more the norm to accept (and perhaps expect) extra-marital sex than I can middle-aged women. To quote the classical sage D. Bowie: "Ooohh look out...pretty soon now you're gonna get older".
Posted by wiser on January 4, 2012 at 3:43 PM · Report this
One the one hand, I'm happy for couples that have respectful open relationships, in which good feelings and communicate abound.

On the other, I feel selfishly sad that non-monogamy is starting to become more acceptable. It's hard enough to get a guy to commit to a relationship already. If you are naturally monogamous, and an average woman, I imagine in a few years it's going to be nigh impossible.
Posted by Martychan on January 4, 2012 at 3:47 PM · Report this
So I suppose "from the outside" took the opportunity to explain to her friends that their judgement is misplaced ? Lol... No of course she didn't, thus providing a huge part of why there is so much misunderstanding, and the suspicion that they may feel deep down that they are actually doing something wrong, as a compensation for making the wrong choice of a spouse and taking the easy way out.
Posted by Sami on January 4, 2012 at 3:54 PM · Report this
nocutename 92
@57 (tau): No doubt you're right; all of us here on Slog tend to assign our own motivations and reactions to the letter writers or those they write about. But I want to clarify my thinking, because I think you're making assumptions I didn't intend. It's not that I think women can't want or be capable of NSA sex, or that they have to be considered "sad, deprived victims who must REALLY want love and companionship instead of the discreet hot sex they claim to want." There are many shades of gray between those two extremes.

I am only thinking that the lw says the affair lasted for 4 years. It ended when *he* wanted it to end, because his wife regained her libido. He said that he looked for a partner who was in a similar situation when he started the affair. Presumably, the "other woman's" husband didn't start to satisfy her at the exact moment that the lw's wife's sexual interest resumed. The lw no longer was doing without at home and so had no more need for the other woman. Perhaps that was fine with her; perhaps not. She would hardly be in a position to object; she could hardly forbid his breaking up with her to return to his wife. As in most breakups, there is a dumper and a dumpee, and all the dumpee can ever do is graciously (or not so graciously) accept the dumper's decision.

Yes, women can want hot, NSA sex as much as men. But the fact that this affair went on for 4 years suggests a level of intimacy that is slightly deeper than a series of one-night-stands.

Before I decided to live openly and with integrity, when the years of sexual dissatisfaction had worn me to desperation, to "save my sanity," as Dan often puts it, I had an affair. I sought out a man who was in the same situation as me: in a marriage to a spouse he loved, with whom he got along very well, and had no intention of leaving, but with whom there was infrequent, passionless sex. And passionate, hot, kinky sex was all either of us wanted from the other.


We also lasted 4 years. We ended when his guilt began keeping him awake through 75 mg. of Ambien nightly. We ended when 4 years of lying and sneaking got to us, to him especially (I turned out to be surprisingly guilt-free). Neither of us wanted to hurt our spouses, neither of whom ever found out (so I guess I could count my story in amongst those under-the-radar-non-monogamists, unknown even to the spouse). He broke things off and he broke my heart--even though I understood completely why the break was necessary. Four years is a long time to share passion with someone. Maybe other people can do it without forming emotional attachments, but I have to say, I cannot. Four years of hot sex twice a week also included four years of shared conversations, jokes, stories, and feelings. In fact, I wouldn't want to be a person who could share four years of my life with someone and *not* love him.

It wasn't that I felt used and discarded, or like a sex toy, as EricaP has suggested. Believe me, I got why he wanted, needed to end things. But it was his choice, not mine, and I mourned the end of a relationship I wasn't supposed to have been having. So, yes, I projected a bit of my own experience, as we all do, but I didn't do it in the way you seem to think I did.
Posted by nocutename on January 4, 2012 at 3:56 PM · Report this
mydriasis 93
"Perhaps it's not so much that the expectation of monogamy is overly romantic, as it is that overly romantic expectations nearly always involve monogamy."

I'd agree with you there.

In terms of my reaction to the LWs... I think the main reason I have is that first hand the only times I've seen nonmongamy done it was for the benefit of the less invested partner and at the expense of the more invested partner. I've yet to see a happy nonmonogamous couple - and I have always had sexually diverse friends from straight and vanilla to genderqueer, to kinky, to etc.

I'm not implying that happy nonmonogamous couples don't exist. I see no reason they shouldn't - nonmonogamy is the norm in many human cultures, as anyone with a cursory understanding of anthropology knows. But personal experience is always going to paint the way people see things. I believe that's why I react the way I do.

"It's true that many people talk themselves into liking relationships that aren't really a good fit for them (I'm cynical enough to think that's most people, in fact). Do you ever feel that way when you hear someone talking about how happy they are with their monogamous relationship?"

Yes, but I believe that's for other reasons. I know people who are unhappy in monogamous relationships and pretend to be happy because they're in the business of settling and afraid to be alone. It is not the monogamy that is the heart of their problem, IMHO, it's their partner. (still referring to my friends, not all unhappy monogamous people)

re: Sex at Dawn.

There does appear to be more to it than Evo Psych but since it's a "science" book written for the layperson they strip out all the nuance and uncertainty inherent in the kind of work they're doing. A scientist says "this is the kind of inferences we're making from the research we've done on non-human primates, archeology, etc". A pop-science-writer says "this is natural human behaviour and we know this because x, x and x."

That bothers me, because this science is murky at best. Sexuality is a deeply complex behaviour affected by everything from genes, culture, neurobiology, childhood experience, hormones, media exposure, mental illness, cognition, emotion, and a bathroom sink or two. To compare it to something like whether an animal is nocturnal or diurnal? That's just... well that's just whack.

I haven't read the book (don't have the time) but I have read their website. They don't even touch the possibility of sexual polymorphism which seems like an obvious theory. Look at other human behaviours. Look at the difference between Paris Hilton and Marie Curie. The difference between Anne Coulter and Martin Luther King Jr. And yet they want to tell me that sexuality is a rigidly defined set of behaviours that excludes monogamy for every single person? Get five women in a room they can't even agree what the best position is let alone the best relationship format. I think the idea that there is a "natural" sexuality is a simplistic and naive premise. And it's the basis of the whole book.

Oops. I got started.

I think they make some valid points. But they overreach with their interpretations that follow. That's just my thought though.
Posted by mydriasis on January 4, 2012 at 4:13 PM · Report this
mydriasis 94
"One the one hand, I'm happy for couples that have respectful open relationships, in which good feelings and communicate abound.

On the other, I feel selfishly sad that non-monogamy is starting to become more acceptable. It's hard enough to get a guy to commit to a relationship already. If you are naturally monogamous, and an average woman, I imagine in a few years it's going to be nigh impossible."

As another naturally monogamous woman, I'm going to level with you: it already is near-impossible. I'm an excellent judge of character and I can tell the rare guys who are monogamous too... but they are rare.

If you weren't also blessed with the rainman ability to tell nonmonagmous from monogamous, you should be happy if it become "more common" which is to say "more admitted".

It's similar to being gay. Would you rather live in a world where you can marry a "straight" man who's a closted gay man, or in a world where being gay is more accepted and more "common" and you have to wait a bit longer for the real deal.
Posted by mydriasis on January 4, 2012 at 4:18 PM · Report this
GymGoth 95
The bullshit detector has gone off on this week's column. Dan loves to justify non-monogamy within marriage so he makes every attempt to claim the numbers trump monogamy.

The person who claimed the "4 year affair" and didn't get caught is the worst example. If you don't want to be monogamous, discuss it with your partner. If they agree fine, if not then you have to consider ending it.

To the "legally married gays", I'm sorry but you do give all gays and lesbians a bad reputation (especially men).

I object to gays and straights making a big fuss over getting married: the gowns and tuxes never worn again, the solemn service and great big party with gifts expected; then to just jettison marriage vows for your "playtime" is just obnoxious. And if you're bringing kids into the equation it's even worse.

Spare us all the effort and just be good friends/companions/housemates who play together without slapping the marriage/life partner label on it and stuffing it in our faces for affirmation.

You can give as many other narcissistic examples you like. The fact remains that opening up your "marriage" to outside or group sex diminishes your commitment and risks losing it.

You may think that your marriage is "priority #1" but dating/having sex with others is bound to present a more attractive partner option.

Now can we please get back to REAL sex and relationship advice? Isn't that the purpose of this column?
Posted by GymGoth on January 4, 2012 at 4:22 PM · Report this
@33 vennominion,

Given a collision between X8 and the "child discovery" situation, it seems like having the "cheated on" partner talk to the wounded child might alleviate the sting.

@37 nocute,

I am in a monogamous marriage, started when we were both in our (late) 20s, and we do have hot sex (...sometimes) along with the pedestrian matters of a couple raising children. It definitely hasn't always been that way; in our 40s there were real (non vacation) droughts stemming primarily from external pressures squeezing the sex out of our brains. Starting off I was the one with experience, but she is as GGG as a straight arrow can be. When she finally allowed herself to completely let go (with a monumental jet onto the hotel room floor), I felt she was (and is) magnificent. We have sex frequently now, but work hard to make chances for "special events". Like most human constructs, our LTR works because of a lot of effort and a lot of luck in overcoming the disasters in life.

Posted by Married in MA on January 4, 2012 at 4:28 PM · Report this
@95 "dating/having sex with others is bound to present a more attractive partner option." Why so? Anyone not walled off in a basement dungeon will meet other people, and may fall in love with someone else. I see no evidence that marriages are more likely to end if they open up than if they force both partners to repress the strong urges they may have. There isn't always a "more attractive partner" out there, if the two of you find you can tolerate each other's faults and still have hot sex together.
Posted by EricaP on January 4, 2012 at 4:41 PM · Report this
@89 sorry for misunderstanding your point. I agree that men are more likely to want sexual liberty, but I disagree that those men will be happier than their ex-wives if the couple gets divorced. Better off financially, yes. But not as well-off as both would have been if they stayed together. And as to which will be happier, in my experience, that's a toss-up. Men often miss their original wives, and don't like the hassles of co-parenting. So if Dan can persuade more women to stick around for a good (if monogamish) marriage, I think that's a good thing.
Posted by EricaP on January 4, 2012 at 4:48 PM · Report this
Ms Cute - Of course, your experience could differ, and you may end up somewhere quite different, but, should you end up where I am, it does not have to be dreary.
Posted by vennominon on January 4, 2012 at 4:50 PM · Report this
Following up myself @98 (sorry to go on at length), and reiterating what I said @82, I do think that women who were treated as adjuncts to a primary relationship are the ones who usually end up getting hurt most.

Which may explain why it's hard for guys in open marriages to find women to date. If everyone is treated as an integral part of the core relationship, or if each relationship is allowed to find its own path without artificial constraints from the primary relationship, that will lead to better outcomes, at least for the people who would otherwise have been seen as adjuncts. Or at least that's what I hear from poly ethicists...
Posted by EricaP on January 4, 2012 at 4:54 PM · Report this
Mr Married - Do you recall the letter from last year when an affair with a close family friend was discovered and the LW was primarily desperate to punish his daughter for her overreaction and hurting innocent people? That's what I had in mind; while finding out that Mummy is having an affair might be bad enough, it would likely be worse if it were with an honourary Auntie.
Posted by vennominon on January 4, 2012 at 5:08 PM · Report this
Ms Tamar - Thank you much for your clarification. The cuts really do your letter injustice. Shorn of the backup you provided later, it did appear to be gloating, but I am happy to accept that your letter provided context which would have made the objectionable phrase not vile.
Posted by vennominon on January 4, 2012 at 5:20 PM · Report this
32.) maybe he's just a cheater, Aaaaand maybe two wrongs don't make a right, sounds like a mysoginist coward.
Posted by Sano on January 4, 2012 at 5:20 PM · Report this
Yeah... There's a lot of lying in these relationships, and most seem like waspy self involved douchebags...
Posted by Battyb on January 4, 2012 at 5:27 PM · Report this
For anyone worried about a "Santorum Lawsuit" the wordpress site referenced by poster #1 has the strong stench of being a scam:
1. This site seems to have been started yesterday (There's only one post Jan. 3rd 2012)
2. There's no citation or link to a genuine news source.
3. It requests donation inquiries be made to a private email--doesn't say what "good causes" the donations will go to.
4. is the Santorum website we all know and love.
Posted by ProfessorEww on January 4, 2012 at 5:42 PM · Report this
For anyone worried about a "Santorum Lawsuit" the wordpress site referenced by poster #1 has the strong stench of being a scam:
1. This site seems to have been started yesterday (There's only one post Jan. 3rd 2012)
2. There's no citation or link to a genuine news source.
3. It requests donation inquiries be made to a private email--doesn't say what "good causes" the donations will go to.
4. is the Santorum website we all know and love.
Posted by ProfessorEww on January 4, 2012 at 5:45 PM · Report this
32 - "Maybe the guy who didn't get caught after four years, is married to a withholding witch who's sexual inactivity was very emasculating for him emotionally. You don't know. And by being a preachy wannabe hyper ethical asshole you sound like a right winger, like Sphinctorum! Check yo self fool!"

You then have to ask yourself: 'what was he doing that provoked her to behave in such a way?' I think you more supported the case for him being a CPOS who brags about cheating on his wife. You also sound bitter.
Posted by Frederica Bimble on January 4, 2012 at 5:58 PM · Report this
@101 vennominion,

I do remember, and I think that in this case where the mother isn't cheating upon her husband, if the husband is the one to do the explaining that he understands what is going on and isn't hurt by it, it may make a huge difference. I think the child needs to be reassured first and foremost that the child is and shall remain safe, and that the loving environment of their family isn't going to change because of the child's discovery.

Maybe, just maybe this can be stretched into a bigger happy family thing? I don't know how poly families do it.

Posted by Married in MA on January 4, 2012 at 6:15 PM · Report this
Thanks, vennominon. I was surprised to see the way the letter read, but I understand the need to cut extraneous (for the purpose of Dan's column) rambling details.... I rarely comment here but read regularly, and it is interesting (and a bit disconcerting) to be on the other side of things.
Posted by tamar on January 4, 2012 at 6:16 PM · Report this
@67 mydriasis: I hadn't thought of that! You're right.
@105 & @106: Thanks for the update.
Posted by auntie grizelda on January 4, 2012 at 6:51 PM · Report this
"You then have to ask yourself: 'what was he doing that provoked her to behave in such a way?"

Um. no. Because it is not like women only lose their libido because of the men in their lives.
Posted by just saying what you need to hear on January 4, 2012 at 7:03 PM · Report this
Mr Married - While I grant that, in this case, it's not cheating on the husband, I don't think that really makes that much of a difference. I don't suppose your recommendation could hurt; I just think it's better if the children don't have cause to feel betrayed directly (because of their own falsified relationships with a third).
Posted by vennominon on January 4, 2012 at 8:29 PM · Report this
echizen_kurage 113

The letter-writer characterizes his marriage during those four years as "wonderful-yet-sexless." It doesn't sound to me like he thought he was married to "a withholding witch."

To a large extent, I agree with the posters criticizing the LW -- he should have sought his wife's consent before he made the unilateral decision to open up their marriage. On the other hand, I give him a lot of credit for being mature enough to realize that his wife's diminished libido wasn't something she deliberately chose to punish or control him.

(I also agree with @111 that there's no reason to assume that the LW was somehow responsible for his wife's sex drive getting stuck in park. Sometimes these things just happen, y'know?)


Y hello thar, fellow evo-psych skeptic! Somehow I had it in my head that you were an ardent evo-psych defender; I don't know how I arrived at that misconception, but I'm glad to have it corrected.
Posted by echizen_kurage on January 4, 2012 at 8:59 PM · Report this
I post this after having read the second letter. Many will say it reflects an attitude from another time and is no longer relevant, but I believe that it remains a cautionary tale. Personally I consider this to be a horrible tragedy and find it extremely sad and depressing. I may be wrong, but I believe that less than more men have cuckold fetishes and very few people enjoy being humiliated, publicly or privately . I believe for many (most) people there is truly no expiration date on the consequences of infidelity and/or keeping secrets. Some of you may know of this. Take from it whatever you will.

Hence the case of the 99 year old man in Italy who is divorcing his 96 year old wife of 77 years after just finding letters to her lover. Granted her affair and betrayal ??? took place 60 years ago resulting in what may seem to some people as an over reaction by her husband. Yes it is ancient history to the wife, but not to her husband. I don't know if her affair was justified, a stupid mistake, or whatever; but this has to be tearing her family apart. It would be bad enough if this had remained a private matter, but I can't begin to imagine the humiliation being felt, by all parties, since it is now public grist for the ghouls in the media.

On a personal level, it would not be so much the affair from 60 years ago that would be so devastating, but finding out that I had been lied to and deceived for over 60 years. Decades of trust and credibility gone in an instant. Haunted by questions about what was and is true.
Having my wife keep those letters for so long would leave me feeling as if she cherished and valued them and her memories more than our family, marriage, or me.

The object leason I take from this is no good can ever come from keeping evidence of an affair. It has the potential of biting you in the ass for as long as it exists. It would have been better for everyone if the wife had destroyed the letters along time ago and taken the secret with her to the grave.

P.S. In no way am I being judgmental. As I said earlier, I consider this to be a horrible tragedy. I don't believe that this is typical, just an example of disasterous the consequences of infidelity and/or secret can be. So don't jump down my throat for posting this or sharing some of my personal feelings.
Posted by beentheredonethatgotthetshirt on January 4, 2012 at 9:46 PM · Report this
Oh yawn, who gives a fuck? C'mon Dan, enough already with monogamy issues and let's get back to spanking and furries and all the fun stuff.
Posted by GG1000 on January 4, 2012 at 10:02 PM · Report this
@112 vennominion,

Coming from a strictly monogamous, this is out of my experience, but I do come from a large family, soooo: Depending upon the age of the child, there are different things to consider. As they get older, the most important thing would be honesty in an age appropriate degree. The betrayal of the child rides heavily upon the size of the secret and it's consequences. If the parents kept going as things were, or went to strictly monogamous mode, and nothing changed but the child's awareness of adult behavior, I would think things would feel safe.

If the home is filled with that pungent aroma of sanctimonious bullshit, however, then things would most likely be much worse. (I would hope that a poly home would be a tolerant one.) When I figured out about my father's infidelity/ies, the single biggest part of the personal betrayal lay in the outrage of being held to a standard that he himself hadn't. A huge amount of my psyche and efforts to exceed during my teens was tied into chasing my parents acceptance (As it turned out, it was an effective compensation against my (undiagnosed) learning disability, so some good came from it.). Honesty wouldn't have done much in this case, but it wasn't a case of the family coming together to minimize the damage, either. Another big piece of the feeling of betrayal came from being abandoned to deal with my own fate; in that the fault is spread out over the family as a whole.

Sorry to babble, I am getting pretty sleepy.

Posted by Married in MA on January 4, 2012 at 10:03 PM · Report this
Rick Santorum is an FCC and standards and practices violation. Considering the things that cannot be said on TV, such as shit and fuck, why should the result of shit fucking still be allowed to be spoken on TV. And now with that man doing so well in Iowa, I am afraid I am going to have to explain the meaning of this word to my children or elderly parents. I hope that the people of this great nation will rise up and squash this squishy word from being uttered in Prime Time any more.
Posted by Enraged and Frothing on January 4, 2012 at 10:11 PM · Report this

Some of you may know of this. (Should read) Some of you may know of the following
Posted by beentheredonethatgotthetshirt on January 4, 2012 at 10:18 PM · Report this
I'm donating $100 to Rick Santorum.
Posted by F.U. Savage on January 4, 2012 at 10:47 PM · Report this
Helix 120
This column made me so happy I nearly shit myself. You go, people doing what makes you happy despite our ass-tarded society. You go.
Posted by Helix on January 4, 2012 at 11:09 PM · Report this
I'm in a monogamish relationship (we are each other's primary partner, but we can have casual encounters outside the relationship mostly, but not always, when we are geographically separated) and it's the best relationship I've ever had. This is mostly due to the fact that I can trust my partner and talk to him about our relationship and any outside encounters we have. We have commonly agreed upon "rules" but we acknowledge these could change from situation to situation.

I have a quick reading suggestion for anyone interested in a non-monogamous relationship. Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships by Tristan Taormino is a great resource.

I'm in the middle of it right now and am finding it very helpful for anyone curious about, planning or involved in an open relationship of any kind. She covers all kinds of open relationships and guides you through deciding if it's the choice for you in a practical manner. The book addresses things to consider before and during an open relationship, guides you through the types (with exercises to help decide which type, if any, is right for you) and addresses some of the major concerns and benefits around opening your relationship.

It's easy to read and easy to understand. It's non-judgmental and fully acknowledges that open relationships are not for everyone. It truly is a guide to the lifestyle, rather than an argument for it. I personally find it better written and more helpful than The Ethical Slut, considered by many to be one of the foremost books on non-monogamy.
Posted by Monogamish and Happy on January 4, 2012 at 11:58 PM · Report this
That's all good and well, and more power to you if you're happy, but there are many of us, gay and straight, who value our monogamy. We find comfort in having a stable relationship without bringing someone else's motivations, issues and expectations into the equation. Being monogamous doesn't have to be a struggle or a sacrifice; it's just a way of life. It's an understanding that in fact, there may be someone "better" in some alternate universe, but we prefer to live in the here and now and love one person unconditionally and uncomprimisingly.
Posted by markzurich on January 5, 2012 at 12:10 AM · Report this
@113: I'm presuming that the LW knew, from years of living with his wife, or perhaps from sounding her out formally or informally, that there was no chance of her agreeing to open the marriage. Opening the relationship by agreement is so obviously a better option than cheating, if it's an option at all, that I doubt it was.
Posted by Old Crow on January 5, 2012 at 3:41 AM · Report this
GymGoth 124
@97: Of course you will meet new people at work, events, vacations, etc. But if your relationship commitment is important you can look but not touch.

My point is that if you go beyond that and form a relationship with another, even if only sexual, you have a better chance of that morphing into feelings beyond the sex which then make you see that person as a "better option" instead of your "#1 priority".

I've seen multiple gay couples who invite in a 3rd and in a short time one of the guys in the relationship leaves and sets up shop with the 3rd.

Posted by GymGoth on January 5, 2012 at 5:54 AM · Report this
@nocutename, I didn't get an impression of self-pity from you. I got the impression that you were being realistic and honest about an unpleasant situation, and, far from wallowing in sadness about it, you were determined to keep searching. Even when you know that you may not find what you want, you'll keep looking. I admire that, and really hope your efforts are rewarded. Life is too mysterious for anyone to be certain that there is some perfect soul-mate out there for every single person, but I just wanted to express my wishes for lucky love for you.

And for all of the rest of you, too. Sometimes it can be easy to get disheartened by all that is unjust and malevolent in the world, but the persistent kindness, compassionate communication, and intelligent discussion engaged in by the regular members this community is a great remedy. I really enjoy reading your points of view and wish you all well.

(Not going anywhere, just feeling the love for you all this morning. :) Every time I read you, you brighten my day, and for that I am immensely grateful.)
Posted by MarleyBarley on January 5, 2012 at 6:05 AM · Report this
"...the fact that Ron and Nancy down the street are swingers will raise eyebrows..."

Posted by Salazar on January 5, 2012 at 6:43 AM · Report this
@120, it tickles me pink, too. :D

@122, ?? I hope perhaps I'm misinterpreting, but your comment comes across (to me) as somewhat self-righteous in your preference for complete monogamy. I have to disagree with your implied statement that anyone engaged in anything not completely monogamous is not loving their primary partner uncompromisingly or unconditionally. I am extremely lucky to be married to my best friend in the world, who happens to be a man. We have had our ups and our downs, seen each other in extremity of emotional duress and bad behavior... ;) but we have such a bond of love and friendship that we realize that there is nothing that it wouldn't be better to face together than separately. We are stronger and better together, and we are realistic enough to know that no one is perfect and well-behaved every moment of every day. I love my husband uncompromisingly and unconditionally, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he feels the very same way.

However, I am bisexual. I love the cock, don't get me wrong, but there will always be part of me that wants to be buried face-first in some glorious snatch. :) My husband has known this about me since we started dating, and obviously this is an area in which he cannot satisfy me. It doesn't mean that I don't love and revel in the man that he is and every beautiful and complicated aspect of our relationship. Loving or even just lusting after someone else does not diminish the intense love and lust I feel for my husband.

I think our human hearts are infinitely big, if we let them be, and that every new bit of affection felt swells it a little more. Just as having our daughter did not lessen the love I feel for my husband, but taught me new depths of love for both of them... just as someday having another baby will not make me love my daughter less... Finding some fantastic woman with whom I can share my husband and myself and our lives would not decrease the fullness of joy and completeness of love I feel in my relationship with my husband.

Maybe someday we'll meet a fantastic woman who knocks our collective socks off, and we'll live happily ever after, driving each other crazy and keeping each other sane. Realistically, we may never find someone that fits us both as well as we fit each other, and that's perfectly okay with us. We feel very lucky and blessed to have what we have, and maybe it's selfish of us to wish for more, but I think it is a very human trait to want more of every good thing. Please don't look at the occasional dalliances and sometimes polyamory of people like me and decide that it demonstrates a limit to our love and regard for our primary partner. In my heart, in my life, it demonstrates the limitlessness of my ability to love and lust.

None of this is meant to convey any sort of disdain for people for whom complete monogamy is the highest ideal and goal. That's beautiful and wonderful, too. It's just that, in the same way that people come in all shapes and sizes and pigment combinations, there is an endless variety of sexual appetites and romantic goals. Just because mine is different from yours doesn't make it less pure and sacred and deep. It just makes it different. :)
Posted by MarleyBarley on January 5, 2012 at 6:45 AM · Report this
AFinch 128
@52 - I get your drift, but I think there is a spectrum here - I don't think the option is binary: full-on romantic love or disposable sex-toy. It seems to me that all partners can be real people treated with respect and consideration and as ends-unto-themselves, without there being a qualitative or quantitative 'equality' in all relationships. Are you saying women are incapable of being sexual with someone without having the same feelings for that person as they do for their primary partner? Some lesbians I know (who occasionally dabble in the penis) would disagree.
Posted by AFinch on January 5, 2012 at 7:20 AM · Report this
@ 65: Wayne, I feel your pain, man. This is all anyone can do to attract love though: just enjoy who you are and stay in the moment. Be yourself. Don't try, just be. Enjoy. Relish. Delight in what you have, you know what I mean? Once you allow yourself to open up and enjoy who you are, warts and all, *that's* when the good stuff begins to happen...and love finds you.

I sometimes wish I was more non-monogamish. It's not even about being a prude or having issues with anything: I just found what turns me on most of all within one person! Imagine the likelihood of that... I still am. ;-)

Just do your best and be yourself: you'll be happily surprised about how love can seek you out that much easier once you begin doing that..


Best To You & To Everyone In Here!
Happy New Year.
Posted by In Love With A True Genius Named B ;)+~+ on January 5, 2012 at 7:34 AM · Report this
@ 128: THAT is BEAUTIFUL! Wow... (deep inhale and sigh...) Wow... I could fall for someone like you, the way you break it all down and articulate...

Thank you.
Posted by Creepy Of Me? I Hope Not :) ! on January 5, 2012 at 7:37 AM · Report this
Sorry A Finch! I meant @ 127. You write well, too! :-)
Posted by Stoopid Of Me? Probably. But It's Cute! :-D lol on January 5, 2012 at 7:39 AM · Report this
@ 122: I agree fully at heart with what you say. I know myself enough to know that I enjoy monogamy most of all. Indeed: it IS a way of life. To each their own. Just be healthy, happy and honest, that's all. Great post, markzurich: live over europe like a Led Zeppelin Live 1980 bootleg lol ;-D+~+
Posted by Led Zeppelin Love on January 5, 2012 at 8:10 AM · Report this
@ 127: marleybarley: Take your bows. That's one awesome, informative read! Cheers. :-)
Posted by New MarleyBarley Fan on January 5, 2012 at 8:14 AM · Report this
nocutename 134
Thanks for your generous response to me back at #125. And @127: Bravo! Beautifully, compassionately written. It reminds me of something Sugar on the Rumpus would write.
Thanks for your contributions to the discussion; I really appreciate them.
Posted by nocutename on January 5, 2012 at 9:55 AM · Report this
@98: Hi again. Your comment about my comment (@89) was interesting because I think we're KIND OF talking about 2 different things (this kind of goes off-topic so most people reading this might not be interested). I was speaking more of the pain experienced during the split as opposed to who winds up happier eventually. My husband and I are going through counseling (both individually and with a couples therapist)to try to save our marriage. The damage came about as a result of non-monogomy and of course there's much more to it than that and I won't (nor would I have the space to) bore you with the details. I think this issue (who suffers more) perhaps has little to do, per se,with whether a monogamish lifestyle is valid or not or whatever and more to do with the difference between how men and women experience things emotionally. I don't think my husband has felt anything NEAR the pain that I have DURING this process, but if we do split I can envision that eventually I will be more at peace and he will have more regrets. I think, in general, that women are more reflective and examine and even wallow in their pain, while men are more inclined to protect themselves by avoiding it. Then later, when the dust clears, men may come to see and understand things about their true feelings when it's too late. This is, of course, a big generalization, but anecdotally (i.e. discussions with friends who have split)it is often the case.
Posted by wiser on January 5, 2012 at 10:26 AM · Report this
Your all a bunch of sick perverts!!! Afterall,
I'm sure Apeman wasn't doing it doggy style in caves 2 million years ago. Too bad everything came out of the closet in the 60"s.
Posted by Potatoehead on January 5, 2012 at 11:14 AM · Report this
@ 136: But I like being a pervert!!! Can I crawl up inside your ass like an amoeba on a parasite on a crotch cricket's ass and become one with your shit, O Holy One ;-D lol...?
Posted by Jokes For The Demented ;-D on January 5, 2012 at 11:29 AM · Report this
@ 136: No, you're right. The Apemen were prolly too busy tossing their fecal matter at one another while trying to bag the hottest wench in the village.. Today, it's cellphones and sexting instead of billyclubs upside the head, getting dragged by your hair by dirty, poopy-covered caveman hands as the give you full body E-coli from fondling your all-around goods with doody hands. Another reason why soap and technology are quite kindly contributions to us all :-) .
Posted by Soap Is A Cool Thing on January 5, 2012 at 11:33 AM · Report this
mydriasis 139

spoken like someone who's never had sex outdoors - doggy style is really the way to go.


If I may quote Mr. Kweli:

the clan of the cavebear
used to use the club to hit and drag her by the hair
still use the club to get her a martini or a beer
try to get her home and put the smell of sex in the air

I'm all for soap but we are too different from those "apemen"
Posted by mydriasis on January 5, 2012 at 12:20 PM · Report this
@ 139, Mydriasis: "spoken like someone who's never had sex outdoors".

You would be speaking to my demographic then. But then, I've never had that much of an inkling to wipe my goods clean with dried leaves and pine needles lol..
Posted by Fookin' In The Bushes, as Oasis would sing.. on January 5, 2012 at 12:26 PM · Report this
@134(nocutename), in case you didn't see my message in the other thread, I just wanted to join my wishes to those of others here (among wish MarleyBarley gets a cum laude) who wish you the best of lucks on the relationship department. Inasmuch as reading comment thread posts can shed light on another person's soul, yours is A-OK, and I would really love it if someday you'd write us all a post telling us that you found a wonderful relationship, a five-course meal that doesn't leave you to depend on the remains of the day (yes, I like Kazuo Ishiguro).

Here, a rose as a good luck charm: @--`---
Posted by ankylosaur on January 5, 2012 at 12:31 PM · Report this
It's crazy to me that non-monogamy is so popular, because I dated heavily in my 20s (I'm in my 30s now) and couldn't find a single guy secure enough to be comfortable with my having multiple partners. And these were all Seattle liberal, hipster-types, so I didn't expect it to be an issue.

But I guess when men get bored it suddenly becomes ok. I still think there's such a huge double standard in place that makes me skeptical about some of these choices.
Posted by Tired of hearing about the male libido on January 5, 2012 at 12:35 PM · Report this
"For the First Five"... what if the reason her libido suddenly returned is that she knows about the affair? He's just a garden-variety CPOS. No mystery here.
Posted by Suzy on January 5, 2012 at 12:43 PM · Report this
@ 114: You make a lot of sense. I relate to your style and approach a lot.

@ 116: Sorry to hear about how it was for you.. I lucked out: my father died, instead of cheated on my mother and all of that.. I still sometimes think we all got the more merciful end of the stick in that he died, rather than being angry at him in life, or something.. I'm with you about the to-each-their-own thing. That, and age-appropriate honesty with kids. We were all smart kids once (we still are).. Why should we ever try to dumb down anything for any of our kids? It helps to know who you are and what works for you, really. You're not babbling at all. You're very insightful as a read and a great writer, Married In MA. Well done :-) .

@ 58: *Still :-) * having sex 5 times a week, fifteen years in? God Bless Yas, Both! That's how I wanna be too! Why get lame just 'cos you've together, or, married for so long? Kudos to you and your bravery to live life as you wish to. That's cool.

@ 121: I for one appreciate the nods to self-help books. I enjoy reading anything like those, or autobiographies of certain people. Factual, practical knowledge. Thanks for putting in the time to offer casual help to any one of us :-) .

Thanks to Everyone for a great read all throughout. Cheers.
Posted by Helplessly+Blissed Out Still ;-)+~+ on January 5, 2012 at 12:50 PM · Report this
@ 76: To quote your most wise words of truth: "Our situation allowed all of us to treat each other with respect, and love, and to allow a transition from one person to another to happen without anger or recriminations or deception. We are all very happy with the results..."

As well as this one:

"To this day, we're all friends. Not FB lurkers, but for-real, actual friends. That means a lot to us all.

I know, that doesn't seem very exciting -- it's not a big, long-term polyfest with lots of partners and drama. But it's what we did. We treated each other with respect, we talked openly, and we were all better for it."

That's my kind of excitement :-) ! I can't think of anything to get someone hotter than looking out and dotting the i's and crossing the t's (no pun intended at all lol;))out of respect, common sense (calm & sense!), affection and care.

It's not always about the variety of the option of other people in the sack: it can sometimes be more about finding variety within yourselves to enjoy in lieu of having to open the relationship physically to others just yet.

But then, I'm still in the honeymoon sweet :-) ;-) phase....for sixteen+ years ;-D!


Posted by Al Green Is One Cool Cat on January 5, 2012 at 1:12 PM · Report this
Mr Married - I don't disagree; I just wrote a long post and deleted too much of it. As an example of what I meant by direct betrayal, I didn't feel directly betrayed by my father's infidelities, although that was a weird case, as he made me an accessory. But I played doubles and mixed doubles with several family friends who were my parents' contemporaries. Had either of my parents had an affair with any of my doubles partners, I'd have taken that as a huge betrayal by the doubles partner, and that would have bothered me a lot more than either of my parents.
Posted by vennominon on January 5, 2012 at 1:15 PM · Report this
sb53 147
Married for 30 + years. My brother calls me a few years ago and wishes me "Happy birthday" followed by..."Well, did you get lucky?".
I paused about whether to tell the truth, and he answered for me:.."I know. I don't either. The old standby - sure things on anniversaries and birthdays are gone for me too."
The plain fact is that most men can ill afford to start their lives over with half of what they have. When it gets too lonely there is always Mr Craigs' for a one time fix.
Posted by sb53 on January 5, 2012 at 1:33 PM · Report this
mydriasis 148

Never had to - I'm big into cleanliness and wouldn't be down with that myself.
Posted by mydriasis on January 5, 2012 at 1:42 PM · Report this
@143, I wished life were that simple!... (cue to longish discussion on the morality of lies, plus how sex is not everything and how this plays into a calculation of divorcing-or-not-divorcing where many other factors play a role).
Posted by ankylosaur on January 5, 2012 at 1:57 PM · Report this
Spikeygrrl 150
Good Women/Wives who put up with "monogamish" relationships (translation: lifetime get-out-of-jail-free card for cheating) still haven't figured out that they in and of themselves are good enough to DESERVE exclusive affection -- or who are continuing to behave so badly themselves that they truly do NOT deserve a faithful partner.
Posted by Spikeygrrl on January 5, 2012 at 2:54 PM · Report this
Spikeygrrl 151
@127: You will be at peace when you are finally open to relating to a potential romantic partner who will not sell you out to "the next great fuck."

A same-sex attraction can be all kinds of fun in fantasy, but if you follow through on it in reality -- not just once, to see what it's like, but as a stable preference -- it WILL wreck your chances for a solid, monogamous MARRIAGE (one man, one woman).

IMO you would best be served by making up your mind and sticking to it. Until you do, your male partners will ALWAYS fear "a woman instead," and your opposite-sex partners will always fear "just another cock when she'd probably rather do a cunt."

NO potential romontic partner wants to think that he or she is with you just on the whim of a moment, which may at any further moment totally reverse. (How does a man displaced by a woman, or vice versa, even get a CHANCE to fight back for the relationship he or she has built a future on?!)

If you're utterly convinced that to stay sexually entertained you've just gotta be "gay" despite the CRUSHING downsides (that's a whole other post!), then for goodness sake, just do it! Don't go ensnaring straights into your lifestyle, it's NOT's FAIR!!! OTOH, if you're het, just do it _sans_ PC apology! Do NOT take the Woody Allen option (by which posing as bisexual just gives you twice the choices on Date Night). That doesn't ring true to anyone, of ANY preference, who wants a serious relationship, not just a quick fuck on Date Night. PEOPLE WILL BE HURT.

Just quit that. Be a freakin' adult and JUST QUIT THAT. There are other people in this world besides you, and it is NOT your job to gratuitously make their lives miserable. Alternatively, go live as a hermit on some isolated mountain-top where your selfishness cannot continue to strew harm wherever you go.
Posted by Spikeygrrl on January 5, 2012 at 3:19 PM · Report this
Dan Savage is apparently a reprehensible piece of human refuse. He also appears to be a coward.
Posted by Mike Townsend on January 5, 2012 at 4:04 PM · Report this
Paul123: Any such lawsuit is guaranteed to fail. Have a nice life.
Posted by bla on January 5, 2012 at 4:13 PM · Report this

I'm surprised you're not an outdoor fucking champion.
Posted by Hunter78 on January 5, 2012 at 5:09 PM · Report this
We have been together for 36 years, and have never been monogamous. We always were honest about whatever exploits we didn't share in the flesh. And when people ask "what's your secret of your long relationship" I always answer with the truth: NON-MONOGAMY!
Posted by trailrunnr on January 5, 2012 at 5:17 PM · Report this
I should have added my story a while ago, but for some reason waited to add to the pile. I got married at 19 and have been for 12 years now. We are one of those couples that get comments to this day such as 'oh, look at the newlyweds' or 'I'm jealous of how close you are'. In short, our relationship is beautiful because we work at being communicative and true to ourselves.
We recently opened our marriage in the last year. Prior to officially 'opening', we talked for months at length about our expectations, needs, wants, fears, and confusion. We worked individually and as a couple in counseling, got really, really tired of talking about feelings (really tired!), but finally came to the conclusion together that this is what we both wanted and needed.
We were sitting at the kitchen table and the decision was made with absolute honesty - it felt completely right and made sense.
I wouldn't say it's all been fun - we've both dealt with rejection, jealousy, and fear but we continue to go back to the table where we made the decision and say 'I can't imagine it any other way'. My libido reappeared again after having been gone for many, many years, and he's more open about all of his feelings. Some would say this seems backward and for a loving, committed couple to do this.
My only reply to that is every relationship is unique, and as long as there is mutual respect, love and kindness, whatever exists between the individuals in that relationship is solely theirs. I truly hope for the day that I can without fear introduce my husband, my girlfriend and my boyfriend to other friends, and my best friend, lover and husband (all the same person) can do the same.
In response to #150 regarding the 'exclusive affection', I look at it like this - the love my husband has for me is unique to any love he'll ever have for anyone, he may love others but he won't love anyone HOW he loves me. Because every person is different, how can a person love two people in the exact same way?
He loves me for things that he maybe won't find in others, and he will find things to love in others that I maybe don't possess. But that affection will differ. So, yes, I DO deserve and have the exclusive affection/love that he has for me - it can't be replicated by anyone else. I cherish his love for me, it's the greatest gift I've gotten in life for being me.
Posted by allyouneedislove on January 5, 2012 at 5:50 PM · Report this
I am a woman. I do not need to bow into some gender role that you want to put me into. I'll be single and celibate all my life if I want. I'll be a slut if I want. I'll be a single mother from a sperm donation if I want. I'll be in a lifetime monogamous relationship if I want, and I'll be a full on open marriage poly swinger if I want. Or I'll be anywhere in between.
Being a woman/wife does not change my right to be what I am.
None of those choices I make will make any difference on whether I DESERVE to be loved.
My actions or the actions of my significant other will never change that fact.
Posted by Elvishswimmer on January 5, 2012 at 6:23 PM · Report this
mydriasis 158

Because I'm so vanilla? Is that the joke?
Only did it once. Well... twice but I don't count that time.

Oh sugar, take a xanax.
Ever see Chris Rock's comments on women who say they have a right to be single mothers? Gold.

Alright feminists, have at me.
Posted by mydriasis on January 5, 2012 at 6:29 PM · Report this
Here's a potentially useful meme: terms of fidelity. Dan isn't talking about a free-for-all with no rules. He's saying, as a couple (or whatever), you are free to define your own rules together, to negotiate the terms of your own fidelity.

And I suspect the idea that doesn't just apply to poly people. Even the most vanilla, suburban, missionary-position God fearing hetero couple arrives with different attitudes, backgrounds and proclivities.

That negotiation might look like 'You never go to strip bars, do you dear?' 'Of course not, dear.' It might not be visible to anyone else, or even both parties. But it always happens.
Posted by jstoner on January 5, 2012 at 6:49 PM · Report this
@151 whaaa?

Married 7 years, with him 10 years, open relationship. Both bi, both tend to have longer term lovers and friends of a slutty persuasion than just random hookups, but have done that too.

To the outside world, we are the perfect couple. And we are, but it's even better than they could ever know.

Posted by safireblues on January 5, 2012 at 6:51 PM · Report this
I just want to say... I don't think I'd classify Mr. Craigslist/4 years (I'm pretty sure they're the same letter) as a CPOS. It would have been better if he'd gotten permission from his wife, but as cheaters go, he behaved pretty damned ethically. He only cheated after a not-insignificant gap in his sex life, he (apparently) tried to figure out why his wife didn't want sex *before* he resorted to other options, he treated his on-the-side ethically and reasonably, and he kept his relationship with his wife as his primary focus. He doesn't exactly get an A for ethics on this one, but it's at least a solid C.
Posted by Melissa Trible on January 5, 2012 at 7:04 PM · Report this
It is just plain nice to read good things about good people,

Be it long term monogamous, short term poly, homosexual, heterosexual, or any other kind of human relationship, I love a happy beginning, middle, and continuation.

Posted by Married in MA on January 5, 2012 at 7:05 PM · Report this
Hey Dan--

I agree that what couples agree to in their relationship is their own business, if they want to be monogamish then that is there deal. However, can you stop bashing the monogamous couples? Just because I choose to be monogamous doesn't mean my relationship is doomed to fail, and that I care if your relationship is monogamish. It seems that now in the column somehow my relationship is lacking because I don't go outside my own relationship, and that I am doomed to fail. It can work or fail no matter what type of relationship you have.
Posted by Monogamous relationship not wrong either on January 5, 2012 at 7:13 PM · Report this
I suppose that, if ever there were a thread in which it were appropriate for those in couples to claim perfection, this is it, but may I respectfully request that such claims be confined to this thread? It doesn't make me think of any reaction beyond an occasional LMB, which I can happily suspend for one thread, but there are others here of more delicate sensibilities.
Posted by vennominon on January 5, 2012 at 7:17 PM · Report this
@32 - nothing really HAS to happen for someone to lose their libido. Life happens. People change and sometimes without a drastic reason.
Posted by happy time on January 5, 2012 at 7:20 PM · Report this
@ 163 -- I don't think anyone's bashing monogamy. Happy, supportive, loving, stable monogamy is good stuff. I think Dan's been at pains to say that. Glad to hear it's working for you.

@ 156 -- That's a really nice approach you have to sharing someone you love. And I'm glad you don't paper over the hurt and jealousy that opening up a relationship can cause. I feel it gets glossed over a lot in this column--or maybe I'm more insecure than most sloggers, I don't know. But what you say about loving different people differently: totally agree. That's where the loyalty and security comes from in a couple that has opened up. No one can replace you, because you're unique. And that in turn allows room for respect and affection for the third/fourth/whatever.

@ troll -- my wife and I are destroying the fabric of society. Sorry about that.
Posted by LateBloomer on January 5, 2012 at 8:08 PM · Report this
echizen_kurage 167

I saw your posts on this thread, and they made me curious enough to look up some of your past posts, and now I'm even more curious. You're a veteran practitioner of BDSM, but you still can't wrap your head around homosexuality, bisexuality, non-monogamy, transexuality, or pretty much any other deviation from the conservative vision of "natural, traditional" heterosexual monogamy? How does that even work?
Posted by echizen_kurage on January 5, 2012 at 8:45 PM · Report this
nocutename 168
Mr. Ven, what is an LMB? You refer to it in #164.
Posted by nocutename on January 5, 2012 at 8:51 PM · Report this
@59 Could you write a book too? Your account of real love gives me hope....

I wasn't sure it ever really did happen for anyone.

Best wishes and continuing happiness for both of you.
Posted by TheOtherWoman on January 5, 2012 at 9:24 PM · Report this
I left out one really depressing fact. The husband found the letters shortly before Christmas.
Posted by beentheredonethatgotthetshirt on January 5, 2012 at 11:26 PM · Report this
Can someone explain more about this cuckold thing to me? I am seriously trying to understand it without being judgmental but when I read this: "he's not allowed to have sex with me without my boyfriend's permission (which he usually—though not always—gets). " I feel my head explode.

so..wait, really? is this for real or just a fantasy type of thing? i understand that men can have fantasies about other men being with their women and i accept that but is this entire "he can't have sex with me without my boyfriend's permission" the husbands idea? is that part of the fantasy? is there a safeword to retract on this? how did you both deprogram yourselves of the connection between sex and love: how does the husband walk around holding his wifes hand knowing that he cant have sex with her unless he gives her boyfriend a call? what if one day the husband *for whatever reason* feels he has had his fantasy fulfilled and wants to go back to being a couple only - is there even going back?

i apologize if i sound like I am coming from an ignorant attitude, i swear i am not trying to be judgmental. i am a fan of this monogamish concept but this cuckold story completely goes against everything i thought i knew about men! If this couple or another cuckold couple could answer my questions and enlighten me, I would appreciate it!
Posted by yesyes1234 on January 6, 2012 at 12:19 AM · Report this
@171 (yesyes1234), I have a little cuckold fetish -- one I've never realized, because I've never been with a woman who wanted to have an affair while being with me -- and, as far as someone who actually fantasizes about it but never had the actual experience goes, here are a few comments.

First of all, you could probably look up blogs by people living this lifestyle and read their comments -- that might help you understand more. Jinxipie is, I think, a good, honest one, with lots of answered questions classified by topic.

Second, at least for me, there is a difference between the cuckold ('I like to see/imagine/know about my wife having sex with another man or other men') and the humiliation ('I like her to dominiate me') aspects. They do tend to go together like cheese and wine, but they are not the same: one can have one without the other. From your comment, it seems you're more surprised by the humiliation aspect than by the cuckold aspect itself.

The humiliation aspect works like all other D/s relationships. In the cases that work well: There often are safe words. There is a relationship of love and respect between wife and husband, despite the apparent imbalance between dominant and submissive. Their domination games are played as such, mutually consensual, discussed in advance, played for the pleasure they give both partners, and can be stopped and renegotiated or even dropped altogether if anyone (wife, lover, or husband) feels bad with it.

Perhaps the hardest part to understand, judging by your post, is: how can the husband like this? How can he hold his wife's hand knowing he needs the boyfriend's permission (not always the case: some cuckold relationships include this element, some don't, it's case-by-case, like everything else)? I ask you: is it any easier for you to understand why someone might enjoy being flogged, or led around in a leash, or actually put in bondage? Ultimately it's the same feeling, and yes, it can be very enjoyable, very powerfully, mind-boggingly enjoyable.

If we don't have a kink, we find it difficult to understand it at a gut level. I'm not a furry, so I find it difficult to 'get it' that some people associate sexual desire with animal costums or animal-shaped toys. Yet I realize this does exist, and that those who engage in this fetish probably enjoy it very much, too.
Posted by ankylosaur on January 6, 2012 at 1:28 AM · Report this
Ms Cute - LMB is one of my rare ventures into Franglish. Wanting something stronger than Laissez-Moi Rire, I eventually settled on Laissez-Moi Barf.
Posted by vennominon on January 6, 2012 at 5:07 AM · Report this
@130/131 (Unregistered but very kind Commenter) - Thank you. :) I am really into language, and one of my biggest turn-ons is someone similarly enthralled by skilled elocution (my husband and I were both creative writing majors once upon a time). We're in southern Ohio, if you're anywhere nearby, maybe we should go out for coffee and conversation sometime. ;)

@133 (Another Unregistered Flatterer!) xoxoxox. Thank you very much.

@134 (nocutename) - I haven't read much of Sugar's work, but what I have read, I've loved. I endeavor to embody the sort of compassionate wisdom she conveys, so your compliment could not have been better chosen to make me blush and swell my head. ;D Thank you!!!
Posted by MarleyBarley on January 6, 2012 at 5:12 AM · Report this
Goodness. @151, did you really intend all that as reply to my post @127? .... If so, ummmm, did you even read my post? Which part implied I am anything but peaceful and happy about the status of my relationships? And, quoting you here, "Just quit that. Be a freakin' adult and JUST QUIT THAT. There are other people in this world besides you, and it is NOT your job to gratuitously make their lives miserable." ?? ...and you're saying this becaaaauuuse.... you discerned so much intimate detail about my life from my post that you know how I mistreat my husband and any and all thirds and everyone else in my life?

Lol. I'm sorry, I know it's unkind to laugh, and I really don't like to be unkind, but this is so very laughable. Seriously, did you even read my post?!?

I'm speechless, which is not something that happens very often. (Chalk it up on your trolling/provocation scoreboard - Spikeygrrl: 1, MarleyBarley: 0.)

I guess all I can say is this: For you, and for any other doubters - I love my husband, and if he turned to me this morning and said, "You know, I really think we should give up this idea of that Fantastic Woman, I think we should focus on making our relationship as fulfilling and wonderful as possible, and be satisfied with what we have," I would be fine with that. Honestly, as I mentioned @127, I do feel a little selfish wishing for an amazing woman to love in the same way I love my amazing man - especially when there are so many people (dear local friends here in Ohio, and miscellaneous internet friends here at SLOG and strewn across cyberspace) who don't even have one amazing lover-partner-bff. If I had divine powers and could choose between finding that Fantastic Lady for myself and my husband, or magically putting a wonderful lover-partner-bff into the path of one of my very deserving single friends, I would absolutely, unhesitatingly choose the partner for my friend.

If I could give one gift to everyone in the world (even you!), it would be the kind of relationship I have with my husband. We are so incredibly blessed to have the kind of love that makes us better humans and inspires poetry and song. Oh yeah, it's THAT awesome. So go ahead and feel superior to me because your desires are simpler, feel like you know what's best for me and my husband, feel like you're the real adult and I'm a sexually and romantically gluttonous long as that's what suits you and makes you happy. "As long as you harm none, do what you will." Your ideas about me, my life, my desires, and my relationships don't harm me, so keep them if they make you happy. Do what you will.

I'm quite pleased with the truth of my situation, and no amount of stones cast from provocateurs such as yourself will change that. Because of the foundation of trust, honesty, and mutual beneficence upon which my marriage is built, I know that my husband will tell me if he ever has doubts about our relationship and our plans and goals. Since you are not part of our relationship or those plans and goals, your opinion of them and advice for them simply do not matter. :)

From my family to yours, best wishes for love, peace, and happiness. You might consider pulling your head out of your own anus, though, because it will certainly be easier to enjoy life when you're capable of appreciating points of view other than those offered by your colon.
Posted by MarleyBarley on January 6, 2012 at 5:13 AM · Report this
nocutename 176
Mr. Ven:
Thanks for the translation. I love it.
Posted by nocutename on January 6, 2012 at 6:31 AM · Report this
I applaud couples and their invited guests to the lifestyles of their choosing. Y'all are brave regardless of your level of detail-sharing. While married myself, I'm not personally opposed to nonmonogamy as a philosophy of life. I just think it is interesting that the nonmonogamy theme this week coincides with the scientific community essentially saying there's no preventing the transmission of genital herpes to ones partner - even with suppression medication. Incidence is something ridiculous now like 1:5. Plus there's no reasonable way of testing for it. This is also not to say that I got married in order to keep myself germ-free, but wow is it perk. Hope that reality goes in the eventually book.
Posted by pigeongirl on January 6, 2012 at 6:44 AM · Report this
I guess I lied, I'm totally not speechless. Thank you, @151 (Spikeygrrl), for the giggles and entertainment you have given my husband and me this morning. I read him choice bits from this thread, including the post to which I was replying @127, and then your reply to my post @151, he was every bit as amused and dumbfounded as I was. You helped me send him off to work this morning in a fantastic mood!

But yeah, not speechless. Re-reading your post with my husband, I was struck by the skepticism you seem to be expressing about bisexuality. Quoting you again - "A same-sex attraction can be all kinds of fun in fantasy, but if you follow through on it in reality -- not just once, to see what it's like, but as a stable preference -- it WILL wreck your chances for a solid, monogamous MARRIAGE (one man, one woman)."

A SLOG Commenter who sees monogamous heterosexual marriages as the only legitimate marriages? You MUST be trolling. ;) Rest assured, though my marriage is not strictly monogamous, it is wonderfully solid and not even slightly wrecked. (Re-read @127 and @175 - really, we are deliriously happy together. We're like @160 - all our friends consider us to be the perfect couple, and it is soooo much better than most of them know.)

My husband is one of those straight guys who finds the sight of two women making out or having sex EXTREEEEEMELY HOTTT. I wouldn't have married him if he weren't - why would I choose to join my life to that of a man who didn't share my appetites, preferences, and interests? I'd rather be alone than be poorly matched. My bisexuality is no hardship for him. (Well, it does make one certain thing hard for him... wink wink, nudge nudge!) I am one of those women who find the sight of my husband making out with or having sex with another woman EXTREEEEMELY HOTT. We've been there and done that and it doesn't make me even slightly jealous. My husband is an AWESOME lover, and I love to share him with other women.

My bisexuality is not much of a hardship for me, either. I have followed through on same-sex attractions multiple times (not just once to see if I liked it, thankyouverymuch). I am really and truly every bit as attracted to intelligent and beautiful women as I am attracted to intelligent and beautiful men. I am an unrepentant horndog, but I am very picky - I have never been an indiscriminate lover, I have a complex list of traits I require to be truly and deeply attracted to someone.

I'm left wondering if perhaps you think all bisexuals are just confused? That really we could choose to be attracted to just one gender, but we are so desperate or lust-filled that we refuse to narrow our field of choices...?? I'm not desperate - heredity was kind to me and I've endeavored to maintain the nice body I was given and to overcome the personality flaws that can make me difficult to deal with and get between myself and happiness. I *am* quite the lusty bitch, it's true, but I've always enjoyed that and don't see my high libido and varied appetites as any sort of problem. Neither does my husband.

In summary, just because some of us have different preferences than you possess does not make us deceived, deceptive, or deviant. Say it with me now! "It just makes us different." Variety is the spice of life. You're entitled to your preferences for blandness, but that most certainly doesn't entitle you to decide for the rest of us how much spice we can have in ours.
Posted by MarleyBarley on January 6, 2012 at 6:46 AM · Report this
@164 (vennominon) - Yes, you may request that, and I will do my very best to restrict my crowing to this thread. Please feel encouraged to tell me to put a lid on it if I forget my pledge. (I'm naturally absent-minded and overly cheerful.) Hey, btw, how do you pronounce your handle? Does it rhyme with "phenomenon"? I hope so, I rather like it that way, it makes me picture you as some sort of superhero antivenin researcher. :)

@156 (allyouneedislove) - I think part of your post calls for repetition and emphasis. (Are you listening, Spikeygrrl??)
"In response to #150 regarding the 'exclusive affection', I look at it like this - the love my husband has for me is unique to any love he'll ever have for anyone, he may love others but he won't love anyone HOW he loves me. Because every person is different, how can a person love two people in the exact same way?
He loves me for things that he maybe won't find in others, and he will find things to love in others that I maybe don't possess. But that affection will differ. So, yes, I DO deserve and have the exclusive affection/love that he has for me - it can't be replicated by anyone else. I cherish his love for me, it's the greatest gift I've gotten in life for being me."

I love this. Thank you, allyouneedislove, for this lovely and succinct explanation.
Posted by MarleyBarley on January 6, 2012 at 7:11 AM · Report this
Sick Rectorum. A better name for the radical conservative's favorite candidate.
Posted by smarsman on January 6, 2012 at 7:18 AM · Report this
81.) your mom was the perfect example of how evil church people really are... Could you imagine bringing someone over to visit you kids like that ? There is something about the churchers mindset that compelled them to mash their entire life (definitely not excluding their sex lives) under the veneer of churches respectability... You might think you're ok, but you must know how f$&@ed up your mom is...
Posted by Xami on January 6, 2012 at 7:43 AM · Report this
150 sounds like a little girl...zzz...
Posted by Sns on January 6, 2012 at 7:48 AM · Report this
Good point 177, but one I am sure will not be in the book.
Posted by Bubuji on January 6, 2012 at 7:54 AM · Report this
Hi, number 66, instead of waiting for a book why don't you just grow some balls, take responsibility for you own petty fears and live your life with hiding ?
Posted by Monoi on January 6, 2012 at 7:57 AM · Report this
@ 174, MarleyBarley: You're *very* welcome :-) ! I love that you too enjoy writing, and language elocution. It's a long-lost art, man: writing.. Especially in long-hand, in ink, on paper.. Pen-on-paper fashion! :-) *THANK YOU* for the kind comments yourself! You're a fantastic writer, MarlBarl lol. A genuine natural (I can tell :-) ) . Rock On, MarleyBarl! :-D
Posted by Kind, Kindly and Somewhat Anonymous lol ;-D on January 6, 2012 at 8:46 AM · Report this
I believe the only thing you brought to the attention of everyone on this thread is how sick and dysfunctional our American Society is. The rest of the world is no better. It really shows that political parties have no solutions. The solutions come from us. Sometimes showing restraint and discipline might be an attribute which grows and builds a strong society. Societies with a family based culture, steeped in a sense of social responsibility, having a moral compass, having values defined by relevance and a sense of purpose in fulfilling a common goal will succeed and grow.
Having no sense of purpose or direction in an every thing goes society leads cultures into decay, corruption and thievery. Dan Savage therefore is one who worships Gluttony, Greed and Envy. It will take a world calamity to fix this, where most of the world is wiped out and the remaining few, build a better society.
Posted by jtessler on January 6, 2012 at 11:05 AM · Report this
@ 186, jtessler: If I may quote you...

"The solutions come from us."

Exactly! That's Why I don't, never have had and never will have an interest in politics: any kind of politics.. It's *all* Elk's Club/Knights Of Columbus drunkards with law degrees making decisions for the rest of us, and most of them f**kers can't even handle balancing their own private lives, before the start trying to legally balance ours..

The charity starts at home: with yourself, and what you actually have in your life, and around you.. As long as my taxes, state and federal, are paid on time without incident...and the government doesn't do some random audit on past tax filings, then *I want no interference, influence or input whatsoever from any goverment! I can govern myself quite well, thank you very much ;) ! It's ALL Ego, showboating, high school stars who didn't become subsequent police officers would then go on to the shitty shadiness of typical political systems.

People need structure, and discipline. Some don't enjoy thinking for themselves, and they somehow prefer others to do their thinking and/or decision-making for them.. Some wanna be big fish in a small pond....sucking up to and on enough non-partisan ass to fund them coffers for a campaign that's sure to go to shit anyway (good riddance and see you later, you crazy, 3rd-rate Hillary Clinton-wanna-be Michelle Bachman. Bitch with them big, crazy blue eyes and overly-enlarged dental caps. Fuck off, you cunt. God hates you and Rick Santorum. He told me this morning over a chance run-in for morning coffee :-) .

There *needs to be* structure, respect for commonly-accepted practices of efficiency and mutual respect.

Anyone can improve their moral compass. If you get tired enough of feeling like the underbelly of a decaying carcass along the roadside, then cheers on to anyone who has the balls to turn the course of their lives around out of genuine purpose.

Happy Friday, One & All :-) +~+
Posted by Great Read Of Yours There, JTessler :-) on January 6, 2012 at 11:23 AM · Report this
Oh hai!

Just thought I'd stop by to roll my eyes and sigh heavily at the idea that women are more likely to be hurt by monogamish relationships (so, never link sex to emotion, and women always do? Really? Really?).

And while I'm here I guess I'll also roll my eyes and sigh at the idea that the person who suggests opening a relationship must be less invested in it.

Here's what a lot of people don't understand: if (for instance) I make out with someone who is not my boyfriend, this making out has nothing to do with my relationship. It's not a tug-o-war where being attracted to someone else means I'm less attracted to my partner. The attractions run on parallel tracks.

If I go to the movies with one of my friends, it doesn't mean there's anything wrong with my other friendships or that I'll become obsessed with that moviegoing experience and only go to movies with that person. Ditto making out.

Don't get me wrong, I think sometimes sexual activity with other people could be a sign of relationship problems; I'm sure some people in open relationships are seeing other people to make up for things their partner lacks. But for other people (like me), it's not that their partner isn't meeting their needs; it's that the relationship is healthy and amazing and other people are just a bonus.

Like MarleyBarley, I would give up other partners if my boy asked, no problem; the thought of being monogamous with my beautiful, wonderful boy doesn't make me sad. But the thought of being with him and occasionally getting a bit of variety on the side makes me very very HAPPY. :D
Posted by perversecowgirl on January 6, 2012 at 11:31 AM · Report this
@178/127 (MarleyBarley) Amen!! I love the way you explain good poly/open/non-monogamous relationships.

Personally, I feel that having an open relationship with my husband is part of what has kept us happy and together (10 years together, 3 years married). Though neither of us has other partners (or the same other partner...) very often, the option is there and it's nice to have.

I think ultimately, it has to be left to the couple to decide what kind of relationship works for them. If it works for them and they're not hurting anyone, what's the problem? For some people, they would be too jealous of other partners, and in those cases monogamy works better. For us, and I think people who are wired similarly, we just don't really get jealous. In fact, it can be a turn-on.

My husband and I are fairly open about the type of relationship we have. Most of our friends know (though not work friends) and I told my mother about it right before we got married. She was very accepting, but asked me why we were getting married if that was the case. It was an understandable question, and one that I have been asked several times since. My answer is that marriage, to me, is a commitment between people that you will be there for each other for the rest of your lives (or I suppose the foreseeable future, given the prevalence of divorce). I love my husband, I want to have kids with him, and grow old together. But my commitment to him doesn't mean I would have a problem with another person being a part of our relationship, either temporarily or for the long-term.
Posted by kase on January 6, 2012 at 11:43 AM · Report this
@MarleyBarley, @perversecowgirl, @kase, it is indeed a pleasure to hear about your good experiences with open relations (which is what Dan is trying to get by posting letters like this LW's). It really brightens my day to see that there are people out there successfully navigating these waters. Thanks for sharing!

@jtessler, and I think one thing that should be really brought to your attention (and of many, many conservatives and liberals) is that I don't think there is anybody here who really disagrees with the spirit of what you're saying, despite your disgust at other people's lifestyle here.

Everybody on both sides agrees that (a) restraint and discipline are good attributes, (b) families are important and the basis of society, (c) social responsibility is crucial, (d) a moral compass is necessary, (e) values defined by relevance (interesting concept) are desirable, (f) a sense of purpose and common shared goals are essential.

The real point of contention is this: what values should we strive for? What relevance? What kind of family? What purpose? What goals? That's what people should be discussing, instead of the gross misrepresentations that the media insists on talking about.

Gross misrepresentations into which you yourself buy, since you accuse Dan Savage of worshipping gluttony, greed and envy, when in fact he does not.

Ah! if only people would be interested in knowing what their 'enemies' are really talking about, rather than swallowing the cheap versions they get from their favorite media outlets!...
Posted by ankylosaur on January 6, 2012 at 12:40 PM · Report this
@ 188: To quote you: "But for other people (like me), it's not that their partner isn't meeting their needs; it's that the relationship is healthy and amazing and other people are just a bonus."

I can see that. But it's all down to individual preference and taste. What do you do though if you already long-since lucked out in falling in love with someone who somehow fits your criteria of what you like, wish for and desire...?

I guess what I'm trying to say is that monogamy has been very good to me. I'm very, very, very happy with what we share. I have no current interest or desire to seek sexual gratification elsewhere. I'm in love, and who I'm in love with is more than I ever believed or imagined possible (going on sixteen+ years :) )...

If my babe wanted some additional on the side, and seriously felt the need to have some, and I didn't? What can you do? *Talk it out: honestly, without punches or bullshit. Enjoy the details of hashing it out! Bond over some sex, some nooky! ;)+~+*

No one can stop anyone from seeking sexual relations outside of the primary relationship.
I know I have no desire or interest to stray, so I won't! As long as it wasn't an emotional interest or allure with an extra-curricular partner.. It would have to be relatively-spontaneous, presumbably drunken and more or less an afterthought... Something that comes along with a chance to happen..

Some people don't find enough of what they like and need in one person. Such is life. The thing of it all for me is, is that carrying out on an extra slice of fresh strange isn't worth it to me for it erode at the core of what I share with the Love Of My Life.. I for one have no interest in third-party sex partners. Color me vanilla, color me GGG or GGE;), I don't give a " " : I like what I like, I appreciate what I appreciate and I cherish being monogamous: at this point in time, absolutely.

@ 189: To quote you: "I think ultimately, it has to be left to the couple to decide what kind of relationship works for them. If it works for them and they're not hurting anyone, what's the problem? For some people, they would be too jealous of other partners, and in those cases monogamy works better. For us, and I think people who are wired similarly, we just don't really get jealous. In fact, it can be a turn-on."

*The idea* of it, *talking about it* openly turns me on.. *The reality* of following through on that, with my true love and most beloved? Not in such a hurry to do that yet ;-) !

There would *have to be* very clear to and fro communication about what would be involved.

I just don't feel that compelled to fuck the world every Friday. I am quite horny all of the time, so it's not about frigidity, moral superiority claims or any of that bullshit: *I just like giving me all to someone who gets me so much and gets me so fucking hot I wanna implode and then spontaneously-combust in sheer, consummate ecstacy ;)!

I'm not my partner. Maybe he needs additional pieces of stranger. Just be honest, be upfront, please be careful, *PLEASE* use protection and I gotta go, phones await lol;).

Posted by I hate answering phones at my job lol ;-D on January 6, 2012 at 12:54 PM · Report this
@ 190, ankylosaur: To answer your "What" questions in a fell swoop: *Honest* answers, honest revealing of interpersonal truths and *just being committed to the truth most of all*. If no one remembers to have the virtue of honesty to be the grounding source of your life's direction, then how can anyone expect to get laid with someone outside the relationship and not break anyone's heart in the process?

People need to know who they are, what they want and they need to attain it *honestly*. Once that is out of the fundamental picture, you're screwed (no pun intended ;-D lol!).

The Answer Is Honesty Out Of Love, Respect & Care.

Sounds good.

Posted by U Make Me Wanna Fuck U Now ;)+~+ on January 6, 2012 at 1:09 PM · Report this
Let me try to provide words for the not-very-smart. The people who accuse the happily non-monogamous of not being happy or of being selfish or of being unable to commit or of any of the other things seen in this comments section and elsewhere aren't getting to the real fear: If it's known that people are happy living the way they do, then that could become the expectation.

Say you have a woman who wants a monogamous marriage. Naturally she looks for a suitable partner. But every man she meets or dates points to that couple over there with an open marriage and says he'd like that too. Would she be willing? But she's not willing. She wants him to have sex only with her. If it becomes well known that open marriages work, her pool of potential mates gets smaller.

Or let's say she marries. At the first sign of a problem with their sex life, she'd like her husband to do more to please her. She'd like him to work on communication with her, to turn his attention to her. Instead, he asks to open up the relationship so he can have sex with someone else. Instead of bringing in a third (or adjunct, or I liked my term: Other) as a last resort to save the marriage, he figures he'll skip the part about being open and truthful and taking her feelings into account. He'll skip the preliminaries and jump straight to the hot young thing over there.

At least if you keep the idea that no one is happy in a non-monogamous relationship, you can be certain that everything outside of strict monogamy is cheating (and that anyone who engages in it is a CPOS). With that in mind, it's better if the happily non-monogamous (HNM?) stay in the closet.

The reason I call the people who hold these views not very smart is because they don't realize that the choice isn't between happy monogamy and cheating. The choice is between non-monogamy (happy or not) and cheating.
Posted by Crinoline on January 6, 2012 at 1:31 PM · Report this
@124 "I've seen multiple gay couples who invite in a 3rd and in a short time one of the guys in the relationship leaves and sets up shop with the 3rd."

Plenty of relationships end. The fact that someone leaves with the 3rd doesn't mean that without the 3rd, the relationship would have lasted any longer.

There are no guarantees that opening up will strength or damage a relationship, or that staying monogamous will preserve or kill a couple's love.
Posted by EricaP on January 6, 2012 at 1:41 PM · Report this
@128 - we're in agreement. I think it's a spectrum; I think women are capable of having sex with no emotional strings, with some strings, with lots of strings. Just like men. (That's why I used the words "more often" and "some" in my post @52.)

But I do think one can generalize, and say that fewer women want to be used as sex-toys than men do. And more women want sex as part of a relationship than men do. And more "adjunct" women than men will end up feeling used "just for sex" if the relationship ends when the "primary couple" wants it to. So ethical couples (like me and my husband) who start out saying "our relationship is our top priority" find that we may need to adjust that, to consider that other people (especially but not always women) don't like to feel used.
Posted by EricaP on January 6, 2012 at 1:49 PM · Report this
@ 193: Hi Crinoline. Someone in here said it really well in here awhile ago: People who are married and get some strange on the side aren't as uncommon as anyone wishes to believe. Everyone's different, and has different drives, desires and needs. Nothing can be worse than be aligned with someone who is all wrong for you on the all-around.

To quote you: "The choice is between non-monogamy (happy or not) and cheating."

Indeed, for this thread is largely about being "monogamish;)", not 'monogamous'.

Tastes and attitudes are subject to change, I suppose.. I just know that I'm more than happy with what I share with my bestest and most beloved :-) . I'm a happy cat ;-D . Goodnight. Thanks One & All. Cheers.
Posted by happy that the workday is finally over :-) on January 6, 2012 at 1:56 PM · Report this
@ 194-195 EricaP:) : Thanks for your kind words and support the other day, about taking it a day at a time, or minute by minute if it's more doable;)...

It made my day, so *Thanks :-) Again*!

Happy New Year & Have a Great Night + Weekend.

Posted by someone truly crazy in love for sixteen+years :)+~+ on January 6, 2012 at 2:01 PM · Report this
196-- Got it. I understand Dan's distinction between monagamish and monogamous. I used monogamous because I was trying to articulate the thoughts of those who see them as the same thing.
Posted by Crinoline on January 6, 2012 at 2:25 PM · Report this
@197 You're very welcome! Thanks for brightening my day just now!
Posted by EricaP on January 6, 2012 at 2:46 PM · Report this
I think we now have good reason to sterilize all of Iowa!!
Posted by alaskaistherealheaven on January 6, 2012 at 4:05 PM · Report this
I think this is good cause to sterilize all Iowans!!
Posted by alaskaistherealheaven on January 6, 2012 at 4:09 PM · Report this
Ms Marley - You are correct about the pronunciation, and good luck in bringing about your ideal. Or, should that elude you, at least may you enjoy the maximum of bliss available.
Posted by vennominon on January 6, 2012 at 4:16 PM · Report this
Longtime reader, new on the boards. Have been following the monogamish letters and discussions with interest. One question I have for all the open/monogamish SL readers out there is how do you deal with those STIs which condoms do not effectively protect against (HPV and herpes)? Condoms are very effective for HIV and the bacterial STIs but for the other viral STIs, not so much. Those of us above a certain age have likely not received HPV vaccine, and in any event the vaccine only covers four strains. I am becoming more and more open to the idea of monogamishness but am still struggling with the STI risks. Thanks in advance for your response.
Posted by KN on January 6, 2012 at 4:30 PM · Report this
Ms Cute - Thank you; it does seem to fill a hard-to-describe slot peculiarly well.
Posted by vennominon on January 6, 2012 at 4:42 PM · Report this
KN@203, For us, we're in our 40s and done having children. So most STIs don't seem so scary. We have told our primary care physician that we're not monogamous and we get tested every six months, for herpes as well as everything else.

Re herpes, we ask people ahead of time if they have it, and quite a few people have said yes -- then we don't have sex with them. Obviously people could lie about that, but maybe it's easier just to have sex with people who already have herpes, since there are plenty of them. I imagine we'll probably get it someday, but we know lots of people who have it and usually it's not bad to deal with.

HIV is obviously worse, but we use condoms and also ask people explicitly. We may get it... but the odds of getting hit by a car seem higher, since we don't have tons of extramarital sex. And again, we would know early on because we get tested frequently.

A regular fuckbuddy of mine (in his own open marriage) just got the HPV vaccine. He said there was some pushback from his doctor ("it's not recommended for you"), but when he insisted, they gave it to him. We'll probably do that too.

The truth is that if I still wanted to have kids, I would have been much more reluctant to open the marriage. The risks to fertility from STIs seem much higher than the risk of dying from an STI.
Posted by EricaP on January 6, 2012 at 6:55 PM · Report this
Homo sexuality is an abomination to God. Look what happened in Genesis 19 to Sodom and Gomorrah ,…
Posted by crystn2 on January 6, 2012 at 7:14 PM · Report this
Santorum. That is disgusting what you are doing. But God is not mocked. What ever a man sows, that shall he also reap. Do not be a fool of the devil. Homosexuality is an abomination to God. Look at Homo history. Take Genesis 19 for example:
Sodom and Gomorrah burned up with fire and brimstone. The smoke of it went up like a furnace.…
Posted by crystn2 on January 6, 2012 at 7:21 PM · Report this
Thanks for your prompt response EricaP. I agree that it is much easier to contemplate opening up a marriage once one's family is complete. Not only are there risks to fertility, but I can't imagine living with the knowledge that your baby died or became permanently disabled from neonatal herpes because you were tired of monogamy...

What are your rules about married/partnered sexual partners? Do you only have sex with people who are single or also in an open relationship?

Posted by KN on January 6, 2012 at 8:06 PM · Report this
mydriasis 209

I might... be confused about your point. But I think I disagree with you.

I think nonmonogamous folks being in the closet are a lot like gay folks being in the closet: not good for anyone, even the straight/monogamous ones.

I'm happy that I live in a culture, time and place in the world where it's unlikely I'll end up in a relationship with a gay man who wants to pretend to be straight. Sure you might say it makes the straight woman's dating pool "smaller", but even if your closeted husband isn't going all brokeback mountain on you, it can still have negative effects. (Read Alison Bechdel's "Fun Home" for a beautifully illustrated and heartfelt example of this)

Same goes for nonmonogamous guys. Now I have monogadar just like I have gaydar, so I like to think I'm covered. But most women aren't so blessed. (Oh hai Mrs. Woods)

I'm with Dan on this. The more people are open and honest, the better it is for everyone. I (and most monogamous women, I'd imagine) would rather not waste my time with a man who will one day cheat (or play the nasty game of "I get to be with other people or we break up")
Posted by mydriasis on January 6, 2012 at 9:39 PM · Report this
Today's Carolyn Hax column in The Washington Post is pertinent to this discussion. "A Husband's Demands"

Mydriasis 209-- I agree that the more people are honest, the better it is for everyone. I don't agree with the gay-monogamish comparison. The gay man doesn't have a choice to be straight in order to make it easier for the woman who might want a monogamous sexual marriage with him. Societal expectation won't change that.

In contrast, the man who would rather not be monogamous is greatly influenced by societal expectation. If the society says it's fine if he seeks others and says his wife should be okay with that as long as he's honest, there's no reason he shouldn't demand that his wife acquiesce. If the society calls him a CPOS, he has reason to focus on his marriage.
Posted by Crinoline on January 7, 2012 at 4:58 AM · Report this

You are not Rain Man. Rain Man is fiction. And you do not have monogadar. You do have delusion. Indeed, you didn't even know you were monogamous until after you met your partner. You cannot know your partner won't get bored with you and want others. You cannot even know if you will remain true. Divorce courts have dealt with millions of people like yourself who fully believed they had met their one true love.

The only way you can tell if a guy who's hitting on you is nonmonogamous, is if you know he's married. Otherwise he's just being a guy. And why would you need monogadar? You're not going to hook up with him anyway.
Posted by Hunter78 on January 7, 2012 at 5:45 AM · Report this
AFinch 212
@210 - nice to see another Hax/Savage lurker!
Posted by AFinch on January 7, 2012 at 6:43 AM · Report this
mydriasis 213

I disagree.

I think some people are naturally inclined to be monogamous and some people aren't.
A gay man has a choice to BEHAVE straight (have sex with women and not men) to conform to society. It has happened many many many times.

I think some men are comfortable with monogamy and some men aren't. I have no interest in being with the kind of man you're referring to - ie. the one who would be nonmonogamous if it were socially acceptable. He's more rare than you might think. A lot of men would be on board with nonmonogamy until they realize it means their wife/girlfriend would be sleeping with other men too. For a lot of guys that puts the brakes on real quick.


I'm not interested in correcting you because the effort-to-payoff ratio just isn't there. Sorry.
Posted by mydriasis on January 7, 2012 at 7:09 AM · Report this
Mss Driasis/Crinoline - Ms Crinoline's first post along this line reminded me of the changing general opinion of the dreaded (by me, at any rate) O word.

Once upon a time, the general opinion of the O word was perhaps best exemplified by the Circus Lesbians episode of *The Love Judge* in the film Grief - a wife brings up her husband's expectation of oral gratification as evidence during her divorce case. Flashing forward several decades, thanks to the tireless efforts of Dr Westheimer, Mr Savage and others, the O word has been depervified, decreepified, normalized, standardized and expected. It could be or at least appear possible that monogamish practices could see a similar trending pattern.

I'd call increased openness a general gain but not a universal one. There are almost always a few people who fall through the cracks.
Posted by vennominon on January 7, 2012 at 7:19 AM · Report this
Check out Ester Perel's book Mating in Captivity. Chapter 10 is called The Shadow of the Third. It sums up this subject very eloquently.
Posted by AllanD on January 7, 2012 at 7:49 AM · Report this
Ms Driasis @213 - You underestimate the capacity for vanity of a particular subset of heterosexual male. Yes, the actual indulgence of his female partner would be daunting, and for some the prospect is enough to stop them dead in their tracks. But there are a great many who would never be able to make themselves believe that "their" women could ever really go through with such a thing - or even want to.

Of course, these men would be completely off your screen. But they definitely exist.

[insert obligatory "I Don't Mean YOU" disclaimer in order to avoid wounding the feelings of any of the decent heterosexual male population present - yes, you do exist, and no, this is not about you, and I feel for you that the people this is about spoil your reputation]

Also, your analogy holds to a limited extent, but the nonmonogamous man is often capable of great contentment for lengthy periods of monogamous behaviour, and at any rate in each encounter is always getting a substantially higher portion of his ideal desires.
Posted by vennominon on January 7, 2012 at 8:02 AM · Report this
mydriasis 217
@ V (214/216)

Interesting point. I haven't been around long enough to observe changing attitudes towards oral sex.

When I was growing up it was around the time Bill Clinton was famously claiming that oral sex doesn't count as sex. I used that same loophole when I was a teenager.

I guess I just find it hard to believe that men inclined towards nonmonogamy will be monogamous based on societal pressure. I believe they'll just cheat.
Posted by mydriasis on January 7, 2012 at 8:52 AM · Report this
@208, I have sex with men (sometimes women) over 30, who I think aren't cheating on anyone. If you're drafting your own rules, I recommend building in some flexibility, so that a desire to break a rule can be raised openly, and isn't seen as itself a betrayal.
Posted by EricaP on January 7, 2012 at 9:09 AM · Report this
@217 mydriasis
They certainly will struggle with fidelity but why is it a foregone conclusion that they will cheat?
Posted by Mr. J on January 7, 2012 at 9:59 AM · Report this
mydriasis 220

Maybe not, but there's a high chance they will, in my opinion. And even if they don't, who wants to be with someone who's unsatisfied being with them?

I wouldn't want to be with a closeted gay man and I wouldn't want to be with a closeted nonmonogamous man either. I want to be with someone who's actually happy and satisfied being with me. I don't believe that's an unreasonable expectation in life.

* I am, of course, aware that I have an advantage over most straight women in being fairly hypersexual.
Posted by mydriasis on January 7, 2012 at 11:15 AM · Report this
The time spent with the "other" tales time away from the primary relationship. For some people, spending the same amount of time on the primary relationship can have a bigger payoff than the time seeking others.
Note, I said for some! people.
Posted by Amos101 on January 7, 2012 at 11:20 AM · Report this
At 172 (this is 171) thanks for your take, it is appreciated. While the specific arrangement mentioned in the letter to Dan still *feels* wrong and weird to me I recognize that it brings pleasure to others and who am I to get inbetween that. I guess I've been raised in the world of the jocular male always competing for women that I was baffled at the ideas of humiliation and submission from men. Anyone else that can offer commentary on Post 171, it is appreciated.
Posted by yesyes1234 on January 7, 2012 at 1:35 PM · Report this
In response to #222's reactiuon to #171's question, for my husband the cuckold thing is about competition for the female, sperm competition. The presence of an invading male (wether actual or merely perceived) greatly increases his ability to generate sperm, and hence his pleasure in orgasm.
Posted by Julieinweimar on January 7, 2012 at 3:41 PM · Report this
@206 &@207: So if we're all "going up in smoke", I'm assuming that you very soon will be, too? The only really scary thing I see on your attached link is the picture of a man with a knife.

@220: Well said! You definitely have me beat in the hypersexuality department.
Posted by auntie grizelda on January 7, 2012 at 3:45 PM · Report this
People who cheat sure take it up the rear here. Most posters are very vocal about being open to and supportive of all types of lovemaking, very "tolerant" to use an overused trite term. But when it comes to cheaters they're viewed as slimeballs and skanks. So I guess it's ok to do what animals do best, fuck anything that moves, but be totally intolerant of people who seek satisfaction out side the relationship and prefer to be DADT about it. Maybe Dan should look at cheaters and get their side of the many stories they have to share without being judgemental. You guys are tending to sound a lot like Santorum with your anal retentive views about sex, all the while acting like open and tolerant individuals.
Posted by ironvic on January 7, 2012 at 4:03 PM · Report this
nocutename 226
@222 (yesyes1234):
I don't think "jocular" was the word you meant, was it?

Perhaps you were thinking of jocks and competition?
Posted by nocutename on January 7, 2012 at 4:27 PM · Report this
Ironvic@225, so you think it's ok for a wife to lie about who the father of her kid is, if her husband said he would have kids with her but changed his mind? She can have her lover's kid, but say it's her husband's?
Posted by EricaP on January 7, 2012 at 8:40 PM · Report this
@nocutename indeed that is what i meant, ill leave the fancy words to the pros i am, after all, just a dumb jock
Posted by yesyes1234 on January 7, 2012 at 10:53 PM · Report this
It's pretty simple, the cuckold thing. If I were of the sort that actually does the stuff that's attractive to me. It would be that kind of thing. Because, to harken back to the old tropes that we usually harken back to. (Whether we like it or not.) It would be awesome knowing that she could sleep with anyone, yet still come back to me. Because she's mine, and I'm hers. And, there's the possible other activity that might possibly come into play, in the heat of the moment. wink. lol.

But, I probably would never actually do that, because I have to know generally why people would want to sleep with me, anyways. And, that's a problem. Because it might not be a great answer.

So... To sum up. Being in the main couple of a threesome or poly arrangement would, in short, be awesome. What's not so awesome is being the third wheel. Which, would be ok if all you cared about was the sex. But, if you would want some of the other stuff, the better stuff, that comes along with the sex, then you're out of luck. Or so I would think.

Posted by Xeson on January 8, 2012 at 1:10 AM · Report this
The 69 is a divine position, because of the circular energy it creates.
Posted by Hunter78 on January 8, 2012 at 7:35 AM · Report this
Perhaps monogamish and monogamous is the great culture war of our time.
Posted by Hunter78 on January 8, 2012 at 7:54 AM · Report this
I don't have time to read all 200+ comments, but I agree with comment #225.
I think example #2 is a "success" because he found a way to get his sexual needs met, not pressure his wife and give her space, and find a way to keep his main relationship alive.
Perhaps his wife knew but never confronted him. She MUST have figured her husband found SOMETHING to do while she dealt with her issues. Maybe she was relieved, grateful, appreciative.
A "successful" monogamish relationship can be defined many nitpicky ways, but for me the common factor is whether or not everyone is getting THEIR sexual needs met.
Posted by Not What You Think on January 8, 2012 at 1:07 PM · Report this
Hi Erica-No lying about who the father is would be plain wrong, same if the cheater contracted an STD and kept it a secret. But the act of cheating is not a problem for me if, say, I hated to have sex with her and she looked outside the relationship and went with a NSA affair. If you don't take care of your mate in bed, you can't expect to have the other person to just go without or indulge in masturbation if all other things were going great in the relationship. As an example, Tom simply cannot cook and usually burns the pots and pans when he tries to fire up the stove. Jerri is a great cook and she used to do all the cooking for Tom, but he recip'd by doing the dishes. Suddenly Jerri decides she no longer wants to cook meals and tells Tom he has to fend for himself. Obviously he's not very good with his hands so he drops by a restaurant and indulges on the way home from work. Same thing, really. My partner hates sex and I told her I would not become celibate simply because she says "sex is too much work." My self esteem was damaged for years, but not anymore because I "eat out" now.
Posted by ironvic on January 8, 2012 at 1:56 PM · Report this
mydriasis 234
@ 233

Empathy fail.
Posted by mydriasis on January 8, 2012 at 2:29 PM · Report this
@ 210 and 212 - Hey, me too!
Posted by agony on January 8, 2012 at 2:42 PM · Report this
@233 ironvic,

What I think you are describing is not exactly what is called cheating here. It seems like you are describing relationships where there is some recognition of going outside the primary relationship to meet needs of one or more than one of the primaries, by all parties. Cheating here means lying, including by omission, by at least one member in a relationship to the other(s) about their commitment to the relationship (if it seems I am being needlessly broad in defining who might make up a relationship, around here you should be broadminded). There are, alas, all too many examples of the kind of scum that gets labelled a CPOS, and unfortunates that seem to get forced into the grey zone. By the loose confines of cheating on this blog, only #2 would fit, and then into the grey zone of desperation.

I'm a strict monogamous type, but can understand that loving relationships based on other rules can work too. As long as everyone understands the game being played, and it's rules, there are some people who are willing and able to do...whatever they need to.

Posted by Married in MA on January 8, 2012 at 2:51 PM · Report this
Yeah, @234, I could care less about empathy from readers, just trying to put out a different viewpoint. Although she doesn't get any gory details, I told my LTR GF that under no circs does she control my sex life if she has emphatically decided to play no part in it. I had some guilt about seeing the two girls I get it on with, but my GF and I have a long (20 year) past and have got each other through some very tough times in our lives including more than a few deaths in the families, job losses etc. and I want to stay with her, but can't bring myself to beg for it anymore. That's just the facts, don't thik you have to feel sory for me or even understand me, but just know that all cheaters are not necesarily piles of steaming dog shit. Some of us would love nothing more than to be able to get it on with the women (or men) we love and care for.
Posted by ironvic on January 8, 2012 at 4:33 PM · Report this
@ironvic, you told her the situation so you're not lying.
Posted by EricaP on January 8, 2012 at 4:39 PM · Report this
mydriasis 239
@ 237


My post meant that you appeared to fail to have empathy for her, it wasn't a comment on my level of empathy for you.

Earlier you implied that you were cheating on her and felt that was okay (to me that would suggest that you lacked empathy for her) but now you're suggesting that you're not deceiving her, and that you explicitly told her that you would be with other women.

That's not cheating. That's an open relationship. Therefore, you're not a "CPOS", you're "monogamish".
Posted by mydriasis on January 8, 2012 at 5:13 PM · Report this
@239 mydriasis
That sounds like one party can unilaterally open the marriage by simply announcing their needs. If one says, "I need a sex life with you or failing that then with someone else," then whatever they do next they aren't a cheater. The recipient of this announcement is assumed to agree if they stay in the marriage. Is that what you meant to say?
Posted by Mr. J on January 8, 2012 at 5:41 PM · Report this
mydriasis 241


I wouldn't say they're "unilaterally opening the marriage" I'd say they're issuing an ultimatum. It's a dickish move in any case, but I don't understand these intractable "I won't have sex with you even though I married you" situations to start with.

I would never be the witholding partner in a relationship, and if my bf issued such an ultimatum (despite my sexual willingness) I would dump him so fast he'd get whiplash. If this woman didn't want her man "cheating" she should have done the same. IMHO.
Posted by mydriasis on January 8, 2012 at 6:12 PM · Report this
@237 ironvic,

Yup, this is the right place to find people who do understand what you're saying.

Posted by Married in MA on January 8, 2012 at 7:15 PM · Report this
@240 Mr. J,

"I need a sex life with you or failing that with someone else."

Your declaration might be more often used at the ending of a marriage as well. The point being that when it gets to that point of despair and anger, ALL parties understand where things stand, and that a common decision be made. For some people the decision to open a relationship may be a last saving grace, for others the coup de grace. I see no one suggesting that opening a relationship be taken lightly, rather that doing so was an option that worked for them.

Posted by Married in MA on January 8, 2012 at 7:39 PM · Report this
244 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
245 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
@200 & @201: I think Rick Santorum is good cause to sterilize all war-mongering, ultra-wrong wing religious goofball, Wall Street profiteering, tea bagger pushing, oil-soaked, Congress-buying Republicans.
Posted by auntie grizelda on January 8, 2012 at 9:01 PM · Report this
@240, yes, that person is not a cheater, in my view of the world. May or may not be a dick, but it's not cheating to change the rules of a game if everyone knows and sticks around to play.
Posted by EricaP on January 8, 2012 at 9:25 PM · Report this
@237 "she has emphatically decided to play no part in it." Note that if one is not having ANY sex with one's long-term partner (none at all), then one is ethically much more free to have sex with someone else.

Here's a proposal. All of you who are secretly having outside sex but still having some sex with your spouses -- start using condoms for sex with your spouse. (And get tested for STIs regularly). Play up your paranoia about pregnancy, perhaps...
Posted by EricaP on January 9, 2012 at 12:16 AM · Report this
@Crinoline, who wrote:
In contrast, the man who would rather not be monogamous is greatly influenced by societal expectation. If the society says it's fine if he seeks others and says his wife should be okay with that as long as he's honest, there's no reason he shouldn't demand that his wife acquiesce. If the society calls him a CPOS, he has reason to focus on his marriage.

True. But in a society with such strong monogamish-nonmonogamic expectations, why expect that women would be any less affected by it? Women would also be expected to be non-monogamic, and the guy who tells his wife she has to be OK with him having other women will probably have heard from her before that he has to be OK with her having other men. In such a society oriented towards non-monogamy, monogamous women would be as rare as monogamous men.

The only situation in which what you describe would be really problematic is the current theory that men are naturally non-monogamous and women naturally monogamous, which would lead to opening up relationships always benefitting men more than women.

So: if tendency towards non-monogamy is increased by social acceptability, if people tend to become non-monogamous because this is the accepted norm, then women will do likewise, in which case the situation you mention won't be a problem, at least not frequently (only the few truly monogamous women -- and men -- would have a problem; but they could always find each other via the internet).

Or some might say that the tendency to non-monogamy is stronger in men because of evolutionary reasons -- it's pre-determined. That would mean that men would benefit more from the acceptability of non-monogamy than women. But if this is the case, then the parallel with closeted gays becomes valid: if men are genetically predisposed towards non-monogamy, then it's not their choice, but part of their nature -- just like being gay. That makes it unfair for women who want to find a monogamous partner; but then again, men also find it unfair that women, in the average, have lower libidos than they do. Each gender has its cross to bear.

But having said all that... I remember from another thread that, when relationships are opened, it is often the man who suffers, because it is usually much more difficult for him to find willing partners than for the woman. Doesn't this also tend to make the imbalance more even? Men would want to open the relationship more often, only to realize their wives will have more success than they will.
Posted by ankylosaur on January 9, 2012 at 3:23 AM · Report this
@Mr J, I am curious. From what you describe, your wife has lost all interest in sex with you (and perhaps in sex altogether), and is not willing to help you with the problem -- which led you to take the decision you've taken (to wait till desire slowly fades away). But how can she know that you're suffering, and not feel empathy with your suffering? (Does she?) I suppose in previous conversations, before you decided to give up and wait, you explained that this is indeed suffering for you. Did she not feel concerned with your problem -- the way she probably would if you had said you had a health problem, or a serious problem at work?
Posted by ankylosaur on January 9, 2012 at 3:28 AM · Report this
mydriasis 251

Oui. Although I don't think it's as cut and dry as "men are naturally nonmonogamous". I think both genders are polymorphic with different proportions of monogamous-to-non-monogamous.

I think men are less likely to be naturally monogamous, but they are out there. I think women are more likely to be naturally monogamous - but less of us than we might be led to believe.
Posted by mydriasis on January 9, 2012 at 5:50 AM · Report this
@241 mydriasis
Yes, it's dickish and an ultimatum. Certainly the problem can be discussed without issuing threats. I find it surprising that you and @247 EricaP (and others) wouldn't call it cheating though. That's all I mean to say. I'm just surprised. It's so obviously cheating to me!

The vow to be faithful is made jointly so it must be unmade jointly (assuming the marriage is to continue). In other words it can't be undone passively-- with one party making a declaration and the other simply not leaving. Silence is not consent. (Mrs. J said "no" so that's not silence.) Having established the existence of the problem the next step is agreement, impasse, or divorce. Any of those outcomes may result in one or both people being happy or not, in any combination.

@250 ankylosaur
Not "all" interest. Let that be a lesson to all the moral absolutists out there who think that these situations are so black and white. If you asked Mrs. J, she would say we have a fine sex life thank you very much. And to be honest I can't say that I've been sexually abandoned. Beyond that, Sir, please allow me to respectfully decline to get into it further except to say that we love each other intensely and share much joy in our life together. I truly don't want anyone else.

Posted by Mr. J on January 9, 2012 at 6:29 AM · Report this
@ 179, MarleyBarley/MarlBarl:) : GREAT piece your wrote! Especially moved by the stuff in italics and bold. I dig what you write and convey very much, so *Thanks :-) Again*! +~+
Have a Great Day Everyone :) . Peace+Cheers!
Posted by Happy To Still Be In Love With U :-) on January 9, 2012 at 6:38 AM · Report this
@ That annoying banner for Sadtorum above: I hope The Stranger takes every frickin' nickel it can get from them bastards! What a place to wanna endorse your campaign: where everybody voices their just opinions about why a homophobic, class-A douche should never wind up in The White House (hang-up call @ 9:39 AM EST LIVE! ;-D LOL!!!...)

Well, I saw the news this morning: Romney is whooping everyone in the polls, and Santorum, as I predict, will fall by the wayside soon enough.
Even dooshbags wind up in the trash at some point.


Cheers, One & All, & Bite Me, Operation Santorum.

Posted by Thanks :-) For Checking In;) & Showing Yer Appreciation :) on January 9, 2012 at 6:42 AM · Report this
@217/220 I don't think that it's fair to say that people (note I changed the gender bias - both men and women) who are inclined towards nonmonogamy will cheat if their partner doesn't agree. I'm sure that is true in some cases, but I find nonmonogamy works because it encourages complete open honesty, which I value. If I were with someone who didn't like the idea of an open relationship, I wouldn't seek anything out on the side. IMO cheating devalues a relationship. To say that anyone who likes nonmonogamy would be a cheater if they were with a monogamous person is really insulting.

I think this falls back to the question of why someone is choosing to be nonmonogamous. For me, and I think many others on this thread (see @188), stuff on the side is a bonus, but not required. If they're nonmonogamous because they can't be satisfied by just one person, then that could fit with what you're saying.

@251, I disagree that men are more likely to be nonmonogamous based on evolutionary reasoning. I think if it is more likely for men to fall into that category, it is because it is more culturally acceptable. Think about how male cheaters/"players" are perceived vs. female cheaters/"sluts". But in any case, I'm not sure it's true anyway. Think about the flip side of nonmonogamy - do you think men are more likely to be ok with their partners sleeping with other people?

As far as the whole hating-on-cheaters thing, some interesting points have been made. I am biased against cheaters. I certainly wouldn't say that all cheaters are bad people, but I do think the act in itself, is a bad choice. I have some friends who have cheated, and I view it as a mistake they made. Mistakes can be forgiven. But to say it's ok? It's dishonest, and hurtful to the person you're cheating on. How can that be viewed as something positive? Now, I wouldn't call it cheating if the other person knows about it. But if they don't know what you're doing, it is cheating, and no, I don't think it's ok.
Posted by kase on January 9, 2012 at 8:16 AM · Report this
@203, I don't spend too much time worrying about STIs. My husband and I get tested every so often, and we've agreed to always use protection with anyone outside our relationship. Asking people up-front about if they have anything is also good practice. But it's not really that different from being single and dating, is it?
Posted by kase on January 9, 2012 at 8:17 AM · Report this
@252 "It's so obviously cheating to me! The vow to be faithful is made jointly so it must be unmade jointly."

By that definition of cheating, I see why you see the low-libido spouse as cheating too. But then anyone who falls out of love with their spouse is cheating too (as we vow to love until death). And anyone who doesn't take care of a spouse during their illness is cheating. (In sickness and in health.) Many women assume that the vow of faithfulness also excludes porn and strip clubs, so a man who openly used porn and went to strip clubs would be cheating too.

To me, that dilutes the word "cheating" until it has no usefulness. Those people are in unhappy marriages, but (to me), if everyone knows what is going on, it doesn't make sense to call it "cheating."

If everyone sees you pull an ace out of your sleeve, and they just sigh and keep playing... that's a weird, unhealthy dynamic, but it's not cheating at cards.
Posted by EricaP on January 9, 2012 at 8:48 AM · Report this
To me, if one person feels they can't have sex anymore, or if they feel they can't take care of their cancer-stricken spouse, or they feel they can't be faithful anymore, or they feel they can't live with the family anymore -- those are not unethical situations, just sad and likely to end the marriage.

It's not unethical to admit that you can't uphold your vows the way you hoped to. Pretending to uphold your vows is different from openly failing to uphold them.
Posted by EricaP on January 9, 2012 at 8:53 AM · Report this
I think my preference for monogamy and my level of sexual desire (i.e. the frequency or intensity with which I want to have sex) are two completely separate things. In much of the foregoing discussion, it seems they're being conflated. Are we slaves to our sexual urges, or can we make decisions about how we want to express them? I mean, we don't fall upon any od homo sapiens who passes by on the road--at least, most of us don't. So I think there's a lot more to the decision about whether to cheat, or whether to request a non-monogamous relationship, than simply how badly or how often a person wants to have sex.

Put another way, the extreme scenarios where one person is completely cut off from sex, such that any or almost any sex life is going to require doing it outside the relationship, is NOT the norm. Usually, people want other partners for other and more complex reasons than this.
Posted by Suzy on January 9, 2012 at 10:21 AM · Report this
@257,258 EricaP
When I think of "cheating" within a marriage, the first definition is sexual infidelity. You cite some other ways that one can violate their vows but I wouldn't think of those as "cheating." Those I might label as "cruel", "unethical", "abusive", "lying", or some other pejorative.

Strip clubs etc. are really something you need to talk about together when you come up with your sexual boundaries. "Cheating" is going outside those agreed upon boundaries. Everyone has different boundaries. I admire some aspects of your marriage while Mrs. J would not even concede that you and your husband love each other. She and I have found an overlap in our boundary wish lists and that works well enough for us.

Not everyone takes the same set of vows. Sex is just one of them. But whatever your vows were originally, you will grow as a person over time and you may need to adjust them in order to be as happy as you can be.

Sometimes we fail at marriage and we divorce precisely because we can't uphold our vows anymore. Sticking around and either lying or openly breaking the rules you agreed to is within the realm of ethics.
Posted by Mr. J on January 9, 2012 at 10:53 AM · Report this
Erica @ 258 -

I found the following shocking:

"It's not unethical to admit that you can't uphold your vows the way you hoped to. Pretending to uphold your vows is different from openly failing to uphold them. "

Each sentence might be technically true; it is not unethical to admit a failure, and admission of failure is different from lying about failure. But what, exactly, is the point of a vow if it is not a real commitment?

Another way of saying this: if we can walk away from promises whenever we feel like it without being unethical, because keeping the promise is just too hard, does making a promise have any meaning at all?

I am enough of a Quaker to acknowledge that there isn't a special kind of truth for promise-making as opposed to every day. But that doesn't change the fact that if you state an intention to love someone always and to care for him in his sickness, and then decide when it comes down to it that you would rather not (or aren't able), that doesn't make you less of an oathbreaker. A liar, if you will.

I guess I am old-fashioned - but I think an ethical person has an obligation to make sure his or her word is good. That means keeping promises you have made, and not making promises you won't keep.
Posted by Thisbe on January 9, 2012 at 11:38 AM · Report this
@260 "Sticking around and either lying or openly breaking the rules you agreed to is within the realm of ethics. "

What do you mean by "within the realm of ethics"? Are you saying that those activities are suitable for ethicists to discuss, or that they are inherently unethical? I don't see why it's unethical to openly change the rules you (foolishly) agreed to before you understood how much pain they would cause you.

@261, no one getting married in their twenties has any idea what they are promising to do, so their vows are more like wishes & intentions than true promises. It's unreasonable to hold them to those vows when the pain & suffering becomes unbearable.

If your wife becomes alcoholic and hits you; if your husband molests your child... then you aren't a bad person for leaving -- you are in a bad marriage and, ethically, you should get out.

If your spouse has changed in less awful ways (no longer wanting sex, yelling at you), then ethically, you can leave, you can try to renegotiate the rules, you can say that you are changing the rules, and leave it to the other person to decide whether or not to stay. You are not ethically bound by a promise whose consequences you did not fully understand when you made it. Ethics takes extenuating circumstances into consideration.
Posted by EricaP on January 9, 2012 at 12:14 PM · Report this
@ The stoopid expression on Douchedrizzle Santorum's face in the ads above: he looks like he's about to suck a cock; salivating at the prospect of a thick shaft throatfucking him straight outta his silly run for president.

Go to a bathhouse and enjoy yourself, Rick.
The squeakiest wheels always need the grease the most;)...

Jesus Says You're A Douchebag Too, Santorum!
I Saw Him This Afternoon In The Museum;): a chance run in..

Posted by True Love Is Wayyyyyyyy Cooler Than Politics on January 9, 2012 at 12:52 PM · Report this
@ 244 & 245: Dovasaga: Thanks for the (actually) inspiring stuff.

I practice what you speak of in your thing there. Just being a *real soul* and coming from that place: it enables you to find kindness and purpose as well as being much more focused and conscientious (responsible) about how to support others from afar, with genuinely-good vibes, actions and deeds.

THAT'S "The Secret", folks! Wanna get a better quality of life circulating for yourselves? Then set the example if you must. Take initiative. Want it bad enough, to be truly happier and all-around healthier. *Listen to your heart, and trust your instincts. Learn not to second guess!* You do a little of that, as well as just remembering to have manners and courteousness, because it's easier to be nice and keep it moving, at the end of the day.

Easier on everyone, really :-) . Want good karma? Start making your own...and wait to see what's in store for you for your hard work, love and belief. And a good attitude :-) .

Cheers :-) +~+
Posted by I'm Happy With You, That's Why! :-) on January 9, 2012 at 1:02 PM · Report this
mydriasis 265

No need to point out my 'gender bias' I'll freely admit I'm incredibly sexist.

In my comparison with monogamy/nonmonogamy to sexual orientation, I meantioned twice (@209, @213) that it's possible for (some) nonmonogamous people to be monogamous. It eventually becomes redundant to point out all possibilities every time. I think for the majority of nonmonogamous people the expectation of monogamy leads to covert nonmonogamy rather than monogamy.

Actually, hold on, no, that's not my 'belief' that's fact. Statistically, most people cheat.

I actually didn't discuss my rationale for why I believe monogamous men are less common than monogamous women but I'll stick with it until I see compelling evidence to the contrary. (And no, I don't consider that 'men are players, women are sluts' paradigm to be compelling evidence.)

I also addressed your other point back at... @213 I believe. I think men are more likely to want other women outside their relationship, but that doesn't mean they're more likely to content in an equal nonmonogamous relationship where their partner is allowed to have sex with other men. They're not the same thing

If we did want to play the "look at nature" game (I typically don't, but aw what the heck) this is referred to as a "harem" model where one male mates with several females, who only mate with him. Lions are famous for this but it's not unusual in chimps either.
Posted by mydriasis on January 9, 2012 at 1:14 PM · Report this
Dan, there is some Santorum on your lower lip.
Posted by Hetrosapian on January 9, 2012 at 1:17 PM · Report this
@ 207, crystn2: "But God is not mocked!" God isn't the one being mocked: Rick Santorum is! If you choose to hide behind an antiquated fairy tale handbook, then that's your right and business. Not my bag, baby: I live what your good book preaches...without the bullshit morality you and and encrusted jizz and poop-meister Rick Santorum champion. You and he both need a penis deep inside your deep sphincters of denial, and brains! Jesus has been gone how many years now?? 2012?? Oh yeah: he's on a comeback.

Religion = False Spirituality. Sorry the likes of you will always be stupid and ignorant to ever wonder. Yeah?


Jesus Takes No Shit & Comes Out Swinging In My Bible, Motherfucker! Jesus says you're a dumb whore, too. Suck a dick for Jesus, losers!
Posted by Santorum Will Soon Go To Shit, Much Like Who He Is. on January 9, 2012 at 1:26 PM · Report this
mydriasis 268

Well this is why it's bizarre to me. He told his wife he was going to cheat on her. She must have said something.

But if she heard him, comprehended him, then she has to take some sort of responsibility as well. If someone said "I'm going to shoot you if you don't get out of that chair" you can bet I'm getting out of that chair.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not really on either of their sides. I think it's shitty to force your partner whom you presumably love into celibacy. I think it's shitty to tell someone you're going to fuck other people rather than try to work things out.

All I can say is what I would do if I were in his situation. I wouldn't marry someone with a low sex drive, and if I were already married and a low sex drive came out of nowhere we'd try to figure out the solution. If he didn't want to, that would be the end of the relationship. I think this is a pretty unlikely possibility so I'm not worried.
Posted by mydriasis on January 9, 2012 at 1:27 PM · Report this
mydriasis 269

"no one getting married in their twenties has any idea what they are promising to do"

Excuse me?


You're not alone. I also believe that promises mean something.
Posted by mydriasis on January 9, 2012 at 1:31 PM · Report this
@ 267: Only for the humanity-hating scumbags who don't believe that anyone has the same fundamental rights as the next person: THAT'S who it's directed at: scumbags like Santorum and that blind sheep sucking at the ass of religion to justify being hateful themselves..

That, and have you ever seen Santorum's high school picture? Google it! Jesus H. Christ, what a super Poindexter! No wonder why he's a misguided, thick-skulled, gay and lesbian hating waste of sperm and egg. Jesus, God & The Holy Grail all told me to tell you, Santorum Inc., to go fuck yourselves with a 3' dildo and plenty of 'K-Y' jelly.

It's not our problem you fuckers are closeted, conflicted dooshbags! Stop hating humanity, believing in a Dr. Seuss book as the gospel and go and get some same sex action. Jesus says it's kosher.

Posted by Santorum = Campaign Will Be Over In A Month's Time on January 9, 2012 at 1:34 PM · Report this
mydriasis 271

Do NOT drag the lovable Dr. Seuss into this.
Not cool.
Posted by mydriasis on January 9, 2012 at 1:41 PM · Report this
@269 If my twelve year old promises never to lie to me (as she has promised, from time to time) -- do you think she really understands the implications of that promise, and can ethically be bound by it? She means well, but she doesn't know the temptations she will face.

I feel the same about people in their twenties, promising to stay married until death-do-us-part and never to have sex with anyone else. (Standard marriage vows.) You just don't know what life will throw at you. Ethically, a promise whose ramifications you didn't understand isn't really a promise. If you want to hold people to such promises, pick people who keep their promises even when ethically they have other options (like Mr. J., for instance).
Posted by EricaP on January 9, 2012 at 2:02 PM · Report this
@256(Mr J), I didn't mean to offend you or your wife -- sorry if it came out this way. (Lack of empathy is not necessarily lack of love. There are lots of parents who love their children, yet have no clue -- no empathy -- with what said children are going through right now.)

Note that you didn't answer my question. I didn't ask if Mrs J was sexually satisfied, but if she didn't feel empathy to your situation -- at least in past times, when you still told her you were unsatisfied. Did she think that this wasn't a problem? (Many people don't have obvious insight into what sex feels light to others; this is part of the reason for the stereotypical claim that women don't understand men, and men don't understand women.)

I was just curious -- again I'm sorry if I offended you. And it's OK with me if you don't want to answer my question -- I don't have any right to knowledge about your private life, after all.
Posted by ankylosaur on January 9, 2012 at 2:07 PM · Report this
@262 EricaP
I was responding to what you wrote @258:
It's not unethical to admit that you can't uphold your vows the way you hoped to.
I mistakenly thought you meant that ethics didn't apply. I see now that you meant that it is an ethical action. I agree that it's ethical to make the admission, i.e. the acknowledgement, I just don't think it carries as far as you do. As you say, sometimes it's ethical to leave. We'll just have to disagree about the procedural rules for modifying jointly-made vows if one chooses to stay.
Posted by Mr. J on January 9, 2012 at 2:14 PM · Report this
@269, 261, 272 -- I think I agree more with EricaP here. My rationale is a little different.

Promises are statements of commitment, and they mean more than simple claims or statements about future events. However, they are statements, and as such are subject to changes -- some quite unexpected -- in situational conditions.

When you promise something, especially something promised in a ritualistic manner (such as wedding vows), then you are putting your honor at stake. You should, to the best of your knowledge, uphold the promise you made.

Which doesn't mean that you will. And not necessarily because you're a coward, or because you're a wily manipulator who's just looking for the first chance to abandon the ship when you feel like it. But because life does indeed throw unexpected things at you, and claiming that you'll always know what you will do under circumstances that you have no way of predicting is, to me, insane.

If things remain within sane limits (and then we have a big discussion about what sane limits are), then I'd agree with mydriasis and Thisbe. Keep your promises. But since things sometimes don't... then I have to agree with EricaP.

I think the basic difference between you guys' viewpoints is not that you don't agree in principle -- it's that you're worried about different things. Mydriasis and Thisbe are worried about people gaming the system, manipulators lying about their incapacity to uphold their promises... or even simple cowards looking for an easy way out.

Whereas EricaP is worried about people who are bound by promises made under very different circumstances and that now force them to do things that result in terrible unhappiness for them, or for others.

So it seems to me Mydriasis and Thisbe are talking about cowards, manipulators, and freeloaders, while EricaP mentions situation traps and their victims. It seems to me Mydriasis and Thisbe worry that promises may become mere frivolities, without any seriousness about them, while EricaP worries that promises may become prison bars that will destroy someone's happiness.

Both things happen, and there is no system that can simultaneously prevent both. All we have is common sense and the desire not to cause unnecesary suffering in ourselves and in others.
Posted by ankylosaur on January 9, 2012 at 2:26 PM · Report this
@273 ankylosaur
Oh, I wasn't offended! I'm simply not going to delve into the complicated circumstances of the past difficulties of my marriage. I'm not looking for fixes. I'm quite satisfied with things as they are. If I want to have my marriage adjudicated I'll send a letter to Savage Love;-)

One general observation though: empathy and action are not linked in any particular fashion.
Posted by Mr. J on January 9, 2012 at 2:30 PM · Report this
mydriasis 277
Comparing a twelve year old and a twenty nine year old in terms of decision making ability is both neurobiologically unsound and deeply offensive.

The problem isn't age, it's entitlement, and it's cultural. People feel that they are owed an easy, pleasant marriage and give up the second it gets hard for them. (See the difference between arranged marriages and typical North American marriages)

Maybe you had poor or underdeveloped understanding when you made your wedding vows, but don't transpose that on all of us.
Posted by mydriasis on January 9, 2012 at 2:45 PM · Report this
mydriasis 278

I essentially agree with you with the addition of what I mentioned above.
Posted by mydriasis on January 9, 2012 at 2:48 PM · Report this
@275 well put. If a group of non-involved people agree that the particular situation justifies the ethically-dubious actions, then it probably does (within that culture), no matter how wrong it seems to the victim.

Since we're near the end of a SL week, I hope people don't mind if I ask my own question about my own marriage. Mr. P. lied to me again, this time about having started smoking again (after 15 years without). He admitted in December that he has been smoking for six months. I'd asked him several times straight out if he was smoking again (from having smelled it), and he lied to my face. Last month, when I asked again, he sighed and told the truth.

There is no way he thought it was unsafe to tell me. I don't think he thought I would leave over this. He just thought I would be unhappy about the smoking and maybe nag.

So -- those of you saying that we hold lies about sex to a different standard, I don't think so. I think people hold lies about important things to a different standard than white lies, but drugs/cigs/alcohol/money/work-fraud/etc. are all potentially serious enough issues that I'm upset to be lied to about it.

What I don't know is where I go from here. Do I try to rebuild trust in what he says? Do I just not listen to what he says, and take my cues from what I see him do? If he wants to smoke or see women secretly (even though he can do both openly), is that necessarily a problem, or only if I choose to see it as such?
Posted by EricaP on January 9, 2012 at 3:07 PM · Report this
@277 Most of the people who get divorced promised "till death do us part." For the most part, they're not bad for failing to keep that promise... Or do you really think they are ethically wrong to get divorced when their marriage proves painful? How much pain would you put up with before breaking a promise of "till death do us part" -- or would you never make such a promise in the first place? If so, you're the unusual one, not me.

I certainly didn't know what I would face when I promised "till death do us part." I'm staying in my marriage, despite the lies and infidelity, but not because I think I would be ethically wrong to leave.
Posted by EricaP on January 9, 2012 at 3:18 PM · Report this
@277 - the difference between most arranged marriage cultures and ours is that the penalties for divorce are extremely high in those cultures, and mostly borne by women. Ethically, I prefer our culture, with all its flaws.
Posted by EricaP on January 9, 2012 at 3:20 PM · Report this
mydriasis 282

I once was told a story about doing a medical residency in an African country - over there heart attacks are so rare that if one happens, everyone crowds around. In an American hospital, heart attacks are a dime a dozen. You're probably better off living in America than most countries in Africa, but that doesn't mean you can't learn from other cultures that do better in some respects.

I'm not advocating arranged marriage, but I do think that Western culture has trivialized marriage to a disgusting degree. If you can't take it seriously, don't sign a legal document, don't undergo a ceremony, don't change the title of your relationship.

So I have to ask. Before you got married, did you have a detailed, explicit conversation about monogamy? About nonmonogamy? How long did you know your husband before marrying him? Did you not catch your husband lying to you before you got married? These are all salient points in my mind.

Re: 'til death. Would I make that promise? I'd like to. But only if I feel confident that I can keep it. There are certain (astronomically unlikely) situations where I would leave. But in my mind, divorce is an emergency measure, like murder or suicide. I don't expect everyone to feel that way, but it would be nice if people put a little thought in before marrying, and gave it the old college try instead of bailing the second it gets hard.
Posted by mydriasis on January 9, 2012 at 4:09 PM · Report this
i am a huge fan, and a catholic thought you might appreciate this:…
Posted by jack1066 on January 9, 2012 at 4:15 PM · Report this
Does anyone else find it incredibly funny that the first add on this page is for Santorum campaign?
Posted by Xremote on January 9, 2012 at 4:54 PM · Report this
@282, it was the mid 1990s, and things were different. We had known each other 8 years when we got married; been dating for two. He did ask permission to sleep with an old girlfriend, after we'd been dating a month, and I said yes (though it was painful for me). We also had an almost-threesome with a guy, that I turned into cuddling because the vibe felt wrong to me.

We went to sex parties, in our early years, but only fucked each other there. I knew he had cheated on other girlfriends; I had cheated on other boyfriends. I felt we were well-suited to each other, and there would never be reason to lie; we could always make things work out.

And that worked for 14 years of married life. No outside sex (to my knowledge), though plenty of strip club visits, which he told me about. Maybe he didn't tell me all his fantasies, but I don't count that as lying. The first significant lie (to my knowledge) was his visit to an escort, in year 14. Though the first lie he confessed to me was a secret visit to a strip club, a couple of months later, when he was 'supposed' to be at work. Maybe the whole purpose of that lie was to get a sense of how I would react to him confessing the escort lie (which had happened earlier but was confessed later).

Since then, no lies (to my knowledge), until six months ago when he started lying about smoking. Do I now think there have probably been other lies? Yes, I do. Does any of that mean I'm going to leave him? No. I want his smile, his laughing eyes, his sexy body, his quick mind. I want him as much today as the day we met. I would still promise "till death do us part," and mean it. But ....I'm just saying I had no idea what it was like to go through a midlife crisis until we got here. Just like I still have no idea what it's like to nurse a spouse during a debilitating chronic illness. For me to promise to stick it out, when I don't know what "it" is, can't really be ethically binding.
Posted by EricaP on January 9, 2012 at 4:57 PM · Report this
@279 EricaP
I'm sorry that happened. You're a smart woman and you're right to fold this into your view of who he is. I admire you your ability to contextualize this lie. We live in a culture that is swift to judge and abandon. I have no doubt that you two will talk it out and come to a better understanding. My best to you both.
Posted by Mr. J on January 9, 2012 at 5:22 PM · Report this
mydriasis 287
Look, Erica...

You seem like a very nice lady and I wish you all the best. I mean that very sincerely. I'm sorry for any pain/difficulty that you may have felt.

But... it seems to me like you had ample indicators of what was to come. Maybe you didn't see it that way at the time, maybe you don't see it that way now. If that's true it would be silly for me to try to convince you. Some of us are good at knowing what makes people tick and what those people are and are not going to do, some of us aren't so good at it(I have told many of my female friends what their boyfriends were going to do from miles away). Same goes for self-knowledge as well. There are many talents I lack, but understanding people is one talent I was blessed with (getting along with them, or getting them to like me did not come with that package). This is why I feel that what you're saying doesn't really apply to me.
Posted by mydriasis on January 9, 2012 at 6:05 PM · Report this
@287 I apologize for saying @262 that "no one getting married in their twenties has any idea what they are promising to do."

Clearly, you can see both how you and your partners (and everyone else's partners! and my husband!) are going to react, decades in advance. I'll just reiterate that you are unusual in that talent, as you yourself seem to be aware.

So, to rephrase -- most people (not you!) make promises that they don't understand, and should not be held ethically to all the consequences thereof. (Though obviously that's less true when the promise you're walking away from involves a dependent than an equally healthy and competent adult.)
Posted by EricaP on January 9, 2012 at 6:14 PM · Report this
277- Re: Arranged marriage. I'm not sure I do see the difference between arranged marriages and the typical North American one. A great number of arranged marriages are terribly unhappy as are North American ones. If you think it's hard to find someone you share a sexual chemistry with now, try it in a situation where you don't know the other person first. Arranged marriages can be arranged for the benefit of the parents (financial, prestige) with the children (usually the daughter) used as pawns. Also (not sure this is relevant, but it helps any discussion to have definitions) there's a lot of difference in what people mean by "arranged." There's the arranged marriage where the 2 people truly have no say. There's the arranged marriage where the parents or the matchmaker act as a dating board where they introduce acceptable matches, but both parties have veto power.
Posted by Crinoline on January 9, 2012 at 6:18 PM · Report this
mydriasis 290
Welp, since I'm already coming off like a douche...

I'm not sure what you were expecting out of your relationship/marriage, but if it was monogamy I think it would've been clear to most people from very early on that monogamy is not a reasonable thing to expect from a man who has a history of cheating and asks to sleep with an ex when things are still new and fun with his current girlfriend.

I'm aware that I'm anomalous, but perhaps you are too. Maybe most people fall into a middle ground where (with a little dilligence and effort which are unfortunately lacking) they can (for the vast majority of cases) avoid large surprises and going back on their promises.
Posted by mydriasis on January 9, 2012 at 7:35 PM · Report this
@290 - you're not a douche, it's just odd you would suggest I expected monogamy, when obviously that wasn't a top priority for me. I was fine with monogamy, and I'm fine without it.

I expected (and have gotten) a good partner in life, a good co-parent, a friend, plus laughs, conversation, back rubs and hot sex.

But I also expected honesty. And I thought, for 14 years, that I had figured out how to get it: not give him shit about doing things that maybe I didn't love (like strip clubs).

But when he turned 40, I don't know what happened. I don't know why he stopped feeling that he could trust me with the truth. Maybe I made him feel too safe, and he wanted more danger. I don't know.
Posted by EricaP on January 9, 2012 at 7:48 PM · Report this
Erica @262 is completely right in my experience:
"no one getting married in their twenties has any idea what they are promising to do" Perhaps early 20s would have been a more precise statement, as I doubt that she is (as 277 suggests) comparing a 12 year old's mindset to a 29 year old's.

My husband and I were 18 when we got married. 18. I wasn't pregnant. It just seemed like a fine idea at the time. We were engaged for 4 months, the ceremony was the weekend between prom and graduation. This wasn't a whim, we made a decision (when we were 17) and said the vows at 18. Neither one of us had a fucking clue what we were agreeing to. My 19th birthday present was a positive pregnancy test. He had a fling with a high school girlfriend sometime in the next year (I found out about that 5 years later, when I was pregnant with the 2nd) and somewhere in there, we grew up. I'm not really sure when or how that happened.

Now, at almost 40, we are not the same people that we were at 18. Honestly, I think we're still together because neither of us knows how to be anything else. But one thing that has occurred to me fequently for the past 10 years (since the 3rd and last was born) is can I reasonably be held to a decision ( and a promise) that I made when I was 18 and still very much a child?
Posted by catballou on January 9, 2012 at 7:59 PM · Report this
mydriasis 293

That was just the impression I got over the many posts where you referenced it. At the very least it seems that you would be happier if he wasn't sleeping with other women. (Did you not say that at some point?)

When he cheated with his previous girlfriend was it one time followed by a confession? Or did he lie about it, was it ongoing?
Posted by mydriasis on January 9, 2012 at 8:13 PM · Report this
@293 - he didn't lie about his ex; he told me she was coming to town and asked if he could sleep with her. I said yes, and it was just one time. No lies, as far as I know, until year 14 of our marriage.

I want him happy, and if he wants "a little strange," then I am okay with it (though it doesn't turn me on the way me sleeping with guys turns him on). I did have issues with him having a girlfriend, but mostly because she kept asking for more and more of his time, until they broke up over that issue.
Posted by EricaP on January 9, 2012 at 8:25 PM · Report this
To clarify, in 294 I'm referring to 2 different girlfriends: an ex he slept with (openly) in 1993, and a woman he dated (openly) this past summer. He didn't lie about either one, so I didn't freak out about them, though I wasn't ecstatic either.
Posted by EricaP on January 9, 2012 at 8:29 PM · Report this
Erica, re lies and the whys behind the lies:

I am brutally, bluntly, painfully honest. I don't lie to anyone as a result of my own logic-- if I like you and respect you, I'm not going to lie to you; however, if I don't like you and don't respect you, then fuck you, I'm not going to waste the time and effort to maintain whatever lie I might tell you, so you're still going to get the truth from me. This makes perfect sense to me, so I tend to expect everyone to have a similar approach to honesty. Unfortunately, not everyone thinks like me, although they really should.

Everyone lies for a different reason. Small children lie because they think that by saying something that they really really want to be true, they can make it true. Older children, like my 14 year old or your 12 year old, tend to lie to paint themselves in a more favorable light--nothing malicious, just a little recreation of themselves as they want to appear. Adults lie for more complex reasons--the self serving lie, the social lie, the cover my ass lie. Your husband's current falsehood is over something that is pretty trivial and also pretty foolish--smoking has so many tells, mainly in the odor left on the skin and on the mouth and hair, lying about it seems silly. You've been married a long time (by today's standards, 15+ years is a long fucking time) you likely have the best insight to his possible motivations. But a trivial lie seems (to me, and my grad studies are in work psychology, so this is just my gut feeling on this) like it's more about control, like it's him having some small thing that's just his.
Posted by catballou on January 9, 2012 at 8:35 PM · Report this
Thanks, catballou! I think your point about control is really helpful. We have a D/s relationship, but one that's complicated by the fact that submission doesn't come easy to me (though it turns me on), and likewise dominance isn't completely natural for him. I'm intrigued by the possibility that he wants something private, though since (as you say) smoking is likely to get noticed eventually, maybe lying about it is a way of acting out, of getting in trouble? I feel like I'm put in the position of being his mother, where I don't want to be. Hmm.
Posted by EricaP on January 9, 2012 at 8:50 PM · Report this
I'd never even heard of open marriage when I got married. What I did know was there were endless unknowns ahead and I was committing to face them together with my wife. No one is "holding" me to that. People divorce all the time and their lives don't end.
Posted by Mr. J on January 9, 2012 at 8:57 PM · Report this
"Not everyone takes the same vows". So true! My fiance and I had experienced cheating when we got married. Our vows didn't say anything about sexual fidelity. They did focus pretty heavily on honesty, trust, respect, and communication. I can't make him promise to always want to fuck me and only me. But I can make him promise to always be honest and respectful. That shit is way more important than whoever you're sticking your dick/tongue/fist into. The CPOS letter writer forgot the honesty/respect part, and THAT is what makes him a CPOS.
Posted by wxPDX on January 9, 2012 at 10:42 PM · Report this
@Mydriasis, even if most people fall somewhere between 'clueless' and 'personality specialist', that would still make most of them somewhat worse than you. Personally, and despite the fact that my marriage (which will turn 10 years next June) was entered at a later moment in life (I was already 32, she was 31) after we had had quite a lot of experience (both she and I had had many previous partners and a good deal of sexual experience, including various kinks)... even though we discussed everything, had endless talks about all the possibilities and probabilities and whatnot...

Still there were surprises. From personality quirks that only became problematic because they unexpectedly changed into something else, to sudden new interests, to psychological problems... when I look back, the list of bumps is surprisingly long. Yet we managed to stay together through a ride that did at times feel like a roller coaster, we kept a (to me, now, though at first I expected it) surprisingly high level of honesty and openness about ourselves and our shortcomings, our wants and desires. I kept my vows, she kept hers, we're still together and that's how both of us wants it to be.

A lot of it is indeed due to virtues like honesty, sticking around even when things looked grim, trying to and managing to see through misunderstandings and little power games to what lies behind, to what really was going on. As a result, I am with a woman who tells me she loves me as much as she did the first time we made love, and about whom I can still sincerely say the same. And, god dammit, we worked for it.

Yet I am enough of a realist to also be able to say, and mean it: we were lucky. Despite efforts and best intentions, despite being intelligent and open, there were several points at which things could have gone bad. They didn't. Not because I, or my wife, are 'superior people' or have special powers. They just didn't.

I didn't know -- not in my guts, anyway; intellectually I did, but I learned that it's a different thing to feel it inside -- that I was going to need luck. Several of the problems we had I had no clue we were going to have. Maybe I am naive, Mydriasis: maybe someone like you would have seen some of those problems miles away, and avoided them. But I didn't, and neither did my wife.

So we were lucky. And I understand some people weren't lucky. And I don't blame them for that. Everybody's circumstances were different -- including the fact that they are different people from who I am. I can't judge them by what I would have done, or been able to do, in their situation.
Posted by ankylosaur on January 10, 2012 at 1:57 AM · Report this
@297(EricaP), I think I agree with catballou, having been more than once on the other (your husband's) side or similarly trivial-with-hidden-meaning situations. Let me give you an example, from my perspective, in the hope that this sheds some indirect light on your situation. (Warning: the situation I will describe may appear ridiculous to you, since it involves my shameless love for foreign languages. But believe me -- it was a real problem.)

My wife is Russian-Ukrainian, very much Russian; she was against the independence of Ukraine, and very much disliked the pro-Ukrainian culture and language movement in that country. She strongly identifies with Russian culture (she can quote Pushkin, Akhmatova, Essenin, Tyuchev and Gumilyov by heart; she strongly dislikes Dostoevsky, though). On a trip to Riga, in the Baltic countries at one point, before the end of the old Soviet Union, she experienced anti-Russian feelings from the local population, to which she reacted in kind. As a result, she really doesn't like Estonians and Latvians.

Recently (about a year ago), I became interested in Latvian -- a very mellifluous language, with some pretty good music from Riga (Dzelzs Vilks, Livi, Gain Fast, etc.). I knew this was going to create a problem, given my wife's feelings, but I started learning anyway. As I expected, she reacted negatively to the teach-yourself-Latvian course I brought home one day. We had a somewhat heated discussion about this topic, in which she got me to admit that, since I like all languages, I could very well study a non-Baltic one in my free time. Why not Sanskrit, for instance (a language she actually would enjoy learning, since she is very interested in Indian Philosophy)? I grudgingly agreed.

As you might imagine, after a while (when her interest in Sanskrit ebbed) I secretly resumed studying Latvian. Unlike Mr.P, I didn't have to lie about it, because after our first somewhat heated conversation the Latvian grammar stayed in my office and I didn't touch it (my free time was filled with Sanskrit). So I just started again, at first in my office. As the months went on and I progressed, I started buying some new books -- a better dictionary, children's books (in the absence of easy-reading literature works, children's books are great when you're just beginning to master a language), newspapers and magazines from Latvia. At one point, my wife found one of said magazines in a plastic bag I had left home by mistake, and she confronted me.

I know, this sounds silly. Both because languages in general, and Latvia or anti-Latvian feelings in particular, probably aren't a big deal to most of you; and also because the situation was so much like the stereotypical my-wife-found-my-hidden-porn-stash situation... (My wife and I used to laugh about such situations. She never cared about my porn stash, among other things because, when we first me, she already had an even bigger porn stash than mine, god bless her lusty heart; we now have a common one).

So, Erica, unlike your husband, I didn't 'sigh and admit' my white lie after the nth question; I was actually caught lying about a relatively trivial matter. Well, lying by omission, since she didn't ask me whether I was studying Latvian; but I had said at the beginning I wouldn't, and yet I did.

No big deal, right? Well, since from previous experience we knew that 'little things' have a way of gaining a life of their own and becoming (part of) the source for resentment and hard feelings that accumulate like lava within a volcano, we actually sat down and talked through this one.

In the end it turned out that my going back to studying Latvian despite knowing my wife would feel angry about that had to do with:
(a) me wanting to be free to do what I liked, having 'something for myself' that I don't just give up for a 'trivial' reason;
(b) her not following through with the promise of studying Sanskrit with me;
(c) me thinking inside that her opinions about Latvia and Estonia are overreactions, and that she should be fairer and less ethnocentric and judgmental about Latvia and Latvians -- she should 'get over' her bad experiences in Riga.

So, thinking about it, (a) was about me wanting 'a playground for myself' where she can't just tell me to stop ('languages are my special place, you can't tell me what to do there!'); (b) was about me 'punishing' her for not having kept her promise of studying Sanskrit with me by not keeping my promise to not study Latvian ('you lied to me first!'); and (c) was about me wanting to 'improve her as a person' ('you should be more as I think you should be, not as you are').

Similar issues had come up before in other situations, with me often exchanging roles. So we had some experience in negotiating through this, and ended up agreeing that I was entitled to study Latvian if I wanted (but not flaunting it) and that she was entitled to thinking whatever she wanted about Latvians (but not claiming that "it's logical" and that I should agree with her simply because I love her).

This, because we both realized this was not really about the Latvian languages or about bad memories from a trip to Riga, but about (as so often happens in relationships) power. Power to be or do what you want, or power to influence others to be or do what you want.

These problems don't necessarily disappear when you talk about them (one of the things we learned throughout the years), but when they're out in the open at least we know what we're dealing with and don't get lost in appearances.

I hope this helps. :-)
Posted by ankylosaur on January 10, 2012 at 2:27 AM · Report this
echizen_kurage 302

She strongly dislikes Dostoevsky, though.

And you're still with her anyway? Wow, that's true love.


It's possible that Mr. P's smoking has more to do with simple addiction than anything about the dynamics of your relationship. As I understand it, the dominant model of chemical addiction suggests that it never really goes away; it just lies dormant. As for why he didn't tell you, that might be because he's embarrassed about giving in to his cravings and/or doesn't want to admit himself that he's started smoking again. (I think even the best of us are susceptible to wishful thinking along the lines of "if nobody knows about it, it didn't actually happen.") This is only one possible explanation among many, of course, but I thought I'd put it out there anyway.

Maybe Mr. P should talk to his doctor about using Wellbutrin or Chantix to help him quit smoking? Both of these drugs have significant potential downsides, and neither of them is a "get out of jail free" card for nicotine addiction, but they might be worth considering.

While I'm talking medicine: Mr. P's doctor probably already told him this, but the efficacy of Gardisil decreases dramatically with age of inoculation. A late inoculation is probably better than none, but it's far from a "get out of jail free" card for HPV (never mind the many strains that it doesn't protect against in the first place).
Posted by echizen_kurage on January 10, 2012 at 3:45 AM · Report this
@302, she dislikes Dostoevsky in the Western sense of the world: as an embassador of 'the Russian soul'. Dostoevsky is at his best when discussing deep human questions, which she will gladly agree with (not for nothing was one of her first papers about Dostoevsky's "Dream of a Ridiculous Man"). But when she sees people judging Russians based on Dostoevsky's description of them -- as if they were all Myushkins or Raskolnikovs or Alexei Ivanovichs (or... what's that guy's name from "Demons"/"The Possessed" again -- Stavrogin?) then she can actually see red. She thinks Russians are much more like Gumilyov and Akhmatova than they are like either Alyosha or Ivan Karamazov. Her idol (and object of her Ph.D.) is Russian Silver Age philosopher Vladimir Solovyov. :-)

Posted by ankylosaur on January 10, 2012 at 4:09 AM · Report this
Dan Savage was straight until his fifty-third failed sexual experience with his kleft hand while watching his mom get humped by the neighbor's dog.
Posted by Dan's Childhood Neighbor on January 10, 2012 at 6:21 AM · Report this
@304, what's a kleft hand? Is it like a cloven foot? :-)
Posted by ankylosaur on January 10, 2012 at 6:25 AM · Report this
Savage was straight until his fifty-third failed sexual experience with his left hand while watching his mother get humped by the neighbor's dog. Don't judge Dan until you understand his past. A little dog santorum is how he grew up.
Posted by Dan's Childhood Neighbor on January 10, 2012 at 6:27 AM · Report this
I think light poly is the average man's definition of a perfect relationship. I think most men would prefer to focus on career and lifestyle, and have some not exactly random but not emotionally or psychologically complicated with a few pleasant people now and again, some more regular than others. This is why men generally thrive in and enjoy affairs. Seriously, the guy banging some chick on the side is usually doing great in his career and working out at the gym more and feeling fantastic. He goes to work, fucks some woman from Craigslist over afternoon cocktails once a week, then goes back to work. Perfect. I'm not even saying that in a bad way. I think more women would be happier if they'd try it too. But... from my observations... women are monogamish/non monogamous exactly as long as it takes them to find a man they want to be monogamous with. Call me cynical but I've listened to too many women drone on and on about how they are so hip and modern and not jealous and being non-mono is great (and wtf, if my boyfriend had to give my husband permission to fuck me, I'd need a new one of both. Yuck. That's just straight up emotionally abusive and a very obvious passive aggressive fuck you to the husband because she's pissed he won't stand up and say no I want you to myself!) and fabulous...

and then they meet some man who fucks their brains out until they can't see straight, is strong and dependable, and just smells right... and huh suddenly she's all betty homemaker. Interesting.

The one thing I have never seen addressed as a downfall of non-monogamy is practicality. It wasn't the jealousy or emo drama that ended the Mister and I's poly life, but the time factor really. We had enough to do keeping one another happy and having enough sex with one another to our personal tastes and dealing with our own personal relationship drama to deal with someone ELSE in that mix.
Posted by wendykh on January 10, 2012 at 8:05 AM · Report this
@265 (mydriasis) I apologize if I came off as rude. Tone can be tricky when it comes to quick comments in these sorts of threads. I think you've raised some interesting points, some of which I disagree with. The comments you refer back to @209/213 do not mesh with what I was saying @255. You are saying (and I'm sure you will correct me if I am wrong) that nonmonogamous people can choose to "pass" as monogamous, but they will be unhappy. While I am sure that that can be true in some cases, it is unfair to generalize and say that people inclined towards nonmonogamy will either "pass" and be unhappy, or cheat. Many of us, as these comments show, enjoy nonmonogamy but do not NEED it. I wouldn't be unhappy in a monogamous relationship, and neither would my husband if I am to believe what he says, and he has never given me reason to doubt him in the ten years I've known him.

I am curious if you have seen any actual statistics on cheating, or the percentage of men vs. women who are monogamous. I haven't, so anything I say about it is pure speculation. I am not sure any extensive survey has ever been done, but if it has I would be very interested to see it. I was simply explaining that I suspect cultural bias may be a bigger factor than evolutionary biology. I tend to be very suspicious of oft-used vague explanations harkening back to evolution, but perhaps that is my own personal bias as a biologist.

As far as the "harem" model you refer to (I would call this polygyny if it involves exclusivity, promiscuity if not), I am not sure what point you are trying to make. Yes, some animals follow this model, while others (admittedly less) follow a polyandrous model, where one female has multiple male mates. When thinking about these mating systems, humans are typically classed as monogamous, with pair-bonding to facilitate child rearing. But hey, we're a complicated animal, and many of us don't like to fall into these clean-cut groups.
Posted by kase on January 10, 2012 at 8:07 AM · Report this
Re: the EricaP/mydriasis dispute on marriage vows - I think you both make good points. Vows should not be made lightly, and they shouldn't be broken lightly. Hopefully, a couple has been honest with each other (and themselves) about their expectations upon entering a marriage. But as EricaP points out, sometimes things change, and it heads into an ethical gray area. Some vows matter more to some people than others, and the point about lying about sex vs. lying about smoking is well taken. It's down to the people involved to determine what really matters to them. There's no cookie-cutter response to that.

I would think that if both people agree to change the type of relationship they have, then that's fine whether or not it meshes with the vows they took. But if there's a disagreement on that point... well, it's unfortunate. I'd generally suggest therapy, to discuss what a mutually beneficial solution could entail. People do grow and change, and sometimes people grow apart. It's sad, but true. Personally, I think it's better to get a divorce than stay in an unhappy marriage. But in our culture, many people do jump ship at the first sign of trouble rather than trying to work it out first, and that's no good either.

EricaP, thank you for sharing your story. I think you seem like a strong person, and I hope you can make things work. From what you are saying, I think you will. Only you can answer your question about the significance of the smoking lie, and I hope you can encourage him to be more honest with you in the future. The explanations already posed by others (@296/301/302) seem plausible, but only he can tell you what the truth is. I wish you all the best.
Posted by kase on January 10, 2012 at 8:09 AM · Report this
@307 You've made some very judgmental statements there. I don't see a problem with the couple/boyfriend example above, as long as all parties have given full consent to the situation. It sounds like they all enjoy it. It's not abuse if the husband understands, enjoys, and in fact was even the one who requested it.

I think making "most men" and "most women" statements is really problematic, as most people (yes, I just did it) are only qualified to talk about their own experiences and social circles. In my case, many of the guys I've talked to about my relationship seem excited at first "You let your husband sleep with other women?!" but then it gets more real when they understand it goes both ways. The majority of men (and women) I have talked to have said they wouldn't want that sort of relationship themselves. To each their own.

Your statement that most women only enjoy non-monogamy until they find that "right guy" - what are you basing that on? How many times have you seen that happen? If the comments in this thread are to be believed, many women are happy in non-monogamous relationships for many years (myself included, thank you very much). I am too much of a cynic to believe that there is only one person in the world for everyone, and somehow linking up with that person will make sunshine and rainbows appear and suddenly the rest of the world doesn't matter. Granted, it may feel that way at the start of a new and exciting relationship, but I have never seen a case where that feeling didn't eventually lapse (note: I am not saying it is impossible). If you're lucky, it will turn into a stable and lasting relationship founded on love and mutual respect.
Posted by kase on January 10, 2012 at 8:48 AM · Report this
@ankylosaur, thanks for sharing your lying-about-Latvian story. I take your point, I think, and perhaps this smoking episode will help me process my honesty fetish :-)

echizen_kurage@302, thanks for the info re smoking addictions being able to lie dormant for years, and also for the Gardisil info. Is there a good site for up-to-date research on what Gardisil can and can't do?

wendykh@307, I have seen similar attitudes as far as women & monogamy, but I would nuance the argument to say that (many) men would like some recreational fucking alongside a primary relationship, while (many) women would like some sexual play alongside their primary relationship. Where 'sexual play' can be light kink; make-out sessions after clubbing; or cuddle piles; but (usually) not fucking unless they are considering changing mates or their man has a cuckold-sort of fetish and has pushed them out there.

also, to add to the conversation between kase and mydriasis, I think that a lot of people are "fine" with monogamy for 10 or 15 years (is it coincidence that that's about how long it takes to raise a child?) -- but they may stray after that point. Currently in the US, that usually takes the form of serial monogamy; in other times & places, a man would take on a new wife while keeping the first wife.
Posted by EricaP on January 10, 2012 at 9:21 AM · Report this
@307, how is the time factor you're talking about any worse to deal with than in any family with sufficiently many members (say, children) to each claim time and attention from the adults involved? I grew up in a family with four children (two sisters, two brothers, I was second), and we competed for attention all the time; yet problems can be solved.

I do understand you don't like D/s or poly relationships anymore. I hope you don't mind that others still do.
Posted by ankylosaur on January 10, 2012 at 9:23 AM · Report this
kase@312 Whew -- I said "(many) men / women," not "most." Does that get me off the hook for over-generalizations? :-) Also, would you agree with the generalization that many people imagine they'd enjoy sexual freedom more if they had it while their partner didn't?
Posted by EricaP on January 10, 2012 at 9:28 AM · Report this
uh, kase@310
Posted by EricaP on January 10, 2012 at 9:35 AM · Report this
EricaP@307, you're welcome. Basically my wife and I have come to a DADT-agreement on this issue: I pretend that I'm not studying Latvian (all links to Latvian websites are on my laptop, not on the communal desktop), and she pretends she doesn't know. I also refrain from wanting to improve her attitude towards Baltic people, either openly or passive-aggressively, and give her space to think about them as she sees fit. Because it is, after all, a minor issue that doesn't really affect how we feel about each other, I think it's a reasonable solution.

@310(kase), I wholeheartedly agree that it's not a good idea to generalize on one's experience; and I also don't want to make big strong claims. I do tentatively suggest, though, that women who want or are comfortable with nonmonogamy (for whatever reason) do seem less frequent than men. And that men who want nonmonogamy for themselves, but not for their mates, are not so hard to come by (you yourself mentioned them). Whether this is nature or nurture or a combination, I don't know (I suspect a combination), and indeed I don't have the stats to back this up (does anyone?).

However, it is certainly true that we still have to deal with each other as individuals, and if certain kinds of people -- of men, or of women -- are more or less frequent, what difference does this make when the people in our lives are who they are, regardless of how frequent their particular type is in the general population?

(I do agree with EricaP, by the way, that the appeal of monogamy tends to fade away with time. Again, not for everybody, maybe even not for most; but I've seen more people who started out monogamous slowly feel attracted by non-monogamy after the first decade or so than the other way round. Again only personal experience, not in principle generalizable, I hasten to add.)
Posted by ankylosaur on January 10, 2012 at 9:48 AM · Report this
@ 271, mydriasis: I too love Dr. Seuss! 'Green Eggs & Ham' and 'The Grinch That Stole Christmas' are two of THE Coolest books ever! My dig is more about reading more into a book than there actually may be :) . That was a cute quip, mydriasis. Thanks for the :-) . Cheers.
Posted by Dr. Seuss' New Groove+~+ on January 10, 2012 at 9:49 AM · Report this
@ All of You: This thread is one awesome read as a scrolldown :-) . Thanks for a quiet respite from annoying phone duty at my job! Many thanks! :-)+~+
Posted by Lunch Awaits! ;-)+~+ on January 10, 2012 at 9:51 AM · Report this
I think the fear that acceptance of non-monogamy will cause nearly all men to seek open relationships is overblown. Yes, most men have non-monogamous tendencies (as do most women) but they also have a tendency to very much want their primary partner to be monogamous. And I don't buy for a minute that this tendency is stronger in women. Men have been known to kill other men because of a cheating woman, and I don't think it's entirely because she wasn't honest about wanting to do another dude.

If society did a better job of promoting honesty/integrity, we may end up with a situation in which a large number of husbands are willing to actually (for real, not pretend!) practice monogamy in exchange for monogamy from their wives. Or maybe these couples will eventually decide to be slightly monogamish by allowing for a handful of one-night stands or a brief affair over the course of a lifelong marriage. But that's a far cry from an open relationship or swinging.

There are monogamous-attempting couples in which one partner cheats but then the couple decides to work things out, the cheater reforms (yes it does happen!) and they return to being monogamous. Wouldn't it be slightly better if a monogamish couple permitted an occasional lapse in the context of the relationship being mostly monogamous? See to me this seems much closer to monogamy than it does an open relationship or swinging. I don't think it would be quite fair to classify it as non-monogamy because non-monogamy sounds like you're not even trying.
Posted by Diagoras on January 10, 2012 at 10:09 AM · Report this
@203, It's definitely something to consider when you're opening a relationship. That's why a lot of people prefer having poly or FWB situations as opposed to just being able to have the occasional one night stand.

Even with that, things can happen. Things like herpes and HPV can lay dormant for months or years before popping up. I know this because my bf found out that he got genital warts (a type of HPV) from an ex, and we closed our relationship before they started popping up. (Yes, I understand that I can't be 100% sure that he's monogamous too, but as I've done open relationships before, that's less important to me).

Luckily, I was one of the people that got the HPV vaccine. I looked up some info on it and while the vaccine only covers 4 strains, 2 of those strains are responsible for 70% of the cases of cervical cancer. The other 2 are responsible for 90% of cases of genital warts. While its possible that he's got part of the 10%, I decided it's better not to worry about that. I have no intentions of leaving any time soon. We'd been together long enough that he would have had ample time to give it to me if he was going to, and the likelihood is, he's got the type I can't get.

Basically, you have to weigh the risk/reward ratio. Is it worth the small risk that you could get something when you're being as safe as possible to have the fun that goes along with it?
Posted by KateRose on January 10, 2012 at 10:33 AM · Report this
Someone hit the nail on the head, a big part of the reason why people can't come out as mongamish or poly and happy is because mongamous people will feel threatened by it. The argument is often:" nobody who *insert "good catch criteria here* would be willing to engage in nonmonogamy! If you love me you'll be monogmaous! You can only be in love with one person at a time!" Without the participation of the masses in monogamy, the dating pool dries up for those who wish to be monogamous. Truth is, with so many men and women cheating already, the truly monogamous are rare anyway!
Posted by AzaleaRose on January 10, 2012 at 10:44 AM · Report this
@313: "Also, would you agree with the generalization that many people imagine they'd enjoy sexual freedom more if they had it while their partner didn't?"

Now that is a complicated question. I can't imagine myself saying that I would enjoy my sexual freedom more, knowing that my partner was, by comparison, caged. That feels very hypocritical and unfair to me.

On the other hand, I can easily imagine a number of things that pragmatically amount to almost but not quite the same thing. I can imagine enjoying the feeling that my partner is so bonded to me and so satisfied with me that I am all that she wants, while also enjoying the attentions of others who find me just as attractive as she does. I can also imagine feeling threatened by my wife's wanting to sleep with other people, even while feeling that my wanting to sleep with other people doesn't constitute a threat to the relationship.

But no, I don't imagine I would feel right simply setting up the rules of the relationship to be that I get to sleep around and she doesn't. That situation would not enhance nonmonogamy for me.
Posted by avast2006 on January 10, 2012 at 10:56 AM · Report this
Diagoras @ 318, a person's sexuality should just happen, it shouldn't be something you struggle with. A homosexual person doesn't have to "resist" people of the opposite sex, an asexual person doesn't have to "resist" a sexual relationship, a monogamous person shouldn't be tempted to stray because by definition of mongamy they only have a desire to be with that one person. Once that is no longer true (which for many many many people that becomes the case) describing yourself as monogamous is no longer accurate. It isn't what you do, it's what you desire to do that defines your sexuality.
Posted by AzaleaRose on January 10, 2012 at 11:00 AM · Report this
avast2006 @ 321

The scenario where one person has sexual freedom while the other is restrained by an allegiance to monogamy is the common setup of a monogamous person being cheated on.

I actually think that most people would find this kind of relationship to be ideal *if* they were the one exercising the sexual freedom.
Posted by AzaleaRose on January 10, 2012 at 11:06 AM · Report this
@322, By your definition of monogamous (not even tempted to stray), there are almost no monogamous people. Many people who are tempted to "stray" hold back because of fears about disease, or drama, or not wanting to hurt someone, or their own insecurity. If they never stray, I call them monogamous, even if they lust after other people in their hearts.
Posted by EricaP on January 10, 2012 at 11:27 AM · Report this
@324 EricaP
Why do you say they're so rare?
Posted by Mr. J on January 10, 2012 at 11:35 AM · Report this
EricaP@313 It most certainly does! I realize I am arguing semantics, and perhaps that's petty, but it's a pet peeve of mine. Your wording was very careful with "(many) men / women," and I thought that was great. I don't have a problem with "many people/men/women" because "many" is a subjective term, dependent on the person's own experience. "Most" seems to presume a level of knowing about everyone everywhere... but I also might be crazy... the latter is likely true.

I do agree that many people find the idea of sexual freedom attractive if it only applies to them and not their partner. But whether it's most people... I couldn't begin to presume :) In any case, I think the idea and the reality are two very different animals, and while some people may find that idea appealing, they may not actually like it in practice anyway.

ankylosaur@315 makes a very good point. The frequency of these types of attitudes or people in the population at large are far less relevant than those in each of our respective lives. The problem I have with "most" generalizations... in general... (ha!) is that they can lead to false assumptions. It's all well and good for me to make a generalization based on the small subset of people I interact with in the world. It becomes a problem when I then assume that other people follow this model elsewhere, when I don't have the data to back up a comparison of the two populations. Hmm... maybe I've been doing statistics too much lately.
Posted by kase on January 10, 2012 at 11:37 AM · Report this
@322 I'm not sure that it's as clear cut as you put it. Sexuality has a lot of gray area. Both desires and actions can have an affect on how people define themselves. Over time, I have come to believe that labels should only be self-applied. What I call bisexuality, to take an example of a term which has been frequently disputed, is not what many other people call bisexuality. Whose definition of the word should we use, when there is no consensus in society at large?
Posted by kase on January 10, 2012 at 11:51 AM · Report this
@ 280, Xremote: Absolutely! ;-D Feel free to check out @ 263, @ 267 as well as @ 270 for some shits and giggles! ;-D It is beyond funny that they advertise on here. Cheers. :-)
Posted by Author Of The Above & Aforementioned @ " "'s ;-) on January 10, 2012 at 12:02 PM · Report this
@325, maybe it's my stunted imagination. I believe anyone with a working libido would occasionally, over the course of a long term relationship, be sexually aroused by the sight of an attractive person other than their partner.

Or maybe it's the difference between "aroused" and "tempted"? Does "tempted" imply that you get so far as to think about logistics? I just meant that sex with that person sounds appealing.
Posted by EricaP on January 10, 2012 at 12:32 PM · Report this
@ 322, Azalea Rose: I'm with you about all of that. What's true about someone is what's true about them: what someone craves most of all in a sexual and/or romantic capacity.

I think I gather what you mean: everyone has a will, a freewill. The heart of it all is what you desire most within the most intimate parts of yourself that only you are privy to.

Some people can face their own truths bravely enough, and some struggle still. It's never that cut and dried, although deciding and following through on living as you truly wish and desire is *most* important.

Everyone finds themselves, and their own truths, on their own timetables.

I applaud anyone who is, has, or once eeked out the bravery and candor to just tell the truth, keep it simple and then move on.

Carrying yourself with your own integrity, really.

Hope that helps!
Posted by Happy In Love & It's Tuesday ;-)+~+ on January 10, 2012 at 12:43 PM · Report this
Tim Horton 331
@307 wendyhk - your description of men as "light poly" is so dead on its scary. I ran your description by the 6 guys I had lunch with and you are 7 for 7 in total agreement that would be the ideal situation.

I look forward to your weekly column....
Posted by Tim Horton on January 10, 2012 at 1:03 PM · Report this
@325 (Mr J), I would tend to agree with EricaP on the basis of the number of people of both sexes who confessed to me that they felt attracted to someone other than their partner, when compared to the total sample of married people I know. (If you'd like the numbers, lessee... from a total of 7 couples were are close with for a variety of reasons -- some are family, some are close colleagues or co-workers or old grad school friends --, 9 people have told me they once felt attracted to someone other than their partner (I'm excluding nonce situations, like a wife saying she'd do Brad Pitt in a moment if he were there, because those always feel more like jokes than reality; I'm actually talking about people who confessed to me they at some point felt really tempted to pursue some third person they had met). Curiously, more were women (5 of them). In 4 cases (2 couples), both the husband and the wife told me, in different occasions, about having been tempted. (Note that the 5 who never told me they felt tempted may still have felt tempted at some point, but just never told me.)

Plus, of course, anecdotal evidence from the culture at large.

Of course both are very questionable sources of information, and I might be wrong. Do we then stop the conversation based on the sad but true fact that we don't have the necessary stats?

Posted by ankylosaur on January 10, 2012 at 1:10 PM · Report this
@331, how old were they? (My wife told me once the same thing about her female friends from college: they all said they'd love to have NSA sex without drama. I don't know whether this means something, or whether people just like to give funny answers to impromptu questioning.)
Posted by ankylosaur on January 10, 2012 at 1:15 PM · Report this
@332 ankylosaur
If I understand correctly, 5/14 gave no answer in your survey so we don't know about them. I can assure you that such people do exist. I thought perhaps EricaP had some data in mind. Your data leave open the possibility that it's reasonably common. I know one person for sure, so they're out there.
Posted by Mr. J on January 10, 2012 at 1:50 PM · Report this
Tim Horton 335
@333 - our lunch group is early to late 30s, married w/ children, white collar, professionally successful. They work out, work hard - exactly the type @307 describe. For better of worse, I know hundreds of men like this.

If you ask the question over drinks, the vast majority will tell you they would love to have "a weekend a month" or some infrequent interval of affair-type sex. They aren't looking for escorts per se, but some type of person they have a minimal connection/drama free relationship with. Mostly about sex but some level of affection. My working theory is that these men want female affirmation with the sexual release. Something more than an escort provides.

Is that unique? I am totally willing to concede I just happen to hang around a bunch of closet polys, but I believe this is near universal. Full dislclaimer - very few would be cool with their wife having the same privileges.

Posted by Tim Horton on January 10, 2012 at 1:53 PM · Report this
This has been an interesting read over the past week but goddamit people. How am I supposed to get any work done if you keep posting comments?

If the number of comments an article receives is a metric of interest I'd say Mr. Savage should publish that book and soon.
Posted by repete on January 10, 2012 at 2:02 PM · Report this
@334, how you can be sure that she has never had an idle thought about a colleague or someone across the aisle on a plane?

@335, my experience with well-paid, well-educated escorts is that this is exactly what they provide. No drama, no threat to the marriage, lots of affirmation that you're hot, brilliant, funny, a great lover. They are experienced in dealing with the occasional male performance issues. And they love regulars, someone who will see them about once a month -- that's where they shine, because the money becomes invisible (just as my husband's salary covering the mortgage becomes invisible).
Posted by EricaP on January 10, 2012 at 2:10 PM · Report this
@337 EricaP
She sees the beauty (I hesitate to use the word attractiveness) in other people, but it's on a totally abstract level. When you know someone this well you can tell when they're being completely sincere. I believe there is zero temptation going on in her head.
Posted by Mr. J on January 10, 2012 at 2:20 PM · Report this
...not that it would trouble me in the slightest if there were.
Posted by Mr. J on January 10, 2012 at 2:23 PM · Report this
@338 You are the only person in the universe who arouses her? If you (god forbid) died, she would never feel arousal again?
Posted by EricaP on January 10, 2012 at 2:51 PM · Report this
@340 EricaP
It's a one-at-a-time thing, not a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I have no doubt that if I die first she'll move on.
Posted by Mr. J on January 10, 2012 at 2:55 PM · Report this
@341 Ok. I think that's rare, among people with working libidos. Don't have stats though.
Posted by EricaP on January 10, 2012 at 3:10 PM · Report this
@334, I know at least one person (unexpectedly, a man) who claims not to be aroused by people other than his wife. I am sure that they do exist. (After all, since asexuals, who are not aroused by anyone, do exist, why shouldn't there be people who are not aroused by people other than their partners, i.e. strictly monogamic people?)

But I do think those who can be, and indeed are, aroused and thus 'tempted' by others are a majority. Again, I only have the data I mentioned, and it's way too little for conclusions.

I think there should be a special term for such people, to distinguish them from those who do live in sincere, faithful monogamic relationships, but are also occasionally aroused/tempted by other people. The latter are what I usually think when I say 'monogamic people'; the former could perhaps be called 'monocentered people'? (I don't like this word, if someone has a better idea...)
Posted by ankylosaur on January 10, 2012 at 3:17 PM · Report this
monomoniacally monogamous?
very rare?
Posted by EricaP on January 10, 2012 at 4:14 PM · Report this
@322, Azalea Rose, sexuality is always something you should be willing to struggle with, even if you are poly. Just because you are attracted to someone doesn't mean it's always a good idea to act on it. Even if you don't respect the commitments of other relationships, the person you are attracted to could have a history of domestic abuse, substance abuse, illegal activity, or voting Republican. Okay that last one I'm kidding about but the point is that just because you are attracted to someone doesn't mean that person is good for you or that there aren't some very good reasons for saying no. That's not denying your sexuality; it's having standards.

As to your other point, monogamy is not a sexual orientation like being gay or straight. Almost EVERYONE with a high enough sex drive will be sexually attracted to a non-primary partner at one time or another. Monogamy is NOT natural but you know what, neither are my eyeglasses! Monogamy is about choosing not to stray because it takes a lot of effort to be poly and not have the quality of your primary relationship deteriorate. (While being monogam-ish means trying to approach monogamy while being flexible about it by allowing the occasional exception.) I'm not saying a strong poly relationship can't happen. I'm saying it is a huge effort because it's hard to give the same attention to your primary partner when you are infatuated with a new one. And a lot of people do not want to make that effort, nor do they want to worry about what will happen when their primary tries to do that balancing act.
Posted by Diagoras on January 10, 2012 at 5:09 PM · Report this
ankylosaur @343, both groups of people are monogamous. The first group is just much luckier (since it's easy to be monogamous when you aren't tempted in the first place.)
Posted by Diagoras on January 10, 2012 at 5:12 PM · Report this
echizen_kurage 347
@ Erica:

The immunogenicity of Gardasil in older patients may be better than I initially thought, at least according to this article from The Lancet, although the authors do note "an expected trend towards slightly reduced immune responses in the older cohort of women."

Basically, there are two things at play in the reduced efficacy of Gardasil in older patients: one is the increased likelihood that older people will already have contracted one or several of the HPV strains Gardasil protects against; the other is the unfortunate fact that the older you are, the more your immunocompetence declines.

Also, here's another article you may find interesting, about relapsed smokers.

. . . and now I will get back to reading the articles I'm actually supposed to be reading. Bleh.
Posted by echizen_kurage on January 10, 2012 at 8:26 PM · Report this
So have we convinced anyone but the choir that healthy non-monogamous marriages are possible?
Posted by LateBloomer on January 10, 2012 at 10:15 PM · Report this
Okay. Now I know why I missed this thread. I don't know santorum about monogamous relationships.
Posted by auntie grizelda on January 10, 2012 at 10:50 PM · Report this
@347 thanks!
Posted by EricaP on January 10, 2012 at 11:41 PM · Report this
Is this Santorum lawsuit thing a hoax? Dan, will you please address this in your next column?
Posted by presently out on January 10, 2012 at 11:54 PM · Report this
Apologies if I missed someone bringing this up earlier, but nobody DESERVES monogamy. If you want monogamy, it is your responsibility to be awesome enough to be worth it. Just asserting that you DESERVE monogamy is a repugnant enough level of self-aggrandizement to make that same conclusion unlikely by other people.
Posted by bdshfgdifusghk on January 11, 2012 at 7:31 AM · Report this
@ 352, bdshfgdifusghk ;-) : THANK YOU!!!! YOU F'IN NAILED IT ON THE HEAD, MAN! :

To quote you: nobody DESERVES monogamy. If you want monogamy, it is your responsibility to be awesome enough to be worth it..."

Meaning, *WORK FOR WHAT YOU WANT!* Work it! Work hard, have a vision, maintain your heart and soul and just fucking *WORK IT*! Work it out! Make it happen if you want it bad enough!

I do, and I have been! I never thought I would ever find who I did sixteen+years ago... I fall into that category of people most attracted sexually, etc. to their partner.

That's because he's the shit, he's smart as fuck, soulful like Motown, sexy to the point of molten wax orgasmic ecstacy AND he's my very best friend I've ever known.

Monogamy, like anything, is something to be earned to be able to enjoy and make a reality.

But then, I like one awesome person rather than spreading myself thin for whateverthefuckreasons.

I'm Happy, Blessed & So In Love With My B ,')+~+.

Thanks Again bdshfgdifusghk ;)+~+.

Like Minds & Souls Think Alike :-) .

Happy Wednesday ;) .
Peace/Thanks/A Dose Of Warmth & Cool ;-)+~+
Posted by I never get any work done either in here ;-D lol..+~+ on January 11, 2012 at 7:50 AM · Report this
@351: I think it's just a bunch of right wingers, teabaggers, and associated GOP assholes out to raise a media circus to divert us from another illegally bought election attempt.
Posted by auntie grizelda on January 12, 2012 at 8:15 PM · Report this
N. Likes 355
Dan - write the book. It's desperately needed. We have no idea how big our closet is. My wife and I, and a couple we sometimes fuck, joke that anyone who cares about the Oxford comma probably is monogamish. So far, we're batting 1.000 on that hypothesis.
Posted by N. Likes on January 13, 2012 at 6:57 PM · Report this
I guess it is possible to remain monogamous, just because it's your ideal self. I once was married to a lovely woman for 17 years. I never strayed (do lap dances count?) and begged off a couple of nice bedroom invitations from some very sexy women because I thought my marriage vows trumped any temporary pleasures of the moment. My wife was hot beyond belief in bed and we screwed like rabbits. Unfortunately at year 17, I came home to an empty house and a note saying she was leaving me for a younger guy she had been in a relationship with.

Of course, I was disillusioned, hurt badly and felt adrift for a good year before bothering to open the curtains again and let the sunlight back into my life. It's been almost 20 years since she left, and I no longer feel like a stud, secretly wishing I had fucked Carla and Becky afterall.

I still strive for a monogamous relationship, but really believe it goes against the natural scheme of things in one way where men and women are to spread the genes in as wide a broadcast as possible, biologically speaking, in order to assure a diverse and genetically strong species. But, on the other hand, monogamy is much better for couples raising a family (and the relationship) in a stable, safe and loving environment.

Now that the shoe's on the other foot and I'm the guy seeking some solace outside a sexless relationship, I can see where I did not deserve monogamy from my ex-wife in the first place. I was messed up emotionally from a life of endless emergencies and being steeped in the underbelly of the city as people go about their business killing each other. Like a garden, a relationship needs constant attention and nurturing, falter even for a moment and you allow a new weed to take root.

Nowadays, I still like the ideal of a relationship where the bond of love, understanding and caring is so strong that monogamy just is. It's a rare thing and should be celebrated when it happens. Probably about as likely to happen as world peace breaking out these days, I guess.
Posted by ironvic on January 14, 2012 at 10:27 AM · Report this
There's no such thing as "can't" be monogamous, just like there's no such thing as "can't" stop smoking, or drinking, or using. The operative word is "won't." Those are voluntary actions.
Posted by GG1000 on January 20, 2012 at 10:42 PM · Report this
Hey Danny!

They were talking about you on CNN tonite!

by name!

(we know how much you get a hardon about being on CNN....)

Pierce Morgan had on Rick; and the wife and kids
(damn lovely family, we must say.
you know Danny,
you could have married a nice catholic girl and had a houseful of kids as well.....)

So the daughter was saying how she prays for your depraved pathetic soul.

She seemed like such a nice kid, you almost wonder if god would answer her prayers.

PS....oh, hey, Slog fanboys- were your ears burning too?
(and still the yellow discharge?, just kidding!)
Cause Morgan said people who mock the Santorums for how they grieved the loss of their child are first rate assholes.
are you going to let him call you first rate assholes?
Farting Monkeys! to your email!!
Posted by Fame&Fortune on January 20, 2012 at 11:04 PM · Report this
I'm all for folks finding the most correct solution to help create an enjoyable life.

But NOT telling your partner or spouse about your sexual advantage of +1 (as does happen) is wrong. Cheating is not how we are supposed to go through life. If someone cheats and they don't tell the other then the other doesn't have the opportunity to say “yes or no” to continue the relationship.

I understand that the purpose of the article was not to open discussion about cheating but maybe if more of us were more open and forthright with our partners/spouses (from the beginning) the polyamorous measurements and viewpoints would improve.

Then all the reasons to write this article would have never arisen.
Posted by Who_cares_no_really? on February 1, 2012 at 10:57 AM · Report this
IN RESPONSE TO THE RESPONSE: "For the first five years of my marriage, everything was great: lots of sex, both GGG, lots of love. Then my wife's libido failed. Whatever the problem was, she couldn't articulate it....

"So I had a four-year affair without getting caught. Here's how I pulled it off: I never told anyone about it ever, I chose a partner who wanted exactly what I wanted, we didn't film ourselves (as hot as that sounded), we used condoms, I kept my computer clear of any evidence, and we never called or texted each other."

This is a complete misrepresentation of what it means to practice non-monogamy. This is an example of flat-out cheating, and should not be included in this article. There is no honesty, respect, or openness about this person's relationship. This in no way relates to open-relationship, and it makes people who practice open and honest multiple partnerships look like dishonesty is an acceptable part of the dynamic.
Posted by Beanz on February 12, 2012 at 7:50 PM · Report this
Only just discovered this post, linked from Andrew Sullivan, so sorry for late reply.
I wonder what Dan would make of a monogamish relationship where one partner has been essentially forced into an arranged marriage through family and cultural pressures, but wishes to continue his committed emotional relationship with his non-wife. Should the wife's consent be a deal breaker? Any thoughts anyone?
Posted by quazertfrohoghopper on July 2, 2013 at 2:44 AM · Report this

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