Regarding a certain Washington Monthly cover story about a certain sex-advice columnist, Lindsay Beyerstein writes at the Big Think...

Dueholm starts off with a pretty good summary of Savage's recurring themes: Disclosure, autonomy, reciprocity, and a minimum standard of sexual performance. I was surprised at how badly Dueholm misinterprets Savage's views on monogamy. Like Dueholm, I'm a longtime fan of the Savage Love column and the Savage Lovecast—and I think Savage makes his views on the subject pretty clear.

Dueholm sets up his own view of monogamy as the opposite of Savage's:

If there is something to treasure in the old, traumatized ideal of lifelong monogamy, it’s not that it demeans sexual fulfillment. Rather, it’s that monogamy integrates sexual fulfillment with the other good things in life—having someone to pay bills and raise children with, having a refuge both emotional and physical from the rest of the world.

Ironically, Savage could practically have written that sentence.

Savage's main point is not that monogamy is bad, or even unattainable. He just knows that it's hard work for most people. He wants to debunk the myth that if you're a normal person, and you really love your partner, you will never want to have sex with anyone else. Savage wants people to stop torturing themselves because their desires don't line up with an arbitrary social ideal.

As he sees it, there are two ways of dealing with this predicament. You can either embrace monogamy as a difficult but worthwhile project because you like to live that way, or you and your partner(s) can figure out some other arrangement that you like better. The first step is being honest with the people you date and choosing people who want what you want. That's one reason why Savage is always harping on disclosure. It's no longer ethical, or practical, to assume everyone wants the same thing.


Dueholm's vision is actually much bleaker than Savage's. Savage tells his readers that they don't have to buy into every detail of traditional monogamy in order to have that loving, bill-paying, childrearing life partnership, if that's what they want. For example, Savage and his husband are monogamous, apart from an occasional threesome with a mutual friend. This arrangement satisfies their desire for variety and their need for a stable long-term loving relationship. What's bleak about that?


But Terry and I wouldn't describe ourselves as monogamous-apart-from-an-occassional because we wouldn't—couldn't—feel comfortable using the word "monogamous" in reference to ourselves, not even monogamous-with-an-asterisks, because technically we're, you know, not. But we kindasorta hate the term non-monogamous because when a gay couple describes themselves as non-monogamous people—gay and straight—assume a degree of promiscuousness that 1. we wouldn't be comfortable engaging in and 2. we're not actually engaging in. People don't make the same assumption about non-monogamous straight couples because it's generally more difficult for straight people to get laid.

That's why we usually describe our loving, bill-paying, childrearing life partnership as "monogamish." Mostly monogamous but stuff happens. Some other stuff. Sometimes. Not all the times. It's a term that I'd like to popularize.

Our monogamish relationship—and I suspect that we're not the only monogamish couple out there—has allowed us to integrate "sexual fulfillment with the other good things in life" quite nicely, thanks.