You're not sending steamy letters to your guys on the side, right? Being discreet and respectful and safe?
Keep on keeping on.

If either of the other women finds out, send her this letter and tell her you won't see her husband until they can work it out. The men might be in one of those 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' situations without realizing it because the wife wants to pretend she's in a monogamous relationship.
What does PE stand for?
Horny local college men? NSMFA is a little outside the hookup-generation window, but that's no reason she can't get her cougar on.
advice: find new fuck buddies that don't make you feel weird.
@2 PE usually means premature ejaculation.
I don't like her. She is seeing married men who are cheaters and cowards. When I was a teenager I caught my father cheating. To my mother and everyone that knew him he was this pillar of morality, a staunch Catholic, so admirable. I knew better. Despicable coward. Men like this make me sick. I never exposed him. I should have.
I don't even know what this means:

I've spent enough time wishing I fell somewhere on the lesbian spectrum so I could find complete satisfaction at home, but alas, my body wants a fully functioning and capable man.

Is she equating being totally sexually satisfied from masturbation with sex toys with lesbianism? I've never heard THAT one before.
@6 Nothing like projecting your own history onto someone you've never met, eh?
Yo Dan: As a monogamist I think if couples talk and want to take other lovers that is their choice and can do what they want. But I don't think they should do it in secret, if they do it because they know one spouse has a problem get a divorce. I would tell her to keep looking she should find someone who wants to be open down the road.
@2 PE is premature ejaculation. What I suppose she means by "practically impotent" is that he ejaculates and goes soft before he can put his dick to good use. It's usually a psychological issue I think. Reccommendations include training yourself through masturbation and allowing yourself, and your partner allowing you, to continue sexual activity after ejaculation. One of the things it requires is not a lot of pressure. My amateur impression is that the LW is uhm, a tad tightly wound? "Don't tell me this, don't tell me that!"

The internet may be her friend in this case. Lay out what you want online and make a note that you are only looking for single guys. Try a few on for size and see if you can keep any. You're right that you are in unethical territory. At minimum, your boyfriends ought to get their wives to agree to an open relationship, even if they don't admit they've actually been in one all this time. The chances they do that are rather low unless you make access to you contingent on their acting with integrity.
I think she meant "ED," and typed "PE" by mistake. I changed it. I should've caught that.
@6- Oh the hypocrisy, oh the hypocrisy. Half the country loves it and lives by it, the other half is driven crazy by it. Sloggers are mostly the latter, it seems.
Since she endured a dozen years being miserable and depressed without complaining ("I didn't even have to ask"), she may be someone who often finds it hard to talk about what she wants. Do her lovers even know that their dishonesty bothers her?

I recommend that she encourage her lovers to start a slow process of introducing the idea of open marriage to their wives. The topic of non-monogamy is in the news, related to gay marriage and to Dan's meteoric rise in prominence. It shouldn't be too hard to raise the idea, say that it's an interesting concept, get a book or two on the subject, etc. It's all very well for her to think of herself as "marriage-saving-device," but the wives should be given the opportunity to have authentic marriages (like NSMFA), not marriages built on lies and betrayal.
NSMFA: do a google search for poly community in your area and become involved in it. That's about the only thing I can think of to help you find more openly poly folks.

Other than that... there's always OkCupid...
NSMFA needs to find lovers who aren't cheating on their spouses. Full stop. Great for her that she found a monogamish happy medium on her side, but totally unfair to the oblivious other wives.
It's annoying that she seems to blame her husband for 12 years of misery, when she didn't ask for the solution. She's making us ladies look bad with the whole, "But you should've known to ask!" thing.

But yeah--if the guys won't come out to their wives, find different lovers. Duh.
@ 6 -

Isn't she trying to do the right thing here? She wants to find a fuck buddy who is open with his spouse about the situation, so she doesn't have to be party to a betrayal. Sure, it's in ambiguous place now, but she's making an effort to move beyond. Give her a break. Besides, YOU helped keep an infidelity secret yourself. Maybe your regrets and her misgivings are not so different.
what the hell is up with all these people who suffer for years and years and years before taking action? This letter writer says she was miserable for 12 years (and the resentment comes through loud and clear), but then her husband came up with the idea that she could get a bf. She never asked for what she wanted - even though there is a history of GGG openness in her marriage! - so she needs to take responsibility for a good part of her own misery. Same thing for the guy who was whining about his celibate marriage of 18 years.

Add in that this lady has been seeing her boyfriends for 1.5 years and 3 years, and only now is worrying about the integrity of dating guys with wives who don't know? She doesn't say that she's willing to cut them loose over their non-disclosure, just that she is saving their marriages by being complicit in their affairs and that it's soooooo harrrrrd for her to find someone else in an open relationship. Sounds like she's just looking for validation, in the same way many letter writers looking to open up their marriages without involving their spouse do (even though her problem is not with her husband).

Also, I think you're looking past the trees for the forest here, Dan. I'd hardly call this an ideal scenario for what you are championing, which is open communication in marriage and life (and which I support). As @13 alluded to, NSMFA seems to have issues with communication. I find it interesting that it was actually the husband who suggested she go down this path, while she stewed in silence for 12 years. And now she can't even tell her lovers about her mixed feelings about what they are doing. It's not fair to thumb your nose at your critics with this example.
NSMFA should get onto OKCupid. There are plenty of single men out there looking for NSA or not-so-serious sexual relationship, and her being married can be seen as an advantage in that market.
@15 - NSMFA is hardly "monogamish."

In fact, there barely seems to be a real marriage anymore between her and her husband. Their sex together is unsatisfying, at least to her, and probably to him too, since she doesn't seem very interested in understanding what turns him on. What happened a dozen years ago when she said "ok, I'll try it" in response to his admission that he liked being submissive in bed?
Oh absolutely, Erica. There are some real big issues at play here.
I think she's being sarcastic when she says she suffered in silence for 12 years, people.
I think she should try a swing site....Adultfriendfinder or lifestylelounge are both national. She should be very honest and specific about who she is and what she wants in her profile. There are lots of couples in the lifestyle that would be open to this situation. (I know because I'm in such a relationship). Nobody gets hurt, nobody feels guilty, and everyone's happier. (Follow all the advice that Dan gives about meeting strangers from the internet!)
@19 - Where is Dan "thumbing his nose" here? He isn't condoning the situation or even commenting on it one way or the other (he's asking us to do that) but just pointing out that monogamy is difficult and complicated and that quite a few people are unaware that the relationships they treasure may not be as monogamist as they think.....
Hey, Erica P? Will you send me an email?
To start: I feel like I just want to repost the same comment I made yesterday (…)

But @19 and @18 (and to some extent @12) hits it on the head. The FIRST advice she needs, from which all the rest might follow, is to actually talk with her partners about her, thoughts, feelings, and concerns with everyone concerned. Use this shakeup as a sign that communication is a good thing. Change your paradigm; you did not "earn" your open relationships by martyrly suffering for 12 years, you got it because your husband communicated talked to you about it. Just like he talked to you about his BDSM penchant, and now he gets to do it. And especially with the new partners, use the leverage you have to either force the integrity issue or (easily) find other partners who will be more open.

An aside: Can anyone find the problem with this line of logic?
"And don't tell me there are alternatives (oral, manual, toys), because all of those are just not the same for me. I've spent enough time wishing I fell somewhere on the lesbian spectrum so I could find complete satisfaction at home."
So I guess my question is: "How do I set up a situation with more integrity when the world isn't really ready for people like me?"

Stop fucking guys with oblivious wives. Start fucking guys who are unattached or who have understanding partners. Yeah, I know you "would love to find someone in an honest open relationship, but this has so far eluded me." Keep trying. There are only a few people who have any business knowing what you do in the bedroom: your spouse, your partners, and your partners' partners (if any). Once you get the clearance from all of them, you're completely above board.

Look NSMFA, if you want to set up your situation with more integrity, you're going to have to show more integrity yourself. If that means going without sex while you look for an appropriate lover, then you go without sex for a while. Integrity is defined by enduring hardship, not by taking the easy way out.
@26 the email is in your inbox.

(ooh, ooh, guys - look, he wrote me!!!
- Starstruck EricaP)
So has she given up on sex with the husband? "Sorry, honey, you're basically impotent, and nothing your body can do for me can please me." I know he gave her permission and all that, but I'd love to know if the husband still has sexual needs, and if they are being met. Maybe they are happy being co-parents and sleeping with other people, but she does seem rather harsh about her husband's sexual abilities.
Agreed with 18, 19, and 27.

"So my husband gives me his "blessing" to take a lover. I didn't even have to ask! I just needed to be miserable and depressed for a dozen years!"

Dear NSMFA, please do not let your lovers or your husband dictate 100% of the rules for your relationships anymore. There is nothing sexy about suffering in silence while your resentment grows. If you are unhappy, change it. Dump the lovers and find younger men who aren't married yet. Or tell your lovers that unless they disclose to their wives, you're moving on. Or sleep in the bed you made. But you have only yourself to blame for this outcome. These are not the days when women were sold to men and it was called a "marriage." Speak up for your damn self.
NSMFA, it isn't really THAT hard to find honest open relationships. You just have to not accept the ones that aren't honest, and MOVE THE FUCK ON FROM THEM. Try some online dating sites, and specify that you want to have an open and honest secondary relationship.

Maybe go out with the guy and his partner/spouse before you're banging him.
@6 whoa-someone really needs to see a psychiatrist. There is quite obviously a LOT of pent-up rage over your father's infidelity. Unless he was an asshole whose job was contingent on his "upstanding family values" or was someone who tried to impress that view on other people (thus making him a despicable hypocrite like half the republican party) I honestly don't see who he was hurting other than you- and you were only hurt because you accidentally caught him.

I feel that this trauma may be poisoning your view on a lot of things. Your response was simply way too harsh on this woman and it's clear your speaking from a place very far away from calm rational thinking.
Man, I feel bad for that husband. Is there NO place in the world to be understanding about a spouse's medical problems? I'm all for sexual satisfaction when it can be obtained, but it sounds like the husband's been as GGG as he's physically able and his wife still sounds awfully resentful.
Seems obvious. She ought to hire some male sex workers, and also get her husband to lick her slit more.
@21 - Sex isn't the only thing that holds up a marriage. In fact, once the idea of strict monogamy is set aside, there HAS to be more to your marriage than just sex. It could be that, outside of sex, their marriage is wonderful - they're great friends, reliable companions, have lots in common, and are great at raising their kids together. Why end it when she can have her needs met elsewhere?

To your point about the BDSM, her husband was asking her to be dominant, and for some people that's just outside their temperament. Some people try it and find that they're great at it (or satisfactory), and some people don't have an aptitude for it at all. They're GGG and try their hardest, but they just can't do it. That's another situation of, "if its something so small, why break up?," especially when she's ok with him getting his needs met elsewhere.
@28: Ditto.
It's interesting that she seems to have this problem as a woman. I'm younger, but my experience has definitely been that men are perfectly willing to fuck a woman in an open relationship, whereas women are more likely to turn down a guy once they find out he has a partner, even if it's open. Though of course there are exceptions on both sides.

I second everyone saying USE THE INTERNET. And if she really cares about her relationships being honest, then be willing to go without for a little while. It's certainly easier to fuck men behind their wives' backs, and it's not the end of the world if she keeps doing what she's doing, but there are guys out there for her. She just has to choose between satisfaction-right-now-whenever-I-want-it and honest relationships/partners that might be slightly rarer (again, as a woman on the internet, they shouldn't be hard to find).
I have yet to understand how these example letters are supposed to be any threat to some people's love for and enjoyment of monogamy. #15 has it exactly right: find a lover who isn't cheating on a spouse. The oblivious other spouses deserve to have an honest relationship, and you're playing a part in deceiving them. Why on earth is this supposed to be a good thing? It's repugnant that this woman is patting herself on the back for "saving" two marriages. If my husband were one of her lovers, I'd prefer to be spared from being unknowingly trapped in a false relationship! At least she is bothered by the lack of integrity involved--that's a good sign. So go find a lover who is actually free to love you, or willing to tell his spouse.

And Dan, what is wrong with you, that you flaunt this letter as an example of how some people who think they are so happy in their beautiful, deep, meaningful monogamous relationships are just living a lie without knowing it? Does that not strike you as tragic, as opposed to something to chortle about? In your face, idiots--maybe you're being cheated on and don't even know it! Maybe your parents cheated! Maybe all those things you cherish about your relationship are a lie, so there! Wow, you will really have showed us then. Meanwhile, all the people who really do have beautiful, deep, and meaningful monogamous relationships will go on having them, regardless of your lack of understanding or appreciation for what that is.
To answer her question, she could start by being honest with both her lovers AND their spouses about her relationships with them.

If you claim to be monogamous but are actually getting some on the side, you're not monogamous. And your degree of honesty is the difference between being a cheater, and being in an open relationship.
@33 The point I was trying to make is that Dan was saying the ideal monogamous relationships we're always hearing about rarely even exist in reality. Cheaters are the reality. And cheaters, in my book, are dishonest at best. And dishonest posing as pious at worst.
@23 -I reread it and true, she doesn't say she was languishing for the entire 12 years, but the resntment toward her husband still shines throughout the letter. but is it any better if she was suffering from physical neglect for less time? Cause that would just mean hubby picked up on it sooner and addressed it. Still means that she was stewing about her terrible sex life and not doing anything about it.

Bottom line is that this chick has serious communication issues and should be addressing that before finding her next boyfriend.
Oh, and Dan? My dad DID cheat, my parents divorced over it, but that sure as shit doesn't mean that I or my partner will cheat.
What is the evidence, exactly, that "the ideal monogamous relationships we're always hearing about rarely even exist in reality", and that "cheaters are the reality"? Too often I see this premise used to argue that monogamy is therefore just some pipe dream we should get over, and at the very least it shouldn't be a norm or expectation. Rather, everyone is either like the two wives in this letter--falsely believing themselves to have a special, exclusive relationship--or actually a cheater. Baloney, I don't buy it. The studies I've seen don't support that conclusion. And I don't understand why you need to push that conclusion to argue in favor of non-monogamy! Open relationships are wonderful when people can agree to them. They are just as preferable to cheating as monogamy is. For all of my dating life, I wanted to have open relationships, and I totally sympathize with how hard that is to accomplish. I can't even imagine the difficulties of working out a marriage where that's the rule, in our society in particular. But the difficulty doesn't mean we have to trash monogamy, then.
" So I guess my question is: "How do I set up a situation with more integrity when the world isn't really ready for people like me?""

How hard is it to stop fucking married men whose partners don't know? If you've got multiple lovers right now, chances are you can find another who is able to meet your needs and isn't willing to lie to everyone involved (and possibly you, about things you don't yet know about.)
Monogamy can be hard, communication can be even harder. You can't expect to get what you want if you can't ask for it and aren't willing to work for it. Don't settle if something is a deal breaker, and with the rest, just deal. Isn't this basic "how to be an adult" stuff?

And when the world isn't ready for people like you, you choose. Live your life in such a way that, someday, it will be. Think Rosa Parks, MLK, Harvey Milk . . . Dan Savage, or any of the rest of us who are doing the right thing, if somewhat more quietly. Or don't, but then you can't bitch! Not easy? No shit.
@39 Dan's argument usually runs more: "Monogamy is hard. Maybe if we admit that monogamy is hard we can figure out a way to keep our relationships, because saying 'it's easy, what's wrong with you' doesn't seem to be working."

These posts are usually examples of people saying "why isn't this easy?" and Dan asks "if we don't tell this person 'monogamy is hard' what do we tell them instead?"

at least, that's my interpretation. But if you think he's saying what you say he's saying why the heck do you read his stuff? Do you like being deliberately made unhappy?
Suzy @39 - I enjoy your posts, and your perspective on these issues. They are very good counter-points, to be sure.

The point Dan is making (or the point I took from this and agree with) is that lifetime monogamy is really rare. Way more rare than what is reported, which is surprising considering that monogamous marriages are held up as the default/ideal.

Dan hears a lot of moralizing (not from you per se) about how many people succeed at monogamy. They point to their grandparents lifelong monogamous commitment and glamorize these things without realizing there is a better than even chance it is a big illusion. He is giving two examples of people who would otherwise falsely inflate the statistics/perception of monogamy in action.

And because lifetime monogamy really doesn't happen as often as is perceived, maybe we as society can ratchet down the rhetoric on how monogamy comes natural for most. So that when people screw up, which many will do (whether they are "caught" or not) it doesn't have to be seen as the death sentence to an otherwise successful marriage and the destruction of the children's homes. That makes Dan Savage much more of a family values "think of the children" messenger than most give him credit for.

Its not an attack on your relationship. Its an attack on those who perpetuate the myth that monogamy is so widely practiced successfully.
I don't know what this letter has to do with monogamy.

This woman is forced, FORCED, into having sex with men who are cheating on their wives because she just can't find any single men who would be interested in NSA relationships on the Internet though she's tried SO HARD? Yeah, that's us single men who'd be interested in NSA relationships. Rare, almost like unicorns, we are.
@48 I am not aware of any society in history, ever, that interpreted "monogamy" as meaning "lifetime monogamy." They all interpreted it as meaning serial monogamy. There were/are some that defined marriage as monogamy until "death do us part", but that's still serial monogamy for the survivor, and for the most part those societies had life expectancies of somewhere around 35 years. (And those societies did not, in general, have social welfare for the children, or effective means of enforcing child support orders, so banning husbands from leaving their children was their crude way of trying to ensure legal support for parental care.)

The only realistic interpretation of "monogamy" for humans is "serial monogamy." Interpreting "monogamy" as "lifetime monogamy" is a straw man.
@ 36, Collin, EricaP has been pretty open about her own marriage--especially over the last week or so, when the monogamy discussion began here. While trying not to speak for her too much, she's written about how her marriage has changed over the last year, and her decision to keep working on it despite challenges.

My guess is that when she's talking about *this* marriage being over, she's referring to the resentment and lack of communication and honesty. I believe EricaP knows good and well that there's a lot more to a marriage than sexual compatibility.
@39 – Wow, you packed a lot of assumptions in one paragraph.

“these example letters are supposed to be any threat to some people's love for and enjoyment of monogamy”

Umm, they’re not? You seem to have overlooked Dan’s love of punny catch-phrases and the distinction he likes to make between Monogamoust and MonogaMUSTs. The question wasn’t addressed to people who love and enjoy monogamy, it was addressed to people who insist everyone must, too (which, I note, you do not in your post). I don’t think I’ve ever read Dan threaten people who arrive at the honest and thoughtful conclusion that monogamy is what they want, only those who assume its intrinsic superiority.

I'd prefer to be spared from being unknowingly trapped in a false relationship!

It’s a huge jump from sexual infidelity to the whole relationship is false, or specifically that a cheating spouse is false in everything related to the relationship. The whole point of nonmonogamy is that sex isn’t core of a healthy relationship, but sexual unhappiness (including unhappiness that your spouse wants sex with someone else) can poison everything else that is good. You can be deeply in love, best friends, devoted parents, materially interdependent and reliable and incredibly effective partners, all with or without monogamy. For true.

Maybe all those things you cherish about your relationship are a lie, so there!

Really, all the things you cherish about your relationship are sexual monogamy? Nothing else is true?
@6: Vince, it's really unfortunate you discovered your father infidelities as a kid. It must have been extremely difficult to process that information and keep it secret.

Based on my experience, if you had discovered this information as an adult, you might have arrived at a different understanding of your father and his behavior.
Am I really the only one who read this letter and thought, "Well, have you ever tried not being a passive-aggressive, self-absorbed, resentful cow? That might be why you can only find cowardly, cheating assholes to fuck you."
Wouldn't her two lovers qualify as what Dan calls "Cheating Pieces of Shit"? If she feels uncomfortable with these arrangements, she should end them and find other lovers. Go online and meet other people who are also in open marriages.

And maybe this makes me a puritanical prude, but I still have a difficult time seeing a mistress or series of secret affairs as a "marriage-saving-device". Can a secret kept from one spouse honestly be praised for saving a marriage, especially when its revelation could potentially destroy the marriage?
@52: Actually, I do get the impression from Dan that he thinks that monogamy of any sort is unrealistic. I've listened to him talk about Sex at Dawn.

It's all very well to say that "sex isn't core of a healthy relationship", but my reality (it may well be different for other people) is that if sex is on the table, that context changes everything else about the relationship. So, yes, I'd say sex is core to a healthy sexual relationship. If either party wants to take the sex out, that's fine, but everything else will have to be renegotiated.

As for cheating spouses, in my world someone who lies to me and cynically manipulates me isn't someone I'd describe as a "best friend" or someone I'd describe as being "devotedly in love" with me, and just like Suzy I'd strongly prefer not to be in a relationship of any sort with such a person. There's a world of difference between open relationships/polyamory and cheating.
East Coast Douglas:
Yes, I see the "monogaMUST" thing, but Dan also addresses this example to "monogamists" in general who think they have some deep, beautiful, meaningful monogamous relationship, which could in fact be a lie. Well, so could all of our relationships, including the non-monogamous ones in which people believe their partners are truly okay with it. But if there's someone failing in a non-monogamous relationship, either due to cheating or because they don't really want that set-up, is that supposed to reflect poorly on all non-monogamous relationships? I doubt Dan thinks so, but that's the way he treats monogamy.

Next, you say that it's "a huge jump from sexual infidelity to the whole relationship is false, or specifically that a cheating spouse is false in everything related to the relationship." I said "false relationship", not "false in everything". But okay, the more important point is that YOU may not think infidelity is such a big deal, but I do. That's my choice. I get that Dan thinks it shouldn't be a dealbreaker, but infidelity for me is a dealbreaker. Just as I don't judge him as wrong for having sex with people other than his husband, I don't think he should judge me as wrong because I give and ask for fidelity as a basic condition in the marriage. I might add that if my husband took all my money and lied about it, or did other things that were grand-scale dishonest, I'd feel the same way. It's not about the sex so much as the trust.

It's also absurd for you to suggest that, "all the things you cherish about your relationship are sexual monogamy? Nothing else is true?" I said nothing of the sort. I'm talking about Dan's claim that monogamists who think they have a "beautiful, deep, meaningful" relationship might just be mistaken. There's a difference between "all those things" and everything there is about the relationship, but beat the straw man if you gotta, I guess.
You know, I'm not sure I agree with a lot of people on here. One thing is that she never said these guys were "boyfriends"- they're her "lovers." To me, that's a less crude way of saying fuckbuddies, in which case, I don't think their marriages are any of her damn business, really. If she feels bad about it, yeah, I think she should get out. But I think these guys are probably going to be CPOS whether she's the one they're screwing or not. I mean, really, does anyone think that they'd just give up and not try for anyone else if she wasn't fucking anyone? Because I don't. If all else failed, they'd probably be seeing sex workers. I don't think it's okay for the guys to be cheating on their wives, but they didn't write this letter, she did.

Also, about all the single guys who supposedly want NSA deals: I've found that a lot of times, those are a lot more trouble than they're worth. A lot of those guys think they want an NSA deal and then when they've got one, it turns out they actually want to upgrade. And since she's happily married aside from the sex, she absolutely doesn't want that to happen. At least with married guys, they're extremely unlikely to want to leave their wives for her and so her relationship is probably safe.
do we got hard stats on cheating or are we estimating here?
Regarding her 'lesbian spectrum' remark, my guess is that she meant that she really likes penis-in-vagina sex, that warm cock attached to an actual man is important to her. The other stuff (oral/manual/toys), while fun, is not enough for her. Seeing as that 'other stuff' is usually sufficient for most lesbians to happily get off, that somehow got filed under 'lesbian spectrum' for her. While a bit of an odd choice of words, I see her point.

As a lesbian (although not speaking for *all* lesbians, of course), I'm not bothered or offended by her terminology.
Collin@36 – okay, yes, they may have a great companionate marriage. It doesn't shine through in her letter. Maybe it's her intro that gives me the feeling she and her husband don't get along well. The details of her intro don't fit well with the details of the rest of the letter, but she sure sounds bitter, like she feels guilty but wants to put blame on her husband for not meeting her needs.

@50, I think you're missing 48's point. It's not a contrast between lifetime monogamy (just one partner ever) versus serial monogamy. It's that situations which look like monogamy (serial or otherwise) may not be, because the people involved don't tell everyone their secrets.

@51 thanks!

@52 "It’s a huge jump from sexual infidelity to the whole relationship is false, or specifically that a cheating spouse is false in everything related to the relationship."
Maybe for you. I think most people are not able to say "oh, he had a long-term secret lover, but he kept me informed of his favorite books, his work gossip, and his relationship with his mother, so I won't care about the sexual betrayal." I'm with Suzy @57 – lying about sex is like lying about major money issues – they would both be "grand-scale dishonest[y]" and unacceptable if they continued for long.
Monogamy is celebrated because it is hard, Dan, but that's no reason to be jealous of it.
@62: Ah, the "you jelly?" response. A CLEVER RETORT.
@50 - "Serial monogamy" in the contemporary sense is not at all what monogamy is supposed to mean in religions that prescribe monogamy. Surely you know that Christian dogma equates divorce with adultery. And there are many cultures where widows have traditionally not been allowed to remarry. In some they must black their whole lives. In at least one that I know of (Bengal) they are not allowed to eat meat, lentils, and a whole slew of other things: in effect they slowly die of starvation since they're not allowed to eat protein.

Silvio Levy
@64: And in other cultures widows are required to remarry into their late husband's family, often to his brother. The idea is to ensure that the husband's line goes on, and/or to ensure that widows and their children be provided for. Hell, that practice is even codified in the Bible.…
@64 we're not talking about simply a religious sense.
Craig's List. Worked for me and my husband, first try. You can find anything on Craig's list.
EricaP, congrats! (I find your posts here to be very worthwhile, by the way.)
Freud can be a bitch on the subconscious...
""How do I set up a situation with more integrity when the world isn't really ready for people like me?""

Make an honest woman of yourself.

Start turning tricks on the street for money.
So Danny, how do you know Terri doesn't cheat without your permission?

What is to keep someone in a monogamish relationship from being a cheating POS?

Just something to keep in mind, monogamishists, before you hit "send" on your posts about your beautiful, deep, and meaningful monogamish relationships.....
Nobody is gonna respond to 69, 70, and 71 right? It's just a troll. With enough silence he will eventually die, or at least go back to his cave.

People who want honest, open discussion and debate should be welcomed, but trolls should be shot on site.
And I realize I'm partially feeding the troll, but I've seen too many people respond to him.

I'm trying to save you all. Like Paul Revere when he was ringing those bells and shooting those warning shots and warning the British that they were not gonna come and take our guns and freedom and our right to read all the magazines and newspapers that warn us about when Putin rears his head so we can snipe him from our bathroom window.

Ahh, references. You're welcome.

I am someone who has come to the realization that my father cheated on my mom 30+ years after the fact. While I better understand the why, I don't forgive his sanctimonious spiel of being upright, uptight, and white in his inferences of moral superiority. And I don't forgive the emotional vacuum that came out of his withdrawal from his family apart from his wife. In retrospect, it was yet another way-station in the trail of emotional bleakness that I now recognize from my childhood (and am fighting to overcome for the benefit of my wife and kids). What is worse is I have no way to verify my suppositions except to involve my sibs. So far spreading the misery around hasn't seemed to thin it any.

As for NSFMA, can you pick up the pieces for your married partners in the instance the spouses decide to cry foul? If I am right about one of my father's infidelities, the emotional vacuum we went through was very obvious, at the time I just didn't know why my Dad wasn't with us (except physically). It would also help explain my Mom's rage at me.

Isn't saying you fall somewhere on the lesbian spectrum because you enjoy oral/manual/toy sex sort of like saying you must be a gay dude if you like anal? By which I mean, screwed up?
@75 the wishing that she fell on the lesbian spectrum was a reference to being satisfied with sex that doesn't include cock. I don't think it's screwed up at all, probably because I agree with her. Toys, manual, oral--all are high on my list of favored activities, but no substitute for the real deal for me.
Seems simple to me -- get a divorce and join, disclosing all of your idiosyncrasies. There's someone for everyone.
The bad news is that I'm not happy with the integrity of these situations. I know that what I am doing is considered despicable by many people, despite the fact that I'm probably a marriage-saving-device for both of these women.

Her conclusion here, that she is "probably a marriage-saving-device" for the wives of these two cheating husbands, is interesting. I'm sure they've told her the things cheating husbands typically say: my wife isn't interested in sex anymore, etc.

I would love to find someone in an honest open relationship, but this has so far eluded me.

There must be plenty of single men out there interested in having sex with a married woman who has been given the green light by her husband. But I don't think the letter-writer is interested in them. If she was, she would have found one. I think she prefers married men.
Don't know if she prefers married men . . . maybe that's just what fell into her lap, so to speak. Possibly she just hasn't looked very hard for a single dude, or a series of single dudes. She says it's 'eluded her', but doesn't say how deeply she sought.
[I recommend that she encourage her lovers to start a slow process of introducing the idea of open marriage to their wives. The topic of non-monogamy is in the news, related to gay marriage and to Dan's meteoric rise in prominence. It shouldn't be too hard to raise the idea, say that it's an interesting concept, get a book or two on the subject, etc. It's all very well for her to think of herself as "marriage-saving-device," but the wives should be given the opportunity to have authentic marriages (like NSMFA), not marriages built on lies and betrayal.]

Ms Erica - I like the idea in principle, but I'm not sure how it will play out. Say a wife agrees in principle that they can try it - the husband is then hardly going to mention the LW and his already having had the ongoing affair with her, is he? Breaking up until there's permission might be an improvement, but still isn't ideal. Then again, what is?

I have a tiny quibble about gay marriage (and by implication those same-sex couples for whom a great part of the reason for wanting to marry is to stake a personal claim in the monogamy model) being invoked by a cheater in order to get his wife to agree to an open marriage that he's already having. By all means, though, invoke Mr Savage, who presumably will approve.
@80, yes, in the unlikely event that she asked her lovers to raise the idea of an open marriage with their wives, and the even unlikelier event that her lovers agreed to do so, and the even-more-than-that unlikely event that the conversation about having an open marriage went well... Yes, after all that, I would recommend to the lovers that they 'fess up about the affair, but also about each other, and about how NSMFA's husband is okay with it... all to show that NSMFA is not a specific threat to either lover's marriage.

Can't get a fresh start and an authentic reality-based marriage unless you confess the lies and achieve forgiveness. Not saying that's an easy task, though.
As a married woman in a long term affair with a married man we feel that a side effect of the affair is letting ourselves enjoy our marriages without feeling bitter about what we are missing at home. We have tried to stop several times but are left with a sense of emptiness. And so we resume and have crazy monkey sex without emotional attachment, and go home contented and spread that contentedness around our house. As they say- if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

And this is fine until some months down the road one of us feels guilty and we begin the cycle again.

I love the expression 'fuck my brains out.' But my brain has been conditioned by society to conform to some unnatural things like monogomy.

The affair is enhancing our lives but the guilt isn't.
As a married woman in a long term affair with a married man we feel that a side effect of the affair is letting ourselves enjoy our marriages without feeling bitter about what we are missing at home. We have tried to stop several times but are left with a sense of emptiness. And so we resume and have crazy monkey sex without emotional attachment, and go home contented and spread that contentedness around our house. As they say- if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

And this is fine until some months down the road one of us feels guilty and we begin the cycle again.

I love the expression 'fuck my brains out.' But my brain has been conditioned by society to conform to some unnatural things like monogomy.

The affair is enhancing our lives but the guilt isn't.
79/clashfan, even if the two married men did just fall into her lap, she could've met a single guy (or two or three) if she tried. I doubt she sought single guys very deeply, if at all.

83/tantragal: As a married woman in a long term affair with a married man we feel that a side effect of the affair is letting ourselves enjoy our marriages without feeling bitter about what we are missing at home.

I'm curious how you know what the guy's situation is at home. Based on what he tells you? Do you think married men who cheat always (or even usually) tell the truth about what their marriage is like?
If she's not happy with her lovers, she can seek lovers, perhaps in the swing community. She could try the poly community. Some poly people are into casual sex flings, so even though NSMFA is emotionally monogamous, she might find what she wants there.
Ms Erica - Interesting. I agree that it does seem to piling unlikelihood upon unlikelihood. From my own perspective, assuming whatever were being confessed were something I'd not have countenanced (therefore not outside partners, as I've always been willing to accept one-sided fidelity) I think I'd prefer the confession first. If the discussion and my theoretical agreement came first, I'd be so much more furious about being tricked than about whatever I'd agreed we could try that the damage would likely be greater and harder to repair.

Or would my inner Miss Marple figure it all out before the end of the third sentence? I should hope so.
@80 and @81 - I was in that situation and it went about as well as you could expect, meaning badly. I was in grad school, single, morally bankrupt, etc., hooked up with married friend, we had a lot of stereotypical cheating sex ("she won't do this for me, so you're awesome because you will"), he sought permission from his wife without telling her we'd already been together, she granted it (and specifically for him to have sex with me) and then it went haywire. She got controlling of the affair (he was supposed to have sex with me but not tell me that she was okay with it), he freaked out and told her about the whole thing, she freaked out and started calling me to scream at me at 4 am.....etc. It was Bad News. And it taught me some very valuable lessons.

First, basically, if you want to have integrity, don't fuck married people unless both spouses are in agreement beforehand. Second, unless everyone agrees to the mind games, mind games are a huge warning sign. Third, see number one.

Also, EricaP, I totally love you. Go you.
@87 - you're right. Confession first, then mutual education about how to do it right. Much better idea, don't know what I was thinking.

@88 - kisses!
There are a hell of a lot of medical options for ED these days that she didn't even mention - permanent splints, for instance. If PIV sex is crucial to her enjoyment, a splint would be one solution. Extenders, prostheses, etc. There ARE solutions, if you actually want to find them.

For myself, I will not have sex with someone in a relationship whose partner is not aware and accepting. I do not need that kind of drama in my life. Not only do I not want some scorned wife showing up on my doorstep with a .45, I also do not want to be responsible for causing trauma in someone else's marriage. For me, that's a hard limit. Even someone who claims they have a DADT policy with their spouse is out (most of those, in my experience, have proven to be either cheating or in denial about just how much their spouse "accepts" their extracurricular activities).

If she's having trouble finding lovers who aren't CPOS types, she needs to start seeking out the local poly community. Nearly every major metropolitan area has some sort of regular poly potluck or similar get-togethers. The lifestyle (swinger) community might also be an appropriate place to look, especially if she just wants lovers, not boyfriends.
@85: Why the repeated insistence that married men are generally lying?
The LW is prone to at least a few extremely common fallacies believed by affair partners. E.g. he only lies to his spouse, I'm helping their marriage, his vows are solely his concern, etc. I recommend reading chapter 12 of Dr. Shirley Glass's book "Not Just Friends" for a more complete perspective. Heck, she should read the whole book, decide whether she wants to participate in the trauma inflicted on these men's wives, and make better choices next time. CPOS are CPOS and you shouldn't sleep with them.
I must also add my love for EricaP! I've been thinking about you a lot. Hang tough.
@91 many married people looking for sex outside their marriage are lying to either their spouse or their new prospects, or both.

To be more precise about what I've observed - some guys can host, and some guys can't ever host. So far, I haven't met a guy who couldn't host, and who had a plausible reason. Their stories always involve me not talking to the wife. It's true that people may be in DADT marriages. But since that is conveniently indistinguishable from cheating, and comes with the hassle of them being unable to host, I won't get involved with them. (Unless we meet at a conference, and he turns me on, and my horniness leads me to give him the benefit of the doubt when we head upstairs to his room or mine during a boring session :-)

@93 love you!
@94: Having kids isn't a plausible reason?
I get that people lie about having their spouse's permission... I just don't see why the assumption is that when a guy who's cheating says he's missing something at home and unhappy, he's lying about that.

@93/94: Love you both too and hope you're doing great!
Wow everybody, I just noticed DS blogged my letter. I really appreciate all the comments and am fascinated by the whole topic and the complex issues that are raised. It is hard to respond to every point but I will say Dan was right about me being sarcastic about the 12 years of misery (and that PE is premature ejaculation) It WAS hard, I DID get depressed and it DID NOT occur to me to do anything other than to keep trying within my marriage to figure it out. But my husband and I always worked toward open communication and while I can't say I was never for a moment resentful, I can say I think we did pretty well talking about and plodding through these very, very difficult issues and for this I am proud of us. We have now been successful partners for 22 years in business and parenting while remaining best friends. And don't you all worry about his sex life! He is very well taken care of. On the issue of "find a single guy...." Won't a single guy fall in love or want more or want to fall in love with someone eventually? That means you are really talking about a series of single guys which means many partners over the coming years (if I'm lucky) and if the goal is to feel physically comfortable and have something that approaches a "normal" sex life in terms of frequency. Many partners just seems a physically, emotionally and logistically unsustainable option. I was looking for longer term solutions. Polyamory would be of much more interest but, as one respondent notes, more easily found in major metro areas where I am not. Also, I still have children at home and I can't see how we can make such a wholesale change in lifestyle at the moment. The idea of getting the blessing from the wives has been discussed and will be continued to be discussed. I can't be happier to have the conversation going more national every day thanks to DS and others.
I want to thank everyone for their comments, positive and negative. Of course I don't want to be hated but life is not ideal. We make mistakes. We try things. Things evolve in ways we never expect. I'm going to keep working on it, hopefully with like-minded, compassionate, caring people and the discussion can move forward one healthy relationship at a time.
@96 - thanks for writing in, and good luck with the ongoing process. Sounds like you and your husband don't really have sex anymore -- why stay married, then? It would be easier for you to find what you are looking for if you were single... The kids will survive...

@95- Kids would be a totally plausible reason! That's my reason, after all. But I never hear that. They come up with weird, implausible reasons instead. My understanding (although I haven't experienced this because I'm not able to play without condoms), is that guys also lie to stop using condoms. They will say that they get absolutely no sex at home, and so they are being monogamous within the outside relationship, and can skip the condoms.
@97 Why stay married? I've wondered that myself and wondered why millions of people in sexless, or as in my case, nearly sexless, marriages stay together. Personally, I can't imagine sharing my life with anyone else. For some reason it is inconceivable to me. Sex often doesn't last. It's cyclical. I was monogamous for almost 20 years, now I'm not. Maybe I'll be again. I know I'm on a long road with an amazing person whom i want to grow old with as a family unit and he certainly seems to feel the same way about me. I can't just leave him for a physical reason. Life is so much more than that. I feel my lovers feel the exact same way about their wives.
@96: I don't understand what you mean when you say you were being sarcastic about suffering for 12 years. You didn't really suffer? Or it wasn't really 12 years?

Also, why is having many partners an unsustainable solution? What you have with these guys isn't going to last forever either so I don't see the problem with finding single people.
@97: DS responded to someone in 23 about his thoughts about what I meant about suffering in silence. See, for instance, 16. and I was just confirming he was right. I did struggle, I did seek help for depression. I even asked my GP if there was anything I could take to kill my sex drive. But I was in constant dialog with my husband as we tried to figure it out so I was hardly suffering in silence. The blessing WAS his idea and, frankly, I was offended at first. It seemed to me he wasn't interested in dealing with me. Then I came around to it. Sorry for using sarcasm, it is a difficult thing to pull off in print.

My husband and I have talked a lot about single guys and while I know what you say is true about things not lasting forever, I seem to be on the road to relatively longer term relationships. None of us are the "thrill of the hunt" people. All of us lead quite busy successful lives and have limited energy for constantly starting up new relationships. While huge fun in the beginning, how many hook ups can one schedule? When I went online I had over 120 responses from guys who were interested (only one in an open relationship.) Do you know how much work that is? I vetted people seriously hard when I started this. I had an email correspondence for 3.5 months before I met one of them so I could be more sure it would work out. How long do people realistically stay single? And how many single people are happy having sex once a month or less? And what if they fall in love? In retrospect, I probably would have done things differently but I didn't know where it was all going to lead (except into the sack, of course :-) ) Now that I'm here, I am going to work towards opening up the existing relationships. I'm not the first person these guys have stepped out on their wives with in the course of their marriages. They will probably tire of me in time and move on anyway, although I do know two women in their 60s who have have over 30-year-old relationships with married lovers. One claims they are having the best sex of their lives. Little Viagra, little lube. Good to go, apparently. NSMFA

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