Columns Jul 15, 2010 at 4:00 am

Employee Manual


amazon prime error!
Thank you for making that point completely clear regarding monogamy, Dan. I can see why some would find that confusing.

I also have a difficult time remaining monogamous- as a 47 year old man who's aging well, I get more attention than I'm sometimes comfortable with as the temptation is always there. But since my soon-to-be-wife is thoroughly GGG, I'm not really that tempted by anything to date.

That doesn't mean that the temptation is gone, of course- just that I understand it well and can keep it under control.
Most employee manuals won't address the vibrating panties or the inappropriate IM link. Good advice.
Hahah excellent, that natural vs. unnatural stuff again. We are a naturally non-monogamous species as much as we're a naturally heterosexual species, Dan. What on Earth are you trying to prove by dragging natural vs. unnatural in this whole discussion?
I had a JFH moment yesterday. I was having simultaneous IM conversations with my wife and Aunt. I accidentally sent a nekkid women link to my Aunt instead of my wife. Whoops.
Interesting tip of the hat to Dan on page 231 of Sex at Dan (yes, I ordered it as soon as Dan told us to) - "And why does being cuckolded consistently appear at or near the top of married men's sexual fantasies, according to experts ranging from Alfred Kinsey to Dan Savage."

Nice one!
Where's that wine bottle photo link Dan?
JFH corrected the error and should let it go.
Children and "other" sexually transmitted infections LOL LOL LOL
Re: IM error. We have a filter system @ work for all media that captures, targets, and quarantines violating keywords. Our most recent "peckerwood".
Know any geeks that can help us circumvent the babysitter?
"children and other sexually transmitted infections"? You funny guy...
Wha shouldn't we be monogamous creatures naturally? Plenty of animals are. Perhaps non-monogamy, like homosexuality, is the aberration and monogamy the norm.

Plenty of possibilities, no need to consider just one.
Most animals get it wherever they can, tinywoman. Monogamous critters are the exception, not the norm.

That said, we humans can override our instincts, and Dan's rattling on about how monogamy among humans shouldn't be considered the norm has gotten really old.
For M - if you cheated, I'd say its good that you felt like shit. If you're just wanting to use your "newly discovered nonmonogamous self" to justify cheating (past and future) then you are like Dan says, a CPOS. Sure these events perhaps weren't due to the lessened feelings you have for your husband, but if you did not have the respect for him to be upfront about your actions, I question if the feelings you speak of are actually love.
@my name here

I don't think Dan is say nonmonogamy should be the norm. What he is arguing is that nonmonogamy shouldn't be considered abnormal and that monogamy shouldn't be the only norm. His point is that both monogamy and nonmonogamy are normal.
@#5, I could not agree more. When I dated women, people said I had to be born that way and all the time I previously dated men was just me being confused. Well I know that there is no confusion here, I am happily in a very GGG monogamous relationship with a man. It does not feel unnatural, but like all relationships the key is communication.
@5 I think he makes it abundantly clear what he's "trying to prove". If we are naturally nonmongamous, then it follows that the concious choice of monogamy will prove difficult. That doesn't mean its bad, just that maybe we need to ratchet down the outrage and/or pause to consider what our natural tendency is, either way, before we make a monogamous commitment.

We ARE a naturally heterosexual species. We're also a species that divides into two genders naturally, have a natural tendency towards socializing in groups and are naturally omnivorous. That does not mean that there is something unnatural about homosexuality or that a gay transman who prefers solitud and is a vegetarian has done anything wrong at all. The idea that the existence of a predominant trait in a population means that a minority trait is inferior or an aberration is a very poor understanding of biology.
Please, please, can we not talk about "Sex at Dawn" ever again?

Thank you.
Both are just normal for different reasons. There are natural/biological reasons for both for monogamy and nonmongamy. Nonmongamy is governed by our instincts to mate and spread our genes around. Monogamy is governed by our instinct to pair bond for support/assistance of the pair as well as their offspring. Both are beneficial to a species, and like most things there is a balance, and individuals vary in the way they are balanced. Some have stronger instincts to be nonmonogamous and some stronger instincts to be monogamous
@ 16
Only if by "normal" you don't mean "natural" - let me quote Dan's last week's column:
"...monogamy is unrealistic and—this is not a word I toss around lightly—unnatural."

@ 18
I couldn't agree more with your last sentence. However, why do you and Dan call minority traits unnatural? What's unnatural about those of us who have them? Are we less human, are we freaks, are we aliens, are we built of man-made materials (unnatural = can't be found in nature)?
Dogs eat shit. Ducks regularly commit gang rape. Cats torture littler animals to death then don't even eat them. Nature is frequently disgusting and cruel. If nonmonogamy is part of our nature it may be something worth ridding ourselves of, if at all possible. Nature is a bitch.
That said, why is anyone trying to decide what our nature is by comparing ourselves to other animals, even if they are our close relatives? Throughout human history we have had successful, brilliant societies founded on all sorts of human romantic and reproductive attachments--many anthropologists believe that this flexiblity is our real nature and the key to our success as a species. With this in mind, who is to say what our real nature is, and why do current nonmonogamists feel a need to use our so called nature to justify the version of romance that works for them?
I think the problem with that book is that it (or Dan) is focusing only on urges towards infidelity, labeling them "natural" and then ignoring monogamous urges.

For instance, if our partner flirts with someone else, we may feel jealous, resentful, hurt, angry. These sound like pretty primal emotions that would suggest we have some predilection for monogamy. We don't like sharing at some level. We have a "natural" tendency to want our partner exclusively, which is satisfied in monogamy.

Also, it seems like Dan has defined monogamy as perfect monogamy, or nothing at all.

There were a lot of great rebuttals to the column last week that maybe Dan should take more seriously.

I enjoy the column for the laughs. Hope to hear less of the evo-psych.
We are not a naturally heterosexual species. We're a species that procreates through heterosexual sex. Who we have to have intercourse with to make a human being (or borrow genetic material from depending on your assisted method of reproduction) is entirely different than who we copulate with for the pure fun of it. Sex has a biological function which for humans is heterosexual and creates new people. Sex has a social function which for humans can be many things other than heterosexual (or monogamous). There's as much difference between a wedding and a marriage as there is between making a baby and fucking. The sooner all people internalize that the better for all of us.
WTF dan? you had a great start this week with work related 'oops' that were relatable and kinda funny.....then you go back to the fucking 'sex at dawn' bullshit. you didn't need to explain yourself or the book. that shit was last week. DONE. NEVER SPEAK OF IT AGAIN.

Talking about human nature is super problematic. It's so problematic that people on all sides of this discussion are objecting to it with good reason. I'll defend Dan's use of that language though. If you understand how meaningless that word is in relation to humans, then you aren't Dan's audience. Lots and lots of people believe there is fixed (monogamous) human nature and there is something wrong with them if they or there partner fail to comply. Rather than attempt to dispel the promise of human nature Dan hopes to sow version of human nature that allows for more compassion and understanding. The Guy was raised Catholic; He knows that lies and half truths can ease suffering.

Lastly I'm also totally over this recurring rant. Maybe he can coin a phrase and start referencing this by some short hand
@23 "Also, it seems like Dan has defined monogamy as perfect monogamy, or nothing at all."
Quite the opposite. He's arguing that monogamous relationships should face the idea that they may include a little non-monogamy, here and there (a one-night stand, a brief affair), and it shouldn't have to split up the couple. If y'all mono types will cop to being in something called "imperfect monogamy," where you forgive each other for mistakes, that will make Dan very happy. (See the slog thread about handjobs, where he says: "I do advocate, however, being realistic about the odds that one or the other or both partners in a truly long long-term relationship will cheat at some point...I think a good, strong relationship should be able to survive, and be expected to survive, a routine, non-nuclear-level infidelity."
"Wha shouldn't we be monogamous creatures naturally?"

Science isn't about "should", it's about "is". Some species (mostly birds) are monogamous, but most aren't, and our nearest relatives most definitely aren't.

Contrary to what Dan implies, biologists and anthropologists have been saying this for decades. I don't know about psychologists, though.
@27: "He's arguing that monogamous relationships should face the idea that they may include a little non-monogamy, here and there (a one-night stand, a brief affair), and it shouldn't have to split up the couple."

Sorry, no go. "Imperfect monogamy" to me already is monogamy, as much as "perfect monogamy." They're both just "monogamy", because I already understand that its definition varies between couples and that making up a term for every single definition is ridiculous.

I personally can forgive infidelity, depending on the circumstances. But I can also understand people who really do ask for exclusivity. They're not the problem IF they communicate that very clearly. The problem is the partners who can't (or in some cases, don't want to) adhere to those terms but go for it anyway.

"'If y'all mono types will cop to being in something called "imperfect monogamy..'"

That's exactly what's pissing people off. The snide implication that we're all lying to ourselves, living in delusion, that an incident or two in years should define the whole relationship.

Acknowledging something can happen isn't the same as accepting it blithely. I still aim for so-called "perfect" monogamy, but this doesn't preclude me being entirely pragmatic about my partner, who, while entirely honest, is still human. Yet being realistic doesn't necessarily mean I won't be hurt, while being hurt doesn't necessarily I'll leave or resent him.

"where you forgive each other for mistakes, that will make Dan very happy."

I'm sure he would be. But he himself pointed to a letter where he recently told a super-monogamous guy to skedaddle from his less-monogamous girlfriend. The aim here is to ensure everyone's happy and honest on their own terms, not to dictate what the hell to feel.
Second to last paragraph, you mean "prescriptive monogamists"? Someone proscribing monogamy would be banning it...
My 2 cents for ATA: I don't care if the contents of the box was the entire contents of the Babeland catalog. You tape it back up and pretend it never happened. Unless this has some consequence to the business (did your boss embezzle the funds?) it falls outside your scope of duties. It wasn't your business in the first place; the sooner you stop making it your business, the better.

News flash: People have sex lives. Even your boss. Get over it.
I think acknowledging our natural non-monogamous impulses would do a great deal to help people live monogamously. Especially the ladies, who have been brought up to believe that sex is something you should only want with your one true love blah blah blah. So when they're in a monogamous relationship and start having eyes for a cute guy, they start questioning the strength of their relationship, whether they really love their partner, whether the new attraction is a sign that they should move on, etc. I can't tell you how many times I've seen that scenario play out.

Contrast this to guys, who generally accept that they'll want to fuck other women all the time, but that doesn't mean they don't love their wives/girlfriends.

[Standard caveat about each man and woman being unique, not necessarily bound by gender roles, etc.]
The problem with using the behavior of prehistoric humans to explain our current problems is that no one actually knows how prehistoric humans behaved. While I'd agree that this longest period of human existence is probably very important and probably has a huge impact on the way we behave, we don't actually know what happened in enough detail to make clean conclusions.

People could just as easily write books about cavemen supporting the opposite position--or even crazier ones. I once ran across a book that claimed that women always knew about their fertility rhythm (not true) and used it to control men and prehistory society. Um, right.

So while Sex at Dawn might be an interesting read and might make people who don't mesh well with monogamy feel better about themselves, we should take what it says with a due measure of salt.
@21, err I'm confused. You couldn't agree with me more but then you ask why I'm holding a position I could swear I just finished arguing AGAINST?

The last sentence is key. The existence of a predominant trait does not mean there is anything wrong or unnatural about a minority trait. Humans are naturally heterosexual but that does NOT mean homosexuality is unnatural. I guess a persuasive argument could be made that we should avoid the "natural" label altogether, since too many people both us and interpret it as Ä-synonymous with "good" and B-implying that anything other than whatever is being called "natural" is by definition "unnatural".

My personal feeling on the matter is that both monogamy and nonmonogamy are rooted in our evolutionary heritage. Perhaps one of the two tends to dominate (I'd guess nonmonogamy, but I'm not sure). However you can be absolutely certain that if you take a behavior in a species, especially one as complex as ours, you will find that there is ALWAYS a natural variation within the species. That is to say that even if you found out that humans have a strong tendency to monogamy OR nonmonogamy, you would undoubtedly find that different people NATURALLY tend to it in different degrees.
Naturalness + Monogamy:

It's really simple, peeps.

Do you ever get "turned on" by someone other than your monogamous partner? If so, that is a "natural" (i.e., chemical, biological) and *nonmonogamous* response to your environment.

Do you consciously fight/deny/repress that arousal? If so, you might be having a monogamy-oriented response to your natural and nonmonogamous feelings of arousal by someone other than your partner.

After so long a period of evolution, much of it after the social institution of monogamy (in many cultures) as a way to insure that your descendants get your property (among a couple of other useful and worthwhile reasons), it's hard to say that monogamy is entirely "unnatural," but it definitely postdates the evolutionary wiring of the parts of our brains that have to do with arousal.

So monogamy may be "natural," but nonmonogamy is a human nature with an older lineage. Return to my first question: Do you feel sexually aroused by people other than your partner?

Yeah? Okay. Then, accept that part of you isn't monogamous. If you want to override that part of you, you have consciousness, or a superego, or the ability to rush home and beat off the porn on your computer. Feel free to be as monogamous as you want to be.

But make sure you really want to be as monogamous as you're telling yourself you are. Because, hey, life's a little easier (and sexier) if you don't always have to fight those urges. ;)

As a final note, consider this: we did not always know that sex led to babies. Women were revered as magical creatures in part because we had no idea that sex made babies. There's a pretty big fucking gap between conception and birth! It took observation--it took prehistoric science, basically--to figure out the connection between sex and babies. "Oh, look: women who aren't having sex aren't having babies. I wonder if there's a connection...?"

Now if we didn't know that sex made babies, then a lot of our sexual wiring had more to do with smells/sights/senses/urges than with the concept of producing tiny humans. And if that's the case, we come back to sex being a natural, immediate kind of act that predates our concerns and prejudices about genetic coupling and offspring.
@ 34
Oh, I see my mistake. After having read the first paragraph in your previous comment I was sure you were arguing from Dan's point of view, so when I read that you don't think monogamy is unnatural, cognitive dissonance kicked in so my brain just decided not to see that sentence; my apologies. But then, you and I have nothing to discuss - we agree. You should join me in criticizing Dan for being a bigot and calling a preference he doesn't have - a preference he doesn't understand - unnatural.
@36 Dan would agree that wanting monogamy is natural.

But he's saying it is also natural for many (not all!) monogamous people to fuck up occasionally.

(He says, further, that some people are never going to come close to being mono, and they should find like-minded partners.)

Monogamy isn't natural. Neither is any form of polyamory.

What's natural is wanting to have your cake and eat it too: the vast majority of us probably wouldn't mind having the odd dalliance on the side now and then, but we're too possessive to want our partner to do the same. So we make a compromise, and it usually takes the form of "Okay, so nobody gets to mess around on the side." Committing to just one person isn't always easy (it's natural to sometimes find others attractive, after all), but with self-awareness and good communication it can be done.

Other couples compromise and decide "Okay, let's both mess around on the side". Giving your partner that kind of freedom isn't always easy (it's natural to be jealous and possessive, after all), but with self-awareness and good communication it can be done.

There are people who genuinely only have eyes for their partner, and there are people who genuinely don't feel jealous or threatened by "sharing" their partner (I've met both). But I do think most of us fall into the "have our cake and eat it, too" category.

Can we stop the pointless arguing over which relationshp model is more "natural" now? :P
Something ATA needs to watch out for, unfortunately, is that somebody is setting him/her up to get fired for sexual harassment. ATA didn't intend anything by it, the boss (probably) didn't indend anything by it, but some jerk who finds out about it can and will think that ATA is either harassing or sleeping with the boss.

And this is why I hate the world of work.
My husband and I ordered Sex at Dawn and thank Dan for bringing it to our attention. We've been monogamous in our marriage so far and plan to stay that way, but we at least need to be honest with each other and HAVE CONVERSATIONS about temptations we feel without feeling like our relationship is in crisis or that we're horrible people. There's the myth that you will never feel tempted or attracted to anyone else unless there's something lacking between you and your partner: bullshit. Dan, and now this book, have helped us realize that.
Those of you who are tired of having the columns hijacked by blurbs for the book Sex at Dawn: Please e-mail Dan and tell him so. I don't believe he reads the comments posted here.
I'm just going to take a moment to be amused at the fact that in the small bubble that is Slog in the cyber-universe, conversations about what is natural and unnatural and good and bad take the form of something like monogamy vs. nonmonogamy, wheras in almost any other corner of the internets the subject would be homosexuality vs. heterosexuality vs. bisexuality. Here no one gives a crap what gender your partner is, the issue is exactly how many people you should (or have a natural tendency to want to) fuck. Progress!
Good grief, Dan. I'm beginning to think that you secretly believe this book is crap. The authors were kind enough to write in your column in an attempt to clarify their book (not to mention science in general) and here you are with round two (or is it three) of making the book sound idiotic.

Bottom line is waving around a book claiming it proves your personal bias makes you no different from the bible-thumpers. Give it a rest.
@ 37
No one disputes that. We are humans and we rise above urges, blah blah blah. So - Dan acknowledges that it is possible to want to be monogamous, like it is possible to want to stop eating junk food and eat broccoli instead. You realize that it has some advantages that matter to you so you make a sacrifice. But he also denies that it can be natural to actually enjoy the taste of broccoli and have no interest in concentrated sugar, and that for some people, it's not a sacrifice.

What I am disputing is that the urge to be monogamous (or be crazy about broccoli) is unnatural, ergo doesn't come naturally, doesn't exist in nature, people who have it are deluding themselves etc.
It's really stupid to assume the words 'normal' = good and 'abnormal' = bad, the way they are colloquially used. People need to get their heads out of their asses and realize that morality has nothing to do with these gross generalizations of statistics, which is all the words should mean. I mean, people are arguing that, since monogomy is 'obviously' sooo morally superior, it must be 'normal.' Fuck off; why would anyone, pro-Christian/monogomy BS or not, care what everyone else is doing when deciding what is morally right or wrong? Or is it that we've heard the stupid rationalization that homosexuality is bad is because it's 'unnatural' (as if that, not being a sheltered, squicked-out idiot or paranoid closet case, has anything to do with the distaste) so many times that we truly believe normalcy has something to do with morality?
@27 If infidelity does ever become "routine," doesn't that make it MORE unforgivable rather than less? When infidelity becomes "routine," Dan is actually right for once -- oh how I hate to admit it! -- when he questiions why be married/supposedly-monogamous in the first place?

Choose the action: marriage -- and you choose the consequences: monogamy. It really is that simple.
@44 do you think it is common for people to want only broccoli and no junk food, in a world of junk food?

@46 - routine means ordinary infidelity, not "true love"; it doesn't mean ordinary as in "on ordinary days you are unfaithful"
@perversecowgirl - I have to say that your measured comment, even if it's not right, sounds right. Maybe only because it's a lot less shrill than other things posted here.
Thank you, Dan, for reinforcing the important message of the week: NO EMOTICONS! For the love of god, allah, the moon goddess, or whatever you might personally hold to be sacred and good, enough with the cutesy little smiley faces. And while we're at it, can we get ban lol?

I feel kind of bad for the boss on the off chance that the vibrating panties were a legit purchase--those things suck.
Um, I'm with #8. I want a link! Please don't make me search for it! (unless it's Goatse—then I can find it myself)
i was expecting the jackass whose girlfriend was raped's letter to be on today. your answer to that guy was SO satisfying.
Why are people so *offended* at the idea that humans, in general, didn't start to be monogamous as a rule until fairly recently, and that many, many people have a hard time meeting those expectations? I dare you to find me even one person who hasn't at least had a crush on someone else while in a relationship, particularly if they've ever been in a relationship that lasted more than a couple of years.
@51 - I had the same thought, but given the print schedule maybe it will be next week..

I'd love to hear if there was any follow up on that situation. Did that guy realize the error of his ways?
Saying that we're naturally not monogamous just because a few people aren't capable of keeping it in their pants is like saying we're naturally schizophrenic because some people do what the voices tell them. It's ridiculous. As I mentioned last week, if we were meant to fuck everyone we found sexy, people would have given up on it a long time ago.

I don't know why so many people can't wrap their heads around the idea that monogamy is about as "recent" as wearing clothes and vocalizing more complex things than ook eek waaaaaaagh. If you want to fuck around, fuck around. You don't need to bullshit about with psuedoscience to justify your position.
Thanks #38 for nailing it.
If I can offer one more tidbit on the "natural" debate -- clearly, humans aren't hard-wired to ANY one sexual pattern. What's natural to our species is: lots of variability in the way we set up our social and sexual arrangements.
On a lighter note, the vibrating panties sounded intriguing -- thanks #49 for warning me that they suck before I bought some!
@49 What about this? Totally cute, right? It's like it's swimming!! ;)

In a completely non-creepy, and non-sexual way (I'm a straight female), I love you Dan!!
@ 56 niccccce! @ 46 totally agree choose the action chose the consequence. very applicable
Perversecowgirl- God, THANK YOU FOR NIPPING IT IN THE BUD!!!! Succinct, to the point, and exactly right on.

And truly, if this stupid Sex at Dawn book (which I'm totally over hearing plugged here) cites Dan Savage as a sex "expert" it is not credible as far as I'm concerned. Advice column writer, humorist, free rag editor, okay. But scientific expert? That requires slightly more lofty credentials, mmmkkayyy?
Perversecowgirl- God, THANK YOU FOR NIPPING IT IN THE BUD!!!! Succinct, to the point, and exactly right on.

And truly, if this stupid Sex at Dawn book (which I'm totally over hearing plugged here) cites Dan Savage as a sex "expert" it is not credible as far as I'm concerned. Advice column writer, humorist, free rag editor, uncommonly insightful individual about human sexual activities and relations, okay. But *scientific expert*? That requires slightly more lofty credentials, mmmkkayyy?
Perversecowgirl (@38), I agree completely. Most people are attracted to others besides their spouse/partner but also get jealous at the thought that their spouse/partner might cheat. So realistically, most people are going to want monogamy AND find it difficult at the same time.

The fact that people find it difficult doesn't necessarily mean everyone should abandon the idea. It just means those who want a monogamous commitment should be mentally prepared for the difficulty and keep the lines of communication open to prevent infidelity before it happens. It's people who think "true love" = "never wanting to cheat" who end up cheating because the strength of the temptation takes them by surprise.
Dan, Freud pretty much said it all in "Civilization and Its Discontents." A lively spot of reading, too. Enjoy.
-eyeroll- at the discussion about "unnatural" vs "natural". If it occurs IN NATURE, it's "natural". So while queerness and transsexuality and so on are less COMMON, they're still perfectly natural, duh.

As for Dan's first advice, sorry, you're doin it rong. If there is any question that someone is using a company credit card to buy personal items - gag gift, sex toys or whatever - then they're crossing professional boundaries. Unless they actually own the company, and even then it's iffy.

I would suggest calling up the boss and saying "I've got a parcel here that looks like a personal purchase that's been directed here. I'm not too sure how that might have happened...?" And let the boss decide what to explain and what to do.
You know, Dan doesn't really have a lot of rules, and they're pretty simple:…

And if you windbags trolling about the comments section here were regular readers or equipped with better recall of Savage Love and not what-continuity-errors-has-Dan-made-that-I-can-nail-him-on, you might be pondering where and when Auntie Dan wrote these last few columns.

I mean Sweet Jesus tap dancing Christ - if the Yes on 8 crowd can pass off utterly NON-experts as fucking Professors, shouldn't we take a more rational view and give Dan a little leeway for the hyperbole of a couple of doctors? Let the man make a little money.

Keep up the good work Auntie, and lets hear a little more about Sex at Dawn.
@ Tinwoman,
If you would bother to read what Dan has said REPEATEDLY, you would have seen that he does make the point that some people are successful at being monogamous. His point, however, is that people who are not successful should not have to pretend that they are, thereby hurting their partners and themselves. As someone in a monogamous relationship, I'd rather live in a world where people who are not good at monogamy could be honest about this fact and seek out OTHER PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT GOOD AT MONOGAMY. Also, THE WHOLE WORLD ADVOCATES FOR THE IDEA OF MONOGAMY, that is why Dan is using his platform to advocate for the other side. If you have such a problem with it, why do you continue to read his column?
Why do stridently monogamous people seem so heavily invested in keeping everyone else monogamous?
@60 You mean Dan should have more scholarly credentials, like B.ull S.hit, M.ore S.hit, P.iled h.igh and D.eeper? Yeah, I'd really be inclined to listen to someone who's spent years in academia *studying* sex. He may not be a prof, but if you're looking for an "expert," I would challenge you to find anyone with a bunch of letters after his name who could give you better information. What makes a "sex expert" anyway, regardless of schooling? I would say it is the person who has the widest knowledge base, and can therefore pass on the most information.
"but do your amazing sex-advice skills provide you with any ideas on how I should handle this?"

Gee, did you find any POLYPS up there?

Yet another example of dangerous idol-worship. So many people seem to think Dan Savage is the be-all and end-all of acceptable sexual behavior. Now he's claiming the authors of Sex at Dawn have "proven" we are a "naturally nonmonogamous species"?? I sincerely doubt it.
In between singing gigs I often work as a temp, sometimes for months at a time. I've had far more awkward situations than Avoid the Awkward's. This one is simple: put the vibrating undies back in the box, see that she gets them, and never mention it unless she brings it up. It's a personal item, even though she had it delivered to her work address (people often do this as there's no one home to receive delivery of mail order items). She owes you no explanation as it's honestly none of your business. If she wants to explain, she can, but I see no reason why she should.

As for monogamy, I don't understand why we can't all agree that some arrangements work better for some people and other arrangements are better for others. Why is that so hard? Why do so many people seem to feel that if they can't get everyone to do things their way that it somehow invalidates their own personal choices? That's rather immature if you ask me.
@68 "So many people seem to think Dan Savage is the be-all and end-all of acceptable sexual behavior."

Actually, although I'm sure there are plenty of people who would love to see the live video feed, his own sexual behaviour isn't what's being discussed primarily (in my opinion,) it's his advice to people who need answers about their own sexual behaviour that is appreciated.
I hope I never catch children

I think the issue is that there's a distinction between it being "natural" to find others attractive, and it being "natural" to act on those urges (or, rather "unnatural" not to). Lots of maladaptive behavior is natural, but phrasing things the way Dan did makes it into a pejorative.

Hell, if he'd even just said that polyamory is natural, I'd have no objection. What he said was that monogamy in and of itself is unnatural. No matter how he tries to walk that back, he can't sprinkle sugar on that bullshit and call it candy.


The issue is that normalcy (or, more generally "naturalness") is actually kind of a big deal in debates about sexuality. Why do you think the homosexual community has spent years (somewhat successfully) saying "this is natural, I didn't have a choice in it"? It's not just for shits-and-giggles, it's because something being "natural" confers legitimacy.

Dan saying that monogamy is unnatural is (given the context) akin to saying "it's total bullshit, a simulacrum of 'good' behavior with basis only in societal memes" (I spruced up the language). If something is natural, it means that people don't choose to do it, and hence it is "good" (or, at least, acceptable). If it is "unnatural", it is purely a choice, and thus loses some legitimacy. The homosexual community has been rallying behind "natural" as being conflated with "perfectly fine" for decades now; turnabout is fair play.


Depends on what we're counting as "recently". As far back as the Greeks, men were expected to be fairly promiscuous (with other men, mind) in their youth, then settle down with one woman (monogamously) and pop out babies. That's a few millenia of history to monogamy. And, really, we don't know how prehistoric societies handled it (since... It was before history), and everything we can speculate on is somewhat specious.

But, the debate seems to hinge on what one defines as being "nonmonogamous". I don't see "having errant thoughts about other people" as being nonmonogamous; I only see action as being a problem. I think it's natural to find other people passingly attractive; whether that means that the bulk of mankind is also predisposed toward either polyamory or cheating is suspect to me.


I was waiting for Freud himself to make an appearance here. The problem with both Freud (and Sex at Dawn) is that they were doing retrospective analysis of what actually exists, and trying to reason out the cause.

It'd be fine, if it worked. The problem is that it rarely does. Too many confounding variables they have to ignore to make things "fit". Freud was almost precisely wrong about the origins of human sexuality, and the variations therein, and about most of his psychological views (way too focused on early adolescence).

The reason scientists proceed from fact toward hypothesis and theory is that it's damned easy to come up with *an* explanation for an observed phenomenon, but damned hard to come up with the correct one.


You're not really tracking what the argument is, though. If we're talking about the practical "what the hell do I do in my life" stuff, Dan has as much qualification as any person reasonably can: a decent amount of experience and observation.

But, when he talks about anthropology, psychology, and evolutionary psychology (or is referenced as an expert on those issues as they relate to human sexuality), he isn't speaking as an adviser of people in terms of what they should do in their lives, he's claiming some expertise (even by proxy) for "knowing" some essential truth of humanity. If he wants to claim that, he should have some credentials.

It's the difference between someone coming to me and asking for help on a high school physics assignment, and me being cited as an expert on string theory. Yeah, I'm a decent armchair physicist, but that doesn't make me credible as any authority on the actual science.

I'm really hoping that you're making this shit up to illicit a reaction, because if you're being serious (in that you seem to believe academia is bullshit, scientific knowledge, and studying, aren't as good as "real world" experience), you're as ignorant and backwards as the worst tea-partying republican douchebags.

Incidentally, talk about a circle-jerk. A book which cites Dan Savage as an expert on all facets of human sexuality comes to an ill-conceived, unproved, and completely speculative hypothesis about human sexual history... Which happens to coincide perfectly with Dan's existing beliefs. Then Dan cites them as a source confirming his beliefs. Jesus.

In paragraph 13, that should be "elicit" not "illicit". Damned fingers got ahead of my brain.
The critics of Sex at Dawn and Dan's opinions on monogamy need to watch this:…
#71, your post cracked me up. There are ways to "vaccinate" yourself, though!

Me. I've never felt the urge to cheat on my wife of 14 years, nor on any of my other long-term significant others before her. It's called Deep and Profound Love and Respect.

Now that I'm struggling with my wife's dalliance(s), and feeling so deeply betrayed, I'm having to convince myself that I'll ever be interested in another. When I look at other women now, all I see is Potential Heartbreak. Meanwhile, at 46 years, I'm not feeling terribly attractive to any future mate. All Dan's Non-Mon = Normal, Natural, and Unavoidable talk is just salt in the wound. Yay!
Every time someone cites evolutionary psychology I die a little on the inside.
Can we just agree to avoid the word "natural," to acknowledge that monogamy is not simple or a default, and to accept that people in poly- relationships are valid in their choices?

And I will add my voice to the chorus calling for an end to the Sex at Dawn conversation.
@72 - Greek men were not expected to be monogamous after marriage. There were abundant prostitutes; utilizing them did not carry the stigma that johns encounter today. Most men also had female slaves (good for housework, too).…
Books about evolutionary psychology are unnatural.
Wait a minute, Dan has a boss? Who, the publisher? I never thought of publisher-editor as a boss-employee kind of relationship. But now that I think about it, I guess it was the publisher of NYPress who fired Jeff Koyen, so I suppose if you can get canned, you've got a boss.
@ 67/Canuck - So then we're all sex experts too, right? Because we read letters to Savage Love. Or is it having those letters addressed to you specifically that reaps such expertise?

@ 64/Retard Yoke and 67/Canuck:

Sure he's smarter than the average bear (which I said). I'd probably bet on his judgment more often than not versus some clinical academic Ph.Ds' - but if this book is supposed to be scientific and authoritative, sex advice columnist Does. Not. Cut. It. for the distinction of "expert". Maybe it's a semantics issue. But it's a poor choice of words and lazy writing.
@ 72/Sheldon2639 - that was exactly my point, just much better said.
In this context, to me, when Dan uses the word 'unnatural' means that it is not what we were wired for and therefore any option that goes against the 'natural' way means that we are making a willing decission to change our original programming. So, we humans tend to be non-monogamous 'by nature' because nature's call is reproduce-reproduce-reproduce. However, culture has tought us the social and emotional convenience of monomagy. But it takes work and will to achive it. Still, I believe that using the terms 'natural/unnatural' brigns the discussion to a terrain that true biggots have allways used against, say, homosexuality, for centuries called 'the unnatural way' by its enemies. But I understand the meaning in this context: this is Savage Love, for Chirst's sake!
@72 Seldon 2639 & @82 Racing Turtles:

"And why does being cuckolded consistently appear at or near the top of married men's sexual fantasies, according to experts ranging from Alfred Kinsey to Dan Savage."

Okay, guys, that was the quote. It didn't say Dan was an expert on anthropology, or physiology, or psychology, or even string theory, it was specifically referencing the occurrence of "cuckolding." And yes, I believe Dan probably has as much to contribute on that subject as any academic.

And Seldon, no, I don't believe academia/research/"study" is trumped by "real world experience" in all cases, but I'm not such a devotee of rose-coloured glasses that I don't believe that there are definitely times when real world experience can give you better information than academia could. I say this as someone who was raised by a Prof., is married to one, went to a good school, and whose friends are mostly academics: Yes, Seldon, they are good at what they do, but there are limitations as well. I have two friends, one is a sociologist, one works with native kids in a secondary school. Which one do you think is the most savvy about what is going on on reserves today, how the kids are treated at home, what their particular challenges are? (hint: it's not the sociologist.) There are times when anecdotal advice is better advice than that which comes from someone who has theorized about it, written papers on it, studied it, but hasn't dealt with it in the "real world." And BTW, I have edited enough articles written by Ph.Ds/grad students/etc., who couldn't write themselves out of a paper bag, to realize that having a degree doesn't necessarily mean you have more to say.
@76 I'm so sorry for the pain you are going through. I am also in a 14 year marriage, and my husband told me this year about his infidelity. You clearly feel that your wife does not have "Deep and Profound Love and Respect" for you, and for you, that means that the marriage is over. I'm just writing to say that it is possible to reconcile DPLR with a spouse's infidelity and lies. Not easy, and the trust doesn't come back quickly, and I imagine that the next round of his lies, if there is one, will be even harder to bounce back from. But it is possible, for some people, in some marriages.

Is she asking you to stick around and forgive her, and you are the one wanting out? Or do you feel that she is the one who wants to leave and her affairs were her way of opening the door for her to exit the marriage?
I have no issue with people living their lives the way that fits best for them. I also have no problem with Dan telling people who obviously struggle with monogamous relationships to give non-monogamy a try. I definitely don't have a problem with him saying that happy non-monogamy is natural and that monogamy is hard for a lot of people.

What I do have issue with is Dan telling me that something that comes naturally to me is unnatural. I don't struggle to be monogamous in my relationships. Thoughts or fantasies are one thing, but I have never once been tempted to act on those thoughts or fantasies while still in a relationship.

Frankly, I find it about 2,000 times harder to put down the ice cream and pick up the broccoli than I do to resist cheating. (And since I do, in fact, occasionally eat broccoli and resist ice cream, it should be clear that avoiding cheating is a non-issue for me.)

That doesn't make me better than anyone else who prefers non-monogamy and is honest about that in their relationships... just different. But I am not so unusual, and I'm definitely not unnatural.
Canuck, anthropologists are so win at what they do, because they get into the 'real world experiences' as much as they can, and combine it with academics. Anthropologists live and work and play and write about their experiences, and the experiences of the people they live with, and combine it with academic knowledge and theory.

Anyhoo, while I DO agree with basically everything Dan has to say about monogamy (lots of people suck at it, those people should be with other people who can't be monogamous in non-monogamous relationships, and we shouldn't judge them for doing what works for them) I am KINDA GETTING SICK of going over and over and over it. I'm pretty sure those of us who read Dan have all heard lots of evidence and have picked a position that we're pretty much sticking with.

last point, I think people too often blame the relationship, and not the partner or themselves. Monogamous relationships, polyamourous relationships, all of them are going to fail if you're being an ass, or your partner is a jerk.
This has nothing to do with the article, but I don't know how to contact you otherwise.

This is a list of filthy words that are banned from use in the video game Dragon Quest 9. It's an impressive list. Down about 1149 nasty words, though... you find "Santorum." CONGRATULATIONS! You've hit the big time: Censorship in a video game.
Why the pained calls to stop discussing (and plugging) a book that so many people in this thread want to discuss? You can stop reading, but don't make the rest of us stop.

The more intolerant voices on this topic seem to come from the (insecure?) monogamists who don't like to think that their way is not the only way. Dan's basic point is that non-monogamy can be acceptable. No prescriptions or proscriptions either way.

Just a thought: I wonder if any of the "devout" monogamists who claim to never be tempted would in fact be able to resist the opportunities that come with being a rich, famous, and attractive celebrity. If most people don't find me attractive, should I boast about my ability to stay faithful to my partner?
No "cunt" on the list - I bet the Scottish fought for it and won.
Monogamy is unnatural? Maybe. The question is why is people saying things like by nature we are a non-monogamous heterosexual species? Homosexuality is documented since biblical times in humans and it's present in other animal species. Look at wikipedia for a list:…
@Wish I Were Bi

I may not be celebrity attractive, but I'm reasonably attractive and certainly would have opportunities if I wished it.

And for that matter, I think I'd be even LESS tempted to cheat if men were throwing themselves at me constantly, because I'd be more inclined to write off decent guys who might in other circumstances be attractive to me.

I don't think I'm being intolerant. I have no issue with those who want to be non-monogamous. I'm taking issue with being called unnatural and a liar (because Dan says I struggle and I say I don't).
@90 -- "If most people don't find me attractive, should I boast about my ability to stay faithful to my partner?"

You are clearly an ass.
I believe that if your partner is GGG enough for you there is no need for cheating. I Used to be a cheating bastard, jumping from one pussy to the other, looking for what I needed to be sexually happy. I finally found a woman who was right for me in that and all respects and we are now happily married and fucking each others`s brains...she is the best lover ever!!!! I am good looking and outgoing and usually get lots of attention from the ladies but it really doesn`t attract me to to have sex with anybody else anymore as I am 100% sure no one will be a better lover than my beloved wife.
Take home message: find someone who really makes you happy in the way you need to be, if this person is making you this happy, you likely are making him/her happy too. This will shutdown the cheating switch we all have inside.
Regarding workplace embarrassment, after work beers a few weeks ago revealed the problem of going "live" in a sales presentation. The presenter started to type a URL, and auto-complete showed a list of very naughty, obviously porn, URLs. I think the presenter just did what they had to, and selected the correct URL and moved on --- or maybe the story involved an inadvertent click on something awful involving donkeys. In any case, it's a matter of keeping your cool, continuing to act professionally. Remember your audience is more embarrassed than you are.
Sex at Dawn answered a lot of questions for me.

What's with the emoticon hate? There isn't really a better way to express :P or ;) in text form. Maybe *wink* or *smile* but that's kinda lame. They are way closer to actual expressions of feeling than things like lol or rofl.

Funny though, Dan did in fact use an emoticon in his answer to JFH.
I like dan and his straight to the point advice. But I am tired Dan so desperately trying to justified cheating on his husband, by putting down monogamy. the lady does protest too much!... near monogamy? please!...

I find dan point pathetic, it is hard to be monogamous, so why bother trying is not a point.

Dan, I hope one day you meet a man that satisfied your sexual needs, not just your emotional needs enough, to make you happy to try to be monogamous with... and that you respect enough to not cheat on him ( yes, even if he knows) when a hot ass comes your way.
We have a reptilian brain and we can control ourselves?, beside why should you. is that your excuse for cheating on your husband... but any justification will do right?

nothing is going to stop you from getting that Ass .. because you are man and you can help yourself.. how dare your husband expect you to be respectful of your marriage and family when you have that reptilian brain just pushing you to fuck around... is not your fault, really... is the crazy brain of yours that you have no control over.... Poor Dan.

You can't stop yourself.
Not The real posibilty of decease, and bring it back to you husband.
Not the kid that has to live with the fear their parents might break-up ( because no matter how discrete you think you are, they know. )

Not The very real possibility that you might fall in love with the piece on the side you are screwing and want to make him your 1st and not your 2nd.

not that your extra might be in love with you and not just having fun. or that he might go all fetal attraction... it happens!

not to mention that your spouse might just be going along with this because he doesn't want to lose the man he loves, or worse: the cushy life you provide for him is more important then your fidelity.

This are just a few of the problems that I have observe with this game.

And might question is Dan why would you wan't to place your husband and family in the middle of a very complicated situation just because you need to rub one off with someone that is not your husband? and moreover why be with someone that does not satisfied you sexually?

    Please wait...

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