Columns Oct 15, 2014 at 4:00 am



Oh my GAWD, NNP, you make my head hurt.

If any partner of mine used this phrase to describe themselves I would run for the hills as fast as possible.
@2: That's exactly what stuck in my craw, too. Instead of fleeing though, I'd rather tell her to fuck off with that shit.
@2, @4, yeah, NNP's gal is full of shit, but so is he: "when she has misinterpreted conversations and transgressed boundaries, it has always coincided with the neglect of our own relationship." If this is how he communicates, no wonder she "has expressed a need for novel experiences that may not include" him. Jesus. It's like a very special episode of the Big Bang Theory.
@5: Hmm. You make a good point. He too is full of shit.
Glad to hear the middle aged , fat, gay man is Happy..
I seriously hope NNP & his lover never break up, because that keeps both of these people off the market. They sound kind of insufferable to me.

@7 - right? I kinda covet HAPPY'S life. :D
JWTBM; merging of the kids & only once a week.. This guy is 64 yrs old? I'm guessing he just wants to get it up more and a third person might, just might, get that old boy working a bit more. Hence his obsession? Watching his
Sexual prowess go down..
How about you say, fine. However, if he gets a female for threesomes say you want a male for threesomes.. Or, if he's not up to threesomes with males- you'll settle for a twosome with one.

@3, Here's what I WISH I'd said...

Gawd, I hope he doesn't talk during sex.
"Or should I focus on cultivating shared erotic experiences with my partner?"

1. Who wouldn't focus on that?

2. Who talks like that?

3. Post-mononormative? That translates as "I'm so over giving a shit about you."
I am not old, but a fairly youthful looking 41 year old and I can't find a serious and willing woman for me and my guy. Any suggestions other than giving up? Tried all the sites, cruised the bars, but wont dare pay for it.
Everyone's going off on NNP. It took me three tries to parse his email. What does NNP mean by saying that his partner "transgressed boundaries"? What boundaries are we talking about exactly?

My Magic De-Coder Ring on Guess Mode says: She fucked someone else without asking or telling her primary partner and then tried to rationalize it away.

Doesn't sound like a keeper to me.
@12 - Very few women are looking for a long-term poly triad. If you're serious about looking, you've got to keep at it.

For whatever it's worth, my guy and I have talked to, jeez, hundreds of women over the last 5 years, out of which we've had sex with 5. One actually was a relationship that lasted for around 4 or 5 months.
For JWTBM -- stop reading his email & chats. You'll be happier. Also, have several conversations about what you each would like more of. Maybe you both could date on your own; that is easier than trying to find a person you both find sexy and who finds both of you sexy. Would you like to date male doms? Many men find it more interesting to dom a woman early on in the relationship, so rotating through doms may be your best bet at getting that itch scratched.

Re HAPPY -- I read the letter several times and I'm still not sure your partner has sex with his friend, let alone whether you also do. But the bottom line is that there's no point in lecturing other people about labels. If a guy tells me we're not dating, then I am ill-advised to say we're dating, even if we do most of the things that I associate with dating.
NNP should have said what the hell he means, and if this is the way he talks to the wife no wonder things aren't great. Is the problem is about love, and her not caring about his emotional needs? Or her caring more for other partners than he thought she would? Or is it about the sexual transgression? Against what rules? Did she agree to them? Or are they transgressions because he feels bad? Less theory, more detail!

Say what you mean, NNP. You might not feel like you sound as smart, but you might actually be happy.

Also, all us looky-loos on the Internet will be happier. Think of the looky-los!
NNP, I don't know how you can be sure your partner wants you to be her life companion. As I understand things, post-mononormative people believe that relationships should only last as long as they make the people in them happy. And as you've seen, she's not terribly interested in your happiness.

But I disagree with Dan about whether you should give poly a try. I don't think it would be "retaliatory" to do so. Obviously, if the idea upsets you, then don't go through with it. But at least think about whether there's some aspect of mono-normative life that you would enjoy giving up. Maybe you'd like to see an escort? Maybe you're bi-curious? Maybe an attractive co-worker has been flirting with you and you'd like to flirt back? Just think about it and see what comes to mind. And don't let your partner unilaterally set the rules for what's acceptable non-mononormative behavior. She gets a say, but so do you.
mariposa @12 Standard advice is that you should look for someone for you, and let your guy look for his own partners. Couples like the idea of finding someone to share, but few people are looking to be a shared toy. Out of curiosity, what scares you about paying for what you want?
@8 I have to disagree with you. NNP's wife is "post-mononormative" and "misinterprets boundaries" which seems to translate as "has sex with other people and uses various pretentious excuses" which means she's not out of the dating pool at all. And NNP is considering getting a romantic partner of his own. Being together isn't keeping them out of the dating pool at all. It looks like being stuck with her is even encouraging him to date around.
@19, Oh poop. I agree with your read of things. Ah well. I think I'll have more tea.

I'll spare a thought for the other partners that this couple may be inflicting themselves on. I always get kinda turned off when hearing people discussing things in terms that sound kind of pseudo-therapy speak, or something.

I wonder if they have any happily poly friends? When a couple finds themselves contemplating this ninja level sex stuff, talking it over with more experienced people seems like a good idea. Not just writing to Dan, but seeing a dynamic with others functioning healthily, local to them.

(Caveat: they might live somewhere more conservative, IDK, obviously.)
NNP; bit confused here. How can you be conflicted over the level of openness in your marriage? Is it open or not. And I also assume, if your marriage is open, that means it is ok for both of you to go off and have sexual connections with others.
These boundaries, are they about threesomes and similar- where you have sex tog , with others?
Doesn't really matter, eh? Cause your wife just seems to do what she bloody well wants to do.
And you just sit there, wondering at her " misinterpretation."
Bit thick of you really.
Sit this little missy down and talk clearly and honestly about what both of you want. Don't get fobbed off by her misinterpretations any more. Truth is, you two may well be incompatible into the future. Best to find that out now.
sex, love and ... TV! Oh my!
OTOH, I'd be happy if the things that vex me were only as semantic as HAPPY's.
JWTBM: It sounds like maybe the two of you are looking for different things from your relationship, and that's the source of the tension. You had an affair with the express purpose of finding more adventurous sex, but you've discovered that some of that was for you long-term, and some of that was for you short term. On his side, it seems like he might be way more invested in the threesomes than any of the other things you do together, since the D/s is winding down and you're only having sex once a week (yes, there's a performance issue, but there are ways around it, and other ways to have sex, especially D/s sex!) It's not that I believe he's basically just in it to find a Cool Woman who'll let him do whatever he wants and even join in - you both have the same history, and you clearly care about him and the relationship you have together - but I think maybe that's what's stopping you from talking to him about what you need. If you made it clear to him that you want to do more D/s, that once-a-week isn't working for you, and that you don't want a third, would he stay with you, or would he look for a replacement Cool Woman (a Cooler Woman, if you will) who doesn't want anything inconvenient?

Which is absolutely not a good thing for your relationship. Let's be clear: compromise is important, and making sure everyone's needs are met is important, but you are absolutely, 100%, being accommodating enough. You're not having the best sex, you're not having sex as often as you'd like, you're not having the lifestyle you want, and you're still there. Not wanting a regular third doesn't make you a whiny princess. Hell, maybe you're sitting back and letting the relationship happen TOO much - obviously it's a bad idea to be a control freak, but it's also a bad idea to just accept whatever happens without doing anything about it. Asking for what you want, checking in about how the other person feels, sharing your feelings... those things don't just give you more say in how the relationship goes, they keep the relationship healthy, and they're vital work that needs to be shared by both partners. If a relationship isn't already 100% perfectly compatible, being lazy about fixing the problems that crop up leads to those problems becoming bigger and bigger, and that can end with one or both partners feeling miserable and not even knowing how to talk about it, and maybe not even wanting to fix it anymore because they've spent so much time resenting. And I kind of wonder, is that what your previous marriage looked like?

Take some time to think about the things you need and the things you want. Be as honest with yourself as possible: don't think about something as a need if you can see yourself being happy without it, but don't say "well, I guess I could grin and bear it if it's the difference between keeping him and losing him" about something that would drive you to, well, obsessively check his accounts to make sure he's not actually doing the thing. You want monogamy. Do you need monogamy? What bothers you about the situation he wants: the outside sex, the threesomes, the fact that he seems to want a secondary relationship with this woman, the fact that he seems to want you to have a secondary relationship with this woman, the fact that you sleeping with other men doesn't seem to be on the table, the fact that he's looking for outside sex while he's already having all the sex he physically can and it's still too infrequent for you? Any compromises you can see yourself actually being okay with? If you can compromise, great, but if you really do need monogamy, that's also perfectly okay. Don't sand yourself down to a more convenient shape for someone who's unwilling to do the same for you.

Hopefully it works out. If it doesn't - if he does you the kindness of being honest about his capacity to have a relationship that meets your needs, even if it hurts at the time - you're better off for it. And it will hurt, if that happens, but it also doesn't mean you're going to be forever alone. You're not a senior citizen, you're willing to date older, you're into D/s... if you get tossed back into the dating pool, you're going to do just fine. Respect yourself and work on your relationship skills, and it's going to be okay.
NNP: It never occurred to you to tell her plainly that she's hurting you/pissing you off? Not conducting your marriage like a sexuality course at Berkeley may at least give you some clarity.
HAPPY: Ultimately, it's up to everyone involved what a relationship means and what label is appropriate. Two good friends who hang out all the time, aren't shy about physical affection, and regularly have sex might look like a couple from an outside perspective. But if they don't have romantic feelings for each other and view their relationship as a friendship, they're absolutely correct not to label themselves as a couple even if other people don't get it. If your partner feels like the two of you are romantically involved, and his best friend is romantically involved with neither of you, and it's only really poly if there's romance involved, then to him, the relationship wouldn't be a poly triad. Instead, it would be an open relationship (you and partner) with a mutual friend with benefits.

And yeah, it might be that he thinks only an equilateral triangle counts, or that he has negative perceptions about being in a triad versus being in an open relationship with a mutual friend with benefits - maybe not necessarily that he thinks poly people are deranged sex maniacs, but that open relationships are sort of normal, and poly relationships aren't. (The stereotype that comes to mind is that poly relationships just don't work because people get bored or jealous, and it never lasts very long.) He could also be worried about whether this means you love him less - maybe he wants to come first to you and interprets "we're a triad" as "I love the two of them equally", or something like that.

That said, how do you think the people in this arrangement see each other, and what do you think everyone wants? Because if everyone is romantically interested in each other, and if everybody wants to keep hanging out and having sex, and if everyone can feel secure about getting what they want from the relationship, why not think about making it an official relationship, if you want to? It might be something to talk about, at least to understand your partner's perspective on why you're not like that.
@24 +1.

Although not sure why the language in NNP's letter pisses off so many people. It's kind of Jane Austen, in a post-gender studies sort of way. :-)

Just imagine:. "I do fear Mr. Darcy's boundaries may even surpass the norms of our mono-normative society. Perhaps one day he may transgress a boundary."
@12: Agree with EricaP. There is a reason such women are called "unicorns" -- because they're so rare. Put yourself in the position of a single bi woman. Why would you want to get involved with a couple such as yourselves? What can you offer her? Occasional sex, then sending her home afterwards while you two enjoy your couple privilege? That's what most of us think we will get out of being with a couple, and as you can see, it's not terribly tempting.

Will you be able to date her one-on-one? Perhaps she's looking for a girlfriend, and she may be willing to share with your boyfriend on occasion, but wants to be treated as a valued partner, not as a sex toy. Will your boyfriend date her one-on-one? Will he attend her business awards ceremony or cousin's wedding as her date? Will you spend actual time together, getting to know her as a friend, rather than just ticking that "ultimate male fantasy" box and discarding her afterwards? Think about how you can make yourselves appealing TO HER. And be patient, realising that playing second fiddle is not most people's ideal relationship setup. This is how you catch yourselves a unicorn.
JWTBM, where do I start? You break up two marriages and put a bunch of kids thought the turmoil because you want to have hot threesomes, but now that you are married to the guy you want monogomy? I hope he just flat out cheats on you, you self centered idiot.
Oh my fucking christ what hostility toward nnp. To translate; She wants to be poly with him, he doesn't. She's been shitty to him along the way. He's stopped telling her she's wrong and has started wondering the best way to respond. It sounds like he's deciding to give it a shot together for now.

"just want to find a solution. Should I have polyamorous relationships of my own? Or should I focus on cultivating shared erotic experiences with my partner? And do her transgressions mean that the boundaries we've set are not explicit or generous enough?"
Your first two desires sound fine. As Dan said, don't sleep with other people in revenge or just because she is; just open your eyes back up to other people and hopefully you'll see attractive ones, then take your shot. And if you stop cultivating shared erotic experiences with your partner your relationship will likely die shortly thereafter. For the third question, she might want more than she has been honest about if her actions show that; or she might like to be dishonest or secretive. You could tell her the most important things you want her to be honest about, and see if she can trust you and you can be trustworthy and show you care about her happiness too.
12 - why not pay for it?
@28 +1
Sometimes this column makes me feel stupid, like I don't understand the whole spectrum of love and sex, and this is one of those times. Can someone please explain to me what "post-mononormative" means?
34 i understand it...the term mononormative means monogamous in the context of the this case, calling it simple monogamy might clarify it... Adding post- in front (again, strictly my interpretation of what i have read on the subject)... means that this woman once believed in standard monogamy (probably why she is married in the first place)...but has outgrown its hold on her and now perceives it as constricting and or old-fashioned...and i am guessing the LW is still wanting straight monogamy...the terms of his marriage have changed on him...and he is afraid to draw a line in the sand for fear she will simply cross it and he will be forced to choose what he wants....
@33 I'll take a stab at it.
"Mono" is short for monogamy.
"Normative" means pressuring people to follow social norms (or expectations) even those norms don't make people happy.

So mono-normative is the expectation that everyone should be monogamous -- that monogamy is normal, expected, and morally superior to any alternative relationship style.

Post-mononormative people say we should move beyond mono-normativity. They say monogamy is okay, but so are alternatives to monogamy, and people should negotiate for what they want rather than assuming that monogamy is the standard for relationships.
@35... that helps clarify a bit of my confusion too. :)
@5 - thank you for the laugh!
JWTBM..... Seems the simplest answer to your question is about the idea of being monogamous with someone with whom you have cheated. Adding in all of the fantasies/fetishes/etc just clouds that issue. So ask yourself if you truly believe cheating is a one-time thing and not something that can define one's character. You might be wanting something from him that is simply impossible...and you will likely need to make a decision based on THAT...instead of deflecting to other areas.
I think many of you are being too hard on NNP's language... he probably reads the comments section here every week and was terrified of being he chose his words VERY carefully. haha
@35 - I think context is important here. When you say to your significant other, "Why did you sleep with someone else when I told you that it would hurt me if you did so," and he/she responds "because I'm post-mononormative," the word can be defined to mean "completely unconcerned with your feelings and will do what I want when I want and how I want with who I want."
@40 "Post-mononormative" is an ethical stance which may allow them to forge a relationship that works for both of them. But if, as you say, she's just a selfish jerk then it's hard to see why he would stay.
He is hesitant to pay for any type of sex. I am not entirely opposed to doing so as we haven't really discussed having this become a long term situation. Neither of one us ever pursued anything like this before so I appreciate the advice and perspectives some of you provided. And if I were to pay for it, how do I know I wont be breaking the law if I live in an area where prostitution is illegal?
Good grief. I could never do Dan's job.
JWTBM: Isn't it fairly commonplace in poly circles that it's not a great idea to add new parties at a time when a relationship is having trouble?

NNP: Maybe the wife's restlessness and the messy boundaries both have something to do with the fact they got married fairly young?

HAPPY: Is the "sharing a bed" euphemism or meant literally? Having much the same difficulty about who is having sex with whom as other commenters above.
Stupid line spacing.
@42, like buying pot in most states, it's illegal but you're not likely to get in trouble. You would start by visiting an online review site and finding an independent escort who has at least five positive & recent reviews. Then you go to her website and find out if you can afford her and if she sees couples. If so, you let her know you and your husband would be interested in two hours of her time. Don't discuss sex. Trust her to help you have a good time and let her make the first moves. But don't do it if you're not both enthusiastic. Most escorts are used to men dragging their reluctant wives along, so she is likely to check with you that you really want this.
If the point of this column was to make polyamorous people look like self-absorbed douchebags--congratulations, Dan, you succeeded!

Not that they really needed your help, but...
@ 42, Dan talks about this quite a lot - I'd advise listening to some old podcasts to get some advice on how to go about it. Erica pretty much has it nailed, though.

My feeling is that when every solution to a problem is met with "Well, can't do that because...." somebody involved probably just doesn't want to do it. If you really want to do something, you accept less than perfect options, just to get going on it. If actually going out and really doing this is important to both of you, you'll do it, and find a way past the obstacles.

So you might want to think about whether it's the thinking and talking about it that you guys are really into, and the actual doing not so much. If so, that's OK - my own experience has been that things I thought would be super hot were kinda unsexy in reality. Anyway, it's just sex - if something doesn't work out perfectly, it's no big deal. You can always try again another time.
@5 "NNP's gal is full of shit, but so is he: "when she has misinterpreted conversations and transgressed boundaries, it has always coincided with the neglect of our own relationship." If this is how he communicates, no wonder she "has expressed a need for novel experiences that may not include" him. Jesus."

Sounds like a rather wordy way of saying. "I feel neglected at times (likely during her NRE phase with a new partner), and it is then that she seems to go past the boundaries we have set". He needs to have a sit down conversation with her and lay out his desires/needs for the relationship. Then see how things go....

Boundaries are only boundaries if their are consequences and input. I can not continue in a relationship if....

I still need to feel important to you when you are dating someone else, especially during NRE. How do you think WE can accomplish that?....

It does not sound like he has really laid any of that out for her.
I know we both want to. In fact I have suppressed my desire to be with a woman for many years now.Even if it doesn't happen with him and another, I am gathering the courage to find someone for myself. I have to respect his wishes of not pursuing the most obvious way of making this is a reality. I kno know for sure we're both on board, but as playmates the logistics of making this happen are complicated now. Thanks again for your advice and perspectives.
It sounds like NNP is trying to be very deliberate and specific in his writing. Or he's picked up some jargon along the way in his education and he's trying to adopt a more formal tone. He's suffering from an excess of academese (i.e. he is married, but instead of his "wife" she's his "partner.") I don't think it's either fair or productive to pick on him for the way he's expressing himself; he seems to be in real pain.

His wife, on the other hand: well, I'm trying to parse this statement: She describes herself as "post-mononormative." And I'm coming up against tone again. I think that both ChairManOfTheBored #34, and EricaP @35 do a great job of walking their way through the expression to a good interpretation, but I get a whiff of "more-enlightened-than-thou" coming off it. And with that extra enlightenment I'm seeing judgment and an attempt to guilt and shame her husband.

She's post mononormative, by which I think she means she has gotten beyond not only monogamy and the idea that it should be the norm but the idea that there are or should be social norms about issues like monogamy at all. Which means that if she is beyond it--so enlightened, so sex-positive, so au courant--and he's having problems, they're his fault, because he's so sex-negative, so ridiculously old fashioned, such a throwback. The phrase seems designed to shame him into going along with something he's clearly uncomfortable with, even feeling tormented by.

Bottom line: I think the "I-won't-be-monogamy-because-I've-moved-beyond-that-outmoded-construct" wife's and her "I'm-trying-so-hard-to-be-reasonable-and-to-understand-but-my-wife's-refusal-to-abide-by-any-boundaries-we-set-is-making-me-miserable" husband are using obtuse diction and syntax for entirely different purposes and from different motivations.
JWBTM: His desire to bring another woman into our relationship borders on obsession.

That's because at his age, either he's almost out of time for making that happen, or he's already out of time and not ready to accept the bad news.

Either way, he's going out fighting, and you gotta admire that.

@49 - "my own experience has been that things I thought would be super hot were kinda unsexy in reality"

I had the very same experience...and realized many of my fantasies are so much better off as fantasies without the messiness of real life creeping in.... I suppose that fits with JWBTM's issue too... that being in a s/d relationship that was built on sex is rather bland when you add in dogs and kids...and maybe she should be applauding her older guy's commitment to his fantasies instead of trying to bring him back into the fold of the ordinary... Life gets in the way of life.
@26: "Although not sure why the language in NNP's letter pisses off so many people. It's kind of Jane Austen, in a post-gender studies sort of way. :-)"

His tone and phrasings are pretty disrespectful/disdainful of his partner to the point where either he needs to break it off if he's not happy with how things are going. She could be a jerk, he could be misrepresenting these situations and her words, there's something odd about the phrasing. Maybe it's exactly as presented, but it seems a straw/caricature version of a partner. Sometimes they exist, of course.
Er, either that or he needs to work on more honest communication.
"Merging the kids and dogs" in some kind of Dr. Moreau-style surgical experiment is almost certainly illegal wherever JWTBM lives. Even if it's not illegal, it's unethical --- neither children nor dogs is capable of giving consent to transformation into a new race of dog-children.
JWTBM.. Yeah, Celebrate the guy going down with guns blazing- or not.
And you? Late forties , followed a fantasy.. And you're surprised life isn't panning out as you imagined. Think those sites" married but looking.." Are not designed to be
" married but looking.."
( for someone to smash my marriage).
Fantasy land of meeting twice a week, should stay there. Fantasy Land..
Were you both cheating or were your spouses also playing around?
Sad story, really.
JWTBM being the latest example of someone who is all upset that the person who was only too happy to be non-monogamous in order to cheat WITH her continues to want to be non-monogamous even though it feels like cheating ON her.

That, and the person who was bored with the day-in-day-out of marriage, kids and dogs, badly enough to cheat and then end it now finds that her new marriage, complete with day-in-day-out kids and dogs, is ...(wait for it)...boring.

Seriously, what did you expect?

It's a hard time searching for unicorns (bi ladies for a heterosexual couple): there are tons of folks looking and not anywhere near enough supply to meet the demand.

As a guy in an open marriage looking for a partner, it's rough. Rather than a hunk, I'm marriage material. And if I'm up front about the fact that my wife is asexual, a lot of folks think that I'm the reason for it (not the case).

A pro escort is probably the easiest way to find someone interested, although a swinger's club might be another good (and cheaper) method.

I realize not every town has a swinger's club (or two: thanks Portland), but it might be worth a look.

It's a hard time searching for unicorns (bi ladies for a heterosexual couple): there are tons of folks looking and not anywhere near enough supply to meet the demand.

As a guy in an open marriage looking for a single female partner for just me, it's rough. Rather than a hunk, I'm marriage material. And if I'm up front about the fact that my wife is asexual, a lot of folks think that I'm the reason for it (not the case).

A pro escort is probably the easiest way to find someone interested, although a swinger's club might be another good (and cheaper) method.

I realize not every town has a swinger's club (or two: thanks Portland), but it might be worth a look.
Which sites is jwtbm's man on? I'm 43 and want to find a 26 year old fitness model to fuck me and my wife...
@52 The main problem (or at least, one of the problems other than those you describe) with describing yourself as post mono-normative and calling it a day is that it only tells people what you don't want, it doesn't say anything about what you do want.

It's kinda like telling a partner you're not vanilla (post-vanilla!) and calling it a day, well thanks, but that's not very helpful in practice. And just because someone agrees to be not-vanilla or not-monogamous, doesn't mean they're up for anything.
@12 Seconding the other thoughtful comments about your search.
It would be worth it for you (and your partner) to define what is it that you want.
In an ideal world how would things play out with your bisexual woman?
(The bi woman who wants to fuck you both equally, is happy to be an unpaid housekeeper/nanny, and keeps to her place as a secondary partner without ever asking for any emotional or financial commitment from you doesn't exist.)

Do you want to fulfill a fantasy for one of you? Spice up your sex life? Dip a toe into kink or poly?
Pay for it.

When you think about the ideal world scenario does your mind draw a blank? Are you unsure of how you would want things to play out?
Pay for it.

When you imagine your ideal scenario is it having a play partner who you both like as a person, and enjoy occasional sex with?
Go to a few munches (non-sexual brunch meetings) for the kink/poly group in your area. Get to know the people in the group and find a woman or (more likely) a couple that you would enjoy playing with.

When you imagine your ideal scenario is it sharing a life with a woman who loves both of you equally? Sharing not just sex, but chores, financial responsibilities, children, a home?
Sit down with your partner and have a long talk about how to incorporate another person into your life.
How will bills be shared?
Will they be entitled to a share of the equity in the home if they leave after helping to pay and maintain it for 7 years? What if they don't leave but want to take a loan out on that equity?
If you have children with your partner, will they have rights to visitation if they leave after 7 years of caring for and supporting your kids?
What if they want children of their own? What role will you and your partner have in creating and supporting their children? What will your responsibilities be to those kids if you break up?
How will you handle it if your third is in love/lust with one of you, and likes the other person enough to enjoy fooling around, but isn't attracted to them in the same way?
I've seen two triads have bitter breakups over these issues.
@33: Can someone please explain to me what "post-mononormative" means?

It means "I'm about 85% of the way through my transition from CPOS to full-on abuser." It's the kind of thing you say while you're getting your partner used to the idea that their feelings don't matter. NNP's letter reads like someone who's gotten too used to walking on eggshells.

It's not an attractive way to talk, which is part of why abuse victims so rarely get the support they need. NNP: Leave while you still can.
@1 portland scribe: Agreed, upon my reading NNP's letter--OW! My head hurts.

@3 Functional Atheist: Reading about other people's poly problems is one of many reasons I'm so glad I'm single, too.

@7 LavaGirl: I'm happy for HAPPY too...

Don't HAPPY!

Ohhh,GAWD-----!!! Now I have an unshakable image of Stimpy running through my brain---aaaiiiiggghhh!

middle aged fat happy guy: I picture him looking/sounding exactly like Newman on Seinfeld.
Can my sexuality now just be GGG- I think I'd like saying that a lot more than Bi, Pan, poly...or whatever. I'd like to make that a thing. Totally Fetch.
mariposa @51,

It sounds like you’re in a mono/poly relationship (you’re poly, he’s mono) and while he’s agreed in principle to allow you to be poly, he has set so many conditions on how he will allow you to be poly that you will never be able to meet them.

One way to break out of this dynamic is to say, “I am going to start dating women. How can I help you deal with that fact?”

There are so many ways for this conversation to take you places you don’t want to go — or had not expected to go — or that sound good at first but turn out to be really dumb — that I suggest reading some books on polyamory and meeting some poly folks first. And sharing your books with your husband.

I’m reading “More Than Two” right now and while Veaux sounds like an insufferable, narcissistic, manipulative prick, the book is actually quite helpful. (Though I don’t identify as poly I’ve been doing nonmonogamy off and on in various forms for over 35 years and some of the points in the book have brought clarity to trouble spots and confirmed what I’ve been doing right.)

Maybe, “I am going to start dating women, but first I’m going to lay the groundwork for the change in our relationship by doing some research. Will you join me in this?”
NNP's letter really pissed me off. For all his high falutin' lingo all it comes down to is that he is in an abusive relationship. He sounds like a woman who keeps telling her friends that if she does this or doesn't do that her husband will stop hitting her. Dan's only advice to that poor guy should have been; DTMFA.
What nonsense. If you get into a relationship with someone that you know is into threesomes and you are too then YOU change YOUR mind, why do you wonder why they aren't jumping on your anti-threesome bandwagon? I had a relationship like this.

From day one, my ex-girlfriend and I regularly had a guy join us and both enjoyed it. After awhile, her tastes changed and she didn't want to do threesomes anymore. However I did and she couldn't understand or accept why I couldn't just change who I was the way she had. When I told her I was the exact same person that she has always known, that she knew what I liked from day one, that it is who I have always been and that SHE had changed, she blew a gasket, accused me of not being in touch with her needs and we split up.
Post-mononormative. Right. Full-on "I am smarter than you so shut the f*ck up" mode.
DTMF. She sounds like a pretentious bitch.

I am post-pseudo-intellectual, personally.

@ 71, exactly, well said.

I am glad there's a fat happy gay guy out there, that makes me smile. Thanks Happy! :) Stay that way.
*sigh* Some of us really do speak and think in cultural studies jargon. It's only pretension if it's an affectation; if it's genuine, it's just different. As we have insufficient evidence to make a clear determination, it's rather unfair of all of you to jump right to the least charitable explanation of NPP's girlfriend's language. Stop projecting.

The meaning of "post-mononormative" is perfectly clear to me. "Mononormative" refers to a cultural discourse where monogamy is an expectation, is always assumed, and where conformity with this assumption is coercive (a "norm" is specifically a cultural trope that is coercively enforced). Our culture is one. "Post" refers to having moved beyond this norm, though I would argue that "non-mononormative" would be better language to describe a person, as only a cultural discourse can really be "post-mononormative". The girlfriend may have a very good reason for using that term specifically if the context alluded to with the phrase "conversations were misinterpreted" isn't just the result of bullshit on the girlfriend's part. It's entirely possible, for example, that NNP had various conversations assuming a default of (monogamous) heteronormativity when in fact his girlfriend did not subscribe to such a relationship model at all. He could have assumed that various normative relationship dynamics went without saying while the girlfriend did not, leading to misinterpretation and also prompting the girlfriend to specifically identify the normative model of monogamy as an issue. Again, I don't have enough information to know what happened, but that's an alternate possibility that fits the information we do have as much as the girlfriend being a pretentious asshole.

Dan may well be right, and the girlfriend may well be using jargon to obfuscate her desire to fuck around without consequences (something about which she should indeed be upfront if that's what she wants). That's still not the only scenario that fits the data.
Two brilliant responses. Nice work.
@75: "when she has misinterpreted conversations and transgressed boundaries, it has always coincided with the neglect of our own relationship"

"And do her transgressions mean that the boundaries we've set are not explicit or generous enough?"

Someone who actually is as enlightened as people who speak gender studies like to think they are wouldn't make a regular habit of neglecting the primary relationship. Nor would they allow boundaries to stay unclear after one slip-up. The use of plurals in NNP's letter implies that these are ongoing problems.

Someone who keeps having these sorts of "problems" is someone who doesn't give a toss about their relationship and/or their partner. The part where they use gender studies speak to gaslight their partner just makes them extra assholish. NNP's best move is to run.

@Mariposa: The most important question is, does your guy actually want this in reality or is it something nice to fantasize about but that he's not so enthused about realizing. If he's not actually on board, don't expect bisexuality to be your get-out-of-monogamy-free card. He'd still have a right to be pissed, and should hand in his nuts if he buys BS excuses like "post-mononormative".

If your guy is actually down with the idea of you having a girl on the side, how comfortable would you be as the girl on the side? Couples where the woman claims she wants a girlfriend for herself are relatively common. Since what they claim to want and what you claim to want line up so well, it should be easy to find a match. Whether for full-on third swapping or just for the two women to have some fun on their own.
The real meaning of "post-mononormative" in this context:

"I want to fuck other people, and you can either let me do that without making a fuss, or you can go to hell. But instead of just saying that plainly, I'm going to use a fancy word for it because that sounds nicer than just telling you what I'm going to do."

And I'm going to respectfully disagree with the argument that some people really think in that language. When somebody uses a big word to explain what's really a very simple concept, they're basically hiding their true feelings behind technical jargon. If what you're going to say without using the jargon makes you sound like a complete jerk, then you're still being a complete jerk even if you say it with a bunch of long words.

And in this case, I think both of them need to stop using their graduate-school social science discourse to hide what they really mean.
After reading letters like these I remember why I am so happy that I'm not poly anymore.
Cripes. NNP sounds like it was written by characters from a Portlandia sketch.
@72: I think you'll enjoy this highly-relevant thing.

I certainly did.
Lots of questions to now ask myself and him. I will do some more reading up on this. Funny how you all wrongly presumed "him" to be my husband, he isn't.
It just comes across as being unnecessary and ridiculous in the circumstances. A way she can make herself look better than the rest of us, a way of separating herself from feeling what she's really up to.
Granted, we don't fully know them, but it does come across as weird, and slightly pretentious to the rest of us. It's just "off", somehow, though it's hard to say exactly why, but people are picking up on that and expressing it however they can.

I am English, here for the last 14 years, and am at times fully fed up with America's general lack of vocabulary skills, but there's a fine line.
@82, sorry for my mistake @47. Most posters didn't get it wrong, though.
@83, we don't know the circumstances when she used the phrase. It may have been completely reasonable, in the context of a conversation with her husband about their respective ethics, hopes & desires.

What we do know is that in the context of a letter to an advice columnist, it helps the LW make his partner look pretentious and ridiculous. He seems to see her as pretentious and ridiculous and he doesn't like how she treats him. I don't understand why he stays with her.

But that doesn't necessarily reflect badly on her. Of the two of them, I'd date the one who wants to ditch mono-normativity before I'd date the one who prided himself on having the moral high ground in the relationship.
I think you're reading more into it than is necessarily there. He seems pretty pretentious himself, and doesn't seem conscious of it at all. I think if he was trying to make her look bad by making her look pretentious, he would be more careful about not looking pretentious himself.

As to why he's staying with her? He's married to her, they've presumably had some good times, and he's accustomed to thinking of her as his partner for the foreseeable future. In that situation, you're not going to interpret a few bumps in the relationship as cause to leave, and it's hard for the person in the middle of it to decide when "a few bumps" has become "many bumps and bumpy is the new norm". He seems to be in the middle of going through that process now.
Ack! There's nothing indicating they're married. Not sure why I thought that.

All the more reason to just end it.
White people are freaks.
@86 "He seems to be in the middle of going through that process now."

I'm willing to give NNP the benefit of the doubt. Considering it was _her_ who brought up the term "postmononormative," he has been trying to have this conversation within her rhetorical framework. I would bet she has been feeding him all manner of questionable-but-expedient poly theory that he has been trying to choke down for god knows how long.

Okay, we get it. "My wife is a fucking sophist; she fucks around on me; I can count on having her neglect me and break relationship security promises while she is all up in her New Relationship Energy with Latest Squeeze; and then she tries to make it all my fault for being insufficiently avant garde. And it's killing me. What do I do about this?"

And you guys are choosing to pile on because of the grammar?
Now, as to what NNP should do about it, options include:
1) Tell her all of the above, that she talks a good game but when it comes to actually following through on keeping the relationship feeling safe, she's a selfish shit. Then, either divorce her ass straight off, or lay down the law about the rules she has been breaking, and divorce her ass next time she breaks one of them (and she will).
2) Go find yourself a lover too -- not in retaliation, but so you don't feel neglected; so that you feel desired and desirable (being the one who is sitting at home waiting for the adventurous spouse to tire of her play and come back to Good Old Reliable Me is soul-sucking); so that too get the benefits of some of that New Relationship energy; so that you don't feel like you are on the losing end of this deal.
In either case:
3) Stop letting her lead you around by the nose with fancy terminology. It doesn't matter what poly theory says about being "postmononormative." Normative is all about what society thinks. What matters is what YOU think. What matters is whether YOU are happy. Wanting monogamy is just as valid a choice for you as wanting non-monogamy is for her. She can either have non-monogamy in a way that you are happy with, or she can have it without you. But you are not in the wrong for not being oh-so-modern.

1) go to a strip club

2) find a dancer you think is cute

3) spend some $$ on her AT THE CLUB - this will allow her to spend time with you all & see if you click. also it doesn't hurt that you show respect for the fact that she is at work &, like most people at work, would like to get paid for her time

4) take it from there

signed, a stripper
@87, I think they're married because he starts his letter by saying "I'm a married 28-year-old male".

I agree with avast2006, that the wife has been using this kind of language to guilt and goad him into not questioning her and it covers her selfishness. And he is either trying to keep the discourse on her level or trying to sound less emotional than he feels for the sake of writing a letter to Dan, or the two of them travel in circles where people talk like that routinely. (Most of us with graduate degrees can talk like that and sometimes have to--at conferences or the like--but I've rarely met anyone, hyper-educated and able-to-jargon-sling as I am, who prefers to talk like that in real life.)

I think the time is long past due for the two of them to have an honest, jargon-free conversation about what each of them wants from
1) a relationship or a marriage
2) this relationship/marriage
3) a partner

and take it from there. I think he should call her on her slipperiness with regard to the boundaries they set and she then ignores, and I think they will also find that they have a fundamental incompatibility in that she doesn't want monogamy and he does.

But I have to say I get so irritated when people say things like "he should go out and get a lover for himself." I don't know how easy it is to find a lover to take the place of a deeply-loved spouse. It's not like buying a new pair of flip-flops.
She describes herself as "post-mononormative."

"Non-monogamous" or "poly" = "Non-monogamous" or "poly". The person using these terms is non-monogamous, or polyamorous.

"Post-mononormative" = "I've evolved, and am way beyond all those silly repressive norms -- unlike YOU, you poor cretin". The person using this term is non-monogamous, or polyamorous, and also a pompous ass.

"when she has misinterpreted conversations and transgressed boundaries, it has always coincided with the neglect of our own relationship."

"Misinterpreted conversations", my gorgeous ass. What that means in practice is that whenever they have an argument, or he forgets an anniversary, she interprets that as the go-ahead on finding herself a bar pickup to be post-mononormative with.
@Tessiee: Yup. I was trying to make the same point @52. I think you did a better job.
Sorry, folks....I heavily overdosed on both the Cartoon and Nickelodeon Networks back in the 1990s.
@98, continued: ...with a side trip or two to MTV-land to visit the Lanes and Morgandorffers on occasion.
Okay, okay....before I go overboard, here--back to HAPPY, the fat & happy gay guy, NNP, JWTBM, and this week's Savage Love.
@93: I'd go one further and speculate that he is, or was, planning to show Dan's answer (and maybe ours in the peanut gallery too) to her next time they open this discussion, and he wanted to be seen by her as a) trying to follow her framing, and b) not hysterical. When you open with being obviously drastically upset, that is an instant cue for the other party to dismiss you out of hand. ("Wow, don't hold back, tell us how you REALLY feel.") It sucks, but that's how many people work, particularly the ones who have something to gain by delegitimizing your viewpoint.

"But I have to say I get so irritated when people say things like "he should go out and get a lover for himself." I don't know how easy it is to find a lover to take the place of a deeply-loved spouse. It's not like buying a new pair of flip-flops."

Point taken that there is a real, live person on the other end of that proposition, not a product to be picked off a shelf. However, the statistics would indicate that there are plenty of people willing to fuck around with a married man. Perhaps you would be happier parsing it as, "Stop staying home, and get out there yourself. Next time someone shows an obvious interest in you, take her up on it."
@95: Does it even require a fight or a missed anniversary? That sounds like at least partially blaming NNP for her behavior, and it isn't in evidence in the letter.

It could be as simple as her getting so wrapped up in her happy-happy-joy-joy with The New Guy that she forgets she has An Old Guy at home going ignored. And when he calls her on it, she makes lame excuses of misunderstanding the thing he tried to set as a hard boundary as being (voiceover: Geoffrey Rush) "more like guidelines."
@102: Abso-frickin'-lutely. Somebody who wants to step out will find a "misinterpretation" even if she (or he) has to make one up, e.g., "I know you *heard* 'Disneyland', but I *distinctly said* 'military school'."
I'm a married 28-year-old male. My partner and I are conflicted over the level of openness in our relationship. She describes herself as "post-mononormative." I consider myself GGG.

Translation: My wife and I disagree about how open our marriage should be. I'm trying to be a good, giving, and game partner, but she's over even seeing monogamy as the normal state of a marriage. I, on the other hand, just want to be monogamous (hence my sign-off).

While I know that she wants me to be her life companion, she has expressed a need for novel experiences that may not include me. While I accept that there is no essential link between erotic love and long-term partnership, I reject the polyamorous notion that love is limitless—when she has misinterpreted conversations and transgressed boundaries, it has always coincided with the neglect of our own relationship.

Translation: I know she wants to be married to me, but she says she needs to have sexual experiences that don't include me. I guess I can accept that you can be in a loving sexual relationship that isn't a long-term one (meaning that I'm trying hard to see her flings as not being a threat to our marriage because they don't necessarily last long and marriage is supposed to be forever), but I don't believe in a bottomless well of love. Part of the reason I feel this way is that every time she starts on a new sexual adventure or takes on a new sex partner, the intimacy and sex in our marriage suffers. So she talks about how polyamory doesn't mean that anyone is stinted, but that's not how it's played out in our marriage. When she's got someone new in her life, she neglects me and our marriage.

I have given up seeking the moral high ground and just want to find a solution. Should I have polyamorous relationships of my own? Or should I focus on cultivating shared erotic experiences with my partner? And do her transgressions mean that the boundaries we've set are not explicit or generous enough?

Translation: I used to try to win this argument, and get her to concede my point that you can't put equal energy into all relationships at the same time, but now I just want to find a way to deal with this. Should I find an extra-marital partner of my own (which tells me that he has not wanted to do this, perhaps because he sees it as being contrary to what kind of marriage he wants to have) or should I double down on finding ways to have great sexual experiences with my wife (not sure if he means with others or not) in order to spice things up and compete with the great sex she's getting elsewhere? Lastly, despite our having set boundaries, she keeps just ignoring them and doing things I thought we agreed were off-limits. Do I need to be more generous and let her do more than I am comfortable with or should I just try to be clearer about what I want and what I don't want, what acts or relationships are out-of-bounds, and what are okay with me?

JWTBM (whose sign off--"Just Wants To Be Monogamous"--says it all): once you put it in those terms, does it become clearer? Yes, you should talk about those boundaries you need. You have rights in this marriage, every bit as much your wife does. And when you talk, I would urge you to do it in the most plainspoken way possible. Be clear. Force her to be clear. Then I think you will be better able to decide what you want to do.
" my partner and I are conflicted over the level of openness in our relationship" does not equate with " We are monogamous, and my wife doesn't respect that " does it? . I read that they have an open marriage, and whatever boundaries are decided upon, she steps over as suits her. Then he asks if he should go find someone. This mans statements just don't add up.. I'm confused re what the actual problem is here.

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