Savage Love

Sex at Dawn

Comments

1
Re WSWH.
Dan,
Are you admitting to marital infidelity?
2
first comment? I feel so lucky!
Anyway, Sex at Dawn looks really interesting, but it just seems so hard to introduce non-monogamy to partners who see it as absolutely critical, as a sign of love.
3
Helen E. Fisher has some interesting books on the evolution of human sexuality as well, I suggest her book The Sex Contract. I'll have to read Sex At Dawn now, sounds fascinating!
4
By letting the "traditional" people walk away when you disclose from the start that you don't believe in monogamy, you lose the chance to educate them little by little along the course of the relationship though... From my experience, many people who would have walked away have proven very open-minded once a strong relationship had been established.
5
@1

A) He's not married (apparently there's this legal issue)

B) Of course not. If his boyfriend knows, it's not infidelity. Esp. if said boyfriend is participating.
6
I just ordered my copy, hope it helps me to find balance between my rational mind where monogamy is highly negotiable and my heart that breaks a little bit every time I tell my SO that I'm OK with honest non-monogamy.
7
Dan, you rock. I love your words of wisdom and you are spot on about monogamy being unnatural. Thank you for being a lighthouse of sanity in this insane, fucked up world....the positive impact your writing has had on me and my development--not just sexually, but as a whole, thinking, questioning person cannot be overstated. Thank you for doing what you're doing and please keep up the good work! PS--your fourth of july sounded awesome and quite yummy. Peace!
8
Life is hard, puremesopo. But it's not doing anyone any favors to keep a big part of yourself a secret from your partner. I say this as the once cheated-on wife. Four months after he told me, our sex life is hotter than it ever was before. It's good to be reminded that other people want your partner (and it has been fun to be reminded that other people want me, too!)
9
Word of warning to WSWH: If you magically regain your libido with other partners, don't be surprised if your spouse takes it badly.

Your spouse will be seeking extra-relationship sex to take the pressure off you, but he(she?) still finds you desirable. You, on the other hand, will have tacitly admitted that your sex drive is just fine, it's just that you find your spouse repulsive.

Tread with caution.
10
Going into a relationship with no expectation of monogamy, only emotional fidelity and commitment is a liberating thing. The other freeing place of mind is this- if your partner finds someone else he's happier with than you, if you love him, then that's the person he should be with, not you. I'm 18 years into a relationship on these terms, with 3 failed attempts an exclusive monogamy before this one. Never been happier.
11
Love the podcast. Can't get the Iphone app, because my phone is a Droid. And I am very happy about that. App coming soon for that platform? Thanks for all that you do, Dan.
12
I was in a non-monogamous relationship for 5 1/2 years. I was open with my partner about it, both before we began dating and every step during. He told me he was fine with it, and would beg me to tell him stories of the other men I'd been with, down to such detail I'd find myself making it up half the time.

Then we broke up and it all came out. He called me whore, slut, every name in the book, and let it be known that he'd been lying for YEARS about how okay he was with our arrangement. He'd never been fine and his building rage had been the unsuspected catalyst for our breakup, and once it was over the floodgates opened. So while it's always a good thing to be open about your non-monogamous preferences in life, be warned that not everyone else is always as honest as you wish they'd be.
13
Evo-psych, Dan? Really? And not only that, someone with no academic background in either anthropology or paleontology (the two relevant fields for someone making claims about early humans), who shows all signs of starting with a model of contemporary human sexuality and then projecting that onto a model of early humans custom-tailored to "prove" the model used to generate it? Now, it's certainly possible to consider evolutionary pressures in developing human psychology and sexuality. But doing so would require sorting out how much genetic tendencies influence behavior (evidence-based work) rather than just insisting that whatever behaviors a given evo-psych "researcher" wants to be "inherent" must be.
14
#4: The flip side of your take on "educating" people is that sometimes you end up dragging them unwilling through an experience that they loathe every nanosecond of. "Educate them little by little along the course of the relationship" is fancy wording for transgressing the boundaries that they try to set, again and again and again, until either they see things your way or they feel utterly pushed up against the wall and end up hating you with a venom not found in nature.

If they express some interest of their own accord, even if they are a little repulsed and frightened, but they want to give it a try without any, ahem, encouragement from you...those are the ones you can try to educate. If they just plain want to walk, let them walk. Don't try to stop them, don't try to broaden their horizons, don't try to entice them with what they will be missing out on with oh-so-wonderful-and-desirable you, and don't make them wrong for wanting monogamy.
15
"and any honest person who ever attempted it admits to struggling"

Sorry Dan, but this is one of those long running themes where I disagree with you. Monogamy may not be for everyone, but like most sexual variations, it is for some people. So give us monogamists a break, ok. My husband and I have been monogamist for almost 10 years. We tried "dating other people" way back in the beginning of our relationship, and I've been in "open" relationships in the past, and well, it just didn't work for me. So to all you other happy monogamists out there, don't worry, you're not alone... Even if Dan doesn't believe in us :)
16
Actually, I don't give a shit what (supposedly) cavemen and women did. "Let's just say that we all accept your argument. Now what?" No, I'm not content to wait, I want the sequel NOW! Dan, can you please share your thoughts on the last chapter in Chris' book and any other insights into applied non-monogamy?
17
@15: I could not agree more. I am far MORE comfortable with monogamy than I am with polyamory. It's not just because I get jealous (though that's part of it); I also honestly have very little desire to have sexual relationships with multiple people at the same time.

Human beings are a weird species. We seem to use three mating systems, sometimes all in the same person: polyamory, polygyny, and monogamy. (Ethologically "monogamy" means social serial monogamy, not "until death do us part" monogamy. No animal on Earth practices the latter, including us.)
18
@17: Also, monogamy is positively correlated with IQ. So HA.

http://inventorspot.com/articles/study_e…
19
Another happy monogamous person here. I think it's as natural as any other sexuality, no angst or struggle about it at all; Dan just has a hard time wrapping his head around it. That's okay, it's really, really difficult to realize that other people really, really don't feel the same way that you do.
20
Wow, I'm even a rarer species---the gay monogamist. But the monogamy is likely due to absurdly high standards.

As for the correlation between IQ, monogamy, and atheism, I seem to be having a great day!
21
Monogamy is just as realistic and natural as nonmonogamy. Different strokes for different folks. Honestly, you are no better than the Bible-thumpers passing judgment on other people and their lifestyles. u_u
22
@13 mmm hmmm what you said thank you.

Of course I love any theory that can support my subjective experience - but frankly this thing smells like make-believe science and I'm surprised, Dan, you're jumping on its promo train so fast and loud.
23
Totally agree with 15, 17, 20.

And calling monogamists "unnatural"? Ouch. The idea of two guys banging or two ladies scissoring might seem unnatural to some, but to those who enjoy that, it comes perfectly naturally -- and more power to them. Really, most people don't like being labeled freaks of nature. Maybe come up with a less harsh choice of words?
24
Ug, I hate Evo-psyche.
25
I'm an atheist and lover of science, but so much of evolutionary psychology is pop, psycho-babble crap. When will people learn the difference between explanation and evidence? Recall that Freudian psychology also offered what people found to be satisfactory explanations -- at one point in time.

I'll read this book at some point, I'm sure: but just look at this week's column: no evidence is offered in support of the explanations -- zero, nada, zilch.

There are still heated debates about the evolution of human physiology -- and virtually NOTHING is known about the social behavior of our prehistoric ancestors. Evolutionary psychology so often fails to ascend from the abysmal level of rank speculation.
26
Evo-psych? I don't know, Dan, I think the strongest argument against monogamy as a state of nature is that humans live for like 100 fucking years these days, and we have ridiculously short attention spans.

But then, I'm one of those people who has never ever cheated. So I don't really have a dog in this fight.
27
Jesus christ, would you idiots saying polyamory is more "natural" than monogamy STFU? You're embarrassing the rest of us sane poly people. If it occurs in nature, it's "natural". And all of monogamy and polyamory and serial monogamy and asexuality DO occur in nature.

As for the book, eh, smells like evo psych to me. Maybe it isn't, but I think I'll wait for a real review to decide. I will say that comparing guesses about what prehistoric peoples' sexuality was like with Kinsey's careful surveys of real people is a travesty.
28
@17, it's not true that no animal on Earth practices " 'until death do us part' monogamy." Prairie voles mate for life, and lots of birds too. Here's an interesting article about monogamy and evolution in animals: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/200…
Anyway, what animals (or cave people) do or did is pretty much beside the point with respect to what modern people should or shouldn't do...
29
#13 is spot on. Evolutionary psychology is a veeeeeery difficult area to write well in (even someone like Steven Pinker has his fill of critics): there's an awful lot of horseshit going around, and this sadly smells a bit of it.
30
If polyamory was significantly superior to "monogamy" (in quotes because it could well just be the external projection) in achieving cultural growth and progress, we would see it as the majority strategy in society through simple mathematics. But its not.

I predict monogamous cultures will outgrow polygamous ones 99 times out of a 100, then beat up on the one polygamous one.

Fieldday - do you have an email?
31
MGroesbeck - whats your email?
32
Dan,
I usually really look forward to reading your blog and, of course, downloading and listening to your podcast. This week I really couldn't stand the near 30 mins. of promotion of Ryan's book. I love your news bits in the beginning of the podcasts in particular, but the book thing was a bit much. I'm not against the opinions or facts stated. I just don't care to hear what Ryan's book has to say about why someone's husband would like to watch her have sex with a stranger, then have his way with her right afterward.
33
There is SO much talk in this column and the podcast about how great polyamory and open relationships are, so if I may for a moment. A case for monogamy that's pretty simple: Dating is a gigantic pain in the ass. Opening up your relationship doesn't mean that you're automatically going to have one night stands lining up at your door. You have to go back to that awful singles scene and do all the same manuevering you did before you met your committed partner. For every piece of ass you land you're going to have to play all the games you put behind you. It sucks that the sex died out in your current relationship, if that's the case, but there's plenty that you can do in your existing monogamous relationship to remedy a broken sex life.
34
@4: If someone failed to disclose to me that they were poly, they would be dumped faster than you could say "polyamory", and I would be pissed as hell. It's deceptive, and deliberately so--the implication is that once I'm in love with you, poly will seem more appealing. Not all monogamous people want to be educated. Do you want to be educated into monogamy? Thought not. Some of us would like full disclosure so we can decide what we do and don't want to do.

I always hate the advice given for this--that your choice is "be true to yourself! Be poly!" or "Force yourself to be monogamous, and be miserable." Sometimes, life is a tradeoff. the question isn't "being true to yourself"; is it "is this person worth forgoing having sex with other people?" Naturally monogamous people may find it easier to say yes to that question, but it doesn't mean the answer is always no for those who are not.
35
Just an observation here.... The tone of many "open relationship" proponents tends to trend towards elitist or somehow socially more advanced than those stuffy old fashioned monogomy types. The monogomy folks fall into two categories: traditionalists (those who are monogomous just because it's how they percieve "right" to be) and the reasonable (those for whom considered an open relationship, but for whatever reason determined it wasn't for them).
36
@4: If someone failed to disclose to me that they were poly, they would be dumped faster than you could say "polyamory", and I would be pissed as hell. It's deceptive, and deliberately so--the implication is that once I'm in love with you, poly will seem more appealing. Not all monogamous people want to be educated. Do you want to be educated into monogamy? Thought not. Some of us would like full disclosure so we can decide what we do and don't want to do.

I always hate the advice given for this--that your choice is "be true to yourself! Be poly!" or "Force yourself to be monogamous, and be miserable." Sometimes, life is a tradeoff. the question isn't "being true to yourself"; is it "is this person worth forgoing having sex with other people?" Naturally monogamous people may find it easier to say yes to that question, but it doesn't mean the answer is always no for those who are not.
37
sheesh all this back & forth about monogamy v non-monogamy! Am I the only one that noticed the hot creampie scene in SECONDS's letter? If it weren't for the insane risk involved I would LOVE to be last in a looong line! Just saying.
38
You know, Mr. Savage is getting really boring with his canards about monogamy being "unnatural". (And WTF is unnatural? Unnatural is plastic. *That* is unnatural, in that it does not occur without a lot of man-forced chemical reactions. But monogamy? Seems to occur without a lab having to crack and reform molecular bonds using fire, pressure, etc. Monogamy looks natural to me....)

I get the same annoyed feeling reading Savage on this topic that I do from bible-whacking fundamentalists preaching about gay sex: I get it. *You* really have an agenda here, and you will cite every bit of evidence that supports your bias, while utterly ignoring any contrary data. And you will never, ever pause to reflect that you are being an annoying, tendentious, know-it-all ass, rather than a thoughtful student of the human condition. (At least on this issue.)

I am surprised when a person who is so interesting on other issues becomes a harping, blinkered absolutist on something rather trivial like other people's homosexuality or monogamy.

Yeah, maybe not every is gay or monogamous. But some are, and they would prefer it if you didn't work out your issues calling gay or monogamous people unnatural. In sum, do your thing, and quit calling other people weird because they don't want to have gay sex or multiple partners.
39
hmmmm...not a single library in SE Michigan has a copy of "Sex At Dawn". I feel let down.
40
Evo-psych, Dan? Really?

It's not a science, it's not even educated guessing. It's retrofitting our ancestor's presumed behavior to validate whatever one's pet cause is, if one is charitable. If one is not charitable, it's used to make one's kinks the "correct" ones to have, just like this guy's love for voyeuristic non-monogamy, which suddenly is touted as evolutionary hard-wired.

What a crock of shit.

41
@30: 1. You're assuming that societies operate under whatever principles achieve the best rate of cultural growth and progress, which they demonstrably do not (necessarily; they might). 2. Non-monogamy IS the majority strategy in our society; I don't know what the latest figure is, but the sexuality surveys I remember from the past few years put the incidence of "cheating" at 65%-75%. The fact that non-monogamy isn't a dominant social VALUE doesn't mean it isn't a dominant social PRACTICE. It is.

As for the necessity of "evidence", there is substantial evidence that throughout most of human history H. sapiens has not practiced sexual exclusivity (see the Tiwi or the Nayar for some examples of pre-industrial social organizations that actually necessitate sexual non-exclusivity). Bear in mind that "marriage" between a man and woman that establishes a family unit in no way requires nor dictates sexual exclusivity - a woman's children are part of that family irrespective of the identity of the father. Male-side heredity became much more important with the establishment of patriarchal forms of social organization (in fact, patriarchy is nearly impossible without it, as women control reproduction and therefore social institutions by default) and explicit property law (and particularly male-line inheritance).

Finally, evolutionary psychology is not de facto more-suspect than any other scientific discipline. Genetic factors can have a strong influence on certain behaviorisms, even in an animal as socially-complex as a human. Dawkins, in his latest book, cites a study on fox breeding in the USSR as one example (it also illustrates selection for linked genes). I'd have to read this guy's book to see whether he's backing his assertions up with evidence, but I really don't understand this "it's evolutionary psychology and therefore must be bullshit" attitude that several of the posts have illustrated.
42
The response to the second letter was patronizing as fuck. I agree the woman is likely naturally non-monogamous (though I hesitate to say that without knowing more about who she's cheating with, and what the circumstances around it were), but 24 is way too old to be given a lecture about how OMG YOUNG you are. 24's well past the average age of marriage throughout human history; just because western culture is suffering through a spate of delayed and extended adolescence right now DOES NOT MEAN CHILDHOOD LASTS TO AGE 30, GOD.

Seriously, at what age can you make up your own mind about love and relationships? 26? 30? Or do you have to be 50 to be counted as a serious adult?

... sorry for the somewhat irrelevant response. I'm just tired of fucking boomers like that author staving off old age by pretending anyone more than 20 years younger than they are is still way too young to count as an adult.
43
I'm an unnatural homosexual monogamist. But I totally get why those for whom monogamy doesn't work take every opportunity to point out that it's not for everybody since marriage monogamy is the default.

It's sort of like how omnivores get overly sensitive when a vegetarian friend makes a simple statement about what works for them. Some vegetarians or vegans can be very "militant", but that doesn't mean that everytime somebody praises a vegetarian lifestyle they're slamming the omnivore.
44
polyamory, monogamy, gay, straight, normal, weird, white, black

Why all these labels?

See people, not a label.
45
Beware of comparisons between human sexuality and bonobo sexuality! Remember, chimps and bonobos are more closely related to each other than either one is to humans, and their sexual behavior is COMPLETELY different. Just about opposite in every way, in fact. Gorillas, the next most closely related species to us and chimps/bonobos, have completely different sexual behavior from us and chimps/bonobos. Orangutans, the next most closely related... you get the idea.

Don't get me wrong - you can learn a lot about sexual behavior by observing animals of all sorts. But you can't necessarily take what you observe and say, "Because this is true for Species X, this must be true for humans as well." It might be true, or it might not.

Having said that, I'm really looking forward to reading this book. Unfortunately, it's not in my local library's catalog yet, so I can't put a hold on it.

I'd also highly recommend to anyone interested in the evolution of human sexual behavior two books by Jared Diamond: The Third Chimpanzee and Why Is Sex Fun?
46
Following today's episode of Whale Wars, The Best Bonobo Gang Bangs. Next on Animal Planet.
47
SECONDS, you're stupid. Have you read any Dan Savage at all, ever? Stop "worrying" about your husband's orientation and enjoy the hotness.

Hell, this is the first time I might call "fake" on a letter. It's a dumb question and all it did was give Ryan a platform to spew theory.
48
@38
I stand and applaud. 99% accurate. I had to take 1% off for not using the word "hypocrite" somewhere in your post.
(and that's coming from someone that doesn't in monogamy)
49
@47 I found it odd that it was only after all the work spent giving her a creampie that she worried about the whole thing. Up til then she didn't have any concerns? Not that I think the husband is gay, it's just with her line of reasoning you'd think she'd call foul earlier.
50
Sex in our dim prehistoric times wasn't pair bonded, so it's only natural that we return to polyamory? Spiffy.

What else didn't exist in those times? Democracy, agriculture, nonviolent solutions to conflict... I suppose these things are just silly affectations too. Let's sharpen some sticks and get to raping and pillaging the nearest tribe!

The fact is that sometimes things change for damn good reasons. I'm not an opponent of polyamory- quite the opposite- but people should argue for it based upon its virtues in the modern world.

It's silly to justify these things with the explanantion that our ancient grandmamas liked fucking the Cro-Magnon studs the next cave over. It may be anthropologically intriguing, but it doesn't apply to our lives.

What's that word too describe someone who is a little too eager to believe? Oh yeah: credulous. Thanks, Dan.
51
I suspect the husband in the first letter had oral sex with his wife - he lapped up the semen of the departed guest, hence her concern about the husband being gay. I doubt that changes Ryan's conclusions, however.
52
Years ago when I was in my late 20s, I met and started to date another guy who was a little younger but a lot more experienced. At the time, I had always been in monogamous relationships, and I argued in defense on monogamy as a more stable relationship primarily because there was less jealousy.

My then-boyfriend advocated for non-monogamy. He argued that love (and sex) should not be put in a cage, etc. I reluctantly agreed to him sleeping with other people (that was hard) and us doing three-ways. I found that for us, at least, the non-monogamy was easier. There were some things he liked that I simply couldn't satisfy him. If he couldn't find that satisfaction elsewhere, we inevitably would have broken up a lot earlier than we did. (We lasted three years and owned a house and a dog before we eventually broke up.) But the other thing is that I do have a voyeur streak. My boyfriend was younger, cuter, and more sexually aggressive, which meant that I got to three-way with people I'd probably never have a chance with otherwise. And even though the focus was probably disproportionately less on me than the others, that was okay because I was still having fun.

If the three-ways and my ex's other two-ways were more of an occasional thing, that would have been fine. But my ex was pretty sexually compulsive. All of our friends said so. It got to the point where he was constantly looking for sex, even when it affected our time together. Things came to a head for me, emotionally, when we had to leave my cousin's wedding early because he was getting a migraine only for him to hop on the Internet as soon as we got home, 30 minutes later, trolling for sex. ("But honey, the migraine went away.")

But even after we broke up, I recognized that the issue was about his sexual compulsivity and how that affected our relationship rather than non-monogamy in general. I really have come to believe that in the right circumstances with the right people who communicate well and are more or less on the same page, non-monogamy can take a lot of pressure off of a relationship.

In my opinion, monogamy isn't so much unnatural as it is unusual -- that is, perfectly normal but nevertheless less common in nature, and less common in humans, too, for that matter. Just as my (homo)sexuality is natural but unusual.
53
@42: Your I'm-a-big-grrl-now-god-dammit angst is duly noted. I was your age once, and I remember feeling all grown up. Twenty years later and I know how much more growing I had to do. Hell, ten years later and I was already dealing with housemates your age whose overblown sense of maturity made them too stupid to put down newspaper on the white carpet when painting a craft project. (It's okay, I won't spill. I'm an adult, I'm perfectly capable of being careful. Ooops, oh shit.) There's a reason why car insurance premiums go down at 26.

It's not about staving off old age, either. It's about recognizing your own foibles, which twenty-somethings are notoriously loath to do. I fully expect to be discovering new and interesting ways in which I'm an idiot 50 years from now, at age 95. I'm not even close to finished growing up. Neither are you. Get over it.
54
@41 - There is a substantial difference between trying to discover the complex biological mechanisms underlying human social behavior and speculating about forces in our past that may or may not have shaped human behavior in the present. You vastly exaggerate the amount that is known about our prehistoric ancestors. Even extremely basic questions get hotly debated, and their answers are often subject to surprising revisions: when did our ancestors first start to walk upright? Did our Neandertal cousins possess a human language faculty. All of these questions are the subject of serious debate -- and in the case of the Neandertal's scientists have decoded their genome!

Your history of human sexuality -- rampant polyamory until the imposition of patriarchy and male-line inheritance -- does not strike me as credible. There were, in fact, several attempts to establish polyamorous communes dating back to the... 1700s! But they invariably failed, often because people too often paired up (See 'Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America') . It's not clear why they would, if polygamy were so much more "natural" than monogamy -- whatever that means.

Finally, the rates you provide for infidelity are way higher than the ones I've seen in "The Journal of Sex Research." But who knows? In the end, it just doesn't have much bearing on the argument. A person could be married for fifty years, cheat on his wife once, and he would therefore be categorized as one of the '60%-75%' of males who have been unfaithful. To suggest that this would prove the unnaturalness of monogamy is absurd.

Most people are monogamous most of the time. I have no personal problem with polygamy; why Dan Savage has a problem with monogamy, I can't really say.
55
Dan, you should have pointed out something very important to SECONDS:

When she says "...I found a guy, and he agreed to a full STD screening—at my husband's suggestion and our expense—so that we wouldn't have to use condoms" you should have corrected her misconception.

Since there is a lag time between seroconversion and a positive HIV test result (anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months depending on the test), this 3rd partner could have been HIV positive but tested negative. Also urine tests for clamidia and gonorrhea can give a false negative if the pathogens in the urine are too diluted. This is why condoms are always a good idea...even if your tests show you are "clean". Of course, everyone is free to make their own decisions, and there is no "safe" sex, only a continuum of "safer" sex, but I felt like this issue needed to be cleared up.

And thanks for the book recommendation! I'll order it today.
56
It's been said before, but I think this is a "you should know better" situation that needs this drilled in. (Un)natural is a loaded, amorphous at best (but I'd opt for degenerated-to-meaningless) word. Unless Dan Savage hit his head recently he knows that. Since unnatural "is not a word [Dan Savage tosses] around lightly", I think he agrees at least on the loaded part. That he goes on to use it, implies he has the same contempt and hate for monogamists as homophobes do to him.

Contempt over monogamy? Even if he is right about monogamy being unrealistic and the implication that poly* is better (neither of which I believe to be categorically true), what is the point in contempt?

Please, Dan Savage, learn to respond better to those-you-find-distasteful than those-who-find-you-distasteful do. And going on to call anyone who has had a different experience with monogamy (and its level of ease) a liar is the depths of unprofessionalism and closed-mindedness.
57
I bought the book on Amazon before I finished your column.
58
Dan, you should also have pointed out to your readers that SEX AT DAWN, like most evolutionary psychology (you'll notice neither of the authors is a paleontologist or reproductive biologist) is a pile of pseudoscientific horse-shit. Fine, their theories "explain" why people cheat. But why then, in the face of such irresistible urges to cheat, do many people stay faithful?

You ought to know, as someone who has devoted his working life to talking to people about kinks, fetishes, dysfunctions, functions, and the very confused that people are not hard-wired for ANYTHING. Some paleolithic societies are, in fact, monogamous, some agricultural societies are polygynous or polyandrous, and some cases, like that of the Maasai, defy conventional description—just as some societies are democratic and some are authoritarian, some are patriarchal and some are egalitarian, some are matrilineal and some are patrilineal, some allow multiple heredity and some do not.

And for the record, we actually share more genes with chimpanzees than bonobos.
59
@15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 27 etc. You jump on Dan for saying " any honest person who ever attempted it admits to struggling." We can agree that he gets an incomplete view: happy people don't write him, so he sees mostly people struggling.

Would you be willing to go along with a softer version of his statement: "people in monogamous relationships often admit to struggling." Or, "one person in a monogamous couple often finds it harder than the other person"?

The fact that the half-dozen of you are all happy and non-struggling doesn't mean that your partners have never, ever been tempted to stray.

I'm with 34. Many people want to be monogamous with a particular person, so as not to lose that person, but they may face a struggle in sticking to their decision. (And if the relationship sex goes through a dry-spell, that struggle may become overwhelming.)
60
@53
Yes, there's always more maturity, experience, and knowledge to be had.

But…
No, people don't always make the same dumb mistakes you and your close acquaintances do. No, it doesn't mean you have more wisdom and experience in everything. No, it certainly doesn't mean you're smarter than everyone younger. The implication that is rampant (and I suspect accurate) is that older people feel because they didn't know something at that age the other person must not be able to know it either. And that age alone is reason that younger people should listen to you. I suspect by now you've experienced enough for that to ring false.

The point is not that by age # you have all the things you'll ever need to make decisions. The point is that by age # you should be expected to be able to make your own decisions and craft your own experiences. (That number should probably differ by person, but I think that's generally too hard to do.)

Maybe you'd find it more productive if you have advice/help instead of parenting. Try reason(s) instead of telling people "Oh, the things I've seen!".
61
Let's not forget the physical evidence for the mechanics of the penis, to wit--the cowl of the cock's head, which has evolved to act as a "scraper." Controlled studies have shown--in humans as well--that the last cock in, through vigorous action, can remove up to 70% of the jizz deposited immediately before. I think "Bonk" covers this ground, as well as an NYT article two years ago--family newspaper! But I digress: the researchers concluded that the competitive sperm advantage is aided by the shape of the gland's head, and being the last in, and that this trait has been selected for in mammalian descent lines. Not an evo-psych argument, mind you, but a pysiological one.
62
@55: It also might have been worth pointing out that there's also a possibility of pregnancy. But maybe she had written that she has had a tubal ligation and Dan just edited that part out.
63
I do not have any problem with people being non monogamous, or the idea of poly relationships. But I just feel the need to say, that when I am in a relationship with someone I feel strongly about, I do not find it hard not to cheat.
64
I'd like to suggest a different book- The Third Chimpanzee by Jared Diamond. It deals with a number of topics, among which are Diamond's ideas about human sexuality. Its also a bit of evo-psyche if you will, but Diamond is a well-respected evolutionary biologist and member of the National Academy of Sciences. And his view is a bit more nuanced than Dan's (much as I love most of what Dan says- I think his views on the "naturalness" of monogamy are over-simplified). Basically, Diamond's hypothesis is that humans are "somewhat" non-monogamous. That is, while men and women have evolutionary incentives to not be monogamous, we also have incentives to want our partners to be. So we have this uncomfortable conflict. When you think about it, a lot of the sex/gender related issues the come up across societies could be explained by this conflict...
65
@28, you're correct in that there are many animal species that "mate for life" what biologists have found is that even though the same pair may stick together and cohabitate, they may not both be the genetic parents of both their offspring. In other words, they're paired for life, but that doesn't mean they aren't screwing off on the side.

--- BREAK ---

I think the argument about which relationship arrangement is better or more natural (seriously?) is stupid. Dan's advice has had one central theme: be honest with your partners. This case is no different. If you can't or won't or don't want to be in a monogamous relationship, then you owe it to your partners to inform them up front. If you can't or won't or don't want to be in a polyamorous relationship, then the same applies. If other people disapprove, then fuck 'em - and not in the good way.

It's as simple as that.
66
Thanks to everyone for sticking up for people who prefer monogamy! I personally don't enjoy having sex with multiple people. I've tried, did not enjoy it. I have found it hard sometimes to listen/read Dan (even though I still do religiously) because he gets so down on monogamy, causing me to feel insecure about my own monogamous relationship even though it's just me projecting my own insecurities. I support whatever makes someone happy, and I would personally not be happy in an open relationship. I realize that pretty much all sex advice columnists come down hard on polyamory, but that doesn't give Dan the right to act condescending to monogamy (even though he himself is pretty much monogamous). It's good to know that people can be happy with monogamy because being only 25, I was beginning to think it hopeless.
67
I hate to break it to you, Dan, but speculative evolutionary theory is about as valid as the biblical inspired nonsense that you rail against. Just because his conclusions happen to validate your opinions doesn't make them any more than science fiction.
68
I hate to break it to you, Dan, but speculative evolutionary theory is about as valid as the biblical inspired nonsense that you rail against. Just because his conclusions happen to validate your opinions doesn't make them any more than science fiction.
69
I hate to break it to you, Dan, but speculative evolutionary theory is about as valid as the biblical inspired nonsense that you rail against. Just because his conclusions happen to validate your opinions doesn't make them any more than science fiction.
70
@54 You're creating a false dichotomy between "monogamy" and "polyamory." The fact that people tend to pair up (as opposed to having many partners, or practicing free love all over the place) doesn't mean they are inherently or naturally "monogamous." Because they're likely to cheat or at least think about cheating at some point.

& that goes for a lot of you commenters (like 30) who are attempting to defend monogamy. The fact that it's long been a cultural ideal doesn't mean that it's actually a common practice, or that there's any culture -- whether it's Victorian England or 50's America -- that can actually claim to have *practiced* monogamy. It's my understanding that cheating, affairs and illegitimate children have been common in every single human society that's ever existed. This forms a good basis for arguing that monogamy isn't actually the more "natural" or successful basis for society. Although many couples are or have been monogamous, no society has EVER successfully practiced it.

Dan's wording that monogamy isn't "natural" is a little strong, but he's admitted more than once that his writing tips the scales a bit in favor of open relationships because monogamy has so many other advocates. Nearly every mainstream sex writer and advice columnist will tell you that monogamy is normal while open relationships "don't work" and are a sign of failure. So I don't see the big problem with Dan's slightly overemphasizing the ways monogamy "doesn't work."

@62 she might have a tubal ligation, or she might use the pill, IUD, diaphragm, or basically *any* birth control method other than condoms! I assumed that was the case.
71
Roadflare, I'm over twice your age and still don't think it's hopeless. I have no desire to be non-monogamous and never have.
72
Yeah, I gotta say, I don't know about men, but for me as a woman monogamy is totally natural. I'm not saying it is natural for all women, of course, but it seems just as ridiculous to say that its unnatural for all people.
73
Or, to put the following another way: Most people have a natural tendency to want close romantic relationships with one other person, and we tend to notice that attempts to get rid of pair-bond relationships (like the communes #54 mentioned) don't work. But when attempts at lifelong monogamy don't work, we tend to conceptualize it as a personal failing. "You lack willpower" or "you don't love her enough" or whatever (even when those things aren't true). So it's useful to point out that lifelong sexual fidelity isn't comfortable or easy for most people.
74
The monogamy issue is definitley a blind spot for Dan. He always comes off sounding like a fundamentalist preacher of some kind. "There's only one way --- and if you aren't doing it my way, you're lying to yourself!"

I don't know why he feels the need to so publicly defend his own predelictions as something everyone else needs to do. Insecurity, I suppose. Kind of sad for someone as old as he is and working in the field of sex, too.
75
@70: Jealousy is also pretty common. Does that apparently mean poly-relationships are unnatural?

Pointing to failures in past societies that emphatically demonized other relationship types -- thus driving up the likelihood that people unsuited for monogamy would force themselves into it -- and neglecting that divorce hasn't been broadly socially acceptable for more than a few decades is unfair. Let's look to the future when all types of relationships are fully embraced and supported and see what is truly "common."

Moreover, defining "success" as never straying, never changing your mind about a person, never looking to changing circumstance around your life, never divorcing (thus "failure"), or never even having particular THOUGHTS (??) is incredibly narrow thinking. So if a poly couple fails to regularly interact with their secondary partners or find suitable ones, and *gasp* temporarily become, in essence, monogamous, is this the failure of poly? Of course not.

Moreover, just because a person isn't perfect at something does not null a genuine desire to continue trying it. I do genuinely prefer to be monogamous. Because it can be difficult at times doesn't mean that I'm deluding myself or that I'm forcing myself into a social ideal.

I refuse to even touch this stupid "natural/unnatural" debate, because (1) it's nigh impossible to define, since what constitutes as "natural" can vary for all kinds of people and frankly, (2) it might be natural for anyone to do any number of things, but it has no bearing on my decisions.
76
So, I guess I'm not participating in the mono v poly battle taking place on here, I just want to respond to what DWBAH wrote in saying...

It's strange that what you are concerned about in your relationship is that he doesn't trust you. You've made it pretty clear that you can't be upfront and honest, and thus have to go behind his back and cheat (cheating implies the other person was either non-consenting about you sleeping with someone else, or you had to be dishonest about it and upfront later, or both). That's not being an ethical slut, that's being a liar. Is it possible that while you love him, you can't give him what he wants and don't want to lose him so you keep pretending like you can? This limbo is not healthy. I've been there and I can relate to how confusing and difficult this position is.

My 2 cents - let him go to find someone who CAN be in the type of relationship your partner seems to want. I think it's fantastic that you are poly, more power to you, and, girl, don't let anyone tell you that you shouldn't do what makes you happy. But seriously, be fair. Be honest. And let the guy off the hook, already. And if you're concerned about having someone to "spend your life with," chances are you'll find someone who wants to be in the type of relationship where you won't feel guilty for doing what you want, you won't be trying to change each other, and you won't have to lie in order to keep one another happy - that's not a relationship founded on genuine respect for one another, that's manipulation. You're 24! Be patient, and until then, have fun (be safe)!

<3 - your ethical slut companion
77
avast_2006, your hilarious and insightful comments win the internet. Especially the one aimed at little miss "OMG people in their 20s are like totally all growed up!" - I was thinking the same exact things but you beat me to it. :D
78
@63, 66, 71, 72, 74 – we get it, we do. For you, monogamy is easy, and you're not tempted to cheat. But how can you know for sure what your partner feels? Or what you or your partner will feel in ten years? I know that now you're in love and happily partnered off. But suppose ten years down the line, your partner cheats on you and you find out. Do you get all huffy and leave him for infidelity? Or do you look back on your years of reading Savage Love, and realize that your partner is human, fallible, and probably still loves you? And then what do you do with that knowledge?
79
Can someone explain why we're all assuming DWBAH is "naturally poly" (if there even is such a thing!)? Maybe she's not ready for a commitment yet. Maybe she has self-esteem issues that she's trying to solve by fucking lots of people. Maybe her boyfriend simply isn't the right guy for her and she can't admit it yet.

When I was younger, I did the monogamy thing because I was afraid the boy I was seeing was my last chance at romance ever (yes, I believed this every single time) and figured I'd better nail him down - in other words, I was monogamous because I didn't want him to see anyone else, not because I didn't want to see anyone else. Frankly my boyfriends usually weren't compatible enough with me to hold my full attention. Perhaps DBWAH is in the same situation. Or perhaps not; there's no way of knowing.

btw, now I'm monogamously attached to a boy because I don't want anyone else; he gives me everything I want in a relationship (including variety, up to a point; he's a fairly passable crossdresser, so I can fuck a boy or a girl or anything in-between). Being with him is an entirely different experience from the badly-fitting relationships of my youth: I admire the attractiveness of other men, yes, but I don't sit there feeling devastated that I can't date or fuck them.

So, Dan...arguably people don't "struggle" to stay monogamous if they're being monogamous to the right person and for the right reasons. Or, maybe some people need more variety than others and I'm a person who's fine with what I've got. But I promise you, not everyone goes through some giant personal crisis because they've agreed to fuck just one person.
80
The lady, dude, sex advice columnist, whatever, doth protest TOO MUCH. For fuck sake (pun intended), Dan, enough of the monogamy bashing! Your specious biological justifications(excuses)are gettin' old. There's plenty in the human condition that seems unnatural, when compared to primitive animalistic tendencies. Next time you look for a text to support your own ever-so-apparent indecisiveness, try reading the chapter on evolution. Just sayin'.
81
@78 - That's not really the point, at least not the point I was making. I even said that I don't know about men, so by extension I don't know about my partner. I'm not claiming monogamy is easy for him, I'm saying its easy for ME. And its strange to say that its unnatural and that anyone who finds it easy and preferable must be lying.

Your post and the posts you are responding to are not mutually exclusive, at all.
82
@81, but if it's not easy for your partner, and you're in a relationship with him, then how easy is your monogamous relationship going to be? That's what hit me in the face this year.
83
Firstly, thank been there and back again. I appreciate the support.

@78, I never said it was easy for me. I'm a highly sexual person and do fantasize about the random stranger. I like to go to strip clubs, espcially with my boyfriend. I realize he may imagine fucking the stripper when she wags her vagina in his face. To me monogamy is about actions, it would be silly to assume my partner never thinks about other women. I think it's hard for everyone. I prefer monogamy because it is important for me to feel safe and comfortable. You don't know my boyfriend at all, so let me be clear that he is surprisingly honest, more so than me. I did not say anything against polyaromy, like I said if it makes you happy, go for it. It's just not for me.
84
I'm actually a little surprised at all the controversy surrounding this week's Savage Love; there seems to be a great deal of wounded defensiveness perhaps betraying some niggling little personal doubts in one's love life. Sexuality is by nature fluid; sexuality is a force that, by nature, violates boundaries and breaks barriers--part of the Dionysian experience of the universe. Thus people, especially those in positions of authority, have always sought to chain sexuality so that its normal excesses do not violate common social roles, thus reinforcing a commitment to the common and middle. As a straight man in a happily monogamous relationship, I still find it a beautiful thing to see Hermes-like boundary-breaking nature of sexuality at work, violating all the confidence and middling respectability of the common man. Sex is one of the few acts that does break down one's walls, at least temporarily, returning one to experience the powerful and unindividuated pulse of life.

Regardless, this reminds me rather well of some ancient ritual practice of Sacred Prostitution. If you'll allow me a somewhat abridged reference in Herodotus 1.199. Long story short, all the women of Babylon, supposedly, were to present themselves at the temple of some Babylonian analog to Aphrodite (regardless of marital status) and have sex with a stranger in exchange for money as a duty to the goddess.

I would hazard a guess that perhaps the first whorehouses in the world were, in reality, religious sites.
85
Granted, it's straight to be turned on after watching another man download his DNA into your mate. It's also pretty fucked up to make it happen and that's probably a big part of why Spouse's warning bells are going off. In all likelihood, what we have here is a dude whose psychological adaptations are not functioning to specification. Yes, it makes good evolutionary sense to to be highly motivated to plunge another man's seed out of your mate before it takes root. That's why men are turned on by the idea and by the sight of it, why the subsequent sex is more vigorous, the seminal fluid more copious, etc. (see Baker and Bellis for a competent discussion of sperm competition).

Sexual selection also may have endowed men with a cognitive adaptation to take advantage of situations in wherein a fertile female is seen to be granting broad sexual access outside of a pair bond (e.g., intoxication, wartime non-consensual sex with victorious pillagers, etc.). While morally repugnant from almost any societal or familial perspective, endowment with such motivational apparatus may well have been profitable enough in the currency of descendants to have fixed the trait in many or most men in our species.

But Spouse's mate has invited another male to inseminate his mate because one or both of these adaptations and some bad memes have led him to the unwise conclusion that this is the path he should take with his arousal pattern. It is highly unlikely that such a thing could have evolved by natural selection since in greatly increases the probability he will become nobody's ancestor. Worse yet, he will raise the cuckoo's chick as his own, incurring all the costs of paternal investment while receiving nothing but opportunity costs as his evolutionary reward.

And Spouse is rightly concerned. Is he too subordinate to imagine himself sole mate of Spouse? Is Spouse not hot enough for Cuckold Dude? Is Cuckold Dude endowed with a self-destructive mutation he might pass on to her son? Will Cuckold Dude eventually abandon Spouse because, after all is said and done, his is no longer capable of trusting her? What happens if the interlopers-by-invitation successfully impregnate Spouse and she ends up without the support of either Cuckold Dude or the interloper?

So, Dan, homosexuality is the wrong tree to be barking up, but I see little comfort for her in the (my) field of evolutionary psychology.
86
I totally agree with #6... my head gets why it's acceptable and even a positive thing, but my heart would hurt SO bad.
87
My 2 cents' worth for DWBAH:

"We say that we are going to be together someday, but he has no trust in me. I would love to be content, but I can't seem to go very long before I get distracted. Please give me some insight!"

You have all the insight you need right there. You just need the balls to follow it through to its logical conclusion.

He has no trust in me means that your past actions have hurt him, and he doesn't trust that you aren't going to hurt him again. He wants a monogamous relationship, probably always will, and you are already two strikes down with him. I would love to be content clearly implies that the next try at a relationhip will have to be monogamous too, and you don't trust yourself to be able to live within that any more than he trusts you to. If you persuade him to get back together with you under those terms -- one more shot at monogamy, despite your track record and against his better judgment -- and then you "get distracted" yet again, he is going to hate you and hate you and hate you and hate you.

Let him go. You two are not right for each other. Let him go find someone that he can be monogamous with. Maybe he can keep you around to cheat on her with every so often, since monogamy is, after all, unnatural.
88
Question: I've always kind of assumed that the majority (not all of course) of MEN preferred non-monogamy, and the majority WOMEN preferred monogamy. Help me out guys, are there a lot of MEN out there who enjoy being monogamous? I really picture it as something that you put up with (hence the fact that so many of you cheat). It makes the prospect of getting into a long term relationship seem bleak, unless I can accept this. Especially when I hear Dan (who is brilliant) say that monogamy is just unrealistic. (And yes, I realize I'm dragging some of my own issues/baggage into this...)
89
I haven't seen this brought up in the comments yet, but does anyone else find it mildly offensive, ironic, and disappointing that Dan Savage religiously rails against people's sexual preferences by calling it "unnatural"?

Methinks the hero has become the villain.
90
Ugh, Dan is on an evolution kick again.

Please, pretty please, STOP. It's so stupid.

Look, like it or not, whatever evolution may incline or disincline anyone to do is utterly irrelevant. Evolution is not able to keep up with social change, particularly the rate of change we have experienced (and continue to experience) in the West since, say, 1800.

If you want to be part of a 21st century Western society--with its technology, mobility, legalistic ways, etc.--you have to be a 21st century person, no matter how far behind evolution is. You can't resolve your differences with a physical confrontation, you have to go to court or counseling or some other mediated venue. Don't like it? Tough. Don't feel it suits you? Well, there's always prison.

Similarly, you will have to have 21st century relationships. You will have to negotiate and contract. If you violate that contract, you should expect to be punished. Don't like the contract? Don't sign on--you have that right. But don't resort to simpering defenses like monogamy is unnatural. So is air conditioning. So is the Internet. So are paved roads and modern medicine and 401(k)s. So is 90% of what passes for modern life. If you want in, check your evolutionary excuses at the door.

91
Ok this is my main issue with Dan his monogamy is unnatural meme. Why can't it be like sexual orientation, where we say that some are gay and some are straight and neither is unnatural. Why can't it be that some are monogamous and some are not. Why call it unnatural. I know many many people who are concent being monogamous.
92
About SECONDS: I find it hard to believe that Dan didn't chime in on this, and that I had to read through 54 other comments before someone else rang the alarm bell.
Let me add that during the (up to) 6 month window between sero-conversion and testing positive, the virus load will be very high and more likely to infect someone else.
Add to this the established fact that the 3rd is willing to have sex without condoms and the risk that he could be HIV+ goes up dramatically.
Outside of a monogamous relationship, condoms. Always.
93
savagelover (#88), the phrase "non monogamy" implies that both parties are free to play with other people, and most guys I know are possessive enough that they would never go for that - even if it means having to swear off other people, too, just to make things even. So I'm going to say that most men definitely don't prefer non monogamy.

Whether they find monogamy more difficult than women do (which I guess is what you were actually asking), I don't know.
94
Did everyone (including Dan) miss the ridiculous and homophobic bullshit in the first letter? My husband is into cuckolding- does that make him a homo is even more ridiculous then the old standard- my husband likes pegging so he must be gay. Personally, I don't care one way or the other about the monogamy/non-monogamy debate going on but its disappointing that no one else noticed Dan overlooking the homophobe undertone of the first letter
95
Because I'm female, I'm supposed to have slow-building orgasms. So why the hell would I get with multiple males if I want an orgasm? Each dude has different techniques, different hands, tongues, dicks, etc. Why not stick with one guy for a while so he can learn and get it right? Doesn't mean I have to stay with him for the rest of my life.

Like others said, I want people to fuck and love whoever they want and however many people they want. I do enjoy talking about evolution, but I'm tired of evolution being used to justify my personality, sex drive, intelligence, etc. I'd blame my parents, the media, and my brain's interpretations before cavemen.

96
The notion of monogamy appeared in mankind concurrently with the notion of private property (a consequence of the development of agriculture, which led people away from their tribal, hunting-gathering existence) as a way to ensure that said private property remained in the family. Here's how it worked: you got married, you had children with your spouse, you died, these children were assuredly yours because you were only allowed to have sex with your spouse, so they inherited your property, etc., etc.

Why was this system worked out? Because there were no DNA tests at the time. Then this notion was transformed into "God's word", so it would be easier to get people to obey, and the rest is, literally, history.

(But please note that only apparent monogamy was necessary to make the system work, since there were no DNA tests at the time. The idea was to be discrete, not to torture yourself into an arrangement you couldn't live with. Unfortunately, with religions becoming so strong over the course of the centuries, they also became more capable of forcing their dogma on the population while clerics were and are going around doing whatever they want to whoever they want, with relative impunity until now.)

The notion of monogamy has nothing to do with our biology. Indeed, many others, including famed anthropologist Desmond Morris (at least in a TV documentary he was narrating - maybe it wasn't exactly his opinion), have argued that our biology was quite the opposite. So this book isn't "evo-psych". It's not even a new concept.

And although happy monogamists DO exist (I actually know two of them), they are only one of many minorities on the sexual spectrum, as many here pointed out. Why should all the others feel guilty about being true to themselves?

97
My personal feeling is that there are a certain percentage of people who cheat, and of that percentage, a great number most likely would NOT be happy if their partner had sex outside of the relationship. Of those people who cheat, it's about a lack of impulse control, selfishness, and/or power over their partner. Some people who cheat are insecure and need constant reassurance from strangers that they are sexually attractive. Others cheat to "get back at" their spouse/partner for some perceived misdeed...My point is that people cheat for so many different reasons, some of which are emotionally driven not for the need for variety, but oftentimes the need for power. And a lot of people are just selfish assholes, straight up.

And to Mrs. Erica P - I'm sorry but it's ridiculous that you keep defending your husband's bad behavior. Seriously, grow a set! If he was having thoughts about other women and couldn't keep it in his pants, he should have communicated with you first about the possibility of opening up the relationship or maybe even adding some variety to your sex life. But it sounds like he just cheated on you and then told you afterwards. For most people, the cheating is not as bad as the deception. I would much rather have my partner talk to me first so that we could explore our options, rather than run off to fuck the intern at work followed by an "oops!" afterwards. Good for you that you can forgive him, but don't get on this board preaching to everyone about poly shit when you're not even poly - your husband is a liar and a cheat to boot! When can you get YOUR rocks off? Can you run around having sex with whomever you want? Methinks the hubby wouldn't like that.

Which brings me back to my original point - a lot of sexual non-monogamy is not a two-way street. That's why people cheat - they want variety but want to deny their partner the same freedom. It's all about power and control. It's not about our ancestors or bonobos or being forced into some "unnatural" state of being. Cheating is a choice and people make that choice for a lot of reasons beyond biological urges.

98
@78 The issue for me isn't that monogamy is hard --- it is. It that Dan says it's unnatural with seeming indifference to the fact that this is precisely the same argument that social "conservatives" and religious folk use against GLBTs. It exists therefore it is natural! We do lots of things that are not natural (read, bury our dead, drive cars)

But that is actually immaterial if one believes that variety is the spice of life, and Dan has no problem with that usually.

Dan's hypocracy is what I am addressing. You're free to struggle having whatever kind of sexual relationship you want (none are easy in my mind). But calling it unnatural?
Bullshit......
99
I lot of people are responding strongly to the phrase "monogomy is unnatural". What if it were rephrased it to say "Having sexual urges only for our primary partner 100% of the time is very unusual, and probably impossible"? That's a bit easier to stomach, and I think that's what Dan's saying. I am in a stable monogamous relationship and love it (I'm a guy by the way). I prefer the stability and comfort it provides to dating multiple people. But do I have sexual urges towards people that aren't my partner? You bet. Whether it's towards a co-worker or a movie star, I think we all have sexual urges about people who aren't our partners. Most of the time,we ignore these urges because we dont' want to hurt our loved ones and we don't want to destroy our lives. We're evolved, rational human beings, so we can control our urges. If we're horny at work we don't just start masturbating, because we don't want to loose our job (or if we do start masturbating, we do it in the bathroom).

But that doesn't mean the urges aren't there. And if we lived in a magical world where cheating didn't hurt our loved ones and destroy lives, I think a lot of us would act on those urges. Wait a minute, we don't need a magical world - we can just use non-monogamy! To me non-monogamy isn't about fucking everything we can get our hands on. It's about acknowledging that we all have sexual urges, and that during the normal course of life we're going to run into people we're attracted to that aren't our SO, and sometimes we're going to want to fuck these people, so let's acknowledge this reality up front and deal with it, instead of saying, "Love means only fucking me, and only wanting to fuck me for all of time!" Having sex with other people is only a relationship ender if you decide it should be. Non-monogamy is about deciding it isn't.
100
I'm at the far, far end of the bell curve: I was with another guy for 13 years, monogamous, and never had any big desire to have sex with other guys. Yeah, the relationship sex was reeeeeealllly, reeeeeeeallly good.