Savage Love Jul 13, 2016 at 4:00 am

Straight Up


NCA may be with his good enough girlfriend #2 for the "past few months," but the fact that he just wrote a letter to his ex last week telling her that he loves and misses her suggests to me that he shouldn't settle for his current #2. She'll always be relationship #2.

It's true that passion fades, but I think it's a bad sign when you're wondering if you should settle for someone and you should feel like you hit some sort of jackpot, even if you are realistic and clear-sighted, when you make plans to marry someone.

There's a vast difference between being mature and realistic and settling for a couple of items not on a wish list--or the absence of some you thought were must-haves--and settling for a person whom you always felt lukewarm toward. Saying "I always wanted a wife who sings, because singing is important to me, but Melissa is wonderful in so many other ways and I guess that it's not necessary" is not the same as saying, "I really love Susan, but Susan doesn't want me and Bethany is here and it's a lot of effort to find someone, so I think I'll marry Bethany."
I'm curious as to why NCA is limiting himself to single women without kids. I certainly understand why he may not want a partner who is currently raising children. But at his age-- mid-forties-- there are plenty of women whose children have left the nest. Does NCA want children of his own, and think single women with kids won't want any more? Does he exclusively date women much younger than him, so that their kids haven't left yet? Does he have some hangup about being a motherfucker?

Lots of possibilities, but addressing the right one might open up his options more.
"I committed myself to this person" does not extend to "I committed myself to this person regardless of how poorly they treat me" and does not diminish that commitment when the other party completely betrays the trust inherent in the relationship. Dropping someone because of cheating (especially egregious ongoing cheating) is absolutely not "committing to the ideal" and not a commitment to the person. It is possible to move past it, but doing so (or not) has no reflection on the wronged party's commitment. That's bullshit, Dan.
@4 I think you're conflating the wife who cheated for 20 years with the hypothetical one-night fling.

Dan is suggesting that if the committed musician's wife had one one-night stand in 20 years, talking it out and forgiving it equals being committed to a fallible, lovable human being. If a single lapse in 20 years of fidelity immediately equals walking out, do not pass Go, do not collect $200, Dan is describing that attitude as "being committed to an ideal."
NCA's whole letter about passion makes me let out a sigh. Back to basics time. Yes, marriages should have big helping of sex and passion in them. They should also have companionship and conversation. I don't know where people get the idea that these are binary choices. NCA's letter and a whole bunch it are variations on the theme: I'm so attracted to X, but I get along better with Y; what should I do? At least, that's what I was moaning about when I was 25.

To answer whether NCA should settle for Girlfriend 2 or keep looking, we need to know a lot more about her and how they get along. Do they share basic ideas on making, spending, and saving money? Are they happily employed? Do they agreeably share chores as cooking, driving, errands, housework, paperwork? How are they on responsibilities to parents? What if one of them gets sick? Will they always live in the city they're in now; how will they make the decision if it's advantageous to one of them to move? How will they make the decision on pretty much anything? What are their argument/communication/conflict resolution styles? Before we get to whether NCA is a little attracted to or passionate about Girlfriend 2, do they even like the same food? And how does Girlfriend 2 feel about NCA? What are her reasons for probably accepting his proposal?

Consider that she's probably settling too. Are you okay with that? You have a little experience with dating. What are your realistic chances of finding someone you like better?
"If your ideals are more important to you than your spouse, I think you're doing marriage wrong. But you're free to disagree."

This is curiously similar to Dan's message to Sanders supporters with ideological objections to supporting Clinton - except that when it comes to politics, he leaves off the part about being free to disagree.
NCA should tell girlfriend #2 that he just wrote a letter to his ex last week telling her that he loves and misses her. Then #2 can decide if she's worth settling for.
@2 nocutename: Bingo on NCA. Why am I thinking about Steve Carroll in The 40 Year Old Virgin all of a sudden? If, passion-wise, GF2 will always be GF2 to NCA, and he has already said that GF1 is never coming back, I agree: it doesn't sound like his relationship with GF2 will last very long if NCA's heart is still with GF1.
Does NCA really want kids that badly? He could adopt, or help raise kids some woman already has from a previous relationship. Does he like pets? NCA wouldn't have to put a cat or dog through college in 18 years. Does NCA have favorite hobbies? Favorite vehicle of choice?
Personally, I'm not the least bit afraid of being single, myself, especially if so many guys in my age bracket out looking for SOs and LTRs appear desperate to reproduce.
@8 fubar: Excellent point regarding NCA's GF2. The ball does sound like it's in her court.
NCA: "I want to be married" is not the same as "I've found someone I want to marry." Getting a certificate is not going to make you happy.

If "I want to be married" was code for, "I want to have children", then absolutely "settle" for a pretty, smart, sexy and kind woman you can raise children with. If you don't want children, getting married for the sake of being married is not going to improve your life.

BRUISE: The guy has no fault here. He doesn't know if the other party in the long term couple (you) doesn't want to see marks or gets off on seeing marks. To add to what Dan said, even if you and the girlfriend DON'T have a don't ask, don't tell arrangement, communication is key, and it is perfectly reasonable for you to say, "I'm happy you're having a great time with this, but I while I'm acclimating to the situation, it would really help if you could avoid coming home with marks from your endeavors."

TPC: From a fellow guy who can keep going after coming, one load per condom, period. Sometimes condoms come off or break during the act, and if that happens, you don't want it to already be "fully loaded".

MAPIP: Self righteous much? The way you do it doesn't have to be the way the rest of us do it.
TPC- your recovery time between one ejaculation and the next seems to be extremely short. I’m sure all your future partners wouldn’t mind two additional minutes for the sake of safety.
@2: I have to disagree. I have had a few occurrences where I had broken up with the #1 and was dating the #2. I've never been so selfish as to send a letter over it, so those #1's all remain in my life in some capacity, and I can thus say... #2 was the real #1. Whether it be I was just hanging on to the #1 out of a feeling of missed opportunity I was refusing to move on from, or my relationship with the #1 was insulated from the practicalities of a real long-term relationship, in every case I've learned that we really, really were not compatible in the long term.

Sometimes the #2 really is the #1. If they really WERE the #1, you'd still be with them, right?

Regardless, NCA definitely can't have #1. So he should probably date #2 until he either feels he can spend the rest of his life with #2, or he decides he can't.
I've known a lot of guys in bands, and I used to live in Portland. I need the commenters to explain to me how they suspend disbelief that that letter was written by a guy who is a singer in a band in Portland. Please help.
LW 1 You are getting older. Hormone levels change. Give your current relationship time.
Most importantly, stop pining over 'the one that got away' and start living for today and tomorrow.

LW 2 What you really need to do is figure out why seeing the marks makes you uncomfortable when you already gave your gf permission. I'm assuming you don't have a DADT agreement with her if you knew she was going out for a hook up. Maybe you need to go out and get marked up a bit yourself.

LW 3 When it comes to condoms, the rule is one and done. If tieing it up takes to much time, just throw and go. Personally, I have never tied a condom closed.

LW 4 How the fuck did you ever find someone willing to marry a self righteous asshole like you? Go fuck yourself.
I bet she is already cheating on you.
It seems to me that Dan has gotten letters from the NCAs of the world or their spouses about 10 years into those marriages. If NCA doesn't feel passion for the person he marries, now, just a few months in, he is likely to either cheat or his lackluster response to her is going to wreak havoc with her self-esteem.

Dan seems to have conflated two ideas both involving the fallacy of The One. The first is that there is One and Only One (there's not; there are at least several, and maybe as many as hundreds, if only we all ran into everyone), and the second is that someone is a full 1, as opposed to, say, .75 needing to be rounded up to 1 (Dan's always advising rounding .64 up to 1, but .64 is awfully close to just 50%, so I think that .75 makes for a better rounding-up threshold). Somehow all his "no settling down without settling for" seems to have led to him basically pushing people towards relationships with people they don't really like. As long as he doesn't mind hearing from the unhappy spouses later, I guess it's good advice.
NCA - a few months is not long enough to date someone to know if you should propose, although it can definitely be long enough to know you should Not propose. And I'm with #3 Screen Names - what's your deal with children? Note that I am a single mom with a school age child, and apparently still dateable.

BRUISE - umm, just communicate.

TPC - pookie.

MAPIP - the harder you come, the harder you fall.
LW1; Mmm, what a catch you sound.
Condom Man, if you are that lazy, maybe forget the second try. How long since you've used condoms?
You not noticed, how, well, used they are after coming. The thought of a man having this heavy wet thing hanging off his dick, and wanting to put it back in, is not an appertizing thought.
I think BRUISE might not be suited for this type of relationship. He says she is happy, he is happy for her, he is adjusting, I wonder, is he happy? I wonder if his girlfriend is happy for him. I also wonder if she is the only one seeing other people. He doesn't say, I am dating other people.

As for HAD, that letter broke my heart, and I was not even mad at his wife, just dumbstruck by why she would do this. I feel genuinely sorry for him and I would understand if he never wanted to see her again, but from his letter, it sounds like that is not his character. I mean she had sex with other men, behind his back, and introduced their children to one? of the men and he knows the man. That is so cruel, but I want to believe in the good of people. I have never trusted marriage but this guy sounds like he is the real deal, what marriage should be. I wish him well and healing, and I hope his wife can somehow make amends to him. I have so many questions as to why she did what she did. I wonder what she thinks of the fact that this man who she treated so awfully, still seems to want to fix this.

My cosmic vibrations about the reference to children is that LW1 doesn't want to be low priority. That's a bit odd, as it could make a decent balance to his secret pining. Loose parallel - A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and widowed mother Katie's marriage to a dedicated policeman.

I'm inclined to agree with Ms Cute that .64 is low. She should remember that her motives are more pure than those of any columnist, who has a strong reason to want letters from not-quite-happy-enough couples.


"I'm happy for her/him/them" is one of those lines that gives me cosmic vibrations about teeth gritted so hard they're grinding themselves into stubs and Prudie Previous at the top of her form, because, even when it's true, it sounds like a lie.


Mr Kadmon - Plenty of people who think they're committed to people turn out to be wedded to an ideal. Sufficient honesty about it can at least keep people like this LW from deserving as nasty a fate as the Socially Monogamous who condemn the Openly Nonmonogamous. (I am not taking a stand in any direction on this LW just yet.)


Ms(?) Study - My main line of cross-examination might be designed to determine whether last week's LW married his wife in all ignorance of her capacity for cruel contempt or because he picked up on it on some level. I'm increasingly getting cosmic vibrations that, while it would be all to the good for either half of the couple to fix him/herself, such improvement would make that party not a match for the other.
Everyone is different. Every relationship is different. I am wholly committed to my partner which includes the ideal of monogamy. My partner and I made it very clear to one another that sex, in any form, outside our relationship would justify the end of our commitment to one another. We have also recognized that perhaps one day we may decide the boundaries of our relationship need to shift. But for today being committed to a person AND an ideal are not mutually exclusive for us and our relationship. To blanketly say that because you can not forgive a betrayal, a decade or one night, you were not committed to a person is wrong. Just as the one doing the betrayal made a choice to cheat their partner is allowed to make a choice to leave or stay. Not saying I would definitely leave my partner but they are well aware that is a very real outcome and does not negate my current monogamous commitment to them as a person.
NCA, I have one word for you: REBOUND.

You have been dating this woman for a couple of MONTHS!? And you are thinking about marrying her? It's obviously NOT ABOUT HER. It's about the one who got away and finding a substitute to play her role in your fantasy wedding/marriage.

My advice would be: Continue to date this woman for a couple more years and then see how you feel about wanting to spend the rest of your life with her.

Personally, I feel that if you don't feel passionately about someone in the first couple of months it's probably doomed, but time will tell in this case.
For reference, here's MCA's letter:
I'm in my mid-40s, straight, never married. Ten months ago, my girlfriend of three years dumped me. She got bored with the relationship and is generally not the marrying type. The breakup was amicable. I still love her and miss her. Last week, I wrote her a letter saying that I still love her and want us to get back together. She wrote me a nice letter back saying she doesn't feel passion for me and we're never getting back together. Over the past few months, I've started dating another girl. She's pretty, smart, sexy, and kind. If I proposed, she'd probably say yes. I want to get married. The problem is that I don't have the passion for her that I had for my previous girlfriend. So do I "settle" for Girlfriend #2 or start my search all over? Please don't give me the bullshit that love can happen at any age. At my age, the number of single women without kids is low. How many married people "settle" for someone who is a good person but not their true love?

It sounds to me like he wants to have children--his own biological children--and doesn't want to raise step-kids. He wants to marry, that's for sure, and in his anxiety about time running out he's willing to "settle" for someone he's not attracted to. That's what "I don't have passion for" someone translates to: "I'm not really attracted to him/her."

I'd like to consider what the effect of marrying someone you're not attracted to will have on the person who you marry. This woman (girlfriend #2) seems to be more into the lw than he is into her, so he concludes that if he proposed, she'd accept. (Just last week he was begging his former girlfriend to come back, but that is a different issue.) So this couple gets married and has a kid, maybe two. And the husband pulls away, is rarely demonstrably affectionate, infrequently initiates sex, rebuffs advances from his wife. Often he offers excuses like being stressed or tired, but then the wife finds the history on his laptop--the porn he masturbates to, rather than having sex with her, the ads he has posted on craigslist. Or she tries to make herself sexy for him only to be told, when he finally decides to confess, that he's just not really attracted to her.

If her self-confidence can recover from that, and if they can agree to an open marriage, wherein each of them gets--hopefully--to find some sexual fulfillment, I guess it could work, but that's something you do to make the best of an existing an undesirable situation, not something you go into expecting to happen as an outcome.
It's unfair to girlfriend #2.
The thing is I know way too many of these people, the ones that married someone they felt no passion for but who was a version of NCA's "pretty, smart, sexy, and kind," and over the years everyone was miserable. I can count off over a dozen marriages that started with one person not really attracted to the other that ended in divorce, some bitter, some amicable. I can think of a bunch of other couples that are still married, unhappily so. And those are only the couples I know about. For all I know, that attraction/passion disparity is behind a lot more divorces or unhappy marriages.

I'm not so naive as to think that the passion you feel for someone in the first 6 months will endure at that strength or to think that the only successful marriage is the one where the couple is still banging like horny teenagers 30 years in. But to make the decision to enter in a marriage when you're not really attracted to your spouse beforehand seems like something 19th-century women were told was their only option if they didn't want to be a spinster.
Also, I think Dan compares apples and oranges when he says "there's no settling down without settling for," and may often be thinking of his own marriage. He's more than once referred to the fact that his husband doesn't clean up after himsellf when making a sandwhich or likes to shop and spends more money than Dan would prefer to (but not, I assume, more than they can actually afford to spend). I know they have some different interests. Probably there are some bigger issues each has with each other. But lack of attraction or passion is a horse of a different color and I'm sure that that particular beast isn't part of the Savage/Miller union and never has been. You can't conflate someone's irritating habits with a basic mismatch in terms of attraction, but that seems to be what Dan often does, when he gets carried away by his need to shoot down the idea of The One.

I've been the woman who married a man I thought was great in so many ways but I felt no passion for him and--surprise!--I ended up miserable and ultimately the marriage didn't survive my lack of passion felt towards my otherwise wonderful husband. And I've been the woman who had to break up with a man because he told me that he really didn't feel passion for me even though I was in every way wonderful and it made me sick at heart to feel undesired by my lover. This comment thread is filled with regulars who have their own versions of that story. Why would you ever encourage someone to enter into a lifelong commitment to someone they felt no passion for at the outset? How dare you presume that the companionate marriage this will undoubtedly turn into (if they still get along) which the man seems to be okay with is what his unlucky girlfriend #2 is looking for or will be satisfied with?
The thing with NCA is he wrote his ex LAST WEEK. She used the word "passion" in her prompt reply to NCA, the lack of which is what leads her to wanting to stay broken up.
And he finds himself contemplating a proposal to his new girlfriend of a few month, but the stickler is that darn word "passion"--he doesn't have that for her, despite her many admirable qualities.
I'd say the "no settling down for settling for" reasoning is not applicable in this case. NCA is still mourning a mourning a breakup. It would be desperation to marry combined with reeling from a breakup--added on top of no passion--that would be the ugly stew for girlfriend number two. This is not "settling for", this is rushing to fill a void, with the new girlfriend as innocent bystander swept up in NCA's shitstorm.

And who the fuck really knows what "no kids" means? Maybe he wants his own, maybe he hates being 'second' to a woman's children, maybe he hates kids. We don't know. It doesn't matter--he is in no shape to be contemplating marriage to girlfriend number two or to anyone else. Do not counsel this guy to settle for and settle down--he's still mourning the previous breakup, the confirmation of which only came within the past week when she wrote him back!
An edit comment function would be helpful to those of us who are bad at proofreading.
NCA: I will second BDF @22 in saying this is WAY premature to be thinking about marriage to your GF of several months. You are obviously not over your ex yet. Getting married right away to someone else is not a good way to move on from a recently lost love. You say you think current GF is more "marriage minded," but that does not require you to propose before you're completely ready to commit. Please give this relationship a few years to grow and mellow. If after 2-3 years you're still not as into her as she is into you, cut her loose and move on. You both deserve to be with partners who brighten your life...and if she's as pretty, smart, sexy and kind as you say she is, your feelings for her may deepen over time, especially as you recover from your recent breakup. But it's clear that you're not really ready for marriage yet, so don't try to push it.

BRUISE: If you've read SL in the past, you already know that the key to any successful relationship involving additional partners is good communication with your lover(s). It's great that you get happiness from seeing your GF happy - but you deserve the same consideration from her. Please let her know how much the marks bother you, and ask her to tell her lover(s) that hickeys and love-bites are out-of-bounds. If she cares as much about your happiness as you care about hers, that should solve your problem.

TPC, I can't believe I'm the first one to suggest this - but why not just blow your first load through masturbation or oral sex? Then it's a quick easy slip into the rubber for your next performance.

SophieX @14, sounds like you can't believe a Portland band singer could be a strict monogamist, as MAPIP claims to be. Maybe he is from Portland, Maine! But seriously, I question why monogamy hardly ever gets a fair shake in SL. Just as some people are wired to be gay, bi, trans, or poly, some people (like MAPIP and NTT @21) are wired to be monogamous (or at least -ish). It's an equally valid preference and it deserves equal respect, but it seems to encourage defensiveness or even ridicule from commenters. I also think MAPIP makes a fair point in saying that people can actively choose NOT to act on sexual impulse every time they get the opportunity - especially if doing so would violate the terms of their partnership. He did not insist that this standard should apply to everyone, which I agree would be smug and self-righteous. But he's entitled to live his own life his own way, without being attacked for it.

AT+420 @27, our comments crossed. You nailed it!
@vennominon @20 I always enjoy your comments, even when the literary references go over my head.
My problem with LW 4 isn't his his belief in monogamy, it's his harsh tone combined with an extra large portion of self righteousness. I commend you for being magnanimous enough to give this fellow the benefit of the doubt, because I simply cannot find it within myself to do so.
@Atheism+420 @28 An edit function would be great. I write comments exclusively on my phone, and mistakes are frequently made.
In fact, there are multiple features I'd like to see added or improved, including the ability to directly respond to a comment and a notification when new comments are posted.
I still can't upload a profile picture from my phone.
I'm willing to put up with all of the technical shortcomings because the commenters here are so interesting and insightful.
@2: "It's true that passion fades, but I think it's a bad sign when you're wondering if you should settle for someone and you should feel like you hit some sort of jackpot, even if you are realistic and clear-sighted, when you make plans to marry someone."

Yes, you should at the very least HAVE some passion at some point for the person. Why date them otherwise?

That said, the brain gets wired up differently in doomed to fail relationships and "romantic passion" isn't always heathy or happy either.
@29 @Capricornius
" Just as some people are wired to be gay, bi, trans, or poly, some people (like MAPIP and NTT @21) are wired to be monogamous (or at least -ish). It's an equally valid preference and it deserves equal respect, but it seems to encourage defensiveness or even ridicule from commenters. "

Monogamy is a choice.
Sexual orientation is not a choice.
No one is 'wired' to be monogamous, or -ish, they are taught to be monogamous. In fact, society pushes monogamy as the 'norm' when we know that, biologically and scientifically speaking, it isn't.
I personally don't have a problem with monogamy, I have a problem with people who push monogamy as 'the one true way'.
MAPIP was/is on a 'holier than thow' trip, and he just wanted to talk shit to Dan and to 'humble brag' about being 'a singer who can pull hot chicks'. The guy isn't defending monogamy, he is being an asshole.

I did'nt read all of the comments, but what about internal condoms (female condoms)?

Honestly I've never used one, but with my understanding of the way they work I think that you could blow two loads in one and still be protected- at least more protected than by unloading in a traditional condom twice.

what a nice problem to have :)
I'm guessing my Pokemon set of cards I kept from when the kids were little, would be worth a bit right about now.
Is this guy really worth a lengthy discussion? Check her teeth and her shoes, all good, then she's right to go.
I'd really like for LW1 to post his current gf's email. Time to warn her. Tell her how the land lies.
Mr Kadmon - One sees so many people wedded to specific ideals (often Traditional Gendre Roles) and doing so much harm by denying it because they find it an ugly admission. I'm far from prepared to advocate for this LW, but felt I could spare a quarter-point for honest ideal-wedders.
Ms Lava - It's possible. But do be careful. My one Pokemon-playing nephew (I got the other three started on Yugioh instead, which turned out to be a good decision) had a horror story of how he was convinced to trade what I think turned out to be the scarcest of scarce Charizard cards for less than a tenth of what he could have gotten for it on eBay.
Adam @34, I agree that society pushes monogamy as the norm, but for some people it is no more a deliberate choice than sexual orientation, gender identification, or the desire/need to have multiple sexual partners. Recall the letter a few weeks ago, from a young man who was reluctant even to make use of the sexual "hall pass" his long-term GF had urged him to take before they got married. He didn't WANT to have sex with another woman, he only wanted her. That's a natural monogamist for you. We all want what we want, and ultimately it doesn't really matter whether it's biological or cultural or psychologically imprinted or just...because. Everyone's entitled to do it their own way, alone or with others of their own preference, without being scorned or ridiculed.

Where you see a humble-brag asshole, I see a guy who's pointing out that it's possible even for a groupie magnet to resist temptation, because his monogamous commitment to his partner is more important and sexually meaningful to him than a one-night stand. I didn't read anything that made me think MAPIP was pushing monogamy as the One True Way, only that he felt deep compassion for HAD's betrayal in a supposedly monogamous relationship that turned out to be one-sided. Many people have expressed similar distress over HAD's situation, despite highly diverse views on the value of monogamy. Are you bothered because MAPIP signed off as "monogamous and proud"?
Don't know that I'll be bothering Venn. My toy collection.. is part of my inheritance to leave the kids. What comes around..
LW1:Try again. Let these women go, readjust your dial, fall in love with a woman.. who does or doesn't have children, and bob's your uncle.
Then you get married.
Dude hasn't this guy looked around at all? There are tons of single, childless, pretty fantastic women in their 30s/40s who are looking for-or at least open to-marriage. GF2 is a rebound if he's just gotten written (seriously? a letter?) confirmation that his ex is truly finished with their relationship. He should definitely not propose and frankly should take some time to get over his ex rather than fucking with someone's emotions and wasting their time.
Anyone who is still in love with an ex (in love enough to write a letter with the hope that it would result in a reunion) is simply not in position to contemplate marrying someone else. Once you see a partner as substantially deficient, I'm not really sure that there is any hope to successfully remain in a relationship with that person. And marrying out of a sense of desperation is an obviously bad idea.

I think LW needs to end this relationship and start over. Given his inability to get over his ex, he might want a few sessions with a therapist to talk things out, before embarking on any new relationship.
I Hate @3, If I had to guess, he probably wants kids and is mostly dating women a little younger than himself without kids in the hopes that they'll be willing and able to have kids, but it's just a guess based on what other childless men of about his age sometimes do. If my guess is right, a woman his age with grown children, even if able, would be less likely to be eager to have more kids, particularly if conception required medical intervention.

Just a guess though.
@41: That too. He needs to be single until he gets over that or he stops his moping and takes interest in someone who likes him back.

I honestly wonder if the moping over the ex is explicitly due to her being uninterested in him.
So many of these letters, like NCA's, revolve around "settling" for a relationship that is not everything one might want. Of course, no relationship has everything, so it really comes down to finding someone who has the important things. If you truly like yourself first, hopefully you will be a little less desperate to complete your life with someone else who is not everything that you want. Seems logical to me, keep looking until you find the right fit. You don't have to "settle," especially not in your mid 40s, it's not like you are knocking on death's door and have to marry the last widow in the nursing home before one of you croaks. Choose happiness - for yourself, and your partner.

TPC. Are you kidding me? How fucking lazy are you? Change the condom, for Pete's sake. Or can't you spare the 40 seconds?

Seems like everyone here needs to practice a little patience.
sophiex @ 14
Dan often changes geographies in order not to expose the writers. I always suspected that letter about sporty non-sexual friends few months ago had nothing to do with Australia.
Sorry Lava, but I smell years of REI membership, that musty aroma of the wood floor at the old store.

And since we’re acting locally… Seattle bands singers get married and shoot themselves, just so that Portland stoners can stick their heads out of the car window and distract innocent bikers along Lake Washington with, “Hey man, where’s the house?”
Capricornius @38 " Are you bothered because MAPIP signed off as "monogamous and proud"?"
No, the whole tone of his letter upset me.
I have no problem with monogamy personally, but this guy sounds like he has a problem with anyone that isn't monogamous. There isn't a single caveat in his letter. No 'I know it's not fo everyone'. No 'different strokes for different folks'. Nothing.
Look at the language he uses. It all about raising up monogamy and pushing down everything else. He equates commitment to monogamy, totally disregarding the concept of non monogamous commitment. He suggests non monogamous people are 'animals' without 'integrity' or 'self control'.
He also called HAD's wife a 'slut'. I'm sorry, but fucking other people wasn't what she did wrong, lying about fucking other people was. This guy sounds like a misogynistic pig to me.
The whole letter pissed me off.
Thank you Adam, I think you saved me the trouble of reading it. And a singer too.
Yes, what is it about singers. Even the ugly ones are lustable over.
I did skim over the letter. Noticed
the " I'm a singer, get hit on all the time
butI never ever go there" and realized I might need a second reading to go back to it.
What is this calling women sluts, whores etc. when they doing what so many men do. Lie and cheat. No special words for them.
Capricornius @29: SophieX is stereotyping musicians, ha ha, so funny I forgot to laugh.

There have been a LOT of examples in this column of people who appear to be naturally monogamous. HAD, for instance. The thing is that these people are the ones who are devastated when a partner cheats, because they never would cheat, because they don't WANT to cheat. So it's similar to a non-smoker who can't understand why a friend has tried and failed to quit smoking several times, or someone who's lactose intolerant lecturing people on veganism. It's easy for people who are wired for monogamy to be monogamous. And, using MAPIP as an example, it's apparently easy for some of them to be sanctimonious and superior about it.

Adam @33: Monogamy is a choice that's a much easier choice to make when you're wired that way naturally.
I agree that MAPIP was bragging about how much pussy he gets offered and turns down.
And that "Monogamous And Proud" is judgy, just like the "proud" vanilla person who wrote in a while back. By saying "monogamy separates us from the animals," he is effectively calling non-monogamous people animals, isn't he? Even Jesus Christ said "judge not lest ye be judged." MAPIP deserves to find out his wife's been the one fucking the groupies he's haughtily turned away. ;)
Ms Fan - Now #49 is high calibre. I award you half a point for generosity, in being willing to bestow the women who inexplicably don't flock to you on LW4's wife; that is impressive.

But I think the really naturally monogamous know that we're different. LW4 strikes me as being one of those who has to work at it. His judginess had that edge to it. Someone with no taste for anything but fruit for dessert may lecture the ice cream eater, but not nearly so vehemently as the ice cream lover who's forcing himself to give it up.
BDF @49: ...So how do you feel about "Poly and Proud?" ...or "Gay and Proud?" Do you find these slogans equally judgy?

Yes there have been many examples of natural monogamists in this column, and nearly every one of them has been subjected to belittling in the Commentariat. How often does someone suggest that the best solution for a cheated-on spouse is to open the marriage and get a little side action of their own? Whereas no one here would dream of suggesting that a poly family experiencing relationship friction might be happier if they lost one or more partners and tried being monogamous, or that a lesbian just hasn't met the right man yet. (No I am not advocating for either of these comments - just the opposite! Everyone deserves to have the kinds of relationships they want, without being judged by others!)

It's ironic. I'm hardly the appropriate role model for strict monogamy or anything resembling a typical OS relationship, and I like to keep my heart and mind open to the universe and all the lessons it has to teach me. I just don't get why straight monogamous couples are considered fair game for ridicule and scorn in this column, whereas other sexual flavors and nuances are respected and upheld. Mainstream and "vanilla" folks are equally worthy of respect. It's not a zero-sum game.

I do agree with you and Adam @46 that calling HAD's wife a "slut" was over the top. We would not call a man a slut for similar misbehavior, he'd just be a CPOS, and in any case it was the deception more than the sex that shattered HAD's perception of his marriage. However if you reread the letter, MAPIP said that INTEGRITY AND SELF-CONTROL are what separate us from the animals, not monogamy. I tend to agree with that assessment, regardless of one's sexual persuasion. Sex is a grownup sport, and grownups take responsibility for the promises they make to their partners.

However, grownups also learn to be compassionate and forgiving when their partners occasionally slip up and break the rules of the relationship. I think is the point that Dan tried to make in his response to MAPIP.
Capricornius @51,

I agree that there are people who propose the dubious “marriage in trouble? Add more people!” solution too easily. But that’s not the same as mocking monogamists.

Many of us lean towards monogamy and understand it well. Still, for those who aren’t hardwired absolute monogamists, some variation on nonmonogamy can become interesting in a good, established partnership where the sex has gone stale. There’s a certain amount of hashing-out in the comment threads of whether a given letter-writer fits the criteria, and often vehement arguing. I don’t see how that translates to belittling monogamy.

As I reread your comment though, I realize that you aren’t saying that we all belittle monogamy. You’re saying that someone always points out that poly is an option, you think that nobody should ever make that observation because it’s disrespectful, and you’re telling people to shut up.

You are extremely conflict-averse. Conflict isn't always bad and is in fact an excellent way to learn. Telling people to shut up in a discussion forum seems to be missing the point of a discussion forum. What is it about conflict that upsets you? Appeals to you?

I'm pretty sure that a commenter at some point has suggested that someone simplify their life, cut down on the people-pleasing and focus on what’s important to them. There would have been discussion of whether that constituted poly-bashing or just growing up.
@15/Adam Kadmon: "LW 2 What you really need to do is figure out why seeing the marks makes you uncomfortable when you already gave your gf permission." I think it really easy understand why he doesn't like the seeing evidence of her outside sexual contact. Being accepting or comfortable with the idea that your partner will have sex with other people, doesn't mean that you want to have evidence of that waved in front of your face. LW is more than likely already very aware of his feelings and it is seems equally unlikely that processing them in some way is going to get him to a place of more equanimity about seeing them. Asking her not to get marked isn't unreasonable.

Finding the conversation regarding "naturally monogamy," and what we "know" biologically and scientifically speaking about human sexuality to be a bit much. There seems to be ample evidence that humans can be somewhat non-monagamous, but there is also ample conflicting evidence in our biology that suggests long-term monogamy is also natural. And in any event, people don't function in some sort of "natural" state. We're not Homo erectus walking across the savanna. We have shared bank accounts, credit cards, mortgages, health insurance, and retirement accounts, as well as responsibilities to children that last decades. And sex and consent occurred under very different circumstances for Homo habilis 2 million years ago than modern humans. And the amount of time Homo sapiens idaltu could devote to sex 160,000 years ago certain differs widely to the amount that modern humans can today. So I don't see waving around conflicting scientific evidence to be meaningful, certainly not in coming to terms on a relationship level.
Wow, Alison @52. The last thing I intended to say here was "shut up." I was rather hoping to generate more discussion around the good elements in MAPIP's letter, which had been ignored or (in my opinion) misinterpreted by previous commenters. I assumed this was because he declared himself to be monogamous and proud of it, and I've seen previous letters and comments from vanilla and monogamous folks challenged in ways that we do not challenge others, so I thought that was worth a mention.

This is the first time anyone has EVER accused me of being conflict-averse, either online or in RL, because I do like to play devil's advocate and that's what I was doing here. So yeah, the "appeals to you" conflict option feels much closer to the true me, although I like to think I am respectful in raising my objections. I'm very distressed that you read my comments as a "shut up" command, and if you have constructive suggestions for improving my writing style so as not to give that impression in the future, I'm open to them.

I do not want ANY commenter to shut up! Even when I don't agree with someone's opinion, I enjoy thinking about the different issues that people raise around a given subject. We all bring such diverse life experience and sexual history into this discussion. How boring it would be if we all agreed with each other.
Sublime Afterglow @53 I don't think LW 2 has a DADT with his gf, because he knew she was out on a 'date' or a 'hook up' (or whatever the kids call fucking these days, maybe 'Netflix n chillin'). I said so in my original post.
It isn't unreasonable to have a 'no marks' policy if you already have a DADT agreement, but I don't think this couple has one.

As for human nature and monogamy: I believe that 'man created monogamy' in the same way I believe 'man created god'.
Monogamy is a concept created by men, designed to ensure that a man will only spend his resources raising his own biological children.
Monogamy is necessary for patriarchy to work. (Was necessary. Today we have DNA testing.)

I don't believe that monogamy is 'hard wired' for anybody. Some people choose monogamy, some of them prefer it and some may even enjoy it; but it is a social construct, not a biological drive.
The fact that monogamous people fantasize about sex with people who are not their partner should be enough proof to disprove 'natural monogamy'.

If anyone has a link to a study (a reputable study) that supports the concept of 'natural monogamy' I would love to read it.
I wish Dan had called out the last LW for the slut comment. Guys sounds like a sanctimonious douche.
Is BiDanFan working for an apprenticeship?
There is no natural monogamy, if there was every human grouping that has every existed would have practiced it.
I read an article about an Australian Aboriginal man who had ten wives.

Marriage is hard enough, when love or whatever one wants to call it, is there.
LW1 says; this new gf is great, she'd marry me if I asked. I want to get married.
Here is a good woman being treated like she and any authentic part she could have in this plan, just doesn't matter.
And he's looking for a non mother, so she can breed with him?
I don't know if for a marriage to work for longer than five minutes, passion is what must be present. This sort of offhand, oh I guess she'll do, attitude will see a marriage become a sham of pretence.
Several years hence they will
be (as I remember nocute has already pointed out ), writing letters about how disconnected they feel in their family.
Can’t there be a range? Some individuals extremely inclined to monogamy, others not at all and most somewhere in the middle?

Also note the difference between social monogamy, which is more common, and sexual monogamy which is maybe less so.

Also note that by ‘very monogamous’ I‘m thinking of one’s own number of slots available for forming a pair-bond, not possessiveness or jealousy which is something else.

And then there’s serial monogamy vs strict monogamy, Queen Victoria style (assuming she didn’t have an affair with her security guard after Albert died). People who claim that scientifically there is no support for a concept of natural monogamy usually have quite a strict definition of monogamy that is very hard to meet.

I’m not brainwashed into monogamy — I’ve been actively trying to play the field since I was 13 — but really, if I have a sexual partner I have access to more than once a month it’s hard for me to get up any interest in seeking out another one. Sure, it can be fun to flirt very casually, but I’d rather use any surplus time and energy further up the maslovian pyramid once sex is taken care of.

Really. I’m not making this up.
"Do you really think I care for you so little that betraying me would make a difference?"
The Doctor (12 or 13, depending on how you count it)
So. Nobody has heard of the concept of "rebounding?"
Yes Dr Zaius.. It has been mentioned. That doesn't cover the attitude of seeing a woman and her full agency as being of little concern when he's thinking of marriage.
@55/Adam Kadmon: "It isn't unreasonable to have a 'no marks' policy if you already have a DADT agreement, but I don't think this couple has one." I think there is a difference between DADT and waving your outside sexual in front of your partner, it's something adequately covered in The Ethical Slut, which I recall frowned on overt displays of outside sex. In the end, markings probably weren't something the letter writer or his partner considered before opening up their relationship, now its come up, and a "No Slow Fading Marks" policy is something that we and Dan agree is reasonable, irrespective of whether he knows his partner is out having sex with other people.

"Monogamy is a concept created by men, designed to ensure that a man will only spend his resources raising his own biological children." But men aren't the only ones concerned with resources for raising children. What ensured pre-Homo sapiens sapiens females access to resources while raising a child that required far more care and resources, over a longer period of time than various apes? And what of the fossilized footprints of Australopithecus Afarensis which show a male and female walking hip-to-hip together 2.9 million years ago? And suggesting The fact that monogamous people fantasize about sex with people who are not their partner should be enough proof to disprove 'natural monogamy' doesn't seem to logically follow.

Shut up and avert your eyes from the Harem - monogamy is for you peasants, not Sultan No Excuses!
Hunter @63 - In those polygamous cultures, the polygamy was for the menz. The women were the monogamous ones.

It certainly doesn't follow logically:

If my sexual fantasies revealed how we want to actually be and live, I'd still be living in a house with 5 other guys and we'd be having a gangbang nightly. Nevermind the logistics of how it would work, it's what I would do.

Sure, there are people who can't seemingly live without acting upon their fantasies but there are other people who are content to spank it to an idea and then go about their business. Am I somehow living less of a life because I can't have wanton group sex nightly? I don't feel like I need to be pitied here because I won't upend a great life to indulge in my fantasies wholly.
@21: Hey there -- you're me, but the "me" from 5 years ago. I'm as committed as ever - maybe more than ever - to my wife. But now were getting hot and steamy with others too -- wheee!
SA@64. If monogamy is natural for humans, how come so many humans haven't naturally followed it in their social structures. Or is it just natural for some? In that case, which ones.
@64 & @67
If you are monogamous and you fantasize about having multiple sex partners, but you don't act on those fantasies because of real world complications or problems you are choosing to be monogamous. That totally defeats the idea of 'natural monogamy'.
As far as fossilized footprints go, I see nothing to suggest that those footprints belonged to a monogamous couple. Non monogamous couples can and do walk together, holding hands. People who aren't couples, and aren't sexually involved with each other can also walk side by side.
For all we know your 'ancient monogamous couple' were walking to an orgy.

@Hunter78 Polygyny (one husband with multiple wives) was another 'tool' of the patriarchy, to be sure; and I suppose monogamy could be viewed as a 'step toward equality', but forced monogamy is still a far cry from gender equity.
@ Alison 59
" if I have a sexual partner I have access to more than once a month it’s hard for me to get up any interest in seeking out another one."
This is an interesting point.
I would be inclined to say that what you are describing is sexual satisfaction, not monogamy.
Monogamy (in the context of the discussion so far) is a commitment to remain sexually exclusive.
What if you have a partner, but they aren't available for over a month? Lets say they are out of town on business. Once you start to feel sexually frustrated, that feeling of 'natural monogamy' would disappear right?
Mr Kadmon - What about those of us who never did have fantasies about having sex with multiple people or those who weren't our partners - or never felt sexually frustrated even during long periods of unavailability?
I wasn't aware I was arguing that it was natural rather my specific sexual fantasies don't play a compelling role in what I want out of my marriage, sex and life in general. Maybe I'm weird, I don't know. The entire reason I'm into gangbangs is the idea of an insatiable woman who wants as much dick as possible is irresistible to me. I have luckily found someone who is that way with me most the time.

Is it natural that I don't want to have children? Probably not but on the other hand a lot of it was a measure cost benefit analysis of what my life would be like with and what it would be without and the unknown risks absolutely did not outweigh the unknown rewards - I am a pretty risk adverse person, it's served me very well.

The driving point is that there are so many things we do and have done that are human in so much that we have the cognitive capacity to choose to take specific actions. You can't separate our ability to choose how we want to live from our underlying humanity and our nature. It's what makes us such a fucking cool animal - we decide what we like and don't like with some measure of reason behind it.

I don't intend to come across as if I think monogamy is the bee's knees or natural cause it's clearly not for everyone and I would never suggest that my life is how other people should live. If people want poly relationships they absolutely should and if a bunch of indignant monogamists hate it that's their problem. I just was really bothered by the idea that sexual fantasies provide keen insight to our underlying nature because there are fantasies way beyond what I think about or what I torrent that I couldn't even begin to fathom as natural - mutilation or torture of genitals being a specific one - because there doesn't seem to be anything natural about that and yet people have that fantasy.

I mean, if you want to go through a series of sexual fantasies and categorize them as natural and unnatural or indicate our underlying nature, that could be fun, but so many fantasies exist and there's a lot of meta cognitive stuff that doesn't even figure on nature in there.

Another compelling reason for not having kids - my wife never wanted them and she is the bee's knees so why would I fuck up the best thing that ever happened to me? Why did my desire to be with this person override the natural instinct to procreate? Why did my wife never have that to begin with?

I know that an impetus for labelling monogamy or polygamy, natural or unnatural is to justify how we, as a society, treat other people based on how they act within the parameters of society but that's a fucking charade. Seeking validation from how other people do their thing in relation to your own is for chumps. But again, maybe I'm a weirdo?
Mid 40s. Still thinks about relationships the same way a teenager does. Hopefully the new GF will see him for the manchild he is before he hurts her too bad.
I'm not sure how this conversation got so far off track.

My point about monogamy was simple, or so I thought.
Monogamy is the decision to keep a relationship sexually exclusive.
Monogamy is a social construct, not something 'hard wired' like sexual orientation.
Monogamy is not superior to non monogamy.

A number of commentators argued that monogamy is 'hard wired' for some people. I disagree. Monogamous people choose to be monogamous.
I brought up sexual fantasies to illustrate that monogamy isn't 'hard wired'. If you're predisposed to be monogamous, why would you have fantasies about other people?

I want everyone to know that I don't have a problem with monogamy. I have a problem with people like LW 4 who seem to think monogamy is in some way 'superior'.
Vennominon @73

" What about those of us who never did have fantasies about having sex with multiple people or those who weren't our partners - or never felt sexually frustrated even during long periods of unavailability?"

I would assume that people who don't have sexual fantasies and don't get sexually frustrated would self identify as asexual. Somehow, I don't think that is what you meant.
Let me ask a few clarifying questions if I may.

Before you were in a relationship, who or what did you fantasize about?

Once in a relationship do all your fantasies involve your partner?

Have you ever experienced sexual frustration?
If you ever have felt sexually frustrated, what was the cause?

What is longest period of time you have been abstinent?

Finally, are you just messing with me?
(I hope not, because I find your question extremely interesting. I do enjoy a good joke though.)

Thanks again for another stimulating comment. You never disappoint.
Capricornius @51: I would never describe myself as "poly and proud." I would think anyone who did was a bit of an arse. I am poly and happy, but poly does not work for everyone, and it is certainly not inherently "better" than the alternatives; it just depends on what relationship style suits your needs and temperament. "Gay and proud" is slightly different; the "proud" implies not "my lifestyle is superior to yours," as MAPIP asserts, but "I'm not ashamed to be who I am." It implies the person is proud of being out, rather than proud of being gay. (Now, if someone was saying "I'm proud I'm not a breeder," that person, too, would be a bit of an arse, IMO.)

HAD was not savaged in the comments for being monogamous. I did suggest that he could benefit from an open relationship if that's what he wanted. I do believe that most people do have desires to have sex with more than one person in their lifetimes, which is where these suggestions are coming from. Been suppressing your desires? Been wronged? You can turn this to your advantage! People aren't saying those LWs are wrong for not having cheated themselves.

I agree with Alison that there is in fact a range, and that most of our desires are in fact influenced by whether we are getting "enough" sex from our partner or partners. If I'm having regular sex, I'm a lot less inclined to look for, or even at, other partners as well. The question isn't whether someone fantasises about people other than their partner -- the disconnects between fantasies and actual desires have been discussed to death. The question is what they actually want and whether they find monogamy a hardship. On the high end of the monogamous scale might be someone who would have a one-off fling with Brad Pitt or Megan Fox at the encouragement of their spouse, but is not at all tempted by the Brad Pitt/Megan Fox lookalike at work. On the other end is the person who's having sex with their partner daily but still wants to bang every piece of skirt/package that walks by.

Adam @72: In the context of the discussion I'm having, monogamy means the desire for sex with people who aren't your partner, or rather, the absence of that desire. Monogamous people can behave non-monogamously, and vice versa, but they aren't very happy about it.

Burnedpile @57: Eh?
Mr Kadmon - Be warned that I may have to shut this down at some point, as we are skating close to my No Disclosure line.

I'm tempted to give you a Gertrude Award for your denial of a Deep, Dark Purpose here to prove that people are presenting themselves incorrectly (I avoided Nefarious), but it's possible you're just a thorough cross-examiner.

Bear in mind as Principle #1 that I am Extremely Weird. My fantasies are so limited in scope that I can't even extend them (and I mention this with all due apologies to Mr Alan and Mr Ophian) to those known to be of the bi persuasion or known to be taken. So the Whom was always one and only one available gay male. As for the What, that I must decline to state. Even if you were a close friend, there are others here who would use the information in an attempt to make me miserable (you may recall that I was Impersonated some time ago, and that Ms Cute, though I don't blame her for not catching the impostor's spelling, actually thought that a couple of posts that weren't at all my style were genuine).

They did. (Remember my RFR status.)

Not that I recall, in the sense you mean. It's possible that something from when I was forced involuntarily into conversion therapy might count, but you'll forgive me, I trust, for declaring that path also out of bounds.

I'll change the question to Longer Than a Month? and answer Yes.

Absolutely not, but you obviously appreciate that there must be limits to my candour.
Venn, I do remember that imposter.
Fan and Alison, I agree,
monogamy/ non monogamy is on a continuum.
The culture might hard wire certain behaviours, that is different from being biologically hard wired.
Fan, what do you think of Boris' new job? Poor France. Being hit again.
Regarding MAPIP, it's possible to commit to ideals while at the same time recognizing that we're dealing with fallible human beings here who won't always live up to them (MAPIP included; I guarantee that even if he never does anything with another woman, he will fail to live up to his marriage ideal in some way)

So it's possible to commit to both, while at the same time understanding that one or both parties in the marriage may need forgiveness and understanding at some point. It's also OK to condition that forgiveness and understanding on a re-commitment to the ideal, and, I'd suggest, grounds for divorce if one party's understanding of what that ideal entails arbitrarily and unilaterally "evolves" (i.e. if they cheat and don't think they've done anything wrong).

Indeed, this is a big reason why I think couples should really figure out what their common ideal looks like before they get hitched.
As for experiencing sexual frustration, there's really nothing wrong with it. It can actually be a useful thing to go through.

Look at it this way: sexual frustration simply means that you have an urge to act sexually but, for whatever reason, choose not to act on it.

Well, there are all kinds of urges we get that we end up choosing not to follow through on. I get urges to quit my job (but rent is due in a couple weeks) or buy a big 4x4 truck (but the payments would destroy my finances) or eat a gallon of ice cream (but I'm trying to maintain my weight and health). So what makes sexual urges any different, except, perhaps, their intensity?

Having sex isn't like breathing or sleeping or eating or drinking or eliminating. Those are urges we must respond to (and even there, we don't consider it appropriate to engage in them in all times and places, so even with these necessities we have to exercise some restraint). Not having sex won't kill us.

In fact, the ability to restrain our urges (closely related to our ability to enjoy delayed gratification) is actually a prime predictor of how successful you will be in life. And restraining urges isn't some weird talent you either have or you don't. It's a skill that you learn with practice, like any other.

As a matter of fact, we might all be a bit happier in the long run if we actually did cultivate our ability to live through some sexual frustration and come out on the other side.
BDF @79, thanks for the explanation. To my ears, "Poly and Proud," "Gay and Proud," "Monogamous and Proud" - all of these sound equally OK. I don't get that nuance that you and Adam K apparently did, that taking pride in your own lifestyle equates to putting down the lifestyles of others. In other words, I hear "Poly and Proud" the exact same way you hear "Poly and Happy." I think we are all entitled to be proud of who we are and what we like!

You suggested that HAD could benefit from an open relationship if he wanted that, yes, and in a very civil manner. It is the standard piece of advice that most LWs in monogamous relationships get in this column, both from Dan and from the Commentariat. But would you ever suggest to a poly individual that s/he might benefit from a monogamous relationship? Would you appreciate receiving that advice from someone else, if you were the poly LW with a relationship issue? That was the point I was trying to make in my original post, that we seem to feel OK suggesting to self-declared monogamists that there are other and possibly better lifestyles out there for them, while respecting all other self-declared lifestyles and preferences.

Venn @80 I am so deeply sorry to hear that you were subjected to conversion therapy. There are no words.
@NCA, Sometimes there is bit of an adrenaline rush from a relationship that doesn't quite work: Maybe a thrill of the chase, a going out on a limb and doing something new to "try and make it work." it can be both intoxicating and devastating. Sometimes in the rush we forget to do what inspires ourselves and go mad. Whatever it is, the biggest danger of this "incompatibility rush" is that it makes a perfectly happy functioning relationship seem boring by comparison. Try things YOU have always wanted to try with your current lover. Do good things for yourself with yourself with which your lover can be a part or not (a good relationship has alone time for both). It's subtle maybe "boring" but it can lead to something more satisfying in the long term.
corydon @ 83, the desire for ice cream
Is a little different to the desire for sex.
The latter is a biological itch, the former not so much.
@75 No Excuses: Bravo and kudos----I nominate you and @2 nocutename winners of the NCA thread! You and your wife are so lucky to have one another. You're not the least bit weird. Our society is and will forever be fucked by its insane fixation on baby-making.
I have no regrets about remaining childless. My reasons are many: social, physical, societal, emotional, economical, and psychological. I have no intention on continuing so destructive a broken cycle, and thank you for the welcome assurance that I am not alone in my beliefs.
Good post to highlight, Grizelda. And there is no excuses showing the love a good marriage requires. And why would people want to aim any lower, just to get married.
@87: And, to clarify: I DO like kids (no, really---good, well-behaved ones, especially), and not to eat for my supper. I just never wanted to biologically add any new ones to planet Earth's existing human population since the age of 10.
If that makes me weird, so be it.

Can we please just agree to stop using the world "slut"....?
@88 LavaGirl: You're right. I got married for the wrong reasons, and paid the price of having to battle my butt off to firmly keep hold of my above mentioned beliefs---until I finally had to get divorced, get myself free, and let go. Heaven help me for trying to make so toxic a marriage work, and for 9 years too long.

My current challenge is in dealing with PTSD triggers from my active military service (from 25 years back). I am seeking counseling and disability compensation through the VA. Music, Volkswagens, and cats have proven to be among my best, most effective sources of therapy.
@90 kharper88: Agreed. I'm ready to dump that term, along with the equally overused slang definition of "cougar".
M? Corn - Very kind of you. At least I defeated it. But it is a large part of why I'm a bit annoyed with Mr Savage for not having had a few foul things to say about the Republican party platform yet.

I think there is something to the bulk of #84, but that, when the presenter's position is generally the default or the norm, there's a higher likelihood that asking blindly, "Have you considered alternatives?" will be productive. To use the current example, we do see the occasional suggestion to consider closing an open/poly relationship, but generally there's a basis on which to make the suggestion.
Dan may be on holidays, Venn. Or like many of us, he's too dumbstruck by the Republican's platform to comment.
We just have to hope enough American's are wise enough to kick those idiots out, and make sure they don't grab the Presidency. What a hell hole that would be.
@96 LavaGirl: I admit I'm in shell shock about this year's election season.
Another grossly mismanaged Republican White House would be a nightmare indeed.
What I find most appalling are the self-proclaimed Bernie Sanders backers who went
so far as to advertise Feel the Bern and rally, only to pout upon Sanders' conceding
the Democratic nomination to Hillary Clinton and do a sudden about-face for Trump!
Stupidity is rampant among the easily fooled. Every vote is going to be crucial. Let's
hope it's not a repeat of 2000. The U.S. is still suffering mightily from the Reagan-Bush Era.
@97: Sorry about my mis-indenting--again.
Did I really read the Rebulicans have the idea to change the Constitution, so the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage could be reversed? How come they think to tinker with the Constitution here, yet the bearing arms one can't be touched.
* Republicans.
Lava @81: I think they should all just be taken out and shot. Boris, specifically, I hope his first foreign assigment is the Syrian front lines, or somewhere he's equally unlikely to return from. Turkey perhaps?

Corydon @83: "sexual frustration simply means that you have an urge to act sexually but, for whatever reason, choose not to act on it."

I disagree. Sexual frustration means you have an urge to act sexually but no opportunity to act on it. Your wording above could include choosing not to rape, and I think it's a dangerous road to start down, when the conclusion could be that sexual frustration is an acceptable excuse to rape, or that choosing not to rape is somehow virtuous rather than a baseline minimum for calling oneself a human being. The "for whatever reason" should be obvious.

Yes, it could be argued that people have opportunities to dispel their sexual frustration which involve sacrifice of some of their other principles, such as seeing a sex worker (but what if you're broke -- you're not "choosing not to act on" a desire to see a sex worker if you can't afford to see a sex worker), having sex with someone you don't find attractive, having sex with someone who you know is going to cause you serious drama, or having sex in violation of a monogamous commitment. Most of us have opportunities to have the sort of sex we don't want. The question is, how frustrated do we have to be before we make those compromises? And surely the definition of a satisfactory sex life is having opportunities to have sex which don't involve sacrificing one's standards or principles?

Capricornius @84: "would you ever suggest to a poly individual that s/he might benefit from a monogamous relationship?"

I would, and I have. I recall a young man who wrote in saying his girlfriend had invited her other boyfriend to move in with them, but she didn't want LW seeing anyone else because she was insanely insecure and possessive. My advice was that the girlfriend was obviously not suited to poly and should choose monogamy instead.

"Would you appreciate receiving that advice from someone else, if you were the poly LW with a relationship issue?"

This also seems to be the standard advice whenever a poly person has a relationship issue, similarly to how overweight people are always told "lose weight" by doctors even when their weight has nothing to do with their medical issue. On the flip side, poly is not for everyone; monogamous or insecure people often attempt to do poly because the person they are interested in is poly, but are too hurt by a partner's non-exclusive interest (understandably so -- watching someone you love get involved with someone else can be emotionally challenging even to those who are committed to poly), and the inevitable result is drama. If you can't do poly without pitching a fit when your partner acts on it, you shouldn't do poly.

No Excuses @75: High five from one weirdo to another.

Sorry Griz @92: I'm a cougar and proud. ;) [Proud to still be able to pull young men, that is.]
Very unhealthy for them, certainly. But well deserved.
Ms Lava - [Did I really read the Rebulicans have the idea to change the Constitution, so the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage could be reversed?]

It would be more like overriding the ruling by making what had been declared unconstitutional explicitly constitutional. The amendment has been around probably ever since shortly after Hawaii first made marriage waves. I've seen it debated at various times. It hasn't passed because many Republicans would rather have the issue than bribe the Democrats with enough other incentives to get it through; it would cost too much. A much better example of a reversal would be the way the Lawrence-v-Texas case in 2003 reversed Bowers-v-Hardwick in 1986 and made it unconstitutional to ban consensual sodomy. (In an amusing side note, the Georgia DA who got sodomy-prohibiting laws upheld in Bowers was later revealed to be a Wainthropp sodomite, and I think might have been vulnerable to prosecution under the law he'd gotten upheld. My memory is a bit fuzzy; I think there were only a tiny handful of states that barred sodomy only of the SS variety, and that most barred both SS and OS and simply prosecuted only SS.) A marriage reversal would be something along the lines of, say, Justice Ginsburg finally getting cancer from all those right-wing prayer groups that have been after her for years, and two reverse Souter appointees of Mrs Clinton's turning out to be hardcore social conservatives, so that all it would take would be for a state to find some grounds for appealing a case to the Supremes, and then - hey, presto!

A new amendment could always be passed to improve how to cope with guns, but any amendment has to be passed by 2/3 of Congress and 3/4 of the states. While the FMA has a realistic chance of passing if the True Haters are willing to pay for it, a gun amendment would have to overcome such dedicated opposition that it doesn't seem worth floating.
What an amazing column this week. My favorite might have been the intoxicating & ephemeral thought.

NCA - I'm not sure if you are having a problem figuring out what you want, or if the problem is that you have no idea how to form a healthy happy relationship. No one can tell you what you want, part of life is figuring that out. Practice can help develop skills to promote healthy happy relationships. Part of this practice might involve planning a mutually acceptable marriage with someone, getting engaged&married, then trying to follow through with the plan.

BRUISE - Dan covered this really well. I'd add that it's about you both being happy. So she needs to know how to make sure you're happy too.. even if it requires some more effort toward discretion. I was worried by your impulse to "get over it" or tolerate or ignore your own unhappiness, like you consider her happiness more important... that kind of self sacrifice kills relationships ime. I think that partners should respect each other a lot, but ensure their own well-being first.

TPC - Nice descriptive public service announcement.

MAPIP - Wow, you care a lot whether other people cheat. I think you're too angry and morally proscriptive to see how Dan's advice made sense. Some people can manage to be monogamous, even when an open relationship might work better for them. The deceit was the bad part.

I don't like Dan's answer here either, though. You can feel attraction and love for people, which involves some commitment to keeping them sexually satisfied (attraction), or happy in general (love) if that emotion is to survive. You should commit to 20 years of responsibilities if you adopt or have a child... But people commit to behavior, people commit to plans.. people don't commit to emotional responses, because emotional responses are involuntary. It's almost like Dan is taking things back pre-divorce, when you were forced to be with who you married forevermore, regardless of desire or likelihood of getting killed by them or raising someone else's kids or whatever.

Re preferences: I guess people are talking about Maslow with this hierarchy of preferences. I think that Maslow's hierarchy is a useful tool for individuals, it's healthier to take care of survival and social and reproductive needs before, say, a need to climb Mt Everest or revolutionize the field of robotics or something. You can accomplish more with a strong foundation of happiness I think. But it's not a rule. Some people are loners, some people are asexual, some people are strongly drawn to health risks, or to self-destructive behaviors.. in some people the general survival instinct can be dismantled and they'll commit suicide.. Maslow's hierarchy may be healthy to long term survival, but it is not some universal descriptor of human nature.

When I hear someone call a certain preference "hardwired"... like other preferences are fundamentally different... it just sounds like snobbery to me. Re orientation discrimination: I prefer the approach "my orientation isn't hurting anyone unreasonably. I don't deserve some brainwashing attempt to change my preference. And it's not like people choose what they like. So fuck off." Instead of making orientation into some sacred type of preference. All preferences are sacred to me. And some people don't give a shit what others care about.

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