The Stranger's 2018 Sex Survey included the question: "When I am in a relationship, I want ____________." There were only three possible answers: "to be monogamous," "to be monogamish," and "non-monogamy."
The overall total results are shown in the chart above. Surprisingly, more than half of respondents chose something other than "monogamy," even though more straight women completed the survey than any other category of people.
I say "surprisingly" only for anecdotal reasons. All of the people I can think of in my life who have described in detail their opinion about the importance of monogamy have been women (with one or two religious men tossed into the mix).
Before we go any further, we should define the term "monogamish." As careful readers of Savage Love know: It goes back at least to 2011, when Savage coined it to refer to "mostly monogamous, not swingers, not actively looking" couples who are not 100 percent monogamous but who prefer to be perceived as monogamous because they don't want to get into the details of their sex lives with friends and family (and one way to get your family very interested in the details of your sex life is to come out to them as "non-monogamous"). Here are some examples of "monogamish" behavior. Savage also once discussed being "monogamish" with his husband in a profile of him in The New York Times.
Anyway. Back to 2018. A reader wrote in the comments on the sex survey results that they'd like to see the monogamy answers broken down by gender. And we are here to serve our readers! So here we go.
There are a couple different ways to look at the data, so let's begin with the broadest possible view.
Here is the gender breakdown for everyone who answered that when they are in a relationship, they want monogamy. I'll even include the exact tally of responses, even though it will make my Survey Monkey screengrab less pretty:
Here is the gender breakdown for everyone who answered that when they are in a relationship, they want to be "monogamish"—i.e., to present as monogamous to the outside world, but not actually to be 100 percent monogamous within the mutually agreed-upon terms of their relationship.
And here is the gender breakdown for people who want non-monogamy, i.e., people who are not afraid to shout from the rooftops that they prefer non-exclusivity (think open marriages, swingers, etc.):
Don't be thrown by the green color there—it doesn't refer to the gender of the respondent (women were green in the previous two charts) but the number of responses.
These alone are fascinating results. It's not surprising that way more men than women said they wanted "non-monogamy," but who would have guessed that more women than men would be in the group that wants "monogamish" relationships? Of course, that is directly related to the fact that, in pure numbers, more women took our survey than men did: 49.5 percent of respondents told us they were cisgender women; 41.3 percent of respondents told us they were cisgender men. Still, it's more women than I would expect to answer "monogamish."
Can we go even deeper into the details? As a great president once said: Yes we can.
What does the breakdown of attitudes about monogamy strictly among straight women look like? How about straight, cisgender women to start? Here is the breakdown for all straight, cisgender women on the monogamy question:
How about straight men? Here is the breakdown for attitudes about monogamy among straight, cisgender men:
How about gay men? Here is the breakdown for attitudes about monogamy among cisgender men who identify as gay:
How about lesbians? Here is the breakdown for attitudes about monogamy among cisgender women who identify as lesbian:
So... to recap so far: Straight, cisgender men were about evenly split between "monogamous" and "monogamish." Straight women clearly prefer "monogamy" over being "monogamish"—although there are lots of women out there who want "monogamish." Gay men clearly prefer being "monogamish" over being "monogamous." But overall, straight women and gay men kinda canceled each other out, and the even split as evidenced by answers from straight cisgender men prevailed, with a slight edge for "monogamish."
What about trans folks? They appear to be more interested in being "monogamish" or "non-monogamous" than their cisgender friends and neighbors.
Here is the breakdown for attitudes about monogamy among all men who identified as trans:
Trans men can have a variety of sexual orientations, obviously, but since monogamy is mostly a vexing issue for straight people, let's look specifically at attitudes about monogamy among trans men who identify as straight:
What about trans women? As we did with trans men, we begin with the breakdown for attitudes about monogamy among all women who identified as trans:
And here is the breakdown for attitudes about monogamy specifically among trans women who identified as straight:
What else can I tell you about people who want monogamous relationships?
This is purely anecdotal, and probably tainted by my own biases, but the answers to the question "What's the sexiest thing you did in the last year?" were pretty dang tame for people who want monogamy.
Once again, the question was to name the SEXIEST thing the respondent had done in the last YEAR. Here are a few representative write-in answers:
• "had a baby?"
• "I bought some lube."
• "Made my wife dinner without her asking."
• "Got a fuckin job...maybe my gf would say skiing or biking."
• "Bought a house."
• "Cleaned the house."
• "watched porn"
• "Worn thongs to entice my husband"
• "Talk about sex in therapy with my partner"
• "I finally got comfortable enough to masturbate in front of my partner."
• "Got super hard, jerked off, then released all my semen inside of her"
• "Great anniversary sex"
• "received full body massage"
• "Told my partner 'Let's make a baby' and meant it."
• "I can’t remember"
• "Cried for months straight with a broken lil heart"
• "Wore a rain deer thong on Xmas."
• "Woke up to my fiance going down on me."
• "made a home made birthday cake"
• "Getting off over FaceTime"
• "Remained safely housed, in a long-term care facility."
• "Fart in response to a question"
• "Hug a friend"
You guys? These answers make me sad for humanity.
But all hope is not lost for monogamous people. While scrolling through thousands of answers to this question, I did find two legitimately sexy answers:
• "put yard implements up his butt"
• "Wore sequined hotpants while I was gardening and getting dirty and my husband watched me from our kitchen window as he jerked off."
Awww. So romantic!
What else do you want to know? I'm more than happy to dig through your data. 😉