She Can't Do What He's Asking Her To Do—So What Should She Do?

Comments

1

It's not a constant struggle if you accept yourself as you are and find a compatible partner. But for that, you need to be totally honest from the get go.

2

That's not what "toe the line" means.

3

You sound like someone who cannot accept when they cannot get their way. And you are so fixated on what you want, that you can't see (or don't care about) the pain you must be causing your husband. I'll go farther... you sound like you are going to badger and/or manipulate your husband until he agrees to what you want, no matter what wreckage results. That's shitty. All of it.

You've discovered you're poly. Congratulations. It's time to build a life around who you are and what you need. Your husband is not going to be a part of that new life. The sooner one or both of you accept that and end your marriage, the less harm you will do to him through this process.

4

@3: Bravo.

5

This marriage should end ASAP for the benefit of both parties involved. Don't string it out for another year. You already know that you're incompatible. Why drag things on? Break up and move on to find someone(s) who you can truly be yourself with. Marriage is a LONG time. Going into it (or on with it) in the hope that something fundamental about your partner will change is a recipe for disaster.

6

"Ugh, this cake. I ate it and now it's all gone! What should I do?"

This could be an issue of framing. I've been in relationships, and while in them I've wanted other people. That seems very, very normal! I think LW, by framing her desires as abnormal, is more tortured by them than most other folks; her husband being a hardcore monogamist seems more outside the mainstream (and I mean traditional mainstream) in that, well, lots of dudes cheat and, like this LW, still love their partner. Most guys I assume aren't consumed by the guilt of wanting to cheat.

LW should try giving herself a break. There's an amount of giggling about a crush that's acceptable - I haven't ever worked in an office where the middle age, mostly married secretaries were shy about the things "I could do", and that all seems pretty par, as best I know they're in happy-enough marriages. There are acceptable, normal outlets. She's unlikely to find someone better.

7

"But for the coming year, until we reevaluate—I’ve promised not to flirt with or fuck anyone else"
Hahahhahah-- oh, you were serious? Sweet summer child.

"I keep hoping that I’ll bring my husband around with enough persistence or by suggesting a more appealing polyamorous configuration."
Stop being such jerk.

8

Who else was disappointed after the headline? I was thinking it'd be something like "he really wants me to squirt" or "his greatest turn-on in the world would be if I came from just PIV in this one particular position" or "he wants me to flog him and I have bad shoulders" or something fun like that.

9

Crushes are not destiny. It's like a mental hard-on. Did LW ever get to have a phase of her life where she got to experiment with pursuing her impulses? It's unfortunate, like, she should have already gone through this and figured out that she was totally non-monogamous and that bonking as many of the people she gets a zing from as possible is her jam, OR learned that sometimes the zing is the best part and there are other things that determine who's good to bonk, or, or, something. Like, you'd have thought this would have come up way before the wedding y'know given how frisky the LW seems to be? But I wish LW the best. I hope she calms down a little about 'crushes' and has a chance to explore who she is romantically and sexually as safely and sanely (as possible). And then she'll get older and change!

10

Counseling seems like a good idea, especially with someone who is open to open relationships (and doesn't think they are essentially evil). This might answer some questions, and allow for a little bit of flexibility. For example, why is he so opposed to having his wife fool around? Is it fear of losing her? If so, then set some boundaries. Is it that the thought makes him sick? Then "don't ask, don't tell" seems in order (along with the other boundaries). There are plenty of couples (mostly gay, I'm assuming) that have worked out their own plan that just works for them. This doesn't have to be a deal breaker.

What is clear is that she has a desire that he won't accept -- at any level. If she wanted to play golf and he thought it was a stupid sport, somehow I think they would work that out. Don't play every weekend, but maybe once a month. Same with this. He needs to at least consider letting her do this once or twice (since it is likely she will anyway) and see what happens. It is quite possible that she gets bored with it right away (the chase was more fun than the catch). Or maybe she really is wired that way, and they need to figure out how to manage the situation.

If not, then go your separate ways. Worth mentioning is that this is a gender bender situation. If they do break up, she should have no trouble finding a man willing to accept her as she is, and he will have no trouble finding a woman who wants monogamy. It is basically like someone who really, really likes to give blow jobs, but he doesn't want them. In other words, his loss, not hers.

11

Do some woman a favor and divorce your husband so she can find marry him and he can move on with his life.

Additionally you should never get married again; it might be a good idea to get your tubes tied because if you don't have our head on straight now it's not going to get better and your children are going to have to inherit this mess you will give them. I know this sounds incredibly cruel; but if you can't be faithful for your amazing husband then what happens when you are bored with your children ffs?

Oh yeah please do see someone for help; but clearly not a marriage counselor as you should just divorce your husband for his sake.

12

There is nothing wrong with wanting sex with multiple people. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be in a relationship and still have the freedom to pursue crushes.

There IS something wrong with being in a constant emotional kerfluffle about it, and with agreeing to REMAIN in that state for year, after you've just said you can't stand the thought of being in it for another month. There is something VERY wrong with cutting off contact with a whole bunch of your friends over your inability to stop fantasizing about them. That's you hurting other people.

Non-monogamy, in my experience, works when the participants aren't obsessed with emotional drama. You, LW, are beyond obsessed — you're addicted. I don't think your current relationship is healthy for you, your husband, or apparently any of your male friends. I also don't think your next relationship, or any of your potential FWB arrangements, will be healthy unless you get yourself into therapy and take a good look at your motivations first.

13

@3 and @11 are right. And you also come across as self-centered and childish.

14

It's tragic how sometimes another person's need to be treated with basic human dignity conflicts with my desire to do whatever I want. What a world etc.

15

"every other married couple we know is exclusive"

This leapt out at me as being fundamentally dishonest. Every other couple you know might claim to be exclusive, but I'd bet you real money that it isn't actually true for all of them. Lots of couples quietly have an arrangement that they don't necessarily blab to everyone they know. Lots of couples cheat, and hope nobody knows including their spouse. Exclusivity is popular in movies, and is sort-of a cultural expectation, but not everyone actually lives up to it. Certainly not every couple you know. If you believe your statement to be true, it is time for a reality check.

16

Stop being pretty? In our society, being a normatively attractive woman is a lot of active effort, and women who aren't normatively attractive don't tend to have nearly as many people interested in casual sex or dating as those who are. So, you can address your material problem by sabatoging the likelihood of reciprocal attraction by wearing unflattering clothes/accessories, not wearing make-up (or unflattering make-up if you're someone whom others tend to find attractive without make-up), and getting fatter. Then you can cruah out all you like without having to shoot things down yourself as often, because a lot more of your crushes will shoot you down. As an added bonus, people tend to seek sex and feel sexier when they think they're attractive (also when they're physically more fit - not necessarily thin, but healthy and exercising regularly), so if you intentionally pursue being unattractive, you may find your libido tanks and you don't have as many intrusive crushes to manage (and, again, the same can be said for avoiding exercise).

Basically, do the opposite of the standard advice for people who aren't feeling sexy and aren't getting a lot of opportubities to date.

Side note - where do all these people (those who write in with woes about how difficult it is to say no to all of the people who constantly want to fuck them) live, and what the fuck are they doing in their free time? I'm single, I hang out at bars and chat people up, and I'm not constantly in danger of hooking up with people, despite NOT having a reason to avoid doing so in my case. Even more so for work - what the fuck offices are these people in that there's not just possible attraction to co-workers, but actual possibilities of hooking up with them? I had one woman sexually harass me in ten years; there were no sexualized interactions - welcome or unwelcome - otherwise.

Maybe a majority/plurality percentage of people actively want to cheat/cheat with people, so the wedding ring etc. is actually more of an attractor than repellent? Or maybe this type of letter is a function of people being really, really hot - perhaps all people who don't know how to deal with their crushes without acting on them don't know because they were never rejected, so they've always been able to act on them, and never had to learn how to cope. Again, I have to question whether all of these people are serial sexual assaulters; if not, do whatever you do to deal with people who reject you preemptively with the people who don't, pretending they have.

That said, this LW isn't exactly alone: people blow up their lives all the time because they apparently never learned how to cope with sexual attraction on which they can't/shouldn't act (because it violates agreements they made, because it's not consensual, because it's socially proscribed, whatever).

I think calling this an incompatibility that LW can't help and suggesting she seek an openness-compatible partner bothers me because she's facing the same behavioral/impulse control issue as every rapist and is simply morally lucky that the impulses on which she's not sure she can avoid acting are (generally? definitionally?) oriented toward consenting partners. And if we think there's nothing to be done here, it follows that there's nothing to be done to prevent rapists from raping, which I don't think is true (and is certainly not something we should accept without conclusive evidence). Or not even rapists, but people we label CPOSs. Or necrophiles, pedophiles, zoophiles, and everyone else with a socially proscribed sexual orientation. If we can't expect WA to keep a fucking lid on her crushes, how can we expect people with much more problematic "crushes" to do so? I advocate the inverse - we can and do expect people to not act on problematic sexual desires, so it's reasonable to expect LW to be able to do so for the sake of a marriage she says she really doesn't want to lose. She maybe shouldn't have to do so and wouldn't if we didn't treat monogamy as normative, possibly leading her to realize she's not interested in itmuch sooner, but sadly we don't live in that world, so she has to make a decision about what she values more. And I think she can opt to be monogamous, and even be happy with it; she may need therapy to help learn coping skills that other people tend to learn through dealing with rejection. Of course, that may not be the best path; everyine may be happier in yhe long run if she does seek a compatible partner; I don't think she MUST stay married and repress her polyamorous desires. I do think there's a serious inconsistency regarding how possible people seem to think it is to regulate sexual behavior based on whether they think that behavior is okay or not. We see this with the SL crowd excusing cheating but not assault, and we see it with e.g. Brett Kavanaugh's fans excusing assault but not homosexuality: I DO think our ethics are better informed - I'm not arguing that meaninful consent is a bad standard - but I think we tend toward the same trap of excusing a lack of behavioral/impuse control in some situations and condemning it in others, based on our ethical views of the specific behavior in question. All sexual impulses are presumably equally difficult to resist for any given person, with it being a matter of happenstance what impulses one has that one may wish to resist (or, for those of us lucky enough to not have problematic/unethical desires, to not resist).

17

Apparently Sportlandia has worked in some of these offices that are mythical to me! I honestly thought that nearly all of them except Harvey Weinstein's studio had been purged in the 90s over liability concerns.

18

"we’ve decided to reevaluate the situation in a year...My husband says maybe his view will change in a year or maybe no."

WA, your letter doesn't make me think you're really fine, or will be fine, with putting this on hold for a year. If that's true, then don't. It makes sense to give him time to think, but a year isn't 'time to think', it's hurting both of you by being in denial about what appears inevitable. Because how long do you think it will be before that has side effects like mutual bitterness, resentment, etc.

Time to think is, I dunno, let's say a month. Longer is avoidance and inviting multiplying the pain for the both of you. The way people separate is of value too, not just their time together. Maybe now you could separate relatively amicably; maybe if after waiting too long you will part hating each other. Is risking that kind of poison worth holding onto something that doesn't appear resolvable, just because it's hard to let go?

19

I'm just glad a letter writer didn't say they "towed the line".

20

@17 I've literally never worked in a place without someone thirsting. Now that they're on Instagram it's there too. I've always assumed that was part of the role of office manager/assistant/secretary. If you remember that "diet coke at 1130" ad (in the news due to its passing similarity to a newly released Australian KFC ad), it's a toned down version of that.

21

You’re fooling yourself. What you and hubby want/are are diametrically different. Save everyone a wasted year and swallow the pill now. No one will be happy by pretending that one of you will dramatically alter their personality 365 days from now, all you’ll do is annoy/piss off each other and cause a bitter divorce rather than a civilized realization that you made a mistake and need to get while the getting is good.

22

How is

"She...unlikely to find someone better" (per Sportlandia@6)

than the husband with whom she appears "fundamentally incompatible...on one make-or-break issue (monogamy)"?

23

@11 What the fuck? Can you possibly be more sexist? It is COMPLETELY NORMAL to have crushes on people outside your marriage. Monogamy is an invention of society and religion, and our brains are not wired that way. Plenty of poly people have children and do a much better job with them than cishet monogamous couples.

Yes, her relationship with her husband is probably doomed. Dan is right, there is no grey area with monogamous or not. But she's not "doing another woman a favor" by making her (soon to be ex) husband available on the dating market! Yikes

24

I get some people want to be open or polly, but I’ve never seen it expressed as “I’m just so fucking horny”, normally they dress it up a bit.

25

"Transference" - in my experience, it is common to get excited by someone else only to express that excitement with your partner, who knows your quirks and accepts your limitations (which that "exciting other" may not!) To me, a successful partnership involves a certain amount of mental gymnastics - to replicate that excitement of "potential intimacy" with your partner instead of the other who caught your attention. It gets easier as you age - hang in there, youngsters!

26

@16 I'm not sure the impulse to rape can be so lightly compared to the impulse to have consensual but extra-relationship sex. One is (socially and personally) considered a significantly worse act, so there is considerably more disincentive to it. It might blow up your life if you cheat, but you likely won't land in prison, at least in countries like the US.

If the LW is really convinced that she can't be faithful, she can either (1) try to learn how to cope or (2) quit while she's ahead.

Maybe the perspective that desire for others is totally normal in a monogamous relationship can enable the LW to choose and successfully follow option (1), particularly if she gets help from a sex-positive therapist. (It's a good sign that she has communicated all of this exchange with her husband, although I wonder if committing for a year when she felt she couldn't for a month is foolhardy).

Maybe she can be successful, but it will require more maturity than she displays in her exchange with Dan.

Or maybe her desire for other men really is exceptionally higher than what others experience and will be extremely painful to cope with long term. In that case she's better off pursuing non-monogamy. That will also require greater maturity and self-knowledge/perspective than she (initially) displayed here. And her husband's at least got some warning now if she strays in the one year period they've agreed to. Much better that way than had she kept this to herself and then blew things up by consummating a new crush (most crushes of course don't really go anywhere, so she may get bored as others have said).

27

@16 also your suggestion to be less attractive is... To put it bluntly, insane. Compromise your health and tank your libido to make monogamy work? You don't think that'll result in the husband in 5 years writing to Dan about his sexless marriage? Or having basic concerns about his wife's sudden weight gain and change in life/style?

Then the kicker is: conventionally unattractive people can still get laid. Narrowing your pool is not necessarily going to make it that much harder to cheat.

28

I'm not sensing that this marriage is automatically doomed. The LW sounds young, and presumably her husband is as well. There may be time for them -- and their perspectives/desires -- to grow towards each other.

In my experience, people who believe themselves to be monogamous (usually through ignorance of the alternatives, because we're pretty much all raised to be monogamous until we learn that other options are available) can come around to the idea of being open/poly if exposed to positive examples of such arrangements. I'd suggest LW's husband become a regular reader of Savage Love and listener to the podcast. He may hear some perspectives about (and advantages of) ENM relationship structures he hadn't previously considered. He may change his mind.

29

The solution to this is quite simple. Have hubby listen to the Savage Lovecast for a few weeks. Don't tell him why, just put it on whenever you're together, driving, or whatever. Guaranteed that within 10 episodes -- 5 even -- he'll start seeing open marriage or monagamish marriage as a perfectly reasonable, natural thing.

30

Am I the only one that feels like she only showed the husband the letters and replies in order to use the children issue as leverage? "Look - Dan says we really shouldn't have children. Wouldn't that be horrible?"

31

Why bother getting married at all? Some people argue that humans aren't wired for monogamy. That it is an artificial construct. The same can be said for marriage. Both are imposed social norms.

32

So wait. WA loves crushing on unavailable guys, outside her marriage. This has been happening for the duration of her marriage. The problem is that she represses these crushes because she thinks they're wrong. What about spending the next year seeking a third way? Flirt all you like, and bring that energy home to your husband. You've shown him this letter, so he knows this about you now. If he knew that it was the mechanism you were using to avoid cheating, would he be okay engaging in "cuck talk" about your crushes? Would that be enough of a release valve for you? Or perhaps what you need is to find a friend you CAN talk to about your crushes despite your being a "married lady." There seem ways to end this total repression of the feelings without breaking your monogamous marriage vows. With a year time limit, it seems worth exploring; if being able to openly crush as opposed to secretly crush doesn't solve the problem, they can accept the inevitable and go their separate ways.

33

And if indulging the crushes does lead to her cheating, well, that's her answer then, without needing to wait a year.

34

Ankyl @8, yes, the headline implies that he has some kink he wants her to indulge, and that she would do anything for love but she won't do that.

35

LW1 should divorce, WCGF should divorce, and then they should marry each other - she could happily bang other guys, and he could happily get off on it.

Also to all you "hur dur, monogamy isn't natural" sorts - if it wasn't, we wouldn't have people like these LWs writing in talking about how their spouses don't want to fuck or let them fuck other people.

36

Another thought: WA thinks she'll cheat within the next month, so there's definitely a specific person she's crushing on now who's returning her vibes big time.

John @16, you're joking, right? I hope that was a joke.
In case you weren't joking, which the sheer length of your post implies, wow to conflating consensual non-monogamy with rape. Wow.
Also fwiw I've never worked in an office environment where people were banging each other, either.

Lucy @23: Why isn't she? She's doing another woman, a monogamous woman, a favour by freeing him up for her, just as she's doing herself a favour by freeing herself up for a non-monogamous man. How is that sexist? It's about compatible people being with each other instead of with non-compatible ones.

Alkmen @28: "I'm not sensing that this marriage is automatically doomed. The LW sounds young, and presumably her husband is as well." Then the marriage is doomed, right? ;)

Vivic @30, yes, you are. This isn't about her wanting children, it's about her wanting strange.

37

Traffic @35: Perfect solution!

38

John Horstman @16

Oy.

39

LW should hurry up and produce as many kids as she can as fast as she can. Then her libido will tank and she’ll be too exhausted to even think about it. Then LW’s hubby can write one of those letters to Dan that his formerly sex-crazed wifey has lost all interest in sex and what should he do?

40

More seriously, it’d be useful to know how young LW is and how much promiscuity she engaged in prior to tying the knot. Some people get it out of their system and then settle down happily in monogamy. It’s different if she married before getting a chance to play the field, than if she has played and wants to keep playing.

41

So everyone was pretty hard on this LW but I can definitely relate to her. I’d been married longer (10+ years with kids) when I realized I could not do monogamy, but the basic situation was not so different - I love the rush of discovering new people and feeling new feelings while my husband is fundamentally monogamous. It wasn’t a full on ultimatum - at least not expressed that way - but after lots of conversation I basically told him I needed us to be open. It’s not perfect for either of us but we really do love each other and everything else about our marriage is worth preserving so we’re muddling through.

42

@29 I can't speak for anyone else, but I've read SL for years while remaining 100% monogamous. It's been interesting in a "huh, well, I guess that works for some people" sort of way, but it's done exactly nothing to make me see non-monogamy as a reasonable option for myself.

I assume you doubt that increased exposure to monogamy will make it more appealing to the LW (and I agree), so let's give the husband the same benefit of the doubt- that be actually knows what he wants, and isn't just lacking some sort of sexual enlightenment.

43

BDF @ 34 - Please Bi, never quote Meat Loaf again.

TrafficSpiral @ 35 - "Also to all you "hur dur, monogamy isn't natural" sorts - if it wasn't, we wouldn't have people like these LWs writing in talking about how their spouses don't want to fuck or let them fuck other people"

Could you please explain your logic? I totally fail to see the link you seem to find obvious. (This is a sincere inquiry, I'm not bitching for once.) Even if monogamy is totally natural to some people, thanks to biological and social variation, it can never be so for absolutely everyone, so there would still be some people who'd write in concerning those issues.

44

Long time reader, first time commenter here. I've been enjoying reading the comments. I'm chuckling about the comments about 'where are these workplaces?!' because I had the same thought (not that I'd want to work in one realistically as it sounds emotionally exhausting and distracting...would I ever get any work done?) What I really wanted to say is thanks to @25 Jaymz for your comment about transference in a long-term monogamous relationship. It was helpful to me as I consider embarking on a monogamous marriage. From the way you signed off it sounds like you have many years of success and I appreciate the perspective.

45

Calliope @38, I've missed your well-timed "oys."

Ricardo @43, the way I read Traffic Spiral's post is that the existence of people like WA's naturally monogamous husband is proof that monogamy is natural -- for some. "Monogamy is natural" doesn't mean "non-monogamy isn't natural." It just means that the people who are arguing that no one should be expected to be monogamous are talking out their arses, as some people in fact are. Traffic, did I read you correctly?

46

BDF @ 45 - Okay, but what does that have to do with people whose spouse doesn't want to fuck them or let them fuck others? The first category of spouse is not monogamous, since there is no "-gamy" going on. The second category could still be monogamous because of societal pressure and not because of an innate desire to only have one sexual partner. Unless I've totally misread TS' paragraph, monogamy being natural (or not) is totally unrelated with some people having those problems (and writing in to Dan).

47

I don't think WA's husband has issued an 'explicit threat'--that their relationship would be in peril if she sleeps with another guy. He's issued a warning. Likewise, the headline of the letter is to me wrong: 'She Can't Do What He's Asking Her to Do'. It should be 'He Can't Do What She's Asking Him to Do'. There's a presumption of monogamy in het marriages. He hasn't asked her to do anything out of the way--really, anything at all.

She clearly both loves and likes her husband--the 'likes', especially, is not always in evidence in people's letters. She finds him funny and attractive. There's no way, in her mind, that a few flings would affect the strength of her central relationship. One thing I wasn't sure about was whether she's tried poly before. Having crushes, and acting on them with no ill or ambivalent consequences for your main relationship ... this might be something that happens in her head, but which WA has no experience navigating, and may well be naive about. I think the couple will be at the same impasse in a year's time. She may have to submit to monogamy or leave him. In forcing her to wait out a year on his terms--with no flirting, even--he's won round one, and there's no reason for me to think he won't prevail again.

48

@42. I'm with you on this. She is sincerely asking to fuck other people. He doesn't want her to do that, nor does he want to do that himself. He has just as much agency as his wife does in expressing his desires for their relationship. Presuming that she is only now disclosing her desire to fuck other people, and didn't express that desire before they got married, then he entered into a marriage that he presumed would be monogamous. If she wants a different deal then she needs to break her current arrangement. She should demonstrate how much she loves him by divorcing him as soon as possible. He can move on. She can then fuck as many guys as she wants.

49

@10. Ross. He thinks that if she fools around, it means she doesn't love him. This isn't unusual. It's a view many people are schooled in.

She loses points for me in writing to Dan about her situation, rather than to a columnist with an 'eat your porridge' view of marital monogamy. It's creditable he says nothing about his preferred relationship mode.

@13. Lola. She comes across as living in bright colors, with her nerves strung up like fairy lights. Not necessarily as childish. She is probably complementary with her husband's steadiness in other ways.

@29. Marty. The Savagistas represent a sliver of humanity. We're freaks, losers and fantasists to the moral and not-so-moral majority.

@30. Vivic. No, I thought she showed the letters after being wrongfooted after Dan's question about kids and borne on a wave of emotion and concern. Why do people feel compelled to criticise one or the other of them? Why is she either selfish or he inflexible in not yet coming round to poly?

50

@22 fair point - i'm referring to this: "My husband is intelligent, goofy, athletic, respectful, adventurous, and intellectually curious. We share the same values, sense of humor, and hobbies. We have great conversations and amazing sex." IMO that's a higher satisfaction level than a vast majority of people have with their partners. Who here wouldn't swap out their current scenario for that list of attributes?

51

Well done to Mr Ricardo for "nogamy".

52

Venn @ 51. Thank you.

Now should we use "nogamous" to describe people who aren't in a relationship, or people who aren't having sex?

53

I like the advice from BiDanFan @32 and Jaymz @25 to try taking the sexual energy from her crushes back into her marriage, either openly or just as fantasies she keeps to herself.

Also, talk to him about whether he would see online-only flirtations as cheating, and how about crushes on celebrities, and what are his views on porn itself? Get the specifics of what's okay and what's not okay before you decide you're incompatible. A marriage counselor might have some advice about compromises which have worked for other couples.

And remember that even in an open marriage you might often find yourself having unrequited crushes, which isn't so different from the current situation.

54

It's been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again hoping for a different result. The LW needs to stop the insanity by ending her marriage so that both she and her husband can move on and find more compatible, less taxing relationships. It's clear that the LW needs time to experience life on her own terms until she is ready to be in some kind of relationship.

55

Oy, indeed. There's a daunting amount of disconnect in this letter. The LW spends a lot of words on lavishly describing her crush cycle, but she doesn't seem to have a lot to say about what relationships might actually come next if her husband agreed to a polyamorous experiment, or if she left her marriage to pursue a polyamorous lifestyle. Frankly, there is no lifestyle for adults that supports this sheer volume of agony! ecstasy! all the fantasy feels!!!1! that she's throwing off here. I'm sorry Dan didn't ask her to elaborate on that throwaway line about how mostly her husband is very flexible about her needs... I have a feeling there's a whole other story there.

None of which is to say that she's wrong to want to be poly, any more than her husband is wrong to want monogamy. But the whole breathless, manic-pixie-dream-girl affect makes me think she probably needs to do a bit of growing up before she's really rated to make a sound decision about her marriage. A poly-conversant therapist could help.

56

It's not plausible that the ins-and-outs of negotiating ENM will be as frictionless as WA assumes. It won't be 'crush, smile from ear to ear, get laid--whoo-ee'. In the remote event that her husband gives her some leeway, he is going to have some stipulations--eg no mutual friends; no interfering with parental or housekeeping duties; time-limited arrangements; some form of secrecy or dadt. There will be a degree of discomfort in WA forcing these on, or rather on insisting on them with, any other guy. But she can't know this unless she tries.

I've been thinking what my practical recommendation is--and it's not easy. I don't want to say, 'break up because you're incompatible', because the couple seem to have too much going for them in other ways. She seems to have suggested threesomes or swinging; and he's been horrified. Suggesting he find another lover first would be pushing him away, running down his store of love for her. It's not definite he could even entertain her having the hots for other men in fantasy--though the idea's worth exploring. Maybe they could structure their partnership so that they have a month a year apart?--he goes off to do white-water rafting (or whatever it is he's 'adventurous' about) and, within that period only, she dogs it. Then he can see whether he can live with that degree of willed ignorance, and she with the suppression of her horniness and ultra-receptivity for the rest of the year.

57

LW, you sound young. And what I remember is attractions to others can occur often in youth. Crushes die if they are not fed, and then one moves onto the next person, to crush on.
Did you really believe getting married would change your ability to respond to others? It’s a choice, to be monogamous and faithful.

58

@52 I've been calling myself nonogamous since I've been single for three years.

Also those workplaces are called “startups.”

59

Ricardo @46, yes, you've misread Traffic's comment. They are not referring to "people whose spouse doesn't want to fuck THEM or let them fuck others," they are referring to people whose spouse doesn't want to fuck [others] or let them fuck others. Make more sense now?

Harriet @47, I agree that would be a better headline. Or perhaps something like, "She Can't Stay Faithful, So Should She Stay?"

Harriet @49 re @10: flight of fancy. She does not say why he wants her to be monogamous. It could be that he thinks that means she doesn't love him; it could be any number of other reasons.
And why would she lose points by writing to a columnist that she knows would not jump immediately to "cheating is wrong, you must be monogamous with your husband since you committed to that"? This is clearly not an approach that's working for her; hearing someone else say it wouldn't help.

Sporty @50: Who wouldn't swap our existing relationships with real people for a list of attributes that make someone a great match for someone else? Uh... most of us, I hope!

Harriet @56: "She seems to have suggested threesomes or swinging; and he's been horrified." Flight of fancy to both of those "observations."
I agree, with his monogamous mindset, it's unlikely he'll experience compersion through discussion of her other crushes, particularly if she brings that talk to bed. But the relationship does seem solid enough to suggest it as an alternative to either her miserably repressing her crushes or his miserably indulging her non-monogamy.

I agree she sounds young, and I wonder why all these LWs are getting married when they clearly aren't ready to settle down. Is it for the health insurance? The mind boggles.

60

I've been using "nonogamous" as my term for a relationship that is sexless but closed. (Not the case here.)

61

LW, I don’t think you’re a freak at all. If you are a young and attractive woman, men will be coming on to you, subtly or unconsciously or straight up, not caring if you are married or not.
If your husband is as great as you say he is, why do you want to risk it. Once you have had sex with these men you fancy, then what? However the next year or so pans out, don’t brow beat this man to suit you. Rather, if this conflict of desires continue, be true to yourself and let him do the same, and part.

62

”Waaaa I want to have my cake and eat it too... and I want Dan to sneakily convince my husband that non monogamy is better than monogamy.”

My eyes are rolled so hard they are stuck in the back of my head. THANK YOU, Dan, for not stepping in this trap, despite non monogamy being your preferred arrangement to sell. The husbands rights, preferences and wishes should be respected, and considering he isn’t changing anything he went into their marriage with, the impetus is on LW to leave and get what you want or settle and stay with your husband. But for Christ’s sake leave him alone, quit bagdering him. It’s wrong.

63

If you take the sex out of it, she wouldn't have that question. If he wanted to have a Christian home and she was very turned off by organized religion, she wouldn't be asking who is right. She'd understand that they're just different people and shouldn't work out. But because its sex (and she seems to have some light baggage with sex since these crushes are so intense and make her feel both good and bad), she feels someone has to be broken, probably her.

Its ultimatum time. You can do the year but it needs to have a hard cut off date - if we don't solve this by New Years next year, we separate. Right now they're kicking the can down the road until they oopsie and the decision is made for them.

64

BDF @ 59 - Actually, I didn't misread it as such. "if it wasn't, we wouldn't have people like these LWs writing in talking about how their spouses don't want to fuck or let them fuck other people" is an ambiguous sentence. I just happened to read it the other way, in which the first "fuck" is absolute (they don't want to fuck at all, whether with their spouse or with anyone else). As in the very common complain that Dan gets: "My spouse has given up on sex, but won't allow me to seek it elsewhere."

That said, even with your reading, I still don't see how it relates to monogamy being natural or not. If monogamy were nothing but a social construct, but one that is so perfectly integrated into one's identity that one absolutely refuses any possibility of non-monogamy, Dan would still be getting such letters. Because as all the data proves, whether monogamy is natural or not, non-monogamy most definitely is - just not for the same people. And as long as societal pressure favours monogamy, there will always be mismatched couples because this very societal pressure is what makes it so damn hard for people to be honest, first with themselves, then with others, about not being monogamous. And even when they are honest about this (as I always am), they often are misled into thinking that this is okay by potential partners who are secretly hoping that the NM person will at one point "see the light" and convert to their preference, i.e. monogamy. That's happened to me in two relationships (with two people who had/have a history of cheating on their partners, incidentally).

65

DC270 @ 58 - I think I'll call myself self-partnered, as was recently coined. (Just joking.) I hadn't realized that you could graduate from Brown U. in English literature and still not know what an oxymoron is.

BDF @ 60 - Now that makes sense, as in "No! No! We're not having sex!"

66

Stop being pretty?
Wow.
Besides, even if she did take your bad advice and try to sabotage her appearance, I've found that it just changed the type of guy who shows interest, not the quantity.

So when guys have trouble with monogamy, do we tell them to stop working out and being so clean, that depression is a better problem than lustiness?

67

Idk a good solution. Dirty talk about it? Somehow get the energy working toward something the husband likes too? I don't see how their compromise addresses her problem. I agree she may have to choose between hubby and nonmonogamy. Cheating and then telling him seems more cruel than simply leaving him.

68

Ricardo @64, given that different cultures and religions have different sexual pairings, I conclude that they are all social constructs, neither monogamy or non monogamy are inherent.
Having crushes on people doesn’t mean one has to follow thru. I was fancying multiple men during my twenties, which is my guess about this LW’s age. Unlike her, I wasn’t attached, so off I went indulging myself.
Crushes can be debilitating and powerful, they also can be hosed down, not encouraged. Isn’t long before one notices most of the crush was projection, and the object isn’t so delicious anyway.
Bird in the hand is worth two in the Bush. Up to the LW, her life. Accept the limitations of her marriage to this near perfect partner, as she presents him.. or end it, and go see if fucking all the men she desires, suits her better.

69

Is inherent.

70

curious @ 22

All I want to do is to cheat on my husband of five years, whom I love passionately. My husband is intelligent, goofy, athletic, respectful, adventurous, and intellectually curious. We share the same values, sense of humor, and hobbies. We have great conversations and amazing sex. But I’m always falling for other men, which has never diminished my love for my husband.

The only issue she has is monogamy. Sex is important, but it is not by all, end all of relationships (DUH). Finding poly partners should relatively easy, replicating every else she has with her husband will not so easy. Probably impossible. Although sexually satisfying, every relationship she has in the future will be lacking things, compare poorly (over time she idealize her marriage) and ultimately unsatisfying. She WILL miss her husband and may come to ruefully regret her decision to end her marriage (assuming that is what happens). She is not going enter into a relationship anytime soon (she is starting from). She WILL get lonely, especially at night and on holidays. Instead of sharing tasks, a mortgage, bills, whatever, she will have do it by herself. From a two income household, she will have to get by on only her own income.

71

But then I'm probably being overly pessimistic.

72

Lava @ 68 - "given that different cultures and religions have different sexual pairings, I conclude that they are all social constructs, neither monogamy or non monogamy are inherent."

I think that over a lifetime - now that we get to live about twice as long as people did at the beginning of the 20th century - monogamy would be hard to stick to for most people (but there are always outliers). However, I do think that, whether it's because of one's nature, social constructs, practical reasons or even just laziness, a majority of people would favour serial monogamy.

" Accept the limitations of her marriage to this near perfect partner, as she presents him.. or end it, and go see if fucking all the men she desires, suits her better"

As many others (and yourself) have pointed out, she's probably still young. It would have been better if she had sown her wild oats before getting married, but alas, that wasn't the case, whatever the reasons for that might be. Now she has to deal with those urges and has no clue what to do with them (which, again, points to her relative youth and lack of experience on the field).

73

@59. Bi. Yes--yours would make the better headline. Other than that she has stayed faithful ... so far? Maybe the excitation of thinking she's sure to sleep with someone else is doing the same job stimulating, arousing, keeping her alive and intensely feeling, than she supposes the cheating would.

I'm very pleased, incidentally, you're calling out what you see as my 'flights of fancy' in a molecular way. Saying something like 'nonmonogamy/poly/cheating impugns her love for him as he sees it' was meant to present the generalised justification for monogamy to someone for whom it's not the normative case, or for whom, even, requesting it seems unreasonable. We know that her husband is tolerant of her 'needs' in other areas than monogamy /nonmonogamy, and can infer that those needs will seem impulsive, capricious and hard-to-understand. So it seems likely that he won't be, for example, possessive of her time--allowing her, let's say, to go on long solo walks in the moonlight (eg), or to listen to Puccini through headphones (eg) or to Facetime her sister all evening (eg), rather than to hang with him-- ... but he is sexually possessive. A lot of the people who think 'sex is special', 'sex is a special case' understand this in terms of love being specific and only conceivable in monogamous couples.

Re the other flight of fancy. She says '[m]y husband and I have discussed opening up our marriage' and 'I keep hoping that I’ll bring my husband around ... by suggesting a more appealing polyamorous configuration'. To me, this is more putting two and two together. If she doesn't mean a threesome, she means shacking him up with some woman he has the hots for.

Aren't you an accountant? Are there no flights of fancy eg in booking tax rebates? (Maybe I would make a terrible accountant).

On the 'she loses points'--yes, for me, she does. What does she hope Dan will say? One part of her, possibly, is prepared to hear, 'you made your monogamous marital bed, now you have to lie in it'. Otherwise, she would be open to 'cheat to stay married and stay sane'. Or 'ENM is better than cheating, but many poly-resistant partners need a trigger to come round, and maybe your cheating will be that for your husband'. Or 'in most cases I'd say you should work something out together; but your husband is so resistant to the very concept of poly you need to work something out yourself'. In other words, in large part she's looking for permission to cheat. Dan the Man, in Grizelda's formulation, plays it straight in asking about kids, giving an exemplary response.

74

@62. qapla. Yes--this is also my read. Though she sounds emotionally and intellectually generous and he might be a bit of a tightass.

@64. Ricardo. The underlying idea is that BOTH monogamy and nonmonogamy are natural (in humans). They are distributed across a population. You did misread the sentence as Bi says--and were the person to introduce 'celibacy in a relationship' through your misconstruction.

@68. Lava. Yes, everything is a social construct in that sense, given that the interpersonal arrangements we enter into as individuals (marriage, divorce eg) are socially accredited, existed before us and are socially recognisable inasfar as they are socially accredited.

75

Ricardo @64: The husband's existence is proof that monogamy is within the range of natural because he has no desire to have sex with people outside his relationship, despite having a partner who is all for that. He just doesn't want that, not for himself or for his partner, even without controlling for societal norms which most monogamous-behaving people are conforming to. He just has no interest. Does this make sense to you now? Non-monogamy and monogamy are both natural, just as blue eyes and brown eyes are both natural, though one may be more common.

Skeptic @71, yes, yes you are. Really? There is only ONE person in the world she could have a happy relationship with, and it's this one? She's young. She has DECADES to find another wonderful person who loves her -- and, bonus, is also non-monogamous. It is definitely possible. And she'd be going from two people living on two incomes to one person living on one, so I don't know why you think leaving her husband would leave her destitute. I divorced in my 20s and have not spent the following two decades loveless and broke, thank you very much.

Harriet @73: "shacking him up with some woman he has the hots for" is not "swinging." So even you see that there are many possible interpretations of "a more appealing [to him] polyamorous configuation" besides threesomes and swinging. And there's no evidence he's been "horrified" by any of her suggestions.
Now you've embarrassed me by revealing potentially identifiable details about myself. But yes, in my profession "flights of fancy" get one fined.
And my guess at what she hopes Dan will say is that there's nothing wrong with her for being the way she is, which is more than what most advice columnists would proffer. I think she is among the many LWs who seem to think Dan has a magic wand that will change their partners' mindsets -- make them open to cucking, polyamory, diaper play, whatever it is that they want and their partners currently won't give. I agree that his response was a good one -- if she indeed was looking for permission to cheat, there is nowhere near sufficient justification.

76

@75. Bi. Don't worry--an accountant in London is like a haystalk in a haystack.

I still think her motivation for writing in was to get advice that sat easily with her--but am very pleased to say that her 'sexual' disposition, of liking many people, being turned on by many people, constantly feeling the pull of new adventures, new crushes, new loves, is /quite/ normal, and should not be shamed (as eg emotional promiscuity or shallowness), nor deplored as incompatible with marriage.

77

Harriet @76, an accountant in London who's bisexual and poly and some of my other unusual characteristics? You tell me off for "embarrassing" Calliope and you tell me "don't worry" about repeating details which, yes, I myself may have shared when they were relevant, but which can only serve to threaten my anonymity when you do it?
I'm asking you to never compromise my identity again. Thank you.

78

Also, Skeptic, here's something to weigh against your dire prediction that if she leaves her husband a lifetime of misery is the inevitable result:
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/women-happy-children-spouse-partner-relationship-unmarried-a8931816.html

79

Harriet @ 74 - It wasn't a misconstruction, it was an alternate reading that is just as valid, because the original sentence is ambiguous. I can't read TS's mind (neither can anyone here), so that's why my reading, which may be the wrong one (TS has yet to clarify the issue), is valid. For the sentence to NOT be ambiguous, it would have to read "if it wasn't, we wouldn't have people like these LWs writing in talking about how their spouses don't want to fuck OTHER PEOPLE or let them fuck other people". Lacking that, both readings are equally relevant.

Also: You, of all people, talking about others' "misconstructions"??? Please.

BDF @ 75 - That is all very clear. It's just not what I was talking about @. My question is: why would the non-naturalness of monogamy PREVENT PEOPLE FROM WRITING IN? Which is what TS was stating in their sentence. The same situations could still arise. I believe that was clear in my comments at @ 43, 46 and 64.

80

To be more concise or elegant, the sentence could of course read "... don't want to fuck, or let them fuck, other people." Then we would be sure "other people" is the object of both "fuck".

81

Kicking the can a year down the road just prolongs the misery. My bet: in a year, he'll claim that the year proves that she can be faithful, and then propose another year's test, again dangling the carrot of "I might change my mind."

82

Ricardo @80, ding ding ding. Glad you figured it out.

83

@79. Ricardo. Why should I 'of all people' not be the one (or one of the ones) to parse a sentence? It was a misconstruction in the sense you missed the writer's intended meaning. If 'misconstruction' has some other meaning in grammar eg an aberrant or decisively unwarranted interpretation, that's not what I meant.

'If everyone was naturally nonmonogamous ie (in this context) happily promiscuous, people would not write in to say eg, 'I can't get my partner to agree to an open relationship'.

84

BDF @ 75 Actuaries, by nature, tend to be pessimistic. Probably has a lot to do with calculating the when a person is going to die based on their risk factors and as an actuary I stand by my analysis. I don't know the circumstances of your divorce, but they are probably materially different from her situation. Based on how she describes him (too good to be true comes to mind), WA obviously loves, likes, and enjoys being with her husband. I suspect that wasn't the case for you either at the end or for at a least a year before your divorce (unless your marriage was a disaster pretty from the start it takes time for a relationship to deteriorate to the point of divorce), In terms of statistical analysis, he is an outlier. He is several standard deviations to the right of average. In other words, she has been spoiled with respect to what she expects/wants from a partner.

Based on what she has written and how she expresses herself (assuming no major revisions by Dan or his minions) The woman is a college educated professional (she calls her co-workers colleagues), possibly with an advanced degree (as is her husband), probably living in a large metropolitan area, she is well compensated (so much for being destitute), but lives a lifestyle that requires two professional salaries to support. It unlikely that her husband was her first lover and she has had at least one other relationship (probably during college). How else would she know what amazing sex is (I am assuming that she in fact does know what amazing sex is) She is probably in her late 20s to early 30s (college educated, professional, no kids)

It is far easier to find a satisfying subsequent relationship when your previous one(s) weren't. That is not true for her. Granted she is unhappy with the restrictions imposed by monogamy, but other than that she is more than content with her husband and marriage.

I want a lifelong committed relationship with my husband and the freedom to pursue intensive friends-with-benefits relationships with other people. Somethings in life are mutually exclusive and this is most likely one of them. Definitely a case of irreconcilable differences.

85

Skeptic @84: "she has been spoiled with respect to what she expects/wants from a partner." Yes, and in many areas so was I. This will only leave her with high standards for the next person she commits to, which may mean a series of short-lived relationships which don't cross the three- or six-month hurdle -- but is that of necessity an unhappy life? Meeting new people, sharing exciting new experiences, but moving on rather than committing too soon to someone who fails to satisfy one in some major way? I would argue no. At some point, perhaps five, perhaps ten, perhaps twenty years into this pattern she will meet someone who clicks with her in every way. In the meantime, she will have lived a fascinating life that many would envy -- if she can escape this society-imposed bias on "settling down" aka settling for.

"The woman is a college educated professional (she calls her co-workers colleagues)" -- that's what we call them in the UK. Savage Love is internationally syndicated. Based on a single word whose meaning varies between English-speaking countries, the rest of your second paragraph is a pure flight of fancy. The only thing I'll agree as almost certainly true is that this woman has had enough lovers to objectively judge this one as amazing -- but possibly not enough to know that there are quite a few men out there who can deliver amazing sex, if not the exact package of benefits her husband offers.

And I would say that the "but" in your "everything is perfect, but" renders the whole setup not perfect. Irreconcilable differences indeed, and if she stays she will grow more and more frustrated with the conflict between Mr Perfect-But and the life she wishes she was living with multiple Mr Somebody Elses who are perhaps not as intelligent, goofy, athletic, respectful, adventurous, or intellectually curious, but who respect her desire to be poly, and while indeed she'll miss her ex-husband, these feelings will fade with each passing year and each new partner until she gains the ability to evaluate them on their own benefits instead of comparing them to her ex. What if the fundamental disconnect was that one of them wanted children and the other did not? Would you then urge an LW to stay with Mr/Ms Perfect-But and either sacrifice this very important part of themself or bring a child into their world that they don't want?

WA's path is clear and there's no reason to discourage her by citing the myth of the One True Love and claiming she will never find a good non-monogamous relationship. The world is full of happily coupled divorcees who prove you wrong.

86

WA could always take the chance of cheating on husband as a way to shake his commitment to monogamy. A wake up call as it were. One risk is that while it may be successful, it only benefits his future relationships having destroyed her marriage. Others include that while the marriage survives, at least temporarily, his commitment to it doesn't or his attitude and behavior towards her changes. Granted that these are negative outcomes, but it is always more important to clearly understand the costs/risks than the benefits in any cost benefit analysis. Then there is the law of unintended consequences (or be careful what you wish for because you may get it) and its corollary that unintended consequences are generally bad and exceed the actual or anticipated benefits.

She gains her freedom, but at the cost of the closeness she has shared with her husband.

87

Sounds like she suffers from a case of raging hormones. Something almost all teenagers suffer from. While traditionally ascribed to only teenage boys it applies equally to teenage girls. Most people grow out of it, some do not. As a woman, WA can anticipate three major hormonal changes in her life. Pregnancy, motherhood and menopause. While she can hope that they result in a tamping down of her hormones, they can have the opposite effect.

88

The myth of one true love is just that a myth and not the operative concern here. Rather it is what is often observed of widows and widowers. People so greatly mourn that which was lost that they can never find happiness in the future or any future relationship is haunted by the past. The past that they remember (idealize) was so good that nothing in the future can measure up.

89

While not universally true, where you are on a bell shaped curve associated with positive and negative outcomes affects how likely you are to experience a better or worse outcome in the future. The reality is that she will only be involved with an extremely small number of people in her life compared to those that are potentially available to her. It takes two to tango. Just because she is interested in someone does not mean they will be interested in return. Most likely they won't be. She constantly develops crushed on new people. This is unlikely to change. The most likely outcome is a series of short term relationships that only last until her next crush. She is a NRE junky who will never be satisfied. The pool of available and interested males will compress over time and the quality of the males will drop off sharply as the good ones are taken becoming unavailable and/or uninterested. The likelihood that she will meet here hypothetically ideal person is small and decreases over time

90

The only people who can resolve our disagreement are WA or to a much lesser degree DS

91

The likelihood that a person will find someone who clicks with them on all levels is small indeed. The likelihood that it will be true for both people is miniscule. The proverbial needle in a haystack. At some point all you are left with is the chaff. If lucky, you find someone close enough for government work. If unlucky, you only realize that in hindsight.