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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Monogamy and Its Miss Contents

Posted by on Wed, Jul 13, 2011 at 11:25 AM

Some have tied to spin my views on monogamy and marriage as somehow sexist or anti-woman. It's not true, and there are women out there—in monogamous relationships and non—who aren't buying it:

I had never heard of you prior to reading the article in the The New York Times Magazine. I just now happened to catch you on The Colbert Report and decided to do a quick Google to find your blog. Despite what you wrote in your post, I DO understand your point. And I think it's smart.

This is coming from a woman in a monogamous marriage—tomorrow is our 10th anniversary—who stayed through a devastating affair early on. Because of that incident and the fallout afterwards, we actually have a stronger marriage especially in the arena of communication. It seems to me that what you are trying to get people to do is TO KNOW THEMSELVES and to be honest about that before jumping into the pretense of an "ideal" that doesn't really exist. The trouble is, I fear, that too many people live in a constant state of denial. So step 1—knowing yourself—is almost an impossibility. I know I learned much more about myself in the process of repairing our marriage then I learned about my husband.

Anyway, I just wanted you to know that some of us who read the article in the Times as our first exposure to you DID get it.

Paula In Wisconsin


I'm a woman who agrees with what you are saying about monogamy. I'm sure you must be getting a lot of shit from people. So I wanted to email my support. I'm 49, a woman and my husband of 21 years has agreed that I can have sex with someone else since we don't have sex anymore. We plan on staying together. We are companions and friends. We have shared history and shared burdens. There have been bad times that we got through together—including the loss of our shared sex life. But in a weird way it may be a relief to both of us that the tension about our sex life is over. I'm so greatful that he is sensable about not trying to control my sexuality just because he's no longer sexual due to physical and emotional issues. I have a lover and it makes a huge impact on my life. I'd be a crazzzy woman without it. (I seem to be one of the women for whom menopause has increased my libido.) Sex is considered sooo important in marriage until one partner can't be sexual anymore and then the other is expected to just give sex up too. It's not that easy.

Getting It Now

But, hey, I did lick a doorknob once (stapler too!), so what the fuck do I know about anything?


Comments (99) RSS

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Dan, as a long time fan, I sometimes miss the "fuck you!" almost punk-like attitude of your younger years. I mean I know the doorknob thing wasn't that long ago, but you've mellowed out so much since getting married and raising your kid. You're much more apologetic and eager to please now adays, I think. Which is fine, and all, be yourself. But I do miss the brash, "fuck 'em" Dan sometimes.
Posted by Dave M on July 13, 2011 at 11:29 AM · Report this
willendorf 2
Dan, that blog you linked to is satire, right? Right? Please?
Posted by willendorf on July 13, 2011 at 11:31 AM · Report this
Vince 3
You're my hero. Keep saving lives AND marriages.
Posted by Vince on July 13, 2011 at 11:38 AM · Report this
MichaelPgh 4
I still miss your column reporting from Ellen Craswell's (?) defeat on election night way back in the 90s (97?). A classic. ("Cut me some slack, I was behind enemy lines.")

Nice bit on Colbert last night, but it was making me really pissed to see the way Colbert (and so many others) keep willfully misconstruing your argument. What's so hard to understand about "Monogamous people should be with monogamous people" and "Couples need to be honest with each other and sometimes negotiate the terms of their relationship in order to stay together" ? Jeez.

You tried to point out that men tend to be more sexualized than women, but Colbert and everybody else keeps wanting to bring up the old "all gay men are pigs & sluts" canard. So much for nuance. Your last point, that you're actually fairly conservative on a lot of issues -- which is very true -- was completely lost on Colbert and I suspect on a lot of other people.

Ah well, whatchagonna do.... Nice try, anyway.
Posted by MichaelPgh on July 13, 2011 at 11:42 AM · Report this
very bad homo 5
I'm actually kind of glad that I was cheated on by my first boyfriend, because it helped me to be able to separate love & sex, and understand my own wants and needs better, rather than to just adopt society's "ideal" of what a relationship "should" be. So I understand and support your views on monogamy.
Posted by very bad homo on July 13, 2011 at 11:43 AM · Report this
More, I Say! 6
David Sedaris used to lick doorknobs all the time and look how far he's gone!
Posted by More, I Say! on July 13, 2011 at 11:58 AM · Report this
@4 Uh, you *do* realize that "Stephen Colbert the character" is a satirical send up of those who willfully misconstrue arguments, right? Right?
Posted by jlar on July 13, 2011 at 12:00 PM · Report this
kitschnsync 8
MichaelPgh @4:Nice bit on Colbert last night, but it was making me really pissed to see the way Colbert (and so many others) keep willfully misconstruing your argument. What's so hard to understand about "Monogamous people should be with monogamous people" and "Couples need to be honest with each other and sometimes negotiate the terms of their relationship in order to stay together" ?

It sounds like you'e never watched Colbert. That's his schtick; he plays the dumb conservative while his guest explains their position.
Posted by kitschnsync on July 13, 2011 at 12:03 PM · Report this
@7 & @8 - But Dan's message wasn't really obvious on the Colbert Report - it really was washed out by "Colbert's" dumb conservatism - shtick. Usually "Colbert" acts so dumb that the real message gets through and the conservatives' arguments are shredded - last night it didn't happen.
Posted by Schweighsr on July 13, 2011 at 12:20 PM · Report this
Violet_DaGrinder 10
I don't think your views are anti-woman. If anything, I think they are anti-man, because you talk about men as though they are incapable of having integrity.

I basically agree with you about monogamy. After many drama-riffic poly experiences, I chose to be with a guy who wants to be monogamous(ish) because, for all of it's difficulties, there is some peace and safety in it. We make some sacrifices. We think they are worthwhile. For now, it works. If it ever doesn't, we'll talk. :)
Posted by Violet_DaGrinder on July 13, 2011 at 12:56 PM · Report this
I Hate Screen Names 11
The blog post is hilarious, and really illustrates the moral simplicity of Christian conservatives. Rather than taking a nuanced, fact-based approach to a dilemma and evaluating opinions on their own merits, they just divide the world into "good guys" and "bad guys." "Good guys" are anyone who has accepted Jesus as their personal savior. "Bad guys" are everyone else, especially those godless liberals queers who hate America. Making moral determinations is then easy: if a "good guy" says it or does it, it's by definition good. If a "bad guy" says it or does it, it's by definition bad.

Thus, her reasoning is "Dan Savage licked door nobs --> Dan Savage is a bad guy --> ignore everything Dan Savage says." She doesn't even attempt to consider the argument; the mere fact that a "bad guy" said it is enough to disregard it.

This is why Christian conservatives are so rampantly hypocritical as well. As far as they're concerned, the same argument becomes a different argument when a different person says it. So when Dems called for Vitter's resignation, Christians ignored it because the Democrats hate America. And when Repubs called for Weiner's resignation using the same arguments, Christians paid attention because the GOP loves Jesus.
Posted by I Hate Screen Names on July 13, 2011 at 12:58 PM · Report this
STS 12
Two related thoughts that I always seem to have when the subject of the belief in monogamy comes up: 1. Monogamy really is like a religion in this culture- including people who are comfortable enough to live and let live in that regard. 2. Monogamusts seems to hang their entire self-confidence on another person's exultation of them, i.e. "He doesn't WANT anyone else". Maybe it is a religion in which the believer gets to also play the God figure..
Posted by STS on July 13, 2011 at 1:02 PM · Report this
brandon 13
Dan, you really hit a nerve. Its funny how now that your views were in the NYtimes its a scandal, but you've held this position for a long while and plenty of people agree with you. It like non-mongamy is this new devil thing the kids are snorting.

You need to apply the same logic to the monogamish as you do to Bi people: come out come out where ever you are.
Posted by brandon on July 13, 2011 at 1:09 PM · Report this
I think his message got through's the idiots who aren't going to get it, and they probably won't no matter how clear it is. I'm kinda curious to know what Dan's private conversations with Stephen are like, when he's not in character, but I don't think Dan will tell us, or even think that he should. In any case, I think they must enjoy each other and respect each other, or Dan would not have been on the show as often as he has.

I love those letters because I'm a lot like those women too. Dan's ideas of monogamy should piss me off....I've been hurt more than once by my cheating husband, but they don't. His advice has helped me push through the hard times of my marriage, and I'm sure there will be more along the way.
Posted by wigfield84 on July 13, 2011 at 1:17 PM · Report this
@9, you think Dan's message didn't get through in the Colbert Report? Have we watched the same Report? With Colbert's "heterosexuality buddy" on the side helping him stay not-gay ('chainsaws! think of chainsaws!')?

Of course you can't do much in five minutes. Nuance goes out the window. And Colbert does have to play the dumb conservative. But you think Dan's message was obliterated by Colbert's shtick? I respectfully disagree.
Posted by ankylosaur on July 13, 2011 at 1:26 PM · Report this
onion 16
those are nice letters.
shoulda wrote it "Ms. Contents" though, woulda fit your claim better.
Posted by onion on July 13, 2011 at 1:26 PM · Report this
Best thing about the blog link? The comments. People are calling out the Catholic Church, priests, Larry Craig, etc. Good times.
Posted by moosefan on July 13, 2011 at 1:28 PM · Report this
Geni 18
The people who think Dan's views on non-monogamy are anti-woman have likely never been part of a het poly couple. The scenario I've seen repeated many times over is:

Man thinks poly would be awesome (more sex!)

Man convinces woman to try opening the relationship

Couple makes it known in the poly community (or swing community, or via OKCupid, or whatever) that they're open to new relationships

Line forms out the door for the woman

Man can't get date, feels slighted and hurt, and decides maybe this poly thing isn't so much fun after all

Now, I'm not claiming that's the usual trajectory, but it's one I've seen happen over and over and over again when the whole "open relationship" thing wasn't something both partners really wanted, considered, discussed, and planned. It's easier, on the whole, for a married woman to get dates than it is for a married man. And for some men, that proves the undoing of the whole thing.

Anyone who's ever been part of the lifestyle community knows that swinging is very female-driven. Anti-woman? Hardly - the women are having most of the fun.
Posted by Geni on July 13, 2011 at 1:39 PM · Report this
"Lick a door-knob"? Am I missing something here? Oh, wait - I think that linked-blog still hasn't figured out rudimentary APA or MLA rules.

And oh how happy your interview with Colbert made me... Your flabbergasting of Colbert made my week.
Posted by Drew2u on July 13, 2011 at 1:42 PM · Report this
treacle 20
Ha! "A hedonist is merely a nihilist who likes to party." Yeah, sure we are. Sure. You just keep thinking that, honey. Now.. shhh.. shhh.. hold still... shhhh... bend over....
Posted by treacle on July 13, 2011 at 1:46 PM · Report this
@18 "Man can't get date, feels slighted and hurt, and decides maybe this poly thing isn't so much fun after all"

- what happens then?
Posted by EricaP on July 13, 2011 at 1:47 PM · Report this
two letters proves it!
Danny is a fucking Genius!
a Legend in his Own Mind!!

and the millions of women who have been economically devastated by non-monogamy?
the millions of children abused and neglected because their adult caregiver's lives are infidelity fueled chaos?

well, those folks just don't get what a Genius! Danny is...

Fuck them.
Posted by F.u.c.k. them. on July 13, 2011 at 2:00 PM · Report this
venomlash 23
@22: Anecdotal evidence (what Dan uses to support his position) is better than no evidence at all (what you use to support your position).
Posted by venomlash on July 13, 2011 at 2:03 PM · Report this
Packeteer 24
Why is sex always the lowest common denominator of the desire of the two partners?
Posted by Packeteer on July 13, 2011 at 3:05 PM · Report this
I Hate Screen Names 25
@24: It's not always the lowest common denominator, as sometimes people with lower sex drives make accommodations for their partners. Of course, those couples don't write to Dan. I agree that there seems to be a lot of folks who see nothing wrong with regularly denying their partner sex, though.

Being in a relationship means that sometimes you do things that are important to your partner but don't really appeal to you. In my case, that means watching chick flicks, going to her work events, hanging out with her less-interesting friends, etc. And she makes similar accommodations for me-- I dragged her to see Transformers 2, of all things.

Why isn't having sex when you're uninterested on the list of accommodations you're expected to make for your partner? If anything, it's even more important, particularly in monogamous relationships. After all, she can find someone else to watch Bride Wars with her...
Posted by I Hate Screen Names on July 13, 2011 at 3:27 PM · Report this
Licking doorknobs is incredibly filthy disgusting germy behavior that even a three year old should be above, but, compared to buttsex it is pristinely sanitary and prudent behavior.
Posted by FROTHY FECES!!!!! on July 13, 2011 at 3:37 PM · Report this
Geni 27
@21 - that varies by couple. In some cases, they talk about it and decide to limit her activities to a level that works for both of them. In others, he decides he's not poly anymore and expects her to return to strict monogamy (I know of at least three couples where that resulted in divorce). In some cases, she works her butt off to get him dates.

And, in some cases, the guy just sighs and realizes that it's always going to be easier for women to have NSA sex if they want it, accepts his lot in life, and lives with it until he makes new female friends of his own.

(I'm by no means suggesting this is the norm for poly. I'm just saying this is a pattern I've seen many times. A lot of guys have an unrealistic idea of how many women there are out there just dying to have NSA sex with a married man and get into "poly" because they think it means unlimited pussy for them, then are distraught when they realize that, in fact, it means far more opportunities for the little woman than it does for them.)
Posted by Geni on July 13, 2011 at 3:42 PM · Report this
Gou Tongzhi 28
As long as we're talking "know thyself," it takes a strong man in this day and age to be okay with a diminished sex drive. It happens. If it's medical and unwanted, it can be remedied, but if not, if it's just part of who the man is -- why not? The sooner society stops deciding what it's okay for everyone else's naughty bits to be doing, the happier we'll be.
Posted by Gou Tongzhi on July 13, 2011 at 3:44 PM · Report this
@27 - thanks for sharing about the endings you've seen. Here are three other endings, that I've seen:
a. Guy lowers his standards as far as beauty, age, and/or sanity.
b. Guy realizes he usually will have to pay for sex with hot women.
c. Guy finds out he loves hearing about his partner's sex with other men.
d. All of the above.

@25 "Why isn't having sex when you're uninterested on the list of accommodations you're expected to make for your partner?" I guess it depends how unappealing she finds the sex. Start by teaming up to explore her physical pleasure, not by twisting her arm.
Posted by EricaP on July 13, 2011 at 3:56 PM · Report this
I followed you link, Dan, and realizing that I might not know the definition of telos used by the article's author I decided to Google the word. My search led me to a company called Telos (…) that is "[a} unique, clinically sophisticated, realtionship-based treatment center for teenage boys." Why does that description give me pause? Perhaps because they used "relationship-based" and "teenage boys" in the same sentence? And check out the price for Telos's service: Over $400 a day. Yikes!
Posted by StickyStalin on July 13, 2011 at 4:01 PM · Report this
Just wanted to add one more anecdote. I am a straight woman, married 8 years this month. Before I was willing to get married, my now-husband had to agree to some (carefully negotiated) nonmonogamy. It's true that I've had more dates in the last eight years than he has - it really is easier for women. But right now he's dating an adorable younger woman, and I am so pleased for him. Anyway, not all open relationships are instigated by men, and suggesting that couples consider alternatives to strict-monogamy-or-divorce is in no way anti-woman.
Posted by InPhilly on July 13, 2011 at 4:01 PM · Report this
The monogamusts argue that tolerance for extra-marital sex inevitably leads to broken homes, out of wedlock births, and children being raised by impoverished single mothers. I wonder if any of the women of Slog have any sympathy for that argument? Geni mentioned that she knows of several couples whose experiments with open relationships lead to divorce. Is it possible that some of them might still be together if non-monogamy just wasn't something people did?
Posted by Ken Mehlman on July 13, 2011 at 4:22 PM · Report this
I Hate Screen Names 33
@29: Yes, the accommodations go both ways. My girlfriend knows which of her friends I find boring, and I know which of my friends she doesn't care that much for. So she tries to avoid lengthy engagements with her boring friends that involve me, and I do the same for her.

The question you quoted was meant to be a rhetorical, gender neutral statement that can apply to same-sex couples as well as opposite-sex couples, though I can understand why you interpreted it a man complaining about women. I wonder, though, if that interpretation and subsequent response is evidence of Dan's oft-noted point that all sexual problems within a relationship are presumed (though not concluded) to be the man's fault.

[For the record, my girlfriend's sex drive is usually higher than mine, and I accommodate her in that regard more often than she accommodates me. Though it's not like either of us has to drag the other kicking and screaming into the bedroom. :) ]
Posted by I Hate Screen Names on July 13, 2011 at 4:34 PM · Report this
long-time reader 34
@11: The crux of your comment is that the linked article is essentially an ad hominem argument, and you're absolutely correct.

Dan: I just licked a doorknob out of solidarity with you.
Posted by long-time reader on July 13, 2011 at 4:42 PM · Report this
@33, Fair enough. I thought you were complaining; glad to hear the two of you are getting along well in bed.

It's not that all sexual problems are the guy's fault, but that the clit is usually harder to figure out than the penis. If she's enjoying sex less, she'll want it less often. If she doesn't enjoy it at all, they have a real problem. There are different ways to approach the problem, but acting as if it's okay to treat sex like seeing a boring movie, something you do for your partner -- I think that's dangerous.
Posted by EricaP on July 13, 2011 at 5:26 PM · Report this
Nice appearance on the Colbert Report, Dan! From now on I am going to refer to you only as Weapons-Grade Gay.

TV moment of the week: "Is it adultery if I'm committing it at one end of a guy and [my husband] is committing it at the other end of the same guy?"

And to get to the actual conversation here, I think your position on monogamy is INCREDIBLY positive toward women. Monogamous marriage may not be a property transaction anymore, but too often it still functions as a way for women (and men, for that matter) to be limited and possessed by their partners.
Posted by Skipper Jo on July 13, 2011 at 5:49 PM · Report this
I Hate Screen Names 37
@35: Agree, seeing sex as a chore will likely lead to problems down the road. Fortunately, we've found that even when one of us is not really in the mood when we start fucking, that person usually changes their mind as things progress. :)
Posted by I Hate Screen Names on July 13, 2011 at 5:50 PM · Report this
I give Dan the benefit of the doubt about not being anti-woman but I don't think it can be denied that efforts to normalize open relationships will always be disporportionately beneficial to the gender that finds non-manogamy more desirable (please insert all necessary caveats and exceptions for non-monogomous females).
I guess all I'm saying is that the more he talks about how okay and normal and hunky-dory it is the more I dread the day when I get to have a soul-crushing conversation about how my boyfriend wants us to find other people to fuck. Sigh.
Posted by chi_type on July 13, 2011 at 5:51 PM · Report this
I Hate Screen Names 39
@38: In my experience, it's much worse to have the soul-crushing discovery that your non-monogamy-oriented partner already found someone else to fuck. :(
Posted by I Hate Screen Names on July 13, 2011 at 6:06 PM · Report this
@39: Very true. And I know the non-monogamy-oriented are not likely to base their behavior on Dan's approval but I also think the normalization of of non-monogamy just makes it all the more likely that mostly-monogomy-oriented-but-they-ARE-still-men men like my bf will make the leap from just wanking off to the idea of other women to actually pressuring me to open our relationship up. I'm not laying it all at Dan's feet or anything. Every little step just gives me a little twinge of dread.
Posted by chi_type on July 13, 2011 at 6:20 PM · Report this
@40 hugs. It may not happen, and if it does, you do get some say in how it plays out.
Posted by EricaP on July 13, 2011 at 6:28 PM · Report this
Thanks, Erica. At this point it's pretty much just something I made up for myself to worry about. It's on a long list ranking somewhere below getting laid off and above zombie apocalypse.
Posted by chi_type on July 13, 2011 at 6:52 PM · Report this
Tailgate party! Paella! Chainsaws!

Loved it when Dan cracked Colbert up: an inspired appearance.

To the small crowd (4, 9) who feel that Colbert's intentional stupidity obscured the Dan's message: Colbert's willful, character-based stupidity is only confusing to brand-new viewers and/or dummies.

Posted by Functional Atheist on July 13, 2011 at 7:04 PM · Report this
As a 52 yr. old straight woman, I agree with your views on monogamy being difficult BUT where I differ is, it's just as difficult for women as men. When you say women have to understand men and deal with it, it sounds like a huge slam. Women do have to understand men but men also have to understand women. Women might stray less often but it's probably due to how much society frowns on women's sexuality rather than the opinion that women have a lower sex drive. I think the reason you hear about so many women not liking sex after they are married is not because they don't like sex but because they are tired of the same boring sex with the same person. ie: Sex @ Dawn. I have known several women that were in this situation and hated sex so much one of them thought she was a lesbian, until she got divorced and actually had good sex again. I don't mean to say bad sex is always the man's fault, but in general they are usually more in control of how it goes. and feel more entitled to good sex than women do and we need to change that expectation. 99% of the time I really like the advice you give women, just don't pass on that stereotype that men like it more, it's not true, society just wants us to think that :).
Thanks so much for all you do !
Everyone should read Sex @ Dawn, lots of things make sense now !
Posted by lispngoose on July 13, 2011 at 7:35 PM · Report this

Please stop linking to stupid idiots. That doorknob link is 5 minutes of my time that will never come back. Yeah, I know, I should have more self-discipline, but who DOESN'T stop to watch a train wreck?

(For the record, I thought it was a link to the original admission of doorknob licking. Once I clicked, it was too late.)

Silvio Levy
Posted by codairem on July 13, 2011 at 7:45 PM · Report this
cyranothe2nd 46

The only problem I have is that on the Colbert Report you trotted out that tired gender trope that sleeping around is "just the way men are, women need to learn that." WOMEN WANT SEX TOO.
Posted by cyranothe2nd on July 13, 2011 at 7:50 PM · Report this
@30: In this context it means something like "reason for existence" or "purpose."

And yeah, treatment homes are expensive. But I'm pretty sure that by "relationship-based" they don't mean anything sexual, rather teaching adolescents how to relate to people, make friends, deal with authority, and so forth.
Posted by BlackRose on July 13, 2011 at 8:11 PM · Report this
Dan, as long as you continue to insist that my partner or I will end up cheating on one another one day, I will continue to tell you that you are full of shit in that aspect.
Posted by suddenlyorcas on July 13, 2011 at 8:17 PM · Report this
Ms Erica/Ms Geni - There was that young husband who called in to the Podcast - I think the one for 7/5, but perhaps the week before. This couple was a little different, as they were not married long, and had met at a religious college. They'd both decide to open the marriage, and he was calling in more in search of avoiding a potential problem than fixing one. She'd had excellent luck, he'd had none, and he was not bitter yet but didn't want to become bitter. Mr Savage, while acknowledging women's general superiour fortune and touching on beauty disparity, framed it more or less along the lines of the decision being for their common benefit, and that what might become his problem ought to be (just as much? I don't completely recall) her problem as well. Mr S advanced one possible idea that, if he still couldn't get the ball rolling after a while longer, the wife might find married/taken partners whose wives/lovers would be willing, which seems out of one of Ms Geni's instances.

I do think it made a difference that it was very much a mutual decision for the young couple, who'd been pressured into an early marriage before either of them could explore sexually. I've already said in other threads that there seems to be something satisfactory in a man pushing for the open relationship only to end up losing what dull sex he has and getting nothing new while his wife is thrilled with her new lot.

One thing I've wondered, though not mentioned - given all the cheating going around: If married women find it easier to find spouse-approved NSA encounters, do married men find it easier to find, as it were, non-approved SA encounters? My father certainly had little difficulty in that regard, judging by my having been in company with three of his mistresses before I turned eleven.
Posted by vennominon on July 13, 2011 at 9:05 PM · Report this

If you think that is what Dan's insisting, you're an idiot.
Posted by drcme on July 13, 2011 at 9:11 PM · Report this
seandr 51
@40: The piece that you're missing is that culture plays a huge role in determining which spousal behaviors you should feel sickened by, and which are acceptable. Think about it - in France, men and women are almost expected to take lovers, whereas in certain regions of Afghanistan, married women aren't allowed to be alone in a room with another man.

As "monogamish" relationships become normalized in our culture, its practice will become inherently less threatening, just as it is for the gays today. That's not to say it won't stir feelings of jealousy, it's just that our culture won't be there to fan the flames to the point where they destroy the relationship.

Three years ago, the idea of my wife with another man made me want to throw up. No way I could ever handle that, I was convinced. I don't feel that way at all anymore. In fact, I now find the idea kind of hot (she has yet to take me up on my offer to open the marriage, I should mention). It really is a choice, but you have to feel secure about yourself, your relationship, and you have to ignore much of what we've all been taught about relationships since we were kids.
Posted by seandr on July 13, 2011 at 10:02 PM · Report this
There are two reasons why I think Dan's position on monogamy is in fact bad for women. One is that Dan keeps saying men are just wired to be nonmonogamous and women have to figure that out. No: both men and women can prefer either nonmonogamy or monogamy. There is no biological mandate for one sex or the other to have a certain tendency in that regard, and even if there were, our biology does not directly determine our sexuality, choice of practices, or emotional and intellectual preferences about relationships. The insistence that it does, and should, in a sex-differentiated way, indeed seems rather sexist.

The other reason is that when people negotiate nonmonogamy in a relationship, women in this culture have more to lose, financially and otherwise. They have less ability to make an unfettered choice about that question when they are dependent on their spouses in other ways, and when that dependency tends to increase over the course of a marriage or long-term relationship. Maybe it won't always be like that in the future, but that's how it is right now.

Women also have more to lose when people start passing the blame around for insufficient sex in a hetero relationship, if only because they're the ones who bear the kids, and spend vastly more time caring for the kids and other domestic responsibilities later. Not so long ago on this very site, it was difficult to find any consensus about how long post-partum was "too long" for a man to go without sex, or how much weight was "too much" to gain during pregnancy. When these kinds of things become factors influencing the choice about nonmonogamy, then the deck is definitely stacked against women, in general.

Yeah, individual mileage varies; I'm talking about women and men in general. So letters from a few women who happen to agree with Dan's stance are not meaningful, unless they somehow can address these inequities with argument or evidence. In other words, great that nonmonogamy is working out for some women, but that doesn't mean this approach is not systematically more difficult for women as a whole, in this society, today. It would be nice if Dan could manage to acknowledge that, ever. Instead, the focus always seems to be on whether the women are doing enough to keep the man sexually contented, and if not, well, the obvious solution is to open the relationship, or at least not freak out over a little cheating here and there. For the sake of the children, you know. Yes, that IS a conservative position: conservative in the bad and sexist sense. Women, you need to put out more and better, and if not, at least keep your cool when your man steps out on you, because it's best for your kids. How could that be any more old-fashioned and anti-female?

Posted by Suzy on July 13, 2011 at 11:17 PM · Report this
seandr 53
@52: When you compare gay and lesbian sexual culture, it's difficult to dismiss biology as irrelevant to this discussion.

As for monogamy being in women's best interests, even if it is on average (and to be clear, I don't believe it is), what's your point, that men should just shut up and continue cheating on their wives in secret? Because negotiating an open relationship would make them a conservative sexist?

Alrighty then.
Posted by seandr on July 14, 2011 at 12:05 AM · Report this
@52 I don't think you understand Dan's position on monogamy, which is essentially: it is up to each couple to negotiate the terms of their relationship. Monogamy is a valid choice for many, as Dan freely acknowledges. But Dan also defends monogamish and other not-strictly-monogamous relationships, which society traditionally has disparaged, but which are more realistic for many people.

It sounds like your choice is for strict monogamy. Fine. I hope you and your partner have discussed the topic and are in agreement. Please have the courtesy to respect other adults who have made a choice different from yours.
Posted by Functional Atheist on July 14, 2011 at 12:42 AM · Report this
Hi all,

Doesn't this whole argument come down to consent versus lack of consent? I am a dedicated monogamist, but don't want to throw out a one size fits argument except in that context.

Posted by Married in MA on July 14, 2011 at 1:30 AM · Report this
"If you tell the truth, you won't ever have to remember anything".
Mark Twain

In my case, because of my ADD and other physiological quirks, this quote encompasses my approach to maintaining my life. Trying to maintain facades, execute intrigues, and use standards other than my own would be painful at best. At worst it would negate wholly the efforts of my adult life. Did I mention anywhere that it had to be about monogamy? Integrity, honesty, and sanity are too valuable to waste.
Posted by Married in MA on July 14, 2011 at 2:21 AM · Report this
I am totally in favour of (and have practiced) Dan's view that monogamy is something that should be discussed and negotiated within a relationship, and that good, non-monogamous relationships can happen if there is honest discussion and agreement on both sides.

However, I have a MAJOR problem with Dan's essentialist comments (both on Colbert and in the New York Times article) implying that HETERO men are "a certain way" (ie more sexual and more likely to dislike monogamy than hetero women). His comments in the Times:

“The mistake that straight people made,” Savage told me, “was imposing the monogamous expectation on men. Men were never expected to be monogamous. Men had concubines, mistresses and access to prostitutes, until everybody decided marriage had to be egalitar­ian and fairsey.” In the feminist revolution, rather than extending to women “the same latitude and license and pressure-release valve that men had always enjoyed,” we extended to men the confines women had always endured. “And it’s been a disaster for marriage.”

Then he tells Colbert, "but your wife is married to a man, and straight women need to be realistic about what men are and what men are like."

The most offensive part of the first quote was his use of the fact that "men used concubines, prostitutes" etc. as proof that there is a difference in men's and women's sexual needs, when obviously these behaviours were more a reflection of men's power in society rather than their naturally larger sexual appetite (there are a ton of studies that 1) in our society, women cheat as often as men:…, and 2) as a woman's power in the workplace increases, she cheats on par with her powerful male colleagues:…)

When I first read the quote in the Times, I wanted to believe that Dan was saying "hey, men and women are both sexual in infinite variety, and both are being oppressed by the strict sexual rules of our times," because I can get down with that. But the comments he made on Colbert makes it clear that in his mind, men and women are very different in this regard. Instead of saying to Colbert "hey, you and your wife should experiment and be honest with each other about each of your needs," he says, essentially, "hey, you're a man, and you know how men are.. heh heh heh." I felt like I was watching an old Archie Bunker clip.

Why, Dan, why must you trot out this tired old canard about hetero men being "different" than hetero women in this regard? It's insulting and it's untrue. Your insistence that men are naturally less monogamous than women is insulting to men who want monogamy and insulting to women who don't.

It also makes it clear that you are more interested in the desires of men than of women, which makes you no different, from a (gay or straight - I happen to be bi) female perspective, than Marcus Bachmann, Dr. Laura, or any of the other right-wing purveyors of oppressive heteronormative values that you (and I) so love to hate.

I'd therefore like to invite you, Dan, to please stop being a dick and to revise your comments in all future public statements.
Posted by jpsd on July 14, 2011 at 7:34 AM · Report this
57/ispd: you have it EXACTLY right. On the surface, it sounds like Dan is merely saying that everyone should be honest with his or her partner and make a free choice about what kind of relationship to have, unfettered by the traditional and rigid preference in our culture for monogamy--at least, superficial monogamy that is often violated with potentially dire consequences. But when you listen closer, you hear this essentialist message about what is true of male sexuality, and what women have to learn to get or get over. You hear that monogamy is necessarily extremely difficult, leading to inevitable boredom or even "sexual death".

So, in response to 54, I do think I have heard the message loud and clear, and Dan lately has been doubling down on it and not modifying any of these claims about either biology or the inherent negatives of monogamy.
Posted by Suzy on July 14, 2011 at 7:54 AM · Report this
Canadian Nurse 59
@57: Dan has said before (many, many times), that while there are women who have the same libido and desire for variety as men, that based on 20 years of requests for advice, he believes men are more likely to want more sex with more partners. He has suggested that the increased risk that sexual variability puts on women as a likely reason.

And, as @53 mentions, the difference in lesbian culture vs gay male culture should also tell us something.

So, rather than, "it's heteronormative, and therefore you only care about men's desires!" Why don't we try to understand something perhaps more nuanced than what either of you are saying. Perhaps the question is about how do the different genders perceive and pursue sex outside of their primary relationship, and what does that mean in terms of how we talk about non-monogamy.
Posted by Canadian Nurse on July 14, 2011 at 7:56 AM · Report this
@53, my argument is in fact precisely the same argument that is made about gay and lesbian sexuality: just because something is "natural" for one group of people (e.g. heterosexuality? nonmonogamy?) doesn't mean it is natural for everyone. Some have a basic preference for same or other sex, or for one partner or multiple partners. Nature doesn't dictate this the same way for all people, for all men or all women, and doesn't determine how people will feel about this or respond to it culturally. Nature does not tell us to have a shoe fetish, or prefer leather bikinis, or get married in a church with a big white dress, because we humans get to create the expressions of our biological feelings of sex and love.

When you ask, "what's your point, that men should just shut up and continue cheating on their wives in secret?" are those the only options? Men are going to have multiple partners, period, so we either tolerate cheating or negotiate an open relationship that has more difficult consequences for women, on the whole? Obviously I think we would do better simply to acknowledge that these aren't The Choices!

Look at it this way: is Dan making the argument that hetero women naturally want men to be exclusively, madly in love with them, spending a lot of time on romance and expressions of love as compared to sex itself? And then, if they don't get that from their partners, is he saying that hetero men are just going to have to suck up and deal with the fact that the women are going to engage in sexless romance with others outside the marriage, which violates the emotional bonds and trust the couple previously had?

Nah, Dan is concerned with men not getting the sex they prefer to get. and that's #1, and if any aspect of their desires go unsatisfied, it's either the partner's responsibility to satisfy it or to let the other person have sex outside the relationship. Kinks will not go unexplored, remember?

I think the better way would be to recognize that different people want different things out of a relationship, and Dan is right that we need much better honesty, communication, and less pressure from the mores of the dominant culture, so that people can sort out the kind of relationship they want. To that extent, I agree with him, but then he goes placing demands on what it means to have a good relationship that reflect his own biases and are not, shall we say, very supportive of women.
Posted by Suzy on July 14, 2011 at 8:06 AM · Report this
#59: okay, let's assume Dan has found this, and he's right, and women tend instead to prefer long term exclusive sex with one partner. Why does the man's wish for multiple partners trump the woman's wish to have one exclusive partner, pray tell? And why do sexual needs, in general, rank as more important than other aspects of the relationship? Why isnt' Dan telling women to go out and have emotional affairs that may devastate their husbands, but hey, if husband isn't willing to put out emotionally, she needs to negotiate new terms. You see the basic imbalance in this approach? And I'm not even getting into the financial argument here, but in sum, when we live in a society where different sexes have different patterns of financial dependence on one another, this stuff has serious consequences.
Posted by Suzy on July 14, 2011 at 8:09 AM · Report this
@51: Do you really think I'm "missing" that? I never claimed holy writ or that evo-psych bs for my emotions. You tell me I'll be fine with it in a few years but I reserve the right to be skeptical.
Posted by chi_type on July 14, 2011 at 8:17 AM · Report this
@59, there are plentiful statistics (a smidgeon of which I cited in my original comment 57) that 1) cheating is highly correlated with social power (something which women historically have not had as much of) and 2) in roughly equal western societies, women and men show a roughly equal propensity to cheat. I bet you could even plot infidelity against wage increases for women and find a correlation! This should trump any anecdotal evidence from Dan or yourself.

I would therefore argue that my statistics trump Dan's anecdotal evidence (have you ever heard of selection bias?). Perhaps it's because I'm a social scientist who actually understands statistics (as opposed to, say, a Theatre Arts major with a sex column), but I think it is irresponsible for public figures like Dan to support sweeping generalisations about male and female sexuality with anecdotal evidence when there is ample statistical evidence that contradicts that point of view.

Plus, I think his comments about men and women's innate differences are simply old fashioned misogyny masquerading as "sex positive" advice. but that's just one woman's opinion.
Posted by jpsd on July 14, 2011 at 8:21 AM · Report this
@44, you made my point in a much more eloquent, less wonky way than I did. Thanks!
Posted by jpsd on July 14, 2011 at 9:00 AM · Report this
@61: Suzy, you touch on a struggle I've always had with the GGG concept. Where is the balance between one partners desire for a particular experience and the others extreme desire not to have that experience? Why is one more valid than the other? I've always been very honest about what I'm up for and therefore could never be accused of misleading my bf but that doesn't keep him from bringing up how great a 3-way would be and causing me to feel like the bad guy for not wanting one. (Though I don't fell THAT bad since I've been straightforward about it from the beginning.)
Posted by chi_type on July 14, 2011 at 9:13 AM · Report this
Violet_DaGrinder 66

Totally. That's exactly right, and when I disagree with Dan, it's usually because he's recommending dishonesty. This is about honesty and consent.

I've made it pretty clear to my sweetie that, if he ever wants to have sex with other people, we can talk about it. However, if I find out that he has lied to me, I will leave his ass. I need both sex and trust in my relationship. If he has sex with other people, I can still have sex with him (and others). If he lies, trust is broken and, for me anyway, not easily rebuilt.
Posted by Violet_DaGrinder on July 14, 2011 at 9:18 AM · Report this
@66 I'm guessing you’re a gay man V. In my experience open relationships work pretty well for us homos, but not so well for the breeders. Although EricaP's Slog posts give a different perspective, so who knows.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on July 14, 2011 at 9:30 AM · Report this
@57...let me get this are saying that the vast majority of prostitutes are only because men are somehow oppressing women? You are an idiot.

Prostitutes are female because MEN LIKE SEX MORE THAN's a supply/demand thing. If women wanted to have sex just as much as men did, WHY WOULD THEY CHARGE MONEY?!??
Posted by try to use your brain on July 14, 2011 at 9:57 AM · Report this
Geni 69
@32 - no, I doubt it. In the cases I cited, the marriages were having problems already, mostly because (in those three cases) the men were basically self-centered assholes. Non-monogamy didn't break them up, it was just an easy excuse once the guys' feelings got hurt by how much more fun their wives were having (I'm sure this happens the other way around, too, it's just the three cases I know of were all men who instigated it and then tried to put the kibosh on it because they couldn't get a date).

"Relationship broken, add more people" is nearly always a recipe for disaster. It's best, in most cases, to make sure your relationship is solid and secure before opening it.
Posted by Geni on July 14, 2011 at 11:22 AM · Report this
Geni 70
From what I can see, most of the folks who think polyamory is anti-female haven't actually tried it. It's generally a hell of a lot more fun for women than it is for men, just because the pool of available and interested partners is greater.

Our society is still completely wrapped around the axle on the topic of female sexuality. It's still considered shameful ("SLUT!"), harmful ("she doesn't respect herself, or she wouldn't have multiple partners"), dangerous ("well, she got raped, what does she expect, acting like a SLUT and all"), etc. You don't hear any of that calumny against men who have multiple casual partners. We won't recognize the (relatively equal) sexuality of men and women until we stop making women who enjoy sex feel bad about it.

Oh, and as to the financial disparities - that only applies when a couple splits, not when they're still happily partnered and dating other people. Nor does it apply for someone like me, who makes considerably more money than my husband.
Posted by Geni on July 14, 2011 at 11:40 AM · Report this
STS 71
I've been in the same poly relationship with two guys for more than half a decade. We're happy, and comfortably settled with each other. Our poly has never, even early on, posed a threat to the relationship. Many of my friends are the same way. Saying that nonmonogamy is ALWAYS going to cause a relationship to fail is patently false.
Posted by STS on July 14, 2011 at 11:52 AM · Report this
@68: Female prostitutes do it either because 1) they need the money (goes back to my original arguments about social and economic power being skewed toward men for most of history) or 2) they are enlightened, sex positive women who enjoy the job (and the money). So you have proven my point twice!

I live in Europe and know a lot of German/Dutch/Norwegian women who have hired male prostitutes - I think that as women's economic independence increases, this may well become more of a trend - or perhaps women will prefer to exercise their sexuality in other ways - through swinging and so on, as they already do.

In any case, my main point - that essentialising differences between men and women while ignoring all of the historical, economic, and cultural elements at play is a waste of time - still stands. As previous posters have pointed out, you might want to test your assumptions about male & female sexuality by reading "Sex at Dawn" - or "The Hite Report."

And if the women you are with rarely want to have sex, you might want to work on your technique. Have you been introduced to the clitoris?

Posted by jpsd on July 14, 2011 at 12:04 PM · Report this
Corylea 73
My husband and I have been together for 25 years. Our relationship has been open for the past 20 of those years, at my insistence. Polyamorous relationships CAN last. And yes, I'm a woman.

Posted by Corylea on July 14, 2011 at 12:31 PM · Report this
"Prostitutes are female because MEN LIKE SEX MORE THAN's a supply/demand thing. If women wanted to have sex just as much as men did, WHY WOULD THEY CHARGE MONEY?!??"

About that supply/demand thing... maybe you've missed something? Maybe women like sex just as much or more than men do, but because they find it easier to supply partners for themselves, they don't have as high a demand for prostitutes.
Posted by Suzy on July 14, 2011 at 1:22 PM · Report this
@70, I agree with much of what you're saying about the way society views female sexuality. However, it's not helping to equal these scales when Dan claims that men generally want multiple partners, find monogamy difficult, and must have these needs understood and accepted by their female parters who don't feel the same way.

Before I was married, I much preferred non-monogamy in a relationship, and being honest about that is sometimes like speaking to a brick wall. If you're not going to cheat, then all you can do is be up-front about it, and it's amazing how people assume you can't be serious, or you'll change later when the relationship progresses.

Once you're in a relationship and you've agreed on expectations and how to treat each other, though, I just don't understand why the people who then want to open the relationship, or have particular desires satisfied against the other person's preference, are supposed to take precedence. The problem goes both ways, as #65 points out: one person wants variety, perhaps, while the other still wants exclusivity. This is why I find the drumbeat about how "unnatural" monogamy is to be harmful, because it makes it seem like the monogamous person is some freak of nature who makes too great a demand on a fallible partner. It just isn't true! Everyone is different, and everyone's desires are important. Likewise, there's no reason one person's desires for "vanilla" sex are inferior to the partner's desires to be tied up, such that one person should be advised to head outside the relationship to get the satisfaction to which he is naturally entitled.

My point is that women will tend to be on the losing end of Dan's proposition that married or monogamous people should endure a little cheating or else consider opening things up. Geni/70, you make more than your partner, but this is not the general rule for women, and even when it is, you often have to consider the effects of child bearing and rearing, or differences in lifelong earnings or preparation for retirement. These are generalities, sure--I'm just as concerned about men who are in a more vulnerable position and cannot easily say, ok, hit the highway, in response to a partner who pressures for an unwanted change to nonmonogamy.

Sex is a basic need, yes--I don't think it's right to cut a partner off from it. But differences in desires and expressions? These have to be worked out with compromise, just like anything else in the relationship. If my husband doesn't supply me with enough cash for my taste, or enough cuddling at night, can I go outside the relationship to have those needs met, too? The model here just doesn't work, and it fails in a way that's generally worse for women.
Posted by Suzy on July 14, 2011 at 1:43 PM · Report this
I Hate Screen Names 76
@75: I think you're missing the forest for the trees. Dan's voice is only one among many giving relationship advice, and the overwhelming number of those other voices tout monogamy now, monogamy tomorrow, monogamy forever. Which means society as a whole (the forest) in staggeringly pro-monogamy.

As you said, relationships require compromise. Living within a society that advocates "all monogamy all the time" puts monogamish individuals at a horrible disadvantage in negotiating for their wants and needs. Dan's trying to swing that to a more equitable position.

Put more simply, I agree that Dan's position may be too extreme for many relationships. But the default "all monogamy" position is demonstrably too extreme for many relationships as well. If enough people start loudly proclaiming that monogamy sucks (not Dan's position, BTW), then at least the current extreme position may be somewhat lessened.
Posted by I Hate Screen Names on July 14, 2011 at 2:55 PM · Report this
venomlash 77
@74: ...except the reason it's easier for women to find willing partners is because men tend to want sex more.
Posted by venomlash on July 14, 2011 at 3:23 PM · Report this
@75 "If my husband doesn't supply me with enough cash for my taste, or enough cuddling at night, can I go outside the relationship to have those needs met, too?"

Um, yes? Why not? I mean, being married does mean discussing how to manage finances, but plenty of stay-at-home-moms figure out ways to bring in extra cash. Did you mean prostitution? Well, then it gets at the question of STDs and unintended pregnancies, which gets us back to the problem of non-monogamy. If there is no more marital sex at all, then both are free to have sex with other people. (And any pregnancy would NOT be presumed to be the husband's, if he asserted they hadn't had sex in years.)

But if they are still having sex, then they are stuck figuring out their rules together. A promise made ten years ago is not ethically binding if the young adult had no way of knowing what ten years (let alone forty years) of monogamy would feel like. Neither one's preference takes priority, but there's no short cut to figuring out a workable solution. 'Life is pain, highness. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something.'
Posted by EricaP on July 14, 2011 at 4:23 PM · Report this
chi_type @65, here's my view: you've been totally ethical. Good for you. But there's nothing unethical in your bf saying once in a while that he fantasizes about a 3-way. Try not to feel like the bad guy when you listen to him say what he wants. (In the long run it's a good thing to have a bf who is willing and able to talk about his fantasies.) I want to live abroad for a year; my husband's job won't let us do that – I still get to fantasize about the idea and he doesn't have to feel guilty when I do.

But, if you ever want to give your guy a real treat, and if you have a thousand dollars to spend on a great present –- find him an escort who does 3-ways. If you're not up for being there, she'll have a friend she can bring. If that idea sounds revolting, read Chester Brown's graphic novel, Paying for It, and then rethink the idea. Escorts know how to fulfill a fantasy, they're great at safe sex, and they don't want to steal your man.
Posted by EricaP on July 14, 2011 at 4:34 PM · Report this
@54 he might give lip service to it, but Dan seems to have a very anti-monogamy view. Sorry , but all of Dan's opinions and advice is just trying to justified the failure of his own monogamous relationship.
And sadly Dan is just not the best example of a equal open relationship. He seems to be very manipulative in the way he got Terry to agree to it.
Posted by artsenyc on July 14, 2011 at 10:26 PM · Report this
@80, Dan and his partner have been together for years and have a kid. How is their relationship a failure, again?

I'm with 63, that as our culture slowly changes and women have more economic power, their sexual behaviors will grow more similar to men's.

I'm a lesbian, and have an open-ish marriage. I've had two long-term girlfriends, one of which is current. My sweetie is starting an outside relationship--it's still very new, and she's not sure how it's going to go. WOMEN WANT SEX. Even lesbians.
Posted by clashfan on July 15, 2011 at 8:09 AM · Report this
76, I see your point that Dan is one voice among many who advocate for the restrictive view of monogamy that expects it of everyone, not just those who choose it. However, I don't think it helps his cause to be so alienating to people who really do prefer monogamy, and respect other kinds of relationships too. And it's not just alienation: I think it's harmful to push these views about male sexuality, in particular, and the total negativity of monogamous sex. For Dan, that's "sexual death" even if you choose it, rather than an opportunity to have a special variety of intimacy that arises after many exclusive years together. Nonmonogamy is the "relationship saver", but the value of renewed commitment to monogamy? Silence on that front.

@77, why would that be the reason? If more men happen to be searching for a partner, that doesn't mean they want the actual sex more than women do.

Posted by Suzy on July 15, 2011 at 8:54 AM · Report this
@82, I think the 'sexual death' Dan refers to is not monogamous sex, or even "boring sex". I believe Dan means when one partner does not want sex anymore, but the other does.

For a period of around five years, my partner and I had sex maybe 1-2 a year. That felt like sexual death. It was painful for me. I never considered leaving her, but if I hadn't had a girlfriend, I don't know how I would have felt.

Obviously, things are better now. :-)
Posted by clashfan on July 15, 2011 at 9:01 AM · Report this
Erica/78, I have never seen Dan promote the idea that because women "naturally" (let's assume, even if false) have greater desires to have emotional needs met, their partners need to accept that and perhaps be willing to open the relationship emotionally. Better to let your wife invest hours in sharing her feelings and cuddling with some other guy, than to hurt the kids by breaking up with her over it! I get that it's a sex column, but it's about relationships too, and if he's going to argue that men are bad at monogamy and have this greater need for sex, then what about the women? He insists that his view isn't anti-woman, but it's only ever PRO-woman when she's one of those happy letter writers who has been polygamous and loving it for years!

And a need for sex per se apparently has to be the motive for going outside the relationship. Yet if my husband failed to buy me enough stuff, I could go find myself a rich sugar daddy, and why should my husband object, if I have a greater desire for material things than he does, or than he can satisfy? Dan is treating sex like it's detachable from the relationship itself, even though for some people it's not like that, but I don't see him treating other things women supposedly care about as if they can be detached so easily.

Anyway, I agree with you about this: "Neither one's preference takes priority, but there's no short cut to figuring out a workable solution." My problem is, I think Dan does give a BIG priority to the person who wants more or outside or kinky sex, as opposed to the person who wants exclusivity or less or vanilla sex. But they are all humans with legitimate desires.
Posted by Suzy on July 15, 2011 at 9:12 AM · Report this
@84, if a woman wrote to Dan and said: "my husband is a great dad, great provider, and satisfies me in bed, but he tends to be cold and unemotional. I've recently become friends with a guy who is a total romantic, and now I see what I have been missing. I've started hanging out at his place in the evenings, cuddling, and my husband is tired of watching the children when I go out. What should we do?"

Which do you think Dan would say?

A) "it's your job as the wife to be home every evening to care for your family and satisfy your husband"

B) "Talk to your husband about scheduling and babysitters. If he has time for his hobbies, you should be entitled to your little pleasures too. I hope you can find a way to work this out."
Posted by EricaP on July 15, 2011 at 9:49 AM · Report this
@80: Still waiting for you to tell me why you think Dan was manipulative with Terry.

@84: Would it help if Dan emphasized more that women are not naturally monogamous and often have needs and desires that would be best served by opening the relationship?

I do see what you mean about the desire for monogamy being as important as the desire for non-monogamy, and the importance of compromising. But isn't a slight amount of non-monogamy under specified conditions a compromise here? This is the "monogamish" type of relationship Dan advocates and it does take a desire for monogamy into account. It's just that a compromise means neither person gets exactly what they want.
Posted by BlackRose on July 15, 2011 at 4:52 PM · Report this
aureolaborealis 87
@77: I was thinking the same thing ...cute.
Posted by aureolaborealis on July 15, 2011 at 5:42 PM · Report this
aureolaborealis 88
suzy@82: You're arguing with your own quote ...
Posted by aureolaborealis on July 15, 2011 at 5:46 PM · Report this
aureolaborealis 89
Is it just me, or did the troll pop pretty fast? And the refractory period seems to be longer than usual. Are we aging? Are we suffering from heart disease? Have we brutalized our bitter little weenis into painful scabbiness? We aren't getting our trolling jollies with someone else, are we?

And on the subject of self-stimming: good show, suzy and jpsd.
Posted by aureolaborealis on July 15, 2011 at 6:04 PM · Report this
@89 Having a different opinion and articulating that opinion is now considered trolling? Why have a discussion then?
Posted by they had a point on July 15, 2011 at 8:17 PM · Report this
@86 "But isn't a slight amount of non-monogamy under specified conditions a compromise here?"

The amount seems much less important, from the perspective of one who values monogamy, than the departure from exclusivity. In other words, the monogamous person has to give up what he or she really wanted, while the nonmonogamous person gets some of what he or she wanted. Not a very nice compromise, I'd say.
Posted by Suzy on July 15, 2011 at 9:45 PM · Report this
@85, I don't think any of those concerns are particularly relevant to Dan. What matters is sexual satisfaction, which is connected to men being naturally bad at monogamy, and their partners therefore need to accept and accommodate. I also don't think going outside of the relationship emotionally would be a matter of "little pleasures"--it's having an actual romantic love affair with someone else, just like outside sex is having a particular kind of intimacy with someone else.

In response to 86's first question, if Dan felt that both men and women had an equal need for nonmonogamous accommodations to their relationships, then at least I'd respect him for being consistent in that regard. However, he clearly makes this more an issue for men, and he also celebrates women's desires when they prefer open relationships, rather than when they are doing whatever he assumes they are "naturally" more inclined towards.

If people feel miserable and trapped by monogamy, then by all means they should try to work out some other arrangement. I like the fact that Dan advocates doing this in an open, honest manner that benefits both parties. However, I fear that these arrangements tend not to benefit women, on the whole, which needs to be accounted for, and we shouldn't have to slam monogamy in order to sanction non-monogamy.
Posted by Suzy on July 15, 2011 at 9:59 PM · Report this
83, this may be so, but he also recently said that advocates of monogamy need to acknowledge the several negatives of monogamy, one of which was "sexual death". Basically, none of the negatives he mentioned are necessary. I don't experience them. If people really did experience all those things, no wonder monogamy would be a struggle! I don't understand why Dan assumes that it is--I mean, granted that he hears from people who are having sexual problems, so the selection is biased. But is it so hard to imagine that plenty of people who don't need to write him about their problems are experiencing monogamy without suffering or struggle?
Posted by Suzy on July 15, 2011 at 10:02 PM · Report this
@91: In that case, there is no compromise that would work. Sticking to monogamy wouldn't be a very nice compromise for the non-monogamous person. In a situation like that, the people are just incompatible and either they break up, someone cheats, or one person gives in because they like the other person enough to deal with the relationship not being how they want (or they don't think they could do any better elsewhere).

I think the concern is that in the last case, it's often the non-monogamous person who gives in, based on social pressure. In hetero relationships, there's also a gendered aspect to this: since men tend to have lower standards for someone they will date or have sex with, it's often the man who gives in. As noted in other discussions about non-monogamy, women have an easier time finding other partners, so a man may feel like he's not going to find a better relationship anyway, especially not a non-monogamous one, if that's what he wants. However, many women will realize that they're the ones sought after and they'll have no trouble finding someone willing to be monogamous or non-monogamous as they wish: they're in a position to set the terms. I see what Dan is doing as trying to correct for this bias.

@92: But since society is biased against women -- as well as many other minority groups -- almost any specified arrangement will benefit men more. I'm not sure how someone trying to give individual advice could avoid that problem.

For what it's worth, I don't think monogamy is natural for men or women, and I haven't seen Dan suggest that it comes naturally or easily for most women either.
Posted by BlackRose on July 16, 2011 at 12:47 AM · Report this
Violet_DaGrinder 95

Nope, bi girl with a straight guy. And I agree, it seems to go smoother for gay guys. ALL of my negative poly experiences where with jealous "poly" women.
Posted by Violet_DaGrinder on July 16, 2011 at 9:46 AM · Report this
@ 93, I'm not sure what you mean by "none of the negatives he mentioned are necessary." Are you saying that Dan says that *all* attempts at monogamy are doomed to failure, that *all* monogamous relationships will experience those negative effects? I don't think he does. I think what he's saying is that those things DO happen, and that failing to take those into account, failing to acknowledge or discuss the possibility of them happening leads to (in many cases) infidelity, cheating, and/or resentment.

Just because *you* don't experience these things, doesn't mean they aren't widespread. And who knows, something could come up in your relationship someday. Having the tools to talk about it might come in handy.
Posted by clashfan on July 16, 2011 at 8:35 PM · Report this
There are many people, men & women, who do not struggle with monogamy & because Dan Savage is really, really stuck in this biological imperative kick, he seems to not acknowledge they exist. But just as they are people who have to conquer a new mountain or are daredevils, they are those who content with the order & sameness of things & who aren't looking for new adventures or in this case, new sexual exploits. I think Dan Savage has a skewed view of things due to the fact that he was unable to be monogamous (therefore all men can't be), & the fact that he hears through his advice work only from people having problems & the fact that he's a celebrity himself with more people willing to tempt him out of his monogamy status due to his status. The average guy & gal don't have fans & don't have people stroking their ego & so are more than willing to settle into the life they've chosen--as prison like monotonous as Mr. Savage thinks it is.

Do naturally monogamous people in monogamous relationships sometimes cheat? It can happen. But in almost every case, there's something else going wrong with the relationship. It could be depression, loss of job, disagreements over responsibilities, lack of time together, distance, you're both going in different directions etc. They're not usually just seeking new thrills & an open relationship wouldn't have saved them.

I think Mr. Savage can continue to defend the rights for people to have non monogamous relationships without putting down women (who by the way he doesn't seem to get. I've just recently heard from several women complaining that their husbands/boyfriends etc. want sex less often than they do. It happens) & monogamous relations.

I understand his fears that gay people are being 'forced' to conform to some standards. He needs to relax about this. You can't control people. If they want to be monogamous & exclusive then so be it. Some people like conformity, some people just like exclusivity & only sharing things with one person. If they don't & something like polyamory or open relationships work better, then that's OK too. You don't need to put down other people & other relationships & make all kinds of judgements in order to get this point across. Tone down the hate.
Posted by von on August 7, 2011 at 9:40 AM · Report this
BEST reply EVER…

moral anarchy woot! woot!
Posted by dispositives on September 19, 2012 at 1:52 AM · Report this

moral anarchy woot! woot!
Posted by dispositives on September 19, 2012 at 1:54 AM · Report this

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