I recently went along to listen to Daniel Bergner speak at The Wheeler Centre in Melbourne. Following that, I was browsing their website and found the video of you. Absolutely loved listening to what you had to say, I was sad when it ended. I find your ideas on monogamy and relationships both intriguing and sensible.
I have been happily married for 22 years and know first hand the benefits and costs of such a long-term commitment. On the plus side (if you are doing it right) is security, intimacy, support, emotional connection and a shared life of experiences together. On the down side, maintaining that initial desire and passion is verging on impossible over such a long period of time—it is the trade off for security and comfort. Fortunately for us, we entered into our marriage with a different mindset from many others which is perhaps a key to its longevity. We never viewed our relationship in terms of the beginning being the ultimate goal—a precarious peak of lust, adoration and excitement—as many of our peers have. Viewed in this way, it is inevitable that you will soon fall off of that peak and then spend the rest of your time looking back at it wondering how to get back onto it (or worse, just accepting the fall). In contrast, we viewed the start as just that—a beginning of long and shared journey that lay ahead. From this vantage point, we are not constricted by a focus on where we have been; instead, we are always looking for new experiences and opportunities to share together and grow closer. Do we miss the lust and passion of the early days?
Not content with just accepting the natural decay of desire, we have sought out ways to keep things exciting. As you said, fantasy is one easy way to start and that is certainly where it began for us. From fantasy came sharing of fantasies and then eventually trying out some of those fantasies and even incorporating other people into our sex life. I can only speak for our experience, but it has been amazing how much closer we have become and how much hotter our sex life has become. I don't think other people can understand how opening up your relationship can make you closer—they see only risk and threat. I am always excited to meet others who get it.
I am still trying to wrap my head around the term 'cheating' and how I feel about that. To me it implies a sneaky dishonesty, which is certainly appropriate in many circumstances, but doesn't seem to fit in others. For now, we only explore together so that hasn't been an issue for us (although I am sure there are others who would label what we have done as cheating).
Anyway, enough rambling from me. I am sure you get sick of random people writing to tell you about themselves! Thanks for speaking out and having the balls to challenge conventions. I hope you come back to Melbourne soon and I will keep an eye out for you.
Thanks for the nice note, E., and thanks for sharing your own experiences with love, commitment, and non-monogamy. And, hey, for the record: I never get tired of random people telling me about themselves via email. (But I could do with a bit less sharing on in airports and on airplanes.) And speaking of rambling... I do ramble a bit in this speech. I was pretty seriously jet lagged—didn't even have time to unpack the bags under my eyes—but I'm glad you appreciated the talk. And thanks for the reminder to post it to Slog, which I neglected to do when it first went up, and I hope to get back to Melbourne soon!