down at our rendezvous

9/13/11

Pygmalion_and_Galatea(bl).jpg

Okay, I’ve got a code word question for all you animals out there, both anonymous and named… and you must answer how you actually feel, not as you would like to feel.

In short, what is your soul’s take on modern American monogamy? In specific, do you wish you could enter an arrangement by which you and your partner are monogamous in all things, but occasional sex with other people is totally okay?

UPDATE (thurs morn)…

The answers to this have been awesome, but let me add a few caveats:

• let’s assume all sex is safe (conditions are met that nullify all fears)

• as mentioned by “butterfly”, the occasional sex in question cannot be with someone whom your partner knows

• to be clear, both parties in this scenario – you and your partner – have agreed to this arrangement

I’m interested to see how this jibes with this infamous blog from last year-

26 thoughts on “down at our rendezvous

  1. Amy S.

    I loved Dan Savage’s discussion of monogamy vs. fidelity with Oppenheimer in The New York Times a couple months ago. (Just search “monogamish”.) He makes a solid case that each couple should define its own sexual bounds.
    ‘Course, I’m not married, so what do I know?

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  2. litlnemo

    I’m about as naturally monogamous as you get. I find people who are not kind of mystifying, honestly. My brain just doesn’t work that way. But if it works for them and they have agreed on it, more power to them.

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  3. The Red Dragon

    I’m with Amy S. on the Savage Love. His naked pragmatism appeals to me. While I would like to feel that long-term monogamy is possible, I just don’t think it’s all that practical. So, I guess I do wish that I could enter into an arrangement with a partner in which occasional sex with other people is totally ok. My current partner would never go for it, though. I can see why it would be a tricky thing to negotiate. Trickier than the traditional methods of discreet cheating.

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  4. jason savage

    monogamy may not be natural, but neither are all sorts of things we do out of selflessness and love. i vote for monogamy as an affirmation of love and dedication to something much larger than your fleeting desires.

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  5. the other Lee

    I’m a serial monogamist, when I’m in a committed relationship I am quite content being monogamous. When I’m not in a committed relationship I have no desire or inclination for it.
    I hope that makes sense.

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  6. Lone Wolf

    What do you do if one partner is just not that into sex and the other one is? Would you seriel mongonamy fans want a partner who discretly got sex on the side but was still there as a spouse and good parent or would you insist on the mongonamy?

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  7. GFWD

    Ian, was this painting the inspiration for that wonderful [tongue planted firmly in cheek] movie, MANNEQUIN, featuring the guy from Pretty in Pink and the woman from Porky’s and Police Academy? You know the one with the soundtrack by Starship!
    Now that damn song is stuck in my head.

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  8. ella

    that monogamy isn’t natural or realistic, but the consequences of stepping out of it can be pretty painful or awful. plus health risks. = not worth it.

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  9. Annie H.

    I left my last monogamous relationship two years ago. Since then, I have deeply considered the decisions people make around monogamous commitment–the whys and hows–in order to broaden my own knowledge and make the decisions that are best for me at this point in my life.
    My understanding of sexuality and human behavior has been tremendously enhanced by both Dan Savage’s podcast (Savage Love) and the new book, “Sex at Dawn.” I recommend both, 5 stars each.
    The main point I have taken away (at this point in the journey) is that people–particularly couples–are very often not honest with themselves and others about their sexual needs. Not wants–needs. This leads to cheating and lying, which is rampant even as we believe ourselves to live in a world of sexually liberated consenting adults.
    The hard truth (ha ha) I have come to (ha ha ha) is in this search is that contending directly with sexual jealousy– which I believe to be unavoidable–can lead to great discoveries of self for ALL parties involved. The willingness–the courage– to practice radical honesty (no matter what our status–monogamously coupled or not) around our sexuality can teach us so much, deepen our compassion for the human condition (which is always, in one way or another, extreme), and can meaningfully guide us in our journeys towards wholeness. I see my journey as an integration of what it means–what it *actually* means, not what I want it to mean– to be embodied in human form, in all its wonder and all its awfulness. That includes, for me, direct confrontation with the experience of sexual jealousy.
    I actually had an experience a few months ago in which I had occasion to feel some of the worst of it, and in the same moment, I had the opportunity to speak face-to-face with the people who were bringing up that feeling in me. These were both people who love and respect me, and having the chance to *feel* and to *speak in person* what I was experiencing, and to share that with the very people my psyche believed to be responsible for my pain, it was a transformational experience. I had the chance to witness myself generating feelings/beliefs of compromised worth. It was *my* belief, *my* feeling. I felt I was able to peek behind the veil and see the feelings that are normally obscured by the rage of being lied to, and see what was really underneath. For me, it was simply a base-line emotion of my core worth being compromised, reduced, unrecognized.
    Oh goodness–I could go on for a long time. My main issue right now is the lying, and its companion, hypocrisy. It realllllly gets to me.

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  10. GFWD

    You say PygMALion, I say MANNequin; six one way, half a dozen the other. :-)
    Can’t say I knew the myth before, but damn if it’s not rampant in popular movies.

    Reply
  11. bulldog cat

    I do not think monogamy is natural or great but yet I cannot imagine cheating on my wife not because I don’t think about it but because of the pain it would cause…. then there is the issue of possible STDs…. not good. All in all, occasional side safe sex, even just giving and receiving oral, would certainly lend itself to a healthier relationship…. sounds strange but that’s what I think.

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  12. Camel

    I largely agree with bulldog cat in that I like the idea that I will never have to get an AIDS test. Plus, other people are kind of icky.
    However, I do think monogamy is kind of unnatural. It’s something we created in society. Largely, it works.

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  13. Bob

    I’m strictly a monogamist, but if others want a more open approach to marriage, I certainly wouldn’t oppose it. However, I suspect that the number of married people who think that they could handle their partner having casual sex with someone else far exceeds the number who actually can. Such a miscalculation is particularly sad if your kids end up suffering for it.

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  14. Sour puss

    I think I have picked the right partner because I truly have no desire for anyone else. Sure, I find others hot and love to ogle strangers, but I don’t actually want them at all. I may not have as much sex as my partner wants but at least I only want to give it to them.
    I could never handle them cheating on me either. One strike and you’re out.

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  15. anon-o-squirrel

    My wife and I enjoy the fantasy of other partners, and we role play it with each other once in a while, but that’s as far as we want to go down that road.
    Our reasons are three: jealousy/trust issues, disease and a deep respect for the bond that comes from sharing exclusive intimacy with each other.
    We’re two rather shy people with good imaginations who are not at all shy with each other, especially in the bedroom (or sometimes the kitchen, the dining room, and/or the living room for that matter..hahaha). Other lifestyles may work for other people.

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  16. kent

    There are those who are constitutionally monogamous, and there are those who are incapable of it. The only combination with any chance of success is one where both parties are constitutionally monogamous.
    Non-monogamous partners hurt monogamous and non-monogamous partners alike; they (non-monogamous people) would be best served by not even attempting serious long term relationships as they will end in tears.
    In other words, people seem always to want a monogamous partner, even if they’re incapable of it themselves. They might genuinely love their partner and try to stay faithful, but in the end many don’t have the will to follow through. Or they might succeed in denying their own tendency to wander, but grow to resent the partner for thwarting their innermost drives.
    Sorry to be so bleak, but people need to know themselves and be honest with others about who they are. If you really love someone sometimes the best thing is to not try and do anything you can’t sustain.

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  17. bulldog cat

    Given the updated caveats…. count me in….hell, I might even work harder to stay in shape if I was still in “the game”.

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  18. Camel

    Even with the update, I think the issue would cause too much mistrust and jealousy. What if one person seems more into it than the other?
    I love anon-o-squirrel: “We’re two rather shy people with good imaginations who are not at all shy with each other…”

    Reply
  19. Kmeelyon

    I think the problem I have with this question is that I don’t know what you mean by “In specific, do you wish you could enter an arrangement by which you and your partner are monogamous in all things…”
    Maybe I’m being too expansive in my interpretation here of the word “monogamous,” but I think that in most relationships we’re not exclusive about anything but sex. We eat meals with other people, go to concerts with other people, laugh and cry with other people, party with them, listen to music….and then we are expected to only have sex with one person.
    My take on monogamy has for a very long time been that I am fine with someone wanting to have experiences with other people, but I don’t want to be lied to and I’d really like not to fight over it (lying and breaking agreements will lead to fighting over it).
    My tendency is to be monogamous, but I don’t think I want it to be a condition of partnership for me. Safer sex and emotional safety, yes. Those are requirements. I don’t think that I (or my partner) should be expected to make promises today about never having sex with another person. I think we should make promises about not acting on impulses without conversations or agreements in place. I think we should make promises about how we communicate with one another and how we take care of the relationship.
    I haven’t been lucky enough to find a long-term partner, but I have been lucky to have a number of very happy, successful poly relationships around me. I know people who have been together for 12, 15, 20+ years. And they are poly. They have taught me that sexual exclusivity is not what makes a relationship. I am grateful for the chance to learn while witnessing their love and commitment.
    As to the update about the partner not being someone we both know, I’m not sure I understand why someone would only want their partner to have sex with strangers? I think if I were poly or in a nonmonogamous relationship, it would mean a lot to me to know that the person they were with was a good, dear person who I also had affection for (if not passion). The assumption that it would have to be someone who is a stranger to me seems, well, strange to me. :)

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  20. anon-o-squirrel

    Camel, I just saw your comment. Thank you! I also completely agree with what you said. Disease is probably the least of my three reasons to remain monogamous.
    This has gotten me to wonder how I’d feel about this if my wife and I weren’t still attracted to each other. I guess I’d want an agreement of some sort and then probably don’t ask/don’t tell after that. I’d also have to still love her deeply (even if not sexually) and to believe that she felt the same for me. (Isn’t that basically the stereotypical European way?)
    The more I think about this, the more I’m grateful for my wife and for what we have, and the more I want to make sure I keep pleasing her!

    Reply

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