Like Humans Do

Chris Lee is a skeezy cheater, and a hypocrite, but he’s also another reminder of the waste and pain caused by our contradictory, one-sided and archaic views of marital fidelity.

Any regular Dan Savage reader/listener knows that one of his most common caller/writer is one part of a married couple who’s sexually frustrated. Usually there are children involved. Often, this person knew that they were sexually incompatible when they married, but was hoping things would change. Usually, their marriage is under a sexual death penalty: if there’s an affair, there’s a divorce.

This kind of call or letter is pretty boring because there’s really no solution accepted by mainstream society. Most of these marriages would be a hell of a lot better if the sexually unsatisfied partner had a discreet affair, but that puts the other partner in a socially untenable situation. “Open marriage” is something for dirty hippies or sleazy swingers, not an upstanding member of society. And, since the first stop for marital therapy is often a pastor or priest, it’s very unlikely that the open option will even be broached.

So, instead of negotiating an outlet, these marriages move on to a badly executed affair, tears, recriminations and, usually, divorce. The cheated-on member of the pair has the moral and legal high ground, they’re under intense social pressure to make the cheater pay, and by the time the cheating happens, the cheater’s resentment over their lack of satisfaction has probably already poisoned the well.

If we want to do something about the high divorce rate, we might want to get real about making sexual satisfaction a precursor to marriage, and also about the role of a discreet, mutually agreed-upon affair as a safety valve. Of course, religion and social norms rule that out-of-bounds. That’s too bad, because the only person more miserable that Mr. and Mrs. Chris Lee this morning is their little boy, a kid who’s in a world of hurt that might have been avoided if mom and dad had been able to negotiate a piece on the side.






132 replies
  1. 1
    geg6 says:

    Just one more reason for me to avoid anything society calls a “marriage.”

    That said, I only feel bad for the wife and child here. Chris Lee is a hypocritical, empty headed creep who is just fine with scrutinizing and pronouncing on and attempting to control others’ sexual behavior and now is living with the repercussions of those sorts of false and impossible values. Give up the moralizing about other people and I’ll give him all the sympathy in the world.

  2. 2

    So, what’s Boehner’s excuse?

  3. 3
    Jane2 says:

    And you know all of this about the Lees and their marriage how?

  4. 4

    I couldn’t agree more! Honesty and frankness: go together so well, but so frowned upon by US society!

  5. 5
    ant says:

    lol.
    oh snap! now you went an done it mister.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuY4FR-bmGY

  6. 6
    DecidedFenceSitter says:

    Except cheating reinforces the dominant marriage paradigm of society, while open relationships detracts it.

    In the general population, my wife has found far more people interested in cheating with her on me, than people who are okay with me knowing about it.

    Yes, I qualify under the dirty hippy qualification.

  7. 7
    dr. bloor says:

    @Jane2:

    He’s on a roll.

  8. 8
    mistermix says:

    @Jane2: Which part do you think is a reach: that he’s a cheater, a hypocrite or that their marriage might have been saved if they negotiated a piece on the side? The first two seem pretty obvious. We’ll never know about the last one, hence the “might”.

  9. 9
    Superluminar says:

    But how’s Glenn Greenwald’s relationship going?
    /innocent whistling, walks off to buy popcorn…

  10. 10
    cmorenc says:

    Sounds kind of “French” to me.

    So, shall we call such discreet safety-valve affairs “Freedom Frolics” so they won’t sound so, um…Frenchie?

  11. 11
    Nutella says:

    Did you mean a discreet affair? Probably an affair that is both discreet and discrete would be best…

  12. 12
    dr. bloor says:

    @mistermix:

    The ways in which couples in general experience, negotiate and choose to act/not act on sexual needs in a marriage go well beyond your summary above, and we certainly don’t know about the particulars of how the Lees have dealt with this over the years.

  13. 13
    curious says:

    maybe they did have an open marriage. i’m guessing not but the political fall-out would have been terrible even if that were the case. (so your point still stands.)

  14. 14
    Comrade Javamanphil says:

    For anyone interested in the topic of marriage, sexuality and human growth, I highly recommend the works of Dr. David Schnarch. His central theory is that sexual incompatibility is a feature, not a bug of marriage (and that in reality truly incompatible people would never reach the point of marriage to begin with.) And that these crisis points offer the best opportunity for individual humans to grow and expand who they are. Fascinating stuff, IMO.

  15. 15
    jon says:

    As both a cheater and someone who has been cheated, I have to say that secrecy is the problem. Whether it’s a secret desire or a secret affair, once things are put out there in the open it’s much easier to come to a conclusion about where things can go in a relationship.

    Cheating is wrong, but fucking someone else isn’t always cheating.

  16. 16
    4tehlulz says:

    also about the role of a discrete, mutually agreed-upon affair as a safety valve.

    >”discrete”
    >”Craigslist”

    HAHA no.

  17. 17
    someofparts says:

    Well said.

    Did you see the episode of the Simpsons where there were competing heavens? Everywhere Homer and Bart looked, all the other heavens were more having more fun than they were having on their Calvinist cloud. The Italians were eating and drinking. The Irish were drinking and dancing. The Mexicans were eating, drinking and dancing. Marge looked around for Homer and Bart and saw that they had slipped away to one of the other clouds where people were actually having a good time.

  18. 18
    Hawes says:

    OK, I’ll bite…

    Yeah, I kind of fit the person who would like a different sexual dynamic in my marriage. I mean there’s a pretty big gap between her (once a week or so) and me (what are you doing right now).

    But I remember something I read by Tom Junod. He said, fidelity is a choice. Monogamy? That’s a narrow, restrictive way of looking at marriage. But fidelity is something more.

    It’s a virtue, and one that you choose. Don’t want to choose it? Don’t.

    But understand that it’s a choice you made, and it empowers your commitment to be faithful.

  19. 19
    Punchy says:

    But DougJ’s never cheated on his wife, John’s never cheated on his partner, Tim F. is loyal….why is it only Republican d-bags that have so much trouble with Family Values(TM) ?

  20. 20
    ppcli says:

    Shame about the kids, that’s true. And it is true that many people get locked into situations that are productive of great unhappiness, and don’t manage to find a way out that doesn’t cause great pain to the people close to them. But most of those people don’t make a career of purporting to “defend marriage” by slandering gay people and pissing on their reasonable and legitimate aspirations for family life. Most of those people don’t participate in greasy efforts to deny abortions to rape victims by trying to effect under the radar semantic distinctions. Most of those people don’t base their career on representing themselves as more concerned with “values” and “morals” than their political opponents.

    This despicable weasel made his bed, and I hope he finds it comfortable. I only pray that Böner really is next.

  21. 21
    mistermix says:

    @dr. bloor: What you say is true for almost every post on this or any other blog, isn’t it? (I mean – the topic is almost always too big to be addressed fully in the post, and we don’t know the real motivations or history of the actors involved.)

  22. 22
    Hawes says:

    We also have to take into account that people in power often feel that they get different rules and the fact that congresspeople are separated from their families for large stretches of time.

    Being in Congress almost necessitates infidelity, given the structures and demands that grow up around it.

  23. 23
    mistermix says:

    @Nutella: Yes, thanks, fixed it.

  24. 24
    ppcli says:

    @Nutella: Though there are those who prefer a discreet and continuous affair.

    This was more like the pathological functions of analysis – discrete everywhere and discreet nowhere.

  25. 25
    Hawes says:

    What really disappoints me about all this is that his name is Christopher Lee and he resigned too quickly.

    I mean, the Count Dooku jokes begin to write themselves.

  26. 26
    Comrade Dread says:

    This kind of call or letter is pretty boring because there’s really no solution accepted by mainstream society.

    “Why do you think the net was born? Porn, porn, porn.”

  27. 27
    mistermix says:

    @Hawes: Just for comparison, most of Dan’s correspondents would kill for once a week.

  28. 28
    ppcli says:

    @Punchy: Quite true. I just celebrated 25 (faithful) and gloriously happy years with my (first) wife. But I also think my gay friends and our families should have a the same options I do to forge such a bond, so I don’t count as a “defender of marriage” the way Lee (Vitter, Gingrich, etc. etc. …) do. Y’know – I really hate those douchebags.

  29. 29
    Face says:

    Lemmie see if I understand this….

    1) Politican A actually cheats on his wife, actually fucking dirty hookers wearing diapers for money

    2) Politican B posts topless foto on Craigslist

    Politican A not only doesn’t resign, but is reelected in a landslide, while B is forced to quit within minutes. Stay classy, Deep South.

  30. 30
    greennotGreen says:

    @Hawes: Once a week? Is she on birth control pills? If so, she should stop them *now*. Probably there’s a real woman being suppressed by those little pills. If she’s not on the pill, forget I said anything.

    On the other hand, when I stopped taking the pill (many years ago) was when I realized how horrible my marriage was – beginning of the end of that bad dream.

    All that being said, while open marriage might be a workable solution for some marriages, for many it’s something they try out of desperation when the relationship is headed down the tubes. I doubt it works in the long term for most people, but I don’t have any data, and YMMV.

  31. 31
    dr. bloor says:

    @Face:

    That wasn’t lost on me, either. It’s like getting suspended for taking too many Flintstone vitamins when everyone else in the clubhouse is injecting themselves with HGH and steroids.

  32. 32
    Joey Maloney says:

    @mistermix: We don’t actually know anything about his marriage. Maybe he was cheating; maybe he and his wife have what is quaintly referred to as “an understanding” but he can’t admit to that in public.

    As to hypocrite, while the R after his name is strongly suggestive I don’t really know anything about his voting record or public pronouncements on family values. And I don’t want to go Googling because I’m afraid the experience would too closely resemble plunging my head into a bucketful of roaches.

    The only thing we know for sure is that he’s a fucking idiot, thinking he could send that picture of himself to a stranger over the internet and not have it become public. On that ground alone – one less fucking idiot in Congress, at least temporarily – I’m glad he’s resigning.

  33. 33
    scav says:

    But here’s a question. Why are sexually faithful marriages socially valued more than happy marriages where sexual fidelity isn’t one of the agreed upon bedrocks of the relationship? If you’ve broken a promise to your spouse / partner, yes, skeevy but what if its isn’t a promise between the partners, just a stereotyped add-on expected by “polite” society?

  34. 34
    p mac says:

    It’s the skeezy factor that gets me. Very, very skeezy. Not as skeezy as Brett Fahvre, however.

  35. 35
    Ann B. Nonymous says:

    Every marriage is an enigma to outsiders, even Republican marriages from Babbitt Quarry, New York.

    Have you never been surprised by the outcomes of marriages where you know the people very well? Some spouses brush off things that would drive others to hatchets. You don’t know how this person’s marriage functions. Even if there’s a rancorous divorce, it might be about wounded pride and embarrassment, not sexual needs. For all you or I know, Mrs. Lee might enjoy her husband’s dalliances.

  36. 36
    mistermix says:

    @Joey Maloney: I’ll save you the Google effort:

    http://www.chrisleeforcongress.com/

    “Values, Reform and Change that Brings Solutions”, with lots of pictures of his family.

    I think at least hypocrite is nailed down tight.

  37. 37
    AAA Bonds says:

    Most of these marriages would be a hell of a lot better if the sexually unsatisfied partner had a discrete affair

    That’s a pretty sweeping judgment to make. I’d guess that a “discrete affair” would probably destroy a lot of families, no matter how “frustrated” one partner was.

    Open relationships aren’t for everyone, and “opening” a relationship can be disastrous. Why? Because paring away sex from romance isn’t as easy as all that, not for a lot of people.

    Many people will agree to something that they don’t want to keep a marriage together, whether that’s a nonexistent sex life OR an open relationship. My advice to those people? Get a divorce.

  38. 38
    Angelos says:

    @4tehlulz: EXACTLY!

    I completely agree with this post, but whether agreed-upon or not, your don’t get your “pieces” from fucking Craigslist if you’re in the public eye.

    Yeesh.

  39. 39
    Angelos says:

    @AAA Bonds: Did you consider that the frustration itself is destroying the marriage?

  40. 40
    mistermix says:

    @AAA Bonds: I mean a “mutually negotiated discreet affair”, I realize that’s not clear to the non-Savage listeners/readers.

  41. 41
    geg6 says:

    @Hawes:

    But fidelity is something more.

    Agreed. Which is why I have no desire to marry. Fidelity is exactly what I want and, until now, have not had. I have some married friends and relatives who have fidelity in their relationships, but not a majority. I don’t see why marriage is somehow more valued, morally or politically or economically, than the choice my SO and I have made to come together, one made with completely open eyes and no false ties to bind. The marriage fetish in this country with its attached legal and economic privileges does nothing special for us, for children, for women, for our economy, or our society. Co-habiting couples should all be treated the same.

  42. 42
    elmo says:

    @jon:

    Cheating is wrong, but fucking someone else isn’t always cheating.

    Exactly right. Cheating involves dishonesty. It doesn’t always even have to involve actual fucking — if my partner started lying to me about going to a book club on Thursday evenings, but what she was really doing was going to a romantic dinner with somebody else, that’s cheating. If my partner told me straight up that there was a smokin’ hot guy (we’re both bi) she wanted to take to bed and have a wild time with, and she’ll be home by morning — hey, just be careful. That’s not cheating.

  43. 43
    Beverley says:

    Too many assumptions made here. Christopher Lee’s wife could have installed a pole in her bedroom and put out 4-5 times a week and he could have still been a cheater. It’s not the sex that’s the problem , it’s all the lies and the amount of planning and the $$ going out of the household so you can get your freak on. This guy not only lied to his wife, he lied to the would be mistress. He has shown no integrity! There is no reason to believe he was a long suffering husband.

  44. 44
    Svensker says:

    @dr. bloor:

    What you said.

  45. 45
    pk says:

    And how come you know so much about this marriage?

  46. 46
    Rosalita says:

    @greennotGreen:

    @Hawes: Once a week? Is she on birth control pills? If so, she should stop them now. Probably there’s a real woman being suppressed by those little pills. If she’s not on the pill, forget I said anything.

    Ain’t that the truth! Damn things are awful.

  47. 47
    Mnemosyne (iPod Touch) says:

    It’s amazing how many guys assume they’re the only sexually frustrated one in their marriage/relationship and their wife/girlfriend will stay at home while he’s out having his fun.

    Open relationships sound great to men until you realize that means someone else is going to be fucking YOUR wife. That’s why people cheat — they’re trying to prevent their partner from doing the same thing.

  48. 48
    mistermix says:

    @pk: Sorry, I think you guys who are bitching about an admittedly speculative post that uses Lee’s predicament to make some general points were accidentally directed here in your Google search for the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy. So, as a public service, I’m posting the link:

    http://www.jmft.net/

    You’re welcome.

  49. 49
    stuckinred says:

    I like Ken Wilber’s take:

    A Brief History of Everything by Ken Wilber. One of the first notions he presents is the gradient from sex, biologically defined characterization of the male and female, to gender, the cultural analog defining masculinity and femininity. He presents the idea that the difference of value spheres between males and females is primarily attributed to hormonal differences: namely, testosterone, which has the drives of “fuck it” or “kill it,” and “oxytocin,” which promotes feelings of attachment and nurturing. Wilber brings in the biological evolutionary significance of these hormones: testosterone for reproduction and oxytocin for mothering.

  50. 50
    scav says:

    @stuckinred: Well, it’s a comforting thought to think that women come pre-programmed to mother and nurture their mates but I’m not sure how far I’d put it into concrete practice around the actual living rusty instrument caring kind.

    ETA. Don’t count on the easy simplicity of binary single-factor theories involving realio people.

  51. 51
    vanya says:

    People talk the talk but very few people can negotiate open relationships successfully. For most people sexual relationships create a powerful emotional bond that tends to undermine your bond to your spouse even if you think you’re just having some discrete fun on the side. By nature most humans are serial monogamists, not polygamists and not lifetime pair bonders. I don’t think there are easy answers here. Saying “hey, let’s just all agree that sex on the side is a good thing” might work for some, but for people like Chris Lee it would just be another excuse to shirk his responsibilities at home to his wife and kid. Who wouldn’t rather be having sex in a nice hotel room somewhere rather than doing laundry, making a kid do homework and fixing the leaky gutter? Condemning him is not hypocritical.

  52. 52
    Mnemosyne (iPod Touch) says:

    He presents the idea that the difference of value spheres between males and females is primarily attributed to hormonal differences

    Yes, I’m sure it’s all due to hormones and not to the fact that a cheating man used to get a free pass from society, but a cheating woman could be murdered by her cuckolded spouse without consequence (aka “the unwritten law”).

    Nope, must be hormones that keep women from cheating because there’s certainly no sociological explanations. Putz.

  53. 53
    D. Mason says:

    While I’m glad hes not chasing high school aged subordinates I don’t have much sympathy for this asshole because he aligned himself with the groups that push religion and abstinence.

  54. 54
    JohnR says:

    sorry to intrude, but had to comment:
    1. *discreet
    2. I take issue with your assumption that a discreet affair is the solution to sex problems in a marriage. Some times and places, probably, but every situation is a different mix. The fallout is not likely to be simple and harmless no matter what. Divorce or polygamy are also possible solutions, each with its own set of plus/minus mixes. Marital counseling is probably a far better ‘one-size-fits-all solution, though. Sex is just one problem, and probably has strings attached to a bunch of others. Right, that’s enough patronizing pontificating for this month.

  55. 55
    lawnorder says:

    Affairs happen for all kinds of reasons and some of them have nothing to do with sex. I’ve seen husbands and wives have affairs to retaliate in a passive aggressive way (John & Kate +8 anyone ?), to feel powerful, young, out of a sense of entitlement, etc…

    That said, I agree. Bad sex and dead end marriages are awful and having an open marriage might save some people a lot of grief. But most of the time there is much more than that going on.

  56. 56
    shortstop says:

    I’m cool with what mistermix has to say. But dr. bloor’s right that the situation is often way more complicated than that. For just one instance, mistermix’s post seems to assume that all extramarital sex is the result of unsatisfactory/incompatible sex at home. Quite a bit of it is, to be sure, but the human, and especially the male (am I going to get nailed for that? I hope not) desire to continually seek out new sexual partners is not particularly tied to how attractive or excellent in bed one’s life partner is. Those factors usually only get real examination when people are deciding what to do about that urge to get it on with someone different.

  57. 57
    stuckinred says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPod Touch): Don’t like it huh?

  58. 58
    stuckinred says:

    @shortstop:

    Quite a bit of it is, to be sure, but the human, and especially the male (am I going to get nailed for that? I hope not) desire to continually seek out new sexual partners is not particularly tied to how attractive or excellent in bed one’s life partner is.”

    How dare you!!!!!!

  59. 59
    PTirebiter says:

    …hurt that might have been avoided if mom and dad had been able to negotiate a piece on the side.

  60. 60
    PTirebiter says:

    …hurt that might have been avoided if mom and dad had been able to negotiate a piece on the side.

  61. 61
    Laura Clawson says:

    Let me get this straight: this guy is attempting to pick up women on craigslist via lying about his age and sending wannabe beefcake vanity shots of himself flexing, and your response is that maybe if his wife had put out more this could have been avoided?

  62. 62
    stuckinred says:

    Comming motherrrrr…..

  63. 63
    Joey Maloney says:

    @mistermix: Actually that website is remarkably free of the kind of culture war twaddle that would brand the man a hypocrite in my eyes.

    If he hasn’t spent his time in public office telling me what my marriage should look like, I don’t give a shit about his.

  64. 64
    Ash Can says:

    Forget religious and societal norms; this kind of “safety valve” works only for people to whom sex is mechanical and devoid of emotion, and/or for people who are genuinely indifferent to whether or not they’re in a monogamous relationship. I’m not sure how many people are like that.

  65. 65
    mistermix says:

    @Laura Clawson: Yeah, that’s exactly it. That’s why I called him a skeezy cheater and hypocrite, because it was his wife’s fault, entirely.

  66. 66
    scav says:

    @Ash Can: seriously, really? First you envision human behavior abstracted from society
    (marriage is necessarily a societal relationship) and then assume there’s a mechanistic monogamy behavior hardwired into the human brain AND assume that the only emotionally valid sex is monogamous. I don’t really want to know many people that make those narrow assumptions about humanity and intimacy, in bed or otherwise.

  67. 67
    satby says:

    @lawnorder: Yeah, I’m with lawnorder here: assuming affairs and cheating are only about sex is too simplistic. A lot of the time it has less to do with the dynamic between the two people and more to do with the dynamic going on in the cheater’s head. Adventure, retaliation, entitlement, sexual addiction, and just being an untrustworthy creep all can be factors in straying by either sex. To assume Lee just wasn’t getting enough and needed an “outlet” doesn’t square with his ladies man rep. And yeah, I’m betting the resignation is about trying to keep worse news undercover.

  68. 68
    PTirebiter says:

    …hurt that might have been avoided if mom and dad had been able to negotiate a piece on the side.

    Nothing could take the steam out of a steamy affair quicker than having a partner who was okay with it. If sex isn’t dirty, you’re doing it wrong.

    That said, I’ve been happily faithful to my second wife for years.
    My first wife, and mother of my children, just recently started speaking to me again. We divorced 1n 1987.

  69. 69
    geg6 says:

    @stuckinred:

    Ummmm, no. Just no.

  70. 70
    John Emerson says:

    If we want to do something about the high divorce rate, we might want to get real about making sexual satisfaction a precursor to marriage,

    Something like a driver’s test should be required, not just awritten test.

  71. 71
    Cat Lady says:

    It’s the stupidity, stupid. Whatever about the hypocrisy and the infidelity – you’re a fucking Congressman! Don’t take sketchy pictures of yourself and post them on the internet soliciting women not your wife! Duh. Fucking internets, how do they work?

  72. 72
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    This is a trap that Christian males like Lee have caught themselves in. You can’t keep promoting religious ideas of how sex and marriage should be handled, then expect anything different. I doubt very much it was “society” that pressured them. It was likely their own deeply held religious beliefs.

    People who take marriage seriously are called liberals. They will have sex prior to marriage or live together to test things out. And they are more likely to have an open marriage.

    As always, a conservative world view is one that leads to maximum suffering in the name of some rigid, questionable ideal.

  73. 73
    stuckinred says:

    @geg6: Well it’s only a short quote from a huge book called “A Brief History of Everything”.

  74. 74
    shortstop says:

    @John Emerson: Vroom, vroom. But what happens when one partner’s sexual appetite/tastes evolve? We are not always the same sexual people at 22 as we are at 40. So, one might root out total incompatibility this way, but they’re not, forgive me, covering all the bases.

    Oh, it’s so complicated. Being a human is hard. Not white people problems but bipedal critter problems.

  75. 75
    MBunge says:

    I am totally in agreement with mistermix. The only reason why people don’t want their spouse or significant other having sex with other people is because society tells them it’s wrong. DAMN YOU, SOCIETY!

    Mike

  76. 76
    Menzies says:

    This places me in a rather tough position here, because while I do intensely believe in “live and let live” where others are concerned, I’m also incredibly monogamous – and I can see from the 70+ comments before me that I seem to be in the minority here on that one.

    I can’t speak as to marriage – bit young for that – but I had a somewhat long-term relationship where my partner wanted more than I could give alone. We ended up separating somewhat acrimoniously for a number of reasons, one of which was the fact that clearly only one of the people in the relationship was at all monogamous.

    I guess what I’m saying is that here I’m seeing tons of people acting as if monogamy has to be necessarily a narrow and restrictive POV on sexual relationships and marriage. I’m saying some of us come by it honestly, whatever we may believe about the best way to fix other people’s marriages.

  77. 77
    stormhit says:

    @scav:

    I see no such assumptions being made. “And/or” really isn’t a terribly difficult concept to wrap your head around.

    You’re suggesting that not all people care about being in a monogamous relationship. So did Ash Can.

  78. 78
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPod Touch): It’s funny. I’m gay, but almost all of my straight female friends have the complaint that they don’t get enough from their men. It’s all good and well to assume men want it more, always, everywhere, but it just isn’t true. I just don’t see how it is helpful to continue to promote the idea of sex and gender as a binary system.

  79. 79
    Ken in MS says:

    I think you will find a lot more variety in the “fidelity” question among gay male couples. Many couples negotiate, upfront and honestly, about what their own parameters will be. Some work; some don’t; some change over time.

    I have often thought that because gay couples don’t face the societal pressure to uphold a stereotypical “norm,” they are freer to negotiate their relationship on its own terms.

    And for most of the gay couples that I know, fidelity is separated from monogamy, by whatever degree the partners decide.

  80. 80
    D. Mason says:

    @Menzies: I for one hope that everyone can find a partner that shares their tastes, sexually and otherwise, in a way that keeps them both satisfied. To me this means that monogamous sorts can meet people and find a monogamous spouse and open sorts can do the same but society says there is only one acceptable way and that’s what I see being questioned here.

  81. 81
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    @Ken in MS: In this, gay couples have a huge advantage over straight people. Straight people can just stumble along doing what is expected or normal. Gay people have had to really explore themselves and their feelings about sexuality.

    Of course, gay couples have this advantage of equal partnership. Hetero marriages suffer from the built in bias of male vs. female roles. And of course the whole thing still acts out the giving away of women as a piece of property.

  82. 82
    shortstop says:

    @Ash Can:

    this kind of “safety valve” works only for people to whom sex is mechanical and devoid of emotion, and/or for people who are genuinely indifferent to whether or not they’re in a monogamous relationship. I’m not sure how many people are like that.

    Well, I think just about everybody is like that, or has the potential to be like that…under the right circumstances. I don’t think it’s quite right to assume that each person approaches sex with all other people in exactly the same emotional way throughout his or her life. I also think it’s going a bit far to say that every affair indicates genuine indifference to monogamy. It certainly indicates a setting of priorities, however.

  83. 83
    piratedan says:

    @shortstop: ty shortstop, beat me to it. I have a best friend, loves his spouse, thinks she’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. Smart, funny, and devoted Mom and they seem to enjoy being together. The thing is, he says that after kid #2 something changed in the body, head or both in that it flipped a switch for her and effectively turned off her desire button. He says that she’s too embarassed to seek counselling or help and that leaves him where exactly? Loves his wife, wants to please her, wants to please himself yet is denied the outlet. As has been said before… it gets complicated and I sure as hell don’t wanna be the guy to throw stones at those glass houses.

    The thing is, if you’re running for public office by taking the position that you are staking out the moral high ground as a reason for your election, then when you prove yourself to be someone who doesn’t meet those standards, then yeah, you should resign.

  84. 84
    Ash Can says:

    @scav: It sounds to me like you’re overthinking this. Sex and emotion are difficult for most people to separate. Since sex and emotional commitment get intertwined, then, people get hurt when their partners choose someone else. This isn’t difficult to understand, or at least it shouldn’t be.

    People tend to make monogamous commitments for a variety of reasons, and extricating themselves from a complex relationship like that isn’t easy. Furthermore, the likelihood of the two parties being equally willing to limit or terminate the relationship is small (although it’s clearly a good thing if and when it happens). In this way, I suppose, you could say that people are “hardwired” to be monogamous, but I think the more accurate way to put it is that we’re hardwired to avoid stress and seek expedience.

  85. 85
    Ralf says:

    I think one of the ways that (oh, man, am I saying this?) conservatives may be correct that gay people are redefining marriage is in fact that for many gay men (lesbians, not so much), marriage is the cementing of a pair bond that can be life long, deeply emotional, very much about mutuality, support and such. And not sexually monogamous at all.

    Yes, there are monogamous gay men. Me, for example (learned through trial and definitely error). And my partner, who seems to have come by monogamy like a duck to water.

    But we have plenty of friends who have had 5, 15, 25 year relationships that are every bit as real as any straight marriage. They just don’t do the secret affair part…by not having secrets.

  86. 86
    Surly Duff says:

    @Punchy:
    That’s a bullshit argument. Infidelity is not the area of one political party. However, being a hypocrite by espousing or arguing for “family values” in order to limiting the rights of other Americans, while not actively following those same values? That is a point that might have more traction and support.

  87. 87
    Menzies says:

    @D. Mason:

    Heh, upon re-reading a lot of the comments that got my dander up I’d say you’re largely right – the one that definitely struck me was the comment that quoted Tom Junod as saying “Monogamy? That’s a narrow, restrictive way of looking at marriage.”

    Yeah, if you’re only looking at it that way because you’re afraid of being punished or otherwise looked down upon. If you’re monogamous by nature, then no, it’s not “a narrow, restrictive” belief. It’s one thing if you then go out and tell the rest of the world that the only valid arrangement in marriage is one man, one woman, and no possibilities for occasional dalliances, but otherwise it just seems like hurling fire and brimstone at everyone who believes in sticking with the one partner just because some of us are assholes about it.

  88. 88
    Aaron says:

    @jon:

    True, and cheating isn’t always fucking, either. I have been the cheattee before, and it sucked. The part that felt the worst was the lying and the secrecy – I think a purely physical extra-marital affair is easier to deal with than an emotional one

  89. 89
    Church Lady says:

    @mistermix: Why do you think their marriage needs “saving”? Has his wife come out and said she’s filing for divorce?

    The only things we do know is that he answered an ad on Craigslist, lied about his age, marital status and job, sent the woman a picture of himself without a shirt on, and was stupid enough to actually use his real name. The only reason anyone knows about this is that the woman that placed the ad got curious enough to Google his name and stumbled on his Facebook page.

    You are making assumptions about the state of not only his marriage, but his sex life within that marriage. Not only that, but you seem to be excusing men cheating, using the idea of an unsatisfactory sex life as an out.

    Anyone who has been married for a long time knows that your sex life will never be quite as exciting as it was in the beginning. It can be great, but the “newness” factor has worn off and the real life demands of marriage and family interfere.

    There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Your children eventually leave the house and you are then free to “do it” anywhere in the house (or the back yard, for that matter) that the mood strikes. :)

  90. 90
    shortstop says:

    @Ash Can:

    Since sex and emotional commitment get intertwined, then, people get hurt when their partners choose someone else. This isn’t difficult to understand, or at least it shouldn’t be.

    I think the hardwiring is a little more complicated and problem-presenting, though. I can’t understand why some people will argue for the naturalness of wanting multiple partners–an argument with which I don’t disagree; I said “wanting,” not necessarily “having”–while overlooking the fact that sexual jealousy is just as visceral. It validates the primal aspect of the desire while ignoring the equally basic nature of a spouse/partner’s frequent response to that desire.

  91. 91
    Ash Can says:

    @shortstop: I know of happy, stable polyamory relationships that suit the members just fine. No one involved feels hurt or left out in any way, and they wouldn’t change a thing about their situation. These people clearly are indifferent to being in a monogamous relationship; they were happy with one partner and now they’re happy with two. And that’s all good. But I think they’re the exception rather than the rule; the emotional commitment that people make to their spouses in the majority of cases doesn’t have room for this kind of extension.

    As for this:

    “I don’t think it’s quite right to assume that each person approaches sex with all other people in exactly the same emotional way throughout his or her life. I also think it’s going a bit far to say that every affair indicates genuine indifference to monogamy.”

    I’m not saying that at all. What I’m saying, simply, is that it’s very rare to have a “sexual safety valve” situation in which no one gets hurt emotionally and no one else is used as no more than a self-starting sex gadget.

  92. 92
  93. 93
    lawnorder says:

    @Laura Clawson: didn’t read mistermix piece like that at all

    I think he took the opportunity Lee’s resignation news presented to discuss something that is seldom raised: What can married couples do when their libido and sex tastes differ.

    I think mistermix’s answer is very simplistic and will only work on some cases. The desperate housewife / sleazy husband affairs have existed for a long time and society looked the other way for ages (particularly for men) and it hasn’t helped. In my experience, sex has little to do with affairs. People cheat for many reasons and a poor sex life with the spouse is but only one of them.

  94. 94
    Ash Can says:

    @shortstop: I’d ETA the above, but FYWP won’t let me — judging from your more recent comment, I have a feeling that you and I are actually in agreement, but talking past each other. I must have been obscure; maybe I need another cup of coffee.

  95. 95
    geg6 says:

    @Menzies:

    I have been a serial monogamist my entire life. I have had a grand total of 4 relationships in my 52 years. The longest lasted 18 years. The current one is going on 5 and we just now talking seriously of moving in together. Just because I don’t give a shit how other people live, don’t find marriage to be in any way special or worthy of its exalted status, and wish everyone would quit trying to legislate how everyone should live the way they, the self-appointed lifestyle police, want to live, doesn’t mean that I’m into screwing around or swinging or group sex, for that matter. I’m happy being in a monogamous relationship, but I’m not everyone.

  96. 96
    Hawes says:

    To get back to the hormones thing, sex apparently releases oxytocin. Which is why sex can often bind people together.

    I am not sure that you can have an affair that won’t undermine the commitment you have to your spouse. A drunken fling when you’re away on a trip, maybe. I don’t see that as leading to real intimacy.

    What the world needs is a lot more masturbation! Free Jocelyn Elders!

  97. 97
    shortstop says:

    @Ash Can: We’re in agreement about some things and not others. It’s all good.

  98. 98
    shortstop says:

    @Hawes:

    What the world needs is a lot more masturbation!

    What’s stopping people?!

  99. 99
    Menzies says:

    @geg6:

    I don’t see how we’re in disagreement then. I don’t particularly give a shit about how other people live or how they conduct their relationships, and while I’ve had enough of a traditional upbringing that I still give marriage a bit of a wide berth (though I’m also enough of a historian to know it came into being as a severely male-dominated institution) I don’t think there should be legislation about it either way. Except, I suppose, for tax purposes and such.

    My problem isn’t with polyamory/polygamy or people who practice it; I know and lived with people who’re perfectly happy in it, and if it works for them, awesome. My issue is with this idea that being happy in a monogamous relationship has to mean I’m responding to “social pressure” about the value of sexual fidelity or whatever, which – yeah, if you’re monogamous purely because of that, then yes, it is a rather narrow, restrictive way of looking at relationships because you’re denying yourself options or solutions. If you’re monogamous by nature, then I don’t see how the belief in it can be narrow or restrictive. It’s just as legit as being polyamorous or polygamous and happy with it.

  100. 100
    The Moar You Know says:

    Lotta folks here casting the proverbial first stone. And really, it ain’t none of your business. He’s resigned and that’s all that matters.

  101. 101
    Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony says:

    I’m the monogamous sort, and frankly I couldn’t be with someone who wasn’t. Period. I can’t separate emotional connection from sex. I honestly don’t know that many woman who can. They do exist, but they aren’t that common.

    Also, I’ve seen couples TRY to do the open relationship thing, and I’ve seen it absolute screw things up even more. It is commonly the case that one person in the relationship (either male or female) THOUGHT they would be OK with it, and weren’t. Knowing their partner was being intimate with someone else deepened all their insecurities. Maybe the other person was better in bed. Maybe he/she were more fun to be around. Maybe I’m about to be abandoned. Etc. Doing this means injecting another person into the relationship. That is a FAR more complicated thing than people think it will be.

    One night stands can be less of a strain (because they aren’t really intimate), but they aren’t safe. Using protection helps, but it doesn’t eliminate the significant risk. You think your relationship is strained now? Try bringing home an incurable STD.

    Another commentor mentioned this, but I don’t think it got the attention it deserved. Affairs aren’t always about sexual frustration. Sometimes they are simply about escapism. Early in a relationship, when you first start sleeping together, things are fun and easy. Later, you get to know all the other persons flaws and have to deal with a whole host of other frustrations, many of them related to living together or raising kids. The affair is a trip back to easy and fun. You barely know the other person. You can still delude yourself that they are who you want them to be, instead of who they really are. It isn’t just the breach of trust that can break up the marraige. It is the cheating partners optimism that a relationship with the affair person will end up easier than their current partner.

    I get the sexual frustration issue. My last relationship was NOT satisfying. Marrital counseling worked simply because it made us realize that this wasn’t going to work in the long term. There were other issues there.

  102. 102
    Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony says:

    @shortstop:

    Well, I think just about everybody is like that, or has the potential to be like that…under the right circumstances.

    No. This isn’t true. You assume that, because you are like that.

  103. 103
    JMS says:

    I think this is a human problem, in that humans tend to want to form partnerships with one person at a time (even as they aren’t always exclusive partnerships). I think marriage formalizes a tendency that was already there rather than imposing something on people that they otherwise wouldn’t want. After all, people who are unmarried but dating or in a relationship also tend to get pretty upset about being cheated on for whatever reason, and I don’t think the main reason why open relationships or no relationship free for alls don’t catch on for the majority of people is that we are afraid of some social police. It’s that a romantic attachment to someone brings an expectation of exclusivity to it that we don’t expect from other relationships, and I really don’t think that is entirely or even mostly society driven.

    Which is to say, that yes, a few people would say “whew, don’t have to deal with that person bothering me anymore now that they are off having sex with somebody else” if it became openly socially acceptable, but others would be upset about sharing, no matter how socially acceptable it is.

  104. 104
    shortstop says:

    @Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony:

    I can’t separate emotional connection from sex. I honestly don’t know that many woman who can. They do exist, but they aren’t that common.

    Okay, Ash, this comment of Sister’s shines light on what I’m having trouble with in your remarks: it seems there’s an idea that sexual relationships are either devoid of emotion or laden with an always-equal amount and type of emotion. I just don’t think it’s that simple–there is an entire spectrum of sexual emotional attachment that varies in both degree and kind, and that has a whole range of effects on all the participants as well as the relationships involved. So saying that there aren’t that many people who can separate sex from emotion is so non-specific as to be almost meaningless.

  105. 105
    Alex says:

    Although progressive politically, I’m somewhat of a small-c/philosophical conservative on issues like this. That is to say, I find it somewhat presumptuous to think that we can just unilaterally reevaluate inherited social practices like marital fidelity based on a priori principles of rationality. At the very least, I think those who argue against such practices have the burden to prove that widespread adoption of them would not produce horrid societal consequences. I think this is what would occur if mistermix’s suggestions were followed. Although I don’t think it’s an effective argument against gay marriage, there is abundant evidence — historical, empirical, anecdotal — that faithful, two-person marriages are superlative for the rearing of children. I don’t think progressives should dismiss this out of hand because of what I view as a cult of personal autonomy, where, under this view, no lifestyle desires should be impeded by external social norms of any kind.

  106. 106
    Ecks says:

    @Comrade Dread: Exactly :)

    Internet porn: Saving america’s marriages, several thousand at a time.

  107. 107
    shortstop says:

    @Ecks:

    Internet porn: Saving america’s marriages, several thousand at a time.

    I’m not judging you, pal, but using Live Meeting to share porn strikes me as out there. Still, if y’all are all consenting adults, who am I to meddle?

  108. 108
    sukabi says:

    @piratedan: she’s probably having hormonal issues… probably low testosterone… yes, women have testosterone, and it controls sex drive… she should go to a doctor that will check her hormonal levels and get her back in balance…

  109. 109
    piratedan says:

    @sukabi: I mentioned as much to my buddy, but its a sensative subject in his household. I like his wife, but its one of those taboo topics that can’t really come up in polite conversation, y’know?

  110. 110
    shep says:

    If we want to do something about the high divorce rate, we might want to get real about making sexual satisfaction a precursor to marriage, and also about the role of a discreet, mutually agreed-upon affair as a safety valve.

    Seems…complicated. Just legalize, regulate and normalize prostitution. Keep it professional and no one gets hurt.

  111. 111
    Ash Can says:

    @shortstop: And my experience — myself, all the people I’ve known — mirrors what Sister Machine Gun says. (I take it you’re in disagreement with her since you’re holding up this quote as exemplary of the problem.) What I’ve been trying to say is that I recognize that there are people who are able to have sexual relationships that are devoid of emotion, but I believe they’re a clear minority, and that a clear majority are not able to make that separation. I fully agree that there are varying kinds and degrees of emotional attachment; that’s not relevant to the point I’m trying to make. My point is that as long as there’s any emotional involvement on the spouse’s part, the “sexual safety valve” affair scenario has a very high likelihood of inflicting unhappiness on the spouse, unless said spouse has no objection to “sharing” that person — in other words, doesn’t care if the relationship is monogamous or not.

  112. 112
    chauncey1186 says:

    Actually, since affairs (and the subsequent divorces)are rarely about sex or sexual compatibility, I fail to see where aranging to “get a bit on the side” will help. Lack of sexual intimacy in a marriage is a symptom of a much larger problem and one where adding a third or fourth person to the mix will most certainly NOT result in a strong, loving and permanent marriage bond.

  113. 113
    shortstop says:

    @shep: Oh, but prostitutes get hurt very often by their customers — physically, not emotionally (though I’m sure there’s some of that as well).

    I know — can nothing be simple?

    @Ash Can:

    My point is that as long as there’s any emotional involvement on the spouse’s part

    Gotcha. Your earliest comment seemed to refer only to the emotional status of the affairerer (TM George W. Bush). I can hear you now.

  114. 114

    A polyamorous arrangement doesn’t *need* to be an “open marriage”… but I do agree that there’s often a lot of prejudice against any form of what’s-called-marital-infidelity.

    (If my hypothetical-wife and I agree that I’m allowed to meet and engage in sexual relations with another woman, I’m not committing infidelity – I’m being faithful to the agreement between my wife and I.)

    And you’re right, it’s a sad situation. It’s a shame there’s not wider acceptance for the concept of consensual, informed, non-monogamy.

    (NB: I’m not saying it’s right for everyone. I’m saying that if it was more widely accepted, it would be less of a burden to bring up and discuss. It shouldn’t be so crazy to say “you know, you’ve been uninterested in sex for six months; can I find someone else to have sex with – someone who knows I’m married? Because otherwise, I think I’d come to resent you.”)

  115. 115
    Nemo_N says:

    Or they could not get married.

  116. 116
    Will says:

    “Most of these marriages would be a hell of a lot better if the sexually unsatisfied partner had a discreet affair, but that puts the other partner in a socially untenable situation.”

    I think this is a valuable discussion regarding making marriages sexually healthier, or at least more honest. That said, a lot more happens to “the other partner” when they get cheated on than just being placed “in a socially untenable situation”. Their heart tends to gets broken, for one thing.

  117. 117
    Ash Can says:

    @Will: Exactly. My original point, way back when, was that there are a hell of a lot more reasons not to have an affair other than what society’s norms and religious tenets dictate. It’s this that made the original post trip my “ick” factor.

  118. 118
    shep says:

    @shortstop: That’s because it’s illegal, i.e., underground. Prostitutes at the Bunny Ranch don’t get beat up by their customers. Legalize it, regulate it and normalize it. The reasons it’s not easy are all political.

  119. 119
    sukabi says:

    @piratedan: too bad… as she gets older, her hormone levels will continue to drop and with those decreases more health issues arise…

  120. 120
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Ash Can: I agree. I don’t have affairs, because I don’t want to and because my wife and I promised each other that we would not do so. I do my best to keep that kind of promise and I assume/believe that my wife is doing the same.

  121. 121
    Church Lady says:

    Another thing that stuck me is that Mistermix seems to imply that successful marriages are built on sexual satisfaction, to the detriment of everything else. That seems overly narrow to me. Yes, sexual satisfaction is one component of a marriage, but just one. There is the emotional connection and there is an agreement, on the front end, of compatibility on a number of matters, including such things as whether or not to have children, how finances should be handled, common interests, etc. None of these things, as a single ingredient, will make or break a marriage. It’s the whole package, tied together, that make it all work. If a change in just one component of any marriage would make it shatter, then no one would ever be able to stay married on the long run, just because people will and do change in small ways over time.

    Given most (I won’t presume to say all) women have a very strong emotional attachment tied to their sexual interest, I just cannot imagine most women being ok with their husbands getting a little strange on the side. I know I wouldn’t and none of my friends would. No only that, but can you imagine the look on just about any man’s face if it worked that way? “Honey, look, I love you and our marriage is important to me, but you just aren’t doing it for me in the sack any more. I think Bob or Joe would probably be able to satisfy me in ways that you can’t. But don’t worry, I won’t form an emotional attachment to them. It’s just sex.”

    Or how about men knowing that their wives are going to leave them if suddenly there is a little problem with their plumbing. Prostate problems and other medical conditions can cause things to go a little slack, if you get my drift, in the bedroom. Those little pills are not always the answer to a problem like this. Men would be horrified if this started happening on a regular basis.

    No, when you say “I do” you are signing on for a host of different commitments, only one of which is sexual fidelity. But that fidelity is one of the strongest components of most marriages and most don’t survive when that particular promise is broken.

  122. 122
    shep says:

    @Church Lady:

    Another thing that stuck me is that Mistermix seems to imply that successful marriages are built on sexual satisfaction, to the detriment of everything else. That seems overly narrow to me.

    I assume that Mistermix is a male and you, Church Lady are not. There are differences…you know?

    Seriously, sex isn’t the only thing even for men but they need, er, release, on a very regular basis. Women do not.

  123. 123
    Redleg says:

    A little self-control would help too. While I have a sexually satisfying relationship with my wife, I still find myself attracted to other females and from time-to-time thinking about doing the deed. The difference between me and dudes who cheat is that I can control my sexual urges and channel them in a way that is healthy for my marriage. Now, if I were deeply dissatisfied with my sex life, it would be harder to control my impulse thoughts and behaviors. Moreover, I would more likely hang out looking for opportunities to hook up outside of marriage.

    I just think it’s gotten to be a cliche that people cheat because they’re dissatisfied with their partner. I’ve known people who cheated because they were horny at the moment and their partner wasn’t there for them at that moment.

  124. 124
    D. Mason says:

    No, when you say “I do” you are signing on for a host of different commitments, only one of which is sexual fidelity. But that fidelity is one of the strongest components of most marriages and most don’t survive when that particular promise is broken.

    Along with fidelity comes another promise, the promise of availability. I acknowledge health variables leading to sexual dysfunction as being uncontrollable but when there is no “spark” remaining or one partner simply doesn’t feel like being sexual for an extended period that’s as much of a dissolution of the marriage agreement as infidelity. Many people fail to recognize this aspect of the union or worse use sex as a weapon either by refusing sex or by cheating. When sex becomes a tool to bludgeon (or punish) the other partner with then what’s really left of a relationship anyway?

  125. 125
    cyntax says:

    I assumed it was a little “awkward” to be LGBT in China, but wow:

    In China, the pressure to form a heterosexual marriage is so acute that 80 percent of China’s gay population marries straight people, according to sexologist Li Yinhe, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. To avoid such unions, six months ago, Shanghai’s biggest gay Web site, inlemon.cn, started to hold marriage markets once a month.

  126. 126
    Ruckus says:

    A lot of great discussion going on here which is what I suspect that mistermix had in mind with this post.
    Get past that a conservative who argues for very traditional monogamist, religious marriages has been caught trying to cheat, rather publicly, on his marriage. The message I take from this is that hypocrisy as practiced by conservatives is a large part of the problem but is not only a conservative issue when talking about human relationships. Our society generally falls into the small c/conservative side of the isle when discussing relationships. Even though those ideals are actually wide ranging, as shown by the posts here.
    The idea that men and women look at relationships the same way is to me one of the problems. We are different. Our physical differences (hormones, plumbing) help us look at the world from a different perspective. Social norms (good or bad) also play a part. Our personalities, upbringing, experiences play a part. IOW there are no simple answers or reasons for the way we choose to live our lives.
    I would say that serial monogamy is the norm of relationships, but that is my experience. I would say that this changes with aging. Most of the twenty somethings I have met or even when I was one are different in their 50s. We grow, we refine, we solidify our personalities, we get set in our ways. And we don’t all start at the same place, do it at the same rate or end up in the same place.

  127. 127
    Gunther says:

    Snort! I think so many of you are out in left field. As others have mentioned, have sex with someone besides your spouse is almost always going to lead to problems. My understanding is that our minds are wired to fall in love with whoever we are having sex with. In Mr. Lee’s situation where he is married and has a small child, it is almost always the man who isn’t getting enough because taking care of little ones is exhausting. As others have pointed out, Mr. Lee would probably have had to spend a fair amount of money to wine and dine a honey well enough to get into her pants. So that leaves Ms. Lee at home exhausted with the little one while Mr. Lee is spending the family’s disposable income to get a little side action with the constant risk that Mr. Lee will ride off into the sunset with his latest honey. It is hard for me to picture Ms. Lee being happy with this arrangement.

    Many have talked about masterbation as the solution and they are right. However, where is a man suppose to masterbate? Having porn at work will get you fired. It is tough to have porn around the house when kids are around. Men need man caves where they can surf porn sites in private

  128. 128
    300baud says:

    All that being said, while open marriage might be a workable solution for some marriages, for many it’s something they try out of desperation when the relationship is headed down the tubes. I doubt it works in the long term for most people, but I don’t have any data, and YMMV.

    It would seem to me that anything people mostly try when things are headed down the tubes is unlikely to work in the long term for most people.

  129. 129
    4jkb4ia says:

    Often, this person knew that they were sexually incompatible when they married, but was hoping things would change,

    Does he ever help them?

  130. 130
    4jkb4ia says:

    Church Lady:

    One of the more satisfying instances when someone wrote my comment first and better.

  131. 131
    DPirate says:

    If we want to do something about the high divorce rate, we might want to get real about making sexual satisfaction a precursor to marriage, and also about the role of a discreet, mutually agreed-upon affair as a safety valve.

    lol

    How about: …we might want to legalize prostitution.

  132. 132
    fiatlux says:

    I may be the only true polyamorist to post on this thread, but I gotta speak up, because I feel like most people here, while sorta getting mistermix’s point, have kind of a simple idea about fidelity/emotional bonding.

    I have been with a primary partner for 15 years, and we have been open for 9. He’s had another partner for all 9 of those years, I’ve had a couple of long-term secondaries, both of which I was emotionally bonded to as well. Neither of them “took away” from the emotional bond I have with my primary. Love is not a pie, as we’re fond of saying; there’s plenty of it to go around. You don’t love your second child less than your first: you love your second child differently. And that’s how it goes with other partners.

    I’ve also had various and sundry (fully sanctioned) “flings” with people I’ve had zero emotional attachment to, and one ongoing thing with a guy I see about once a year which is essentially meaningless but *feels* very emotional because he craves the feeling of being in a longterm relationship with someone but doesn’t desire the responsibility of what that entails. Neither of us is attached to the other, because we TALK about what we are looking for out of this arrangement.

    And that is the key to successful non-monogamy. You have to communicate with your partner about what you want and what you are getting and why you’re upset when you’re not getting it, and all your insecurities and fears need to be laid bare to yourself, if not also to your partners. You have to re-hardwire yourself to react and respond to jealousy when it occurs, instead of just seething in silence.

    Nobody can ‘intrude’ into my relationship without my permission, and I’m not saying we haven’t had issues, but this is what works for us, and it’s not primarly about wanting to sleep with lots of sexy and mysterious people. It’s just that we both recognize that no one person can meet all your needs and expectations, so why not share the “burden” amongst many?

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