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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

SL Letter of the Day: Leaving Monogamy Behind

Posted by Dan Savage on Tue, Apr 1, 2014 at 10:29 AM

I am a female in my late 20s. I have been married for seven years to a really wonderful, giving, and caring guy.

Before we married, and early on in our relationship, I cheated on him several times. I never told him about these indiscretions. I have not cheated since, but have walked close to that line many times. In all my past dating relationships, I cheated as well.

When I committed to him, I really thought monogamy was the only option. Blame this, partially, on my Catholic, Midwest upbringing, and marrying too young. I now know that I should have waited to wed, should have been more open and honest about my needs and feelings, and should not have equated non-monogamy with being single forever. Unfortunately, I think telling him about my past with cheating (on him) would be unnecessarily hurtful, but would probably be the only way to articulate why it is that I am bringing up non-monogamy at this stage in the game.

I have talked about non-monogamy in the abstract with him. He laughs this off, saying that he is sure I would benefit more from this type of arrangement because he feels that I am better looking and more outgoing than him. He also says that the thought of me with another man "grosses him out." He is open to threesomes with another female, which I am considering.

I guess my question is this: Do I allow these ideas of mine an opportunity to blossom in him? Do I cheat and never tell him? Do I ignore what I want, for the sake of this really great relationship? Or do I consider just laying it all out there, with the understanding that I could potentially hurt him to the point that he would consider divorce? I would love to hear information about how people navigate through this, and how couples transition from monogamy to non-monogamy. My gut tells me that he may come around with time, but I don't know how long I want to wait and I don't know if I should even be attempting to speed things along.

Sexually Eager, Can't Really Explain To Spouse

My response after the jump...

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You don't have children—at least that's the assumption I'm gonna run with (or is that the assumption with which I am going to run?), SECRETS, as people in your situation typically don't omit the we-have-kids detail, as the presence of children complicates things considerably, raises the stakes exponentially, ups the potential for collateral damage alarmingly, etc.

But before I get to my advice for you, SECRETS, a word to those who disapprove of this still somewhat new public conversation about/acknowledgment of non-monogamy, monogamishamy, and poly relationships/marriages as viable options for loving, committed, long-term relationships: There are people out there who aren't any good at monogamy. Some people are incapable of fucking just one person for four, five, or six decades. If you believe in monogamy—if you believe that a monogamous commitment should be honored—then you don't want people like SECRETS, i.e. people who are incapable of fucking one person all their adult lives, to be running around making monogamous commitments they can't keep.

And why did SECRETS make a monogamous commitment she can't keep? Because she believed that monogamy was the only option. And why did she believe that? Because monogamists, having dominated the conversation about love and commitment for centuries, have convinced people—even people like SECRETS—that a loving and committed relationship is a monogamous relationship and vice-versa.

Wouldn't it have been better for SECRETS and her husband if she had known that a loving, committed non-monogamous relationship was an option?

Okay, SECRETS, some advice for you: Your husband says the thought of you with another man "grosses him out." Okay, well, there are millions of people out there who love rimming—analingus—who probably would've said the same about eating ass before the right ass came within tonguing distance. So I wouldn't give up on the husband just yet.

Go ahead and have that MFF threesome. Assuming it goes well, SECRETS, tell your husband that seeing him with another woman didn't gross you out—which I assume it won't—and then ask your husband if he loves you any less as a result of his having been with another woman. After he insists that he doesn't love you any less, SECRETS, tell him that wouldn't love him any less after being with another man. Then propose a MMF threesome. If he's declines—some straight men can't go there—tell him that he'll be able to have sex with more women in the future, in the context of MFFs that you'll happily set up for him, if you can have an occasional MF twosome with an M to be named later.

Or...

You could always try some radical semi-honesty. Tell your husband that you cheated on every boyfriend you ever had and that you've come to realize that you're incapable of being monogamous. If he asks if you cheated on him, SECRETS, lie and tell him that he was sole exception. But then tell him the larger truth: you can't be monogamous to him any longer. If that's a deal breaker, so be it. You're both young and you could both find new partners—a nice monogamous girl for him, a nice non-monogamous boy for you.

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