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Dan Savage Anti-Monogamy

Is Monogamy the Most Important Factor in a Relationship?

Perhaps prompted by the high-profile infidelities of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Anthony Weiner, The New York Times Magazine is taking on cheating spouses this weekend. But instead of asking "why men cheat," the article sets out to question the whole premise of monogamy and whether it's a realistic or even valuable goal.

The magazine does this by way of profiling advice columnist and starter of the It Gets Better project Dan Savage. The piece explains that Dan claims treating monogamy, rather than honesty and humor, as the main indicator of a successful marriage gives partners unhelpful expectations. The article recounts the beliefs of Dan, who happens to be gay:

"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."

In his marriage, Dan says he and husband Terry Miller are "monogamish"; they are honest about occasional infidelities. Dan thinks spouses would be happier if our ideal of marriage did not reflect unrealistic romantic ideas, but instead reality, which often includes sex outside the relationship. And if spouses were more honest about their desires, they might be able to fulfill them with their spouse, and thus preserve their monogamy.

With benefits like emotional and sexual-health security, Dan acknowledges that monogamy is right for some couples, but he thinks it's dishonest to act like there's something gross or dysfunctional about someone who has sexual feelings toward more than one person. Do you agree, or do you think strict monogamy is the foundation of a marriage? Weigh in in the comments.

Image Source: WireImage
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ChrissyLee ChrissyLee 5 years
What works for one couple may not work for the next. Monogamy is not the main indicator of a successful relationship, trust is. Trust encompasses so many things from open communication to being aware of each others boundaries and knowing what is best for the two people in the relationship. Monogamy should be a choice made by each couple and really shouldn't be up for judgement by those outside the relationship.
Venus1 Venus1 5 years
I am not saying that monogamy may not be important in a lot of relationships but there are far worse things that can happen in a marriage than someone having sex (let's avoid this silly term "sleeping with") with some one else.
meggyme meggyme 5 years
I'm a big fan of Dan Savage and his podcast, Savage Love. I feel like this article doesn't accurately portray what I understand his stance on relationships to be. What I always take from his podcast is that the "ideal" monogamist relationship isn't necessarily ideal for every relationship. It has nothing to do with wide sweeping generalizations on what makes a successful relationship and more about what works for individual relationships.
stephley stephley 5 years
Men were never expected to be monogamous by other men and dominated/exploited women – there’s a standard worth upholding. Is monogamy widely seen as the <b> main </b> indicator of a successful marriage? I can think of a lot of famous marriages that weathered infidelity and are still considered successful; I can think of example from literature & movies that show infidelity as a painful but not destructive factor in a successful marriage. And I can think of examples of people & characters for whom cheating would be unthinkable and yet they’re not seen as admirable. I can think of people, famous & not, who set out to have open marriages and ended up regretting it.
stephley stephley 5 years
Men were never expected to be monogamous by other men and dominated/exploited women – there’s a standard worth upholding. Is monogamy widely seen as the main indicator of a successful marriage? I can think of a lot of famous marriages that weathered infidelity and are still considered successful; I can think of example from literature & movies that show infidelity as a painful but not destructive factor in a successful marriage. And I can think of examples of people & characters for whom cheating would be unthinkable and yet they’re not seen as admirable. I can think of people, famous & not, who set out to have open marriages and ended up regretting it.
dfserine dfserine 5 years
"and its been a disaster for marriage" - if fifty years ago women were not relying on men for their livlihood, we would have left unhappy situations. today reflects the truer percentage because today we have a choice.
dfserine dfserine 5 years
i agree. my husband may not be built that way but he made a promise to me by marrying me that he will resist temptations because im worth it.
onlysourcherry onlysourcherry 5 years
The anti-monogamy rant is so cliched and immature.
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