25 Comments

    • Henry Vandenburgh

      This book has some problems. It’s pretty slapdash, and doesn’t come to any firm conclusions. Still, there were quite a few useful insights.

      • York Luethje

        Ah, you’ve read it? Cool. From the review it just sounded somewhat apropos, in particular the bit about monogamy not necessarily being the be-all and end-all for women.

        • Henry Vandenburgh

          The book is fairly weak, but the NYT review almost reads as though the reviewer hadn’t read the book.

  1. thoreaupoe

    I agree overall, especially about heteroflexible. Crazy how many people – straight and gay – denounce the sliding scale of sexual orientation despite it making complete sense.

    Still can’t figure out for the life of me how people can saw another person’s individual experiences are illegitimate and somehow don’t exist. /smh

  2. Henry Vandenburgh

    I’ve tried it all, but I think “don’t ask; don’t tell (DADT) works best. Pollies talk about sex with others way to much to suit me, and it colonizes the main relationship in a bad way. I’d rather partners privately and occasionally “stray.” I don’t like the word “cheat” because it’s “mononognormative.”

      • Henry Vandenburgh

        Pollies often obsessively talk about new partners and/or the rules for relationships quite a lot. My belief is that, with rare exceptions, most people are attracted to others and many act on this. Poly culture institutionalizes the obsession with outside relationships. I’d rather just occasionally have one, but not have it be a topic of discussion in the main relationship. Pollies are often as obsessed with “cheating” as any monogamist.

    • Betty Eyer

      “cheat” assumes that all relationships have the same vows. It’s not cheating if you never promised sexual fidelity.

  3. Edie Bernhardt

    Great column. Thank you for bringing up the “value neutrality.” People should be able to make the choices they want – and actually know the range of those choices – without feeling judged. A lot of people still don’t know that non-monogamy is a valid choice, therefore try to conform to a structure that might not work that well for them, which can lead to lying, guilt and resentment. I haven’t been sure how to answer the “orientation vs. lifestyle” question and to me it doesn’t really matter, but the way you framed it makes a lot of sense.

  4. Larry Turner

    There’s quite a bit that I find that isn’t fact and seems more of “I do what I want” from people who write these articles.

    This article states that non-monogamy is a choice, yet infidelity is a choice, too. The only difference between the two is this: Is the other person ok with not being fully devoted to them?

    Also, I really do not like how this article tries to compare coming out in sexuality terms with “coming out” as non-monogamous. It did state that non-monogamy (as well as infidelity here) is a “conscious, stated lifestyle choice” therefore, when a person makes the same argument (whose “charges are eerily similar”) as stated later on in the article, they are affirming the idea that this, in fact is a choice. The article tries to compare being homosexual with being non-monogamous. The first isn’t a choice at all, the second is (and even is stated as such in the article). The two cannot be compared, nor should be, and personally, I do not like how the article tries to throw the whole homosexual idea in there to “affirm” non-monogamy. This almost equates the two as one “idea”…which is the main reason why things are as messed up as they are.

    The fact is this, though: having many people, sexually, in a person’s life ups the risk of getting diseases (or spreading them)

    As for the author saying that non-monogamy is the “only way for people who have a strong preference for it to live honestly” can be comparable to other choice things….like fat people eating large amounts of food.

    • You talk about non-monogamy in much the same way that the religious people around me talk about homosexuality. They make a distinction between “same-sex attraction” (which they admit might be innate) and “homosexual behavior” (which they claim is a choice). In the same way, you dismiss all non-monogamy as ‘a choice,” even though it’s clear that most people exhibit “multiple-partner attraction.” And like them, you point to the increased incidence of STDs as proof that the relationship styles they dislike are vastly inferior to the relationship styles they prefer.

      You write, “You cannot be faithful and non-monogamous.” Of course, from your perspective that is true. If you define sex outside the relationship as infidelity, of course sex outside the relationship is infidelity, just as the first rule of Tautology Club is the first rule of Tautology Club. But for couples who base their perception of “fidelity” on the making and keeping of promises to each other rather than simple sexual exclusivity, “infidelity” means something very different.

      You write, “If you have multiple children, you cannot be faithful to any of them, since you would be sharing your devotion.” Oh, wait. I mistyped a word. Look it over closely, and tell me why the same reasoning doesn’t apply.

      One last retort: You write, “If monogamy is ‘not’ natural, then why is all this just being found out, now?” Um, it isn’t just being found out now. It’s been found out over and over, billions of times by billions of people throughout human history, when they discovered themselves (in complete opposition to what society told them to expect) deeply attracted to someone outside their marriage.

      Some societies have publicly embraced (or at least tolerated) the knowledge that monogamy is impossible for some people and a bit of a stretch for most of us. Others have denounced it every way they could. But despite your protests, there’s nothing really new here, beyond a willingness to discuss in public attractions that were once kept mostly private.

      What you’re seeing right now is the slow transition of a puritanical society toward a more realistic understanding of sexual relationships.

    • Michael Whited

      The main word to recognize is “poly” it means many…and both parties have to agree for it to work, otherwise its “Mono” polyamory

  5. Jaques Dusel

    There’s quite a bit that I find that isn’t fact and seems more of “I do what I want” from people who write these articles.

    This article states that non-monogamy is a choice, yet infidelity is a choice, too. The only difference between the two is this: Is the other person ok with not being fully devoted to them?

    Also, I really do not like how this article tries to compare coming out in sexuality terms with “coming out” as non-monogamous. It did state that non-monogamy (as well as infidelity here) is a “conscious, stated lifestyle choice” therefore, when a person makes the same argument (whose “charges are eerily similar”) as stated later on in the article, they are affirming the idea that this, in fact is a choice. The article tries to compare being homosexual with being non-monogamous. The first isn’t a choice at all, the second is (and even is stated as such in the article). The two cannot be compared, nor should be, and personally, I do not like how the article tries to throw the whole homosexual idea in there to “affirm” non-monogamy. This almost equates the two as one “idea”…which is the main reason why things are as messed up as they are.

    The fact is this, though: having many people, sexually, in a person’s life ups the risk of getting diseases (or spreading them)

    As for the author saying that non-monogamy is the “only way for people who have a strong preference for it to live honestly” can be comparable to other choice things….like fat people eating large amounts of food, some people who have excessive shopping habits, etc.

    One question that comes to mind, from read this is: If monogamy is “not” natural, then why is all this just being found out, now? Wouldn’t it have been found out from many years ago? Non monogamous choices have been around for a bit, and are not new. Monogamy occurs naturally in nature

    Fidelity is a synonym of faithfulness, which means (in terms of relationships) “adhering firmly and devotedly, as to a person” and “engaging in sex with only one’s spouse/partner (noting here a singularity) in a sexual relationship”. You cannot be faithful and be non-monogamous. If you have multiple partners, you cannot be faithful to any of them, since you would be sharing your devotion. Infidelity and non-monogamy are, by sheer definition, the same.

    • Reposted, since you posted this first under a guest account:

      You talk about non-monogamy in much the same way that the religious people around me talk about homosexuality. They make a distinction between “same-sex attraction” (which they admit might be innate) and “homosexual behavior” (which they claim is a choice). In the same way, you dismiss all non-monogamy as ‘a choice,” even though it’s clear that most people exhibit “multiple-partner attraction.” And like them, you point to the increased incidence of STDs as proof that the relationship styles they dislike are vastly inferior to the relationship styles they prefer.

      You write, “You cannot be faithful and non-monogamous.” Of course, from your perspective that is true. If you define sex outside the relationship as infidelity, of course sex outside the relationship is infidelity, just as the first rule of Tautology Club is the first rule of Tautology Club. But for couples who base their perception of “fidelity” on the making and keeping of promises to each other rather than simple sexual exclusivity, “infidelity” means something very different.

      You write, “If you have multiple children, you cannot be faithful to any of them, since you would be sharing your devotion.” Oh, wait. I mistyped a word. Look it over closely, and tell me why the same reasoning doesn’t apply.

      One last retort: You write, “If monogamy is ‘not’ natural, then why is all this just being found out, now?” Um, it isn’t just being found out now. It’s been found out over and over, billions of times by billions of people throughout human history, when they discovered themselves (in complete opposition to what society told them to expect) deeply attracted to someone outside their marriage.

      Some societies have publicly embraced (or at least tolerated) the knowledge that monogamy is impossible for some people and a bit of a stretch for most of us. Others have denounced it every way they could. But despite your protests, there’s nothing really new here, beyond a willingness to discuss in public attractions that were once kept mostly private.

      What you’re seeing right now is the slow transition of a puritanical society toward a more realistic understanding of sexual relationships.

      • Jaques Dusel

        You completely miss the idea that this article even states that this IS a choice. It says that non-monogamy is a “lifestyle choice”. While yes, I do acknowledge that some religious people may feel that way about sexuality, you cannot compare sexuality and the idea of not being faithful. They are not the same thing nor can be seen in the same light. Since being non-monogamous is a lifestyle choice (even stated here), then one chooses to do such. Sexuality (even though some ignorant may feel it would be) isn’t a choice, and until other groups who would write about sexuality from inside the box claiming that it was a “lifestyle choice”, you cannot argue with what is being presented to you.

        As for definition, I am just using Merriam Webster, a dictionary. But, you completely missed BOTH of the definitions. Yes, you mentioned that couples would want to keep promises to each other, that is one part of the definition of the word. No one can make something that is black and white this ambiguous. For example, we all would agree that killing is wrong…so we cannot say “Well, killing those people” or “killing for this idea or that idea” would be acceptable. It’s ignorant and it shows that the lack of integrity is vastly present.

        You substituted the word “children” with my use of “partner”. What you do not acknowledge here is that these are totally different relationships. One talks of a romantic or sexual one the other a parent-child one. We cannot compare the two in the same light, since the logic will not follow for both. Since we are talking about having multiple partners, one cannot be fully devoted to any partner on any level. Since relationships (partners) do involve sex (and I would assume that you would not agree with incest….another reason why you cannot substitute the words) the idea here would be different. And yes, I do note that there are relationships that are not sexual at all (and if that were only relationships altogether, the logic you posted would be complete…but since it does not, it cannot be). While sex isn’t everything within the relationship, I can guarantee anyone saying “ok, be non-monogamous just without the sex with other partners” would get reactions that would be harsh….but that idea would go along with your logic.

        As for you taking my paragraph out of the context here, my paragraph talking why it’s somehow “not” natural to be monogamous talks about this: while yes infidelity has been around for a long time, so has monogamy. So, no person can claim that monogamy would be “not natural” on that claim. That would be the same as saying “oranges are not natural because apples have been around for a bit”. While there have been people who find attraction, no one seems really mention thing here: First off, sparks in relationship do take work to keep up and some people are too selfish to put for that kind of effort in the person they are supposed to love. Secondly, there is such a thing is willpower and learning to accept personal responsibility to make things better for the whole…not the self (much like saying the idea of “conflict of interest” within a business would be applicable or the idea of both people within a relationship being responsible with their money as to use their resources to take care of the whole….also, the idea that you speak of, of people stepping out of the relationship is infidelity). Thirdly, by the logic that non-monogamy is “ok” because it has existed for a long time, we could conclude that other things (like murder, stealing…etc) to be just as “ok”, since they have sadly occurred during history.

        Yet again, the idea that one would start to show some sort of understanding of sexual relationships, we have to acknowledge what is and isn’t choice. If you are telling me that some people just cannot help but be non-monogamous, then we must say that other people cannot help eating when they are overweight. Both are false. These are lifestyle choices, and can be behaviors that can change, regardless of any underlying issues that may occur (otherwise those with eating problems would have no hope for their lives). No person can try to say that sexuality and choices one makes with their sexuality as the same. Again, one is something that cannot be changed, the other can.

        • You are straw-manning a bit here. The point that it has been around for awhile was in response to you saying why has it just recently been discovered. It was not implied that it is good simply because it has been around.

          • Jaques Dusel

            That isn’t the point I was making at all. I never said that the act of non-monogamy was just a recent one, but what I did say was that while it has been around (just like monogamy), it is just now being seen as “ok”. If, then, the argument is that monogamy is unnatural or that somehow most are inclined towards non-monogamy without any will of their own, why is it that this “finding” is just recent? Wouldn’t someone have concluded that monogamy was somehow “unnatural” long ago, if it were true?

          • It is not “just now being seen as ‘ok'”. There are many counterexamples throughout history, where a society or culture either approved or gave an understanding shoulder shrug to sexual activity outside the primary partnership. There are societies where the women take many husbands, or where the men take many wives. Sometimes both.

            There’s a difference between “new to us” and “new”.

        • Thank you for clearing up what a dictionary is. I was rather surprised to learn that such books define the contours of our reality, instead of merely being imperfect attempts to describe how people use language.

          You’re taking a dictionary definition of fidelity which describes a set of external behaviors (“fidelity defined as sexual exclusivity”), categorizing people into “faithful” and “not faithful” based purely on that external behavior (with zero thought to how the people involved feel about it), and then trying to pile on all the baggage of a different meaning onto the “not faithful” group.

          Very clever. Unfortunately, the trick becomes obvious when you realize that there are “not faithful” couples who are aware of the “infidelity,” still love each other very much, don’t feel injured by the “infidelity”, and take great pains to keep each other informed about how they’re destroying their relationship this week.

          I’m good friends with people who are living this lifestyle rather happily, who feel like they’re on a grand, happy adventure, who consider it a big part of a full and happy life. I would love to see you try and make the case that “Webster’s dictionary shows that you’re miserable and don’t know it” argument to them. You’d make an utter fool of yourself.

        • The parent-child relationship and the romantic-partners relationship share one commonality that you refuse to address, which is the only trait that matters for the argument I’m trying to make here: taking on a romantic partner, like deciding to have a new child, takes up resources (material, temporal, and emotional) that might otherwise be spent within the existing relationship. You say that the parent to multiple children can remain fully devoted to each relationship, but that the romantic partner to multiple consenting adults cannot remain fully devoted to each. But the mathematics of time, money, and attention work the same in both cases. You keep harping on the fact that they’re different, but none of the differences you cite are relevant.

          And once again, practicing polyamorists would find your opinions about their inability to love, respect, or devote themselves to their partners either woefully misinformed. Every bit as much as you would feel it if some ignorant git came up and told you that you couldn’t “truly love” more than one of your children.

  6. Betty Eyer

    Polyamory is not a marriage of any kind. That would be polygamy. We want the government to legally recognize relationships that don’t necessarily involve cohabitation, shared assets, next of kin status or children? Why? How can more government interference in relationships be valuable?

    And besides, you can only have one next of kin. If 4 people can make the decision to pull your life support in the hospital, we are just asking for horrific law suits.

  7. Christopher Nichols

    Strictly speaking, monogamy isn’t unnatural. Humanity is not the only primate species to practice it (orangutans, all gibbons, and several monkey species do so as well) – let alone animal species at large. Monogamy is an evolutionary adaptation which helps a pair of mates to bond and more successfully produce and raise offspring – among other advantages.

    Cultural monogamy, on the other hand, with all its moral implications, is likely just a more complex offshoot of this. In this sense, questioning the morality of someone else’s sexuality is, I agree, absurd and unnatural.

  8. Sakara

    I don’t have a problem with polyamory but it is not a sexual orientation. You yourself call it a “lifestyle choice” in this article – sexual orientation is not a choice. If a person is bi but chooses to only date people of the opposite sex, this does not make them straight. They are still bi but just choosing not to act on their same sex attractions. If someone is in a monogamous relationship and feels attraction to other people but chooses not to act on it, this does not make them polyamorous. Polyamory is a behaviour, not an orientation.

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