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Ask Surly Amy: Monogamy. How Does That Work?

Ask Surly Amy

Dear Surly Amy,

I want to get married eventually, but I do NOT understand how people are able to commit to just making out with/bonking one person for the rest of their life. I mean, I like this idea in theory, but I worry about whether I could ever do it. You’re married. Explain!

Tubular Taint

Dear Tubular Taint,

I hear from a lot of people that they have this desire to eternally play the field and they insist upon perpetuating the idea that no one should be monogamous. Some claim it’s a false construct created by religion or some other societal entity and that we would all be much happier with multiple partners. I hear a lot about poly-this and swinger-that. It’s a popular topic in the skeptical community. And while it’s not for me and while the above argument often annoys the crap out of me, I can at least understand how a multiple partner relationship or remaining single might totally work for other people. I even considered giving a long explanation as to why monogamy works and why I think it is oh-so-much-better than playing the field but after I stopped and thought about it and after I talked with some of the other Skepchicks it just sounded trite and elitist. I have strong opinions on the topic but even I have to admit that what works for me may not work for others and vice versa.

So why does monogamy works for me, in my situation?

It just does.

My life is better and I’m truly the happiest I have ever been with just one sexual partner in my life.

When I was in my teens and 20’s the rest of my life seemed like for-fucking-ever. Not only did the rest of my life seem like an eternity but what I wanted or thought I wanted seemed to change as often as my punk-rock hairstyles.

I didn’t know what I wanted and I hadn’t found what would work so I ran wild for a good long time. I sampled off the buffet table of life. I tried everything I could think of.



No really. Everything. Just nothing with animals. That shit is gross.

The point is I had some really great sexual experiences with a wide variety of people when I was young. I also had some totally mediocre sex with some sorta lame people too. No regrets. I learned what worked and what didn’t work for me.

Then in my mid 30’s I found someone who I could really relate to. Someone who got me. We clicked and suddenly everything made sense. I found a best pal. I found a happy place. I gave up my wild ways and happily settled down and nested.

Surly Johnny and Surly Amy
Dude. Check out that hair cut! What? I’m an artist.

At each stage in my life I have done what I had hoped would work best for me. Sometimes I made the right decisions sometimes I didn’t. When I didn’t, I learned from those mistakes. Right now my marriage and monogamy is what works. 10 years ago I might have felt differently just as you might feel differently in your life 10 years from now.

Try to find what makes you happy. If you can’t relate to a monogamous relationship then maybe it’s not right for you at this point in your life and that’s ok.

In my situation and at this stage I am happier knowing that I have someone to grow old with, someone I can depend on. Sex with someone new or having multiple partners just seems to pale in comparison to having someone special like my husband to share a life with. I would never want to jeopardize what we have built together. Besides, I am a pretty selfish girl. I don’t like to share and I think loyalty is a very positive and important trait. Maybe I’m just the settling down type. I’m also very busy making art and running a business. I am happy that my love life is warm and fuzzy and dependable. I like it that way. I don’t like a lot of drama. I appreciate reliability and I like knowing that someone loves me more than anyone or anything else on the planet. It makes me feel really great and it leaves me a stronger person who is free to pursue art and to travel and to promote skepticism. I couldn’t do all I do without my partner in life. We are a badass team.

You need to find what works for you.

Got a question you would like some Surly-Skepchick advice on? Send it in! We won’t publish your real name, unless you want us to and creative pseudonyms get bonus points! Just use the contact link on the top left of the page.

Amy Roth

Amy Davis Roth (aka Surly Amy) is a multimedia, science-loving artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She makes Surly-Ramics and is currently in love with pottery. Daily maker of art and leader of Mad Art Lab. Support her on Patreon. Tip Jar is here.

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  1. Ooof. I’m certainly not in the “no-one should be monogamous” camp. Clearly, it’s a valid option and works for a great number of happy, normal (in the good, not the derogatory, sense of the word) people. It didn’t work for me, but I’m not entirely normal, I suppose.

    Either monogamy works for you or it doesn’t, and there’s no way to know until you give it a good, honest try. I wish anyone the best in whatever romantic arrangement they find themselves in!

  2. @GreyDuck I’m not in that camp either, I love what Amy said about individuals finding what works for them and I completely agree. If that’s a relationship, great. I happen to love being single. I gain strength from independence. I’m happy that I can date if I want to but I can also spend time alone whenever I feel like it. What I don’t care for is the assumption by coupled people that coupled is the best way for anyone to be. If I wanted a relationship, I would pursue one. But for now at least, I am a very happy single person and I’m not going to change that for the sake of some societal norm.

    That said, again, I am glad for people who are happily coupled because that works for them.

  3. Hi there!

    Personally, I don’t understand monogamy, either. I mean, I used to. I really used to. I thought that once you found “The One”(tm) that God had already predetermined to be your life mate, everything would be rosy and awesome. The thought of my beloved going off and having sex with someone else was just unthinkable to me.

    Then I dated for a while, I fooled around with a few different women, and eventually came to understand that no ONE person would ever come riding up on a golden palomino and say: “Here I am, Craig! The one girl in the world who shares all of your interests and dreams and sexual proclivities and desires and also I’m a complete virgin who looks like Angelina Jolie”.

    So that’s when I knew that the key to monogamy was to just find someone that you loved. Not the perfect girl, not The Goddess Unbound, but just a nice person that made you feel warm and squishy inside to be with forever. So I found a wonderful woman who was gorgeous, fun, sexy, and frighteningly intelligent. We started dating, and I knew that she was the person that I wanted to be with forever.

    Then I saw an Mtv special on “Polyamory”; the idea of being completely in love with more than one person with the knowledge and consent of all involved.

    Wait, you can DO that!?!?

    So now I don’t understand why EVERYbody doesn’t do this. It’s just such a simple concept. As long as you swallow your jealousy and let your sweetie be with other people, you can have as many different loves as you want. It just colored my perception completely. I’d watch romantic comedies and want to scream at the TV: “You don’t HAVE to choose between the rakish bad boy and the sweet, sensitive guy! Just choose BOTH of them!”.

    So, I still love my honey-bunny, and she loves me, and we still have a wonderful monogamous marriage. I don’t want to hurt her, and for some insane reason, she doesn’t want to have a hot boyfriend on the side. I know that poly people are in the very small minority, but I just can’t figure out why this is. Who WOULDN’T want to be in love with as many people in the world as they could? To be able to experience that kind of broad spectrum of personalities and interests? It’s just win-win-win!

    And yes, I know that there’s jealousy and possessiveness and insecurity, but to me, that’s like someone saying: “Oh, I never drive anywhere in a car. Road rage, don’t you know …”.

    So, if you’re monogamous and enjoy being monogamous, and never ever think about how awesome it would be to go on a hot date with anyone other than that one person in your life … NO, I don’t think you’re strange, or bizarre, or a weirdo.

    I think that *I* am. [shrugs]

    — Craig

    PS: For more info, read this: http://www.faqs.org/faqs/polyamory/faq/
    it answered all of MY questions on the subject.

  4. Amy hit’s the nail on the head with the premise that everyone should do what works for them. Mono, poly, whatever; one is not “better” than the other. One little niggle though, it’s not all about sex. And having multiple partners doesn’t negate loyalty or mean that there has to be drama. Very little of her summary of why she is monogamous has to do specifically with monogamy. Almost all of it can apply to polyamorous folk too. In other words, we’re not so different after all! :-D

  5. This was a big discussion on Friendly Atheist recently. It started with the question of whether it was OMFGRETARDED to wait until marriage to have sex (and then, presumably, only have sex with the one person you married), but it quickly turned into a discussion about how OMFGRETARDED it was to have sex with only one person, to be monogamous, to actually *gasp* enjoy “boring sex.” The discussion spread off of Friendly Atheist and into a number of other blogs.

    It was a fairly insane experience. I went from being a Christian who felt uncomfortable because most around me were saying that only missionary/monogamous sex is correct and that people who think they enjoy other kinds of sex are deluding themselves, to being an Atheist who feels uncomfortable because most around me are saying that only kinky/polyamorous sex is correct and that people who think they enjoy other kinds of sex are deluding themselves. It was a relief to read your post about just doing what feels best for YOU and withholding judgment from those who get off differently.

    I’ve only had sex with one person, but I came close a few times with people prior to meeting my present husband. Each time, I stopped it because it felt wrong. It wasn’t pleasurable at all. In fact, I can vividly remember feeling like I was going to throw up. Then I met my husband and being intimate with him felt right and good. I don’t believe in soul mates, and I dry-heave when people talk about meeting The One ™, but there are only two people in the world that I have ever felt a real desire to have sex with: my husband and myself. I fantasize about others from time to time, but as soon as I consider it as a real possibility, I feel like Beethoven’s 9th is playing and I just gag.

    My husband and I did the “OMG WE’RE SO YOUNG AND IN LOVE LET’S HAVE SEX IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD AT 2AM!” thing, and it was great. That’s what youth is for. But after a couple years, I honestly do prefer our plain old “boring sex.” It’s reliable, I know it’s going to feel good, I know I’m going to orgasm every time, and it’s just nice to be skin-to-skin with someone I love. I also don’t enjoy loud concerts anymore, or staying up until 2am.

  6. 99% kudos! :-)

    I’m blissfully, delightfully, ecstatically happy in my poly relationships, but despite being active in the poly community for over a decade I’ve never heard anyone make the foolish claim that *everyone* should be in multipartner relationships. So on behalf of the poly community as a whole let me apologize for whoever you heard making that claim.

    It’s exactly as you said. You do what works for you, when it works for you. There’s nothing intrinsically superior about either monogamous or polyamorous relationships. Some people are wired one way and some people are wired the other. Some people can be happy in either configuration, and these preferences can change over time.

    I realize that in your last paragraph you’re specifically referring to you and your relationship, but I want to make a counterpoint for the sake of addressing a couple of stereotypes that you may be inadvertently furthering. There seems to be a general belief in the non-poly world that poly relationships are necessarily more drama-filled, less deep/intense, less committed, or otherwise more superficial or transient. It ain’t necessarily so! I am very much committed to my partners (all three of them). My wife and I have been together for 20 years now, and see our relationship as a permanent, life-long commitment. We started out monogamous, but the move to polyamory hasn’t adversely affected any aspect of our relationship, and our not-legally-recognized relationships are every bit as important, loving, and committed. We also know another poly family that has had the same configuration of six people (aside from children and grandchildren) since the early `80’s. Polyamorous != promiscuous.

    Again, I know that you were speaking of your own experience, and I’m not actually arguing against anything you’ve said here. I’m just taking the opportunity to fight common stereotypes.

  7. What interested me most in your post was how you touched on being in your 20’s and what you had wanted changing so often. My experience with that trickles down into my relationships as well, but now I’m really just thinking about how frustrating it is to never be confident in what you want at the moment.. 10 years from now (I will be 33), will I have accomplished what I want, or will I be stuck doing something I hate? Will I have the relationship I want? How can I know how to get those things if I don’t know what they are?!

  8. I’m very happy in my monogamous relationship of over a dozen years. I haven’t met any real guy that I would consider worth adding to the relationship or adding on the side. No one ever seems to measure up to my guy.

    That said, while monogamy agrees with me, I agree that monogamy doesn’t work for everyone and if you and your partners are all happy – do whatever you want. I just have ONE wet blanket to throw on the party.


    [shudder] I’ve worked at a virologist on STD for years now and I’ve seen the graphic photos of what can go wrong and I think if I wasn’t in a committed monogamous marriage I might think about dying a re-virgin.

    My advice to all the poly swingers out there. If you’re going to ride that bike you’d best wear a helmet.

  9. @The Edge – That’s what leads to my one huge caveat if anyone decides that monogamy isn’t for them – You absolutely 100% HAVE to make sure that your partners are all aware that you aren’t monogamous. Dabbling behind the back of someone who thinks they are in a monogamous relationship with you makes you an absolutely horrible person… Not because of any breach of trust, but because that person is now incapable of making an informed choice about having sex with you.

    So monogamy, polyamory, or just fooling around – do whatever tickles your pickle. But never EVER let any partner think that you’re monogamous when you aren’t.

  10. @Datan0de:
    I second that. I did think as I was reading the last bit about loyalty and dependability, but, that can be applied to polyamorous relationships, too!

    I’m reading a book called “The Ethical Slut”, as I have a few poly friends and was curious about their lifestyle. It has changed my whole perception of things – the whole monogamy idea is just another part of our society that we can question and try to determine if it’s really the best for each of us, individually. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. But the one idea from the book that really struck me is that we all act as though we live in a starvation economy when it comes to love; that if we don’t get in there and grab what’s ours, then someone else will take it, and if our partner finds love with someone else, it means that much love is taken away from us. Which doesn’t have to be true.

    Anyways, kudos to you for bringing up this topic!

  11. Any issues I personally have with monogamy seem easily handled through the human faculty of imagination and a deft combination of motor and sensory neuron interactions until the desired sympathetic nervous system response is achieved.

  12. @The Edge:
    I’m poly, but that doesn’t mean I’m a swinger. I have committed partners.

    And, go ahead, be mono, I don’t care, if it works for you, it works. Personally, I’m very happy having two people to love (three way hugs are so much better than with just one person). And if you’re having reservations about being mono, then don’t be it.

  13. @The Edge:

    Condoms are pretty good at preventing the spread of the most harmful STDs. There are other treatments and preventative measures too.

    The following is just my experience and by no means a scientific study. I have always “hooked up”, long before I even knew there was a term for it. Basically, I have sex with multiple partners with varying levels of commitment, from one-night stands to friends with benefits. In my own experience, the men who aren’t usually part of hook-up culture are more likely to nag me about doing it without a condom (and I never give in and often show them the door). The men who are thoroughly part of the hook-up culture and not “just visiting” have always used a condom without ever even suggesting that we do it without one. I think that when people are aware of the risks, they’re more willing to do what they can to minimize the risks.

  14. First off I agree with Amy and pretty much all of the other postings. Boring I know.

    @Draconius: Who WOULDN’T want to be in love with as many people in the world as they could? To be able to experience that kind of broad spectrum of personalities and interests?

    Let me take a stab at this. I only have a certain amount of energy and right now my job and my wife take almost all of it. What I fear would happen if I were poly is I would gravitate to the person who needed the least from me. I think a relationship that dwells on the positive and ignores the negative is doomed. If I surprised myself and tried to help both partners through their rough patches I’m pretty sure I would burn out.

    I’m not saying I don’t entertain the occasional fantasy, but that is where it stays until it can be dealt with in the manner prescribed by @James Fox.

  15. @davew: Time and energy is definitely a limiting factor. At other times in my life, I don’t know that being poly would have worked for us. Fortunately, most of my other partners have other partners, so the needs get spread out over multiple people :-)

  16. @James Fox: My main problem these days is that’s all that’s available. ;-)

    Seriously, though, my ex was not terribly monogamous, but that worked for us. I tend towards monogamy, with a fair degree of polyfocal lusting. I don’t insist on partner exclusivity, though I’m unlikely to go outside a relationship myself. I know some very successful poly relationships, some that have serious issues (usually, IME, control issues with at least one person trying to monopolize the attention). I also know couples that have been happily married for 50+ years… and others that have standing rules about what kind of outside relationships count as cheating, which require previous permission, and which are just fun.

    Quite frankly, I’m just sick of being nonogamous. ;-)

  17. Think of it like career advice. When planning your career you want one big career that you can rely on for the rest of your life and most people do just that. But some people are happy going through several different fields, having multiple jobs for an extended period, and doing odd jobs (pun intended).

  18. Old fart from the fifties here who went through a poly-amorous phase back in the day. Let me suggest this point of view: Consider tattoos; they look pretty today, but what are they going to look like in thirty years? Bonk who you like today, but in thirty years, no one will want to bonk you. And you will be alone and empty. You will never know the joy of a relationship that has grown and ripened over a lifetime. There is nothing you are experiencing today that can compare with the joy of a long term monogamous relationship.

  19. @davew:

    Oh yes, I can definitely understand the issue of time management. And now re-reading my original comment, I’m hoping I didn’t make it sound like monogamy was a BAD choice. If that works for you, then hell yeah. It seems to be the lovestyle preferred by my wifey, as well as a vast majority of the human population. So I guess that makes ME the weirdo.

    But as for me, I’ll have days where I’m off at a conference, or some kind of convention that my wifey can’t attend. I always think it would be awesome to have a nice out-of-state fling during those times. (or that she could find some other guy to keep my bed warm until I come home)

    I know that it’s just the way that the wiring works in my brainmeats. I don’t expect everybody to be polyamorous. But I wonder if the Tubular one up there in the original post is somehow poly and just doesn’t have a name for it. [shrugs]

    Or it could be that I’m just a hopeless perv.

  20. At the risk of being branded an apostate- Hallelujah! I am all about finding what works for you and (if you’re lucky enough to find one) your partner. For me that’s monogamy, though for some of my exes it’s been having a little something on the side.
    *rant on* If that’s what makes someone happy and they’re being safe, no problem, just so long as they’re honest about it. That’s the big problem in a lot of relationships, people just will not be open about what they want for whatever reason. Even if what gets someone the hell off is sneaking around, they could still be honest with their partner about that aspect- If the person is ok with them having the occasional dalliance, then they’ve found someone they might be long-term compatible with. If the person freaks, then it’s probably better that they found out before said person felt completely screwed over. Enough babbling though… *rant off* Whatever it is that you like, there’s (probably) a decent chance that you can find someone who that will work for. Just have some sense about things- Don’t find a sheltered person who has finally decided to have one wild night and surprise them with a fursuit, a swing with restraints, or toys that look like WMDs, ok? *rant off… again*

  21. I come from a “poly” family (non-religious) … and I am monogamous.
    For the record: My Mom, step mom and dad have been together over 30 years and they still look pretty good to me. Unlike one of my tattoos… ;)

  22. @Mark Hall: I hear ya. If I were not in a long term monogamous relationship I think I’d be looking for some kind of relationship or connection simply because I don’t like being alone when I don’t; and I enjoy the quality of friendship that also involves sexual intimacy. And as Charles Minus mentions there’s always the issue of even having options for a poly whatever relationships when you’re older or less desirable. I honestly don’t think I have the attention span, time or energy to even try to meet the needs or be a reasonable companion of more than one person at a time. And being a somewhat typical hetero guy I’m imagining a multiple/poly relationship involving two or more women and me so perhaps I’m just not a good candidate for that sort of thing.

  23. As most people have said it’s really about whatever you would like to do or what works for you in your relationship(s).

    However, I would suggest talking to your partner and addressing that you have been thinking about this. See how they respond and how their response makes you feel. Cause open and honest communication is the most important part of many poly relationships, not only for the sex but just for managing that many people.

    If you’re with someone you love a lot then talk about it and establish some ground rules for trying it out. Who is on a potential list? Who isn’t? Where do you find potential partners? What are the rules for flirting? Texting? Email? Travel? How serious do you want to be with outside partners? etc. The important thing is to reaffirm that your partner is your primary relationship and you will still devote your time and energy to maintaining that relationship (important if you’re married).

  24. I remember having those thoughts. Even when people explained the joys of sex within a long, long-term relationship, I didn’t get it.

    Now that I’ve been with the same guy for 1o years, I get it. Having sex with someone who knows all your wants, needs and odd quirks is like having your very own SciFi sex robot. Pre-programmed to provide maximum pleasure without any discussion. (Except for those times when you get an idea and then the discussion can turn you into rabid bunnies for a few weeks.)

    So sexual monogamy works for us.

    But the guy has always seen himself as a daddy and I’ve got a strict zero-kids policy. Polygamy seems like an easy answer to that. But I wonder if I could deal with being a mistress if he wanted to immerse himself in a more traditional family lifestyle. Would it be fair to his new wife? Would we be able to maintain the friendship that makes our relationship so great?

    Even with a great deal of discussion, laying down of rules and setting boundaries, the wild-card of adding a new personality into a closed system seems daunting.

  25. @James Fox: Precisely. I’m not looking for “the one.” I’m not looking to spend every waking moment with someone, and I’m not going to be terribly upset if she has a boyfriend. I’m not even looking for constant, non-stop sex (most of the time; dear gods, some days I just need to spend under a 24-hour cold shower). I’m looking for someone to go out to dinner with. To argue with over whose turn it is to pay. To send and receive the occasional inappropriate text messages that are only flirty and sexy if you’re a geek (have you ever sent dirty spreadsheet code?).

    I can’t imagine trying to split my attention between two women, even if they both shared attention with another. I’m barely an adequate full-time companion for a cat.

  26. I like monogamy, and its worked very well. At this time in life, I like to look back at all our years, and look forward to what is left and I think “whoot! I am so freaking lucky.”

    We have children, we have years and shared experiences. and frankly, we’re too busy with other stuff to deal with “baby mammas” and “Baby Daddys” and well, the human aspect of relationships. To other people, juggling all that is life! It’s like, we have a small cabin on a lake. A couple of houses over, the people have company every weekend, all weekend, a lot of people. It’s cooking and drinking and people poepe PEOPLE from Friday night until late Sunday night. THey love it. We like to just show up, hold hands on the deck, eat peanuts, watch some fun videos, go for a quiet kayak ride, cook together, and well enjoy being together. (wink nudge). Some weekends we have company (usually skeptics) but most of the time we are so happy to be alone and just hang together. Life is busy and crazy enough, that the quiet and calm of our personal life is like an oasis.
    Fun packed party weekend or quiet hand holding? It’s all what you like.
    I think polygamy works very well for a lot of mature people that enjoy handling the interplay and interaction of others.
    I admit, I am too immature to handle, kids…other kids… other people and YET ANOTHER man that will forget not to put the red shirt in with the red socks. sigh…

    what I DO dislike is not polygamy, but cheating. And people thatclaim they cheat because their wife or husband is not open to the biological necessity that is … polygamy. No, step up.. be honest…heck just ASK. Or divorce and find someone that also wants what you want in life. Why stay in a bad marriage? I never buy the “I can’t afford to get a divorce” bit. Hey, go find a few new women or men that also get a paycheck. “cant afford to get a divorce” is often an excuse for “hey we can sleep together but we have to be dishonest to my partner by lying to her…”. Cheating, there is no excuse. Be honest, heck your partner may be just dying to try polygamy also.

  27. Try the occasional three-way! ;) It’s a great way to spice things up and keep things new.

    The sex advice Dan Savage has covered this very question a ton, and has alot to say on the subject. I’d recommend checking out his podcast Savage Love. I want to say that he talked about this subject one or two weeks ago.

  28. @Dovanna: As I was reading the comments I thought, “surly I’m not the only one that reads (and listens) to Dan Savage?” Glad I’m not alone!

    For everyone else: Dan often asks, “how is serial polygamy so much worse than parallel polygamy?”

    Finally, a recent book, Sex at Dawn, tackles this issue with an interesting take on some evidence. I don’t agree with every conclusion the authors make, but it’s food for thought.

  29. @Michael Critz: Someone mention this book at our skeptic’s book club last week, and I promptly told an anecdote that creeped everyone out. (I could see them all recoil in disgust.) It involved human and gorilla lice and I had heard about it on a Nova episode a few days before and the explanation wasn’t the obvious one, so I explained and, I hope, recovered, but I may have established a permanent reputation as a creepy guy :-(

  30. I have enough trouble as it is finding ONE interesting girl who’s also interested in *me*, so whenever that happens, the last thing on my mind is jeopardising a new relationship by insisting on dating other people. I also think I’m a little too possesive to be willing to share a partner with other guys, so I wouldn’t expect that from anyone else.

    That said, I have been involved with a few poly girls who were in long term relationships. It’s anecdotal, but they were all very young (as in early 20’s). Part of me wonders if maybe that’s just a youthful phase they’ll eventually grow out of when they’ve been in a relationship for 10-15 years and no longer feel a need to go elsewhere for adventure. Either that or they might become one of those 35 year olds trolling datingsites looking for hookups.

    In my opinion, polygamy is an interesting concept, and I can imagine it’s very nice for those people that can make it work. But like almost all relationships, I think it’s all roses and sunshine at the beginning, and ends in disaster and heartache probably about 90% of the time. So if you think you want to try an open relationship, assume you are the norm, not the exception.

  31. @exarch: “I have enough trouble as it is finding ONE interesting girl who’s also interested in *me*, so whenever that happens, the last thing on my mind is jeopardising a new relationship by insisting on dating other people. “

    Dude, go get married then. Once you have the ring on your finger, TRUST me, the eligible women start coming right out of the woodwork. It’s like a zombie movie sometimes. They come shuffling toward you in the dim light of the dawn moaning: “You’re so cuuuuute. Too bad you’re maaaaaarried …”.

    I’m only slightly exaggerating. ;)

  32. @Draconius: Dude, go get married then. Once you have the ring on your finger, TRUST me, the eligible women start coming right out of the woodwork.

    I’ve noticed the same thing. I think being around one person of the other sex on a regular basis made me generally more comfortable around women in general. Plus women are much less scary in the ways I had previously feared (but much more scary in ways that I hadn’t even imagined.)

  33. @davew: Oh definitely. Plus, once you’re married, you stop trying to over-think every single word/phrase that comes out of your mouth when you’re talking to an attractive person of your preferred gender. You default to “just being yourself”, and that’s always 83 million times more attractive than the blubbering idiot struggling to hook up. :D

  34. @Draconius: It was an ongoing suggestion to college juniors on up at K-State on how to get laid: Wear a wedding ring, claim she went somewhere suitably far away (Colorado was popular, as was somewhere Ivy League), and reap the benefits. I never did it, because it was unbearably skeezy, but I knew of guys who did.

  35. @Mark Hall: I’ve already decided that in the unlikely event that my wifey ever LEAVES my sorry ass, I will probably continue to wear my wedding ring and just let other women assume that they’re having a scandalous affair with me. :D

  36. @Draconius:
    You default to “just being yourself”, and that’s always 83 million times more attractive than the blubbering idiot struggling to hook up.

    Well, you don’t have to be married for that to happen.

    As for getting married, I refer back to my initial comment about the trouble with increasing the collection of women I’m in a relationship with to a number larger than zero.

  37. @Draconius:

    Pretending to be married, i.e., just wearing a plain gold band on the appropriate finger, works just as well. In the wicked ways-and-days of my long vanished youth I tried that a couple of times. It was surprisingly successful. And, of course, I would only advise such deception when on the prowl for overnight, or very short term entertainment. When looking for a real relationship, only real honesty works.

    @Mark Hall:

    I don’t think it’s unbearably sleezy, or even badly dishonest. After all, you can always say you are separated, or even divorced but sentimental (that works exceptionally well) — so, who’s to know that the separation/divorce took place many years ago?. I think it’s just another move in the long game — and let’s not kid ourselves; it is a game.

    @Mark Hall:

    That’s a good phrase.

  38. Giving the impression that you are married on purpose in order to pick up on women is dishonest and pretty shitty if you ask me! If you want wear a ring go ahead but be honest about. And if you think it’s all a game, then that’s all it ever will be.

  39. @John Greg: I gotta disagree with you, John. While today I could get away with the “divorced but sentimental” (since I’m voluntarily supporting my ex to the tune of $50-400 a month to keep her solvent), it’s still fairly dishonest, and was exceptionally so when I was a 20-year-old virgin.

    Sure, it’s unethical for her to get with a married man on the assumption that he is cheating (there are a number of interesting ethical questions involving open or polygamous marriages, and being in one, or getting involved with someone in one), but it’s even more unethical to lie.

  40. @The Edge (#8) Your advice regarding STIs is spot on, but doesn’t just apply to poly relationships. It applies to anyone who is sexually active, and in particular to anyone who is promiscuous.

    To be clear, poly doesn’t mean promiscuous. I know a woman who is in her early 50’s. I believe she’s had two sex partners in her life, and she’s still involved with both of them (for nearly 30 years now).

    I’m married and have two girlfriends. I don’t consider myself promiscuous because I’m in long term relationships with all of them, not looking for other partners, have never had a one-night stand, and my current partners represent roughly half of my lifetime sexual history (I’m 40).

    Of course, the important thing to realize is that number of partners does not completely equate to total risk. Theoretically, someone practicing safe sex with 100 people who all have current STI test results is at a lower risk than someone who has unprotected sex once with a partner of unknown STI status. In my poly family we maintain current STI testing. Everyone’s test results are available on demand to everyone else, no new partners are fluid bonded without being tested first, and random testing happens even when no new people are being added (thereby eliminating the necessity of assuming that everyone is 100% faithful and honest).

    Again, your advice is worthwhile, but to everyone, not just poly folk.

  41. @Charles Minus (#18)

    I don’t mean to jump on the soap box, but your comment is rife with false assumptions and I vehemently disagree with pretty much every word of it.

    Let me suggest this point of view: Consider tattoos; they look pretty today, but what are they going to look like in thirty years?

    If I chose the design and placement well, and used a quality artist, yes. Tattoos are not necessarily rash decisions made without foresight. Neither is polyamory.

    Bonk who you like today, but in thirty years, no one will want to bonk you.

    Today I “bonked” my wife, with whom I’ve been since 1989. The fact that yesterday she “bonked” her boyfriend (with whom she’s been involved for over 7 years, and who is also my best friend) doesn’t in any way impact the likelihood that she and I will still be together and bonking in 30 years. Polyamory does not mean short-term, superficial, revolving door relationships. If you really went through a “poly-amorous phase” in the past, your comment leads me to strongly suspect that you did it terribly wrong. Polyamory isn’t about finding hot new people to sleep with. It’s about open, honest, loving relationships with the informed consent of all involved.

    And you will be alone and empty. You will never know the joy of a relationship that has grown and ripened over a lifetime.

    The unfounded assumption being that poly relationships can’t be or aren’t lifelong. Bullocks. I currently have three partners, and I find that the poly nature of the relationship doesn’t affect their longevity at all. If anything, having multiple partners reduces the chance of being alone (due to death) in 30 years.

    And “empty”? I’m surrounded by people who love me, and I know that they’re with me because they choose to share their time and lives with me, not because they feel trapped or because if they left me they’d risk being alone.

    There is nothing you are experiencing today that can compare with the joy of a long term monogamous relationship.

    Again, bollocks. You’re making an assumption of superficiality that is both wrong and offensive. When my wife and I first got together we *were* monogamous. We were also the happiest couple we knew. Exploring polyamory and finding it to be a great fit for us has not diminished any aspect of the relationship between the two of us in any way, as well as opened new worlds of shared experiences and joy (again, to be clear, I’m not talking about just sex here) that we never would have had as a monogamous couple. And my wife and I are still happier than any monogamous married couple I know.

    Monogamy is great for the people for whom it works, and polyamory is great for those who find themselves so suited. But your judgmental BS only shows off your own bias and misunderstanding.

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