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Non-monogamy in marriage

Discussion in 'Tilted Life and Sexuality' started by Street Pattern, Jun 11, 2015.

  1. Street Pattern

    Street Pattern Very Tilted Donor

    Recently, the Washington Post ran an article about recent trends in non-monogamous marriage.

    The article centers on a married woman named Jessie, who engages in "ethical non-monogamy."

    There are other words for this: open or nonexclusive marriage, polyamory, polygamy, swinging, cuckoldry, hotwifing, etc.

    In the article, the growth of nonmonogamy is "in keeping with decades of widespread social change and women's empowerment."

    What's startling are the comments, more than 1,300, most of which are "snarling denunciations" (in the words of one of the last comments to be posted). It appears that, among the presumably liberal and well-educated readership of the Post, there is deep hostility toward married couples who engage in any of these practices. There's even some along the lines of: "I told you that teh gays would ruin marriage."

    (Note: it takes many, many clicks to access all 1344 comments. I eventually gave up.)

    As I've mentioned before, I'm not an unbiased observer. Three good friends of mine (a woman and her two co-husbands, no kids) have been a polyamorous triple for decades now, right up to the present. Other friends have been swingers, and no disaster resulted. I am strongly inclined to be tolerant. I'm taken aback by the intense hate.

    What's your view of non-monogamous marriage?
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2015
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  2. snowy

    snowy so kawaii Staff Member Donor

    I'm writing a story featuring polyamory right now! I'll have more to say when I get to a computer.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Levite

    Levite Levitical Yet Funky

    The Windy City
    Well, it's not much of an issue for me personally, since it is forbidden in Jewish Law. So technically, I cannot approve of it for Jews. But for everyone else, my feeling tends to be that while it is unlikely to be effective or successful in most cases, it could occasionally function effectively.

    In general, I think human beings are too geared toward sexual jealousy and desire for exclusiveness for non-monogamy to be successful. There have been a few societies, notably some Polynesian ones, that have managed to steer clear of rigorous monogamy with considerable social training to regard sexual relationships as a function of communal sharing and bonding. But they seem to be the exception rather than the rule, and I doubt the same principles could be brought to bear effectively in a large, heterogeneous, diffused society.

    But I think it tends to be human nature to desire, if not sexual exclusivity, then at least romantic exclusivity. The examples of non-monogamous relationships I have seen function best are "swinger" or sexually open marriages where the partners together or separately have sex with others, but do not form romantic attachments to them. The polyamorous relationships I have seen have overwhelmingly ended up in failure resulting from jealousies or feelings of exclusion or imabalance or other kinds of unsatisfied possessiveness. I have seen one or two that seemed successful, I admit. Yet even in the successful "swinger" type relationships I've seen, there have been some rough patches brought on by the inherent difficulty of detaching sex from romantic love or relationship.

    There certainly are some people who can make this work. And if that's what they wish to do, fine. I certainly think it should be legal, and free of excessive social stigma. But I think it takes a comparatively rare type of person to truly be without jealousy and be easily able to detach sex from love-- I don't think most people are likely to be able to do this.

    I confess, I also question how healthy it is. I don't question it enough to feel inclined to interfere or debate someone who does wish to do it. But my personal opinion is that it is seldom likely to enhance the stability of a relationship, and all too likely to end up introducing jealousies or trust issues. I also tend to feel that part of the value of a marriage is the opportunity to focus one's spiritual growth through one's partner, and to do the same for them, and to continually deepen the connection with one's partner. And I think introducing others into the mix is only going to detract from that.
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  4. martian

    martian Server Monkey Staff Member

    Read the article, started looking at the comments. Sixth one down is a creationist, and there I bail.

    I will never understand this desire to police someone else's happiness. If everyone involved is a consenting adult and nobody's getting hurt, then how is it anyone's business but the parties involved?

    I'm personally pretty comfortable with my current arrangement in re my love life. It's working out for me, y'know? But I don't see where that gives me the right to tell other people that their way of approaching life and love is wrong and/or immoral.
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  5. Stan

    Stan Resident Dumbass Donor

    Consenting adults and all. I couldn't care less about other people's sex lives.

    Personally? I have my hands full with one woman.
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  6. snowy

    snowy so kawaii Staff Member Donor

    I know people in happily polyamorous relationships, and that's cool for them. As for me, I can't deny that I'm interested.

    I could definitely be down with two husbands. My husband and I used to live with a roommate that we were both very close with. The dude is like my brother, but I can see, from that experience, how fulfilling it is to be able to share yourself emotionally with more than one person on an intimate level. We had a couple of great years living together that I wouldn't trade for anything. He and my husband would go off together to do "guy stuff" and I was never jealous in the slightest. They had a different kind of intimacy. I imagine that a romantic relationship wouldn't really be any different.

    Let's just say it's very easy for me to imagine being satisfied with such an arrangement. I do have a jealous streak, but I've noticed that it's mostly set off by people who rub me the wrong way. I probably wouldn't be interested in pursuing such an arrangement if the person aggravated my jealous streak.

    This all stems from curiosity. I'm plenty satisfied with my current marital relationship, and I would do nothing that would considerably rock the boat.
  7. SirLance

    SirLance Death Therapist

    Speaking as a happily married I don't think I could make non-monogamy work. I'm happy and fulfilled, and I do think three's a crowd. But if folks make it work and no one is using the other for mere gratification (I mean, if the actions, however unconventional, are borne of love) then more power to 'em.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I do have fantasies of doing my wife and her best friend at the same time. But that's all it will ever be. Unless....
  8. Street Pattern

    Street Pattern Very Tilted Donor

    Thought experiment: imagine a married friend of yours accidentally or deliberately discloses non-monogamy to you: the friend is having sex with someone else.

    Three possibilities:

    (1) The friend's spouse is unaware.

    (2) The friend's spouse has given permission.

    (3) The friend's spouse encouraged this to happen and/or participates.

    It would seem that (1) is a very common situation, which involves deception and breach of trust.

    Probably most of us have known friends or relatives who did this. Even if we disapprove, I don't think most people would disown or cut off contact with the friend. Indeed, most of us would reluctantly keep the friend's secret, even though that makes us complicit.

    Yet it seems that most people would react more negatively to situation (2), and MUCH more negatively to situation (3).

    For example, a member of TFP reported being cut off from "vanilla" friends when participation in swinging was disclosed.

    Moreover, I think someone who hears (2) or (3) is much more likely to volunteer a poor prognosis for the marriage than someone who hears (1).

    Why do you think this is?
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2015
  9. rogue49

    rogue49 Tech Kung Fu Artist Staff Member Donor


    This tends to be my pattern.

    While I'm open minded, it's for someone else...me, I tend to focus on one person at a time.
    Even when I'm single and dating.

    Nice fantasy for me...but in reality, it's just not a thing.
  10. POPEYE

    POPEYE Very Tilted

    Well after considering the " Thought Experiment" I would believe that my married friend was trying to fish me in. I'm with @Stan on this; what others do is fine please don't involve me.
  11. ASU2003

    ASU2003 Very Tilted

    Where ever I roam
    I think non-monogamy in a marriage type of situation is different from an open relationship in a dating environment. I would be hesitant to approve of it in a dating environment or to let it become socially acceptable any more then it already is. The issue is that if there is "free love" then pro athletes, musicians, movie stars, and rich kids can sleep with hundreds or thousands of people and that won't turn out good for society.

    Triples or quadruple "married or monogamous within the group" couples I don't have a problem with and I'm surprised you don't see more of them when kids aren't a possibility or desire. I think I would do better in that type of relationship than a two person couple one. And if you lived in a big city I would think couples would find another couple to live with and split the rent with. It's not like they don't have previous lovers that they have had sex with, what would the big deal be about swapping partners and having some threesomes or foursomes while you are young?

    Now, I don't get the desire to just have other different guys sleep with the woman you are in a relationship with, and I'm sure most girls wouldn't be thrilled to share their man with different women. But they are out there. And I can understand why their relationships work. They can separate love from sex and enjoy the variety of sex. And I'm sure there are many more people who have fantasies that they won't act on, but it is interesting to think of what would happen if society different things had taken place.

    And it's not "teh Gays" who caused this, it is "the Birth Control Pill and Condoms" that caused this.
  12. Spiritsoar

    Spiritsoar Slightly Tilted Donor

    New York
    This has ben my experience as well. I was in an open marriage for a number of years, and jealousy doesn't just disappear. We permitted occasional sexual adventures, but the romantic focus and relationship had to be at home. People often asked me how my wife cheated on me when she was allowed to sleep with other people. It wasn't sleeping with a guy that I considered cheating, but continued covert dating was cheating to me. It is a weird situation, and I heartily agree it's not for everybody. My current marriage is monogamous, because I know that it makes us both happy for it to be that way. My wife knows about my past, and if she ever decides that she'd like to try it, then we'll discuss it. I don't think that's likely though, and that's ok too. I don't feel like I'm missing out by not being able to sleep around anymore.
  13. snowy

    snowy so kawaii Staff Member Donor

    That's just it--secrecy is cheating.
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  14. Chris Noyb

    Chris Noyb Get in, buckle up, hang on, & don't criticize.

    Large City, TX
    I haven't been able to find the very lengthy thread (probably several threads) here regarding poly-amorous relationships.

    I with several others here--Fine if consenting adults want to give it a try, but I don't think that I could handle it or want to try.
    --- merged: Jun 12, 2015 2:29 PM ---
    I don't know that I would keep quiet about a friend cheating on their spouse. I probably wouldn't. In fact, I've told 'wandering' friends NOT to include me in any attempt to cover for them.

    I don't think that (2) or (3) would cause me to judge their marriage to be less stable. In my mind the stability or instability would depend considerably on their relationship in general.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 19, 2015
  15. girldetective

    girldetective Getting Tilted

    Like Levite and for the same reasons, I think nonmongamy is generally detrimental to relationships; and like snowy, I think the problem with the cheater is the coverup. That said, I entertained the idea of some nonmonogamy when with that big mutt, with boundaries that I wanted (as he had few). Those were: one particular lifelong friend of his who was also partnered, in a different state, that he visited 1-2 x per year.
  16. ratbastid New Member

    Ooh! But what's your take on pilegeshim? There actually is jewish precedent for multi-partner relationships, sanctioned and fully kosher.

    (Good to see you again, btw, Levite. Been a while. I'll chime in later with my thoughts on this thread, but it's obviously awful close to home for me. Is artelevision still around?)
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  17. SirLance

    SirLance Death Therapist

    I read about this. This is OK but the wife has to be in on the terms of the deal and no money can change hands (although you can do favors for your concubine). I don't think wives have the same privilege, though. Unless the lady's lover is god, which is perfectly fine, at least according to the new testament scriptures....
  18. Levite

    Levite Levitical Yet Funky

    The Windy City
    Not a fan of pilagshut (concubinage), but that is for feminist reasons. I don't approve, ethically, of people acquiring one another for indentured sexual services with money, and doubly so when it is only men who can so acquire women and not the reverse-- when the man can shag as many ladies as he likes but the women are compelled by force of capital law to remain monogamous only to him. That just seems patently unethical to me.

    Honestly, even if it were egalitarian in all respects, I would still have the same reservations I mentioned above with non-monogamous relationships in general. But I would be inclined to be live-and-let-live about it-- if it were egalitarian. As in traditional Jewish law it is not (in modern Jewish law, we are expected not to take pilagshim), I cannot support it.
  19. Street Pattern

    Street Pattern Very Tilted Donor

    The Washington Post article portrayed a woman who has multiple partners, while her husband presumably remains monogamous -- the reporter didn't interview him.
  20. Levite

    Levite Levitical Yet Funky

    The Windy City
    Same diff, as far as I'm concerned. It's either both ways or neither way, ethically speaking.