Does non-monogamy help marriage? A columnist for the NYT cites sex expert and gay rights activist Dan Savage who says that non-monogamy can be beneficial to marriages and long-term relationships.
Mark Oppenheimer talked to Dan Savage directly about his opinions on marriage, fidelity, and relationships before writing his piece for the NYT. And while Dan Savage doesn’t state that every marriage needs non-monogamy, his stance on monogamy is definitely different than most conservative Christians.
From the NYT:
“I acknowledge the advantages of monogamy,” Savage told me, “when it comes to sexual safety, infections, emotional safety, paternity assurances. But people in monogamous relationships have to be willing to meet me a quarter of the way and acknowledge the drawbacks of monogamy around boredom, despair, lack of variety, sexual death and being taken for granted.”
In Dan Savage’s argument for non-monogamy, he states that men were never meant to be monogamous. To support his argument, he mentions that men have “always had concubines.” The mistake in marriages and relationships according to Dan Savage is that women weren’t afforded the same rights as men, but instead put constraints on marriage, which presumably then caused the men to suffer the effects of “boredom, despair, and lack of variety.”
I’m not quite convinced that social Darwinism holds true in this day and age, especially as it relates to monogamy. It’s even more interesting to hear the social Darwinism argument from a gay man because one premise of social Darwinism as it relates to non-monogamy is that men are also meant to spread their seed in order to pro-create; obviously, this is something that gay men don’t do without the help of science.
I do agree with Dan Savage’s opinion that men and women both view sex differently. It is definitely more common for men to say that sex is meaningless to them while women tend to attach more meaning to sexual acts—probably because straight women run the risk of pregnancy if they have sex with a man.
In addition, I agree with Dan Savage in that people should not remain in “toxic marriages.” If a marriage or relationship is physically or emotionally damaging to either party in the marriage or relationship, both partners should have the right to get out of the relationship. I also agree with author Mark Oppenheimer’s assertion that every relationship is different and should be treated as such.
As to whether or not non-monogamy can be beneficial to couples, I think it boils down to the love, honesty, and trust between the partners. Both partners in a relationship have to be able to trust each other, even in a non-monogamous relationship. This means that the partners have to trust that they won’t be left for another sexual partner and that they need to know that their emotional and physical needs will still be met as well. In addition, they have to trust their partner to use proper birth control or protection from STDs.