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The Barefoot Bum

When you're monogamous, every single person you're even moderately attracted to seems like Shangri-La...

This is not my experience. Having been in various relationship styles, from unrestricted polyamory to polyfidelity (Kerista commune) to monogamy and marriage, I find that I'm much less sexually interested in anyone other than my wife. Indeed such has been the case with both monogamy and polyfidelity.

You're of course presenting a generalization, not a universal, but I don't know that it's even particularly useful as a generalization, even though it seems obviously true for some people, yourself included.

Perhaps your thesis might be better presented as, "If every single person you're even moderately attracted to seems like Shangri-La, etc. then you might usefully consider theoretical non-monogamy."

The Barefoot Bum

As you yourself have noted earlier, generalizations about sex tend to implicitly paint those who do not conform to the generalization as somehow abnormal, excluded or marginalized.

This interpretation is supported when an author (especially an expert such as yourself) presents a generalization in the second person, even as a rhetorical device. My first reaction to any statement that inaccurately states that, "You [i.e. me] are/do/feel thus-and-such," is, "That's bullshit, *I* am not/do not/do not feel thus and such;" I have to take an extra mental step to realize that the author isn't *really* talking about me personally; she's just making a generalization. But that extra step makes the writing feel grating.

Greta Christina

Sorry, BB. Didn't mean to grate. But if I prefaced every single broad generalization that doesn't apply to everybody but that, in my observation, seems to apply to a lot of people, by saying, "This is a broad generalization that doesn't apply to everybody, but in my observation it seems to apply to a lot of people," it would make for unbelievably tedious writing.

That's exactly why I followed my generalization by saying, "It did for me, anyway." That was my shorthand way of saying, "This is a broad generalization, etc." without sounding like a boring sociology paper. My apologies if that wasn't clear.

The Barefoot Bum

Sigh. You've completely missed the point of my comments. But as your work is generally of excellent quality, it's not a big enough issue to try to clarify. Carry on. :)

nina hartley

Nice work, as always, Greta. I've been poly since I was very young, but didn't have a word for it. So, my partners would give me labels: fickle, shallow, insincere, heartless, etc. I didn't know enough to say, "This is my sexual orientation and if you don't like it you can take a hike." So, I put myself through a lot of trouble trying to conform.

I lived in a three-way marriage with another couple for twenty years. I did porn. We went to swing parties. But I still cheated on them. How? Lying and withholding my true feelings from them.
They were very insecure over my desires for others and wanted me not to act on any of it. The forbidden fruit aspect of this stress was a big deal, but the bigger deal was my inability to share with them my true feelings. This would have been true even if I had been functionally monogamous.

As long as I was unhappy in my primary relationship, EVERY other lover was a threat to it, as my heart was not happy or satisfied at home.

Now, I'm married to a man who has no jealousy or possessiveness issues at all. We swing, and have lovers alone, when schedules allow. We may not act on our freedoms as much as we'd like, but, as you say, we have lives to live and rent to pay. But it's nice that, in theory, we have that option. And it's safe, emotionally, too, as our need for big "L" love is satisfied.

So, what I've learned is that no outside force can break up a happy relationship. No hottie, no nights of passion, can undo a solid relationship. It's just important to mate with someone who has similar values in the area of relationship boundaries.

Keep up the good work!


My husband and I are non-monogamous. We have been married 11 years (2nd marriages) and have six children between us. Our lifestyle choice has literally been “nirvana” for us. It has removed most of the risk factors that so often destroy monogamous couples. This lifestyle begs that we put it all “out there” with one another. We have found that if we can speak and act freely “sexually”, we can carry this “honesty” into ALL areas of our relationship. And, over the years, this open expression about all subjects has strengthened our marriage. When he wanted to explore his interest in D/s (seriously, not just “ooohh, spank me, i’ve been bad), he found himself a woman that was submissive “in her soul”. And, when I was diagnosed with MS and experience fatigue beyond belief……..I never had to deal w/ the “guilt” of not being able to be there for him sexually……..I would just send him off to play. It worked for both of us.

When he went through periods where his libido was low, I had my own lover to turn to, a black man (that was MY kink) that my husband introduced me to 8 years ago. (He and I have this weird “quarterly schedule, kind of like the financial markets.)

So, non-monogamy CAN work……it DOES work but, it requires that each person “check their ego at the door” and leave behind the traditional ideas that society insists on imposing upon us all.

Steven Alleyn

My problem is that I end up getting very emotionally involved with someone else and feeling like a dirty, filthy traitor because I like someone in addition to the woman I love.


I am intreiged by just how non-monogamy works for you, I wonder what sorts of rules or limitations you have on your sex life with other people who aren't Ingrid. You mentioned in your post about secular faith that you wouldn't have faith in her if you found out she was sleeping with someone instead of dance practice on a tuesday, so I'm guessing being open and honest about what you're up to is one of those rules. Any other limitations that you have? Any that you are sure you couldn't live without?

I wonder whether you simply have one less limitation on your relationship than I do with mine. I have the limitation of not falling in love with someone else, because that would end this relationship, I have the limitation of being honest with my partner, because that helps keep us healthy, and i have the limitation of not sleeping with someone else, because she would be paranoid about my feelings for this other person. The actual act I would say bothers her far less than what it represents to her.

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