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The mono game

Dan invents a new word


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I agree with you that we tend to assume all other couples we know are in monogamous relationships, when in reality many are not (CL, July 27). Recently, my mom told me that she wouldn't mind if my father had an affair. Sex has become harder for her since menopause, and she doesn't consider it the be-all and end-all of a marriage.

I've been married for a year, and I have a lower libido than my husband. I'm not complaining — my husband is a wonderful lover and has been good about taking things at the right pace for me. And when the sex works, it's amazing. One thing that really takes the pressure off me, though, is that we agreed long before marriage that faithfulness for us meant honesty, not exclusivity. My husband knows that if he wants to fool around, he can — so long as he's safe and honest (with me and with her). The same goes for me.

Does my marriage, or my parents' marriage, count as monogamous? We look monogamous — and at the moment, we all are. But we've agreed that strict monogamy isn't a requirement. Since I doubt that we're alone in this attitude, you can add this group of "theoretical nonmonogamists" to the list of people who get wrongly classed by your critics as totally monogamous out of a lack of imagination and knowledge about other people's lives.

Invisible In Canada

I'm convinced there are more PTBMCs — a "perceived to be monogamous couple," with an understanding about when outside sexual contact is permissible — out there than people realize. But for most of these couples — for you, for your parents, for me and my husband — the term "nonmonogamous" isn't a good fit. Tell an AMC — "actually monogamous couple" — that you're nonmonogamous, and they'll assume you're a couple of huge sluts, i.e., that you're actively seeking outside sex partners or that you're swingers. There's nothing wrong with seeking outside sex partners (in moderation!) or swinging (ditto!), but that's not what we're doing. So if we tell an AMC we're "nonmonogamous," we have to spend the next 15 minutes qualifying that statement. And that requires us to disclose more details about our sex lives than (1) we wanna say and (2) they wanna hear. So I've got a new word to describe relationships like yours, mine, and your mom's: "monogamish." We're mostly monogamous, not swingers, not actively looking. Monogamish.

I would like to know why my husband is divorcing me to marry an 87-year-old woman.

Extremely Humiliated

Only your husband knows the real reason, EH, but if I were to hazard a couple of guesses: Either this woman is extremely wealthy or your husband is a gerontophile. Sadly, neither makes this situation any less humiliating for you. But try to look at the bright side: No one who hears what your husband has done — and no one who knows you both personally — is going to think there's something wrong with you.

Savage Love

Dan Savage

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