"The point of Sex At Dawn—and my point in drawing your attention to it—isn't that monogamy is unnatural and therefore no one should attempt it and that people have license to break the monogamous commitments they made to their partners. And for the record: I'm happy to acknowledge that there are lots of good reasons to be monogamous or very nearly monogamous.
What the authors of Sex At Dawn believe—what they prove—is that we are a naturally non-monogamous species, despite what we've been told for millennia by preachers and for centuries by scientists, and that is why so many people have such a hard time being and remaining monogamous. I'm not saying that everyone everywhere has to be non-monogamous; the authors of Sex At Dawn don't make that argument either. (Lots of monogamists, however, run around insisting that everyone everywhere should be monogamous—and the monogamists get a pass because, hey, they mean so well and wouldn't it be nice if everyone were?)"So, okay, I see what they're getting at. It seems to me that, rather than criticizing monogamy as such, Savage and the authors are criticizing the bad reasons that people choose monogamy, or even just the bad ways that they look at monogamy and the lousy expectations they put on themselves as a result. And, okay, I think he’s right on this.
I’ve now read a number of message board comments about this book and it’s pretty clear that we’re in the minority at GSM because we’re all pretty level-headed, open-minded, and somewhat liberal about sex and love, regardless of our relationship status. Many people, evidentially, are not. They believe that love and sex are the same thing, so that, if you are in a committed relationship, it will be monogamous- not only in practice, but even in thought. You simply won’t consider fucking the girl at the coffee shop or the fellow at work. And, if you do, it’s a sign that either something is wrong with you: you’re a “dog”, a “slut”, you don’t respect or love your partner, etc; or it’s a sign that something is wrong with your relationship. Some people have even suggested that, if you’re flirting with or thinking about someone else, “your relationship is already over”.
I think their point is that, if you’re thinking about these things, it probably means you’re Homo sapiens: that members of our species desire sexual novelty, difference, and multiple partners by nature, even if it’s not right for our lifestyle. And so we should be less hard on ourselves for exhibiting the traits of our species. We can stay monogamous without feeling guilt about the fact that monogamy does not always fulfill our needs. I think they’re probably right.
For me, I often felt like I was wearing clothes that didn’t fit me in terms of relationships. It wasn’t that I dislike monogamy; it was more the expectation from males my age that I should be more hung up on my partner’s monogamy than I actually was. I remember having a discussion with a girlfriend, who was struggling with her desire for sex with others, and feeling, inside, completely unthreatened by that, but still socially restricted from saying, “Oh, go ahead. I don’t care” because that might seem ‘self-loathing’, ‘disrespectful’, or like I didn’t love her. And yet, I didn’t care. But I worried that something was “wrong” with me for not caring.
I eventually “came out” about not being jealous or even terribly concerned about what my wife does when she’s not home. But, that was only after we had mused about non-monogamy for six years, and indeed, I still worried that I might sound perverse or masochistic or lacking in self-esteem. It’s really quite the opposite- I don’t get jealous because I have a very high opinion of our relationship and of myself as a partner. I don’t see anyone else threatening that. I’m her man.
And, indeed, since she’s had another partner, jealousy hasn’t reared its ugly head between us at all. Actually, it was considerably easier than I’d expected. She feels closer to me because of my faith in her; and I feel just as secure in the relationship as before, and even a bit more so. And our sex life is the best it’s ever been, perhaps partly because the fact that I’m not the only one having sex with her has stirred her libido and my awareness of her sexual prowess. So far, it’s been a very positive experience and a good decision.
Now I don’t think this would be right for everyone, or even that it will necessarily always be right for us. However, having heard for years that, absolutely, it would not be right for any married couple, I do understand the urge to push back against the "monogamy or splitsville" crowd.