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Debunking “Monogamish”

I’ve taken on Dan Savage before and it always pains me. I’m a fan of his anti-bullying campaign, his DTMFA (dump the motherfucker already) acronym, his for renaming former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, (thanks to the politician’s homophobia), for a frothy anal/lube byproduct.

But I think someone dropped Savage on his head when he starts to talk about monogamy. It’s like your favorite uncle getting drunk at a wedding and starting to rail against the Zionist One World Order or something. Oh God, please stop. Please shut up. I can’t respect you if you go on like this.

Apparently, Savage was in Australia last year on a speaking tour. An alert chump sent me a news article about his speech.

American advice columnist Dan Savage has been one of the loudest new voices, decrying monogamy as dangerous and damaging. Many people just aren’t wired for it, Savage says, and our stubbornly romantic ideal of marriage means partners won’t talk about it, publicly or privately. In a lecture in Sydney last year, Savage explained his idea of “monogamish” — a committed relationship in which either or both parties might have an occasional dalliance,
and the other either approves or forgives.

All the positives of a happy marriage, he says — stability, security, children, property, a shared history — shouldn’t be thrown out because of one or two episodes of cheating. Savage, a gay man, invented the term to describe his own marriage, claiming infrequent infidelities, discussed openly and honestly, had strengthened the relationship, perhaps even saved it.

“We need to stop seeing cheating as some relationship extinction-level event,” he told a packed
audience. “If someone cheats on you once or twice, they are good at monogamy, not bad.”

Savage doesn’t want us all to give up on monogamy altogether. He wants us to concede its
limitations and to be realistic and honest about our relationships. To admit to the boredom
and overfamiliarity, to the occasional need to flirt, the fleeting desire to break out of the
loving shackles snapped tight by wedding vows and run amok.

Gah. Where to begin?

Hey, Australian journalist! In your fervor to celebrate fucking around, you mixed your metaphors. Shackles snapped tight and run amok? That makes for quite the interesting visual. Handcuffs, compelled by the mysterious forces of monogamy, drag hapless cheaters… like the pick-up truck of doom and marital boredom…

Jesus. Journalists love the cake.

Anyway, back to Dan Savage — you deserve a slap upside the head for “If someone cheats on you once or twice, they are good at monogamy, not bad.”

No, they’re BAD at monogamy. Mono means ONE. One partner. Commitment. I wonder where Savage tips the scales at being bad at monogamy? 8, 10, 17, 49? What if you only have one affair but it produces a child and your husband has to paternity check his kid? Are you still good at monogamy? What if you get an STD off your two affairs? Are these flings, or years long affairs? “Hey! I only cheated with ONE person, but it was over the course of 20 years! I’m GOOD at monogamy!” What if you buy hookers occasionally with the rent money? Are you still good at monogamy?

WTF Dan?

As a gay man, do you really want to diss monogamy — my sexual life choice — as “dangerous and damaging”? Seriously? I have to take this shit off of you? Because here’s the thing, Dan, I CHOSE to be monogamous. My husband CHOSE it too. By total free will! I know, it may strike you as unnatural. You may think to yourself, “Ewww. Two middle-aged straights going at it. With only each other. For time immortal. Yuck!”

I don’t judge your sexuality — don’t judge mine.

If you want to have an open relationship with your husband, and that works for you — fine. God bless. Everybody is on board and you manage the risks with aforethought and consideration? Have at it.

You cheat on your husband? You make unilateral decisions about his health and welfare, and expect him to eat the shit sandwich that hey, you only fucked up a couple times? You’re still “good” at monogamy. YOU SUCK. I would tell him to DTMFA.

We’re on the same board about being “realistic and honest about our relationships.” If you can’t be monogamous, be honest about that. But don’t call it monogamy. (You call it “monogam-ish.”)

Enough with the double speak. Cheating is NOT realistic or honest. It’s getting your sexual jollies at another person’s expense. It’s about chumping someone. It’s saying one set of rules for me! another set of rules for you! It’s gaming the system to enjoy advantages not conferred to others — which makes you an entitled asshole, not a sexual sophisticate.

The monogamy argument is a red herring. You have free will. If monogamy is too hard, speak up and arrange your sex life honestly. But don’t cheat. Cheating is not monogamy’s fault — it’s shitty character. It’s so hard to be monogamous… waaah! No. Honest conversations are hard. Giving up entitlement is hard. Monogamy is just a choice that you either consent to or don’t. No one holds a gun to your head.

What’s pernicious about arguments like this, however, is they are designed to keep chumps in their place. They keep entitlement alive with the mindfuckery of “If someone cheats on you once or twice, they’re good at monogamy, not bad.” That’s like my cheating ex saying “hey, the affairs didn’t take that much TIME.”

Time management is not the point. Respect is the point. You cheat on someone, you deprive them of their free will and say in the matter. Cheaters decide shit unilaterally and keep secrets because they don’t want anyone to be the boss of them. Monogamy isn’t going to boss them around and keep them shackled!

I’m also struck by people who argue this monogamy is so hard shit, how they’re so cock sure their chump is going to be waiting for them. Hey, my flings are “meaningless”! Keep investing in me. And then to say “stability, security, children, property, a shared history — shouldn’t be thrown out because of one or two episodes of cheating” — yeah, stay together for the CHILDREN! For the property values! Don’t you value those things? If you do, I think you should over look a few instances of infidelity. This is just an argument for cake.

If you can arrange cake as an open marriage — best of luck with that. But don’t advocate cheating and then guilt chumps into staying because of their investment. How can you walk away from stability and your children?

I know it’s hard for sexually sophisticated people like Esther Perel and Dan Savage and Elizabeth Gilbert to comprehend, but some people enjoy being cherished exclusively. They desire who they have. They feel blessed for it. They aren’t dead to the attractions of the outside world, but they have boundaries. They respect their partner and feel safe in the respect their partner has for them. We aren’t freaks or jail keepers with shackles “snapped tight” forcing people to commit to us.

We love with our whole hearts, and live by our words. We’re GOOD at monogamy. And if you can’t keep pace? We’ll dump your cheating ass. Consider yourself unshackled.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • I think that the idea of being honest about finding other people attractive and discussing it within a relationship is what he means by “unrealistic”. IMHO, it IS unrealistic to think one will never find another person desirable during a relationship but not being honest about it is what is destructive. Before we married, I assumed that my ex and I would want to fuck other people and we could have a plan for when that happens but he absolutely refused to discuss it. Would he still have been a lying bastard? Probably. Being able to talk with your partner about desire can help defuse it or create a relationship where boundaries are healthy.

    • Yeah…that rings a bell. . When cheater hubby # 2 proposed I told him if he had any wild oats left to sow, he had better get on out there and sow them. Once he made a promise to me, I was not going to be the least bit understanding if he chose to cheat.

      I believe the refrain was Nooo, I’m not like that!! I looooove youuuuu!!!

      Fast forward 12 years….not one but two girlfriends that I found out about and he is treating me like crap. Once I found out….he was shocked, SHOCKED, I tell you, that I had the nerve to be upset.

      Uh….Yeah! ….I told you in the beginning, Jerkoff…..did you not believe me?

      See I was just not progressive enough!

  • Mr. Savage’s thinking is one convoluted mess. I dont really understand why some people think boinking around with whoever they meet is the preferred lifestyle for everyone. Didnt he go to college? I engaged in some promiscuity, not cheating, in those long ago days and all I could think was This is soooo overrated

    • college-age promiscuity — or, as i referred to it at the time, “musical beds” — always left me feeling emotionally drained, spiritually empty, and…well…hopeless. three cheers for better days!

  • I suppose what do we expect to hear from an unreformed cheater? This strikes me as the sort of thing many cheaters engage in after the fact because they cannot bear facing reality–they did something very wrong and raped their partner’s soul. Call white, black. Or up, down. It does not change reality. Adultery is VERY bad always. This moral and spiritual reality is immutable. I chose to live in reality. It’s sad Savage doesn’t.

  • Dan Savage is an aging, arrogant, condescending prick who says increasingly outrageous and contradictory things in a desperate attempt to stay relevant. He is not so much dangerous as pathetic, like most media whores. I lost respect for this guy a long time ago.

    Hey, Dan. 1998 called, and they want their progressive edginess back.

    There’s nothing progressive about cheating, and there’s nothing edgy about hypocrisy. It’s the same old tired bullshit spouted by hetero cheaters for generations.

    The Character Revolution has begun, dude, and you are on the wrong side of that battle.

      • Nomar, your posts always make me laugh. I appreciate the idea of a Character Revolution. Empathic honesty as a baseline practice for all.

    • On a serious note, Nomar, I really do hope there is a “Character Revolution” going on and that we are aiding it. It has little to do with those conservative family values folks of the past, but everything to do with simply doing what’s right.

      • We really need a “like” button…isn’t there a widget for Wordpress… Engineers?? anybody??? a simulacrum of a “like” a “love” a”thumbs up”…

    • Nomar is right. Savage promotes the idea because it stirs up controversy, increases his readership, and therefore sells more ads for him. Who cares what he does with his smelly self in a dark room with some stranger. And it’s not his business to tell the rest of us what to do.

      Promiscuity is definitely overrated. Might as well go for a run if all you want is sweating, grunting and exercise. Problem with a lot of cheaters is that they don’t see sex as a mutual expression of intimacy…they are attention whores and only see themselves.

      • “Who cares what he does with his smelly self in a dark room with some stranger. And it’s not his business to tell the rest of us what to do.”

        Exactly. And how ironic that a guy who gained legitimacy telling people (rightfully) not to judge folks based on their sexual practices is so eager to get all judge-y about committed monogamists (i.e., that we’re unrealistic, unreasonable, stupid, anachronistic, WTF-ever).

        “We’re here, we’re faithful, get over it!”

        • You all are killing me!! So funny! Where’s the “like” button when we need it?! Chumps, rock on with your bad selves! I am so glad that I am in good company here.

        • lol Nomar. Well put many times with the 1998 comment and “And how ironic that a guy who gained legitimacy telling people (rightfully) not to judge folks based on their sexual practices is so eager to get all judge-y about committed monogamists (i.e., that we’re unrealistic, unreasonable, stupid, anachronistic, WTF-ever).”

    • “Hey, Dan. 1998 called, and they want their progressive edginess back.”


      Thanks for the great laugh, Nomar. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • nomar,

      I have the biggest crush on all posts written by nomar. “Hey, Dan. 1998 called, and they want their progressive edginess back.” Love it!

  • Oh my god, what word salad.

    No Dan, if you cheat on your partner, and more than once (seriously dude?!) that means that you are BAD at maintaining a singular partner. Which means that you are NOT, in fact, good at monogamy. You’re not good at something you’ve failed to do. Where the fuck did you even get that logic? What? I don’t even…

    Hey, so, if I try to be a figure skater this afternoon and I only break a couple bones, does that mean I’m ready for the Olympics? I mean, clearly we’re operating on the logic that failing horribly at something means we’re good at it soooo….

    • No kidding. If you cheat once or twice, you’re not “good at monogamy.” You’re good at CHEATING.

  • Preach, CL.

    I say this a lot on here and it’s the critical issue to me. My STBXH’s betrayals was really less about the actual physical sex for me, it was the deception about the ground rules of our marriage. As CL says, “Respect is the point. You cheat on someone, you deprive them of their free will and say in the matter. Cheaters decide shit unilaterally and keep secrets because they don’t want anyone to be the boss of them.”

    I think the failure of my marriage was based a lot more on this type of behavior by my STBXH happening over and over again, in various contexts including but not limited to cheating. He always had a different set of rules for himself, and he was not bound by any terms that were set by us mutually.

    I consider myself less a victim of cheating (although as I’ve described here it was rampant and outrageous), and more a victim of emotional abuse by a seriously disordered and dangerous person. That’s taking me a lot longer to get over than him screwing other people.

    • Yes, totally agree.
      There is usually a constant undercurrent of disrespect in the relationship, keeping the Chump off-balance and scrambling to ‘fix’ things. I know that’s how mine went. Here’s some other destructive games they play on us- keeping us in that ‘down position’, getting pleasure out of humiliating us in the public arena, and being the one who’s supposedly sexually adventurous, just because they have a secret Fuck Buddy.
      None of this crap is valid, or fair, but cheaters do enjoy delusional games! Ask Dan.

      • “There is usually a constant undercurrent of disrespect in the relationship, keeping the Chump off-balance and scrambling to ‘fix’ things.”

        Very well put and accurate for me.

        • “Very well put and accurate for” most of us. Thanks Nation! I love this site!

    • I agree. It’s not the physical act itself that hurts the most. It’s the lies, the betrayal, the disrespect and the lack of compassion that hurts. I don’t care how or what position or what angle you’re doing the sex in, it’s the choice to disregard someone who loves you for your own selfishness and gratification. I don’t understand how someone could do that. It takes a tremendous amount of disrespect and lack of empathy.

    • Exactly. Monogamy and honesty are two separate issues. If he’d told me he was not 100% happy for ANY reason, we could have made decisions to seek help or move on from each other. Instead he stole 1.5 years of my life that ended up being a lie, along with exposing me to STDs. Top notch behavior!

      • Really grateful for this link, UC. I’ve read a lot about narcissism over the last few months, but this site really puts it into perspective for me. Thank you.

    • “I consider myself less a victim of cheating (although as I’ve described here it was rampant and outrageous), and more a victim of emotional abuse by a seriously disordered and dangerous person. That’s taking me a lot longer to get over than him screwing other people.”

      Agree completely about your comment related to emotional abuse. This is what we are left with. Often we don’t recognise it as the problem. A previous post suggested that EA has the protection to change your brain and the way it functions.

  • Tracy, I read Dan Savage daily and I think this article doesn’t come close to accurately representing his views. Yes under rare and extreme circumstances, he has occasionally approved of -not advocated- cheating as the lesser of two evils. He advocates speaking up about your relationship needs and honest a daily reader I don’t see him as an advocate of cheating – rather an advocate of sexual compatibility,communication and healthy relationships – whether monogamous, monogamish, open or poly. In every single case of abusive,deceitful behavior his advice has been universally DTMFA. I’d reccomend you also read his columns to get a more accurate picture of his views. Like all the readers here I went through a super painful long term affair ,was gaslighted, went through multiple D-days and false reconciliations,was made to feel equally responsible in months of “therapy”, and tried everything possible to save the marriage – including a year of humiliating pick me dancing. Still I am a fan of Dan Savage and in the vast majority of cases agree or at least sympathisize with his advise.

    • I respect your opinion but I can’t understand how when you make a commitment to be faithful to someone it’s okay if you cheat once or twice. It’s not okay. Don’t want to be faithful? Don’t commit.

      • Here’s his actual take on cheating – nothing like what we’ve experienced. Controversial and thought provoking but pretty far from how Dan is actually paraphrased
        Cheating is permissible when it amounts to the least worst option, i.e., it is allowed for someone who has made a monogamous commitment and isn’t getting any at home (sick or disabled spouse, or withholding-without-cause spouse (after good faith efforts have made to clearly inform withholding without cause spouse of needs (and their importance) and making good faith efforts resolve needs consensually) and divorce isn’t an option (sick or disabled spouse, or withholding-without-cause-spouse-who-can’t-be-divorced-for-some-karma-imperiling-reason-or-other) and the sex on the side makes it possible for the cheater to stay married and stay sane. (An exception can be made for a married person with a kink that his or her spouse can’t/won’t accommodate, so long as the kink can be taken care of safely and discreetly.)”

        • Responding to cheating as a “least worst” option is a whole other column Sd. I do read savage. Click on my first link to see direct quotes from him on “monogam-ish.” Not getting any at home? HAVE AN HONEST CONVERSATION and open up your marriage or get out. Present your spouse with a choice — sex life, or no marriage, or open marriage. That is a “least worst” option than cheating. It is NEVER okay to make unilateral decisions about another person’s health and welfare. Period. I’m not taking the guy out of context. He talks out of both sides of his mouth and IMO prefers to be provocative over thinking his POV through.

          • Tracy, after years of daily reading my interpretation of his advice is very very close to my interpretation of yours – have an honest conversation of your needs with your partner ,before you act on those needs. If you can’t work it out or if living with what your partner need is unacceptable then end the relationship honestly. Pretty sure that monogamish is another type of open relationship- not cheating
            His abbreviation for cheaters is CPOS. Not a strong endorsement by any means

            • Then call it an open relationship. Don’t say cheating once or twice is being GOOD at monogamy. You quoted him here “the sex on the side makes it possible for the cheater to stay married and stay sane” — sex on the side — he didn’t say the open relationship.

              I’d be curious how he defines CPOS when he’s okay with cheating, so long as people have what he considers to be valid reasons.

              And then he IMO covers his tracks with “oh hey, have an honest conversation.” Again, I think he talks out of both sides of his mouth.

        • So Dan’s brand of cheating is okay, but whatever brand of cheating that brought you to Chump Lady is not okay?

          • Dan’s “brand of cheating” isn’t cheating, despite CL’s take–he advocates being honest and open about fucking other people or wanting to fuck other people if one is in a committed relationship.

            • COTM-….Thereby giving the Chump the means to end it if they chose to at that point…..

              It is the difference between honesty and dishonesty, right and wrong, period. Most of us are here because, as Divorce Minister puts it, cheaters take emotional rape as the least worst option, and let their Chumps live on in good faith, while they steal money and time. Fuck that, the cost is too fucking high to forgive-physical and emotional scars, poverty, trauma, depression and anxiety, to name a few. In short, if you don’t want to be in a monogamous relationship, then don’t be in one.

              Utter Santorum. There IS a character revolution taking place…and the list of people to put up against the (imaginary) wall is growing.

            • I am not an avid reader of Dan Savage, but if he goes on and on about why ONE partner is not able to leave an unfulfilled marriage and makes a decision to cheat in order to keep their sanity and remain in the marriage–WITHOUT the agreement of the OTHER partner. That. Is. Deception.
              One party does not get to make unilateral decisions about having sex with others—no matter what the reasons. That is rationalizing lying and deception.

              The OW used Dan Savage to justify her cheating—he is used by people to justify cheating. He should clarify his point as every public figure does when they are read mistakenly. He has not done that but continues to double speak and rail against monogamy.

              How does railing against monogamy square with having an open marriage. Not my kind of writer.

            • Then why call it monogamish? That’s not a word or a thing. It’s either an open relationship or it’s cheating. He sounds otherwise intelligent so why not call a thing a thing.

        • Sd,
          You think it’s all right for someone to cheat on a sick or disabled spouse? So, instead of taking care of a spouse and maybe children, it’s ok to go out and cheat? As far as withholding without cause–mostly the cheaters do that to their spouses. My cheater has withheld from me–he is the one who withholds sex and intimacy–for many years. You know what? I still didn’t cheat on him.
          As far as making good-faith efforts to resolve issues concerning needs—-well, cheaters don’t really believe that their spouses needs are of any concern to them. So, sex on the side makes it possible for cheaters to stay married and stay sane? What happens to the betrayed spouses when they find out about the cheating? Do you have any idea how horrific it is to be a sick or disabled spouse and find out that when you needed your husband or wife the most, they were out fucking someone? Hell, it’s horrific for us able- bodied ,healthy spouses.
          Cheating is never the “least worst” option. Never.

          • Sympathy is not the same as agreement. I did not say that agree with all of Dan’s advise. I do believe that his advise to each and every one of us if we wrote and described our cheaters would be to DTMFA . On the other hand using the example of the divorcing but care taking the gentleman with Alzheimer’s , that guy didn’t know he was getting divorced so his wife could take care of her needs. How would you advise someone caretaking a spouse paralyzed from the neck down, someone they loved deeply? Divorce the paralyzed spouse ,remarry yet continue to take care of them? That would be an honest choice , but pretty emotionally traumatic for the paralyzed spouse. How about Dan’s likely advise to occasionally see a sex worker or have a NSA affair , yet stay married and continue caring for the spouse you love? I can sympathisize with Dan’s choice. Personally I think it’s better than the honest choice of divorce. I do believe that I would stay true and honor my vows . I’m not sure what I would do if my paralyzed spouse offered me the option of discrete respectful NSA sex.

            • Sd, I worked with people with spinal cord injuries. They deserve the right to know if their spouse is cheating. They are not dead. Many, even high level cervical cord injured people can still feel and can have sex. Sick and injured people Still. Have. Emotions.

              Imagine. You just had a terrible injury that left you paralyzed. Now you find out that you spouse has found sexual pleasure elsewhere and is just with you for pity. God Damn. Just because you are not paralyzed does not mean people who are are not human.

              If they agree, that is one thing.

              I know that some people with spinal cord injuries that would rather divorce than have someone with them out of pure pity.

              Dan, when you are paralyzed or have Alzheimer’s let us know how you feel about your partner getting sexual pleasure without your knowledge. Otherwise stop your babble.

            • One of my Chump friends is paralyzed. She cannot work and needs help with a lot of things we take for granted. Married for decades to someone who married her knowing she was paralyzed (in childhood accident.) Her husband decided to have a “discreet” affair with someone. She found out and was emotionally traumatized. When she confronted him, he basically said he had put in his time taking care of her, it was his time now! She herself said she would have much rather he had been honest, came to her and told her he couldn’t do this anymore and divorced her, rather than cheating and then leaving when confronted.

              I cannot express how much of a piece of shit I think he is. Sorry, I just got horribly angry thinking about her and what she went through.

              • That sucks Kira. I am sorry your friend is dealing with that POS. What an awful response. Who asked him to care for her if he resented it?

                I had a friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was married with three kids. Her cancer got worse and metastasized in the course of three years. She died. Her husband did not go out an cheat during this time, but helped her and the family through.

                A year after she died he remarried. His mother-in-law and children and all of his family and friends were happy for him knowing how hard it was for him. He was there body, mind and soul.

                I cannot speak for my friend, but cannot imagine she would be okay with her husband having an affair because she was in the hospital dying of cancer.

                If you can’t handle your spouse’s injury or sickness, better to divorce, get agreement from them to have discrete sex or figure out how to have good sex with them.

                What gets me is that cheaters use Dan Savage to condone their cheating because they are not happy and can’t seem to figure out how to divorce—although all they have to do is file. Cheaters use the rationale that they do not want to harm their spouse and kids to eat cake. They don’t want to ruin their marriages but can’t stand them either. If I were Dan, I would be seriously concerned about that wimpy hypocrisy. People like that are not going to bat over gay rights. He apparently is not concerned.

            • Cheating on a sick or disables spouse, even one who is paralyzed from the neck down, is wrong. And it is not better than divorcing the spouse. You say you do not agree, but what you type says otherwise. You are cloaking agreement in sympathy. You are. You think going without sex, or as much sex as is wanted is a reason for cheating? It isn’t. I know. There is no comparison between a spouse who withholds sex just because he feels like it to a spouse who cannot engage in all manner of sexual activity because of disability or sickness. No comparison. None. Adultery is far more traumatic than divorce is. There is no excusing adultery. And I repeat–it is not the “least worst” option.

              • Jeezus Freaking Crimmeny – If I’m reading this right, it’s probably an entirely different topic – but to cheat on an ailing spouse is unconscionable! Say, they have dementia and can’t say what they mean. I suppose they’ll recognize that their spouse isn’t visiting as often, or giving them the same love – because it’s going out the door to some other cheater. I can’t imagine somebody needs SEX that badly. That’s why we have vibrators and guys have hands. (in fact, women are also good with their own fingers). Why go into a full-blown body contact for sex while your ill spouse is sitting there waiting for you to go visit. Whether you think he/she recognized or not. The issue is, how you WILL feel afterwards, once they have left the earth. Yah, find peace with that. Sorry, if that’s off topic but it struck a hot iron with me.

        • Wtf?

          My asshole cheater said that sticking his penis into other people’s orifices for 17yrs out of a 20 yr legal marriage (that I know of) “made me a better father!”

          BULLSHIT. During those 17 yrs we had 4 kids, so this asshole was getting IT as home and from others. He did give me a permanent gift from one of this fuckbuddies. But, hey! Asshole was committed to ACTING like a devoted spouse and father.

          The Dan message is pure crap, and your rationalization SUCKS.

        • I kind of agree that in some very rare circumstances where it is not possible to divorce or have a frank and open talk with the spouse that cheating might be ok. In my state, you can only divorce if both people are able to enter into a contract. So if one of the spouses is non compos mentis due to illness or accident then there can be no divorce or frank discussion. I’m going to pick on the Terry Schaivo case as my example. I don’t remember why, but Terry had been in a vegetative state for years. For the first several years, her husband took her case to doctor after doctor and specialist after specialist and they all gave him the same answer, she will never “wake up”. After 10 years, Michael met someone. He couldn’t get a divorce because Terry wasn’t able to “enter into a contract”. He couldn’t have a frank talk with her because she was in a persistent vegetative state and he knew that she would never come back to him, so waiting wouldn’t have worked. I realize that he promised “in sickness and in health” but I don’t know what else Michael could have done in that situation. However, that said, if the spouse is sick or disabled but mentally “there” then talking with them about needs and options is the only honorable thing to do. If spouse is “withholding without cause”, then again, a frank discussion of either “put-out” or I’m leaving is still the only honorable thing to do. If the withheld spouse has done everything in their power to help get the marriage on track, then it is time to leave(not cheat, divorce).

          • Jewish divorce is similar to the State laws you are describing. If a spouse is gone missing or is seriously mentally impaired such that he (yes only he) cannot grant a divorce OR if he wants to withhold a divorce to punish her—the she is locked to him forever and cannot marry. She is called an agunah (a chained woman). This is abuse by law and only applies to women.

            I can’t believe some states have this law. It is news to me.

            • Well, in my state, the law applies equally to both genders, but yes, you can end up chained to someone for life. If your spouse falls down, bumps their head, now has the mental capacity of 3-year-old, and is now living in a care facility; you cannot divorce them. The basis is really financial. The healthy spouse is financially responsible for the ill/injured spouse. If the healthy spouse divorces, then the financial burden falls to the state. Also, intertwined with the financial issues, is the idea that everyone is entitled to due process. Someone who is non compos mentis would not be able to participate in the divorce process or look out for their own best interests. It’s not too dissimilar the way the state views a parent-minor child relationship with the same rights and responsibilities.

              • See, here is where law has no basis in life. There are so many ways to deal with the financial burden (the spouse who wants to divorce could also be responsible along with relatives with help from the state) or have a trusted relative or even public lawyer look out for the person’s best interest. If they have a will that states what to do if mentally disabled, even better. Just because the state makes it impossible to divorce does not mean the disabled person will get good care. The disabled are the most abused in our society. Makes no sense at all to chain the spouse legally in marriage and should change in my view.

    • I am also a big Savage fan, but I think he does excuse occasional cheating and rail against strict monogamy. I feel like I’ve seen that consistently in his columns over the years. (I remember, because some years ago, I was wildly attracted to a guy at my job, and I found comfort in “expert” Dan Savage saying strict monogamy wasn’t realistic…. Alas, due to stupid morals & ethics, I did not cheat, but I remember Dan sorta saying it would’ve been OK if I had.)

      I think it’s all about honesty. If you feel monogamy is unrealistic and you’re gonna cheat once in a while, then man up and discuss it with your partner beforehand. If they say OK and still choose to marry you, they you’re golden. Everyone is aware and is playing by the same rules. But CHEATING means the other person DOESN’T know, ISN’T aware, and is being chumped. It’s not fair, and it’s disrespectful, especially if there’s love involved — I take that back, love or no love, it takes resources away from the marriage, like sending a check from your bank account to some other place without your spouse’s consent… but with a shit ton of pain & hurt to go with it.

      • Exactly. As you said, Dan Savage is used by many people to justify cheating. It feels good to have someone held as a humanistic cultural critic saying that cheating is okay in some circumstances–a.k.a YOURS. This is the kind of entitlement everyone here talks about. Our cheaters have said “I am different” “I have to cheat” “It’s okay for me”—It is clear that that is dehumanizing to the unknowing spouse. Dan Savage is not doing anyone a service with his double speak, but it does go well with his double life.

      • Indeed, NWBiblio, I think the meaning of the word “cheating” is lost in Savage and other rationalizations. Cheating IS lying. That is unfair, and abusive, especially when they are eating and keeping all the cake the Chump is paying for, sometimes for years, cluelessly unaware of the Cheating. I sometimes try to explain this using the metaphor of embezzlement. If I have an employee who is stealing money from me, without my knowledge, because she has a burning need to have more money and she KNOWS that if she ASKS me for more money I am going to say no; or if she tells me she’s going to just start TAKING my money without my permission that I will fire her, how can anyone say this is OK just because the employee wants the money and doesn’t think I’m paying her enough? Right???? Why is this so hard to comprehend?

  • Sounds like old Dan is just looking for justification for his own secret need to cheat. He “says” he’s in an open marriage – but why beat the drum so hard if it’s working so well? Does Dan want all people to become cheating narcissists? Nothing makes a zealous proselytizer more than a secret desire to get everyone in the same boat as he/she is.

    Dan needs to look at the lovely gay couple out in Montana who were just excommunicated from their Catholic Church because – after 30 years plus together – they decided for legal purposes to….well…make it legal! They aren’t looking for anything on the side -they are one of those dreaded truly monogamous couples who are happy together well into their golden years.

    Dan’s take on monogamy feeds the ugly stereotype that gay men cannot be monogamous – they need that “-ish” suffix to give them room to cat around. I prefer looking at the Montana couple as proof that commitment, honor, vows and LOVE can be everlasting if you aren’t dealing with a cheater – regardless of sexual orientation. No “ish” about it.

  • So if you try to ride a unicycle, and you need only 2 or 3 training wheels, you’re pretty good at riding a unicycle?

    And if you try to be monotheistic, but you worship Zeus and Ganesh as well as Yaweh, you’re pretty good at monotheism?

    And if you try to deliver a monologue, and you only need 2 or 3 other people reciting parts of it to get all the way through, you’re pretty good at monologues?

    Jeez, what part of ONE does he not understand?

  • Here’s an example of the lesser of two evils “no one outside that relationship has a right to judge. And, again, I’m not saying that people in monogamous relationships have a right to cheat on their partners at the first sign of sniffles or if their partners are bedridden for a few months with a broken leg. I’m talking about the grind of years and years of caring for a sick or dying partner.

    Circumstances change, IHTB, and sometimes allowances have to made. It’s neither helpful nor realistic to demand that others go without physical intimacy for years or decades because you can’t wrap your head around a situation where a person might need to sneak out and do a small wrong in order to stay put and do a much larger right.”

    • Another example of his advice

      First, RTP, I’m sitting on stacks of mail from spouses—husbands and wives—who aren’t getting any at home, much less halfway decent sex bimonthly-or-better. So while I appreciate your frustration—I’d be fucking holes I’d kicked in the walls if my boyfriend put out just six times a year—let’s recognize that (1) things could be worse and (2) you have a decent base here on which to build.

      Second, RTP, yes to everything—yes to a new form of birth control (perhaps you could get a vasectomy), yes to packing your asses off to counseling (find a counselor who doesn’t believe that the husband is always at fault), and yes to more open and honest communication. A few more yeses: Yes to getting the wife’s hormones checked (how are her testosterone levels?), yes to looking at depression as a possible underlying cause (and good luck eliminating depression if it is), and yes to the occasional visit to a strip club (just as a matter of principle).

      Third, RTP, and most importantly…

      Yes to hurting the wife. Telling her about your unhappiness and forcing this issue will hurt her feelings, RTP, but catching you cheating will hurt much, much more.
      Finally, RTP, I’m thinking that you wrote to me and not, say, Zombie Ann Landers because you were looking for permission to cheat. I have been known to issue a license to cheat now and then, but I can’t in your case. You had a decent sex life early on—good chemistry, greater frequency, GGG action—and you “enjoy” a not-dead-yet sex life now. With some effort, some balls, and some incentive (no license to cheat), you should be able to revive this thing.”

    • Yeah, my former mother in law was fucking an older gentleman for years and they justified it because his wife was “sick”. I dont know if it was true or not. I do know it allows you to keep up your ” I’m such a saint , cause I’m staying with my sick/dying/fat wife” persona, instead of showing what you really are. Very noble, tragic, blah, blah, blah. I thought they were disgusting.

      • My ex’s mother was sleeping with a married man who said that he and his wife slept in separate bedrooms but would never get divorced because they’re Catholic. Total cheater line. Even if that was true I don’t think that man’s wife would’ve attended all those church retreats with ex MIL if she had known she was sleeping with her husband. Ex MIL divorced my ex’s dad because he was a cheating POS. (In her sixties) But dated a married man (in her seventies) basically because she was lonely and really needed someone. So there’s your answer about how someone who’s been through the pain of being cheated on can sleep with someone else’s husband. They’re only thinking about their pain/loneliness and got an F in empathy in the school of life.

        I’ll be honest though, I thought the sexless marriage causing cheating was a real thing prior to my initiation into chumpdom. Seems to me though (at least from this site) to be a complete myth. Not ok either way but now I get that it’s a lie.

    • Again, have an honest conversation. There was a story in the Washington Post a few years ago about a woman who divorced her husband with Alzheimer’s. Remarried, and made taking care of her ex part of the marriage pack. That’s brave and that’s honest.

      You don’t need to “sneak out and do a small wrong in order to stay put and do a much larger right.” My father managed pension funds for the United Methodist Church for years. Pretty thankless, hard work. He didn’t occasionally rob a convenience store to alleviate the burden of larger good — making sure the church was solvent and he was better paid.

      Suck it up, buttercup. That’s what in sickness and in health means. If you can’t do it — be HONEST. That’s all.

      • That IS brave and honest.

        As I mentioned, many of my clients with spinal cord injuries would rather have an honest spouse at their side working out how to have sex, then someone who was having sex unbeknownst to them on the side. Divorce allows people dignity and freedom to find someone who WOULD want to commit to them sexually.

        You can take care of someone without committing to then sexually in an honest way as the story you quoted CL stated.

        Cheating on a sick person or an injured person adds injury to injury. Are sick people not human? Do they not deserve honest relationships?

    • Be honest with the person and have a conversation – not make that decision for them and fuck others on the side.

  • Perfect.Well said, ChumpLady. I have the same mixed feelings about Dan Savage. It seems like he can not wrap his mind around the idea that monogamous people actually exist in this world.

    He has a relationship that includes occasional flings, and he and his partner are able to work around that. Great! You have a relationship. Both spouses are on board with the rules. Wonderful.

    This would be an entirely different situation if his partner engaged in a secret relationship, drained money from the household to buy gifts to fund that relationship. Or if his partner began to treat him with disgust, screamed at him, or spread lies about him behind his back.

    It’s apples and oranges, really. There are some who are monogamous. There are some who are not monogamous, but who are clear and honest about their intentions. And then there are assholes who get their jollies from abusing honest people.

  • I agree 100% with CL here.

    So Dan is in a monogamish relationship and that’s fine if he went into this relationship with that out in the open and was agreed upon by his husband. But by talking about it as he has done in the quotes in the article, he’s almost advertising himself as being available (“Come and get me, boys!”). I’d call that cake eating big time and if I were his partner I’d dump him. But that’s me.

    I think everyone should consider what they want in their relationships and their life from the short to long term prior to commitment. Too many people marry for the wrong reasons and then five, ten, or thirty years later they’ve suddenly ‘had enough’ and destroy everyone in their path. This could be avoided if we were more in touch with what we want early on in our life. And if you commit and then discover later on that you cannot honor that commitment, get out of the relationship honorably before you cheat. For the sake of the deep love you felt for them at one time, how hard is that to do?

    Dan is doing monogamous couples a disservice by intimating that there’s wiggle room on this issue, or that it might actually deepen a relationship.

    I love monogamy. It thrills me and honors me and I hope I get the chance to experience it again someday with someone who feels the same.

  • “I’m also struck by people who argue this monogamy is so hard shit, how they’re so cock sure their chump is going to be waiting for them.”

    THAT is where I think that argument breaks down. Because I have never heard someone who preaches that argument believe that if it’s true for them, monogamy is soooo hard, that it’s true for the SO. No, for their SO, monogamy is easy peasy lemon squeezy. Because they are with Mr./Ms. Wonderful! How could they ever want anyone else? And this is the thing, they may even say, “Oh no, my partner can have affairs on the side, I don’t mind,” but the thing is, they don’t believe their SO WOULD ever have affairs on the side. They know they’ve picked a Chump, and the Chump ain’t straying.

    I have two friends whose cheating spouses convinced them to have open marriages. Because monogamy was SOOO hard. The thing is, once the Chumps starting seeing other people, wanting the Cheaters to stay home that night with the kids so they could go out on a date, the Cheaters LOST THEIR MINDS. Because that’s not what was supposed to happen, they were supposed to be free to have their fun, and the Chump would be at home waiting!

    • Yes. My cheater railed at me for going out to dinner with a guy-friend while we were only weeks into knowing each other–and not yet in a committed relationship. They want monogamy from us all right. Such hypocrisy.

      I also think people do not realize that polyamory is not all a bed of roses. People are raving jealous, constantly wondering how they are important and loved, and have to create piles of “laws and rules” to keep themselves safe and honest.

      Just like humans have a need for sex we also have a need for honesty. One does not negate the other. It is up to us to figure out how to live robustly fulfilling both needs. Monogamy and polyamory are solutions to this problem. Cheating is violence, dishonest and destructive. It is not a solution.

  • Except for one thing Sd- Monogamish is not a word. Just like you can’t be slightly pregnant, you can’t be slightly monogamous. You are either committed sexually to one partner or you’re not. You’re either in an open relationship with honest communication or you’re lying and cheating behind your partner’s back-gay or straight it doesn’t matter.

    Sometimes things really are black and white. Ironically since marriage in the USA is an act you go into freely and completely of your own choice that’s what makes it black and white. No gray areas here, thank you very much.

    • Removing morality and traditionalism from the argument completely, the pop culture rampage against traditional marriage is fortunately not supported by statistical evidence. Overwhelmingly people view infidelity as a horrific act and even the reconcile at all cost outlets of pop psychology begrudgingly admit the act causes ptsd and some classify it as emotional abuse (i agree). Healthy well adjusted adults who value partnership in a positive and giving environment arent the enemy, rather they are the standard we should aspire to. As a faithful who was chumped by a woman who was laid on more than the serta corporation, walking away with the knowledge that other good and decent people were out there was hopeful for me to view the rest of our society. Mr. Savage prefers to embrace a dour and negative view of our humanity, that we are merely animals without the logic or freewill to come to a decent respectful decision regarding our commitments and therefor must hump like border collies (no offense to a nice dog breed). I find his negative euro centric west coast babble more illustrative of our society’s willingness to accept the easy answer than explore the reality that people willing to cheat and demolish their partner and families are just fucked up entitled monsters who never should have made a commitment. Its sad for mr savage that he doesnt believe we have the capacity to put our personal values above simple short term urges.

      • Scott, so well said. We need to educate our sons and daughters to be on the lookout for this type and avoid them at all costs.

      • Exactly. Quick-fix mindset. It’d be like every time you get 1$ you buy the most satisfying thing you can buy with 1$. OR, you can cherish and respect the 1$ bills for a while, and buy a 1000$ item that has far more value. Not that hard when you know what value means.
        This is where I realized that my x and I are just different. Some people want the quick-fix rush. Others (like most of us here) want the higher value life.

        • My ex couldn’t even wait for the $1. He was into .25 satisfaction. That’s the type of women/sexual encounters. Quarter whores! No seriously, like the kind of girls that would come out of those quarter toy machines at the entrance of grocery stores.

          • Haha, Quarter Whores! I just snort-laughed when I read that. I’m totally using this next time I get pissed enough to rant about infidelity.

  • Elizabeth Gilbert advocates cheating? I must have missed that. I thought she subscribed to the Church of How Awesome She Is and Did You Know She’s Friends With Oprah and also has the hottest, sexiest, juiciest, eatiest, prayiest, loveiest marriage ever in the history of all relationships, amen.

    • Her book Committed is about how she doesn’t like marriage, but had to marriage for visa reasons. (And a discourse about the history of marriage and her love story with husband #2.) Her first husband I believe claimed she was unfaithful. I don’t think she’s an advocate for cheating, so much as a voice questioning marriage (which she then partakes of, but only because she has to).

      • I completely missed that! I walked away from that book thinking *she* had been wronged by her ex! Jesus, i guess that was before i had been chumped.

  • Dear Dan,

    Your cheater justification philosophy is a wrecking ball. In other words, you are a huge attention-starved jerk with no clue about who your audience it. Let me explain.

    In 2007 I was pregnant with my first child. I was 38 and was absolutely delighted by my growing pregnancy. My soon-to-be ex and I went to birthing classes in BABS Bloomington, Indiana. I had known ex since 2001. He had told me that he loved me, wanted to be with only me and would follow me to Bloomington even though he hated college towns and could not find a job he liked (he became a divorce lawyer there—G-d help me).

    I made it very clear to my then boyfriend then husband “I want you to be happy” “do not make choices you can’t do” “are you sure you are attracted to only me–you are flirting with my friends all the time. I don’t feel good about us–let’s separate” All this before I became pregnant. What I heard back was—“I am not flirting” “I do not want to be with other women”

    You see, Dan-the-man, I was happy being in a committed relationship. I had no desire to get my kicks bending my ass over for other men. My ex was far from perfect but he had qualities I loved (yes I was being lied to on a daily basis but who lies like this–a first for me)

    I told my ex EXPLICITLY: “If you ever want to have an affair, emotional or physical LET ME KNOW” I told him, “I want the dignity of leaving before that happens. Okay, now I know that if you have to ask that question something is seriously wrong. I did not know that then. I thought I was being HONEST. Yes, Dan, Honest with my feelings. I did not want to be in a relationship with a cheater. Not for me. Just like polyamory is not for me. I respect polyamory because it is honest. You don’t want to have sex with only one person? You get bored by that kind of sex? You are bored by your spouse? SPEAK THE FUCK UP TO THEM. No one is forcing you to be with them—my God that would be slavery and domestic abuse. BEING ABUSED THAT WAY?—GO TO A SHELTER & START GETTING PROTECTION.

    Let me assure you Danny Boy, I wanted no part in a cheating marriage—even a little making out and talking on the phone all hours lying to me that I was at work kind of cheating—nothing. I am not that desperate for God’s sake. You don’t want to be with only me—great! Mazal Tov on knowing this! All the power to you. Tell me and Leave!

    But no, my ex lied and lied and lied.

    Here is where you come in Cheese Dan-ish,

    The OW was president of the Board of the BABS and best friends with the executive director—who agreed to be my DOULA! My childcare provider was also in this small click. The executive director knew of the pres and my lying ex’s “indiscretions” and being a cheater herself I highly suspect counseled her besty-friend to keep going with the emotional affair–after all you may meet your next husband like I did!

    Dan-shit, do you know what OW did? She lent my lying ex your book, the book that says cheating is normal and understandable. That monogamy is it a lie that we tell ourselves. Because she wanted to JUSTIFY coming into my home and making out with my then lying husband. She wanted to justify making playdates with her kids and my child so that she and ex could go at their “emotional-makeout-lets explore this affair” right under my nose!

    You must be so proud to be used as a source for this kind of violence Dan.

    Do you know what kind of memories I now have of my child’s birth and first three years of his life, you motherfucker? All with me, my lying ex, the OW, her chumpy husband and their kids! Oh my, that is a book in and of itself. The Book of MindFuck.

    All this from a group that is self-righteous about not giving your infant solids and nursing till you drop so that your kid will grow up attached! My kid is not with me for half the week since the age of five and I am now in divorce hearings about the best custody arrangements for him knowing his father is a sociopath worrying about his well being. Know how that feels Danny-piece-of-dogshit? To be ripped from your child? No? I did not think so.

    Dan, if you must wiggle your monagamish ass at least wipe your (bull) shit off. You do not speak for all people. You speak for people who are honest with one another and tell each other that they are having flings every now and then and everyone (including the fling partners) are okay with that. That is not me. I had made that clear from the beginning that I was not interested in that life. My ex needed not do me any favors by “loving me” and “wanting only me.” I never asked for that. Lying is not cool, Dan. Don’t you know that?

    • Chumpectomy-

      That is rotten. Just awful, through and through. I’m sorry you had to be surrounded by a coven of assholes, and really hope you emerge from all of this stronger. I am seriously enraged on your behalf.


      • Thank you LilyBart for being enraged—that really helps actually.

        I have told my story here many times and sometimes feel like: enough already D, but the swell is still there.

        I have been doing really well lately. I do not rave in the streets talking aloud to myself at all anymore! That really is progress : )

        That the OW used Dan Savage as a justification and lent his book Seven Deadly Sins to ex—who left it around the house and suggested I read—Oh Lord–this post just brought it out for me again.

        I am stronger. I was/am a royal chump trying to help everyone. I have shaved a parasitic friend from my life and can now see bullshit clearly. I actually learned that I am very insightful and read people well. I have just been ignoring that because I am also a wonderful spackler!

        I have learned to embrace my rage and perceptions.

        I am very concerned for my child and am working with an excellent lawyer and therapy team.

        I am also realizing how vulnerable populations like pregnant women get taken advantage of and unpacking the misleading philosophies of a “perfect birth (as they define it–of course telling you that you are defining it)—leading to a perfect physical and social life.” Organizations like this really violent to women and their kids. You know, I never once saw a disabled child or a child born with problems at BABS. I do not think mothers of children who did not look magazine perfect felt comfortable there. Women who had C-sections and were not willing to mourn their birth or did not feel disappointed with their birth did not feel comfortable there. I really should have never been a part of the group. I know that now.

        Thank you again LilyBart. I really do appreciate your kind words.

        I will write on this one day.

        • I’m so glad to read your very last line in this post. I’d been repeating in my mind as I read, “She NEEDS to keep talking about this! What happened was repulsive and I’m sure there are so many more women going thru this, or about to!”
          Good on you. Talk loud and proud that you survived that disaster and are a good enough person to try to help others with your story. I seriously have tears in my eyes right now for what you went thru. Those people deserve an eternity of disrespect, STDs and heartache. Gah.

        • You know Chumpectomy, when I read your story the first time it made me pissed as hell. I still really really want to point this woman out in public for what she is. The word evil gets thrown around a lot and it’s an apt description but I also realized something else the other day, this OW is most assuredly a sociopath or something similar. I’m not a psych Phd or anything but that’s some Silence of the Lambs level of shit she pulled. Her being involved with your doula is effin creepy and a soul violation. The truth is that really abnormal icky people are rarely the ones walking down the street wearing skull necklaces and raving about it raining blood. They hide behind normal often good guy or good gal facades.I know you say your ex is a sociopath so maybe you already get that.

          There was a level of shit on top of the shit of the infidelity. And on top of on top of that shit? A level of crazy. It is so normal to feel like we lost our ability to navigate normalacy after being around that kind of crazy. I am excellent at reading people but around my ex (who is Textbook Narc) there was almost like this field of blankness that negated it. Can’t intuit human nature when the person is not human. Took me a while to rebelieve my perceptions. So glad to hear you trust yours! Unfortunately in the land of the crazy the one sane person is usually the only one who ends up believing they’re crazy.

          As for all of the self righteous perfect pregnancy perfect mommy types out there…eff that AND their organizations. That’s like a personality disorder/drink the koolaid church type thing all on it’s own and we get lured in because it seems like their values align with ours. But they don’t have values, they have ideologies. I’m not talking about the slightly over zealous mommies….I can relate to that. I’m talking about the cult of perfection vs practically, reality and mind your own effing business about someone else’s kids.

          I’m so sorry you had to experience what you did. I wish I could go to that place and perform an exorcism. I’m sorry you have to share custody with a POS. And I’m sorry you were violated at such an incredibly vulnerable time. More than anything I wish you peace, but on your OWN timetable.

          Good luck with the lawyer and therapy team :).

          • Have you ever read the book entitled “The Sociopath Next Door”? The sample-sociopaths described in that book are just like this woman in Chumpectomy’s past. She fits it to a T. Bone-chilling to say the very least.

            • I haven’t. And we have a sadly small library in this town. (Interesting how after I type “small” my phone’s suggestion for the next word is “penis”. Clearly my phone has seen one too many mentions of my ex.) But the “plan” is to go back to University for Psychology. So I bet sometime between now and the near future I’ll probably read it. I’ve had two personality disordered people wreak havoc in my life in the last four years. One was a little more obvious but at the worst both left me feeling like I’d experienced evil. Right afterward it made me feel like I’d woken up to find that someone had been performing surgery without my permission and messing around in my insides. Like mucking about with someone who is unaware makes them God. But really it just makes them pathetic. And it can be so incredibly frustrating to see their real face and yet have them be active in the community or healing industry. Or be all Namaste on Facebook. But that’s my shit. Someday I will be able to say “why yes I am qualified to diagnose you as a crazy bitch”. But not to that same woman. I’m gonna be way beyond that shit. And I know Chumpectomy will get there too.

              • Ha! Thx for making me laugh before sleeping, that’s perfect.

                YES I feel the same. Mine’s in entertainment & there are varied relationships including open. Cheating is common. I saw it all around but thought he felt the same as me about cheating/lying and we’d just be too thoughtful of one another that we’d never drag the other thru cheating.

                To thrive in my long term romances, I need honesty & monogamy and to build roots in those. He knew that.

                Yeah, we’ll all be way beyond all of this soon.

    • Oh my god that is so low. What a vile creature. Glad that you’re finding your way again. Unreal.

      • Thank you for your extremely helpful responses, UnderConstruction, TCNCTPTI and Moving Liquid. I do feel exactly as you say, TCNCTPI layered over with betrayal–but slowly getting out from under. It is healing to have people understand because the Bloomington folks and my ex (we are in divorce proceedings) act like they are just fine with all of what they did.

        My family and friends are horrified. But it’s hard to see people who have treated me like shit skip away. To watch my child struggle and still have this piece-of-shit ex in my life who wants to “co-parent” but is really not up for talking about anything too difficult and certainly demands “forgiveness” when he does not pick my child up from school occasionally as he is expected to (painful) or does some other shitty thing.

        I have gone real NC. Everything through my lawyer now. Here is my work:

        At the time of the affair, OW and the Bloomington birth stalkers-domineering-corrupt-assholes-from-hell-Sociopaths-all-in-powerful-ladies-of-leadership-clothing—they all theorized about my marriage. They were in my home all the time and had so much material to fill their sorry lives. My childcare provider knew ex and I were struggling (my ex and I told her, but now I know she was gossiping like crazy). She and her mother agreed to do some brainstorming on my ex and my “choices.” Making a list of the choices we had: Including my ex’s ability to leave and us to separate. My ex did not want this. At the end I asked if we could keep this meeting confidential, knowing how everyone talked about everyone. At the time she said yes, only A and T know (T was the married OW pres of board). I was struck by that: Why do they know? I.Was.Silent.

        I cannot imagine my childcare provider knowing at that time what was really going on—but really, who knows? I do know she was eventually told outright when ex would not leave me for OW and OW had a frenzied fit–telling everyone she knew what happened. The executive director knew all along. This was in 2011. I was told “off the cuff” by a woman who became estranged from the group and wanted revenge in 2013 even though I was in touch with all of these assholes (what horror).

        My problem then was that I.Was.Silent when she said that T the OW knew about our informal counseling session. I was silent when she said T knew of the session, JUST Like I was silent when the executive director humiliated other mothers publicly.

        Once a new mother came in to tell our group (I was 8 months pregnant at the time) her birth story. She explained that to help her infant sleep she fed her some baby cereal. The executive director screamed, “Don’t do that” “Never do that!” The mother was mortified. She was basically being told that she was harming her child in front of an audience of parents-to-be. Being made an example of in front of us of what not to do. I felt so bad for her. But I.Was.Silent. and continued classes and my affiliation with this group. I thought that if I were honest and respectful, I would be treated the same even though I saw them behave otherwise to other women around me.

        There was another incident where one mother’s baby in the community suddenly died. It was so terrible. I had no words. When we were on one of our inane playdates, one of the lactation consultants said she had to go, because she was helping this mother let out her milk. She ROLLED HER EYES and said that the mother is not doing well and it takes a lot out of ME (meaning HER). I was horrified to hear this lack of empathy and lack of professionalism in telling us about the mom in such a negative light. But. I.Was. Silent.

        Then there was the incident where my childcare provider berated a new mother she was “helping” because this new mother left the room to nurse. This childcare provider relayed that the new mom was ashamed of her breasts and found this very annoying. I was horrified. I did not know the woman (the others did)–but THIS is the response!! What a lack of respect, dignity and privacy–what slander. But. I. Was. Silent.

        Why the fuck I had anything to do with this group of assholes given my clear discomfort is the work I must do now. I ignored my feelings. I can think of many “reasons” (I became dependent on them for childcare, I kept my distance, I did not engage with their shit and they saw that) All bullshit really. I was a different person then. A person who would accept the very bad treatment of a husband who invited a pack of wolves to rip at my and my child’s life. I was with a band of humiliators and I got mine exponentially.

        That is my work now. To Speak Up. To not be afraid and meek when I am in the presence of injustice. To respond with intelligence and heart and not be a fly on the wall of a hyena den. I am a work in progress.

        I feel extremely grateful for this forum and for all of you who truly understand from within. We will all heal. We will all learn. Thank you for being kindred spirits on this painful but mind-expanding journey.

  • Well, what do you expect from a cheater? Of course he’s all for it. My stbx is all for it, too.
    There is no honesty in cheating.

    • “Well, what do you expect from a cheater? Of course he’s all for it. My stbx is all for it, too.”

      In related news, I once had a cat that thought that peeing on the corner of my sofa only occasionally made him “housebroken-ish.”

      • nomar,

        “In related news, I once had a cat that thought that peeing on the corner of my sofa only occasionally made him “housebroken-ish.”” You are killing me today!!!

      • Nomar – and….I uh – made the HUGE mistake of letting my puppy out of a crate too early. She learned to pee by the door. Can’t seem to cure her of it but, yanno, she’s also sort of house-broken. (guess I’d rather have dog urine than cat, but both are bad habits to break for the poor things) I guess it was MY perception whether the animal was housebroken or not. (I mean, she did good enough to be really close to the door..but) Me bad. Me missed the training manual. I guess that’s what’s required?

  • Definition of cake:

    “All the positives of a happy marriage — stability, security, children, property, a shared history — shouldn’t be thrown out because of one or two episodes of cheating.”

    In other words, he’s entitled to keep everything in his life the same after betraying his vows, his partner and his family because he’s special. He doesn’t have to play by the rules like everyone else.

    • I heard the same message from my MIL. Of course asshole is entitled to these. He’s special.

  • Far as I’m concerned it just goes back to: if they cheat, you can’t trust ’em. If they endorse cheating, you can’t trust ’em. They’re icebergs, 60% of the lies are below the surface…you just know they are there, and the WILL sink your (life)boat.

    I sometimes call my Ex 180-degree man, since anything he says needs to be turned 180 degrees to be relied upon. Even then…sketchy at best!

    One of the great, great comforts of this site is that the community understands the nature of the gaslighting, abuse, twisting lies and general mindfuckery. One does not have to try an explain it to a blank face who clearly thinks you are paranoid, disturbed, or making stuff up.

    I was just talking to my therapist the other day… anyway I said how incredibly validating it is to have a community where folk BELIEVE you, where they understand the unbelievable. It happened. That is so very healing. You are all fabulous, imho.

    • Namedforever – I dumped my therapist for this group. It’s far better than she was and much cheaper.

  • When I read comments, from anyone , about how Difficult it is not to cheat, I want to say “first day with the new dick, Dan?” It sounds like a preteen that just discovered he has a penis, lol. Cheaters want to act like they are such oversexed Studs they can’t keep all that Power in their pants. I think it’s usually exactly the opposite. They are probably undersexed and have to look for “strange” to even get it up. Sorry to be so graph,

    • “First day with the new dick, Dan?”
      Bwa-ha-ha! Love it!

      As long as we are getting graphic, I was one day talking with a group of Chumps I know IRL, and after a few cocktails, we discussed how the Cheaters weren’t that great in the bedroom department. Even those of us who had a “healthy” sex life with them (as in quantity not quality) had to admit the Cheaters weren’t the best lovers. And it makes sense if you think about it – selfish people tend to be selfish in all aspects of life.

      • You are just exactly right, Kira. Every cheater I’ve ever had has just been an overall Sorry Lay. Before cheating, and after. I think they know this and use the Mindfuckery to divert your attention away from it.

        • My ex was totally selfish and absolutely could not delay gratification if ya know what I mean. That actually happened our very first time, but since he was only 21 the “boys restocked the shelves” fairly quickly.

          As he got older the restocking part didn’t happen automatically or as fast and when he hit his forties-it would take half the day to get it up again. God forbid I ever bring up seeing a urologist for ED though.

          I do LOVE that the OW wound up with the 30 second wonder!

          • Good God – see, this is why I like this site. We can get it all out. The truth is, my X had sexual hangups. (we’ll call them that – not adventurous as I, I suppose) I decided it was not a deal-breaker and we could work with them. Hah! Got chumped there for an awfully long time. (don’t even ask) It was all about his pleasure and I always thought he could never do another woman because of his ‘issues’. (doesn’t like touching down there) Would love to have been at your luncheon, Kira – I could have chimed right in. He’s not going to treat the new squeeze any different. She’ll soon figure out it’s about him, sexually. I’m sure she already has but now he doesn’t have the money he had before.

            • Seriously, I feel like I was married to an invalid (all due respect) for the amount of satisfaction I got back. A back rub would have been nice. Like, wtf was wrong with me. I need to learn intimacy all over again..

      • Ha! I was just hinting this exact thing when I read Not Juliet’s post. My x was selfish in bed, too. I thought we were very much in love and that he just wasn’t the best lover. But, now that I know how selfish he can be in other areas, it all goes together.

        • Hehe, I thought he must be a virgin first time, didn’t know what he was doing, thought he would get better with practise. Aftr 18 years, the last “time” I cried. No improvement, no interest, no satisfaction. Decided at that point I wasn’t going to try anymore. I would leave it to him. He could initiate when he was ready and he could put some damn effort into it. Little did I know he would remain faithful….to the little 22 year old slut, and not come anywhere near me for 7 months before he left! Oh did I mention he wouldn’t have left even then except he’d gotten her pregnant. Now miss 24 (or should I say mrs 24) has to put up with a 51 bedroom loser! And me….well I have this toy…..;) much more effective and so much less mess!!!

  • Right on Kira and NJ! When he deigned to have sex with me – at least towards the end of our relationship – it was nothing to brag about. Looking back now I can see how utterly selfish he was and how the sex was always about him. We had sex when he wanted to and we had sex how he wanted to and truthfully, he just wasn’t that great. Getting graphic about it: I read that narcissists use your body to masturbate – they are actually using you to have sex with themselves. I am not the one who diagnosed him as narc, by the way, that’s sort of official so he’s not your run of the mill asshole. Sometimes I do get a laugh thinking about him needing colorful little pills to get it up for his 30 year old tramp – and thinking how disappointed she must be with his huge sense of how great he is versus the reality of his poor performance.

    • lissa,

      “narcissists use your body to masturbate” – so true. When I was trying to explain to STBX on several ocassions why I was frustrated with certain aspects of our sex life, one of the things that came up most often was that I felt as though he was masturbating inside my body – that intimacy and a connection seemed to be missing.

      I don’t know if my STBX is npd, but I do know he is an extremely selfish, self-absorbed, navel-gazing, rancid asshole.

  • This isn’t the first time Dan Savage has talked out of both sides of his mouth. There are occasions where he is against bullying, except when he’s the bully. After all, isn’t betrayal a form of bullying? I know something you don’t about our relationship, and I’m using my power to my advantage, at your cost. Yes, monogamish is really just relational bullying.
    He doesn’t want to be judged, but has no problems passing judgment on others who disagree.

    Dan Savage really is not a good source of anything but the same sort of duplicitous thinking and action displayed by an unfaithful spouse.

    Please do not be chumped by him because he is a somewhat talented writer.

  • There is nothing difficult or complicated about it. If you do not believe in monogamy, do not get married. If you discover halfway through your marriage that you want to fuck other people, then either get divorced first or squash that desire and keep it in your pants (cheaters and infidelity-apologists never seem to consider self-control as an option). If you prefer “monogamish” relationships, then have a clearly-defined open marriage, or just live with a partner.

    Beyond that, you’re just a cheater and your excuses are nothing but a coverup for your lack of good character.

    As for the “not getting any at home,” what cheater DOESN’T claim that? And 9 out of 10, it’s total bullshit, like the rest of their lies and spin.

    Dan Savage kind of reminds me of my ex.

  • For me, it wasn’t the proximity of penis to vagina that sealed the cheating: It was the lying and the hiding. I don’t give a fuck if the relationship wasn’t “consummated” until we were separated; there were months of late-night phone calls, all-day texting and pictures sent back and forth. THAT’S cheating.

    And, we’ve never heard this before: He wasn’t getting his needs met at home. I didn’t love him unconditionally or respect his hoarding tendencies or support him when he got a DUI that “… totally wasn’t (his) fault.”

    The least worst thing he could have done was say: “I need to leave our monogamous relationship before I cheat.”

    The end.

  • I have to wonder if being “monogamish” isn’t working out too well for him. Methinks the old chap dost protest too much. If he’s so happy with that lifestyle, then why can’t he just live it and leave those of us who believe in monogamy alone? It’s so annoying when people want to paint everyone with the same brushstrokes– monogamy is unnatural for EVERYONE. EVERYONE should be able to enjoy a little something on the side.

    How about, monogamy works for others, but it doesn’t work for me? Oh wait, that isn’t titillating enough. It doesn’t sell books or encourage people to pay to hear him speak.

    IMHO, this does all boil down to entitlement, which is ruining our culture. We are being overrun by a nation of Veruca Salts who want it now, Daddy! All I can see from my tiny vantage point is how that attitude ruined two families and hurt five children. I can’t see how there are any advantages to screwing around except from the perspective of the two screwers who are temporarily enjoying their instant gratification. Does Mr. Savage think about the hurt experienced by the innocent kids whose families break up when their parents become “monogamish?” Yeah, I didn’t think so.

  • My thoughts on the whole idea that you are Noble if you tell your Disabled/Sick/Whatever spouse that you will not divorce them if you can have a side fuck is just more abuse. You are taking advantage because you know they will go along with it out of desperation. It’s not for them, it’s for the Cheater. Let me fuck who I want and I wont leave you. if that is not abuse, I dont know what is

    • Very good point Not Juliet. I think we are so whetted to porn sex in this society. For me, sex is connection, body physical pleasure, intense energy…chemistry…best with someone I respect and love….orgasms happen in so many ways. Seniors have great sex and so do people with disabilities.

      We all have to know ourselves and what we need sexually, as well as who we are compatible with. If your spouse becomes disabled mentally and physically and you cannot handle that life–you can leave and divorce.

      In Angels in America, one guy learns he has Aids and his lover leaves him. The guy with Aids is horrified that his lover is so shallow and his love is so feeble that he would leave him to die alone.

      In the end he lives, and his former lover asks him to take him back— having learned some hard lessons from a physically “perfect” lover. Guess what? The guy with Aids does NOT take him back. “You are never coming back,” he says.

      For many of us, love is real. It means we stick by each other during hard times and figure out how to get our needs met honestly. Sex is not some disconnected hidden act. It is life giving infusing a relationship with energy. If you want that from others who are not your spouse—be honest. No one needs a shallow mindfucker to suck the life out of them.

  • I got married a few years ago ( I follow this site because of a past relationship) and my advice to people who ask is “You don’t HAVE to get married, it’s not for everyone.” Because we are fed that it’s some grand fairy tale, but the reality is much more quiet, and real, and better than any fake fairy tale.
    I can’t imagine doing the day-to-day with someone I just liked, or married for convenience, or societal pressure. And the best part, we live in a world where it’s OK to be single, so be single if you want. I get offended when I read that monogamy is dark and damaging, because I believe in marriage so strongly, and the critics never stop to consider that many of us love being married and it works for us. I get offended when people sneer at marriage like its a bomb waiting to go off.

    So I read your stories and get mad for you, because you wanted to walk in the sun, but your A-hole X sabotaged your trust in the dark. That’s not OK. It’s not a dalliance or daring to break societal norms. It’s lying, cowardice, contempt, narcissism and abuse, and it’s disgusting.

  • I noticed he said “If someone cheats on you ‘once or twice'”

    How many times on the Dan Savage scale does it take for it to become being “bad” at monogamy? 5? 6? 12? 35? What? Where does his idea of being “good” at monogamy turn into being bad?

  • I see two pieces to this. One is, “Non-monogamy doesn’t make you a CPOS.” It sounds like we all (mostly) agree that this is true: the categories overlap, but they aren’t identical. The difference lies in whether the non-monogamy is both known and acceptable–to all of the partners involved.

    But Dan goes farther: he says, “Being a CPOS isn’t all that bad if there’s a good reason and it doesn’t happen very often.” This is crossing the line into chump-baiting. “It’s not THAT bad…” Minimization. “It’s not like I do it CHRONICALLY…” Bitch cookies. “I had a good REASON…” Rationalization. “The reason is YOU…” Victim-blaming. “I did it to SAVE OUR MARRIAGE/TAKE CARE OF YOU IN EXTREMITY…” Playing the servant role. “You OWE ME…” Guilt-tripping. “My marriage SUCKS…” Playing the victim. “You guys are so BACKWARD and BIGOTED and NARROW-MINDED…” Vilifying the victim. That’s not advocating for a cause: that’s kicking people who are already down. It’s eroding the boundaries of chumps/cheaters-in-training who have no idea how much harm infidelity can cause in real life. And it provides social cred and plausible deniability for the real CPOS’s out there: “Dude, calm down, it’s no big deal. Don’t you read Dan Savage?”

    Dan himself may not recognize any of this–or he may not care. Either way, it’s a good reason to disbelieve some of his rhetoric…and also to ignore the temptation to valorize someone’s specific actions because of the general principles he stands for.

  • Kira, I truly hope your friends husband gets what he deserves. The vileness of some people is staggering.
    My father retired at age 65, and got lung cancer shortly thereafter. After a four year battle, he lost his life to brain cancer. I doubt he was an ideal sex partner (hard to write that) but my mother didnt go hunting an fb. She took care of him, loved him, buried him, and died less than one year later of grief. That is love. Requesting permission to grind up against a stranger? not so much.

  • New York Times article: Married, With Infidelities, by Mark Oppenheimer, published on June 30, 2011, quotes Dan Savage.
    “The mistake straight people made was imposing the monogamous expectation on men. Men were never expected to be monogamous. Men had concubines, mistresses and access to prostitutes, until everybody decided marriage had to be egalitarian and fairsey. In the feminist revolution, rather than extending the same latitude and license and pressure-release valve that men always enjoyed, we extended to men the confines women always endured. And it’s been a disaster for marriage.”

    Dan Savages husband, Miller, is also quoted.
    “It was four or five years after we married before it came up. It is sort of like, Dan has always said if you have different tastes you have to be good, giving and game, and if you are not G.G.G., for those tastes than you have to give your partner the out. It took me awhile to get down with that.”

    Dan Savage married Miller with the understanding it was a monogamous marriage, but he groomed his chump Miller 4 or 5 years later to accept Monogamish of the G.G.G.

    There’s even more disturbing stuff in the article. I can’t seem to paste it or link the article from my phone. Chump lady, google it and take a look at it and give it your translation expertise.

    It’s not surprising that Dan Savage is a typical narcissist who while championing gay rights is a wolf in Sheep’s clothing.

    • “The mistake straight people made was imposing the monogamous expectation on men.”

      As a man, I find this statement not only wrong but insulting and morally repugnant. As if possessing a Y chromosome renders me incapable of fidelity? Of honesty? Makes me a biological freak if I am monogamous and honest? How dare you, Mr. Savage.

      You know, it wasn’t long ago that “experts” made similar biological arguments about the promiscuity of gays. Used it to argue against allowing marriage equality, even. And adoption rights. “Can’t let the gays marry and have kids because, you know, who’s gonna watch the kids when they gotta go get their freak on at the bathhouse every night?” Evil then, evil now. But hope you feel good for playing into that corrosive gay stereotype, Mr. Savage.

      And before gays were bashed with the argument that, “Hey, they’re just not wired for the higher moral conduct,” the same canard was used to batter African-Americans. It justified all kinds of dehumanization and abuse, including torture (“Since they can’t reason, we have to beat them”) and the breaking up of slave families.

      Danny Savage is to moral discourse what Danny Bonnaduce is to classic TV, an obnoxious and narcissistic mess who has seen his day come and go. He needs to step away from the limelight before he does even greater damage to gay rights and the broader ethical dialogue in our society.

        May want to read the entire article –
        “Savage believes monogamy is right for many couples. But he believes that our discourse about it, and about sexuality more generally, is dishonest. Some people need more than one partner, he writes, just as some people need flirting, others need to be whipped, others need lovers of both sexes. We can’t help our urges, and we should not lie to our partners about them. In some marriages, talking honestly about our needs will forestall or obviate affairs; in other marriages, the conversation may lead to an affair, but with permission. In both cases, honesty is the best policy.

        • The same old cheater bullshit. If some people need more than one partner, fine, DON’T GET MARRIED CLAIMING YOU ARE GOING TO BE MONOGAMOUS. Don’t get married at all, it’s easier that way. As for the “we can’t help our urges,” that is such childish bullshit. Maybe we can’t help our urges, but we most certainly do not have to ACT on every urge we feel. In fact, that’s pretty much what separates us from animals. Cheaters and narcs like Dan Savage are far more like animals than they are like human beings, as far as I’m concerned.

        • Yes, Sb. and that and this:

          “How, then, can Savage be a monogamy skeptic? When Savage first began writing Savage Love, it was a jokey column, one in which he aimed “to treat straight sex with the same revulsion that straight advice columnists had always had for gay sex,” as Savage told me, when we met in Seattle in April. But he quickly realized that his correspondents were turning to him to save their love lives, not their sex lives.”

          Savage views his critique of monogamy as a gay rights issue. According to him, Monogamy is a heterosexual institution that vilifies gay sex as repulsive. Well Dan feels the same way about heterosexual sex (joking, as he says, aside). But he learned, people were not interested in that.

          Many here made the point that gay activities are fighting for entry into legal monogamy precisely because they want their long term exclusive sexual love to be treated equally by the law as heterosexual sexual love. They are poking holes in the connection between heterosexuality and monogamous marriage. Dan does not like that because it seems for him “urges” are more “honest” than committed honest love. This puts him at odds with Gay Marriage rights activists. Someone here said that he is playing into a stereotype that all gay men have sex on a dime with anyone they find attractive and game. Perhaps some gay men do, and many heterosexual men and women do. But this is not his focus. His focus is to say: All men are like this and if they are married to women (yucky) they will eventual have “sexual death.” Quite a leap there. Some people love married sex. You can take risks there that you can’t with someone who does not know you well. You can bring all of yourself in to the act–not just your dick. Let’s talk about sex how about it?

          What I found most disturbing was this:

          “Folks on the verge of making those monogamous commitments,” Savage told me in one of our many e-mail exchanges, “need to look at the wreckage around them — all those failed monogamous relationships out there (Schwarzenegger, Clinton, Vitter, whoever’s on the cover of US magazine this week) — and have a conversation about what it’ll mean if one or the other partner should cheat. And agree, at the very least, to getting through it, to place a higher value on the relationship itself than on one component of it, sexual exclusivity.”

          I thought that’s what sexual exclusivity meant…valuing a loved one’s body, health, feelings, wanting to please them, growing with them…in other words “the relationship.” Dan sees sex as a separate “thing” from the relationship and as someone above said so well—he guilt trips the rest of us with his holier-than-thou edginess to accept such treatment. After all, we would tolerate cheating and “forgive” if we valued the relationship.

          The magic number for monogamish is 9 for Dan—but he agrees: different strokes for different folks.

          The point for me is still honesty. If you want non-exclusive sex then have it! Just honor what your partner says they need and don’t guilt trip, or demand they submit to your impulses to be “honest” or “edgy.”

          Seems like Miller quotes Dan a lot. Is Dan is the master and Miller the prodigy?

          He convinced his husband to tolerate flings because they are “honest” –but Dan your husband is gay? How is this now a gay rights project?

          Dan wants to fuck around but also wants his husband. he convinced his husband to tolerate his

          • Oh, I should have edited before I sent—apologies again. This topic really lit a fire in me. Should control my impulses too!

        • This is ridiculous. No one “needs” to be whipped, or “needs” multiple lovers or “needs” to hump sheep or indulge themselves in whatever bizarre ego-inflated urges they feel they have a right to. How did we get so comfortable with the “everybody has the right to do whatever they want to get their needs met” rhetoric? This is a sign of a bored, over-titillated, uber adolescent culture that is sinking into its own narcissistic muck. We have a need for mature, deep connection with loving and giving people. We have a need for character and integrity. We have a need for experiences that leave us feeling enriched and joyful. That’s what we need.

          I haven’t had sex in years and yet I am a highly sexual person. Why not? Because I want to have sex with some joy attached to it and don’t want to settle for less. I know I could dress up nice and go down to the bar on the corner and find some guy to hook up with. We could have some nice sweaty humping and then I would get my “needs” met, right? Frankly, that would be appalling to me. There would be no physical “intimacy,” because there is nothing intimate about it, beyond naked bodies grinding together. No connection, no friendship, no emotional sharing, no one who knows my mind or my heart, no joy… nothing.

          I would be thrilled to find a loving partner again, I would NEVER take it for granted – I would get down on my knees and thank God. All I would want to do from that point on would be to have a glorious, utterly freakish monogamous relationship in which we do really boring things like live simply and love each other with kindness and respect.

          • Absolutely. When you hear a person go on and on about how they must do whatever it takes to fulfill their “needs”, which are really just “wants,” then you know you are dealing with a disordered or profoundly immature person. Urges do NOT equal needs. A person can survive just fine without having their urges fulfilled. It is absolutely disgusting how narcissistic, immediate-gratification orientated, immature and selfish our society has become.

            • My x never had any needs more than a b/j or h/j couple times a week. Never crossed my mind he had other needs. He never once mentioned them. I did ask though! Many times.

      • I agree Nomar. It’s insulting that Dan Savage paints all men with one brush as incapable of fidelity. It’s insulting that he also speaks of the good old days when men were not expected to be monogamous and had legitimate access to concubines, mistresses and prostitutes. He criticizes the feminist revolution, inferring they got it wrong by confining men to what women endured.

        Ironic, that Dan Savage’s own husband ,who is also a man, believed in monogamy and was initially opposed to “Monogamish”.

        Dan Savaged chumped his own husband.

  • I can describe Mr. Savage’s oral diarrhea on the impossibility of monogamy in one word:


    Fuck off, asshole.

  • “Cheaters decide shit unilaterally”, i can’t tell you how many times i made this statement to my ex. Glad to know someone else gets it.

  • “We love with our whole hearts, and live by our words. We’re GOOD at monogamy. And if you can’t keep pace? We’ll dump your cheating ass. Consider yourself unshackled.”

    Right On!!

  • The word ‘cheating’ implies that you are being deceptive and dishonest.
    He’s basically saying that its ok to lie and be dishonest under a veil of pretend-honesty – which is abuse. There is no such fucking thing as a square circle!
    If you can’t commit to one person, DON’T FUCKING PRETEND TO. Have an honest conversation instead of screwing others. Or heaven forbid, have some self control. Jesus Christ.
    Its like this planet is becoming rampant with weak-minded fools with the mentality of a toddler – no self control, no morals and no decency. You guys are a beacon of hope that not everyone are morons.

    • “There is no such fucking thing as a square circle!”

      Favorite quote this week.

    • “Its like this planet is becoming rampant with weak-minded fools with the mentality of a toddler – no self control, no morals and no decency.”

      Good diagnosis. It’s exactly that. And I think we might be outnumbered.

  • #GayChump has emerged from underneath his secluded rock!!

    To be totally honest, I was never a regular reader of Savage’s work. He’s a GREAT public speaker and makes amazing copy when he gives interviews…but he’s a dreadful writer.

    I mean, the guy did start out writing an irony-drenched advice column. It was popular among Northwestern hipsters because Savage would use his allotted space to make fun of suburban Seattle housewives who were miffed that their husbands wanted to try anal. Savage–having never shed the outdated myth that gay men are somehow more sexually adventurous and “evolved” than our straight, Leave It To Beaver counterparts (of course that pun was intended)—seemed to revel in the apprehensions of those poor Donna Reeds who were gonna have to bend over and take it in the ass. Not exactly reading material that I’d go out of my way to seek out…

    Somehow he went from a wannabe Gay Dear Abby to some sort of spokesman for all things LGBTQ, and morphed from THAT into a marriage and fidelity “expert.”

    Aside from CL’s excellent deconstruction above, I have three problems with “monogamish”:

    1) Context Is Everything: Dan has been with his husband Terry for 20 years and they’ve been legally married for as long as Washington State has had legal gay marriage (almost 2 years). Between them, Dan and Terry have had 9 or so extramarital partners, sometimes in the same room at the same time. Obviously they’re in an open relationship/marriage, and apparently that’s a-okay in Dan and Terry World.

    The problem is Dan seems to be the under impression that “Hey! This club is awesome! All you other couples–gay and straight–should join too!”

    There’s a time and a place to make a case for open relationships. But Dan’s hard sell is so casual and breezy that he’s making it sound WAY too easy to suddenly open up your marriage to outsiders. He’s blatantly ignoring the problems that this sort of “arrangement” can cause.

    2) Maturity Is Also Everything: Dan has attempted to double-down on his “monogamish” pitch by claiming (as explained above) that “cheating shouldn’t be the end of the world.”

    So for instance, if John and Mary have been married for 25 years, and John gets drunk one night and fucks a 20-year-old (something we read about on CL on a daily basis), the LAST thing Mary should do is file for divorce! Gosh, it was just one time! Don’t let that be the end! Have an open and honest conversation about it (after it happens…).

    We’ve all stuck around CL long enough to know how well it works out when Chumps start trying to untangle their cheating spouses lecherous ways and/or play posthumous marriage detective. Yet Dan–once again–thinks of adult problems in adult marriages as so light and breezy that they can easily be explained or fucked away, courtesy of that totally awesome monogamish idea!

    It’s HERE where Dan really exposes his lack of: a) Mature life experience; b) Marriage counseling cred. Perhaps he and Terry take a more passive-aggressive, sweep-it-under-the-carpet-along-with-the-other-guy’s-jock-strap approach to their marriage. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to work for everybody. More often that not, “monogamish” becomes a handy primer for asshole spouses to excuse their shitty behavior and for chumps to feel slightly less uncomfortable about an open relationship.

    3) It Hurts The LGBT Community: For the last 50 years, the popular stereotype was that “Gay Monogamy” was as oxymoronic as “German Comedy.” In the 1960s, we were still considered mentally ill, so of course we had to hide our “disordered perversion” from the world as we sought out anonymous encounters wherever we could find them. Needless to say, monogamous gay relationships were hard to come by.

    By the 1970s, social attitudes started to change, but the collective idea was that we were just so damn hip and anarchic that the whole idea of gay marriage was ludicrous.

    The world instead watched as we spent the entire Jimmy Carter presidency disco-dancing, coke-sniffing, ‘Lude-popping, and passing around hundreds of sexual partners—all the while spreading a deadly immunodeficiency virus that we didn’t even know existed yet.

    Is there any truth to those stereotypes above? Somewhat. (The documentary “Gay Sex in the 70s” was jaw-droppingly horrifying). But there WERE thousands (if not millions) of monogamous, committed gay couples during that time who had no need for cocaine, Donna Summer, or anonymous, unprotected sex.

    Sadly, those couples were invisible as the decadent archetype of the heedless gay male took center stage under the flickering, smoky lights of an illuminated disco ball. That image has stuck to us like glue for the better part of 40 years. It’s only NOW that we’re FINALLY shedding that image and showing the world that we too can live like normal, law-abiding married couples, drug-free and tax-paying.

    Dan’s pseudo-evolved stance just takes us right back to the old stereotype, and arms anti-gays with ammo that they don’t really need. They look at Dan’s soundbytes, clutch their rosary beads and shout: “Ya see?! Those homosexuals still can’t keep it in their pants! They haven’t changed at all!”

    After Dan was widely quoted by every anti-gay think tank in the country, he attempted to walk back his remarks by claiming: “Monogamy is fine if that works for you!”, which only made his stance on fidelity even more convoluted.

    But THIS is why Dan only gets called when journalists and cable news anchors need an edgy quip. Nobody outside of homophobes and monoga-phobes take this guy seriously.

    Yes, there was a time when the loudest voices in the LGBT movement thought of monogamous relationships as un-evolved and marriage as patriarchal and outdated. There was also a time when that actor guy Ronald Reagan guy was thinking about running for President someday. Times have changed and attitudes have evolved.

    Dan might think he’s being “edgy,” but if he REALLY wants to be edgy he should discard that stupid “mongamish” bullshit and encourage straight and (especially) LGBT couples to be true and faithful only to each other. 🙂

    • Chris

      I applaud your excellent post. You’re the true voice against the stereotype that is perpetuated about the gay community. I see your point that Dan Savage does more harm than good in perpetuating a cliche of gay men.

      My teenaged son recently came out. I love him and will always love him and he is not a stereotype…he is a talented, loving, and wonderful human being.

      Dan Savage is irresponsible in his quip and breezy stance on non-monogamy. His sarcasm and misguided philosophy has offended the gay and straight community.
      Narcissists are not gender neutral. I would hate for my son to be chumped by someone who is “Monogamish”.

      Fidelity is not a gay or straight issue, fidelity is a human issue.

      • “Fidelity is not a gay or straight issue, fidelity is a human issue.”

        Actually, most issues are what I call character issues. Things attributed to race, gender, faith, political leaning, net worth, level of education, sexual orientation, and any others I may not think of at 1:30am, have little if anything to do with those things. They are due to the character, or lack of it, in the parties involved.

    • Glad to see you back, Chris!

      I see Dan Savage as a very typical narcissist. In my experience, narcs are all very similar, whether gay, straight, male, female.

    • Welcome back Chris! I missed you. 🙂 Great post.

      On setting back the LGBT, I wondered something similar. Can’t all people have the dignity of marriage — you know, good, old committed love you til you die, marriage? Look at Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer. There’s a love story for the ages.

    • Chris, thank you for your wonderful, bullshit-busting post. I can assure you that when my gay brother two years ago found out that his husband was cheating on him via Grinder and Craigslist the entire 2 years that they were legally married (and 4 years together), it broke his heart. Plain and simple. And not because of the sex, because he loved the guy and intended to spend his life with him, and he was every bit as Chumped as anyone else, gay or straight. And he is 62 so lived through every phase you described above. Deception and betrayal are the same for everyone.

    • Smart, insightful post, Chris. I will always cherish Dan Savage for his takedown of Rick Santorum, who richly deserved to get his ticket out of the U.S. Senate for many reasons, including homophobia. And while I would never want an open relationship of any sort, I respect his initial idea that how people want to organize their sex lives is none of my business, so long as they aren’t putting others in jeopardy. As cheaters do. As those who have unprotected sex do. As those who use shame and ridicule to make it more difficult for others to live honest, genuine lives. So I hope he rethinks his attack on those who practice monogamy, on the grounds that hypocrisy undermines his own early message of tolerance for the choices of others who are living authentic lives.

      And Tracy–sorry I missed your birthday post. Hope you had a wonderful day. You deserve every happiness.

  • I had been reading DS for many years when I discovered I had been Chumped. Although I kicked my husband out for several months, I had added DS’s advice to the mix of information I was pondering about what the next step to take was. (This was before I discovered CL.) For many reasons, which we have discussed here separately, I decided to try to reconcile. In the early days it was Much Much more difficult than it is now. In desperation, I wrote to DS and said, here I am. I am trying to follow your advice and forgive for all of the reasons you advocate. Here is what the situation is like right now in my marriage. Here’s specifically how sex and intimacy are challenged. What do you suggest I do next?

    And the answer I got (drum roll please) was….

    Nothing. Crickets. DS went NC on me!

  • Hey, when something better comes along, and I know it will, may DS’s significant other skip along into the woods. I think being with others (how’s that for an euphemism?) steadily chips away at the best love you have. Who wants processed fast food when a gourmet home cooked meal is better? This is why, when after twenty eight years together, that once I learned of my ex’s infidelity there was no going back. That one last act can never be “forgiven or forgotten.” Infidelity has forever changed the course of my life, and it has affected our children and families as well. It’s like throwing that pebble into a pond…. I believe some people talk a good game to justify or make excuses for their questionable behavior. It does not make it right. DS is just loudly, and Sparkle-y proclaiming to sundry and all that Cheating Doesn’t Hurt. Try selling that to those who love you. I wonder what his spouse really thinks of their “arrangement.”

  • In Britain we have a word for Dan the Man and my Ex husband, they are both tossers. It’s my word of choice here, Dan you are a total tosser!

  • First Chris, thank you for your great analysis!

    I Believe in Marriage, this account of poly-gone-bad blames it on society’s inability to sanction it. She says that it was hard for her to see her children suffer in a society that would judge them badly and where they would constantly have to justify themselves. She also says it was hard for her because she got jealous of her boyfriend but she claims to have gained the wisdom of knowing she did not care for husband’s extra-sexual activities as she did her boyfriend’s. So it was confusing as to why to did not work out—was it a personal mess OR an ideal that she could not live out because of feeling like a social outcast. Perhaps she is saying it was both. I want to pick up on the social outcast rationale for why her poly life did not work out.

    Many cheaters claim that monogamy is the dominant form of relationships. It is sanctioned and accepted and heralded as the one true way to be with someone. In a way, that is true. I know because I am from an orthodox Jewish background. Everyone is expected to marry at a young age and remain married. Divorce is fine but it is looked down on.

    I refused to get down with this. I often saw people together and miserable, bored, uninspired. Marriage did not appeal to me until I decided at the age of 37 that had to get on board or be left alone. I had just broken up with a boyfriend because I did not want to marry him and he subsequently married someone else soon after. I still loved him and regretted that I could not commit at the same time I had good reasons for not committing to him (he had a real mean and angry streak) and do not regret it for a moment. But THEN, it put me in a desperate state.

    I subsequently married a man I did not feel good around a lot of the time because it felt that I would be missing out on a partner if I did not commit even though it did not feel 100% certain. When I married I saw that my status did change. My family took more notice of my life and I became someone my old community members now wanted to talk with. (I had left orthodoxy 8 years prior)

    Monogamous marriage does have a status that polyamory does not have. It is seen as normative and tied to heterosexuality still. Cheaters who want the benefits of this normativity, which could be anything from tax benefits, a house, a constant homemaker or breadwinner, playdates, an established place in society, no questions or negative judgements and simply the power that comes with being normative say that monogamy is dishonest. They do not want to be viewed negatively (having divorced or remaining single or becoming polyamorous)–they feel oppressed by monogamy so they feel justified in cheating.

    I can imagine they say to themselves that that since they are living a “lie” forced upon them by social normativity they have to keep themselves alive by lying and cheating.

    Here is the problem with that way of thinking: Just because something is normative and therefore replete with benefits but feels wrong for you does not mean that you have to HAVE to participate. People who are not “normative” such as trans individuals CAN’T enjoy the benefits (ask any trans person who has tried to get good healthcare). That is our work as a society. To make it just and fair to ALL. Look at all the gaslighting that is done at the Fed in regulating banks—we have a long way to go to making things just. It is unjust when you have to get married to have your family notice your life and finally take joy in it. That sucks. But it is no reason to get married and be monogamous, if that is not right for you.

    We are all called to speak out against social injustice. When people excluded from normative benefits and vilified. When we give in because we do not want it to be hard for us or our kids we have to know: Are we compromising a vital value (honesty, integrity, justice, who we are) or are we just picking our battles because we can’t address every single injustice?

    At this point we all know that monogamy is normative and that we have a choice—get on the normative train in a genuine way OR find our truer calling.

    It would have been easier and better for my child had I stayed with cheater—really. I was very careful not to argue in front of him–he did feel the tension but now has the tension of shuffling back and forth between us. But, I could never stay in a cheating lying marriage because I wanted to live honestly and teach him that you do not hang around when you are being abused. I wanted to be a true parent to him. But that is not yet his experience. He needed us together and still yearns for that.

    What I am saying is that yes, we do have norms that do not work for people and that is painful. However, marriage is not slavery. Most people are not forced into it. Even those who are have a choice—they can try to get out. I did. I was told I was a freak because I was not married and I married. I wanted monogamy because I wanted a partner in life. I did not get that. You have a choice to enter into the normative practice and feeling bored and uninspired by the person you chose does not give you license to deceive them. I didn’t. Don’t blame society. Change society. Have a monogamous relationship or marriage, have an open marriage, have a proud polyamorous lifestyle–but don’t expect, as Dan does, to be forgiven for deception. Don’t blame social norms for your honesty problems. If I could make it out of orthodoxy, people can get what they need to figure themselves out—without fucking other people over.

  • Maybe too simplistic a connection, but it kind of reminds me of giving a “trophy” to everyone so no one fails or feels bad. It is like this writer wants to have the rules stretched a bit so you still get the “trophy” even if you cheat a bit, you are still a good guy/gal. My gut tells me he is on the dining side of the equation (cake) and not the recipient of the heartache and devastation of being cheated on. Many people have never spent years with any one person, or counted on someone else to hold up their end of the bargain in a relationship. I also think people who cheat expect/suspect it in others, just like liars and thieves and are not chumped easily.

  • Yes I know, but he spends a lot of time on teenaged drama vs taking his “forgive, keep the family together” advice a step further to really grapple with what that means and how that plays out in real people’s lives. I read him daily and have never seen him address this.

  • Urgh. My reply above was a response to CL’s reply to me a little further upstream.

  • “Your pain and upset are KIBBLES. Disordered freaks feed on our pain. It gives them kibbles of centrality.”

    I had never thought of a chump’s pain as being kibbles. Apparently kibbles come in all shapes and sizes, which surprises me. So I’ve got a question for chumps: what did your kibbles look like?

  • WEASEL WORD. : a word used in order to evade or retreat from a direct or forthright statement or position.

    I would consider “monogamish” to be a weasel word. It’s ascribing a grey zone, equivocal quality to a concept that is unequivocally black and white. Weasel words are used by people who want to talk the talk but can’t or won’t walk the walk but still want the goods that come with the title. In other words, cake eaters.

    How about “virginish”: “Sure I’m good at virginity, I”ve only had sex once or twice”.

    Virginity is a black and white concept. You either are a virgin or you are not a virgin.

    Monogamy follows the same rules. You either are monogamous or you are not monogamous. There is no in-between.

    It’s a way for cake eaters to normalize their own weak character traits in society. This is why one must always be careful and alert to the way language is being used, and in a case such a this, abused, in order to sway our subconscious beliefs

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