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 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?
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.