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Debunking Dan Savage

(Sigh)

I used to be a Dan Savage fan. Back in the 90s and early aughts. Read his column religiously in the DC City Paper. So, before I turn into Chump Lady and go all snarky…

 

… let’s just get this out of way. Dan Savage was a pioneer. He was tackling frank sex talk and LGBTQ+ rights back in the day. I’m sure this doesn’t seem revolutionary to Millennials and GenZ, which goes to show how much the world has changed for the better since 1991. To his credit, Savage gave us GGG — good, giving, and game — per sex. He renamed “Santorum” (for homophobic politician Rick Santorum) as a frothy byproduct of anal sex. And most of all, he started the It Gets Better Project — an anti-bullying campaign for LGBTQ+ kids.

Dan, a grateful nation thanks you. So it pains me to say this man has utterly taken leave of his senses when it comes to monogamy and sexual ethics.

My sad theory is that, as the world has progressed, Dan Savage finds himself no longer as relevant. And so he grabbed ahold of the Esther Perel gravy train of monogamy-is-unnatural-affairs-are-acts-of-exuberant-defiance zeitgeist and that’s his new schtick. I honestly think he hasn’t thought this out, because his arguments are so muddled and contradictory. Dissing monogamy is a stupid person’s paradigm shift. How novel! How cool! And if you want to seem edgy and hip to the times, cool is your currency. Like a midlife crisis Celtic arm band tattoo.

So, without further ado, I’m going to debunk Dan Savage. (The UBT is having a lie down, so send me the Lebkuchen.) These excerpts are from this week’s interview with Savage on the Ezra Klein podcast in the New York Times. (Where he constantly invokes Esther Perel.)

Monogamish

The idea that monogamy is a choice a couple makes, and a choice a couple can revisit, that monogamy shouldn’t be a default setting, it should be something that you opt into and can opt out of over the life of a relationship. When I first came out as gay and began to meet gay couples, I was surprised. You know, I moved into dating and relationships with expectations and wants that had been handed to me, and I was surprised by the numbers of gay couples I met who were writing their own script and doing their own thing. And, at first, I found that threatening, and then I got used to it, and then I saw the logic and the utility of it, in that you should do what works for you and for you two as a couple, and that should be a conversation.

I think that’s primarily what came over it. I don’t think everybody is monogamish or open now. If there’s anything that I’ve really tried to hammer home over the years, it’s to attack these myths, these lies that we’re told when we’re children that being in love means you aren’t going to want to sleep with anybody else. Not true. Being in love, if you’ve made a monogamous commitment, might mean you don’t sleep with anybody else, out of respect for your partner, and the choice you made, and the choice you made together, but you’re still going to want to sleep with somebody else, and expecting that other person to pretend they don’t want to sometimes, that they aren’t tempted, and getting angry whenever you stumble over evidence that your partner might be attracted to somebody else, which isn’t me giving permission to people to be insensitive or cruel about sometimes finding other people attractive, if you’re in an exclusive relationship, but it’s such an engine of conflict. That’s what I began to see when I first started getting a lot of letters from straight people, that these expectations — that love meant you didn’t sleep with anybody else at all, true and lasting relationships were monogamous relationships, it created so much stress and tension, and it wound up ending a lot of really good relationships and imperfect ones. And monogamy is sort of my hobbyhorse. Monogamy is literally the only thing humans attempt where perfection is the only metric of success.

Let’s break this up.

1.) Monogamy means monogamy. An open relationship is an open relationship. Don’t confuse them. Just because you prefer an open relationship to monogamy, doesn’t change the meaning of monogamy.

The idea that monogamy is a choice a couple makes, and a choice a couple can revisit, that monogamy shouldn’t be a default setting, it should be something that you opt into and can opt out of over the life of a relationship.

Okay if a couple decides to chuck monogamy — and this is a mutual decision (many can attest to the discovery that they were in an open relationship and didn’t get the memo) —  there is consent. But then you’re not monogamous. “Opting in and out” of monogamy is an open relationship. You’re saying you have entire intervals where you’re not having sex with other people. That’s not monogamy.

Oh, it’s monogamish.

I’ve debunked monogamish elsewhere. Words have meaning. Why would you obfuscate this?

2.) We’re attracted to other people is not a revolutionary statement. It’s what you do about it. And that’s a matter of character and ethics.

being in love means you aren’t going to want to sleep with anybody else.

Okay. And so? People are attractive. We manage to work together, stand in airport queues, and coexist. There’s such a trajectory from being attracted to someone to actually sleeping with them — and it seems like you’re conflating this.

expecting that other person to pretend they don’t want to sometimes, that they aren’t tempted, and getting angry whenever you stumble over evidence that your partner might be attracted to somebody else, which isn’t me giving permission to people to be insensitive or cruel about sometimes finding other people attractive, if you’re in an exclusive relationship, but it’s such an engine of conflict.

Why is it an engine of conflict if you respectfully keep your fantasies in your head? “Stumbling over evidence” can mean any number of things. What are we talking about here? Porn? That’s a whole other rabbit hole. A Farrah Fawcett poster? A dating profile? Generally speaking, if you find EVIDENCE of your partner’s sexual attraction to another individual, there’s a relationship. They’re having sex. Or are auditioning for the part. And if you didn’t consent to an open relationship, that’s rightfully upsetting.

3.) I’m sorry monogamy is hard for you. Perfection is not the standard. Consent is the standard. If you don’t want to be monogamous, then don’t be. It’s really that simple. This wanting credit for only fucking around a few times and being faithful for entire months? Bitch cookie.

that love meant you didn’t sleep with anybody else at all, true and lasting relationships were monogamous relationships, it created so much stress and tension, and it wound up ending a lot of really good relationships and imperfect ones. And monogamy is sort of my hobbyhorse. Monogamy is literally the only thing humans attempt where perfection is the only metric of success.

Monogamy is not the problem. Polyamorists can be cheated on too. Cheating is changing the rules of an agreed upon relationship unilaterally. Monogamy is one sort of agreed upon relationship, polyamory is another. But basic shitty human nature will always find a loophole for entitlement. One set of rules for me and another for thee.

Making monogamy your foe seems like a cover for preserving entitlement and unilateral decision-making in your relationships. Otherwise you would fashion the argument as one of consent.

Perfection

But, you know, if perfection is your measure of success, you’re setting yourself up for failure and disappointment in a committed, long-term, sexually exclusive relationship. You know, the world’s greatest chef sometimes burns an omelet. Still the world’s greatest chef. Shaun White is the world’s greatest snowboarder, has fallen down and gotten up and still been Shaun White. world’s greatest snowboarder. If you’re with somebody for 50 years and you find out they cheated on you once, they were terrible at monogamy, they failed at monogamy, they never loved you, it wasn’t a real relationship. We believe these things and then they destroy not open relationships, they destroy monogamous relationships that are imperfect, as all relationships are. And, if anything, if there’s any windmill I tilted against that I feel like I knocked over, it was that one.

Let’s call a thing a thing — “failed at monogamy” is cheating. “Imperfect relationships” is a false equivalency. The harm is so much greater than just sex. The sex is almost besides the point. (Other than the STDs.) It’s being conspired against. Lied to. Deceived. Used. It’s years of sunk costs. Paternity testing. Financial theft.

It’s the fact that our partners were willing to dish out that level of harm for furtive orgasms? No. You have to look larger. Who can resent a man for a few furtive orgasms? We object to the ABUSE. It’s the gaslighting. It’s the risk-taking. It’s the POWER TRIP.

So to have this implied that people who are cheated on are simply too demanding, too intolerant and expecting “perfection”? That’s DARVO mindfuckery.

Millions of us (there have been millions on this blog) managed to achieve “perfection” and didn’t cheat on our partners.

Esther Perel

Yeah, people doing what they need to do sometimes to stay married and stay sane, and everybody looks at that, and it’s suddenly white hats and black hats, and the person who cheated is a terrible person. I like what Esther Perel has said — that sometimes, the victim of the affair is not the victim of the marriage.

If you need to cheat to stay sane, why not steal the pension fund to stay solvent?

How is betraying someone increasing the total sanity in the relationship? Oh, it isn’t. It’s just for you. The chump never knows. (This blog is an enormous data sample of that shit doesn’t stay secret.)

If you’re the “victim” of a marriage — there are many ethical choices on the decision tree — difficult conversations, therapy, divorce lawyers. Cheating is a choice.

Also, fuck you both. This blameshifting crap is toxic.

Cheating Is The Least Worst Option

I also like what I’ve said, that, sometimes, cheating is the least-worst option for all involved. You know, whenever I say I’m the guy who sometimes gives people permission to cheat, a lot of people jump down my throat, because they just think that must be awful. And then a lot of the examples that I cite, things that have come up in my column, are, you know, someone who’s in a long-term, committed relationship with a person who is chronically ill, and the sexual part of their relationship has ended. And is it the right thing to tell the person who wants to have sex outside that relationship — that’s about care and nurturing and commitment, but not about sex anymore? Am I supposed to tell that person, well, do the right thing and leave? Do the right thing and get a divorce? Don’t, like, slip out to discreetly get a sexual need met so that you can be there fully for your partner and not resent your partner for how deprived you feel of any sort of sexual outlet. Go do that discreetly and then be there. And that’s me somehow being against relationships, against commitment, and that’s me sort of wrestling with reality — that life is long and that, sometimes, contingencies have to be made.

You know, why don’t you let the chump decide on the Least Worst Option? Oh right, this isn’t about consent.

Also, this example is such bullshit. These sorts of dilemmas generally come at the end of life, when someone has dementia, or chronic illness, or can’t get their dick up any longer. And sex probably isn’t the biggest consideration. But if it is — again, CONSENT. Talk about it. Cheaters, however, cheat at ALL stages of life. And if their chump is vulnerable? Pregnant? Sick? Has cancer? Hey, the Almighty Right to Jizz is sacrosanct.

The Almighty Right to Jizz

You know, sex is bigger than we are, and we pretend that we’re in control of sex, and we’re in charge of sex. Sex built us and is building whatever comes after us. Through the processes of natural selection and spontaneous mutation, here we are. And we like to pretend that we get to define sex. I think we negotiate with sex from a position of relative powerlessness, and it has to be channeled. It can’t be dammed up, and that includes sexual desire, which is about a lot more than sex, even in the context of a committed relationship.

I don’t even know what negotiating sex from a position of relative powerless means. These urges are Just Too Strong? Must give in! No time for ethics!

Can we make this argument for violence? Evolutionary imperative and all. I’m a bigot and I saw a gay kid and I wanted to hit him. Are you going to believe my powerless-to-my-urges bullshit in court? Oh, it’s a matter of civility and self control?

Also, you know who negotiates relationships from a position of powerlessness? Chumps. Which is rather the point of chumping someone.

Transactional Relationships

I think all relationships, if you really peel the layers back far enough, are, at some point, transactional. I pay for it with my husband. I don’t pay for it with cash money. I pay for it with time, attention, affection, concern, making sure he goes to see the doctor when he needs to go see the doctor. There’s a reason married people live longer. If I stopped paying in like that, if I stopped caring about him, if he stopped paying in like that, stopped paying me with those same ephemeral, intangible, but very important things, our relationship would collapse.

We see transactional relationships everywhere, and if you know people who are sex workers, a lot of what they’re paid for is not sex, it’s time, it’s attention, it’s focus, and if we have a culture that tells people that, if you ever had to pay for it with cash, you’re a loser, or a monster, or both, it makes the one outlet that some people may have, the one way that some people may pay for it, that other people who are also paying for it might not pay for it, it closes that lane down. It’s not a solution for people who are right now on Reddit, you know, celebrating violence against women, because they’re so angry about being low status, right? It’s a solution that could roll out over a generation or four, where we have less incels, less violence, less misogyny 100 years from now than we do now, if we could all just recognize — just like we should all recognize that being in love and in a committed monogamous relationship doesn’t mean your partner isn’t interested in the waiter — if we could also recognize that all relationships, all sexual relationships, all emotional relationships are, on some level, transactional, and, therefore, we shouldn’t stigmatize the ones that are more evidently transactional.

Okay, so we shouldn’t stigmatize people who pay for sex, unless those people are misogynistic incels.

I dunno Dan, that’s really going to substantially cut into the pimp profit margin.

Also, call me a crazy romantic, but I think caring about your husband’s health is what a loving partner does. It’s not transactional. It’s reciprocal. Invested. Committed.

But I suppose if you see everything through the lens of transaction, you can divorce it from ethics or love. This person is providing a service. You may need other services, while still requiring their service. Please use the service door.  Your services are no longer needed.

God, this was depressing. Next time I use the machine. Send cookies, stat.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • “Being in love, if you’ve made a monogamous commitment, might mean you don’t sleep with anybody else, out of respect for your partner, and the choice you made, and the choice you made together, but you’re still going to want to sleep with somebody else, and expecting that other person to pretend they don’t want to sometimes, that they aren’t tempted, and getting angry whenever you stumble over evidence that your partner might be attracted to somebody else, which isn’t me giving permission to people to be insensitive or cruel about sometimes finding other people attractive, if you’re in an exclusive relationship, but it’s such an engine of conflict.”

    Here I think Dan is getting primed to attack our slavish devotion to punctuation marks like the period.

    • This was the last “sentence” I read. Between him and EP, I can’t even continue reading it. I was also a reader of DS 25-ish years ago. I’m not sure he was ever a fan of monogamy. Anyway, I just won’t read cheater apologists. It’s disgusting. They peddle entitlement. I ignore them as much as I ignore klootzak’s social media. IDGAF what thoughts they have on the subject any more than I care to read Mein Kampf.

      As FW John Lennon once sang, “Cause when you talk about destruction, don’t you know that you can count me out!” And these so-called professionals are trying to justify destroying people’s lives. They make me sick. I can’t even bear to read it knowing CL is about to snark on it.

    • 😂👍

      Being a UK chump, I’ve never heard of this man, but as always, CL’s clear thinking analysis is *superb*. We ate all the Lebkuchen I made for Christmas, but if there were any left, I’d definitely send you some, Tracy !😘

    • No, he absolutely did not.

      Which was an entire OTHER point I was going to make, but this is too long as it is.

      If you object to his arguments about The Almighty Right to Jizz — then you’re cast as sexless. Who hates sex? Who is against sex? How vanilla, uptight and uncool are you? No one wants to tread on that battlefield. Because most people haven’t thought it through, especially if they haven’t been chumped.

      There is an interesting part where they talk about the new generation rethinking hookup culture and how women often get the shaft, but it strikes me as lip service, frankly. Look! I’m nuanced!

      • It’s about honesty and either honoring our vows, respecting spouses and other partners, etc. or we tell them we are no longer going to be monogomous, honest, etc. Give the person that you are committed to all the knowledge they need to decide if they want out of the relationship or if they are ok with what the FW is doing. We all deserve honesty in all relationships. No one in the relationship in the dark is the key. Chump Lady, good reply to Dan.

      • DS wrote early on that he would divorce his husband Terry if Terry ever got fat – but that he, DS, would probably get fat, and he didn’t care that this made him a hypocrite. He’s been loudly and publicly transphobic for ages. He shitposts about lesbians. He’s been a prick for a long time, it’s just now the culture has caught up where he’s not a minority voice for LGBTQ rights anymore.

  • It’s too early on the west coast to read Dan Savage’s self justification for being a douche bag. I was raising 3 kids, doing the vast majority of adulting in our relationship, working my ass off as a young lawyer in the 90s. The Stranger never fit me somehow. Dan had his moment for LGBTQIA+ community but now…. He’s just another domestic violence apologist or worse, an abuser. I feel for his partners- run like your life depends on it!

    I’m too busy today building my new life for Dan’s fuckery— I’m traveling to a womens’ leadership institute that I was selected for at my new job where I’m a leader and making 3x what I was when XH’s 26 year deception was discovered. Been rocking no contact after years of grey rock because baby girl turned 18 and there’s no longer any need for any communication with XH. It took 31 years to be rid of him completely-/ I feel as free as a bird.

  • CL, thanks so much for this response. I wish you could go womana-a-mano with Dan on another Ezra podcast. We need a woman in this discussion or at least someone who has been on the receiving end of all the trauma that comes from unilateral non-monogamy.

    I started to copy the lines from CL’s post that resonated the most with me and ended up copying virtually the entire piece. It’s so hard (and dangerous) to choose a favorite child, but here goes: “Perfection is not the standard. Consent is the standard. If you don’t want to be monogamous, then don’t be. It’s really that simple. This wanting credit for only fucking around a few times and being faithful for entire months? Bitch cookie.”

    My second favorite child is this: “Also,The harm is so much greater than just sex. The sex is almost besides the point. (Other than the STDs.) It’s being conspired against. Lied to. Deceived. Used. It’s years of sunk costs. Paternity testing. Financial theft.”

    Thanks so much for this, CL!! 👏 👏

  • Every. Single. Word. Gold.

    “Perfection is not the standard. Consent is the standard.”

    “…caring about your husband’s health is what a loving partner does. It’s not transactional. It’s reciprocal. Invested. Committed.”

    “I don’t even know what negotiating sex from a position of relative powerless means. These urges are Just Too Strong? Must give in! No time for ethics!”

    CL, this is brilliant. Total gold.

    I think you’re spot on about how a visionary person can get so used to their visionary-ness that they stop developing in pace with all reality around them. They can get stuck in the rut of their original thought experiment so deeply that they perceive taking their original premises too far as personal development. I’ve felt this way about Dan’s public presence for years, and it’s soothing to me to read your words as you lay it out so expertly.

    I’ve often found it strange that more people aren’t more embarrassed that they feel so hypercontrolled by their genitals. The same people who would be horrified if they were suddenly profoundly disabled in an arena like seeing, hearing, walking, speaking, or eliminating regularly seem perfectly comfortable with how a few inches of skin and a sensation they can easily produce by themselves is so all-consuming to them.

    If I was negotiating sex from a position of relative powerlessness, as an adult, I’d feel utterly humiliated by that. I’d immediately seek out therapy. As I did when I realized I was negotiating other relational boundaries from a position of relative powerlessness, I’d want to learn better life skills so I could stop abuse rather than tolerating it for the rest of my life.

    Frankly, I’m concerned about any adult who views their sexuality from a position of powerlessness and doesn’t see that as a problem they should address. That’s how people give themselves permission to harm other people. How they justify harming even the most vulnerable people. And even other vulnerable beings. That slope is ice-storm slippery.

    Sex-positive doesn’t require that we become humanity-negative. I have no negative feelings about polyamory, or kink, or whatever may float consenting adults’ boats (well, excepting actual lasting physical harm, but that’s an outlier to this discussion). But the two key words there are “consenting” (and that means consistent and regularly revisited wholehearted and enthusiastic consent) and adults (which means legal adults with total agency and legitimate ability to consent in said manner.)

    If you’re putting your few inches of skin up close to some other person in secret because you don’t have your partner’s consent in the relationship to do so, just to get a brief sensation you could have achieved alone, and you think it’s ok because you don’t feel like you can stop yourself, that’s a “you” problem, not a “society is too hung up on monogamy” problem.

    • It feels so creepy for him to use “powerlessness against urges” as an argument for excusing cheating. That’s the same argument a lot of rape apologists use to justify sexual assault. “meN nEeD sEx tHey jUsT caNt hElP iT!”

      • “meN nEeD sEx tHey jUsT caNt hElP iT!” Yes they can. We are mammals, hence trainable. It takes work. Hard work, to retrain your brain. But it can be done. Time and alot of gut wrenching work. Something that most , if not all FWs wont do. Power and Control. That what it’s all about. Here’s to trusting that they suck.

        • I imagine that adapting to ethical nonmonogamy would require the real brain-retraining. According to preeminent primatologist Richard Wrangham, humans are mammals who evolved to be basically monogamous or at least to strongly prefer monogamy from partners. He theorizes that early humans’ leap from grunts to modern language was fueled by an intense drive to keep tabs on partners through gossip. Cheaters are monogamous too but it’s just one-sided. They only depart from the monogamous evolution by refusing to do in kind but then the entire point of cheating is the double standard– scheming to keep the partner in their monogamous lane while the cheater does whatever. The fact that, while cheating, cheaters typically become so vicious towards chumps, risk chumps’ health and frequently steal joint assets pretty much puts the lie to the idea that “not wanting to hurt” the chumped partner is the motive for not being forthright. That leaves maintaining a double standard as the only feasible reason not to be honest and offer an open relationship before stepping out. Demanding double standards in anything is basically a criminal character trait but notice how it still depends on expectations that other people will behave as higher order humans.

  • People who drone on & on (as this dude does)….yeah he’s a mansplainer & gaslighter. I feel sorry for his spouse who may be being gaslight into accepting a transactional & open relationship. This dude’s been cheating, so he’s justifying his shitty behaviour by bellying up to the Perel Bar of Cheaters: low as you can go! Keep on rockin’ Chump Lady! We need more people calling out the 2-Gs: gaslighters & the grifters!!

    • Yes, the “transactional marriage” bit was exceptionally revealing. What is that in this context but the demand for a never-ending pick-me dance?

      If your spouse gets sick or for other reasons can’t or declines to provide services up to your definition of equivalence, the vows are off?

      Why yes! How libertarian.

      BTW, I slightly changed my handle because come to find out just recently (in the wake of a death), that not one but _both_ of our parents cheated.

      Mom did apparently decide to stop after a couple of affairs early in the 30-year cage match that their marriage became. Dad was the one eventually to seek a divorce in the typical FW pattern of claiming “there is no one else” and then promptly marrying his secretary (after what I now recognize as a lot of sketchy affair-compatible behavior throughout). I will always now wonder if our mother’s own affairs were as secret as she supposed or if he had a clue all along. My emotions are all in flux at the moment.

      • What a shitty thing to find out. I’m so sorry.

        I found out my mum had an affair when I was staying with her after being chumped. She told me. Nice tasty time to pick for it.😡

      • The thing, too, is, I put a LOT more into the relationship than FW did. Somehow the transaction was all one way… I realized just how much of the load I took on while married after we separated. My work load literally staid the same. (Actually it got easier, because I only had one child to deal with, not an overgrown toddler to boot.) I did every administrative and housekeeping task, 90% of the childcare (if not more), managed the money, did the shopping, cooked AND did the dishes, took care of the yard and the cars, fixed stuff around the house (I don’t think FW knew which end of a screwdriver was which), and on and on. AND had a full-time job. I took care of him when *he* was sick. When *I* got sick, he told me to stay away from him because I was gross. When I had a serious illness where I wasn’t allowed to work for several months (so I wouldn’t, you know, DIE), he said I hadn’t “earned his sympathy” because I hadn’t made enough money. He made sure that I knew each and every day how worthless he thought I was, and how much of a burden I was on him.

        Not sure what he contributed beyond a (sometimes inconsistent) paycheck.

        • If marriage was all transactional, profit/loss calculation, the person who was doing *less* would value the marriage *more*. Yet we see, over and over, that the person who puts in more time, energy (and often money) is the one who’s most surprised when the marriage explodes. The sunk-cost fallacy is deeply engrained in human psychology: your FW (as did mine) was willing to nuke the marriage because – in his perspective – since he hadn’t put much effort into it he didn’t feel he’d lose much by walking away.

          It may not be logically sound, but most humans value a relationship *because* of the time and effort they’ve put into it, not *despite* them. Chumps run into trouble because we think that our disproportionate contributions are making the relationship stronger, whereas actually – by allowing the cheater to *not* devote emotional and/or financial resources to the relationship – they’re weakening it. It’s a deep, deep psychological imperative that goes way back: it’s similar to how social bonds among apes are maintained by the expenditure of time in grooming.

          • That’s an important point, IG. The Chump is always the one putting more into it and the one who values it more. It’s natural and right to put your best efforts into something you value. By staying with FWs who didn’t make an equal effort, we sealed our own fates. Never again.

        • You hadn’t earned his sympathy? What an appalling despicable person. And to say that to a spouse. And one who had carried the load for both of you as well as your kids, who were his kids. Life must be so much better without him.

          • Life is 1000% better. He died last year, so I am free. Totally free. My kid is happier too, as awful as that sounds to say. FW was an angry alcoholic who was prone to depression, so he was not an easy person to live with. I no longer have to deal with him (or schmoopie, or a long line of schmoopies since his AP left him shortly after they moved in together).

        • The problem with the transactional approach to relationships is that one sucker usually ends up doing most of the work whilst the other is off on his or her own jolly. Someone told me in the marital point scoring system, wives keep going long after the husband has gone into deficit.

          I reckon this guy shagged the nanny, or the butler. In the library. With his dagger. More to come…

    • Seeing the relationship as being “transactional” is exactly why FW are incompatible with Chumps. FW and cheater apologists cannot understand or feel love and commitment, the way a Chump does. They know cheating will be a problem if caught, they just figure they can bullshit their way through it. Just like their refrigerator; if they abuse it and fuck it up, they will just get another one. Makes me happy to be with the Chump camp. FW’s have no idea what they are missing.

      • I agree. They (fuckwits) don’t have a fucking clue what they’re missing. What they’ve ALWAYS been missing. And at this point in my life? My reaction is TOO FUCKING BAD. It’s their problem, whether they’ll ever realize it or not. As for me? Beam me up, Tracy. I’m outta there.😁

  • Monogamy never changed. It remains true to its foundation for those seeking truth.

    Dan Savage, Esther and those on the bandwagon of remaining relevant changed. There will always be legions of folk bending and twisting truth to attempt relevancy. All the more reason for wise thinkers to know credible authentic truth well, so as not to be taken in by the drivel of the present and coming ages.

    When Dan and Esther and the lot of them are replaced by the next round of sensationalists, only the names change while the drivel remains the same. Know your truth and live by it.

  • Groan. Another chapter of someone I admired gone over the cliff.
    Can someone please bring this column to his attention? Don’t know how but I hope someone here does!
    Let him see what hundreds have to say about him!

    • If this column came to Savage’s attention, he’d probably be as offensively patronizing as Esther Perel was towards CL in saying that CL’s chump experience was much “darker” than just cheating and then– in a gesture that exposed underlying contempt towards domestic violence survivors– made it clear that stories like this are barred from inclusion in any Perel-led discussion of infidelity.

      LezChump mentioned the “magical thinking” of apologists in believing that most cheating happens– sort of like the immaculate conception– without frog-boiling coercion and control, gaslighting, financial abuse, psychological torment, endangerment and verbal battering at the very least, not to mention traumatized children. We all know the reverse is true. Cheating without discernible abuse is the unicorn.

  • This is incredibly narcissistic. When he gets to the part about all relationships being transactional–textbook narc. A narcissistic can only see the world through his own self absorption, and that is what Dan is really doing. A narc is unable to see anyone else for anything other than how they can serve the narc. They completely disregard the rights and feelings of others, which is what Dan is defending.

    • Good points, Regret. It’s a character problem: If DS understood and/or cared, he wouldn’t be peddling this word salad BS, so sharing CL’s wisdom with him won’t help. We chumps understand on a cellular level that it’s futile to engage with disordered people. FWs don’t — can’t — get CL.

  • Speaking as a member of the Rainbow (LGBTQ+) Coalition: I’ve known a lot of poly couples. That’s fine, when it’s mutually consensual. What I see is that they experience all the hardships that every other couple does, and their partnerships are no more likely to survive long-term, with all the pressures of family/children/life.

    Ethical non-monogamy is hard work. You have to be crystal clear about yourself and have rock-solid boundaries. All that constant negotiation sounds exhausting to me.

    A key thing that Dan Savage is missing here – and that Esther Perel and others usually miss – is that cheaters do not, in fact, get whatever they need and then return to their partners with full attention. Cheaters are constantly distracted and resentful of their “primary” partners. Betrayed spouses suffer all the indignities of abuse – DARVO, manipulations like gaslighting and blameshifting, unrealistic expectations – without understanding the underlying issues. It’s impossible to fully respect your partner and to have honest communication when you’re planning the next tryst – physical, emotional, pornographical, whatever.

    So, like most cheaters, Savage is employing magical thinking here. “We can have it all!” No, you can’t – not without sustaining toxic relationships.

    Thanks for calling out the BS, Chump Lady. 🏳️‍🌈

    • Spot on, LezChump.

      I often think, too, that if more people in monogamous relationships were working equally mindfully on their primary relationships — if the baseline our culture taught and modeled for a primary relationship was that we expect ourselves and our partners to be crystal clear about ourselves and maintain AND honor rock-solid boundaries — we wouldn’t have to worry about whether any relationship was mono, or poly, or ace, or whatever, because (a) we’d be a lot better at being in relationships in general, and (b) we wouldn’t have any interest in others’ relationship choices because we’d be plenty busy being and doing good in our own.

      Love your comment. So, so spot on. 🙂

    • “A key thing that Dan Savage is missing here – and that Esther Perel and others usually miss – is that cheaters do not, in fact, get whatever they need and then return to their partners with full attention. Cheaters are constantly distracted and resentful of their “primary” partners.”

      Exactly. Not that it would be ok to fit in a lunchtime quickie and come home to your completely naive partner with a smile on the face and flowers in hand, but that sort of scenario is typically limited to the movies. Instead I got a spouse that came home late every night because of “increased job responsibilities”, leaving the lion’s share of parenting and household work to me, someone who also had a full time job. He became increasingly hostile to me where I felt like whatever decision I made was the wrong one and yet not making a decision left me frustratingly indecisive. He screamed at the children for making him late for work. My experience is not atypical.

    • “A key thing that Dan Savage is missing here – and that Esther Perel and others usually miss – is that cheaters do not, in fact, get whatever they need and then return to their partners with full attention. Cheaters are constantly distracted and resentful of their “primary” partners. Betrayed spouses suffer all the indignities of abuse – DARVO, manipulations like gaslighting and blameshifting, unrealistic expectations – without understanding the underlying issues. ” Totally agree with everything you said here. This is what cheaters and their apologists fail to fully comprehend, or maybe they just don’t care.

    • Agreed! I know of a few families who have done poly very well, and many more who have not. The whole point is that everyone knows and agrees or negotiates to what is going on. They can decide to keep investing in the relationships as they are or not.

      Cheating is different because it is robbing the time, care, and often financial resources of a partner who is acting in good faith. Cheating is not one single mistake. It is the web of lies and small decisions that lead to that happening. Followed by the lies and gaslighting that happens afterwards and in the continuity.

      I think it is supremely dismissive to compare cheating to a burned omelette or a fall form a snowboard. The consequences of a burned omelette is momentary embarrassment and a few eggs. The consequences of a married partner cheating on you is traumatic.

      It is also so over simplistic to say that one mistake or imperfection is “just one mistake” and hand wave it away when there are many things a person can do only once and we are justified in judging them for it. For example: “He was a good person for 45 years, he only murdered one person one time!” “He was a wonderful bank teller, he stole once but he as great for many other years so we kept him..” “This salad only has one tiny rat turd in it..” Savage’s argument also echoes those telling women to stay with their partners who hit them, “He made a mistake, he was angry. Don’t throw away your good years for one mistake..”.

      We get to decide what kind of treatment we will tolerate in out lives, even if it allegedly only happened once. To say otherwise is self serving gaslighting from someone who wants to be let off the hook.

      • Exactly braken. You also don’t fall off a snowboard or burn an omelet on purpose. You don’t plan to do it, fantasize about it, and tell strings of lies to ensure you can do it in secrecy.

        Cheating = mistake is a whopper of a false equivalency

        • Wait, everybody else doesn’t fantasize about burning omelettes or falling off snowboards (or skis)? Or tells lies about doing those things to get a secret thrill/power trip? I need to sit down. This is really making my head spin. I thought it went from God, to Dan Savage, etc. I’m going to have to seriously look into reevaluating my life now. I fear this means the death of many Crunchy Cheetos.😂

    • Amen, LezChump. “Betrayed spouses suffer all the indignities of abuse – DARVO, manipulations like gaslighting and blameshifting, unrealistic expectations…” Understanding that cheating typically involves abuse seems to be the challenge of our time. That’s why it was encouraging to read reviews of the new Anne Kendrick film “Alice, Darling” which she says was inspired by her own experience being entrapped in an abusive relationship that involved– no surprise– cheating. I haven’t seen the film so I’m not sure whether the toxic partner character’s infidelity is framed as part and parcel with abuse or fueling abuse or a kind of throwaway detail.

      Maybe the filmmakers themselves aren’t sure what role cheating plays in abuse but it’s a start. It seems like there’s a particular social understanding gap over the issue of infidelity at this moment in history which is being exploited by apologists. From all the viral information online and books on “toxic relationships” and “narcissistic partners,” it’s obvious the public has become increasingly aware that domestic abuse involves a spectrum. I suspect that’s why Gallup polls in the last decade listed infidelity as the “least publicly approved” among 19 controversial issues even while public approval for same-sex marriage and single parenting have only risen. It suggests that disapproval of infidelity isn’t tied to fundy morals so much as an increased sense that it’s unfair and abusive.

      But most people still aren’t that clear on the association between cheating and abuse which is probably partly to the degree that society is still struggling to define what constitutes emotional/psychological abuse or how serious it is. I think what could change this is the growing discussion around “coercive control” and the growing movement to add coercive control statutes to existing domestic violence laws. What will inevitably come out in the discussion around coercive control is that battering victims themselves cite emotional and psychological components of domestic abuse and things like financial abuse as more paralyzing and traumatizing than even overt violence. What may also come out in the discussion is that cheating is rarely “just cheating” and typically involves the same brand of coercive and controlling behaviors in order to facilitate betrayal. As with most social justice issues, the more certain behaviors become civilly and criminally punishable, the harder it becomes for average people to minimize their seriousness and dicker over terms.

    • Absolutely. One of my friends opened her marriage to turn it into an ethical poly relationship. Unfortunately, her husband continually disrespected and trampled on their mutually set boundaries. He eventually moved out of their shared home to go live with his other partner because my friend/his wife was “being bitchy” by not wanting to live with the new girlfriend – this is in spite of their original agreement to be each other’s only nesting partners. Mutually renegotiating boundaries is different from unilaterally trampling them and telling the other person to suck it up or leave.

  • He’s trying to normalize his assholery. Cheaters won’t ask for what they want directly because it is so selfish – no one would agree to it. So they cheat and then (try) to justify it as natural. He has moved into the tl;dr (too long; didn’t read) part of his career where his transactional value has decreased.

  • The word “monogam-ish” is like George Santos being “Jew-ish”. It means NOTHING! And don’t even get me started on the dying partner who can’t have sex any more. There’s so much wrong there. I have a friend who was dying of ovarian cancer. She divorced her emotionally abusive husband and recovered.

    I agree, Tracy, Dan Savage is depressing. I don’t want to be around or even hear from people who see every relationship as transactional. For me, part of gaining a life is avoiding those people.

  • If I wasn’t No Contact with KK, I guarantee I could go to every one of her social media accounts and see this article liked, promoted, forwarded, whatever.

    With this sentence bolded, underlined, italicized and in red: “I like what Esther Perel has said — that sometimes, the victim of the affair is not the victim of the marriage.”

    (“. . . Not that UXworld was a victim of ANYthing like he portrays himself to be!! He’s NOT! He’s not a victim of ANYthing!! But I [KK] was definitely the victim of the marriage!! 100%!! That’s why only Dan and Esther understand! . . .”

    ALSO: “sex is bigger than we are”?? Go create some Santorum Dan, and leave the serious thinking to the rest of us.

    • Ugh. Yeah.

      x is not the social media type, but he reads the NYTimes and has probably enjoyed this podcast, especially the line that KK would highlight: “I like what Esther Perel has said — that sometimes, the victim of the affair is not the victim of the marriage.”

      It fits his narrative. He loves nothing more than being viewed as the ultimate victim. As far as I can tell, he felt he was suffering in our marriage. He would argue that it was a coincidence that he became aware of the “suffering” when a much-younger, attractive co-worker told him she had the hots for him.

      Of course, true to cheater form, he never told me he wasn’t happy. He cops to being cowardly but, at the same time, suggests that the reason he HAD to sneak around was that he was trying not to hurt my feelings while honoring his own “voice of defiance.” Esther and Dan would be proud.

      Oh, and he also said that he thought the affair relationship might not last, in which case he would simply be with me as if those years of deceit and abuse never happened. Easy peasy.

      The frequent sex sex with me while he was also hooking up with this woman was apparently a gift to ME.

      He’s a (sex) legend in his own mind.

      • Same here, just an amazing coincidence that our relationship was so bad it was making him ill, this being news to me, same time he met the OW at work. I mean what are they trying to pull, honestly. Mine also didn’t want to hurt me. It’s risible. Less the frequent sex but a spell falling asleep in the other room, always working late (which I believed) at home but of course not having sex immediately levelled as being my problem. I hate these people.

  • I wholeheartedly concur. Dan Savage had some very helpful ideas when it was new information in the cultural conversation, and I am grateful.

    But all ethical relationships, of all stripes, require consent…Informed consent.

    He opened out collective eyes to what we could consent to, if we wish, and how to do it. It seems he’s lost the thread of his own narrative now.

  • I find it helpful to think of and talk about relationships in terms of agreement and informed consent. Integrity. It keeps things very clear. Children typically get upset when new babies are brought home. Even pets often get upset when a new baby comes home, or a new animal joins the household. Killing rivals exists in the animal kingdom, and I tend to believe loyalty is an innately wired thing. The flip dark side of the human ability to “reason” is also the human ability to justify bad behavior. If elaborate arguments are necessary to defend your behavior, there’s a good chance you’ve been a bad dog.

    My beloved and brilliant therapist of many years, still in my life today, taught me that attraction happens, but you don’t act on it if you are in an exclusive committed relationship. And you don’t have to. That is the hallmark of emotional maturity and a working moral compass. Finding someone’s wallet full of money doesn’t mean I should keep it.
    She also taught me that not everyone I am attracted to or love is an appropriate partner for me. You know, factoring in lots of other information when choosing a partner besides attraction, which when used alone is actually a really crappy way to make that decision.

    (Character, not just “chemistry”.)

    Toddlers and young children feel
    the need to act on impulse, and that is where the parents and caregivers are supposed to step in and teach limits and boundaries, ethics, principles, respect. Manners.

    Great new documentary about Bernie Madoff out on Netflix right now. Try using Dan Savage’s logic to defend Bernie Madoff’s fraud.

    (For all chumps who feel crazy and abandoned by Switzerland friends who think that cheating is just a Love Story and the traitor you partnered with is Such A Great Guy/Gal? Remember that chumps are the Harry Markopouloses in the infidelity story, and the Switzerland friends are the SEC who ignored, for YEARS, the multiple memos from him outlining the numerous red flags……)

    In SIXTH GRADE, the guy I really liked had a girlfriend. I saw his unavailability as a sign that he was NOT The One for me. I told no one that I liked him. I suffered in silence, knowing he was unavailable to me, thinking if they broke up someday I could let him know. My family moved away that summer. Later I heard he asked my friends what happened to me. It was not meant to be.

    People without boundaries (cheaters) see obstacles as challenges to get around, not stop signs.

    If someone is in a relationship, they are unavailable. If I am in a relationship, I am unavailable. Cheaters don’t think like that. They think “I can do whatever I want.” How they feel governs what they do, not the observing conscience, which I think is missing or anesthetized. Our behavior has an effect on people around us, a. fact cheaters disregard and care nothing about, claiming what they do is no one’s business, as criminals are wont to do.

    • LOVE is the factor which clouds discussions and opinions about infidelity, which is the ultimate irony because the willingness to harm and deceive others actually proves an inability to love.

      IMHO

      • PS.

        Yesterday I learned hospice was called into the home of my friends, married with three boys. He is dying of prostate cancer and she stayed home with her mother from the planned multiple family cruise at Christmas to care for him as he became too sick to go. The sexual part of their relationship ended long ago. Something about his early demise has relegated sex to the last thing on her mind.

        I think sex is probably the least accurate indicator and expression of love I have experienced in my life.

        Shallow Dan, defending cheating in the case of a partner who has an illness, is especially sickening to read today. Does he not know the many convenient uses of one’s own hands?

        Back to integrity, if you can’t communicate honestly and keep an agreement, especially in the dark times of my life, you shouldn’t be vowing to do so in an expensive legal and spiritual ceremony in front of our family and friends.

        Keeping agreements, and speaking up and communicating if amendments are necessary, is what love is to me.

        Cheating and lying and deceiving and defrauding? To me it proves a person incapable of love, and I’m happy to let other people do the experimenting to prove me wrong.

        • “Keeping agreements, and speaking up and communicating if amendments are necessary, is what love is to me.” That’s a good definition. And I applaud the rest of your post.

          Sorry about your friend, VH.

        • I’m sorry to hear about your friend. Indeed, that is love, a love that wants what is truly best and highest for the other partner.

          I agree that sex is the least accurate indicator. You can easily have sex with someone who has little respect and care for you. I sure did that, trying to keep my husband, and it ate me away inside. How can you be close in the act if they truly view you as less than X, Y, and Z?

          My ex was also all about the “uncontrollable” aspects of his sexuality and how it was my job to help with that. Ah, no. Keeping your pants on is YOUR job, period. We aren’t animals, and it’s demeaning of humanity to talk that way. Frankly, if you are “uncontrollable,” you shouldn’t be with a partner who wants otherwise.

    • Love this, Velvet.

      Long after my divorce, I was chatting with a single man I knew, a platonic acquaintance. He had gone to a party the night before and I asked him how the party was. He told me it was OK, but he left early because he had an unpleasant experience. He went on to say that he had seen this woman and he was really powerfully attracted to her. She was similarly attracted to him and approached him for sex, so he had to leave.

      I, not having learned some of what I’ve now learned, was so surprised, and told him so, and asked why he had to leave. He explained that in his personal work he had become aware of the cycle of powerful attraction and a rapid move to sex and the weird power dynamics of that and how he’d never see the woman again and how weird that was for him. All that closeness, then just nothing. What if she became pregnant somehow? And he never knew he had a child out there? What if she felt sad about it, or hurt, and he had just left her to feel like that? Etc. And he began to see powerful attraction as a bad sign instead of a good one. He began to see that though he kept saying he wanted a real relationship, all the cycles that kept him away from meaningful connection were perpetuated by that fast-track-to-sex sort of relating that accompanied a powerful physical attraction. And he began to see that the powerful attraction might be more about whatever energy/messages the other person was putting out into the room than about whether he was actually truly drawn to the human being.

      In short, he had learned to stop his mind from being entirely controlled by a few inches of skin and a sensation he could easily create himself, and instead start seeing his biological response as one of many things that were happening at the time. When he looked at the same situation that way, he saw it as exactly what he did NOT want rather than as something he wanted.

      Lemme tell ya, that little balcony conversation has been a lifelong game changer for me. It absolutely changed everything. For the first time, I was able to see how when I have those feelings, I often feel just as scared and repelled by the person as I feel attracted to the person, and that confusion is an outgrowth of my own past abuse. I began to feel like I had not just the permission, but the duty, to decide that’s a bad direction to go. It’s the basis for why people like Dan and Esther, and the Cowardly Liar, and everyone else who tries, can’t make me feel small by suggesting that my ethics, choices, and sexual preferences are in any way antiquated or small-minded. It’s the reason I liked Chump Lady the first time I came here.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! They’re fantastic. 🙂 “People without boundaries (cheaters) see obstacles as challenges to get around, not stop signs.” Totally.

      • Backatcha!

        I think I could have worded it better:

        “People without boundaries (cheaters) see stop signs as challenges to get around.”

        My former MIL, denied access to our daughter’s SS# because of her profound lack of and disrespect for boundaries, called the business office of the hospital in an attempt to get the information. At a bank where my husband and I had an account and she had an account, I learned she had asked the bank teller questions about our finances…

    • VH, I love your analogy to the Madoff story! We just watched it and your analysis is spot-on. I think that must be why I had such a visceral reaction to the Markopolos/SEC back-and-forth that was going on. I’d also assign the Switzerland label to the so-called financial geniuses who all turned a blind eye to the hanky-panky as long as the money continued to roll in. Not sure what his sons knew (they must have suspected something) but his wife appeared to be clueless until the hammer fell.

  • Oh dear. Last millenium, I was a regular reader of Dan Savage’s column from the other side of planet Earth. As refreshing as windy Seattle! GGG, Vanilla, Santorum… I believe he coined DTMF (Ditch The MotherF***) too. I am very sad to read that Dan Savage’s flamboyant sarcasm has lost its relevancy. Dear ChumpLady, would you cite Dan Savage as one of the sources that inspired your wonderful snark?

  • If you think that monogamy won’t work for you or is somehow unnatural because no one can be that “perfect,” then simply don’t get married and promise to be monogamous.

    Trite but true.

  • “ Do the right thing and get a divorce? Don’t, like, slip out to discreetly get a sexual need met so that you can be there fully for your partner and not resent your partner for how deprived you feel of any sort of sexual outlet?”

    Evidently there’s a conditional free pass to slip out when needs aren’t met. We’ve heard it all before, chronic illnesses, cancer, pregnancy, to name a few.

    It’s as if he’s solved an ethical dilemma for resentment. I’m so tired of bullshit justifications.

    • How immature would you have to be to resent your partner for depriving you of sex by getting ill or pregnant? Besides, nobody with one working hand is ever deprived of *any* sort of sexual outlet.

  • Thanks for that CL. Your response is truly gold. I know I started a marriage with monogamy as the default setting. Apparently, that changed without my knowledge after 28 years. If you can just switch monogamy on and off, it must be by mutual consent. I did not consent. I became the victim of abuse in oh so many ways.
    Ex will complain he was a victim of the marriage because his needs were not being met, he was abused, he felt that I loved our son more than him and countless other things. It really makes me wonder how an adult can be jealous of a child!!!! Really, we both agreed to have a child and you would think ex would have realized that a baby needs attention and care, the toddler needs to be watched over and as they get younger the care level and worry changes but nonetheless, this is a kid.
    I never expected perfection at all but I did expect respect and honesty. I expected to be safe in a marriage but I was not. I was exposed to diseases without knowledge or consent. The cheater is never honest about switching monogamy off because they know the chump would not consent and they get their thrills from duping the chump. If the expectation of monogamy is old fashioned or not in vogue, I guess I will be single and hold on to my values.

    • “Ex will complain he was a victim of the marriage because his needs were not being met, he was abused, he felt that I loved our son more than him and countless other things. It really makes me wonder how an adult can be jealous of a child!!”

      Oh geez, were you married to my ex? These people are all the same. FW even once went so far as to put up a post during DV awareness month that “husbands and children can be victims too!”. It made me so mad. He verbally abused me constantly, he actually gave me *bruises*, yet he’s the abused party? In his mind, yes. Because not having sex twice a day and not being constantly praised is ABUSIVE. Having to pay a mortgage and hold a job is ABUSIVE. Me taking care of the sick baby more than the sick HIM is ABUSIVE.

      I just…can’t even.

      • ISTL, OMG! We had the very same cheater type. Ex was always upset when I had to take care of our son when he got sick, or when I had to take him to activities or whatever. Ex felt he needed all the attention and if he was not being catered to then he was being abused. He was a victim of abuse for sooooo many years. Then when my son went to college and afterwards joined the Navy, ex was still going off about anything from planning time when son was home from school or from the Navy, sending packages, etc. I guess no one can have needs, wants or wishes other than the FW.

    • I was also married to a cheater who was jealous of the attention I gave our son. From when our son was an infant he would pout then complain that I gave our newborn too much attention.
      As our son grew up he continued to complain that I spent too much time doing things for our son.
      Like signing him up for swimming lessons when he was a toddler. Cheater rarely joined us to play board games. If he decided to grace us with his presence and join us cheater had to win. Our on would win elementary school awards and was in a couple school plays cheater wouldn’t focus on our son. Instead he’d ramble on about something he did in elementary school. There were awards assemblies in high school instead of being happy for our son, Cheater would be quiet and in a somber mood the entire evening. We would meet up with our son after the assembly and I’d say congratulations. Cheater complained that I give our son too much praise.
      I always felt it was weird that cheater couldn’t be happy for his son. I thought it was natural for parents to want their children to do well and be proud of their achievements. Cheater would rather ridicule our son for attention or try to change the subject from our son by telling a long drawn out story of himself at his age.
      One we’ve heard so many times we could tell it ourselves word for word.

  • I believe that the issue of what one person wants is relevant to whether or not the two people involved have a relationship. If you are single, and you hookup with someone, and don’t see them again — and both of you know that is the situation — then ok. Sex with a rando doesn’t sound quite as hip, does it?

    When I was young, girls learned from their friends, parents, social workers, whatever, that boys would tell lies to have sex with them. Girls could lie to boys as well, of course. I never received any other message than a relationship was based on mutual exclusive sex, at least for a period of time. You might “break-up”, and move on, but the exclusivity was the point.

    Now that I am older, to me the only point of having another relationship would be if my partner and I were on the same page about monogamy. I can travel, attend events, go out to eat, provide assistance when they are ill, with any of my friends, male or female. I don’t want casual sex with my friends. If some other two people want to make a mutual decision to add casual sex to their relationship, that is entirely up to them.

    Why would you get married? Why would you stand up before friends and family and make a commitment you don’t intend to keep? I know there are some legal implications under our present laws that might encourage faux marriage, but surely there are some intelligent lawyers who can fashion legal agreements to allow two people to have a contractual business relationship. People do have different needs at different points of their lives, no doubt our laws need to be updated, but as CL points out the key concept is consent. I might enter into an exclusive sexual relationship without marriage under our present laws, but we would both need to consent to the boundaries of that relationship. If I found out the boundaries were breached, that would be the end of that relationship, too.

    I don’t want to be lied to or cheated on. I don’t want a financial misappropriation. That is what I found I had with marriage. It turned out that the men I married did not keep the terms or our agreement. They broke their promise, and they lost me. That was the cost of their quest for momentary exuberance. That was not what I consented to. Game over.

  • There is so much brilliance in this post today,I don’t know how to even react to it, lol! The way you precisely capture and put to words what is actually going down is so deeply gratifying to read, CL.
    You wielded your ax and chopped down Dan’s logically sounding ( except to chumps!) evil mindfuckery to the fucking earth with a very very loud thud.
    Every one of his insect infected and diseased trees- taken down to the ground,leaving him standing naked in his evil forest of lies, DARVO, and entitled abuses. ( maybe one of those felling trees landed like Dorothy’s spinning house In Oz on that sexual righteous Perel character?)
    Man, I feel so good after reading that post!!! To get the truth to shine so bright, with that much clarity using your razor sharp writing skills and wit is pure and beautiful art, loved it so much! ( it’s always so damn amazing, but you really killed the game today.)
    God, thank you for you! I don’t think there is anything more powerful than the truth spelled out in black and white.
    It’s upsetting that there will be too many that can read Dan’s column and think that sounds logical and reasonable. Yeah, maybe we just weren’t meant for monogamy? So frustrating!!
    You cut through the frustration so well and if the truth is all we are left holding when it’s all said and done, well, that’s the gold anyway, I’m okay with that.
    It’s a damn shame your post can’t immediately follow his, to crack ppl’s minds open to what is actually going on with these damned,entitled fools.
    (The comments I’ve read so far have been really great too, CN!)

    “Making monogamy your foe seems like a cover for preserving entitlement and unilateral decision-making in your relationships. Otherwise you would fashion the argument as one of consent.”

    This should be laminated and made into book marks for all the thousands of books out there on cheaters, placed in all the free read little wooden book houses around the world. They can be the “Chump Houses.”( with the golden book, of course, LACGAL)
    But there are unlimited book mark quotes in just this one blog today that would be just as golden, so maybe they all just need the laminator.

    “ The harm is so much greater than the sex……we object to the ABUSE.”

    “If you need to cheat to stay sane, why not steal the pension fund to stay solvent?”

    “Cheaters, however, cheat at ALL stages of life. And if their chump is vulnerable?
    Pregnant? Sick? Has cancer? Hey, the Almighty Right to Jizz is sacrosanct.”
    I already have the laminator. Let’s gooooo, lol!
    Truthfully and seriously, you are ALWAYS amazing CL! Mad mad respect!!
    I hope you are fully aware of your value and how much you are helping others. It is HUGE!
    Today you brought another level of heat to the game. 🔥💪🏼 Thanks for that. 😊

    • It could be a cool Friday challenge. Design a bookmark with empowering or abuse uncovering hard won wisdoms.

    • Well-written kudos, Chumpasaurus45. You praise well. CL blows my mind with her clarity. Truly a gift that keeps on giving! I feel like a mighty lucky ChumpDiva to have found this safe haven for sanity beyond the mindfuckery. Yay!

  • I mean, we really enjoy the mental anguish, loneliness, bills, STDs, and other assorted issues we have to work through so someone can get some
    strange because monogamy is hard or something. I’m not happy…

  • Dan’s advice was a huge influence in my FW’s justification of his cheating.

    While FW was busy satisfying himself a la Dan, I was blindly getting an STD, losing money to “transactional relationships”, and doing all the f*cking work. Next up came a traumatic divorce and seeing my kids deal with the breakup of their family.

    F*ck you, Dan, and f*ck you, FW & OW. Entitled @ssholes.

  • Tracy can you please turn this great essay into an Op-Ed for the NTY? It is so important to interrupt this moral sewer that steadily seeps in the culture. It is also obnoxious to assume that very one wishes they can fuck strange. Lots of people are only comfortable and happy with honest and monogamy and want nothing else.

  • Surely he understands monogamy has a place on the sexual spectrum. Calling out out of one form of sexuality as less-than is a horrible look for him.

    Just like someone who isn’t gay probably shouldn’t marry a member of the same sex, non-monogamists shouldn’t enter into marriages or promise fidelity.

    Be however you want to be in the world, but do it honestly.

    How he can stand on his platform and advocate breaking the rules of consent and champion lying and deception is beyond gross to me.

  • One of the things that pisses me off the most about his piece is that it further perpetuates the narrative that affair are strictly about unmet sexual needs and there is something deficient and puritanical about the betrayed spouse when it comes to sex. The cheating spouse must have a higher sex drive. The cheating spouse must be the more adventurous sexual partner. The cheating spouse is just more passionate. I feel like Dan Savage as made a lot of negative assumptions about me and a lot of charitable assumptions about FW and his motivations for having the affair.

    • This! There’s a presumption that women have emotional needs (which is a weakness) but men have physical needs (which is a strength). My argument is, really? It’s not “emotional” when you are swept away with passion because a younger co-worker is flirting with you? If it’s “physical” why can’t you jerk off in the shower? Dude, when a man is having a midlife crisis … that’s emotional, full stop.

      • 75% of human sexual response is emotional anyway. So what he’s calling a physical urge is coming from his feelings, not the other way around. For a self-styled sexpert, he’s shockingly ignorant about human sexuality. To him it’s all about servicing kinks and scratching every itch. That is disordered sexuality.

        Just because the emotions involved don’t include love does not mean the source of the urge isn’t emotional. He strikes me as a narc, so the emotional need would be ego stroking. If anything is weak and pathetic, that is. It shows he is lacking healthy self worth and needs external validation from as many sources as he can get.

    • Exactly. Who is more likely to stop having marital relations, the partner with the side chick/dude or the one without? The fact that’s generally chumped wives that are accused of being sexless* shows that the accuser doesn’t think women have sexual needs, an attitude I thought we had left behind in the Victorian era, but apparently survives in the minds of self-styled “progressives” in the 21st century. Perhaps my poor little ladybrain just can’t comprehend the masculine “logic” at work here that leads men to conclude we deprive ourselves of sex for the fun of it.

      *Chumped husbands are more likely to hear “Well, you were always working late. You didn’t spend enough time with her/you were no fun.” Which is its own shitstorm and assumes men don’t have emotional needs.

      • NMMNC — that’s not all we hear. We also hear:

        – “You’ve never paid enough attention to me” or “I like getting attention.” (But it’s apparently up to us to figure out what amount constitutes ‘enough,’ when it should and should not be paid, where it should or should not be paid, and what form said attention must take according to the fluidity of all these factors)

        – “I was never allowed to be the person I always wanted to be” or “I never got to enjoy my 20s/30s/40s like I should have been able to.”

        – “You’ll just never understand what it’s like to be a woman nowadays.”

        – “I’ve been everything for everyone around me — now it’s time for ME and I’m not going to apologize for having needs.”

        All of which are meant to justify the deceit they carry out. Just like with male cheaters.

    • Your comment reminded me that I went to his book talk (for his 1st book – like 25 years ago when his voice was new and original), in a suburb of Seattle, and he complained throughout the reading about the fact that he was in a suburb and there were a lot of cis, white women in the audience. (Of which I was/am one. I didn’t buy the book)

    • I so agree. FW and I had exciting, enjoyable sex, very often (sometimes multiple times a day). I actually think the sex was especially good when he was cheating (I didn’t know he was cheating at the time, of course). I think it turned him on to know he was breaking the rules. Maybe I was just too puranitical to appreciate that, of course, but if I’d known it wouldn’t be thrilling, right?

  • Tracy can you please turn this great essay into an Op-Ed for the NTY? It is so important to interrupt this moral sewer that steadily seeps in the culture. It is also obnoxious to assume that everyone wishes they can fuck strange. Lots of people are only comfortable and happy with honesty and monogamy and want nothing else.

    • Yes, Tracy! I second Beth’s suggestion that you submit your excellent prose to The New York Times Op-Ed column.

      The memo that infidelity is abuse needs to reach the masses.

  • Savage is just another abuse apologist (and because some of them have engaged in the same form of abuse, they have an vested interest in justifying that conduct), but his rhetoric suits those who prefer power imbalances and avoiding accountability. It’s not unrealistic to expect both ourselves and the people around us, regardless if they’re monogamous or polyamorous (and what ever thoughts they have running through their head), to have empathy and treat others with honesty and respect.

    People aren’t slaves to their wants and prioritizing personal gratification at all costs, especially when it is done to the detriment of the people around them, is a shallow and disordered worldview.

  • Thank you for writing this. It really is depressing. The DS way of thinking seems to be predominant in the world right now. It makes me and my values feel like anomalies. Glad to have CN: helps me feel less alone.

  • Thanks, Tracey, for giving us the cliff-notes version of that piece, so the rest of us don’t have to suffer through it in its entirety. I’d seen it posted but I couldn’t bring myself to click. Something about having men mansplain what women should and should not expect out of marriage…

    I am particularly galled by those who claim monogamy can ethically be “renegotiated” at a point in the marriage where one party has sacrificed their financial power for the benefit of the couple. How do they imagine we feel, when the question gets sprung on us? Like most people here, my husband didn’t even bother asking whether I was okay with an open marriage. Even after I’d confronted him, he actually said he was relieved not to have to hide it any more, and now we could go on without the deception (as if I’d ever in a million years agreed to this).

    What I noticed about my husband was that he’d been immersed in the world of sex-for-pay for so long that all relationships had become transactional to him. Not just the sexual relationships — he’s obsessed with someone else somewhere getting more from him than they give. Even in dealing with our daughter, he doesn’t pick up the tab if they go to dinner together — things that I would normally do, because I’m her mother and I love her. I honestly think he’s just been dealing with prostitutes for so long he doesn’t know how to deal any other way.

  • Keeping secrets sucks

    People can spin it a thousand different ways, but honesty and truthfulness define healthy relationships

  • Is learning to control urges becoming more and more of a problem? Just a question. Isn’t self-control a GOOD thing? Can you imagine somebody using the excuse that their fist was bigger than they were, and they really had no choice but to use it on their partner, their child, that other person they didn’t agree with.

    Geez. I can’t stand people like this who try to normalize cheating. Everybody here can attest to the fact cheating is another form of abuse.

    • “Isn’t self-control a GOOD thing? Can you imagine somebody using the excuse that their fist was bigger than they were, and they really had no choice but to use it on their partner, their child, that other person they didn’t agree with.”

      Exactly. One of my favorite lines of “America” is “Confirm thy soul, with self control”. Self control is the base of any peaceful society. Unfortunately it seems it is fading away.

  • “Opting in and out” of monogamy is an open relationship. You’re saying you have entire intervals where you’re not having sex with other people. That’s not monogamy.”

    Yes! It’s fine (for you), but not monogamy.

    I just commented the other day that my FW not only didn’t cop to anything I didn’t know/guess, but went so far as to write a little blurb on each of the women he DIDN’T sleep with, but could have.

    I’m fairly certain (I’d have to find/read it again) that there were a bunch that he declined because he just didn’t find them attractive enough or other bullshit reason, and zero because (duh) he’s married.

    Back to the point. Not sleeping around because you don’t have any other attractive options is not monogamy. On my second mention of this list, I don’t think it warrants even a bitch cookie for not fucking people you don’t want to fuck.

  • I lost interest in Dan Savage years ago, for his pro-cheating, pro-BDSM, pro-sex work, pro-pedophilia, pro-fetish, pro-polyamory, and pro-porn stances. From my point of view, these almost always involve coercive, exploitative and abusive power dynamics – psychologically, physically, sexually and financially.

    I have always found “sex positivity” and “good giving game” just more ways to create pressure and fear in women to perform unsatisfying, distasteful, unhealthy, unsafe, humiliating, damaging sex acts in service of men’s grossest urges.

    • I always felt that way too Kaboodle. I haven’t read him for years because some of the stuff he thought was SO harmless was definitely gross l. I remember a column about pedophilia that turned my stomach.

    • “I have always found “sex positivity” and “good giving game” just more ways to create pressure and fear in women to perform unsatisfying, distasteful, unhealthy, unsafe, humiliating, damaging sex acts in service of men’s grossest urges.”

      Perfectly stated. That’s exactly what it’s about. What’s saddest about it is how so many women have bought into it and have internalized the notion that sex has to be abusive to be exciting.

  • I honestly felt a bit physically ill and deeply unsettled reading this claptrap. I think for me the blameshifting and gaslighting that the Savages/Perels of the world brings me right back to the mindfuck of my ex….my abusive behavior isn’t the issue here! YOU are just not evolved or cool or chill enough to accept it.
    So somehow this is…..my fault? For being mad or heartbroken because you cheated? These people are so toxic.

  • Aside from all the other nonsense, he’s talking like affairs are about sex. I don’t think that was the main motivator for my ex. We had plenty of sex. He wanted admiration.

    The sexual part was perhaps the LEAST hurtful thing in the whole debacle. It was the emotional investment he made in schmoopie, rather than in me (while also saying he and I had nothing to talk about – mostly because he’d already talked about everything that mattered with HER). The time. The kindness he showed her. Finding her quirks endearing while berating me for mine. Supporting her and leaving me to flounder. Praising her and demeaning me. Complimenting her and insulting me. Paying attention to her and ignoring me. THAT hurt more.

    And if it had been about sex (or even twu wuv), I GAVE HIM AN OUT. I told him that if he wanted her, he could be with her and I’d walk away from the marriage. He didn’t take that opportunity. Instead he lied and said that nothing was going on, stringing me along for three years after that. He wanted to use me, and I think he got off on the power and on causing me pain. OW must have enjoyed the deception as well, because I would have divorced him much faster if she had told me the truth. But she lied to my face and so had to wait almost four years to “come out” about the relationship.

    And hey, if one partner isn’t able to have sex for medical reasons, they can, maybe, I dont’ know? *discuss* that and come to an agreement. But ducking out on your ill or dying spouse so you can “get your needs met” is just shit behavior. I’d rather get a divorce than be in that situation any day.

    • I agree. For many of us male or female, we take our vows seriously. I would never have thought of cheating, heck he was treating me like shit for the last year to year and a a half we were together. The last three months fw basically cut me off, and I never even considered seeking affection, or even a cup of coffee elsewhere.

    • “It was the emotional investment he made in schmoopie, rather than in me (while also saying he and I had nothing to talk about – mostly because he’d already talked about everything that mattered with HER). The time. The kindness he showed her. Finding her quirks endearing while berating me for mine. Supporting her and leaving me to flounder. Praising her and demeaning me. Complimenting her and insulting me. Paying attention to her and ignoring me. THAT hurt more.”

      THIS!!!! Thanks, ISTL, for putting it into words so well.

  • “To narcissists, relationships are transactional, like buying and selling. The goal is to get what you want at the lowest price. It’s a self-centered, business mindset. Emotions don’t intrude. “Jan 5, 2019 From Psychology Today

  • Chump lady! Why don’t we bring back the harems where the pick me dance is an art form. Or let’s all be predatory and put our kids in a commune to be raised while we all just go about like jungle animals. No consent needed because we are all doing it? See it? Like it?Grab it.
    I’ve been chumped x2 in long term marriages. No one asked if they could give me a disease or spend the money on others or be late every night at the gym. But I had to ask about re-painting a room and that was even denied. This is not a 2 way street and it is extremely unilateral. Please never stop hitting that one note for consent and keeping promises or breaking them honestly ,because the attempt will be to drown out our voices, the voices of chumps wounded some mortally by bullies who demand their own way. Pounding on their highchairs for more more more! Entitled, spoiled, arrogant liars who spread disease and Heartbreak like farmers spread manure.

    • “No one asked if they could give me a disease or spend the money on others or be late every night at the gym. But I had to ask about re-painting a room and that was even denied. This is not a 2 way street and it is extremely unilateral.”

      👏
      I relate to what you said about our requests being denied.
      Mine left our house partially renovated, then refused to finish it. I couldn’t use my living room for 12 years. There was bare insulation on the walls and it had no electrical. If I started fixing it up myself, he would yell that I was going to do it wrong and make such a fuss about it that it wasn’t worth the hassle. He would then say he was going to hire somebody to do it, but break his promise. Over and over. It got to the point that I just stopped caring.

      • OHFFS, wow, can I relate to what you are saying. I had a house full of half finished projects. If I attempted to hire someone to finally get them done, he would lose his mind and verbally attack me on my decisions and question and criticize absolutely everything about the project. I actually became fearful to even attempt to do it.
        When he finally left me, he looked around the house, actually even using a video camera ( !!!) to document it all and then said to me, “ people don’t live like this”, in a pitying, you are not who I thought you were kind of condescending way. It was truly mind blowing! He actually saw himself as having nothing to do with it, so incredible. Divorcing himself from the situation, because he was living with Schmoops and they would never dream of living in a broken down house. Nothing to work with there, completely delusional.

        • Yes, leaving home fix-ups undone or only partially done seems to be a common theme with FWs. Reading in the archives, I saw a lot of chumps had the same problem. It certainly makes sense with what we know of FW psychology, as does blaming you for it when it was their doing.

          He documented it with video? I suppose it was to help bolster his false claims about what a mess you were, so he just had to cheat.

          • Exactly right OHFFS!
            I guess the same reason he sent an email to my brother when it all blew up telling him that he, his lawyer and his psychiatrist all believed I was ‘psychotically depressed’ and he could forward some emails and texts to him that could prove his claims. ( my brother is an internist)
            It’s kind of laughable in retrospect to think of that threesome diagnosing me when I’ve never even spoken to any of them one time, other than the a-hole making the claims.
            I saw that email much later, my brother never mentioned it to me and I asked him one day what he thought after receiving it.
            He told me he realized we were dealing with one crazy mofo, and it was shocking how far offline he’d gone. ( My brother was 8 when we started dating, I was 18. He adored FW and saw him as an amazing role model, we all got snowed by him!)
            I feel very blessed to have a family that whole heartedly validates me across the board. It bothers me quite a bit that there are chumps out there that can get attacked like that and there’s no one to remind them of who they really are. Very scary!!
            I always pray they get to find chump nation and are surrounded by some good solid people. I easily see how some ppl don’t survive that level of trauma.

  • “It can’t be dammed up, and that includes sexual desire, which is about a lot more than sex, even in the context of a committed relationship.”

    We damn well can dam up our damned dicks and damned hoo-hahs, Dan.
    Only toddlers think they get to act on every desire they have. Grow up. Your dick is not detached from you, Dan. It responds to messages from your brain. So does the rest of your body. Just grow up and stop sending out the message from your brain that speshul widdle Dan is entitled to break promises just because he has a stiffy. No more; “Waaaah! Why can’t I suck any dick I want?” Do that and you’ll be amazed how easy it is to get a perfect score on monogamy. The attractions will remain just attractions; something pleasant to think about on occasion, but by no means an imperative to act.

    As for loving relationships being inherently transactional, only disordered people see them that way. Only people who are not really capable of love see them that way. As CL says, reciprocity isn’t anywhere near the same as a transaction.

    Oh, and Igor the Albanian sex slavery trader says thanks for giving that plug for human trafficking. At which point do you expect Igor to see the error of his misogynistic ways? Will he become a kindler, gentler slave master?🙄 🖕

  • “Opting in and out” of monogamy?

    Dude doesn’t even understand the concept of “monogamy.” It’s the constancy of devotion to one person OVER TIME that makes it monogamy.

    Reminds me of the old joke, “It’s easy to quit smoking; I’ve done it dozens of times.” As if “quitting” is quitting when it only lasts a day or an hour. The joke is that someone would fail to grasp that simple concept and then condescend to us from the heights of his meaningless accomplishments. Like hyping the virtues of fasting . . . between meals and snacks.

    Sadly, Old Dan has now become an old joke himself.

  • I agree that the whole thing is depressing. There’s a quote from James Baldwin that always stayed with me about the “politics of sexual despair” that frames validation of the “erotic gaze” and objectification as basically a white dude privilege. If I want cohesive, intersectional views on identity, discrimination and sexual politics, etc., I’d rather read Baldwin, bell hooks or John Stoltenberg.

    The greatest benefit of the doubt I can give Savage is that he’s someone who didn’t start out intending to be a shill. In my former fame-obsessed industry, the touchingly earnest nerd who transforms into a horny, rampaging narcissist who calls everyone “Babe” and “pencils you in” as they ascend and then becomes progressively more dangerous as they age is so common it’s a trope. It’s also the plot of Altman’s “The Player.” I get the feeling that Savage’s pseudo-philosophical, pseudo-ethical self-exculpations haven’t kept speed with his rise to middling fame and the “transactional opportunities” this suddenly provided (heady elbow-rubbing with sexy celebs, gaggles of desperate or Machiavellian star-fuckers, gaggles of naive and dreamy aspirants who can be manipulated and throngs of yes-yessers). In other words, it’s kind of the Peter principle– he didn’t really know himself and didn’t have time to polish up his bullshit before he found himself the podcast “it” boy. And I’m guessing that, in his rambling attempts to reconcile his social justice-y brand with his own fame-stoked urges and behavior, he discovered there’s a huge market for half-baked rationalizations regarding sex and consent.

    There’s also a huge porn-cross-invested media machine (Google’s $34b investment in online porn, not to mention AT&T, the Murdoch publishing empire, etc., etc., etc.) happy to promote pundits who can reconcile the irreconcilable and sell the consent-muddling, rape-death-and-trafficking-ridden sex trade in the #MeToo era. Media giants trying to recover from the Weinstein and Ailes scandals can hardly openly spew rape and trafficking apologias but sawing away at stubborn American prohibitions against cheating seems to have become the indirect, go-to manner of eroding concepts of consent and sexual ethics.

    In any case, the whole “enlightened adultery” gag has become suspiciously viral which only happens when something serves the establishment, particularly if ventriloquized in groovy, progressive terms. It’s not much different than Steven Pinker (former member of the disgusting industry front group American Council on $cience and Health) and his weird philosophical gymnastics to make neoliberalism and various toxic and destructive industrial schemes more palatable to the left (https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/transformation/steven-pinker-s-ideas-are-fatally-flawed-these-eight-graphs-show-why/). The goofy thing is that Pinker seems to genuinely cling to a progressive self image. His gaps in logic might reflect self deception. I think it would hurt his feelings to realize he’s only risen to prominence because various corrupt corporate and government forces needed to drown out actually valid political analysts, ethicists and philosophers.

  • It is all fine by me when people are open about it and don’t enforce their view on others. I’m in that unfortunate position that I am using online dating at the moment. But I always like when women put on their profile that they are poly, or that they have learned so much from Esther Perel and put her quotes on their profile. I know that this is not someone for me and move on . That is so much more more honest than pretending to be monogamous and then change the rules mid relationship.

  • Twaddle

    Word salad much, Dan? Yeah, I read his column and there was a time when he was refreshing and frank. But devolving into an apologist (to expand a potential fan base? idk)…NOPE. Dan, here’s your pocket watch. Time to devote yourself to some more meaningless transactions.

  • This entire argument fails because we all know that cheaters don’t want to “revisit” monogamy. They want their partner to be monogamous while thet fuck around.

    How many of our ex scumbags have demanded to know if we’re cheating? Mine did.

    So he can take this argument and fuck right off. Adults can make any agreement they want…..the key is that they agree.

    Cheaters want to keep the fucking around limited to them.

    • Any chump who hinted at giving a cheater a taste of their own medicine would find out the hard way that cheaters can be freakishly, scarily territorial. It’s kind of an axiom that abusers subject victims to the abusers’ own worst fears. Abuse is like a superstitious ritual in a way where those who dish it out think this somehow wards off the possibility of being on the receiving end.

    • FW accused me of cheating if I so much as smiled at a coworker or made casual conversation at a bar with the person sitting next to me. Meanwhile he was several years deep in his affair and denying it loudly (and calling me crazy for being suspicious). I think, honestly, that he WANTED me to be cheating because then he’d be able to say “see, you can’t be upset with me about OW”. But I never so much as had a cup of coffee with anyone during our entire four+ year separation. I’m that weird person that thinks married means…married, and that married means unavailble. Oh well.

      FW has been dead for a year and a half and I’ve still not dated because I just don’t see the point. I’m so much happier single. I’m not lonely. Sex is nice, but not worth the headache that comes with it.

    • Absolutely. My FW ex was obsessed with wanting to know if I was “cucking” him. He was suspicious of every male friend I had. I on the other hand was happy to let him spend a lot of time with his female “friends”. Guess which one of us was cheating?

      • FW kept accusing me of being “jealous” because I didn’t like him spending time with his “she’s just a friend”. I asked him point blank if I had EVER objected to him spending time with his female friends during our entire 15ish year relationship and he had to admit that I never had, nor had I ever expressed jealousy. But THIS ONE was different.

        Turns out I was completely correct to be worried about OW. They had been having an affair almost from the moment they met.

  • For some reason, this part stuck out to me:
    “being in love and in a committed monogamous relationship doesn’t mean your partner isn’t interested in the waiter”
    Being in love and in a committed relationship means exactly that, Mr. Savage. Noticing a cute guy and being “interested” are two different things. I’m demisexual, so may be approaching this the wrong way, but I can appreciate a good-looking guy without immediately thinking that I want to jump his bones. [I can also appreciate a good-looking woman – that doesn’t mean that I’m the least bit sexually interested, or that I’m not straight.]

    • “I can appreciate a good-looking guy without immediately thinking that I want to jump his bones.” – EXACTLY. In fact, admiring someone in an aesthetic way is COMPLETELY different than sexual attraction, for me.

      I’m demisexual as well, tending towards ace. Maybe that’s why I don’t understand people with “uncontrollable urges”. I’d actually hate to be so controlled by my genitalia. I’m also bisexual, but am still monogamous in relationships. That’s what a comitted monogamous relationship means – “forsaking ALL others”. Of course we will find people attractive. That is far from acting on those attractions and being unfaithful.

      FW *nurtured* his attraction to OW. He went out of his way to talk to her and spend time with her and he let himself entertain a relationship with her. That’s not “one mistake” or feeling attracted to another person. It is a long series of choices. He could have stopped at any point, and he chose not to.

  • Welp, I am so glad I’m not married to Dan Savage! He sounds like an utter delight to be with.

    I remember reading his column in the Metro Times but I wasn’t a huge fan. I believe that some of the incoming letters were actually from him. Could be wrong . . . I’m skeptical about most things.

  • He cheated on his partner and has spent the last twenty or so years sorry-not sorrying the poor sot and trying to justify his shit move. He’s arrogant and full of his savage self. Condoning double dipping leaves way too much chance of STDs, esp AIDS.

  • As the chronically ill spouse, I say fuck that noise. I had cancer in 2001, in and out of the hospital, sick as fuck from the chemo for 6 months. My hair started falling out on my 30th birthday. I honestly don’t remember what our sexual relationship was like at that time because I was too busy trying to survive. How much of an asshat do you have to be to suggest cheating on your spouse/partner when they’re in the isolation ward of the hospital because their white blood cell counts are too low? Sorry, dear, but you weren’t available.

    Years later I started having chronic abdominal and pelvic pain. I became disabled because of it. They had no idea what was causing it for almost 8 years. Intercourse was sometimes very painful for me. Was it an issue in our marriage? Absolutely. Did it give him a license to cheat? No fucking way. I did everything I could to keep that part of our relationship functional. It didn’t always work. Yes, it was extremely stressful. Did it give him a license to cheat? No fucking way.

    Eventually I was diagnosed with massive endometriosis well up into my abdominal cavity. There was also the grapefruit sized ovarian cyst that was mistaken for a non-existent uterus for 4 years, despite 3 CT scans. Was I supposed to say, go ahead and get some when I can’t service you?

    Fuck. That. Noise.

    Yeah, that struck a chord.

    • How horrible, AmyB. I’m sorry you had to go through that nightmare — and with an FW, it’s unimaginable.

  • My ex was (and probably still is) a big Dan Savage fan, and I wonder if his attitudes towards monogamy influenced her into thinking that an affair was OK, because Dan says that you’re justified to do whatever you need to be happy. It’s a shame, because I did believe that Dan was doing good work (e.g. GGG & LGBTQ+ advocacy), but I’ve really soured on him because of his views on monogamy.

    The funny thing is that I would have actually been open to an open relationship, as long as there was communication about what that meant, and a firm agreement to the boundaries, and more ongoing communication to make sure that we were both happy with the arrangement. But I was also perfectly happy with a monogamous marriage, because I loved my ex and was committed to her and our life that we built together.

    So basically, there’s no difference between open and monogamous marriages. Both take caring, commitment, and communication. Having an affair breaks all of that, regardless of the type of arrangement you have.

  • Thank you, CL! Way to take one for the team. I saw this piece yesterday and didn’t bother to read because I knew it would be triggering and stupid. So much better to read your no-BS takeaways than to slog through myself (and still I could only skim the DS quotes). I admittedly was hoping Klein would prove worthier, but oh well. No joke, UBT could hire a full-time staff to chew through NYT’s daily spew, and it’s not just the Opinion section (David Brooks, anyone?), Modern Love, and now Klein; the BS is pervasive.

    Today’s post also strikes a personal nerve. I consumed a lot of Loveline (Dan Savage), Dear Sugar, etc. while driving cross country back to my FW. I was trying to learn and channel everything I could about body/sex positivity, non-judgement, mindfulness, etc. At the time, I was convinced the success of our relationship was up to me and had internalized that our problems came down to my insecurities and countless other faults.
    I had left our home (and my job, health insurance, family, etc.) for several months to find a seasonal job out west in order to give FW time and space to get sober — and because he had been so selfish, cold and cruel after giving up alcohol that he was virtually impossible to live with. (Naturally, I was the one to accommodate and sacrifice so he wouldn’t need to. Chump!) This was all years before DDay 1, but as I learned afterwards, was already years into FW’s cheating. In fact, as I was driving home and worrying about poor FW and pouring myself into self improvement, FW was starting an affair with a new OW, some manipulative and flirty 21-year-old he’d just met. I arrived home, after days of solo driving, full of love and good intentions and made myself mortifyingly vulnerable, and he greeted me with his hood pulled up and his back to me, glued to the tv — after convincing me to come “home” and give up yet another home and career for “us.” He had the nerve to gaslight me that I was being too sensitive and imagining something was wrong, and I didn’t want to rock the boat or “ruin everything” so I just let it all slide and cried myself silently to sleep, then tried to be chill and cheery and loving the next day, and the next. Around that time, FW emailed said OW about finding me in the closet crying, surrounded by my meager belongings and devastated that I’d left and returned for a promise of better, only to find things worse. He also emailed her to say he didn’t feel desire for me (it’s irrelevant, but I was objectively attractive and that was just part of his sick game) and called himself a “monster” and “dirtbag” (and “I’d kill anyone who’d treat b&r like this”) when he came home from fucking her in his truck (a/k/a getting groceries and gas) to find I’d cleaned the house and cooked a special dinner. He even emailed to tell this stranger that my grandmother had died one night. And of course many emails to complain about how hard things were for him — you know, with me. Yet it was “b&r or no one,” the horrible burden he carried, so a few months later he (kind of) ended it with this OW. (Finding all of these emails was one of the final straws I discovered five years later, Dday 3. It’s so creepy to learn about the alternate reality I was living in, out in the woods with that psycho all those years without a *clue*.) As it always is with these abusive, serially lying and cheating FW’s, the story is far worse than I’ve conveyed in this brief chapter, and entitlement can only explain part of how/why he did it all those years. Trust they suck…

    …and trust Dan Savage sucks. (Got off track there! Thinking about that particular time still gets me going.) I cringe to look back on what/who I subjected myself to in the name of relationship building and self improvement. Just so much harmful crap out there, and it really is complete nonsense!

    • P.S. I love today’s post paired with CL’s recent takedown of the “sophisticated” French Canadian. There’s so much substance behind the snark. I’ll still be reading long after I reach meh/Tuesday.

    • “all those years without a *clue*”
      I still cannot believe this part of my FW story, that my intimate secrets and life were being shared in real time without my permission to some howrecker/mate poacher. The theft of self, of intimacy, of money, of physical health, of mental health, etc. It is really having your head stuffed into the blender by the person you thought was your best friend and lover.
      “…and trust Dan Savage sucks” is right, too. utter nonsense, and very, very damaging to boot. ugh.

      • “I still cannot believe this part of my FW story, that my intimate secrets and life were being shared in real time without my permission to some howrecker/mate poacher.” Yes. That was such an awful thing to find out about. It felt so violating.

  • I don’t think sex is beside the point. Not even almost. The torturous, relentless movies playing in our heads after D-Day are almost always about the sex, first and foremost. As bad as it is, it’s not usually the financial abuse that makes our stomachs turn, but the thought of the love of one’s life sharing their body and their orgasms with someone else.

  • It’s been a while since I commented here, but this take down of savage was pretty great. He’s been on this “monogamish” crap for a while, though, and long before I ever knew of Esther.

    The very first video I saw of him, he was giving relationship advice to a straight woman and told her to never expect faithfulness from a man. He said all men are disgusting and will cheat on her. He knows men so well because he’s a gay man of course.

    Since then, I was turned off my his slimey smarminess.

    A lot of these “new” talking points around relationships are quite lazy. They’re insulting to one’s intelligence but unfortunately, being intellectually lazy and governed by ones loins and destructive impulses are the top trends of the day, so people lap it up like it’s gospel.

    Btw, my friend reconciled with her ex even after he became serious with the OW. Unfortunately he passed, so she went through a tough time throughout their relationship.

  • I’m with Chump Lady on this. If you agree to monogamy, be faithful. Does that mean you aren’t going to look at other people, maybe flirt sometimes? No. But don’t cross the line!

    If you want an open relationship, ask for one. If your partner says “No”, then you decide whether to remain monogamous or get a divorce, and then do what you want with other unpartnered people.

    I’ve been single all my life, and yes, I’ve looked at plenty of married men, and thought things, and even flirted with them. But I would NEVER go any further. Ever. And yes, I’ve had married men come on to me. And the answer was “NO.”

    And yeah, I probably shouldn’t have flirted, but, I’m human and make my share of mistakes.

  • It’s kind of worrying how traits that used to be seen as symptoms of a defect personality are now being normalized. Dan Savage’s text seems to me like a view into the mind of a high functioning sociopath. And he makes a living of selling these ideas and arguments tailored to deflect responsibility for your own actions while still getting what you want.

    In some cultures it is considered uncontroversial that if a man sees a woman’s hair hanging loose, he can’t be expected not to rape her. It’s her responsibility to cover up, because his urges are too strong for him to control and it would be unreasonable to demand this of him. In other parts of the world we know that this isn’t true. We also know that it is completely possible to not cheat on your partner when they are sick with cancer and unable to provide “sexual outlet”. We know that a relationship can be more than a series of transactions. It’s only a matter of wanting it enough.

  • Thanks for posting this. I read the transcript of this interview yesterday and it was driving me crazy…..I also used to read Dan Savage and couldn’t reconcile what i thought i knew about him with what was being said here. – It seemed like some kind of sexual superiority vibe – we all have to agree with what he’s saying as the ‘expert’ or we just don’t get it – the reasoning he used to support his arguments – like he knows so many sex workers he must be a relationship expert – it was laughable – the whole conversation seemed like a bad dinner party where one person is talking to another ‘cooler’ person and doesn’t want to criticize the ‘cooler’ person they are talking to. 🙁

  • I don’t know what their problem is with monogamy. If the couple is happy with it, great. If the couple agree on open relationships, great. I am not sure what DS’s argument is.

    I know two gay married couples, who dislike his writings. They are monogamous, have kids, very loyal, loving families. It doesn’t matter if one gets fat and the other gets sick, they know the meaning of real love and commitment. I was reading DS maybe 20 years ago, and during that time it made me think that gay couples have different expectations and their relationship is restless. I now know that I couldn’t have been more wrong.

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