It's no secret around here that I am a big fan of sex advice columnist Dan Savage. I started reading his column a year or so ago and while I probably started reading it for the fetishists and the weirdos I stayed for the funny but thoughtful advice: a particular kind of advice that I've never read anywhere else. Since then I have devoured his books, raced through about five years of archived columns and I listen to his podcast every week. I'm hooked. I've also expanded my vocabulary to include words like pegging and santorum. I'll let those around me decide if that's a good or a bad thing.
Anyway, the lovely Mike recently returned from a US jaunt with a copy of the New York Times Magazine under his arm. The cover story was by reporter Mark Oppenheimer, titled "Married, With Infidelities". It's a really interesting read that kicks off with a bit of rehashing over the Anthony Weiner case but then gets into some seriously interesting stuff on marriage, monogamy and why can't all admit a bit more often that actually monogamy is really bloody hard work sometimes. It quotes Savage a lot - Oppenheimer is clearly also a fan - and without some of the snidey commentary that sometimes happens with mainstream journos write about Savage. It also points out sometime that I think a lot of Savage critics maybe don't think about: that despite being gay and only monogamish, Savage is also kinda... conservative and believes in marriage, couples staying together for the sake of the kids and lots of other things you might not expect.
The article was so interesting that I started to retype some quotes from the magazine before realising I could use my mad interweb skills to track the online version down here. Here is a taste:
Savage believes monogamy is right for many couples. But he believes that our discourse about it, and about sexuality more generally, is dishonest. Some people need more than one partner, he writes, just as some people need flirting, others need to be whipped, others need lovers of both sexes. We can’t help our urges, and we should not lie to our partners about them. In some marriages, talking honestly about our needs will forestall or obviate affairs; in other marriages, the conversation may lead to an affair, but with permission. In both cases, honesty is the best policy.
“I acknowledge the advantages of monogamy,” Savage told me, “when it comes to sexual safety, infections, emotional safety, paternity assurances. But people in monogamous relationships have to be willing to meet me a quarter of the way and acknowledge the drawbacks of monogamy around boredom, despair, lack of variety, sexual death and being taken for granted.”
It's really interesting stuff regardless of whether you're married, unmarried, having sex with lots of people or only thinking about how nice it would be to have sex with lots of people.