"This Concept Is Frightening!"
Dr. Sarah Stedman
This question made me wonder if I am just an old-fashioned, socially programmed sexual Neanderthal. But the truth is that I have a system of spiritual values for human dignity that I stand by, and this phenomenon called "the new monogamy" flies in the face of every quality I consider to be essential to the success of a long-term relationship: commitment, mutual respect and the spiritual celebration inherent in two people building a life together. This new version of monogamy sounds like a glorified excuse for self-indulgent, irresponsible behavior, and my suspicion is that there are a lot of younger people out there who are just as frightened by that concept as I am. So if the so-called new monogamy sounds like a clever way of having your cake and eating it too, it probably is. Monogamy is a choice. It doesn't come naturally and sometimes it requires negotiation between partners. But the fact remains that in the end you can either have that cake or you can eat it, but you simply can't have it both ways.
"Managed Monogamy? Oxymoron"
Michele Weiner-Davis, MSW
You have got to be kidding. I've been a marriage therapist for nearly 30 years and I've yet to witness even one open marriage work. Setting morality or the dangers of STDs aside, this idea of managed monogamy '- talk about an oxymoron '- is a disaster waiting to happen. Even if spouses have good intentions and believe they've agreed upon fair rules for fooling around, all bets are off once they open Pandora's box. The promise of pleasurable, kinky, extraordinary sex has a funny way of enticing people to behave in ways '- especially toward their spouses '- that they might not ordinarily. And when they do, jealousy sets in. One spouse wants to call the deal off and the other is too busy getting turned on to care. So, although old-fashioned monogamy may be a far-from-perfect solution for more adventurous couples, it's still, by far, the best one we've got.
"There's No Acceptable Percentage of Risk"
Because I'm a sex therapist, I see the people who have problems, and that probably slants my view in a predictable direction. But boy, do I see problems when couples have been having sex with other people '- even when both parties initially consented to the idea. Two happily married people might think that their relationship can survive introducing other partners into the mix. But when one partner gets jealous, then the damage done to the relationship is often irreparable.
Are there couples that engage in this agreed-upon cheating without incurring any harm? Possibly. So I guess the question becomes: What are the odds of a relationship falling apart because of such behavior? I can't be certain, but if you value your relationship, there is no acceptable percentage of risk in my book. It's my belief that the old monogamy is far better than the new one.