Years ago I was introduced to a man whom I believe has significantly impacted my life. His name is Dan Savage and amongst many of his accomplishments, he holds the title of author, commentator, festival creator and radio show host. My foray into Mr Savage was through his Podcast Savage Lovecast which if you’re not a subscriber, I suggest you start downloading an episode ASAP and get yourself acquainted.
So why do I love Dan Savage so much? Well, because he has significantly impacted my sex life. Every week on Savage Lovecast people call into Dans’ podcast to ask him for advice on all aspects of sex and relationships – and let me tell you it’s fascinating! It’s very rare that we (aka non-sex therapists) actually get insight into what’s happening behind closed doors and between the sheets of other adults and so to have sex uncovered and open is really interesting. Dans’ honest, mature, unique and educated perspective on sexuality has changed the way I look at the role of sex in my life and society in general. He’s super candid and it’s refreshing to have someone speak so frankly about sex.
Now, there are so many different aspects of Dans’ learnings I could share with you but to kick start you off on his teachings I’m going to introduce you to the concept of being “monogamish”.
“Monogamish” meaning that the couple is in a committed partnership that is socially pair-bonded but has an agreement that partners can engage in some level of outside sexual activity. Not to be confused with polyamorous relationships, which involve committed partnerships that are socially non-monogamous.
“Some level of outside sexual activity”. BIG STATEMENT. What does that exactly mean?
Before we head there and everyone starts freaking out, I feel we need to start at the beginning with some facts. Also, I need to caveat that my article features heterosexual examples as that’s my own personal journey – but luckily Dan Savage is gay and therefore can speak with greater authority on homosexual references if you need on his site The Stranger.
BACK TO THE FACTS:
- In the UK and USA divorce rates are between 40-50%
- According to studies 60% of men and over 45% of women cheat whilst married
- 40% of people who are married are unhappy
Now I don’t know about you, but these stats aren’t exciting me about rushing down the aisle to say “I do”. Modern marriages aren’t working if such a high proportion of people are cheating, unhappy or terminating them. Clearly something has to shift and that’s where Dan Savage may have a solution.
According to an article by Dr Tammy Nelson titled “Are we meant to be monogamous? Why people cheat, and the appeal of open relationships” she explores “open relationships”. According to her articles these untraditional relationships report to have less jealousy, be more exciting and both parties reported having a more satisfied sex life.
WHY BE MONOGAMISH?
The objective of having a “monogamish” relationship is to improve your relationship longevity not destroy it. It can only work if handled maturely with great communication, honesty and desire from both sides. It’s not a hall pass that excuses cheating, it is infact a permission, a gift that partners discuss with one another about their desires and what they would like to experience in their lives without costing them their primary emotional sexual relationship. Opening up a relationship sexually can be very challenging and can only happen if there is trust, communication, flexibility and honesty in a relationship. Jealousy, expectation, fears and the unknown can invite external challenges, and so it’s essential that partners explore their own boundaries about what is and isn’t acceptable.
RULES TO BEING MONOGAM-ISH
Probably the most important rule is to work out what works for you as a couple. Each relationship will come with its own kinks, needs, desires and histories. You need to come to an agreement that both of you are satisfied. A quick glance at a Reddit thread For those of you who identify as “monogamish” what are the rules of your relationship? will quickly reveal how each couple has created their own rules of engagement. Physical and emotional safety must be a priority and so it’s essential that each couple explores safe sexual practices (including making sure no one gets pregnant) with clear boundaries of what is and isn’t allowed.
Most importantly a key rule has to be, if it’s not working – stop! It’s not mandatory. Since the focus on being “monogamish” is to help couples thrive, if it’s not serving its purpose than perhaps you need to put it aside.
IS IT CHEATING?
Everyone has their own definition of cheating. Years ago I read somewhere that cheating is doing something that you wouldn’t want your partner to know about. I like that definition. I know it’s broad but I think in many ways cheating is broad. You don’t have to have sex to cheat on your partner, a flirty SMS can sometimes cause as much damage as a one night stand. The aim of being monogamish is to be honest and open about your needs, desires, sexual requirements and wishes. it encourages communication, not betrayal or secrecy. As long as everyone is on the same page and consenting then I believe it’s not cheating.
SHOULD I TRY IT?
Like every sexual journey, exploring new boundaries is a personal decision. I believe in education, so take time to learn more about the subject (definitely look up Dan Savage and read all his articles). There are also some excellent TED talks to get you thinking. These include Are we designed to be sexual omnivores by Christoper Ryan, Rethinking infidelity – a talk for anyone who has ever loved by Esther Perel and Monogamish: The new rules of marriage by Jessica O’Reilly.
Bringing a “monogamish” attitude into your relationship should not be replacement to a healthy, happy, solid connection. If there are elements that you can fix prior to adding the complexity of additional sexual adventures then I strongly suggest you do. We should all focus on making our committed relationships the best that they can be.
More than anything, the aim of sharing the concept of being “monogamish” is to encourage an expanded view of sexual relationships, to propose modern solutions to traditional problems and to invite a sense of sexual curiosity.
Wherever you are in your life, I hope that you have wonderful, glorious sexual adventures and that you find true sexual satisfaction no matter what pathway you take.
Written by Danielle Lauren
Danielle Lauren is the Founder of Owning 30 and has been working in the Entertainment Industry for over 17 years. Her love of storytelling has passionately driven her to a successful career with global credentials. She has directed ‘The Vagina Monologues’ at The Sydney Opera House, ran MTV Australia / New Zealand as their sole Executive Producer, mobilised 30,000 filmmakers internationally to film their lives simultaneously for a feature film called the 11Eleven Project and currently works on digital projects for Google, Microsoft, Sky, Sony, BBC and MTV UK. Passionate about making the world a better place for all people Danielle has also worked with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, WWF, UNHCR, NSW Rape Crisis Centre, WIZO and the Aids Council. Danielle currently sits on the Royal Television Society’s futures committee, helping young people build fledging careers in the UK TV Industry. A global citizen Danielle was born in South Africa, grew up in Australia, lived in America, France and now resides in the United Kingdom.