Readers’ Comments

Although the level of discourse on interactive sites sometimes horrifies us, we thought we should offer some avenue for comment. We’re not sure what we’re expecting – maybe a heartfelt insight, a reaction to what resonates, an under-represented viewpoint, or, perhaps your own story.

Please hold off on the diatribes, attributions and/or sweeping generalizations. This site is not about proclaiming a right way, whether it be monogamy, non-monogamy or what all couples or any couple should or shouldn’t do. We probably can learn more together if we each speak about what is true for our own relationships.

David writes:
April 4th, 2017 at 10:52 am

I’m a 52 year old gay man. I met my partner/husband when I was 24 years old. We have remained monogamous the entire time. It was not easy. There is virtually NO information out there for how to maintain monogamous relationships among gay male couples over the long term. Lots of articles/books on how to find a partner and how to open up a relationship. But very little research has been done on the challenges of maintaining a successful, monogamous relationship in the face of hostility from the straight world that thinks the relationship is doomed to fail (i.e. “gays are so promiscuous”), and even from the gay world, that also often doubts the durability of monogamous relationships (i.e. “men are non-monogamous by nature”).

Yes, straight society applauds you for following their monogamous model – but they give you no advice on how to succeed.

I am not sure if that’s because so many gay couples my age passed from AIDS and simply aren’t around? Is it that monogamous coupledom is just not as attractive a topic for publishers/magazines as articles on non-monogamy and dating? I admit it is still hard to find role models for long-term monogamous couples who have been together for 15-20+ years.

But I do believe that couples like us exist. Particularly now, as those of us who came of age in and survived the age of AIDS when monogamy was stressed as a strategy to survive. I have absolutely NO objection to non-monogamous relationships. But I think it would be a pity to let the lessons and experiences of men who decided to pursue monogamous relationships go untold. If the younger generation is expressing an increasing interest in monogamy, they could benefit from some good research in that regard.

I would welcome any publications anyone could point me to in this regard.

Joel & Chris writes:
May 28th, 2015 at 9:17 am

Hi Gents:
We should have written this e-mail several years ago.
***Thank you.***

As Joel and I have found our solid ground together over the past five years since we met, we have used your original study as a “reference” to help understand that the different phases we went through to get where we are today (which is heaven on earth) were not unique, unexpected or insurmountable. Both coming from a more traditional expectation of a “relationship” we would have never dreamed that we could have it all — love, devotion, loyalty — and recreational fun sex with others too.

Your study helped show us options and possibilities that would have been difficult to discuss or conceive from scratch and also reassured us that the goal was obtainable if we both wanted it. SFSU and others are doing “similar” studies, but frankly they focus on HIV and disease transmission issued because that’s where the funding comes from. Your study was focused on the emotional aspect – which was of the most importance to us.

So, . . . Thank you. Your work has very real and positive results and we are evidence of that.
Below is a link to our little private website. I hope you don’t mind, but we added a link to your site from our site.

Thank you, Chris + Joel

Perry Brass writes:
September 12th, 2014 at 6:06 am

I am so glad that I discovered your work. It is really valuable. I have been writing about gay relationships for about 40 years, and have always felt that there is a dynamism in our relationships that most heterosexuals envy. For one thing, many of us do get to “eat our cake and have it, too.” That is, we can have incredibly trusting, caring, nurturing relationships that are not based on coercive monogamy which, unfortunately, has been the model for heterosexuality. Monogamy basically kept women at home, “barefoot and pregnant.” It was instituted to make sure that Dad did not have to pay for the kids of other men. I do know of many gay (or same-sexualized) men who are into monogamy, often from cultural reasons, or also from health fears. And I have started to understand that monogamy can have huge rewards, something I had no claim to understand when I was in my 20s—I am currently in my mid-60s. In my popular book from 1999, “How to Survive Your Own Gay Life,” I wrote about the hazards of enforced monogamy, and how that endangered or destroyed so many gay relationships; in “The Manly Art of Seduction” (2012) I wrote about seduction within monogamous relationships—how important it was to keep sex fresh and adventurous—and also about seduction that opens committed relationships to other experiences. Many times, these outside experiences are actually very advantageous to the relationship. But they can also be threatening. What is important is to understand your own sense of self, of your own needs for security as well as novelty, and also for getting in touch with that “Deeper Self” that really holds you and your closeness to others together. Perry Brass, author of the forthcoming “The Manly Pursuit of Desire and Love.”

Dave writes:
August 5th, 2014 at 10:22 pm

Hi to every one, the contents existing at this site are actually awesome for
people knowledge, well, keep up the nice work fellows.

lanz writes:
April 9th, 2014 at 5:00 pm

From Lanz and Blake:
Thanks Ryan for the letter and appreciation. I’m afraid we don’t know the answer to your question. We could hypothesize that men being with men better understand each other’s needs and desires. Or perhaps men are more programmed or socialized to be promiscuous, or there’s a history in the gay subculture of non-monogamy, particularly given relationships weren’t sanctioned or socially encouraged per se, or men are more likely to see sex as sex and divorced from emotions. We can also find fault with all of these lines of thinking.

Agree a study on heterosexual non-monogamy would be of great value.

Not that this helps you, but we are starting another study soon looking at younger gay men (20 – 40 years old) who are in monogamous or non-monogamous relationships and their views on both, as well as on gay marriage. Lanz & Blake

Ryan writes:
April 8th, 2014 at 5:26 am

We are a heterosexual couple that has been married 23 years. We have had periods of non-monogamy and discovered infidelity. Currently we are exploring our beliefs about monogamy and non-monogamy and I stumbled across your book. To say it was amazing is an understatement. In and out of counseling, we have tried to draft “rules” or “boundaries” or as you call them in your book “norms” about involvement with others outside our marriage and have so far failed miserably to find what works for us, so we’ve fallen back on monogamy. The statistical data your presented helped spark some much-needed and productive conversations.

I am left with one unanswered question, and I’d give anything to hear your thoughts on this: Why is it assumed that male homosexual couples are inherently non-monogamous, but heterosexual couples are inherently monogamous?? And further, is heterosexual non-monogamy the “last taboo”? We live in constant fear of discovery. In our (American) society, it’s better to be a cheater than to say, “oh, no, it’s okay with me she sleeps with that guy.” Or WORSE, threesomes with two men and a woman!

I would LOVE to see you guys do this same type of book on heterosexual marriages. It would be a huge eye-opener, but I would probably have to admit, many would be afraid to participate.

Thank you for an absolutely terrific book. I’m giving everyone in my poly group a copy!

Steve writes:
February 5th, 2014 at 10:21 am

My partner and I (now we’re actually legally married) met in February of
2003 and one of the first things we discussed then was the topic of open
relationships. Thomas said at that time that he knew that eventually
we’d approach that subject, but not at the beginning. He’s Argentine.
I’m American. I moved down here to be with him, a move that started in
2003 and became permanent in 2005.

In 2007 we had our first “trío”, and then had sporadic encounters
together with only two other guys, until 2009 when we had obligations
separating us by about 1000 kms., we kind of “let go” and decided to
accept a lot more freedom. The road was very rocky, and peppered with
jealousies and upsets, and attempts at creating boundaries. In 2011/2012
we had a two-year hiatus after I met a guy I really liked, and this
damaged the relationship to the point that even though I realized my
error after a few weeks, Fabian refused to take me back for a total of
two years (he wanted me to quit my job and come back home and share the
same domicile, however). One day he showed up unexpectedly wanting me to
to return to Argentina, and for us to declare ourselves a couple again,
and I eagerly accepted. I never stopped loving him.

One of his insistences was that it be an open relationship, and I of
course was perfectly fine with that. I love sex! We both decided that
the relationship was about mutual caring and stability (basically that
we are each other’s family), and not about sex, not that sex isn’t
important. Thomas’s need for sex is about once a week, and mine is
triple that, so this has been a stumbling block at times, but we decided
not to make sex the focal point of our being together – especially
important since we are aging (I’m 57, and Thomas will be 49 in a couple
of weeks).

Another of our sexual issues throughout the relationship is that we
share the same sexual preference – active, and that neither of us is too
keen on accepting the other role. We have great sex anyway, but that
portion of sex shows up as “missing”, and is satisfied perfectly by a
third partner.

One of the aspects of our renewed relationship is that we don’t argue as
much. We’ve been arriving at rules and communicate a lot, and in a
less-reactive way. The two basic rules are: 1) One-time encounters with
a stranger are OK – but no repeating, unless it’s with the two of us,
and 2) Tríos are fine, but we have to be very conscious about “sharing”
and making sure the attention is distributed evenly.

Our sexual exploits have mostly occurred when we’re in urban contexts,
Montevideo or Buenos Aires, and from time to time at home with guys from
the closest metropolitan area of a 450,000 people, the border cities of
Posadas, Argentina and Encarnación, Paraguay. Those guys come an hour
and a half by bus to visit us for an overnight or weekend.

There seem to be quite a few passive guys that have fantasy of what we
have to offer them, so the situations that have arisen have been quite
pleasant for everyone involved. This has reinforced the viability of
our arrangement, and given us a lot of hope for being a successful
couple for the rest of our lives.

We’ve actually talked about the possibility of a stable boyfriend for
the both of us (or more than one), someone who enjoys both of us, and
won’t try to “steal” one of us from the relationship. This would be kind
of a feat, since we live in a rural area near a small city where most of
the gay men are married to women, and they do not under any
circumstances want to be associated with two guys who are known homos.
We’ll see what the future has to say about this possibility.

Thomas struggled with the open relationship topic before meeting me, and
couldn’t handle the jealousy, and as a result, hadn’t had a relationship
that lasted more than a year at the time he met me at 38 years old.

I went into the relationship with Thomas hoping to be monogamous, but
when a few years pass and frustrations don’t get worked out, you know
that despite the “ideal” of monogamy and the cultural baggage we drag
into our personal lives, it’s not possible for some.

One of the things that’s different for me now is that I feel no guilt
about this type of arrangement. I sacrificed sexually in many previous
relationships, and this was always pointless, and always ended badly. My
first longterm relationship in the 70’s / early 80’s was open, until
people from outside the relationship weighed in on the topic, and we
felt pressured to accept monogamy. One lesbian friend back then declared
that our open relationship was “out of integrity”. The attempt at
monogamy backfired after less than a year mostly because of my
transgressions, and that very close and intense seven-year relationship
after that point was dead in the water. I had two longterm relationships
after that, one with a man (7 years together) and one with a woman (9
years together), and I can realistically say that the insistence on
monogamy is what did in both of those close, loving relationships.

Why repeat the same mistakes?

My feeling is that true monogamy is rarely practiced. After meeting tons
of guys online in Argentina and Uruguay who are married to women and who
are trolling Manhunt in the hopes of finding a gay guy who will
penetrate them, the hypocrisy of the monogamy moral stance is
evident. And I think that in the majority of multi-year (30, 40, etc.)
heterosexual relationships, the kind we like to point to as the examples
of marital perfection, at least the man has faltered a few times and
keeps a private lockbox of memories containing eros, with accompanying
wistfulness and guilt.

Ron writes:
February 5th, 2014 at 10:20 am

Kudos on your study on monogamy, or NON-monogamy. My husband of 10 years and I began our relationship with the mutual agreement that monogamy would not be expected.

I had had a previous supposedly monogamous relationship of 11 years, during which my partner cheated behind my back. I was absolutely monogamous for almost 10 years until I got tired of his total lack of interest in me sexually. He told me he wasn’t “getting any on the side”, but I had my doubts. How could any sexually healthy man do without for months. The truth hurt.

My husband John had much the same learning experience during a 13-year prior relationship. In his case, he found out his supposedly monogamous partner had been carrying on a second relationship with a man in a neighboring state. The nerve! It’s what led my husband and me to rethink the whole monogamy thing when we started dating.

Both he and I had been happily single for about two years when we met. We were accustomed to partnership and easily fell for each other, but discussed right away where we DIDN’T want this relationship to end. It was almost funny how quickly we agreed. Neither of us wanted to be lied to, disappointed by a partner you made promises he couldn’t/wouldn’t keep, AND neither of us wanted to do without intimacy and sex, just for the sake of monogamy. My mother didn’t like it the day I told her bluntly that my husband and I do not expect monogamy, but I hope she also understood that he and I are very committed to one another. We recognize that no one person can possibly be everything to another person. I am an identical twin, but I have differences from my brother. (I could NEVER be his husband! God bless his husband for putting up with his idiosyncracies and God bless mine for putting up with mine.

It sounds to me like you and your husband came to the same conclusions for your relationship as my husband and I. I try not to preach too much to others I talk to, but I do say the following at times: No one should ever be surprised if a lover, partner, husband, or wife is intimate with someone else over the course of a relationship. I do not believe that humans are not intended to mate with only one partner. Our complexities require variety, especially for males, but it’s not exclusive to males. My husband and I do agree, however, that men are pigs. We both like pigs. Pigginess is one of the things that drew us to each other and has kept us together. If my husband didn’t have a strong sex drive and passion for me and others, I don’t think I’d find him nearly as interesting. It would only be a problem if he lied and tried to hide it. I suspect you and I are of very, very like mind. Granted, some will chastize the notion of non-monogamy, but frankly, harems where the norm in the Holy Land at the same time Christianity was flourishing. This isn’t a new idea. And when you consider all the marriages and divorces supposedly monogamous straight people go thru, isn’t that just serial monogamy, not real monogamy?

It’s always seemed such a waste that a married couple throws everything away just because one (or BOTH!) of them need a little something different on the side. Hey, THAT’S normal. As I told my dad a few years ago, when he was very down about having “slipped” and had sex with a neighbor, while his second wife was recovering from a second hip operation, we have to do what we have to do sometimes, to stay sane. He needed intimacy. He needed sex. He wasn’t marrying anybody new, but he needed to mate with a someone who wasn’t his mate. I probably would have done the same thing. I think most healthy men would too in a similar situation. In other centuries they called them “paramours”. This is nothing new, for gays or straights. Thanks for spreading this news, for those that didn’t know.

Kris writes:
June 28th, 2013 at 11:54 pm

Fantastic website and research. Thanks so much for sharing.

I believe most of this information would resonate among heterosexual or hetero/bi couples as well.

My partner (mostly hetero male) and I (bisexual female) have been non-monogamous from day one, but we came at it from different viewpoints. I was completely okay with an open NSA sex situation, but didn’t want him to get emotional with anyone else. He wanted polyamory, multiple “relationships.”

It took a long time and many, many discussions, often frustrating discussions, to find a paradigm that works for us. We went through the steps you described. I remember the frustrated thoughts of “Why doesn’t he get what I’m saying?” and “Why doesn’t he think like me?” followed be eventual acknowledgement and acceptance of our differing views. The lightbulb really went off when light dawned and we came to the (now blatently obvious) realization that we didn’t have to think in exactly the same way or share the exact same opinions. What we had to do was find some middle ground that would work for the two of us. We took baby steps, opening up more and lessening restrictions over time as we both became more secure in the relationship.

To offer you some extra data from a hetero/bi couple, what we ended up with was lots of other partners who are friends, at some middle point of emotional involvement. We also have NSA sex occasionally at swing parties and are open to non-local love relationships. He had a romantic relationship with another woman for three years, but they have split and he doesn’t currently have a secondary. I’ve been in a romantic relationship with another woman for three years this coming September. We both also have several other play partners who we see occasionally. We play both together and separately, sharing those partners that we’re both interested in. The non-local romantic agreement keeps us safe from ever having an external romantic relationship severely impact our day to day lives. One of us may have a partner who visits overnight now and then, but there are no local partners who are going to want multiple dates per week or family outings with the kids.

Edward writes:
June 25th, 2013 at 6:33 pm

I enjoyed reading Creating Healthy Open Relationships almost as much as I did Beyond Monogamy. The conclusions in the article were refreshing, and a bit of a surprise.

Jones writes:
June 4th, 2013 at 11:28 am

Magnificent website. A lot of useful information here. I am sending it to a few buddies and also sharing in discussions. And of course, thank you for your effort!

Evan writes:
June 4th, 2013 at 11:20 am

My boyfriend and I have been together for over 6 years. We started off monogamous but being young (we started dating when I was 3 weeks shy of 19 and he had just turned 20) I think we both were concerned that we were “missing out” on something. 3 years in we took a break and were both miserable from it. We realized we really loved each other but had been hurting our relationship by trying to force ourselves into the “norms” of monogamy when we both had sex drives that while sometimes filled by one another, were sometimes leaving more to be desired. We had tried including a 3rd and at first that was very exciting, but eventually it lead to more jealousy when one partner was clearly prefered over the other. So, after a month apart when we decided to recomit we discussed that the only plus side to being apart was the feeling that we had the option to act on our sexual urges freely. We decided at that point that we would be open to sexual activity together or apart and we would share the stories with each other as a way to enhance our own sex life. We made clear though that it would never cross into a romantic territory. No dates, drinks, dinners, going out to movies, etc. It would just be physical and safe fun and then we would share with each other. It has worked amazingly well because 3 years later we our still very much in love and have had not one of the high intensity fights we had periodically before. To us it seems being sexually open is a great release valve. The sex never comes before each other and our open discussion helps us to get closer and neither of us has to hide any desires or activites from the other. I know many couples heterosexual and homosexual and in every one I know of some form of straying. Having to lie or hide something from your partner, to me, is much worse than being in any sort of open relationship. However, it does take a lot of self awareness and checking your ego to accept that your partner can be sexually attracted to other people without replacing you or them meaning more or even being equal to him/her. That seems to be the hardest part.

David Lantry writes:
March 21st, 2013 at 5:04 pm

I am a gay man who does not agree completely with this theory and practice. The scales seem, to me, tipping in favor of the people in open relationships. The “Partners Who Play” get everything they want, the companionship, the acknowledgement and acceptance from the community of their said relationship, the financial benefits, the emotional support of a significant other and sex with whomever they choose. What about the third party? Is it really “no strings attached” sex when one consenting adult is “married”? That appears to be a significant string to me. If you are a single gay man seeking sex for the sake of sex, that is fine. Isn’t the pursuit of a commitment the evolution of seeking sex? I believe it is and I struggle with men who say they want the commitment of a relationship and the freedom to play outside the confines of their relationship. The study is clearly well thought out, but it rings of “having your cake, eating it too and sampling something else tasty, just as long as you’re home in time for dinner with the husband.” In my opinion, this study does not promote gay marriage, instead it is a solid argument for relationships, where the expectations and boundaries are clearly spelled out to both parties. With that said, the open relationship for all appearances becomes a contractual relationship rather than a marriage.

Eric Fuentes writes:
January 4th, 2012 at 1:43 pm

I’m sure you have already heard this a million times but, THANK YOU for this!
GOD, I have ALWYAS wanted SOME kind of info on how I should do things in
relationships AS A GAY MAN. I have gone crazy trying to figure out if I was
wrong in thinking the things I do, desiring certain lifestyles, shifting in my
values, etc. The research you’ve done, the data you’ve collected & the
information you share help ME better understand that I am NOT alone, or crazy or
idealistic. You have helped me better define my standards & now I feel like I
have a template for success. I don’t know how to express my gratitude to you for
doing this but I pray that you two feel the empowerment you just gave me, gave
GAY MEN! Truly, you have marked your place in history, in this world as people
who gave back & changed at LEAST THIS person’s life!

Thanks again,
Eric Fuentes

Alejandro writes:
February 24th, 2011 at 7:04 pm

I have been looking for updated information in the subject. After been in open-relationships all my life I feel that this aspect of relationships should be further explored and examined empirically. This is probably the most comprehensive study I have read to date. Interesting, funny, & enlightening.

David writes:
October 3rd, 2010 at 9:14 pm

Thanks SO much for the study. We’ve been reading it together. It has proven very interesting and helpful with our communication too.

Leland writes:
March 1st, 2010 at 8:23 am

My husband and I have been together for 20 years. We have a 10 year old son and a 4 year old daughter. Non-monogamy has always been good for us. We, of course, have very strict rules of safety which we must follow outside of our relationships. That has discouraged some potential partners but that is just the way it is. Non-monogamy has never been a problem in our relationship. Indeed, almost all of our arguments over our two decades together have been about family, the house and, most of all, the kids. How typical is that!
I am sorry that this study did not ask if the participants were raising children. (Study authors: One of the 86 couples was raising young children.)

Gayle writes:
February 26th, 2010 at 12:30 pm

Really interesting study, a look into possibilities not imagined in the larger culture.

Ellis writes:
February 26th, 2010 at 11:32 am

Of course you all are living in an area which has people even in the non gay population still trying to figure out the best and most satisfying ways to be human. Here in Virginia Beach, Va, I know few heterosexuals, in or out of relationships who are intrigued by why, how our sex lives are always who we are through out our lives. The conversations with each other and with others seems to remain in the simplified versions of romance, affairs, jealousy, breakups etc.

I guess sex is kinda like linguistics, combinations of descriptive and prescriptive while always changing in uneven degrees, wave patterns on the shore, disturbed by other blue water forces far out of sight of land.

It was and is true that long term gay couples are seen as monogamous and seem to be accorded an approving nod from the non gay. Which is of course interesting as I mostly assume all couples are attracted to others even though not perhaps acting on it.

Libido is such a funny thing.

Kathleen writes:
February 25th, 2010 at 11:06 am

This is an interesting and provocative read even though I’m a straight mother living in surburbia. Thanks for the work and sharing it. BTW, I think straights have their own version of the ‘sauna clause’ – whatever happens at business conferences stays there.

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