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Parallax - Advice

April 23, 2001

Playing the Monogamy Blues

Dear Conversely,

Ask us a Question!I am a thirty-three year old man looking for an answer to a dilemma that I've struggled with for years - I can't seem to find peace in my relationship with my girlfriend. We've been in a monogamous relationship for over ten years, we're compatible and I enjoy being with her. I thought that by now I'd be interested in having children or getting married, but my sex drive is driving me crazy. My natural urge is to go out with other women, hang out and have fun. These feelings make my life miserable. There is no peace of mind and I'm afraid that I'll grow to dislike my girlfriend because I'm staying with her 'in the name of love' and missing out on things I'd like to do. The situation is not fair (not that anything is) and I assume others have these feelings. I guess I'm searching for a compromise to settle my mind. Email to a Friend

Her view:

Dear Searching,

The compromise is easy. Break up with your girlfriend and sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep around. Right now you are not the guy for a monogamous relationship...or maybe you are and it's just not with her. Either way...cut bait and have at it.

A ten-year relationship and you want to sleep with other people? That's ridiculous. That falls into the category of 'needless suffering.' It doesn't matter if you will or won't get married one day - right now you are not interested in anything that resembles monogamy.

Tell your girlfriend very nicely that you need some festivities, you're not interested in this serious relationship anymore and - more importantly - you need some new girlies. Surely she's seen something like this coming. One doesn't date for ten years and have no idea about the state of the relationship. She may already be thinking to herself that she'd like a little foray.

Just make sure it's a clean break, so you can both easily move on without issues or regret.

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His view:

Dear Searching,

I've got news for you: you're already in a compromise. It works like this. You agree not to carouse and sleep around. In exchange, you get a fulfilling, compatible, exclusive relationship with a woman you love. That's the compromise most men make.

There is another arrangement, but it's tricky to get. You have an exclusive sexual relationship with a woman you care about, but both she and you are free to date others until a more suitable partner is found. I'm not sure your current girlfriend will go for that.

In any case, what you need to do is try the nomadic lifestyle for a while. After ten sedentary years you have all but forgotten what it's like to be going with other women, hanging out and having fun. (How you have survived ten years - given the intensity of the urges you allude to - is a good question.) You've probably also forgotten how sometimes it's not so much fun, a bit lonely and often frustrating and unfulfilling.

But give it a try. If you don't, you'll hate yourself (and maybe also your girlfriend) later on. If you tire of that, you may decide the old compromise wasn't so bad.

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