Reason as the Leading Motive

Monogamy May Not Be Sexual Fidelity

Posted by Jerry on March 12, 2012

I think some clarity is required around the varieties of legitimate romantic relationship designs. In particular, we must dispel this notion that monogamy is identical to sexual fidelity.

In reality, truly loving and healthy romantic relationships can occur in at least the following designs. The different is merely in the negotiation of boundaries, keeping in mind the character, virtues, motivations, and psycho-sexual orientation of the individuals involved:

(1) Monogamous closed relationship — Sexual as well as Emotional/Romantic fidelity with only one partner
(2) Monogamous open relationship — Only Emotional/Romantic fidelity with only one partner, but sexual openness based on consensual boundaries
(3) Poly-amorous closed relationship — Sexual as well as Emotional/Romantic closed-ness with a defined and exclusive set of partners
(4) Poly-amorous open relationship — Sexual as well as Emotional/Romantic openness with an undefined and non-exclusive set of partners

In other words, the concept of monogamy does not necessarily include the behavior of sexual fidelity.

Now, there can be strong arguments made about the varying degrees of prudence, success, and wisdom attributable to each of the above relationship designs. For example, I believe that design number 4 above is highly imprudent as a practical manner of living, because it may not entail emotional stability and success in achieving some romantic goals; it may engender emotional conflicts and logistical difficulties, and it may demand unreasonable amounts of emotional, financial, and psychological investment.

Having said that, it does not follow that deep, intense, passionate, and real romantic love cannot exist and be experienced by individuals involved in any of the relationship designs described above.

3 Responses to “Monogamy May Not Be Sexual Fidelity”

  1. D.Bandler said

    I responded to your comment in the last blog post. Your comment was unresponsive to the traditionalist argument against both female and homosexual liberation.

    Regarding this, we know that #1 can sustain a stable political society. But Can #2, 3 or 4? The most interesting challenge that I have seen about sexual libertarianism argues that female hypergamy is politically destabilizing; ie that women’s tendency to be sexually attracted to high status males will result in a disorientation of the mating market and create large numbers of sexually frustrated males who as a result of their being ignored by females will not be invested in society and will be a permanent source of destabilization. There are even more details to the argument. Google up Roger Devlin. His arguments against sexual liberation, while you may not agree with them, are fascinating and well researched.

    Considering the fact that no Poly-amorous society has been a wealthy, politically stable, liberty oriented one and also considering the fact that America up until the 1950s was a socially and sexually conservative culture and it was this culture which resulted in America’s wealth and greatness, I think it is a fair question to wonder just how compatible #2, 3 and 4 are with a freedom oriented stable Republic. I’m a libertarian, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t consider arguments against libertarianism, both sexual and economic.


    The west who propounded this theory has become nations full of fatherless children. The basic structure of the society, the family has been destroyed. We all have sexual urges and sure go out of the prescribed limits of society. This is wrong but yet we do. But if these erroneous acts are made legitimate the society will be ruined. This country is strong because our values are strong. The family structure is in tact. I have interacted with many westerners who have had group sex including their parents in the act. I have seen them telling our country is blessed because of our strong family structure. Let us hold on to what has held us up togtether!

  3. Ergo said

    Both the comments above again refer to the *imprudence* argument against the points mentioned in the post. And this has never been in dispute. There is a certain imprudence–or lack of good judgment–in engaging in some types of relationship designs. The impact of this may be difficult for the individuals as well their societies.

    But so is any other kind of imprudent activity–any activity that is beyond the capabilities and competencies of the individual to handle rationally could lead to difficult consequences.

    However, the thrust of the post is not to make claims about prudence of these activities. It is to emphasize the variety of legitimately moral and respectable relationship designs that are possible to human beings. This does not mean all humans can successfully navigate these relationship arrangements; many will fail and wreak havoc. But does that give anyone the political right to outlaw these arrangements and restrict freedom of activity only to the range of the lowest common denominator?


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