Monogamy is perhaps the most visible hallmark of the Relationship Escalator (intimate relationships that follow social norms). But what is monogamy, really? The definition of monogamy really comes down to what the people involved in a monogamous relationship want it to mean. Under current social norms, monogamy refers to some substantial level of exclusivity between […]
Ashley Madison and the problem of compulsory monogamy
If you ever doubted what a nuclear-grade hot button monogamy is in mainstream society, look no further than the fallout from the Ashley Madison hack. Last week, the cybercriminals who stole the user list of this website (which helps people in exclusive relationships arrange secret sexual hookups with other partners) made good on their threat […]
Asking big questions about marriage: Rei’s story
Here’s another story from a reader, about how they transitioned from a legal marriage to refocus on friendship — by asking some pretty big, scary questions. Stepping back from the top of the Relationship Escalator without severing a strong connection of friendship is still unconventional; the Escalator is still supposed to be strictly a one-way […]
New poll reveals strong stigma against ethical nonmonogamy
According to recent poll by YouGov1, only one in four U.S. adults believe that polyamory2 is “morally acceptable.” The majority (56%) believe that polyamorous relationships are “morally wrong,” and 18% aren’t sure. Meanwhile, in the U.K., people are just slightly less intolerant. There, YouGov found3 that just over one third (35%) of British adults find […]
Finding support to realign a relationship: Colin & Jamie’s story
One of the roughest aspects of the traditional Escalator model for intimate relationships is that it doesn’t offer any good ways to step down. When a couple who had been riding the Escalator together decide to end or shift their intimacy, it’s framed in violent terms of separation: a breakup or a divorce. But off […]
Monogamous relationships can be unconventional, too
One of the most obvious, common, and controversial ways that intimate relationships can be unconventional is to somehow step aside from monogamy (sexual and romantic exclusivity). However, about 9% of the responses to my survey on unconventional relationships came from monogamous people — and some of these people have rather unconventional monogamous relationships.
Ashley Madison data theft shows more nuanced conversation on monogamy is needed
When news broke on July 19 that the user database of the website Ashley Madison had been compromised, public moralizing kicked into high gear. Some people were eager to know whether their spouse had stepped out on them; and people who had cheated (or even just been curious about cheating) worried that they might lose […]
What’s Intimacy, and What’s a Relationship?
If you’re going to think about, or discuss, the traditional Escalator approach to intimate relationships (and its alternatives), it helps to really get back to basics. What’s an intimate relationship? Those two little words have more baggage than JFK airport. People layer lots of meaning and assumptions upon intimacy and relationships — both in concept, […]
Friendships: Are they “relationships,” too?
When you hear the phrase “in a relationship,” do you automatically assume it refers to two people who are riding the Relationship Escalator together? Or who at least share a sexual and/or romantic connection? Do you consider “friends” and “lovers” to be mutually exclusive categories?
Off the Escalator book to be published late 2015
It’s been over two years in the making… Off the Escalator, a book that explains several kinds of unconventional intimate relationships and how they work has been written and is due to be published in late 2015.