Dan Savage On Infidelity For A More Stable Marriage

Is infidelity good for marriage? (Photo: shopangelica/flickr)
Is infidelity good for marriage? (Photo: shopangelica/flickr)

It's kind of a profile of Dan Savage, who is, of course, the brilliant, hilarious and sage author of the syndicated sex-advice column Savage Love, and who, as a gay, married father recently launched a powerful public service campaign, It Gets Better to support young gays who are bullied.

But it's more than a profile. Mark Oppenheimer, writing for the Sunday New York Times magazine, gets Savage talking about how his own marriage has slowly grown more open, sexually, and how frank interaction about sexual needs and desire — which might lead to infidelity — can actually keep a marriage in tact. The key is honesty: messy, potentially shame-inducing, bare- your-soul honesty. Like, your fantasies under oath. Clearly, easier said than done. Here's the gist:

Savage believes monogamy is right for many couples. But he believes that our discourse about it, and about sexuality more generally, is dishonest. Some people need more than one partner, he writes, just as some people need flirting, others need to be whipped, others need lovers of both sexes. We can’t help our urges, and we should not lie to our partners about them. In some marriages, talking honestly about our needs will forestall or obviate affairs; in other marriages, the conversation may lead to an affair, but with permission. In both cases, honesty is the best policy.

“I acknowledge the advantages of monogamy,” Savage told me, “when it comes to sexual safety, infections, emotional safety, paternity assurances. But people in monogamous relationships have to be willing to meet me a quarter of the way and acknowledge the drawbacks of monogamy around boredom, despair, lack of variety, sexual death and being taken for granted.”


I dare any married person — gay, straight, whatever — to read the entire piece and not think twice before getting into bed with your spouse.

This program aired on June 30, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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Rachel Zimmerman Reporter
Rachel Zimmerman previously reported on health and the intersection of health and business for WBUR. She is working on a memoir about rebuilding her family after her husband’s suicide. 



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