“You might argue we live in a society full of selfish degenerates who don’t care about their marriages - but if 40% of people are crashing at your intersection, maybe you should stop blaming the drivers and instead take a closer look at the intersection design?”

As a former escort and ‘naked therapist’ I can relate. 90% of my clients were married and not open with their wives seeing sex workers. Most talked about the lack of desire, her getting fat/older and undesirable (yet they put on 30 pounds over the course of their marriage, went bald and had terrible hygiene - their appearance never came up as a factor of why their wives didn’t want to have sex.) Most said they loved their wives but didn’t want to hurt them telling them they wanted sex outside the marriage. But what if she’s thinking about having an affair to get her sexual and emotional needs met- why not just talk about the pink elephant and admit what you really want but reassure one another that you’re not going to abandon the other. Why does the monogamy world equate sex outside the marriage as a sin?

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Look I don't disagree with any of your main premise, i.e. long term monogamy is unappealing and most people have no interest in having sex with the same person and only them for decades or life (even if they think they do), and it violates every biological instinct.

But the problem is that you posit polyamory as the alternative, rather than what would actually happen if people stopped trying for monogamy, which is that most men past middle age would have NO relationships and NO sex, with anyone other than prostitutes, most women past menopause would never have sex again, and prostitutes would be really, really busy. And children would be impoverished and all the men no longer attached to an exclusive family unit would have no interest in working for and funding (directly or through taxes) the care and upkeep of all those children.

It's not like everyone is just dying to have strings free sex with people in the second half of their life, without any of the accompanying benefits of mutual companionship, social prestige, shared investment in kids/grandkids and real estate, financial benefits of joined earning power in one household, etc. In fact pretty much no one does. They want to have sex with hot young people. You compare monogamous and polygamous older men as if those are the only two options, but I know plenty of older guys who are just plain single. And they never have sex at all, just like the monogamously married for 25 years guys. Plus they're incredibly lonely and don't have the family stuff others seem to value. They're the prime suicide demographic.

There is no solution to this problem. The supply and demand of desirable sex partners is simply mismatched, which is precisely why pretty young women can command $600 an hour for sex and nothing else they could do pays remotely that well. And why zero 60 year old men or women could charge any amount to anyone to have sex with them (absent them being willing to engage in some horrific degrading practice a sadist wants that no one else will do or a rare fetishist).

This experiment has been done, like in many many societies, from the LDS in the 1800s to certain current Islamic countries to most ancient civilizations. It results in every case in poverty for children and most women, and the necessity of regularly getting rid of excess men through war, slavery, sacrifice, sending them off to be pirates or on dangerous missions or otherwise expelling them, etc.

Until you genetically engineer out the instinct for sexual possession and drive for exclusive ownership of one's mate, or for the sex drive to disappear at age 50, or for people to remain as beautiful and libidinous as 30 year olds their whole life, there is no solution or utopia. Men show remarkably little interest in remaining closely invested in their children once they're no longer living with the mother. Women past menopause don't want to have sex and no one wants to sex them, amd bc of viagra many are forced to pretend they still want to in order to avoid divorce. And everyone interested in sex desires the same pool of like 10% of the total population. The math doesn't work.

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Not sure I saw children mentioned anywhere in that. Isn't the main purpose of societally-encouraged monogamy that it's more likely to be conducive to a healthy and supportive environment in which to raise to children?

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Apr 18·edited Apr 18

For me whole idea of marriage is total nonsense. How people can be so stupid to promise commitment to one person for life under such rigorous law enforced terms? It doesn't really matter what you want or wish for if you simply don't have 100% control over the situation. Sure, try monogamy if it feels like appealing to you but getting married? Geez, why people give up their freedom so easily, getting enslaved on their own demand, lol. Not even once! I know people who got married literally 3-4 times in their lives. Same mistakes, never enough, catastrophy each time. They must really hate themselves if they "jump under the train" like that over and over again. :P

Also how people ain't aware of getting bored of each other after some time? Having sex often with the same person in a course of a month sounds like a terribly boring routine for me. Actually seeing chart about sex in very long relationships I'm more sorry for those who still have it often than those who stopped having it at all. :P My parents stopped having sex after just like 10y of marriage and sticked only to affairs with others and I guess it's the only reason why their relation survived at all. Lucky them that they both got bored at the same time and way and just got over it instead of turning their lives into hell like most marriages do raging senselessly in courts etc.

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The rank thing was interesting as it was an compelling/frustrating mishmash of superpowers, and things you absolutely wouldn't want to be without. Then down at the bottom some things you don't care about at all, or seem actively harmful.

Read minds>Fly>Fulfilling Active Sex life>Extra 100 year lifespan>A Harem>Perfect Health>Need No Sleep

...and so on...

As for the overall article. Good analogy. Monogamy does indeed end up with a lot of people in rough spots (crashes) in terms of sex life. Though often the big downside there is compensated by upsides in other areas.

I have been pretty lucky overall in that our sex-life seems to have improved overtime mostly. I tend to think one of the big obstacles to polygamy is that the default arrangement would be fewer men to more women, and that this would lead to a surplus of unattached/undesirable men, which is socially destabilizing.

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enjoyed & largely agree with this post, and ESPECIALLY enjoyed the opening anecdote

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Another great article! Thank you for telling us about your experiences as an escort.

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Excellent! Clear, compassionate, and thought provoking. Thank-you.

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Thank you for your compassionate and thorough take on this. It warms my heart to see this topic discussed. The concluding sentence in particular is extremely powerful and deserves a lot more discussion.

Reading through some of the counter-arguments in the comments here, I'm noticing a trend. It doesn't surprise me, but it does make me sad. A lot of people, women in particular, seem to cling to monogamy as a security blanket against the weaknesses and failures of men, in a cultural sense. Without monogamy, men will abandon their children. Without monogamy, men will just seek and endless parade of 20 year old women to have meaningless sex with. Without monogamy, the entire fabric of society will collapse under the weight of mens' shortcomings.

I can't speak for all men, but I don't see myself in all that catastrophizing. I'd never abandon my children. In fact, my children are about the only reason I'm subjecting myself to an unhappy marriage. I'm certain that I would be happier if I pursued divorce, but I'm not certain that my kids would, so I haven't done it.

I'm attracted in a lizard brain kind of way to 20 year old women, sure, but if I was going to find another partner or partners in life, I would be looking in the 30-40 range, my own age. Not just because I have more common ground with them, but because I've enjoyed having sex with them more than younger women. I can't say for sure this trend will continue out evenly throughout the age spectrum, but I do know that stereotype is overlooking a pretty significant exception.

I get that all that is one random man's point of view, and it can't be automatically applied to all men. But one thing I don't think anybody understands about being a middle aged man, until they are a middle aged man, is that it takes an incredible amount of work just to overcome people's assumptions about you and your needs. Things like the assumption that I would abandon my children, if given the chance, and that my unrestrained sexual desire would always be for a nubile college girl.

I get that women, feminists in particular, don't have much or any patience for middle aged men lodging this complaint. I see why that's the case, and I rarely (bordering on never) even bother to register the complaint, because the fact is that I am privileged in a lot of ways, even if that privilege comes with some soul-destroying drawbacks. Personally, I'd be happy to exchange that privilege for some concessions toward a more fulfilling life, but that's not an option that's on the table.

Men have some serious problems in this culture. I have some serious problems. And some of them are rooted in our culture's obsession with monogamy, like a toddler's myopic attachment to it's favorite blanket. And the resistance to consider any solution to those problems seems to be rooted in assumptions that I have a hard time connecting to my lived experience.

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> others said they weren’t attracted in their wives

Typo, "in" should be "to".

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Thoughts on https://ymeskhout.substack.com/p/cuckoldry-as-status-jockeying ?

> The only real dalliance I had with polyamory was when I had brief flings with two married women, each in an open marriage, and both within a month of each other. I got to have some really fun sex and it also unlocked for me a power dynamic I previously was unaware of. It was ludicrously thrilling to find myself fucking a woman who had a husband. Further feeding that dynamic was that both women readily would disclose how difficult it was for their husbands to find dates.

> “How fucking pathetic!” I thought. If I had to rationalize the thrill I felt, I think it's entirely predicated on how status is demonstrated and exhibited differently for men and women. Status for women is much more apparent because (to simplify the topic significantly) it is almost entirely dependent on obviously discernable markers of youth and beauty. But status for men is significantly more situational and dependent on circumstance. In my mind, the fact that this married woman chose to have sex with me instead of her husband unequivocally demonstrated my higher status over him1, and that felt great.

> I have negative interest in having a threesome with another man involved. I'm not sexually attracted to men, but I've been to nude beaches and hot tubs with both men and women naked and felt no aversion, so that can't explain it. Rather, I think I would be way too intensely preoccupied with status jockeying to ever enjoy myself. If the other guy is higher status, I'd wonder “why am I here?” and also would presume that the status disparity would reinforce itself throughout the experience just by virtue of how the attention economy would play out. If the other guy is lower status, I'd start to wonder that the woman is also low-status (why else would she have sex with him?), and then of course I'd wonder if that also means I'm low-status.

> if you're a man and you let your wife/girlfriend fuck another man, that only gives him an opportunity to raise his status. And since status is zero-sum by definition, why would you debase yourself like that?

> So yes, it is indeed “heteronormative” and also clearly a double standard. My response is “Yes, and?”

> (...) Put another way, is the polyamorous man who is enthusiastic about his wife getting railed by other men enlightened or just a victim of a coping worldview. How can we tell?

Polyamory seems rather terrible if that's how it works.

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>We are far too rigid as a culture about the sexual needs of older men, we blame them for failing when it’s the system that demands too much.<

I think what you missed here is that the older men are literally paying you to have sex with them. If they abandoned their marriages and tried to form polycules with multiple women, how many women would be willing to do that with them, without being paid to do it? Probably none, and if there were any, they likely wouldn't be very high quality women. There may be some takers if the man is high enough in status, but that is just a roundabout way of paying for the sex.

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To keep with the auto metaphors, escorts are like the oil pan of the human sexual engine. Without escorts all that unspent male libido builds up. Sometimes it just and destroys the individual car, sometimes it leaks out into society, and sometimes it just explodes

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I really appreciate and largely agree with this post, but, Aella, I wish you would address why you don’t think divorce is the solution. Most people would say that is the cultural recourse or mechanism that is available for people who are deeply unhappy in a committed relationship. And yes, I get that divorce is costly, but 1) some common sense family law reforms would help, and 2) some cost should probably be accepted as inevitable when one partner strongly wants sex and the second partner strongly wants monogamy + no sex.

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Oh another thing, you should do a book/article/podcast/etc. recommendations post!

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I've wondered before why the answer here isn't better living through chemistry. (It often isn't, but this seems like a good place for it.) Like, why isn't the first line response to couples therapy where this is the problem to either get the woman on an aphrodisiac, or, if preferred, the man on a chemical castrant (I think that's the reverse?), until the sex drives are aligned?

I'm not too well informed in psychopharmacology, so perhaps the answer is just "There aren't good drugs for this purpose." But then I wonder, why not? Is it just really hard to make ones? It seems like it could have enough demand to make it worthwhile. Are there laws against it or something? Maybe the general populous would absolutely not be willing to take such drugs, even to save their marriage?

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