Sorry, Millennials. Monogamy is Not a “Spectrum”

You have probably noticed there are certain activities—or “lifestyles,” if you insist—that tend to produce an excessive amount of insufferable disciples who tend to ruin social encounters by refusing to shut up about it.

They are vegetarians, vegans, marathon runners, cross fitters, socialists, libertarians, Silicon Valley bros, and people who pretend to know things about wine, among others. There is not necessarily anything wrong with belonging to one of these groups, but it’s still wise to avoid these types at all times if possible.

You should probably know about another group—or “cult,” if you prefer—that is poised to join the ranks of insufferable chattering social cliques.

Maybe you’ve heard of them—the growing number of adherents to “non-traditional sexual lifestyles” who have liberated themselves from monogamy. They probably also fall into many of the categories listed above, but soon they’re going to insist you hear all about their “alternative” sex lives. And who knows? In several years, being in a “traditional” monogamous relationship might be as socially backward as wearing gym socks with flip-flops.

Some proponents of “open marriage” or “polyamory” might see this as an apt analogy. They see monogamy as a physical act—like walking around with weird Ninja Turtle toes. Some have dabbled in the sexually non-traditional in an effort to save their boring monogamous marriages. Some have published their success stories on the internet: “My Husband And I Had A Threesome And It Saved Our Marriage.”

In case you were wondering, the term polyamory was popularized in the early 1990s by some hippie named Morning Glory Zell-Raveheart who, along with her husband, a self-proclaimed wizard, surgically engineered goats—“tortured,” if you prefer—by fusing their horns together to create “living unicorns” for the Ringling Bros. circus. I am not making this up.

Efforts to spread the gospel of “group love” are already well underway. The ink was not even dry on the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling legalizing gay marriage before some pundits proclaimed: “Group marriage is the next horizon of social liberalism.” A few weeks later, VICE reported: “These five people are having a baby together.” Because why not?

As is the case with most of our unusual social trends, millennials are largely to blame. YouGov recently published a study that found millennials to be leading the charge against monogamy. Nearly one in five people ages eighteen to twenty-nine reported having engaged in sex outside their relationship with the consent of their partner; nearly one third expressed some degree of openness to the idea of their partner fooling around with someone else. Of course, this might not be a genuine reflection of millennial opinion; they might just be afraid of giving an uncool answer.

One millennial, Zachary Zane, lauded the YouGov study in a Boston Globe article titled: “What if we thought of monogamy as a spectrum?” Because if that’s how we’re going to approach things like gender, sexuality, and “news,” then why not everything else? The study asked respondents to rank their ideal relationship on a scale from zero (completely monogamous) to 6 (completely non-monogamous). Just 51 percent of millennials answered zero. For other age groups, the percentage was significantly higher.

In an effort to explain the trend, Zane makes some compelling points. “We’re a generation that grew up with divorced parents,” he writes. “We live in a generation of options. No longer are we confined to date the boy next door. With Tinder and all the other dating apps, we can find boys (and girls!) all over the world.”

This dynamic has sparked a “millennial sexual revolution” of sorts. The changing environment with respect to sex and dating and (to a lesser extent, so far,) marriage is impossible to deny. But it’s less clear that these changes, and the forces driving them, are worth celebrating. When it comes to online dating—“casual hook-ups with strangers,” if we’re being honest—one man’s “revolution” is another woman’s “apocalypse.”

Millennials can look at the high divorce rates among their parents’ generation and fairly conclude that monogamous marriage is flawed. Many have, judging by the declining marriage rates in recent years. But that doesn’t mean a more laissez-faire approach to monogamy will make us any happier, or be some “unicorn” solution to our modern-day sexual frustrations. It might turn out to be just another tortured goat.


  • Unmutual One

    So very tired of Millennials.

  • Micha_Elyi

    Robert Heinlein, who was neither a Millennial nor a Boomer, wrote of what is now called polyamory in his 1960s-era novel, Stranger in a Strange Land.

    So, I gotta ask, what else is Andrew Stiles deeply wrong about?

    • Mark

      So Stiles is correct that the term emerged in the 90s, since what Heinlein wrote about what was not called polyamory?

    • richard40

      He also had a multiple partner stable line marriage in The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress. Heinlein was as much libertarian as he was conservative. I think Stiles has a point though in that such arrangements work better in theory than in actual practice, and for the average person single marriage works better.

  • Mark

    Fidelity sometimes requires effort. Millenials hate effort.

    • richard40

      Its not just millenials, all young people hate effort and rules. When most boomers were young we were even worse. But if they grow up into responsible adults that attitude changes.

  • DJ9r

    “Swinging” has already been tried, and (by most) found wanting.

    Silly Millennials. Their bubble is so small, their knowledge of the past so slight, they don’t even know when they are repeating history.

    • crabtown

      Tell me about it. They think they will solve all the world’s problems. Get in line.

    • m a

      Yeah, the assumption in the line, “Millennials can look at the high divorce rates among their parents’ generation and fairly conclude that monogamous marriage is flawed.” was that the parents actually were being monogamous.

      • richard40

        True, the problem may not have been monogamy, but their parents who did not follow their marriage vows.

    • Mystery Babylonian

      Youth is wasted on the young.

  • Isolden

    Everything old is new again. Men, and to a lesser extent women, have been cheating for years. It’s all fun and games until you want to have a child, and make sure the child you are raising is actually yours. Then an open relationship doesn’t seem that great.

  • brianmacker

    “They are vegetarians, vegans, marathon runners, cross fitters, socialists, libertarians, Silicon Valley bros, and people who pretend to know things about wine, among others. ” You forgot to add the long term most obnoxious variety, Christians. Especially in the south where they just assume they can ask you what church you go to. It’s worse than vegans. I never get a vegan just assuming I avoid eating meat and asking me what specific vegetarian diet I am on.

    • JDanaH

      Except that after you politely say, “I’m not religious,” the southern Christians usually have the good manners to shut up.

      • Denton Salle

        And they don’t normally exhibit the hatred of others shown by the original commentator. Of course, his mocking of Christians is, as we all know, virtue signaling to his SWJ peer group.

        • 4Sqr7

          I don’t think you know what “hatred” means, dog.

    • m a

      I live in SoCal, and I have had that occur several times. A couple of times in the grocery store though, when they noticed I didn’t have any meat items and assumed I was a vegetarian…

    • Mark

      The key to being in the club was, “refusing to shut up.” In my experience, that characteristic isn’t a fundamental of Christianity. I don’t recall Jesus saying anywhere that in order to follow him you have to love and refuse to shut up. But, maybe I just missed that part.

      • richard40

        It is not fundamental to christianity, but there are too many christians that dont realize that. I will say though that I have found the vast majority of christians to be much less obnoxious that your typical leftie or atheist.

      • 4Sqr7

        And yet here you are, not shutting up.

        • Mark

          Back at you…here you are not shutting up…8 months after the posts!!! Get a life.

    • richard40

      Agreed, any group can get obnoxious if they go too far in their self rightousness, and attempt to silence debate from others. I would add some of the more extreme online trumpie cultists to that list as well.

  • gridlock2

    Perhaps this will lead to a resurgence of traditional churches, as the “norms” look for a place to go where they are not looked upon as weird and backward just because they get married, stay married, and have kids.

  • Chuck Pelto

    RE: Can You Say….

    ….insufferable disciples who tend to ruin social encounters by refusing to shut up about it. — Article

    ….Fanatic, n., One who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.

    I knew you could…. 😉

  • Jeff H

    Jesus weeps.

    • jimbino

      He must actually be spinning in his grave.

      • richard40

        He does not have a grave, remember, or at least whatever grave He had at one point He is not in it anymore. He rose from the dead and his body and spirit ascended into heaven.

        • Drunk Uncle

          Likely story.

  • Mark Andrew Edwards

    Infidelity isn’t exactly rare or new. So, yes, there probably is a monogamy spectrum ranging from those who never consider other partners, those who are interested but don’t act on it, occasional or situational cheaters (I’m not divorced, I’m just [deployed][TDY][in prison]), ‘open’ marriages to wholly uncommitted.

  • glenzo59


  • Pingback: Marrying Yourself is Now a Thing - Acculturated()