Monomaniacal Monogamy

Whatever new name comes knocking (scratch ‘swinging’ and insert
‘managed monogamy’), it’s roughly the same: monogamous
relationships that aren’t, well, monogamous. We’ve been reading
about these arrangements for some time, but lately, alternative
takes on monogamy are garnering renewed attention.

A married Dutch couple became a triple when they got hitched,
via notarized cohabitation contract, to another woman last fall.
The contract created the country’s first recognized polyamorous
union — after a ceremony, honeymoon, and European media buzz. The
union made waves on this side of the Atlantic as ‘an unmistakable
step down the road to legalized group marriage,’ as conservative
critic and Hudson Institute fellow Stanley Kurtz writes in The
Weekly Standard
(Dec. 26, 2005).

Another kind of nontraditional monogamy also is heading toward
commonplace, according to Pistil (Fall 2005). Couples who
practice this ‘open’ or ‘managed’ monogamy save their hearts for
one, but share the sex — negotiating private terms for relations
with multiple partners. As in any other relationship, having the
agreement preserves the trust.

Of course, true polyamorists, who share committed emotional
bonds within a group, would pale to be mentioned in the same breath
as managed monogamists, but the two takes on monogamy do speak to
the same trend. In a period of heated debate about the sanctity of
marriage and the relevance of long-term monogamy, people aren’t
waiting for social sanction to infuse old terms — and old
contracts — with new meaning.

New language is bound to follow. In Kitchen Sink (Vol.
3, #3), ‘after years of searching for a satisfying descriptor,’
Jessica Hoffman describes the acronym she picked for her mate:
PINN, or partner in non-normativity. The PINN is the person with
whom she shares her sex life and an apartment, but not a bedroom.
Her PINN ‘is not nearly as pleased with this solution as I am,’ she
writes, ‘but it’s my favorite so far.’

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