What Is the Definition of Monogamy?

What Is the Definition of Monogamy?

Hi Evan,

I started dating this guy (met online) about 6 weeks ago. Our first date was one of those dates where we just kept talking and even though we met early, we ended up closing the bar (I only had 2 drinks!). He followed-up the next day, and secured the 2nd date w/in 2 days for the following weekend. Skip a few dates, we sleep together.

After that happened, on our next date (which was a really romantic restaurant here in LA), I told him I need to know for my own health and safety that this is monogamous. He assured me it was. Fast forward 3 more weeks, he’s been swamped with work (high powered attorney at huge firm) and our dates have become more like hang outs, and not as scheduled/formal due to his 100 hour work weeks. He calls me one night (we’d been communicating every day via phone/text) and says that a friend is coming to town this coming weekend who he has hooked up with before and staying with him (this the man who is too busy to hang out the previous weekend). He went on to say that because he likes me and respects me, he wants to tell me this might happen again. I brought up the monogamous conversation and he said “I said it was monogamous unless I was going to sleep with someone else”. For one, BULL, I would have never continued that dinner if he said that.

However, am I in the wrong for telling him to lose my number and have a nice life? I’m of the mind-frame that if a guy likes you, he only sleeps with you. Apparently this girl’s trip was planned prior to our meeting. However since we aren’t official bf/gf, did I over-react? Should I respect that he told me beforehand? If she was planning on coming this whole time, why did he take me on such nice dates, meet my friends, and invite me to a wedding in 2 months?

Thanks in advance!

What could he possibly have meant otherwise? He was monogamous while his penis was in you, but was a free agent once he took it out?


Leave it to a lawyer to parse the definition of monogamy.

Your question is particularly interesting for two reasons:

1) You did the right thing by kicking him to the curb.

2) He isn’t as entirely wrong as you think he is.

To explain how I arrive at this conclusion, let me start with a story – one that I’m not sure I’ve told publicly before:

I met my wife at a party in January, 2007. We hooked up (without having sex) a few times before I was scheduled to take a short trip to San Francisco.

I told her the main reason that I was going was to visit Steve, one of my closest friends from college. This was true – sort of. I was going to stay with Steve. But I was also going to go on a long-awaited first date with Jill.

Jill was (and is) a super-cool chick with whom I’d been flirting for a few months. We bantered by email, chatted on the phone for hours, and talked about the excitement of meeting each other – as well as the possibility of a dreaded long-distance relationship. But that was just putting the cart before the horse. We hadn’t even met yet. We put a date on the calendar.

And before that date, I picked up my future wife at a party.

You with me so far? Good.

You somehow found space between monogamy and boyfriend/girlfriend. In my book, there is none.

So let’s recap: Did I lie to the woman I was seeing to obscure the fact that I was going on a date in San Francisco? Absolutely. And it was perfectly defensible. The woman in LA wasn’t my wife yet. She wasn’t even my girlfriend yet. She was a woman I’d met twice. As such, she didn’t have any claims of exclusivity – and, for that matter, I didn’t have any right to expect her not to see any other men at that point.

I went to San Francisco, had a great time, spent the night with Jill, and returned to LA. And while I definitely enjoyed my date, it wasn’t so transcendent that I wanted to uproot my life to make things work. If I already lived in SF, I might have given it a shot. But driving 6 hours every other weekend? I just wasn’t up for it. Instead, I continued to date the first woman in LA. I had absolutely no idea she’d become my girlfriend, much less my wife.

End of story. Mostly.

As it turns out, my wife was still dating on Match.com until we became exclusive. As she should have been. That’s what you do until you are truly monogamous.

Once you’re monogamous, you stop seeing other people.

That’s where your guy fucked up, Jenn.

That’s why you were right to kick him to the curb.

He said you were monogamous and then changed his mind. That is unacceptable, no matter how you slice it. What could he possibly have meant otherwise? He was monogamous while his penis was in you, but was a free agent once he took it out?

Good riddance to him.

However, don’t get too high and mighty on him. Because if he didn’t say that you were monogamous, he wouldn’t have done a single thing wrong.

He would have been just like me in the story above. He had a previous fling and plans on the books. He met and hooked up with a new girl, which complicated things. He didn’t want to cancel his plans with #1 until he was sure about his feelings for you. All perfectly acceptable. If you’re not exclusive, he has the right do do whatever (and whomever) he wants. As do you.

Where you really lose me is your final paragraph:

I’m of the mind-frame that if a guy likes you, he only sleeps with you.

Not remotely true.

Apparently this girl’s trip was planned prior to our meeting. However since we aren’t official bf/gf, did I over-react?

You overreacted if you were just “seeing” him. You didn’t overreact if you were “monogamous”. You somehow found space between monogamy and boyfriend/girlfriend. In my book, there is none.

Moral of the story: if you claim to be monogamous, you should be in a secure relationship. And if you’re not in a secure relationship, then don’t have sex. Problem solved.

Should I respect that he told me beforehand? If she was planning on coming this whole time, why did he take me on such nice dates, meet my friends, and invite me to a wedding in 2 months?

Because he wanted to.

There’s no reason a guy can’t like/be attracted to/sleep with two women simultaneously. It’s up to you whether that’s okay with you or not.

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  1. 31

    All Mr. Loophole had to say was “You’re the only person I’m having sex with currently, but honestly I am also open to seeing other people.  Is that ok with you?”

  2. 32

    I think Jenn did not articulate her expectations well. Saying if she wanted to know if this was a monogamous relationship up till this point for health reasons is different to saying I want a monogamous relationship from now on. Her lawyer beau may have misunderstood her and thought she was only concerned with her health up till that point in time.
    My experience with men is that they tend to be very literal and you must spell out exactly what you want and expect, and let them decide if they want to go along with it or not. Suggesting things in a very oblique way which is open to misinterpretation is not the way to go about communicating your wants, needs and expectations.

  3. 33
    Karl T

    Androgynous #32,
    I typed out a response agreeing with Jenn #27 and then decided to delete it instead of post it, but what I typed was essentially what you just said.  The key error here is how she put it.  Asking about health reasons almost implies we’re just casual partners.  She should have said “I like you and am interested in seeing you exclusively”.  The guy obviously took it that way as he was willing to take her to the future wedding and have sex with her again.

  4. 34

    Fusee 30
    Androgynous and Karl T expounded on why I don’t think the guy was wrong. I don’t think he was trying to be slick and I don’t think cheating or not cheating crossed his mind because I don’t believe he saw himself in any sort of relationship. I got the impression that he was letting jenn know he was about to sleep with someone else because they had agreed to exclusive sex, like some f-buddies do, and he wanted to give her a heads up.

  5. 35

    Does anyone else see a pattern with dating attorneys? Just a thought. 😉

    Fusee – #30
    Very well put, especially:
    “People are breaking the process of love, commitment, and sex in so many tiny parts that there is no more any clear-cut statement of intention. Sex is not a clear sign of interest, saying “I love you” is not either, being “exclusive” becomes a week-by-week commitment, etc.
    Thinking about the duplicity I encounter on a regular basis in dating leaves me almost physically ill. This kind of thing is what drives me back into my security cave and I avoid dating. Thank you for the encouragement to pursue emotional intimacy first and for regularly sharing your inspirational example with you and your boyfriend.

  6. 36

    hmmm… anyone else notice the part where they have moved into hanging out spontaneously? I feel that perhaps his interest had already waned as he was already treating her pretty casually. Big time lawyer with limited time, sees her when he is available because he is busy – sounds like he had what he wanted…. And was limited in being concerned what she wanted…. Sex with an old friend included…. My guess is the crumbs of this “relationship” were already on the table, on his terms, and he had a take it or leave it attitude.  She justified it because they were talking everyday, sleeping together, which is not the same as spending time, but creates a sense of intimacy…. Could that be the case?
    I just had a similar situation, and most likely you are not the first to the last to get this from him…. Thankfully, I did not sleep with him, and saw his crumbs for what they were, a one sided relationship on his terms….
    anyone else think that?

  7. 37

    Btw, his interest waning was most likely not her fault, I bet if she asked him his relationship history, it would be littered with short term interactions based on the women thinking he would step up If they were patient… perhaps from date one he set up the whole I am so busy stuff…. women may want to pay attention to what men say to hear if they have space for a relationship, will make space, and know what they want…. Then observe over the next 4-6 weeks. Men who really want that, will make it clear and are clear….

  8. 38
    Sparkling Emerald

    @Goldie #29: “What is it with people inviting relative strangers to others’ weddings”

    I hear you. Some couples do address invites as “so and so plus escort/date/one” and some like me, only invite official couples, and singles to attend SINGLEY. However, I think an unfortunate by product of being a baby boomer is that formal etiquette got thrown out of the window. (No one in my generations seems to understand what the letters RSVP mean) When I married over 25 years ago, one of my RSVP cards came back with “MAY I BRING A DATE ?” scrawled across the bottom, another asked if she could bring one of her female friends, one friend whom I had not been in close contact with lately called me and let me know she had recently gotten into a relationship and could she bring her boyfriend, so I agreed that he could come, and one guest just showed up with her young child, even tho the reception was described as an all adult pool party. Since I don’t think pool, jacuzzi, children and alcohol are such a great mix, I really didn’t intend for children to attend, and since we had no child relatives in attendance, the poor little girl really had no one her age to talk with.

    In another thread where someone complained endlessly about the old dude with sunglasses at a wedding, I do wonder if he was ONLY invited by his date, and not the bride and groom. If that was the case, the fault really lies with the girl and not the old dude with shades. Perhaps the sloppy disregard for good manners and etiquette has filtered down a few generations. I know the sloppy disregard for monogamy & commitment has.

  9. 39

    @Goldie re: plus 1
    When I was engaged one of the first things I did was try to plan the guest list. My partner and I needed to know how many tables, folding chairs, food and beverages we would have to arrange for and the cost. We had both coupled and single friends and relatives. Since the wedding was months ahead there was no telling who might be coupled at the time it took place, so adding +1 to a single person invite seemed practical.
    Also, the kind of wedding/reception I wanted was a casual, outdoor party not a ceremony followed by an intimate, sit down multi-course dinner.  Etiquette I feel is dictated by how formal/ semi-formal/informal the couple wants their celebration to be. And obviously by their budget.

  10. 40

    @ Selena, Sparkling & others re plus 1. I have nothing against the “+1” concept in general. I myself received a “+1” invitation last year, and RSVP’d with my bf’s name. I totally understand that the bride and groom may not know everyone’s significant others’ names at the time when they’re sending out the invites. However, we’d been a couple for almost a year at that time. My objection is to a situation mentioned both in this post and in the “guy in shades” thread, when bride & groom invite their friend and the friend brings, or tries to bring, someone they had just met. The way I see it, this either creates an awkward situation (guy in shades), or, like in this case, throws off the couple’s wedding planning, when their guest RSVPs for a +1 he’d just met, and breaks up with this +1 days later. I totally agree that adding +1 to an invitation is practical. It’s just that some people seem to read it as an invitation to grab the first stranger off the street and bring that person to their friends’ wedding… and this strikes me as weird.

  11. 41
    Karmic Equation

    I agree with Jennifer’s POV. Sure, the guy knew that OP wanted a monogamous relationship for other than “health and safety” reasons. But that’s not what came out of her mouth. She painted herself into the corner.

    It also appears that the OP was more vested in the relationship than the guy was. Maybe she needed to be more savvy in reading his emotional commitment level to her. Boyfriend-y activities does not make him a bf if he never refers to her as his gf.

    In my book, if he offers to be your bf, then yes, he knows he’s offering monogamy, and if he’s a good guy, he will be monogamous with you. HOWEVER, until he says “I love you”, that monogamy can be tenous. He’s not emotionally committed to being faithful to you until he says “I love you.”

    As a woman, your safest bet to ensure a committed monogamous relationship before sex is only have sex after he says “I love you.” But how many women hold out for that?

    So, your second best bet is to have sex after he becomes your bf, as Evan advocates. This doesn’t ensure you’ll have a long relationship, but at least it’ll weed out the non-committal as well as players.

    Once you have sex without a prior understanding, he holds all the cards, unless you discontinue sex until you come to an agreement, assuming he’ll still see you now that you’re taking sex out of the relationship. Good luck with that. Because if he doesn’t love you, it’s going to be “Next!” for him.

  12. 42

    Interesting concept, which may explain why he thought it was ok to sleep with said woman. But, he did say he was monogamous, which was the issue. If he had not said it, then he can do whatever he wants. But, she could have been in her rights to leave even if they had not.
    A. He never claims monogamy  but she decides she is dating someone for 6 weeks who is still sleeping with others and makes it abundantly clear. Totally ok to exit at that point, because even by EMK, that would show a lack of moving towards commitment a realistic timeframe of when you would want to see that. This would be the – I don’t think we are looking for the same things, best of luck concept. See if he steps up.
    B. He does claim monogamy – this means that the curb kicking would look something like this: You are not a very good person, goodbye
    C. He never claims monogomy – and she decides to stay with him anyhow. Not sure I could do that in the face of “I am going to sleep with someone else”.  But others might. Might be one thing to know they are still dating, it is another to have it in your face….
    Just my thoughts. But I can see where maybe he was just not that interested, or not interested enough for her at 6 weeks, which is when he should be sweeping in, not sweeping out….

  13. 43

    @ Sassorama – I totally agree with your last point regarding crumbs on the table.
    We’ve all been there. A few months ago I did the same thing, dated a guy, liked him, slept with him after a few dates, his interest started waning, things fizzled out and I felt hurt.
    Reading the first paragraph of the letter again, I was struck by one obvious point. She slept with him and then had the chat about monogamy..it’s a bit late by then, isn’t it? You drop your knickers and then worry about the emotional consequences on the next date? Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

  14. 44

    Some people can feel uncomfortable attending a wedding solo. Particularly if they are unlikely to know many of the other guests. I think some brides & grooms understand this and include the +1 for that reason.  I looked at my reception as a party we were throwing for friends and family. Since I would certainly allow someone to bring a date/friend to a party I was throwing, I saw nothing wrong with allowing for the possibility at the reception. No big deal to me.
    I guess I’ve never perceived being asked if I wanted to go with someone to a wedding as a sign of “seriousness”. Rather it was an event to which they could bring a date if they chose to – why not go and have fun?

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