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By Alexandra Penney: How to keep your man monogamous 1
HOW TO KEEP YOUR MAN MONOGAMOUS
By Alexandra Penney
" In my wildest, most romantic dreams I couldn't have had
a better beginning to a relationship. He'd seen
me at a restaurant where a group of us hung out after work
and ask a mutual friend for my name. Two days
later he called and we made a date for the following
Saturday. It was 1974 and the height of the oil crisis. We
waited in line for gas at an Exxon station for two hours,
talking and drinking wine that he was bring to a
party-- but we never made it there. Sex was fantastic. It
was a whirlwind courtship. We fell madly in love.
" He was attractive in the extreme. Curly haired, blue-
eyed, tall, handsome as sin. But he was more than good-
looking. Smart, Aesthetic, very independant, and he
genuinely liked women. He had this incredible male
quality about him.
" Women were always coming on to him and calling
him. I was shocked at how agressive they were. But he
would always be friendly and nuetral, neither
encouraging nor discouraging. The calls made me crazy,
but I knew he loved me. He was as attentive and ro-
mantic and smitten as you could every want a man to be.
" we worked lunatic hours. Sometimes I'd get to his
place at two in the morning and he'd be sleeping. Some-
times I'd be there by ten at night and he'd come in much
later. It was a wonderful time for us. We'd give big
parties--he had an old, rambling house; I loved to cook,
we both loved to have fun.
" He often invited his entire office to these parties. One
of the women who worked with him was from Berke-
ley and she always showed up. She was not particularly
attractive. She had long hair, a young child, an odd
name--Lucrezia. And she wore the perfume Shalimar.
She was brittle, a little harsh, but smart, no doubt about
"This woman would call him and he was always teas-
ing about her name. At our parties it was clear--to me
at least--that he felt uncomfortable around her. He'd say
'Why doesn't she leave me alone?' But I took her ag-
gressiveness in stride.
" I was working late one night and called him at his
office and at the house a couple of times, but I didn't
reach him. We'd talked earlier in the day, and i knew
he was going down to his company's headquarters in
Berkeley. It was past midnight and I headed over to
his place, as I always did on a very late night, and I just
collapsed on his bed from sheer exhaustion. When he
wnet to Berkeley, He'd usually sit around having a drink
and guacomole with some pals from the office while he
waited for the traffic to clear, so I figured he'd be home
in about a half hour or so.
"But he didn't show up
"Then I started to worry. He'd fallen asleep on the road,
there had been an accident. But in my gut I knew it
wasn't true. He was a good driver, competent, careful.
"I didn't sleep at all. At about nine-thirty in the morn-
ing, I called his friend Steve in Berkeley, casually saying
I was looking for him. I didn't want to sound in any way
Like a jealous, hysterical woman. I didn't want to be
uncool, It was the worst sin.
"'Well' he said innocently,'Paul and Lucrezia and I
went out for a drink and I had to leave early--' And
then I knew.........
"I was sitting on the edge of his bed. I got up and my
knees were shaking. I couldn't stand and I couldn't
breathe. I had real trouble breathing.
"I cleaned up the bed as if I'd never been there, washed
out the teacup I'd used the night before, put it away
and then went home.
"I was a complete and total mess, but i had to go to
work....I wasn't angry. I was devastated and betrayed.
"He didn't phone me. Finally, about ten, I called him
and got on the phone and nonchalantly said, 'Hi'
"I said I was just wondering how you were and if you'd had
a late night, and he said yes, he'd had a late night. There
was an incredible awkward silence and I said nothing. I
could tell he was uncomfortable, and then I said I had
to be at a meeting and we hung up. I was shaking and
Couldn't breathe when I got off the phone.
"I had thought alot about Lucrezia and I felt he had
been with her. It wasn't Paranoia. Here was a woman
with a very young child and a full time job, and she was
adjusting a tight schedule to sit around sipping drinks
with her colleagues. It didn't add up. There was no pro-
fessional need for her to do this. And then there was
also the fact that she was calling Paul about some
"Somehow I muddled through the morning. I was so
strung out, a friend gave me a Valium. I'd never had
one before and I'm very sensitive to drugs. It made me
sleepy so I went home, but I have no recollection of
driving--I stayed in bed all afternoon.
"That evening he called and he said, 'Iv'e been trying
to reach you at the office. Where have you been?' I said
I'd been sleeping, and he told me he wanted to come to
my apartment for dinner.
"I was incredibly upset but determined to be cool, to
be an understanding mature woman. Of course the min-
ute he walked through the door, I burst into tears.
"I told him I knew who he was with and he said, 'I'm
a grown man. I had a few drinks. It's no big deal. She
doesn't mean anything to me. I love you.'
"We had a long talk and I remember thinking it was
all a big excuse. We stayed together for several years
after that, but the part of me that was unsuspicious and
trusting was gone....I'm sitting here telling you this,
it all happened over a decade and a half ago and right
now as I think about it, my knees feel weak, It's hard
Janice Fromm is the woman who told me the story you
just read. Her words are excerpted from a two hour in-
terview we had in San Fransico in the spring of 1986.
Janice was not recounting a rare experience: Millions
of women have had their husband or lover or boyfirend
involved with another woman, and every one of us feels
the same anguish, the same raw, sickening dread and
searing pain that Janice vividly described when we sat
in her calm, Wedgewood blue living room more than ten
years after it had all happened.
Today the issue of Monogamy is a headline-maker and
career-breaker, but to women, fidelity has been
the nerve center of a relationship. In an AIDS-dominated
environment, monogamy becomes an even more explo-
sive issue. Ghastly though the facts of the disease are,
widespread infidelity is surviving the AIDS crisis intact.
It's generally agreed that, today, around 50-65 percent
of men are unfaithful. (Some researchers have raised
the figure to 70 percent or more) To put it plainly: The
odds are high that he will cheat on you.
Why is this so?
It seems clear to me that men themselves could best
answer the crucial question but no one, to my knowl-
edge, had ask men what monogamy was all about for
them. So I decided to Interview at least two hundred
males in order to discover exactly what it is that makes
a man stray--and, much more importantly, what would
make him stay.
It wasn't my Intention to become a social scientist, nor
am I scholar or statistician: I'm a reporter and re-
searcher and a woman who is personally and profes-
sionally interested in Monogamy. The questions I asked
the men I interviewed are those that I and other women
I started out by asking both my male and female friends
and colleagues to give me the names of men they
thought would be willing to talk about monogamy. My
only provisos: I should not know the person or come
into contact with them socially or professionally after the
I recieved a raft of responses and I plunged in and
started calling people and making appointments. After
the first dozen interviews in New York, I flew out to Los
Angeles, San Diego, and San Fransico. The men that
I talked with in California gave me other names, and I
started branching out in cities and towns across the
I conducted just under two hundred formal, In-depth
interviews on monogamy, each of which lasted from
an hour to three or more hours. In addition to these, I
spoke to other men more briefly, getting "Quick takes"
on the subject.
Though this is not a scientific sampling, it does in-
clude men from a wide variety of ethnic, eceonomic, re-
ligious, and educational backgrounds. The ages of the men
ranged from nineteen to seventy seven.
In addition to the men, I interviewed psychiatrists, clinical
psychologists, sociologists, marital and pastoral coun-
selors, divorce lawyers, and of course, other women. Iv'e
also plumbed the latest surveys, statistics, analyses and
more current articles on gender research, monogamy, and
In the two and a half years that it took to dissect mon-
ogamy, I was aware of what I came to think of as the
Honesty quotient. It's well known that most large surveys
tend to be self-selective; for example, people who send
in magazine questionaires do so because they want to
answer those questions, because they may be more
interested-- or have had more experience--with the sub-
ject than those who simply toss the survey into the trash
can. Men and women who have problems with fidelity
may be more likely to volunteer to cooperate than those
who are happily monogamous. And of course, this skews
the numbers in various ways. In addition, it's also com-
mon for people to distort, exaggerate, or just plain lie to
researchers about the hypersensitive subject of infidelity/
I can't say with absolute certainty that the men I Inter-
viewed in depth told me the truth. I was a stranger ask-
ing extremly personal questions. The nature of the
subject is furtive, covert, and difficult for even the
most cavalier man to discuss the ways inwhich he has
betrayed his mate.
As I worked my way back and forth across the coun-
try, I tried to conduct each interview in circumstances
where the man could relax. For some, this was an office
setting. For others, an anonymous environment, a res-
taurant, a bar, a coffe shop, was more comfortable.
In a dozen cases I had to settle for interviews by
For my last three books Iv'e interviewed men on ro-
mance, love, and sex. Monogamy was an even tougher
subject than sex for most men to talk about because of
the complicated and often painful feelings it evokes. But
slowly, by gaining trust, sensitively asking the most prob-
ing questions--and promising that each man's identity
would remain unrevealed--I believ intimate truths were
told. The names of everyone I've interviewed are
changed, but their words are unaltered.
Monogamy is one of the most emotionally charged
problems in a love relationship, but it is also an issue
with many complex facets--cultural, philosophical, reli-
gious, and moral--and although I was intrigued by the
fascinating polemics that surrounded the subject in its broad-
est scope, I stuck to my basic objective:
What does it take for a man to be monogamous?
As the interviews began to accumulate, so did certain
patterns and mechanisms. Men are not born to stray--or
stay. Neither are women. Something happens to make
us monogamous. The men I talked with, plus the in-
terviews with experts and the research that I did, gave
me valuable new information on what that "something"
is. This information is what every woman needs in or-
der to comprehend today's man and enjoy a monoga-
mous relationship--and YES, I found that an exciting
fulfilling one-on-only-one relationship is very much pos-
sible to have with your man.
What I discovered about monogamy is what the rest
of this book is about. But before you read on, it's very
important to underscore that a man doesn't fool around
because of something you've done--or not done. It has
nothing to do with whether you're sexy enough or wor-
thy enough or smart enough. You will learn that a man
strays because certain of his primary needs are not being
met--emotional and sexual needs that you probably are
not aware of (And which I'll target and analyze in detail
later). As a sophisticated, contemporary woman, you
can satisfy those needs without sacrificing your own hard-
won self-esteem and self-respect. Most Importantly, in
fulfilling his needs, you will be securing the most primal
emotional and sexual needs you have: Love, intimacy--
I'll begin by explaining why monogamy is so crucial to
women, and then we'll go on, in the first part of the
book, to listen to surprising, fascinating, and often
shocking things that men have to say about monog-
amy. You'll see why most men think and feel very
differently about it than we do; you'll realize how many
men have a sliding definition of monogamy and why
they have to maintain this doublethink; we'll probe the
issue of monogamy and a man's age and lifestyle; the
conditions in which he is most likely to stray; what he says
about the "Other women" and precisely what attracts
him to her; and you'll learn exactly when in a relation-
ship the "Natural monogamy period" ends--and why.
we'll explore the world of a genuinely commited mo-
nogamous man and counterpoint that with the dis-
turbing profiles of "womanizers" and how to spot them;
you'll find out about the hidden one-night stands, as well
as the men who believe in "Dual monogamy"and the
"occasional strayer"--experts agree that he's the kind
of man you're most likely to be married to or living with.
After we've heard from the men, we'll delve into fascinat-
ing new psychosexual territory: The ego structure of to-
days man and what his needs are and the ego structure
of todays woman and what her needs are. The anatomy
of male and female ego's is not the same. Men have
certain ego needs and women have others--but after
you grasp the forces on which each is constructed, you'll
realize it's possible to reconcile those differences.
What does all this have to do with monogamy? As you
will see, everything.
Once you become aware of male and female ego struc-
tures, you'll be able to understand a surprisingly simple
principle--that of fulfilling psychosexual needs--both
his and yours. Most importantly, this principle can be
translated into a practical, wonderfully effective strategy
that you can use to make your own relationship
The premise of this book--satisfying ego needs--may
be disturbing to the modern women who don't subscribe
to the idea of stategizing and modern men who don't
like to believe that it's still necessary. But despite the
good and sincere intentions of today's men, the fact is that
it is usually the woman who ultimately takes responsibility
for, and nurtures, intimate relationships. Contemporary
research as well as my own findings substantiate this.
Most of the men I've talked to have expressed a genuine
willingness to meet women halfway, but they're also
aware that, In reality, intimate relationships can be a
different matter. "I'd like to believe I'll be an equal partner
in making a marraige work," says one twenty-seven-
year-old man."I'm going to be trying in my own ways.
But I see that in real life, the woman still bears more
of the burden."
All through this book you'll be reading case histories
based on my interviews and research--these illustrate
how using this simple strategy of satisfying ego needs
can work in your everyday world. You'll also find sug-
gestions, solutions, tips, and specific sexual materiel that
tells you exactly what your man responds to. All of
these interviews and all of this information has one purpose:
To help you create and maintain an intimate relationship
that's rich, romantic, adventurous, fulfilling--and
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