Tracy Clark-Flory culminates her amazing series on monogamy and concludes something those in functioning relationships may have already figured out. Exclusivity is far less important than honesty and trust.

Many fear that if we stray from the monogamous standard, ultimately we will all give in to our baser desires and civilization will crumble into an orgy worthy of a Guinness Record. That explains the degree of public opprobrium heaped on outed philanderers. The social risk can effectively dissuade some from cheating, but for others it means greater dishonesty about their desires and temptations (and, for some, actual indiscretions). The ironic consequence of our religious devotion to the monogamous ideal is that it often makes fidelity harder to maintain. It just might be that the greatest threat to monogamy is the uncritical acceptance of it.

Part of the reason her series makes so much damn sense is because it admits the obvious: monogamy is hard because it tells us to put all our emotional eggs in one basket and demands we find all of our satisfaction in one person. It’s actually a frighteningly narrow way to structure our relationships. I’m lucky to have a partner who shares my understanding that no one human will ever meet any and all of our needs, be they emotional, sexual, social, intellectual, or otherwise. Monogamy is a great way of showing respect, love, and trust, but not the only way. Honesty and empathy improve things dramatically.