Sex as an extreme sport

By Zachary Karabell

By Salon Staff

Published June 29, 2000 7:54PM (EDT)

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Zachary Karabell is an incredibly dense man! If he thinks adultery didn't end his marriage, he's living in the deepest denial in human history. When both of his tandem lovers let him know that it hurt them to know he's screwing the other girl, how can he still deny that monogamy really is "the way people are?" Yes, there are crackpot anthropologists who like to pretend that there are viable alternatives in the man-woman relationship. But you can find researchers who will use all kinds of bad science to prove their own pet theories.

Monogamy is the norm for a very good reason -- without it, there is no commitment. You cannot commit yourself to come home every day to the same woman if you're banging some other cutie. Eventually, inevitably, inexorably, the dynamic of one relationship winds down as the other spins up.

Sex is the fulcrum on which a heterosexual relationship is balanced. Screw it up and the balance is lost. Any man married more than 10 years can tell you that.

-- Jeff Rice

Come on, Zachary. Your endless sexual smorgasbord was all about "exploration"? I might have believed you if you had even once granted that there was an element of pure, selfish desire to get your rocks off as much as possible. But no, according to you, every sexual encounter was part of an existential quest to define yourself and test boundaries. Or something like that. Have we not had enough of this pseudo-sophisticated self-justification? Of course, I shouldn't have expected any more from a person with such limited understanding (unforgivable even at the tender age of 21) that he got married mostly for the thrill of shocking his friends and family.

-- Michael Turner

Women in particular are less likely to listen to men express their desire for non-monogamy because it fits into the stereotype that men want or need sexual variety more than women -- something I adamantly deny is true based on my own life. I have been in a primary committed relationship since 1970 which has been open since 1978. Most of my relationships have been friendships that were sexual, not one-night stands. I don't believe the solution is to force my lovers to get to know my husband, nor do I believe in telling each other intimate details of my sexual relationships. Doing both those things simply causes unnecessary problems in maintaining a healthy relationship with any primary partner.

-- Margaret Wermer

Zachary Karabell's "Sex as an extreme sport" was a thoughtful account on an often inflammatory subject. Rather than make axiomatic assertions, he simply recounted his hopes, his experience and his learning. We all get to benefit without getting burned. And if we draw conclusions, well, perhaps we've missed his point.

-- Barry Northrop

Salon Staff

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