The Quiet Desperation of Monogamous Relationships

Why Monogamous Relationships Always Become Co-Dependent

“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”

― Henry David Thoreau

Philippe Lewis Erika Awakening

Philippe Lewis and Erika Awakening at recent polyamorous party

A few days ago, I received an amazing letter from one of our blog readers. We will call him “Matt.” His letter is amazing because in its painful honesty, it sums up the problems of monogamy so clearly and poignantly. Let’s get straight to his letter:

Dear Erika,

I wanted to thank you for all your recent posts regarding monogamy. You are such an inspiration in your bravery to face this head on. I write this because you’ve inspired me. I don’t know what exactly I’ve been inspired to do but I do feel inspired.

You see, I started studying “A Course in Miracles” back in 2001 and it has shaped my views in many ways. Over the years, I’ve felt that I didn’t quite fit in this society due to my views regarding exclusion, etc. so I’ve learned to stay quiet.

Regarding sexuality, I’ve read several books on sex and polyamory including “The Ethical Slut and “Sex at Dawn” and have come to realize that I am not monogamous and your articles make so much sense to me. I got married 4 years ago to a woman that said she was open minded, etc. but as soon as we were married, things ended. I believe that I have a beautiful, healthy, sex positive belief system but my wife labeled me a sex addict and I started attending sex addicts anonymous meetings 3 years ago. I think sex addiction is a bunch of sex negative bullshit but I still go to keep the peace. She’s always paranoid I’m cheating on her and about a year ago, she put filters on our computers so that she knew what I was looking at online.

I mention this because, although I love this woman, I don’t think I can stay with her. The paranoia is intense and our marriage has been slowly breaking down over the past few years. It doesn’t help that since we were married, we have sex 8-12 times a year.

Over the years, I started studying Tantra and found Kamala Devi and polyamory. Since then, I’ve been drawn to the open and honest communication required to be in an open relationship and the beauty of connecting emotionally with other people. I have to be very careful what I say to my wife, who I look at, what I do or else it becomes her accusing me of wanting to cheat on her or starting an argument based in fear. All I want is to be able to talk to my partner openly and being able to share our lives with each other, no matter what is going on or what our thoughts or fantasies, we go to each other and care for each other. I crave that level of open communication and desire it more than anything else.

In the meantime, I keep my beliefs and fantasies to myself and pretend like I never find another woman attractive and continue reading posts like yours to give me hope and inspiration of the beauty of being part of such a loving community and of the open, honest communication I so crave. Thank you so much, I’m so grateful to see that communities like yours exist!

– Matt

Oh Matt. Sigh. Your letter is not at all surprising to me because this is what is going on “behind closed doors” all over the world. This is what monogamy breeds. Limitation. Lack of honesty. Holding ourselves and others back. Imprisonment. Going behind each other’s backs. And ultimately, when people can’t stand it any more … it leads to cheating and even more dishonesty.

sex special

“Don’t fence me in” … to monogamy and co-dependency I say “no thank you.”

Monogamous relationships always become co-dependent
, and it is easy to see from this letter why that is. Once we have agreed to let any one person or entity (even an employer or a government) be our EXCLUSIVE source of anything, be it sex, love, money, or anything else … We are no longer free to be our full authentic selves. Often the self-censorship begins in very subtle ways – while the “honeymoon period” lasts and people are still on their “best behavior.” But the longer the dependency goes on, the more frequently and extremely the censorship and holding back become.

It is not at all surprising that most monogamous people become totally BORING. How could they not become boring? First of all, they are not having the exposure to a wide variety of people who would keep alive all the different aspects of themselves. Second, in any exclusive arrangement, fear is going to creep in. And pretty soon it’s not okay to speak our truth. Not fully. We might “offend” our partner and “get cut off” from sex or other benefits. And then be left in the painful position of having to choose whether or not to “end” the relationship. Which, because we’ve allowed the co-dependency and addiction to get so deep … is going to be difficult and hard to face.

“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”

― Henry David Thoreau

What is the answer to this? NEVER give up your freedom.

NEVER agree to exclusive arrangements. Don’t agree to them with lovers, friends, employers, governments, families, or anyone else. Treasure your freedom and maintain it against every temptation to imprison or be imprisoned. Healthy relationships arise from two people who are standing on their own two feet. The inner strength and independence required for healthy relationships are always compromised – and ultimately destroyed – by exclusivity. So don’t do it.


Let me know what you think about Matt’s situation and what we can do about it …

If you missed the earlier articles about monogamy, check them out here:

Five Reasons Why Monogamy Is An Absolute Bar to World Peace

How Monogamy Is Like Racial Segregation

How Specialness Ruined Sex for Everyone

Saving the Planet One “Orgy” At A Time


Erika Awakening, Teaching People How to Create Everyday Miracles at TAPsmarter

Erika Awakening is one of the world’s foremost experts on eradicating limiting beliefs and living life on your own terms.

About the Author:

Erika Awakening is a Harvard Law School graduate and former practicing attorney. She left the rat race to become a location-independent entrepreneur, holistic life coach, blogger, speaker, healer, and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT tapping) expert. Erika Awakening is one of the world's foremost experts on eradicating limiting beliefs and lifestyle design on your own terms. Learn more about Erika Awakening

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  1. The challenge of marriage is reclaiming freedom, especially once lost. Marriage itself becomes a practice that can lead to deeper intimacy if both partners are willing to take on the challenge of growth. Matt is caught in a power struggle of control. He will have to face his fear of rejection from his wife in order to break the hold and move forward.

  2. This woman is fucking gross. I shudder thinking about all the herpes and crabs up in that crotch.

    • Erika Awakening says:

      lol … “this woman”? … are you referring to the celibate, disease-free author of this blog? Yea, the only thing worse than monogamy is promiscuity. Choose which version of personal hell you like better. Or opt out of all of it, which is what I have done –

  3. Shekinah Leigh says:

    Luckily not all monogomous relationships are like this…some people find they can go deeper and explore more than they ever could before. It really depends on what your true nature is and how you like to express it…

  4. Graeme Sudholz says:

    That relationship is in trouble, and NOT because it is monogamous. A good relationship therapist will sort them out in no time flat.

  5. hi Charlotte, I am part of the vanguard for getting people self-employed. I think traditional employment relationships always also become co-dependent …

  6. Claudette Anderson says:

    Hi Erika, interesting article. Thanks. I was wondering what does this non-exclusive arrangement look like when it comes to employment?

    • Independent Contractor, right? They pay you hourly, double salary, overtime, no benefits. They can cut you loose after a project, or offer you a full time job later. Elance would be one way. Alternatively, with non-exclusive… many people work multiple part time jobs at once.

  7. I am married for 15 years now to my beautiful,loving and caring wife. It's true that men loves sex, that is men's nature. But Before i've met my wife i didn't believe in monogamous relationship and or marriage. I love fucking with lots and lots of women. Until i found a true a love and realized that true happiness is in with two people who truly love each other. But i think it's really a man's nature to look at some sexy women everywhere but there's also a choice; cheat on your partner and fuck other woman OR just stay with your partner and go on with your happy life. But i always choose the latter. Why? because i love my family and i don't want to hurt them.I don't call it fear. It is so unfair to call marriage as an imprisonment between two people who chose to be one body. The world is so complicated and most people are weak. Lots of temptation but if you are weak you will fail. I and my wife always work on our relationship, we believe honesty is the key. We both agreed to fight all the obstacles inside our relationship,till death do us part. People needs to love truly and be loved truly so people who doesn't believe in monogamous relationship would be enlightened. If you people don't believe in monogamous relationship or marriage and you think you are to weak then you'd better stay single and fuck ramdom men or women everywhere. So Erika Awakening would stop blaming monogamous relationship. :-)

  8. Jacques Retief says:

    The 3 love-enders:


  9. Daniel Greenvalley says:

    Most ironic hash-tag of the year award goes to… "#thinkforyourself"

  10. I do want to say also I agree that there are way to many negative views centered around sex. We accuse and blame people, condemn and make them feel bad for something they love. We all need to do what makes us joyful and do it with passion, screw what others think. Most people are hiding behind there own “sins” anyway. Real peace will come when we can feel open and free to be ourselves whatever that means to each of us.

  11. It is interesting to me that it has come to this, it is so true is some aspects but then I am taken back to the law of attraction. Is it not true that we create everything in our life, even the people and situations? This is what I have come to learn at least. The problem isn’t with our partner and being monogamous or not it lies in our beliefs. Now I do believe if someone is not doing what they desire it will continue to eat at them, there will always be this unfulfilled void in their lives. But to change Matt’s situation to me it needs to start in his own mind. He needs to believe his wife is open and is accepting of him. Moving to another relationship and starting this new way of life will not bring him more joy because it all starts in our minds. We have to look at ourselves and our internal dialogue what are we telling ourselves because that is where it all begins and is created.

  12. Angi Elston says:

    I agree.. people need to at least hear that this is OK.. and not "bad"

  13. Dan Vargas says:

    This is a little bullshit.. It's not monogamy that's the problem, its the lack of honesty in the relationship. When relationships are open and the level of trust is there you stop wanting to have sex with others. That being said… if you think your going to go through life never being attracted to another human being well that's just not realistic.
    I would bet a good bit of therapy would do you and your wife a very but of good!! develop the trust and openness and I bet the your ideas of monogamy will dissapear with along with your blue balls!

  14. matt mossbarger says:

    Hi… my name is Matt. :)

    Funny.,. we wonder why married couples cheat on each other all the time. I must say that there are two really good points in the comments… a) two people delving deeply with each other do stretch their understanding of love, and b) honesty cannot happen in judgment and I liked your comment, Dan, about there being a general lack of honesty. When we are told from the time that we are little that monogamy is right and everything else including masterbation is wrong… things go a little wonky. It is up to us, each of us, to simply question the validity of our own beliefs then be courageous enough to live by them guilt-free. It is the believing one thing and living another that causes all the conflict.

    I really think sex without commitment sucks ass. Spirit always sets up the commitment, even if the commitment is short-term or even very, very brief, like the one time you hugged that person that you knew needed it even though it wasn’t socially acceptable. It is always meant for our growth and stretching us to live on the edges where we encounter the unknown. We are, after all, creators.

    That being said, being honest about our “base” needs and desires as well as our lofty natures is needed. This journey is about being real. Trying to be chaste is the same as trying to super-sexual-porn-boy in my eyes. They are both trying instead of being. I have had to accept what I feel, be honest and open about that, and then go that way… action based on it. That is when it becomes real. It is looking someone in the eye and saying, “I cannot do this relationship with you in the old way. I have seen how damaging it is, and even though I am scared to throw off the security blanket, I can’t let us walk down the same aisle that has made so many people miserable, including me… PS… I really like our neighbor Sally next door.”

    • Hi Matt,

      Funny you would say that in your last paragraph because just today I was having that same thought:

      It is looking someone in the eye and saying, “I cannot do this relationship with you in the old way. I have seen how damaging it is, and even though I am scared to throw off the security blanket, I can’t let us walk down the same aisle that has made so many people miserable, including me… PS… I really like our neighbor Sally next door.”

      Except I’m having it even with poly. I realized today I am unwilling even to do the whole primary/secondary thing. If I’m going to do this, it’s going to be re-imagined from the ground up without any of the conditioning bullshit. And that means for me to get involved, there must be a willingness from the other person to realign their own situation so that our relationship is not a prisoner to co-dependency. I’m being a little cryptic. Still it’s the same feeling. I’ve already been down that road, not going there again … thanks for stopping by again :)


      • matt mossbarger says:

        Banging around with one person in monogamy is ego… because it creates an ego of “us” vs. (usually the world). Banging around with ten people in layers of division is ego… because it creates an ego of “hey, look how spiritual I can be.” Banging around with other egos is still ego. I don’t want to bang around with egos any more than I want to still accept illusion. Just as the spiritual journey is total and complete commitment, “til death does not us part…” so I desire transcendent relationships… “I see God in you… and you… and you… and we are all the same being, and miraculously, I feel more me than I ever have.” I want the formless… and that can only be done with another in formlessness coupled to form. The barrierless relationship.

        The key, to me, is that miracles, as it states in ACIM, require purification first… and “chosen” miracles can be misguided. Purified relationships are miracles… and Spirit is always appropriate to the desire for real and committed love. Committed, full, and universal.

        Yeah… let’s do away with all structure and focus on what’s actually going on. I enjoyed your article about the “orgy” as well. I am happy, very happy you had a great teargasm. :)

      • Erika Awakening says:

        Yea now I am seeing everything as an opportunity to redefine the assumptions of the “game” … Me being left out while “Turkey Genocide Day” is in progress is anathema to everything I teach and live … so if I’m going to be involved, the game will have to change … I’d rather speak my truth and be in integrity with my values than get laid, that’s just how it is … :) Love

      • matt mossbarger says:

        Love to you too.

      • The world, bodies, relationships and sex happens in the dream. No matter how many sexual partners you have in the dream, you will eventually have to awake from it.

      • Erika Awakening says:

        Awakening from the dream happens first by turning earth into heaven … and sharing all forms of love with more and more people is part of how earth is turned to heaven … thanks for stopping by, Jorge :)

  15. Ryan Goldenberg says:

    Are you suggesting to never get married?

  16. Vladimir Ivan says:

    of course, it doesn't have to be that black and white…but still, I see that a lot. Anyways, whatever makes one happy, then power to that

  17. Kyle Bach Turner says:

    This article sums up how many bad relationships there are in this world. These two obviously shouldn't be together. Things will never be perfect but this one just seems wrong.

    • Erika Awakening says:

      Hi Kyle,

      Welcome to the blog. Everyone wants to pathologize the people in these relationships, rather than question the idea of monogamy itself. The people are never the problem. It’s the structures and beliefs that are the problem. I do not know ANYONE who is really making monogamy work. It is rife with problems that people want to blame on “this that or the other.” We need to look where the problem is – the idea of “special love” is the problem.

      Thank you for your contribution to the blog :)


  18. Vladimir Ivan says:

    Insightful! Always something to learn from articles like this one.

  19. Amanda Patricia Foley says:


  20. Dan Robinson says:

    How can a person presume to know what is in the hearts and minds of others?

    • Erika Awakening says:

      Because we are all One, we share One mind. Not to mention that I have tapped (EFT tapping – with hundreds and hundreds of people who tell me all the “shameful secrets” and fears and desperation they don’t tell anyone else. These problems are UNIVERSAL. The Emperor has no clothes.

      • Robert Frost says:

        Hi Erica et al.
        Concerning these “shameful secrets”, my spiritual teacher’s experience may cast another light. (Ann Davies, When she visited New Zealand, there was a group that had many people who were not ripe for the work. So, when she was asked about her prior incarnations, she uncharacteristically answered. She said, “There were two souls in Heaven that were capable of a great work that needed doing on earth. They drew straws and I lost… For this project, I really needed to know what was in the “hearts of men”. I reasoned that if I were to marry, I would only hear a censored version of one man’s story. So I voluntarily took on three incarnations as a prostitute. In that role, I heard the unvarnished truth from many, many men.”
        As a result of her disclosure, many of the people present were shocked and never returned to the group. This served her purpose exactly. This culled out those who were not ready for the work.
        Visiting therapists was not as popular then as it is now.

      • Erika Awakening says:

        Hi Robert, fascinating … yes working with so many people gave me an amazing window into just how universal these issues are …. plus it’s tough for monogamous people to convince me about their “illusion of happiness” when I hear what is really going on behind the scenes … over and over again …

  21. Ligia Buzan says:

    Beautiful on the communication and openness aspect. However, I am careful with articles that state absolutes such as "always" (monogamous relations *always* become co-dependent).

  22. Virginia Torsch says:


    I little while I might have agreed with you about monogamy – however I also see the growth in staying with one person through thick and thin. It is all too easy to bail out on someone when that person gets sick, especially if they become handicapped or frail. I have been living that this past year with my husband who was diagnosed with lung cancer. He has survived thus far but is much more frail and fatigued and can only walk with difficulty. It has been extremely difficult and sometime the only thing that kept us together were those very ties of marriage and mongamy that you decry. And yet – I have also seen the growth in myself and my growing commitment to ensure that I am there for him.

    I am not saying that monogamy is an answer for everyone but I am saying that commitment to each other IS important. I have seen couples go through hell for each other and come through on the other side with a much deeper understanding of love. I am not sure they would have had that experience if they hadn’t been monogamous.

    You are young and beautiful and can go from person to person. But will someone be there for you with undying love should you get sick and frail? I think this is what you are missing when you so casually dismiss monogamy. It is easy to love many when they are healthy – very hard to love one through the end.

  23. Lagertha Starchild says:

    I do not believe that the quiet, oppressive expectation of monogamy is at all in accordance with human nature, however I recognize it as a powerful form of love and don't agree that the choice to love only one romantically is at odds against ANYTHING.

    • Erika Awakening says:

      Hi Lagertha,

      Thanks for commenting and I will say the same to you as I did to Lydia. If we want to include ALL people, which is the intention of these articles … we must let go of those ideas that EXCLUDE people, and monogamy is one of those primary ideas. Monogamy must be let go just as we are not going to accept violence, genocide, racism, or segregation. Because none of those ideas are consistent with loving and including everyone.

      I understand the appeal of the argument but actually it makes no sense, and it’s yet another ego trick to keep people deeply unconscious and alienated from each other.


      • That’s an insane argument! I’m poly myself, so I get your point about inclusion, but the reality of the situation is that love and sex can’t possibly include everyone. Even people in poly relationships often only have sex two-at-a-time. Are they excluding their other lovers? Are they excluding everyone else who wants to participate? Yes, let’s try and be more open about love and sex, but choosing to have sex with someone inherently means excluding 6 billion others.

      • Erika Awakening says:

        Hi Saul,

        Thanks for visiting us and commenting. I’m writing from the perspective of the hologram, where the intention behind what we are doing matters a great deal. True as long as we have time/space restrictions (which ultimately we won’t, but for the time being …), we are not literally going to have physical sex with everyone. The decision we make in our mind, however, about whether we are at least going to be OPEN to everyone or CLOSED to everyone is where everything else we see in the hologram begins … So as I wrote about in this article, the decision to cut ourselves off from the rest of society is also the same decision that creates war, sickness, death, and all of our other ills.

        Monogamy is NOT a personal choice. It is made for the entire hologram, and nobody can afford to be arrogant enough to cut themselves off from the whole …

  24. Lydia Smith says:

    why generate more exclusivity by being part of one group and outing another whether it be a view, lifestyle, etc. – that only breeds more fear. love transcends. LOVE transcends.

    • Erika Awakening says:

      Hi Lydia,

      Thanks for commenting. If we want to include ALL people, which is the intention of these articles … we must let go of those ideas that EXCLUDE people, and monogamy is one of those primary ideas. Monogamy must be let go just as we are not going to accept violence, genocide, racism, or segregation. Because none of those ideas are consistent with loving and including everyone.

      I understand the appeal of the argument but actually it makes no sense, and it’s yet another ego trick to keep people deeply unconscious and alienated from each other.


  25. “she put filters on our computers”
    — I think before you get married it is good to discuss boundaries and healthy boundaries. Oftentimes, as Erika stated, it doesn’t seem necessary during the honeymoon period. Later on they can be critical to keeping a marriage together.

    On the filters, creating a situation of her “spying on you”… because she doesn’t trust you. That is not healthy. Emotional Trust is the foundation of Romantic Love… but her rules, are blocking you from trusting her. Without trust there is no love.

    On the low qty of sex…. Some people talk about “no sex before marriage”. How would you know if you are sexually compatible or if you have compatible libidos? I think that is a bad idea.

    “who I look at, what I do or else it becomes her accusing me of wanting to cheat on her or starting an argument based in fear.”
    — Fear and Guilt and Shame are disconnection emotions. Long term, this is not sustainable. Sometimes it is good to discuss and re-negotiate boundaries. This can take time.

    I think “internet porn” is an acceptable boundary. ie look but don’t touch.
    “who I look at”… you are married not dead. Attraction isn’t a choice. behavior is. On the internet porn, one possible boundary change… would be to watch it in front of her. This way you could involve her in the process, rather than sitting in another room, all alone.

    On “Sex Addicts Anonymous”…. Never apologize for your feelings. They are there for a reason. You should not feel guilty for feeling turned on. For being human. For being Normal. I mean sometimes you say something honest and you hurt somebody’s feelings. You should apologize for hurting someone… for finding the wrong words, etc… Sometimes disagreements are necessary. We learn, we grow… together. :)

    • Thanks for sharing, Rich …

      I used to think it was a really big deal that I was celibate. Recently I have realized that most married people are almost as celibate as I have been … lol …

      And NOBODY WANTS TO TALK ABOUT IT … how much it sucks being monogamous … how full of fear and stagnation it is, trying to live up to a model that isn’t working for anyone …

      The Emperor has no clothes.

      • Reading all this I just had a thought: marriage is religions way of making everyone celibate! A long time ago someone must have figured out the power of sex and decided to put a spanner in the works.
        I believe that sex is a spiritual urge, just like the desire for peace, love, joy, freedom, connection exists in all of us and cannot be taken out of us. These desires arise in our soul and are therefore Universal. Outside of the shackles we have placed around it, sex is another way to connect with others just as we shake hands, hug or kiss on the cheek. In ancient tribes everyone had sex with everyone and sex was the glue that held the tribe together. Sex mellowed the male and aroused the female into her power. Besides this, I see sex as natures way of making everyone meditate and experience the ecstasy of connecting with our essence and source.
        To return to my original point, religious leaders figured that sex is dangerous and it must be curbed. There was the voluntary path of becoming a nun or priest and then there was marriage. They must have discovered that if you lock people into a relationship of exclusivity, fidelity, monogamy then the monotony of this pair bonding would deaden the soul and kill the sexual desire. And it has worked brilliantly!! Married couples rarely have sex and their primary commitment seems to be to make sure that their partners do not look elsewhere for sex either. This suppressed sexual energy then gives rise to conflict, breakdown in communication and ultimately divorce. I’m sure the religious pundits never counted on spirit wanting to break free of its shackles but then neither did the perpetrators of slavery, communism or dictatorial rule.

      • Erika Awakening says:

        You may be on to something, Rohit …

      • Hey Erika,
        I think Monogamy does inherently have some flaws. For example, there are a lot of 20 year olds that get married. When you get a job when you are 20, do you say… I want this to be the last thing I ever do in life, working this one job… with no hope for promotion? Better choose that one right job… for the next 40 years. You have one chance. No room for mistakes.

        Now people are not jobs, but you get the idea. When I lived in NJ, I had 3 best friends. When I lived in Florida, I had 4 best friends. Best Friends can change. I have some 35 year friendships. With the concept of scarcity or looking for Ms. Perfect, do you want to choose… this person will be my best friend for the next 30 or 40 years? Perhaps, this concept of Monogamy causes many men to be so non-committal.
        Warmest Regards,

  26. Michael Fleming says:

    Matt, brother, I feel your pain. While my marriage wasn't as extreme in it's restrictions, there were still many. I send you all the best in hopes of a solution.

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