Virtual Voices

Ethical nonmonogamy

Culture

Many of my conservative friends long ago gave up their subscriptions to The New York Times because reading it simply drove them crazy. With all the other sources of news available to them, they decided they didn't need to start their days with stomachs churning. I can relate. The bias in the Times is staggering at times, but I (try to) read it regularly. It gives me a sense of where the cultural elite is coming from, so to speak, and often provides grist for commentary. The Times, like so many other mainstream media outlets, is biased not only in its reporting, but also in what it chooses to include (and not include) in its pages.

The Sunday magazine section has a regular feature called "The Ethicist." Yes, I hear your groans and I feel your pain. Nonetheless, if one isn't prone to ulcers, this question-and-answer-style column often provides a window onto a brave (or should I say brazen) new world.

The most recent installment included the following question from a reader in San Francisco:

"My husband and I practice polyamory, aka ethical nonmonogamy. We are open about this to friends but are unsure what to disclose to others. Our housekeeper might have seen me in bed with my boyfriend. Must I explain? When I travel for business, I sometimes take my boyfriend. Must I fill in a co-worker I see only occasionally? I don't want to hide my affection for my boyfriend or make anyone uncomfortable."

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Starting with the obvious here, if this woman has no ethical qualms about being unfaithful to her husband, why should she care in the least what her housekeeper and co-worker think? She's obviously decided to live life her way and not according to societal norms.

But the ethicist is obviously much further "evolved" than I am. The issue of her polyamorous relationships is of no interest or concern to him. It's a given, an accepted, acceptable given.

He advises "name withheld" to "act as comfortable as possible" to help put others at ease, and to close the bedroom door on days when the housekeeper comes.

Problem solved!

Marcia Segelstein
Marcia Segelstein

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