Is Monogamy & Marriage As Satisfying As You Think? #atwys

You guise!satisfaction_aspot_s1keyart_2490x1418

I am wicked excited. (Masshole representin’.) Earlier this week, I received a message from the promotional team at USA Networks. I’ve been tweeting up a storm about their new show Satisfaction, which premieres July 17th at 10pm on USA, and they asked me if I’d like to receive a screener of the premiere episode to review. Uh, yes. Yes I would. The initial teasers for the show piqued my interest because, sex. Sex against a wall, sex with her on top. Sex. That’s all I needed to be interested. That and Matt Passmore, whom I lovingly refer to as Jeremy Renner Lite.

When I went to the show’s website, I learned that the show wasn’t just about a married couple struggling with infidelity and a stale marriage. That’s such a gross over simplification of the premise, but that doesn’t stop people from being morally outraged. Cheating? To save a marriage? What are you talking about? Oh, bunnies. I want to chuck you under the chin and pat you on the head and give you a cookie because I find your wide-eyed innocence so adorable. As I’ve said so many times, I think a lot of people would be shocked to see what their significant other does when they’re not around.  When you’ve been with someone for a while, it’s very easy for things to get rote and predictable. That’s why a lot of people seek out attention elsewhere using various mediums. Those married dudes on #OKcupid? They’re probably not just looking for sex. They want to recapture a moment and reinvigorate themselves. I think many of us have those experiences that we revisit in private moments, and the other party isn’t our significant other. The idea that you make a commitment and everybody stops flirting and masturbating to images of Exes is naive. We still do it. We just don’t talk about it.

Satisfaction begins as Neil Truman sets off on a trip to New York City. He boards and then is kept hostage on the plane for several hours because the flight is delayed. His frustration with his own life and how mundane it has become brims to the surface and he decides to buck the flight attendant’s words to stay in his seat. He gets up and encourages everybody to join him as he exits the plane using the emergency door. Of course, since his wife Grace thought he was away for the night, she’s back home entertaining the male escort she met at a club six months earlier. Neil comes home to witness if wife up against the wall, legs wrapped around a hot younger guy, Simon, moaning. Okay then. Side note: Simon uses what has to be the best pick-up line ever when meeting grace for the first time. He sends her a text and says, “I want to know your story.”

After a phone mix-up between him and Simon, he takes advantage of the opportunity to assume Simon’s identity. You know, to see why a person would want to bang someone other than their spouse. I mean, he gets why a guy would want to do that. But a woman? Why would a woman need sexual variety? I mean, nesting and biology, amirite?

Oh, Neil.

Anyhoo, Neil ends up meeting with one of Simon’s clients. She’s been married for many years and insists she’s happily married (and likely is) but she says she wants to feel desired.


You don’t have to be married or in a long-term relationship to know what it feels like to think that you’re no longer desirable. Even though we know all the junk about how, as a woman ages, she loses her vibrancy is junk, it’s really hard not to have those moments where you just feel invisible to the opposite sex.  It can chip away at you at times, especially when it seems like we are surrounded by messages that support all this bunk in the media and on the internet. I will be the first person to admit that as much as I loathe the interchangeable and identical messages from twenty-something dudes that I get on OKCupid, there are times when I am tempted to engage these guys strictly because of the boost it gives to my ego.  We all need that from time to time.

This brings me to the next aspect of the plot of Satisfaction that I find intriguing. As it turns out, one of the characters in the book I’m writing was an escort. A male escort. The common belief about women who hire escorts is that they do it because they’re lonely. To some degree, I think that’s true. It can get lonely to be a single woman, especially as we get older. The loneliness can become suffocating. It happens. I’d love to present this lifestyle choice as nothing but exciting and filled with a revolving door of lovers and nights out with friends and exotic travel. Sometimes that’s what it’s like. Other times, it is very isolating. That’s why I totally get why some women would want to hire someone to spend time with; someone whose sole purpose is to make a woman feel like she matters and is significant. It’s assumed that men pay women for their company for sex and status, and for some reason that’s more palatable.

That’s why I was pleased to see that USA’s Satisfaction includes a female character, Adrianna,  who manages male escorts. Next to Neil, she’s my favorite character. I may be biased because she’s a woman in her forties who comes off self-sufficient and sexually assertive and I like to believe I share those traits as well. (No, you don’t get to debate that.) Her clientele consists of women who, like her,  are too busy for relationships and just want a man around when they want them around. The no muss, no fuss approach to relationships appeals to both men and women, and it’s nice to see that portrayed here.

Admittedly, Neil and Grace’s marriage and relationship issues weren’t really the most interesting part of Satisfaction for me. I was far more amped about Grace’s relationship with Simon and Neil’s foray into the world of being a male escort. I think I’d be more invested if they just both agreed to have an open marriage because they like sleeping with other people. That seems more honest and realistic. It’s a risky approach; I’m not sure Middle America is ready for that, even though open marriages and non-monogamy/monogamish style relationships are become more and more common. That’s what I believe triggers the backlash against Satisfaction. People are scoffing at the idea that screwing someone other than your partner might actually save your relationship because the premise itself scares them and reminds them that ring or no ring, there is no guarantee that your partner won’t cheat or leave you.

I’ve long been a proponent of open relationships. Sexual variety, for many men and women, is important and can help alleviate the inevitable boredom that sets in when you’ve been sleeping with the same person for an extended period of time. When I asked a friend why he and his wife chose to have an open marriage, he said that it takes the forbidden fruit aspect off the table. As human beings, we often want what we can’t have and that often leads to resentment, in my opinion. I think if we can side-step that frustration, which usually leads to conflict, that could possibly enhance the bond between two people instead of impede it. Another bonus, of course, is the whole sex with other people thing.

It’s possible that I might eventually want Neil and Grace to reconnect and get back what they once had. But for right now, I’m more curious about how they go about getting there. Will they choose to incorporate these changes into their relationship? I’m hoping so, not just because I’m a writer and like to see interesting and unique plots but because I enjoy seeing relationships presented in a non-traditional fashion. Those relationships exist, we just don’t hear about them too often because of the stigmas attached.

Satisfaction premieres next Thursday, July 17th at 10pm on USA. I hope you’ll check it out and tell me what you think.

*Other than being provided a screener for the pilot episode of Satisfaction, I was in no way compensated for this post.

 

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28 Responses to “Is Monogamy & Marriage As Satisfying As You Think? #atwys”

  1. Lisa Says:

    Believe me, I totally get it…but I don’t think this is any kind of solution or lifestyle to aspire to.

  2. AC Says:

    Every friend if mine who’s been married for a significant amount of time (5 + years. This doesn’t include the premarriage relationship) says the same thing – the sex does down after the first or second child and it takes work to keep the relationship going. Translation: happily ever after us a fairy tale. That’s why yesterday’s article resonated with so many people. As for today’s piece I’ll say this:

    Mastubation: it’s no ones business who we fantasize about while doing it- not even our significant others.

    Don’t ask/don’t tell: For example, cheating while away on a business trip. If you can handle the potential guilt, go for it.

    Open marriage – as long as both sides can handle it- go for it.

    Lying on okcupid- the key word is lying. Don’t pretend to be single if you’re not. Single ladies, gentlemen; if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. Learn to read the signs.

    Ongoing affairs w/out your spouses knowledge: no sympathy here.

    Having never been married, I can only imagine what leads people down the path of lying and having affairs. Nevertheless, it takes two to tango and unless one partner is unfaithful by nature, odds something led the cheating partner down that path and the one being cheated on isn’t a completely innocent victim.

    • Lisa Says:

      “it takes two to tango and unless one partner is unfaithful by nature, odds something led the cheating partner down that path and the one being cheated on isn’t a completely innocent victim.”

      I agree. I mean, cheating is never right IMO. But there is often a plausible explanation (not justification).

      How did Neil introduce himself? “I live in a big house and drive a nice car? And I have everything a person could want?”

      Ummmm yeah, the explanation eludes me somehow! LOL

      • C Says:

        I don’t know about the other person not being “completely innocent” in cases of cheating. Sometimes both partners are responsible for the demise of a marriage and other times a man/woman is completely blind sighted when their spouse suddenly leaves them for another man/woman.

        “Don’t ask/don’t tell: For example, cheating while away on a business trip. If you can handle the potential guilt, go for it.”

        Umh, yeah, ok if you can handle the fact that your word means nothing, you have no integrity, and the people closest to you shouldn’t trust you any further then they can throw you, by all means, cheat away while out of town.

        Incidentally, I know two marriages that ended when one partner gave the other a disease they caught while on a trip.

  3. Lisa Says:

    It might be wiorth tuning into as a tawdry distraction. Or not. Might be too cynical/nihilistic.

    From the trailer, Neil and Grace’s life seems a bit empty and spiritually bereft.

    IDK, tho.

  4. Hard ache Says:

    Open marriage = taking forbidden fruit off the table?

    Aw!! Forbidden fruit can be so exciting!! It’s the penalties that suck and keep us in line.

  5. Yvonne Says:

    Better an open marriage than secret (or not-so-secret) affairs.

  6. C Says:

    “When I asked a friend why he and his wife chose to have an open marriage, he said that it takes the forbidden fruit aspect off the table.”

    Isnt that the truth! I hear some married friends occasionally express how fanciful being single would be. I want to tell them to go out and experience it for themselves and it will very quickly lose its luster.

    There are places like Denver where swingers clubs are very popular. A friend went to one in the hopes of saving his marriage and was explicitly told during his initiation that a lot of people come there to save their marriage but instead, swinging tends to be the nail that seals a bad marriage’s coffin. If the marriage is otherwise good but the sex life is stale, swinging can bring back the passion and excitement.

    Non-monogamous relationships do work for some people but I am partial to Tom Lyekis’ point of view on this. As a general rule, its not a good idea to bring other sexual partners into your marriage. It generally just creates added cause for friction (i.e. jealousy, etc…) and provides an easy out when the marriage hits a rough patch.

  7. C Says:

    One thing I did find funny about this show is that the “older women” client in the trailer probably in her late 30s at the most and very attractive. That’s been the case with every Hollywood male escort fantasy film I’ve seen. Even when the woman was older (i.e. mid 50s), she was obviously a model.

    Most female senior executives don’t look like that. The ones that do, don’t need male escorts. If they want a hookup, they can sleep with half their network.

  8. AC Says:

    This soul mates abs marriage fidelity talk is all well and good but we need some letters from disgruntled daters to get a good discussion going.

  9. Lucy Says:

    This is why I value feeling a spark of attraction in the beginning of a relationship. It’s because I imagine that further down the line, mundane normality is going to erupt, and I at least want something sexy to look back on.

    I’m 24. The idea of long-term commitment scares me as I worry about giving up on meeting other men, who might be better suited than whoever I am dating. Commitment to a monogamous relationship doesn’t worry me as long as I like the guy. I’m starting to think I’ll never meet a guy who I feel both emotional and physical attraction for :(

    Anyway, as for the open relationship stuff, I have genuinely never met anyone here in rural Scotland that partakes in that stuff. I seem to encounter a host of fetish and open relationship minded people on OkCupid and wonder where they all come from because I’ve never met anyone who’s into that.

    It doesn’t particularly bother me if someone has an open relationship with their spouse. If it works for them, then who’s to judge? Deceit I don’t condone but I do think if someone does cheat and their partner is unlikely to find out through some other means, for me I’d rather not know. I don’t care about who my partner fantasises about while masturbating.

    • Steve From The City Next Door Says:

      How do you think you would find out about people’s fetishes other than being in a relationship with them where they matter?

      something like this:
      At the Fish monger
      Lucy: Good day William, fine weather we are having aren’t we?
      William: Good day Lucy. Indeed…Say, have I told you about what I like to do with small animals? No? Well…

      • Lucy Says:

        That’s exactly the sort of conversations I’ve had before on okcupid – no joke. I sometimes get messages asking if I’m into anilingus or asking whether I’m a dominatrix. And I have nothing at all sexual in my profile. Lucky those messages are few and far between. The most recent interesting opening message I’ve had recently was one from a guy talking about how he gets turned on by women farting in his face. I think that site is trolling me haha. Anyway back to topic!

        • Millie Says:

          I don’t know about the fetish stuff but I do think if you don’t know any couples in open marriages, it’s more likely it’s because you just don’t know. I think there are more couples with this arrangement than we realize (and a few friends have confided in me so I know 3 couples for sure).

          It could be that at 24 you actually don’t know anyone personally, because in all 3 cases it was marriages that they were trying to “save” (which didn’t work for any of the 3 btw). But I think that’s rather unlikely. It’s becoming more and more common–and openly discussed–among all ages.

    • C Says:

      I’m sure someone is doing it, they just aren’t advertising it. Once you start talking to people, you start hearing all sorts of crazy stuff.

      I had a roommate on a business trip about 10 years ago who was from a small town in Vermont and the daughter of a college professor. She told me that she and her husband had tried 3-somes and swinging.

      As far as being afraid of settling for one guy because you are missing out on all the other guys who might be “better”, I think its just a stage of life thing. Most of us reach a point when we have seen enough and done enough to know when we have a good thing and that someone “different” wont be someone “better”. Don’t worry that you feel confused and frustrated by the process right now. Just start thinking about what will make a good life partner long term rather than a “hot”, “fun” or “powerful/affluent” boyfriend.

      • Lucy Says:

        Hey, that is true. A good example is my university which was really small but simply because princes have graduated, does not mean it doesn’t have certain secrets…haha I digress :)

        Thanks C. :) I’m just feeling under pressure from family and people around me who are my age (24) getting engaged. It makes me feel left out sometimes, even though I don’t really value being engaged very highly in my list of priorities. I mean I’m picky to some degree before I decide to commit but once the decision’s made then that’s it for me. That means I end up having fewer dates because I don’t tend to leap in.

        I just worry that time is going to run out. I can be emotionally attracted to many different people so I don’t worry about that aspect. However I find it difficult to feel particularly sexually attracted to most men I meet. :/ There’s a guy who liked me recently who I value as a person but I couldn’t feel attraction towards him no matter how I tried. Other people tell me to give those guys a chance but I find it hard to muster attraction I don’t feel. This really compounds that feeling for me. With this guy, I certainly liked him as a person but I knew in my heart that if I dated him I’d be flirting and wanting to kiss other men all the time.

        • D. Says:

          Yeah, that’s the “first round” of marriages — the 24-26 range. It’ll happen again around 28-30 or so. And then you’ll start seeing the first round of second marriages in your early 30s. Many of those will be folks who married at 24-26.

          Just take your time, learn what you want from a relationship, learn about yourself, and recognize that life isn’t on a schedule. Also, trying to make life adhere to a schedule usually blows up in your face down the road (or sometimes immediately).

          • C Says:

            I agree absolutely. Succumb to pressure and you have a pretty decent chance of winding up divorced between age 27-33. That means struggling financially, trying to grow your career, get additional training all while trying to raise your children and squeeze in time for the occasional date with a man who wont just love you but love your children too.

            Foo on family pressure! My best advise for you is go take out a loan and have your eggs frozen. I promise this is as important a thing to do as going to college so don’t let the cost dissuade you. Then take your time finding the right long term partner. Marriage and family can be the best thing or the worst hell and a lot of it is based on the choices you make.

            • Lucy Says:

              Thanks for the advice. I appreciate it. Perhaps I’m not settled enough as a person to pursue a very serious relationship at this point in my life (currently jobless university graduate). But I want a relationship very much deep down.

  10. Damien Says:

    I can empathize with Moxie about it being “… really hard not to have those moments where you just feel invisible to the opposite sex… It can get lonely to be a single… especially as we get older… it is very isolating.”

    Even for guys, long term lack of connection gets demoralizing.

    A few years ago, I was long term dateless. I replied to a woman on a dating site who was looking for something sexual with her husband watching. I replied to her out of frustration at my dateless situation and wanted to validate myself by getting extreme. She actually replied saying she loved my message. I drove out to meet them on the weekend. They were an ordinary couple, nothing weird, and were actually quite authentic. They said it was very hard to find willing guys and the right match. I had sex with her while her husband filmed us. We hooked up a few more times doing the same thing until they wanted to seek a gangbang fantasy. That’s when I chickened out and never called them back.

    I have to say that the experience left me feeling better afterwards about my ability to be sexually attractive and able to perform in an edgy environment. I never told anyone about this, but in retrospect, I still have no regrets about that experience, about how it worked out for me at that point in my life, and how it changed my approach to sex.

  11. Michelle Says:

    I’m 27, I’ve finally met someone who I’m
    Both physically and emotionally attracted to and who wants a real relationship with me, despite this I still want the option to have sex with other people and have extended the offer for him to do the same. My best friend is in a monogam-ish relationship where both she and her bf have had sex with others – me being one of them. It’s important to understand that jealousy is inevitable and unavoidable, but you don’t break up or make the other person pay for it. You talk it out and continue on with your relationship, possibly laying down more guidelines for how to conduct things so no one gets hurt. Open relationships are very doable, but only if the relationship is strong and two people are securely committed to eachother with each partner being confident in that commitment. My friends relationship didn’t open up to others until they were already together for 5 years, whereas I float the prospect more or less upfront . My guy says he’ll need a lot of reassurance and I plan on giving it as much and as often as he needs. You can’t ever leave your partner hanging emotionally when they let you sleep with others.

    • Lucy Says:

      Ooh thanks for posting. I’ve wondered how people can make open relationships work. I learnt a lot from your post. I guess two people have to be very understanding to keep the open arrangement going.

      • Lucy Says:

        But what do you think if a relationship got serious and there were children in the mix? Could an open relationship still be possible/right in that kind of situation?

        • Michelle Says:

          That’s a great question. I’m still in my 20’s so I’m not even remotely thinking about kids and might not until it gets to that now or never time of my mid to late 30’s. I just don’t want kids badly enough. I think when a kid is still so small that they need me all the time I probably wouldn’t have the time or energy to even have sex with the baby’s father let alone an additional man, now would I let him sleep with another woman while I care for a baby/little kid? It depends. If I felt a side hook up was cutting into his parent duties and leaving me with extra burden then I’d have a problem with it. I would only end the relationship if it became obvious that another woman has priority on time, energy, resources etc, because that might as well be a full on relationship y’know? But a little side sex from time to time that isn’t hidden from me isn’t a problem.

    • Nicole Says:

      Agree with Lucy, it’s great to hear about open relationships that work.

      My ex and I contemplated opening up our marriage, because a complete loss of interest in sex with each other was the by far the biggest problem in our relationship. But when we talked about “rules”, we never really found a place both of us felt comfortable.

      We were both fine with the idea of the other having casual sex with other people. But i couldn’t get into the casual sex thing, myself. I don’t necessarily need love or a relationship to have sex, but i need to feel mentally and emotionally connected, or it’s awful. I didn’t see any way to have that connection with other men, without creating a situation that would hurt my husband.

      I mean, we talked for a year about this, and what I needed was just more than he was ok with. My ex was cool with totally casual, and I told him to have fun, just be safe and don’t tell me. Have no idea if he ever took me up on the offer.

      I think for people who enjoy casual sex – or are secure enough to handle their partners having emotional relationships on the side – open relationships are a great solution.

  12. WO7 Says:

    Why would any man agree to an open relationship?

    Many single men would have sex with a married woman…open relationship or not. Many men try to convince a woman to stray from her husband.

    Few women would have sex with a married man…open relationship or not. Very few women try to convince a man to stray from his wife.

    Basically you’re agreeing to barely getting any extra sex…spending money on it, and having a lot of additional work to get it. And…you’re letting your wife bang other dudes. Easily, freely, and cheaply.

    It is hard work to cheat as a man. I really don’t see the appeal. I would do much better just being single.

    • Michelle Says:

      It’s not hard work to cheat as a man if you’re a man who women want to have sex with. A man would agree to an open relationship for the same reasons he’d want his partner to agree to one if the idea came up on his end.

  13. LostSailor Says:

    I’m sure this show will be a hit. I couldn’t care less about this show.

    I’m sure that there are couples that can survive an “open relationship” or “open marriage” but most can’t. And shouldn’t try.

    I’m going to be the curmudgeon here. Before I was married, I had a variety of sexual experiences. After I’ve been divorced, I’ve enjoyed a variety of sexual experiences, from casual dating and sex to FWB relationships. I have no problem with single people doing whatever is good and doesn’t overly hurt other people.

    But in a committed relationship, whether it’s still dating or a marriage, a promise is a promise. Yes, in a monogamous relationship, things like sex can get stale. Which is why you talk about and work on them. It takes a very minority type of relationship to make a “open marriage” work. But being facile about a commitment is bullshit.

    Sorry Moxie.

    Cheating? To save a marriage? What are you talking about? Oh, bunnies. I want to chuck you under the chin and pat you on the head and give you a cookie because I find your wide-eyed innocence so adorable.

    As much as I’ll object to the complaints that you can’t give dating advice because you’re “still single,” fuck you’re “chuck under the chin” and cookies; you’ve never been married. Sorry, but it’s different. And it’s most often not “adorable.” Masturbating and fantasizing is one thing; cheating is another.
    Apparently (I have no interest in this show), your new TV promotion involves a man who comes home to find his wife being fucked by another man…hilarity ensues.

    If you”re a woman in her forties you can relate to that.[tweet]…it’s really hard not to have those moments where you just feel invisible to the opposite sex. It can chip away at you at times

    And, of course, this only happens to women. Not. But apparently, for women, going to male escorts is an okay thing. In TV fiction.

    Flip the script here. Change the genders with Moxie’s whole post. Are the reactions the same? Women leave a plane, finds her husband screwing a prostitute against the wall and then goes into prostitution herself. Laugh riot.

    Sorry, Moxie. This one has more than a whiff of bullshit.

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