Reframing monogamy

Jane Czyzselska asks DIVA readers where they draw the line on monogamy


Fernando Safont


Maya* met Tonya* through mutual friends at a party about 10 years ago. They hit it off from the get-go, became close as they found out more about each other and got together soon after. About eight years into their relationship, Maya, 38, realised she had the hots for someone she’d met at work and couldn’t stop thinking about her. This other person, we’ll call her Alice, was also in a long-term relationship and, although the two of them had never touched physically, nor even acknowledged the mutual attraction, Maya spent a lot of time thinking about Alice, meeting up with her every so often, texting and emailing.


Maya was in a monogamous relationship and sex had all but petered out. Although she told Tonya about Alice, she chose not to tell her how aroused and sexually alive she felt when they got together. Maya wasn’t sure if her desire was love or lust, or perhaps both. Was she flirting with Alice or just responding to her provocative banter? Maya worried about these feelings and wondered why she continued to meet Alice despite feeling committed to her partner. Was she being unfaithful? Was she trying to get a flavour of what she felt she’d lost in her long-term relationship? She didn’t dare talk about it with Tonya for fear of hurting her, or risk of losing her. They had never spoken about the “what if” if one or other of them fancied someone else. They were monogamous and apart from celebrity crushes, expressing desire for anyone else was off limits. Maya knew she didn’t really want to have sex with Alice, the fantasy and the shared feeling of mutual attraction was enough. Each time after they met, Maya went back to Tonya’s flat feeling guilty and aroused until unexpectedly one evening her arousal seemed to re- ignite their sexual relationship. After a year or so, Maya realised her attraction to Alice had “fizzled out” and today she says their relationship is “stronger – and sexier – than ever”.


Did Maya “cheat” on Tonya? That depends on who you ask. In a survey conducted by comedian, author and Radio DIVA host Rosie Wilby to find out what we mean when we talk about infidelity, 62 out of the 100 people who participated said they thought ex changing texts and emails constituted an infidelity of sorts. By this measure, Maya’s behaviour would be considered unfaithful. A further 31 out of the 100 participants might consider Maya’s masturbating and fantasising about Alice whilst in a monogamous relationship with Tonya to be unfaithful also.


For some in monogamous relationships then, any such behaviour involving someone other than their partner is considered suspicious. 25-year-old Lu is typical of those who believe infidelity means “doing anything you wouldn’t do in front of your partner, or doing anything you wouldn’t tell them about”.


*Names have been changed.

Read the rest of this feature in the September issue of DIVA, available now at



Only reading DIVA online? You're missing out. For more news, reviews and commentary, check out the latest issue. It's pretty badass, if we do say so ourselves. //

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