Synopses & Reviews
Whether straight or gay, most men start their relationships desiring monogamy. This is rooted in the pervasive notion that monogamy exists as a sign of true love. Yet despite this deeply held cultural ideal, cheating remains rampant. In this accessible book, Eric Anderson investigates why 78% of men he interviewed have cheated despite their desire not to.
Combining 120 interviews with research from the fields of sociology, biology, and psychology, Anderson identifies cheating as a product of wanting emotional passion for one's partner, along with a steadily growing desire for emotionally-detached recreational sex with others. Anderson coins the term "the monogamy gap" to describe this phenomenon.
Anderson suggests that monogamy is an irrational ideal because it fails to fulfil a lifetime of sexual desires. Cheating therefore becomes the rational response to an irrational situation.
The Monogamy Gap draws on a range of concepts, theories, and disciplines to highlight the biological compulsion of our sexual urges, the social construction of the monogamous ideal, and the devastating chasm that lies between them. Whether single or married, monogamous or open, straight or gay, readers will find The Monogamy Gap to be an enlightening, intellectually compelling, and provocative book.
"Sociologist Eric Anderson asks troubling, controversial questions, and his answers might well unsettle and challenge readers. To Anderson, monogamy is a bankrupt illusion foisted on young men and women, which falsely promises that once they find true love, they will no longer experience ubiquitous sexual boredom and the desire to cheat. Leading the reader on an unpredictable journey, Anderson explores a number of related issues, such as why one should be 'happy' when a boyfriend/girlfriend is having 'hot sex' with another person; why gay boys masturbate more; and why straight men are becoming desensitized to gay sex. Anderson closes with his solution to negotiating sexual and romantic urges: a sexually promiscuous, emotionally monogamous relationship."
- Ritch C. Savin-Williams, Chair and Professor of Human Development, and Director, Sex and Gender Lab, Cornell University
"You may or may not agree with Eric Anderson's thesis, but The Monogamy Gap is a hard book to ignore. Sometimes somber, sometimes sassy, always engaging, Anderson is not afraid to challenge conventional wisdom about the ills of contemporary relationships. Monogamy, not infidelity, he argues, is the problem. Mixing scientific reports, imaginative sociological theorizing, and original interviews with gay and straight men, The Monogamy Gap is the most compassionate account to date of men's struggle to reconcile their lives with cultural expectations for sexual fidelity."
- Judith Treas, Professor of Sociology, University of California, Irvine
The Monogamy Gap is a fascinating addition to the literature on monogamous and non-monogamous relationships. Weaving together sociological and psychological theory and research with the accounts of men, the book proposes insightful, original, and provocative understandings of cheating behavior. As always, Eric Anderson writes in a way that is both engaging and well-informed, making this book a delight to read. The Monogamy Gap is a must-have for every serious scholar of relationships, as well as for all those who are fascinated by the societal shifts that we are currently undergoing in relation to love, sex, and gender."
- Meg Barker, Lecturer in Psychology, The Open University; co-author of Understanding Non-Monogamies; and editor of Psychology and Sexuality
About the Author
Professor Eric Anderson is an American sociologist at the University of Winchester. He is known for his research on sex, gender, and sport. Anderson is also the author of eight books, many of which document the development of pro-gay attitudes in young, heterosexual men. His work examines how this changing culture enables heterosexual men to show love and affection more openly toward their male peers, and how openly gay male athletes are thriving in sport.
Table of Contents
Part 1: Introduction
Chapter 1: Overview of the Research
Chapter 2: Developing a Critique of Monogamy
Chapter 3: About the Study
Part 2: Men, Attraction, and Love
Chapter 4: The Hardening and Softening of Men
Chapter 5: The Science of Sexual Attraction
Chapter 6: The Development of Romantic Relationships
Part 3: Monogamy and its Discontents
Chapter 7: Categorizing Monogamy Types
Chapter 8: Monogamism
Chapter 9: The Monogamy Gap
Chapter 10: Costs of Monogamism
Chapter 11: Jealousy
Chapter 12: Liberation from Monogamous Missionary Sex
Part 4: The Reality of Cheating
Chapter 13: Prevalence of Cheating
Chapter 14: Spontaneous Cheating
Chapter 15: Cheating Out of Love
Chapter 16: Counter Currents
Chapter 17: Conclusions