Archive for the 'Relationships' Category

Compromise in Relationships

by Jason Stotts

This is a really good and insightful article about the dangers of confusing the particular way you do something with the absolutely right way to do something. It’s also a good example of why compromise is important in relationships.

My “Aha Moment” happened because of a package of hamburger meat. I asked my husband to stop by the store to pick up a few things for dinner, and when he got home, he plopped the bag on the counter. I started pulling things out of the bag, and realized he’d gotten the 70/30 hamburger meat – which means it’s 70% lean and 30% fat.

I asked, “What’s this?”

“Hamburger meat,” he replied, slightly confused.

“You didn’t get the right kind,” I said.

“I didn’t?” He replied with his brow furrowed. ” Was there some other brand you wanted or something?”

“No. You’re missing the point, ” I said. “You got the 70/30. I always get at least the 80/20.”

He laughed. “Oh. That’s all? I thought I’d really messed up or something.”

That’s how it started. I launched into him. I berated him for not being smarter. Why would he not get the more healthy option? Did he even read the labels? Why can’t I trust him? Do I need to spell out every little thing for him in minute detail so he gets it right? Also, and the thing I was probably most offended by, why wasn’t he more observant? How could he not have noticed over the years what I always get? Does he not pay attention to anything I do? (Link)

Read the whole article, it’s definitely worth it.

There’s two things that I should point out:

1. Compromise in practical issues is mandatory, if you want a relationship to work. There is no person in the world who does everything so well that any other person should conform to everything they do because it’s objectively the best way to do it. On the other hand, compromise of ethical principles is never acceptable. It is never okay to sometimes beat your child, or sometimes steal, or compromise about just this murder.

2. The article is titled “Woman Realizes That She’s Been Accidentally Abusing Her Husband This Whole Time… Wow” and I think that’s a bit of an overstatement. Psychological abuse is real and really dangerous, but given only the information in the article, I don’t think that it rises to that level. Now, if the woman was fundamentally demeaning her husband and always disparaging him, then maybe it would. Either way, we should be careful that our interactions with our partners are encouraging them to live better and not causing them to live worse.

Question from a Reader

by Jason Stotts

I get lots of emails from readers asking for advice.  I always try to at least give them some kind of response and recently we’ve been answering questions on the podcast as well.  Most of the time I respond and never hear from the person again.  Sometimes we correspond for a while.  On some of the more interesting questions, those that I think could help others as well, I ask if I can post our discussions.  Usually people agree.  This is one of those problems.  Before you read my response and our ensuing discussion, think about what you would tell this person if they came to you for advice.

Continue reading ‘Question from a Reader’

Erosophia Podcast #5: Same-Sex Marriage


In this episode of the newly relaunched Erosophia Podcast, Jason, William, Devin, and Joia talk about same-sex marriage.


1. Herpes Strikes Two More Infants After Ritual Circumcision

2. Judge orders morning-after pill available without prescription

3. Bet You Can’t Tell The Difference Between These Actual Anti-Interracial And Anti-Gay Marriage Quotes

4. Introducing the Condom of the Future

5. Kansas and Anti-Abortion Legislation


No questions this episode.

If you want to ask a question, contact us at [email protected], on twitter via @ErosPod, on this page here on Erosophia, or via our Facebook page.

A question for you: do you want a “sex tips” feature in the podcast?

Tonight’s Topic: Same-Sex Marriage

For a thorough debunking of the sadly terrible arguments against gay marriage, check out episode #205 of Diana Hsieh’s Philosophy in Action podcast.

Our take away from this podcast: gays are real people with real rights who should be able to marry just like anyone else.

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On Polysexuality (Revised)

by Jason Stotts  

Summary: Our language related to sex must be expanded to capture all of the variations that we see in real life.  And we need to understand this because sex is good and a valuable part of a human life.  The way we structure our relationships and sex lives has a lot of optionality that depends on the people in the relationship and can include multiple loving relationships or multiple sexual relationships, the right way for any particular couple may not be monosexual monoamory, and this would be fine because polysexuality and polyamory are natural and can be perfectly moral choices.  As long as we observe some simple guidelines, leaving societally structured relationships and constructing our own can help us to live the best kind of lives possible.

Continue reading ‘On Polysexuality (Revised)’

Same-Sex Marriage and the Supreme Court

by Jason Stotts


I’ve been busy getting the podcast together and getting ready for another interview with Radically Candid today.  However, I want everyone to know (like you wouldn’t already know this), that Erosophia fully supports same-sex marriage and will continue to fight the philosophical battles related to same-sex marriage and just gays being treated like real people with real rights.

We’ve come a long way, but there is still a long battle ahead (no matter which way SCOTUS rules).

On Companionate Marriages

by Jason Stotts

There are lots of different kinds of marriages, and I don’t just mean same-sex marriages, poly-marriages, and other “non-traditional” marriages.  There are different ways to have just “regular” old marriages between two people.  One kind of marriage is a romantic marriage where two partners intertwine their lives and share a high level of intimacy and sexuality.  Another option is the oppositional marriage, where two people cohabitate, but are always fighting each other.  There are many other style of marriages, but the one I want to focus on here is the companionate marriage.

A companionate marriage is one where two people cohabitate and might share even a high level of intimacy, but have little to no sexual contact.  This kind of marriage looks like it’s between two companions, or friends, who just happen to be married.  It can result from mutual agreement or from one person not being interested in sex.  Regardless, the defining characteristic is the fact that the partners have little to no sexual interaction, even though they might have a high degree of intimacy.

A companionate marriage works well when it’s to the mutual agreement of both partners.  In that case, where the partners just aren’t interested in sex, this kind of relationship lets the partners have all the parts of a relationship they want without any of the parts they don’t.  Unfortunately, though, companionate marriages are much more commonly due to one partner not being interested in sex, much to the chagrin of the other partner.  This presents an insurmountable problem in our culture: marriage is between one man and one woman and they can only have sex with each other.  So, the usual solution is to divorce and throw away all the good parts of the marriage in order for the partners to find other partners with whom they are sexually compatible.  Sadly, if their marriage was otherwise good, this doesn’t always go well.  A good relationship is hard to achieve and it’s common for people who leave companionate marriages to end up in relationships that are more sexually satisfying, but less emotionally satisfying.

What if, however, there was another answer?  What if a person could maintain their companionate marriage and all of the positive values it brings and also have a satisfying sex life? Obviously, this can be done if we throw away the monogamy requirement.  In fact, the emphasis on monogamy is nowhere as destructive as it is in this particular situation.  If a couple in a companionate marriage were to open their relationship, they could maintain their intimacy and the good parts of their marriage and, at the same time, both partners could have the kind of sex lives they want.  The person who wants little to no sex could continue having that with their original partner (or, if they wanted, another partner; although this isn’t likely given their inclinations) and the person who wasn’t sexually satisfied would be free to pursue more satisfying sexual encounters with others.  This could be done on a purely sexual level or it could evolve into polyamory, depending on what the couple wanted to do.  Through removing the monogamy requirement, the couple can end up having the best of both worlds.

Unfortunately, sometimes the partner who is less interested in sex won’t understand the desires of their partner who is more interested in sex and won’t want to open their relationship or engage in sex more frequently.  Sadly, often in our culture, with its christian taint, the person who was less interested in sex will take the moral high-ground and decry the sexuality of their partner and they can hold them hostage: neither having sex with them nor letting them satisfy their desires elsewhere.  This, I think, is completely unacceptable.  Sex is an important part of a human life and a person should not have to go without sex and its pleasures in order to conform to a cultural requirement whose only basis is superstition from an old book.  This is the situation I had in mind when I wrote “The Importance of Sexual Satisfaction.”  Sex is a normal and important part of a human life and a person should not have to suffer its deprivation.  In fact, lots of studies have shown that not having sex can actually lead to all sorts of illnesses including cancer, while having sex improves both our moods and our health.  Forcing your partner to go without sex literally harms them.

If our culture were more sex-positive, then answer here is obviously non-monogamy.  However, even in our culture, a person can still refuse to give up the moral high ground and should openly talk to their partner about the options.  Realistically there are only two: non-monogamy or dissolving the relationship.  In most cases companionate marriages start out as romantic marriages and slowly evolve over time as passions cool, jobs take precedence, kids are born, etc.  To me it makes no sense to throw away a happy marriage, a stable household, your children’s other parent, your shared past, and all the rest, only for the sake of maintaining monogamy.  And this is why a companionate marriage that is sexually open can be the ideal solution in certain contexts: even if it isn’t the abstract optimal condition, it might still be the best option open in a person’s real life.

So, far from decrying the companionate marriage, I think that the companionate marriage can end up working quite well for some couples, especially if the couple sheds their pre-conceived notions of what a “proper relationship” should look like and they look to their real lives and how to achieve their happiness in the real world.

On Valentine’s Day

by Jason Stotts

Some people think that Valentine’s Day is not a real holiday; that it is simply a “Hallmark Holiday,” constructed to bring in money for cards.   They think that they shouldn’t have to show their love on just one day and as long as their partner knows that they love them throughout the year, that having this one extra day is superfluous.  I must admit, that there were times in the past that I, too, thought that Valentine’s Day was unnecessary, but not too long ago changed my mind.

My wife knows I love her.  She knows because of how I treat her, because I do things for her, because I help her to achieve her goals, and for a myriad of little reasons.  But does this mean I shouldn’t also tell her I love her?  No, it doesn’t.  Just because sheknows that I love doesn’t mean it’s not valuable to still explicitly tell her so. There is a value in the explicit reaffirmation that saying “I Love you” brings.  This can be overdone and I think we’ve all seen the couples that say it so frequently that it loses all meaning.  Nevertheless, if you don’t tell your partner that you love them, then that is communicating something as well.

So, you might be thinking, that if I already tell my partner I love her and show this in my actions, why do I need to have a day to focus on this?  Putting emphasis on something that is important to you is very valuable.  All too often, especially after we have been in relationships for a while, we forget to tell our partners that we love them as much as we do, we let the stress of our jobs and other obligations come between us, and we don’t give our partner and our relationship as much attention as they deserves.  Thus, Valentines Day is a way for us to take some time out of our busy schedules and to put that extra emphasis on our partner and our relationship.  Valentine’s Day is a time for us to tell our partner how much we value them and show them this as well.  In short, it’s a day where we check in on our relationship and make sure that’s it’s going well.

And what do we do once we do this?  Then we celebrate!  Valentine’s Day is a reaffirmation of our love and relationships and we should celebrate these things because they are very important to life.  I firmly believe that love, sex, and relationships are part of what is necessary to live a good life for a person and if we are achieving these things, we should celebrate their value in our lives.  Furthermore, we should celebrate our relationships and our shared lives together with our partners.

No matter its origins (and really is an irrational basis in religion somehow better than a constructed holiday to celebrate something important?) Valentine’s Day is a worthwhile holiday and one that should be embraced by rational men and women as it serves to help us to enrich our lives and make them better.

(This essay originally appeared on Erosophia last year and I’m republishing it this year because I like it so much)

Sexuality and Privacy

by Jason Stotts

I think that some of the ideas that people hold about sex are quite interesting.  Some people think that monogamy is natural (it isn’t, although it still might be an optimal form of relationship for some people).  Some people think that the purpose of sex is reproduction (that’s only one possible end of sex, the number of live births per sex act is about 1 to 1,000). Some people think that only heterosexuality is natural (it’s not, a certain percentage of the population is homosexual in any culture).

Another interesting idea is that sex is private.  Some people take this idea so far that they won’t discuss anything related to sex: not things related to reproduction, not things related to sexual health, not things related to relationships, not anything at all.  This, however, is completely irrational.

Sex is an important part of a human life.  Unfortunately, we’re not born knowing anything about sex.  Not about how to do it, not about how to do it safely, and especially not how to do it well.  We must learn all this information and we can either do that through trial and error or by learning about sex from others, in the way we learn about everything else.  The problem with trial and error is that, while it works adequately for things like technique, it works terribly for things like sexual health and reproduction.  Many STI’s are incurable and will harm a person’s life.  Getting pregnant when you don’t intend to can be very traumatic and forces a person to choose between options they might not want: carrying a child to term or getting an abortion.  Even with sexual technique, trial and error isn’t a great option.  Most people know little to nothing about sexual anatomy or technique and their lives would be greatly improved by this knowledge.

Thus, a person’s life would be objectively improved by learning about sex and sexuality.  Consequently, to not learn about sex, at least the basics, would be immoral.

Now, admittedly, there is some sense in which sex can, and perhaps should, be private.  The things you do sexually with your partner, or partners, is no one’s business except your own.  You can choose to share that information with others or not.  While I don’t think you should just tell everyone you meet about your sexual exploits, I also think that it’s good to talk to at least some people about it.  Many people, especially before the advent of internet forums and chat rooms, thought that their sexual practices were unique to them and abhorrent, because they went beyond the christian idea that sex is only for reproduction and not for pleasure.

If we more freely shared information about our sex lives, then we would see that others have the same desires, thoughts, fantasies, and feelings.  Sharing information about our sexualities would help to normalize different kinds of behaviors and desires in our culture, behaviors and desires that are actually already common in practice.  Part of what makes certain kinds of sexuality shameful for some people is thinking that their desires are “abnormal” and this troubles them.  But, I doubt anyone has a truly unique sexual desire.  In fact, the range of what’s (statistically) “normal” would probably surprise most people; like, for example, adultery (more than 50% of people in our culture have experienced infidelity).

So, the question is, what is the line that we should walk regarding sex and privacy?  Certainly, we should not tell everything to everyone, but neither should we make the mistake of not even talking about sex with our partners.  We should treat sex as a normal part of a healthy human life and as an important part of what it means to live a happy human life.  We should always talk to our partner or partners about it and about our likes and dislikes, our desires, and our fantasies.  We should seek out information about sexuality to improve our lives and make sure that we have adequate information about sexuality to live well.  Ultimately, the exact amount of information that one shares with others, to whom they share it, and in what contexts, is a matter of personal preference and personality and must be decided by each individual. However, we must not let our personal preference lead us to live less well than we could otherwise.

Another question we should address is why people want to keep their entire sex lives private and feel shame whenever sex is discussed openly.  This shame comes from accepting ideas that that sexuality is base and low, that it is not natural, and that it is unimportant or even detrimental to living a good life.  In our culture, these ideas come from the christian hatred of the body and of this world.  In christianity, copying Plato, the body is nothing but a corporeal prison of the soul that taints it with its desires, urges, and drives.  These base bodily things cloud the purity of the soul and prevent it from reaching its highest possible state in the realm of the forms (heaven).   People who believe these misanthropic things and internalize these beliefs experience shame about their bodies and about natural bodily processes.  They also experience irrational expectations about what their bodies should be like and how they should behave.

Now, it can be perfectly rational to not disclose everything about one’s sexual practices and past to just anyone.  However, if the reason that one doesn’t share any information is due to shame, then this is illegitimate and needs to be worked at to be overcome.  There are lots of reasons why one might not want to disclose information about one’s sexuality, like fear of reprisal, loss of future job prospects, etc.  However, it should be pointed out that the situation won’t ever improve for people with alternative sexualities until they start coming out in large numbers so that “normal” people realize that they actually know people who are gay, or who are polyamorous, or who are swingers, or who are into BDSM, etc.  There is very clear historical evidence for this in the gay movement, where homosexuality was considered aberrant and unnatural, until gay people started coming out in large numbers and demanding recognition for who they were.  Now, although our culture still has some hang-ups about homosexuality, the culture is moving inexorably towards treating gay people as real people who have rights and can participate in societal rituals like marriage.  If other alternative sexual groups want to have the same kind of recognition and acceptance, they too must come out and be open about who they are.

Ultimately, there are good reasons to keep sex private, but there are also very good reasons to be open about sexuality and to share information about sexuality.  The appropriate path for any particular person must be cut by them, but I hope that this essay will have given some useful things to think about when considering whether to share information about sexuality and how much information to share.  I do think that if we are to err in our disclosures, it would be better for all of us to err on the side of too much disclosure rather than too little, because at least with too much disclosure we will see our society change for the better.  Additionally, if we don’t discuss this oh so very important part of human life, this leads us to have a sub-optimal life and will impede our long-term happiness.