The Mail on Sunday - Event

Is Monogamy Dead?

Rosie Wilby Ac­cent Press £8.99

- Hephz­ibah Anderson BDSM · Humor

If you’re not cheat­ing, then your part­ner quite prob­a­bly is. So goes one of the quips in Rosie Wilby’s stand-up rou­tine. But like the best com­edy, it’s rooted in an un­com­fort­able truth: as a 2015 sur­vey re­vealed, we Brits take more lovers than the French.

Stand-up, Wilby ad­mits, is an ‘ex­treme form of very pub­lic ther­apy’, and she de­cided to bring sex into her act hav­ing strayed into a dry spell in her own love life.

A self-con­fessed, mid­dle-class, se­rial monogamist who is also gay, Wilby had leapt into a re­la­tion­ship with Jen while still pin­ing for her ex, Sarah. She and Jen are un­beat­able as do­mes­tic part­ners but theirs is a strangely chaste union. As Wilby re­alises, ‘I was too monog­a­mous. My body ached to stay faith­ful to some­one that my ra­tio­nal mind knew was no longer there.’

She’s also crav­ing the en­er­gised cre­ativ­ity that trails a break-up. ‘Drown­ing in com­pro­mise,’ she won­ders whether there isn’t some­thing ‘dead­en­ing’ about long-term re­la­tion­ships. Yet an­other break-up seems un­nec­es­sary be­cause she re­ally does love Jen – like a sis­ter. What if there was an al­ter­na­tive?

And so she be­gins ques­tion­ing her com­mit­ment to monogamy. What ac­tu­ally counts as cheat­ing? Is sex the ul­ti­mate in in­ti­macy? Can a cou­ple be­come more faith­ful by open­ing up their marriage?

As she and Jen ten­ta­tively move to­wards an ‘open-minded’ if not quite open re­la­tion­ship, Wilby looks to sci­ence, psy­chol­ogy and so­ci­ol­ogy for guid­ance. She also con­ducts her own ex­per­i­ments, re­sult­ing in a hi­lar­i­ous scene at a les­bian sauna night, com­plete with chilly cor­ri­dors, show­ers on timer switches and end­less poly­styrene cups of milky tea. Along the way she learns the mean­ing of words such as meta­mour, monogamish and bread-crumb­ing.

In mem­oir writ­ing, Wilby has found an equally pub­lic form of ther­apy but her book is as en­ter­tain­ing as any com­edy act, and if she over­states the rel­a­tive ease of straight re­la­tion­ships, she also dishes up plenty of provoca­tive food for thought.

As for monogamy, by the book’s close, she’s met some­one who makes it seem the most thrilling item on any menu...

 ??  ?? Wilby per­form­ing at the Ed­in­burgh Fringe Fes­ti­val
Wilby per­form­ing at the Ed­in­burgh Fringe Fes­ti­val
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