Welcome, Rosie, could you tell us a little about your book
Is Monogamy Dead? is my first book and draws inspiration from a trilogy of solo shows investigating love and relationships that I wrote and toured internationally over a seven-year period. Writing a book allowed me to explore the themes more deeply and include some of the science underpinning the personal anecdotes and interviews
… and the inspiration behind it.
The book takes its title from the middle part of the trilogy and that show was very much a response to a couple of friends breaking up. There was a real ambiguity as to whether one of them had been having an affair.
What research was involved?
I decided to conduct an online anonymous survey. The key question was ‘what counts as cheating?’ The responses revealed that fidelity is way less clear cut and binary than we think. For many people, emotional exclusivity was more important than the physical side. But that’s where things get really complicated. Because … how we do control what we feel?
What issues do you cover in the book?
The book addresses all kinds of issues such as our language around relationships and how the word ‘love’ is a bit overburdened. There are too many different meanings for it. So the opportunity for misunderstanding is huge. All of this information, however, is embedded in my own personal narrative of what was going on in my own relationship and what brought me to this point of questioning relationships. So, although it’s non-fiction, it reads a bit like a novel.
Do you think conventional monogamy is relevant today or do we need to rethink what might be seen as old fashioned values?
What became clear from the survey results was that we don’t really know what ‘monogamy’ means. There’s no universal rules. It’s much healthier to discuss it with our partners and decide what works best within each relationship.
Polyamory seems set to become the new buzzword, do you think it’s just an excuse for multiple sexual partners?
Most people who use the word ‘polyamory’ place the emphasis on loving connections as opposed to sexual ones. It would be absolutely possible for a polyamorous person to be completely asexual. Admittedly, this is rare. But it’s possible.
What conclusions did you reach?
My conclusions were that it’s a very personal and complex topic which we, as a society, had previously made too many assumptions about.
And just for fun..
Chocolate or wine?
One thing you can’t live without?
Best gift you ever received?
Anything that has some real thought put into it. Though chocolate will do too
On your bucket list?
To write another book, or maybe a play or a film… to keep challenging myself creatively at least …
Thanks so much, Rosie.
About the book
Comedian Rosie Wilby found herself in a quandary – when people asked, ‘who’s the love of your life?’ there was no simple answer. Is Monogamy Dead? details her very personal quest to find out why Western society is clinging to a concept that is not only laden with assumptions but isn’t always fit for purpose in the 21st century.
Part memoir, part sociological study, the book was inspired by a trilogy of solo comedy shows investigating love and relationships written and toured by Rosie over a seven-year period. Highlighting the huge disparities in people’s definition of what a ‘relationship’ is, Rosie also draws on her own experience and interviews with dozens of people, gay and straight, male and female, to discover that, even if we think of ourselves as ‘monogamous’, that word can mean a myriad of different things.
Some of the burning questions Rosie’s book poses include –
- Can one person ever meet all your relationships needs or is monogamy a damaging myth?
- What really counts as “cheating” on a partner? With nearly 50% of people in a monogamous partnership admitting to having affairs, have we been wrong all along about infidelity?
- How have break-ups changed in the 21st century, and is a relationship “gap year” ever ok?
- What actually constitutes sex? Is it really what we think is it?
Rosie Wilby is an award-winning comedian who has appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour and Loose Ends. A Funny Women finalist in 2006, Rosie has performed at Glastonbury, Edinburgh Fringe, Secret Garden Party and Latitude, as well as being published in The Sunday Times, Guardian, Independent and more. She’s currently the co-host of Radio Diva. Is Monogamy Dead? is her first book and follows Rosie’s TEDx talk and comedy show of the same name, and her solo shows The Science of Sex and The Conscious Uncoupling.