Sex, Love, and Fidelity: A Study of Contemporary Romantic Relationships

by Kassia R. Wosick


“Extremely well-researched and coherently argued, this book presents top-quality research and draws appropriately on the existing knowledge in this area. The focus on fidelity across different kinds of relationship structures is very original and will prove an important contribution to the field of relationship research. A key strength of this study is that the analysis pays attention to both commonalities and diversity (which is rare, even in qualitative research). The analysis is also both clearly expressed and sophisticated.” – Dr. Meg Barker, Open University

“This is a fascinating investigation of the meaning of ‘love,’ ‘sex,’ and ‘fidelity’ for different kinds of couples. Kassia Wosick reports on a survey and in-depth conversations with couples that were straight and gay, monogamous and non-monogamous, traditional and polyamorous. ‘Love’ and ‘being special’ are enormously important in all of these groups. But she also finds startling differences. For some, sexual exclusiveness is critical. For others, being faithful means not loving anyone else, but sex with others is ok. For polyamorous couples, having explicit rules and being open and honest is the heart of fidelity and being special. And “having sex” can mean many different things. This book persuasively argues that we need more flexible, emotion-focused concepts of love, commitment and fidelity. The traditional focus on sexual exclusivity does not fit many contemporary relationships. This is a very valuable book for researchers and therapists, and for all of us who care about ‘love,’ ‘sex,’ and ‘faithfulness’.” – Professor Francesca Cancian, University of California, Irvine

“Engaging, insightful, thoroughly researched, and well written, Sex, Love, and Fidelity: Study of Contemporary Romantic Relationships provides a compelling analysis of evolving relationships with a unique focus on levels of monogamy that surpasses previous studies to contribute refreshing insights into current meanings of sexuality and love. Wosick untangles the myriad cultural assumptions underlying the concept of fidelity and details the various ways in which fidelity expresses in a range of contemporary relationships, from dual fidelity and strict monogamy through veiled fidelity and almost monogamy to specified fidelity and non-monogamy and ending with agentic fidelity and polyamory. Now that few people in the US expect to be monogamous in the classical sense of marrying as a virgin and remaining in one, life-long, sexually exclusive relationship, Sex, Love, and Fidelity provides the information necessary for us to update our understandings of contemporary love and commitment.” – Dr. Elisabeth Sheff


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