The Sects That Rejected 19th-Century Sex

Why Three Religious Groups Traded Monogamy for Celibacy, Polygamy, and Complex Marriage

Disconsolate after his beloved’s marriage to another man in 1837, a young seminarian named John Humphrey Noyes declared in a bitter, anti-love poem to his ex:

I will not give you back your heart,
I’ve wooed and fairly won it,
And sooner with my life I’ll part,
You may depend upon it.

Not content with mere verse, Noyes would go on to turn his emotional anguish into a theological critique of the institution of monogamous marriage itself (or as he once called it, “Egotism for Two”). Condemning monogamy as “simple” and replacing …

How Mail-Order Spouses Helped Settle America

Ever Since the 'Tobacco Brides' of Jamestown, Government-Led 'Partner Redistribution' Has Eased Male Loneliness and Expanded Women's Freedom

The history of government-sponsored matchmaking in the United States is a long one, with roots in the very founding of the colonies. In his account of life in the early …

How Love Departs

What you want is for love to lean against the table like a craps dealer at the end of his shift and clap his hands and nod and walk away, …

When Human Hair Could Braid Two Hearts Together

Before Chocolates Reigned on Valentine’s Day, a Tuft of Your Beloved’s Tresses Was the Most Fashionable Sign of Affection

In 2016, Americans will spend more than $18 billion on Valentine’s Day, according to the National Retail Federation. We’ll show our love and affection by buying heart-shaped chocolate boxes, sparkling …

Stuffed Lines

When dead (when you’re dead), jealousy feels six times worse, otherwise everything is the
Same deal. Back in life, they put my intimate, personal letters in the second-best collection …

My First Great Love Hates My Guts

I Fear That His Judgment of Me Is True

The first time I thought someone might actually hate me, I had just received an email from my first boyfriend, three years after we broke up. He was replying to …