A reader writes:

Christopher Ryan's response to the reasonable question posed by Jesse Bering on monogamy and heartbreak was disappointing.  While I found his book provocative and worth more exploration, this response demonstrates an astounding lack of understanding of the "real" world.

He begins with a sleight of hand.Yes, many couples (but certainly not a plurality, much less a majority) engage in "swinging".

But by definition that is a third-party sexual activity that is inclusive to both couples.  And cuckholding is really just a sexual fetish of a much smaller minority of swingers.

Bering is describing the emotional and physical reaction (the terms "heartbreak" or "sexual jealousy" representing the extreme characterizations on both sides) that comes when your romantic partner rejects you for someone new. Any fan of Judge Judy, Oprah, or Dr. Phil can see daily what these emotions wrought.

In fact, I would venture to guess that the number one plot device or subject of our cultural arts, be they Jane Austen, soap operas, or just the latest top 40 jingle is the found/lost romance.

The number of people who end up in divorce, severe depression, suicide, violence, or even just mildly feeling lousy after infidelity far exceeds those who are partnered but frequent sex clubs.

It is fascinating to watch your blog posts alternate between (seemingly supportive coverage of) Ryan's thesis and torpedoing the idea of marriage equality opponents that marriage is for childbearing only.  It comes close to cognitive dissonance.  After all, if Ryan's view was any way in the majority, society would trash the idea of marriage completely and we would all live in communes.

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