Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Email from a guy who wants an open relationship

Right at the end of August, a reader sent me the following email:

Dear GB,

I find myself writing this letter to you because I need to express my feelings to someone and no one in my offline life is appropriate for this subject matter.

First, a little about my situation. I have been with my boyfriend for almost 10 years. We have been together since I was a teenager. I love him dearly; however, I find my mind thinking about other men all the time. It has gotten to the point where I can’t look at a man without wondering what his dick looks like.

To compound things, our relationship is already strained. Money is an issue because I am a full time student and therefore I do not contribute 50% of the expenses. Furthermore, I plan to pursue a PhD, and unless I get an amazing scholarship package, I won’t be able to contribute 50% until after school. This leads into me being sort of financially dependent on him, which muddles the situation even further. Another issue is that we live in a relatively small town where one is two sexual partners away from everyone.

I honestly don’t know how much longer I can stand being monogamous. I find myself cruising gay hook-up sites every other day (as horrible as they are, being out of the dating scene I have no idea what the good websites are). I daydream about other men when my boyfriend is around. I feel sort of lost.

I do not want this relationship to end, (1) because I love him and we basically came of age together, and (2) because I cannot afford it. Another thing is that he has a massive dick, which is somewhat of a fetish for me. He has made it extremely clear that monogamy is the only way to go. I don’t know how much longer I will be able to resist. It has been so hard already. One of the main things holding me back is my fear of contracting a sexually transmitted infection. What are your thoughts?


When I received the email, I thought that it would probably take me a while to get round to doing a posting for him, so I sent him a quick reply which included the following paragraph:

It'll probably take me a few weeks to get round to doing the posting for you, so in the meantime here are my initial (unedited!) thoughts. What you describe sounds like quite a dangerous situation, in the sense that if you don't solve it somehow, eventually it'll all come to a head in an uncontrollable and damaging way. If that happens when you're still financially dependent on your boyfriend then it'll be even worse, so I can't help thinking that for now you should postpone plans for a Ph.D. If your relationship is strained because of money, then that's another reason to postpone the Ph.D. Unfortunately not all relationships last forever, especially because I think people do change very gradually over the years, so maybe the time has come to split up. If that's done in a controlled way then it's likely that you can still be friends. But have you really had a 100% honest conversation with your boyfriend about this? Your email sounds like you're about to *pop* any minute LOL, so does he really know how much this is tearing you apart? If you haven't spoken to him about it recently then the sooner the better, because it sounds like at the moment you can honestly say that you've still been monogamous, which is a good starting point for a conversation. Remember, honestly is vital, without that you've got nothing. Another thought is that relationships aren't worth very much if you can't communicate properly with each other, especially on important issues like this, so I think you should probably start having some difficult conversations otherwise your relationship is doomed anyway. Don't forget, there are many ways of having more open relationships, including threesomes, just being allowed to go to sex parties or gay saunas occasionally, rules about not seeing the same guy more than once, etc etc.

Although the reader didn’t reply to the email that I sent him, I still think it’s worth doing a posting using his email because it may help other readers if they find themselves in similar situations.

Rereading what I put in my reply to him, I think that my quick thoughts to this reader actually constitute quite a reasonable response. But there’s one point that I think is worth emphasising, namely that if you’re in a relationship and you can’t communicate about something that’s tearing you apart, then it’s not a good relationship. We don’t know why the reader thinks that his boyfriend is so completely against any kind of open relationship, but we can probably assume that the boyfriend has no idea how bad the situation has become. So if the boyfriend did know, then perhaps he'd soften his view to some extent? And if he doesn't soften his view, then at least both of them will appreciate that the relationship might be near its end.

One further thought relates to the fact that these two guys "came of age together". That means that they must have been boyfriends for all their adult lives, so although they probably experimented with various sexual partners when they were teenagers, since then they've been sexually faithful to each other. Many old posts on this blog relate to my view that lifetime monogamy is an unnatural state for our species, especially now that we generally live much longer than we used to (see e.g. 1, 2). Viewed from this perspective, it seems quite natural to me that a bit of *fun* outside their relationship looks appealing, because a gay adult life with only one sexual partner is quite unusual.

Of course, as the reader himself points out, there are risks associated with casual sex namely sexually transmitted diseases. Risking one's own health is one thing, but if one ends up passing something nasty on to one's boyfriend then that's a very bad situation, especially if the boyfriend thinks that he's in a monogamous relationship. So all the more reason to communicate with one's boyfriend, and try and find a path through the crisis which works for both of them.

Do any other readers have any thoughts about this?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This letter could have been written by me. Although I am not financially dependant on my partner, I am in a similar position. I've been with my partner for 12 years - heck we even run a business together. Not quite high school sweet hearts but nonetheless, got together quite early in our gay lives... which means less experience with other men. All is great except - I want more sex. My partner won't even consider open relationships and once said that's for animals... So now I just have the odd hook up behind his back hoping I won't get caught. Is this difference in view worth ending a good relationship over? I guess fundamentally I am cheating which in the monogamous world is the worst thing... but I guess I am too liberal. There really is no answer. My behaviour is starting to upset me though... Don't like deceiving the one I love for my own physical sexual needs... What to do.