Hey Doctor NerdLove, I have an issue that I can’t seem to figure out on my own, can you help me?
Let me start off by saying that your blog has helped me tremendously, and as a result I now have a beautiful, smart, geeky, and honest girlfriend. But is is possible to be too honest? She’s currently doing some moving around the country, seeing family, trying to find a good art college to attend. We’re trying the long distance thing, which I’ve done before, unsuccessfully but I’m trying to learn from my mistakes, and she’s worth sticking around for. I’ve spent a lot of time being introspective and listening to this blog and other podcasts on having healthy romantic and sexual relationships. I’ve tossed around the idea of having sex with other people, her as well, and have come to the conclusion that as long as I remain the romantic relationship, is safe, and she’s honest with me, then she can have sex with other people and I won’t get but hurt. At least I thought that was the case.
As it turns out, there’s an old flame who she’s now living close to. She’s explained to me that she can’t ever have a romantic relationship with him again because, well he’s an asshole and not good boyfriend material, but apparently the sex they used to have was other-worldly. I give her props for being honest and telling me this before hand, because now she’s asking me for a pass to be fuck buddies with this guy. I told her to give me a few days to think it over.
I’m trying not to let my ego cloud my thoughts with jealousy of this supposed sexual master, or to worry that she’s not being honest when she says it wont turn into anything romantic. Something is still bothering me about this, and I’m not quite sure which is the best course of action. Should I give her a pass, should I not? It seems like she’s doing all the right things by letting me know, but why do I still feel squicked about this? Is it right to think that this may be a threat to my relationship, and what would be the best way to handle it?
Stressed By The Ex
Ok, first let’s address the obvious: open relationships can be tough under the best of circumstances. When they’re long-distance as well… well, now you’re playing on hardcore mode, to be perfectly honest. It’s one thing when you or your partner is given the permission to slip the leash while travelling or to have outside partners while you’re in the same city.
When you’re living hundreds or thousands of miles apart, with no firm indication of when the two of you are going to be back in proximity again, it’s going to be tougher by orders of magnitude.
Y’see, part of what makes non-monogamous or monogamish relationships work is the primacy of the core relationship – maintaining that bond of love and emotional intimacy even when one or both of you are seeking sexual intimacy elsewhere. Maintaining that bond while in a long-distance relationship is tough under the best of circumstances. Trying to maintain it and courting other people… well, thats going to put both of you in a tough spot.
It gets even more complicated when an ex is involved. Now I’m all in favor of remaining on good terms with your exes (presuming that you’ve honestly gotten over them) and an ex can make one of the best guest stars for threesomes. However, returning to an ex for (supposedly) no-strings-attached sex while your significant other lives across the country is another issue entirely.
Even if she’s correct and there is just no romantic attraction any more (on her side, at least) the fact that he’s there and you’re not makes it extra complicated. It’s almost like having two boyfriends for the price of one – one to provide emotional intimacy and the other to provide the amazing sexing she craves. Personally, I’d say exercise your veto power on this one; it’d be one thing if you were there or he wasn’t the OMG mind-blowing orgasms ex. But he is, you aren’t and if you’re being perfectly honest with yourself, you know damn good and well that jealousy is going to be rearing it’s ugly head on you pretty soon. The last thing you need is to be spending nights trying to get her on the phone and imaging that the reason why she’s not picking up is because she’s too busy with Studly Good-Night.
And now for the hard part:
I hate to say this, Stressed, but the odds are pretty good that she’s already banging him and what she’s really asking for is retroactive permission. I’ll freely cop to being overly suspicious and cynical but her explaining that no, he can’t be a threat to the relationship sounds a lot like her trying to justify the fact that she’s already done the deed and now wants you to absolve her of her guilt.
Hey, maybe I’m wrong and she really is being upfront and honest about it. I hope she is. You just may want to prepare yourself for the news that this is fait acompli.
Veto the dude. She can find other guys who don’t represent the past creeping into your present.