I’m one of those lucky guys who met their significant other pretty damn early in their life. In my case she is my second girlfriend and I met her even before college. I married her a few years ago and we still have a very affectionate and fulfilled relationship. But nevertheless, now being in my late twenties, I have to admit to myself that I’m probably not so much into life-long monogamy.
Fortunately, my wife feels the same and so we read your article about non-monogamy and talked a lot about the pros and cons of opening the relationship. While neither of us is really comfortable with the idea of an actual open relationship, we both agreed that some extra-martial action is tolerable as long as we keep it secret and within reasonable limits (though keeping it secret might make it hard to gauge and maintain a certain symmetry in our respective promiscuity).
So I decided to keep my eyes open for a potential partner in crime, became more outgoing and more comfortable with flirting, but I soon noticed a problem which puzzled me: Is there any way I can tell a woman that I’m interested in a sexual adventure or even a little romance, but that she has to accept the fact that my wife is my number one and that there’s no chance I would dump a decade long relationship for a casual hook-up without sounding like a jerk?
Though I’m quite sure that there’s a tremendous number of women who are interested in that sort of no strings attached flings, directly approaching them and saying something along in the lines of “Hey, I think you’re hot and it’d be great if the two of us made your bed squeak this weekend, as long as you don’t tell my wife!” could be just a “little” to much for a girl you just met in a coffee shop.
On the other hand, asking a woman out, having a date or two and eventually telling her that “Yeah, I enjoyed your company (and your soft parts), but you know, there’s this girl I’m married to and you’d better not call me again. Sorry if you misunderstood my intentions” would make me a complete asshole to say the least.
So, Doc, where do you see the golden mean between those extremes? Or do you recommend something entirely different?
Married My Second Girlfriend
First: good for you for having the sort of relationship that you and your wife can communicate your desires openly and honestly!
Just so you know, I – and I’m sure many of the poly and monogamish readers of the blog – are big believers in full disclosure when it comes to opening up the relationship, if only so that both of you can provide a certain level of accountability to one another with regards to your limits and to be able to touch base with how you both are feeling about the matter. I tend to believe that more communication is better in general, but even more so with open relationships. If nothing else, you may find that talking about what the two of you have been doing with your outside partners may bring new and unexpected sexual excitement to your own relationship.
But hey, everybody gets to make the rules for their own relationships and if being mutually discrete makes it work for you, go for it… with one caveat that I will get to in a moment.
Finding a new partner while you’re in an open relationship can be tricky.There will be plenty of people who just aren’t cool with banging a married man, no matter what permission slips his wife has given to him, which I recommend early disclosure – before you go on that first date. It’s only fair that you let them know in advance what they’re signing on for. Yes, this means that there will be women who will refuse to date or sleep with you right off the bat; this is the price you pay for being ethically open rather than a cheating piece-of-shit going behind his wife’s back.
There are women out there who are interested in no-strings-attached sex and there are women who won’t mind playing around with a guy who already has a girlfriend or a wife. Some will get off on “seducing” a married man into cheating, while others won’t mind as long as she can actually confirm with your wife that you’re actually on the up and up about being in a semi-open relationship and not a cheating piece-of-shit who’s just saying whatever it takes to get laid. And believe me, there are plenty of dudes out there who will say “Yeah, my wife’s totally cool with this, no need to ask her…” in order to get into somebody’s panties.
Thus the exception: if she wants to talk to your wife – or meet with her, without you – in order to make sure you have permission to be let off the leash, you make the arrangements. If you and the wife aren’t cool with this… well, you’re more or less going to have to accept that there will be people who would otherwise love to sleep with you that are now considered out of bounds. Sorry.
I’d recommend a book called The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Harvey as a guide for navigating the tricky ethics of open relationships. It covers all of these issues and likely many that you and your wife may not have thought of.
(Full disclosure: buying the book via that Amazon link helps support the blog.)
There is a guy that I am interested in, let’s call him Jerome, and I am pretty sure that he is into me too. We flirt, chat, and keep finding excuses to hang out. It’s light and fun in a high-schoolish kind of way but it may be progressing into something more. Normally, I would have asked him out by now but technically I met Jerome only a few months ago through our mutual friend “Craig”. Craig and I had been casual friends with benefits until a little less than a month ago. I thought that was common knowledge among our social group but I’ve come to realize that Jerome is unaware of this. I want to date Jerome with the hopes of starting a relationship but I feel as though it would be unfair to pursue it without telling him about Craig first.
When would it be appropriate to bring up the topic? Should I say it right at the beginning (“I would love to go out with you, but just so you know, Craig and I were involved casually in the past.”) or should I wait until the topic of previous sexual partners naturally comes up within the relationship? While the two guys aren’t close friends, we do move in the similar social circles and usually end up playing boardgames at the bar together at least once a week. If I did start to date Jerome, I could easily see the fact that I had slept with Craig coming up in passing (especially if the booze has been flowing). I don’t think that Jerome learning this information from a third party after we started dating would be a good thing. Craig wouldn’t intentionally interfere with my romantic life but he isn’t always the most tactful of people.
Do you have any advice for me? I value my friendships with both of these men and don’t wish to disrespect either of them. While I don’t like it, I do realize that choosing to not pursue Jerome is also an option.
I wouldn’t worry about it.
You’re single, Jerome’s single and you dig each other. The fact that you used to date (or, in this case, sleep with) someone who’s in the center of the Venn diagram of your social circles is really pretty irrelevant. It’s safe to say that he already assumes that you have ex-boyfriends and flings, and I’m willing to bet that he doesn’t really want to know all that much about them other than the fact that they exist. When and if you have a conversation about previous partners, you don’t owe him a run-down of names unless he asks specifically.
And let’s say he does find out… well, who the hell cares? The fact that you were with Craig first doesn’t mean you’re now off-limits to anyone Craig may know in passing. You and Craig had a thing, it’s done, you’re interested in Jerome now, end of. Hopefully Jerome’s mature enough to appreciate this.
Ask him out already.