I live with my girlfriend of three years, and for the last two Ive been unsuccessfully suppressing primal urges to wander. It doesnt help that shes the only sexual partner Ive had. The idea that Ill never get to experience another girl freaks me out. When we first met, I never thought Id have these urges, but Ive come to understand that love doesnt only have to exist in a monogamous relationship. How can we expect one person to fulfill all our needs? My deepest gut instincts tell me we cannot. After reading your recent segment on monogamy, it made me realize I needed to talk to her. I told her about everything, but I didnt go as far to suggest our only option at this point is to make the paradigm shift together or Im going to wander anyway. She listened carefully, but didnt seem to have a positive or negative response. I cant cheat on her behind her back because that would tear apart my soul. I need to know where to go from here. What do I do?
Baffled in Buford
Happiness doesnt silence people; shock does. So we can pretty much assume that your talk went over like a tranquilizer dart to the neck. Help her unravel her feelings by listening to her. Of course, this is where most men get in trouble because they think listening means giving her a five-sentence head start before going after her.
Most people fear that opening a relationship cracks the foundation. But thats only if you bust the door off its hinges. Think of your relationship as your home. If a stranger knocked on the door, would you fling it open and invite them in? Of course not. First, youd look out the window or through the peephole, then youd crack the door just enough to see whos knocking, all the while protecting what youve got inside.
Its the same thing when you first open the relationship. Dont open the door; draw back the curtain. Take tiny steps. Play a few games. Browse the online dating sites together. Who gives her a wide-on? Who tents your jeans? Make it playful. Gauge her reaction.
Then play Shag or Bag? at a bar. Take turns picking out people and revealing whether youd meat em or street em. Ease the discomfort of talking about the sexual desirability of other people.
Keep upping the ante. Go to the Cheetah and have her buy you a lap dance. Go to Swinging Richards and buy one for her. All the while, talk, talk, talk. Whats uncomfortable, whats not? One thing I will guarantee is that all this peering through the curtains will bring you closer together. Youll discover things you never knew about each other, fire up your libido and strengthen your sexual bonds. And, most importantly, youll realize that if expressing desire for other people doesnt endanger your relationship, theres a good chance that sexing them wont either. If its managed correctly.
Now, its time to play the IF Game. IF you were going to let each other roam, what would that look like? What assurances would she need? What would you need? (Im assuming you have some reservations about her lusting for a penis that isnt yours.)
What are her rules? What are yours? One couple I know not only insists that they lie to each other, but that they have to do it convincingly. Bad lies, game over.
Typical rules usually involve tying nots, as in, Not in our bed, not with our friends, not without a condom, etc. A U.N. Security Council-type veto power is usually wise especially if one partner smells a homewrecker.
The best way to close a deal on managed monogamy is to put an expiration date on it. Try it for three months and reassess. Its a lot easier to get buy-in when somethings temporary.
Textbook monogamy doesnt have to be the default setting for long-term love. There isnt just one way to be two.
Got a burning or a why-is-it-burning question for The Sexorcist? E-mail him at Sexorcist@creativeloafing.com. Midtown resident Mike Alvear hosts HBOs The Sex Inspectors, blogs at mikealvear.com and teaches monthly blogging workshops with Hollis Gillespie.
(Photo courtesy peterpan_harris/Flickr)