AdviceColumnsSavage Love

Savage Love: A Committed Relationship Doesn’t Always Mean Exclusive

“Committed” relationship (Illustration by Joe Newton)

I’ve been in a committed relationship for 10 years — committed because my boyfriend wants it that way — but I’d be fine with an open relationship and have asked about it. He’s made it quite clear that he thinks it’s “wrong.” I’m almost never at his apartment. He doesn’t invite me, and my place is a lot more comfortable anyway. His place never looks “lived in.” Everything must be tidy and just so: bed made, bathroom spotless, no socks on the floor. Generally, we spend weekends together, and that’s it. He also refuses to bottom for me or even let me finger him, but he likes it when I come on his ass. In general, he hasn’t been very horny for me the last few years. Anyway, due to a combination of factors (COVID, construction, etc.), I’ve been working at his apartment for a few days. In the coat closet, where he keeps all his supplies, there’s a big bottle of Wet lube and an economy-sized box of Fleet enemas. What’s a guy to think?
— Frustrated in Brooklyn

First, a minor quibble. You use the word “committed” to mean “sexually exclusive,” FIB, when you should know — as a reader of my column — that not every committed relationship is sexually exclusive and vice-versa. Two people can be married or partnered and committed to each other for the long haul while still fucking other people outside of the relationship; and two people can decide to stop fucking other people because they don’t wanna use condoms (or they wanna limit their risk of contracting COVID) without committing to each other for the rest of the year, much less the long haul.

As for what you found when you weren’t snooping around your boyfriend’s apartment…

While it’s not always the ones who think open relationships are “wrong” who cheat, FIB, it’s so often the case — it’s so often the ones who insist open relationships are wrong — that it’s something of a cliché. So, it’s entirely possible your boyfriend has been cleaning out for other men. But why? Why would your “committed” boyfriend cheat if he knew you would be fine with an open relationship? Well, some people who cheat think cheating is wrong (and it is) and the least they can do if they’re gonna cheat (and they are) is have the decency to feel bad about it (or pretend to). Other people are selfish assholes who wanna fuck around on their partners but don’t want their partners fucking around on them.

Of course, we don’t know for sure whether your boyfriend has been cheating on you. Lube by itself isn’t proof — guys use lube to jack off — and that box of Fleet enemas could’ve been sitting in his closet for a decade or more. There’s only one way to get to the bottom of this mystery: Ask your boyfriend what’s up. He might have a good explanation — or he might be able to pull a vaguely plausible one out of his squeaky-clean ass — and you’ll have to make your best guess as to whether he’s telling you the truth.

But if you want to stay with him, FIB, you might wanna lead with that. You can regard what you found when you were looking for supplies — not snooping, of course, never snooping — as an unforgivable betrayal, FIB, or you can regard it as an opportunity to renegotiate the terms of your relationship.

I’m recently married to a man I have been with for six years. We have a very happy life together in most respects and a very stable and loving relationship. The problem is, six months ago I fell deeply in love with a colleague. (We work in the same field at different companies.) I have never felt this way about anyone before. I have also never cheated. But this is truly the most creative and synchronous connection I have experienced.

The second problem is that the colleague is also married and has three children. His marriage is stable but sexless. He says he wants to leave his wife but is unwilling to do so until his youngest child goes to university, which won’t be for another two years. Meanwhile, I am wracked with guilt and indecision about how to proceed. I know that I need to make my own decisions, but I feel paralyzed. How do I start to untangle this knot?
— Married And Reassessing Relationships In Every Detail

What’s the rush? You’ve got a crush on a married man who’s unwilling to leave his wife for at least the next two years. Since you have no way of knowing how you’ll feel two years from now, MARRIED, and you have no way of knowing how your married colleague will feel two years from now, you don’t have to make any big moves. (Hell, you have no way of knowing for sure how your married colleague feels right now.) If you’re sure you don’t wanna stay in your marriage — whatever else might happen — you should end your marriage so your husband can get on with his life. But if you can envision a future where your feelings for your colleague have run their course and you can see yourself recommitting to a future with the man you’re currently married to, all you need to do right now is wait.

My wife and I have been together for eight years, married for four. Before we dated, I was honest with her about the fact that I could not offer long-term sexual monogamy in a relationship. She told me she understood and would be into participating in that with me. We stayed monogamous for a few years before attempting to introduce non-monogamous adventures into our life. Although we went to swingers’ parties and used the popular websites, no potential pairings ever seemed to click for her, either MMF or MFMF.

We decided to get married despite never having had an actual encounter with anyone outside our relationship. We have always enjoyed a very satisfying and frequent sex life, but she is now ambivalent about the idea of swinging. She’s told me that if she had to rank her interest from 1-10 it would fall somewhere between 0 and 1. She has said she is willing to do it for me and that should be all I need.

She puts no effort into finding potential partners or play opportunities. She also does not support the idea of me doing anything solo. Dan, I wanted a partner who would do this with me enthusiastically. I don’t want to drag anyone into sexual activity they aren’t really interested in. I tried to do this right from the beginning, but now every direction looks dangerous. Is there a way forward?
— Happily Married, Unhappily Monogamous

alter ego, Savage Lovecast
Dan Savage.

If I had a time machine, HMUM, I would crash your bachelor party and urge you to postpone the wedding until after you’d had a few successful threesomes/foursomes with your then-fiancée, now-wife. Because if swinging was really that important to you, before the wedding was the right time to make sure your wife was into it, not years later.

Maybe your wife was into the idea before the service and isn’t into it now (vows seem to have that effect on some people), or maybe she was just telling you what you wanted to hear. Either way, she’ll never be the true “partner in crime” you wanted — meaning, even if she’s willing to go there, she’s not going to put any effort into making it happen. That’s on you. But if she’s willing to give a try, why not set something up? If she agrees to it, she might wind up liking it more than she thinks. (That happens.) If she doesn’t agree to it, then you face a choice: Let these fantasies go, let monogamy go, or let her go.

I just read your response to the gay man who wanted to buy a straight male friend a meaningful gift. I was surprised to see this in your response: “So, besides pussy, what does your straight friend like?” Heterosexual men do not like “pussy.” Heterosexual men like women. And not all women have pussies. You know better, Dan.
— Promote Understanding To All

I will scold the next straight guy who tells me he likes pussy, PUTA, and slap the next gay guy who tells me he likes dick — just like Dale Carnegie urged his readers to do in chapter 12 of How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Follow Dan on; find Dan’s columns, podcasts, books, merch and more at his new website.

SUPPORT OUR WORK: Get better connected and become a member of Queen City Nerve to support local journalism for as little as $5 per month. Our community journalism helps inform you through a range of diverse voices.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *