Please forgive me, I'll try to be brief, but I want you to understand my specific situation well enough that you can give me advice I can put to use. I'm a 37-year-old gay man who's been in a committed relationship for 12 years. We met in grad school, and it was love at first sight. And both of us were ready to commit to someone, so we moved in together, met each other's family and basically settled down. I should mention that, of the two of us, only my partner had had a significant amount of sexual experience before we met. I'd only been out for a year, and during that time I dated three guys, whereas my partner had, shall we say, gotten around. But that didn't seem to bother either one of us. We were both eager for a monogamous relationship.
And what's what we've had, except for one brief period six years ago, when my partner had anonymous sex several times without telling me about it. In fact, the only reason I found out about it was because he contracted a sexually transmitted disease. It was all a shock, as you can imagine, but we had six years under our belts at that time and I loved him, so I decided to give him another chance, which he wanted. We started going to couples therapy, where we realized that both of us were a little frustrated with certain aspects of our relationship, including our sex life. But we worked on it all pretty hard, and I can honestly say that the last six years were even better than the first six. We know each other much better now, and we accept each other's limitations.
Then an old friend of mine came to visit from California. He's a battled-hardened veteran of the gay life, and when he found out we're still monogamous he literally laughed out loud. "Nobody's monogamous anymore," he said, surely realizing that he's wrong. But he got us thinking. And talking. Personally, I like monogamy. It's simple. It's secure. It suits me. Yes, I would probably have enjoyed having sex with other people in my 20s and early-30s, but what I got in return for not having any is better, in my opinion. I got a stable home life. But while talking this over with my partner, I felt I was picking up on an itch he may need to scratch. He never came out and said "Let's open up our marriage," but he never said we should definitely stay monogamous either.
I told him I didn't think I could pull it off. I'd get too jealous. Or I'd always wonder whether he was with someone else that very moment. He said he didn't think he'd get jealous. It's just sex. He also said he wants me to have a rich, full sex life, and if that means throwing in some brief encounters with other people, so be it. I asked him whether he thought it would work on a practical level, and he said you wouldn't know for sure until you tried it, but he thought it could. And then I wished the whole thing had never come up. I was perfectly happy thinking we were going to be exclusively each other's forever, which is what we've agreed upon, by the way. But I have this sneaking suspicion my partner wishes it had gone the other way, even though he says he doesn't. And I wonder if I'm just being a big coward.
What do you think?
Open Season: What do I think? I think you should start having sex on the side and your partner shouldn't. That way neither of you gets jealous and you get to do the exploring your partner's already done. Then, after sex months to a year of that, the two of you can decide where you want to go. And I suspect you'll both want to go back to the good ol' days, which, I shouldn't have to point out to you, are right now.
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