‘We are interested in opening up our relationship, but I have reservations.’
Dear Dan: I’m a mid-20s cis straight man. After my girlfriend and I finished college, she moved overseas to start her job. We’ve broken up twice and gotten back together twice. We are interested in opening up our relationship, but I have reservations. She wants the freedom to throw herself into her new world without the constraint of having to shut down non-platonic sparks. My girlfriend has brought up marriage several times. While she admits she doesn’t have a good track record with monogamy, she insists marriage will change that. Another concern: The last time she was in an open relationship, she cheated on her then-boyfriend with me. “No exes” was one of their rules, and I was her ex at the time. (I didn’t know she was with someone else.) Another wrinkle: When I confided in her recently that I had developed romantic feelings for another person, she asked me to choose between her and them, and so I aborted this burgeoning connection. That felt unfair, seeing as she wants her freedom. She is also bisexual and wants to have experiences with women. I would be fine with her hooking up with women, but it makes me sick to my stomach to think about her with other men. She would be willing to put her desire for experiences with other women to the side in order to be with me, she says, once we are married. I would love to hear your thoughts on these things: (1) Whether we should open our relationship. (2) My male/female hookup distinction. (3) How to move forward if your partner is unsure whether they are built for monogamy but nonetheless wants to settle down in a married, monogamous relationship.
Onto Processing Entirely New Situation
1. Don’t open it. End it. It’s time to put this dumb, messy, past-its-expiration-date shitshow of a relationship behind you. Would knowing your girlfriend is already fucking other people help you do that? Because your girlfriend is almost certainly fucking other people. Already. Because when someone with a shitty track record where monogamy and nonmonogamy are concerned asks their partner for an open relationship while at the same time demanding their partner “abort” any potential “non-platonic” friendships they might have … yeah, that motherfucker is already fucking other people. They just don’t want to give their partner the same freedom they’ve already seized for themselves.
2. It seems like a silly distinction to me, OPENS, one that comes from a place of insecurity. (And a “no other dick” rule would make most gay open relationships impossible.) But sometimes, working with your partner’s insecurities—accepting them, not fighting them—is the key to a successful open relationship. And since many bisexuals in monogamous opposite-sex relationships often ask to open the relationship because they want to act on their same-sex attractions (or, indeed, have their first same-sex encounter), keeping outside sex same-sex—at least at first—isn’t an entirely unreasonable request. But this is irrelevant in your case, since your girlfriend is already fucking anyone she wants.
3. Your soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend is hilarious. People who are bad at monogamy don’t get better at it once they’re married. If anything, people who were good at monogamy tend to get worse at it the longer they’re married. If your soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend isn’t bullshitting, if she isn’t bringing up marriage and monogamy to complicate and extend your conversations about opening up this doomed relationship, then she’s deluded. And if your girlfriend cheats because she gets off on risk, danger, or deception, getting married—which would obviously make cheating riskier and more dangerous—could make cheating more appealing to her, not less.
Dear Dan: I’m a bisexual man married to the most beautiful trans woman. I can’t keep my hands off her. But why can’t I fuck her anally like we both want? I can’t seem to push past the gates, which sends a signal to my brain that I’m doing something wrong, which make me Mr. Softee. Every other thing we do in bed is smooth as silk. Help!
Limp Isn’t My Preference
Dewar LIMP: I’d have to see video to guess at what might be wrong—not an ask, LIMP, don’t send video—but it never hurts to use more lube, engage in more anal foreplay, and sometimes do butt stuff without even attempting anal intercourse. And when you do go for it, maybe instead of you trying to fuck her/push past the gates, LIMP, you could lie still and let her take charge. In other words: Don’t fuck her with your dick, let her fuck herself with your dick.
Dear Dan: I’m a twentysomething bi man in a loving relationship of three years with a straight woman. Last year, we opened up our relationship. At the beginning, we set some ground rules. One of her rules was that I could get together only with women, no men. It bothered me at the time, but it was the only way she would be okay opening up, so I didn’t press her on it. Fast-forward to a couple days ago, when I brought it up again. She eventually admitted she’s afraid I will leave her for a man, and that’s why the idea of me being with other men makes her uncomfortable. She knows these are stereotypes, but she says she can’t get over it. I ended that night angry and hurt. Now I don’t know what to do. To be honest, if we weren’t in an open relationship, I wouldn’t be bothered by the fact that I can’t be sexual with men. But now that I know she is not okay with me doing so because of these bi stereotypes, it drives me nuts. I’m not going to end our relationship over this, but how can I get her to understand my bisexuality is not a threat?
Dear BBB: “BBB obviously isn’t going to leave his girlfriend for the first man he sleeps with,” said Zachary Zane, a “bisexual influencer” and a sex writer for Men’s Health. “All bisexual men are not secretly gay. But this is a lie—a vicious stereotype—that BBB’s girlfriend has heard countless times. So even though she knows this logically, she still can’t shake that concern. Fear often isn’t rational and it can override logic. She’s simply insecure.”
And while accommodating a partner’s irrational insecurity is sometimes the price we have to pay to make an open relationship work, accommodating your partner’s insecurity—one so clearly rooted in biphobia—isn’t going to be sustainable over time. You’re already angry and hurt, BBB, and you’re going to get more upset with every dick you have to pass up. So what do you do?
“The key to helping BBB’s girlfriend understand that his bisexuality isn’t a threat is for him to reassure her often that he’s not going to leave her for a man,” said Zane, “and to tell her and show her how much he loves her. He might also ask if there’s a way she’d feel more comfortable allowing him to be sexual with a man. Maybe they have a threesome. Maybe she prefers that it be someone she knows, or someone she doesn’t know. There’s a lot to discuss.”
But eventually, for your own sanity, you’re going to have to insist that your girlfriend get over her biphobia. She can’t just throw up her hands and say, “I can’t help it!”
“Perhaps I’m giving BBB’s girlfriend too much credit, but it sounds to me like she’ll come around in time,” said Zane. “And while BBB is angry—and validly so—the anger shouldn’t be placed on his girlfriend. It should be placed on a society that has ingrained in her the belief that bisexuality isn’t valid and that bi men will always leave their wives/girlfriends for another man if given the opportunity.”
And if she never comes around, BBB, then you can show her how silly and irrational her fears were by leaving her for another woman.
Follow Zachary Zane on Twitter @ZacharyZane_.