Father Tony

Michael Is Lost In The Woods

Filed By Father Tony | July 29, 2010 10:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: advice column, LGBT, open, relationships, sex

Recently my partner and I, after being together 5 years, playing with a third once in a while started playing separately this weekend while at our camp. I've talked it over with him the next day telling him how I was feeling about what all happened. He seems OK with what each of us did. As he put it "it's only sex," what matters is that we came home to each other.

I'm feeling pretty bad that I had sex with someone else. Is this a feeling I should be having or should I be looking at the situation with the same open mind he is? Maybe I'm just being jealous. I'm not sure - any thoughts you have would be greatly helpful.

Thank you for your time,


Dear Michael,

You are looking at your partner's "open mind" and wondering if you ought to adopt his approach to playful sex.

There are some open minds that, like a real estate agent's "open house," welcome all comers, with the tally on the sign-in sheet just as important as the quality of the visitors. There are some open minds that are like open books, publishing rather than guarding the private and sacred centers of their relationships with their partners. And sometimes, an open mind can end up being an open Pandora's Box out of which fly not just the Furies but the goodness in your partnership.

I don't think you should feel guilty. I do think you should feel cautious. Like Hansel and Gretel drawn into the forest, you and your partner are in some danger. Stay alert and holding hands. Legion are the witches in those woods who will try to split you up and devour you after offering you their candy. Also, in at least one of the versions of the H & G story, they follow a trail of pebbles glowing in moonlight in order to escape the forest. I suggest the substitution of a trail of these.

Seriously, only a fool would urge you to keep your relationship open or closed. Here on Bilerico, you'll find contributors and readers whose various opinions on the matter cover the full range of possibility from "never" through "sometimes" to "go for it." My suggestion is to proceed with care and know that the instant either of you tells a single lie about this to the other, you'll feel the bite of the wicked witch, and you may never get back the part of you she eats.

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Everyone's psychological make-up is different. If it doesn't feel good to you, don't do it.

"Just sex?" Maybe for him. Doesn't sound that way for you. I hope you don't continue to do something that makes you feel bad just to make your partner feel okay about it.

My wife and I are so monogamous it's ridiculous, but every couple is different. I know a few people who are poly, but none who have made a long term open relationship work. That's not to say it's impossible--there are so many different attitudes toward sex that it's bound to work for some people. But when I was in my 20's I tried "it's just sex" and honestly? "Just sex" just wasn't worth it. The temporary pleasure was not worth the absence of real connection. My body and my heart always seem to sleep in the same place.

Some folks can disconnect physical intimacy from emotional intimacy. Some can't. As long as both partners agree on that issue, either way can work, at least for awhile. If you can't agree... one or both of you will get hurt.

I asked a longtime friend about this (a gay man who's been with his partner for 24 years) when I was writing a book where one member of a couple had the chance for a little extracurricular activity. He's a great sounding board for "is this plausible," because I'm female, imagination can only do so much, and a lot of people assume men are naturally wild-oat sowers.

He surprised me; he said he doesn't know anyone who opened their relationship and were able to stay together in the long run. Everyone thinks it'll work, he said, but sooner or later the one who brought up the idea finds someone new, and/or the partner who did not want to step out feels betrayed and gets jealous--maybe with reason.

I hope you and your partner can work this out, but ... trust your heart. If it doesn't work for you, don't lie to your partner. Or yourself.

Good luck!

This poor guy, really he should just learn to express what he wants as his partner seems to be able to.

Wasn't this already covered this week? I think the same email was discussed here.

Lynn David Lynn David | July 29, 2010 9:54 PM

I'm the same way. I think its that residual Catholic guilt.