This week's column is given over to stories from people in successful monogamish relationships. But I got so many letters when I asked the successfully monogamish to write in and share their stories that I'm going to run them all week in the SLLOTD. Here's today's letter from a successful monogamish couple:
This letter was prompted by your parenthetical explanation of why the poly couples one knows about are the ones who broke up over it, while the poly couples that stay happily together are the ones one doesn’t hear about. I am sure you’re right, and I thought your readers might like to hear a little advice from one of the latter group.
The quick background: we met professionally in a stereotypically charged power-imbalance situation; I waited until I was no longer her boss before making a pass; we’ve been together for five years, living together for four, and it’s working out very well so far. We’re also age-and-hotness-imbalanced: I have a pretty-good-for-48 body, hers is hot-even-for-28.
The sexy details: I already knew I was interested in having an open relationship, both because I’m aroused by the whole “hotwife” trope, and because I like having my own freedom and possess the ability to use it responsibly. So when it eventually came out that this gal had a long history of cheating on boyfriends and had a “taste for the forbidden,” I made it clear that I was up for a more serious relationship. She’s not exactly a nympho who needs a stranger every weekend—but over the five years, she’s been with about 20 guys, usually just one or two times each. I find it hot when she comes home and “confesses”; she has a chance to get vigorously worked over by guys closer to her own age; and our home sex life spikes after each adventure.
My advice for others, mostly echoing things that have been said in various ways in "Savage Love" over the years:
First and most important, you have to be able to talk stuff through in the cold light of day, when you are neither tipsy nor horny. Not talk it to death, but talk it through. It’s the only way to avoid misunderstandings and jealousies.
Second, set the rules you need to feel comfortable, and follow them even if you don’t feel like it. Ours are few and simple: no all-nighters with others unless we’re out of town separately; full disclosure upon request; veto power over repeat encounters if either of us feels uncomfortable about the other’s FB. Happily we’ve never had to exercise that last one, but it’s good to know it’s there. The first one (about overnights) we adopted after experience proved that these could cause resentments that “stolen hours” didn’t cause.
Third, if you and your partner enjoy this kind of arrangement, thank your stars, and be accepting of the fact that you might not have exactly the same vision of how things should go. Examples: I wish she were into some girl-girl action, and she’s been GGG enough to try it a few times, but I had to let that one go. I also had to accept that she likes to find her own situations—she feels stilted and unaroused when anything is planned or set up. Dan is right on this: what turns you on is going to remain what turns you on. Her turn-on is the naughty thrill of a forbidden encounter, and if it’s planned it doesn’t feel naughty. On her side, she would prefer if my outside activities were more like hers, i.e. spontaneous things with gals I had just met—but I wasn’t OK with that, since (being beyond the prime age for pickups over drinks) my flings tend to be nostalgic reunions with old flames. She’s accepted that, and even discovered that she could enjoy the same thing with a couple of her ex-boyfriends. It helps that I’ve had the chance to show her over time that “nostalgic reunion” doesn’t mean “thinking about getting back together”—which it doesn’t.
But the main point is that we talked about each of these things in moments of non-arousal and non-anger, briefly but clearly, and so neither of us has had occasion to feel misled. I can't emphasize that one enough—you have to overcome a certain resistance to do it, because the tendency is to prefer thinking about such things when you are horny. But it's really worth the effort.
I’m also trying to follow the Savage line about older guys, and I recommend it to others: make your peace with the probability that your younger girlfriend may need to move on one day. (Biological clock, change of heart, unexpected career developments, whatever…it happens.) I’ve urged her to save her own money, using the line that my ego would be wounded if I ever had occasion to think she was staying for even one minute out of financial dependency. By now she has enough in the bank that it’s not an issue. And for the moment, we’re both getting our various needs met and enjoying the hell out of each other’s company. (The whole thing would have been a non-starter if we didn't share multiple interests outside the bedroom.)
So. There’s a field report from a couple whose threeways and escapades nobody hears about unless they’re participating in one….
Happily And Successfully Monogamish