Our expert says:
Gay, lesbian and bisexual expert
Hi Freaked Out, welcome to our forum and thanks for posting.
Sorry to hear that you're stressing at the moment. This was totally unexpected and I can only imagine the complex emotions you're experiencing at the moment. However you are not necessarily as cornered as you feel and you do have choices to make once your emotions have settled.
People in established and enduring relationships are generally surprised when their partner mentions the prospect of opening the relationship. These feelings are justified but you may want to look at where they stem from. We've been programmed by straight (heterosexual and patriarchal) society into believing that in order to be successful a relationship must be monogamous. This is not necessarily true - countless so-called monogamous relationships are most certainly not monogamous and there are countless couples - both gay and straight - in very functional, gratifying and long-lasting open relationships. The traditional concept of "the family", consisting of a man and a woman leading their lives according to Biblical, heterosexist norms is no longer an option for many people. Think of divorce, single-parent families and same-sex relationships, for example, which have become socially acceptable in the recent past. There's also been substantial debate on the concept of emotional fidelity versus sexual fidelity in the gay media of late.
A positive factor in this is that your boyfriend was honest with you. He respected the relationship and you and was able to be open and frank, which reflects positively on the relationship and on him. Too many gay people claim to be in closed relationships but don't respect the concept of fidelity and honesty and literally 'cheat' on their partners. Give him credit for that.
Make sure you understand exactly what he's asking for, and that you both understand it in the same way. Is he suggesting 3-sums involving both of you, or each of you going on your own sexual escapades? There must be rules and limits to this, so explore what he actually imagines but in very practical terms - literally, how would it work? Would there be limits on the kinds of sex engaged in and how would safer sex be managed? Once you understand what he's suggesting you can begin to consider the facts and where possible you can negotiate.
Agreeing to open the relationship does not in any way mean that you will lose your partner. On the contrary, if well managed it would indicate a very high level of trust and honesty between you. If you're concerned about emotional fidelity, or his falling in love with someone else, this could happen in a closed relationship as well. However you could agree to a rule of only being allowed to interact sexually with other people once, on the premise that the sex will remain anonymous or that multiple meetings with someone else would be more likely to encourage emotional attachment.
An open relationship can only ever work if both parties are equally comfortable with it. Only you can decide what's right for you (and here you need to look at your own morals but also question where they stem from) and for your relationship. Your partner's suggestion doesn't in any way imply that he doesn't love you or that your relationship is doomed. If an open relationship doesn't sit well with you, you need to tell him that and between you work out where that leaves you, but don't make a hasty decision and discuss this with him until you're both comfortable with your mutual decision about the future of the relationship.
Please feel free to post again and tell us how you're doing.
The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal
advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.