Posted by: Freaked out | 2006/04/11

Crisis in relationship

My bf of 4 yrs announced tonight that he wants us to be able to have sex with other guys, in other words that HE wants to do that. I'm a bit gob smacked, very surprised, not sure what I feel really, worried but also thinking to myself that it could have been a lot worse, he could have told me its over between us. So I'm in a bit of a corner, I can't say no without losing him and I'm scared to say yes because I know I'll lose him. So head's kinda spinning. Talk about a bolt of lightning from literally no-where!!!! Not sure if you guys can help me I've got to work this one out for myself but anyway just wanted to say it to someone. Not sure if I'll sleep tonight.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageGay, 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.

Our users say:
Posted by: Freaked out | 2006/04/15

Thank you everyone especially Expert for your advice and suggestions,, I'm feeling less freaked and we're talking about it so I'm feeling less scared and a bit more confident about things but its still not sorted and I don't want to be pressed into something I'll regret later so we'll keep talking this through till we work it out, the main thing is that we love each other and want to stay together and that feels good.

Reply to Freaked out
Posted by: Nikki | 2006/04/13

I think the main reason for "loose" relationships in the gay community is mostly attributed to the fact that very few gay people are at total ease with themselves.

The social pressure we get is astronomical and there is always this feeling of "i am not normal" no matter what.

Surely this is part of the lack of commitment to a relationship and I have said it before, if you are unhappy with yourself in what ever way or how ever small, you CANNOT make those around you happy.

I want to suggest and please dont SHOOT ME, thanks to stereotypes and continuious redicule, we have serious trouble in finding that inner peace with ourselves and therefore tend to allow this "insecurities" to cloud our judgements when in relationships.

I have total peace with myself, yet I am often reminded that I am not 100% normal. I feel happy with me despite, the problem is finding a partner that feels happy with himself so as to make me happy. It is an endless circle with no definate answers but I do believe the lucky few who have been in a relationship for years, will agree.

As for mutliple sex partners, perhaps another topic all together??

Reply to Nikki
Posted by: Thoughtful | 2006/04/12

I'm still very conservative when it comes to the values and principles I base my relationship on. For me, this would be a total no-no, and I would terminate the relationship if it came to this. Let me emphasise - this is me! You may have another perspective.

There are many approaches to relationships, and I guess without making sweeping asumptions or generalisations about gay relationships - I guess it would be up to the individual couple.

There needs to be a mutual process where both parties are completely open, honest and comfortable with the decisions. No one party can force another's hand. The basis of this is active communication and talking this through to find out the core reasons for moving the relationship in this direction. You may only be dealing with symptoms.

I have seen many couples go this route, and it was all destructive in the end. The only advice I could give you is to examine the fundamental values of your own relationship. What is it you want out of life, from your partner - what are your expectations, needs, dreams given the fickle world we live in.

This is not something that was decided over night, I think your partner explored this over time - and he should give you enough time and space to examine your own spirit before you guys finally sit down to discuss this.

Good luck - I wish you only the very best.

Reply to Thoughtful
Posted by: boertjie | 2006/04/12

I would also be freaked out my friend!
I do not think it is the right thing to settle for "he could have made out" That is lowering your values - and at the end, what will be left of a relationship? Is'nt it bould on values?
Your nick says it all Freaked Out. This is not what you want.
As I have been in a heterosexual relationship for years(divorced for 5 years),this open relationship thing seems to be common in homosexual relationships??? I would like to here the viev of the expert as well as tammy and the rest.
It is clear that I am not for this "thing" - but may be I am wrong about it been common amongs gay people?

Reply to boertjie

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