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Taking Advantage

July 30, 2014

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I am wondering when the best time is to mention being in an open relationship to new girls. I'm a 27-year-old straight guy who's been in an open relationship for six years. I often seek out extracurricular activities, but I am unsure of how to bring up my situation without doors closing. I wrote to a seduction blogger who often writes about open relationships, and his advice was to not mention it until I've had sex with the girl a few times and to not bring them to my apartment that I share with my girlfriend. This feels contrary to my nature, which is very straightforward, but is it perhaps the better method? Indeed, many of my "potentials" have been scared away when they learn of my relationship status. What are your thoughts on the matter?

Straightforward Honesty Offends Potentials

If your goal is to maximize the amount of pussy in your life without any regard for the feelings of the women who happen to be attached to those pussies, SHOP, then you should definitely take the advice of the PUA ("pickup artist") blogger. But that's only if you wanna be a huge asshole who gets tons of pussy. If you wanna be a decent dude who gets more than enough pussy—and "enough is as good as a feast," as Mary Poppins says—then you'll listen to me.

Tell "potentials" after the third hang/date/whatever. Let them get to know you a bit, then spill—before fucking but after they've made a small emotional investment in you. They'll be more likely to reconsider prejudices they may have against guys in open relationships after they've gotten to know a semi-straightforward one and perhaps be less quick to slam the door.

But unless it's a clear case of drunken-one-night-stand/NSA encounter, no lying by omission—no matter what the PUA/POS blogger says. Most single people up for fucking a new person not once, not twice, but a few times are seeking someone with long-term potential. There are lots of single people out there seeking sex for sex's sake, of course, but a majority of sex-for-sex's-sake types are hoping to leverage it into something more at some point. And most single people make the quite reasonable if not always accurate assumption that the people they're fucking are also single—otherwise they wouldn't be fucking them, right? If you neglect to inform the women you fuck that you're not single (you've got a girlfriend) or emotionally available (you're in an open relationship, not a poly one), you are knowingly taking advantage—and needlessly! There are plenty of women out there who are in open relationships and/or poly relationships, as well as women who are looking only for sex. And while you might have to work a little harder to find these women, SHOP, you'll have better sex with a lot less drama—and you'll spend fewer millennia in purgatory burning off your sins.

I'm a 30-year-old straight woman, and I've been with my male partner for four years. Here's the thing that's been bugging me: After four years, the sex has gotten predictable. But it's also gotten better in the sense that I orgasm a much greater percentage of the time, now that he knows my body and what I like. More orgasms for me are great, but in the service of that, we've fallen into a "tried-and-true" rut, which I don't think is good. I try to switch it up sometimes, and I surprised him with some sexy lingerie last night... and I got self-conscious, started to worry about whether I'd get off, and then didn't come. I know he really likes it when I get off, but I don't want for us to have such a limited repertoire. My feeling is that I should not worry about my orgasms and focus on spice and variety, but I think that if we go too many times without me coming, it might be a downer for his boner, too. So which do we give preference to: variety or orgasms?

Rutting Or Undertaking Totally Interesting New Experiences?

Your "tried-and-true" repertoire may feel like a bit of a rut, ROUTINE, but it's a successful rut. You both enjoy the sex you're having, and you come way more often than you used to. There are worse problems—and all you need to solve your repertoire problem is perspective and patience.

You have two competing and conflicting interests: You want to come regularly (because of course you do) and you get off consistently when you stick to your routine, but you also want to shake up your routine and try new things. But trying new things—even something as low-stakes as fucking in frillier underpants—makes it difficult for you to come. My advice would be to relax and give yourself permission to not come when you're trying something new. To stave off frustration and/or self-consciousness, ROUTINE, constantly remind yourself that new things you both enjoy will be incorporated into your routine. And when things that work for you both join the ranks of the tried-and-true, you'll be able to come while you're doing them. This is a problem that solves itself.

And remember: You don't have to stop doing the shit that works now. Let's say you try something new on Wednesday night—new kink, new locale, new hole—and you enjoy yourself but you don't come. So the next time you have sex, ROUTINE, stick to the already "tried-and-true" stuff that gets you there consistently.

My best friend has a girlfriend of two years. They break up a lot, and he has slept with plenty of other girls over the last two years. I've had a crush on him for about three years, but I never made any advances. We did have a threesome with a girl in March—he was broken up with his girlfriend at the time—but it was all about the girl and nothing happened between us guys. He got back with his girlfriend after that. Then last month, he and I had sex with each other. We had been drinking, he initiated it, and neither of us came. It was awkward, and we didn't talk for a week. Then we bumped into each other, and he came home with me and we had sex again. I came this time, but he drank too much and couldn't. Then three weeks ago, I initiated it and we did it again. This time he came. The next day, he said that the "gay sex stuff" had to stop. He said he felt like he was cheating on his girlfriend. I agreed. But later that same night, he started getting flirty with me and seemed to be on the verge of initiating again. The issue is, I still want to sleep with him. Do you think that he may have freaked out about liking it too much? Could he be developing feelings? I rarely see him now, due to him hanging with his girlfriend all the time. I can tell that he has had sex with a guy before—it slid in pretty easy and he kept saying how good it felt. I'm so confused on what to do!

Boys Easing Sex Tension Secretly

Maybe it would help if you told your friend that you're not having gay sex—you're having hot, sweaty bi sex, just without an accommodating/exonerating girl present. As for what to do...

You might wanna look around for some other guy—maybe even a gay one—who you can have a crush on and slide into. But I'm not going to push you to do that, because it's clear that you've got feelings for this guy and at the very least he's got Feelings While Drunk for you. And while I should probably scold you both for fucking around behind his girlfriend's back, BESTS, I have a hunch that you're a bunch of teenagers and/or very young adults. So you're getting a pass because this kind of bullshit is often a necessary and clarifying rite of passage for kids who are still figuring out who they are, what they want, and who they can and cannot trust. But I predict that this will end badly for all involved, and you will one day look back on the bi three-ways, the gay two-ways, and the way you once believed that "breaking up a lot" was evidence of a passion that could not be denied (when in actual fact it's evidence of a couple of twats who cannot be endured) and be deeply, deeply embarrassed. But in the meantime, BESTS, enjoy sliding in. recommended

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Comments (84) RSS

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saxfanatic 1
What could beat an exchange that include references to both "tons of pussy" and Mary Poppins? I love it!
Posted by saxfanatic on July 29, 2014 at 5:20 PM · Report this
ROUTINE: why not have the 'reliable' on tap for after the experiments? Why not have a nice sharing wank if your partner is wiped out and you've missed the boat? It sounds like some opportunities for talkng/conspiring are being missed.

BESTS: How do you relate when you aren't legless? If someone really only does X when they're crocked, they've got some problems...
Posted by Polyphemus on July 29, 2014 at 5:48 PM · Report this
Can't take the Catholic boy outta the man, eh, Dan? Long, long time since I've heard the punishment of purgatory for ones sins..
LW1, if it was me ( though I'm guessing you aren't in the market for a well seasoned woman), but if it was me, I'd be real pleased when ever you shared your story. A man just looking for some occasional sex is just what I'd be looking for.
But I'm guessing it's ( much) younger women you're talking about. Pretty much concur with Dan, before any fucking goes on- but also a bit before their emotions are too well engaged.
Posted by LavaGirl on July 29, 2014 at 6:10 PM · Report this
I Hate Screen Names 4
I disagree with Dan on SHOP. Disclosing that you're neither single nor emotionally available is a first-date conversation, along with other known deal-breakers like "I'm married and looking to cheat on my spouse" or "I'm a chain smoker." That doesn't mean you need to disclose everything up front, of course. Just the stuff that you know matters enough to many (most) people that they would immediately disqualify you on its basis.
Posted by I Hate Screen Names on July 29, 2014 at 8:02 PM · Report this
I love Dan and all, but what if LW1 was to disclose after the first fuck, but before any more fucking? I guess it would be best to approach it on a case by case basis, but couldn't it be assumed the first fuck is just a one night stand?
Posted by bodhirungus on July 29, 2014 at 8:14 PM · Report this
The nature of "the conversation" is influenced by the kind of protection used (if any). Respecting the health and consent of your lovers to what they may be exposed to health wise is of primary importance.

When interest progresses, ask them to let you know when they want to talk at all about the nature of your involvement together. That's consent again. Sometimes they themselves may not have the simplest circumstances or be able to lay it out well to a stranger. Either way, you're giving them an opportunity to check in when they want and providing them an easy opener when they are ready.

Put your best foot forward by ensuring they feel directly cherished in their time and interactions with you. This goes a long way to confidence in what you re doing with each other, especially when you have a partner already that alone can shake their confidence in your interest or intent.

I didn't see anything in the letter that said a longer term sexual or poly involvement wasn't possible.. If that is the case, it's up to you to make it clear that you're up for a fling only, and ultimately it's you closing those doors, not them, so take personal responsibility buddy.
Posted by funfunfun on July 29, 2014 at 8:30 PM · Report this
Alison Cummins 7
I’m with I Hate Screen Names @4.

SHOP may be frustrated because he’s finding it hard to find women who want what he’s offering. He says he seeks out “extracurricular activities” but not that he’s ever succeeded. If he and his girlfriend have an open relationship it may be the common situation where she gets a lot more action than he does.

*** *** ***
If most women don’t want what you’re offering there aren’t a lot of tricks. They just don’t want it. You need to be looking for the women who do want what you’re offering. (They exist — I am one.)

Where are you meeting these women? OKC? It should be in your profile. Your friendship network? You should be out. Craigslist casual encounters? If you want to see them again after your encounter, tell them your situation when you tell them you’d like to see them again. You don’t want to have to worry about revealing your dirty secret, you want it to be one of your selling points.

You seem to be looking for a steady date. Who are you pursuing? I suspect older women are more likely to be interested. Some straight women reach a point in their lives that they don’t want the hassle of looking after a man full-time but do enjoy sex and male company.

Still, you are likely to have a harder time of it than your girlfriend even if you do everything right.
Posted by Alison Cummins on July 29, 2014 at 8:33 PM · Report this
The men I know who are in open relationships and do well with women disclose the open relationship before the first date. OkCupid is great for this. Dan's absolutely right that if you wait for a bit more emotional investment, they'll be more likely to date/fuck you. In that case, their new feelings for you are overcoming what would have been an initial impression that you can't be available for what they're looking for. But if that impression was accurate - and it generally is - that's not really something you should be trying to overcome.
Posted by statsgirl on July 29, 2014 at 8:34 PM · Report this
Telling a bi man to be homophobic to get more same-sex bi action? Very shortsighted. And even if all the other men he ends up pursuing turn out to be bi as well, not exactly good team-building.

On the other hand, there's something almost charming about Mr Savage's assuming that LW1 will have three dates before boinking his outside partners.

The open/poly quibble reminds me of a discussion I saw a few days ago in a YouTube comment section about the difference between bisexual and pansexual; it seemed an exercise in angels dancing on pinheads with exact hairsplitting precision and microscopic accuracy.
Posted by vennominon on July 29, 2014 at 10:37 PM · Report this
Re SHOP, Mr. P. does pretty well saying he's married but we have an understanding. It's true, but it also allows women to get a little more invested in him than if he leads with how much he loves me.

Re ROUTINE, seems like she should tell him what she told us: "I love our easy, fun sex, but would also like to try new stuff -- no pressure, just to see what else works. When the mood strikes, I'll let you know, but you should definitely let me know if I've picked a night when you'd prefer the tried & true."

Re BESTS, shouldn't the words "condom" and "testing" be mentioned? Youngiisn't the same as disease-free.
Posted by EricaP on July 30, 2014 at 1:00 AM · Report this
@9 Please see the link below regarding bisexuality/pansexuality…

As for Dan encouraging BESTS to refer to the sex he's having with his drunk BFF as "bi-sex" seems a lot less like homophobia and a lot more like combating the BFF's own internalized biphobia.

If you're a guy in today's society you can only be gay or straight and if you fuck other dudes, regardless of how many girls you enthusiastically doink, you are gay. Which means that the guy who needs to get drunk to indulge his desire to have sex with other guys is probably going through a crisis of identity, because he likes girls but by the standards of society his actions mark him as gay, which he isn't. Bisexuality is so marginalized and erased in our culture and even in LGBT-circles and communities, that identifying as bisexual doesn't even occur to some people who actually are just that. If the BFF can realise that he is indeed bisexual and accept that he probably won't need to get drunk to have sex with guys and his liver will undoubtedly thank him.
Posted by Friendstastegood on July 30, 2014 at 1:03 AM · Report this
SHOP should go after divorced women, especially ones with kids.
Posted by Marrena on July 30, 2014 at 4:35 AM · Report this
Oh hell no, 3 dates before dropping the 'I have a girlfriend but lucky you we can still fuck!' bomb?? Sorry Dan, if I like someone well enough to go out once, let alone three times, there's an investment there. It 's not cool to waste someone's time, effort, money, and hope simply because you're not getting as much extracurricular pussy as you would like. His status should be in his profile. There are plenty of women looking for fun with someone who has their shit together but isn't a possibility for romance. He should try dating them.
Posted by jujubee80 on July 30, 2014 at 5:55 AM · Report this
SHOP: I mostly agree with Dan, but three dates is way too long to wait. If you're meeting potentials on a dating site, put the open relationship in your profile. If you're flirting, mention the open relationship in the first flirtatious conversation. If you're getting physical, the time to disclose is after the first snog. If you've had three dates and made out copiously with a lady, and THEN tell her you have a girlfriend, she'll (rightly) think you're a deceptive slimeball.

BESTS: Just because your friend accepted your dick readily doesn't mean he's fucked a guy before. There are such things as strap-ons. Just sayin.
Posted by BiDanFan on July 30, 2014 at 6:07 AM · Report this
M? Taste - I was talking about one particular discussion about a video in which the person filming described her sexuality as [X] and presented as bisexual. While I am happy to look at your link, any official or widely recognized distinction will not change the fact that, in the discussion I read, one faction was claiming sexuality [X] to be "really" pansexual (although most of them were respectful enough to say she had the right to label herself as whatever felt most authentic or however she wished) while the opposing faction was claiming that bi people had defined themselves as [X] for years. There were some entertaining posts trying to pin on the other side that bisexual is "really" [W] or that pansexual is "really" [Y]. I noticed a distinction between the two sides claiming [X], which I may go into if we continue this discussion but would take too long now, that none of those who had so much at stake appeared to pick up.

You provide an excellent example of how homophobia intersects with and often plays out as biphobia. Now, as for this particular case, the secondhand quality of the letter prevents us from being able to say with anything resembling certainty that BFF is thinking either, "MM is wrong," or, "MF+MM is wrong." (I'll avoid for now going into whether the two ideas are better conquered by different approaches.) But the essence of Mr Savage's suggestion (though it doesn't seem entirely serious) is that LW tell BFF that MM is fine and dandy for bi doodz who also b**g chix, so that it's totally cool for the two of them because they ain't f**s.

Conquer internal biphobia? Sure. Go even beyond that and eradicate LG biphobia? Even better. But not by using bi homophobia as the tool to achieve it.
Posted by vennominon on July 30, 2014 at 6:27 AM · Report this
Are there really plenty of women out there who are in open relationships and/or poly relationships? I'm sure Dan knows many more people than I do, but I still find this difficult to believe.

As for BESTS, why is it the guys who consider themselves straight and say shit like "this gay sex stuff has to stop" are always the ones who love to bottom?
Posted by wayne on July 30, 2014 at 6:49 AM · Report this
Aurora Erratic 17
I'd be pretty pissed off if a guy I was dating didn't mention he was in a committed relationship - open or not - until our THIRD date. Before any dates is best, but there is no excuse for not bringing it up on the first date.
Posted by Aurora Erratic on July 30, 2014 at 7:08 AM · Report this
3 dates is WAY too long to wait to disclose that you're in an open relationship. Dan often recommends this same advice to people who have some quirk about themselves that might scare people off from dating them (someone with kids can wait a few dates to disclose, someone with an STD can wait a few dates to disclose) to give the emotional connection time to develop. That makes total sense, but this is a completely different situation, because in this case, the thing he's disclosing is that he's NOT available for an emotional investment. So in this situation, allowing an emotional investment to develop SO THAT you can disclose the fact you're unavailable for an emotional investment is purely a manipulation, and therefore, an asshole move. The right time to disclose this is either in your online profile or, if you must, then on the FIRST date. Women are absolutely inundated with requests for no-strings-attached sex from men. This is not a situation of "Oh, you have this unusual quirk that I've never heard of, I'm glad I got to know you before you revealed it so that I can put your quirk into context." No. This is a case of, "I get harassed 25 times every day by men looking for no-strings sex, and I already spend a ton of energy screening them out, and now this asshole has lied and manipulated his way through the cracks so he can waste my damn time." I love you, Dan, but this advice is way off. Please, people in open relationships: you are looking for folks who want what you want, so disclose early. First date at the LATEST.
Posted by trxunder on July 30, 2014 at 7:17 AM · Report this
What trxunder said. Far, far too long. First date if it's a spontaneous, RL connection, on your profile if it's online. It's not a case of "Oh, thank goodness I didn't let his foot fetish get in the way of the long-term, exclusive relationship I always dreamed of" it's "Great, I wasted weeks looking forward to seeing a guy who was angling to get what he wanted in the full knowledge that I never would."

>I am unsure of how to bring up my situation without doors closing.

It really bothers me that LW put it like this. It amounts to "I don't want them to say no. How can I make sure they don't? How can I make them want something they don't want?" You can't and you shouldn't. Accepting that people may not want what you're offering and not trying to trick them by pretending to offer something else is 1) base level for being a decent human and 2) the only way you're going to get someone who actually *wants you*.

Also, look for women who are not single themselves. Why so many poly and threesome-seeking people choose to waste the time of single women looking for long term partners, instead of hooking up with each other, I'll never know.
Posted by Green Lizard on July 30, 2014 at 7:35 AM · Report this
Wow, this is the first time I actually had to do a double take at Dan's advice. Three dates?!?! Dan, were you drinking before responding to SHOP? If he took your advice, he'd be lucky not to get slapped! Being in a relationship is something that has to be revealed in your profile or at the very beginning of a conversation. I couldn't agree more with the previous commenter. Relationship status is not in the same category as kinks or quirks. And allowing somebody to get emotionally invested in you when you are not emotionally available is just a dick move. This was a big booboo Dan.
Posted by Sad Dan Fan on July 30, 2014 at 7:40 AM · Report this
@vennominon I see what you're saying and yes, I did find Dan's advice to be a bit iffy, but I also think that biphobia is today much more ubiquitous than homophobia and that many people who are not particularly homophobic are very biphobic, and that the message Dan was going for was not so much "it's not ok to be gay" as it was "it's totally fine to be bi" but as you pointed out, the phrasing can really go both ways with a statement like that.

For me personally though, it's just nice to see someone for once hammer home the possibility that maybe this guy is sleeping with both men and women because he's bi, not conflicted or a closet gay person or going through a phase or whatever. Bisexual isn't a dirty word but sometimes that's how it seems given how much people avoid saying it.
Posted by Friendstastegood on July 30, 2014 at 8:28 AM · Report this
sissoucat 22

It should be the first thing you tell. And if you're truly looking for pussy galore, older than 35 is your best bet there. Younger women often plan to construct a couple and then a family : don't make them lose their precious time.

@Alison Cummins

" Some straight women reach a point in their lives that they don’t want the hassle of looking after a man full-time but do enjoy sex and male company."

Ain't that the truth...

LW, don't shy away from divorced women with kids. When single-handedly raising children, some of us have no envy whatsoever to work at bringing an outsider into our hectic enough daylives, but we're totally down with occasional NO DRAMA male company. And that's your best selling point.

Posted by sissoucat on July 30, 2014 at 8:30 AM · Report this
sissoucat 23

"Telling a bi man to be homophobic to get more same-sex bi action?"

I didn't get that. I understood that the label 'gay' was a problem for BESTS' friend, not because he is homophobic - do you know of any homophobes who are best friends with an out gay ? - but because he pretty well knows he isn't gay. Being mislabelled can make one feel pretty inadequate. With a more accurate 'bi' label, he should feel more at ease with himself and with having same-sex.
Posted by sissoucat on July 30, 2014 at 8:47 AM · Report this
seandr 24
SHOP: Unless you're into women a lot older than you are, your "open" relationship means your woman gets to fuck around and you don't.

Enjoy it, bro, you're living the dream!
Posted by seandr on July 30, 2014 at 8:49 AM · Report this
Alison Cummins 25
BiDanFan @14: There’s no hymen to be broken/ stretched/ torn. If your ass is relaxed there’s no reason it shouldn’t go easily the first time whether we’re talking toys used in private, strap-ons or dicks. (It did for me.) I know, not everyone has a relaxed ass — but not everyone has a tight one either.

wayne @16: I dunno if there are lots of women in open/poly relationships but there are a fair number of straight single women who want to stay that way. Dating an unavailable guy fits in with that agenda. Again, I hesitate to say there are lots of them but there are definitely enough to be worth pursuing.
Posted by Alison Cummins on July 30, 2014 at 9:46 AM · Report this
Re: LW1, I figure if the girl wouldn't fuck you if she knew, she has a right to know and not fuck you. Dan said as much. But I'd go further: if she wouldn't date you if she knew, she has a right to know before she dates you. Whether her rejecting the idea out of hand is fair or not, close-minded, whatever, that's not your call, it's hers.

If it were me, I'd put a profile on an appropriate site with full disclosure and see what I got. That you might have to wait a little longer and work a little harder is part of the deal. And as Dan said, there are women for whom your circumstance would be ideal. Don't mess with the one's for whom it's not.
Posted by Also Dan on July 30, 2014 at 10:05 AM · Report this
I agree with everyone on this board re: SHOP that 3 dates is way too long. Also, it's just confusing to think that anyone above the age of 20 would actually go on a formal date that didn't end up with something physical occurring at the end. Any first date that doesn't, in my experience, usually means last date. So SHOP should definitely disclose as soon as he can...if it's a formal date...

The only reason I wanted to chime in, is that it seems everyone is assuming he's using the internet to find women and go on "dates". Every woman I've ever slept with I knew for a while through friends, met in classes, work or parties. If he wants to be both honorable and not scare women off, he should just be flirty friends, at social, non-threatening places for the Dan's requisite 3 times. Then you can have an emotional investment develop that isn't a lie of omission. Once the opportunity for a date arises, then divulge beforehand and stay friendly if she refuses.

That's how my wife got me, a weekend at the beach with friends until the last night, when she told me she had a bf but wanted to sleep together. I absolutely would have said no if I hadn't developed a huge crush in the past few days.
Posted by Guest dude on July 30, 2014 at 10:19 AM · Report this
I've never actually witnessed this "men with partners can't get laid" thing.

On the other hand, women comfortable with their sexuality seem to be great at spotting the sort of prick that would try to trick women into sex.
Posted by mage on July 30, 2014 at 11:17 AM · Report this
AFinch 29
@12 - excellent, excellent advice...particularly ones who aren't ready to complicate their children's lives just yet.

I am also w/ @4 on very early disclosure. I think even a couple of "hang outs" - at least, past the point where there is clearly some romantic possibility - is too long to wait. It's going to feel like bait-and-switch.
Posted by AFinch on July 30, 2014 at 11:25 AM · Report this
nocutename 30
Wow: SHOP's letter--and Dan's response--raise so many issues.
First off, people who don't read unregistered comments should read #s 26 and 27, which bring some more valuable insight to this issue.

Secondly, I find Dan's "3 dates" to be almost quaint--how many people get to a third date (especially if the only reason for the date in the first place, like for SHOP, is to have sex. I mean, SHOP isn't looking for an LTR!) and haven't had a fair amount of sexual contact.

I agree with everyone else that 3 dates is far, far too long. The 3 date timeline originated, I believe for people who had a rather off-putting kink. The idea is that it gives a person a chance to get to know and like the kinkster so that s/he might not just run screaming when the new boy/girlfriend says, "oh by the way, I really get turned on by throwing pies in naked people's faces" or whatever. The disclosure of a kink--a specific sexual act--is not equal to the disclosure that a person is absolutely unavailable for any kind of traditional romantic relationship, that s/he is already emotionally involved with someone else, that all this relationship will ever entail is sex and maybe, maybe a meal sometime.

That needs to be conveyed BEFORE date 1. Whether on a dating profile, or in an initial conversation in a real-life pick-up, that information should be out up front, as should what the person is looking for and has to offer.

Yes, SHOP, it will drive a lot of women away. It will also be ethical.

I was disturbed by this in SHOP's letter: "I often seek out extracurricular activities, but I am unsure of how to bring up my situation without doors closing. I wrote to a seduction blogger who often writes about open relationships, and his advice was to not mention it until I've had sex with the girl a few times and to not bring them to my apartment that I share with my girlfriend . . ."

So SHOP is willing to lie to get the sex he wants, despite his protestations that that feels "contrary" to his nature. The fact that he sought the advice of a PUA (the "seduction blogger") is telling. PUAs view acts of "seduction" in the creepiest possible light, treating women as prey and advising all kinds of bullshitty, manipulative, predatory tactics to "bag them." SHOP, there are a ton of legitimate people in open relationships to get advice from. Ask them.

On to whom you'll attract and whether your girlfriend will have more success than you.

I have just started several FWBs relationships up with men who advertise their emotional/"real" dating unavailability up front, but declare themselves ethically non-monogamous and refer to their wives or girlfriends prominently. In the past, I would never have given these guys a second glance, because I was only interested in a relationship which has an emotional/romantic basis and which is mostly monogamous. What I would call "dating" or a "boyfriend"-- someone with whom I have a connection based on more than just sex, with whom I go out, as well as stay in, who meets my friends and introduces me to his, etc. You know.
But in the prolonged absence of these over the past few years, and after dating "available" men who weren't turning me on sexually, I decided to make this a summer of flings: sex and laughs--and mostly sex. Thus, I've responded to a bunch of men who are unavailable for a traditional relationship*--and the fun has been off the charts!

It's been a bit like subsisting on a diet of whipped cream (Mr. Ven will get the Nancy Mitford reference), but occasionally that's not a bad thing. I eat my greens (and nothing but) most of the time.

I've been involved with married men before, but never ones in open marriages, and I am stunned by the difference. I think that clandestine relationships invite the possibility of Capital R Romance, in that there is so much excitement and danger in them. Emotions can run high. People (probably mostly women) can imagine themselves as star-crossed lovers pretty easily. Husbands and wives are rarely referred to or might only be mentioned as obstacles of some sort. I think many a man or woman has entered into an affair with the unacknowledged thought (perhaps unacknowledged even by the person having it) that once the two get involved, the unavailable one will fall in love with the other, and that this will turn into a "real" socially-approved relationship. There is a darker, secret quality to these affairs, which I admit can be pretty sexy, but also pretty sad.

Whereas in the kinds of FWB situations I'm in now, everything is sort of sunny and breezy. I find myself--despite having some of the very best sex I've ever had, with men whom I find interesting and charming and funny and intelligent, whose bodies and minds turn me on like crazy--not feeling those feelings of longing and love for these guys, almost as if because of the matter-of-fact, second-naturedness of their being unavailable, I don't let myself get too invested. But I'm not having to consciously try to stay uninvested; it's weird to me, but I'm not complaining.
The guys don't act like I'm only second-best, and I don't feel like they're settling for me.

As to seandr's points @24:
1) I am 51, 3 years older than one of the guys who's engaged, and 2 years younger than one who is married; 1 year older than my single but non-monogamous friend, and more than 20 years older than the boy-toys.
2) I have no idea how much or how much more play the women in these non-monogamous relationships are getting, but the men I'm currently sleeping with are juggling a lot of women. They've got pussy coming out of the woodwork. They are in no way deprived. So what if your girlfriend has 8 extracurricular partners or guys lining up around the block, if you have 3 extracurricular partners and don't have to work too hard or search too long to find a new one. And if you're interesting, funny, attractive and have mad skillz in bed you won't have to search too long, I promise.

Part of SHOP's problem may be his age and the age of the women he's pursuing. It's true that women in their early 20s might be on average less interested in what he's got to offer. It's an age of more conventionality; it's an age when a lot of women are looking/hoping to meet "the one" and settle down; it's an age when women may not have been exposed to other ways of being yet, and an age when a lot of women aren't as sexually driven as they may become in the future. He may have to expand his age-range. But fortunately for him, cougars are all the rage these days, and there are some smoking hot late-30s-early-40s women out there who'd be very interested, and who don't want a relationship, or who don't see him as "relationship material," either. A lot of drama will be avoided. Think of the upside to that. A 38-year-old (or even a 51-year-old) will never, I promise, think she's your girlfriend. She'll never wonder when she gets to meet your family, or when you two are going to move in together or "where this is going." I don't think you can or should assume the same of most 23-year-olds.

So, yeah, I would tell SHOP to be totally open and aboveboard from the outset. He'll likely discourage a lot of women, but those are the women who would be unhappy later, who would fall for him, and be hurt, who might cause a scene when they felt betrayed (as they will have been, if he's withheld that much pertinent information in an effort to get into their pants). He may attract fewer women, but the resultant relationships will be much more in tune with what he wants. And he might be surprised how many women will be receptive to what he has to offer.

*In addition to the two men who are in open relationships, I'm carrying on with a man who's currently single, yet always ethically non-monogamous and who's sleeping with a host of other women right now, and a couple of men who are much younger than me and who might choose monogamy in "real" romantic relationships, but are dating casually right now, not involved in a romance. The age difference makes it fairly obvious to us both that neither of us considers the other to be a candidate for a serious relationship.

Posted by nocutename on July 30, 2014 at 11:39 AM · Report this

Just be honest. You're not required to disclose anything (except a serious health issue). If a woman (or a man) wants to know something, they can ask.
Posted by Hunter78 on July 30, 2014 at 1:00 PM · Report this
Alison Cummins 32
Hunter78, Asking is pointless if nobody is required to disclose anything.
Posted by Alison Cummins on July 30, 2014 at 1:06 PM · Report this
Corylea 33
I'm a polyamorous woman, and in my community, you tell someone you're poly as soon as you're interested in dating them. Going out on a couple of dates and THEN telling them would gain you the reputation -- as BiDanFan says -- of being a deceptive slimeball.

Here in Boston, we have a social group for polyamorous people that has meetings, dinners, discussions, and so on. Check to see if there's a group near you, and if not, start one!
Posted by Corylea on July 30, 2014 at 1:21 PM · Report this
I have to agree with the other people who are against Dan's wait three dates advice to SHOP.

I am a polyamorous pansexual who doesn't have any trouble dating someone in an open relationship, but if they were to jerk my emotions around by waiting until date three to tell me that they were already seeing someone after I had been envisioning the possibilities between us I would walk out the door. As for myself, I cannot imagine being anything other than totally upfront about myself from the get go.
Posted by sweet g on July 30, 2014 at 1:48 PM · Report this
I think a lot of the consternation regarding SHOP is around the word "date".

If you are entering into a relationship, which "dating" is generally held to entail, then your relationship status is definitely relevant information that must be volunteered not simply disclosed upon request.

If it's clearly anonymous sex, then your relationship status might not even be any of your partner's business.

The question being at what point should your potential parters reasonably believe you are entering into a relationship? I think Dan's "third hang/date/whatever [... but] before fucking" isn't an unreasonable line absent other standard "courting" signifiers.

As such, you would need to disclose if you were meeting for drinks, but not if you were just offering to buy one (enroute to sex).

As always, if you're in doubt, talk about.
Posted by Just Fucking Around on July 30, 2014 at 2:06 PM · Report this
seandr 36
This feels contrary to my nature, which is very straightforward

There's no contradiction. Your choice is simply between behaving how women say they want you to behave, or behaving in ways that make women want to jump on you and smother you with kisses. Can't go wrong either way, really.
Posted by seandr on July 30, 2014 at 2:19 PM · Report this
SHOP, (and Dan!) most people looking to score, particularly women, are looking to move into something more committed, and being in an open relationship is a no-no for most people.

I would say that's absolutely a start of the first date conversation. I would feel badly let down and pissed if I found out on a 2nd or even a 3rd date that the guy wasn't really available for more.
Posted by Chandira on July 30, 2014 at 4:06 PM · Report this
I wonder if LW2 is bored with routine or feels she is SUPPOSED to want to mix things up. Some people just dont have kinks. If she and her partner have come this far, so to speak, without a kink rising up out of their own open minds and private/shared porn sessions or past experiences, searching in the dark for a kink that they both end up liking might not ever get either of them to a new place. I commend the initiative, but dont worry too much about a problem that isnt
Posted by Dr. M on July 30, 2014 at 5:15 PM · Report this
M? Taste - I'll agree with your second paragraph from a partially different perspective. Usually the suddenly(known or suspected)-same-sexing opposite-sexer is unpleasant or unethical (at least in the eyes of the labeler), so that the labeling manages to be both biphobic and homophobic at the same time. Major case in point - Mr Bachmann. I believe I have already given the bi community a pass for not getting upset and trying to claim him whenever he gets into the news and the avalanche of liberals calling him the F-word gives me cramps. You (as a representative of team Bn whether member or not) don't want him any more than we do, and that's quite understandable; until he presents otherwise, I think we ought to get to keep sticking him on team S.

At least Mr Savage said that taking the line in question "would likely help" without actually endorsing it. The feel of this interaction is that gay men are likely to have to pay for the biphobia of straight women, which doesn't really advance the End of Patriarchy.
Posted by vennominon on July 30, 2014 at 5:34 PM · Report this
Sitting on a train to Brisbane, and half a dozen police come thru with a sniffer dog; Jesus- lucky I didn't bring any contraband as I head to a writers festival.
Yeah, and thanks nocutename and Allison. Great sharing all your sex stories with us. Ho hum.
Posted by LavaGirl on July 30, 2014 at 5:40 PM · Report this
Ms Sissou - You have it backwards. It's the LW who's being advised to be homophobic(or, to be more accurate, told that it would likely help without the conduct being endorsed), not the BFF. I should perhaps have put a (presumed) before the bi, but I'm not as accurate late at night.

I'm curious as to why you interpreted LW as being out as gay. He doesn't appear terribly out beyond acknowledging to BFF that he's into him, and he was able to go through with his "all about her" share of the MFM. I was not crazy with appearing to be solidly behind bi when it was really just a weak default accorded to people who don't specify going by behaviour described, but it was too late to make a big thing about changing it.
Posted by vennominon on July 30, 2014 at 5:45 PM · Report this
gueralinda 42
I can really relate to LW2. I've been married for 13 years, and the sex is good - nice, comfortable, reliably produces orgasms and seems to make us both happy - but isn't there just a little bit more? I seem to remember when things were a bit spicier... I've hinted, I've straight up asked my husband to share some fantasies with me (yes, I've shared a few of mine, too) but he simply says he's happy with things as they are. Ive asked for some very mild rough stuff - like a bit of spanking or a hand over my mouth - and get giggly, shocked "no, that isn't me." So what IS you, babe? I'll try it, I promise. Just give me a hint.
Posted by gueralinda on July 30, 2014 at 6:10 PM · Report this
gueralinda 43
Too add to the above - and to respond to Dr. M @ 38 - aside from the issue of getting my own needs met, sometimes I worry that he DOES have fantasies that are compelling and he just won't share them with me. Maybe if he can't or won't let me fulfill them, he'll look elsewhere? I don't want him going outside our relationship because he's too embarrassed to tell me what he wants, when I'd happily fulfill whatever it is, if I can.
Posted by gueralinda on July 30, 2014 at 6:13 PM · Report this
Hey BESTS, do you actually LIKE your friend? Not just wanting to bone him, but do you LIKE him?

Because he's asked you to stop with the sex stuff. You should stop with the sex stuff, not because he may or may not be cheating on his girlfriend, he may or may not be homophobic, but because he asked you to. If you keep on trying to slide on by/in, then you're not showing any respect for him or for what he's asked you to do.

Don't be one of those dudes whose boner is more important than treating friends decently, even if those friends are hot and ambiguously into you.

Back off, and if he tries being drunk and flirty again, disengage gently. You don't have to be ugly, just, you know, you gotta go to the bathroom, and then maybe you have something in the morning but I'll see you Saturday. If he does it again, wait until you're both sober and then you can say, dude, WTF? Gently. Nicely.

Because you're his friend, right? And you like him and enjoy being his friend, right?
Posted by slinky on July 30, 2014 at 8:21 PM · Report this
Still Thinking 45
If all SHOP wants is sex, and he's looking for women who also just want sex, why is he concerned about "offending" potential partners with his unavailability?

It sounds like his real problem is that he gets off on sex with women more strongly attached to him than he is (or will be) to them. First, he has to "hook" them by pretending to be something he's not. Then he can deliver the dose of reality that either 1) puts them at an emotional disadvantage if they want the relationship to progress, or 2) causes them to decamp if they are pissed at his deceit or realize that he's not a good fit. Either way, he called the shots.

My guess is that too many women have been decamping lately, and he's feeling, umm, deflated. He wants his mojo back, and is looking to Dan for help.


Posted by Still Thinking on July 30, 2014 at 11:55 PM · Report this
Still Thinking 46
My risque and sexually adventurous younger self is tickled pink to discover that my current self is quaint by Slog standards. Granted, at the time of my return to the fray, I had not dated in 16 years. To complicate matters, I didn't know what I really wanted, and started out with pretty broad parameters. Still, it took me until the fifth (!) date to open up (so to speak). And even then, it was more an act of faith than a calculated move.
Posted by Still Thinking on July 31, 2014 at 12:05 AM · Report this
sissoucat 47

Er. I don't think I understand you, this time, at all. I was making the same point that Taste.


Yay, keep on having the nice summer, it sounds lovely :-)
From experisnce, I agree with the fact that feelings stay very casual in such relationships. It's quite nice, actually, resting. No drama.

Having sex with them isn't the beginning nor the ending of anything in the lifes of my partners : it's just fun, and light, positive stuff for everybody involved. Condoms are a given.
Posted by sissoucat on July 31, 2014 at 5:44 AM · Report this
sissoucat 48

You got a serious point, there. Yep.
Posted by sissoucat on July 31, 2014 at 5:45 AM · Report this
gueralinda @42/43

My advice is to make this about your own sexual desires, not about exploring his desires to keep him from straying. There's no magic phrase or set of actions that keeps a spouse from straying. Life is hard.

Your job is to think about what you want and ask for it with more conviction. Tell him he doesn't get to giggle at your sexual interests any more. He can make a good faith effort at participating in the spanking (that's not much to ask), or he can let you get spanked by someone else and fuck you after. The upside is that the new sexual energy may help your guy figure out his own needs too.
Posted by EricaP on July 31, 2014 at 9:27 AM · Report this
secretagent 50
As a person who is open to men who are in relationships, I gotta add that I would run if we got to date 3 and I had heard nothing if a wife or girlfriend. What? How can I know that I am respecting agreements I know nothing about? I'd feel a fool and any desire I might have would go right out the window.

As a woman who was in an open relationship, I can tell you that if a woman didn't like that he was in a relationship, had to be talked into it, or preferred thinking he was cheating - she was trouble. She wasn't down with what we had going and she would angle for something else. Thereby jeopardizing the good thing he had going because he was unable to respect that someone who was going to want him for herself was a complete no-go.

Your needs and desires don't match? Move on, and in a hurry.
Posted by secretagent on July 31, 2014 at 9:43 AM · Report this
@30 - nocute, I was just wondering if you had met up with any of your current FWB's girlfriends/wives?

I'm very much in the same headspace Alison describes, as "Some straight women reach a point in their lives that they don’t want the hassle of looking after a man full-time but do enjoy sex and male company", but I want to be sure that it's being done ethically.

Sure, the guys can say that they have mates, and that everybody is open and aware, but how do you make sure without actually becoming involved in their lives? I'd love a regular NSA situation, but I don't want to be someone's dirty little secret, and I don't really want to have to have regular check-ins with wifey, either...
Posted by sanguisuga on July 31, 2014 at 10:26 AM · Report this
Sea Otter 52
@18 nailed it. Are you listening, Dan?
Posted by Sea Otter on July 31, 2014 at 10:28 AM · Report this
nocutename 53
@51 (sanguisuga): I haven't met them in person, but I have "spoken" with one of them on the message feature (like email) on the dating website, on which she's a member, too (and checked out her own dating profile, in which she names and links to her husband. She's also named and linked to on his profile, and she provides a reference), and I've gotten a "go ahead" message from the other via ordinary email. This isn't a 100% guarantee, I realize, that the messages have really come from the actual women, but I have to say that I feel I've done my due diligence. Also, as I said before, I've been involved with married men in the past who absolutely were cheating on their wives, and these guys don't give off the same vibe. There are no admonitions to not call or text or to only do so at certain times; they are available to get together at all times of day or night or on weekends, not just weekday work hours; they talk frequently and happily about their wife/fiancée.

I don't plan to have regular check-ins with the women, but if they want to talk to me or need to talk to me, I'm open to that--it seems the least I can do.
Posted by nocutename on July 31, 2014 at 10:49 AM · Report this
I have to disagree with you, Dan, about your advice to the guy in an open relationship. He needs to be upfront and tell women when he asks them out that he's in that type of relationship. I don't have a "prejudice" about open relationships - they are just not for me and I don't want to make any type of "small emotional investment" in someone who is in this type of relationship. Your advice was just as manipulative as the pick-up artist website. Shameful!
Posted by Readhead13 on July 31, 2014 at 11:40 AM · Report this
Allen Gilliam 55
Is bi-phobic really the right term? The problem with people's attitude toward bisexuals is that they don't believe they're actually bi. It's dismissive, patronizing, and ignorant... not phobic. It reminds me of people who use the word terrorist for any enemy of the US.

And speaking of Mr. Bachmann, I love that recording of him saying with his lisp, "Barbarians need to be educated." You can just hear him thinking, "And I'm just the man to do it!"
Posted by Allen Gilliam on July 31, 2014 at 12:48 PM · Report this
nocutename 56
Okay, I've been thinking about why Dan's response to SHOP bothers me as much as it does, and it's this: "Let them get to know you a bit, then spill—before fucking but after they've made a small emotional investment in you. They'll be more likely to reconsider prejudices they may have against guys in open relationships after they've gotten to know a semi-straightforward one and perhaps be less quick to slam the door." (bolded emphasis mine)

Here's the thing: prejudices are instances in which someone makes a value judgement about someone else who belongs to a particular group, without knowing him or her specifically, and based just on a common perception of a characteristic shared by all members of a particular group. And so the way to overcome prejudices is through exposure to an individual belonging to that group, in order that the person is able to be perceived as just that: an individual, not defined solely as a member of a group to whom the first person has assigned some (generally negative) judgements.

Thus just because I am ------, doesn't mean I am ------, or not all ------- are/do ------.

This is a very helpful strategy for seeing human beings rather than "types."

But "prejudice" against people in open relationships isn't the issue here. Everyone has a right to determine for her/himself what kind of relationships s/he wants. Each person is allowed to have some non-negotiable conditions that make a person a non-candidate for a relationship for him/herself. This isn't prejudice. The women that SHOP is trying to seduce aren't saying "I hate all people in open relationships: they're icky;" they're saying: "I don't want to have a relationship with someone who is already in one with someone else."

They shouldn't have to be acclimated out of it.

Dan's pulled this switch before, notably on the podcast, when he fielded a similar question about disclosure. At the time, he likened it to the disclosure that someone had an STI. I called him on it in a recorded phone call at the time, and he nicely played my stammering message the following week. But he's still making a poor analogy, and it kind of reeks now of sanctimony, as it paints the person who doesn't want a particular kind of relationship as a bigot.

I'm a straight woman who's an LGBTQQ ally. (And truly, some of my very best friends are L, G, or B.) If I don't want to have a sexual/dating/romantic relationship with a woman, that doesn't make me "prejudiced" against lesbians; it doesn't make me homophobic or a bigot: it means I get to decide whom I want to sleep with.
Posted by nocutename on July 31, 2014 at 1:56 PM · Report this
Alison Cummins 57
Bingo, nocutename @56!

If he wants to combat prejudice against guys in open relationships, he should be out to everyone. His family, his workplace, his friendship network. He will thereby set an example of honesty so that other guys in open relationships can see that you can tell the truth and not be hit by a bolt of lightning, and he will give everyone else (for instance, his mother) an opportunity to realize that they actually know guys in open relationships and to reconsider their prejudices.

But that’s not what he wants to do. He wants to have sex with women who do not want to have sex with him on his terms. He doesn’t even entertain the possibility of seeking out women who do want to have sex with him on his terms.

Dan would have been a little closer if he’d referred to prejudices against open relationships themselves, rather than against the guys in them.

As so many people have pointed out though, while many people may disapprove of open relationships because of prejudice, it is completely legitimate to not want to invest one’s emotions into being a married guy’s piece on the side while pursuing a goal of finding a primary partner and coparent.

Someone could seek and find a primary partner and coparent while imagining a future where they will boost their sex lives by swinging after the youngest is in preschool. They could entertain no prejudice whatever against either open relationships or the guys in them — and still not be interested in being a married guy’s piece on the side during the seeking phase.

Prejudice against the men or the model may or may not be there, but for young women it’s unlikely to be the limiting factor.
Posted by Alison Cummins on July 31, 2014 at 2:49 PM · Report this
I'm in an open relationship, and ahem, date a lot. I always disclose before the 1st date. Unless you are into tricking a girl into bed (ewwww), only a small subset of women are interested in dating a guy in an open relationship. Sure that's a bummer, but that is life. Why waste your time going on a few dates only to have her feel repelled and betrayed when you finally disclose? First date at the latest, but even better is before the 1st date.
Posted by ohthetrees on July 31, 2014 at 3:34 PM · Report this
Dan's advice to ROUTINE seems a bit misplaced. She sounds mostly worried about how her failure to orgasm will affect her *partner*, and Dan assumes that she must be worried about it for her own sake. I'd make a joke about how this encapsulates the fundamental difference between men and women but that would be sexist. :o

What I'd do: every time you do something new and non-routine, snuggle up contentedly afterwards and tell him you really liked it. Be specific about what you liked. And tell him, "I like spicing things up a little bit. Sometimes it's harder for me to come when we're doing something outside the routine but I don't mind that at all, I still like it." Repeat this reassurance as necessary.

A man who is really concerned that his partner orgasm is very nice to have, but it may take repeated reassurance for him to accept that he hasn't *failed* if he doesn't give her an orgasm. Overcompensate a bit so he still feels like a success.
Posted by Ennead on July 31, 2014 at 5:09 PM · Report this
Ms Sissou - I think something has been fallen into the Atlantic here. I'll recap.

LW (who is, you appear to think. openly gay and whom I am tentatively reading as bi) to Mr Savage: My male friend whom I want and whom I've had when drunk keeps giving me mixed signals.

Mr Savage to LW: It would probably make him more receptive to MM with you if you convinced him that you're two bi doodz and neither of you is in any way a f**. (As Mr Savage only mentioned such a line of conduct without endorsing it, perhaps he saw much of the same problem with it that I did.)

My original comment: Telling a bi man (LW) to say something homophobic to get his bi friend (BFF) to boink him more frequently would be a bad thing.

M? Taste's first comment: It looked more like getting BFF over his internalized biphobia than like homophobia. Plus example of biphobia (for later).

My comment to M? Taste: We don't know whether BFF is internally biphobic or homophobic, intersection and essentializing the problematic comment.

I shall stop the recap here, as I am not entirely sure of who then misunderstood what from whom and don't want to make any misunderstandings worse. M? Taste and I are sufficiently in agreement, and I am left to hope that no gay man BFF meets in the future will be hurt by BFF's homophobia that appears to have originated in the biphobia of some straight women.

Posted by vennominon on July 31, 2014 at 5:24 PM · Report this
Mr Gilliam - Sometimes I am in the mood to split hairs over whether something is X-phobic or merely anti-X, but that got largely driven out of me by a very long thread elsewhere in which women of colour who voted for Prop 8 because they were working for something like Project Better-than-Marriage were being held up as *totally not homophobes* and should be given cookies by the people whose rights they voted to shred. These days I go into the difference only when it matters to how the exact knowledge is applied.
Posted by vennominon on July 31, 2014 at 5:30 PM · Report this
Dear B.E.S.T.S : U.R. gay. Or possibly what you think of as "Bi". embrace it and stop fooling yourself. its not the end of the world.

To me, "Bi" is gay gay gay. Until you reach the age you aren't attractive to young guys any more and you find some woman to marry, maybe have kids with, so you don't die alone. Or be murdered by some guy you find on the internet. There's nothing wrong with this, after a certain age. You will want a woman to take care of you in your declining year. She will want security, she will want a husband. Just be honest. You two can work out a deal and be very happy ever after. Just make sure you are financially secure, that will get you partners of any sex hassle-free.
Posted by Lassie on July 31, 2014 at 7:28 PM · Report this
What do you think are the chances those two BESTies having occasional, drunken, unplanned sex are also have UNPROTECTED sex and swapping STDs with each other and the girlfriend? You missed the elephant in the room, Dan.
Posted by danfan on July 31, 2014 at 9:13 PM · Report this
Alison [32],

Sorry, I expressed myself poorly. By "not required to disclose", I meant not required to volunteer unrequested information. I did say, "Just be honest." If the potential hook-up asks "Are you in a relationship (or married, or pos, or an ex-con, or a snorer, or etc, etc)?", of course he should answer honestly. He is not required to anticipate the hook-up's questions. If she is particularly interested in an LTR (or whatever) she should endeavor to find out for herself what she wants to know.

Do gays have a similar requirement to volunteer their relationship status? I don't think so.
Posted by Hunter78 on August 1, 2014 at 7:05 AM · Report this
nocutename 65
Hunter @64: You asked (and then answered yourself): "Do gays have a similar requirement to volunteer their relationship status? I don't think so."

I am not sure what you're talking about there, but I guess it refers to gay men in relationships looking for a piece on the side.

In any case, no one is "required" to disclose anything--not marital status, not health status, not sexual orientation, not the kind of genitals under the clothes, not drug use, not any number of other factors that might make them either the perfect match or utterly undesirable to someone they're hoping to bonk.

But so what? Something doesn't need to be "required" to be the right thing to do.

When you do your "this week in review" post, you'll note that two of the three questions in this week's column are questions of ethics.

Are you suggesting that gay men are somehow less ethical than straight men? You seem to be reinforcing a sort of caveat emptor attitude. Would it apply if someone looking for sex knowingly withheld the information that he or she had Hepatitis B? Would you shrug and say, "hey if you're worried about contracting a very serious incurable disorder, you should have asked that specific question."?

What if a straight woman was ovulating and knew it and hooked up with a man telling him he didn't need to use a condom, leaving him to assume that she was using hormonal birth control. When he's on the hook for child support for the next two decades, sure, you can say he was a fool for not insisting on condoms or not asking her if she was using contraceptives (or trusting her to be honest), but I'm guessing the lion's share of the vitriol would be spewed at her for deliberately misleading him so she could get what she wanted.

So why is it okay to potentially fuck with someone's emotions just because you want to get laid and you know that you won't if you are honest and forthcoming before being interrogated? Is it because that scenario was presented by a straight man? Is it because you put little or no value on emotions?

You advocate for answering honestly. But let's imagine you are single, in a bar or at a party and you start chatting up and flirting with a woman. All signals point to "go," and you make a date for a few days later. In between meeting and going out, you talk on the phone once or text or email (however you conduct your casual conversation). Would you think to ask, "so, by the way, are you married or otherwise involved in a serious, committed relationship?" If not, is that because you wouldn't care whether she was? Not everyone feels that way.

Posted by nocutename on August 1, 2014 at 7:54 AM · Report this
seandr 66
@nocutename: While there are plenty of men who'd be put off by a date who withheld his/her relationship status, this scenario doesn't seem to have the same emotional charge for men as it does for women.

If a new dating prospect informs a man that they are available for sex but not a relationship, that man would have to be in a really grumpy mood not to see the glass as half full.
Posted by seandr on August 1, 2014 at 8:51 AM · Report this
Afreet 67
I am a man in an open marriage, and I make it policy to let potential other partners know about my status as soon as is reasonably possible. Most of my social circle already knows, and it's in any online profiles I make. It's definitely before/on the first date. *At the latest* it's after the first kiss but before the second, and that's only in those situations where, say, you meet a friend of a friend out at a loud club or party and there's a spark and attraction, and the moment is right for one of you to just go for that first kiss.
Posted by Afreet on August 1, 2014 at 10:43 AM · Report this
It seems odd to me that Dan says to go on a few dates before disclosing that you are in an open relationship. That seems more like a poly situation than open relationship. I am in an open relationship and if my boyfriend were going on dates with other people, that would be cheating. Maybe I'm just used to different situations, but open to me tends to mean open to having sex with others, not open to dating others.
Posted by rz611 on August 1, 2014 at 10:48 AM · Report this
It seems odd to me that Dan says to go on a few dates before disclosing that you are in an open relationship. That seems more like a poly situation than open relationship. I am in an open relationship and if my boyfriend were going on dates with other people, that would be cheating. Maybe I'm just used to different situations, but open to me tends to mean open to having sex with others, not open to dating others.
Posted by rz611 on August 1, 2014 at 10:49 AM · Report this
nocutename 70
@seandr: You say that there are men--plenty of them--who would be put off by a date that withheld his/her relationship status, so let's consider them. Hunter's advice is predicated on the unspoken attitude that men are presumed to be willing to do whatever it takes to get sex, and it's up to women to anticipate the probability that they're being lied to or that information they might believe is crucial to their decision-making process is being withheld unless explicitly asked for.

This is unethical. Furthermore, it's sexist. Since Hunter has tried to compare it to gay male interactions, and since you have also brought up the "men vs. women" trope, I'm only going to address heterosexual issues, even though you took care to be orientation-inclusive. It assumes all men and all women will feel and behave along certain lines. You just acknowledged that some men would be put off by a married or otherwise unavailable partner going out with them. Likewise, there are women who wouldn't mind. The scenario you and Hunter envision rests on old attitudes about men and women, and pits them against each other in some sort of battle of wits and wiles--with the "taking" of sex from a woman as the goal for the man, and the protection of her "virtue" the objective on the woman's part.

I'd like to get past that.

Additionally, the advice/scenario that you and Hunter seem to be talking about is that of a one night stand, in which (I guess) all pretensions to ethical behavior are suspended in the service of achieving the goal--the "conquest's" feelings or truly informed consent be damned. But what if the sex-seeker isn't working on a meet-in-a-bar-go-home-with-her-that-night-never-see-or-talk-to-her-again model? What if the sex seeker is using a dating website, or is willing and expects to invest at least one date prior to the sex? What if he (I'm going with the reductionist sexist model you and Hunter have set up) hopes to have repeated sexual encounters with the victim--I mean, the woman? How well does that "hey, I forgot to tell you, but . . ." advice work then? I assume that you could expect a significant number of women to be angry--and there would probably be no more sex (whereas a woman who's been given the information she needs to make her decision who decides she is interested in having sex with a man who's unavailable is likely to be open to repeating such encounters.)

Just every which way you look at it, it smells, and it seems pretty indefensible to me, glass-half-full-just-for-sex or not. Yes, I know people lie to get sex--they always have and they always will. This letter writer wrote in to Dan asking for advice because he ostensibly wants to know how to get sex without lying. When he's been forthcoming, a lot of his prospects are no longer interested. The first advice he gave was extremely sleazy and I think all would agree it's unethical. While there are some women who would have had sex at on at least three occasions (perhaps with a first or second pre-sex date first--three of those, if Dan's dating timetable is observed), the vast majority of women, especially young, 20-something year-olds, would be emotionally invested to a certain degree by then and would very likely be very upset to discover that the man they were dating and fucking had a wife or girlfriend already. What's more, you, me, the lw, and Hunter all know this. And yet when he asks how to get what he wants without being a lying scumbag, he gets told that he should do whatever it takes because it's up to the woman to vet him thoroughly first (by Hunter) and by you, that he'll have to limit himself to old hags, and that hey, men aren't as picky as women about things like emotional availability. So what? Does that give them permission to ride roughshod over the poor sap of a woman who cares?
Posted by nocutename on August 1, 2014 at 11:31 AM · Report this
I guess, in one night stands, women don't know what they're getting.
Posted by Hunter78 on August 1, 2014 at 11:47 AM · Report this
nocutename 72
@71 (Hunter): And apparently, even after three dates for sex and perhaps a couple beforehand, women don't know what they're getting.
Do you think this is okay behavior?

Please don't fall back on what happens. I know what happens. I'd really like to know what you think should be the way a man seeking sex (who, by the way, isn't sex-deprived, because he's presumably getting regular sex from his partner; this is just extra--because god knows we are all entitled to everything we want when and how often we want it, fuck the feelings or permission of the other people involved) should go about trying to lure a woman into his bed?
Posted by nocutename on August 1, 2014 at 12:11 PM · Report this
@nocutename: Your argument overlooks the fact that, for many (het) women, the relationship IS their equivalent of the sexual conquest. In other words, it's something one can want (and many people do!) without much regard to the personhood, wants, or feelings of the other person involved. They simply want a guy to fill a role, whatever that role may be, and they're as indifferent to his inner life and well-being as the archetypical Don Juan is to the long-term feelings of his sexual conquests. And I think women and men are, collectively speaking, equally as guilty of this: that is, when it comes to getting what they want, women in general are every bit as mercenary and self-oriented as men are.

If that seems like a provocative statement, well, it's meant to be. When you talk about women getting "emotionally invested" because they think a guy's available for an exclusive relationship, you're subconsciously stacking the deck by conjuring the vision of a dewy-eyed, vulnerable woman, taking yet another sling 'n' arrow to the oft-wounded heart thanks to selfish, predatory men.

I think a better analogy would be a guy who takes a woman on several dates, pays for all of them, and realizes that she's happily gone along with being wined and dined but has no interest in actually sleeping with him, ever. Does he feel used? Almost definitely. Is he hurt? Maybe, depending on whether he actually liked the woman too. But he's also annoyed at INVESTING time, energy, and money in pursuit of something he wanted, but didn't get, and that's likely to be the biggest irritant.

I don't think we should view the "investment" of these hypothetical wounded women any more (or less) sympathetically than that of the guy above. Wouldn't most posters here say the equivalent of "Well, sorry that happened, but remember that you're never ever entitled to sex, so that's life, bud"? He made an investment, he got burned, that's life.

Why should your female examples deserve more sympathy for their investment -- unless you assume that all women who pursue relationships, and have sex with that in mind, are doing it because they're following the edicts of their heart? Because I assure you, many of the women you describe aren't really making an emotional attachment in which the other person's humanity is perceived, but just a fundamentally self-oriented "investment" of time, energy, and money in which the other person is nothing more than a means to an end...which is pretty much the definition of using someone.

(And to be clear, this is just a basic product of the human condition: many people (and the number is growing larger, alas) don't really give a shit about anyone but themselves, largely because they don't really appreciate that other people actually exist and have feelings -- it's all hypothetical to them, at best. I think women tend to be subtler about it, thanks to how gender roles shape their behavior, but regardless of the symptoms it's an equal-opportunity plague.)

I don't mean to imply that this is some sort of calculated evil act, by the way. I think almost every guy who's dated much has been pressured into a relationship by a casual sex partner, even when both people agreed beforehand that it was just sex, even when it was patently obvious to both parties that a relationship had no chance of working. Why? Because she has an image in her head of Being-In-A-Relationship and someone needs to fill that role, and he feels guilty about sleeping with someone he has no real chemistry with or interest in, but he also feels like he owes her somehow -- especially if she makes tearful comments about how he "used" her that come off like veiled threats (implication: she'll tell everyone what a cad he is, unless he agrees to act out the role she wants until she loses interest or an appropriate length of time has passed).

Let's not assume that relationship-seeking is somehow "better" or more worthy of consideration than seeking sex. Both of those things can be done with compassion and warmth, or with empty seduction and coercion that bears no regard for the person on the receiving end. It's just that our guilt about sex, and our phobia of STDs and unwanted pregnancies, make us far more inclined to vilify sex-seeking behaviors than other ways of "using" people, large and small. But the underlying indifference to the other person's humanity and feelings is much the same.
Posted by Adz on August 1, 2014 at 2:08 PM · Report this
seandr 74
@nocutename: This is unethical.

OK, fine.

How about taking off your wedding ring at burning man. Also unethical? If so, then I'm a very bad boy.
Posted by seandr on August 1, 2014 at 2:25 PM · Report this
And just to be clear, I'm replying to your comment @70:

"The scenario you and Hunter envision rests on old attitudes about men and women, and pits them against each other in some sort of battle of wits and wiles--with the "taking" of sex from a woman as the goal for the man, and the protection of her "virtue" the objective on the woman's part."

I'd instead say: for a man on a date, sex is often foremost in his mind as a positive outcome and a top priority. For a woman, it's often a formalized relationship that's the main priority and defines a positive outcome.

In both cases, it's possible to want these things and not really care with any sincerity about the other person's feelings or needs -- and I'd say that indifference happens with about the same frequency on both sides of the equation.

(And in both cases, if the other person seems to be willing to forego their (stereotyped) priority in favor of your own, it can feel like you've hit the jackpot. Many men, though not all, are incredibly turned on by a woman who's willing to be sexual for its own sake and not merely in the service of a relationship. Many women are thrilled to find a man for whom forming the relationship is central -- who isn't "just after one thing" -- and who quickly and enthusiastically embraces sexual exclusivity.)

Exceptions are legion, but this is the overwhelming trend of my experience. I'm monogamously coupled now, but when I was single, I'd gladly have had one-night stands or casual sex with the majority of age-appropriate women I knew. A serious relationship, though, was a 1-in-100 proposition at best.
Posted by Adz on August 1, 2014 at 2:33 PM · Report this
nocutename 76
@seander: Does your wife know you're taking it off? Does your wife care if you have extra-marital sex? Is she okay with it only if you are honest about your relationship status?
Are you fucking other people with it off because you think that they'll assume you're single if you're not wearing it, and you believe that if they knew you were married they wouldn't fuck you?

Or are you just enjoying some off-leash flirting time?

I think it's adorable that you gloat about your dismissal of other people's ability to give informed consent, you very naughty boy. Burning Man or not.

I was out dancing with some friends a short while ago, and a man asked me to dance. He was wearing a wedding ring. After a few dances, I danced with some more people and he went back to his group of friends--they were buddies who were on a fishing vacation together, families left back home. Then he approached me to dance during a slow number, and as we were dancing, I noticed that he had taken off his wedding ring (he was sunburned, so he still had a nice white ring mark). He started to nuzzle my neck and I called him on the ring's removal: "What happened to the wedding ring you were wearing half-an-hour ago?" He stammered. "Did you think I might fuck you if I thought you were single, but I wouldn't fuck you if I knew you were married? As it happens, I don't care if you're married, but I do care that you're trying to deceive me," I said, and waltzed off (alone) into the night. All I could think of was his wife back at home, having no idea what a shitbag asshat she was married to. She was the person who was being more grossly deceived, and she was the person who had real emotions invested.
Posted by nocutename on August 1, 2014 at 2:41 PM · Report this
seandr 77
@nocutename: having no idea what a shitbag asshat she was married to

Hey now, I'll be he's got good qualities, too.
Posted by seandr on August 1, 2014 at 3:03 PM · Report this
nocutename 78
@seandr: Well, he could cut a rug. And apparently he'd caught a big fish.
Posted by nocutename on August 1, 2014 at 3:12 PM · Report this
nocutename 79
@75 (Adz): Hold on there. I'm not getting into the gender wars. I was responding to the original letter and then to Dan's response to it. (Later, to seandr's and Hunter78's). I'm not going to dispute a single thing you say, except to say. . . that's not what we know in the case of this letter.

Maybe some of the women SHOP is trying to have sex with were planning to leverage that sex into a relationship; I prefer to take the more charitable view that most women don't deliberately plan to use sex as a way of inveigling men into relationships, but that even if they (the women) think they're just having sex for sex's sake, they end up getting emotionally involved and then they want the man to be equally involved.

But that's not what this letter is about.

SHOP is frustrated: he's got permission from the girlfriend to get a piece on the side, but potential pieces don't want to be a piece on the side. What to do?

SHOP consults a "seduction blogger," a Pick Up Artist, who recommends unethical behavior--that the women involved in his "three sex dates somewhere other than your shared apartment before you tell the woman that you're already in a committed relationship" rule might be planning to leverage those three sex "dates" (or hey, maybe they considered them actual dates) into a relationship is not the point. Because we don't know what those hypothetical women were thinking.

SHOP doesn't like that advice: he's a decent guy, you see. He writes to Dan and Dan tells him to have three non-sexual dates with the target women, so that they can "ma[ke] a small emotional investment in [him]." Those are Dan's words; that is what Dan expects to happen.

Indeed, if I went on three non-sex dates with a guy who seemed into me, I would interpret his actions as bespeaking a greater, more "pure" interest, not a purely predatory, sex-based one than I would if I went out with a guy who very rapidly (like on the first "date") tried to get into my pants. Three dates. I'd be thinking: "hey, this guy really likes me and wants to take it slow (because in my world, sex happens on the second or at most, the third date). He obviously wants this to be much more than sex." A paradox, isn't it?

No one has said, "hey, put an ad up announcing your availability and its limits and what you want and can offer. Widen your search criteria. Go online and look for women who are in open relationships and looking for a piece on the side." There are women out there who want what he does, and there are men out there who are trying for what he's trying for who have great success--and they're all really open and upfront about themselves and their situation. That's what I'm advocating. And it has the benefit of everybody being truthful, too.

Yes, there's always the risk that a woman can say she's cool with just being that piece and she really wants or hopes for more, and there's always that risk that people can fully intend to not become emotionally invested and then ooops!: Someone falls in love. But the point is to try and minimize those risks, and straightforwardness on the part of the seeker is the first step towards minimizing them.

That's it.
Posted by nocutename on August 1, 2014 at 4:30 PM · Report this
Ms Cute - Mr Savage specifies his "third date" suggestion is pre-boink. That's why I thought it was almost charming that such advice came from someone who met his husband during their first boink (or not all that much before during the course of that evening). It's like a Dutch oven calling the kettle a crock pot...
Posted by vennominon on August 1, 2014 at 5:33 PM · Report this

I'm for not treating women like children who need special instructions for common human interactions.
Posted by Hunter78 on August 1, 2014 at 5:35 PM · Report this
nocutename 82
Mr. Ven: I know! It's why I called it "quaint."

Hunter: Oh come on.
Posted by nocutename on August 1, 2014 at 5:49 PM · Report this
No, sorry; it's the Dutch oven telling the crock pot to be a kettle.
Posted by vennominon on August 1, 2014 at 5:50 PM · Report this
@79: Well, part of it revolves around the question of how far a person is expected to go in order to talk another person out of having sex with them -- that is, what one is required to disclose, and what kind of relationship necessitates what level of disclosure.

At what point is it "caveat emptor", or more correctly "caveat amator"? Because there's a rough consensus that if someone's looking just for sex, you're not really obligated to volunteer anything at all, especially not for one-night stands -- but if someone's looking for a serious relationship, you're supposed to be forthcoming. And everything in-between is, well, in between.

There's also a difference between don't-ask-don't-tell, which works well for many people, and knowingly getting involved with someone in an open relationship. The latter group is fairly small (as others have noted), and...I know this won't be a popular statement, but it tends to skew towards older and/or less attractive people than the overall dating pool, or at the very least incorporates a high proportion of people who identify with subcultures that aren't to everyone's taste. If you're in an open relationship, and you're into mainstream-looking women in their 20s and early 30s, you're not going to find a lot of options outside of a bare handful of metropolitan areas.

It's always nice, and kind, to think of the other person and try to address their needs. But at a certain point we have to advocate for ourselves, too. Where that line is I'm not sure, but...I just don't understand why we expect people to be ethical to the point of self-sabotage when it comes to sex, but don't expect it in nearly any other part of life, including times when we're actually doing harm ("Hey, the store undercharged me by fifty bucks -- go me!"). Taking that point of view really does reinforce the notion that having sex somehow harms a woman unless it happens in ideal circumstances of love, truth, and mutual respect -- but that's not so: having mutually pleasurable sex that you later come to regret because it didn't lead where you'd hoped isn't harm, it's just life.

Maybe we should all be our own advocates, and the burden should be on the other person to ask about their own dealbreakers. Lie when asked directly? Then we're shitheads -- but maybe it's not our job to talk ourselves out of sex. "Informed consent" (a term I rather dislike since it inappropriately conflates sexual regret/dishonesty with sexual assault) implies that each person has to volunteer things; maybe "due diligence" is a better standard.

(In a weird way, it reminds me of all the hoopla about transpeople disclosing: I can see the argument for not doing so pre-emptively, but lying in response to a direct question is likely to be a shithead move. I know some transpeople claim they never have to disclose to anyone under any circumstances, even their spouse, but there's a point where even claims of "safety" are too self-serving to accept at face value. And OTOH, if we roll our eyes at a guy who claims to be "harmed" by accepting a casual blowjob from a transwoman he thought was cis, I don't see how we can't do the same at "I didn't know he was married!" after a one-night stand.)
Posted by Adz on August 1, 2014 at 5:57 PM · Report this

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