I'm a 34-year-old mostly straight woman in the Southwest US. My amazing boyfriend is 30 and straight. We've been together about 2.5 years, and we love and respect each other dearly and deeply. Here's the issue: while we both prefer monogamy, we both realize that we'll be sexually attracted to others throughout our lives, and I don't want either of us to get bored sexually. However, neither of us knows how to deal with the thought of our partner being sexually intimate with someone else. I'm afraid I would be emotionally damaged beyond repair. Every girlfriend he's had before me has cheated on him. How could we ever possibly learn to be monogamish and still maintain our healthy relationship?! We've discussed being together for the rest of our lives, but I honestly don't know if we can do that within the constraints of monogamy. But I don't know how to deal with anything else. Please help! This is the most open, loving, trusting relationship I've ever had, and I'd really like to learn to make it the best it can be for the long haul, for both of us.
Concerned About New Distressing Openness
You have the option of only fucking each other for the rest of your lives. You can make and endeavor to keep a monogamous commitment. I mean, if being monogamish appeals to you in theory, CANDO, but the thought of him with someone else terrifies you—and the thought of you with someone else terrifies him—then, golly, maybe monogamishamy isn't for you? Maybe?
That said, CANDO, it appears that the prospect of fucking only each other for the next five or six decades gives you guys pause: "We've discussed being together for the rest of our lives, but I honestly don't know if we can do that within the constraints of monogamy."
So monogamy isn't something you can do but letting each other fuck other people isn't something you can do either. Because knowing he fucked someone else would torment you, CANDO, and knowing you fucked someone else would torment him. But there's always the option of not knowing. You can have a DADT arrangement—that's a "don't ask/don't tell" agreement. If you fuck someone else, you don't tell him about it even if he asks; if he fucks someone else, he doesn't tell you about it even if you ask.—Dan
I'm checking email as I'm on a plane, waiting for it to take off, and I started crying when I read your response because I'm fucking terrified of the mere thought of him being with anyone else. I KNOW it's unreasonable. My emotions don't bend to reason. I suppose, though, that DADT is the only way to do this? In which case, I'm not ready for it yet.—CANDO
You are only 2.5 years into this relationship. What seems so important—reduced-to-tears-on-airplanes important—might not seem so important in 2.5 decades. Do what feels right for now: be completely and effortlessly and stresslessly monogamous! There's no need to even discuss this shit now, is there? Do that for as long as it feels right. Just keep communicating.—Dan
Also! What if we could do the DADT without losing our minds—but then someone in our social circle finds out about something and decides to be a "good friend" and tell one of us what they know about the other? Only do it outside of our social circle/small town?—CANDO
"If something happens, I don't want to know about it."
A DADT arrangement is not about deceit. It's about agreeing in advance not to burden each other with something you can't un-know. And it's not a license to sleep around generally—unless you agree to that as well, and it doesn't sound like either of you want that. For a couple trying to remain strictly monogamous for five or six decades, a DADT agreement is a pact made in advance of an infidelity. You would essentially be saying this to each other: "If this relatively common thing should ever happen to us—if one of us cheats—the guilty party will not screw up the relationship by disclosing. The guilty party will suck it up, eat the guilt, make it up to the other party in a million little ways, and try not to screw up again."
Honoring a DADT agreement pretty much rules out fucking someone your partner knows and/or fucking someone at a time or in a place that guarantees your partner will find out. Fucking someone who's a friend, or in your circle(s), is right out. Yes, yes, yes: He may want to fuck your best friend and he might go for it. But a DADT agreement ups the chances of his internal monologue sounding something like this should your best friend ever hit on him: "I can totally fuck someone else sometime, if I'm ever desperate or bored or horny enough, but fucking her best friend is out because it will get back to her. And that amounts to telling. So I'll wait for someone else to come along—someone that I wouldn't be violating the spirit of our DADT agreement by fucking—and who knows? Maybe I won't be desperate, bored, or horny enough to go through with it then."
As for your friends...
You can casually let your friends know that you don't want to know. Discussions about monogamy and non-monogamy are common enough these days. So when the subject comes up—because it came up naturally or because you steered the conversation in that direction—mention that you two have a DADT arrangement: If anything should ever happen with someone else, you don't want to know. He feels the same way and he should make sure his friends know it too. That will free your friends from the "good friend" obligation of having to inform you that your partner fucked someone else if they stumble over some dirt. You should even say something like this: "Look, if you ever hear that he cheated—and it was a one-off and he's not endangering my health and he's not sticking his dick in the kind of crazy that might come and kill me so Crazy can have him all for herself—don't tell me about it. I don't want to know."—Dan
Thanks, Dan. I'll take all this crazy I'm feeling with a grain of salt, trusting that if we're still together in a decade, maybe this DADT idea won't send me into total fucking spazz mode. Thank you so much for your response! I recommended your column/podcast this weekend to a friend from high school who told me her crappy husband is so threatened by her sexuality that he cried and said he'd leave her if she saw Fifty Shades of Grey. Thanks again!—CANDO
You're welcome. And I hope your friend went to see the movie—with her divorce lawyer.—Dan