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Call me an old fuddy duddy stuck-in-the-80s mentality of sex, but regardless of the sex of my partner, I probably would not want to be having unprotected sex with someone who was having any kind of sex with a gay man - although this is a scenario i'm fairly unlikely to ever encounter.
I'd probably encourage LW to get to the source of her heartbreak - does hubby's dalliances take away from their sex life? Does she fetishize the "one and only" nature of monogamous relationships? It seems the only way to save this relationship is that the husband basically gets to have his sidepieces and she finds away to assuage her issues, which may or may not be possible.
Haven't you also said something along the lines of...
People shouldn't be making monogamous commitments they know they can't keep, and their partners shouldn't be extracting monogamous commitments they know their partners can't live up to?
If the LW knew the husband was bisexual before the marriage, why was there monogamous commitment extracted from him? Or why was she surprised when he finally broke down.
Don't get me wrong: Boo on him for breaking his commitment.
But at the same time, boo on her for being surprised by this.
(I'm not saying that this were easy to do: I would be concerned, if only in a small way, if my advice, be it ever so well-thought-out and moderate, were destined to fall on the ears of an audience under the influence of strong hormones and emotions, and likely with a very good notion of what they would like to hear.)
It does sound like it was not such a great idea marrying him and expecting lifelong monogamy, if he was upfront about bisexuality and wanting an open relationship.
As someone married to a bicurious man, I feel for her.
I think that's called cheating.
LW. only you can decide if you can continue with this new expanded boundary on your relationship and maybe start to make yourself available to other men.
This guy of yours is a douche for going behind your back, has he got a plan for post divorce? You know where two houses have to be paid for and children moved between their parents homes. I guess not, or he wouldn't so easily jeopardise losing his family.
Just because I'm attracted to all genders doesn't mean I've got to fuck a representative of each regularly.
@5: "Any gay man, or gay woman, who marries a straight person is a dick" Agreed!
@7: "raindrop, he's not gay - he's bisexual." We don't know that. I certainly don't. We know he once said he was bisexual. So did Dan, once upon a time. I'd ask if he is as eager and enthusiastic for sex with his vagina-and-tits-having spouse as he is for all the free dick in the world. If so, yeah, he's probably bi-sexual. But if he's bonking the wife out of a sense of obligation while imagining Brad Pitt, he would hardly be the first.
Additionally, it doesn't seem that you understand or acknowledge the concept of bisexuality. Sometimes bisexuals marry heterosexuals openly, right? Even if the marriages aren't open ones. If an openly bisexual man marries a woman honestly, then whatever arrangement they commit to is what should happen. It doesn't reflect on any "inadequacy" of love if everybody's upfront about things at the outset.
What they had for fifteen years doesn't work anymore. But they seem to still like each other. So maybe try some new approaches, while also trying to maintain a cordial relationship for the sake of smooth co-parenting.
This could be the same sampling bias that leads people to believe that non-monogamy always fails, because it only becomes public when a marriage fails.
If you heard about a marriage because one spouse wrote to Dan, well. . .
My two male friends who self-identified as bisexual each married women and both remain married. One, I don't know many details beyond that. The other - it's not monogamous, but it's honestly and openly non-monogamous.
"He said he wants to stay with me, but he feels like he's denying a part of himself and he's afraid he'll end up resenting me."
So, instead of talking to you about it, or asking you to go to counselling with him to work through it, he went for secrecy, lies, and putting your physical health at risk. Then, after all of that, he had the unmitigated gall to expect you to be okay with it, because you were apparently the one magic bright shining unicorn who would turn a bi man mostly into men into a lifelong happy het relationship.
I'd be resentful of him too.
LW, please find a counsellor and go talk to them, with or without your husband.
Does LW's, "I thought we were happy," mean that she believed after serious consideration that he'd genuinely embraced all the pluses and minuses of their life together "in true sadness" (as Prue Sarn might put it) as the choice for him; was she so basking in her own happiness that she just assumed him to be equally happy without really thinking much; did she just congratulate herself that he'd "caved"? I could argue any of those three lines of defence for whomever I might happen to be defending.
Piano @2: Wow, how biphobic. Millions of bi people are in committed, monogamous relationships. Just like millions of straight men and women who'd like to occasionally be fucking other men and women, but keep it in their pants because they made a vow. Being bisexual doesn't make one any less able to commit to one partner -- of either gender -- than being monosexual.
Gerald @3: By that logic, no one should say anything ever in case those words are twisted or misquoted, which is what LW's husband did. "You can shoot someone in self-defense" is not the same as "You can shoot someone for any reason you like," and anyone choosing the latter interpretation is wilfully doing so.
Sargon @13: Proves the point that no one is bisexual by... being bisexual? Wut?
David @14: Wow, yet more biphobia. He's been happily married for 15 years, we can assume with an active sex life or wouldn't the wife have said? And yet you're doubting his identity? What would it take to convince you that bisexuals exist??
Ken @18: And what's with putting the word 'bisexual' in quotation marks?
Dude agreed to a monogamous relationship. He unilaterally decided to open the relationship and had sex with other people behind his wife's back. Gender is irrelevant here. He is a CPOS and he's twisting Dan's words to justify the unjustifiable.
@18: "Marriages between women and 'bisexual' men often seem to end like this."
For what it's worth, I know at least one bisexual man who's been monogamously married to a woman for many years. This is doubtless the first you've heard of him, since--like all functional marriages--it doesn't produce flashy, interesting drama. We've got a pretty strong sampling bias in favor of marriages that blow up.
@21 has it: "So, instead of talking to you about it, or asking you to go to counselling with him to work through it, he went for secrecy, lies, and putting your physical health at risk. "
This. Cheating's supposed to be a last resort, and this dipshit used it as the first. It's probably a mistake to trust him, ever, about anything. What an asshole.
If they're 3 and 5, well, maybe stay together as "friendly roommates" (ie, keep up the guise of marriage, while he fucks around, or you both do, knowing that truly the marriage is over) for a couple years. Help each other out with the kids and household. Be friends. Marriages don't have to end catastrophically and families don't have to be conventional. Maybe husband gets a small apartment and starts spending some time there, but is still around most of the time for family stuff. When the timing is right, they can make a full split.
I do have empathy for both. Sure, he agreed to a monogamous commitment.. But life happens. Things change; people's feelings and desires change. No he shouldn't have cheated first, but for fucks sake, who among us is perfect? He kept his commitment for 15 years and now he can't anymore and sounds like he didnt keep up the cheating for very long before admitting to it and opening a conversation. It sucks, but he's not a monster.
And LW, yeah maybe she should have been a little wary about getting a monogamous commitment from a guy who said early on that he preferred men and wanted an open relationship. (Makes no difference whether he's bi, or was into BDSM let's say, and the wife wasn't. Either way, there's something fundamental the wife can't provide... it's reasonable to think that someday that person might want to scratch that itch.) But that doesn't make her silly or asshole-ish either. She loved, she hoped, she committed, and it worked for a long time. Now it doesn't.
And why do we have to blame somebody every time there's a sad situation? Maybe it's just sad, its just life, and nobody's perfect but I don't see the need for one person to be The Bad Guy in every sad situation.
Granted, he is a cheating piece of shit for going about this in the way that he did. But, he hasn't had dick in 15 years. We have all read what happens when repress a sexual desire. When does the letter writers husband get some credit for paying the price of admission for 15 years?
Why so damn judgmental? Try for one minute to put yourself in another person's shoes and assume the best of them and remember their humanity. We are all just fools going through life making one mistake after another - even the most mature and well intentioned among us fuck up quite a bit. And why is cheating the Worst Sin Ever? Get a grip. I'd more quickly forgive being cheated on than finding out my partner got us into debt, for example. Or voted for Trump.
Maybe I am being judgmental (if you even can be judgmental on a comments board with people you don't know/will never meet). I prefer to think of it as having an opinion – and opinions are what the comments section is all about.
That horse has already left the barn. I'm assuming that at some point in between the three people outside their marriage that he sexed, he also sexed the LW. Even using condoms in an open relationship requires a certain amount of trust--namely, that the partners with outside partners are conscientiously using condoms AND that if there's something that Goes Weird, they'll tell the other half of the marriage and take appropriate cautions. This dude was fucking around without the LW knowing, and I'd bet money on him not using condoms in those encounters. Stupid plus desperate plus horny plus secrecy does not add up to, "I'll be safe and respectful of my partner."
At this point, I wouldn't trust him, if I were married to him.
Plus, it doesn't even come close to fixing the main issues: that LW is beginning to resent her husband, that the husband chose secrecy and lies over honest communication/counselling with his wife, and that the overall situation is heads he wins tails she loses. Plus, "he was afraid he would start to resent me so he did X" and "I want to stay married so I want to have my dick and eat it too"....does that mean he DOES resent her but didn't want to say it in those words? Does it mean that he wants the comfort, convenience, and household help of a wife without actually having to be a partner in the marriage? (Especially if she was staying at home as a primary caretaker.) Or does it mean that he took a pre-emptive strike at something that may or may not have ever happened and he made a series of decisions that like most pre-emptive strikes had a lot of collateral damage?
I recall Seattleblues (Bless his heart) arguing that we didn't need to change marriage laws because a gay man was already as free to marry as a straight man; they were both free to marry someone of the opposite sex. More than once, I tried to pin him down and get him to say whether he would give his blessing to a daughter who said, "I'm in love with the most wonderful man. He's gay, but he's trying to change. He has proposed to me and I've said yes." You won't be surprised to learn that he would never give a direct answer to the question.
That said, Seattleblues is (was?) there to show us that there are still people who believe the best thing a gay or lesbian can do is marry someone of the opposite sex, whether as cover, or a cure, or an attempt to fit into mainstream society, or whatever. And I doubt that SB is alone.
Of course, he did two things wrong in attempting to deliver this speech. One, he went out and cheated before trying to have that talk. He's seeking forgiveness when he should have asked permission. Two, they already had that talk, and she refused. If it was really so important to him he should have insisted upon it then, or chalked it up to incompatibility and left then.
If you have to ask, then, no, there isn't.
It isn't "odd." Her need for monogamy and honesty totally eclipses every other aspect of their relationship. Welcome to America.
This. When someone refuses consent, the proper response is not to say "Oh well" and go ahead and do it anyway.
No one knows. In years of encountering opened-up relationships that were initially monogamous (bi, gay, and straight), the answer is "maybe". Some of the prefer-monogamous learn to embrace non-monogamy (especially when they get benefits too), some kinda sorta tolerate Duchess of Devonshire style (as Dan says), some regret it and resent it.
He lied to you about opening up to avoid conflict 3 times already, so he might lie about the rules and safety even if you've come to an agreement to try non-monogamy. Be careful of STIs and HIV if you stay with him.
Ann Landers (or was it Dear Abby?) used to ask "Are you better off with him or without?" Not just financially but emotionally, partner wise, co-parent wise, everything-wise? If you mostly enjoy the relationship, you might want to wait to see how things pan out. You might change. He is not likely to change. However, don't feel betrayed, 15 years is quite some time especially if you two were young when you married. He may genuinely have committed to monogamy in the beginning. Plenty of straight couples later revise their rules decades in. As Dan said, opening a previously closed relationship should be done by mutual consent, not cheating, so that's a red flag.
And remember some straight guys pretending to be monogamous cheat, some are genuinely monogamous, so dating straight male rather than bi male isn't a guarantee either. If you try non-monogamy, read more first. There are many models and perhaps some might be more comfortable for you. Good luck.
LW, he lied and cheated. You really want to keep trying with this man.
Just organize a new life for yourself and make sure co parenting is 50/50. Grieve your marriage and let this man go.
slinky @35. >>Even using condoms in an open relationship requires a certain amount of trust--namely, that the partners with outside partners are conscientiously using condoms >>
Not really. If the LW uses condoms with her husband, that's much the same result (for her) as him using condoms with other people, but it can be verified -- which is useful when you're not confident you can trust your partner.
You still have to trust that your partner(s) will be considerate of your needs and of your **feelings,** including but not limited to wearing protection from pregnancy and STIs. Wearing condoms and using other barriers might reduce the physical risks, but the very act of needing to wear them is going to be a massive reminder that she at one point trusted him to take her safety and feelings into account and he violated that trust three different times with three different people. If he's lied to her/deliberately concealed things from her three times, which is a pattern now, why would she trust him to be considerate of her health or her feelings now?
This isn't a situation where all the partners in the relationship have entered it from a good place. The one partner has a bunch of emotions he needs to unpack yesterday, and the other partner is dealing with a situation that very well may be a relationship extinction level event. Condoms won't fix that. I suspect the only reason she didn't summarily file for divorce is that she knew he was bi and was having sex with men; if he'd slept with three other women, she wouldn't even be asking Dan those questions.
I speak from experience, Slinky. It won't work for everyone, no, but I think people should know about some options that sometimes help get back to a good place. Which wouldn't be necessary if one person (or both) hadn't screwed up, but, well, when someone has screwed up, it's nice to know there ate options besides DTMFA.
Artmvr @29: It's a fair point, but he became the bad guy when he didn't talk to his wife about it. The thing to do would have been to go to her and say, "Honey, I know I committed to monogamy, at at the time I thought I could do it, but I just really miss dick too much. Can we talk about opening the marriage? I promise I'll always be honest with you." Basically good person or not, he screwed up big time.
Xiao @37: Yes, good point. By "In just the last few months he has cheated on me three separate times with three different men. Then, he gave me your speech. You know, the one where you advise people who are trying to stay in relationship that's missing something in the bedroom" it sounds possible that he screwed up, fessed up, and admitted that he can't do the monogamy thing anymore. In which case I move my alliance to Artmvr's analysis of the situation. Agree, though, that the fessing up should have taken place after the FIRST violation, not the third!
Eudaemonic @41: Good to see you posting such calm and collected comments in a situation where actual cheating has taken place. Maybe that's because the cheater in this situation is a man? Or have you started your anger management therapy? Good for you, you're making progress!
Fetish @45: "I'm not sleeping with anyone who may or may not be sleeping with anyone else." That's what LW thought...
That pisses me off, just like it should piss off anyone with a shred of humanity. You don't do that to people who've had their consent violated. Congratulations to everyone here for managing to act almost decent, this time. Now if only you can start treating men half as well as you treat women, you'd be less of a bigot. Even the cheating piece of shit here is acting better than you do when it's a man being cheated on. Fuck your lying condescension, and fuck you.
@2 is blaming the victim: "But at the same time, boo on her for being surprised by this." And @27 through @29 are rationalising his behaviour. Why haven't you called them rape-apologist shitstains yet?
I think it's obvious who the bigot is here. Game, set, match.
@39 the_ghost_of_mrj: I know that I have an apparently unshakable fondness for loyal monogamy (and honesty, particularly in the absence of loyalty when the latter's been pledged to me), but that doesn't mean it's more important than every other facet of my marriage (though I've been accused, in hurt and anger, of valuing it exclusively of other vital components). It's part of my comprehension of a committed relationship. (I feel like drawing Venn diagrams at this point.) I get that there are other relationship models, but they all feel like dating to me.
I'm no quicker to label a CPOS than everyone else used to be, back when the nonmonogamists were still pushing ethical nonmonogamy. I hope you understand the difference between BDSM and simple assault; consent matters. The same is true of nonmonogamy--if it's the consensual part of "consensual nonmonogomy" that keeps one from being a CPOS, then her husband very much omitted that part, and consent isn't something you can omit. There are situations in which someone can be nonmonogamous without being a CPOS: either have consent, or be in a situation where it's the least-bad option. Her husband had neither excuse.
It's like there are situations where physically hurting your partner isn't assault--consensual BDSM, emergency surgery, etc. But outside of those, assault is assault. "It would be fine if it had been consensual" is not a credible assertion that it's fine. Consent matters. Ethical nonmonogamy is fine; ethical nonmonogamy was not what her husband did. He had a choice, and chose to become a cheating piece of shit. I don't see a reason to pretend he didn't make that choice, or that he's not a CPOS.
"You're quick to label people CPOS, whether they are men or women, and I'm always on the other side - saying that one person cheating (man or woman) doesn't have to end a relationship if they are otherwise happy together."
Thanks for noticing that my ethical standards don't changed based on the gender of the perpetrator, and for what it's worth, even though I don't usually agree with you, I have a lot of respect for the fact that you're applying a principle with integrity, rather than just trying to rationalize a pretext for sexist nonsense.
But I think you're slightly misunderstanding me--I'm not saying it has to end the relationship; no one can know that. No one outside a relationship really understands what's going on in the relationship (...and the people inside it usually don't either). I have no problem with your decision to stay with someone who cheated on you, but I would have serious problems with anyone who told you that he hadn't cheated on you, or that he hadn't broken the promise he made, or that he hadn't treated you very badly. I would have nothing but contempt for someone who'd told you, back then, that you were obligated to stay and forgive someone who'd hurt you, or who tried to minimize the betrayal.
And I think our disagreements usually come out of the second part: "or who tried to minimize the betrayal."
If the wronged party focuses on the betrayal, then it becomes very difficult to stay. Generally, the only path forward is to see the cheater's perspective as somewhat reasonable rather than as cruel and hateful. My husband had been working very long hours and felt that I was giving him grief for not being home for family time, when he was doing his best to support the family. He acted out sexually, but he told me about it, afterwards. I was able to stay in the marriage because I saw that he had felt only a dramatic event would show me the error of my ways. Either we'd break up over it, or I'd own my part in our marital problems and work on rebuilding with him. I can see this LW's husband as doing something similar, especially if he came to tell her about his sexual infidelity rather than trying to cover it up.
If the choice is between letting some relationships end that maybe could've been repaired or forcing victims of abuse to submit to more of it, I choose the former. On the macro scale, in a sense it comes down to which seems like the larger problem: Are too many people ending relationships that can be salvaged, or are too many people staying in relationships that can't be. Both happen, but to me, the latter seems both far more common and far more harmful, so that's the one I want less of.
But as a woman, I felt that our culture didn't provide a script for me to stay in my marriage, except for the humiliating "stand by your man" mode.
So I do see there is a gendered aspect to this. We'll see if I can remember that in future threads.
I don't disagree that this makes things harder for people who are better off staying with someone who's treated them badly, but I think it's correct for the pressure to be in the DTMFA direction, to avoid reinforcing a system of incentives that cause a lot of needless harm.
Hmm. I think the opposite, that people are prone to thinking that changing their circumstances will make them happier, rather than changing their perspective and accepting that people are flawed and will let you down.
That said, in my particular social circle--loosely described as well-educated, left-leaning folks--I think the opposite is true. There are a lot of very high standards set by everyone (and here I can speak more for women than men, but I am not meaning to say it's not true both ways) about their partner's behavior, and *especially* with regards to sexuality. I suspect this is an overcorrection from the 50s feeling that the wife has to do whatever the husband wants, or something like that. As just one example, a single instance of cheating is generally considered a relationship termination event, regardless of any circumstances. (Other sexual issues on which I think we've overcorrected include the idea that maintenance sex is bad because it means someone is having sex they don't want to; that the lower-libido partner is always right; that you should never indulge a kink that makes you even slightly uncomfortable.) And although cheating is bad, yes, people do make mistakes, and sometimes there's enough there to make it worth holding on to. I think there's not enough narrative about people making mistakes and being forgiven, or situations changing due to one person but being accepted by the other. This is why I think the contributions EricaP makes to these conversations are immensely valuable. It's possible to have your husband (wife) cheat on you, and to work it out, and even have something better, more honest, later.
So, um, you're both right. :)
As for @63, 65: There's a lot of science showing humans evaluate risk of loss differently than possibility of gain, even when mathematically they should be evaluated as equivalent. We tend to think of a loss of something we have as twice as bad as a gain of something new of the same value. That may lend some credence to the idea that people hold on to their current relationships longer than they should.
That's certainly the case in my case. I don't regret any of the dumpings I've doled out. I do regret not doing a lot of them sooner, and not making clean breaks (some had to be dumped repeatedly).
I'd apply the following test:
(1) Party in the wrong admits to wrongdoing (doesn't try to lie or hedge it, or only fess up when caught) and admits it was wrong (no ridiculous excuses or victim-blaming). There can be some explanation of the thought process behind the wrongdoing (a la @59), but admit that the thought process was flawed and own it. Nothing like, "You made me do this" or "I had no choice."
(2) Wrongdoer knocks it off. A second chance is at the discretion of wronged party, but a third chance is for suckers. "Fool me twice, shame on you." They aren't really sorry if they do the same thing again.
(3) Wrongdoer actively participates in fixing whatever damage they caused. Someone who's genuinely remorseful doesn't leave the other person to clean up their mess.
Bonus round: If the wronged party decides to stay, they drop the matter after the wrongdoer has completed a reasonable probationary period in the doghouse. They don't get to use this as a free pass for their own transgression, they don't get to lord it over the other party for all eternity, and they have to work on fixing the relationship as well.
Yes. The question is whether leaving that situation, while not looking at one's own co-dependent behavior, is likely to lead to getting into a better situation.
I think working on your own boundaries and acceptance of yourself (ie, not self-hatred) is the important step. If the other person actively prevents you doing that work, then, yes, you need to get out first. But I think people are prone to getting out as if that's the hard work they have to do. And then they don't do the necessary work on their own boundaries and self-acceptance to avoid getting into a new situation as bad as the last one.
"We tend to think of a loss of something we have as twice as bad as a gain of something new of the same value."
is that it's extremely difficult to determine whether the new thing is actually the SAME value as the thing we have. One feature of a current relationship is the energy and value we've invested in it, which, by definition, a new relationship will not have. Comparing current and new/potential relationships is a kind of apples & oranges situation.