My last relationship was monogamish, at points. I always told my ex-boyfriend how far things would go with a third BEFORE I had a date. When I said "nothing will happen," nothing but flirting happened—no kissing, no groping, nada. I wanted my boyfriend to do the same when he went on a date with a third, i.e. just tell me how far things would go: kissing, making out, intercourse. They were his limits to set, and telling me ahead of time allowed me to prepare emotionally for what was coming.
Twice, with two different women, in a span of three weeks, he went beyond the limits he'd set.
The first time, I was understanding. The second time, I was super pissed. Granted, these weren't huge transgressions—just smooching or making out when he'd said nothing would happen—but I nevertheless felt that if he couldn't set and adhere to limits in small ways, how could I trust him to honor a BIG promise, like to always use condoms? It felt like he was always renegotiating in the moment—and without me present.
When I got pissed after the second incident, he responded by closing his end of the relationship because he just couldn't state limits ahead of time and adhere to them. All he would tell me is "you come first." In most respects, I was very GGG. All I wanted was for him to set some boundaries for himself and to honor them. Was it unreasonable to expect him to state his limits—whatever HE wanted them to be!—and then stick to those stated limits on a date with someone else, which ideally allowed him to do whatever he wanted AND me to be emotionally prepared for whatever happened?
This relationship imploded for other reasons, but should this issue ever come up again, I'd like your opinion. In a monogamish situation, is my wanting my partner to set ahead-of-date boundaries and stick with them unreasonable?
Stumped For Clever Name
"A violation of the letter of law," I ruled in yesterday's SLLOTD, "not a violation of the spirit of the law."
You and your ex-boyfriend were in an open relationship, you were both allowed to fuck other people, and he screwed up by failing to notify you in advance that he might wanna kiss girls that he had asked out on dates with your blessing. That seems like letter-of-the-law violation to me, SFCN, not spirit of the law violation—and a mistake that someone new to monogamishamy might easily make.
Should he have anticipated that he would want to kiss both those girls and informed you "ahead-of-date" of his intentions? Yeah, sure, of course. You also could've anticipated that he would, at the very least, wind up kissing any girl he asked out on a date. But rules are rules: If he knew something was gonna happen on a date, your ex was supposed to tell you before the date, not after.
So why didn't he? Especially since he knew—and he did know, right?—that you were making assumptions about his ability to keep a big promise (always use condoms) based on his ability to keep a small one (tell me everything in advance)? Well... maybe because you were sending mixed messages, SFCN?
First you told your ex-boyfriend that you wanted a monogamish relationship—you told him that it was fine with you if he had sex with other women—and then you informed him that he had to tell you know exactly what he planned to do with these other women before he actually did anything with them so that you could "prepare" yourself for the emotional fallout. Do you detect the subtly contradictory message there? ("I'm totally fine with things happening, honey, but you need to give advance warning so I that can brace myself before any of these things happen.") Your boyfriend may have concluded—erroneously and perhaps subconsciously—that it was kinder to go with "nothing is going to happen" because there was no guarantee that anything would happen. Why needlessly torment his girlfriend by rattling off a list of all the things he might wanna do when he might not actually get to do anything at all?
Summing up, SFCN: Your simple rule was more emotionally complicated than you realized.
If I were your boyfriend, SFCN, I would've insisted on a much simpler rule, a rule that was grounded in perfectly reasonable assumptions and therefore less likely to trip either of us up. ("Most likely we'll wind up making out with the other people we go out on dates with—a smooching session is pretty much a given—but we promise to always use condoms with other people if the smooching progresses to sex.")
If that simpler rule was unacceptable to you, SFCN, then I would've erred on the side of telling you I planned to everything I possibly could with the any other girl I asked out—smooching, mutual masturbation, oral sex, PIV, PIB, PBR, PBJ, pegging, fisting, puppy play, scat, diapers, sounding, nullification—so that instead being upset to learn that I had smooched my date after I got home, SCFN, you would've been relieved to learn that my date didn't cut off my cock and balls.