I'm madly in love with my husband and very satisfied with our sex life. My only concern is his “ultimate” fantasy, which is to watch me with another man. This has been his main fantasy over our ten year relationship and he has increasingly tried to escalate this. I just am not interested in other men—I love my husband! But of course I slept with other men before my husband, I am not a prude and I want to make him happy and I don’t want to shut down his fantasy. We’ve done all the usual: taking dirty, flirting while he watches (with my wedding ring on, nothing deceiving to the other person), I’ve gone on erotic sites. But this is what he says he only fantasizes about. Am I confusing monogamy on my side (which is non-negotiable for me) with what he wants? And if he wants it so much, while I am neutral at best, do I owe him to explore this? I only want my husband! But I also want to satisfy him.

One Wife's Existential Dilemma

When you say "monogamy on your side," OWED, what do you mean? — Dan

I mean I expected/promised monogamy on both of our sides. I do not want/did not sign up for either of us sleeping with other people! I do not want to see or have him with other people, but he does on my side.— OWED

So… you don’t want him to have sex with other people. You expect monogamy from him. That’s one half the equation here.

But to be clear: he’s not asking you if he can have sex with other people. He’s asking you to have sex with other men. He’s not asking you to release him from the monogamous commitment he made to you. He’s releasing you—in a certain context—from the monogamous commitment you made to him. You say, “I do not want to see him or have him with other people.” But the issue here isn’t about monogamy generally or the commitment you got and still want from him—a monogamous commitment—it’s about the commitment he got and apparently no longer wants (if he ever wanted) from. So setting aside the commitment you got and still want...

Do you want to have sex with other men?

Usually when I get email from women whose husbands or boyfriends want them to have sex with other men they’ll say, “I really don’t want to have sex with other men," and/or, “I’m worried that once I’ve done this he’s going to want to have sex with other women and I’m not okay with that.”

Maybe it’s an oversight—maybe you meant to say “I don’t want to have sex with other men.” Maybe that’s how you feel. But I’m wrote you back because that is, again, something most women in your shoes usually state without a prompt or a follow-up Q. and i think the answer factors in to your decision/dilemma. So... — Dan

I'm writing this badly, but I’m not sure how to entirely express it. My badly phrased question is kind of, if this is his main desire, and I don’t really on my own want to have sex with other men, because I am very personally satisfied sexually by him only, how much do I “owe” (very bad word but I’m trying to explain) it to him to explore this thing he very much wants to do that I don’t independently want to do but don’t actively object to? — OWED

If this thing turns you on too… well, that’s a stroke of luck. Just be clear about what you are and aren’t agreeing to. And you would have to be in control of who the other man is, how fast you move, etc. But this would have to be something you wanted and were comfortable with if you decided to move from fantasizing about it to actualizing it. And you've already taken a baby step or two in that direction. The reality may differ from his fantasy—which is why you need to move slowly, if, again, you decide to move on this at all. And the needs and wants of the other man, if and when you find one, have to be factored in as well. Thirds aren't props, they're people.

But to be absolutely, positively clear: you don’t “owe” him this. If you think you might want to, well, then you should think about it, talk about it, and maybe one day—if it feels right, if you meet the right very special guest star, if you can honestly say you're doing this because you want to and not just because he wanted you to—then do it. Maybe. If you want to.

That this was his fantasy may be the only reason you began to think about it, OWED, but it doesn't follow that his fantasy is the only reason you wound up doing it. Sometimes our partners' fantasies become our own. (And going there—meeting a partner's sexual needs—can make the person doing the needs-meeting feel "more satisfied and committed to their relationship," according to science.)

But your comfort and safety must be centered, as the kids say. This is a big ask on his part and your physical, emotional, and sexual safety are a make-or-break part of the conversation. If he's making you feel uncomfortable or unsafe... that's a bad sign. — Dan

He has expressed many different scenarios and in them I’m always in control of my own body and comfort. Thank you for the advice. I think part of it is I’m not necessarily actively desiring it, but not actively opposing it either, and how far do you push your own comfort level for your very fulfilling and respectful partner. I’d be happy either way. I will try to think of the right situation for me, or decide it’s not for me at all. — OWED

He also needs to think things over—some men enjoy the fantasy of cuckolding but can’t handle the reality of it. In some cases the man will get angry at his female partner for “going through with it” after he’d begged her to do it. You can’t predict how someone will react in the moment, which is why you want to take baby steps—like the ones you described (flirting with other men in front of him, etc.). Test the waters before jumping into the deep end of the pool. If you jump in at all—which, again, has to be your call. — Dan

Thank you. These are exactly the kinds of trial things he has asked me to consider, so this makes me feel reassured he has been thinking it through mentally and not just physically. We have talked about it both in and out of the bedroom, so that I know is good too. I know "owe" wasn’t the right word. Just how far to push myself within a caring and respectful relationship where my partner’s desires are beyond my own, but nothing I find inherently offensive, and what to think about in deciding how to navigate that, so this exchange has been helpful. — OWED


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