Savage Love Letter of the Day: Snooper Boyfriend Keeps Snooping Through Passed Out Girlfriend's Phone


I feel like sometimes non monogamous people shouldn't give monogamous people advice when it comes to things like cheating. I suppose the LW never mentioned his own feelings on monogamy, but considering he was snooping around and caught her almost cheating and cared about it, I would assume he is more monogamously inclined. So saying "Hey let her do that thing that is a deal breaker for you" comes across as unhelpful and counter intuitive. There was a lack of empathy in that answer.

I suggest approaching the gf with total honesty first. Mention everything, the snooping, how you notice her not reacting to advances, everything. Ask her about this guy. Find out what she wanted from him. Is it an emotional affair or does she just want to fuck him? It might not be so simple as "all she has to do is fuck this other guy once and then you're golden, relationship problems solved". It'll be a shitty conversation, everyone will feel terrible but that's probably what needs to happen. Then maybe you will break up. Or maybe you will be ok with her sleeping with this dude and you'll get to go off and sleep with others too and you'll both be fine. Just get the whole story first in order to deal with the actual problems, don't just remedy a symptom.
Dan's original draft:

Q: "I think my girlfriend might be cheating on me. What should I do?"

A: "Have you tried being gay? Gay people don't care about bullshit like monogamy. Maybe give that a spin, it worked for me. Problem solved."
I mean, I've seen Dan give worse advice, but only about politics.
I think it is already over. She rejects all his offers for sex, refuses to initiate Sex, then wants to find a new partner? DTMFA already.
Speaking as a serial-monogamist (putting my bias out there), I'd ask her if she made her texting blatant in order to:
1) Get you to break up with her;
2) See if you'd put up with it and she could get away with fucking him;
3) Start a conversation about opening the relationship.

Pretty sure she'll say "no" to 1 and 2, because both of those are underhanded moves that most people won't cop to doing. She might say "maybe" or "yes" to 3. (Figure out what you want to say if she says "yes" to 3 before you ask her this.)

If she says "no" to all three questions, then ask her the questions excallibur posted in @1.

Or, decide that the relationship isn't worth policing and go from there.
Mmm. Not sure it's the best advice you've ever given, Dan.
Sounds to me like this relationship is dead in the water, LW. As @1 suggests, it's time to have that talk with your gf, if only to clear the air before you move along.
Not great, Dan.

The girlfriend is being sneaky, and obviously not caring if she hurts this guy, or blows whatever trust they had between them.

Plus, possible STDs he didn't sign up for.

Dump this motherfucking girl's ass.
Of all the times Dan has been accused of jumping to recommend non-monogamy because it works for him without regard to the feelings of the letter writers, this is one of the worst. This guy clearly doesn't want to be in a non-monogamous relationship, although to be fair he didn't completely reject it when Dan threw it out there. There's no indication that his girlfriend wants to be with him and see other people on the side. She's rejecting sex with him frequently and making plans with another guy. It sounds to me like she's done and is moving on, not like she wants to try a new lifestyle.

It seems to me that the real question the guy needs to ask is "Do you still want to be in this relationship?" If not, they need to start working on their living arrangements. If she says yes, he needs to ask her how she thinks her efforts to fuck this other guy fit in with that. I doubt that she'll say that everything would be fine in their relationship if only she could fuck this other guy on the side, let alone that she'd be cool with the letter writer also fucking other women. Most people who want sex outside of their main relationship don't really want their partner to get some on the side too. (Source: I'd fuck other women if it was cool with my wife, but would be deeply uncool with her seeing someone else. So, I do without. I know others who feel the same way and many letters here about CPOS partners describe people who cheat, but don't want their partners to do so.)

To be clear, I think she wants to move on, although I'm not at all sure that she'll be ready to say so.
I give Chase @2 an early nomination as winner of the thread. His version of Dan's response is way funnier than Dan's and only marginally less helpful.
@1: I think Dan's advice was great! So many people assume that monogamy is the default and that it's the only option for people in a long-term relationship, and I think being reminded that there are other ways to approach sex is helpful. IMHO, a lot of folks overvalue sexual fidelity and undervalue relationship cornerstones like good communication and emotional support. I mean, not cheating (however that's defined in your relationship) on your partner is important, but it's not, like, 100 times more important than being able to talk about emotionally charged issues without getting into a huge fight.

The thing that weirds me out about this letter is the guy asking (twice!) if he should try to "catch her in the act." Why on earth would you want to do that? Sounds like a recipe for drama and humiliation. Do you not trust her to answer honestly if you ask her about this? Is having an adult conversation about this dude she's been texting impossible? Whatever the reason, if your go-to response to "I think she may be cheating on me" is "seriously considering trying to catch her in flagrante", there are bigger problems here.
No one proselytizes like a convert.
@10: I agree that there is something weird about the lw trying so hard to catch his gf in the act of cheating, though given the way communication's gone so far, I think your questions, "Do you not trust her to answer honestly if you ask her about this? Is having an adult conversation about this dude she's been texting impossible?" might be a bit naïve.
Baad advice. If the relationship isn't working, it isn't working. Don't drag it out.

Frankly, if you aren't having sex with your girlfriend, your relationship is already over. If you have to go to counseling, it's over. If you can't trust her, it's over. A girlfriend is not a wife. It's not "until death do us part," it's "until you figure out you aren't right for each other, then you break up."

From the description, this is doomed. Just walk away.
I think Dan is actually acknowledging the relationship is very likely to fail, and offers to open it up as a last ditch effort to get it back in groove. Or not. Either way, LW needs to figure this out. And as Shimmy @ 10 suggests he also has some other issues to work on.

The way I see it Chase @ 2 doesn’t come across as funny but more of a serial Dan basher with an intentional-or-not dash of homophobia, while failing to offer any Chase-approved solutions.

Sorry dcp123 @9, I’d leave the award awarding process to Venn. (Disclaimer: I got one myself, though still not entirely sure why.)
The underlying issue isn't really the LW surreptitiously scrolling through his gf's texts, nor her expressing desire for another guy. It's that they communicate badly and are winding down the dial on sex and intimacy. Her drunken texts are symptom, not cause of something having gone wrong, as @1 excallibur at once said. Indeed, they show a thorough lack of respect and failure of continence.

The LW needs to clear his head of cheating and snooping and all their associated minidramas and microethics. He should just calmly asks his partner what she thinks has gone wrong with their relationship and whether she wants to repair it. The presumption at this point must be that she probably doesn't. Lots of things could have put the kibosh on the partnership--a parent's illness, downsizing or pressure at work, incompatible friends, cramped quarters. But be classy and face these honestly; don't have a recrimination-and-relationship-death-climax over drunken texts.
@14: That's how I took it, at least. This is all the cards out on the table, is he REALLY interested in her and vice versa?

Perhaps it's one of those judgement of Solomon-type scenarios.
CMD @14, Venn's hardly ever around anymore. But if Chase is a serial Dan-basher (the name's familiar, but he's not a commenter I really know), perhaps my nomination was premature. I also took the "gays don't worry about monogamy" as criticism of Dan for projecting his likes onto other gay people. If history actually shows that Chase is saying that as criticism of gay people (many of whom are seriously into monogamy), I apologize for my erroneous nomination.

I do agree with @10 and @11 that the desire to catch her in the act was bizarre. That would not be a lot of fun for him. My read on it was that he felt like he needed to catch her in the act so he'd have conclusive proof, like that's something he really needs. That and some odd phrasing made me wonder if he was drunk when he wrote to Dan.
Chase has become a little nasty of late. Maybe he's one of those " conscious voters", who now feel so god damn guilty that he's deflecting all over the place.
Yes. Needing to catch his gf in the act is sorta weird. He's already caught her in the planning, isn't that enough proof she is ambivalent about him. Why do some people not see the truth when it's right there, in text form.
Geez. Older age has its drawbacks.
" conscience voter", is what I meant.
Lately, she's become more distant again and frequently asks why we aren't having sex as often as we used to—and I plainly bring up that she doesn't want to engage, or else she rejects my advances, and so nothing happens.

Um ... Dan and other commenters, this has been the "new normal" situation for the past TWO YEARS shortly after they moved in together and some unspecified (but obviously drastic) "life problems". BOTH of the people in this ice age relationship move at the speed of receding glaciars. To me it seems as if both people talk AT each other rather than WITH one another.

I feel conflicting emotions from the LW: he wants to catch her in the act (I don't think physically because ewww, just with verification that there was a hookup) AND he wants to have a relationship on an even keel (even if that boat is propped up on dry land).

If she asked him why they're not having sex and he gave her reasons, then WHY does she keep rejecting his advances. This sounds like something deeper that needs to be examined and might be eased if she figured out the answer to that problem first with solo counseling instead of possibly setting up a passive-aggressive relationship breakup - which is where I believe she's heading.
@17 As far as I can tell, Chase hasn't made a string of outwardly anti-gay comments so, unless someone can find proof of them being homophobic, especially after attempting to discuss why straight cucks might be more plentiful than gay cucks, I'll just count it as a lighthearted joke m
Shit, where is Mr. Venn, anyway?
Nope; Chase hasn't been homophobic, and his posts @2 and 3 preemptively win the thread.
Anyone else vote for chase's posts as the winners here?
Cmon. Show your true colours now.
Hah, Dan's advice bolsters NoCute's assumption (the one I took offense to, @72 on the main column thread) that nonmonogamous people are incapable of seeing situations without the filter of nonmonogamy on. #notallpolys

Agree with all the commenters offering better advice from monogamous perspectives. I feel that saying "have you thought about opening your relationship" has become the new "have you thought about adoption" as far as pat answers go. I agree that GF isn't hiding this flirtation very well; she seems to be daring SOS to dump her. They need a Serious Talk. Opening an already shaky relationship seldom strengthens it, and I don't think that's what GF wants anyway. It's worth asking, but I'm giving 90% odds that what she really wants is the new guy and not SOS, rather than both.
+1 for Chase, though there are many winners on this thread.
Getting boring here. Dan is wrong. The commenters that precede me are right. Chase said it best with brevity and wit.

LW writer has a bad sex life with his girlfriend that's not getting better. That in itself is reason for a break-up. The cheating issue can be left out of it. Opening out the relationship has nothing to do with it.
Ouch! Reading this letter is hitting a nerve.

The relationship as it has existed is clearly dead. LW and GF know it. Their words and actions clearly demonstrate it. Yeah, Dan's advice is really out there but let's face: if Savage Love readers - including SOS - wanted conventional advice they would have stuck with Dear Ann.

Where Dan and Ann would see eye-to-eye, I imagine, is that LW and GF are going to have to communicate w-a-y better. They might turn to their pastor (à la Ann) for counselling, or they might just seize the bull by the horns and hammer out terms for a monogamish relationship (à la Dan)... or maybe a try a little from both playbooks.

Whatever they do, whether they stay in this relationship or move to other people, they are going to have to clearly and directly express their needs and to listen to their partner(s).

I wish them luck.
I'm surprised a bi person like youself Fan would agree with such a homosexual putdown, as if being gay is a prerequisite to being nonmonogamous.
I'll take the "bi person" assessment as a compliment, LavaGirl. Actually I'm a, let's say, 85% wommin-lovin' manly-man. My partner and past partners have all been girly-girls with whom I've had monogamous relationships. As I've grown older and less testosterone-driven and more human, however, I've become much more sympathetic to my non-straight relatives, colleagues and clients.

I'd like to say that I have made openly-gay friends outside of work and family but I can't think of anyone who I considered a friend who came out to me. I want to be a kind and trustworthy person. Someone confiding in me would be a strong confirmation of that. That's a big part of why I read Savage Love.

Having said all that, my intention wasn't to take a swipe at Dan, the LW, his GF, commenters here or anyone else. Nor did I mean to advocate for any of many, many options SOS has for keeping what he wants to keep and avoiding what he wants to avoid.

SOS has to make a choice and stop being passive about the relationship he wants.

Sax @30: I'm the bi Fan Lava was referring to.
I didn't read any homophobia into Chase's comment. I read it as ridiculing Dan's advice of "why not be monogamish, like me? That would solve all your problems!" but substituting "gay" for "monogamish" to show how silly the advice was.
It sounds like this relationship changed when they moved in together two years ago. That's when LW noticed the frequency of sex dropping off. I wonder if his girlfriend had regrets about that decision, but didn't feel like she could back out, or whether she felt somehow constrained when the relationship become more serious, which killed her sex drive (or at least interest in sex with LW).

In any event, it sounds like the relationship soured a long time ago, and LW's girlfriend is engaging in an emotional, if not yet physical level, with another man. If things were otherwise really good between them, thinking about a degree of non-monogamy might make sense, but that is not the case. This relationship is at an end an LW should move on.

I wonder if anyone here tried non-monongamy as a last ditch effort and ever got good long term results.
@BDF: Oh, right, that makes more sense. D'oh, so much needless sharing!

Anyway, I don't see Dan promising SOS a saved relationship, let alone trying to get SOS to emulate him in any way - except this: He too should think outside the box.
The idea of opening the relationship as a last resort doesn’t know orientation or genitalia. Associating them solely as a gay phenomenon in order to “punish” Dan for his political views is unfair to all other persuasions that may also offer a similar advice.
It may also come across a bit homophobic and again, possibly unintentional.

Seems that by raising the issue I made it look as if I’m screaming “discrimination,” which was not my intention.
Obviously others liked Chase’s comment, which very possibly mean that I took it too seriously.
Maybe Chase can give us clarifications. I hope we continue keeping this space as open, fun, and informative to all.
Maybe it's different for gay, non-monogamous men, but in my experience as a straight, mostly monogamous woman, this is not how sexual desire has ever worked (although I'm not sure which of the above factors, or just individual variation is to blame for that).

If you are a women in a monogamous relationship where you are not having sex with your partner, and you are crushing hard on some other person, doing out and having hot steaming sex with said other person isn't going to improve your monogamous relationship. After sex with your crush, the LAST thing on the planet you want to do is go back and have sex with your partner, who you weren't super hot for in the first place, and you now feel even less intimate with since you have lied to them.
What the LW seems to think he wants is conclusive proof of his gf straying, so he can get out of the relationship with a clean conscience. But he could, anyway! Some of his behavior is regrettable, but then so is some of hers ... and who's keeping score? It may be that the effect of the therapeutic intervention was to set up some symmetry of wrongs in his mind: "sure, I was wrong to snoop, but she was wrong to encourage this other guy...". And he wants to be 'in the right' when the whole thing ends. But hopefully he can take a step back from it and see this isn't a good criterion for when it's right to call time on a relationship. He's unhappy; he's making her unhappy; they're at a loss for why they don't have sex; she drunkenly texts another man in front of him. There's enough here for him to think whether the partnership's still alive.
I agree with Prof L @35. I think Dan's go-to position of "open up the relationship" is a non-starter for most monogomously inclined couples. I am monogamous. I don't want another partner - one at a time is more than complicated enough! Speaking only for myself, when a relationship isn't working, it isn't working. Going out and fucking someone else isn't going to cure the disfunction that exists in the current relationship. If not addressed, that basic problem will still be there (no communication, differing goals, shifted viewpoints as you get to know someone better, etc, etc). More likely, one of two things will happen. 1) You'll find someone who is a better fit and wonder, "Why can't it be like this with my current guy/gal?" or 2) New guy will fill a temporary need, but ultimately not be any better (probably be even worse) than what you've already got. And then you're back to square one. Still stuck in a relationship that's not working.

Again. speaking only for myself, If my relationship sucks, I want to either fix it if I can or else get out so I can find something better. The last thing I want to do is to stay in a shitty situation while shopping around for a better alternative (and what a crappy thing that is to do to your current partner!) For Pete's sake, stop beating a dead horse and move on. It's not the end of the world, you'll both be better off. Get on with life - it's too short to waste dickin' arouund in an incompatible arrangement.
@35, 36, 37: Yes. Yes. Yes.

@CMD: I read Chase as saying that Dan's advice was as practicable as saying to a fish: "just start breathing air and walk on land. I do, and I've never had the problem you're describing." The lw is straight and monogamous. Chase suggests he'd have just as easy a time changing his monogamous nature as his sexual orientation. Furthermore, Chase's comment suggested the illogical syllogism: I am gay. I am not monogamous. Therefore all gay men are not monogamous." I've heard Dan say many times that he doesn't think gay men are as monogamous overall. There are lots of monogamous gay men and Dan's erasing them.

In other words, Dan was fucking up and doing disservices to more than one group.

It would be as if a skinny, flat-chested lesbian wrote to me and said: "my girlfriend promised to quit smoking, but I find lots of evidence that she's still smoking and now she's lying about that to me. What should I do?" And I answered, "I'm a straight woman with large breasts whose boyfriend doesn't smoke. So easy: just be straight with large boobs. Problem solved!"

I think you may be seeing homophobia where there isn't any. Or as Sigmund Freud probably never said, "sometimes a banana is just a banana. Anna."
Eh, even taking that step away from their codependency is one step closer to ending what doesn't work. I don't see it as being presented as a panacea so much as an excuse to take an honest discussion that they've been so long avoiding.
NoCute@38 Nice quote! I think Freud also said, "Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana."

Oh, wait. That was Groucho.
BiDanFan got it @31 and nocutename got it @38. (I like the fish analogy. And the banana.)

Non-monogamy seems to work fine for many gay male couples, enough that it might even be more commonly practiced than monogamy. Apparently it works well for Dan (or he's trying really hard to convince himself - or Terry - that it does). But most people in the world at large aren't comfortable with the idea of a non-monogamous relationship, by temperament or otherwise, just as the majority of people wouldn't be comfortable with exchanging their heterosexual relationship for a homosexual relationship. Suggesting that an unusual solution that worked for you is likely to work for people who are different from you, in a different situation than yours, is bizarrely unhelpful.

Some non-monogamous people do seem to be color blind when it comes to monogamy. "Good communication and emotional support" *are* important - does texting a potential hookup while pretending to be monogamous, stonewalling, rejecting your partner sexually, failing to initiate yourself, and complaining about lack of sex indicate that either of those things is remotely present? No. Nor does snooping in your partner's phone or trying to catch them in the act of cheating. Non-monogamy is almost never the magic bullet for a situation like this - instead it's much more likely to turn the drama up to 11.

There's far better advice given in almost every comment in this thread. My guess is that usedtobeotter2 @5 is right: she's trying to get him to end it for her, in which case he should take the hint and GTFO. But I'm more curious about Dan's problem than the LW's. Is he feeling ornery? Is he fed up with answering questions that have obvious answers? Is he posting drunk again? Is he trolling the commenters here? Is he unhappy in his personal life? Does he need a sabbatical? Or is he just broken by the Cheetoh Nazi? I'm going to assume he was just being a smartass since this relationship sounds pretty unsalvageable. So I responded in kind.

(If you're trying to read my comment as homophobic, you may be projecting, you aren't paying attention, or you're looking for enemies you don't have.)
@DonnyK: "Outside a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside a dog, it's too dark to read."--Groucho Marx

@Chase: I think Dan has a new, shiny toy (a couple of them, actually, because he's been pushing the "smoke weed" solution pretty hard lately, too), and he just wants everyone to love it as much as he does. I know he's been non-monogamous and smoking or eating weed for a lot longer than he's been proselytizing for both, but my theory is that

a) the book Sex At Dawn came out and corroborated his experiences and views
b) recreational marijuana is legal in Washington state and his mother is no longer alive

and now the bars holding him back have been removed.

I agree that holding people to lifelong monogamy in which even the simplest slip, like, say, a kiss or a drunken make-out session is seen as a relationship-extinguishing event (see the SLLOTD Newly Engaged Woman Debates Confessing Bullshit "Infidelity" Or Keeping Mouth Shut) is setting many, if not most couples up for failure over the life of a long relationship, and we could all use little less hysteria around non-monogamous lifestyles and that we sure as hell could do with more forgiveness and better communication and understanding. In ALL our relationships. But Dan now has a one-size-fits-all solution that doesn't really answer a lot of people's questions or concerns.
You're right: it's getting old and this time it really reeked of insensitivity.

P.S. Dan, it'a not a "hallelujah pass;" it's a "Hail Mary pass." I'm neither a sports fan nor a Catholic, and even I know that. (I guess if it works, it becomes a hallelujah-worthy pass, but that's a retrospective thing.)
I didn't say Chase's comment was homophobic, I said it was a put down, Fan@31 ( sorry you thought I meant you Sax@30). If he had said monogamish it would have been a better fit and not generalised a whole group.

I’m the one who suggested “dash of homophobia.”
Thank you all for your insight as well as bringing up an on going situation I wasn’t aware of.
I think Dan forgets that sex often improves because the cheating partner feels *guilty*. It's not that they discovered a new burning love for their partner, it's that they feel bad so they use sex to hide it/make themselves feel better.

This is not sustainable. Either the guilt will turn to resentment which will end the relationship, or confession which might end the relationship.

Either way the relationships ends. Maybe the LW should just DO that instead of acting like the relationship is the Mona Lisa and must be saved at all costs. Even though his girlfriend doesn't feel the same.
NoCute, you are back on form. I agree 100% with everything you say. Love the fish analogy too.

Chase's theories are all good. Dan may just be bored with obvious DTMFA letters and threw in a flippant "Eh, why not just let her fuck him, the relationship's going to end anyway," as a gratuitous plug for a nonmonogamous lifestyle.
@42. Nocute, you are on fire. (And bunches of you others) I agree with your analysis. I didn't much like Sex at Dawn. It felt way too ... contrived? Humans are not humans without culture period. Any anthropologist could tell you that. So I really disagree that by watching bonobos we can ever reach any conclusions over the inate true nature of humans. I admit it definitely leads to different ideas about sex's role in our social life, but as to whether we are truly monogamous or polyamorous. Eh. You can't divorce people from culture. It's impossible. I myself don't mind if I shared my husband with another woman in a very narrow situation, but no way could I tolerate an actual relationship. That's me. Everyone else is free to be different. I would argue that my thought process is no more "unnatural" than polyamory.
Maybe Dan we taking his cues from the LW, who asked if he should try to catch his gf with this other guy. Perhaps this guy is a little aroused by such a situation. Otherwise, why suggest it.
I just don't understand if some commenters are so down on Dan and his answers and his political posts then why comment at all.
And why be rude and dismissive about him and his motivations.
Lava @48: I interpreted "catch them" not as literally walk in on them having sex, but find a text that confirms sex has happened. With proof, he would have his answer about what to do. Since he's unsure whether sex has happened, he's not sure if he's "justified" in breaking up with her. (I put "justified" in quotes because he is certainly within his rights to break up simply because he's unhappy, but many people don't seem to realise this.)
I enjoyed @Chase's comments.

Also, count me among the women who would be unlikely to have increased desire for a primary partner upon opening a relationship. I'm not at all opposed to such an arrangement, providing there is adequate respect and communication (which is not evident in LW's relationship), but I would not cite it as a selling point. Speaking only for myself, I would be likely to get off on hearing about my (theoretical) primary partner's escapades with others, but that's more of a masturbation mindset, while at the same time I'd likely feel more intense physical attraction to new partners. If the relationship was like this from the very beginning, that would be different, but I would never expect the familiar to be able to compete with the novel in terms of intensity of desire.
She's obviously been trying to get him to initiate a break up with her leaving her phone open for him to snoop through. Dan is wrong this week. This relationship is dead.
@50. I agree.
@52: That seems to ascribe a lot of intent to someone who gets drunk and passes out while texting a prospective lover.
@ 54 - She must have passed out on purpose.
" and try to catch her in the act", Fan @50, sure sounds like he's thinking of catching her in the act( of having sex). open to interpretation.
I doubt the difference in his reaction to finding texts confirming a tryst versus actually walking in on one is going to make much difference in whether or how fast he DTMFA's her. That hair hardly seems worth splitting.

Taking his description at face value, my vote is on DTMFA.
Lava @56: Yup, could be interpreted as "the act of sending a text that confirms they've had sex."
Agree with Avast. Totally beside the point.
Chiming in to say that in my experience, non monogamy can be an addition to a good relationship. I can't see how it would work as a substitution in a relationship unless there is a really big problem (sexless marriage that needs to last for some other reason) that could be solved by opening up. Most people in happy open relationships have pretty good sex lives themselves and then get more elsewhere for whatever personal reasons (novelty, interest in others, seeking a particular fetish). In this situation- "hey, my gf isn't into me, doesn't like to fuck me, lies about seeking sex elsewhere and has a major crush on this other guy" - I don't see how giving her permission to fuck the other guy solves any problems or makes anyone happier or increases the chances of the relationship surviving. This is definitely a DTMFA situation. What's weird about Dan's advice is that the LW writes back to say that he realizes that he needs to reevaluate the relationship and Dan is all like "yea but before you do that, think about telling her to fuck the guy". Why? This is a horrible example of monogamish.

Knowing nothing about Chase or his prior posts, I want to say that I took the funny comment as referencing the last few recent letters in which Dan did, in fact, say twice "Date guys! Be gay!" as a tongue-in-cheek advice and then the last one with the marathon couple where Dan says "Have anal sex!" as solution to how not to get pregnant. I know Dan was joking in all three cases, and I just assumed Chase was referencing that in a similar joking way, only he's also right that Dan's go-to here is unhelpful.
Dan's been kind of asleep at the switch lately: first the terrible advice to Marathon Man, and now this. First of all, LW is monogamous, and monogamous people can't just switch over to nonmonogamy because an advice columnist suggested it. Secondly, I can't imagine a worse time to open up a relationship than when it's already shaky. Seriously.

I've said it a jillion times: Open relationships are for people who can make and keep agreements. So are closed relationships.
Saxfanatic@30, Even if you were confused about who Lava was talking about, I'm glad you made that mistake. You're a "85% wommin-lovin' manly-man"? Shit, why did I think you're gay? Maybe it was the profile pic. Anyway, I almost feel like I need to go reread some of your old posts now that I know what perspective your comments come from.
Nocute @42. I agree with the rest about your excellent post, but I'm sticking with my unilateral, unauthorized award to Chase @2 because of my objective judging criteria: He made me laugh. You really did a great job of unpicking the discussion of why Dan's advice sucked.

Like others, I was puzzled by the idea that the GF would regain passion for the LW by fucking her guy on the side. I do sometimes find that imagined infidelity (flirting with someone, wasting people's time on Tinder when I have no intention of meeting anyone new, etc.) can get me aroused and encourage me to fuck my wife and fuck her hard, which is fun for both of us. I cannot imagine that actually sleeping with someone else would have the same effect on me. And her cheating on me would not turn me on even a little bit.

There probably is truth to the idea that men often fuck women more vigorously when the relationship is uncommitted and I may have similar experiences in my own past, but it just wouldn't work for me after being in a committed relationship where my partner decided to branch out. More importantly, according to our LW, his desire isn't the problem in their relationship and I just can't imagine that fucking the guy she's more interested in will make her want to start fucking the LW more often again.

So, I really don't know where Dan got that idea from.
@57&58. Avast and Fan. Of course he should leave her. This guy is peddling backwards.
I was just following thru on a point I made above. That Dan may have taken his clues from the LW, who was already thinking of catching her in the act. He's already caught her in the act of texting this guy romantic/ sex type stuff.. which should have seen him packing straight away. And this was how long ago.
I'm not assuming to understand where Dan gets his answers from. I just see there is a link between him suggesting the LW just let his gf go for it and see what flies, and the guy saying should he try and catch her in the act.
Both these people are men remember.
I'm curious if there are people (esp. women) out there who will chime in and say that permissible sex outside their primary relationship did positive things for their primary relationship, either sexually or otherwise. In other words, when is an open relationship a good idea? Is it only viable if the primary sexual relationship is still strong? How about if it's fine, but not great? How about if it used to be great and had since faded, for lack of novelty or whatever reason? (Here I'm assuming a relationship with a lot of other great qualities, worth preserving, and good communication.)

Nocute, I am thinking here somewhat about a book you recommended called _What Women Want_ or something similar, which I read, and which implied among other things that a decrease in sexual desire *for their partner* was not at all uncommon for women in long-term relationships. So are all such relationships doomed? Can they be saved with outside sex if everyone is up for it? Does anyone have experiences they wouldn't mind sharing?
@64 @ciods Personally, both models (monogamy and open) appeal to me for different reasons, but in both cases, as @gatoverde @60 said, only when both partners are able to agree on the same ground rules, in theory and in practice (sorry for paraphrasing).

I can absolutely see the benefit of opening up a relationship when desire wanes or when one person wants more frequent sex than the other. However, I would never expect going outside of my primary partnership to increase my desire for a primary partner. I've known too many women who had exactly the opposite experience. And I can say my first sexual experience after divorce made me grateful I had never strayed during my marriage because I now know it would've had disastrous consequences, considering the simple act of kissing someone new was mind blowing and super intoxicating.

I think it's possible that having the relationship open from the beginning could maybe make it less likely for desire to wane, at least for me. I haven't yet experienced a long-term open relationship, but I once had a FWB for more than a decade and never lost desire for him and I suspect it was because we saw each other so irregularly, it never felt too familiar.
Completely agree with #1. I'm currently non monogamous but I don't see this guy being structured for it, based on the tone of his letter. My advice to him would be to first make another counseling appointment and in the safety of that space with a 3rd person present, come clean that you know she wants to get with this dude. Sincerely apologize for invading her privacy, then explain that you realize something's amiss with the two of you and you genuinely want to work toward the kind of sex life you both desire (or an acceptable compromise).

The kicker: what this will require is *complete honesty* about your feelings about this relationship. All the insecurities and assumptions you have floating around in your head. Even when you know your truth will hurt the other person. But it's the only way to keep resentment from building to a point where it chokes your desire completely. Chances are there are things both of you have held onto that are causing the lack of connection.

Id also ask her what needs you ARE meeting for her currently (reasons she hasn't left already) and then ask her to be honest about what she's not getting so you actually know where you stand.

It's possible that the thing she's withholding is that she isn't into you physically anymore but doesn't want to hurt you. The relationship might end, but I think being honest about your insecurities is a better first step than introducing non-monogamy. I say this for a myriad of reasons but in short because it's not easier than monogamy and because it isn't very fair to regularly non-monogamous folk to be your "test drive" to see if you like it. We have feelings, too, and non-monogamy generally doesn't work well as a bandaid for an unhappy relationship.
@64 consentually opening my sexually dead marriage made me want sex with my husband again. Turned me on like a switch. Problem was, it was one-sided. He felt humiliated and it was a slow and fairly awful road down after that.
DCP123 @62: I suspect NoCute @42 is bang on about where Dan got the idea that allowing an affair would strengthen SOS's relationship: Projection.

As a nonmonogamous person I can corroborate the phenomenon of one's primary/existing relationship getting a sexual boost when one takes on a new lover. If (huge if) it all goes drama free, the oxytocin and endorphins released during the hot new-lover stage of the new relationship can put you into an exciting headspace when you're thinking about and looking forward to sex more than you have been of late. You're fantasising about this new person in a way that you haven't fantasised about your existing partner for months or years, because you've fallen into a comfortable pattern with them, and take the sex for granted. With the new person, it's exciting and emotionally risky again. The increased libido doesn't disappear when the new lover goes home, and your existing lover can benefit from it as well -- because you find yourself wanting more sex in general.

And if your existing partner is supportive of the new relationship -- this is called compersion -- what a miracle. You're having your cake and eating it. You've proven you can have what society has spent your life telling you you can't -- the stability of a loving relationship AND new sexual thrills. You've hit the jackpot and it's all because your partner was wonderful enough to not dump you just because you fancied someone new. Of course this makes you love and appreciate your partner more, and want to fuck them more.


While all this may be true for the nonmonogamous -- and I do say "may be," because it's also likely that jealousy or inconsideration on somebody's part will spoil this perfect scenario -- it is almost certainly doomed to fail here. Like NoCute says, it's asking a fish to breathe air. If the existing relationship is not solid, if you want the new person because you want out rather than because they turn you on, if someone feels insecure or neglected, the new person will be the wedge that tears that weak relationship apart. This applies even when the relationship is open. I've seen many poly relationships fail with the catalyst of a new lover, and this is often pointed to as proof that poly relationships don't work, but in reality the relationship was secretly or not-so-secretly faltering -- just like the situation SOS is in now.

TL;DR - Compersion is the exception, not the rule.
Another way that an outside sexual relationship can improve an existing one is that we tend to fall into patterns with lovers. We discover what works best and we keep doing those things. So while great, those things get stale. A new person has different preferences, different kinks, different styles. Things that maybe you forgot about or didn't think your existing partner would like. You then think, "hey, Primary and I could do this too." So it brings the variety back to the existing relationship.
@64 Being open and being closed has done different things at different times...

In our 20s non monogamy allowed our relationship to continue without causing either of us to sacrifice career / travel / social experiences that you really only get in youth. I can't say that it affected the sex in our primary relationship either way, and my sex drive was about the same as always. We frequently lived apart and traveled separately, so non monogamy was not a fix for anything but rather just what we did because we loved each other and hoped we could build a life together, but we didn't have any romantic or high expectations- we were pretty practical about the fact that we were too young for that sort of thing.

In my early to mid 30s when we had a settled traditional marriage, we were open in a NSA way only when either of us were out of town. Again, I can't really speak to how this affects your sex life in your primary relationship because we had never been closed at that point. I guess we had a lot of confidence that we were going to really be together long-term by then because we'd made the choice over and over again to stay in the primary relationship throughout our 20s, so there was none of the jealousy or insecurity that can sometimes cause problems. Also, ditto to what everyone else said regarding communication and honesty. By then, we had long since been comfortable reevaluating and talking about how to handle different phases/interests in life. That makes things easier. Specific to sex, I dunno. He preferred DADT so I kept my mouth shut. I preferred to hear every little detail so he'd tell me everything. I really enjoyed this so I know he made a lot of it up and exaggerated quite a bit- in reality I don't know exactly what he was doing during that time, and this was thrilling.

The last ten years we've continued to live in a traditionally married way, but we've had a lot of hardship with family responsibilities, health issues and a sudden death- we've been closed for some time now just for practical reasons. Again, specific to sex, I don't see a change either way. When you go through really rough times like that, it can really challenge your marriage. We were fortunate to come together closer and get through it all together. So I don't know if sexually it's made too much difference (like in terms of drive or hormones) but certainly the years of security, honesty, open communication- the approach to our marriage- has been heavily influenced by non monogamy. So the intimacy is stronger partially because of that, and intimacy gets you through a lot. I guess if I can put this in a nutshell (never tried before) it's two things- first making the choice again and again to be with someone because it is better than anything else and second considering that things might change in the future and we'll have to navigate those changes in a way that either puts the relationship first or breaks it up without screwing the other person over.

Looking to the future, I'm think I'm way past the point that I'm going to want casual NSA sex with other guys again (though who knows- I hopefully have decades more to go). He says he doesn't either. So we are at a place now where the goal is to be honest about what we want (hopefully before we do anything). What appeals to me now is meeting new people that we can have a friendship with. Again, it's hard to separate and say what this means sexually since for me (for women maybe) it's all wrapped up in what it means in life/relationship. But we're at a place in the marriage now where when we meet new interesting people that we both get along with, it adds a new dynamic to the relationship that is exciting- plus it's just nice to have outside influences in your life if you want to keep growing as a person. So we've meet a lot of new people in recent years who've come to stay with us or we've gone to stay with them, and it always ends up making us realize how much we enjoy each other. So far, none of that has resulted in anything sexual, though I'm certainly interested in that. We're both totally hetero though so that means it would probably have to be a swinging couple rather than a poly thing. In any case, we aren't forcing anything or even actively looking right now, but if I had to guess, I bet that would be what's in store for us in the future. Back to your question, this is exciting too because in the context of a long term relationship, you never start to feel like it's just going to be the same-old all the time forever.

What a great comment thread- thank y'all. Nice read.
Also nice to see it not hijacked by multiple rambling comments over and over by the same person...although usually nice, the multiple posts became annoying very quickly.

It was enjoyable to read the on- topic varied interesting takes on the LW's situation. I could empathize with the LW in certain ways when he was describing his current state of affairs, and although yes, *I* personally would get turned on if my partner boned someone else, I don't know if it'd make HER want to have sex with me more often- it'd probably kill what was left of the relationship, I agree...he doesn't really seem he wants a cuckold/ Hot Wife deal.
Best of luck to him.
Thanks, futurecat, westy, BiDanFan, and Emma. I appreciate the thoughtful responses. It's interesting territory.
BDF @68 and 69 (mandatory congratulations on being comment 69), Thanks for the explanation. That makes sense and I totally get how that works for you, even though I don't think it would work at all for me, the LW, my wife or his GF.
Thanks everyone, particularly Emma @70, Dan @68/69 and Cat @65