I'm 24, and a female in a relationship with a very lovely, sweet, slightly depressed 24-year-old pansexual guy. We have been together a year, and he has introduced me to a whole gaggle of his friends. He's one of those people who has managed to keep his friends from childhood still in his immediate circle and they are obviously very important to him.

About six months in, one of his closest friends—I'll call him "B"—confessed to the both of us that he is an exhibitionist and invited us both to undress him and do as we wished with his body. He's a personal trainer and I kid you not, Dan, the David would be jealous. My boyfriend was into this, as was I, and there was a lot of touching, kissing and spanking going on. I have always sensed an attraction that he had with B, and I'm not jealous—if anything it turns me on. We had some of the hottest sex we have ever had afterward, feeding off that sexual energy. After this incident my partner has refused to talk about it, insisting that B is like an older brother to him. That was weird to me, as it felt like an inherently sexual experience, he fully participated, and I saw real evidence that the experience turned him on.

A month or so later, B and I ended up alone together and we talked about the experience. He confessed that he often thought about that night and jacked off a little bit in front of me. I became uncomfortable at some point and told him to stop, and left the situation. It felt wrong without my partner there, even though we are in an open relationship. I continually chickened out afterward when I tried to tell my partner what had happened... so I just didn't.

Last night my partner, B, and I were all talking, and B asked me to drive him home. I did, and when we were alone he confessed that he had a major attraction to me and that he thinks about me when he masturbates and gave me some sexy BDSM scenarios that he would like to act out. I was quite insistent that we would not act out what he had in mind, but I did confess the attraction was mutual. However, we both knew we could not betray our partners. B begged me not to tell my partner what he had said.

I hate hiding what happened from my partner. He's quite sensitive, and B is more attractive than 99% of humans and statues, so there is some insecurity there. Furthermore, B has helped my partner through his depression and is a very important figure in his life. I am very worried that if my partner learns about B's advances he will blame me for them, or lose B as a friend, because friends of friends are typically off limits and so much of this has happened when we were alone. I don't want to set off a depression in him. This has the potential to explode both our relationship and one of his oldest friendships.

I'm confused, Dan. This whole situation is deeply uncomfortable to me. I almost feel preyed upon, even though I feel I am also in the wrong for not immediately telling my partner what happened. Like idiots, we never defined the rules for our open relationship, just that it was open. I'm definitely regretting not having that conversation now. What do you think I should do?

Boundaries & Interests

Personal trainer exhibitionists are my favorite kind of exhibitionists.

That said...

Open relationships require boundaries—clearly defined boundaries. Because boundaries can't function properly if people don't know where or what they are. I'll go further than that: unless they're clearly and explicitly defined, your open relationship boundaries don't actually exist.

But failing to spell out the rules of your open relationship, i.e. failing to clearly and explicitly define those boundaries, is the only fuck-up you're guilty of, B&I, and it was a mutual one. And you can easily rectify this fuck-up by having a long overdue conversation with your lovely, sweet, slightly depressed pansexual guy about who is and isn't allowed, what is and isn't out of bounds, etc.

Stop beating yourself up over your attraction to B, an attraction that your lovely, sweet guy shares but feels conflicted about for obvious and understandable reasons. (Old friend, feels like a brother, important part of his support system, doesn't want to risk losing B to relationship and/or sexual drama.) You've handled everything so far with grace, B&I. When B confessed his attraction to you, you said the feelings were shared but you couldn't act out them. You've been loyal to your partner and considerate of his mental health. And, good news, B doesn't want to tell his partner, either! Plus, nothing much happened between the you and B without your partner present—besides a little ill-advised, quickly-terminated jacking off. While it's commendable that you want to be honest and tell your partner everything, there are times when keeping ours mouth shut and protecting our partners from truths they can't handle is the most loving thing we can do. This is one of those times.

Most of the things you're worried about, B&I, are beyond your control. You can't help it if your partner loses B as a friend—provided you don't embark on an affair with B—and you're not responsible for a potential depressive episode. What you can do, B&I, is create distance between you and B while you work out the specifics of your open relationship with your partner. If you feel compelled (and who could blame you?), you could gently broach the subject of playing with B again, either as a couple or on your own. ("I thought that threesome between you, me, and B was hot. Would you ever want to do that again? If not, would you object to me playing with B on my own? It won't bum me out if you're not okay with that, and I won't bring it up again if you nix it.")

Finally, B&I, B is an important aspect of your partner's support system and an ongoing sexual connection between you and B or all three of you could threaten that. If you three continued to play and things got awkward and ended (or exploded), or if you and B played and things got awkward and ended (or exploded), your partner could wind up without a girlfriend, without a best friend, or without both. I promise you that B isn't the only hot submissive exhibitionist out there who might wanna be touched, kissed, and spanked by a hot poly couple with clearly defined boundaries. So just because it can't be with B, B&I, doesn't mean it can't be.

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