My husband and I are at an impasse, and I’m really hoping you can help. A few years into our marriage, my husband started talking about swinging. He also revealed he’s bi and wanted to explore that side of his sexuality. I felt uncomfortable with the idea of swinging, but gradually came around. Yay! GGG! Over the last two years, we joined a web site, met a few couples, and had three experiences—once with one couple, twice with another.

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On my end, the experiences were progressively less enjoyable. I tried to get in touch with my bisexual side, and found it pretty much missing. I tried to have a good time for my husband’s sake, and came away feeling more and more uncomfortable with the entire situation, and a whole hell of a lot less turned on in general. I want to be GGG, I want to give it a good faith effort, but I also really don’t want to have sex with other people, and I don’t know how to change that.

I don’t mind if my husband swings without me. Watching him with another man or woman wasn’t a problem; I was happy to see him getting off, and getting something I couldn’t give him. But he wants to swing with me, because he feels like it will bring us closer together. He also worries he won’t find a partner without me.

Now we’re stuck in a situation where it feels like, whatever we do, something is going to get screwed (or not get screwed). I don’t want to swing again, because our last experiences were so uncomfortable. But I also feel like I’m taking something important away from my husband if I say we can’t swing again. (He can’t exactly explore his bisexuality with just me.) This issue is impacting our marriage, and we’ve got two small kids together. Please help!

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You wanted to be GGG and you were GGG—you gave swinging a try, you gave it a chance, and it doesn't work for you.

And while he may not be able to swing on his own—the organized swinging scene is notoriously hostile to openly bi men—your husband can seek out other sex partners, right? You don’t mind him sleeping with other people, NCAS, so long as don’t have to sleep with other people too? And so long as seeking outside sex doesn't negatively impact your marriage or kids? Is that accurate? — Dan

Wow, thanks for your response! I’m totally cool with him seeking out men, or women, himself... but yeah, I just don’t want to sleep with them myself. And yes, we’ve found swinging is not very friendly to bi-identified men, but it’s not clear where else to look. We live in a pretty rural area. — NCAS

First things first: If you don’t wanna go to swingers parties to swing, don’t go. If you don’t wanna sleep with other people, don’t sleep with other people.

You’re not even obligated to open up your marriage—that’s something two people have to negotiate and agree on together, NCAS, if both parties are interested in practicing ethical non-monogamy. (A lot of people open their relationships unilaterally and secretly; that would be unethical non-monogamy, aka cheating.) If you’re willing to let your husband sleep with other people, he should be grateful for that—he should be ecstatic. What he shouldn’t be is pressuring you to sleep with other people because that makes it easier for him to find other sex partners. You’re his spouse, not his bait.

That said, NCAS, I'm going to quote from the advice I recently gave a guy in a newly opened marriage whose wife was getting tons of extramarital D while he got no additional P...

Openness only works when it's working for both partners. While getting her male partner laid is not the responsibility of a woman in open relationship, helping him—if she can—may be in her own best interests. If her husband/boyfriend becomes jealous and jealousy curdles into resentment, well, that's gonna undermine the primary relationship. So a willingness on a woman's part to attend swingers events or play parties with her male partner or to vouch for him if another woman wants to check in with her first (to make sure the husband/boyfriend isn't lying) or to make an introduction when and where she can—are any of her male sex friends in open relationships? are the women they're with looking to get laid too?—are all proactive steps a woman in an open relationship can take to help out her male partner. It's not about her being responsible (for getting him laid), it's about her being supportive (in his efforts to get himself laid).

You aren't obligated to get your husband laid, NCAS, but you can vouch for him and, if the swingers parties themselves aren't too painful (if it's just the sex part that bothers you and not the other-people-including-your-husband-having-sex part), you could attend a party now and then with your husband and let him play on his own. (Single men aren't welcome at most swingers parties.)

As for the husband finding guys to have sex with: I’ve heard that apps are a good source of dick and lots of queers who live in rural areas are on Scruff and Grindr. Your husband could look there. Also, if there’s a big city nearby, your husband could list himself in that city on dating/hookup sites and travel for dick. Lots of people do.

Having to seek outside sex on his own may make things slightly more difficult for your husband, logistically speaking, but coercing you into doing sexual things that you don’t wanna do is gonna create conflict and resentment—precisely the kind of conflict and resentment that can (and should!) prove fatal to a marriage.

You've given him permission to explore on his own. That's enough—hell, it's more than a man who made a monogamous commitment to a person before having two children with that same person has a right to expect. He can't demand that you fuck other people just because it'll make it easier for him to do the same. — Dan

Both of us really appreciate your thoughtful response and your suggestions. And I’m flattered to just get a response at all—I think sending so many letters to my senators and getting absolutely nothing in response has left me genuinely stunned when I hear back from anyone. So, thanks on a whole different level! — NCAS

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