SL Letter of the Day: More Advice From Sex At Dawn Coauthor Christopher Ryan


P.S. Remember that once you open up your relationship, she will probably have a much easier time finding willing partners to "spice up her life" than you will.
The way I see it, she's either gonna have sex with other guys with your consent, or she's gonna have sex with other guys without your consent. You get to pick: Which is it going to be? And if this is going to be a deal-breaker for you, you might as well just let her get started on the "having sex with other guys without your consent" right away and cut her loose.
I didn't know that anybody beyond elderly uncles actually said, "Variety is the spice of life."
This is great advice. The letter-writer isn't "wrong" to feel the way he does, since it's a normal and common feeling. But if he can get behind the idea of the open relationship, he should push himself to be accepting, and see if he can get over his personal discomfort with it over time. The way to do this is probably to go into it slowly, allowing him to set boundaries (i.e. he could make a condition that she can't sleep with anyone he knows, or whatever). That way he gets to feel some control over the situation and doesn't have to fear that she'll go hog-wild. Hopefully, once the girlfriend actually starts having sexual experiences outside the relationship, he'll see that their intimacy as a couple isn't diminished, it doesn't lessen her pleasure in sex with him. I.e., if she fucks another guy, & his vague fears don't come true, it won't seem so frightening anymore.

It's also worthwhile for WIBEA to ask himself if a time might ever come when he really, really wants the freedom that she's offering him to sleep with other women. Even if it doesn't seem so appealing now, it probs will at some point. So he might wind up happier if he makes the effort to get comfortable with his girlfriend's non-monogamous ways.
DTMFA. There are thousands of women in your city who don't need the level of attention and maintenance this girl requires.
DTMFA after you've had monogamous sex with her.

A lot.

Then you won't feel so bad.
@5 ftw.

And they're more like finely tuned luxury automobiles that purr.

If you do it right.
I don't see this guy getting any more comfortable with this idea over time, so I would get out now while he can. She was honest and upfront about this, isn't going to change, so unless he has a dramatic change of heart, this relationship isn't for him.

It could be my Catholic upbringing, feelings of inadequacy - I don't really care why - but I couldn't handle it. Like @1 says, it's going to be a lot easier for her to find willing partners than it is for him, so this has the potential to be disastrous.

I agree with Dan's standard message that monogamy isn't for everyone, so open relationships would be good for many couples. However, some people are totally down with monogamy, and their relationship is much better "closed". This guy sounds like one of those people for whom monogamy is better.
She’s never going to leave you because another guy has a bigger Johnson or screws her better.

Never? I don't think there are any hard and fast rules in relationships, let alone open relationships. Let's be realistic - when you let other men fuck your girl, you risk losing her, and no man or woman can honestly guarantee they won't fall for another person who's fucking them in all the right ways.
Geez this letter hits close to home for me. I am a lesbian in a very similar situation with my girlfriend (I am in the letter-writer's shoes) and am working through the exact same feelings. I have come to realize that having an open relationship has actually deepened our trust in each other. Here's to hoping you find the same.
Geez, this post hits close to home. I am a lesbian and my girlfriend of 3 years and I are going through this same thing (I am in the shoes of the letter writer). What I have come to realize is that this is who my girlfriend is. She said she would never leave me if I couldn't handle it, but I love her and want her to be happy. Surprisingly, having an open relationship has actually deepened our intimacy and trust in each other. Here's to hoping this guy finds the same thing I did.
If she's not likely to change (according to Ryan), then neither is he. She wants to be non-monogamous, he wants to be monogamous. Find someone else guy, or, have her go out and screw some other guy and see if you're ok with it. If not, then go.

Look, I'm sure Ryan's book is good, and he's right that monogamy isn't for everyone, but he comes off as condescending, especially in that last sentence: "look for someone whose views on monogamy are less challenging for you." Less challenging? Like the guy is simply too dull or too unevolved to handle the advancement of being non-monogamous? Fuck you. Some people don't want multiple partners, some do, neither is better or worse than the other. Just try to make sure you pair up with someone who's in the same camp.

Oh, and #1's point is dead on perfect.
ugh. sorry for the double post.

Maybe 'never' is too strong a word, but if she leaves him just because someone else is better in bed, that's pretty shallow on her part - which it doesn't sound like she's prone to being given the limited information we have.

A couple of things, "when you let other men fuck your girl..." is not quite the right way to think about it. You do not own your girlfriend's vagina (and other bits). Every time you have sex with her, it is because she's letting you fuck her again. Every time should be a conscious decision on her part, even if it's the hundredth time.

As for falling for other people, this happens sans genital contact quite often. People who like the same bands you do, enjoy the same activities you do, maybe felt the same or right way about Lee Harvey Oswald, Where the Wild Things Are, or American Idol - I think these factors contribute more strongly to a significant other falling for someone else.

I'm not saying sex isn't factor, but it isn't the only one that makes people fall in love.
@1 is right. The second you give the green light, there will be guys lined up around the block to bone your girlfriend. If you are not okay with the notion now, it will probably not get any better when she does start fucking other people. Better find somebody who does want a monogamous relationship. Forget about this huckster's poly pitch. I doubt the lifestyle is for you. Be thankful your GF was honest with you all along.
I'm not sure how I'd feel about having a girlfriend tell me I "placed too much importance on sex"... and in the next breath explain how in order for her to be happy in a relationship she needs to go screw a bunch of guys.
@1 is so completely right. He is already jealous of other men and there is nothing wrong with that. He needs to break up with her since no matter what he does to deal with the situation this will turn out bad for him.

Also the guest expert was very condescending of the letter writer. This was a poor choice of guest expert.
@16 You did pick up a very good point that was hard to notice at first. I am not even sure the girlfriend realizes what a situation she is putting him in but that kind of communication is borderline manipulative.
@14 . . . you got to the "let other men fuck your girl" before I did. Oy. As a happily nonmonogamous person, I agree with all the basic boilerplate . . . it's not for everyone, it requires communication and honesty, no one should have any kind of relationship they aren't comfortable with, and so forth. But if either my husband or my boyfriend ever expressed our relationship in these terms ("Yeah, I'm in an open relationship, I let her fuck other guys.") there'd be some talkin' goin' on. Right after the head slappin'. It sounds like women who "let" their guys watch sports or have a beer, or guys who "let" their girlfriends go shopping. Bleagh.
I agree with 1, but where the hell do these men come from? I mean do they have jobs? lives?

if you ain't poly, don't date poly.
@12: "Some people don't want multiple partners, some do, neitehr is better or worse than the other."

Quite true. If this guy wants to only have sex with his girlfriend, and no one else, there's nothing wrong with that. It's neither dull nor unevolved.

The part that's dull and unevolved is when he starts to decide that, because she's in a relationship with him, she has to constrict her desires to meet his needs. That's based in insecurity and jealousy. That's when someone's views on monogamy can challenge you.
I'm a pretty monogamous girl in a polyamorous relationship. My boyfriend was very honest about what he needed before I signed on, and my original thought was, "Every relationship comes with problems. Right now I've got a chance to choose mine." The other things I knew about my boyfriend before I signed on were that he's honest, he's faithful, and he works hard at relationships. I figured those were three HUGE pluses and one big enough minus.

WTBIE, I had those same sick feelings every time he went out on a date. It took me at LEAST a year to get comfortable with polyamory, but my boyfriend was there for me in some pretty crucial ways during that time. First, he never ever backed down from what he needed. Second, he validated my feelings of fear and jealousy and abandonment EVERY TIME I felt them. Third, he always reassured me that he wasn't leaving and that his other relationships didn't devalue ours.

It took me at least a year to get really comfortable with the way things are. And it took counseling. We both made a lot of compromises so that we could be comfortable. I've never worked so hard on a relationship, and I've never been happier in a relationship. I am with someone who IS WHAT HE SAYS HE IS. And I am with someone who respects my emotional needs and wants and helps me to deal with them. All of them, not just the ones about poly.

WTBIE, your girlfriend sounds like a winner. Try what she's asking you to try if she's as great as you think she is. Understand that it won't be easy. But few things that are worth it are.
Strangely, it seems the unregistered folks are making this best points in this thread.

As @1 points out, she will have a far easier timer getting laid on the side than you will. Being in a relationship like this will likely hurt your chances with other women; guys she is interested in most likely won't care.

And as @16 points out, you could easily say she is the one making it all about the sex.

When someone goes out on a limb to tell you this sort of thing, they mean it. She isn't going to change- she's gonna fuck other guys. And I doubt WITBEA is going to lose his distaste for the notion.

I think it's best to dump her. There is no shortage of monogamous women, WITBEA.
Wow, for a place like Slog it's still amazing to me to see all the poly-negative out there.

I happen to be one of those people who doesn't understand monogamy all that well, it doesn't mean I'm jumping at the chance to cheat on a monogamous partner or that I have a line out the block waiting to get into my pants. As a matter of fact, it can be just as hard for poly women to find partners as it is for mono women.
How many partners does this poly gal have? 2, and that's stretching it considering both are FWB arrangements, one of whom I see maybe once a month.

The letter writers seems to want to come to terms with the poly life his girlfriend needs. He loves her, wants to be with her, and is asking advice about how to make it work. The guest expert isn't being condescending, he's giving the guy ways to see if being poly can work for the guy. Of course, Ryan says, if poly doesn't work for you, get out. This level of exploration is beyond a lot of people, especially taking into consideration the posts above. Some relationship dynamics are more challenging than others, it takes a mature person to realize that and deal with what comes up.
The letter-writer asks: "how do I get over this terrible feeling that I get whenever I think about my girlfriend having sex with another man?" If he wants to get over the jealousy, there are people and techniques to help with that. If you're motivated, it's easier to change yourself than to change someone else. And it's good practice for when you'll want to reduce the anger you feel when your children are aggravating as all hell. Reading the Ethical Slut is one place to start, especially Chapter 13 on Jealousy.

@20 - contractors and stay-at-home-dads. Though almost anyone can take a long lunch.
@23 Thanks for your perspective. It can be hard falling for someone on the opposite end of a spectrum as you.
You know, it's not the idea of polyamory that bugs me; it's the remarkably consistent annoying-ness of self-identified "poly" people.
wtf can i meet a girl like this? he can have my hot monogamous gf and i want is open gf. shit. some people are not monogamous and people who are odds over this should not expect to have a relationship last forever.
the best relationship i had was when we were open and still we were secure with each other and when it ended it had nothing to do with our other flings. fuck if you are monogamous be with a monogamous person. problem is as i see it 1) its hard to be honest without scaring the monogamous person (monogamy is default) and 2) more guys than gals want extra partners (no?).
Intellectually I do not have problems with my partner or myself not being monogamous. After all I do not 'own' his body nor he mine. However, I think reality would be a different ball game. If I had sex with someone other than my partner (even if he was watching/involved) I think I would be worried all the time about ramifications ie is he getting jealous, am I paying enough attention etc and so would not be able to raise to the deed(!). We have talked from time to time about involving a third or more parties but I think it is more fantasy than anything we could go through with in reality. It is all very complex and I would hate to break something that was perfectly good in the first place.

This level of exploration is beyond a lot of people

Yeah, I can see that you don't get why people think the response is condescending since you mimicked the exact same thing in your comment.

Polyamory is not superior to monogamy. People who aren't comfortable with it aren't missing out on some OMGWTF amazing shit. So keep your "this exploration is beyond some people" crap to yourself.
@32: You wouldn't understand. You're just not evolved enough to face the challenge of the "spice of life" exploration level. That shit is VARIED, yo.
So how much did this pop-psych pay you to keep shilling his pseudo-scientific book, Dan? And this bullshit is all week?

See you in a week. Maybe. It's a sad day when Dan Savage spends an entire week belittling people's sexual preferences.
@32 Who's getting arrogant now? I never said being poly was superior, but I admit I was a little unclear.

When two people fall for each other who are different ends of a spectrum (poly v. mono, kinky v. vanilla...) it takes a lot of perseverance to make something like that work. Some people aren't up to breaching the gulf between two kinds of world views.
If the poly person wrote in because they wanted to try being monogamous for their partner I think you could apply similar advise. Talk out your feelings, understand where these desires come from, do you love your partner enough to make certain sacrifices or do you feel it's beyond you?
Monogamy is beyond some poly people.
Polygamy is beyond some mono people.

If a partner of mine said being monogamous was the only way we could be together, I would probably try it. I don't know if it's beyond me because it's never been asked of me. But relationships are hard and they all require a certain level of compromise. So I reiterate my initial point:
"Some relationship dynamics are more challenging than others, it takes a mature person to realize that and deal with what comes up."
@25 says:
"Wow, for a place like Slog it's still amazing to me to see all the poly-negative out there."

I see very little, if any, poly-negativeness. But I do see that a lot of people don't react well to the implication that if the monogamous person could only be deep enough, thoughtful enough, sharing enough, intelligent enough, open minded enough, then they would get over their terrible feelings about their SO fucking other people.

"Some relationship dynamics are more challenging than others, it takes a mature person to realize that and deal with what comes up. "

Oh brother....

People who are "self-identified" anything are annoying. And totally narrow.


You are just one big pile of testosterone, aren't you? Your post on so many levels is clueless. Way to confirm every stereotype of the dumbass straight dude. Keep carrying the torch!
@26 ... sure you can take a long lunch if it's a sure thing.

But contractors and stay at home dad's are like the only men I would think of that would have adequate time to like cruise for women.

People say relationships take work.

For men, SEX takes work. You have to advertise, market, be swarthy, shameless, heartless and on call and available.

The guy friends that I have that are hoes ... it's a miracle that some of them didn't lose their jobs.
I find this problematic: "She says that variety is the spice of life and that I should get over this because i put too much importance on sex, when I should separate sex and love"

First, what exactly is wrong with linking sex and love? She presumes that she is right and you are wrong, that hers is the better approach. It isn't. It's just what she wants.

Second, she is engaged in making you the one in the wrong here. If you let her frame the debate in those terms, you are going to find yourself dragged kicking and screaming through the whole process, and end up simultaneously hating her for cheating on you and hating yourself because you bought into the idea that you just weren't a big enough person to make the change.

You are not wrong for wanting monogamy. Neither of you are in the wrong for wanting what you want -- but she is in the wrong for assuming that you are the one who needs to change. Both of you, go find someone who already shares your goals, instead of putting one of you through the meat grinder to conform to what the other one wants.
One problem not really mentioned is STD's and pregnancy. I would be livid beyond belief if my partner came back and gave me a STD. I know, smart people use birth control, but from what I see in the world, people can be pretty dumb (including me). What happens when there's alcohol or drugs involved and they are in the heat of the moment? Besides the jealousy factor (which is my own insecurities, I know), that would be a risk. There is something like 1/3 of people acquire or have STDs (that's just from memory, I could be wrong). What would you do?
@14 & @19
There is no sense of ownership implied by "letting other people fuck your girl".

In many (most?) relationships, whether or not someone gets to have sex outside the relationship is up to their partner. It's not because their partner "owns" their genitals, it's because the partner wants a monogamous commitment, and they respect that.

I'd certainly be up for an extra-marital fling, as would many men I suspect, but I don't fuck around because it would end my marriage, and I don't want to do that. If my wife had a change of heart, she would very much be "letting other people fuck her man."
Every time I think I've seen the peak of how much people read their own personal sexual politics into a letter/response, Slog still manages to surprise me.
As far as the insecurities go, remaining monogamous isn't a guarantee that your partner isn't going to leave you for somebody else. Looking at all the cheating that goes on, and all the marriages that fail, don't think that monogamy makes you particularly safe in that respect.

That said however, for many people, sex and attachment are strongly linked. If you are fucking other people, you are more likely to become emotionally attached to them than if you are maintaining arm's-length sexual and emotional boundaries, and saving your intimacy for your partner.
No idea what you are talking about, or what my post has to do with testosterone. You're just jumping to conclusions about me because you figured me for a straight guy. If it makes you feel good to flame me, go for it.
@42, I've read plenty of internet discussions about sex (not just on Slog), and I've noticed that no matter how carefully one chooses their words and adds disclaimers and such, any time someone says "I personally prefer to have sex the X way better than the Y way," the discussion will inevitably devolve toward outraged responses along the lines of "Stop oppressing me because of my preference for Y!" or "Stop trampling on my self-identification and stop accusing me of being a slut/prude/idiot for preferring sex the Y way! You're the real slut/prude/idiot!" or "You're obviously an assimilationist/unevolved/unethical/Christian/sexist/STD-monger/bourgeois/skank/condescending/uptight/loony/moron because of your patronizing/fascistic/disingenuous/backwards/lesbian-separatist/hipster/moronic insistence that we all should be having sex the X way instead of Y way!"
@9 Seandr, true, never say never, it's unrealistic to think that there will never be a better connection with one of her other partners, but one can hope, I guess.
Re: @37's my opinion, you just come across as honest....some people don't like honest. I also think most people feel possessive about their partner, regardless of the "political correctness" of that position.

@17 I disagree, I was actually blown away by how "evolved," to use an annoying term, the guest columnist was.

@34 Maybe you read a different post? I didn't hear "belittling," I heard "options."

Personally, the idea of being non-monogamous used to be seen as a deal-breaker for me, like a serious "no second chances" thing. Now, after reading through all the archives, and Dan's books, I don't see it as a black and white thing anymore. Although I've been married for so long that I doubt we will ever attempt anything other than monogamy, anyone who tells you they don't think/fantasize about being with other people is just lying. Maybe if I were more *evolved,* we would have incorporated it into our relationship at the beginning.
If he has a feeling in his gut that this is hurting him... It's probably a sign that he should set her free. A person can only take so much of that kind of feeling before it overwhelms the relationship.

It can hurt to think about cutting something off after a 2 year investment, but it might be the best thing for him to do.
Why is it that every time a monogamous partner ends up with a non-monogamous partner, the advice is, "People don't change...but here are the various ways you, the monogamous one, can and should"?

When the non-monogamous partner writes in, it's always, "Go ahead and break up with them now because you can't change, but if you want to try to make it work, here are ways to get them to change."
I was inspired by the "polys" posting on this thread to surf around to some "poly story" websites and read a bit, and, Jeebus help me, it just seems EXHAUSTING as a lifestyle. All of the processing, and emoting, and drama. Who can do all this, raise children, and keep down a job, please tell me? There just are not enough hours in a day.

I will admit that I am somewhat jaundiced because most of the "poly" people I know could just as easily be described as "people with poor boundaries and a propensity to act out sexually." I wouldn't choose to be involved with ANY of them because they're just too flaky.

Having said that, I'm sure all you nice poly people posting here are not like my poly acquaintances. I'm sure you're the antithesis of flake.

I might just be logistically easier for a monogamous person TRY non-monogamy. I mean, it's a simple litmus test. Here, fuck someone else, did that feel better? All right play ball.

I can't see the latter really working out all that well. I mean, what are you supposed to say, "hey you try NOT fucking other people for a few years and get back to me on how you feel."

Ultimately the simplest and easiest solution ... and I'm wondering why the hell Dan never picked up on it. If SHE wants to be non-monogomous, then she should do the work to pimp out his bf and get him laid. A nicer well rounded guy, more often than not, is just not going to market himself to women for outside sex. What better way to do it, than get a referral.

Fact, women are just better players than men. Maybe she should just set up all the play dates, she gets to know all the women you would potentially hook up, and sell you accordingly. And be a better gauge for who is and is not available for casual sex.
Has he been honest with her about all the feelings that come up when she makes her pronouncements? What is her response? Does she minimize? Is she glib? Is she condescending?

What holds me back from doing things that I really really really want to do, and which I feel I am in some way entitled to do, and don't see many negative consequences to myself in doing is when I consider that I'll be hurting someone I love if I do whatever.

Not that the feelings of our partners should completely dictate our actions, but we should be ready to take responsibility for those actions.
@1 and @everyone who agreed with 1, this is the voice of experience saying "It ain't always so." Both of my last partners (two *AMAZING* men, simultaneously, how did I get so lucky?) wound up having more partners than I did. We started out about equal--each of us had two partners. One guy got pounced on by no less than three other women a few months after we had started dating, and the other found people later on. Meanwhile, once I was seen out with regular partners, I got less attention than I had gotten previously.

I didn't particularly feel the need for more relationships, so I can't say I really missed out or lost, but it was interesting to note. Basically, when I was single but dating around, guys approached me regularly. When I was seen dating two steady partners, not so much. When my guys (both married) were seen with a second steady partner, it actually made them *more* attractive and available-looking.

Could be that if he's a good enough catch, once word gets out that he's partly at liberty, the shoe will be on the other foot.
Maybe I skimmed the comments too quickly or misunderstand the meaning of polyamorous, but I'm surprised no one has suggested that he and his gf bring a third person into their sexual relationship. As a single woman, I was recently invited by a long-term couple to join them in some play. We took several months from initial discussion to actual experience. And they spent a year prior discussing it and have told me how this process has brought them closer together. The sex is the easy part. The negotiations are challenging, and illuminating. I admire them for bringing variety and novelty into their relationship in a way that is inclusive and actually strengthens their relationship. And I get the bonus of lots of new experiences in a trusting environment.
There is no such thing as safe sex, just safer sex. The condom failure rate for pregnancy is 2% and has to be much higher for STDs. The probability of contracting STDs increases with each additional sex partner. From a health standpoint, WTBIE is effectively having sex with each sex partner his girlfriend has sex with and with all of the sex partners of sex partners that the girlfiend has sex with. The incubation period for HIV is variable from between one month and six months. The girlfriend is potentially putting her and WTBIE's health and lifes at risk every time she has sex with another partner. The only way WTBIE can know if it safe to have sex with his girlfriend after she has sex with another partner is to have her screened for STDs during a six month period during which time she abstains from sex. How is the girlfriend going to address these legitimate health concerns.

They need to discuss the issues of pregnancy, children, and abortion in advance of actually having to deal with them. Will the girlfriend insist on carrying the fetus to term even if paternity can not be determined until after the baby is born? Would WTBIE willing to be a father to children that aren't his biological offspring. Would the biological father insist on his rights with respect to any child of his? How would the presence of biological father(s) affect WTBIE's relationship with the girlfriend?

I know I'm being prosaic, but that does change the validity of these types of questions. The girlfriend is contemplating taking additional sex partners. WTBIE needs to disccuss the consequences of that decision with the girlfriend.
See what a hornet's nest Dan & Ryan stirred up by trying to suggest reasonable alternatives to DTMFA?! My god! A guy writes in trying to find a SOLUTION, and seemingly the majority of comments think Dan's trying to cram non-monogamy down everyone's throat. Here at Slog, no less.
@42- Amen!
Wow. Y'all are rowdy tonight. Poly amory is not better than Monogamy. But I'll add that there is A LOT of sensible middle ground in there that's fine too. Maybe swinging could be his thing - watching people have sex can be a lot of fun especially if you get to fuck his wife too! Threesomes are fun too.
What's the worst thing that happens if he tries to make this work? They break up, slightly worse for the wear but they were both honest. Yes, he's hurting, but every break up hurts no matter the cause.
If he DTMFA's her he could live the rest of his life regretting not knowing what could have been.
A link for the letter writer:
I think it would be helpful (if he decides to give it a try and stay together). Good luck!
#56: "What's the worst thing that happens if he tries to make this work? They break up, slightly worse for the wear but they were both honest. Yes, he's hurting, but every break up hurts no matter the cause."

Or he could end up with severe emotional scars that negatively impact the next several relationships. Or he could end up stuck supporting a child that isn't his but the law presumes it is. Or he could end up with herpes, or dead of AIDS.

How does being honest figure into whether he should give it a try or not? He could honestly decide that he just isn't up for the experience. There's nothing wrong with choosing that. That would save the pair of them a world of anguish and conflict, not to mention the loss of the time that could have been spent with other partners who were on board with their respective preferences.
I think this advice, while fundamentally good, still has a slight negative of framing of this gentleman's experience. He shouldn't find someone with views "less challenging" to him, he should find someone with views that are "consistent" with his. That is to say, find someone who is happy to meet his needs. Right now, he's in a relationship with someone that can't fulfill his need for monogamy, and he can't fulfill his partner's desire for variety.

It seems to me as if this guy has already explored his feeling pretty thoroughly. He tried to find a way to reconcile himself to his partner's sexual needs, and has found it trying. A strong relationship, one that goes into m-word territory, depends on partners being happy about meeting each others' needs, not feeling awful about it.

I think the course of action is obvious: he needs to sit down with his partner, and tell her that as much as he loves her, the relationship cannot work, and it's time for both of them to move on.
hey dude-
you're the best she ever had.

I want to have dinner with Dan Savage and Christopher Ryan.
Hi. Christopher Ryan here. Thanks for your comment, thursdaydyamo. I didn't mean to be condescending to the writer at all, but I can certainly see how that phrase "less challenging for you" could be heard that way. Your phrasing is better. And Evn, that's a great idea! If you can get Dan to agree, let's hook it up next time I'm in Seattle!
If we all agree that sex isn't some magical experience, then why are we all so willing to accept her argument that "variety is the spice of life"? I mean, sex is just sex, right? So why go out of the context of a loving relationship to get it, right? Couldn't they have some variety within their own sex life?

very often "poly people" label monogamous people as rigid, not self-accepting, who can't "look deeply into themselves" etc and their values are ancient, conformistic and thrust upon them by society. and they need "liberation"

and of course many mongamous fols think polygamy is just being slutty and wanting to fuck everything that moves. or if it does not move - then move it and fuck it afterwards.

i think that one can be mono or poly for both right and wrong reasons. in my opinion of course:

right reason to want to be monogamous for example - if for a person love and sex are very deeply related, and this person sees sex as connection with someone he/she loves and does not want to share that connection with anyone.

wrong reason for demanding monogamy - insecurities, "she will leave me", selfishness, desire to mark someone as "my own" etc.

right reason to be polygamous: if for you sex is simply a fun activity. it is fun with someone you love (and can be even the best), but you like variety, attention, flirtation. you can be emotionally monogamous, but not physically monogamous.

wrong reason: again, for example insecurity. trying to find validation of your attractiveness with multiple partners. no matter how hot is the person you are with now, you'll want more.

the thing is - no one can tell you which one of these you are, except yourself. by trying to explore your thought and feelings when you do these things. and i am not sure which one i am either.

PS. i think the larger point is - to try to discover - do you want monogamy or polygamy for wrong or right reasons?
I don't have time right now to read all the other comments, but I want to say I disagree with several I've read that say there's no room for him to change (or he's not likely to). I was raised to be a monogamist, taught that it was the "right" way. I was also socially conditioned to experience jealousy when presented with the thought of "my man" with another person. Those bad feelings were a direct result of the way I conceptualized sex and intimacy, and the way I conceptualized sex and intimacy was a direct result of the things I was taught by my religion, my family, and my culture. Once I challenged myself to consider MY feelings about sex and intimacy, I realized I disagree with what I was taught/conditioned to believe, and that then altered those feelings of jealousy.

I don't think anyone can deny our society conditions people to believe that non-monogamy is a threat to the very core of a relationship, no matter how solid that relationship may be emotionally. I hear people say things like, "Why even be MARRIED if you're going to sleep with other people!?" all the time (as if sexual exclusivity is the sole reason to be married). Whether the writer actually believes that himself or has only been conditioned to believe it is something only he can decide.
When I began to date the man I would later marry, I told him I didn't think that humans were biologically predisposed to monogamy and that I didn't think it was something I could do.
He is monogamous and didn't want to consider anything else. (And I'm pretty sure that his monogamy didn't equal never feeling desire for anyone else.)
I think many people have strong possessive feelings about their partners. And not a little insecurity, too.

So I tried. After all, I was in love. When we met and had the monogamous-or-not conversation, I was 22. I was 23 when we married.

I was 38 when I knew I couldn't continue to be monogamous--38 with two children.
We discussed ways to open up the marriage together, honestly; I even tried to make him see the potential for greater shared experience and to view us as partners in crime in a fun way. I suggested that this could deepen our intimacy.

He refused to consider any of it.

Finally I told him that I'd do what I had to and I would not rub his nose in it, I would not get pregnant, and I would not bring home any STIs. His response? He said, "if you do that, I'm out of here."

Well, I loved the man, and I was 41 years old. We'd been together, happily, for a LONG time. We had a family. I didn't want my marriage to break up.

So I cheated.

After a three-year-long affair (which my husband never found out about, but there was a certain amount of don't-ask-don't-tell-I don't-want-to-know going on), I couldn't live with the lies, the secrets, the sneaking, and the lack of integrity any more.

So I ended the affair.

But the three years of being emotionally withdrawn from my husband had done a lot of damage. A year later, I left him.

I don't know what my story proves, and I guess I fall into the category of those people who use their own experiences to explain all human behavior, but I feel that if we had been able to open the marriage up honestly, we might still be married.

And I think people can't change their basic natures.
Asking someone to accept non-monogamy is as unrealistic as asking someone who knows that she is incapable of being monogamous to practice it.

DTMFA is too harsh a directive for people who genuinely love each other but have this sexual incompatibility. But this problem will fester, and may never resolve in a way that makes both partners happy.
I have commented on this before, but I was as GGG as it gets, and my husband left me and our children for a woman who was originally just a playmate. She's married, with two kids, too, and she is dumping her husband for mine. We have been married 25 years, and he just walked away. We were best friends, and had great sex, almost every day, he had complete freedom, and was able to be totally honest with me, but he still lied to me to cover up her manipulations and his, and he still dumped me in mid-life for her. So, take that for what it's worth. He swore all the time we were together forever, up to the day he left, and moved right into her apartment, breaking up two families.
Within the context of human interactive sexuality, monogamy is the safest way to live without being celibate (and who the fuck in their right mind wants that?). Simply, 2 people in a committed monogamous relationship are the least likely to get STIs or unwanted pregnancies. It just makes sense in risk-management terms.
I am the old Uncle and variety is the spice of life.
@54 yes, both my husband and I have contracted gonorrhea, and herpes, possibly both due to his previous infidelities, from before we opened our marriage. Since we became non-monogamous, we have had scares with chlamydia, as well as other STIs. Now that he is gone I have been celibate (just don't have the heart for sex right now) and am awaiting the results of comprehensive STI screening. Is your fiancee mature and secure enough to insist on safer sex even if she has a crush on someone who swears he's clean and desperately wants to play without condoms? Will she be honest with you if she doesn't? I also know several non-monogamous friends who have had to deal with the "to abort or to raise a playmate's child" issue. Irony Alert: He and his new significant other have decided to be monogamous; even though neither of them has ever been successfully monogamous with any partner. Please be true to yourself, and wiki the word "compersion". I feel curious to know whether your in love feelings for your fiancee have anything to do with that rollercoaster of emotion that happens when you think you're going to lose someone. I've seen it happen many times. Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed non-monogamy, and I played nearly as much as he did, but it was only enjoyable as long as I felt secure that I was his primary person, his actual beloved, and that he was being completely transparent and open about everything. Turns out, he wasn't, and I am not.

Not to get involved in an already long thread, but monogamy is effective risk management for STIs/pregnancy only if its monogamous. That is, there is a significant tail risk that one or the other party will cheat. In that case, because the "monogamous" couple may not be using a barrier method of birth control, the risks of STis are as high, if not higher, than in an honest non-monogamous relationship.

The only effective risk management for STIs/unwanted pregnancy is celibacy (which is obviously no fun) or, failing that, honesty, trust, protection and testing
"Never? I don't think there are any hard and fast rules in relationships, let alone open relationships. Let's be realistic - when you let other men fuck your girl, you risk losing her, and no man or woman can honestly guarantee they won't fall for another person who's fucking them in all the right ways."

Okay, wow, what the hell is going on here? You "LET OTHER MEN fuck your girl?" No. She is not property, and you are not a gatekeeper. Check your misogyny. She's going to fuck other people either way; what's at stake here is the relationship, not him LETTING other men fuck her. Holy crap.

But you do make a point. There are no hard and fast rules in relationships. WHEN YOU ARE IN A RELATIONSHIP AT ALL, you risk losing that person and going through the pain of that loss. No man or woman can honestly guarantee they won't fall for another person WHO THEY MEET. So unless you plan on keeping your SO locked in a closet, you're risking that loss. Every day you're in a relationship, you're risking that heartache. Every relationship fails til one doesn't, and having it be open has absolutely nothing to do with it, you leotard.

"Monogamy is effective... only if it is monogamous." Well, that's a tautology. Condoms only work when they're worn. Yes, true, but a silly thing to say, as it is obviously true.

In my experience, I don't have unprotected sex with my partner until it is mutually wanted and agreed upon that we will be monogamous. I can't prevent them from cheating, but why even enter committed relationships unless I can show some trust in other human beings?

Its not a tautology, its a rhetorical device. Much "monogamy" is nothing of the sort (see any Savage Love).

I also don't see how, ex ante, your trust in your partner not to cheat is more reasonable than an open marriage-participant's trust that their (primary? forgive my poor terminology) partner use protection. Trust is key to both and I don't think one is less risky than the other. Actual monogamy is likely less risky than an open relationship but I don't think there is a way to know for sure if one is in an actually monogamous relationship.

In any event, my point is mostly about risk management and not monogamy; I don't really have a horse in this race.
@ debauch

It sounds like you assume the worst of people. I trust my partner not to cheat. Why should they cheat? If there's a problem in our relationship, I would expect them to speak with me directly, and I would expect them to expect the same from me. Honesty, open communication, trust, love, respect, being considerate of the other person's feelings. These are staples of a healthy relationship.
From what I've read in Dan's columns and heard on the podcast, monogamy is the more challenging relationship dynamic.
" Much "monogamy" is nothing of the sort (see any Savage Love)."

Um, I seriously doubt the people writing to Dan Savage for advice are a representative sample of the general population.

Here is Dan, again, trying to excuse cheating on his own marriage, by pushing a guy to be ok with it, and do the same. I'm sick and tired of his anti-monogamy crap... you want to do it, fine. But stop trying to excuse it with is not cheating if he knows, Just get with it, mantra.

If you can't make the commitment of marriage: emotionally and yes, crazy me,... SEXUALLY, DON'T GET MARRIED!!! or get divorce and find some one you can be faithful too... or better yet, be single and fuck anything that moves.

Dan you have a stay at home husband, no wonder he is fine with it, you make all the money... he has to put up with your non committal behind. Also Great way to race a kid, dude. "Dad, where is daddy dan going out so late?"... "oh, honey, daddy dan is going out to screw some guy he met on Grindr an hour ago."

The moment you approach your husband with the idea of an open marriage... you are telling the person the you are sick of sleeping with them. That they are not enough! (so you might as well end it right there). And on top, you basically have left them with the fabulous choice of letting you sleep around or lose the person they love. Fantastic!

And what the hell is this Veto power over the people you cheat on him with, that you are always talking about like the cornerstone of a great open relationship... That is not a veto... more like a line-item veto, because he only has the choice of who, not if you get to sleep with other men.. what a choice: "honey, you can veto one of this five guys I am going to fuck"
This is really sick.

Ryan's whole premise is that people are by nature universally non-monogamous and that jealousy is nothing more than societal brainwashing. Yet, here's a man who is open-minded -evidently beyond the influence of the status quo- and who clearly has an innate aversion to the wife-swapping lifestyle that Ryan so vehemently argues for. So, what does Ryan do? Rather than recognize that this man has a biological imperative that's distinct from his own, he brandishes his snake oil and attempts to indoctrinate WTBIE into The Lifestyle with some "helpful" suggestions on how to override his own hardwired instincts.

Human's are not mathematical equations. There is no universal truth when it comes to behavior.

nocutename @66:

So, first you were the one who didn't want the marriage to end. Rather than let your husband just walk away honestly, you kept him under false pretenses and you cheated. Then, when you were the one who wanted the marriage to end, after having ruined it yourself, you simply walked away. And after all that you still conclude that "DTMFA is too harsh a directive for people who genuinely love each other but have this sexual incompatibility."

Honestly, you think that's the wrong solution? The one thing your story proves is that you can't think your way out of a paper bag. It would have been a LOT better for him to DTMFA you in the first place. It would have saved both of you several YEARS of heartache to end it honestly at the point where he said "you do that and I'm out of here." Frankly, he should have been smart enough to figure out that statements like " I'd do what I had to and I would not rub his nose in it" made it crystal clear that you were intent on following through with this plan, regardless of whether he liked it or not, and he should have DTMFA'd right then and there.
@66 I'm curious, just how did you intend to keep your promises not to get pregnant or bring home any STDs? Those are promises that no one can ever keep with 100% certainty. As anyone familar with statistcal analysis will tell you. I know this is judgmental, but if you want to be brutally honest with yourself you have to accept that ultimately you were responsible for the damage that destroyed your marriage. It was your decisions, your actions. You've would've caused less harm to yourself, your husband, and your children if you had just openly acknowledged that you and your husband were not sexually compatible and were at an unresolvable impass. The honorable thing would have been to end the marriage, instead you chose to engage in three years of lies, deceit, and betrayal.
I wrote my post after I @66, but before I read @80. Sorry if it seamed like piling on. I had the discussion with my then girlfriend about opening our relationship. She was adamant about not opening the relationship. A year later she started cheating. Fucking hypocrite.
You're feeling like you're not enough because, to your girlfriend, you are not enough. She is telling you exactly what she intends to do. She fully intends to sleep with other guys. Listen. Hear it. How will you feel when you're married to this woman and she is getting ready for a date, preparing herself in your master bathroom to have sex with another man? How will you feel when she's shaving her legs, her p*ssy, primping and putting on makeup, fixing her hair just so, selecting which lacy underthings will most turn him on? Now, how will you occupy your time while she's gone? Will you be able to get out and do things you enjoy? Will you be her "babysitter", staying at the house with your children, while she is out getting it on? What will you tell your own daughter or son, when they ask, maybe even when they figure things out? How will these things affect how much you love this woman? You get the idea. This is what she is telling you to sign up for. Know it. Feel it. Can you live with it? If not, if that's not your idea of what a good marriage feels like, please let her go. Find someone who thinks you are enough.

I totally understand that you trust your partner, and I have no reason to doubt that that is a reasonable/correct choice. I just don't think that your trust is more or less reasonable than a non-monogamous person's trust that their partner will use adequate protection.

And, for the record, part of risk management *is* expecting (or at least considering) the worst. Did you work as a quant for Lehman?


@been there and back again

Thats a fair point.


On the narrow question of the relative riskiness of open and closed relationships, my point is just that in both cases you are trusting your partner, and that there is reason to assume that that trust is more reasonable in one case or the other.

My worry is that when people believe that they are in a monogamous relationship, they take less STI precautions. If that belief is misplaced, *and there is no way to know ex ante if it is,* there is more risk for that reason. It feels somewhat like abstinence education in that if the person is abstinent, they are best off compared to a comprehensive sex ed student, but if they are not abstinent, they are worse off (bc they do not have the education to protect themselves).

Also, this is observational, not prescriptive. I don't think you should be in an open relationship (I'm not, though I have never really turned my mind to if my partner and I would want one), I just think that people should be in the best relationship for them (gay/straight/open/closed/asexual/whatever) and that they should take reasonable precautions regarding their health (barrier methods unless you are reasonably sure that you can trust the other person and frequent testing for everyone).

Be safe; be happy.
err "and that there is NO reason to assume that that trust is more reasonable in one case or the other."
Oh HRH, I'm glad to see you commenting again. Hope you are hanging in there---it sounds as if your road has been so tough. You bear out what I keep thinking: that much of what is proudly presented as "poly" is just confusion, bad behavior, and poor boundaries. I found myself on the fringes of a poly situation, and was willing to keep an open mind, until my BFs ex, who had done to him what your husband has done to you and sloughed him off like an old tired skin, announced she'd like to keep him as a "secondary," but (significantly) only after I appeared on the scene. Apparently, poly was just a cover for her own confusion about what she wanted in life. She didn't want him, but she didn't want him to move on either.

Ahhh, good times. In talking with him, he had gotten most of his warmth and emotional support from his secondaries all along, while he put up with his mercurial, difficult wife because he adored her (I can see why: she's very charismatic in a sort of manic way). So, just too much for me, to sort out all of this nuttiness. I didn't so much care about sharing him as I cared about having such a wacko use the man I cared for as a yo-yo, all under the aegis of a more enlighted sexuality. F**k that noise, huh?
@83: wow, flashback. My heart is still pounding. Thanks for that (wry grin).

WTBIE, read #83 again. The description is dead-on accurate.

The subtext to all of that is that your partner goes out to sleep with other people because she craves excitement. Know what that makes you? Mr. Good Old Constant, Always there for at her back home, Dependable, Predictable...Boring. When she wants a night on the town, she is going to think of her beau(s); you, on the other hand, will be the one that when the subject of date night comes up, you two can't make the household budget stretch enough to go out this month, because the backyard fence needs fixing. When she thinks of her others, she will think butterflies in the stomach, when she thinks of you, she will think mortgage payment.

Why don't you get her to get some other guy to support her and deal with all the mundane, libido-killing details of daily life -- so you can be the one she is excited to go see and fuck, instead of the one she needs to get away from?
@87, but what about when she interrupts her primping and shaving to fuck you, because she's so hot that she can't even wait until she sees the other guy an hour later? What about when she fucks you again after she gets home, still hot and bothered? What about if you love it, and get hard thinking of her with other men? It happens...
Before I get jumped on, I'll admit -- we've only been doing this four months, after 14 years of monogamy. So I don't know if it will get old, and I have no idea where we'll be in five years. But it's hot right now, and a wild ride which I'm going to enjoy while it lasts...
@88: Okay, "what if" all of that? (Yeah, sure his girl is going to ruin her shower and smear her makeup and muss her hairdo and show up at her lover's an hour late with her special red lace panties all sticky. I'll bet the other guy is just as down for starting the night with sloppy seconds as WTBIE is ending it that way. That's totally likely. ) WTBIE may consider all of those as hypotheticals.

But from the tone of his letter, I doubt he will find any of them persuasive. 83 was counseling him to imagine the situation in deep and excruciating detail. Being in the moment is vastly more intense than considering it as a hypothetical, let alone being argued into it against your better judgment by the person who wants it from you. If merely thinking about it "gives [him] a sick feeling in [his] stomach," actually being in the moment is going to make him miserable.

Yes 83, (and by extension 90) this is exactly what was going on in my sweetheart's home: Poly/Manic/Wifey kept getting bored with all the tired old details of raising three kids and getting by on a less-than-ample income and kept checking out to chase her needs for excitement, for fantasy, for whatever.... And did she call it boredom or frustration? Nope, she called it polyamory.

Why he put up with it is another story, of course, cf my comment at 86.
Eek! I meant to respond to #87, who was responding to 83. (sorry!)
@90 If the other guy weren't hot for seconds, he wouldn't be with a hot-wife to begin with. And, yes, he'll wait fifteen minutes for me to brush my hair after I fuck my husband. These aren't hypotheticals to me, it's as recent as last week. And maybe this Saturday, if all goes well. But no "sloppy seconds" for anyone, much as I like to fantasize about that. Condoms rule.
Everyone, go read Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. THAT is polyamory, and nothing less will do.

As I see it, the problem is that we view sex as a toy we get to play with, without actually acknowledging the physical and emotional power it has over us. If sleeping around is no big deal, why do we seem to care about it so damn much? The truth is that sex is a magical, mystical force that captures our imaginations, and we are absolutely desperate to experience it intensely. Some of us believe we will experience it most intensely with our monogamous partner (as I believe), and some of us believe that we will experience it most intensely by seeking it out with multiple people. We are extremely anxious about getting the best possible sex we can have.

The whole point of the Nest in Stranger (see above) is that all of those involved in the polyamorous relationship are able to give their super-human attention to all of their partners in a way that I believe is not quite possible for us poor louses here on planet earth. See @49--there is not enough time in the day to give multiple someones the attention needed to develop the bond necessary to engage in the magical, mystical, ultimately intimate act of joining, fusing the body in communion in a fully committed way. As has been loudly discussed, we do not own each other. We give to each other freely. And sex is a ritual of ultimate giving, where one surrenders the body, one's very essence, one's material constitution, all that one is in this earthly existence, to another human being who is choosing to do the same. Talk about magic--becoming one, singular NOW. That's a pretty big gift.
Finally, as alluded to earlier, sex is not a toy, but we play with it like it is, neglecting that it is at its most powerful when performed in the service of love. Love and sex are intertwined, inextricable, and it is disingenuous to say otherwise. This is not to say that sex without love can't be fun, but it is not operant at its fullest potential. Monogamy is a way to give sex and love its best shot because it focuses your attention on one person, with whom you can develop a deeply committed relationship without having to give of yourself so completely to another.

Independent of the poly/mono debate, we are not asking ourselves what sex means to us as humans (NOT as members of a society, but human creatures, that have bodies that do things, and emotions that inform how we use those bodies). Playing with sex like it's a toy will only get you so far. It's like walking into a university lab and looking at it like a child's chemistry kit. The learning, exploration, and experience necessary to plunge the depths of the infinite in human sexuality takes seriousness and dedication, and I like having my partner with me on this journey.
93: Point conceded: some partners will, some partners won't. It certainly was never an option coming from my ex-gf.

The bigger point, however, is not what the wife would or wouldn't do for WTBIE before going out, but how WTBIE would feel in that situation. When my non-mono-gf was busy getting ready to have her night out, I wanted as little to do with the situation as possible. Sex play was the last thing on my mind. What I wanted was for it not to be happening, and no amount of reassurance or strokes leading up to her departure ever made the departure itself any less hurtful.

The biggest point of all is this: don't let your partner talk you into something that you know in your heart will make you miserable.

If your partner really pushes you to the wall to just give it a try, you never know until you try it, you should respond in kind. She is asking you to completely put your happiness on the line, for you to consent to try something that might destroy the relationship. Is she willing to do the same? Is she willing to take the risk that she might come back to find the locks changed and her stuff on the curb? That will be the true measure of how important this is to her. You might be okay with it, you might actually like it, or you might hate it enough to react that badly. If she feels entitled to ask you to put that much risk into it, she should do the same.
"When The Best Isn't Enough" feels inadequate and could be worried that his girlfriend is with him because he's the best... so far. I think her attempts at reassurance backfired.

My partner and I have a semi-open relationship. Emotional fidelity with physical playmates. My partner proposed the idea, but he still worried about how he would feel in practice and "what if?" scenarios. "What if you fuck someone even better in bed, will you fall for them?" To overcome those worries, it helps A LOT to reassure your partner that they're special and you love them for reasons other than their body or skill in the sack. We also play together so nobody feels abandoned or jealous. Threesomes are a great bonding experience.

I think of variety like this: Let's say steak is your favorite food. Enjoying a salad or sushi sometimes doesn't change how you feel about steak. Eating only steak could get monotonous over time no matter how good it is, after a different dish you can return to steak with a renewed appreciation. Maybe the salad will have some cheese or spices you really like, you can try them with steak.
I am not trying to minimize the effects on the GF, either. If you agree, before marrying her or after, to what she proposes, but only to "make her happy" (note: you can never make anyone else happy), and then determine that Nope, You Tried It But Can't Live With It, and now you're MARRIED, or maybe Married with Children, dude, that is a very painful and messy situation. If she thinks she signed up for a lifetime commitment with a man who is totally ok with her having sex with other men, then he turns into a sighing, pouting, self-destructive, over-eating, alcoholic because his self-esteem took a nose-dive after one too many dates or crushes on her part, or her constantly texting her latest boytoy, well, she's not gonna be happy; she's going to be looking for the nearest exit, or smiling to your face, and cheating behind your back. Then it's going to be you, alone, paying child support or alimony or both, or you, raising the children alone, while she seeks her freedom elsewhere, or some other version that doesn't sound too happily-ever-after to think about. Please don't turn her from a free spirit into someone who feels guilty about what she thought you agreed to. Basically, please do NOT say yes, when you really mean no. It's not fair to either of you. You simply must be true to yourself. She is being honest, if possibly pushy and maybe a little preachy, so please believe her. She needs to be able to believe you, too. Otherwise, either let her go, or just don't get married, and don't have children together.
@attitude devant, yes, I am hanging in there. Still heartbroken and I wish I could say it's getting easier, but actually it's pretty much of an emotional elevator, up one day and down the next. I'll get there, and thanks so much for caring about this stranger. Oh, and good news all, STIs all negative. Yay.

@EricaP, well, four months is about a good length of time to get the rush of it. We did it for several years before we had any significant downside, and before my husband met the GF he left me for, I'd have started a church for it and preached it as the gospel. So allow me to give you "if I had it to do all over again" if you will.
1. No open dating. Keep it to same room if you do full swap, or at least close enough to make sure the playmate isn't trying anything to pry you and him apart.
2. Trust your own gut, please! I knew it, felt it, sensed it, whatever, but I was being too nice and too trusting, and just kept letting him play with her, and it snowballed into where he was spending much more time alone with her than we got alone together. Plus, I could tell by her face she was bad news, but felt guilty for "judging" her. If your gut is screaming, please listen to it.
3. Don't allow emotions to enter into it. Try to keep it as play. Don't see any one playmate too often. Keep it more "swinging" and less "polyamory". People aren't toys, and shouldn't be used, but try to keep things light, friendly, and fun, and don't allow long phone calls, texting, or emailing/chats with any one playmate, unless you are expressly included in the loop.
4. Any, and I mean ANY evidence of dishonesty, or even omission of information, needs to be treated as high treason. I cannot stress enough how much of this I overlooked and forgave, much to my detriment, and my family's.

That's it, since you already covered the safer sex/condoms issue. Enjoy, and keep a separate bank account with plenty of cash it, just in case.
HRH covers one of the lovely ironies I see in most poly chicks; "Sleeping with one person is totally unnatural. But developing feelings for the other people you're sleeping with? That's just not right." WTBIE should totally date other chicks, actually become close friends with them, and see just what that does for his GF's enthusiasm.
HRH My heart goes out to you, but as you sadly found out you can't control things once you open Pandora's box, which is what an open relationship is. You may have firm rules and boundaries, but you are dealing with people who have there own agendas, interests, and baggage. Cliche that it may be, even with the best of intentions you really can't control the human heart. For me that is an unacceptable risk with respect to someone I really love and trust. I'm not going to put that person in a position to break that trust.