42-year-old dad here. I’ve been married for 12 years, and my marriage has been somewhat turbulent. But after some affairs—one where my wife screwed my best friend—and therapy, we reconnected, righted ourselves, and started a wonderful family. We both identify as bisexual now, and we are ethically non-monogamous. My question is this: my wife never seeks out other lovers, but I often do. She thinks looking for sex on apps is gross and won’t try it. She did recently suggest we become poly—that we date other couples together—only to shut that down after one date with another couple. She also kind of slut-shames me when I ask permission to hook up or date someone else. She wants to be open in theory, but she seems to be against it in practice. We communicate well and she continues to give me permission (but always after shaming me), and I...
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... after shaming me), and I check in regularly only to have her act annoyed when I inform her of each new adventure. I am not sure what to do. Often Practicing Ethical Non-monogamy Has it occurred to you that maybe… just maybe… your wife doesn’t wanna hear about each and every one of your adventures? Or any of them? I mean, it seems clear to me she doesn’t want to hear about them. It’s all right there in your letter: your wife doesn’t enjoy discussing your dates, your hookups, your adventures, etc., and yet you persist in asking her and telling her. You mention “some affairs” earlier in your marriage, OPEN, back before you came out to each other as bisexual and opened your relationship. But you only share the details of one: your wife fucked your best friend. That had to hurt. I’m glad you two got into therapy, managed to work through the fallout, got to a better place, and decided to start a family together. But I feel like I don’t have all the relevant information here—like whose idea opening up was (yours?) and your wife’s state of mind when she agreed (guilt-racked?)—which means I have no choice but to speculate… You’ve been married 12 years, you started a family sometime after that turbulent period, which means your kid or kids are still young and may be very young. Your wife could be interested in other sex partners but lacks the energy for them right now, seeing as she’s doing… judging from your letter… way more than her fair share of the parenting. I mean, if you’re constantly running off on dates and hookups and having adventures and leaving her home alone with the kid(s), it’s possible that your wife is annoyed with you and you’re reading her annoyance as slut-shaming. And if you proposed opening up the relationship and she agreed to it—after she fucked your best friend—maybe she doesn’t feel free to say no when you ask for permission to fuck someone else, which could also leave your wife annoyed. Annoyance that, again, you could be reading as slut-shaming. At any rate, OPEN, if I were married to someone who agreed to open the relationship but who seemed annoyed or upset or slut-shamed me whenever I asked for their okay to go fuck someone else, I would have a few questions for my spouse: Do they want an open relationship at all? Did they ever? Do they still? And if they did and still do, would they prefer a DADT (“don’t ask, don’t tell”) arrangement over a TMFE (“tell me fucking everything”) arrangement? I think a few check-in/check-up sessions with your couples’ counselor are in order here. Maybe your wife’s feelings have changed, after having a kid (or kids). Or maybe your wife—cheater though she was—would prefer a monogamous relationship after all. Or, hey, maybe your wife is happy for you to fuck other people but would like to see—at least while your kids are young—you dial back your adventuring and dial up your dadding. But I can only speculate. Your wife knows. Ask her. My wife likes to suck cock. But not my cock. She finds the act degrading “in a sexy way,” and the “vibe” is all wrong with me, she says, because we love each other too much. We have a wonderful, loving, and creative sex life otherwise. (And, yes, I eat her pussy.) She has my okay to suck off other men, which happens once or twice a year, and I have her okay to get sucked off by other women, which never happens. Finding men who want no-strings-attached blowjobs from a hot married woman is obviously easier than finding women who want to give no-strings-attached blowjobs to married men. We live in a very gay part of the Los Angeles area. I’m 100% straight and not the least bit bisexual. But more than once I’ve been offered a blowjob by gay men at my gym (the locker room is a scene), and I’ve honestly been tempted to close my eyes and think about it being a woman. My wife isn’t comfortable with the idea because she thinks gay men are likelier to have STIs and she doesn’t want me bringing anything home. I think she’s being a bigot. Seeking Understandable Compromise Knowing Erections Rarely Sucked I hope the guys lining up to suck your cock at the gym will forgive me for this, SUCKERS, but your wife is right. Men who have sex with men—gay and bi and otherwise—have higher rates of STIs. And while guys who suck dick in locker rooms make the world a happier place, they are likelier to have oral gonorrhea, for instance, than straight men or straight women—even straight women like your wife, e.g., married straight women who occasionally blow randos with (or without) their husbands’ okay. That’s not bigotry, it’s epidemiology. Zooming out for a second… We saw skyrocketing rates of gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia in 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and gay and bi men were “disproportionately affected,” which is just a nice way for the CDC to say gay and bi men were doing more than our fair share of transmitting and contracting. Testing and treatment have been underfunded for years, and both need to be more accessible for all. And if getting tested and treated were easier and if gay and bi men were more vigilant about both and had a few fewer partners, on average, and maybe (gasp) used condoms once in a while, STI rates among gay and bi men would return to their pre-post-pandemic levels. We’ve seen gay and bi men absolutely crush the curve where monkeypox is concerned over the last few months—by getting vaccinated and making behavioral changes—and with enough info, support, and resources, gay and bi men should be able to bring their STI rates down too, SUCKERS, perhaps to the point where your wife is comfortable with 100%-straight-you letting gay men suck your cock at the gym. That said, people get to make up their own minds about the degree of risk they’re comfortable with, SUCKERS, and two people in an open relationship have to come to an agreement about the risk each is allowed to take. Your risks are hers, hers are yours. And unless your wife exclusively blows virgin Mormon boys who’ve just arrived in LA on their missions, she is taking risks. She could be the one who brings something home. And while there are lots of gay and bi men out there who are less likely to have an STI than the kind of straight guys your wife blows—some virgin Mormon missionary boys are gay—we’re talking about averages across populations here, not the risk profile of a particular individual. But maybe if you went to your wife with one name (a gay guy who recently tested and/or is in a committed and mostly monogamous relationship and just wants to blow you) rather than an entire class (the crowd at your gym), your wife would give you the okay. Finally, SUCKERS, have you considered exploring organized swinging? Lots of straight swinging couples are interested in “soft swapping,” i.e., only oral sex with others. And if knowing her husband is getting blown by the wife of the man she’s blowing “vibes” with your wife’s degradation kink, you might wind up getting your dick sucked regularly by married women at play parties. Which would be the first choice of a guy who’s 100% straight, right? We’re a married straight couple. We were both readers of yours before we met more than ten years ago. But we’ve never written to you. We’re very happy! We’re also monogamous! And maybe that’s why we’ve never needed your advice! Successful Monogamy Unsung Good So, monogamy was the answer all along? Dammit. I should’ve been able to work that out on my own. I mean, I’ve interviewed countless couples’ counselors and divorce lawyers over the years, SMUG, and not one has ever mentioned seeing a monogamous couple in their offices. P.S. Did that feel good to share? I’m glad. But I’m guessing one of you drafted this email and the other co-signed. Was the drafter overcompensating for something? Was the cosigner able to add their name with a clear conscience? P.P.S. I’m not trying to be a dick—it comes naturally—but you’re whistling past the world’s most densely populated graveyard here, i.e., the graveyard filled with marriages that weren’t what they appeared to be. So, hang on to my email address, SMUG. You might need it someday. email@example.com Listen to Dan on the Savage Lovecast. Follow Dan on Twitter @FakeDanSavage. Columns, podcasts, books, merch and more at savage.love.