I’m a gay man and I’ve recently started seeing a guy in an open relationship. He’s intelligent, funny, and sexy. He told me early on that his partner is a Dom top, into kink (leather, latex, etc.), that his partner has caged boys, and so on. Moreover, with his partner he’s a “bratty sub,” meaning he engages in erotic disobedience and defiance. I was indifferent to this initially, but I have begun to become aware of his partners presence in a way I don’t like, even though I’ve never met the guy. I also find myself feeling resentful and jealous of the idea of him being told what to do, held back, or controlled. (The sex we have is hot, intimate, and intense, as well as completely vanilla.) I know his relationship with his partner is none of my business, but if he truly is a bratty sub,...
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...ess, but if he truly is a bratty sub, and his partner is a “tamer,” am I just a pawn in their games? Is the intimacy we share in the service of his primary D/s relationship? I like this guy and wish I could be with him but that’s not possible because he and his partner are engaged. I’m okay with that. But I can’t stand the idea of our connection being incorporated into an erotic game he’s playing with his partner. I don’t want to be conscripted into their power exchange. I welcome your advice.
Neither Brat Nor Tamer
Let’s call the guy you’re hooking up with “Brat” and call his fiancé “Dom.” Worst-case scenario, NBNT, Brat goes home and tells Dom everything you’ve been doing together, presumably in a very bratty way, and then Dom punishes Brat for being a slutty brat. If that’s what they’re doing—and we don’t know if that’s what they’re doing—then, yeah, I guess the vanilla sex you’re having with Brat is being “incorporated” into the erotic power-exchange games Brat and Dom play together. You could ask Brat not to tell Dom anything about the time he spends with you, NBNT, but you ultimately can’t control what Brat does or says when he’s alone with Dom… and telling each other everything might be a condition of the open relationship that makes your relationship with Brat possible… and attempting to control what Brat says to Dom when they’re alone while at the same time objecting to the control Dom has over Brat is a little hypocritical.
Zooming out for a second: Anyone who doesn’t like the idea of someone they’re fucking talking to a primary partner about the fucking they’re doing shouldn’t fuck primarily partnered people and/or should only fuck primarily partnered people who have DADT arrangements with their primary partners. (Submissive English majors: I order you to diagram that sentence.)
Back to you, NBNT: I think the real issue here is that you’ve caught feelings for Brat. But since you can’t object to Dom’s existence, as Dom was a given at the start (and, again, Dom’s willingness to open the relationship made your connection with Brat possible), you’ve subconsciously landed on the idea of objecting to the sex Brat has with Dom and the possibility that the sex Brat has with you—in addition to being great and hot for you—fuels his connection to Dom. So, it’s not that Brat plays a subordinate role in his relationship with Dom that bothers you, e.g., Brat being told what to do, Dom controlling Brat, but rather the subordinate role you play in Brat’s life. You want Brat the way Dom has Brat—not as a sub, NBNT, but as a partner—and you’re going to have to come to terms with what you don’t have, will never have, and can’t control if you decide to keep seeing Brat.
P.S. Just in case any Tucker Carlson producers are digging through my column looking for things to get outraged about: “caged boys” is a reference to submissive adult men, sometimes called “boys,” who enjoy wearing locking male chastity devices, sometimes called “cages.” Brat’s fiancé is holding the keys to cages with adult men’s cocks in them, not the keys to cages with underage male children in them.
What is the etiquette for running into people you’ve hooked up with? My partner and I, both males, practice ENM, so long as he doesn’t know who I hook up with and I always play safe. I was recently on my own at a store and saw a guy I hooked up with. I would’ve said hi/acknowledged him, but he was with another guy, so I actively avoided eye contact since I didn’t know if they were together. But we definitely saw each other just not at the same time. I want to be ready for when this happens again either when I’m alone or with my partner.
Ran Into Guy I Dicked
Fucking questions, sucking questions, cock-locking questions—I feel qualified to answer those on my own. But etiquette questions? Those are outside my areas of expertise, RIGID. So, I shared your letter with Daniel Post Senning, great-great grandson of Emily Post and co-author of Emily Post’s Etiquette: 19th Edition.
“Etiquette says we acknowledge people we know with our eyes, a wave, a nod, and a polite ‘How’s it going?’ when we meet in passing,” said Senning. “So long as the other person understands the limits of your romantic connection, there’s no reason for the encounter to be awkward.”
Since you weren’t with your partner, RIGID, you were free to acknowledge your hookup without your partner both noticing and knowing. But let’s say you were with your partner. What then?
“In a small world where we might be managing multiple relationships where the parties would rather not interact or know about each other, it’s a good idea to make explicitly sure everybody knows that fact,” said Senning, “and everyone knows that might mean walking past each other in public or otherwise limiting interactions.”
In other words, RIGID, what you know about your partner—he would rather not know about your hookups—your hookups need to know too. It’s a small world and the gay world is even smaller; even if you were to stick to horny tourists and business travelers, your chances of running into a hookup when you’re out with your partner are high. So, you should say something like this to your hookups as you’re showing thems to the door: “Hey, that was great. Look, if we run into each other and I’m with my partner, I might not be able to say hi. We’re open but we’re doing the ‘don’t ask/don’t tell’ thing, and saying hello to a hot guy like you is a tell. My apologies in advance.”
Now, in the example you mentioned, RIGID, you were alone, but your hookup was with someone else, and you opted to pretend not to see him. Was that the right thing to do, etiquette-wise?
“Thinking about how you manage these moments with consideration for all involved is the right way to think these things through,” said Senning. “RIGID was right to consider the possibility the guy he saw might not want a past hookup to say ‘hello’ or otherwise engage when he was with someone else.”
While I agree with Senning—and defer to him on all matters of etiquette—I think gay men should err on the side of acknowledging the existence of men whose asses we’ve recently eaten, whenever possible. Ignoring someone we’ve fucked is cold and it can leave that person wondering what they may have done wrong. So, a quick smile and a nod. If the guy he’s with notices—or if the guy you’re with notices—telling a small lie to spare someone’s feelings is a courtesy that etiquette allows. Some suggestions: “We used to work together,” “He goes to my gym,” “That’s George Santos.”
Daniel Post Senning co-authored Emily Post’s Etiquette: Centennial Edition with Lizzie Post, also a great-great grandchild of Emily Post. Together they co-hose the podcast Awesome Etiquette.
I’m a 42-year-old gay man living in San Francisco, and I can’t stop playing the cum dump. My partner of 10 years wants to marry me next year. That’s not the problem. My problem is that we have ridden an STI train for two years. Every three months we get a positive for something. It’s a roller coaster ride of shots and pills. My partner wants us to close our relationship and get off the STI train. My partner enjoys being topped by me, but he is older and struggles to top me. I’m vers and love bottoming. So, I end up exploring all the normal spots for anonymous sex when I want to get topped. I tried going to these spaces and just giving oral, something I also love doing, but I always end up bottoming. And I quickly go from “please wear a condom” to “load me up.” My doctor isn’t supportive, and I get lots of “you need to stop doing this” from him. What should I do?
Lusting Over Anon Dick
You should find a few regular fuck buddies who can load you up. That won’t eliminate your risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections, LOAD, but having more sex with fewer people will—under most circumstances—significantly lower your risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections. And if you find it hard to stick to using condoms or oral when you visit places where men have anonymous sex, LOAD, you should avoid those places.
Again, I wanna emphasize that finding a small group of regular fuckbuddies isn’t a perfect system for avoiding sexually transmitted infections—only abstinence is, it saddens me to say—but taking non-anon and/or nearly-anon loads from a small number of regulars as opposed to anon loads from a large number of irregulars should result in less time on the STI train. And if you like the sleazy vibes at “the normal spots” for anonymous sex—bathhouses, sex clubs, public sex environments—you can arrange to meet your regular fuck buddies at them.
P.S. Your doctor shouldn’t shame you, LOAD, but you can’t expect your doctor to congratulate you after you’ve contracted your fourth STI in less than a year. And your partner sounds frustrated with the track you’re on. He’s talking about closing the relationship right now, LOAD. If you don’t want him to start thinking about ending it, you’ll make some changes.
So, did you guess which answers in last week’s column (“The Undanny Valley”) were written by me, and which were written by ChatGPT? Here’s the answer key, flipped upside-down and mirrored, of course, for ultimate protection against spoilers.
ɯɐʎqǝ ɔ’ 3˙141′ ɐup ɔɥɐɹןǝs ʌ˙ pɐʍǝs˙
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