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Wants v. Gots

Joe Newton

I am new to polyamory. I am an ethically non-monogamous hetero woman in her 50s and recently re-entered into my first secondary sexual relationship with a married friend whom I’ve known all my life. We lost touch after college, but he reconnected and restarted it.

Is it normal to want to know if he has other partners? Is it OK to ask him? How do I ask him?

He has asked me directly and I told him I don’t have other partners. But he is very opaque when I try to talk to him about himself. He prefers to keep chats and calls superficial and this has been a source of angst for me since I do like a creative conversation, and I have seen him have it with others, so his reluctance to engage with me is confusing. I am open in sharing my relationship status...

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...engage with me is confusing. I am open in sharing my relationship status when he asks me directly. But I am unable to open such a topic with him. I brought up what feels like an unequal power dynamic, and he agrees this dynamic exists but that’s just how it is. We hardly meet even once a year since we live on different continents. (I do the traveling because I have flexibility, and yes, there’s a dynamic here, too, which I’m willing to let go of.) Those few hours are like life-fuel. We share an incredible chemistry that would be a shame to throw away, so I would like to do all I can to build something with him. Can you please help me with any pointers to navigate this? Now Seeking Answers What you want (something deep and meaningful) is imperiling what you’ve got (something casual and annual). Zooming out for a second: You wanna go deeper with this man but he, for reasons he refuses to share, isn’t interested in going deeper with you. I can make informed guesses about what his reasons might be — the agreement he has with his wife allows for sex with others but not romance/intimacy; you only see each other once a year and he doesn’t see the point of forging a more meaningful emotional connection under these circumstances; he’s into you physically but otherwise doesn’t vibe with you (as the kids say) — but since I can’t subpoena and depose him, NSA, and he’s not telling you, we’re never going to know for sure what he’s thinking. But I can answer your three questions for me: Yes, it’s normal to want to know if he has other partners (in addition to his wife); Yes, it’s okay to ask him if he has other partners (absent an answer, you should assume he does); Ask him directly, NSA, but you shouldn’t ask him incessantly… unless you’re willing to risk him throwing it/you away. Basically, NSA, I think you might have the wrong end of the stick here. You’re convinced that deepening your relationship is the best way to sustain this connection — a connection you value because the physical chemistry is off the charts — but pushing him to go deep when he’s not interested going deeper than his dick can get him could prompt him to end things. If you can’t enjoy the chemistry, the sex, and the “same time next year” excitement of this connection — if that’s not enough — you should throw this/him away yourself. If you’re not willing to settle for what he’s willing to offer, you shouldn’t waste one more international flight on him. But since I can’t imagine he’s asked you to be monogamous to him, NSA, you should have more than enough bandwidth — emotional bandwidth, sexual bandwidth, social bandwidth — to enjoy what you’ve got with him while pursuing men closer to home who want a deeper connection. P.S. I wouldn’t call this polyamory. Given the facts in evidence, NSA, it sounds like this man is in an open marriage but that he isn’t seeking — or isn’t allowed to seek — loving and committed relationships with other women. Non-monogamous ≠ polyamorous. I’m a 28-year-old woman and I’ve been in a happy long-distance relationship with my boyfriend for five years. Two years ago, we became non-monogamous and started having occasional sex with a few friends. We agreed that we shouldn’t have romantic relationships with anyone else. While living abroad for a year, I started a sexual relationship with a guy. The sex was mind-blowing. He knew about my boyfriend and agreed to be just “fuck buddies.” I wasn’t worried about getting too attached to him, because we had very different world views and political ideas, which is a deal breaker to me in terms of romantic attachment — or it used to be. To my surprise I developed an emotional connection with this guy, which he reciprocated. A year later and back home, I still love my boyfriend very deeply, he is one of the most important people in the world to me, but I don’t enjoy sex with him as much as I did before. I fantasize a lot about my former fuck buddy and don’t have any interest in meeting someone new. The few interactions I’ve had with him since I came home were still quite flirtatious. I fear these fantasies are affecting my relationship with my boyfriend and don’t know how to move on. On one hand, I love and admire my boyfriend, but I don’t feel as physically attracted to him anymore. On the other hand, I struggle to let go of my physical attraction for another person whose flaws my brain seems intent on ignoring. Do you have any suggestions? Hemming Over Things That Involve Emotions Sex with long-term partners invariably settles into a routine, HOTTIE, and while routines get a bad rap, especially routine sex (which gets the “rut” label slapped on it), routines bring order and stability to our lives. What routines don’t bring to our lives is excitement. While the contentedly monogamous regard the tradeoff as a win — routine and reliable sexual intimacy in exchange for novelty and sexual excitement — the miserably monogamous regard the tradeoff as a loss. The trick to being contentedly non-monogamous — or one of the tricks — is to refrain from comparing sex with a long-term partner to sex with a new or still new-ish partner. Sex with a long-term partner may be less exciting, but routine, familiar, and predictable sex has its perks. Comparison, as they say, is the thief of joy — and in your case, HOTTIE, comparing the sex you’re having now with your current boyfriend to the sex you had with your former fuckbuddy may be screwing with your ability to enjoy the boyfriend. But if you can’t stop comparing the sex you’re having with your boyfriend to the sex you used to have with your fuck buddy — sex that felt transgressive because your fuck buddy had shitty political opinions — it may not be just the sex you’re missing, HOTTIE, but everything else the fuck buddy was about. If the fever doesn’t break and your feelings for your former fuck buddy don’t fade, that could be a sign things with your boyfriend haven’t just settled into a safe and comfortable routine/rut, but that your relationship with your boyfriend has run its course. Cis gay male here in his late twenties in a very gay-friendly city. I’ve been seeing a gentleman the past six months. An important note he made on his profile is that he prefers monogamy, which is something I was willing to accept since hookups and NSAs make me nervous. About a month ago, we were getting pretty hot and heavy one night, but it ended early because he lost arousal. He later explained to me that he loses sexual interest after a certain amount of time when dating someone new. It has happened in his past relationships. He said it wasn’t me, he just gets bored with sex.  My dilemma is that since he can’t fulfill my sexual needs for the time being, I am welcome to see others for it. The issue I have is that I can’t even get physical intimacy from him, such as cuddling. Like I said earlier, I don’t really want to get into hookups or NSA. I generally need to bond with someone before I get in bed with them. I wanted to commit to his preference for monogamy. I’ve been single the entire time before we met. Never had anyone to call a boyfriend. Right now, it doesn’t feel right to play with others to get my needs met because it seems like I’m cheating. I understand he gave me consent, but it just does not feel right. My libido is relatively low. Sometimes cuddles and a hand job is satisfying enough but that is not on the table either. Outside of sex and physical intimacy, we enjoy each other’s company a lot.  A couple of my friends said I should try to wait it out to see if things will turn around. I’m honestly not sure what to do. It’s my first relationship. I don’t want to return to the apps because they are so stressful to me. First Boyfriend Problems I’m gonna say something slightly ageist here, FBP, which I’m allowed to do because I’m slightly aged myself: You’re too young to settle for this shit. If you were in your mid-fifties and you’d been single all your adult life and you wanted emotional intimacy more than you wanted physical intimacy, you might be able to make this thing work. And if the prospect of having a loving partner who didn’t wanna fuck or even touch you but who allowed you to get all your physical needs met elsewhere filled you with excitement instead of dread, you might be able to make this thing work. But since neither statement is true — you’re not in your mid-fifties, you want more from your partner, and just thinking about the apps makes you anxious — you can’t make this thing work. And forgive me for this… Your boyfriend said he wanted monogamy in his profile and then six months later he says actually he loses interest in sex as he gets to know someone better and gives you permission to go and fuck other guys. So, your boyfriend has either had two enormous epiphanies since he started dating you — he’s not into monogamy after all, he falls somewhere on the fraysexual spectrum — or he doesn’t want to be your boyfriend… which would explain why he suddenly doesn’t care who you fuck. But instead of being honest and ending things cleanly, FBP, your boyfriend chose mess: he’s encouraging you to fuck other people (so much for monogamy) hoping you’ll meet someone who likes you and likes fucking you and then you’ll end things with him. Seeing as he’s not even interested in cuddles, FBP, my money’s on the latter. DTMFA. Got problems? Yes, you do! Email your question for the column to mailbox@savage.love! Or record your question for the Savage Lovecast at savage.love/askdan! Podcasts, columns and more at Savage.Love

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