Dear Patrick: My husband knows that I am curious about sex with other women, but he does not know just HOW curious I am. I honestly feel that if I do not get to see what it is like to have sex with another female, my life will not be fulfilled. I will miss out on something that is very important to me. I love my husband. He satisfies me in every way that a man can satisfy a woman. But there is something about the way other women swing their hair, move their hips, talk to me with their eyes and hands—I just love their femininity and their soft skin, their sweet voices and perfume, the empathy and curves and gracefulness. Lately it seems like I cannot talk to another pretty girl without mentally wanting to undress her and see what her body is like. I recently met a bisexual girl through a friend at work. She is really nice. You would never know she is bisexual, but she is very honest about it and has answered a lot of my questions about two women being with each other. She has met my husband and likes him too. I gather she has been with a couple before. But she says she does not want to do anything with me that might hurt my husband. I don’t either. So what is the next step? I am nervous and excited. Do I ask him to let me have a “night out” to myself, so I can spend time with this girl, or do I ask her if she would do a threesome with the two of us? I guess I need some practical guidelines about how to make it all happen, because if I don’t plan this out, I think my body is going to take over and get us all into trouble!
Dear Goddess-to-Goddess: Most people who get married promise to be monogamous. Is that also true of you and your husband? Because if it is, you can’t just do whatever you like. Your behavior has consequences for two people, not just you. Unless he is willing to change one of the basic assumptions that are part of the foundation of your relationship, you are going to have to make a very difficult choice. That means you will either have to stay in your marriage, knowing that your curiosity about other women will be unfulfilled, or you will have to separate from him, without being sure that you will get the same wonderful things from other women that you are getting from him, right now. What most people in this situation do is avoid making a conscious choice. They would “accidentally” drink a little too much, have the kind of sex they wanted to have to satisfy their curiosity, then conceal it from their spouse. After that, depending on how good the sex was and whether they had cooperation from the third party, they would either swear it would never happen again and keep it as a guilty secret, or they would have an affair. And this would continue until the secret became too big to keep, and the breakup would be messy indeed. Instead of doing that, go talk to your husband. Tell him much of what you told me. Explain that being bisexual is probably a bigger deal than either of you understood. You had no way of knowing because you had no experience when you married him. Now you feel that you need that experience, or your life will not be complete, even though he has been very, very good to you. I have no idea what kind of person you married. In this situation, some guys will get very jealous and insist that you give up any plan to “cheat” on them. I think this is hopeless, because it’s not your fault you are bisexual. You haven’t done anything wrong. If you love him enough, he can probably intimidate you or guilt you into staying away from other women for a while, but not forever. And in the meantime, you will just resent him and pull away from him, which will damage the marriage. A smarter guy who doesn’t have his hair on quite so tight will say, “Oh. Okay. Well, do you want to see her alone, or do you want to do this together?” And he will consider his own needs as part of that question. Does he need to be there, to keep his own insecurity within manageable limits? What other conditions does he need to set? Most couples with an open relationship do have terms or limits, but these may change as the couple gains more experience and understands more about their reactions to certain situations. But it’s a bad idea to be angry with each other if you find that you are triggered by something you did not anticipate; if you didn’t know you would get jealous, how could your partner know? Just keep channels of communication open, and be kind to one another. People will tell you (if you ask for their opinion) that open relationships don’t work. Well, if we consult statistics, they will tell us that monogamous relationships don’t work, actually. The fact is that it’s hard to stay together with other people in a world where we’ve all been told we are way too important, and deserve instant gratification. We find it very difficult to tolerate other people’s imperfections or work on self-improvement. I actually think an open relationship, where people stay current with each other’s changing desires and needs, has a better shot at lasting, if only because there is an expectation of mutual honesty. But it does mean you have to be pretty relentless in the areas of self-care. For example, have you thought about what you would do if your husband came to you and said, “Okay, now that you have a special friend you are dating once a month, I would like to start seeing a little girlfriend of my own”? What would you do to keep yourself calm and happy while he whistles, packs up his condoms, and goes off to fuck somebody else? Do you want to stay married under those conditions? What if he decides he is attracted to other men? Is that okay with you? No double standards, now. What is good for you is good for him. Before you ask him to give you permission to change the boundaries of your marriage, be fearlessly honest with yourself about what you would do if he was the one who came to you with a confession that he needed something in bed that you could not, no matter how hard you tried, provide for him. Would your feelings be hurt? Would you feel jealous? Would you want to tell him to stop it, to take it back, to leave you alone? Would you pack up your things and leave? Or would you just feel greater love for him because he trusted you enough to tell you the truth, a secret he could not tell anyone else, not even his best friend? I hope things will work out for the two of you. If you need to write again, by all means do!