Mad About the Boy

Friday, July 21, 2017

Patrick califia love taps

Dear Patrick: My partner and I are in an open lesbian relationship. I knew from the beginning that she had fantasies about cis-gender men. She recently met, flirted with, and wants to start dating a bisexual man who is HIV-positive. She feels fine about this because his viral load is undetectable. I am not sure what that means, but I don’t feel okay about giving her permission to have sex without condoms with this man. He is very active with public sex with other guys and makes jokes about getting various STDs from them. I do not want this in our bed. Do I have the right to make some boundaries here?—Mad about the Boy


Dear Mad about the Boy: Have you and your partner acted on your agreement to have an open relationship? Or is this your first attempt to include sex with other people? You might want to read Dossie Easton’s excellent The Ethical Slut for awesome ground rules and a complex but humorous and sexy discussion of all the issues that can come up. There are also some great suggestions for self-care to treat jealousy.

For many lesbians, a lover who has sex with cis-gender men (men who are not transgender) is a deal breaker. The larger society pits lesbians against straight men, which is an awkward and disadvantaged place to be forced to occupy. Lesbians who have had a girlfriend leave them to be with a man, and enjoy the privileges of appearing straight, never want that to happen again. It hurts too damn much. Not only do you lose your girl, you lose her to a damn man who can (from a gay perspective) go out with anybody he wants. It feels humiliating, a confirmation of oppression or being second-rate that nobody wants to have to suffer.

There’s nothing wrong with telling your sweetie that this is going too far. You thought you could cope with her getting it on with a guy, but now that it is in your face, you can’t take it. Apologize for the misunderstanding (like, apologize with roses or jewelry) but tell her you have realized your boundaries are in a different place than you originally thought. If she is not happy with this position, couples counseling may help.

It is also okay to tell her that in order for you to accept her liaison with this man, she has to use condoms. First of all, you have no way of knowing (unless you go to the doctor with him to get his test results) that his viral load is undetectable. (This basically means that his HIV medications are working so well, the virus is in remission. It can’t fight back, reproduce, or muster the strength to create a new infection.) You are correct to note that HIV is not the only microorganism that can travel from one hot body to another. Nobody wants syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, etc. He may grouse a little about using condoms, but if he really wants to have sex with her, he will do it. This is a legitimate request, especially if a third party’s health is at issue. It’s one thing to risk getting an STD if you are at least getting very well done on both sides. But to risk it when there was no orgasm to mollify the pain … well, um, NO!

In a working open relationship, negotiations are bound to be ongoing. It would be nice if we could say, “Do this or this but not this,” and have that be the last word. But unfortunately, we often find that our idealistic images of our own sexual tolerance zones were bigger than our real ability to wish our beloved a fun night out with a good-looking, relative stranger.