Name: Anonymous | | Location: Pittsburgh , PA |Question: My ex-boyfriend and I dated for about 7 months (the last 3 months of it, we were exclusive). I am the one who broke it off. This is why: one day, when I went to watch TV at his apartment (which is hooked to his computer), I found it open to a swingers site. He was not logged in, but it had his username and a saved password in the login area. I did not log in (though I was tempted). I just closed the page.
He also had a second tab open to a local adult “playground” site. and it was open to a page showing that he’d recently communicated with someone. (They emailed back and forth). This time, I did look at the history, and saw this was the only person he had communicated with, and that he had initiated the conversation.
He told me he was afraid to tell me because he thought I’d dump him as soon as I found out he was ever a swinger. He said that he decided to “leave the lifestyle” about three months into our relationship, right before I left for a one month trip [So out of the total 7 months, we were apart for one month, during which we kept in touch long-distance; then became exclusive once I got back]. He said that he slept with someone else (one of his old girl friends who is also a swinger) soon after I got back, and he said he got back on the websites soon after I got back (not before, while I was gone) as well. In the meantime, we were seeing each other all the time. We became exclusive soon after.
I told him that had he been truthful, I would have been open to at the very least checking out a swingers event or party, to see what it was like, and then figuring things out from there. He seemed genuinely remorseful when things ended, and wanted to keep dating. He says he didn’t sleep with anyone he had been communicating with after we became exclusive, but I don’t know whether to believe that or not. That said, I broke up with
him for lying to me, and also because I found it disrespectful that he was initiating contact with other women for sex behind my back, when we were supposed to be seeing each other exclusively (which he had claimed to be happy about).
We have not seen each other since [I needed time apart], but have stayed “friends” and communicate regularly over email. (At first by phone as well, but I ended that so I could get over him faster). That said, I would appreciate if you would please discuss why he would go back into “the lifestyle” AFTER becoming exclusive with me and telling me he missed me so much while I was gone. Also, should I have tried to work things through with him? Thanks. |Age: 28
I have to admit to being a bit turned around here, so please correct me if I get anything wrong.
I’m not sure where he lied to you. Are you referring to the fact that he didn’t tell you about his interest in swinging? I’m not sure he’s really obligated to do that. Just like you’re not obligated to tell him how many men you’ve slept with or whether or not you’ve been with a woman or had a threeway. Regardless of the logistics, sexual history and proclivities really aren’t our business and up to our lovers to share.
I found it disrespectful that he was initiating contact with other women for sex behind my back, when we were supposed to be seeing each other exclusively (which he had claimed to be happy about).
This right here? This is where you’re 100% justified. If you’re exclusive and he’s trying to organize or set up sex with someone else, he’s wrong.
That said, I would appreciate if you would please discuss why he would go back into “the lifestyle” AFTER becoming exclusive with me and telling me he missed me so much while I was gone.
This one is simple. He didn’t really want to be exclusive. Doesn’t mean he doesn’t care about you, doesn’t mean he didn’t really miss you. It just means he wants to have multiple sexual partners. And he wouldn’t be the first man or woman to want that. Nor does that desire make him (or her) bad or wrong. Monogamy isn’t for everyone, and there’s a debate as to whether humans are capable of it. personally, I don’t think we are. I think the only reason we use monogamy as the “typical” or “normal” outlier if an exclusive relationship is because society tells us we should.
The NY Times had a great interview with Dan Savage last month. In the piece, Savage discusses his thoughts on monogamy and how far a partner should be willing to go to preserve their relationship/marriage.
Such straight talk about the difficulty of monogamy, Savage argues, is simply good sense. People who are eager to cheat need to be honest with their partners, but people who think they would never cheat need honesty even more. “The point,” he wrote on his blog last year, “is that people — particularly those who value monogamy — need to understand why being monogamous is so much harder than they’ve been led to believe.”
How exactly does Savage think talking about monogamy’s trials make practicing it easier? In part, by reminding people to be good, giving and game. Straight talk about why we might cheat helps couples figure out ways to keep each other satisfied at home. If I promise my wife that I would never, ever, ever sleep with another woman, the conversation might end there, the two of us gazing into each other’s eyes (even if our minds might be wandering). But if I say, “I’ve been feeling sexually unfulfilled lately because I have a secret fantasy about trading dirty pictures with a woman” — well, then maybe my wife will e-mail me some of her. And so monogamy is preserved.
“If you are expected to be monogamous and have one person be all things sexually for you, then you have to be whores for each other,” Savage says. “You have to be up for anything.”
While I don’t think Savage is advocating that someone compromise themselves or push themselves to cross a sexual threshold with which they aren’t comfortable, I do think he’s suggesting that couples open the lines of communication and work to get past pre-conceived opinions that they have about sex and sexuality. A man once asked me to greet him at the door wearing stilettos and red lipstick. Given that the sexual aspect of our relationship was new, I was concerned. Was he already bored? What’s this fantasy about? Oh God…prostitutes! When he came over, I opened the door wearing an outfit that I chose. Before things got physical, I asked him the significance of the heels and cherry lipstick. It had nothing to do with porn or hookers or some random memory of his Mom schtupping the cable guy. He said, quite simply, he liked when I wore high heels and he loves my lips. I changed outfits soon after In my mind, I had created all these reasons for this, in my mind, possibly “deviant” fantasy. This conversation opened up the doors to deeper conversations where we confessed our individual likes, dislikes and insecurities. And that’s really where I think we get in our own way. This is where monogamy screws us up. We let our insecurity over not being enough for our partner get in the way of really understanding and talking about what we like -and more importantly – what we need – sexually.
The fact that you, OP, were willing to check out these parties with him shows that you were open minded enough to learn more about what turns him on. Had he told you, you probably could have gotten past this particular blip.
You obviously still have some lingering feelings. So I guess what you really need to do is figure out what you want. Do you want to be with him? Can you forgive him and put this instance of his dishonesty in the past and start with a clean slate? The real question is, could you get past and work with his desire to have sex with other women? Because that would have to be part of the equation, lest he slip again.
I know people will tell you to ditch him and find a man who won’t cheat. But what’s worse…a partner who secretly wants to cheat because they feel dissatisfied or just get an urge for something new..or a partner that actually cheats? Aren’t both equally destructive to a relationship?
I think anybody – male or female – would be hard pressed to find someone who is content with the idea of having the same sexual partner for an indefinite and extended amount of time. In my mind, this is another thing that is tripping up so many people and preventing them from developing a relationship with someone else. The concept of and uses for commitment and monogamy are so vastly different now, and they’re in a continuous state of change. It’s getting harder and harder to keep up. Can you broaden your definitions?
Sure, communication helps. Like the NYTimes piece suggested, sharing a fantasy of wanting to have an illicit affair with someone else could open up all kinds of possibilities for role playing and such. It’s possible that two people can find those sexual work-arounds, too. But both scenarios involve open communication and an honest look at why you may not be willing to fulfill such needs.