Is Sexual Exclusivity Really That Important?

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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 or 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. This guy tried to “go straight” for you and failed. Obviously, monogamy isn’t for him. Which is fine, but it’s not okay that he broke your trust.

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? 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.

There one more thing to keep in mind: I don’t think people understand that someone can love you but still have sex with someone else. People in open relationships do it all the time. Sometimes I think they have the right idea: one person to love and a variety to fuck. But is it that simple? I don’t know. I do think that if we could get past the need to sexual exclusivity finding a committed relationship wouldn’t be so difficult these days. With so many options out there and so many platforms that give us access to these options, it’s become exponentially harder to resist temptation. I just don’t know if traditional monogamy exists anymore or if it even should.

Why isn’t emotional exclusivity enough? Isn’t giving someone your heart more fraught with possible hurt?

Thoughts?

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9 Responses to “Is Sexual Exclusivity Really That Important?”

  1. Coffeestop Says:

    There is nothing weird about wanting a monogamous relationship. It is not some cutesy retro thing we all need to discard. Nor is there anything wrong with open relationships. The problem is people getting together wanting different things and then getting annoyed and hurt when they cannot convince the other person to want what they want.

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    • Nicki Says:

      You nailed it.

      There is nothing wrong with either side of the coin… Monogamy vs non-monogamy. The problem is really figuring out what you want, being willing to admit and embrace it, and sticking to it. So often people try to fit themselves and their personal relationships into how society thinks it should be, rather than embracing who they truly are and what they want. Been there, done that, no fun.

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  2. Yvonne Says:

    “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?”

    Many people have no problem with monogamy. I’ll bet this 28-year-old
    can find a guy who’s fine with it. But I don’t think that’s the main issue here.

    “…he was afraid to tell me because he thought I’d dump him as soon as I found out he was ever a swinger”

    If he slept with his ex after agreeing to be exclusive, then that is an outright lie, and his lack of integrity is what is most troubling. Anon’s boyfriend wasn’t being honest about his situation with her. His swinging was still relevant because he had agreed to be exclusive, but he wasn’t.

    I know a married couple who have been together for many years, and decided to try an open relationship when their sex life had become kind of stale. It did help their marriage. That’s somewhat different from being polyamorous at the start, with both parties being on the same page. Lying about such things, especially if they are not actually in the past, is not a great way to begin a relationship.

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    • Yvonne Says:

      The other thing I don’t buy about the boyfriend’s story is this, the convoluted part: “…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…) 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”.

      He left the lifestyle right before she left for a month, yet somehow, right after she returned, he slept with an old girlfriend, THEN he got back on the swinger sites, and after THAT became exclusive with Anon? Nothing about this adds up to me. Sounds like b.s.

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  3. Speed Says:

    Odd that this has garnered so few comments. Maybe everyone is wary of being tarred online for wanting something “uncool” or “dated.”

    Fact is, according to Pew, at least 75% of Americans marry at least once. It’s also reasonable to assume that there is a significant percentage of people among the remaining 25% who desire to marry but simply can’t find a partner.

    Paradoxically, it’s also true that a ton of people cheat on spouses at least once. I’ve seen surveys placing the rate at between 30% and 70% [for both and women—among my (male) friends the rate seems close to 100%].

    All that indicates that (1) most Americans want to marry (2) marriage, like all human institutions (family, friendship, community, education, business, etc.), is flawed. It does not mean we have to discard all these institutions and return to a chimpanzee state of nature.

    Hedonists, cynics, depressives, borderlines, and nihilists (shielding themselves under the more mainstream cloaks of progressiveness, being “woke” or “evolved” or whatever) seem heavily overrepresented on mainstream dating sites and apps, snarkily pooh-poohing anyone (including dates or partners) who doesn’t buy into their agenda. They’re like the woman who drops a few coke lines on a table at a party, and then calls you “square” or “uptight” if you don’t indulge. After all, “everybody’s doing it!”

    I say marry or don’t marry. Date 1 person at a time or 20. It’s up to you. I’ve actually come to really appreciate women who fill their dating profiles with ridicule of “archaic social structures.” It ensures that we never meet and waste each other’s time.

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    • fuzzilla Says:

      **Odd that this has garnered so few comments. Maybe everyone is wary of being tarred online for wanting something “uncool” or “dated.”**

      I felt like Coffeestop’s comment was pretty much perfect and there wasn’t really anything to add (maybe others did, too?). Also that this is one of those topics where people’s opinions aren’t likely to be swayed. I agree that people who are so sure that monogamy is just over are often coming from a place of cynicism and defeat, rather than truly choosing non-monogamy.

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      • TallJen10 Says:

        I agree. I’m a single female who has been in the lifestyle for years; really got into it when I was in an open relationship with a man who had been a swinger for years, and continued on when he and I broke up. I date on the primary swinger site (SLS), but also dabble on the traditional “vanilla” sites (OKC, Tinder, POF, etc). As with the LWs bf, I don’t tell men right away that I’m a swinger if I didn’t meet them in that realm of my life. Being a female who is open about my sexuality and also openly into a piece of the sexual realm that is often seen as taboo, I want to see where a man is on the spectrum of sexual openness before I ever bring swinging up. Once I’ve been dating someone and things turn sexual, the guy inevitably brings up the kinks and fetishes discussion, or starts asking more about sexual history in the realm of “crazy” stuff I’ve done in my past…I always make him answer first and taper my response as needed ;-) If he’s never had a 3some and doesn’t seem interested in one, if the wildest thing he’s ever done is have sex, at dark, by sneaking into a park after hours with his HS gf? I can’t exactly come back and say, “Well, I’ve been in a reasonably significant number of orgies and have had sex in a room with about 100 other people having sex at the same time and have partner swapped and…”. I recognize at thay point the limitations I’ll have with that partner, that we might be able to hook up and hang out for a bit, but we aren’t going to be a long term match. I’ve found that if I bring it up too quickly, a guy will only see me for sex (emotional connections are still important to me!), and will instantly try to push for a 3some…even if we haven’t had sex yet. My response is usually, “Absolutely! I know the perfect guy! When should he meet up with us?” The deer in headlights response is always beautiful, since the thought of a MFM 3some had clearly never crossed their mind ;-)

        Although I haven’t been in a monogamous relationship since I discovered and fell in love with swinging, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities for me. I’ve seen the same with friends in the lifestyle who are either single or in it in a non-marital relationship. One of my close guy friends recently got out of an engagement to a woman he had met in the lifestyle; he’s been swinging and even hosting huge swinger parties for over 10 years, and now he’s been in about a 9 month vanilla relationship and is perfectly happy being monogamous and doesn’t see himself going back into it unless she decides she is interested. For me, even if I became monogamous, I’d love to have a partner who would still be willing to come to swinger parties even if we only played with each other. The exhibitionist and voyeuristic side of me will never go away, and it’s just frankly hot af to be having sex with your partner and have live porn a few feet away!

        I agree wholeheartedly with Moxie’s assessment of the situation – LWs bf was super dodgy by saying he wanted monogamy and then continuing to play around on swinger sites. If he didn’t think he could stay out of the lifestyle, his being a swinger should have been brought to his gf’s attention as they were discussing exclusivity – and given her letter, he really effed up since it sounds like she would have been open to at least seeing what it was about before just ending things with him. If I were her, I would cut bait and move on – not because he just might never be able to be monogamous if she 100% wants monogamy, but because of the lies and sneaking around. And, if she still has a level of curiosity about swinging after learning she had dated a swinger, the next person she dates who seems open to more public/exhibitionist sex or involving another person in their experience, they should check out a swinger club or party just to see what it’s all about. Imho, swingers (especially the single males), are insanely more respectful about sex than the vanilla men I meet, who always pull the high school-esque “But I’m clean, baby!” or “It feels so much better without a condom!” and are actually lower pressure about getting you into bed right away – probably because they have other regular playmates so they’re not as desperate to sleep with someone as soon as they find some chemistry lol. You’ll find the same at a swinger party or club – really kind, no pressure people. No one is going to pressure you to swap partners, play in an open/public space, or anything like that – you and your partner really can just walk around, talk to some couples, around check things out. You might find it all fascinating and want to push your boundaries. Or you might realize that the lifestyle isn’t for you, and head back to monogamy. The most important thing is to be open and honest with your partner, which LWs bf failed miserably at. Open communication is at the heart of being successful with a partner in the lifestyle; so, if he wasn’t capable of that early on into the exclusive months of their relationship, imho he probably would have continued down that path even if she had decided to try it and eventually entered into the lifestyle with him.

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      • Parenting Says:

        I agree. The people I’ve encountered with open marriages or those who swing arent doing it as a lifestyle choice as much as a way to either keep a dying relationship on life support or inject some fresh excitement into an otherwise good marriage where the sex life has gotten stale after 10-20 years and 2 kids. I dont think most singles are dreaming of finding someone they can have an open marriage with.

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        • fuzzilla Says:

          Yeah – that, or their dating life has been especially disappointing and they doubt they could find someone who wants to fully commit. But being a side piece or sharing their partner is not most people’s first choice, even if it’s all ethical and above board and what have you.

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