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Should I let my boyfriend sleep with other women?
January 22, 2012 3:42 PM   Subscribe

Is it a poor idea to let your partner have sex with other people, knowing that you will be hurt by it? Will it be more likely to help or hurt our relationship if he indulges in his fantasies with other women – and is this a reasonable compromise for someone to make?

I'll try to keep this from being too Special Snowflake, but I can't imagine my situation is entirely unique.

I am a 28 year old female dating a 28 year old male. We have been together in an intensely loving, deeply caring, very sexual and very satisfying relationship for several months. We are compatible and have a great deal in common – in short, we're crazy about each other.

The problem is that he has a very (*very*) strong desire to sleep with multiple women at the same time. I know that supposedly every male on the planet has this fantasy, but 1. I know this to be patently untrue; human variation is quite extensive and this stereotype is just that – a stereotype, and 2. my boyfriend on the other hand doesn't just think it'd be "kinda hot," he really, strongly, almost painfully seems to need it.

I could never have a threesome with him. The thought of watching him as he touches and is touched by some other woman actually makes me feel like sobbing and makes me feel palpably, physically ill. If he were to have a threesome, I could only possibly stand it if he arranged something on his own, without telling me when it was happening, and never spoke of it. I would almost feel better if he would say it was ok for me to sleep with other men, but he has made it clear that he is unwilling to reciprocate in this fashion. He wants to be able to sleep with other women, and he wants me to only sleep with him.

At the same time, he does genuinely love me, and after I told him how much it would hurt me to have a threesome, he very considerately dropped it. I can tell he still thinks about it, though, and he has admitted (after light prodding by me) that it is very hard for him to deny himself this experience. This is why I have considered proposing he find some women to do this with other than me, without making me have to know about it or think about it. He also prefers younger girls, so maybe he could work that into this, too.

tl;dr my boyfriend wants a threesome, my heart would break to watch him touching someone else, I might let him go "behind my back" with other girls, but I on the other hand would still have to be faithful to just him.

It would still hurt me. It still makes me upset. However, relationships involve compromise and sacrifice and if MeFi doesn't think it's insane, I would seriously consider it. I need outside opinions. I really can't tell whether this is completely reasonable or just plain stupid.

Throwaway: mediocre dawt hadron at hotmail dawt com
posted by labandita to Human Relations (107 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
He wants to be able to sleep with other women, and he wants me to only sleep with him.

DTMFA and try dating a grown-up.
posted by alphanerd at 3:46 PM on January 22, 2012 [184 favorites]


Relationships like this only work if everyone is on board. If you give him the OK to "go behind your back" and you are as distraught by the idea as you seem to be, you're going to spend every second that you don't know where he is wondering if he's off with some other woman/women. This is going to destroy your relationship and is likely to really screw with your head, too.

I think you're going to have to let this one go--you're fundamentally sexually incompatible. I'm so sorry.
posted by mollymayhem at 3:47 PM on January 22, 2012 [15 favorites]


He's an asshole. Tell him that he's an asshole and that you need to reassess where you're going.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:48 PM on January 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


You really, really do not have to do this. Yes, proposing a martyrrific compromise that you could "only possibly stand" is a bad idea.
posted by zeptoweasel at 3:49 PM on January 22, 2012 [20 favorites]


I would almost feel better if he would say it was ok for me to sleep with other men, but he has made it clear that he is unwilling to reciprocate in this fashion.

I was trying to give this the benefit the doubt until I got that part. This is hypocritical, controlling and frankly gross.

You're right when you say "relationships involve compromise and sacrifice." I suggest you find someone else who understands this.
posted by cuban link flooded jesus at 3:49 PM on January 22, 2012 [56 favorites]


This is heartbreaking to read. You are such a generous partner for even putting this much thought and effort into satisfying his needs, while your interests go unrespected.

I truly think you would be making a mistake to give him the thumbs up on this plan. You know it will hurt you, and it sounds like once wouldn't be enough for him if the desire is so insatiable.

Perhaps he can't remain in a long-term relationship with you while being monogamous. Perhaps the two of you shouldn't be in a long-term relationship. Don't sell your values and needs short.
posted by Pomo at 3:50 PM on January 22, 2012 [23 favorites]


Sorry this guy is a Grade A Douchebag. He wants to sleep with other women yet you have to remain faithful to him? Do you realize how crazy that sounds? DTMFA and RUN. And I recommend therapy to figure out why you let people treat you like this, you deserve so much better than that guy.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 3:50 PM on January 22, 2012 [15 favorites]


He doesn't love you. Find someone who does.
posted by empath at 3:51 PM on January 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


Yep, I was thinking maybe you could work something out until I read this: He wants to be able to sleep with other women, and he wants me to only sleep with him.

You really, truly deserve better than this.
posted by Specklet at 3:51 PM on January 22, 2012 [11 favorites]


and if MeFi doesn't think it's insane, I would seriously consider it.

You need to make two phone calls. One to dump him for being a selfish prick, the other to find a therapist. Because you're contemplating doing something you know hurts you and you're asking a group of strangers on the internet to decide for you. That's not good. You need to take better care of yourself.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:57 PM on January 22, 2012 [72 favorites]


He wants to sleep with other people, but you aren't allowed to do the same? He (at 28) prefers "younger women"? He sounds controlling, emotionally manipulative, and borderline predatory. Tell him he's free to try fucking with someone else's life and emotions, but not yours. DTMFA.
posted by pecanpies at 3:58 PM on January 22, 2012 [23 favorites]


Yep. It's a bad bad idea.

I also think you should dump this guy and find a grown up to date.

Deep down, this person doesn't love you. He's sounds very
charismatic and charming, though. Be very very careful. Please.
posted by jbenben at 3:59 PM on January 22, 2012 [14 favorites]


I would like you to consider one word:

Empathy

You are being empathetic when you are trying to understand how he feels and take appropriate measure to make him happy.

However, he is willing to say:

"I want to screw other women, but would hate for you to screw other men".

This is not even close to being empathetic. What he should be saying is:

"I want to screw other women, however, I know how much it would hurt me to see labandita with another man, so I know how she feels, and the knowledge that it would hurt her so much makes the whole idea very unsexy to me"

Think about this.
posted by Shouraku at 3:59 PM on January 22, 2012 [44 favorites]


This doesn't sound like a compromise at all. It sounds like you giving him everything he's asking for at a painful emotional price to you, while he gives nothing in return.

I'm not theoretically opposed to the set-up if all involved were happy about it; if you didn't mind his sleeping around while you stay faithful, then whatever works for you guys, you know? Not every aspect of a relationship has to be equal. But I am opposed to this particular set-up between the two of you given the facts you've outlined thus far.
posted by vegartanipla at 4:01 PM on January 22, 2012 [14 favorites]


And by "predatory," I didn't mean to insinuate he's interested in sleeping with minors when he says he prefers "younger girls." My take from how you described him is that he is interested in women who may have less experience that he believes he will be more able to control.
posted by pecanpies at 4:01 PM on January 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


No, this is horrible. If this is not your fantasy too (and it is my worst nightmare) then break up with this guy. It doesn't sound like he's going to let it drop and it will be in the back of your minds. Seriously, 3 months should still be honeymoon phase.

Yes, read what Brandon Blatcher just wrote, I just did and I totally agree!
posted by bquarters at 4:01 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm not going to say 'dump the guy' because it sounds like he's actually dropped the threesome thing? (But maybe he should think about whether he can be in the kind of monogamous relationship that you need)

But I do agree that there's no real good end to the 'compromise' you suggest. (1) It's not in any way a compromise. He gets to sleep with other women in exchange for staying in a relationship with you? That's not a compromise, that's emotional blackmail. (2) There's literally no way this could happen without you knowing about it or at least suspecting it. Can you really handle that?

Many couples can have semi-monogamous relationships where one member sleeps around with the permission (but no direct knowledge) of the other. It doesn't sound to me like you are that kind of person.
posted by muddgirl at 4:04 PM on January 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


He wants to be able to sleep with other women, and he wants me to only sleep with him.

And he admitted this to you? Even guys who think like this subconsciously would, if they actually gave it some though, realize that it doesn't work like that. And their relationships keep failing, but they can't help themselves, even though they know.

This, on the other hand, is a guy who, quite consciously, says that to you like it's a reasonable thing? Is he trying to get you to dump him?

You know how abused people nearly always say there were obvious signs, but they ignored them for whatever reason? This is one. My vote is he's testing you to see how much of an asshole he can be to you and get away with it.

No, don't do it. If it was ok with you, you would know it already and wouldn't need to ask MetaFilter.
posted by ctmf at 4:05 PM on January 22, 2012 [20 favorites]


This doesn't sound like a compromise at all. It sounds like you giving him everything he's asking for at a painful emotional price to you, while he gives nothing in return.

This this this this this this this.
posted by pupstocks at 4:07 PM on January 22, 2012 [13 favorites]


I think you should dump him because he's not very mature. A mature person who wanted to be in the situation he is proposing to you would have been up front about looking for someone who would also be happy with and not spring it on someone after they had become attached.

Sure their should be compromises in relationships but this is one of those things that mature and thoughtful people are up front about because they know its a big and divisive issue. When a compromise is so bad that its going to make you sick to your stomach its one you shouldn't make for a relationship and it in effect becomes a flashing sign reading "dealbreaker".
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 4:07 PM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Is it a poor idea to let your partner have sex with other people, knowing that you will be hurt by it?

Pretty sure you know the answer already!

You know what? You should DTMFA, but if you're into having a little fun with it you could give him permission as long as he takes some pictures. Tell him you two aren't having sex until after he has his threesome, and since he's such a jerk that he probably can't get a threesome together by himself at all, he will never show you pictures. Then you dump him for being a douche who can't even execute their own douchiness.
posted by rhizome at 4:10 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is an insane "compromise." First, he's requiring different standards of behavior for you and him -- he can sleep with other women, but you can't sleep with other men.

Second, he's a 28-year-old man. He doesn't need to have a threesome, and if he did, he should have done that before entering a monogamous relationship with you. He's being a child and an immature little brat. And if this is some unstoppable fetish of his and part of his sexual being that needs to be exercised, have you considered that it won't be a one-time thing? If he really needs to do it out of more than idle curiosity and thinking it would be hot, then he will continue to need to have threesomes. Are you really okay with that? Of course not.

Third, and most important, it is painfully clear to me that this will be will be brutally painful for you. This will become so much more painful to you than imagining it is once you've given him permission -- even if he doesn't tell you that it happened or of its details, you will believe and understand that it has happened, and you will imagine the details. Considering how not okay with this threesome you are, this is something that there's no coming back from and it will be the death of your relationship.

TLDR: This is ridiculous.
posted by J. Wilson at 4:15 PM on January 22, 2012 [16 favorites]


I have to say that I totally disagree with many of the points made here.

He sounds like he's someone who has a specific sexual turn-on (as we all do). He talks about this turn-on to you and you and you really don't like it. He drops it. You then ask him about it again and he admits he still has that turn on.

Dan Savage talks about a "price of admission." You told him you were not cool with this (your "price of admission") and he (apparently) decided that not following through on this sexual turn-on was worth it for you. That doesn't mean he doesn't still have this sexual turn-on; he clearly does.

You just need to be clear about what is and isn't OK with you. He can then decide if he's OK with forsaking this turn-on for the sake of your relationship (it sounds like he already did this). You can't change the person he is, but I think it sounds like he's being totally reasonable about agreeing not to follow through on something that makes you totally upset and uncomfortable.
posted by Betelgeuse at 4:15 PM on January 22, 2012 [12 favorites]


Why did you bring it up again after he dropped it? It sounds like you're bullying yourself into this.

Also, he likes younger women? Why would he tell you this?

Man, there is something off about this situation, and I say this as someone who is really not monogamous. Something in the relationship is really wrong, or something is miswired with him, or miswired with you. You don't trust him to know himself? You don't trust him and think permission will help? You're wanting to be a martyr? I don't know, but something is off.

You don't have to let men have their every sexual desire be fulfilled in order to have them love you. I think we get that message a lot but it's not true.

I would almost feel better if he would say it was ok for me to sleep with other men, but he has made it clear that he is unwilling to reciprocate in this fashion. He wants to be able to sleep with other women, and he wants me to only sleep with him.

This is known as the One Penis Policy. It's nasty, sexist, and fucked up. I hope he realizes this.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:17 PM on January 22, 2012 [46 favorites]


You say he "genuinely" loves you. If it's the genuine article, he can live without his threesome. What's more, he can live without it in such a way that you don't have to feel bad about this hardship he must endure--it will never come up again. On preview, what Betelgeuse said.
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:18 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is just an awful thing to even have to contemplate. I know some relationships can work with the extra-marital kinks, but this is not Good Giving and Game. This is Him being all about Him. And, like others said, he is trying to control you. Anyone who is seriously into poly relationships or trists understands that it goes BOTH WAYS. Maybe one party might not be into doing dudes on the side while the man is another lady's bed, but the man has to at least have the balls to say "since I am asking it of you, I have to let you ask it of me as well."

And I think that by posting this on AskMe, you kind of already know this. Go with what your gut is telling you. I know it sucks to feel like you're "letting him down" or not giving him what he needs. But YOU don't need this. You deserve better than this. Please don't give this another thought. If you don't have it in you to dump him right now [please, like stop reading and call him. Now. It's over] at least be fair enough to yourself to tell him "I considered what you talked about and I am not into it. It's not going to happen. If it does, in any fashion, we are not together anymore. So love me and cherish me and appreciate while you can, because the second you start thinking about doing that, I'm gone. And you don't even get to look at my ass while I walk out the door."
posted by shesaysgo at 4:19 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Even if you gave him the okay, if he would go merrily ahead knowing how excruciatingly painful it would be for you, there would be something very seriously wrong with him. Listen to me labandita, you should be with someone who would feel horrified and sick to his stomach at the idea of doing anything that would make you feel that way. Anything less, and you should not be with the person.

Look, it sounds like the two of you are just not compatible. That's okay!!! Being a good compromiser doesn't mean people have to find a way to go along with every situation, even if means horrible pain or eternal dissatisfaction. Sometimes being a good compromiser means recognizing that there is no satisfactory compromise. And the only solution is to part ways. That happens sometimes. And it is just the reality we have to live with. It's not a failure, and it doesn't make you a bad person. It is a success, in that the reality was recognized that the proper solution was carried out.

There appears to be no good compromise here. Be glad you recognized it this early on because I think this problem is not going away.

I just read back and saw you've only been dating "several months." !!! Several months?! Cut your losses and move on.

Lastly, I need to quote Brandon B's entire comment for truth:

You need to make two phone calls. One to dump him for being a selfish prick, the other to find a therapist. Because you're contemplating doing something you know hurts you and you're asking a group of strangers on the internet to decide for you. That's not good. You need to take better care of yourself.
posted by cairdeas at 4:22 PM on January 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


He wants to be able to sleep with other women, and he wants me to only sleep with him.

I'm normally all for reality-checks against monogamy-at-any-cost, but that is just ugly. You are giving far more than you are being given. This speaks well of you, but it's a terrible situation to find yourself in, and I don't think there is an easy way out. :(

In you shoes, I might privately decide that his adventure is off the table under these circumstances (not only will you feel hurt, but you might not be able to adequately address that hurt - for example, afterwards you might try to process it but discover his attitude is an unhelpful wall of "Hey I didn't do anything wrong; you said it was ok, so stop complaining!".)

I might also decide that privately, if he changes his me-but-not-you attitude - without being prompted - I'd start thinking seriously about allowing his thing. I would not however, make a deal along the lines of "I'll let you if you'll let me". It needs to be about trust and character, not tit for tat.
posted by -harlequin- at 4:23 PM on January 22, 2012


This is a crazy idea. You may as well have "Hurt Me!" tattooed on your forehead.

In relationships, you get to say, "No!" and mean it.

Really, and good men won't run from this, they respect it, I promise!

Also, please ask yourself which other areas of your life where you let people hurt you and take advantage of your good will and/or where you voluntarily victimize yourself. No way this is an issue you have which is just related to sex.
posted by devymetal at 4:26 PM on January 22, 2012 [13 favorites]


I agree it's not clear if he asked for this, dropped it, and the problem now is you harping on or you having good reason to feel insecure.

Anyway: is it good for the relationship for him to be afforded a total and utter luxury which would come only at the cost of total emotional devastation to you? It's only good for "the relationship" if you're not in it. If you are in it, then what devastates you will devastate "the relationship."

I believe this is why you are considering it - you think that not getting extra women will devastate *him* and since it's him or you, why not you?

I do hope he isn't actually that spoiled and that if this really is an immovable kink, he can find someone who can accommodate his special needs without destroying themselves in the process.

I do hope his actual kink isn't emotional sadism towards his partner btw.
posted by tel3path at 4:30 PM on January 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


I also think that a 28 year old man should know better. This is the kind of dumbass stuff I'd like to think came from someone a lot younger.

Everyone you meet will have flaws, but if your refusal to enable this gruelling selfishness does turn into a dealbreaker for him, that would be yet another mark against, and you should allow the deal to break, knowing that there is better out there.
posted by -harlequin- at 4:34 PM on January 22, 2012


I also disagree with most of the responses here. The information presented is that he asked for a threesome, she said no, and then she's brought it up one or more times subsequently, and independently conceived the idea of his going behind her back. I don't see either party as having done anything wrong here.

That said, in my view it's perfectly reasonable to say no to this request. The problem here seems to be that you are beating yourself up over doing so, and I just don't see how that's warranted. If this is some sort of dealbreaker for him, then yes, he's not acting like an adult and it'd be perfectly reasonable to move on. If you said no and he's dropped it, I don't see you as under any obligation to bring up the topic again, nor is he under any obligation to stop thinking about it.

I can tell he still thinks about it, though
People think about a lot of things.

and he has admitted (after light prodding by me) that it is very hard for him to deny himself this experience.
Depends on wording, tone of voice, etc. Maybe he thought there was still a chance you would say yes and was trying to emphasize that he wanted it. If it was manipulative, i.e. "I can't live without this" than that's different.
posted by deadweightloss at 4:34 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


People need air. People need water. People need sex. But people do not "need" one-sided threesomes with younger women.
posted by yarly at 4:34 PM on January 22, 2012 [17 favorites]


One additional thought: Follow this idea through a little more. If you were to go through with it, would your "compromise" allow you to insist that safer sex practices be used during all of his contact with the other women? Will you trust that he will comply with that promise during the heat of his deepest sexual fantasies? After he's done this the first time, will you be wholly comfortable asking for, and then waiting for the results from, his STI tests -- or, alternately, comfortable with not asking for them? What will happen if one of the other women becomes pregnant? Will he do this with strangers or people you know? What if one or more of them stays in contact with him (texting, Facebook-friending, going out together, etc.) after the event? How would all of that make you feel?

This isn't just about shutting your brain off for one night in hopes that it will somehow improve an "intensely loving, deeply caring, very sexual and very satisfying relationship." As you've described it, that is really hard to imagine.
posted by argonauta at 4:38 PM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


To the comments regarding him being immature in desiring what he desires: this was also my initial reaction. However, if I try to explore why, I can't come up with any reasons that what he wants is inherently immature.

And I should really point out that, to his credit, he really has stopped talking about it. He had never insisted that I let him do this. He has only been open to me about his fantasies, and this without making demands or proposing ultimatums.

To proclaim a man an undatable asshole simply for having a particular sexual desire and being frank about it is unfair. From what I believe, people don't get to choose their fetishes or sexual preferences, and being open and honest is a Good Thing. The way I see it, right now, he is the one making the hard sacrifice by deciding not to act on this deep, burning desire, just because I said it would hurt me. Why should it be him taking the hit and not me?

I am crazy in love with him. I am not going to "DTMF" just for being who he is.
posted by labandita at 4:43 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


You absolutely should not accept this arrangement for a very single reason: it's not something you want. It's really as simple as that.

We don't need to sit here and argue over power dynamics and what's "fair". In the wide world of human sexuality there are women who are perfectly fine allowing their boyfriend to sleep with other people yet don't care to themselves. It's not childish. It's not selfish. It's just the way some people are. There doesn't have to be reciprocity for a thing to be OK.

What makes it OK is that all concerned parties are OK with it. Since you're not, then either he has to accept that and set aside his desires to make the relationship work, or you two are over.
posted by sbutler at 4:45 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why should it be him taking the hit and not me?

Because of his refusal to allow you what he desired. The double standard is not admirable.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:47 PM on January 22, 2012 [19 favorites]


I want to reiterate that he has the responsibility to consider whether he can be happy in a monogamous relationship.

If he's already considered this and said that he can, then you need to find some way to stop worrying about it. That is the compromise.
posted by muddgirl at 4:47 PM on January 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


He should take the hit because its his "deep, burning desire" which makes it his responsibility to find someone who is **happy** to comply with it. There might not be anything wrong with the desire but when its something like this, which he must know is a big deal for most people, it's something that he has to deal with by denying it or finding someone who is a happy participant.

In the end he can be the only one responsible for his own desires and its perfectly ok for you to have a line you won't cross in satisfying them.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 4:49 PM on January 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


If he previously expressed to you that this is a necessity for him, and has stopped talking about it to you, he may be already doing it.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:49 PM on January 22, 2012 [20 favorites]


Going to take a slightly different angle on this (I agree with everything said above, but echo-ing that here won't help you). If you are absolutely hellbent on somehow making this work in a way that is even remotely healthy I think the first stop would be both of you reading "The Ethical Slut".

The hope here would be two-sided:
-You reading it might help you to better understand the distress that you predict this (threesome option) would cause you. I know it has helped people in the past with these quasi-jealous feelings. (which by the way, you are totally entitled to and not required to "solve")
-Him reading this book might help him think through the option of letting you do the same (even though it does not sound as if that would help your problem).

Even if it does not change either of your minds on the issue (and it very well may not) reading it still might help either or both of you cope with how to move forward with (or without) each other.

Good luck, this sucks...

Oh, and I otherwise completely echo the above (just trying to shed some new light or point in some other direction)
posted by milqman at 4:49 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


relationships involve compromise and sacrifice

If he gets his threesome, where is the compromise and sacrifice on his part?
posted by shiny blue object at 4:49 PM on January 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


To proclaim a man an undatable asshole simply for having a particular sexual desire and being frank about it is unfair. From what I believe, people don't get to choose their fetishes or sexual preferences, and being open and honest is a Good Thing.

Soooo just to elaborate, just so we're all crystal clear - part of his fetish involves him getting to sleep with other people but you have to sleep only with him?

Because that's a pretty selfish asshole type fetish.
posted by windbox at 4:51 PM on January 22, 2012 [23 favorites]


So what is a "younger woman" when you're only 28? This is the part that makes my skin creep a bit.
posted by cairnoflore at 4:51 PM on January 22, 2012 [31 favorites]


I think the bit that's tripping me up is his insistence that you can't have the same open option. Of course we all have our kinks and needs and whatever and they should be respected but there's something weird about his insistence that you can't do the same thing -- for me that's what makes this about something other than being GGG and recognising his needs. The way I read that is that you're being considerate of him in a way that he's not reciprocating.
posted by prettypretty at 4:54 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ah, so it is what Betelgeuse said.

Look, two people can deeply love each other and have enough incompatibility for it to just not work out. Issues like children, religion, sex, and money are the downfall of a lot of otherwise-except-for-this-one-GIANT-problem good relationships.

You know yourself. Do you think you can stand this? From your initial text, I think you sound like you can't. If you do think you can, then go ahead. But again, this isn't a compromise. This is pure sacrifice and people usually get resentful of that on both sides since few people want to date a martyr.

If you do want to reach a compromise, talk this all over with your boyfriend. Not just asking how much he's pining, but how he sees this issue being resolved.

One option is that you could tell him you've thought it over and you'll go goose for gander and both sleep around, or not at all. (Or whatever actual compromise you could actually see yourself living with.)

Regardless, see what he says. He has a stake in this, too, and you should allow him to help come to this decision which will any way you slice it affect the longevity of your relationship.
posted by vegartanipla at 4:55 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


It sounds from your original question that he's pretty good at making you think this is your idea, or something he has a "right" to have, so there you are twisting yourself into pretzels trying to make the unworkable work out for his sake.

As a former Dominatrix, I was not judging his fetish or fantasy. But frankly, you made him sound like a selfish asshole and or/ a very charming sociopath in your original question. If the narrative in your original question is even somewhat close to the truth, I propose you look at this guy a little more closely. I think he's probably very charismatic and charming, but that inside he is nothing like you as a person.

Just be careful. Love doesn't ask or expect you to compromise your wellbeing or expect the type of sacrifice you're describing.

However. If you're discovering you've got a submissive side - have at it! Just make sure it's always consensual. Hint: What you describe in your original question doesn't sound consensual.
posted by jbenben at 4:56 PM on January 22, 2012 [35 favorites]


Relationships involve compromise; you proposed a compromise you thought you might be able to live with -- MUTUAL non-monogamy. He shot that down.

Listen. I'm totally poly. I haven't had a monogamous relationship since 1992, and that was only by default-we-never-talked-about-it. I've had group sex with loved partners. And I think that this entire situation smells awful and coercive.

I've been in non-monogamous relationships of various stripes for fourteenish years, and I've seen this situation play out over and over -- the person who is monogamous, whose partner wants to fool around, and god, they try. Because they love their partners, they try. And try. And they hurt. And eventually, it ends, but not until everyone's good and wrecked.

Memail me if you like; I can get way more specific.
posted by endless_forms at 4:59 PM on January 22, 2012 [17 favorites]


Why should it be him taking the hit and not me?

Why should it be you taking the hit and not him?

You don't have to break up with him, though I hope you'll take some time to consider the heartfelt perspectives shared above. Given your stated goal to stay in and make this relationship even better, my answers to your initial questions remain:

Should I let my boyfriend sleep with other women? No.
Is it a poor idea to let your partner have sex with other people, knowing that you will be hurt by it? Yes.
Will it be more likely to help or hurt our relationship if he indulges in his fantasies with other women More likely to hurt.
is this a reasonable compromise for someone to make? Not a reasonable compromise.
posted by argonauta at 5:03 PM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Cairnoflore, he has not been very forthcoming about the younger women thing, but I have heard him hint that he fantasizes about early-college age girls. Once when I wore a juvenile-looking cheerleader-ish shirt and had my hair in pigtails, he almost went insane. He seemed to like the idea of fantasizing that we were both in high school, which I did with him a little bit, playfully. He has stated overtly, when I said I thought people were attracted to other people close to their own age even as they grow older (i.e. I would not find a 50 year old particularly hot, but I probably will when I'm 50), that he could never imagine being attracted to a middle-aged female, even of he is middle aged. Yeah, this of course hurts my feelings, too, as obviously it makes me feel like he will dump me for a younger model as soon as he feels like I'm too old, and I sometimes feel like he already thinks that. I have not discussed this with him, though, even though I know I should, because I am afraid of the answer. This whole issue is really a separate post, though. If its relevant, cool, otherwise I don't need to address it here.
posted by labandita at 5:07 PM on January 22, 2012


He seemed to like the idea of fantasizing that we were both in high school, which I did with him a little bit, playfully. He has stated overtly, when I said I thought people were attracted to other people close to their own age even as they grow older (i.e. I would not find a 50 year old particularly hot, but I probably will when I'm 50), that he could never imagine being attracted to a middle-aged female, even of he is middle aged.

How could this possibly be someone you would ever entertain the idea of having a long term relationship with? He is not someone who wants to grow old with you, or who will grow old loving you.

Deep down, I feel like this kind of conflict--and this kind of sexual unhappiness--is really, really unusual a few months into a relationship. You guys should be too busy fucking like bunnies for him to be telling you all about how he really, really wants to sleep with two other, barely legal women.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:12 PM on January 22, 2012 [63 favorites]


It's relevant because it sounds like he's slowly and subtly chipping away at your self-esteem and putting you in a constant state of desperately trying to be NOT YOURSELF in order to please him. You will never be in high school. You will never be okay with him having threesomes with barely legal co-eds. Yet you feel pressure from him to try to be these impossible things.

Either this is an issue with you, like you are for some reason really set on doing things that you hate and being miserable, or he is really not someone who cares about your long-term well being. I'm guessing it's a bit of both which is a really toxic combination.

I can't tell you what to do but I will tell you that this is NOT an emergency. Give yourself plenty of time to relax and think about this. Like, months.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:13 PM on January 22, 2012 [19 favorites]


"Yeah, this of course hurts my feelings, too, as obviously it makes me feel like he will dump me for a younger model as soon as he feels like I'm too old, and I sometimes feel like he already thinks that."

Don't date anyone who makes you feel bad about yourself. Ever.

At 28 you're just getting started!
posted by jbenben at 5:13 PM on January 22, 2012 [12 favorites]


The other concern, that I just became aware of, is that love is not supposed to hurt like this. Take care of yourself.
posted by cairnoflore at 5:15 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I try really hard not to think of relationships and barriers as absolutes. But your boyfriend is absolutely an asshole, and your relationship is absolutely untenable. Save yourself years of pain and dump him now. There are plenty of guys out there who won't force you into a situation like this.
posted by Etrigan at 5:15 PM on January 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


This "deep, burning desire," is this coming from you or him? Did you decide it's a necessity, or did he talk about it that way? Look, if he loves you AND doesn't want to break up with you, if he loves you and doesn't just love having a girlfriend, he would rather not hurt you than have the threesome. You can't change the fact that you would be hurt by it (and that your pain would obsess you and poison the relationship) any more than he can change the fact that that particular sex act appeals to him. If you were withholding sex entirely, Dan Savage would be on his side. That's not what this is. He can choose monogamy or break up. If you're going to take that choice away from him and choose "volunteer to be miserable and thereby make the relationship miserable for both of you unless he's the kind of guy who likes his partners miserable," you should break up now. Save yourselves both a lot of pain.

If he told you he wouldn't be OK with you having the same freedom he wants, then either he was saying "you don't have to say yes because I know I can't actually do this in a fair way, I'm just sharing a fantasy" or he is, I am afraid, an asshole. And people are reluctant to give him the benefit of the doubt because yes, wtf, "younger girls" when you're 28? It does sound like he wants somebody less powerful than him, somebody (or some bodies) who'll let him do whatever he wants, regardless of what they like or need. Unless he wasn't that serious about "needing" that either, in which case the answer is to forget about it.
posted by Adventurer at 5:16 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm concerned for you. Do you want this to be a long term relationship? Why are you willing to be with a guy you love when you know he'll dump you when he feels like you're "too old"?

And frankly, I'm concerned about what he's saying to you that makes you think that all of this is okay. I think most people who are into monogamy would *not* be okay with their significant others sleeping with other people but prohibiting them from doing the same.

You say he's not an asshole, and I'll assume for argument's sake you're right. But is he really being loving to you? Is he being kind to you? Are you happier in this relationship than you would be alone or with someone else? What would you say to a friend who told you that her boyfriend was saying these things to her?
posted by McPuppington the Third at 5:18 PM on January 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


Either he is awful, or you have really tied yourself up in knots interpreting his (fairly normal and actually compatible with monogamy) turn-ons as these sacred things he must have to be happy, which you must give him because pleasing him is all-important. I can't tell which one.
posted by yarly at 5:19 PM on January 22, 2012 [22 favorites]


You don't have to justify being unhappy in a relationship. You don't have to prove that your needs are deserved. Someone doesn't have to be a bad person for you to want to leave them.

You don't sound happy in your relationship. You say that you are, but you also say a lot of things that make it sound like you are terribly nervous that he'll cheat/leave/be unhappy, like you're walking on eggshells, like you feel like the ground is unsteady beneath your feet. That's not what a happy relationship feels like. That's what a bad situation feels like.

Maybe he's an amazing person--but he's an amazing person who doesn't sound right for you. You're an amazing person--but you sound like an amazing person who isn't right for him. Maybe he's been a perfectly wonderful boyfriend to you (despite how many of us in this thread are reading the evidence in your question), but maybe what you need is to not be in a relationship with him. Two incredibly awesome people can add up to one terribly bad relationship, just if they get together at the one moment in each others' lives.

From what you've said, all I can really say is this: I think you have some needs that are not being met, I think, more fundamentally, you're struggling to understand what your needs are and how to handle having needs, and I think it will will help you if you try to gain this understanding while not in a relationship with this guy.

Here's something my therapist told me a while ago, that I think may help you. Boundaries and limits are important, because they're what tell us what we are. Who you are as a person is determined by what you'll accept and what you'll emphatically reject. If you don't have a handle on your boundaries, if you don't understand why "This will make me physically ill with grief and pain" is reason to say no, then that means what you're missing is a giant chunk of your own identity. You have to know and love yourself, before you can really know and love another.
posted by meese at 5:20 PM on January 22, 2012 [30 favorites]


Oh man. It sounds like this guy is trying to slide you into an abusive relationship. His words may be all baby I love you more than air and steaks and and and and you are so great and I would give you anything and gosh did I tell you I love you.

But his actions? Man. They stink. A loving, respectful partner would have had a different response when you brought this topic back up. A loving partner would have said something along the lines of, "we discussed that, and we agreed that it's either total monogamy or we both sleep around. I'd rather have your company than any other vagina."

Instead he made it all about what he is sacrificing. Either you're enough or you aren't, but he needs to decide, so that you can either move on or, you know, get committed and enjoy hot monogamous sexy time. Without the worry. And, either he's able to allay your worry, or he's not. And if you can't trust him, you need to decide. So that you can either move on, or enjoy that hot monogamous sex.

Also, he seems to be among the many that believe that a key which opens many locks is a master key, while a lock that opens to different keys is a crappy lock. Well. This certainly is true of keys and locks, but it's bollocks when it comes to penises and vaginas. Find a man that is happy with your one vagina, because you don't seem all that interested in having multiple partners, but you certainly don't deserve to be shamed for wanting the option of equity.

Finally, there are some behaviors that are enough to mar an entire personality. People who hit or berate their partners are not nice people. People who try to bully their partners into non-monogamy are not nice people. People who kick puppies are not nice people. People who set fire to crowded movie theaters are not nice people.

They are assholes. You'll notice that your boyfriend makes it onto that list.
posted by bilabial at 5:26 PM on January 22, 2012 [17 favorites]


Can you clarify what happened when he "dropped it" and the extent of his "very strong desire" to do this? As well as whether it would be a one-time threesome (his first and only), or whether he thinks it is a kink that is a necessary part of his life?

He could be a perfectly normal and fine guy here. If he wants to do this thing, but you said it would hurt you and be uncomfortable with it, and he legitimately dropped it, then he might be behaving fine. In that case, the issue is with you -- you need to sort out why you think this desire of his is on par with your desire to be in a monogamous relationship.

If he is okay with dropping it, then fine -- his compromise for this relationship is to not explore sexual gratification outside of the relationship. That is par for the course in relationships. It is, in most situations, an inherent aspect of being in a relationship. In that case, you are twisting yourself up in knots for unclear reasons (if you're not being manipulated by him, then you are too eager to please), and that is the issue you need to explore before making any kind of decision about this. By what he said to you (being willing to drop it), this is, at minimum, not any kind of urgent, pressing deal and you need to give yourself time to step back, relax, and gather perspective.

Even in that case, I think that agreeing to something that is going to cause you heartbreak is not going to help your relationship. And while that's really the heart of this decision, it's really not the immediate issue here.
posted by J. Wilson at 5:36 PM on January 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Holy cow, just read your comment about him never being able to be attracted to 50-year-old. I promise you will live to be 50. I'm sure he's incredibly magnetic or he would never be able to get away with this shit, but please, let him find somebody else to wear down to nothing.
posted by Adventurer at 5:43 PM on January 22, 2012 [22 favorites]


Is it a poor idea to let your partner have sex with other people, knowing that you will be hurt by it?

Framed like that, of course it's a poor idea. Is it a poor idea to keep hitting your thumb with a hammer, knowing you'll be hurt by it?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:46 PM on January 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


The thought of watching him as he touches and is touched by some other woman actually makes me feel like sobbing and makes me feel palpably, physically ill. If he were to have a threesome, I could only possibly stand it if he arranged something on his own, without telling me when it was happening, and never spoke of it.

I don't care how discreet he is, eventually you are going to end up running across evidence of what he's been doing, and it will hurt you, and by then the genie will have been let so far out of the bottle that you'll have a very hard time convincing him to return to a monogamous state.

Some people are good candidates for sexual openness in a relationship. You are not one of them right now, and you have no way of knowing whether you ever will be. By trying to compromise with him you're just getting his hopes up. Instead you need to just flatly state what you want, and what you don't want. If he can't handle that, tough. You don't owe anyone a threesome.
posted by hermitosis at 5:48 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


If there's one thing I learned from my ex-husband, it's that 'compromise' does not mean one person gets everything they want and the other has to suck it up.

It sucks and I'm sorry, but this isn't what love or a healthy relationship looks like. Don't settle for being used like this.
posted by Space Kitty at 5:55 PM on January 22, 2012 [16 favorites]


The way I see it, right now, he is the one making the hard sacrifice by deciding not to act on this deep, burning desire, just because I said it would hurt me. Why should it be him taking the hit and not me?

He is not making a hard sacrifice. Your feelings do not constitute any sort of hang-up. It's not like you're a quadriplegic and unable to satisfy him sexually. If you are a healthy, sexually generous person who is putting time and effort into a sexual relationship, then you are holding up your end of the bargain.

It sounds to me like he has some wild oats left to sow and that it's only a matter of time before he rationalizes the decision to sow them. But I also think you're enabling this mentality by treating his fidelity as a "sacrifice" that he's making on your behalf.
posted by hermitosis at 5:55 PM on January 22, 2012 [17 favorites]


...the person who is monogamous, whose partner wants to fool around, and god, they try. Because they love their partners, they try. And try. And they hurt. And eventually, it ends, but not until everyone's good and wrecked.

It's relevant because it sounds like he's slowly and subtly chipping away at your self-esteem and putting you in a constant state of desperately trying to be NOT YOURSELF in order to please him.

The above points are very, very important. In the case of the second point, it doesn't have to be something that he's doing deliberately for it to have a soul-crushing effect.

Why should it be him taking the hit and not me?

It doesn't matter what's fair. What matters is that if you do this it will destroy you. It won't just hurt you, it will destroy you. If not doing this will destroy your boyfriend, the two of you are incompatible. You don't want him destroyed and he should not want you destroyed. It might be the case that you two have to leave each other because you love each other. But you cannot allow yourself to be destroyed in order to save him from destruction.

I have been in a situation very much like yours, right down to the one-penis policy, and I went ahead and did what you are thinking of doing. I did it in part because I have trouble setting boundaries and find it almost impossible to say no. I give of myself endlessly in the desperate hope that people will like me for it, and this goes triple in a romantic relationship where I hope they will love me for it. It's taken me years to even recognize that this isn't healthy, let alone start fixing it. Devymetal has a good point: Also, please ask yourself which other areas of your life where you let people hurt you and take advantage of your good will and/or where you voluntarily victimize yourself. No way this is an issue you have which is just related to sex.

Please, for the love of god, do not repeat my mistake. Do not let your boyfriend sleep with other women when that's not what you want. It was the most painful emotional experience I've ever been through and I wouldn't wish it on anyone.
posted by ootandaboot at 6:00 PM on January 22, 2012 [26 favorites]


Your boyfriend certainly sounds like a bit of an entitled douche, but the real problem here seems to be your lack of self worth. To me it sounds like you want the internet to give you permission to say no - why else would you tell us that the whole situation makes you feel like sobbing and physically ill? - but you shouldn't need our permission. Just say no if you can't handle it. He doesn't NEED a threesome. Nobody needs a threesome. He wants it, and that's fine if you're fine with it or if he's single, but you aren't fine with it and he's not single. Give yourself permission to expect more from him. Give yourself permission to say no. He'll live.
posted by Lina Lamont at 6:07 PM on January 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


Is it a poor idea to let your partner have sex with other people, knowing that you will be hurt by it?

It's a poor idea to let your partner do anything that hurts you.
posted by Orinda at 6:11 PM on January 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


My only suggestion is that you re-read your own descriptions of him. My impression from every part of you've said is that this is one creepy dude.
posted by cmoj at 6:12 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I haven't read most of the 70 answers above. I came in to say this:

I've been only in (very happily) open relationships for the 14 years of my adult life. Watching and helping the newer people around me, I've seen people successfully manage opening up a previously monogamous relationship. To be successful, that process requires a few key conditions of relationship health, NONE of which it sounds like your relationship with this man has.

We are strangers here in the green; we don't know everything about your relationship. But I don't feel, given what I read in your question, that opening up your relationship in this way would likely work well for you on any level.

That leaves open the question of where to go from here. I think you will only find that out by telling him, very clearly, what you've told us. I wish you luck and health.
posted by kalapierson at 6:24 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I usually never answer relationship questions because I have so little experience myself, but as a rational and objective person: My God, this sounds terrible.

It's very easy for us to say DTMFA because we're not in love with him and we're not in the relationship, but please please please take a closer look at what you wrote about him. How he wants you to compromise but is not willing to compromise in return. How he hurts you with the things he says. How you feel so poorly that even YOU think that he might be already 'thinking of looking for younger model'.

Why should he take the hit and not you? I have to ask: Why should YOU be taking the hit? You aren't married and you've only been dating for a few months. If you are looking after him, only thinking of his wants and needs, then who is looking after you? You HAVE to look after yourself. Be kind to yourself. No one's saying that you shouldn't care or make compromises for someone you love, but you also have to look out for yourself first, especially in this "getting to know each other stage" you guys are still in, because it will help you make decisions that are the best for YOU. Be selfish, because choosing the right partner, for many people, is a for-life decision.
posted by sprezzy at 6:29 PM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm a little confused, but I'm going to do my best here.

If he brought up both the younger-woman thing and the threesome thing ONCE, and perhaps the yearning, desire, etc. are more like your projections (i.e. you could hear the desire in his voice, but he never said that he needs this fantasy to be fulfilled more than he needs oxygen)... then you need to stop beating yourself up over this. It's damaging to you, damaging to your self-esteem, and you will never feel secure. The little bad voice in your head (I have one too. That little voice sucks) will keep telling you that you're not enough, that you will NEVER be enough, and that you aren't worthy of his sacrifice. Even though it's not so much a sacrifice... as a fetishist myself, I don't feel like I'm sacrificing, exactly, when a boyfriend couldn't fulfill a particular desire of mine. It just felt like... lining up what worked for me with what worked for him. Perhaps some CBT or counseling might help.


But, if he's been talking about it repeatedly, KNOWING how badly it makes you feel, KNOWING that the only way you would agree would be to do something that is completely abhorrent to him, then the problem is no longer the little voice in your head, but it's the big voice sitting next to you. As wonderful as you think he is, this relationship will wreck you. It'll be little digs here, little questions there, until finally, FINALLY you give in. And once you give in, it will make you sick*. You will feel like you betrayed something about yourself. you may shut down sexually because you can't stand to touch him. You may shut down emotionally as you try to reconcile your visceral reaction with the fact that you gave him your blessing. It will turn a relationship into poison. In this case, you may want to talk to a therapist as to why you would accept that kind of treatment.
posted by mornie_alantie at 6:40 PM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I read the original question and thought 'my god, he sounds like an asshole who wants ALL THE THINGS. Dump him now!'. Then I read your follow-up and thought 'oh, she kind of sounds like a doormat who is actively searching for things he might potentially like to do and hoping to fulfil his every passing wish at the cost of her own sanity, without having the self-esteem or boundaries to even see that as a bad way to live'.

So I really don't know which interpretation is more accurate, but either way you might benefit from a therapist as someone to talk to in person and get more feedback on the way you're handling everything. Whether he is making unreasonable demands or you are projecting them onto him, you shouldn't be trying to make him happy at your expense - in a working relationship, you both get to be happy.
posted by jacalata at 6:45 PM on January 22, 2012 [14 favorites]


(Forgot to add: *=I wouldn't say there's anything wrong with polyamory for people that can handle it, or prefer it, or are totally hardwired for polyamory. I don't think this is the case here)
posted by mornie_alantie at 6:45 PM on January 22, 2012


You need to have some seriously open (probably uncomfortable) communication with this man, in which you both find out exactly what the other one wants out of a long-term partner. You need to know how important these desires are to him. He needs to know exactly what your emotions on this situation are. This will be difficult. It is very easy for people to lie to themselves and to each other about how much they need something. It is easy to say "relationships are about compromise" and then compromise on something that you really shouldn't. You tell yourself "It's okay, I'll be fine with x." A year or five years or ten years later, you figure out that you are not fine with x, you never were, and you've invested a significant chunk of your life in being miserable. Don't put yourself or your partner through a bad relationship because one of you was too timid to speak your needs.

Long story short: You need to find out if this is something he needs.
He needs to find out that this is something you cannot live with.

If there are irreconcilable differences, then don't waste any more of your life, or his.
posted by agentofselection at 6:46 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Your answers are all very insightful and have made me rethink the entire situation. Thank you all, so much.

I am considering showing him this thread as a springboard for discussion.

I love you, MeFi. Sorry, hang on… something in my eye…
posted by labandita at 6:52 PM on January 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


I have heard him hint that he fantasizes about early-college age girls.
This is normal, and is not equivalent to wanting to date an 18-year old. 28-year old males don't want to date 18-year old females.

he could never imagine being attracted to a middle-aged female, even of he is middle aged.
This sounds like something I might say without thinking about it. He may not even be aware that you're upset about it. He may have meant it as a joke. Worth talking to him about? Definitely. Worth contemplating breaking up with him over? Hardly.
posted by deadweightloss at 6:54 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wish I could give you a drink and a hug.

This is the guy who gives open relationships a bad name. Now, I’ve got my kinks and I don’t remotely judge polyamory – but this isn’t it. It’s straight up emotional manipulation trying to make sure you don’t give him shit when he cheats. (Side note: Maybe it’s amnesty for when you find out he already is?)

When you have a non-negotiable kink, something you have a ‘very strong almost painful need’ for, it’s your responsibility to find out if it’s available before moving forward. Being frank about this desire isn’t what makes him an asshole – keeping this information from you until after you were committed is.

Please understand - if he’s making a hard sacrifice, it was entirely his decision, because he was the only one going in with enough information to an informed choice. It’s like a carnivore knowingly going to a vegan restaurant and blaming their date when there’s no steak.

You don’t have to dump him for being who he is. Not being an ageless college student, I have no doubt he’ll save you the trouble and dump you for being who you are. Now is this really the guy you want to waste your amazing youth on?
posted by Space Kitty at 7:02 PM on January 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


look, i'm sorry, you came on here bc you wanted a bunch of random strangers on the internets to tell you that you should allow him to do this, despite the fact that this would will wreck you. why? bc you are "crazy in love with him" and apparently he is with you—only after a few months of dating. fine. if that's what you want to believe. but i think most ppl who really love someone would not ask to be allowed to do something— especially, if that thing would really hurt that partner—and yet not allow their partner to do the same thing. do you know who does that? yeah, like everyone has said upthread, selfish douches. but if it helps you sleep better, then go on thinking that this guy is SO IN LOVE WITH YOU and that he is THE ONE FOR YOU, no matter what you have to compromise. even when he cheats on you with some 18 yr old. bc he probably will. and with how defensive of him you sound here, you'll probably stay with him.

and i'm also sorry but you are wrong about his emotional maturity. bc an emotionally mature man would not ever think this: "He has stated overtly…that he could never imagine being attracted to a middle-aged female, even of he is middle aged. that's something really stupid boys feel is true. that is one of the most emotionally immature things i have ever heard anyone saying with regard to choosing partners. period.

you sound like you have low self-esteem and being with this guy isn't going to help you with that. like others have said above, you would probably benefit from therapy. you also sound like this guy is the only one out there for you and if you break up with him you will never find love again. which is not true. bc i guarantee you that there are way better men out there to be involved with than this one. but i suspect you don't want to believe that. so good luck.
posted by violetk at 7:40 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't think that you should dump him. It sounds like he has some really standard-issue fantasies, and that he doesn't bring them up unless you ask him. This is especially if it's the case, and I think it is, that he has only mentioned wanting to have a threesome in the event that you're involved, and if the idea of his finding two completely different women is one that you came up with. Tons of guys would like to have a FFM threesome and would not be interested in a MMF.

But you also should absolutely not do this. He didn't ask you to let him find two other women to sleep with, he doesn't bring it up, and it would destroy you. So that's the end of the discussion - it won't happen. You should both drop the subject. Unless you don't trust him not to respond to that situation by cheating on you, in which case you should dump him.
posted by Ragged Richard at 8:19 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not every fantasy needs to become reality. I think that's something that more people should learn at a younger age, to spare them the misery of feeling like they're deficient if they don't do x or have y happen to them. Some fantasies are somewhat attainable through role playing etc (as you learned when you dressed up for him) and some are just fun to nurture privately for masturbation purposes.

The idea of a threesome isn't particularly taboo in our culture anymore, but people aren't exactly having them left and right, either. You guys have only been together a few months, so this is actually the perfect time to be having these conversations, before you commit to anything long term with each other.

Don't beat it into the ground, just continue to share and talk and explore. I wouldn't show him this thread, it may seem really overwhelming to him -- dozens of strangers discussing a one-sided view of his sex life.
posted by hermitosis at 8:29 PM on January 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Since this is turning into one of those not competely unanimous AskMe relationship questions, I feel I have to put in my 2 bits' worth.

You would be far better off without him. The beginning of your post makes it sounds like everything is hunky dory, but this is not a hunky dory relationship. He sounds like a real twit, all of 28 and insisting that he can never see himself wanting to sleep with a middle-aged person? Really? That's where he stepped over the line into asshat territory. Of all the young and not-so-young men I've been involved with, none has been so stupid as to utter those lines. And none has certainly ever had the temerity to suggest that they could sleep around, but I can't.

His fantasies are just that, and he has to learn to distinguish between mental jacking off and a real, true, sincere need. Until then, don't waste your time. Please.

On preview, what hermitosis just said.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 8:31 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


intensely loving, deeply caring, very sexual and very satisfying relationship for several months.

For several months!??!

I was thinking this was like the seven-year itch until I read that.

You're still in the honeymoon stage of novelty and exploring each other both sexually and as people, and he's wanting to screw other women already? If you don't agree to his plan, honey, don't hold your breath, he's gonna cheat anyway.

If he were intensely loving and deeply caring, he would consider your feelings. As far as you, do you really believe a very satisfying relationship involves lowering your standards and self-esteem to the point you'd let yourself be dictated to in this manner?

You haven't invested much time in this relationship, and looks to me he hasn't invested much of anything. Looks like his priory is not you, but that he's well laid, gets some cuddle time, and then when he gets bored, goes out to play. Where's the benefit for you?
posted by BlueHorse at 8:51 PM on January 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


"Give yourself permission to expect more from him."

OMG. THIS.
posted by jbenben at 9:27 PM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have not discussed this with him, though, even though I know I should, because I am afraid of the answer.

You're afraid of the answer, because....if you don't like the answer, you are going to have to deal with the question of whether or not you can be in a relationship with a person who delivers that answer.

And you're afraid of dealing with that question because you're afraid that you might not be able to be in that relationship.

In other words, you're afraid to lose this relationship.

So much so that you're thinking about sacrificing your own sense of comfort to him, and so much so that you're willing to ignore really pointed things he says about the lack of a long-term future with you (because I think that's what the middle-aged remark means: 'I don't see myself ever settling into a long-term relationship with one person, probably not you but really not anyone right now, or this would be my moment to say something cutely romantic about that idea. I don't even see myself growing up, and have never bothered to imagine being that age, so I'm certainly not thinking about being that age with a partner that age. It's not on my mind at all. I'm still imagining a world where age never touches me and all my relationships are at-will ones with young women').

The use of the word afraid is really important here. There's no need to be afraid at this stage in a healthy relationship. It works or it doesn't. What's to fear?

But you actually fear losing the relationship more than you fear losing yourself in it or putting yourself through unbelievable pain and ridiculous drama. That's not a balanced, normal, healthy attitude toward a relationship.

You'll survive the end of this relationship, no matter when or how it comes, and it's nothing to be afraid of. If he doesn't want to play the same game you play, so be it. It's perfectly OK to say "I am starting to see we really want different things. Maybe it's best if we cool off and each pursue what we really do want, because even though we're attracted to each other we don't have much of a future."

When you feel like a full, happy person with good self-esteem and solid boundaries who can say exactly what they want in a relationship, there's no need to be afraid of anything. You're don't feel like that person yet. That's why you feel "afraid" of finding out who he really is and what he really thinks - because you've got him built up as someone you just love and will love forever, and want to get closer to, and who loves you, and it just looks like he might really not be that person. That's frightening because you're staking a lot of your own self-worth on it continuing. It's making you afraid because you're afraid of you who are or will be without a relationship - even one that really makes you feel bad about yourself because you're not getting the validation and support you need.

Try not being "crazy" in love. Try being sane in love. It might mean working on yourself a little more so you don't entertain propositions that would be really bad for you to experience.
posted by Miko at 9:58 PM on January 22, 2012 [36 favorites]


So:
  1. "...for several months"
  2. "...makes me feel palpably, physically ill"
  3. "...he is unwilling to reciprocate "
  4. "...he could never imagine being attracted to a middle-aged female"
In conclusion: either articulate and defend your fears and needs, or get out of there.
posted by ead at 10:27 PM on January 22, 2012


If it makes you feel any better, OP: once I dumped a guy that I was really into, who was really into me, because he told me that as great as we were together, he didn't want to be monogamous.

I cried and cried. I was single for a long time.

Then I met someone else who is happy to be monogamous, and is wonderful and loving and funny and smart, and married him, and have never once pined after the non-monog guy. That dude did me a favor by telling me what he wanted; it freed me up to go find what I wanted; and it hurt like hell at the time but it was all for the best.

I hope your story goes the same way, and in a few years you are going to cringe and laugh at the idea that you ever placed so much more importance on some guy's narcissism than on your own needs that you even asked this question.
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:33 PM on January 22, 2012 [12 favorites]


Much more information about what Miko suggests can be found here: Women Who Love Too Much

In addition to one-on-one therapy, something that has helped me immensely has been to attend CoDependent Anonymous group meetings.

I find myself attracted to men who are emotionally unavailable/abusive because I believe they give me the opportunity to finally win the love of my father. This is an illusion.

Your boyfriend sounds like a misogynist, and an abuser. Do you feel as if he regards you as his equal?

Adult love is not supposed to hurt like this.

Best wishes, my heart goes out to you. You are worthy, and you are loved; you can be the person you've always wanted to find in the world.
posted by macinchik at 10:39 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have been in this situation myself, with some technical differences, and I rationalised it the same way you are rationalising it, and it was a disaster that I've always regretted playing along with.
posted by thylacinthine at 10:43 PM on January 22, 2012


How long have you been together? a couple of months and he is already asking oh wait, telling you that you that he wants to sleep with other women? drop him, do yourself a favor, go find someone who will respect you and not use you as another notch on his belt!
posted by pakora1 at 10:50 PM on January 22, 2012


I guess I'm going a bit against the flow.

Every one of my partners has run this by me as fantasy/future possibility: 'you know what would be so hot? yup, group sex' - so I'm having a hard time parsing whether he's just saying 'hot, hot, hot' as an idea that so many of us have, or whether you think this is an actual 'I have to have group sex so I'm negotiating for it in earnest.'

When you have these fantasy 'reveals' in a new relationship, it's easier to do it with a secure feeling around your body, your sexual experience, your boundaries etc. When I first heard the 'two-gals-at-the-same-time' fantasy from my 18 year old boyfriend I also ran horrified to my diary to write about how I'd handle my jealousy, hurt etc. Like it was an actual problem and scenario that I'd have to face. The last time I was going through the same fantasy reveal conversation [with my current partner] the threesome fantasy was getting so old news, that I was 'duh, who doesn't want two chicks at the same time' or 'blondes or brunettes?' I hope he didn't run off to his diary wringing his hands over my fantasies and his ability to cope with the possibility that I would seek out their fulfillment. [Although, finding three Vikings is harder than finding a few college gals I reckon.]

A LOT more conversation would have to ensue to convince me that this was more than a chat about fantasies. It seems to me from reading your post that YOU have revisited the fantasy with him and escalated the significance of his revealing it to you. He may masturbate thinking about it, he may construct elaborate, glorious fantasies about bunches of women lavishing attention on him - that's just fantasy. Hopefully you know what your own fantasies are, and you can enjoy them, as well as having a loving relationship with your partner. I would not be all DTMFA right now. I'd probably play with it - get some wigs, dress up.

And an immature guy, [and yes, 28 is young] his tastes are so obviously here expressed in porn tropes very familiar to anyone his age. As an immature guy, 50 year old women are in the realm of 'mom's age' so a throwaway line is not hopefully a deeply philosophical statement of future intent.

I think you need to find ways to build yourself up so that his fantasies are just one aspect of how he thinks and feels about one very small thing, not an incitement to escalation and worry about what you'll have to do to cope with it. It seems to me that you've done a lot of escalation here. Yes, of course people crave their fantasies, but it doesn't mean that they have to act on them.

[And hello, I just love how immature guys think that all they have to do is state a threesome intention and that two chicks'll just turn up rearing to go. Ha ha. It's hard enough finding one sexual partner. A former partner and I had a bet that he could find two gals without paying for it.]

TL;DR I think you need to be strong when you discuss sexual fantasies with your partner and don't assume that a description of desire requires anything of you of the magnitude you're suggesting here.
posted by honey-barbara at 10:59 PM on January 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


Could the DTMFAers please read this bit:
At the same time, he does genuinely love me, and after I told him how much it would hurt me to have a threesome, he very considerately dropped it. I can tell he still thinks about it, though, and he has admitted (after light prodding by me) that it is very hard for him to deny himself this experience...
He's not trying to nag or pressure her into a threesome. He found out she didn't like the idea and dropped it. Just asking if your partner is into a kink isn't grounds for dumping.

To the poster: if you're not into it, just don't do it. He was willing to drop the issue. It sounds like it is more significant as a negative to you, than it is a positive to him. So on balance for your relationship, best not to do it.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 11:13 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I pretty much agree with the pile-on, and I just wanted to add:

You deserve better.

He has a burning need to have a threesome. Ok, fine. But you have a burning need for monogamy. Your needs are just as important as his.

And I'm going to be very blunt here: you will never be happy with this man. Never. You are not happy now, and this is going to fester and get worse. Yes, you love him, but you are not happy. And after he dumps you for a younger woman, and after a few years pass, you're going to be horribly embarrassed that you put up with this at all.

There is a man out there somewhere who is going to be crazy in love with you, and who will want only you, but as long as you're with this guy, you will never meet the man who will be crazy in love with you. Set yourself free, so that you can meet the man you deserve.
posted by MexicanYenta at 11:24 PM on January 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


This guy clearly considers your relationship to be temporary, because when he's 50 he's damn sure planning to make sure his partner is significantly younger. Are you okay with that, or are you looking for someone to settle down with? If it's the latter, you need to move on. The threesome thing, while nasty, is kind of irrelevant compared to this.
posted by hazyjane at 11:42 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


The impression I'm getting, from your intense feeling that you need to be the one to compromise on the threesome question, and also the insecurity you mentioned about his feeling he couldn't be attracted to middle-aged women, is that as much as you may be in love with him, you aren't confident in his attraction to you.

From what you've written, I really can't tell if he's giving you good reason not to be confident, or if this is your issue. But either way, please think about and process this before you go experimenting with opening up your relationship? And a few months is really not a long time to be together. It's hard to feel secure about something that's this new.

Look, there's no reason you have to make this decision right now. Give it a year or two. If your relationship is strong enough to be worth making the sacrifice you're contemplating, it'll still be around then, and you two will have built up a lot better communication tools to navigate through this.

And finally, here's what an actual compromise looks like in your situation: occasionally, while you two are having fun together, you mutually fantasize about what a threesome would be like.
posted by psycheslamp at 11:48 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think AskMe can get a little over the top sometimes. It can be very quick to tell people to dump their long term, much loved partners, which just makes puts the asker on the defensive because they know this person is lovely and wonderful and doesn't deserve to be called an arsehole.

I'm sure your boyfriend isn't an arsehole. I'm sure he's wonderful. But he needs something from a partner that you can't give him, and you need something from him that he can't give you. Every relationship has things like this - maybe you love to watch bad horror films, but he can't stand them; maybe he loves to sit with a cup of tea and the crossword and be still and silent for an hour on the weekend when you want to chat and move and whatnot. If they're minor, you can make a compromise - you can watch bad horror films with his buddies, and you'll be sure to leave him alone with his crossword. Great! It's pretty straightforward for minor incompatabilities.

For something bigger - something like this - a compromise won't work. It's such a major part of what you think a relationship should be that you'd never be happy with it - constantly wondering if he's setting up something or if he is just going to the gym after work. That road is no fun.

I'm really sorry. It's awful when everything else is perfect but for that one thing - but if that one thing is big enough, then it doesn't really matter how much else is perfect.
posted by twirlypen at 11:54 PM on January 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


Don't let him sleep with anyone but you. It's not going to be worth the mental anguish. Everything else can be worked out. Relationships are hard and mistakes get made. He needs to grow. You need to grow, and hopefully, you can do that together.
posted by seanyboy at 2:12 AM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Could the DTMFAers please read this bit:
At the same time, he does genuinely love me, and after I told him how much it would hurt me to have a threesome, he very considerately dropped it. I can tell he still thinks about it, though, and he has admitted (after light prodding by me) that it is very hard for him to deny himself this experience...
Sounds like it's something he really desires and wants but is forbidding her to do, which is shitty, IMO.

If I want to do something that bad, if I think it's so great and crucial to my being, I'm not going to deny my SO the ecstasy I crave. If anything, I'd long to share the experience with her or have her do something similar.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:36 AM on January 23, 2012


twirlypen: "I'm really sorry. It's awful when everything else is perfect but for that one thing - but if that one thing is big enough, then it doesn't really matter how much else is perfect."

This. And I'm sorry as well because it seems like you have a very nice thing going except for that one big thing.

And that's where you need to listen to little inner voice that's saying, "I don't like this." We all have our dealbreakers.

But I also don't think you're in DTMFA territory until you have one more talk with the guy saying exactly that. Just tell him that you don't like it; that you want the matter dropped (and you also need to no longer bring it up), and you need to ask if he's okay with that.

If he's hemming and hawing and your little inner voice is still telling you this is going to be an issue, then yeah, you should find someone who will understand your dealbreaker and you should move on. Of course that's miserable, but in relationships it's often just one shitty thing that makes us realize, "I'm not happy here."

You're not being unreasonable; you're having a blip on the radar. If you can work through it, that's great.
posted by kinetic at 3:29 AM on January 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I like the idea of two college girls in my bed as much as anyone. But for me to make my partner unhappy about that, or for me to fixate unhealthily on it at the expense of my current relationship, would be a really shitty thing to do. He's not treating you all that great, and you are in the early days -- he's letting you know how things will go from here, and it's not good news. I'm not telling you to ditch him, but I am saying that the current setup isn't making you feel good, and that's not right. You deserve better, whether or not you are with this guy.
posted by Forktine at 5:28 AM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Gosh, reading this makes me really sad.

I'm sure you must love him a lot, but probably the all-consuming, passionate kind of love, right? The kind where you forget about rationality and sort of lose yourself and your own ideals and you would consider doing things that blatantly go against everything your brain is telling you?

Even passionate love doesn't mean you have to lose yourself.

Please don't put your emotional well-being or happiness aside just to keep him around.
posted by rachaelfaith at 7:54 AM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


You are taking this idea of kink shaming and GGG way too far. The whole point of consensual sexual exploration and good fun times within a relationship is that no one agrees to do anything that will hurt them, and that no one does anything to hurt their partner (unless obvsly you are in a consensual bdsm relationship).

As others have mentioned, I don't think the fact that he no longer discusses something that he "painfully seems to need" means that he's over it - I think it means he is proceeding on with his desires regardless of your feelings on the matter.

A giving and considerate person like yourself deserves someone much better.
posted by elizardbits at 8:11 AM on January 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Ok, I talked to him about it. I brought up several points that you guys made in the thread -- thank you so much for providing me with the most solid foundation for a Big Scary conversation that I've ever had in the entirety of my existence. I started by telling him how I felt, the way I did at the top of the thread.

I asked him whether he really needed to sleep with multiple women at once. He said:

1. No, he didn't need that. Want is different from need; it wasn't a requirement.
2. Before we got serious (i.e. exclusive) he dated a girl who *was* willing to do that. He stopped dating her so that he could date me exclusively. He likes the idea of a threesome very much, but he likes the idea of me more.
3. Even if I told him he could have a threesome with two other women outside of our relationship, he wouldn't do it. He wouldn't want to.
4. While it is something he fantasizes about doing with me, he now knows how much it upsets me. The idea of still doing it would be repulsive to him.

I had this conversation on Monday. It has made a Big Difference. I feel so much better, and throughout the week I have been trying to assert myself in small ways if my feelings are hurt, just to see what happens. He usually ends up thanking me sincerely for telling him how I feel. He says he wants me to treat him more like an equal and less like a superior. He said I deserve to have preferences and he wishes I could learn to assert them more.

It was a happy ending, AskMe. Thank you for your brilliant ideas.
posted by labandita at 10:52 PM on January 27, 2012 [21 favorites]


I don't think he will be very true to this for very long. Frankly a person who has this need/requirement will eventually take it up and will start to resent you if he can't. Hopefully your good ending is continuing and all is well but be careful.
posted by pakora1 at 3:28 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Happy to hear about this outcome. You've done a great job and it sounds like he values and respects you. Keep up the communication, and congratulations on following through a difficult conversation. Best wishes for your relationship!
posted by Miko at 9:31 PM on June 11, 2012


Yeah, thanks for the update! I remember feeling at the time like you guys didn't have a huge problem, and a little bit like I was taking crazy pills when so many people started telling you to break up. Glad everything worked out!
posted by Ragged Richard at 10:01 AM on June 12, 2012


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