Dear Dad: Open Relationships
How do I explain my open relationship to my parents?
—Sharing is caring
Once, in my early 20’s, my mother and I got a bit sloshed at dinner while my father was out of town. We talked about the usual: taxes, politics, “Golden Girls.” Eventually, we got drunk enough to discuss sex. After her fourth glass, my mother revealed that my father loved to get spanked during foreplay. It was weird to hear, but sort of reassuring that even my straight-as-an-arrow father had a kinky side. Because she was vulnerable enough to share his sexual proclivity with me, I thought it would only be polite to do the same. I told her about how I liked wearing nipple clamps during sex. After I divulged this intimate detail my mother took a long gulp of wine, focused her gaze, and then spat out, “I was in labor for 17 hours with you…do I really need to hear this shit?” To put it plainly, a little social lubricant can help with certain penetrating truths, even if they hurt a bit.
My bf and I are open, but I’m not sure if we should tell each other about guys we sleep with?
You cannot survive an open relationship without open communication. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you need to share every sticky, salty detail about every guy you sleep with—not at all. But you do need to be on the same page about what you share and what you don’t. Figure out what level of disclosure works for you both, and run with it. Once you have clear ground rules for what you expect each other to share, it’s as simple as honoring that agreement. As for my personal preference, I like it best when you cc: your partner without having to direct message.
I don’t want an open relationship, but he does. What do I do?
—Three’s a crowd
Red alert, son. Run, do not walk, to the nearest exit. You will not change that man, you will only ruin your own peace of mind by entering into a relationship you’re not actually comfortable with. Next!
Hooked up with an open couple and now they want me to be their third. But I only like one…
You in danger, girl. What do you expect will happen when the one you’re not interested in susses out that you only like his man? I’m all for open relationships, and I have nothing but awe and respect for those who choose to have a third, but do you really want to put yourself in a position where you have to pretend to like someone? Both parties deserve better than that. Let’s just consider it a one time thing for now and should they ever break up, go ahead and hit up the one you like.
Are open relationships the only way two gay men can stay together for a long time?
You know how dogs can hang out together all day and go to bed and wake up and then hang out some more? And you know how cats can disappear for two weeks and come back and purr on you and then ignore you for the rest of the day? Those are two equally valid ways of loving in the world—both authentic to the respective animal. I’ve seen monogamous gay couples and non-monogamous gay couples and some have failed and some have succeeded, and as far as I’ve seen no one has figured out the magical formula for how or why. All you can do is trust your needs and desires. Tell the world what it is that you want and then go for it. There are other queer people out there who’re looking for the exact same thing as you, but first you have to know for yourself what it is that you seek.