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Savage Love: Polyproblema


Savage Love
Illustration by Joe Newton

Four years ago, I met a man on a “married but looking” website. We exchanged fantasies, which included wanting to have threesomes and a D/s relationship. He was 19 years my senior. I was 42 at the time. For three years, we met twice a week for drinks or sex. The sex was amazing. We had several threesomes. One year ago, we separated from our spouses. We have lived together now for four months. It isn’t what I imagined: the merging of kids and dogs, a D/s relationship turning vanilla. And due to some health issues, he can perform only once a week. And now the real problem: His desire to bring another woman into our relationship borders on obsession. He searches daily on several websites for that “elusive woman” to become “our friend and lover.” I have access to the accounts, and his chats are pretty straightforward. Nothing that indicates a desire to cheat. He truly seems to be searching for a woman for a regular threesome. The problem is that I am questioning whether I want another woman in our life. I asked him why he is so obsessed with finding someone, and he simply said that it would be “fun and hot.” Since he is much older than most men on these sites, women tend to pass him over. I have this fervent wish that he doesn’t find someone. So do I sit back and hope that he doesn’t find another woman, or should I be up-front with him and tell him that I’m not interested in threesomes anymore? I’m afraid that if he finds someone, my jealousy—which I work very hard to hide from him—will break us up. I am almost getting obsessed myself, checking the sites and his chats constantly. It is bordering on the ridiculous. What should I do?

— Just Wants To Be Monogamous

Ask yourself which conversation will be more difficult:

A. After a frustrating and protracted search, your boyfriend finally manages to find a woman who’s interested in being your “friend and lover,” JWTBM. At that point, you tell him you’re no longer interested in a third, regular or otherwise, and he needn’t have bothered.

B. You tell your boyfriend today—now—that you’re not interested in bringing a third into the relationship, regular or otherwise.

It’s the same conversation either way, JWTBM: You’re gonna have to tell him you’re not interested. Don’t count on him dying before he manages to find someone; he may be too old for the women on the websites he’s haunting now, but sooner or later, either he’ll find his way to a website where his age isn’t an issue, or a bi woman into older men will stumble over one of the ads he already has up. So you’re going to have to tell him the truth, JWTBM, the only question is when.

I would argue that having the conversation now would be preferable to having it after he’s set up a date for drinks with a potential third. He may be disappointed to learn that you’re not interested in a third anymore, JWTBM, but he’s less likely to be breakup-level angry/hurt if you didn’t stand there silently while he wasted time searching for a third.

And who knows? An honest and open conversation about the state of your relationship—including the fact that you’re dissatisfied with the once-a-week routine and the waning of D/s—may ignite an interest in a third. Would you feel differently about a third if it turned out she wasn’t for him (so nothing to be jealous about), JWTBM, but for you? He’s getting older, he has health issues, and he may want someone else around so that you won’t leave him to get your needs met. It’s also possible that a third would reignite the D/s dynamics that you miss. D/s is performance, it’s play, and nothing invigorates a pair of performers quite like a new audience.

I’m not telling you that you have to agree to the third—if it’s monogamy you want, then it’s monogamy you should ask for—but keep your mind, your options, and those lines of communication all open.

 


 

I’m a middle-aged, fat, and happy gay man. My partner has a best friend, and they share everything—including our bed. Most weekends, we tromp through town together, watch TV together, and share waking and sleeping moments together. Recently I referred to us as “poly and in a triad,” and I was shocked by my partner’s response. He claims that we aren’t a triad; I say that if we’re sharing home, heart, and bed, we’re in a poly relationship. Sign me…

— Honest Accidentally Poly Person, Yep

Being poly means being open to or being in more than one romantic relationship—concurrent committed relationships—and what you’ve described sounds pretty poly to me. Perhaps it’s the triad designation that makes your partner uncomfortable. That particular label implies that you’re all equal partners—not just equally attracted to each other and in love with each other (which three people rarely are), but equals on the emotional, social, and financial fronts as well, i.e., equally obligated to one another. Your partner may regard his best friend as fun to have around, but not an equal partner, and not someone he is responsible to/for in the same way you two are responsible for each other.

Or maybe your partner regards his best friend as his boyfriend, not yours, and while he’s happy to share his boyfriend with you sexually, he’s not into the idea that you might be in love with his boyfriend and vice versa, so the “triad” label irks him.

Or maybe your partner is one of those people who believes that poly folks are deranged sex maniacs and whatever he’s doing can’t be poly because he’s not a deranged sex maniac, HAPPY, which makes him more comfortable with cognitive dissonance than the “triad” label.

 


 

I’m a married 28-year-old male. My partner and I are conflicted over the level of openness in our relationship. She describes herself as “post-mononormative.” I consider myself GGG. While I know that she wants me to be her life companion, she has expressed a need for novel experiences that may not include me. While I accept that there is no essential link between erotic love and long-term partnership, I reject the polyamorous notion that love is limitless—when she has misinterpreted conversations and transgressed boundaries, it has always coincided with the neglect of our own relationship. I have given up seeking the moral high ground and just want to find a solution. Should I have polyamorous relationships of my own? Or should I focus on cultivating shared erotic experiences with my partner? And do her transgressions mean that the boundaries we’ve set are not explicit or generous enough?

— Non-Normative Problems

I don’t think retaliatory polyamory is healthy or sustainable. (“I don’t want to have other partners, but if you’re going to have other partners, then so am I! Let’s see how you like it!”) And while you can focus on cultivating shared erotic experiences, NNP, your partner has made it clear that she needs—and intends to have—novel experiences that don’t include you. And while her transgressions may mean the boundaries you’ve set aren’t explicit or generous enough, NNP, it’s likelier that your partner gets off on transgression. Some people do.
I think you’re confused, NNP, and your confusion stems from the fact that your partner is negotiating with you about her nonnegotiable terms. She’s going to do who and what she wants whether you like it or not, and she’s going to hide behind “post-mononormative” labels and claims that conversations were misinterpreted if that’s what it takes. Accept her terms or divorce her ass, but stop deluding yourself.

Don’t miss the Savage Lovecast LIVE from Vancouver, BC! Listen at savagelovecast.com.

mail@savagelove.net
@fakedansavage on Twitter

 


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