The guy who wrote you wondering whether gay men can have monogamous relationships criticized his friends for having sex on the side without letting their boyfriends know. Is this really so terrible?
I love my boyfriend and he only wants a monogamous relationship. However, over the years in my opinion things have gotten a little tired between us. I don’t want to criticize Rick or make him feel bad, but I am not ready to be done with hot sex, so I hook up from time to time. I think it’s the best of both worlds because Rick and I have a very close and warm relationship and I also get to have some pretty erotic adventures with other guys who don’t mean anything to me emotionally.
If I told Rick, he would be very hurt, he would definitely stop trusting me and it could destroy our relationship, which would be devastating to both of us. What’s the point of sharing something so hurtful and potentially damaging?
Right now your boyfriend trusts you, but from what you tell me, he shouldn’t. And you don’t really have a close and warm relationship with him, because he doesn’t really know you.
If Rick wants a monogamous relationship and you love him as you say, how do you justify taking away his opportunity to have what’s important to him, if not with you then with someone else?
You’re facing three crucial choice points here:
Would you rather be honest or not? I cannot overestimate the importance of this question. We determine who we really are by our actions, not by how we describe ourselves or what kind of person we aspire to be. Do you want to simply give the appearance of being trustworthy or actually be a trustworthy person? If you have high standards for yourself, there’s a lot riding on how you answer this question.
Would you rather be in a monogamous relationship with your current boyfriend or not be in a relationship with him at all? You say that Rick has set a bottom line for being in relationship with you; he wants to be exclusive. You don’t need to be in an exclusive relationship with Rick, but staying with him and having sex with others is not an option that he is offering. If you decide to be honest, you may have to choose.
Would you rather speak up about tough issues or avoid confrontation? Most of us don’t like confronting people we love about problems we’re having with them because we don’t want to shake up or even threaten our relationship. When we talk about what’s bothering us, our partner may disagree, get angry or be profoundly disappointed. On the other hand, if we don’t speak up, we don’t have much chance of resolving the problem, and are likely to get increasingly unhappy and disappointed in the other person and in the relationship.
Rather than sneaking around on the side, you could address with Rick your dissatisfaction about your sex life. Maybe the two of you might find ways to improve things or maybe you would conclude together that it is time for some sort of change in your relationship. By choosing to be silent, you’re missing an opportunity to get better at difficult conversations and you’re also missing an opportunity to collaborate with your boyfriend on finding a solution to a problem that concerns you both. Hard work, yes, but also a great opportunity to grow.
People lie to their partners all the time, not just about sex, but about everything from credit card debt to drug use to binge eating. Lies easily become complicated, lead to suspicion, create distance and have the potential to erode your self-esteem. Beyond all these problems, maybe the saddest part of building your relationship on pretense is that you miss the spiritual experience of knowing someone intimately and being deeply known for whom you really are.
Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D, licensed psychologist, specializes in gay couples counseling and individual therapy in D.C. He can be found online at personalgrowthzone.com. All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to Michael@personalgrowthzone.com.