July 1, 2016 at 1:39 pm EST | by Michael Radkowsky
How much hooking up is too much?
intimacy, gay news, Washington Blade, hooking up

Walking on eggshells kills relationship intimacy.

Michael,

How much hooking up is too much?

My boyfriend and I have an open relationship so it’s been OK with me that George is meeting other guys. I play around as well.

But George is spending too much time on this. He’s on hookup apps about as often as I check my email and I’m sure he’s having sex with new guys almost every day.

I tried bringing up my concern with him but he got angry at me for “judging” him and said that if this isn’t affecting our sex life, I have no business telling him what to do. Point taken. We do have good and frequent sex. But I often feel like I’m second fiddle to whomever he was just screwing or is about to screw. It seems like his mind is elsewhere.

Another problem is that George says he hates his job, wants a new one, but never seems to find the time to get his resume together and look for something better. I’d like to tell him to use some of the time he spends on the prowl to work on improving his career. I did bring this up but he got furious about my wanting to “take away” one of the big sources of joy in his life and called me anti-gay for questioning his right to hook up. Which I wasn’t and which I’m not.

So now I don’t say anything. But lately I am resentful whenever I hear him complain about work and I’m tense whenever I see him cruising online.

How do I stop getting angry?

Michael replies:

Is George hooking up too much? While you may think so, it’s a matter of opinion and he may not agree with you.

Most of us are powerfully drawn to sex. We’re wired for this. Sex can help us feel attractive, connected, powerful, calm and alive. So when sex is readily available, more true than ever for gay men, it can be hard to turn down and almost irresistible to pursue.

The problem is, it’s easy for us to become like those rats in a cage, swiping the bar for a nonstop supply of sugar water, oblivious to anything else. That’s how we stop putting our life force into relationships, friendships, careers, hobbies and everything else that can make up a satisfying existence.

But if George wants to spend his time pursuing hookups, that’s his choice to make and his life to live as he wants. You can’t change him or tell him what his priorities should be.

What you can do is decide if you want to be with someone who by your report is focused elsewhere sexually and complains about his life while doing nothing to change it.

Do your reasons for wanting to be with George outweigh your anger and annoyance? If you stay with George, are you willing to accept his high-frequency hookups and let go of your anger?

Remaining angry about something you can’t change will keep your relationship bitter and hostile. So if you’re willing to stay, you have to make your peace with George as he is.

If you decide to stay, stop letting your fear of George’s anger interfere with your speaking up about what’s important for you to say. Talk with George about what you’d like in this relationship and how his disconnection gets in the way of you two being close. And tell him how his job whining, coupled with his lack of action, impacts your respect for him.

This isn’t about you telling George what you think he should do. It’s about you letting him know the sort of life you want to have with him and how his behavior affects you. Talking to him about all this is the definition of intimacy: letting him know you well.

You may get a reaction from George that you don’t like, but you may get a positive response.  You can’t know that in advance. But in any case, relationships are not about coddling your partner or staying silent because he accuses you of victimizing him when you speak your mind.

When you walk on eggshells, you’re going to have a tentative, fragile, tense relationship. Do you want to continue down that path?

 

Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with gay couples and individuals 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.

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