October 4, 2018 at 3:42 pm EST | by Michael Radkowsky
Gay couple at impasse over threesome request

Boyfriend won’t let ménage à trois suggestion die.

Michael,

 

My boyfriend wants us to have a threesome and I don’t want to. We’ve been together for almost a year and are monogamous. Nicholas is 22 and I am 26. 

 

When I was younger, I had a lot of sex with a lot of guys and the whole “sex for the sake of sex” thing is not appealing to me at all anymore. I like having sex with Nicholas because he is Nicholas, so I don’t want to have someone else join us.

 

Also, I was in a relationship for about a year and a half that was open. At the time I was using recreational drugs a lot and the whole experience of the relationship didn’t really register much with me. After I got clean and started thinking back, I felt like I hadn’t really been in a relationship. There had been nothing between us to make us a couple. I don’t want to repeat that.

 

When we started dating, Nicholas agreed to be monogamous, no problem. He said he liked the idea. But now he keeps pushing the threesome issue. We met shortly after he came out. He says he’s now realizing that he never had a chance to be wild and he doesn’t want to miss out for the rest of his life.

 

I actually told Nicholas that if this is so important to him, he should go find two guys to have a threesome with, but to leave me out of it. I don’t like the idea of him having sex with other guys but I could live with that.

 

Nicholas said he doesn’t want to have sex without me. He says he would feel like he was cheating, even though I gave him permission. He also said that part of what would make a threesome exciting would be doing it with me.

 

What’s my obligation here? We’re a serious couple and both of us are thinking we may want to stay together for the long term. But this is becoming an ongoing battle. It comes up every few weeks and Nicholas says I’m denying him the fun that I got to have.

Michael replies:

You are in the very tough spot that occasionally and inevitably happens in all relationships: Your partner is asking you to do something you don’t want to do.

Not liking your boyfriend’s request doesn’t mean you should automatically refuse him. If something is important to your partner, but the ask is not your cup of tea, it’s often worth responding with generosity, flexibility and open-mindedness. 

However, you certainly don’t have to do something you don’t want to do, if you have good reason to say no. Violating your integrity to please your boyfriend is a bad idea. You should not behave in a way you don’t respect and you should not go against your personal code of how you want to live, even if your partner really wants you to.

You’ve given multiple reasons for not wanting to have a threesome with Nicholas, no matter how important it is to him. So to answer your question, you don’t have an obligation to sell yourself out to accommodate his request.

Your next step would be to let Nicholas know you’re certain that you aren’t going to change your mind on this.

After that, the ball is in his court.Nicholas may accept your refusal and drop the issue or he may continue to push. If he does keep asking, it’s your job — if you want to stay with him — to hold your ground without becoming nasty or retaliatory.

Getting snippy would keep this a battle over your refusal to give Nicholas what he wants. But standing firm on two points — you want to be with Nicholas and you won’t join a threesome — leaves Nicholas to confront himself with this question: Does he want to stay in a relationship where he isn’t getting something that is important to him?

If I were writing to Nicholas, I’d tell him that every person in a relationship is in his spot occasionally. We want something of our partner that our partner won’t give us. That’s life. It’s inevitable that we’re going to be disappointed in the other person at times. 

While we’re free to leave a relationship if we don’t want to accept a particular disappointment, we do have to learn to tolerate being let down if we are going to be in a relationship at all.

And of course, no matter the partner we choose, they will be disappointed in us, at times. If you want to stay with Nicholas, you have to tolerate letting him down. Changing your behavior to please him at the expense of your self-respect would be a mistake.

Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with LGBT couples and individuals in D.C. He can be found online at michaelradkowsky.com. All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to Michael@michaelradkowsky.com.

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