“So, I did something great for me: I had sexy time with a total hottie. So, yay me. However, said hottie is in an open relationship, which I knew beforehand, and once I was certain of transparency, I went ahead, because hottie. This person is interested in meeting up again, and otherwise I’d be down but – is this weird? Am I now invading on something? To me, once is kosher. More than that seems scandalous. My friends think that it isn’t my responsibility to determine their boundaries. Help.”
- Question submitted by Anonymous
Your friend is totally right! Yay for the hottie! Yay for having smart friends! Yay for all the things!
Here’s the deal: right now you only know two words, and you are basing your feels on those two words. What does “Open” mean?! It could mean a bajillion-trillion things. What does “Relationship” mean?! It could mean a deca-quadrillion things. What does “Dodecahedron” mean?! Just asking in general on that one.
Seriously, tho, maybe Hottie is in a relationship where sex with other humans is totally cool in unlimited quantities but romantic relationships with other humans are not okay, maybe Hottie is in a relationship where other relationships of any kind are totally fine, maybe Hottie can only sleep with people who write into Everyone Is Gay with a question (YOU DID IT YOU PASSED THE TEST!), maybe a lot of things… and you aren’t gonna know a thing until you ask a thing.
So, do this: Respond to Hottie. Go sexy time it the fuck up with Hottie. Go to the bathroom and jump up and down when Hottie isn’t looking bc YAY YOU HAD GR8 SEXY TIME AGAIN. Tell Hottie, “Yo, I enjoyed that very much. I want you to know I am kosher (you like to say kosher, just trying to make this natural) with how things are, and would love to know more about the boundaries in your other relationship!”
Then you LEARN and then Hottie LEARNS (bc btw you also should know what you are doing and what you are okay with and what you aren’t and set those boundaries for yourself!) and everyone gets SEXYTIME.
Open relationships are not weird – we are just taught by THE MAN that we are SUPPOSED to do things one way and only one way. Let me spoiler something for you: THE MAN doesn’t ever get anything right. Ever.
PS: Give your friend a high-five for me. <3
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"I am not poly, have always considered myself really monogamous, but I recently find myself SUPER AMAZINGLY TOTALLY attracted to this smart, sexy, thoughtful person who is poly. I’m ultimately looking for someone who wants a long-term, monogamous relationship, but I’m really open to some dating and experimenting and making connections in the short term. If things go the sexy direction, what should I do?"
- Question submitted by Anonymous and answered by Bethany Rutter as a part of Everyone Is Gay: Second Opinions
Dear potential poly,
So much of life is engineered to be a miserable, bleak, hard trek, and once in a while we get the chance to sprinkle it with a little bit of joy. Yes, you say that what you’re ‘ultimately’ looking for a long-term, monogamous relationship, but you don’t say that you’re temperamentally unsuited to nonmonogamy. My point is: who cares what you think you want in the end. When you’re given the chance to bring a bit of fun to your life right now, where’s the beef? Most people you encounter possess maybe one or two of ‘smart, sexy, thoughtful’, let alone all three, and you say yourself that you are ‘SUPER AMAZINGLY TOTALLY attracted’ to them!
My point about being temperamentally unsuited is, I think, important: if you had expressed anxiety about nonmonogamy, and if I thought pursuing this person would go against the fundamental basis for your happiness, I wouldn’t be so enthusiastic with my advice.
You know yourself better than anyone else, and you’re probably right about the fact that, long-term, you want to pursue monogamous relationships. With that in mind, though, even you’re saying that you’re ‘really open to dating and experimenting and making connections’ right now! It sounds as if you’re super into this person – for good reason – and you know that exploring this relationship is going to be worth your while. The fact that ‘thoughtful’ was one of the three characteristics you listed is good grounds for this being a person with whom you can have fun and fulfilling encounters of all types.
You don’t need me to tell you to just be mindful and cautious of your own feelings and this person’s. It can be hard to balance the opposing forces of ‘everyone has to start somewhere with nonmonogamy’ and ‘I don’t want to feel like someone’s toy who they can pick up and put down’. Be honest and respectful about the fact you’re not sure if it’s the relationship structure for you long-term, but that you don’t see the point in denying the attraction you feel.
I say this a lot, in a lot of contexts, but I think moving to a less rigid and permanent way of looking at things like relationship types and sexualities could really help people (including you!). If we took a more fluid approach to the movements and changes in state of platonic/romantic/sexual relationships, and more usefully interrogated what we want right now, rather than what we were in the past or what we think we want to be in the future, the time we spend on this mortal coil could pass more pleasantly.
I think what you need is a little push out of the nest. You’ve done most of the work yourself (read your message back again!) and you know what you want. I’m here to tell you that it’s ok to indulge that in a way that’s fun for both of you. Open up conversation with this person about what your reservations are, listen to any of theirs, and see if by the end of it you think you can offer each other something great. It sounds like you can.
Click through to read more about Bethany and our other Second Opinions panelists!
"What is nonmonogamy, and could it help me have better relationships?"
- Question asked by Anonymous and answered by Bethany Rutter as a part of Everyone Is Gay: Second Opinions.
Just like how there isn’t only one way to experience sexuality, there isn’t only one way to do relationships. Even though culturally we’re proposed with three options: monogamy, singledom or cheating, I’m here to tell you that there’s more to life than this.
There are lots and lots of ways to organize and categorize your relationships, but if you don’t feel a natural pull towards monogamy, maybe you could consider being nonmonogamous. You might have heard the word ‘polyamory’, which, in my opinion, refers to a structure of relationship. Relationships are polyamorous, people are nonmonogamous.
You can be single and nonmonogamous. Even when I’m not dating anyone, I am still nonmonogamous. It describes me in the same way as ‘queer’. It describes my inclinations and interests, even if it doesn’t always describe what I’m doing in practical terms. Just like I’m still queer even if I’m dating a man, I’m still nonmonogamous even if I have no partners at all. My default state is not monogamous. I am not working towards a point of monogamy when I start a relationship with someone.
If I’m in a relationship with one person, and then I start a relationship with another person simultaneously, then it could be said that I’m polyamorous because I have multiple partners.
To recap: nonmonogamous means you’re not motivated by, or seeking, monogamous relationships. Polyamorous means you’re in multiple relationships simultaneously.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of negative stereotypes surrounding nonmonogamy, and a lot of assumptions about the nature of these relationships and the people who have them. It’s like an expansion of the stereotypes around bisexuality: that nonmonogamous people are greedy, untrustworthy, inconsistent. That it’s a young person’s game. That you’ll ‘make up your mind and settle down eventually.
In actual fact, there’s no reason why nonmonogamous people should conform to any stereotype in particular. The only way to define or characterize a nonmonogamous person is by the fact they choose not to have monogamous relationships.
A useful way to think about it is to ask ourselves why we separate romantic and sexual love from all the other kinds of love we experience in our lifetimes. You have more than one friend, right? And you don’t necessarily do the same stuffwith all your friends. Some friends are better at making you laugh, some friends like going to the cinema with you, some are good at listening to your problems, others you only see once or twice a year but they’re still there for you. Think about what you get out of this multiplicity and diversity of friendships, how much having all these different experiences nourishes and enriches your experience of being here.
Even if it’s important to you to have one Best Friend who should be there on call with unconditional love and support and fun, that doesn’t mean that you don’t also have other friends you hang out with and have fun with in different ways.
Then apply that to romantic and sexual relationships. Films and books have filled us with the supposedly dreamy notion that our ‘one true love’ is not only out there, but fulfils every one of our needs and wants, and if they don’t, then they’re not actually The One for you. But that feels like a lot of pressure to me. I, for one, know that I have a much nicer time when I judge and am judged on what I’m willing and able to bring to a relationship? When you’re not looking for someone to tick every single box, you’re more likely to be able to focus on what their good bits are and the ways in which you work well together, rather than wailing that they don’t love your favorite band or prefer being the big spoon.
For me, that’s what underpins my nonmonogamy. I don’t want anyone to be committing in ways they don’t feel comfortable committing, and I don’t want to make promises I have no intention or ability to keep.
As far as I’ve experienced it, attraction isn’t a switch you flip. When you enter into a new relationship, you don’t flip the switch to the ‘off’ position to ensure you only have eyes for your new person. If that happens of its own accord, then you’re probably naturally monogamous. But if you’ve always got that curiosity, that thirst to get to know other people, to explore your attraction, then that doesn’t make you a bad person. Asserting your needs and boundaries, asking for a style and shape of relationship that suits you and allows you to keep exploring shows you respect yourself and your partner.
No, it’s not like cheating. Cheating is much more common than ethical nonmonogamy, and in a strange way, much more culturally accepted. It doesn’t, however, show you have any particular respect for your own boundaries or your partner’s, and can cause untold levels of pain, hurt and stress. Nonmonogamy isn’t all plain sailing forever, but what relationship is?
Even if you decide monogamy is the style for you, it’s always worth asking if the emotional and practical commitments are suiting you and your partner, and if you both feel like you’re getting what you want and need out of the relationship. Keep checking in with whoever you’re dating, and most importantly with yourself, and ask if things are feeling comfortable for you. Shaping your relationship how you need it to be is a great, liberating act that I can’t recommend enough.
Click through to read more about Bethany and our other Second Opinions panelists!
"The girl I’ve been dating for about a month and a half just told me she’s in a relationship. An open, long distance relationship, but a relationship. Now… I know I should cut her off, but I care about her too much to do so. Am I stupid for continuing to see her? :("
- Question submitted by Anonymous
Here is a life spoiler alert: NO ONE EVER DOES WHAT THEY SHOULD DO. EEVVVAARRRR. We follow our stupid idiot hearts and ignore our brains until we are crying in a puddle and convinced we will never feel love again. So, I will give you advice, but I am doing it knowing FULL-WELL you will probably ignore me bc kisses.
If yo girl being in a relationship with someone else makes you feel shitty, you should stop seeing her. If it makes you feel anxious and taken advantage of, you should stop seeing her. If you constantly feel like you aren’t good enough, and wonder why she doesn’t want to be with just you and it makes you feel uncool and worthless, you should stop seeing her. You should be REALLY HONEST with yourself and your feels because if you try to avoid them, statistics show that they will 100% build and build over time and you will feel EXPONENTIALLY SHITTIER #sciencefacts.
However, there are plenty of working relationships btwn people in similar situations. If you are okay with her being in another relationship and you are completely honest with yourself and your feels, you can maybe make it work.
I don’t have the ability to do that, but I also don’t have the ability to stop making out with someone I want to make out with when I know good-and-well it’s a terrible idea… So, GOOD LUCK TAKING MY ADVICE.
Yup yup yup, this is one MILLION percent based on you and what kind of relationship you want. From the tone of your question, it sounds like you are upset. You totally have room for all of those feelings, but it does sound like the girl you’ve been seeing is just being honest with you about her situation, and hoping that you will still be on board.
This is, as Dannielle mentioned, where shit gets TRICKY. You already sound upset, so you have to really sit with those feelings and pull them apart, bit by bit. Make a list if that is something that will help you, and jot down all of the feelings and why you think you are feeling them. Do you feel betrayed? Do you feel confused? Do you feel sad or unsure or angry? Every time you write a feeling, write for as long as you can/need about WHERE that feeling comes from. Sometimes this will just help you vent, but other times it will help you clarify the feelings (“I am angry because she should have told me sooner… but it has only been about a month so I guess it is pretty soon… so I am angry because I just wish this didn’t happen”).
After you do some work on what the feelings truly are, you should talk to your girl. Be as honest with her and with yourself as possible. If you want to try this, absolutely try it… but you have to keep being honest with yourself and with her! If you keep picking fights over who ate the last Twizzler and you KNOW it’s actually you resenting her other relationship, YOU GOTTA BE REAL.
No one wants to deal with fights about Twizzlers that carry the weight of the world. Capeesh?
Be real. Be strong. Be honest.
"So a little while ago I went this super awesome conference and there were heaps of gay folk. Fast forward to Saturday at the stroke of 12, and I’m gettin’ jiggy on the dance floor. Next thing I know, I find myself in a lip lock with a lady who IS NOT my gf. I shut it down in no time flat, but I feel awful. So my question is, should I tell my girlf about the incident, or should what happened at Creating Change stay at Creating Change?"
- Question submitted by Anonymous
I think you should tell your love the truth.
I know you’re like “it meant literally nothing, I didn’t even want it, and if I tell my girlf it’ll just upset her for no reason.” HOWEVER. If you don’t tell her and she finds out in two years from someone else, you will have officially lost her trust for EVVVVAAARRRRR.
Maybe not forever, but it’s a lot harder to believe that something was ‘insignificant’ or ‘meant nothing’ or ‘didn’t even matter’ if you went out of your way to keep it hidden. At least that’s the way I feel about it. If it was an honest mistake and you were under the influ’ and stopped it immediately, the two of you can have an understanding conversation where you work to build that trust back up. Hell, it might not even take that long.
The longer you wait, the longer it takes to build trust. Honesty is the best policy, yall.
Oh god. Now every single person whose boo went to Creating Change is going to be like DID YOU LIP LOCK ANOTHER LADY AND NOT TELL ME AND THEN WRITE TO EVERYONE IS GAY.
Happy Monday! *rings bell in wrestling ring*
My advice is in line with Dannielle’s: honesty is (almost) always the best policy. Yes, it is going to be unpleasant. Yes, you will potentially be misunderstood. Yes, you may have to deal with the aftershocks of this conversation for awhile… but the reality is that you got swept up in something bigger than you, you made a mistake, and you know that it didn’t mean anything. If you keep that to yourself, it will likely weigh on you, and then if you tell your boo in a year it’s going to be SO much bigger than it needs to be.
Explain what happened. Apologize. Give your boo space and let her get upset. Let her be mad and let her misunderstand. Stay strong in what you know happened, and have faith that you’ll be able to work through and build back that trust. We all slip up sometimes, and the best thing for you to do is own up to that mistake, apologize, and work through to the other side.
Also, to the forty other people who now wind up having to ‘fess up… SORRY BOUT IT.