Ask Veronica

Choosing Your Cake: Open Relationships and Non-Monogamy

Dear Veronica,

My girlfriend and I have been together for three years and in the last year we’ve had an open relationship (I'm a hetero guy). We’ve enjoyed having threesomes with other women and she has gone on some dates with women. Recently she told me she has feelings for a guy friend and would like to date him. I said absolutely not. I really only like the idea of her being with other women, not other men. Now she’s boycotting threesomes. I consider myself a very open person but it seems either way I lose. I just want this other guy to go away. What do I do?

 Subtly Betrayed

 The first thing about your letter that jumped out at me is not that your girlfriend boycotted threesomes with you, but that you only like the idea of her being with other women. For someone so open, SB, maybe you are not as open as you think. It’s completely appropriate to have boundaries in consensual non-monogamy, but when you start an open relationship, you need to communicate not only what you’re excited to explore, but what makes you anxious and uncomfortable. Did you ever outlaw other men in your non-monogamous explorations with your girlfriend? If not, then her desire to date another man is not out of bounds. I understand having another man in the picture may bring up all sorts of unpleasant feelings, but try to swallow them long enough to put yourself in her shoes. She’s attracted to both men and women. You have your cake and have been eating a lot more than her… unless you are attracted to men too? Point is, she’s only allowed to eat the cake you enjoy… if she loves banana cream pie, are you going to tell her she can’t eat it because it makes you gag? Once you have an idea what it might be like to be her, sit down and have a conversation free of judgment and assumptions. Find out what she really needs. Is it this guy in particular or other men in general? Is there something she gets from him that she’s not getting from you? Have your explorations up until this point only been sexual and she’s craving romance with other people? Once you clarify these things and express your needs in the relationship including what feels good and what doesn't, it will be easier to address the issue at hand. It’s not about winning or keeping score. Maybe just coming to terms with what scares you about her connection to this guy is enough to level the playing field and not end up with pie in your face. 

-- Veronica