Dear Dr Ren:
My boyfriend and I have been in a happy, solid, open relationship for over 15 years. We’re clear on the rules about outside lovers and neither of us does anything to threaten our partnership.
However, I’ve now met a guy I’ll call James with whom I have a sexual connection like I have never known. We don’t connect romantically, intellectually, or emotionally, but sexually it’s fireworks. It was just supposed to be casual, but I can’t leave him alone.
I’ve told my partner Ray about James, but downplayed the sex angle. He thinks we are mainly workout buddies. How do you tell someone you deeply love that you’ve found someone who blows the top of your head off?
Sex with Ray is good and always has been, but this is magnificent! I don’t want to hurt Ray or my relationship. How do I handle this honourably?
Too Much of a Good Thing
Dear Too Much,
I think you are asking the right question, in that you want to behave honourably and it sounds like you have done so to this point.
You have told Ray about your connection with James, according to the rules of your contract, I presume, and so that you are not simply disappearing without his knowledge.
There is a difference between private and secret. A secret is something you don’t tell because you can’t, usually because you are doing something you should not be doing and you wish to avoid your deserved consequences. Privacy is benign.
Privacy keeps to yourself what involves only you and is really no one else’s business. Often keeping information private is kind, as in this case. What possible benefit could come from telling Ray of your great sexual connection with James? Better left private.
I don’t know the terms of your contract, but if the only message you are keeping from Ray is the quality of your sex with James, you are playing fair.
After 15 years of sex with the same lover, you can’t be expecting fireworks regularly. We thrive on novelty, which is one reason why open relationships stay fresh, as they feed that desire within the security of our stable lives.
Part of your attraction to James is that he is new. That will fade, especially as you lack intellectual, romantic, and emotional components.
That unique sexual chemistry you share? No one can explain that fully. Our best research points to a combination of past experiences, compatible scents that trigger just the right combination of pheromones, and well-matched erotic turn-ons. The result is a rare and magical connection.
There is an additional benefit to this situation. You can learn valuable lessons from James that can enhance your sex life with Ray.
Another advantage of open relationships is that even as the new person doesn’t do it ‘right’ like our spouse does (which generally increases our appreciation for what we get at home), they do it differently, with their own flair. It gives us the opportunity to experience new techniques, styles, and emotions.
Pay attention to the details of what goes on between you and your new man that you particularly enjoy and take these new skills home. Warning: do not do this all at once or you’ll raise questions you don’t want to answer!
You tell me that you and Ray have always enjoyed a pleasurable sex life. Congratulations —that doesn’t just happen. You can use this situation to enhance it even more. Finding extreme pleasure can make you a better person if you are careful about what thrills you —and how you handle it.
So much for the good news.
Another factor here bears mention. James does not exist in a vacuum. Is he single or partnered? Does he understand the need for discretion?
What will you do if he becomes enamoured of you or visa versa (“I can’t leave him alone”)? Or if he becomes bored with you before you’re done?
What if Ray wants to meet your workout buddy and takes a shine to him? A threesome, or even a dinner party, could be glorious… or dreadful.
Though you now contend that your liaison is purely about the sex, it is difficult to share great sex with someone repeatedly without lovemaking creeping into the mix.
Wrapped in post-coital bliss, endorphins flowing, we are impelled by our hormones to bond, if only temporarily. The more frequently we do this, the more difficult it is to resist those soft human feelings of care and connection.
This is not a bad thing, and many long-established fuck buddies are able to honour tender feelings and social boundaries simultaneously.
You would be wise to ensure that this is the case in this situation from both sides.
You do not tell me how long you have been seeing James. If he is just a flash, enjoy him and move on, enriched. If this is a secondary relationship you wish to continue, you will need to inform Ray more precisely about the sexual nature of your connection with James.
It sounds like you have your priorities in good order and will protect your primary relationship respectfully. Proceed with care and enjoy yourself.