The Biggest Dealbreaker

First, thank you for having such a great blog. You don’t know how much it means to have a resource where you can ask questions that are otherwise taboo. I do have a question for you. I was reading your blog post about nonmonogamy and it fascinated me. I have a follow-up question to it. How do you approach the subject with your partner? My partner and I have been together for 5 years and married two years ago. However, sex is almost nonexistent. He is vehemently opposed to nonmonogamy, but my sexual needs aren’t being met. I want to approach the topic with him and discuss that physical needs doesn’t equate to love. He has a “heteronormative” outlook on marriage and sex. But yet he isn’t satisfying me. What advice would you have? It’s most appreciated. Thanks!


Thank you for reading and appreciating my work! That said, I may have bad news. You’ve talked with him about this enough to know he’s “vehemently opposed” to nonmonogamy, so you’ve already made at least one attempt. It sounds to me like you might have come to a dealbreaker.

Not just a dealbreaker, but the dealbreaker — the big one, the mammoth, the dark god of dealbreakers. Unless things significantly change, you might be in trouble.

There are three dealbreakers I tell people to look out for:

  1. One of you is out of the closet. The other one is not. This, as far as I know, is not your situation.
  2. Political differences. Some people disagree with me on this, but I think it’s a hard rule. If one of you leans left and the other leans right, that lens affects everything you do, every way you engage with the world. I can’t date a Republican who thinks I’m not deserving of basic human rights as a faggot, and neither should anyone else.
  3. You want two different relationships. This is you. This broad dealbreaker encompasses many different scenarios. For example, when one of you is ready to take things to the next level and the other is not, you want two different relationships and are at a difficult-to-cross impasse. In your case, one of you wants a monogamous relationship and the other one does not.

This third one is brutal and people who prefer nonmonogamous relationships have all experienced it because we generally only discover we like nonmonogamy through failed monogamy. You wake up one day and realize the rules no longer work for you and your needs aren’t being met. If he’s vehemently opposed, it’s hard to envision a scenario in which they ever will be met while in a relationship with him.

I’ve been accused of being fatalistic in my relationship advice — my default answer does indeed seem to be “end it now!” — but that shouldn’t be surprising. Most relationships are doomed to fail, and if you’re writing into a nihilist’s sex blog with love problems, that answer should hardly seem surprising. I don’t mean to discount the love you have for this person. I believe it’s real and wonderful. But you also can’t live starved. Life is too short.

You’re asking me for ways to broach the subject of nonmonogamy so that it appears less threatening to someone who’s already threatened by it — in other words, how to get a “yes” from someone who’s already given you a “no.” You won’t get a yes. Take this as his final answer and decide what you’re going to do.

Even if he consents, after some cajoling and persuasion, to some permissions here and there, he will likely do so with grumbling, defeatest bitterness which I’ve watched erode countless relationships exactly like this — including my own. You, in turn, will feel like you’re on a leash, and may even grow to resent him in turn.

My best advice: End things kindly, suffer a bit, mend, and find someone who shares your willingness to embrace and explore nonmonogamy. Pro tip: nonmonogamy only works if you both are enthusiastic about the concept.

It won’t be easy, but it’s worth it. You’re one of us.

— Beastly 





  1. A great article and really thought-provoking. Thank you.

    What about religious/spiritual differences? Is that not a dealbreaker area too? If we believe and seek different things I think this will split us apart unless we can be so broad-minded as to accept what the other believes and respect and honour that, which is not usual and often humanly impossible because we all think we right.


    1. Some people disagree with me on this, but I do not consider religious differences absolute dealbreakers, as I’ve seen them handled beautifully in several relationships including my own in the past. That said, very orthodox and extreme religious practicioners will have a harder time communicating through this difference than their more liberal and relaxed counterparts. Thankfully there are many interfaith religious institutions, like the Unitarian Universalist Church, where different-faith and interfaith couples can worship.


  2. On this topic I totally agree with Beastly, approaching the topic from the other side as a practising Catholic. I’ve had a beautiful relationship with an Agnostic – the longest relationship I’ve had so far; we never argued about religion, just accepted the difference and respected each other’s reasons. On the other hand religion has seriously messed up two of my relationships with equally practising Catholics. The one would always declare his wishes to be guided by what the allmighty had indicated to be His will. Believer that I am, I won’t accept that avoidance of any honest discussion between two human beings. The other guy was suffering from overwhelming feelings of guilt about what we did together. Strangely, he only turned his hatred against himself, never accusing me and I’ve never had a harsh word from him. Sometimes I even tried to make him blame it all on me, because I thought that it would be healthier for him to despise me rather than himself. He wouldn’t. As far as I know he is still in the closet.
    Basically I consider the diffference between a fundamentalist and a reasonable, liberal, moderate member of the same religion to be a dealbreaker; but isn’t that more of a political differnece: Authoritarian versus liberal?


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