The Good Love

Let me recap my situation. I am a mid 50s man who for most of my early life have felt that I was sexually oriented to bisexual. I got married in my 20s and had several kids. I never acted on my gay desires, but always felt the need to. In my 40s, the desire to have sex with women disappeared and my desire for sex with men increased. Then a casual encounter with a high school friend changed my life. Both of us were good friends in high school but had lost touch. We started hanging out together (along with my wife) and before you know it, we were inseparable. After about 6 months one evening at a local restaurant, he mentioned to me that he is gay. I had suspected this and he told me that he suspected I was gay also (which I confirmed to him). He has since moved in with me (and yes with the wife also). By the way, she is ok with us being sexual. So here is the question…… How do I describe my relationship to the world? It is not anything standard (if there is such a thing).


It’s nice to be reminded that relationships like yours exist. No, there are no standards in love. There is also no need to explain your relationship to anyone. Describe it to others if doing so feels right, but remember that your relationship doesn’t exist for anyone else. You never have to label it.

Your best option? Simply explain it as you did to me. You have a wife along with a lover (or boyfriend, or whatever you want to call him), and you all live together. That’s it.

That’s how I would explain it to the kids. That’s how I would explain it to your friends. You don’t need to come up with anything elaborate.

You mentioned that your desire to have sex with women disappeared some time ago, so I must ask: Where is your wife getting her sexual needs met? Is she equally free to seek sex with others?

As long as she feels happy and fulfilled, I’d say your relationship appears very healthy. If you’re looking for a label, I’d call it polyamorous or nonmonogamous (or polyamorous and monogamous, depending on whether or not you’re sexually exclusive with these two people). Do you consider your wife to be your “primary” relationship? Since you have kids, you might.

If we’re really going to parse through labels, you should know the differences between polyamory and nonmonogamy. “Polyamorous” (from the Greek and literally means “many loves”) describes a group of more than two people who are in romantic relationships with each other. The word may also be used to describe one person who has romantic relationships with different people. Polyamory has no hierarchy; there’s no “primary” love or relationship. All are equally important.

Polyamorous relationships may be monogamous or nonmonogamous; these words define sexual exclusivity. Nonmonogamy as a concept defines a “primary” relationship and is used to describe couples (or polyamorous clusters) who occasionally have sex with others outside their relationship. Couples who occasionally invite friends over for threesomes would be considered nonmonogamous. People who are in relationships but occasionally hook up with strangers (with their partner’s full knowledge and consent) would be considered nonmonogamous.

Rule of thumb: Monmonogamy is about sexual parameters (as is monogamy). Polyamory is about love.

You yourself may be polyamorous; you may be in separate and distinct romantic relationships with this man and with your wife simultaneously. But if you consider your relationship with your wife to be your primary relationship, and if your relationship with this man is a predominantly sexual addition — one which may or may not stay — then I’d call your relationship nonmonogamous. If the three of you are spending time together, enjoying each other’s company, and are on some level romantically involved with each other, you are polyamorous.

Don’t get bogged down in these labels. They’re confusing and they really don’t matter. I return to my opening sentiment: You never have to label this, and I think we far too often fuss needlessly over defining our relationships rather than simply enjoying them. And some of the very best relationships resist easy definition.

The only thing you need to fuss over is your happiness and the happiness of the people you’re with. And if these people are happy — if your wife does not feel trapped in this marriage or overlooked in this arrangement — then keep doing what you’re doing, and the words for what you call it will come.

Relationships that are hard to define with words require wordless understanding — a rare language that some people search their whole lives for. It sounds like you’ve found it. That’s the good love, the kind that lingers; there are few more powerful ways to love someone than to understand them and simply let them be.

I’m glad he’s returned to your life this way, and I’m glad you are starting this journey together with no secrets or lies. There should be no secrets, no dishonesty, no cover-ups. Keep everything on the table, with open communication between him and your wife, and see where this goes.


1 Comment

  1. If it helps, you can have a primary and still be polyamorous — the difference is more about do you have a romantic connection to your secondary or only a sexual one.


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