Above: “Oscar Wilde” by Larry Caveney, available for purchase here.
I’ll give you some background details that might make it sound complicated but I think the essence is probably pretty simple and universal. I’m 34 years old, pretty happy with myself, sexually very open, and I’ve been through several relationships.
All my relationships were pretty much monogamous and it always kind of made sense (to me). I always had a very satisfying sexual life with my partner(s) or at least ‘good enough’. The concept of ‘good enough’ is quite central in my life as I think it’s important to be content (mind I’m very driven: I’ve got a good career and I work my ass hard for it – so it’s not to be confused with accepting mediocrity or the ‘easy way’ but rather be able to reach a point where you can be happy with what you achieved so that you can enjoy it rather than keep chasing something ‘more’).
After many heartaches, I am trying to distill what I need to look for in a partner in order to have a successful story. What am I happy to compromise and what I cannot? For example, I am really into FF [Beastly’s note: fisting or fist fucking] and I have been wondering if I could be with a partner that isn’t into it (the answer is yes, I think).
I recently met a guy, handsome as hell, crazy sex, a gentleman in the streets, sweet, caring and thoughtful. I started falling for him. Then the other night we were texting and he said he doesn’t believe in monogamy. I panicked.
I started to think of all sort of ways to run away from him. By all means, it’s not a moral problem. But at the same time, I don’t know what my problem is. I see so many successful open relationships and yet every time I think of being in one I feel that’s the door for all my insecurities to enter and ravage me. Insecurities that normally I don’t have. I would love to make this work but I don’t know what kind of mindset I should be in.
I know there’s a lot to say about being honest with each other and communicate etc. Yet it always boils down to the burning question, ‘If you (the other guy) also tell me we have such great sex why do you need to keep spending your time looking for probably less satisfying experiences?’
Right now I went back to the apps and I’m trying to convince myself to fuck some other guys – not as ‘revenge’ but rather as a way to try to be ‘cool’ and ‘fluid’ with having multiple sexual partners in an effort to not start some jealousy thing with this guy – but deep down I’d love to just explore more filth with him alone.
Lastly, when I’m single I’m a total whore so it’s not a matter of having difficulty finding sex. HALP!
There are two kinds of people in the world, the sated and the furious. My sister is sated. She saves money, walks her dogs, cooks at home, and is content. She’s a hard worker but she’s not constantly chasing more. She will pass through life with more grace than I am capable of. She’ll probably never have a drug problem or be in serious debt.
I’m furious. I tear through life, cheating on people, dabbling in dangers, constantly dissatisfied. I’m the one with a drug problem and debt — no savings plan, no plan B. Like other furious people, I battle depression and anxiety. My friends overdose on dance floors, go on exotic trips, and take steroids.
Sometimes I envy people like my sister and like you, but when I look at my idols, the people who have shaped me, I recognize one thing among us, and that’s the hunger.
Discontent, as Oscar Wilde famously said, is the first step in my progress. I am ethically non-monogamous because of discontentment. I had dissatisfying and ultimately ruinous monogamous relationships before I realized that my base requirement for happiness is the ability to eat from the entire buffet of sex and take as many courses as I want. I will never be satisfied with one flavor, one person, or one form of love.
I’m not saying everyone who is non-monogamous is like me, but I think a lot of us are. The fact is, all of us — the sated and the furious, the monogamously inclined and those who don’t believe in monogamy — only ever need to do what makes us comfortable and satisfied. I never push anyone to be in my camp, and it sounds like you’re not pushing him to be in yours. If you’re not comfortable with non-monogamy, I would never urge you to try it, and I’d say that you and this guy stand little chance of making it since you both want — and are comfortable with — two different kinds of relationships (which is a dealbreaker in my book).
Non-monogamy was not threatening to me when I was introduced to the idea because I immediately saw it as the way to get everything I need, which is intimacy and its opposite. I need someone to trust and hold and I need lots of other nameless people to fuck me and leave. The only inlet you may have into this perspective which may make the concept of non-monogamy less threatening for you is the fact that you “think” you could date someone monogamously who isn’t into fisting.
You think you could, but it’d be tough, right? I’m guessing this awesome guy is into fisting, but what if he isn’t? What if he checked every box for you except your favorite fetish, your top sex act, your most prized sexual experience?
You’d probably do what I did before, and decide that you can live without it. And that would probably be fine for a while. But here’s an unavoidable fact, one that non-monogamous people — one that he — is well aware of: humans get bored.
Even you, with your evident sexual passion and energy, will get bored. Every monogamous couple struggles with boredom, and there is a massive industry, from magazines to therapists, dedicated to helping these couples “spice things up” and rediscover the passion they’ve lost, and still, most of them fail to ever do so. Boredom isn’t a bad thing — it’s just the only natural response to experiencing one thing repeatedly. Even if he’s adventurous and filthy in all the ways you like, you’re at some point going to want to scratch that fisting itch. I’m really into fisting too, and when I’m hungry for a hand, there are very few things on earth that can keep it from happening — including any and all feelings I may have for the person I love.
He will get bored, too. This doesn’t mean you’re a boring bed partner. This just means he needs another flavor, a different course. I imagine this is a sticking point for you since you asserted in that “burning question” that any sexual experiences he discovers with someone else are “probably less satisfying.” Sex with someone else may be more satisfying simply because it’s with someone else.
If you want to try non-monogamy, here’s a headspace or perspective you should think about: What if you re-wrote your “good enough” into a picture in which you can get all your sexual needs met? One in which you’d never have to forfeit fisting, something you love, for someone you’re into? One in which you’d never have to choose between a great kink and a great guy? That picture is non-monogamy.
This particular guy may be into fisting, so you may not feel pressured to choose between him and something else right now, but it’ll come, because no one ever checks all our boxes or meets all our needs, all the time. Boredom and other discontentments will appear. And when they do, non-monogamy may appear to be a bit more palatable. So why not go ahead and accept that boredom happens, dissatisfactions arise, and welcome a relationship setup that accommodates them? Non-monogamy isn’t easy, and there are no special tricks to doing it successfully, but the communication and trust it demands allows for people like me, like him, and like you to get everything we need. That trust and communication build beautiful relationships — ones with stronger and more loyal commitments than any I’ve seen in traditional ones.
I’d be lying if I said my insecurities never appear or that I never get jealous. But you already know how to work through jealousy and insecurity. You wrote it yourself: Being honest with each other and communicate. That’s it.
Also, you don’t have to be completely open. You can meet halfway. Ask him if he’s OK with a monogamish setup — like only playing with others together, or playing with others only when one of you is away. Most couples you think of as “open” are actually in setups like these (as are, by my estimate, most queer men).
I’m glad you found someone amazing and I wish you the best of luck.