Recently, she’s had some family hardships so I’ve had to be a big support to her emotionally — and that’s been hard. I have a high sex drive, and with all the stuff she’s been going through she hasn’t felt up to having sex. I didn’t want to bring any more issues to the table to deal with, nor did I have any spare time apart from her, so we basically had a closed relationship for a while by default. We even discussed maybe making it a closed relationship officially, which was her idea, not mine, because she didn’t want to sleep with anybody else. I denied her a closed relationship though because I know she’s fickle and that she would change her mind, which she did.
She’s been sleeping with this guy whom I don’t even know, as of about a week ago. I’m not as OK with it as I want to be and we did almost split up over it. This is mostly because I do long for a more “normal” relationship since it’s been presented to me. I haven’t had many sexual partners — I’ve only been with three people — and it is something I would like to explore more. Also, I’m a chick and our brains are more confusing than I can ever begin to explain; neither of us knows what we want, but we’re trying to understand each other and be happy together.
I’m considering sleeping with one of my friends, but he is somebody that my girlfriend previously banned me from sleeping with, so I haven’t done anything with this guy in over a year. I still really like him, and I wouldn’t mind the company of another person when I know my girlfriend has somebody over at her place — a distraction, I suppose. He’d be my safest option because he’s already seen me naked. With how inexperienced I am, being naked in front of a new person is still quite daunting…
I’m not sure what I want to do about my situation. — To Open or to Close
So, both you and your girlfriend feel threatened when the other is sleeping with someone else, yet, when your girlfriend suggested closing your relationship, you said no. And you did that not because you necessarily wanted to keep it open, but because you thought she’d change her mind and want to sleep with someone else after all. And now that she has changed her mind and is, again, sleeping with someone other than you, you are considering sleeping with one of your friends. Again, not necessarily because you want to sleep with him; you just want company — a distraction while your girlfriend is with her side-piece. This isn’t healthy. And this isn’t the way a successful open relationship works. I may not know a ton about how a successful open relationship works — read “Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships” if you want to read about how to make them work — but I do know that this isn’t it.
You say that women are complicated and that neither of you really knows what you want, and obviously that’s a problem. You can’t very well make each other happy if neither of you actually knows what will make yourselves happy. Probably being in an open relationship is not it. Maybe neither of you should be in a relationship right now at all. Maybe you shouldn’t be in a relationship with each other. And maybe for one or both of you, being in a relationship with a man makes you happier than being with a woman. It is curious that when each of you sleeps with someone outside the relationship, you both choose men. And you say you both like the attention of men. And you find women — or at least each other — complicated — maybe too complicated to be with. Is it possible that you simply aren’t interested in being romantically involved with women — or not in committed relationships with them, anyway?
You have some thinking to do. And talking. Both of you need to start being honest with yourselves — and each other — about what your needs and desires truly are and whether the other can meet them, or if you even want the other to meet them. What’s the point in being in a relationship at all if you have to sleep with someone else as a distraction from your loneliness? That sounds… well, lonely. And pretty awful.
I get that you’re scared — scared of losing your girlfriend’s place in your life, and scared of being intimate and vulnerable with someone new. But that’s not enough reason to stay in a relationship that’s as unfulfilling as yours sounds. And it’s certainly not enough of a reason to keep your relationship open so that you can have your girlfriend as a safety net while you gingerly explore your sexuality with other people. Open your relationship if/when you feel solid and secure with what you have and want to supplement a strong relationship with something else; don’t open it because something in your relationship is lacking. That’s a sure path to misery if you ask me.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.