Dear Christine, Desperate in Detroit

  • Posted on December 25, 2016 at 4:36 pm

Dear Christine,

I am a gay man in a relationship with another man for the past 6 months. He is the love of my life and I know I want to be with him forever. Until a month ago, we agreed to having a monogamous relationship, at my insistence. I just don’t like the idea of having more than one man in my life, or him having more than me in his life. Well, he’s been pushing for us to open the relationship ever since we met, as he really likes hooking up with other hot guys. He’s pushed so hard for this that last month, I agreed, and gave in. I figured that it wouldn’t last, and he’d see sooner or later that I’m the best deal around! I thought he’d get tired of shallow, just for sex hookups, with no emotional commitment. I was wrong. Oh, how I was wrong. Now I really regret having agreed to open the relationship. I made a big mistake. What do I do? I want to go back to a monogamous relationship, and he wants multiple lovers, even though he tells me that he loves me first and most. Desperate in Detroit

Dear Desperate,

Oh, dear. What a mess you’ve gotten into. One of the things I always encourage people to do before they get into a relationship is figure out what they need, and then state those needs as “non–negotiables” to whomever they want to date or be serious about, so that person knows what you are able to live with and what you cannot tolerate. It sounds like your true non–negotiable is monogamy, and that is not true for your partner. Now, if he accepted your need for monogamy, he would have not pushed to open the relationship, but respected your need. However, he seems to have a competing need: to have many sexual partners. And the two of you now have conflicting needs. He was hurt the first 5 months before you caved in to his pressure and agreed to open the relationship, and you now have been hurt the last month that his appetite for change and multiple partners has not faded. It’s got to be a double whammy that you interpret that as somehow you aren’t “the best deal around” for him to return to monogamy. Rejection on top of everything else. I’d encourage you to really search your own soul for what you need and what you don’t need, on the level of oxygen, water and food. We all can live varying amounts of time without those three items, but the length of time without those essentials varies. You can live minutes without oxygen, days without water, and maybe a month without food. How urgent a need is this monogamy for you? If it is like oxygen or water, then you are wasting away. I’d encourage you to talk to your partner honestly and openly about your needs and your limits. I would hope he would listen with an open mind and a loving heart. But then he needs to weigh your needs against his own. There’s no right and wrong about this. If he agrees to a monogamous relationship, I hope it is because he truly can do that, and that a few months or years down the road, he doesn’t become resentful or blame you for not keeping him satisfied. If that’s the case, then he’s not willingly letting go of the multiple lovers and it will come back to bite both of you. If he needs all these other outlets, then you get two choices: Accept him the way he is, and take appropriate precautions sexually and emotionally, or leave. If he can’t accept your absolute limits that you delineate clearly, then he’s probably not the right partner for you right now, and vice versa.

 

All of this is very painful, but all is “paying tuition” in the school of hard knocks, in which you are learning valuable lessons about who you are and what you need. We all go through this process. The trick is, to learn as much as you can about yourself from these experiences, so you don’t have to repeat the lesson. I just threw out all my journals from my teens –thirties, as rereading them brought back too much pain of all those kinds of lessons I went through as well. I much prefer my life and my relationship with my wife Susan, than all those yukky and hurtful and contorted relationships I settled for before I really knew who I was and what I need and want. Believe in yourself, and insist on getting your own needs met. If your partner is not willing or able, then it’s a sign that it’s time to move on.

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067
248-591-2888

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