By Dan Savage
I’m a lesbian and my girlfriend is bi. I’ve read your column and listened to your podcast for a long time, Dan, and I always thought I’d be fine with having a partner ask me about being monogamish. Then my girlfriend of about a year and a half told me she wants to see what other women are like.
She came out later and I’m the only woman she’s been with. I understand that, as a woman, I’ll never be able to give her what she might get from a man sexually and that sometimes she’ll want that, so there’s also that. We’ve talked about it and it would have to be a Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell agreement, I would also get to step outside the relationship, the other people would have to know we’re in a relationship, and there couldn’t be any “dates.” On top of all that, we’re long distance for now. She says she loves me and I believe her and she says she doesn’t want to lose me. But she also says she’s been dealing with these urges for a while and needs to address them. I don’t want to lose her. Do you have any advice?
—Fretting Endlessly About Relationship Situation
I understand your fears. People in committed non-monogamous relationships have been known to catch feelings for their outside sexual partners. And while that doesn’t always doom the primary relationship, FEARS, catching feelings for someone else inevitably complicates things. And while a non-monogamous couple can make rules that forbid the catching of feelings, feelings aren’t easily ruled.
But people in closed relationships have been known to catch feelings for people they aren’t sleeping with, i.e. coworkers, friends, friends-of-friends, partners of friends, siblings of partners, partners of siblings, etc. So the risk that a partner might catch feelings for someone else isn’t eliminated when two people make a monogamous commitment—and yet sane, stable, functional people in monogamous relationships manage to get through the day without being nervous wrecks. Because they trust their partners are committed to them. And even if their partners should develop a crush on someone else… which they almost inevitably will… they trust that their partners aren’t going to leave them… which they still might.
By which I mean to say, there’s risk in every relationship and it’s trust that helps us manage our fears about those risks.
Follow Dan on Twitter @FakeDanSavage. On the Lovecast, Dan chats with Amy Chan of “Breakup Bootcamp.” www.savagelovecast.com. [email protected]