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I’m currently 24 going on 25. I haven’t had an incredibly adventurous love life in my time; I’ve only slept with three different women while being in monogamous relationships (including the one I am in now) and I have had three odd encounters with guys.
Around May 2011 I began seeing my current girlfriend, at first on a non-committal basis, until in September when we realised we wanted more from each other. At first I could not shake some things I was still afraid of about being in a relationship, so when I told her I would like to be her boyfriend, I also told her the agreements that would have to be in place for it to work, not only to alleviate my own fears, but also hers.
I told her that being bisexual (something she already knew up to this point) and having been bisexual for not very long in my life, I wanted avenues to continue to explore my bisexuality. I also wanted there to be the possibility of adventure for the two of us in the bedroom. A threesome is something I want to be able to experience at least once in my lifetime, and I was afraid that a committed relationship, as she knew it, would not allow for any of these things to ever happen.
She re-assured me that although she finds the idea of me sleeping with other women something she’s currently uncomfortable with, she would be fine with me sleeping with other guys, and that there would be a possibility for her own sexual interests to expand (despite her being five years older than me, and quite an attractive little thing, I remain her first sexual partner).
This made me so very happy to know that, unlike my previous relationships, I would still be able to grow, adventure, and learn more about myself in and out of the bedroom, and better yet, to have someone to share those experiences with!
Just over a year has gone by and I have remained exclusive to her. I attribute this to my fear of ‘rocking the boat’, of ruining a good thing, and being afraid to ask for what we had already agreed upon. I’ve still felt comfortable, because she’s always acknowledged my interest in guys, my interest in sexual adventure, and accepted it as a part of me.
Only now have I discovered that it’s a different story when I want to act on these things.
Recently I’ve been feeling an itch that only another man can scratch and this week I mustered the courage to tell my girlfriend I wanted sex with another guy. I had wanted her to be thankful for my honesty, to be understanding of my needs as a recently-initiated and curious bisexual, and to honour our agreement at the very beginning of our relationship. Instead she told me in no fancy terms that the thought of me being with another man made her want to throw herself off a bridge.
From that comment, lots of other things came into perspective: her sexual interests have not expanded at all in the time that I’ve known her; we haven’t done anything particularly adventurous in the bedroom and she’s still incredibly close-minded when it comes to sexuality.
Now I’m scared there is absolutely no chance for adventure in the bedroom, that I won’t be able to explore my bisexuality past pornography and the very brief physical experience I’ve had with it, and I’m upset that she made the statement about jumping off a bridge; she’s effectively revoked a freedom that I thought I had.
I don’t want to end this relationship with her. I’ve loved before, but with her I have found a trait I have never found in another person: the desire to spend weeks on end together. I’ve loved having her around. I get worried when she’s facing hardships, I genuinely care enough to want to help her any way I can. I love the feeling of re-assuring her, I have been touched by her gestures of love and care, I feel a desire to protect her, and I have had the most romantic sex of my life with her.
Things are tense right now between us. Just last night we got into a very emotional discussion about our worries for our future. I told her the truth about exactly how I feel; that I love her, that I don’t want to leave, that I still want to explore my bisexuality having not done so very much, that I want to have more adventurous sex together, that I want to be able to have a threesome at least once in my life; that basically I want what we have now, only with more adventure in the bedroom.
We came to the conclusion that sexual adventure is not a good idea while our relationship is in such a fragile state as it is right now, so our current agreement is to be more romantic and adventurous with one another, to strengthen our bonds and to see where that takes us when we become more confident with one another now that my needs have come to light with more clarity.
She says that right now asking for a threesome seems too much, and that she’s not comfortable with me sleeping with other guys, but that she wants to repair this, expand her confidence by trying kinkier things with just the two of us, and to go from there. In short, to give this another chance.
This side of the coin makes me feel uplifted and hopeful about our future; at the very least I feel like all options have not yet been exhausted and that there is a chance this could still work for both of us.
On the flip-side, I’m very scared. Not just of losing her, losing room to expand and how that would affect me, but of what would become of her should we ultimately discover that everything must come to an end. She’s had a very self-destructive past, riddled with eating disorders, self-laceration and a crushing depression.
I’m hopeful for the future, scared of the possibility of failure, sceptical of my chances of sexual exploration, aroused at the prospect of kinkier one-on-one time with her and unsure about whether I should be feeling any of these things.
The long and short of it is that I’m not sure of what I’m doing and I have no way to be. I need some advice, I need some opinions and I need to know is any of what I’m doing right?
Dear Vito Love,
It does sound like you’re in a bind. Sadly, love and sexual compatibility don’t always go hand in hand.
Firstly, I think the compromise you have made is the right way to go – for now. You have been open and honest about your desire for sexual exploration and about your feelings for her. She has responded by agreeing to take steps towards meeting your needs. The hard part will be following through. It’s very easy for someone to make promises when faced with losing the person they love; it’s easier still for those promises to slip away once the heat dies down. You don’t want to look back in years to come and see her as representing everything you missed out on because you lived in hope that things would one day change, but never did. It might be worth setting a time frame for seeing the steps you have agreed on take place. Then check back on how things are progressing and be honest in your assessment.
It is also worth remembering that you are both young. You have time to work out if your sex life together will expand and grow or diminish. A lot of people don’t begin to explore their sexuality properly until they are in their late twenties or thirties. Many swingers, for instance, don’t start on the scene until they are at least that age, once their primary relationship is well and truly established. Only you can make that call, however: is she worth waiting and hoping (and for how long), or are you just not sexually compatible?
If it turns out that your girlfriend is unable or unwilling to change, you need to decide if the relationship you have with her and the kind of romantic sex that you share is worth missing out on fully exploring your sexuality and desire for adventure. If it is, decide to commit to your decision, resentment-free.
Regarding your girlfriend’s history of depression, it is admirable that you want to care for her and reassure her, but remember each person can only be responsible for his or her own actions, and that includes how we each respond to other people’s actions. To quote Easton and Hardy in The Ethical Slut, ‘What you are not responsible for is your lover’s emotions. You can choose to be supportive…but it is not your job to fix anything.’ If you act on your needs, it is her choice how she responds. You can’t be responsible for that, and to not act under threat of suicide by her is to essentially be in what advice columnist Dan Savage would call a ‘hostage situation’, not a relationship. If she is feeling suicidal, there are professionals who can help her, and the best you can do is steer her in their direction.
In the meantime, you are doing the right thing, taking things step by step, building trust and a solid foundation from which to open things up. You just need to decide how long you are prepared for that to take.