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I read that the key to an open relationship is for both partners to agree on the rules of the game. So, I made a list of what my partner and I want out of polyamory and shared it with him:

His list

  1. No sex with Master Ted (this is a shame, because Ted is a great guy who has given me some of the best scenes of my life)
  2. No sleepovers (one of my wishes lately is to have a late Sunday morning sleep-in with annoyinghandle and a copy of the New York Times)
  3. Only meet guys at our house, preferably when my partner was home
  4. Only safe sex (I agree with this one, if it allows some slightly unsafe edgeplay)
  5. I should be home whenever my partner is home… no late nights away
  6. Limit computer use (stop surfing and chatting so much)
  7. Don’t cum when I am with other guys… save it for my partner later
  8. Try to only play together in threesomes
  9. My partner wants to meet any tricks beforehand, and reserve veto power if he doesn’t like them
  10. More hot sex with me (we haven’t really done anything together in a few years)
  11. I have to give all my cum to my partner
  12. Do more things together as a couple
  13. Show more love to each other

My list

  1. Complete sexual freedom – I get to decide who I have sex with, and when
  2. However, this is tempered with respect and love. For example, on a Friday night, I’d rather be with my partner than at the baths
  3. I would be able to tell my partner everything about all the hot encounters and scenes I had
  4. Sleepovers (but will try to limit to no more than twice a month)
  5. Travel occasionally to see the Master I met last month to serve Him for a weekend
  6. Attend leather conferences alone (but try to limit to no more than one weekend every other month)

As you can see, our lists diverge wildly. It seems my partner and I can love each other and stay together forever, but only if either 1) I stop having sex with other people and suck it up, or 2) my partner learns not to mind when I run around fucking other people and not him. I don’t see a compromise between those two positions. My partner notes that if he gives me one weekend a month, I will want two, and then three…

We talked about the above lists last night (before watching “Valley of the Dolls”). There was no crying, there was no argument. This is the first time we have both had the sad realization that our paths are not parallel, and that trying to remain together might be causing a hell of a lot more pain than a separation. I think this is the beginning of the end.

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It seems to me that he's never really going to be happy with you ever doing anything that he's not in control of. Just my impression, FWIW.

Yeah, the "be home when I get home" thing he surprised me with last month was kind of creepy.

Having done my share of polyamory, what I can tell you is that sharing painful disconnects like this almost always winds up better for everyone than NOT sharing them. It's definitely a HUGE gap between you. But it would be there if you hadn't discussed it. While you may not be able to resolve it by talking, there's zero chance of resolving it without talking.

Actually, you *can* "resolve" it, although one possible resolution is "amicable separation if you decide you're too far apart."

Hugs. I know how hard these things can be, believe me.

I was surprised that comprimise is harder than I thought. I'd be happy to do most things on his list (i.e. no Ted, more connection between us, less computer). But he isn't willing to bend to the wants on my list like a weekend away ever now and then. The idea that I'd attend a leather conference without him would eat him up inside, and he'd be miserable for weeks leading up to it... and days after.

Okay, this is totally none of my business, and I don't know you from adam. But as someone who's still kind of new to my own open and poly relationship, both your lists are kinda on the extreme.

If I were in your shoes, hell yeah I'd want the occasional sleep over and to be able to cum with tricks and play with my SIR! His list is pretty demanding.

If I were in your partner's shoes, I'd want more hot sex with you (duh, you're hot) and might feel unwanted/undesireable by all your extra curriculars. Yeah, its his own insecurities, but he's your partner. Try to help him through those insecurities and talk about it. Maybe that will help.

So, I guess my point is, see if there's any room for comprimise on your 2 lists. Try to include him and have more hot sex with him. If your partner feels more connected to you, he may trust you more and then you'd be able to play outside the relationship more ;)

Then again, I don't know any of the background to this. So, I'm gonna shut up now :)

No, it's cool. Feel free to opine.

"...both your lists are kinda on the extreme". Is my list extreme? Just curious.

Yes, the worst thing on the list is the fact I've been withholding sex from the guy. For years, I've been putting out like a dutiful housewife, getting him off every night. But I don't want him to reciprocate. Something got real broke there, and I'm not sure how to fix it.

I thought the "I'll fuck you more if you let me play outside the relationship" idea would work. But it didn't. I didn't want to have more sex with my partner, and he still got really mad when I wanted sex outside the relationship.

(Deleted comment)
We're on our third counselor in three years, and I'm looking into a fourth. The first guy said I had a sex addiction, and didn't say much more than that. The second guy was a cool S&M hippie biker who liked to talk about his experiences more than help. The current guy thinks it's great that I'm on a "voyage of self-discovery", and tells my partner that if he can just hold out for a few years, I'll get this out of my system and come back to him.

All in all, not very useful. At $100 an hour.

wow...very interesting, but I don't think it necessarily HAS to be the start of the end...does it?
are you not open to some compromise? would he be open to some at all?

It kills him to imagine me with other guys. I've found it hard to cut a compromise.

You already know my take on all this, though you didn't mention the part about Michael wanting all your orgasms. Wow.

Heh, I've got an internet friend who wants to lock me up so I don't have *any* orgasms anymore, ever.

This is eerie. Word-for-word, this is nearly identical to me and my partner's lists.

If you look at the "why's" of each item, it boils down to him feeling insecure and you wanting to feel hot and not distracted by guilt during sex. This is definitely not "the begining of the end" though. You can absolutely get past those concerns... my partner and I did. It's not perfect, and sometimes we each end up with feelings of frustration or guilt, but it's never unmanagable and it's so much better overall. You might want to try a couples counselor. http://www.ncsfreedom.org/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=75

Out of curiousity, he doesn't seem to have anything on his list about hooking up. Is he not interested in other guys, or is it more about him just guilting you?

So, are you the jealousy list? Or the slut list?

I'm not jealous at all. I'd like to hear from someone what that's about. I would be a little pissed if I cokked a romantic dinner and my partner was too busy at the truckstop to stop and eat. But overall, I'd bee cheering him on to hear about his exploits.

Yeah, this is all about insecurity. He's a 63 year old man with a horny 38 year old inexperienced boyfriend, who recently rediscovered leathersex and wants to do all sorts of kinky things with all sorts of people. I can see how that would be hard on him. But his need for control is driving me away more than keeping me under lock and key.

My partner is a year from retirement. He's all about creating a house, and traveling with a monogamous parter, and settling down. He's been hooking up lately, but I think it's more about revenge fucking.

Edited at 2008-03-05 08:08 pm (UTC)

I don't see these lists as incompatible if you take them as starting points.

I don't know why people are scared of couples' counseling, but this seems to me like a perfect opportunity. I think a trained, rational, supportive third party helping to facilitate communication could be very productive.

As I may have mentioned before, when my own relationship was ending, I was surprised how gays, particularly urban gays have a predisposition to walking away from relationships. You have to ask yourself if having a relationship is important to you, what your expectations of a relationship are, and how much you are willing to commit to giving it a chance. If you ask people why long-term relationships succeed it is primarily because the partners are committed to a vision of the value and permanence of the relationship, not because the sex was hot, cause it almost never is after the first two years without working at it. That's it, nothing more.

I barely know you and I know your partner not at all, but you have made statements that make me think your relationship is suffering from the kind of failures to communicate and resolve tensions that trouble almost all relationships. I believe if you can work through your issues and improve communication, and still want to leave, only then is it time to think about it.

On the subject of the veto, I think everyone should have absolute veto power. One of the most important factors in the success of an open relationship is trust and establishing and satisfying reasonable expectations. If I were negotiating with a new partner, I would definitely insist on absolute reciprocal veto power, though in my case I would only say after the fact. I think seeing someone repeatedly who is hostile to your partner (I can't believe how often this happens) is a guarantee of trouble. Ones partner might also reasonably expect that involving a third party in the relationship on an ongoing basis requires negotiation.

As for those items that amount to vetting your tricks, these could seem controlling, but in the context of Leather-S/M in the Old Garde they could be seen as safety measures.

Again, I think all the other list items are just indications of his insecurity and your need for freedom. I think if you can create and environment to communicate and negotiate your needs and reiterate your commitment to the relationship you might have a good chance.

We're in the 14th year of our relationship. So, by all means, we have had the courage to stick with it through the hard times. We both committed 100%, with all our hearts. That's the problem - we both fell hard. Breaking up this relationship is difficult because we had dropped all barriers a long time ago.

Does sex really die in every relationship after two years? Are there any couples out there who are completely monogamous after 5 years? What percentage of the gay community is monogamous? Does the straight world realize that "gay marriage" means that we want to get legal full rights and keep fucking like monkeys after we are wed?

The veto makes me nervous, because I think I'm bratty enough that if my partner forbids me to play with Master X, than all I will think about is Master X. However, I'd be happy to give him up for the sake of the relationship. It's just that I'd like to make the sacrifice rather than have someone else tell me what I can or can't do with my penis. Plus, as it happens a lot in relationships, he often dislikes my friends (artists with issues), and I dislike his (loud sycophantic women).

I just want to get laid. Is that so wrong?

Granted I haven't been following this for long, but what makes you think he should be okay with you having sex with other people? I love how other people are making your husband out to be the bad guy. Like he's some how in the wrong for not letting you have sex with other people. Sure his list sounds restrictive, but it sounds like he's been hurt and doesn't want to lose you to someone else who is as you've put it is "in the scene". And you know what I don't blame him. He's a far stronger man than me because once I found out you were having sex with other guys we would of been over. No, if, and or buts. It sucks you've discovered you have this new sexual interest and that by the sounds of it your husband has no interest in, but those are the facts of life. You can talk to your husband about possibly incorporating these new interest into your sex life, but if he doesn't I think you need to decided what's more important..having great sex or having your husband. Yes, you can have both but it doesn't sound like it's gonna work in this situation. You want your cake and eat it too, but you can't...you know why...cause you're not twelve. We're adults and we've all made decisions in our lives and we have to live with them. If this isn't the life you want then go find the one you want. But don't manipulate or dare I say it emotionally abuse your husband into getting what you want, which is what you're doing when you say I'll have more sex with you if you let me have sex with other people. I know I sound harsh and I don't mean to be mean but I this is how I feel.

And if I'm gotten anything wrong them let me know and I'm sorry.

Yup, guilty as charged. I tried that solution, too... I tried to forget about all my kinks, and to put my dick away and not have sex with anyone. It lasted a few months. But it's like trying to pretend you are straight. Those cravings bubbled up again and again. It's odd that I have to choose between my partner and the sex that I want.

From an admittedly less prosperous perspective, it seems like the reasons not to split are mostly materialistic, and the reasons to walk apart are mostly spiritual. While generally I favor torture for its own sake, it still needs to be consensual to make sense, and this just doesn't fit that standard. I can't understand at all what is so addictive about a big house and tons of money when it's the chain that keeps you both from living life. Neither of you understands how to make the other feel loved. Both of you deserve better than this. Embrace the pain, try to appreciate it for what it is and is not. Be a man and take what you've earned. I appreciate a good whimper as much as anyone, but this is just toxic. Move on.

It sounds like it's coming down to being true to yourself, and your partner doing the same for himself. While I've not been in this situation in particular, I have been through the "what is right for me, you, us and can we negotiate" situation before.

Whatever you two choose I wish both of you the best.

And thank you for being open about this and other things about you recently.

*hugs* because whichever way you choose it is tough

It was funny, I was journal hoping the other day and run accross yours. I read through the lists and was immediatly transported back a year. I have been in your partners shoes while i do agree that some of his requests are demanding I understand where they are seeded. By the same token I understand your demands and can see how you would take them to the extreme.

good luck if you want to chat email me.. tropicstyle@gmail.com

and where does the Poly part of the equation come in?

Ya know ... I've always found the best way to make a decision is to pretend you've made up your mind and live with it for a few days to see how it feels.

All of the advice that's being handed out to you here is good and valid for each of these people but ultimately the decision rests with you. Your situation is certainly complex and only you and your partner have all of the info on your relationship.

No matter what your decision winds up being ... the given is, life goes on and will continue to evolve for you.

Good luck with this tough problem.

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