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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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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?

Does sex really die in every relationship after two years?

In gay relationships, I think it does unless you make an effort. Certainly, it won't help if you have un-resolved tensions outside the bedroom.

Are there any couples out there who are completely monogamous after 5 years? What percentage of the gay community is monogamous?

I believe that 0% of gay couples are naturally monogamous after five years. There might be exceptions but only when there are pressures limiting outside play.

It seems to me that the failure to communicate expectations about outside play is one of the greatest challenges to gay relationships.

Men, straight or gay, do not instinctively look to sexual behaviour as an indicator of fidelity. Many people believe that sexual monogamy is a female trait. So, it's presence in male relationships is a learned, intellectual expectation. In his gut, your partner is not betrayed by your having sex with another man, but by the insecurity (perhaps because of tensions in other parts of your relationship) that you will fall out of love with him and betray your commitment to him.

If you can communicate, with words and actions, your commitment to the relationship, outside sexual play should not feel threatening.

The veto is both a practical and symbolic demonstration of both parties putting the relationship before outsiders. The purpose of the veto is not to stop you from having sex, but to prevent a (usually recurring) person from becoming a threat to the relationship. This is one reason why I prefer the veto to be after the fact. If the veto is abused that's not a problem with the veto, but an issue that needs to be communicated. On the other hand, if you find yourself needing to sleep with someone your partner hates, that's another issue.

You say elsewhere that you are on your third counselor, and then you list things I would consider red flags. I think what you should be looking for is someone who should be facilitating communication who hopefully has some experience with gay couples. (I personally think the kink issues are important only to the extent of making sure your counselor doesn't consider them pathological.)

No - sex doen not die in every relationship after 2 years.

My husband and I are nearing 27 years together, and we still have sex almost daily. It's taken work and no its not perfect, but I have to say I'm pretty content most of the time. We've worked hard at figuring out what pleases one another.

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