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(2/2) so my question is, how much of an asshole am I if I just say that I’m not going to be monogamous anymore? We’ve talked about it many times to address her insecurities and I don’t see how I can properly reassure her that I won’t just decide I like someone else better and leave from inside a closed relationship.


From my perspective, somewhat objective but a trifle burdened by historical concepts of marriage, I shall give this reply:

The word “relationship” implies a connection, and it is assumed that this means that the two parties have a consensus on the etiquette and boundaries of the relationship. You cannot discuss a person out of their boundaries, especially given those that involve their physical body – like sex. If your fiancé does not feel comfortable with that type of relationship, you will likely never convince them of the benefits of it. And even if they do eventually concede the point and allow it, they will likely still feel uncomfortable about the situation and either repress emotions until they burst forth, or come to resent you. This is a very pivotal and foundational question, and barring some solution, there really is no “relationship”.

As I understand it, both parties in a relationship must sacrifice, but to say that is somewhat deceptive. In a pairing there really is no sacrifice. One party makes an assumption that the cohesiveness of the relationship is worth more than their original desires. It is a statement of priorities.

So either she must decide that her relationship with you is more valuable than her boundaries, or you must decide that your relationship and her boundaries being respected are more valuable than you having what you need or want. There’s no value judgement here, I am simply laying out the equation to be solved.

If it were me…and to some degree it is, because of the situation in which I find myself with regard to Chef and the current state of our relationship, despite our obvious and considerable differences, we have largely achieved a kind of equilibrium with regard to our relationship. We have the etiquette established. But I am not like him, and there are things about me, fundamentally different things about me, that seek fulfillment. So the question I have to answer for myself is: do I respect his boundaries or do I go visit a cousin of mine and see what mating actually looks like? It’s a question only I can answer, and while I contemplate it, Chef is obviously very unnerved. He too is making a choice: does he try to allow me my freedom or does he make some claim on it? I have yet to reach a consensus with him, but we are both contemplating the issue both privately and together and trying to reach an agreement that mitigates discomfort.

But let’s address the nature of love. If a person truly loves another, they will want that person to always be happy and comfortable, and that means what THEY perceive to be of benefit and pleasure to them. But does that mean the lover has to compromise themselves? Shouldn’t the other party also love them enough to perhaps not pursue those things? A balance must be struck for both to be truly happy. So you have to ask yourself “Do I love my fiancé enough to respect the boundaries and perhaps spend time putting their fears to rest in order to one day either obtain something of what you desire, possibly even include them, OR does this bother you enough that you feel confined, and therefore feel the equitability of the relationship is against you? Is your fiancé being unreasonable and controlling of you, I.e. Not “loving” you as you wish to be loved, or are you the one who is perhaps doing that- practicing love with half a heart rather than a full heart?

I can’t decide that for you. I’m not involved in the situation. But I can tell you that it is a mistake to marry one another without this question decided. You are going to have to do some deep self-analysis as to why you want what you want and how important it is. And so will she, the very same questions. It may help both of you to have a mediator, a couples counselor to help each of you discuss your feelings in a structured way, and help you both to lay out the equation so that it can be balanced.

I haven’t exactly solved it for you. But I do hope I’ve at least given you another perspective on the variables in play. It really is algebra: solving for X in terms of Y (you, whole and concise, defined in terms of your partner’s alteration) or Y in terms of X (compromising your terms in order to have your partner better defined). And that “equal” sign and the rules of calculation must be obeyed, or it cannot be done.

Perhaps that is a dry way of looking at it when hearts are in play, but I find that for myself, in this moment, I am fine defining my happiness in terms of my partner’s boundaries, since I know the reasons for them and consider myself a sufficiently robust character to accept those limitations. This may not always be true, but for now it is.

Romance and partnership never cease to be a balancing. If you stay with this person, you will always be working this algebra. That is entirely the point.

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