My boyfriend of a few months went to Burning Man last week with the understanding that he could have sex with others, as long as he used a condom. This was his wish; I would have preferred we stay exclusive, but it seemed a little early in the relationship to tell him he couldn’t fool around at Burning Man. Long story short, while he was away I ran into an old flame on the ferry and, after a few drinks, found myself making out with him. I know I would never have done this if I hadn’t suspected my boyfriend was doing the same out on the playa. Now that he’s back, I don’t feel I need to divulge what happened on the ferry, and I also don’t want to hear anything about what he did at Burning Man. Unfortunately, my boyfriend goes for “brutal honesty,” and I fear a long download is coming. Do I have to confess my makeout session, which in the long run meant very little to me?" src="http://www.7x7.com/sites/all/modules/wysiwyg/plugins/break/images/spacer.gif" alt="">
He Said: Congrats! You are one of our first readers emotionally mature enough to understand the value of non-monogamy—or at least talking openly about it—and who does not get hysterically insecure at the knowledge of a partner's wholly human interest in sex with others. If anything, this will help you both figure out proper sexual and emotional boundaries as you hopefully grow closer over time.
However, this is just where the hard work starts. First of all, you seem somewhat less comfortable than your boyfriend about sex outside the relationship. You are ultimately going to have to close the gap, even if it takes more experimentation. Whatever you ultimately decide together, you need to talk through all the variations of non-monogamy, from "don't ask, don't tell" (your preference) to "only on the road" to sharing your exploits in intimate detail (some couples find this hot, and the BF seems to prefer it as well). Then there's always the option of three-ways, although that's challenging for non-gay couples as one of you should really be somewhat bisexual—most likely, you, as women tend to be slightly more flexible that way than straight men or, for that matter, gay men. However you work this out, take solace in your fine sense of perspective, communication skills, and generosity to your partner.
She Said: I’m not hearing that you want a longterm open relationship, but rather that you prefer monogamy and felt it was too soon to insist upon it. It sounds like the most you and your BF will have to contend with in the future is his annual visit to the playa. Lots of SF couples are in your situation. If you’re still together next year, think in advance about your boundaries and preferences. Speaking from experience, I can say it works best when thing are kept 50-50: If he gets a monogamy vacation, so do you. But just because he wants to divulge the details of his dusty dalliances (sorry, I couldn’t help that) doesn’t mean you have to be forced to listen to them. If you want a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, you can insist on that.
For now, because your relationship is so new and you didn’t set up detailed rules beforehand, I think you should tell him about the ferry. You don’t necessarily owe it to him, but I still think it’s the wisest move. My question to you is: Why not tell him? It’s a relatively harmless occurrence given the context, but keeping it secret increases its power to hurt both of you in the long run. Default to honesty. Tell him you made out with an ex you ran into, it meant very little to you, you don’t want to hear about his desert shenanigans, and you can both revisit the whole idea next year. Then again, a chick who not only gives her man a pass, but also experiments a little herself, confesses it, and tells her BF to keep his memories of other women to himself is one very attractive and powerful woman. By this time next year you may not need to deal with this issue at all.
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