My Monogamous BF Won’t Open Our Relationship

I’m Zachary Zane, a sex writer, author, and ethical Boyslut (a fancy way of saying I sleep with a lot of people, and I’m very, very open about it). Over the years, I’ve had my fair share of sexual experiences, dating and sleeping with hundreds of people of all genders and orientations. In doing so, I’ve learned a thing or two about navigating issues in the bedroom (and a bunch of other places, TBH). I’m here to answer your most pressing sex questions with thorough, actionable advice that isn’t just “communicate with your partner” because you know that already. Ask me anything—literally, anything—and I will gladly Sexplain It.

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Dear Sexplain It,


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My boyfriend and I have been together for a year. Before him, I had only had open relationships, which worked very well for me. However, he is very monogamous-oriented. I initially agreed to be monogamous with the stipulation that we’d eventually open up our relationship. He agreed, saying he wanted to build a trusting foundation first. Well, it’s been a year now. I’m antsy to start having sex with new guys, but he STILL doesn’t want to open the relationship. Honestly, I’m not sure if he ever will. I’m worried he’s stringing me along. What do I do?

—Forever Closed

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Dear Forever Closed,

It’s clear to me that you are someone who needs to be in an open relationship, long-term, in order to feel romantically and sexually fulfilled. So your antsiness and frustration will only grow stronger as time goes by. This will likely make you resent your boyfriend, especially since you communicated your non-monogamous needs from the moment you started dating.

In the words of the 2003 cinematic classic: something’s gotta give.

You don’t want to be stewing in resentment for the rest of your life, so either your partner agrees to open the relationship, or you leave him. Obviously, you would prefer the first option.

If you haven’t done so already, I’d recommend you have a conversation with him where you address two things. First, ask your boyfriend what, specifically, his reservations are, so you can make a plan to address them. “I’m not ready yet,” is not specific enough. Encourage him to dig a bit deeper. Is he afraid you’re going to leave him for another man? Is he worried he’ll get jealous? You might discover his anxiety is easily quelled by establishing certain ground rules that feel good to you, too. If he’s worried about jealousy, would he be open to a scenario where the two of you hook up with other partners together? Would that satisfy you, too? Or maybe all he needs is assurance that your relationship will still have ground rules, even if you’re seeing other people.

As for the second thing, you should give him a timeline; inform him that you will leave him if he doesn’t agree to open up the relationship by a certain date.

I know people aren’t the biggest fan of ultimatums, but sometimes, they’re necessary. This is one of those times. Otherwise, you may end up in this unfulfilling relationship for God knows how long. Give him a few months, and in those few months, let him know you’re open to answering any questions or talking through whatever insecurities and fears he might have. If the date comes around and he says he can’t do it, you leave him. As hard as it’ll be to say goodbye, you’ll both be better off in the long run.

For your next relationship, do yourself a favor: Only date guys who want to be in an open relationship from the get-go. These polyamorous dating apps can help.

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