Dear Neil: My boyfriend and I have been together over three years. During a break in our relationship, I had a one-night stand. I told him about it, and now he is very jealous because he didn’t get the opportunity that I did.
We are now back together, but he still talks about the desire to spend the night with another woman. Although we have talked about me allowing him to have that chance, he claims that he doesn’t want to hurt our relationship further by doing so. What does this mean, and can we fix it?
What Should I Do in Denver
Dear Denver: It sounds as if your boyfriend needs his ego to be consoled because he presumes you had more fun than he did when the two of you were broken up.
There is a difference between having sex when you’re single and available, verses having a revenge affair when you’re already in a relationship. The first is about negotiating the dating/single’s world and saying yes to an opportunity, and the second is considered a betrayal of trust. Unless, of course, the two of you are not committed to each other—and there is no agreement about exclusivity. If that is the case, you could give him a choice: either accept me and offer me your commitment and your promise of fidelity, or let’s break up again, and we will then both be free to sow our wild oats as much as we want.
Women have different opportunities than do men. A woman just needs to say “yes,” whereas a man needs to finesse, romance, charm, wine and/or dine a woman in order for her to say “yes.” By the very nature of that gender inequality, a woman will have more chances than most men will, so it’s not all that surprising that the two of you are in this situation.
I am uncomfortable with you giving him permission to have a one-night stand. Because a man has to usually woo a woman, are you sure you’d be comfortable with him flirting with other women in order to seduce one? And once he got the knack of it, how easy do you think it would be for him to stop at just one woman? Also, if he didn’t succeed, might the seed always be there for him to act on it—say five, ten or twenty years from now? It seems as if you would be setting yourself up for possible pain and betrayal later on.
If you can, tell your boyfriend that you didn’t enjoy it at all when you were with the other guy, because you couldn’t stop thinking about him. If you can’t say that, tell him that you feel awful for hurting him, and you would like to make the incident up to him and defeat this issue once and for all, so you guys can have the chance of building a future together.
You could tell him that you will be the best friend, lover, companion and life partner to him you can be, and invite him to look at what he would need in order to be happy, content and completely fulfilled by you. What does he want from you that he isn’t getting? What changes in the relationship would make him feel safer, happier and more content?
If he responds by saying that he still needs to sleep with another woman (or two), he is saying he is not ready to commit to you. If that is the case, you will likely get hurt—because he will not be able to be yours and only yours, and he will always be looking for other sexual and/or romantic opportunities.
Forgive me for being the bearer of bad news, but if you aren’t enough for him, maybe you’d be happier with someone else.