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Dear Mark,

It’s 3 a.m. and I just got home from the bars. My boyfriend and I just had a fight and he stormed out. I’m here alone and not sure what to do. I’ve read your column before and have always liked your answers. I figured I might as well write some of this down and I figured why not kill two birds with one stone and write to you as well.

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Dear Mark,

It’s 3 a.m. and I just got home from the bars. My boyfriend and I just had a fight and he stormed out. I’m here alone and not sure what to do. I’ve read your column before and have always liked your answers. I figured I might as well write some of this down and I figured why not kill two birds with one stone and write to you as well.

You see, I’ve dated many men in my life. And, truth be told, I’ve never been faithful to any of them. My current boyfriend is no exception. Don’t get me wrong. He’s great. I’ve been with him longer than anyone else in my life, almost three years now. Sex was great at first. Still is. But after a while I find myself getting bored. I start fantasizing about other guys. Then I start thinking of ways to make it happen. I come up with stories and excuses to get out of the house and away from my boyfriend. I’m usually pretty careful but it seems, at some point, they figure it out and there’s a blow up.

This brings me to tonight. I told him I was going out with friends from work to celebrate a co-workers birthday. I was relieved because he seemed fine with it. So relieved that I neglected to ask him about his plans. I did go out with a friend from work (see…covering my bases). But it was really just a way to get out, let off some steam, and hopefully get lucky. And I did get lucky. I met this hot daddy type from out of town. He invited me back to his hotel. We made it out to the parking lot and began to make out beside his car. I had a few drinks in me and the lot was deserted so I didn’t give it a second thought. Well, apparently my boyfriend’s best friend, who I didn’t see in the club, was leaving with his boyfriend and they both saw me with this guy. He pulled out his cell phone and called my boyfriend. He was waiting for me by the time I got home and was very upset. We had words. He kept telling me he couldn’t believe that I had lied to him. I know he has a right to be mad. I did lie to him, but this is just who I am. What can I tell him to make him feel better?

Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

There are many things you could say to your boyfriend. Have you thought about the value of owning up to your behavior? You say you’ve never been faithful in any relationship. You tell me that everything is good between you and your boyfriend but yet you still feel the urge to have sex with other men in secret. Why do you think this is so? When in the relationship do you begin to “get bored”? What would it be like for you to discuss these feelings with your mate? What fears do you have about his reaction? The answers to these questions will tell you a lot.

Emotional intimacy is about being emotionally transparent with our partners. This means we have to feel comfortable talking with them about every part of ourselves without the fear that they will reject us. As gay men, we are familiar with the concept of rejection and, unfortunately, have become very good at lying to cover up the truth because we fear people will judge us for who we are. “Getting bored” in a relationship is common. What we do with those feelings can make or break a relationship. The reason you haven’t brought it up with him is because it’s a difficult subject to discuss. But you could ease into it. Something like “Do you ever think about other men sexually?” or “I found myself fantasizing about this hot guy at the gym.” He may get upset and defensive but this opens the door to a real conversation about needs and wants. A response like “I want to continue to be close with you but I’ve had feelings like this in the past and it’s been problematic when I tried to keep them secret. I was hoping I could talk with you about them so we could tackle it together…openly and honestly”. This clear statement has the ability to engage him in a discussion with you. Not about the “bad” things you’ve done necessarily. But about what you could do together to address your feelings. A good couples therapist can be very useful for these types of emotionally charged situations.

Couples come up with a plethora of solutions. Some open their relationship. Some begin to discuss the concept of “negotiated monogamy” which is the act of opening the relationship sexually to some degree while remaining committed to each other emotionally. Negotiated monogamy can take many forms. It’s up to you to decide what’s right for you. Others find a way to recommit to their original monogamous boundaries. New ideas are born. Role play/fantasy fulfillment/enjoying porn together/you name it. Or just the old fashioned “re-romanticizing” the relationship by recommitting to complete honesty and enjoying that closeness that you don’t have with anyone else. Trust me… it’s one of the most erotic concepts on the planet. Take a deep breath, say you’re sorry, and try to rebuild your relationship with your man. Good luck.

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