Blowing Up & Opening Up

On learning how to set boundaries and respect your own needs.

I’m committed to my male partner and he’s committed to me. (I’m a woman.) But we both understand we need to flirt and that we will both want to sleep with someone else at some point. We live together, we have a dog, and neither of us believes in marriage. We plan to purchase a house in the coming months.

Here’s the issue: he met a woman at work. He’s not sexually attracted to her at all. She, however, would love to blow him. She’s in an unhappy marriage and has no friends. They exchanged numbers when my partner was transferred and now she texts him constantly. It doesn’t totally bother me. But not only does she text him at all hours of the day and night, but she continuously tells him he’s the hottest man she’s ever met. She sends him nudes, which I’ve seen, and wants to suck his “huge dick.” (It is huge.)

But even though I know he’s not sexually attracted to her, I’m still feeling threatened. I have extremely low self-esteem right now and I’m struggling with depression. I’m speaking with a therapist and I’m on meds. But the meds have made me gain about fifty pounds, which doesn’t help with the depression. I get the need and desire to flirt. But right now I’m not confident enough to be okay with him being sexual with another person even if it’s just texts. And I feel this way knowing he has no plans to be with her!

He continues to tell me he has no desire to spend his life with anyone else but me. Yet he’s suddenly hesitant to buy a house. I guess I’m asking WTF should I do?

— Dinging Phone Really Exacerbating Semi-Serious Depression

You say it doesn’t bother you — it doesn’t totally bother you — that this woman texts your partner day and night, DPRESSD, which strikes me as odd. Because that shit would drive me up the wall. Blowing up someone’s phone at all hours of the day and night screams “I have no boundaries! I am incapable of being considerate! I have no self control!” Even if you were in a place where you felt better about your partner getting some attention elsewhere, the shit this woman is pulling would still be annoying, unsettling, and totally bothersome.

And this shit should be disqualifying — meaning, your partner should’ve shut this woman down already. He should’ve told this woman to knock it off and, if she didn’t knock it off, he should’ve told her to fuck the fuck off and blocked her number. If he tried to shut her down and she kept texting him, DPRESSD, then I have to wonder why he hasn’t blocked her number already. Assuming he’s telling you the truth about not being attracted to her — and it sounds like he is — he may have allowed this to go on because he enjoys feeling desirable and/or he doesn’t want to hurt her feelings. If it’s the former, make it clear to your partner that you wouldn’t have a problem with him finding someone else to swap flirty sext messages with, so long as it’s someone who can sext in moderation and at appropriate times. If it’s the latter, DPRESSD, make it clear to your partner that this shit is hurting your feelings and, as his partner, you expect him to prioritize your feelings over his former coworker’s feelings.

All that said, DPRESSD, even if the thought of your partner going off to play with another woman didn’t make you feel insecure, you wouldn’t want your partner getting blown by this particular woman. Even if your partner has never said, “Don’t text me at all hours of the day and night,” that’s no excuse. No one wants their phone or their partner’s phone blowing up at 3 a.m. That’s not a boundary anyone should have to articulate to set and, articulated or not, no one with any common sense would do that. (And, holy crap, if this is how this woman behaves in pursuit of your partner’s big cock, how is she gonna behave after she gets a taste?)

As for the house issue, DPRESSD, press your partner to clarify his sudden hesitancy. It may have nothing to do with your relationship; it’s entirely possible that he’s freaked out by the state of the world — because, my God, who isn’t? — and he’s having second thoughts about sinking his savings into a house. Depression often puts the worst possible spin on things; it can lead us to reject a calming truth someone is telling us in favor of an alarming lie we’re telling ourselves. Don’t fall into that trap.

And finally, DPRESSD, please talk to your doctor about switching out your meds. If weight gain is a side effect of the ones you’re on now and weight gain is making you more depressed, then it doesn’t make sense to keep treating your depression with the meds you’re on now. A different med might give you the same benefits without this particular side effect.

To Bang or Not to Bang?

I met someone I connected with during quarantine. We’ve all but committed to screwing our brains out after we’re given the all-clear. But she recently suffered a devastating loss. We will meet, on her terms, most likely very soon. I know I should follow her lead, but should I avoid sex even if she wants to have sex? I don’t know if sex will help or hurt. Is being chaste and supportive the right move? Can sex help in a time of loss? I just don’t want to be the asshole someone winds up writing to you for advice about.

— Looking Over Sexual Timing

Follow her lead — that’s a good impulse — and if she wants to have sex after you’ve met in person and after you’ve made it clear to her that there’s no rush, LOST, and if you want to have sex after you’ve met her in person, go ahead and have sex. Some people find sex after a devastating loss to be healing and affirming, and the last thing that person needs is for someone else to decide they shouldn’t be having sex or even wanting to have sex. As for the all-clear you’re waiting for, well, that could be a long time off, seeing as COVID-19 rates are spiking all over the country. If you decide you can’t wait for the all-clear, please consult the New York Health Department’s safer sex/harm-reduction recommendations for people who want to have sex during this pandemic. (Google “New York Health,” “coronavirus,” and “sex.”) To quickly summarize: you can minimize your risk of contracting or transmitting COVID-19 by wearing a mask, not eating ass, using condoms, and using a glory hole.

Am I The Asshole?

I’ve been dating someone long-distance for seven months. I’ve been transparent about my need for an open relationship. Recently this gentleman asked me to tell him if I slept with someone else. I agreed because I’m not sleeping with anyone at the moment due to COVID-19. But since March, I’ve been having phone sex with a long-term booty call who lives across the country. Neither knows about the other and neither one knows I’m bisexual. No big deal, right? I’m a first responder in a male-dominated field and I put up with enough bullshit without the men in my life knowing I eat pussy. How much of an asshole am I for not disclosing what I don’t need to? 

— Not Banging (Other) Dudes

You’re being an asshole — to yourself. Hiding your bisexuality from the men you’re dating increases your odds of winding up in a relationship with someone who judges, shames, or hates you for being bisexual, NBOD, and why on earth would you want to do that to yourself? Disclosing your bisexuality ups yours odds of attracting a guy who fetishizes your bisexuality, of course, but it’s easier to weed those guys out early than it is to leave (or divorce) some guy who reveals himself to be biphobic after you’ve made a huge emotional investment in him. As for the phone sex… you should disclose that too. If Mr. Seven Months can’t handle you having phone sex with some other guy, NBOD, he certainly won’t be able to handle you sleeping with someone else. And if he can’t handle that, he’s not the right guy for a woman who wants/needs/requires an open relationship. 

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