Miss Information

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"My boyfriend said it's cool if I hook up with other girls. What would happen if I went for it?"

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Dear Miss Information,

Hi. How are you? I hope you're doing well.

(How come nobody ever asks you that?)

I have a moral dilemma. I've been in a relationship with a wonderful, understanding guy for two years now. I'm a girl and I identify as bisexual, and my boyfriend is accepting of that. So accepting, in fact, that he has always told me from the beginning of our relationship that I can have sex with other girls if I so choose. I always shrugged it off and told him I probably wouldn't, but the other night he brought it up again.

He told me that he wants me to be completely sexually satisfied, and he thinks that since I'm attracted to both men and women that he only satisfies part of my sexual appetite or something like that. Then I always turn it around on him and ask him if he wants to have sex with other girls. He always says no, because he's satisfied with me and he's not attracted to guys. Our relationship is not an open one, so I always considered having sex with anyone else (man, woman, what have you) to be cheating. But is it really cheating if you have your partner's approval?

I know he doesn't want this to happen because he's said he doesn't want to get off on it or add a third girl to the relationship or join in. He says he wants this to be for my own, personal enjoyment. He says he really, honestly just wants me to be satisfied and he doesn't think it would be fair for me, a bisexual woman, to be closed off to women while I'm with him.

So in comes this girl. Let's call her K. She's also attracted to girls. I like K, but not so much that I'd ever have feelings for her beyond lust. Sometimes we flirt with each other online and it's pretty obvious that she's attracted to me. If I were single, I probably would have initiated something. If there were ever any girl that I would want to have a one-night stand with outside of my relationship, it would be her. And I know she'd be game and that there would be no extra feelings attached.
I think I might want to do this. I know I don't have any real feelings for K, and it's just the perfect situation. But how do I go about discussing this with my boyfriend? Should I tell him? I feel like I should, otherwise it would feel like cheating. I'm so confused. I'm afraid that if I do this, he'll get mad and take back everything he said… but then again, his argument is reasonable. What should I say to my boyfriend? I have to set boundaries, right? I've never been in this situation before.

So I have the OK to go and sow my wild oats with women and then come home to my sweet, understanding boyfriend. (I would never hook up with anyone in our apartment… that's weird.) Can I really have my cake and eat it, too? I don't want anybody to get hurt…is that too much to ask?

— Cake

Dear Cake,

Your question seems thorny! The longer I sat with it (read: "watched Food Network"), though, most of the thorns fell off. Then I realized: at its heart, this is a fairly simple issue of priorities. So simple, in fact, that I decided you needed a flow chart.

I had a great one in my head, but my Paintbrush skills are Mom-level bad. Luckily, I have plenty of tenacity and not much shame. Here you go! It took me roughly fifteen hours.


So, which is more important to your relationship: your stability/monogamy or your sexual satisfaction?

Okay. So you want to hook up with K, and you have your boyfriend's consent. No, hooking up with K wouldn't be "cheating," but it also wouldn't likely be complication-free, either. Feelings are sneaky bastards. It's entirely possible your boyfriend may change his mind after the fact, or develop different feelings about it, or get hit with strange jealousies and insecurities he never saw coming. And that would be totally valid. His saying "go for it" does not sell away his right to be uncomfortable later. Emotionally aware and enlightened though he may be, he is human. Complications are bound to arise.

I'm not saying "don't do it!", but I am saying "be very careful." Hooking up with K opens up a Pandora's Box of new conversations for you and your boyfriend. Does this make your relationship "open"? Is he allowed to sleep with other people? How many times is too much? Does owning a periscope and unmarked van mean he doesn't trust you? And so on.

Whatever you decide, Cake, it should not be hasty, and it should involve your boyfriend. Make sure you and your conscience are on solid ground before you do anything. Your clarity will make either outcome more enjoyable.