I am a happily married, happily nonmonogamous male. We are not wild swinger types. For us it's more about the fact that monogamy does not work than about nailing everything that walks by. Anyway, I have encountered an odd situation a few times now, and again last night, where I'll be flirting with a potential fling and she knows I'm married and she's very interested. But when she finds out my marriage is nonmonogamous, she suddenly backs out. Case in point, a coworker: we have been flirting since I started my new job a few months ago. Today she asked me what my wife would do if she found out I was sneaking around on her. Good time to make a full disclosure! But when I told her my situation, that was the end of our flirtation.

Any idea why women find the idea of cheating with me okay, but once they find out I have a free go of things, they walk? — No Figuring Women

This woman didn't find the idea of cheating with you "okay," NFW, she wanted to fuck you because you're married and presumably monogamous. Try to look at it from her perspective: when she thought you were willing to cheat on your wife to be with her, NFW, that meant you found her so attractive, so utterly irresistible, that you would break your marriage vows and risk everything to get into her pants. Sleeping with her with your wife's permission? Meh, where's the ego boost in that?

I am a fortyish married straight woman living in New York. I have been happily married in a monogamous relationship for eleven years. My husband and I met when we were in our early twenties. After listening to all of the SavageLovecasts together, we started to talk about the idea of "some degree of openness," as you put it.

In the past year, I have had a crush on a coworker. My husband is okay with me having something on the side with this coworker. This coworker is single (last I heard) and seventeen years younger (yikes!), and he knows I am married. We had a great working relationship while we were assigned to a project together, but now he's in another department. My question is, how to go from here? After having a few good talks with my husband, I am excited about this idea and terrified. I'm having a private lunch with my coworker soon. This is fine with my husband. What can you tell me to calm me the hell down and not be so stressed? After being conditioned my whole life that monogamy is the only way to go, I am having a hard time shifting! — Newly Open Couple Lacks Understanding & Education

Have that lunch, and tell your coworker/crush that you and the husband are just beginning to explore the idea of openness. For all you know now, your much-younger coworker may not be interested in being your piece on the side. If it turns out that he is interested, take things very, very slowly and keep your husband fully informed. But even if I could relieve you of your stress and anxiety with a few words, NOCLUE, I wouldn't. You should be anxious and stressed out; it's appropriate to be anxious and stressed out. Your nervousness is prompting you to take things slowly and to be careful and conscientious about your husband's feelings. If this works out — for you, for your coworker, for your husband — it will be in large part thanks to the stress, NOCLUE, not despite it. Enjoy.

I am in a strange situation. I work in the corporate sector in marketing and sales. It is a high-stress, fast-paced job, and everyone has a short fuse. I have a coworker who is losing business to a competitor who happens to be gay. In her fits of anger, she keeps calling him a faggot. I hate it. The thing is, I am not gay. And if anyone in our office is, they are in the closet. She has used the word in front of other coworkers and even our boss, and no one seems to be bothered.

I am torn about what I should do. I am black, and if she was using the word "nigger," I would call her on it and raise issue with our HR department. Can I file a complaint on behalf of a group I do not belong to? If she found out I complained, she would see it as a threat to her own job, which could lead to a decidedly hostile workplace. But if it was a racial slur, I would not let that deter me. I want to do the right thing. How would you handle the situation? Not My Problem?

If someone at my office were tossing the word "nigger" around, NMP, I would lodge a complaint. I would resent the assumption on my coworker's part that since I'm white she can use racist speech in my presence, because, hey, all us white people are racist POS, right? And I would complain because a workplace that tolerates racist remarks is a workplace that tolerates homophobic remarks. If people are using "nigger" when there aren't any black people in the room, they're doubtless using "faggot" when there aren't any gay people in the room. And vice versa. Have a word with HR.

I have a new coworker, a young man who is gay and quite effeminate. He's slim, wears makeup, has boyish/feminine features, and has done some modeling work as a woman. He said in a lunchroom discussion today that he prefers to wear women's clothes. He said he had worn women's clothes at a previous workplace, and no one had been offended. I suggested he talk to HR to protect his job before coming to work dressed in women's clothing. Good advice or should I just mind my own business? One coworker suggested that he work up to it, while another said he should just do it and let the chips fall where they may. The question of what restroom he should use when dressed as a woman came up. I'm not one-hundred-percent comfortable sharing the ladies' room with him. Though I am certain most of the men won't be comfortable sharing the men's room with him either.

Do you have any suggestions on how to handle situations where I might find myself in the same restroom as my newest coworker? — She Knows It's Really Trivial

If your coworker identifies as female, she should use the women's room. If he identifies as male, he should use the men's room. And seeing as he's using the men's room now — despite his wearing makeup and being openly gay — I don't see how the addition of a dress should change things for his male coworkers. And from the way you describe that lunchroom conversation, SKIRT, it sounds like your effeminate new coworker has at least some support at work — but yes, he should have a talk with HR.

As for "handl[ing] situations" where you find yourself in the same restroom with your newest coworker, SKIRT, unless you routinely offer to zip up your coworkers or wipe their asses for them, I don't see how his presence — or his attire or the particular brand of genitalia tucked into his panties — really impacts you at all.

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Commentarium (20 Comments)

Nov 18 09 - 1:44am

To the first letter, sometimes people enjoy flirting. In a way, if you don't go very far, flirting with someone who's off the market can be safe. It's possible that she was only flirting and had no desire to go beyond that.

Nov 18 09 - 4:58am

I would advise NOCLUE to explore her options outside of work. Why add potential office complications to an already stressful situation?

Nov 18 09 - 10:33am

I can't believe anyone's husband would let them cheat. This is so far from my worldview; I can't believe it doesn't result in the marriage just falling apart. Anyone out there who's made it work??

Nov 18 09 - 11:28am

@AJC--The thing is, if you agree to an open relationship and are totally honest, the term "cheat" is less relevant. Cheating implies dishonesty, lying, etc. My husband and I have had an open relationship for 26 years (4 years of dating, 22 years of marriage). Like the people in the first letter, we're not wild swingers, we both just occaisionally sleep with or date someone else. Why? Hard to say. I really do believe that some of us are just not wired to be monogamous. I love my husband to death. I love my current boyfriend (of about 2 1/2 years) although in a different way. My husband and my boyfriend like and respect each other, though they don't spend much time together. I am really fond of my husband's girlfriend although since she's living out of state right now, our relationship is mainly on Facebook. I realize that this kind of setup doesn't work for everyone, but if your personal hardwiring, neurochemistry, whatever it is makes it work for you, there's no sense in fighting it. Every relationship but one that I've had since I started dating at age 15 has been open, with one exception. That one didn't last long, and I cheated on him. It wasn't fair to him to try and be something I'm not, and I've not made that mistake again.

Nov 18 09 - 11:42am

@ anathema - that is so interesting. I wonder if it's just preference, or hard-wired into our nature? Since you said every relationship you've had (but one) has been open. I find this fascinating, but fear I'd be too jealous to let my husband do that. Does your husband tell you what he does with the other woman? How does that work?

Nov 18 09 - 2:07pm

To AJC and Anathema, I don't think we're hardwired for monogamy, since none of our closest relatives practice it, and, to be honest, few of us do either. But AJC hits on the part that is problematic, jealousy, which is hard wired. In the natural world, when a male monkey finds his mate cheating, he attacks and beats them to protect his position and try to keep churning out offspring. We have decided that this behavior is bad for society, and one of the solutions has been to try a be monogamous. I have poly friends, and have been invited to join in, but decided I'm a bit too competitive for that to work out.

Nov 18 09 - 2:43pm

Anathema, I am having a hard time trying to figure part of your situation out. You've been with your current boyfriend for 2 1/2 years? What is his situation? Are you the only one in his life? I find that a very long time to be with one person if you are just the side note to their long established relationship.

Nov 18 09 - 5:32pm
flip wilson

i agree that we are hard-wired for polygamy, so from there it's about choices. i've never tried an open relationship but i can see that it COULD work. usually my relationships just crash & burn before cheating even becomes tempting!

Nov 18 09 - 6:13pm

@ACJ, gon, and others new to the open relationship/polyamory concept, you might find this resource helpful:
How to be Poly Friendly

@Sticky, who said:
>> I don’t think we’re hardwired for monogamy, since none of our closest relatives practice it

Uh, Sticky, I don't know about you, but plenty of _my_ closest relatives practice it. Oh, you mean monkeys! Seriously? Must we get bogged down in dubious animal kingdom metaphors?

Nov 18 09 - 7:42pm

I think it's that it is a lot easier to believe that someone is willing to cheat on his/her spouse than it is to believe that the spouse agrees to it. So when "No Figuring Women" tells women that he and his wife have an open relationship, their bullshit meters immediately go off and they decide he's not worth their time because they now feel that they are the ones being lied to as opposed to the wife.

Nov 18 09 - 10:34pm

As a monogamous person.. meaning, when I'm really in love, it's very focused and I've never cheated.. I'm HARD WIRED that way (as are LOTS AND LOTS of married couples) I just want to say it gets really annoying when Poly people say WE as a SPECIES aren't HARD WIRED for monogamy. Speak for yourselves. We are all different. I'm NOT like you.

Nov 19 09 - 2:26am

Use of the term "hard wired" drives me nuts ... it is far too limiting and mechanical a way to describe something as complicated as human sexual desire and sexual behavior, or our brains at all. We are not computers with binary 1/0 functions. We don't have "hard wiring". If we're going to figure out the really wildly varied question of human sexuality, maybe we should start with avoiding the intellectually lazy shortcuts.

Nov 19 09 - 12:05pm

My husband and I just celebrated our 20th anniversary, we have two great girls, and we have always been polyamorous. Ihave had a live in boyfriend for seven years who chooses not to see anyone else, and my husband has a girlfriend. We arent swingers, we have to be in a commited space to actually sleep with someone, we just dont believe in monogamy for its own sake. Health has always been our biggest motivator, and personal honesty and dignity. Most people cant handle total opneness, it takes a while to figure out what each persons needsare; both in an emotional and intellectual sense. Thanks so much for Savage love, it makes us feel as if we arent part of some rare and exotic breed..

Nov 19 09 - 3:33pm

If you're poly, great. If you're mono, great. I hate to simplify things but- SO WHAT? Don't expect anything from anybody in either case and you're on the right track...

Nov 24 09 - 10:05am
i like women - marreid or not here i cum

I mean, whats wrong with that?
too much p**n?

Nov 24 09 - 10:06am
i like women - marreid or not here i cum

on yeah, i forgot to tell you, click on this link if you want to see hot chicks naked lol
(NSFW of course)

Nov 24 09 - 3:07pm

Is Plus Size Clothing a Lost Art For the Fashion Designer?

Nov 27 09 - 12:11pm
La Femme Accident

I completely relate to the first guy's problem. With one or two exceptions, men and women who I want to fuck and who want to fuck me suddenly don't want to fuck me when they find out I'm non-monogamous. I mean, come on, would you rather I lie and cheat?! Maybe I should just not tell them, but tell my partner.

Dec 19 09 - 9:26pm

bluecats is 100% correct. All this "hard-wired" for this, hard-wired for that nonsense is just people trying to excuse whatever their own personal preference is. Like when someone says, "Oh, EVERYone's a little bit racist!"

No, just you -- own it.

Jul 07 10 - 11:23am

I am shocked that DS would tell you to go to HR before trying anything else. Whatever happened to speaking to other human beings that might shock or disturb us? Or do we only show respect when we are shocked by transgenders in the bathroom. People these days are only too quick to run to authority, and that leads, duh, to authoritarianism. How about being a human being? Approach that person and tell them to STFU or THEN you'll go to HR for the sexist/racist/homophobic comments. Dan Savage should be writing for the National Review as far as I'm concerned. Nothing fucks our rights up more than weak/scared people who respect their comfort more than the right to air one's grievances. What is the world coming to?