alt.sex.column: A third in the hand

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By Andrea Nemerson. Read more alt.sex here

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Dear Andrea:

I've always wanted to have a threesome and my wife is willing, but she would prefer to do it with her first boyfriend. At first I was all for it, but I'm getting more concerned that it might rekindle an old flame. Otherwise, I wouldn't care if she had sex with a different guy every week, as long as she was safe and came home to me. I'm not jealous. I have a very high sex drive and could still have sex five or six times a day if time allowed. I love my wife and I know people are going to say if that was true, why would I let her have sex with another man? I say, variety! Spice of life!

It seems that her ex and I are similar as far as sex goes. She has only been with four partners in 20 years, including me. She has always believed in being dedicated to one person, and until I asked her about this, she never thought of straying.

She feels that if she were to do the threesome, she would prefer to do it with her ex. They didn't part on bad terms, just grew apart with careers and family. She said she would contact him if I wanted, but I'm starting to worry. She says I'm her soulmate, but I'm not sure I should put our relationship on the line for a fantasy.

Love,

Wanting, but Worried

Dear W:

The best way to avoid having people say stupid things about your private life is to actually have a private life. People do talk, and most of what they say is pretty stupid.

I do admit to feeling a bit uneasy about partners who profess no feelings of jealousy whatsoever — do they actually, um, care? — but there's a lot of variation in people's baseline territoriality levels. I won't think ill of you as a husband unless you let on that really you don't give a damn what she's up to, or whether she's (re)developing feelings for the ex, or what her intentions are toward you. At that point, you get demoted from husband to acquaintance with benefits, and you lose your right to vote on what she does with anyone. Since you're plenty engaged and plenty involved and plenty affectionate, though, I have nothing mean to say to you.

I fully understand why you might be feeling a little hesitant about the ex thing, but I think it's a pretty safe bet. Understand that if he'd caddishly dumped her and she'd spent years madly pining for him, I would certainly feel differently, but a "just grew apart"-type break-up plus all that intervening time — much of it spent, apparently, pursuing an unusually hectic sex-having schedule with you — just doesn't sound that risky.
Your wife wants a lot of safety and a little danger, which is pretty much what most people are going for when they start looking to act out a fantasy. The ex is, presumably, a known quantity, can be trusted to accurately report STD status and recent sexual history, is pleasantly familiar and congenial, shares a worldview and a sense of humor, and has proved compatible and worthy of her favors. How many Craigslist guys can you say that about? If it works, think about all the yuck and ew and dreariness you could get to bypass, including but not limited to horrible disgusting strangers you wish you'd never heard back from, people who seemed appealing but are dreadfully dull on closer inspection, druggies, drama kings, married cheaters, and people who are OK but want something you would never want to even think about doing yourself.
I also suspect that your wife may be what I call a love fetishist, by which I mean nothing unusual at all, particularly for women. She doesn't want to have sex with anyone she doesn't have feelings for. So why not this guy, safely ex but once, at least, the One? We all know that once loved, people do not automatically become unloved. We just don't usually have any useful ways to take advantage of that often-inconvenient fact.
Of course, no matter how endlessly you and your wife process this, it's no longer up to just you. Even if you decide to go ahead, you still can't without the third party's interest and availability. Nobody's even approached him yet, right? Chances are excellent that not only is he otherwise occupied, he will be alarmed, if not appalled, to be approached after all this time. Even if he does cheerfully sign on, everyone will have to agree on when, how, what, how much, and how to stop if things get weird, all of it as explicitly as possible. Yes, it does sound like work (there's something to be said for simply no longer having time for this sort of thing). Good luck, though, and remember you don't actually have to do this. Everybody might be relieved if you just decided "yeah, no" after all.
Love,
Andrea
Don't forget to read Andrea at www.carnalnation.com.