Dear Wayne and Wanda,
My boyfriend and I have been together for a couple years now and I consider us to be a happy, fairly normal couple. But I need some advice.
We were out at a local bar on a recent weekend and granted we'd both had some drinks and shots so we weren't totally sober, and I noticed he was staring at this woman. He saw that I noticed and asked if I thought she was cute. Then he said, wouldn't it be fun to bring someone home with us sometime.
I was pretty shocked by this. I thought we were fine just the two of us. I started crying (OK, maybe I was more drunk than I thought) and we immediately left and took a cab home and had a huge fight. He told me he loves me but he's sort of bored with our sex life and we're only young once and we should try being more adventurous, and there are all sorts of crazy things we are missing out on and it would bring us closer together. And I accused him of wanting to be single and said I'm afraid I can't make him happy.
The next day he said he'd just been drunk and told me not to dwell on it. But I feel like things are off between us now. Did I freak out over nothing? Could we do some of these crazy things without it harming our bond? Or is he being a selfish freak?
Signed, Freaked Out
Wanda says: There's nothing wrong with being sexually adventurous. But once you're in a committed relationship, those adventures are typically supposed to be a two-player game. Sex and intimacy are the things that differentiate a relationship with a friend versus a relationship with a significant other. The moment monogamy is tempered, you've stepped into new territory, and backtracking is challenging if not impossible.
It's true that many couples have untraditional sexual arrangements. Open relationships are nothing new. But it's complex and can so easily lead to jealousies, hurt feelings and displaced emotions, not to mention set you on a slippery slope where original expectations aren't satisfied and rules become fluid. These sort of relationships must be managed very carefully, with very specific guidelines expectations, and both partners need to be fully supportive of it.
This is not what you're looking for and if your boyfriend loves you, he should support that. Whether a person has one or multiple sex partners is an individual choice, as long as you're single. Don't dismiss your boyfriend's ramblings as drunk talk. Rather, see his words as a huge warning sign that he may not be ready for the level of commitment you're looking for and that your individual expectations for what a healthy and exciting sex life should include may be mismatched.
Wayne says: Smooooooth move there, Romeo. Take your girl out for a fun night on the town. Have some drinks and laughs. Slip in a subtle three-way suggestion. A perfect evening!
Guys: This is just another example of why you need to simply keep your mouth shut when you're out drinking with your wife/girlfriend/female friend. You're only going to put your foot in your mouth ... or your tongue in the mouth of someone who doesn't happen to be your wife/girlfriend/female friend.
Wanda hit a home run with the sex talk angle, so I'm going to take a 30,000-foot view of this scenario and say to all readers, male and female, that the time to talk about getting married, moving in together, getting matching tattoos, potential three-ways and just about anything serious involving your relationship is totally not when you're out drinking. Save those big conversations for times when you're both sober and in a good place emotionally.
Sure, sometimes it's a heck of a lot easier to broach tough conversations with a little liquid courage. It sure makes it easier to get on stage to sing a little Katy Perry karaoke or round first base on the second date. But alcohol adds a combustible component to hot topics and will usually lead to emotional explosions.
• Wanda is a wise person who has loved, lost and been to therapy. Wayne is a wise guy who has no use for therapy. Send them your questions and thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.