Swingin' (But Not) Single

Swingin' (But Not) Single

Swingin' (But Not) Single

Advice on manners and morals.
Oct. 4 2001 11:30 PM

Swingin' (But Not) Single

Get "Dear Prudence" delivered to your inbox each week; click hereto sign up.Please send your questions for publication to prudence@slate.com. (Questions may be edited.)

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Prudie,
My significant other is interested in "swinging." Although we are not married, I have always thought we would spend the rest of our lives together. I felt I'd found the perfect person for me and thought he felt the same ... until recently, when he told me of his desire for me to be intimate with another man and him. He insisted nothing would change between us if we experimented with this alternative to monogamous sex. Although I have given in to his wishes, I don't feel very good about myself or our future together. Now that we have experimented—more than once—with his fantasy, he has now expressed a desire to be with two women. He feels I should agree to this because we've already been intimate with his friend. I, however, feel totally humiliated and degraded. I don't believe it would jeopardize our relationship if I didn't go along with him, but I feel that the trust has been broken, and I am crushed.

—J.C.

Dear J.,
You do not ask a question, so Prudie assumes that you are interested in an outside opinion about what's going on in your life. This man and you are clearly on different moral and romantic planets, and Prudie believes he has already damaged the relationship beyond repair. First it was introducing another man into your intimate life; now he'd like another woman. Before you know it, he might want to up the ante to man's best friend or maybe his bridge club. To feel humiliated and degraded is not what you signed up for. Make a break for it, and let him live in his own blue movie.

—Prudie, supportively

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Dear Prudence,
My husband and I have been seeing the same therapist—first as a couple, now individually—for a couple of years. This therapist is the best I've been to in 20 years of therapy, and he's especially good at keeping our lives separate and not revealing what he knows. At our last session, I told him our sex life has been improving and reluctantly admitted to being Miss Thespian at times. I told the therapist that I believed my medication was helping with my flagging libido. The therapist stated that he didn't think that my husband's libido was normal—"He's like a monkey!!" This confirmed what I believed about my marriage: That I have a "normal" libido, and my husband is at the edge of extremely high horniness. I thought about this and quietly asked my husband if he ever discussed his libido with the therapist, and he said no. My question is, do I tell my husband that the therapist thinks his libido is off the charts and I'm OK, or do I quietly work on my acting between the sheets??

—Miss Thespian

Dear Miss,
Prudie suggests you share your thoughts/feelings with the therapist first. It sounds as though you trust him. The bigger issue is not who has the "correct" libido, but how to accommodate each other—and what sexuality means. It sounds as though the simian simile may have slipped out before your therapist could edit himself. (Prudie hopes you can erase that imagery because it will not be helpful as you try to either portray, or actually become, a sex goddess.)

—Prudie, humanly

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Dear Prudence,
A friend of mine has become involved sexually with a man at work. She claims it is strictly physical and he means nothing to her. This man is known to be something of a player and has told her (before they became intimate) that he was losing weight and had to have some blood tests to find out why. (She hasn't asked about the results). She also now believes he is dealing drugs, which she has always been very much against ... even marijuana. She refuses, however, to leave him, even with the risk of AIDS. I have told her she is destroying her life and I can't stand by and watch it happen. She claims I am no friend if I try to make such demands on her. Am I wrong to tell her I want no part of her if she acts so irresponsibly? Or is she wrong to expect me to be a friend, no matter what kind of behavior she engages in?

—Lugubrious in Dallas

Dear Lu,
You are not wrong, and she is nuts. This woman is so clearly hurtling toward disaster that nothing you—or anyone—could say would make one bit of difference. The giveaway is that she claims this human time bomb means nothing to her. You've done all you can by telling her of your concern, so now you must withdraw and not obsess over her self-destructive behavior. Rest assured that the end of this drama is way beyond anything it is in your power to say or do.

—Prudie, sympathetically

Dear Prudie,
I want to comment on your advice to "Lonely," the woman whose husband has a chat addiction. While I wholeheartedly agree that his addiction is as bad as if he were "downing a quart of vodka a day," I disagree with your advice about living in the same house—but with no interaction. The description this woman gave of her husband reminded me all too much of my ex-husband in the not too distant past. (That's why he's my EX-husband.) Mine even went so far as to urinate in empty bottles so he wouldn't have to get up from the computer. Unless this woman's husband is a miraculous exception, his reaction to "not being treated like a husband and father" will most likely be: "Whew ... she's finally going to leave me alone with the computer. YIPPEE!" As far as sex, I hate to be this blunt, but if he's like my hubby, chat and/or virtual sex was more interesting to him than real sex with me. Chat and cyber-sex addictions are very real and just as difficult to overcome as a drug. I tried for 18 months (I think I even wrote to you about it) to "keep it together" because of the kids. But once he was gone, I realized that I was a more effective parent because I wasn't always worried about what he was doing, what had been paid and what hadn't, and so on and so forth. I have less income now, but in a way I have more. No more money wasted on mushy cards to other women, road trips to visit these women (he went out once "for the afternoon" and didn't come home for four days; that trip cost over $600), cell phone bills, etc. In closing, there is a wonderful site,
www.netaddiction.com,which gives much information on the subject, including an "addiction quiz," in case anyone is in denial.

—Been There, Done That

Dear Been,
Well, you speak the truth ... you've certainly been there and done that. And most people would probably say you seem not to have divorced so much as escaped. Obviously, Prudie finds the Internet a source of fun and fulfillment, but the possibilities for destructiveness are built-in, big time. (Now, in addition to porn, there is gambling.) Even though one response to "Lonely" has already been printed, Prudie is running your letter as further validation for others trapped in this situation and also to share the site you recommend. People in need can now refer to netaddiction.com, as well as COSA.