Help! My New Crush Says He’s in an “Open Marriage." Should I Go for It?

Advice on manners and morals.
June 20 2013 6:15 AM

Sharing Is Caring

My new crush says he’s in an “open marriage.” Should I go for it?

Emily Yoffe.
Emily Yoffe

Photo by Teresa Castracane.

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

Got a burning question for Prudie? She'll be online at Washingtonpost.com to chat with readers each Monday at noon. Submit your questions and comments here before or during the live discussion.

Dear Prudence,
I'm a 27-year-old woman who recently made friends with a nice, attractive 34-year-old man. He asked me out for drinks soon thereafter and made it clear that he's interested in a romantic relationship. He's my type, and I like him, but after our date he explained that he's in an open marriage. I have no doubt that it's a mutual agreement between him and his wife. And I'm in a situation that makes the idea especially appealing: I just got out of a two-year relationship that was sexually unsatisfying (my boyfriend rarely climaxed). It left me feeling as if there's something wrong with me. The idea of a fling with someone new, with no commitment potential and nothing to lose, seems like it could be a positive ego boost for me as I look for single, available men to date. New guy is saying: Let me be your rebound! Let's be friends with benefits! But most of my friends think it's a morally objectionable thing to do and doubt that I can get involved without getting my feelings hurt in the long run. What do you think?

—Want a Fling

Advertisement

Dear Fling,
I wish you’d explained why you are so certain that this guy’s wife is also party to the information that they have an “open marriage.” I’m assuming that he didn’t text a photo of you to his wife in the middle of your date with the note, “Things are going well!” I bet if you decided to have an affair with him, it would quickly become clear your relationship is surreptitious and you would have to go along with his rules. It doesn’t speak well for this this man’s character (no matter what arrangement he and his wife have) that he withheld the central fact of his being married until after the seductive banter and drinks. However, I understand the appeal of a commitment-free sex romp after coming out of a sexually frustrating relationship. But before you give him the benefit of the doubt regarding his friends-with-benefits proposal, make two counterproposals of your own. One is that you two get to know each other better first. I’m guessing he won’t want to invest too much time in activities unrelated to said benefits. Another is that given his history, you need to get a current STD status on him. Again, I assume he’s not going to be interested in generating any paperwork in order to get in the sack with you. But even if he demonstrates he’s disease free, consider that aside from the moral questions about a married man, investing your time in one does have a cost. You think you can be looking for that real partner while you are carrying on with this guy. But, as your friends have warned, you can’t anticipate what happens to your emotions once you get involved with someone. If this affair gets hot and heavy, it will likely make the available men seem lukewarm and lightweight in comparison. Keep at the forefront of your mind that your goal is to find your own life partner, not borrow someone else’s.

—Prudie

Dear Prudence: Errant Dildo

Dear Prudie,
I occasionally have to take a shower with my 3-year-old daughter in the bathroom with me. The problem is that the last couple of times she noticed that I have hair in a place that’s not my head. She starting yelling "Eewww,” backed away, and got extremely upset to the point of tears. Now I'm at a loss as to what to do in the future when there’s no one else to watch her and I need to take a shower. I'm also worried that when she reaches puberty and begins to grow pubic hair that she will feel disgusted with herself. Hopefully by then, I'll be able to reason with her. I need advice as to how to handle this the next time. (I'm not at all interested in any solution involving total landscaping, landing strips, etc.)

—Natural Woman

Dear Natural,
Despite her obvious affinity for the industry, since you’re daughter is only 3 years old she’s too young to be a lobbyist for the International Brazilian Wax Society. I don’t think the problem is that your daughter has seen too much, it’s that she’s seen too little. If your underbrush hasn’t almost always been under wraps, the sight of her naked mother would not be shocking to her. I think it’s good for very young children to occasionally see their parents naked—and comfortable in that state—so that they know what adult bodies look like and that their parents aren’t embarrassed or ashamed. For now, when your daughter backs away from you in tears, stay calm, towel off, and reassure her that while having hair there may look funny, it’s just a part of being a grown-up. At some point this summer, you might think about joining a local pool. Your daughter will learn about splashing around in the water, but her greatest instruction will probably be the eyeful she gets in the locker room. I have vivid memories of being crotch-high in such circumstances and being mesmerized by the fascinating and appalling things that lurk underneath adults’ clothes. One thing this will show your daughter is that her mother is pretty normal, after all.

—Prudie

Dear Prudence,
My wife has a habit that I find irritating. Instead of blowing her nose, she sniffs to keep the snot in, making a loud snorting sound. This isn't usually a problem, but now that the pollen has returned, this sniffing occurs every 30 seconds throughout the day. I feel this is rude habit and it must be irritating to others at the cubicles in her office. When I mention this to her, she gets defensive and thinks that I’m rude to bring it up. Is this sniffing habit truly annoying to others, or is it just me? We need another perspective so that we don’t have to resort to couples’ counseling.

—Fed Up

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Irritating Confidante

John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.

My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee

Medical Examiner

Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?

Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

The World’s Human Rights Violators Are Signatories on the World’s Human Rights Treaties

How Punctual Are Germans?

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 12:44 AM We Need More Ben Bradlees His relationship with John F. Kennedy shows what’s missing from today’s Washington journalism.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 9:42 PM The All The President’s Men Scene That Perfectly Captured Ben Bradlee’s Genius
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 21 2014 11:44 PM Driving in Circles The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.