Help! My Boyfriend Won’t Leave Me Alone About Having a Threesome.

Advice on manners and morals.
Jan. 14 2014 6:00 AM

Ménage à Trouble

In a live chat, Prudie counsels a woman whose boyfriend pesters her about having a threesome.

Emily Yoffe.
Emily Yoffe

Photo by Teresa Castracane.

Emily Yoffe, aka Dear Prudence, is on Washingtonpost.com weekly to chat live with readers. An edited transcript of the chat is below. (Sign up here to get Dear Prudence delivered to your inbox each week. Read Prudie’s Slate columns here. Send questions to Prudence at prudence@slate.com.)

Q. Threesome: One Too Many?: My boyfriend "Ted" and I have been together for nine months, and we've been living together for the last six (yes, I realized that we moved in together very fast). We support each other, share responsibilities well, and have an active and engaging sex life. I see myself spending the rest of my life with Ted. Ted has a sexual bucket list, and No. 1 is a threesome. He mentions wanting to have a threesome at least a few times a week, and points out various women in my life, like my co-workers, as potentially the third participant. At this point, I'm incredibly uncomfortable engaging in a threesome, and I don't see that changing anytime soon. Ted says that a threesome is something he would do only before we're married, because after that it would be weird. What do I do? Do I cave and have a threesome because it's something that's really important to him? Do I give him his freedom to have a threesome with two other girls, knowing I probably won't be OK with it after it happens?

A: I wonder how Ted would feel if you started pointing out his more adorable male co-workers and said constantly that you felt it would enhance your relationship—and his standing in the office!—if you two invited one of them to have sex with you. I always suggest that before a couple move in together that they be very clear about what they see for the future. That is, if living together goes well, whether this is a prelude to marriage and discuss the specifics of a timeline. I guess I will have to add the bucket list discussion, too. It's one thing to have a partner who wants to climb Machu Picchu with you. It's another to have a partner who wants Marcia from accounting to climb into the sack with you. You're not interested in a threesome, but Ted has a Ted talk about this multiple times a week. If I were in your situation, it's the relationship that I'd have kick the bucket.

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Dear Prudence: Office Going Down the Tubes

Q. Nanny's Got a Gun: Our toddler has been in a wonderful day care center since September, and she has grown particularly attached to her primary caregiver, a young single woman in her late 20s. She and I recently shared a casual conversation about dating, and she emailed me with a sweet video of our daughter and offered to babysit if needed. I looked her up on Facebook, and one 10-month old post—registering gleeful delight after a weekend shooting various guns, and declaring her interest in getting a gun permit—caught my attention. While we realize her adventure, and wish, are entirely legal, this makes both my husband and me very uncomfortable since we have absolutely no interest in having guns anywhere near our child, our family, or our home. Prudie, what should we do? Tell the director of the day care? Just avoid hiring her to babysit our child? Simply chalk this up to the Second Amendment?

A: Let's say you had somewhat differing views on social issues and you wrote in about your discovery that your child's delightful caregiver is a lesbian. If you were asking me whether you should report this to the day care owner and if you should reconsider your plan to let her babysit for your daughter in the face of your discoveries, I would tell you to mind your own business. As you note, guns are legal. This young woman apparently used them in a sporting context and became interested in pursuing this through legal channels. She sounds like the kind of responsible gun owner that we want. You do not report that on her Facebook page she said anything alarming about, for example, the need to have firearms on her person at all times. If you go ahead and have her babysit for your child, presumably she does this at your home, where there are no guns. Sure, you could say to her that a couple of rules of your home are that babysitters don't bring in any other people to keep them company, nor have any firearms on them. But think about how weird that last remark will sound in the absence of any reason to think the babysitter is packing. Your letter is not just about the Second Amendment, but about the consequences of posting for the world to see every adventure in one's social life. If I were considering her as a babysitter, nothing you've found would concern me. But if you don't want her to babysit for your child, then don't ask her. As for her place of employment, keep your Facebook explorations to yourself.

Q. All in a Matter of Time: I am very excited to be due in just over a month and a half with my second child. With my first child, I had the entire family out to see me right after giving birth. Big mistake! It was incredibly difficult to bond and figure everything out while hosting a crowd of people. This time around, I have requested a few days before any family members come and visit. That has caused quite the commotion. Both my family and my husband's family have expressed dissatisfaction with having to wait a few days to see the new baby and have said that it hurts their feelings and makes them feel like they are being excluded. I certainly do not mean to exclude them for more than a few days, and I don't want any hurt feelings to be associated with such a joyous occasion. I only want both sides of family to give us some time to get ourselves together before they visit. Any advice? Any way to stand firm while easing their hurt feelings?

A: So apparently both sides of both your families are going to collectively throw themselves on the floor, get red in the face, and scream. Your baby is going to be around for the long haul, so giving your immediate family—and especially you, the mother!—a few days to recover and adjust is a perfectly normal and reasonable request. Explain you will forward plenty of photos those first few days. Then, when you've all had a little sleep and chance for the three of you to make your acquaintance with your newest member, you will schedule some visits. Have your husband run interference on this—he can be the heavy who dictates the time and length of visit. It would also be nice if you were able to ask these eager relatives to bring some food, take your first child out of the house for some attention and fun, or run some errands. But if everyone just wants to be pouty and demanding, have no qualms about putting them in time out.

Q. Re: Gun-toting nanny: I'm a mom of two young children, and I enjoy shooting (and I've probably posted on Facebook about it). But that doesn't mean I keep guns around my kids. For Pete's sake, the childcare worker didn't say she planned to carry at all times! If you like to shoot (at a range, or any other legal spot), you need a permit to carry your gun to it, unless you choose to rent, which many places don't offer. As you said, Prudie, this sounds like a responsible gun owner being penalized for her hobby.

A: Let's hope this mother doesn't do anything to penalize her. And I can't imagine a day care owner being concerned that an employee is engaging in legal activities on her own time. Other readers have said it's perfectly fine to state forthrightly that the rules of one's home include no guns being allowed. But I agree that there's no evidence this should be a point of concern.

Q. Marriage and Sex: I'm a woman in my late 20s who's been married a few years to a wonderful man that I'm very sexually attracted to. We don't have children—yet—but we do have careers, a house, pets, and lots of great friends and fulfilling activities that fill our days. However, our sexual life seems to be somewhat lacking. I enjoy sex when we have it, which is probably around once every two weeks. I tend not to be the instigator and often use the "I'm tired" excuse. I worry that I'm not fulfilling him sexually, even though we've talked about it and we both understand the realities of working full time and try to set aside time when we can. Other than this, we're very happy together. Do you have any tips on how I can feel more gung-ho about sex? How much sex should two happy, healthy people in love be having?

A: Normally, two twentysomethings who are attracted to each find they have to carve out some time from their sex life to attend to work, pets, and other obligations, not the other way around. If your "fulfilling activities" make you too tired to have a more robust sex life with your husband, then cut back on the luge classes. The good news is that you like sex when you have it; the bad news is that you have it about 24 times a year, which is quite wan for childless people your age. It would be one thing if your Sex Point Average was exactly where you two wanted to be, but you acknowledge you're pushing your husband away with the lamest of excuses. So bring this up with him. Tell him you want to be more connected and adventuresome sexually. Say that initiating is not your style, but that maybe you two need to have appointment sex. Sure, that doesn't sound sexy, but having sex is sexy, so note it in your calendars. You make time for friends and animals, so set aside one night during the work week and one day on the weekend for just the two of you. You like it when you do it, so that should be a good incentive to do it more.

Q. Re: Marriage and sex: The author of the sex-lite marriage may want to talk to her OBGYN. Hormonal imbalance (especially from different birth controls) can lead to a waning libido.

A: Good point. Some birth control pills can be libido killers (which makes them doubly effective!). This is definitely worth talking about with her gynecologist.

Q. Forgetting Former Flames: Shortly before finishing college, I was enjoying a whirlwind of a relationship with an absolutely charming classmate, "Nick." After graduation, we went our separate ways, but had several sexually charged visits in the first year or two. We still speak from time to time. Seven years later, I'm engaged to a wonderful man whom I love dearly. I realize that I should probably stop talking to Nick, but when we speak occasionally, I don't tend to think about him as much. When I completely cut him off, I can't stop thinking about him. Is it OK to remember relationships like these fondly? Or how long will it take to forget about it? I'm excited about my marriage and would like to move forward.

A: You haven't had sex with Nick for years and you remain in sporadic, and chaste, touch. There's nothing wrong with that. Married people are entitled to their thoughts and fantasies, as long as these don't detract from the core relationship. Having a hot fling with Nick has helped make you into the sexual partner you are today—this is a clear benefit to the man you now love. You don't have to forget about Nick or cut off contact. As long as he remains just a friend in reality, his being a source of private erotic pleasure in your thoughts is strictly your own affair.

Q. A Bridge Too Far?: I'm in a six-month relationship with a woman who I really like—we have even exchanged "I love yous." However, something that has been bothering me more and more is our political differences. I don't mind differences in themselves—they help sharpen intellects and keep things interesting—but recently they seem a bridge too far. When I hear her talk about my side as if it is composed of idiots, evildoers, and other malefactors, I wonder why she would want to be with someone like me. I also wonder why I would want to be with someone who can't see that a different approach to things doesn't imply mendacity. I would love to have some help in figuring these things out and whether it's time to double down or cut ties.

A: I'm assuming you don't take offense at her characterization of your side because you've made it clear that the idiots, evildoers, and malefactors are on her side. I agree, that it's a shame that more people with differing political views can't debate vigorously, without being disagreeable, and then agree to disagree. Name-calling is a pathetic excuse for making one's case. You should tell your new love how uncomfortable you are with her characterization of your political views. Say you're happy to debate anytime, but when she ascribes your views to idiots or evildoers, you wonder why she would even want to be with such a person.

Emily Yoffe: Thanks, everyone. Have a great week.

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Emily Yoffe is a regular Slate contributor. She writes the Dear Prudence column.