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Advice – It started as a hotwifing dynamic. But I’m having a hard time with my husband dating.

My husband and I have been together as a couple for about twelve years and open for two of those years. in the last two years, I have been with two other men solo and ongoing (about once per month), and we’ve played with couples together.

It first started strictly as a hotwife dynamic, that quickly turned into more of a polyamory/FWB dynamic. Admittedly, in the beginning I was open to the hotwife idea for him. But when things happened in reality I realized I actually do like connecting with people on a more friendship/personal level. In the beginning, it was all about me, him seeing me in my element, him seeing me as an individual, him seeing me feeling so alive and excited. When we discussed his desire to sleep with other women solo, he insisted that wasn’t the priority; that wasn’t where the “hot” factor came in. So while a part of me feels a little misled now that he wants to also have solo experiences, I do understand that things change and it’s ok to want something new that you didn’t want before (or, didn’t want enough to go seek it).

At this point, I have a FWB, we continue to play with other couples when we want to, and he has been on two solo dates. During the two solo dates, I basically died inside. Sex didn’t happen on those dates, and yet the difficult feelings still shook me. I am trying very hard to sit with my feelings and think rationally before I react. I know that he has also dealt with some sadness/jealousy on some of my early solo dates, but there is a sexual turn on for him even if he isn’t participating. Whereas, there is no sexual turn on element for me when I picture him being sexual on his own with another woman. So his feelings are more like, a mixture of jealously and turn on, while mine are only jealousy and sadness.

He has made clear that if the icky feelings are too much to handle, then he doesn’t need to continue the solo stuff (and in turn, I would also need to stop my solo stuff). He hates seeing me hurt, he truly does. I am pushing myself HARD to become okay with this but I don’t feel okay yet. I don’t know if my solo stuff is worth having to deal with the sadness I feel when he does solo stuff. I don’t even know if I have a question, but I think I’m just looking for advice or experience that someone else has had and can relate. I do understand how hypocritical this sounds. Should I suck it up and deal with the jealousy when he goes on dates because I get to have solo experiences? Or is it understandable that I am way more uncomfortable with him doing solo stuff since there isn’t a sexual turn on element in it for me?

Hotwifing For Fun, Reddit.
Photo by Nada Gamal on Unsplash

Dear Hotwifing For Fun,

Because rapid personal growth and emotional development is very common (especially in the early stages of non-monogamous exploration), two major parts of that growth and development are in staying connected with your partner through those changes and extending empathy & compassion whenever they have a difficult time with emotional management. And the thing is, your exploration with non-monogamy brought a separate set of challenges than the one your husband’s exploration did. This is a very, very important distinction to make.

So let us separate the your motivations behind non-monogamy from the his motivations behind non-monogamy. Each of you, while compatible, are two very different people. In the same way that two jigsaw puzzle pieces fit well together, it might be more productive to see each of your relationship styles as separate and distinct from each other. While the ideal is to be fair and equitable in our relationships, approaching our relationships as if everything should be equal is often an incorrect way to approach fairness and equitability.

You say that your non-monogamous journey initiated around the desire to explore and expand on his hotwife fetish. It is unclear who initiated the conversation to open up. But I don’t get the sense that the initial conversations were met with significant resistance, even as the initial casual hotwifing over time became a more polyamorous arrangement.

For you, exploring and connecting with others represented a self-empowerment and self-validating exercise. It is true that were aspects of his enjoyment in your erotic awakening that reverberated back into you in the form of self-assurance. But based on your subsequent push for the hotwife dynamic to evolve into a more polyamorous dynamic tells me that you were adequately content with your growth and desire superseding his. Which is a bit puzzling considering how discontent you are with his growth and desire to also date others on his own.

For your husband, it sounds like your husband might have worked through the initial phase of jealousy and subsequent changes to the relationship agreement by productively channeling them through a hotwifing sexual outlet with you. The truth is that this is not the case for most non-monogamous people who are not explicitly sexually attracted to the idea of our partners sleeping with others. Most non-mono folks I know just learn to manage our emotional labor because the overall joy of being with our partners greatly outweighs the negatives of being without them.

Since your husband made it clear that solo play agreement needs to be reciprocal, you have three main options in front of you.

First option is to concede that emotional management is not a worthwhile price of admission to keep engaging in solo play without your partner. It is a testament to the strength of any relationship to survive changes and endure challenges. And if you deem that committing to growing and changing to meet the needs of a polyamorous relationship is not something you can handle at this moment, it is ethically imperative for you to let your partner know as such. This will mean that you and your husband will have to scale down on your existing connections and renegotiate on your now-outdated relationship agreements. Swinging together only might be the next best option for your relationship. That way, you don’t get any of those intense negative feelings of him on solo dates while still exploring the type of non-monogamy that appeals to you both. Downside of this option is that it does restrict the amount of available matches since the scope is only for swingers who want to play with a couple as a package deal.

The second option is to accept the emotional labor associated with solo play and strive to improve your emotional hygiene. This option opens both and each of you up to the widest range of connections possible. The overlaps between swinging and polyamory as well as the overlap between solo play and couple play allows each of you to be able to flexibly form the type of connections each of you are comfortable with. The obvious downside is that this requires some labor of love from your part. Much like your husband, you will also have to put some effort into managing the intense feelings of jealousy and sadness. Whether that is through channeling your negative feelings through a creative medium, processing those feelings with your husband or close friends, or distracting yourself through other partners, you will need to complete the stress cycle of the negative feedback loop.

The last option is to acknowledge that each of you have different but compatible styles of non-monogamy. The goal here isn’t to commit to casual swinging or to full-blown polyamory as a pair; rather, it is to compromise that even if you two don’t share the same exact non-mono motivations. It is very possible that your husband’s desire to maintain reciprocity in your non-monogamous arrangement is because that self-channel to hotwife fetish isn’t as clean as it appears; he could still feel jealous and sad in emotional context even if he is erotically charged in sexual context with you. And the reciprocity suggestion could then come from anticipation of retribution from you (because he too sees the hypocrisy of it all). In reality, your side of the non-monogamy isn’t “broken”. What’s broken is just your method for emotional hygiene. This last option obviously comes with an immense cost: imbalance. But life has a strange way of evening itself out, and the balance will always come due. You just need to find a fair balance that isn’t equal but equitable.

I also want to touch on the difference between your internalized perception of your husband’s sexuality and the way he experiences his own sexuality.

We are not our partners. While we should aim to holistically understand our partners’ sexualities and sexual expression, our perceptions are limited by the filters of our own personal views. It might be true that for your husband, there was indeed jealousy and turn on when he saw you go on your solo dates. But we don’t truly know what that balance looked like or if there were any other complex feelings present that he did not want to share with you.

We also don’t know that what his exact thought process was when he “insisted” that it wasn’t a priority for him to go on solo dates with other women. Depending on the context, he could have said those under pressure from you to provide a definitive answer. Or it could also be a reflection of the internalized self-guilt about ethical sluttery. It is evident in his appeal to step back if you also step back on solo dating. So while your feelings of deception are valid, you have to try your best to extend your compassion and understanding for the partner who has been there for you from not just the two years of your open marriage experience, but for the twelve years you’ve been together.

In short, yes. Your feelings are valid. But your feelings are not facts. You might not have the tools to deal with the bad feelings that come up today. But you might tomorrow.

Good luck!

Tea Time with Tomato is an informative relationship and sex advice column for both monogamous and polyamorous folks. By submitting your post, you agree to let me use your story in part or in full. You also agree to let me edit or elaborate for clarity.

I want to hear your thoughts and feedback! Please feel free to send me your questions and comments at teatimetomato@gmail.com. If you liked my advice for this post, please follow me on Facebook and Twitter. You can also subscribe below to get alerted when my next advice column is published!

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