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My boyfriend isn't ready, but he said I could have sex with my ex. Should I?

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Nikki asks:

I really want to have sex. But, my boyfriend isn't ready and he said I could have sex with my ex who left me because I wasn't ready. I need to know if i should or not?

Heather Corinna replies:

You seem to be asking two separate questions here:
1) If it's okay to have an open relationship now, and
2) If it's a wise idea to sleep with someone who dumped you because you wouldn't sleep with them.

Let's hit #2 first, since it's pretty easy.

For real? For real you want to sleep with someone who treated you that way? Why? Obviously, you can't likely trust that person, and obviously, that person isn't exactly about to be up for any awards for emotional maturity or....well, treating you with any real care or respect. By no means for sex to be healthy do any two people have to be married or deeply in love. But you have to wake up with yourself the next morning and go on with your life: you going to feel good about being with someone like that? Too, do you earnestly think sex is likely to be healthy, beneficial, or even fun with someone like that?

In other words, gal, I think you can answer that question yourself. I don't mean to be crass, but something that runs on batteries can get you the feeling of sexual release you want (and is more likely to than a first sexual experience with a partner, anyway) and it won't treat you like rubbish or mess up a current relationship.

Know what else? Did you feel good when your ex did that to you? Probably not. Do you think your boyfriend will feel good about you doing this right now because he isn't ready, for real? I kinda doubt it. Seems to me that you have pretty tangible knowledge of how to behave remotely better than your ex when it comes to being patient when a partner isn't ready and sensitive when it comes to another person's pace.

Let's move on to relationships with multiple partners -- or open relationships, or polyamory -- okay?

Absolutely, there are people for whom that's what they want, partners for whom that works, and times when that's the right thing for everyone involved. Adding partners, though, does tend to mean adding extra communication among everyone (as well as adding extra safer sex practices), and being ready to deal, usually, with extra jealousy, investing extra time to make sure everyone is really okay, and extra dedication to smoothing out the inevitable rough spots.

It also means everyone being prepared to have feelings which are unpredictable, whether that means your boyfriend now feeling really awful about this if and when it happens or you finding you're falling for your ex again. To prepare for something like this, it's smart for current partners to talk through all of these possibilities and get an idea of how they might feel if they happened, and how they may handle them. You'd each want to really discuss any limits and boundaries, and what you all can and can't live with. Since it sounds like your ex may have treated you poorly, it's probably not going to be very easy for someone who cares about you now to openly communicate with someone who hasn't treated you well in the past.

I don't know what your relationship is like right now or how long you've been in it, so I can't know if it's a relationship where opening things up more to other partners will work well. I do know that it doesn't sound like an ideal situation to me based on your post, and that it's possible your boyfriend right now said what he did because he's feeling bad about not being ready. For all I know, he may not have even meant what he said in earnest: he may be feeling like there's something wrong with him for not feeling ready, and telling you what he did from a place of low self-esteem.

So, while I doubt your ex is really a wise choice for a secondary partner, period, in terms of considering this at all, by the time you and your current partner have talked about this in enough depth to really be sure it's something that's good for you both, you probably won't have to be asking someone who doesn't know either of you if this is a good choice or not: you'll have that answer based on extensive and honest communication between you, your partner, and whoever that other partner might be.

I'd suggest having a deeper talk with your current boyfriend, and starting that talk by asking how he feels about not feeling ready when you are. Does he feel like he's really allowed not to be ready? Does he worry about how you think of him because of that? Does he feel like it's a failing on his part somehow? Once you suss all of that out, you might ask why he suggested you have sex with your ex: is that something he earnestly wants and feels comfortable with, even if that sexual relationship was more than a one-time deal? If that really is something you want to do and he earnestly is comfortable with, then it's time to talk out both of your limits and boundaries in this -- for instance, does he need this to only be one-time? What safer sex protocols are all of you going to be using for any or all sexual activities? How does he need you to check in with him if you do this to feel good about it? Are there any things he's just not comfortable with you doing? When can the three of you get together and talk this all out? Is your ex even up for these basics himself, including open communication among all three of you?

(And if any of that makes you dizzy, or seems overwhelming, than everything else aside, one or both of you probably is not really prepared for a multiple partnership situation.)

Here are some extra links for you both:

written 16 Mar 2008 . updated 22 Jan 2009

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