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Older boyfriend wants to add a second male partner: what do I do?

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Anonymous asks:

I am 14 years old and my boyfriend is 18. We have not had vaginal intercourse yet but we have anal sex regularly. Recently he has told me that he wants to add another partner into our anal sex. I said that I was fine with it (assuming that he wanted another woman to join) but then he told me he wanted a man. I'm sort of uncomfortable about it. Does this mean he is gay? What should I tell him?

Heather Corinna replies:

If you're not comfortable with anything sexual at any time, then the answer is always to make clear to a partner that you aren't comfortable with what they want, and wait until you are comfortable with whatever that thing is. If you never are, that's okay. It's pretty rare that any two people will want to do everything the other does, or want to do the same thing at the same time, or in the same way or situation. More times than not, we'll just often have times when we don't want the same thing, and that answer is always to defer to the wishes of the person who does NOT want to do something.

None of us needs our every sexual desire or whim met to be happy and healthy. However, having our wants, limits and boundaries respected when it comes to only doing what we really, strongly want to do is pretty essential to both. In other words, anyone's no to sex always trumps someone else's yes.

Managing multiple partners when you have a primary partnership can be mighty complicated. I don't know anything else about you beyond this post, but being able to do that at 14 would be pretty uncommon. Managing an open relationship -- even when it's only open occasionally -- takes a lot of extra communication and honesty, extra safer sex practices (if you add an extra partner, for your safety, it'd be vital for all of you to use safer sex, without question, and for you and your boyfriend to do so for at least six months after an additional partner until you both get a clear STI screen after that six months), and it also (though this is the case even with monogamy) requires everyone involved has equal rights and agency in the relationship to negotiate what they need. In other words, whatever limits and boundaries you have need to be just as important as his limits and boundaries and need to be respected without question. Obviously, too, any additional partner would have to also be someone you knew you could trust, who conversations were also had with about limits, boundaries and sex safety. If a secondary partner is only being chosen by one partner for both, that's not at all okay. If everything involved in that whole paragraph made you feel overwhelmed or dizzy, then it's a safe bet this is not something that's a good idea for you right now.

For this relationship to be healthy for you, you also have to feel able to be assertive when it comes to what you really want and what you don't, without feeling like you need to defer to him. This is his interest: is an additional partner yours? I'm not asking if you're fine with it, I'm asking if it's something you really want and are ready for, too. I'm asking if it's something you'd have suggested on your own. Sex of any kind should be something we deeply want and desire, not just something that we're okay with, or figure we can deal with.

In terms of your boyfriend's orientation, if he finds men attractive as well as women, that would mean he was bisexual, rather than gay. However, some heterosexual men want other men involved in sex with their female partners when they're not all that attracted to other men. Ultimately, involving other men in sex is homoerotic activity, but for some men, the attraction to bringing other men into sex with their partner is less about male-male attraction and more about an attraction to group sex of any kind, humiliation roles per their female partner or, when it's something their female partner wants, not them, delighting in their female partner's pleasure and desire to have other partners. But you can certainly ask him why he wants another man there: if he's bringing this up, even if you don't decide to do this, it should be something both of you can talk about honestly, and the why of this is something you're certainly entitled to know.

I also want to make sure that you're aware that anal sex carries high risks of sexually transmitted infections and also has the possibility of pregnancy risks, since semen can easily drip from the anus to the vulva. Is your partner always using condoms for anal sex? Are you both getting tested for STIs regularly? I know it can sometimes be tough at your age to find or use sexual healthcare services, but it's doable, and given you're sexually active, it's something you need to be getting. If you can't get those yet, and/or your partner isn't getting tested himself and supporting safer sex with the anal sex, I'd suggest you reconsider a sexual relationship right now.

Lastly, I just want to add so both of you know the deal that in a lot of areas, it would not be legal for your legally adult partner to be having genital sex with you at all, let alone with another man. In most areas, the age of consent is higher than 14, and in those where it is 14, there are usually restrictions when the other partner is not a minor, but an adult, as your boyfriend is. Your boyfriend may be flirting with statutory rape charges for being sexually active with you. And as an adult, him bringing another man into this could create additional legal issues, like corruption of a minor charges or additional rape charges.

Even if this isn't a legal issue, while a four-year-age difference at 30 and 34 isn't a biggie, it can be pretty huge between 14 and 18, especially when one of you is an adult and has legal rights the other doesn't. Check in with the laws in your area (your partner can do this, too), and also check in with yourself to be sure this is a relationship that feels like it's among equals, okay? The rates of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections are usually higher when young teen women have partners that are legal adults, and a lot of that has to do with the older partner being exploitive, or the younger not feeling able to insist on birth control and safer sex. So, just be sure that your partnership is a healthy one for you in this respect.

Ultimately, what you should tell him is what you're feeling. If you have questions about the why of this, ask them. If this is not what you want, let him know this isn't something you want to do and decline. And if he's a good partner to you, then even if he wishes it was something you wanted, too, nixing this shouldn't be a big deal, and he should be kind and understanding about you saying no. (In fact, he should have said from the onset that if this wasn't something you also wanted like he does, that it was no big deal.) In the case that he's not, not only do you not want to be with someone else AND this guy, you probably shouldn't be with this guy, all by himself, either.

Here are some extra links to help you out with all of this:

written 21 May 2008 . updated 05 Nov 2009

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