Wise Counsel From Susan Quilliam: He goes to orgies

Dear Susan

I’ve met the most wonderful man and for the first time in my life I feel head over heels about a guy. We’ve begun to be sexual, though we haven’t yet slept together.

But he’s confided in me that he swings. He’s been doing it for five years or so, and assures me he’s always taken precautions, he knows all the people he sleeps with, and no one gets jealous or possessive. He has also told me that he wouldn’t pressure me to take part – though I know he would want me to. 

I feel really against that sort of thing – it turns my stomach – but he’s made me stop and think. Am I just too inhibited? Should I be more relaxed about it? He does it and I respect and admire him. So maybe it’s me that’s wrong. 



Let me be clear here. There’s nothing wrong with swinging… or with polyamory in general – if you’re happy with it and if it’s handled well. It can work fine if everyone knows the deal. if no one breaks the rules, if the whole thing is well-managed. So if you were writing to me wondering whether to swing because you were tempted, curious and turned on, I’d be telling you to go ahead and let your new man guide you into a new adventure.

But – and it’s a huge but – you are not happy with the idea of swinging, and it doesn’t sound to me as if you would handle it well at all. And while your potential partner might not pressure you, I can see it causing huge strain in the relationship if he wants this and you don’t.

I can also see it causing huge strain if you don’t want it and still say yes to it – which you might well do. We aim to please those we love and it’s clear that you are well over halfway to loving this guy.

The real basis of love is not just passion – though that surely helps – but seeing the world in the same way, common values. And just as you need to take care in partnering someone who, for example, is a meat eater when you’re a vegetarian, or who desperately wants kids when you don’t, so you need to be careful pairing up with someone whose sexual values are very different from yours.

So please take care and please keep your boundaries very very steady indeed. Don’t do anything that – in your words – ‘turns your stomach’, and if you feel at all pressured, then as with any abusive relationship, leave.

Susan Quilliam also offers email, phone and face-to-face coaching on relationship and sexuality issues. Contact her here
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