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-   -   “But, don’t you trust me?” Re: Safer Sex and Poly (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=25120)

CTC 06-27-2012 08:06 PM

“But, don’t you trust me?” Re: Safer Sex and Poly
Greetings all. I’ve been lurking for a while (just for sake of feeling like I didn’t have much to add to posts that haven’t been said… and just plain shy) but coming out to see if any of you have faced something like this. Any input would be greatly appreciated.

I was in a mono relationship for approximately 3 years with a young man (let’s call CS) before he suggested we open things up a bit. At that point I was a bit apprehensive but okayed it with just a few simple rules regarding sex with others.

Roughly :
  • If any kind of sexual contact is had with someone else (aside from manual) , regardless of condoms or status, the other partner has the right to require condom use until next STI screening results have come in.
  • Check-in is required before hand if there is a new partner/interest and after if general “sexy-times” happen to allow for decisions regarding future sexual encounters until such a time it is considered unnecessary.
  • Be safe.

In the three years that followed, CS was quite fine with that and quite a share of casual encounters while I had none. I kept with condoms with him with the exception of a few times after his tests between him finding new playmates. (Interestingly enough, IMHO, I was only with him and getting STI tests ever 4-6 months with routine OBGYN checkups due to some reproductive system issues I have and he’s bothered to maybe once a year…)

I met my current second partner (MX) last year around this time, and thing escalated very quickly between us from friends, to FWB, to a “titled” partnership at the start of this January. The same rules above extended to MX even though he’s expressed that he’s only eyes for me right now and doesn’t want to explore any kind of sexual relationship with anybody besides me.

That said, CS has had little problem with the MX and I having sex up to this point, until I mention that I’m interested in having a completely bare relationship with MX. CS has , to put it lightly, flipped and saying that I’m giving away the privilege and being unfair by using condoms with him(while he’s meanwhile having encounters with several others.) CS also is claiming that all of his “sacrifice” in covering it up in the past, has been in vain because I’m “giving it away”. CS and I are currently in the middle of one of those brief times where it’s confirmed that he’s completely clear and we are bare, though my revelation came to him in the middle of a conversation about him thinking about hooking up with a past partner over the weekend in the near future.

This afternoon I was graced with a text message from CS saying (directly quoting)
I need equality. If you want me to trust your judgment in going bare with someone you have to give me the same trust and not demand condoms if I decide I trust someone enough to have sex with them, regardless of barrier level. Either you trust me to keep myself and you safe, or you don’t. So, do you?
I have a few things that I would LIKE to say in response to that, but I’m sure that there are far more tactful ways to do so.
Trusting him before got me a positive STI test once, and I have another partner I love very much to consider in all of this.

The three of us live separately though I have a key to both of their respective dwellings. CS doesn't particularly like MX because he's rough with me (Though MX and I have a bit of a playful/rough-tumble sort of relationship with bits of kink sprinkled in.) MX has little issue with CS save for little bits of what feels like "emotional blackmail"... like the above matter. CS also seems to get extremely pouty if I show affection towards MX in his presence, and while I don't particularly see it from my particular space (I'm pretty short compared to both of them), friends have told me that CS tends to hover around me if MX is with us as if to try to shield me with his body.
I have an IUD and the three of us identify as childfree and pro-choice so condoms are mainly a matter of safe sex.

Again, any input is appreciated.
Thanks all for your time.

ThatGirlInGray 06-27-2012 08:36 PM

CS HAS equality with second partner. You are willing to forego condoms with CS after clean test results (I'm assuming you're requiring a clean test just for the record from second partner, with occasional updates since there are STI's that can be transmitted in other ways besides sex), until he has sex with someone else. Second partner will not be sleeping with anyone else, so he gets to keep foregoing condoms. If CS wants to keep forgoing condoms, he can also choose to not sleep with other people.

If he means he needs equality with you, he's also free to choose to not use condoms with a partner, but he isn't allowed to make your choice for you. IF CS were only sleeping with one other person (who was in turn only sleeping with CS), and you had regular clean test results from that other person, perhaps you would decide you were comfortable not using condoms with CS. But that's YOUR choice to protect yourself, just like it would be CS's choice if he wanted to use condoms with you but not with someone else, or because you were not using them with someone else. Just because he doesn't like his choice doesn't mean it's not equal.

He doesn't actually want equality, he wants privilege.

GalaGirl 06-27-2012 11:55 PM


He doesn't actually want equality, he wants privilege.
That sums it up.

If you and M test clean, and he's not seeing anyone, that little side of the equation is closed. It does not go beyond M. M is not a cootie risk to you. You could go bare there. It is YOUR choice. But for it to actually GO bare, M has to also agree to bare. His choice may very well be keep condoms! That doesn't mean you being ok with bare with M and M wanting a condom is not equal. You have your body and comfort level. M had his. It is totally fair. That it may or not line up so that going bare comes to pass is irrelevant. Both partners are in a fair, equal place.

If CS and you have condoms on because he has a mutlitude of partners that change about that is common sense. That side of the equation is NOT closed. He is a cootie risk to you, much more so than YOU are to HIM.

Maybe not because of not trusting HIM not being trustworthy but perhaps one of his new partner's does not truth? Cooties him and then he passes on to you? He's so magical he will never ever get lied to? Or what if his partner is not lying on purpose but HER other partner did? It just goes through the chain!


CS also is claiming that all of his “sacrifice” in covering it up in the past has been in vain because I’m “giving it away”
This is really immature. You'd think he'd WANT to cover up and protect his OWN health! That's not sacrifice -- that is common sense!

He's being a big baby thinking he owns or is entitled to your body. And honestly if he's being so babyish it would make me wonder about sleeping with him at all. *frown*

Grown ups do not get this babyish about safe sex practices. Thpppt.

Once I had to let go of a guy because I felt like he was wired for mono and just not handling poly me well. He struggled so with jealousy it was kinder to cut him loose. I wanted to be good exes and just be friends. Nobody's fault things do not line up.

He was so upset over the break up that he called me up drunk demanding to know my Lover could poke me and he couldn't. I am not a candy bar everyone gets a piece of, that's why. And ya think calling me up with nonsense like that was going to make me WANT to be your lover MORE? Gah.

CS is going on with nonsense. It is not attractive. :(


turtleHeart 06-28-2012 05:09 AM

If I were in MX's position, I'd be a bit uncomfortable doing much beyond hand jobs if you had a partner with such potentially unsafe sexual behavior.

As it is in my relationships, people don't go beyond manual stimulation until everyone has shared recent test results, and if new people are coming into the picture for any partners, their results need to be known too.

My girlfriend's boyfriend's other girlfriend needed to see a print out of my results before I could do oral with my girlfriend. My wife and I appreciated her safety consciousness, as it makes us feel more secure that that branch will remain safety oriented with future partners as well.

As others have said, CS DOES already have equality, but he wants more than that. If I were to give him any credit, it would be that while your relationship has been open for quite some time, this appears to be his first time experiencing you being with someone else, while you've had numerous chances to get used to him being with other people, so it makes some sense that you appear to be much better at it at this point.

Tonberry 06-28-2012 09:24 AM

My first reaction was the same as everyone else: if MX has no other partner, and you're bare when CS has no other partner, you're already being equal. Make sure you stress that out to him.

Other than that, it's very childish to question trust. STIs and STDs exist, and people don't necessarily know they have them, so trusting someone to tell the truth doesn't mean they don't have anything that they aren't aware of. The fact that you trust him doesn't mean you think he has a radar that can screen people and know with 100% certainty when they've got something they don't know and never suspected.
Hell, a lot of people seem to think you can't get anything from oral sex, and so they would probably tell him they've always been safe even though they haven't.

If it was me, I would probably say something like "I've always trusted you, but now you're asking me to stop using protection with you even though we both have other partners, so I'm starting to trust you less. You're obviously not as concerned about safety as I would be comfortable with"

On top of that, you are apparently in a situation where it's important to avoid and detect STIs, as you said about being screened regularly in your OP. That means the consequences for you would be really, really bad, and he should understand your concern.

If he has a partner who is clean, monogamous, and who you know personally and trust to be monogamous or use condoms with others, I might consider extended the fluid bond network, provided everyone gets tested and you have a chance to talk to his partner and make sure you're on the same page about safety.

If his situation is different, I think he's being unreasonable. In my opinion, that's because a new person gets something he feels he doesn't, and he's pissed about that. But the new person's situation is different, so make that clear. Your rule is, no unprotected sex with someone who has other partners. That rule is important to you and you've been following it with both of them. The fact that MX doesn't have a similar rule (or he couldn't be bare with you) doesn't change the fact that it's how you roll. If he wants to be bare with you, if it matters that much to him, he needs not to see anyone else. If he sees other people, you'll use condoms. That's a fairly simple rule, and if he's always been fine with it until now, he has no reason to protest years into the relationship.

LovingRadiance 06-28-2012 11:42 PM

I'm the middle person in a V. We live together.

My boyfriend has no other partners, hasn't in over 13 years and has no intention of ever having another partner.
We don't use protection.

My husband has no partner currently, but in the last 2 years he's had 3 and a serious potential whose still in the picture. In his case, all of the women were also in open relationships with multiple people.

As a rule of thumb, the rules we operate by are:

1. no new partners until they and you have passed full, current std testing.
2. required condom use with all other partners.
3. continued std testing to be done every 6 months by all partners.

obviously, we made an exception to the rule regarding my boyfriend. That was based on his being completely mono. If he chooses to change that, then the rules become applicable to him again.

Regarding the new potential, if they choose to be sexually active, I've specified that I will no longer have unprotected sex with my husband (which is one reason they haven't been). My reason for this is that her "rules" for her open relationships don't require std testing and she and her other partners have much more freedom in adding new partners at will without letting anyone know.
To me, that's simply not safe enough for my peace of mind.

In my opinion-there is no "equality" to argue in terms of safe sex. Whatever you are comfortable with-or not comfortable with-should be the rule you use to rule your body.
What role a person has in your life doesn't automatically guarantee them freedom from safer sex rules.

CTC 06-29-2012 07:16 PM

Greetings again all and thanks for your input.

I feel like the argument has dragged on for FAR longer than it should have, but your points really did help me in wording things better than "You're being a baby over this and responsible grownups probably shouldn't argue this much about safe sex." Some things have been uncovered in all of the conversations, however.

(Like CS being incredibly jealous of the place MX has gained in my life, his insistence that my wanting to be safe somehow invalidates my love, that admitting his reactions are /really/ unattractive is proof of me favoring MX, me having to deal with general family and work related obligations cutting into the time I get to spend with either of them as evidence of how "unfair" I'm being to him... and so on...)

Thinking more about it, it seems as if CS was happy just having casual hookups here and there and the idea of a "personal harem", but the idea of sharing me and my heart with someone else is threatening. (or even so much as my time...)

As said, this has exposed some matters under the surface that will have to be addressed...

Thanks again!

Tonberry 06-29-2012 07:43 PM

I think it makes sense. The whole safe-sex thing was probably not the real issue to begin with. Simply, it made him realise you were serious about that guy. Maybe he was fine with sharing you sexually but not emotionally. Maybe he expected it to be sexual only, maybe he expected to be fine with the emotional aspect but actually wasn't.

But now that you know the real issues, you can work on them as you said :) Best of luck and keep in touch to let us know how it goes.

turtleHeart 06-29-2012 11:13 PM

I can identify with this. When my wife and I were starting out with nonmonogamy I was looking for something closer to soft swinging with good friends, as I'd experienced in college when single, which my wife thought she could be ok with but didn't find appealing for herself. We used the term poly because I didn't know any more accurate terminology (soft swinging), and it seemed that polyamory was an umbrella term that people defined the limits of themselves. Then someone from our group of friends started talking to her very often and over time it became physical. I provided my full support and was glad to see her beginning to realize that it was possible to be physical with other people and still be close to me.

I hadn't thought about how I'd feel if she became more than physical with someone else since she'd made it clear we were not to develop romantic relationships with other people. There ended up being some confusion as in the midst of being pursued she forgot that she'd made it clear to me that we were only to be physical with other people, not romantic, (her rule initially) and mistook my support for her being so physical as support for developing a relationship. Developing the relationship was what made it all seem worthwhile to her, the benefit to nonmonogamy, so since then (a year ago this Monday) I've been seeing how well I can adapt, dating others when before I thought I'd just be more affectionate with friends, and becoming more active in organizing poly events.

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