Can I Have a Hot Girl Summer in a Long-Term Relationship?

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I love my boyfriend, but I still want a stranger to kiss me in a club and then run nude with me on the beach at dawn. I want someone to slide into my DMs and then slide their tongue into my now-unmasked mouth. I want to feel the zing of potential and, even for a second, allow myself to imagine what comes after: a summer of brazenness, banging, and boating. Some of it with Ace there, but also some of it while he’s home looking after Celine Dion (our dog).

I respond to the DMs: that sounds great *blush emoji*, but give nothing more. No when’s good?, but no instant I HAVE A BOYFRIEND, BACK OFF either. Instead, I decide to do the mature thing—since I turn 30 in two months—and just speak to Ace about it.

Okay. So. Umm. Okay. Ummm. He’s busy reading a book about gay Russians before the revolution. So. I think I’ve kind of been asked on a date. He closes the book. But obviously, you know, I like, don’t know what to say. He draws breath.

Immediately a part of me wishes I hadn’t said anything. Experience has taught me that sometimes it’s better to repress something small—be it a desire or an annoyance—rather than upset things in a relationship that’s consistently pretty good. Can’t you just be happy with what you’ve got? Why do you need more? But my answer to that is this: Why can’t I try something different? Some people moved out of the city—why can’t we move out of monogamy?

Does finding love and sticking with it mean that I’ll never be able to experience that feeling of potential I so loved in my early twenties? As we grow up and couple up, it feels expected that we take our desire and desirability off the market. But why should we? Why should we have to do the dance of Perel and work out how to stay together—and want to fuck each other—forever, and not even entertain the idea of sleeping with other people to keep the spark alive?

Of course, down that road may lie the potential for a great relationship, but also potential for great hurt. At a dinner last week with a group of queer friends, we got to talking about what makes a non-monogamous relationship work. The discussion centred mostly around the topic of discussion itself. One friend said her open relationship went up in flames because they talked too much and it took the sex out of the primary partnership. They left each other a month after they went open. Another couple who have been successfully open for three years said that it’s the discussion that makes their open relationship work, both emotionally and sexually. That compersion—or “good jealousy” as they called it—actually made their sex life even hotter.

What we all agreed upon, though, was that given relationships so often either end, or end up unhappy, that it’s worth talking about it even once. My partner and I might have been together for six years, but if we can’t discuss these desires now, what happens to our desires—whether sexual fantasies, career aspirations, or just what you fancy for dinner—after 16 years? Or 60?

Ace puts down the book, and looks up.

You should go. If it’s a date it’s a date. If it’s not it’s not. We can discuss it as we go.

So let my hot girl summer commence. I’ll report back.

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