Along came polyamory

After two years of living and loving together, my boyfriend admitted that while I\’ll always be number one, he\’s eager to hug other women because he likes feeling sexually aroused when he squeezes them. When I probed further, he confessed to creating situations where he can help female neighbors, friends, or co-workers in hopes of getting thanked with a hug or maybe a passionate kiss. He also writes them personal poems and tries to impress them with gifts. I\’m not thrilled, but wonder if most men would behave similarly if given the chance to act on their impulses. When asked whether he\’d go beyond kissing, he said, "To be totally honest, I probably would, but it hasn\’t happened yet." I argued that his attitude negatively impacts our relationship, and he countered, "As long as you\’re number one, why should you care who\’s number two or three?" Help, I\’m at an impasse.

— Main Squeeze For Now

Ideally, being faithful means more than lacking the opportunity to grope the lady next door.

What are you, a pit stop for when your boyfriend tires of going house-to-house offering to loosen lids on other women\’s jars? You don\’t even have the luxury of hating "the other woman." No, with a boyfriend prone to random infidelity with any attractive female friend, co-worker, or neighbor who has a to-do list, you have to hate a whole demographic: all women, 18 to 45, who are not you. Oh joy, your boyfriend says he has yet to be compensated with more than a kiss — probably because he has yet to encounter any busty young things in need of engine overhaul or driveway resurfacing. But, you know what they say: Opportunity knockers!

Most men don\’t act like this. Only men without integrity. Especially men without integrity with girlfriends who have spines the consistency of soup. Sure, we all have our impulses. Maybe you\’re eyeing your neighbor\’s new car. Chances are, you swallow your envy, get in your beater and go to work — you don\’t clock the guy with a tire iron and make off with his wheels. There are people who do that sort of thing. They\’re called felons, and they live in very special gated communities called prisons. Likewise, boyfriends such as yours are typically referred to as "my creepy ex," tied to a broken ironing board, and placed at the curb on trash day. You, however, favor a unique approach: allowing Gary Groper to hang around justifying his chore-mongering — well, whenever he isn\’t too busy buying gifts in bulk and filling in his poetry template, "My darling (insert name here)."

No, humans aren\’t naturally monogamous — which is why people say relationships "take work" while you never hear anybody talking about what a coal mine an affair can be. There are "sexually open relationships," but none other than the late Nena O\’Neill, coauthor of Open Marriage, admitted to me that few couples can make a go of them. Of course, without an explicit agreement for, let\’s say, a feel-up free-for-all, you don\’t have a sexually open anything, just a partner who\’s cheating. Desperate to avoid admitting this, you claim you\’re “at an impasse,” which, considering how odious this guy is, must be a euphemism for "a girl with her self-esteem in a vegetative state." It doesn\’t have to stay that way. See those things at the end of your legs? They\’re feet. Stand on them. Upright, like a human. And then run. Keep running until you understand the difference between a loving relationship rooted in mutual respect and seriously sick codependence with a feel-copping thug who makes two-timers seem like slackers.

Done Juan

My girlfriend\’s a great person, by far the best girlfriend I\’ve ever had, but I\’ve cheated on her 12 times. All were meaningless, drunken one-night stands. I love my girlfriend and want to change. Would it be wrong to try to spend the rest of my life with her?

— Bad Apple

Nothing like meaningless behavior you repeat 12 times. Come on, when you went out drinking, you didn\’t think it might lead to eating meaningless tofu platters. Figure what you\’re really after: variety, excitement, an ego-polish? Or, is it possible you\’re afraid to get close and/or secretly believe your girlfriend\’s too good for you, and you\’re trying to force the inevitable? If it means enough to not only be with your girlfriend, but to deserve her, make a resolution to choose long-term benefit over short-term fun (aka, buck-naked avoidance of self-examination). If you can\’t drink and keep your zipper up, stay out of bars. To figure out whether you can have a meaningful relationship, see if you can go a year without repeating meaningless behavior — including beating yourself up over the past. You may be a bad apple, but at least you\’re a bad apple with goals.