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Can I Have My Cake and Eat It Too?

Q. I have been in a relationship with a man for the past year and a half. We are deeply in love and have a soul connection. The problem is that I am not generally sexually attracted to men; I am attracted to women. We talk about this a lot and he is very understanding. It would hurt him terribly if I were with someone else. I am so confused and I do not know what to do. I do not want to ruin the sacredness of our relationship, but at the same time I can’t sacrifice my satisfaction forever, I would appreciate any advice you can give me.

A. Your situation is not uncommon, and couples have tried many different solutions. The situation you describe is difficult, no matter how you look at it. I get the sense that you are attracted to this man, but not to men in general. It sounds to me as well like you have a commitment to monogamy, and that neither of you has broken that promise.

I’m glad you’re talking about it, because there is no way this could work if you weren’t honest with him and yourself about how you feel. Basic attractions don’t really change that much over time, and it isn’t reasonable for him or you to expect that true love, or anything else, will make a straight girl out of you.

I’m going to pose a hypothetical question for you, and I suggest you take some time to reflect on it. If he were a woman, and you felt the same soul connection, do you think you would be happy spending the rest of your life with her, never experiencing any other lovers?

The reason the question is important is that your orientation might not be the central issue in this case, even though it might seem like it is. It may be that the idea of life-long monogamy is really what’s freaking you out. Think long and hard about that. If you are basically non-monogamous, and he isn’t, that will be a major problem in the future.

Nevertheless, there are a number of people that have made very satisfying relationships outside the two-people norm. Yes, I know, I’m corrupting the youth of HSU by saying so, and thanks, I appreciate your prayers, and no, I’m probably not going to convert to a traditional world view any time soon, but really, you and your sweetheart can make any agreement you want, as long as it works for both of you.

I also have to tell you that way more people have failed at this than have succeeded, and that the attempt has demolished the relationships of many a well-meaning open-minded couple.

It sounds like you’ve talked with him about your having other partner(s) and that idea doesn’t work for him. You might create a 3-way partnership, by including another woman in your relationship on a more permanent basis. The details to work out an agreement like that could easily make your head spin, but there are resources to help you should you decide to tackle it. Look up an organization called Loving More.

You could also make a different kind of relationship with him, more like a Celtic Handfasting where you commit as long as love lasts. If it’s the idea of a permanent commitment that’s scaring you, then you could delay making one entirely. The absolute worst thing you could do is to break your agreement. Whatever you decide, you must be a grown-up about it. Honesty with your lover, as well as with any possible new lovers, is paramount.

When all is said and done walking away alone or together, with your integrity intact, should be your goal.