Dear Sex Counselor,
Is honesty always the best policy? I have found myself in a relationship situation that I’m not sure what to do with. I have been dating a woman for approximately four months, and we get along great. We are friends, which I think is important. We also have an understanding that we are able to date other people. Recently, I have found myself attracted to one of her exes. This is a mutual attraction between us. We met through her ex/my girlfriend and we both acknowledge that we like each other, but consider the situation a little (okay, a lot) weird.
Knowing that my girlfriend and I are free to date others, do I dare go out with this other woman, or would that be too much of a dating faux pas? Help!
Thanks for taking the time to write and ask for some input on your conundrum. Your situation is more common than you might realize. This happens whether you are part of a small or large community, since you probably share common interests with both women (who shared enough to find each other interesting in the first place). It is only odd because she happens to be the ex of your current girlfriend. If she was anyone else, how would you approach the issue?
Have you tested whether your current girlfriend is truly comfortable with you dating other women, or is this the first test of that? So many of us say we are okay with being open and dating others, but when it comes down to it and our sweetie starts seeing another person, our insecurities come up and we become upset. The situation you’ve described would be intensified if your girlfriend found out she really didn’t feel comfortable with you dating another woman, and that the other woman is her ex. If you have tested the waters and she really means that it’s okay for you to date others, then it’s more straightforward.
You also probably need to see if you truly feel comfortable with her dating other women as well. A situation like this could propel her into reactive dating that could create more tension between you.
It sounds as though you and your current girlfriend have a pretty good relationship overall. If so, the kindest thing to do is to tell her what you are thinking, preferably before you go out and do something about it. If you are really good friends and have a lot of respect between you, you should be able to have a good, honest conversation about your desire to date this other woman. Not that it won’t be difficult, but if she is worth your time then you should be willing to take the risk of a fight in order to be fully honest with her. This situation is the kind of test that can reveal a lot about your ability to communicate with each other and work through difficult issues.
You may find out that she really doesn’t want you dating other women, and that she only said it was okay because she was afraid of losing you if she said otherwise. This is a great time to find that out, before you decide you want to set up a life together and all that. After all, you want to know you’re partner will be honest with you through all the stuff life throws at the two of you. So my advice is that you be honest with your current girlfriend, and make your decision based on how your conversation(s) goes. If she becomes upset, you need to decide what is more important - her or the possibility of something with this other woman. If she says, "hey, go ahead, I said you can date others and I meant it", go for it! If she becomes upset later, you can remind her that she said it was okay, and that you have been honest with her the whole time. For most people it is deception or the feeling of something being kept secret that is most irritating.
Good luck. I hope that you can keep an open heart and an honest dialogue going through this.
The Sex Counselor