Dear Abi,

I’ve been dating someone as their secondary partner for six months now. It’s going well, but the more time passes the more I realise that I want more than that. He’s married, and his agreement with his wife is that they are each other’s only primary partners. I don’t have any other partners, and I’m starting to find this difficult to deal with. I don’t think their relationship is as good as ours in a lot of ways. Should I talk to him about changing the structure of his relationship?

Yours conflictedly,

The Other Woman

Dear TOW,

This is a tough situation, but the answer to your question is almost certainly “no”. One of the most important factors in a healthy secondary partnership is understanding and being okay with the nature of the relationship you’re in: if you’re secondary to someone who you wish was your primary partner and you don’t work at coming to terms with that, the chances of things going happily and healthily for you both are extremely slim.

Even you don’t really know what your partner’s primary relationship is like. The only people who fully understand what goes on in a relationship are the ones in it - and there’s a better than even chance that your own bias is causing you to see things more negatively than is actually the case.

I’m not necessarily saying that you should break up with him, and I entirely understand that it would be incredibly difficult to do that. I do think that you need to manage your expectations, though. This relationship is probably never going to move on to a level other than the one it is currently at, and there are things that make a good secondary relationship that you may not currently be putting much effort into.

My advice to you is to concentrate on those things, do everything you can to enjoy your relationship for what it is, and perhaps start looking around for another relationship of your own in addition to the one you’re in.


**********
 

Dear Abi,

I’m a twentysomething bisexual woman currently living solo poly, and I’ve had quite a few threesomes over the years - but I’ve always found them kind of underwhelming. It seems like one person always feels a bit left out, or there’s always a certain amount of awkwardness. What can I do to make the threesomes I participate in more fun for everyone involved?

Yours frustratedly,

A Third Wheel

 
Dear Third Wheel,

There’s a simple rule for sex involving more than two people at once, in my experience: everyone gets their turn in the middle. Trying to all work round in some kind of a circle all too often ends up with periods where one person feels a bit like they don’t have anything to do, but if two people work together to concentrate on the third - and everyone takes a turn being that third person - it all goes a lot more smoothly. You can make this happen simply by doing it; you don’t have to have any sort of awkward gameplan conversation with your intended partners in advance!

**********

Dear Abi,

I’m a young gay man in a European capital and I’ve noticed more and more that my friends are spending a lot of weekends looking for and having chemsex. I’ve taken recreational drugs in social contexts on and off since I was a teenager, but I’ve never done anything quite like that before. I’m interested, but I’m worried about the safety implications. What do you think?

Yours soberly,

A Greatly Hopeful Boy


Dear GHB,

In principle, I have nothing at all against chemsex. You’re all adults, and you all know the risks; it’s important to look after yourself and the people around you when you’re using drugs, but you know all that already.

In practice, the current social conventions surrounding ‘chemsex’ are worth thinking about. You probably won’t be with friends you know and trust - there’s a good chance that most or all of the men involved will be strangers. You might end up being offered things you haven’t taken before. Sex under the influence comes with its own set of things to bear in mind, especially if you’re doing anything particularly kinky.

At the end of the day, you just need to use your common sense and trust your gut. Don’t let yourself be pressured into doing anything you don’t want to do, don’t take stupid risks (like going anywhere near GHB when you’ve been drinking, for example), practice safer sex and steer clear of situations that are more risky than your sober mind would be happy with.

 

Ask Abi is a bimonthly sex advice column written by Abi Brown. Email your questions to askabi@fuck.com. Abi is a freelance writer and general pen-for-hire devoted to genre fiction, social justice and M.A.C lipstick. Follow her on her website or @see_abi_write.


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