Sexolve 247: Can I Hope to Find Love After So Many Failed Affairs?
“We all are worthy of loving. We all are worthy of being loved,” writes Harish Iyer in this week’s Sexolve.
(Trigger Warning: Some questions could make you feel agitated. Reader discretion is advised.)
Sexolve is equal rights activist Harish Iyer’s Q&A space on FIT.
If you have any queries regarding sex, sexuality, or your relationship, and need some advice, answers, or just someone to hear you out – write to Harish Iyer, and he’ll try and ‘sexolve’ it for you. Drop-in a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week’s Q&As are below:
‘Did I Really ‘Cheat’ on My Boyfriend if It Was an Open Relationship?’
My life has been at one of its most difficult phases. I have been in a relationship for the past 4 years. We have never been committed. We have kept it open. Though we live together, we haven’t told anyone that we are actually partners. This is to just keep the flow of our individual partners in without scaring them. I love my boyfriend. I see a future with him. But there are times when I want my own enjoyment that doesn’t involve him. Everything was fine, he used to go out with women and I used to go with men. The only three conditions we had with each other was the fact that we will not get romantically involved with anyone but keep it only to the physical thing. We will not tell them that we are a couple, and we will not let them sleep on the same bed that we both make love in. However, I did a breach of trust. In his absence, I went out with 6 odd people. Two women and four men, I did not tell about this to my boyfriend. I got a little too close with one of the women and when I thought that it could get serious, I ghosted her completely.. so I did stay true to the pact of not getting serious with anyone. Now the problem is that I did not tell my boyfriend. Telling each other was a part of the pact. I didn’t tell him, and it was eating me up. Recently when we met, I opened up to him. He was shocked that I hid it from him. And he also brought up the fact that I had done the same thing some four times before. He further said that he doesn’t know if he can ever trust me now. I am dejected and upset. I am upset because yes I lied but he also went out with people, and only because he went, I did too. If he would have told me that he didn’t want to go out then I wouldn’t have gone out. Yes I hid, it’s a mistake. But I also could have hidden for life, I did not. I confessed to him. If I didn’t confess he wouldn’t have known. Now we are back to being good, but he says that he has a thought in his head that he can never believe me completely. I don’t know what to do. Did I cheat on my boyfriend? Is this cheating if it was open? Please tell me. And please be honest!
Thank you so much for writing in and for trusting in me. Let us not gauge everything on the scale of right and wrong and while we are at it – let me state very unambiguously,
it is not wrong in any way to have more than one partners as long as all the partners, sexual or otherwise, have understood and wholeheartedly accepted the stated and unstated rules and terms of engagement, and thus, have expectations that are self-calibrated.
So let’s not look at this with words of judgement like ‘cheating’ but instead from the point of view of the rules of this dating game.
Now, what are the rules that you both agreed on… That you both will see other people… that you both will keep each other informed… that you both will not get serious with others.
Let’s face the facts. Did he stick to the rules? Yes. Did you drift from those rules? Yes.
Just because someone confessed eventually, it doesn’t get rid of the doubts that one would have in their future engagements, especially if there is a history of hiding truths. All is not lost though. One could restore trust by replenishing the relationship with demonstrative examples of friendship, loyalty, truthfulness and love.
I can't tell you how much time it will take or if he will ever trust you again. I can definitely tell you that it is possible that he does trust you again the same way, but that would need some major actions from your end.
I would very strongly recommend that you visit a counsellor. And if possible, go for couples counselling too. There could be temptations that could lead you to do the same things again. And this, considering that it has been repeated some times before, means there is a pattern to your behaviour. This pattern needs to be dissected. With the counsellor, you would be able to find out why these patterns occur and where these patterns originated. When you know the origins of this behaviour, you will be better equipped to arrest the issue then and there without letting it proliferate.
Also, please spare a thought to the people other than your partners you are dating. From your mail, I gather that you have ghosted them suddenly after getting a little serious with them. It would have left them wondering if they did anything wrong. Let’s not gaslight people.
They could end up feeling like pawns at this dating game. One can engage in ethical poly relationships by being honest, kind and clear with our partners. If it is a temporary relationship with them, let them know. If you want to tell them that you have a primary relationship, let them know. Just be honest.
Love takes time to develop into a tree, but when it does, it sets its foot firmly on ground even when the branches welcome fleeting birds.
I wish you well. Do visit a counsellor.
P.S. Again, I repeat, please visit a counsellor.
‘My Wife Has Been Diagnosed With a Mental Health Condition’
My wife just told me that she has been diagnosed with bipolar 1. She is loving and is a genius, but her behaviour is erratic. She speaks rubbish at times and sometimes is very sexual and sometimes stone cold. I find it very challenging to live with her. What should I do?
Dear Hubby Miyaa,
Thank you for writing in. It takes effort and love to acknowledge the challenges that one is going through and seek help so that things could get better. Thank you for that.
Bipolar 1 or manic depressive disorder is characterised by very high highs (mania) and very low lows (depression). It is a pattern in behaviour that cycles between mania and depression. When someone is in the state of mania, they may jump from one topic to another. You may notice that they sometimes speak of unreal things and have the enthusiasm and energy that is unmatched. Their libido and sometimes the willingness to experiment in sex also has the probability of increasing during their manic phase. When they are in their low phases of depression they could feel disinterested, disoriented and could withdraw themselves from their loved ones and society. They may even dislike and disapprove of sexual contact. They may sometimes even turn against people who love them because they feel could helpless about not being able to match the empathy of their loved ones with the same amount of consistency.
The good news is that with regular therapy and medical intervention, one could lead a fulfilling life with Bipolar 1. For this though, the patient has to recognize that they need help and be willing to be consistent in taking therapy
Be with your partner. She needs you now the most, even if she doesn’t tell you so. I can tell you that they can be wonderful human beings, their disease, sometimes can propel them to do great things too, if they take care of their highs and lows and take therapy.
Stick with her. Don’t be condescending, but empowering. Things can get better. Inshallah!
P.S. You take therapy too. The patience you need to deal with this could be too demanding of you.
‘Can I Still Hope to Find Love?’
I have a bad line up of affairs. I broke up with them all. Can I still hope to find the right one?
Dejected Gay Boy
I know sometimes it gets difficult, boy. I know sometimes we end up questioning ourselves and start pondering, “Am I really cut out for love?” But that’s when we need to remind ourselves: We all are worthy of loving. We all are worthy of being loved.
Look at your past relationships, check if there is something that you sought from them and if they had that quality.
In love, when you know what you are looking for, then you can find what you are looking for.
So, can you hope? Of course yes.
When you say you are hoping to find the right one, have you defined in your head – who is the right one? And understand that it may be desirable that one person has all the traits that you want, but it is also possible that they fall short of one or two. Find out for yourself what are the non-negotiables and what are the less important but desirable traits for you to find in a potential partner.
Here’s a poem by Emily Dickinson for you. Here Emily describes hope as a feathered bird that stays on with her and keeps singing even when the weather is bad. It expects nothing in return for its song.
“Hope” is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops - at all -
And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -
I’ve heard it in the chillest land
And on the strangest Sea
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.
Be the hope for yourself, boy. Be this feathered creature that dares to sing even in the worst of incidents and precedents. Keep hoping. Things will get better.
P.S. Love will find you. You will find love. BELIEVE. HOPE.
(Harish Iyer is an equal rights activist working for the rights of the LGBT community, women, children and animals)
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