You prize your relationship, so you perform a rational balancing act. Picture: GoodFreePhotos

Question: My longtime partner and I decided to “open” our relationship sexually. 

Our rules: No emotional entanglements, and neither of us wants to hear about the other’s sexual activities (directly or from third parties) or be embarrassed by word of trysts spreading among friends. This requires a lot of discretion. I don’t know if she has acted on our arrangement yet, but I’m too scared to! I’m terrified that someone will spot me on a date. So, I haven’t done anything yet. Any advice? 

Mac

Answer: Let’s start with the notion that every long-term relationship is its own ecosystem. Just because many of us have a personal horror story to share about extracurricular sexual activities in relationships is no reason to conclude that you and your partner can’t pull this off, Mac, if you’re determined to.

My skepticism here goes to temperament. The first serious rule breaking I did was as a teenager in Vermont. I pretended to sleep over at a friend’s house, when in fact we fled Brattleboro for New York City (in a teenager-driven car — terrible!) to see Simon and Garfunkel’s free concert in Central Park. 

READ: Is it time to rethink monogamy

Nothing bad happened, but nothing good happened, either. I don’t recall a note of music. All of my energy was laser focused on the prospect of being caught. Some of us aren’t cut out for the high wire, Mac.

You prize your relationship, so you perform a rational balancing act: weighing the (probably slim) chances of violating your agreement against the (graver) dangers to your relationship. 

Think again about whether you really want sex with someone other than your partner. You may not be up for the risks. If so, revisit the subject with your mate. (Or find a job that includes lots of time on the road.)

The New York Times