Gay guys and monogamy is rare and complex. I use to be a Psychologist at a sexually transmitted disease clinic. Many gay guys would tell me “My boyfriend thinks he is in a monogamous relationship.”
I do believe that monogamous relationships do exist for gay couples but I think they are much rarer than we know. A person once told me he was at a dinner with 6 gay couples and they all said they were in a monogamous relationship while the host said he had sex with all of them while in their monogamous relationship.
First problem with gay monogamy is that it is rarely defined what is monogamous. For many gay couples chatting with guys on sex sites is fine, maybe even masturbating while chatting is fine. And maybe even masturbating on line with live video is fine. How about masturbating with a guy when you do not touch each other is that ok? How far does this go, does saying “we didn’t kiss.”,” He only masturbated me”, “We slept together but did not have sex”, “I was lonely we only cuddled and kissed a little, we never had sex.” This list could go on for ever but it is seldom talked about what is meant when a person talks about monogamy. It is important to get it clear what is meant by monogamy.
The first part in a relationship when talking about monogamy is to define what is meant by monogamy for each person. It is also helpful to explain why you have the feelings you do have about monogamy. But knowing and discussing why the concept of monogamy is important for the partner(s). The important part is to understand why a partner needs rules to feel secure. It is important to understand what he is concerned about. Is it concern of a threat to the relationship? Or is it around social insecurity (what will people think. Is it jealously? Are there fears about STIs? Etc.
At the beginning of relationships monogamy may come easy but after a few weeks, months, or years, monogamy may become more difficult. It is important the partners continue to explore how the concept of monogamy fits into the evolving relationship.
Gay guys come up with elaborate rule around sex outside the relationship. There are such things “not in our hometown”, “not with mutual friends”, “not more than once/twice etc. not with the same guy”, “no fucking”, “he can’t fuck you”, “you can’t fuck him”, “only safe sex”, “ only have sex with other guys together”. This list can go on for pages.
All relationships will grow and evolve in many ways. This also applies to how monogamy fits into a relationship. People grow, people change in relationships the role of sex in a relationship can also change, love can continue through all these changes.
Too often in relationships partners will agree to monogamy to “please” the partner. At the beginning of a relationship it is easy to agree to monogamy but as time goes on monogamy may feel restrictive. It is important to talk about these concerns early in a relationship. It can feel threating to a partner when he is told by the guy he loves wants sex with other guys. Often this is a hard discussion to have, in fact it is so difficult that many guys will not bring up the discussion and just “cheat”.
There is a strong tendency for a guy who violates the rules about sex with others to not discuss the violation of the “rules” of the relationship. This often leads to guilt, shame, resentment, and distance in the relationship. While talking about the “mistake” may be difficult and cause hurt in the long run a stronger relationship is formed by honesty and working out problems.
It is important to understand that feelings about monogamy often will change over time, that is, there may be no one else but him/me at first but after a while (months, or years) other sexual experiences become exciting. It is important to talk about these feelings. Often guys will say “We are guys, we know sex is just sex, it does not mean anything personal”. Discussion around this topic is important in an open relationship.
There are a smaller number of gay guys who prefer to have an emotional connection when they are having sex. This can be problematic in an open relationship. This guy can have an emotional connection with someone without it being a threat to the primary relationship. In the same way close friendships do not have to be a threat to the primary relationship. We all feel emotional connections to many people at one time. For the guy who wishes to have an emotional and sexual connection it can be more complicated but open communication between the primary partners can address any concerns as they arise.