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My girlfriend and I are both 21 years old and we have a long history together that began over 5 years ago. We originally started dating in high school for over a year. Then she broke up with me. Then we were best friends for 2 years, although we were something a little bit more than friends too (we would hold hands and cuddle... everyone who didn't know us assumed we were together). During those 2 years we both dated other people - I ended up having sex with two other girls, but she never had sex with another guy. We both had 1 semi-long relationship during that time. Then, 2 years ago, she said she wanted to be back together with me. We have been together ever since.

But now we have agreed to enter into an "open relationship" - and I'm not particularly happy about it. I am just looking for any advice people can give me on how to cope with my situation.

Now I'll explain things in a bit more detail.

We are both deeply in love with each other. We truly are. We have an incredible, caring relationship. But there have been some difficulties.

For one thing, we have a long-distance relationship. I go to college away from home while she stayed at home, so I'm only actually home a little bit over 5 months of the year (but during an 8-month stretch I am rarely home).

Another problem has been that sex has always been painful for her. As in, when I put my thing inside of her, it hurts her. She's even gotten a tool kit for this. I know this is not my fault, as I have had sex with other girls. But I am afraid this certainly doesn't help things. (Before you say anything, yes, I broke her hymen)

To substitute the lack of intercourse, we have a lot of oral sex. However, I liked to have oral sex more often than she did. Apparently (I now know), I was often too pushy in asking for and giving her oral sex when she wasn't in the mood. The result was that she started to view oral sex as a bit of a chore.

All of these things surely played a significant factor into the fact that she says she is not as attracted to me anymore (although still professing to feel some attraction for me). Also, like any long-term relationship, much of the 'passion' factor that comes with a new relationship is gone and she says that she wants to have that feeling again. Most of all, I think she just feels that she is 21 and wants to see what else is out there.

Let me clarify that even further - she wants to see what else is out there because we have both talked openly about the fact that our relationship seems to be on a direct path towards marriage. She wants this one day just as I do. But she also always envisioned being with more than 1 guy in her life, and if she doesn't experiment with other guys in her last year of college, when will she?

So when she expressed her feelings for me, my initial reaction was that if she wanted to breakup, I could no longer be her friend, because it would be too hard for me to get over her otherwise. She said this would devastate her and that she couldn't lose me - she wouldn't know what to do. So I asked her if, because we love each other so much, we can stay together for while longer and see if we can iron out our issues. She agreed to do as such - but without the sex/oral sex for a while, until she felt the desire again.

Then we had to spend a month being 400 miles away from each other again, and things got awkward. She would call me very infrequently, which drove me crazy. I started calling/texting her a lot, and was probably annoying her (I couldn't help myself since I couldn't stop thinking about her). Whereas our conversations were once frequent, enjoyable and had a duration of about 45 minutes, our conversations got infrequent, awkward and had a duration of about 15 minutes. Then I learned that she was going on a family vacation without me (the last 2 years she had always invited me to go on vacation with her family). Things just didn't seem right.

So [I]I[/I] proposed the idea of the open relationship. My exact words were something along the lines of "I was thinking the best solution would be to have an open relationship for a little while. We would be free to do whatever we want with other people. Once next semester ends (which will be in April), we'll see where we're at". She agreed to this.

I saw her last night - we spent the whole night together, mostly making out in the nude, kissing her breasts - but there was no genital touching. Nonetheless, there was definitely a sexual tension and the love in the air was so apparent - it was so obvious how happy she was to be with me again.

But now I'm nervous about how I am going to cope with the idea of her sleeping with other men. One of the biggest problems is that she is drop-dead gorgeous, sweet and a scholar. She admits she gets asked out by other guys frequently when she's not with me. She's also not a slut - which is a problem in the sense that I am worried about her developing a relationship with some Prince Charming.

I myself am a very sweet, caring guy. 6'1, in good shape and above-average looking. But I'm still not a natural 'ladies man' and am not comfortable trying to meet new girls in general, so I might have to struggle to find someone while she will have no problem knocking up other guys anytime she wants.

So this is all eating at me.

One other thing that's eating at me is this - I feel like I need to have another talk with my girlfriend to set more strict 'rules' about our open relationship. I already mentioned that "Our primary relationship will still be with each". And she agreed to that. But I also want to emphasize to her that "We should view this as something temporary. Unless something changes, we should plan on becoming exclusive again starting in May". But I am not sure if this is the right thing to say or not. Also, she says she doesn't want to talk about our relations with other people... but I'm not sure that's what I want. I think NOT KNOWING what she is doing with other guys might drive me even crazier than knowing for certain what she was doing.

So, that's pretty much everything. I know I just wrote A LOT so I would be amazed if anyone actually read it all. I've talked about this situation with my family and a couple of close friends already, but it still feels better to type it all out and ask for the opinion of strangers.

So if you've read everything (or even just bits and pieces), I have 3 questions for you:

1 - How do I cope with the idea of a girl I am deeply in love with in bed with other guys? Is it as simple as being in bed with other girls?
2 - Given my situation, do you think that proposing an open relationship was the right idea? Or should I have just tried to keep things going even though they were not-so-great at the moment (since she had agreed to try to work things out with me while staying exclusive)? Or should I have simply broken up with her (or allowed her to break up with me, really)?
3 - Is it okay to emphasize to her that we should expect to be exclusive again starting in May (when I come home from college for the Summer)... or is that being too pushy and unrealistic with regards to setting a precise timeline on all of this?

Just keep one thing in mind when considering my situation - I emphasized all of the BAD of my relationship with this girl, but I did very little to emphasize the good. We really do have an incredibly loving and caring relationship. We can't imagine our lives without each other. We both bless the day we met each other. We still feel that the time we spend with each other is magical. And we both still see each other as the people we want to walk down the aisle with and have kids with.

Yes, you can tell me feelings change, and that she may not always feel that way about me. But I am counting on feelings to change (just in a way that is more to my benefit). Her feelings with me started as romance, then changed to just her best friend, then felt romance again, and now feels a combination of deep love with uncertainty. It is my hope that the feeling of uncertainty will pass with time.

If you decided to read any of this and answer any of my questions, I really appreciate that.

After seeing how long this post ended up being... I have to chuckle myself! lol
The user 'writeleft' replied to my 3 questions, ---

I will just respond to a few things here:

Of course we BOTH would have to agree to a set of rules for our open relationship. If I suggest anything, of course I am going to make sure that's what she wants as well. All I am saying is that I am going to suggest a few guidelines for how our open relationship will work, and see what she agrees with and what she doesn't. I am not going to be pushy. For example, if she tells me "I don't want to put a timeline on things", that is fine. But when trying to establish guidelines for an open relationship (which seems better to me than simply not talking about it), someone's got to throw some suggestions out.

I think you misinterpreted me when I said "Or should I have simply broken up with her (Or allowed her to break up with me, really)?"

I was simply asking if it would have been the right thing to break up with her - what's in the parenthesis is just there to emphasize that I wouldn't want to break up with her - so if I DID break up with her it would only be because of what she says she feels, not because of my feelings for her.

Let me make this perfectly clear - if she wanted to break-up with me, she can break up with me! When we first had this conversation a month ago, I told her that if she wanted to break up with me, that is completely fine, but we would need to have some distance for a little while, because it would be too hard to get over with if I maintained my friendship with her in the months following our breakup. But this was too hard for her, she said she could not do that. So I convinced her that we should take a few months to try to work out our issues, and if things don't get better in a reasonable period of time, then we should break up. She agreed to this.

However, when I felt uncomfortable with how things were going on the phone (unfortunately, I could only judge using the phone), I decided to propose the idea of the open relationship.

So don't make me out to be some bully who is forcing her to be in a relationship. I said in the most loving way that if breaking up with me was what she truly wanted, that was fine. But it WASN'T what she truly wanted. It's what neither of us wanted. But she simultaneously also wanted to try to play the field for a little while when she was still very young and in college. So that's how it came to this.

Finally, you say:

"Since she has been part of your life for years now, as both a lover and a friend, I would continue to treasure your bond, and let life take it's course. Be patient, and continue to live your life"

That's all nice and dandy, but it's not particularly helpful advice. In what way exactly am I supposed to "treasure my bond" with her? If we were to break-up and not be friends, that wouldn't be possible. If we were to break-up and be friends, that would be even harder for me than an open relationship with her (it means I would still see and talk to her, but not be able to hold her, and kiss her, and tell her I love her... that's a nightmare scenario for me. Either way, the thought of her sleeping with other guys will still be hard... but if I can't do things with her myself it will make it that much harder). And I know you're personally not suggesting we stay in a relationship. So to be honest, your advice here really doesn't make any sense.

Sorry if my tone is harsh. Let me just emphasize that I REALLY appreciate your response and your advice. I really do. But I am responding to your advice as honestly as I can.
You slept with women post-breakup, so why did she not do the same if getting more sexual experience was important? You are the 'love of her life', so I just cannot understand why you are not enough for her? If she wants these different experiences, why can't you create your own by spicing up your sex life with each other? I'm just asking to gain some insight on your position.

The man I am in love with is the only man I want to sleep with. While it is impossible not to notice the outward physical attractiveness of people, that is one thing, but wanting to give your body to them is another. I never think of other men, I never fantasize about other men, nor am I curious about other men because my husband is all I need and I only have eyes for him. It should be a prized and valued thing that your SO only wants you to have and no one else. This is my opinion.

Also, I would be sure that the men she sleeps with know what's up. I'm sure ya'll intend to let them know the deal. Don't want any broken hearts.

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