My Partner Wants To Have Sex With Someone Else. What Should I Do?
First, you need to get clear on what your partner wants. If they brought it up, they probably already said more than “I want to have sex with someone else,” but that can actually mean a lot of different things. Here are the kinds of things you should get a sense of, though you shouldn’t barrage your partner with every single one of these questions:
Do they want to have sex with someone else just once? Do they want to have sex with one other person regularly? Do they want to have sex with multiple other people? Do they want to have a romantic relationship with someone else?
Is there a particular person they want to have sex with? Is their desire to have sex with someone else based on their attraction to that person? Or are they seeking a particular kind of sexual experience? Do they have a particular kind of sex or encounter in mind? Is there any way you could do something with them that would satisfy their desire?
Are they planning to have sex with someone else? Is this something they feel like they need? Is it something they would only do if you were okay with it? Are they telling you because they want you to know how they feel? Are they asking you what you’d do if they did it?
Do they know exactly what they want, or is this desire something they’re still sorting out?
How pressing is their desire? Do they need an answer from you? How soon?
Does your partner want their relationship with you to change? How?
Next, you need to get clear with yourself on what you want. If you were expecting a monogamous relationship, hearing that your partner wants to have sex with someone else can be quite confusing. And since most of our models for relationships are monogamous, you might not have a clear idea of what a non-monogamous relationship can look like or how it could work.
Take some time for self-reflection. You can think, journal, or talk it out with a therapist or friend. You might also find it helpful to read one of the many fine books about nonmonogamy, polyamory, or unconventional relationships. Here are a few specific questions to think about:
What are the most important parts of your relationship? How would your partner having sex with someone else change these things?
Do you have any desire to have sex with someone other than your partner? To have a romantic relationship with someone else? Does that change how you feel about your partner?
How important is a sense of fairness to you? If your partner has sex with someone else, is it important you also can or do?
Are there things that would make it easier or harder for you to have your partner have sex with someone else? Would you prefer to meet the person or never find out who they are?
Then, get clear with your partner on what you both want. You may discover that there are ways to satisfy your partner’s desire to have sex with someone else that also work for you.
Maybe you realize that you would both be happy to be in an open, polyamorous relationship. Or maybe you’re both excited to try a one-time threesome. Maybe your partner just wants more sex, and you’re okay with them having other partners as long as it’s not romantic. Or maybe your partner has a secret sexual fantasy that you’re actually happy to try to fulfill.
Or, unfortunately, you may realize you and your partner just want things that aren’t really compatible.
At the end of the day, your partner only gets to decide what they do and you only get to decide what you do. By communicating with each other, though, you also get to make a more informed decision, with a fuller understanding of what the possible results of your actions will be.
If your partner wants to have sex with someone else, they get to decide if they are going to do that. But if you only want to be partners with someone who doesn’t have sex with anyone else, you get to decide if you are going to leave the relationship.
You might also enjoy my article 4 Strategies For Dealing With Jealousy.