I've been in an open relationship with my mate for a little over nine months now. It was understood between each other that we could play around with other people as long as we told each other about it before or, if it were a spontaneous moment, right after sex happened. I'm not worried about him purposefully keeping things from me — we're open enough with each other for that not to be a problem — but I do worry sometimes about having things forgotten about or overlooked when talking to me. I don't want to be the crazy boyfriend and go accusing him of sleeping around with me in the dark but how could I approach the subject with him in a rational way? Is my wanting to know what he's up to too "jealous?"
Received via email (name withheld)
Thanks for your question! Open relationships do certainly face some challenges surrounding exactly when is the right time to disclose sexual contact with someone outside of the relationship. This is a topic that requires discussion and agreement from all parties to the relationship, as individual preferences and boundaries vary greatly.
At one end of the spectrum, some people in open relationships require that their mates obtain their permission before playing with someone else, and they may even insist upon meeting or getting to know the potential new sexual partner before they allow their mates to have sex with them.
Some people don't demand that their mates seek permission, but instead want their mates to name-check the potential new sex partner person with them so that they can offer their advice and consent (although permission is presumed).
Others simply ask that their mates disclose outside sexual activity to them, either before it happens, or after the fact (this would appear to be where your relationship is presently).
Finally, at the other end of the spectrum, some people simply do not care what their mates do in their alone time and do not require that their mates disclose anything unless it somehow is going to affect the relationship. Some people who do not ask for disclosure in fact ask for the opposite, and insist on a "don't ask, don't tell" policy when it comes to sex outside the relationship.
It doesn't sound like any of the other permission/disclosure options would necessarily be better for you, as your trust in your mate and sense of security in your relationship are both quite high. Instead, the issue you are having is with ensuring that disclosure is complete, and that things are not accidentally left out, and this is the issue I will now focus on.
First off, I would encourage you to try not to drive yourself crazy with worry that your mate might forget to tell you something. You said yourself that you trust your mate, and that he is open and honest with you. If that is true, then if your mate forgets to tell you something, it isn't likely to affect you. If you never find out about something that does not affect you, it's difficult to argue that you have come to any harm through your mate's honest forgetfulness. That being said, if later on it turns out that your mate's forgotten sexual escapades do affect you (for example, you and your mate's fuckbuddy will be at the same social event), your mate will have his memory jogged and will presumably tell you the full truth as soon as it becomes relevant.
That said, personally, I am comforted by knowing the details of my mates' sexual adventures, and I definitely prefer to know what is going on, so I empathize with your desire to not have details left out. Sometimes though, your mate might be in situations where remembering absolutely everything in great detail can be tough — these situations are called "furry conventions."
Often, at cons, people do so much in such a short amount of time that details can get lost, and if your mate is focused on the con and not reporting back to you often, he could easily forget to tell you things, albeit completely unintentionally.
One solution to this problem is to ask your mate to keep a sexual diary, in which he records the approximate time and date he has sex with various individuals, as well as a brief description of what happened, and then to share this diary with you when he is disclosing his sexual activity to you later, using it to refresh his memory.
The diary doesn't have to be anything very formal; you can use the notes app on your phone, a note-taking service like Evernote, or even just voice memos or brief text messages in Telegram. If you go the Telegram route, you can create a group with your mate called "Disclosure" and just ask that your mate send updates to the group whenever he has sex, or RPs, or whatever it is that you want him to disclose. If your mate would rather have a conversation with you when he is disclosing, he could instead send the text messages / voice memos to himself, and share them with you later.
I do think that confronting your boyfriend could make you seem a bit paranoid, and it will also make your mate feel like you do not trust him as much as you claim that you do. Avoid accusing him of any wrongdoing if you do raise this subject with him, and make sure that you say "we" and not "you" when you express your concerns so that your mate doesn't feel like you are attacking him or accusing him of anything unfairly.
You might say something like this:
See how your boyfriend reacts to being approached in this empathetic, non-violent way. If he responds favorably, then you can explain the sex diary concept I described above — or you can just link your mate to my advice column, if you are feeling brave!
Hope that helps! If you have any additional questions or comments, you can leave them in the comments section below, or get in touch with us via our contact page.