Q: One year ago, I met the love of my life, “Roger.” I’ve had other relationships, but nothing like this one. Roger and I are absolutely meant for each other, and Roger feels the same way about me. We’re both in our 30s and are ready for commitment. We have been talking about having a commitment ceremony, or eloping to a state that allows gays to marry. We’re not sure yet.
So, you are probably wondering how I could have a problem. Here it is: I have this thing for bathhouses. It has nothing to do with the person I love; it’s a sexual gratification thing that can’t be matched, for me, with any other person in any other place. That’s my dirty little secret.
As I said, it has nothing to do with my love for Roger, or even my enjoyment of sex with him. It’s just that I really need both. I know I could promise myself that I wouldn’t go to another bathhouse again, but I’ve made that promise several times before and I broke it every time.
For the most part, I just see my bathhouse visits as something apart from a relationship, and I have always been able to keep them separate. However, I did lose one relationship (his name was “David”) by being honest about my bathhouse needs. I told David – three years into our relationship – that I needed to go to bathhouses if I were going to be a happy man, and that I had been doing it all along. (I thought I should be honest about what I was doing.) He couldn’t understand it and left me, even after I told him that my bathhouse habit had nothing to do with my love for him or my desire to be with him sexually. I told him that I tried to be safe about my visits. I made it clear that I never cheated on him with another person, outside of the bathhouse. (I don’t consider a bathhouse “a person.”) Well, being honest cost me my relationship with David, and I was really sorry that I had told him.
However, one of the reasons David said that he was angry with me is that I hadn’t been honest with him right up-front when we got together. So, I’m thinking that before I marry Roger, maybe I should be up-front with him and tell him about my need for the bathhouse.
What do you think?
Q: I’m astounded that you think that you are being “up-front” with Roger if you, now, let him know about your bathhouse “needs.” Are you really under the illusion that you are at the beginning of a relationship with him? Or are you always as dishonest with others as you are with yourself? Good grief! You’ve been with Roger for a year and have gotten to the point of commitment – this is not the beginning of your relationship with him. Somehow, I have to believe that you really know that.
All that aside, it is important for you to tell Roger about your bathhouse habit before you make any more plans toward commitment. You absolutely owe this information to him, or to anyone with whom you are involved; and frankly, you need to talk about this early on in a relationship – before sex enters the picture, not when it gets to the commitment stage. It’s not just a matter of honesty; it’s a matter of health safety as well.
Telling Roger about your bathhouse “need” may well lose your relationship with him, as it did with David. However, relationships need to be open and honest, if they are to be successful. There’s not a place in relationships for “dirty little secrets.”