I’m with my ex-husband’s best friend; but he’s into S & M

Dear Guys,

This could take forever. It’s a soap opera. To help get to the point, a short background. I am with my ex-husband’s best friend. In truth, we all three met at the same moment fourteen years ago. My ex was faster at the draw so my current boyfriend has literally been quietly waiting. I had no clue until a year ago. When we hooked up last year, he called my ex to ask permission. Ex was fine with it, but my current boyfriend ended up losing the relationship over us. I was very careful to let him decide, but after quietly loving me for so long he took the jump.

So, this guy and I have been best friends for years. Now we’ve been living together for a year as lovers. Here’s the catch, we are AWESOME together. We are SO in love. It’s gross, but we can’t help it. Even after a year, we’re still acting like teens. It throws us both.

Here’s the problem, he has always been into S&M. I’ve known him so long there was no surprise there. We are both dominate people, and in that game, only one person gets the top. After a year of trying to solve this problem, we knew I could never meet that need for him. I did agree to allow him to find someone to get that need met. He tried for a month, and by the end of the month we both agreed (enthusiastically) that we actually wanted an exclusive relationship. The last standing order was that we were exclusive, and we didn’t want anyone else…but when we were more ready, we would try it out at a later date.

So…fast forward about three months. I leave home to help a dear friend in a family emergency. I do not get a return flight, as I will stay until she no longer needs me. He actually pushed strongly for me to go and provided all the support I needed. But three days into my mission, his son told me his dad was at the bar. I’m like???? Because he went alone. So I investigated. I find his postings on Craigslist….I find a new email address….when I confronted him he got angry and defensive and said I didn’t trust him and automatically felt accused wrongly. He got so riled up that he cursed at me in a voicemail. That was not like him. We both hate confrontations. So I yielded and just told him to do as he wishes. That was 24 hours ago. His last statement to me was, ” I will.” He tried pulling the “I’m a grown man and can do as I please” card. (He’s been getting testosterone injections lately too. It’s likely building his confidence up again.)

For as much as this man worships me, I’m wondering what the heck is going on???  This is the first time he’s ever lied or held a secret. He entrusted me with his entire life, finances, and even power of attorney for his son a year ago. We live like we’re married. We’ve been best friends for fourteen years. We already knew all our stories. His last words at the airport were, “Please call and text me…I hang on your every word.” I don’t care that he needed something I couldn’t give so he’s trying to find it. But, why lie to me; why hold a secret?; why change the rules, especially without notification? This is killing me.


Dear Miriam,

Thanks for your question. Sorry we couldn’t get to this sooner. And we’re sorry this is so difficult.

The very fact that the two of you are so intimately connected, and like you said, “still act like teens” almost makes this more understandable. We know that might not make sense so let us explain.

When two people are so connected the way the two of you are, it’s almost as if your identities have fused to become one. For a while—sometimes a long while—that can feel empowering, exciting, mind-blowing even. But after a time, someone comes to the realization that they are losing their own identity in the mix. When this realization happens, the person starts to try and break free, flex their muscles, be autonomous, declare their independence. This is when many couples break up, because it’s a wake up call; it’s a reality check, and more often than not, the reality pushes someone to search elsewhere to find that euphoric feeling again. Of course we all know that that search is futile because the longing they have is more about what’s missing for them internally, rather than something to actually obtain.

What’s going on here is a cousin of that. He doesn’t want to leave your relationship but he still wants to carve out his own space and be more independent within the parameters of your relationship. He’s just doing a crappy job of it right now. This is not about S & M and what he’s not getting from you. (You seem like a very sensitive and loving partner and he’s lucky to have you.) This is about him trying to find himself; this is about him sending you a message that he’s a man, and with that comes independence. Yes, it’s an immature way of going about it, and maybe he feels this is the only way he can do this: by acting like a teenager. But that’s what’s going on, and that’s why he’s kept this a secret from you.

We suggest letting the smoke clear—for both of you—and then sitting down and trying to work through this maturely. Some questions to consider and discuss: What do you need from this relationship? What does he need? Are you both getting your needs met? Is that possible? What compromises can be made to move forward? Is this really about your sex life, or is that more a symptom of some other larger issue? If it is about the sex, more specifically what he needs, are you comfortable allowing him to seek that out elsewhere?

After these questions—and probably others—are answered—possibly with the help of a professional (A couples counselor perhaps?)—you need to come up with a plan for how you will communicate and then resolve issues as you move forward in your relationship. Because, as you know, relationships don’t float forever on the giddiness of new love, they ride on tracks dug from hard work, commitment, mutual respect and love.

What do you think?

Leave us a comment below, or ask a follow up question.

All the best,


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