Episode 15: Fancying An Artist

Your partner’s not too keen on non-monogamy but you have an appointment with an artist you can’t resist.

That’s what’s on this week’s episode of Non-Monogamy Help. Listen below. You can also find the podcast on Spotify, Apple, and other providers. Or, conversely, use our RSS feed.


Thank you to Chris Albery-Jones at albery-jones.com for the theme music and a big thanks for the podcast art to Dom Duong at domduong.com.

Podcast transcript


I am a 30-years old girl in relationship with a guy since 6 years. In brief, from the very beginning I told him I want an open relationship and he did not take this need seriously. I have proposed him to have a threesome, to have other partners, to go to nightclubs but he cannot stand with all these things. He conceives these kink opportunities only with his friends and not with "the woman he loves".

Only after 6 months he asked me to be monogamous. I did my best while trying to make him pro polyamory but 2 years ago I cheated him and he discovered my wild affair. This destroyed him emotionally and he lost his trust on me. Now 2 years have past, we are fine and he knows that I need to have some sexual space outside him. So far I have never met someone who fascinates me, but soon I will get a tattoo on my thigh and I have realized the tattooer really makes me horny. So that's my question: what is the best way to tell my boyfriend I want to have sex with the tattoer?


So… there are few things here. Like I really really hate it when my best advice in a situation is breaking up, but honestly… In this situation, I kind of feel like you're very incompatible and you kind of knew you were incompatible from the beginning. I'm not really sure why you’ve continued to be in this relationship for 6 years.

From the beginning, you’ve told him that you're non-monogamous and that's what you want and he doesn't want that. You've tried for 6 years to make— to get him to be interested in some form of non-monogamy, whether that be doing things with you in a threesome way which some monogamous people, even though they are monogamous, are still open to. It sounds like you've tried a variety of things and he's still not into it.

And then you've also cheated and that really really upset him and really really hurt him. I don't know why you're still with him. You might be quote unquote fine right now but you're basically not fine because you're not getting what it is that you want in the relationship and I really don't think there is a best way to tell your boyfriend that you want to sleep with the person who is going to tattoo you.

I think that the… honestly… and I really really don't like this being my advice because I feel like it's such a hard decision. It is a kind of last resort decision sometimes. For some people, you want to do your best to salvage the relationship that you have and I totally understand that but I really, really feel like you've put 6 years into this relationship. You've both been together for 6 years and you clearly have a basic level of incompatibility.

I totally understand that you might have very strong feelings for one another. You may love him very, very much but you're at a basic level incompatible and there are certain incompatibilities that can be worked around. There are certain things that you can disagree on and you can meet in the middle or you can give a little get a little, but this is the kind of thing where it just doesn't seem like there is any compromise to be had.

The only thing that I could *maybe* suggest and I would really, really would advise you do this with the help of a polyamory friendly therapist, is may be considering if he would be open to allowing you to have some exploration with other people in a “don't ask don't tell” situation.

I know that a lot of people don't like “don't ask don't tell”. And if you're unfamiliar with “don’t ask don’t tell”, it’s basically where you can do what you’d like and he doesn't know about it, but he's fine with it because he's kind of agreed with it beforehand. So it's not cheating because he has agreed with it but he doesn't want to know any of the details and maybe, like, for one night a week he knows you're out and that's all he knows.

That is a situation that does and can work for some people. Usually I would suggest or think about that kind of situation for people who have been married for decades, who have children, who have lives tied together that would be very, very difficult to untangle and for all intents and purposes have a fantastic stable relationship outside of it. But I just feel like you know, you're 30. You've been with him for 6 years. I don't know how old he is, but why waste your time?

I just feel like him… you know, the sacrifice he is going to make by agreeing to a “don't ask don't tell” type of situation might potentially be really hurtful for him. When you did cheat on him in the past, you said it destroyed him emotionally. If he is at a base level monogamous,  why I continue this? Why continue torturing both yourself and him by being together when it you're just at the base level not compatible? Wanting or not wanting to have kids is another one of those things that's just not compromise-able… or I would really not suggest someone who really doesn't want kids to compromise by having a kid because it’s… yeah. I wouldn't suggest that.

And this is a kind of same situation. If he wasn't emotionally devastated by you cheating on him, if he kind of was able to cope with it better and could maybe not necessarily come around to being polyamorous himself but still be ok with you doing things, that would be one thing. But it just doesn't seem like that's the case. And you've been together for 6 years already. You both knew from the start that you were incompatible on this basic way.  I just think why continue to keep digging this hole? I know you might feel like “Well we spent 6 years together. We have to keep doing this”. You really don’t. You really don't have to keep going. And it doesn't sound like you have kids. It doesn't sound like you own property together. It doesn't sound like you have things that would tie you together in a way that would be difficult to pull yourself apart so I really, really think that in all honesty the best thing that you can do is break up because you just are not compatible.

You're going to be able to find someone who is interested in doing all these things with you. I don't really get what he's saying and I'm not sure what you mean by “he conceives of these kink opportunities only with his friends and not with the woman he loves”. Maybe that's how he does things and you know what? That's fine but that's still clearly not what you want so why keep this going on? It's just gonna torture to you both. Even as much as you're in love or you might care for one another, if you do really care for one another then pick a situation that will bring you both the most happiness which is honestly you guys not being together.

As shitty as that sounds and I'm really really sorry because I do wish that there was a way I could see you to save this relationship but I just feel like you are at a base level incompatible and unfortunately sometimes the best thing you can do is break-up. And that’s the healthiest and most desirable and the solution that will bring you both the most amount of happiness is breaking up. So that's kind of what I’d advise.

There’s another thing here that I really, really want to talk about. So you are going to get a tattoo on your thigh and you really like the tattooer or tattooist. When you are with a tattooer or tattooist, sorry… you both have to be together for at least an hour if not longer. On both sides, I would really advise people not to do anything that would make that other person feel awkward. Because the thing of it is that once the tattoo is started… unless you know you want to get it finished by another tattoo artist, it's going to be pretty difficult for you or that tattoo artist to walk away if they're uncomfortable about something.

I don't know if you know for sure if this tattoo artist is interested in you or not. You may have already planned this, but I would really, really advise you either say before the tattoo artist starts the tattoo or after the tattoo is finished rather than in the middle because it's not really fair. If that tattoo artist has absolutely no interest in you and you express interest while the tattoo is going, it's going to make it really really awkward for them to finish the tattoo and if they feel uncomfortable enough they may just stop doing your tattoo and tell you to get it  finished by some else if they feel awkward enough.

And it's just not really advisable in a situation where you know… like if you have someone who's a waiter, if you find them attractive like you're allowed to find people attractive, but if someone is kind of in a position where they’re forced to be nice to you or kind of forced to be around you because it's their job you really, really don't want to do anything that would make them feel uncomfortable. Especially when it's going to like put them at conflicts with them having to earn a living vs them being nice to you. It’s just not cool to do.

And I don't know like I'm not assuming that you're going to be creepy or anything I'm just trying to address that because having been someone who has been tattooed and knowing quite a few tattoo artists and hearing quite a few really terrible client experiences from tattoo artists… If you find your tattoo artist attractive that's fine, but I would just honestly advise you to wait until the tattoo was done with to actually tell them. Just because you absolutely want to make sure that they don't feel uncomfortable.

Because it's not wise is for you either. If you're getting something permanently drawn on your body the last thing you want to do is make the person as drawing it feel distracted or even if they do like you back. Honestly, just don't distract the person who is going to draw something that’s going to be on your body for the rest of your life. Generally good life advice there. Again not saying that that's what you plan to do but just wanted to put that out there for you and for anyone else who's listening who might be attracted to a tattoo artist. Wait until your tattoo is done and then tell them that you're into them. Wait till it’s done completely and then tell them that you're into them, if that's what you want to do.

To sum up my advice, I'm really sorry. I wish that there was… even though “don’t ask don’t tell” situation might work. I really really think that you know… You've been together for 6 years. You’re 30 years old. You can find someone else who is more suited to what you want and equally your partner can find someone else who is also suited to what they want. It's just not worth continuing to hurt each other. If you really do love each other and care for each other sometimes the best thing you can do honestly it's just to end the relationship as unfortunate and not great as that sounds.

I do unfortunately think that's the best option in this case. Just find someone who really wants you to have all these opportunities and who wants to do threesomes with you or who just will allow you to go out and do it is that you want to do. And equally he can find someone who shares his perspective on things and who is monogamous. And you know you’ll both be happier in the long run. It's just not worth it. You know, life is short. It's not worth spending years and years and years in a relationship where you’re both at a base level incompatible so yeah… I'm sorry. I really hope that helps and good luck.

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