How to Avoid Fateful, Fearsome Foursome Failures

How to Avoid Fateful, Fearsome Foursome Failures

Why you should care

Because knowing what bad sex is just might make you better at avoiding it.

Swing, Swang, Swung

EUGENE, SIR: My wife and I have been swinging for about three years. Not regularly, but often enough where we’re very comfortable with it and look forward to occasional parties that we attend and the people we meet. About eight months ago, we answered an email on a swingers website from a couple and arranged to meet them. Things went very well on our first date, and we arranged to meet them again and have been seeing them ever since.

Initially my wife and the husband hit it off, and he asked if I would mind if he privately texted my wife, and he offered in return that I could privately text his wife. For him, the one-on-one relationship and romance portion is something that he needs in order to get the most benefit from the endeavor. My wife and I have a very strong relationship and openly communicate on all topics, so I felt no threat and agreed to the arrangement, as did my wife. Their relationship grew to the point where they were and remain in love with each other. During the initial stages, his wife and I enjoyed each other socially and sexually, but there was no romantic spark. We felt like FWBs, which was fine with both of us, and we had no problem watching our spouses go through their journey of romance with each other.

The wife and I slowly became much closer friends, and we intensely enjoy the intellectual conversations we have and the similar interests that we share. About two months ago, she and I were out on a date and it went very well. A spark developed and we suddenly found ourselves trending toward an intensely romantic stage of our relationship. Once the husband realized this, he began to take notice of our affections toward each other.

It made his stomach turn, he said. And hearing the sex sounds from her when we have sex is an even bigger stomach turner for him. He contends that he wants us to maintain the relationship, but he can’t watch the affection nor hear the sounds and she and I need to make sure he’s not exposed to either. Additionally, he blames his wife for a decreased level of passion for him since she began her romance with me, and he has mandated that the affection “better rekindle soon!”

The wife readily admits that her passion for him has waned, but she doesn’t know how to rekindle it. And she is concerned that she’s not the type of person who can be passionately in love with more than one man at a time. I’ve had concerns from the start about exactly how strong their relationship is, and some of what has happened recently has only reinforced my gut instinct that their marriage foundation may be weak. Should we keep seeing this couple? —Happy Swinger

Dear Happy?: You know, while some might think that being into polyamory makes you polyamorous, the smart money knows that being into polyamory doesn’t always mean you’re polyamorous. The Other Husband, let’s call him, has bitten off more than he can chew, and in his continued demands that reality conform to a version that provides him with comfort, while perfectly natural and understandable given how humans work, is probably less than welcome given that everyone knew what the game was when they decided to play.

So like the bouncer I used to be, I’m going to say as I have said before: Dude’s got to go. And the Other Wife with him. However, getting rid of them means you can’t keep an eye on them and clearly they need an eye kept on them because the unstable have a terrible tendency to make you unstable.

So maybe keep them close but morph it into the friend zone, if possible. The problem seems largely to be his, and a problem he’ll maybe grow out of, but until then? Proceed with caution. I mean, there are plenty of other fish in the ocean of polyamory. Ones much less likely to cause you this much grief. Keep me posted.

Love Letters, Straight From the Heart

EUGENE, SIR: I just met you (your column) and I have to say: I just love you! —Mr. Hill

Dear Hill Street Blues: Well, thank you kindly, sir. And in response, I’ll quote Jeanne Moreau from the great Joseph Losey film Eve: “Don’t fall in love with me.” The payout for having done so doesn’t. Pay, that is, hahaha… Which is to say, based on what I know, no one really likes a know-it-all.

Wango Tango

EUGENE, SIR: I feel your recent headline “Whose Fault Is Shoddy Sex?” was misleading and was the wrong question. I want to know whose fault is real shoddy, misconnecting sex: the one breaking their back who is totally involved in trying to please or the one, laying back, providing minimal effort and probably giving out no good signs as to what they like in the sex department? —A Mature Grasshopper

Dear Kwai Chang Caine: I might put Superman-levels of effort into cutting your hair. Doesn’t mean at the conclusion of the cut, you’re going to be happy with what I’ve done. I think that the reality is, sex is like art and not everyone is going to be a good artist. Which is why I’m here: to help you be a better artist. That being said? I don’t always write the headlines, even if I always like the headlines that are written. But in the end, all of this works much better if there’s some commonly accepted understanding that it’s two who are tangoing. Two consenting adults whose intentions are, in general, pleasurable.


Square pegs. Round holes.