Sex. Celebrity. Politics. With Teeth
We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Sex. Celebrity. Politics. With Teeth

My Boyfriend Wants to Open Our Relationship and I'm Totally Shook

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Illustration by Jim Cooke/GMG.
Illustration by Jim Cooke/GMG.

Dear Jane,

I’ve been living with a male friend for two and a half years now, and it’s mostly great. We’ve become the best of friends, go out regularly together, make each other laugh and understand each other. I’m happy to have him around.

The problem is that he is a pathological liar. As soon as he launches into one of his stories, I brace myself for a tidal wave of bullshit. The stories have 3 themes. 1) Heroic acts of bravery in which he stood up to bullies 2) Evil crimes committed against him by ex-girlfriends. 3) Claims that he was once a successful stand-up comedian and is best friends with every comedian on the planet.

When the lies start, my brain switches off. Lies are about as interesting as people’s dreams. By pretending to believe him, I am being disingenuous myself and missing out on real human connection. I’ve only called him out on his lies once, and it made him angry. I know that he lies to protect himself from some deep psychological wound he has (the lies are never malicious) but I’m tired of them. I get very embarrassed when he does it in the company of others.

Should I try to confront him or just carry on pretending to believe him?

Thanks in advance.

Oh man, what a nut! That sounds exhausting. I’m so sorry because it sounds like the good in him and your relationship mostly outweighs the bad, but the bad is pretty bad. I say figure out a way to enjoy it or think about putting some distance between the two of you. You can’t change a pathological liar into someone who is actually comfortable to be around all the time. What you can do is play along with him. “How was dinner with Dave Chappelle? Did your ex-girlfriend get out of jail yet? How many kittens did you rescue today?” Stuff like that. He’s full of nonsense and you can be too! And don’t be embarrassed out in the world with him—we all have crazy friends.

If you can’t figure out a way to amuse yourself with his tall tales, then maybe it’s time to find a new roomie and just enjoy him in short bursts. If you’re worried about hurting his feelings, don’t be. People move all the time and he’ll get over it by telling everyone about how saved your life by kicking you out and moving his best friend, Louis C.K., into your room.


My sister and I grew up middle class. Fine.

My sister married well, and is now upper middle class. Also fine.

Through immaturity, bad luck, and 2008 I ended up working poor for nearly ten years. When I was broke my sister went out of her way to help: $20 here, dinner there. I was, and am grateful. I knew then I’d bounce back, and I did. I am now nearly middle-class and have not forgotten her kindness. Also fine.

Working poverty taught me humility, and I observe hubris in my sister. While I have no problem with her being upper middle class, I do realize she is proud, and used to deference. Working poverty, which she seems unwilling to consider might happen to her, creates very little pride or deference.

I know that life is capricious and that one’s station in life can depend on many variables, including many outside our control. She could end up broke, in other words. But she seems uniquely unwilling or unable to consider this. Simply put, she’s getting snotty, and acting better than her siblings.

Is this worth confronting her about?

I will abide by whatever you say.

Nah. Let her have her weird fantasies about the universe. You never know what is actually going on in someone else’s head. She could be so super freaked out about losing it all that this is her defense mechanism and though it kind of sucks for you, it’s not really a burden in your life, right? It’s just annoying. But all siblings are annoying to some degree or another. Remember her kindness and reflect that back to her with empathy for whatever is making her feel she needs to appear more together than those around her. Usually that stems from deep insecurity and confronting her will just affirm her weak sense of self. In short: your sister is kinda bougie and that’s whatever.


Dear Jane,

My boyfriend and I have been together for four years. We’ve built a life together that is supportive, nurturing, adventurous, and fun. However, he recently dropped this bomb: “I’m not sexually satisfied, so I want to open our relationship.” He’s been sexually unsatisfied for almost two years! And rather than work on making our sex better and more frequent, he’s jumped straight to open relationship, which he feels will take pressure off of me, and give him 100 percent sexual satisfaction. I view it as running away from a problem rather than addressing it.

While I agree that our sexual relationship isn’t perfect (it would benefit from more passion, freak-a-leekness, and frequency...all of which I’m happy to work with him to bolster!), he still sees opening the relationship as the ultimate and only solution. Right now, I see it as a slap in the face. I think we should work on bettering our sex life together first, before we move towards other people to help fulfill our needs. We both love each other deeply and are committed to being together forever. But goddamn if this bump in the road hasn’t left me shook. Help!

Yours truly,

More Vodka Please

Dear MVP,

Ouch. I’m sorry. To hear that from your partner when you’re not thinking the same thing is pretty rough. Are you crying right now? I’d probably be crying.


Have you asked him why he sees this as the only solution? It could be that intimacy and sex don’t work well together for him (right now), which is pretty much as cliche as it gets. There are two really good books I think you should read on the topic of long-term monogamy and good sex. The first is Passionate Marriage by David Schnarch. The second is a popular title: Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel.

These books and their messages are similar: in order to keep the sexiness alive in any long term relationship, you have to keep separateness alive, too. Sometimes that separation can come in the form of a third person? Sometimes it means living in different apartments or developing active social lives that don’t include one another. You can choose to take their messages however you’d like—either that monogamy is possible if you’re with the right person who strives for intimacy and good sex with you and only you, or that you are already with the right person and can tolerate his having a lover on the side, or some third interpretation that didn’t occur to me while reading. But know that the issue of the loss of sexual satisfaction as relationships become more entrenched is incredibly common and you can overcome it, just maybe not with him.


Have a question for Jane? Email her at Please change names and identifying info; this advice column unfortunately is not aimed at destroying lives.