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WHEN MY PARTNER LUKE AND I discovered we had completely different views on monogamy, we decided to experiment with sex counseling as a brand new couple. Over a year’s time, our awesomely lesbian-ish therapist helped us get on the same page to possibly open up the relationship … but we didn’t know where to start. I decided to seek out other non- monogamous couples to hopefully get some real-world advice on a very difficult issue.

One night, as luck would have it, I mistakenly ended up at a gay sex party (thinking it would be a simple nudist party). But instead of putting my clothes back on and leaving, I decided to stay and quiz some of the couples on their relationships (all while respectfully keeping my wang to myself). Rick and Tim, a well-rounded, middle-aged couple, seemed to have the whole thing figured out. I admired the way they adored each other even amongst the chaotically lusty environment.

They seemed like the perfect non- monogamous role models. Thus, I begged Tim and Rick to meet up sometime so we could talk more in- depth. They seemed delighted by the idea and suggested we make plans for dinner at their place soon. Just before the dinner, however, Luke felt apprehensive. I assured him that these guys were legit since neither of them tried to bang me at the party. Plus, I didn’t find either of them too attractive, so I certainly didn’t have any ulterior motives on my side — it just seemed like the right first step.

Rick and Tim had a beautiful home and quite the spread of food. However, as we conversed, I began to notice the topic of “open” seemed a bit closed off. Each time I tried to steer the conversation in that direction, this once seemingly amazing couple would get quiet. How did they start being open? What kind of rules did they have? What problems did they face? Their vague answers didn’t really get me anywhere.

At the end of our meal, Tim got up to clear the plates. We offered to help but he wouldn’t have it. He returned with dessert wearing a white kitchen apron … and nothing else. Tim kept finding any reason he could to turn around and flash us his bare ass. Suddenly our little dinner didn’t seem so innocent.

“Would you guys like to go in the hot tub?” Rick asked us.

I had myself so convinced that our dinner plans were virtuous that Luke and I hadn’t prepared at all for something like this. And since we hadn’t communicated about it, neither of us knew how to respond. Of course, neither of us wanted to be rude. So instead of acting appalled, we pretended the hot tub would be great.

With a hot tub being the quintessential swinger’s tool, we both knew where this was headed. Under the bubbling waters, their legs began to “accidentally” touch ours … over and over again. I couldn’t tell what Luke was thinking and visa versa. So rather than embarrass ourselves, we decided to just play along.

After leaving, Luke and I felt entirely frustrated — but not with Rick and Tim. Clearly they had mistaken my request for help as a physical one. Instead, we were frustrated at ourselves for not being more upfront with each other. It didn’t help us start off non-monogamy on the right foot, after all, and if anything, it held us back. Such sensitive territory indeed deserved better levels of communication.