Personal Essay

The Ethical Other Woman

Being a single 24 year-old boy-next-door looking twink living in downtown Toronto, I am more well-versed in the city’s hookup scene than I would care to admit because I can’t seem to get a date. Instead, I on occasion will find myself conversing with a stranger 2,014 feet away asking me if I’m a top or a bottom before asking me how my day is going or what my name is. After indulging in conversation lasting anywhere between 5 minutes to 5 months on and off I am heading over to his place for a tryst of me complimenting his apartment for a brief moment followed by a 20-25 minute episode of hasty foreplay and punctual penetration before I get dressed again and wish him a lovely weekend as I make my departure on my way to work. Sometimes it’s hot and exciting, other times it’s awkward and lifeless, but like it or not it’s the only thing keeping my body warm during Canadian weather.

Through my escapades in casual sex, I overtime began noticing patterns in the men I would find myself hooking up with; often handsome men in their 30’s/ early 40’s with fancy condominiums downtown. It’s not that I’m particularly interested in older guys, it’s simply guys my own age are not able to have me over to host as they are either living with 3 other roommates or their parents because they can’t afford their own place. So, that just leaves me with the guys who can afford to live in a one-bedroom apartment downtown; 38-year-old bankers and financial advisors; I’m O.K with that. One thing I did happen to notice though is that among the more common amenities that came with being more ripened with age such as tasteful beards, sleek furniture, and glass showers; the vast majority of them also had long time boyfriends or husbands. That being said, they assured me they all had clear agreements with their partners over the rules and limitations of their relationships and that me hooking up with them was perfectly O.K. This took a while for me to wrap my mind around, but over time it became my new normal.

For predominately straight audiences this concept may seem like something out of a more recent episode of Empire that nobody watched, but for gay men immersed in casual phone-app hookup culture this is more relatable than 99% of love songs we hear daily on the radio. Being queer, the societal expectations of heteronormativity are largely lost on us and we have been instead granted the freedom to define our own rules in creating our standards of romance. With this, many have opted out of a lifestyle dictated by monogamy that binds us to one dick for the rest of our lives while there’s a hairless twunk living down the hall whose jockstrap you notice peeking out of his skinny jeans every time you’re in the elevator together. Having being raised without parental supervision is a hypersexualized community that can get a blowjob delivered to your door faster than a medium pizza from Dominos, it can be a struggle one day dropping your three one-night-stands a week habit once you have found Mr. Right. So why not have both?

Going back to me being a hoe, I began noticing that I was hooking up with more guys that were taken than I was guys who were single. I didn’t mind it though; I was simply having fun with them so what did it matter what their personal lives were like if I would never become a part of it anyways?

Despite the vast differences of these men, there were two things they seemingly all seemed to have in common. First, all their relationships had been long-term ranging from 5 years to 15+ years together. While some of them had only been open for the past year and others open the entire relationship, they could all agree that opening their relationship had significantly strengthened the passion they shared with one another. As someone who had only grown up around monogamous couples – that I knew of – witnessing this unbridled success in non-monogamy intrigued me and challenged my own romantic ambitions.

The second unique characteristic these men shared; how nice they all were. Often times when pursuing casual sex, single gay men may perform an extremely cold and unfriendly demeanor as a means of establishing that they are looking for nothing more than sex. The sheer concept that a sexual partner may fall madly in love with them were they to ask, “so how was your day?” terrified them to the core and was not worth the risk in showing basic politeness. With these already claimed men however, they felt more than comfortable in expressing kindness in their embracement of me upon our meetings. As I always knew going into the hookup that they were in relationships, there was a clear set boundary between us preventing any misunderstandings of what this was; a simple exchange of physical intimacy between two unacquainted individuals who still believed in the kindness of strangers. There was a clear understanding that no matter how sweet or flirty or playful these men were with me that at the end of the day that was all it was and there was no need to overthink it. They could never break my heart because it was never to be given to them. I took peace in so simple a concept.

Through the respect of their boundaries and the joy of their companionship, I was able to develop simple friendships with some of them. Many of them had charming personalities with brilliant minds that I was able to engage with in delightful discussions. These conversations would generally take place either through text over Grindr, or while laying in bed next to each other immediately following our friendly fuck. With one guy, we would lay next to one another for about 30 minutes after sex and converse candidly as buddies as though one of us didn’t have the other’s semen inside of him. This made the camaraderie between us no less genuine, but rather likened it to a conversation two friends could be having seated across a table from one another at a pub instead of laying inches apart completely naked in a bed.

I began to find humour in this collection of weekend lovers I had amassed over the past year, how taken men had become “my type” without any intention of my own but merely the cards I had been dealt. I cheekily enjoyed thinking the “Ethical Other Woman” as my appellation given my nature of sleeping with someone else’s man, but always with the adult consent of all three parties involved. There was one man I had been speaking to on and off again for months, also open with his boyfriend of the past 8 years, who I explained my situation to as we planned our eminent rendezvous. He expressed amusement in my service to other men calling me a “stand in fuck buddy.” His title for me did not bring me as much delight. Truthfully, neither his intention nor his words towards me were malicious, they were plainly accurate. That’s why they hurt.

As much as I had enjoyed participating in casual sex with these men during the course of our relationships, it eventually became evident that it was more casual on one end than the other. I realized that it was indeed always me that would message these men first when I felt horny, calling into questions whether or not they saw me equally as a fuck-buddy or as some guy they hooked up with in the past that they may consider seeing again sometime. There were few things more humbling than messaging a guy asking if he wants to fuck only for him to politely reject your offer as him and his partner are going on a romantic date to an exquisite restaurant together, to which you reply, “Oh nice! Have fun!” before returning to your rolodex of potential booty calls.

I began feeling like a bag of chips, Zesty Doritos specifically to remain true to my brand. I was something these guys would occasionally snack on when they were bored, in the mood for a naughty treat, or simply satisfying a craving before the main course arrived. Like a bag of chips I was convenient, accessible, and disposable. None of these guys truly craved me as I offered nothing of substance and frankly their lives wouldn’t face any loss were they never to hear from me again.

There were times in which I would catch myself feeling resentful towards these men for my envy of them. I despised how they had acquired their happily ever afters of finding the man of their dreams for which they lived their fantasy lives together in shiny homes, but they still wanted more. On top of that they were still putting their good looks and charm to use with other single men in the city who they would bed with ease while single guys like myself struggled to find someone. I loathed how they were better at being single than me without having to deal with all the loneliness that came with it. In my head I would curse them things such as; You already have a man, why is that not enough for you? Can you please leave these single guys for me since you already have someone back home? Why do you get to have everything while I’m left with nothing?

The human mind is such a funny thing. As much as we are able to separate logic and fact from emotion that still does not negate the power that emotion has over us. It’s like watching a scary movie where a zombie or a supernatural monster is horrendously devouring a person in a fictional, dystopian realm. Even though your brain knows for a fact that what you’re watching isn’t real and it’s all fake, your heart still pounds in terror because that feeling can’t be silenced by reason. That’s what this was for me. My inability to divorce the knowledge in my head that this was just sex and nothing more yet my frustration, jealousy, and sadness still refusing to allow me to call it what it is.

I need to be clear that I harbour zero malice towards any of these men as absolutely none of them did anything wrong or were dishonest with me in any way. Not once did any of them lead me on to believing this was anything more than casual fun with no strings attached. Many of them were actually encouraging of me when I would tell them of other boys I was into pursuing for which they would urge me to go after. These guys were all so damn sweet, no wonder none of them are single.

Where this article ends it may seem as though I have learned my lesson and will never hookup with a guy in an open relationship again as I know the trials and tribulations that come with it, but that’s easier said than done. Hell, I’d still sleep with almost every guy this article is about again; they’re pretty fucking hot. Similar to the way I never intended to have such relations with these men in the first place but did so merely because they were the cards being dealt to me, that may very well be the same case moving forward. I have no idea what possibilities the future of my sex life may bring my way but hey, I’m open.

Jesse Boland

Jesse Boland

I write to give voices to people who use their passports as ID to get into the club. Gay Leo who grew up on Toronto Islands who lives life by chasing my dreams by foot because I don’t have a driver’s license.