Wise Guys: Do Men Admit to Other Current Casual Sex Partners?

photo via Flickr

Advice from three of EMandLO.com’s guy friends. This week they answer the following: If a guy is casually hooking up with someone and exclusivity has not yet been established, is he obliged to tell that person about other people he’s sleeping with? And should he offer up that information, or should he wait to be asked?” To ask the guys your own question, click here.

wiseguy_benStraight Married Guy (Ben)Until there’s an actual conversation, there’s no need for a conversation. In other words, as long as everybody’s playing safe, there’s no need to kiss and tell. But one important thing — this is not a “Don’t ask, don’t tell” situation. If your hook up asks you anything about it, you must be honest. Similarly, don’t you ask him or her unless you really, actually want to know.

Gay Single Guy (Justin Huang): Let’s immediately assume that everyone on this party bus is practicing safe sex and being responsible. With that established, I’d say, no, our guy is not obligated to tell his sexual partners about each other. The keyword here is “casual,” and speaking from my own experience as a single gay guy, of course I want to be with desirable people who probably have equally active sex lives, but actually hearing about it from them would be a bit of a buzzkill. If you really care about whether your hookup buddy is seeing other people, I’d say that’s a pretty clear indication that you are either just a very territorial person (read: greedy), or you have actual romantic feelings toward them and the two of you should discuss them like adults.

Furthermore, I think that it’s unfair to ask him if he’s sleeping with other people before you ask him if he wants to be exclusive. Because, frankly, it’s none of your business who those orange panties belong to unless you have a spoken claim on his penis. (Granted, if you do find someone else’s panties in his bed, that means he doesn’t clean the sheets between partners, and that should be a dealbreaker. Yuck.)

Now, there is an exception to this. He would be completely obligated to tell you about another sexual partner if it’s someone you know, especially if it’s a friend, roommate, colleague, or – yikes – someone you’re related to.

anonymous_suitStraight Single Guy (Max): If the hooking up is truly casual, there are a couple of options. First and foremost, I would say that the knowledge of other partners is often already established BEFORE any casual hooking up happens. A touch of jealousy can be a great motivator for all sides. If the knowledge of partners is unknown, I’d say that no one is obligated to say anything as long as the sex is smart and safe. After a little while however, I think that you have to say something. With time comes a greater expectation of something more: if not fidelity and commitment, than at least more forthright honesty and openness. You can’t just keep hooking up with someone and never discuss the possibilities of relationship progress, so how can you skip over something else that you already have? Also, I think that it’s incredibly rare to find more than one person who you are really into at one time. In the situations where I’ve had multiple partners, I’ve found that it’s best to be honest with everyone to avoid the potential for a big mess. If everyone is cool with a love triangle, then by all means, keep it going. Still, I think it’s hard to make these things last. More lovers just leaves more room for disagreement and hurt feelings — eventually someone involved is going to want something legit or else will simply want to call it quits. 

Our “wise guys” are a rotating group of contributors, some of whom wish to remain anonymous and some of whom like the attention. This week’s Straight Married Guy is Ben, a writer and artist living in Los Angeles who runs AdultParlorGames.com; our Gay Guy is Justin Huang, an LA-based freelance film editor, producer, certified personal trainer and the voice of IAmYellowPeril.com; and our Single Straight Guy, Max, is a recent college grad in New York City. To ask the guys your own question, click here.


  1. I guess it’s a question for metaphysics whether it’s cheating if you were already in a casual relationship before you started getting serious with someone else.

    If you’re not serious then… I think part of the FWP arrangement is that privileges or not you’re at least friends enough to agree in advance that if something serious does come up that neither of you will make waves for the other. (Agreement? Disagreement?)

    Similarly, at the point where you’re just entering a relationship it’s fairly conventional to assume you’re not the only potential partner your prospective partner has been interested in. Almost by definition “going steady” implies that previously you weren’t.

    So for me, to stick with the ancient high-school terminology for a moment, the point where you decide (or maybe just realize) that you’re “going steady” is the point where conversations about other relationships need to happen. Not just with the new steady partner but with others. Because, again assuming you’re friends with privileges, you want to be responsible with all concerned.

    Final question, though: Cosmo and Details magazine wishful thinking not withstanding, how often does this situation really arise? I’m… pretty sure most people feel lucky to have one partner at a time, and most people go for weeks or months without any. That doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be protocols for dealing with it when it happens. But like finding real four-leaf clovers it’s not like it happens every day.


  2. In my single days I always made sure women knew. Otherwise the’d call me a shit head later. Don’t ask me how I got away with it. All I know is you’d better REALLY have your hooks in a woman before you drop that bit of info.
    Once the hooks are in you can do no wrong.

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