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Locked Out

By Mink Stole | Posted 6/20/2001

I've been in a relationship with this guy for several months, and although I have a place of my own, we spend a lot more time at his apartment. Neither of us is seeing anyone else, and I don't want to force any issues, but how long should I wait before he gives me a key? Is it OK for me to answer his phone?

Good Guest

Dear Guest:

There are no carved-in-stone rules about keys. It depends on an individual's sense of privacy. Some people hand their keys out like lollipops in a doctor's office, others never hand them out at all. Some guys see their apartment keys as the equivalent of an engagement ring and will only give them when they're ready for a major commitment. If you really want one, think of a reason why you might need to be there without him, such as preparing a special meal while he's at work, and see how he responds. The more casual your request, the less likely he is to feel pressured. People are more or less territorial about their phones too. Next time he's in the bathroom when it rings, just ask him if he wants you to get it. If he says no, remember it doesn't necessarily mean he has anything to hide, or that he's hiding you; he's just used to answering it himself. The important thing is to respect his feelings and not to make it a test of his love.

A word of caution: If he does give you the key for a specific occasion, never, ever use it without permission. A key is just a key--not a license to invade his privacy.

I just opened a big can of worms. I had a relationship in the past that resulted in a child. I loved this man very much, but he had a very bad temper and would occasionally become abusive. He was also unfaithful to me. Now, I'm married to a wonderful man who has adopted my child and raised him as his own. I love this man more than life itself, but while our sex life is OK, it lacks passion. Recently I ran into my ex, and the attraction was still overwhelming. I slept with him, our lovemaking was even more exciting than I remembered, and I know I'll never have that with anyone else. But I feel guilty. I don't want to lose my husband but I feel I am being dishonest not telling him. Meanwhile, my ex calls all the time saying he has always loved me and wants to see me. He says he always wanted to be a part of our child's life but knew he had to get his act together (drug/alcohol abuse, criminal activity). Would it disrespectful to my husband to let my ex see our child? Also, how can I let him see our child if I desire him sexually? What is the right thing to do?

Mixed-Up Mom

Dear Mixed-Up:

No matter how much we women tell ourselves that men should treat us with consideration and respect, in our hearts we want the bad boys. Actually, our hearts and minds do appreciate the good guys; it's that other, lower part of our anatomy that craves the scoundrel. We want respect, sure, but we also want to be devoured, ravished, treated like the sexual beings we are. Anyone who doubts this need only spend a few minutes reading titles in the romance section of any major bookstore: Forbidden Lover, Reforming a Rake, Dangerous Lord, etc. It's one of society's nasty double standards that while we accept this as natural in men, we revile it in women. Natural or not, however, in most marriages there are consequences to be paid for indulging in extramarital passion, regardless of whether it's the wife or the husband doing the deed.

Although I usually advise honesty, I strongly suggest that you not tell your husband you've had sex with your ex. It would be unfair and selfish to relieve your conscience at the cost of his peace of mind. Consider your silence--don't even tell your very best friend--to be the price of your indiscretion. Then never do it again. Your ex may be sexy as hell today, but he has a bad history, and that kind of passion can fade before you even realize how badly you've screwed up your life. Also, your son already has a legal and loving father, who has the right to be part of any decision whether or not to introduce him to his biological father. In the meantime, tell your ex to leave you alone until you've made a decision. If you decide to let him see your son, try to do it with your husband present. When you feel the urge to rendezvous with your ex, pick up a copy of Flaubert's Madame Bovary to read instead. Temptation is hard to resist, but people do it all the time, and you can too. And you may want to talk about sex with your husband. Could be he's hiding just a little rough trade under that gentle, good-guy exterior.

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