Ask Demetria: Should I Give A ‘Cheat Pass’ for His Birthday?


“My boyfriend and I have been discussing marriage. He says he wants to marry me but doesn’t want to be limited to having sex with one woman forever. He asked me if I would consider parameters for him to mess around, like on his birthday or other special occasions. He doesn’t want me to do the same. I’m not totally against it.

“The exact terms—the frequency of the ‘passes,’ the consequences for additional violations—are something he and I are trying to work out. I see this often with celebs, but I’m curious about whether you’ve seen this work for everyday couples.

“Also, I would like to clarify, I’m not that pressed to get married, just simply thinking and discussing what my potential marriage would look like. Does this work for couples ever?”—Anonymous

I’m going to applaud you and your boyfriend for discussing what your expectations are for a marriage before you move forward. I’ve always been alarmed by the number of people who don’t talk about it, make assumptions about their partner’s outlook or think that marriage is a magical “happily ever after” that requires no work. It does explain the divorce rate, though, doesn’t it?

There’s no one way to make a marriage work, and you and your boyfriend are entitled to do your marriage however you like. But as you consider the terms he’s set forth, I’d also like you to consider some things you may not have thought about while caught up in your bubble of love.

The glaring issue with what he’s proposed is that it is grossly unfair, in that it benefits only him. I’m not so much a fan of open relationships, but people have them all the time, and they say they are happy. But in all the cases I’ve heard of, it wasn’t the one-way street your man suggested. Both partners were able to enjoy the benefits of an open relationship.

The expectation that you should be committed to him all the time, while he’s committed to you on nonspecial occasions, isn’t OK. If he get the “passes” you speak of, you should have a set of your own.

But maybe you don’t want any “passes”; you just want him. That’s cool, but I don’t think you’ve really considered the full repercussions of what you’re “not totally against.”

Whatever your stance is on “passes” or “cheating,” do understand that even if you are sexually monogamous, if your partner is not, you’re still at risk for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

Although everyone likes to focus on the joys of sex, the act can also come with some unintended consequences. You may give your could-be husband a pass to cheat, but how will you know if he uses condoms with his side boo? Are you OK with the possibility of catching a STD, even a curable one? What if it’s herpes? What if it’s HIV? Are you going to use condoms with your husband to protect yourself from whatever he’s exposed to on his “pass” days? How often do you plan to take HIV tests to make sure you’re healthy? Will your husband take them regularly, too?


Say that one of his flings gets pregnant. Will you and your husband pay for an abortion? What if she wants to keep the child? Are you going to help him raise the kid? Are you OK with money from your home going to the new child? Will you raise your children with your husband and any children from his mistresses together as one family?

On his birthday and other special days that you’re “not totally against” him spending with other women, is it OK if he has celebratory sex with you that day and then leaves to be with his mistress? You know it’s his pass day, so you know where he is. What will you do while he’s gone with her? Will you sleep comfortably? Iron his shirts? How long until you have sex with him after he’s back from his “pass”? Immediately? A week? Just curious.

If you’ve got answers to all these questions and you’re fine with these scenarios, I still can’t recommend that you take this offer.


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This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. Well answered. I could absolutely not allow my future husband any passes. I’m selfish and crazy lol. But it works for some so whatever floats your boat.

  2. Great advice, but you should never give out any passes because a pass turn into a passport, meaning they can revisit at their leisure.

    You will be mad at yourself once they continue cheating.

    A real man does not need anything else, but a strong woman.

  3. Che says:

    Don’t do it! This is bad business. Unless you are allowed the same provisions, which usually isn’t the case. Let me tell you from experience if you give someone an inch they will take a yard both male and female.

  4. tmlockez says:

    So I’m not enough for you, but you’re enough for me?

  5. Licia says:

    That situation is a breeding ground for insecurity, anger and resentment. I would not entertain a relationship with someone based on a contingent plan for my total devotion and their almost commitment. If you feel that this situation bodes that you ask, it is really evident that your basic instinct is correct….Hell no. Furthermore, get a relationship that you don’t have to question, whether you work it out with this man or get another. The relationships in life that you commit to should make you a better, secure, intelligent person…Not an insecure nut job.

  6. MCouture says:

    I’ve never agreed with open relationships or marriages, but to each his own. What’s the use of the word “commitment” if opposite actions are allowed. I don’t think you should do it unless you wouldn’t mind doing the same and including the questions to consider.

  7. The response provided EXCELLENT points to take under advisement. I am not a fan of an open relationship by any means, but I can’t say that it doesn’t happen in the world we live in! Jut not in MY house! :-)

  8. That Girl says:

    Ok, so i’m going to be really real here. I’ve had these kinds of relationships and yes they can work, BUT they take a LOT more effort and thought than this couple seems to be giving this idea.

    Being monogamous means that it’s just you and your boo. Being monogam-ish means that one or both of you sometimes have other lovers. That’s all well and good if you are willing to be open, honest and go into the situation with your eyes wide open.

    The questions that Belle raised are real and valid ones. Other questions to ask are: what are the parameters around disclosure when he’s back from the pass? Do you want to know all about it or would you rather know nothing? Do you trust that he’s willing to openly and honestly negotiate the terms of this deal? Can you be there, can you watch, can he get with people that you both know? Where will be meet these “pass” partners? What will he tell them? Will they be fully informed about the situation and that you are his primary partners?

    There is a LOT to consider here. A LOT! Frankly speaking it sounds to me like you want monogamy and he wants to play around. That’s fine. If you don’t want the same things deal with that.

    At the end of the day there has to be some meeting of the minds on this topic or it’s not going to work. “Players” in the monogam-ish game generally understand relationship primacy. That is to say that the primary partners wants, needs, thoughts and feelings but always be #1. For example if normally you’re cool with him going out to “play” with others and on any given day you’re not ok with it, he’s got to know that you have veto power over his activity. If he (and you) are not willing to go to extraordinary measures to make an open relationship work, don’t do it. You’re just setting your self up for heartache!

  9. I think when couples decide to have an open relationship, they don’t considering all of the aspects of having an open relationship. In saying that, I’m glad that you touched on every possibility or consequence that could come from being in an open relationship. Most people think he/she is just having fun on the side, but fail to realize that the fun on the side may lead to many other things such as diseases. Also, what if the partner that’s having the “passes” meets someone and they connect on a level that’s deeper than just sex. Will she be able to handle the possibility of her man falling in love with another woman? I know there’s different strokes for different folks, but I don’t think having an open relationship is a stroke I could handle. Great Post!

  10. NO NO NO!!!!I’ve been with the same lil gal 22yrs and have had another women but you must 1st concentrate on the two of you 1st…… no man wants his women to have a pass guess it the way God made us but anyways the 1st 5-10 years need to be about yall never about a cheat pass that’s lame!!… if you want to mess his head up tell him he has to bring her home so you can sit back with a glass of wine and cigar and just WATCH!!!

  11. teteglee says:

    It depends on the individual you are dealing with. You can not categorize everyone in the same pot. If you do you cheat yourself.

  12. Tlynnsmith says:

    Marriage is what it is. It’s been in existence way before we were in existence. I don’t think we get to change what it means, despite society’s relentless attempts to do so. Marriage and an “open relationship” are two different things - they are in direct opposition of each other. Figure out what YOU want (because it’s clear what he wants), and make sure you understand what you’re getting into - which may include hubby developing emotional attachments to one or more of his “birthday treats”. Now, I don’t believe in open relationships, but I understand the world doesn’t spin on my axis. However, sometimes we make what should be simple very complicated. Either you want marriage, which is sexual exclusivity (among other things), or you don’t. If you don’t, then what’s the reason for getting married? Any guy who suggests such a preposterous arrangement - he gets cheat passes, but you don’t - is definitely suspect.

  13. Marilyn says:

    Maybe I am stuck in the past, but in my opinion marriage is very serious and very sacred. The institution of marriage has become a frivolous decision made in the throws of love. That’s beautiful and all, but let’s get real. Marriage is work. I find it hilarious when women believe a ring on your finger is going to change a thing. I’ve always said that the relationship you have with your boyfriend will be the marriage you have with your husband. Getting married is not the right time to begin behaviors towards a long lasting relationship. What that means is, you start a good relationship from day one. Practicing respect, listening, compassion understanding, etc starts from the jump.
    And personally, if a man is thinking about another woman, he isn’t your man. Let’s get real. Do you really want a man who wants other woman? Why are you willing to settle? I don’t even know you, but I know you are worth more than that. A woman deserves a man who loves, respects and cherishes her and only her. And vice versa.
    But that’s just me.

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