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Avy 09-04-2012 01:18 AM

Beginning to explore
Greetings everyone.

I've been reading through the forums, and would like to start a [very common] thread. I'm beginning to explore poly, and would like to use this thread to welcome advice for starting out.

Personal Background: I'm a 32-year-old, very sexual, straight, married male, who grew up in an *extremely repressed* environment. Gradually, I've been realizing how much of my shyness with women has been an avoidance mechanism, based on shame over my sexuality.

I've experimented on-and-off in the past with coitus reservatus (sexual activity without ejaculating). This past time, I've begun to master the techniques. The result has been increased virility, greatly diminished interest in masturbation, and greatly increased desire to connect more deeply/sexually/intimately with other people. I'm also having increased reactive emotions, as I process and "transmute" all that extra sexual energy (I was a 1-5 time a day masturbater since I was a pre-teen).

Relationship Background: My wife and I have been together for 6+ years, married for 4+. We're deeply in love, are very affectionate with each other, and are definitely best friends. We've had casual conversations about exploring/flirting/etc. with other people in the past.

We've also had some sexual incompatibility. Our sex is good/great/intimate/caring when we do have it, but it's something where 1-4 times a month satisfies her, and marathon/creative lovemaking sessions don't really appeal to her. And I don't find obligatory sex appealing. I want my partner to be "hot for it".

Our Core Issue: The idea that we each have to be responsible for fulfilling each other's sexual needs. It's put a lot of pressure on the both of us. On my side, that belief made me feel guilty for being attracted to other people, and resentful for her if she didn't meet my needs. I've felt there was something wrong with me as a man, if I couldn't get my wife to me more interested in me sexually. On her side, it's made her feel insecure--that she doesn't "measure up" and that she'll lose me to someone who can meet all my needs. The result is that whenever we've had conversations about our different sexual needs, she feels defensive, and like she needs to promise to "fix herself" to become "enough for me".

The result was that I spent a lot of time masturbating and feeling isolated, while we go through this cycle of unmet sexual needs, fights, promises to change, and back to unmet sexual needs. This has been the default pattern for most of our 6+ years together. We've tried multiple books' worth of different intimacy exercise, etc. But we already have tons of intimacy.

Recent Developments: All this kind of came to a head in the last week or two. I refused to accept our pattern, and my wife admitted for the first time that most of the items on my list of sexual needs (things like near-daily sexuality/flirting, lovemaking with creativity/imagination, trading time as the active/passive sexual partner) just didn't interest her all that much, and never had in her previous relationships.

I'm sorry to say that our fight was dysfunctional at first. But our fights never last very long, and we were able to resolve it. I suddenly realized how unfair and silly it was to the both of us to cling to the idea that we each had to be 100% responsible for the other's sexual fulfillment. There was no other reason for the belief other than "that's how our parents taught us."

So we ended our conversations with an agreement to explore alternate arrangements. We're both scared, and coming to grips with it emotionally.

Going Forward: At my suggestion, we are not acting on our agreement, but just spending the next couple weeks just letting go of our ideas about monogamous sexual fulfillment. I want us both to recover from the initial shock, and feel the difference when we're not putting unreasonable pressure on each other/ourselves.

I'm not interested in a "swinger" lifestyle. I find a hyper-sexualized, casual, "porno" lifestyle unappealing. I'd like more flirtation, affection, and romance in my sexual relationships. She is scared of me falling in love and leaving her, but I want to build my life with her, and grow old together. She finds a more DADT kind of open relationship less uncomfortable. So we'll have to find some compromises.

Whew! Sorry to be so long-winded... :o

Does anyone have any specific advice/guidance for me? Places to start? Red flags? Pitfalls to avoid?

LovingRadiance 09-04-2012 01:26 AM

Red flag-DADT.

It's usually a sign of unresolved insecurities-and often creates a huge issue with insecurities growing-instead of shrinking. Lots of info on that if you do tag searches.

I highly suggest you both read some books. Love Without Limits by Deborah Anapol is a good one and for figuring out reasonable boundaries-and understanding that they need to be renegotiated at regular intervals (especially to get started) read Opening Up by... Tristan Taoromino? Spelling??

Avy 09-04-2012 01:44 AM

Agreed. I think that's the biggest issue.

I want to learn more ways of being supportive/reassuring without being untrue to myself. I hope we can grow, but know that it's not 100% up to me.

Thanks for the book rec's. :)

LovingRadiance 09-04-2012 02:04 AM

The first one-Deborah Anapol-I found her book the most helpful in communicating the ideas of what I was wanting/needing as a poly to my mono's.
The second one I didn't care for as a book-but the sections (I think chapter 3-7 or so) address damn near every possible topic for boundaries. Which is very helpful. ;)

ALso, there are other books listed in my blog (linked in my signature) on a page called links or books or something like that (a page all its own). ;)

The other GREAT book-whcih isn't poly oriented-is The Seven Levels of Intimacy. GREAT book for relationships. Totally awesome and my absolute favorite.

Avy 09-04-2012 02:13 AM

I'm reading the first one on my kindle right now ;)

LovingRadiance 09-04-2012 02:20 AM

:) Happy reading!

AnnabelMore 09-04-2012 01:07 PM

You may well fall in love with someone else, but as long as you truly love and are committed to your wife, it in no way has to mean you would leave her! This is an important thing for her to come to understand. The whole idea of poly is *multiple* loving relationships, not replacing anybody. It can be hard to understand the idea of loving and actively being in a relationship with more than one person if it's new to you, but more reading may help. There are great resources for beginners at www.morethantwo.com.

Best of luck!

Avy 09-05-2012 06:31 AM

We're already beginning to have more productive communication, thanks to the info I've been directed to here.

One of the "side-effects" of polyamory and similar non-monogamous situations that I've noticed people talking about is that (a) there's less room for coasting/BS in your relationships and (b) you can't do it without *really* learning to communicate non-defensively.

Those both sound pretty great (and challenging) to me.

So *baby step* compromises on both our parts and building good communication about sensitive topics are on the menu right now.

I can't expect my partner to be ultimately ok with everything, I just have to have some faith that if we both try to grow and compromise, we'll have a much better chance at a happy solution.

dingedheart 09-05-2012 01:57 PM

Have you and your wife tried traditional therapy to work on that core issue ?

Is this the 1st option ?

Avy 09-05-2012 07:13 PM

Yes to the first question, no to the second (which sounds kind of like a leading question to me).


This has been the default pattern for most of our 6+ years together. We've tried multiple books' worth of different intimacy exercise, etc.

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