Will opening up ruin our relationship?
Hi all. New to the forum. I'm 22, female, engaged to my fiance whom I've been with for over 4 years. We will be getting married on our next anniversary.
We have been struggling with many issues. A big one is that for several years I was on the Pill which completely killed my sex drive, and even now after being off it for roughly a year and a half, I do not fully have my libido back. Prior to starting the Pill I was masturbating at least once a day, and I remember having a lot more sexual desire at the start of our relationship. I still love my fiance, but I know I am not meeting his sexual needs. I will have spurts every once in a while where we have sex twice in one week or something, but in general if it were left up to my sex drive we would probably have sex once a month, if that. I miss being able to feel sexual and sensual, and I don't like the discord that my sex drive being out of whack had caused. He is always asking and I am always saying no.
In regards to opening up our relationship... I would have no problem with opening our relationship, and I would gladly let him be with a woman whose sex drive matched his own. I've even told him recently that if he ever got the desire to have sex with another woman, I wish he would tell me and we would talk it out and he would have my blessing, because I do not want to sacrifice the solid, loving relationship we have just because he has sexual desires for someone else. He was surprised that I said so, and said something very brief to the effect that it doesn't go the other way (that he wouldn't do the same for me with another man).
The challenge is that I actually do want to be able to have sex with other men and women. We got together very young and both of us have limited sexual experience (he was a virgin, I had only had 1 one-night-stand with a man). I feel like part of my lack of sex drive is both of our lack of expertise in the bedroom. (EDIT: I should add that I've been unable to orgasm with either of my partners, though I'm perfectly able to do so alone.) I also feel like the rest of our lives is a long time to spend just having sex with each other. I want to have the variety of experiences that sex with other people could give me. I want to have three(or more)somes as well, which he has been open the idea of as F/M/F but not really M/F/M.
The real kicker is that thinking about myself sleeping with other people (and thinking of him with other people) has actually sort of turned my sex drive back on, at least a little bit. I actually tried to initiate sex the other night for the first time in a loooong time (though he was exhausted from work and not really in the mood for once, so we didn't). I'm also struggling with the fact that there are two different people who I would like to be with if we DID open up, and I haven't spoken to either of them about my "crush" on them, but I get butterflies around them in a way that I haven't with my fiance in a very, very, very long time. I have missed that NRE with my fiance, and I feel like it is coming back again with him by virtue of being interested in other people as well.
I don't know how to tell him that I'm really interested in opening our relationship. I don't know how he would take it. I don't know if now is the right time. Instinct says maybe we should wait until we're married, or maybe we should get our own sex life revved back up to where it should be before I try going off with other people. I am worried that if we did open up, it would be him doing it because I want it, not because he's genuinely OK with it. I'm worried he would see it as a threat to our relationship. Most of all I'm becoming frightened of the idea of being chained into monogamy for the rest of my life. I want to be with him in a relationship, in a marriage, for the rest of my life, but do I seriously want to be locked into a monogamous sexual relationship for 50+ years? That's a long, long, long time and I feel like if I don't experience all that life offers I am wasting my life away. I'm not looking for a romantic relationship outside of what would be my primary, although we have discussed causally that we could see ourselves in a polygamy type of situation with more than one wife or making it a romantic threesome...
We are also not currently the best with communication. We hurt each other's feelings a lot, and he is big about teasing me which I don't always mind but sometimes it gets to be too much. I want to communicate better whether we open up or not.
This has gotten long because I really need to get my thoughts out somewhere. Any thoughts are appreciated. I'm afraid that trying to open up will ruin our current relationship.
Unless you are both onboard-yes.
I guess at this point I just am not sure how he would take the conversation at all. I don't know if he would be onboard with it once he thought more about it or not. I think one of his initial concerns would be that it would just be me going out with other people, because he is shyer and I'm not sure if he would be picking people up all the time. But we have both said before how we wish we had more sexual and relationship experience before getting together, so I think he might welcome the chance for further experience without feeling that he's cheating on me.
ETA: I should probably clarify that I'm afraid just having the initial conversation re: open relationship might ruin our current relationship if he feels threatened or inadequate etc.
ETA2: I would definitely make sure to tell him that it's not like if he says no to an open relationship, I'm just going to go and cheat on him, because I'm not and I wouldn't. I'd want to discuss, establish, and respect his boundaries, since he would basically be defining the terms of the open relationship insofar as what HE is comfortable with ME doing.
It sounds to me like you need to slow down. Start small. Bring up what it is about a relationship is meaningful, talk about what each of you sees for the future, personal fantasies you have never told anyone etc.
Build your relationship strength and communication. Within that, the topics of concern and desire etc come up.
And dont get married without having already gotten through all of that. Love is not enough to sustain a lifelong commitment. That requires compatibility and good communication skills. Compatibility for LONG RANGE goals, dreams, intentions etc. not just in how to keep house.
We've talked about a lot of this stuff previously, particularly in terms of goals and the future and all. I don't really know how to bring up the rest, since we never really just sit down and talk anymore. We used to have a lot of time where we traveled together (school/work commutes, etc) and we would sometimes get to deeper topics of conversation, but now we don't have those times and opportunities. Like I said I definitely do think communication is something we need to step up on, but I just feel like I'm fumbling for how to do that without seeming like I'm saying "Honey, we need to Talk" in that way.
Talk to you fiancee. Stop avoiding it. Put your communication and conflict resolution skills into play here.
I have no idea why you guys don't change birth control if the pill is killing your drive, hon. See doc about your best options for your needs!
You will feel silly if that is all it is.
But if it is deeper than that -- it is a change in your heart? If you have fallen out of love with him -- do not be avoidy about having the Big Conversation about that and choosing to break up totally (monoamorous), change the relationship configuration (polyamorous), or some kind of mix and match thing there between the two. I write it that way because I do not know your wiring or his wiring or how you like your relationship shapes to come in or what. Most of life is Spectrum. :)
Long answer below. Use at will.
BREATHE. Be true to yourself. You will be ok in the end regardless of outcome here. IF you are honest, ethical, and true.
If you want to know those things in bold -- you have to have a Big Conversation with him to FIND OUT his position. If you cannot have Big Conversation with your husband to be -- you have no business getting married. I know that is a strong opinion of mine -- but seriously. Life is LONG. There's a lot of shit to handle -- can't hack this small first Big Convo at the beginning? Does not look good for long haul. Either for a marriage to this man or for your future polyships if you go there. COMMUNICATION is vital. Why are you avoiding practicing your communication skills? Are you afraid your conflict resolution skills are weak? How do either those get strong without exercise?
If your actual skills need help -- county extension offices usually have communication classes for couples. So do other places -- houses of worship, libraries, see a counselor, read a book.
I've been with DH near on 20 years. We MAKE the time to tend to the relationship and MAKE the time to have Big Conversation. The time does not magically arrive from the skies once people are married, working, raising kids, etc. If you can schedule time for care and keeping of your teeth with your dentist but do not schedule time for the care and keeping main relationship you have with your partner, how to you fancy you will schedule the time for all the peeps in your future polyship, hon? That is MORE partners, MORE commitment to tending to people. You make the time to see your dentist but not your peeps?
The ethical thing to do here is to postpone wedding and really sort yourself out FIRST. Then sort out your relationship with him.
DO NOT promise monogamous marriage arrangement and then change the game on him. That is promising false goods and lies of omission. You can print this post and just GIVE it to him to read. It does not matter HOW elegant it is done. It matters that it is done. Do not cheat your fiancee out of HONEST from his partner. Do not be avoidy.
DO NOT get married promising polyamorous arrangement without defining what that is first.
Have you taken pre-marital class yet? Either from your faith institution or the County extension office? Shit gets REAL when you get married. You need to be prepared well.
And you do not sound prepared to me.
You also sound unsure on the polyamory thing. Being unsure is TOTALLY OK. I'm not being mean to you here.
But do not avoid that. Just state to self and to partner "I AM UNSURE. I need space and time to be sure."
Postpone is nothing. Hit the snooze tag button if you need it!
You can always put the wedding plans back on once you are sure.
And if you come to find this is NOT it? Better a broken engagement than a broken marriage. Keep it real over there.
Ruin? Not necessarily guaranteed. If it comes down to the wire and he wants CLOSED marriage and you want OPEN marriage -- that's ok. Break up and continue to be loving as companionate love friends. There's all kinds of love -- not just consummate love. You change the shape of it to a loving friend model. You do not have to lose him. Who knows? 20 years later you change the shape again! :)
But LYING to yourself and to him? That's a guaranteed ruin. Eventually it comes out. And then there's a big mess. MUCH harder to get over. Trust is shattered.
I've with with DH this long and he's poly-friendly monoamorous and I'm polyamorous and he knew it from Day 1. I think a large part of the success of that is he always has known what I have here for offer.
You sound like a nice person. Just confused. Stop, take a deep breath, relax. Then one thing at a time.
Figure out what you want. Really want. It may or may not be with this partner in THIS shape. And that too is OK. There can be good break ups and change relationship shapes without losing your loved ones.
Hang in there. BREATHE. Then talk to your fiancee. Make a time, and do it. Might even take a few appointments. So you can have mental breaks in between sessions. That is ok. BUT DO IT.
The Seven Levels of Intimacy-
great book (not pertinent to poly per se).
It was a life saver for us-really helped lay out, in concrete terms HOW IMPORTANT metacommunication is in a relationship. How absolutely CRITICAL it is if you don't want to become a statistic (divorce).
You absolutely do NOT want to delay on this one sweetie. It's IMPERATIVE that you resolve the communication issue and make it a PRIORITY REGULARLY. WIthout that-the relationship WILL DIE.
A quote that stuck with me,
Either we're growing or we're dying-cause stagnation-is heading towards death.
Thats true individually as well as in relationship.
My advice would be to make sure he knows exactly how you feel before you get married.
If he feels marriage is worth entering into, given his (new) understanding of what marriage to you entails, then go for it.
ETA: No point in entering a marriage when you know there are going to be issues, especially if you already know what the issues are. Marriage is not a trap we spring. It may be you are not ready to marry.
As others have said so well, solve this BEFORE getting married, not after. Getting married won't make this any easier, it will just increase the consequences, and being polyamorous won't necessarily help your sex life. Polyamory will bring its own problems, so you'll need to be good at resolving things together.
Look at opening your relationship as something akin to having a child together: it needs to be something you both want, it will be a challenge even if/when you've done what you can to be prepared, and you can never fully take it back.
If you're wanting to get better at satisfying each other sexually, take a class together that is focused on that. Communication is key (and something everyone needs to continually work on, myself included). If you're able to satisfy yourself sexually, have you tried having your boyfriend hold you while you do so?
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