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-   -   My new partner isn't comfortable with physical affection (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=3735)

gwendolenthefair 09-16-2010 02:05 PM

My new partner isn't comfortable with physical affection
 
I am a very physical, cuddly person and my boyfriend of three months is the polar opposite. I am finding that I initiate everything in terms of affection between us. I take his hand, I initiate hugs and kisses, I initiate sex. He's fairly receptive to everything I do and seems to enjoy himself, especially sexually. He is VERY nervous about PDAs though; in front of other people, even strangers, he only seems comfortable holding my hand, nothing else.

He was raised Catholic, although is no longer practicing, and I wonder if this might be affecting how he is. He is also used to getting very little physical affection, period. He is currently in a sexless, affection-less marriage with a woman who has decided she is gay. It sounds like even well before she came to that decision, he wasn't getting much affection or sex from her. I would think he would be starved for it, but he acts like he's used to doing without it. She was his first and only girlfriend and only sexual partner until he met me.

I am trying to figure out the best way to talk to him about this, without causing problems between us in a very new relationship. I am very attracted to him and would welcome a lot of kissing and cuddling, which I am used to getting from my husband. I have been seeing boyfriend once a week and since we don't have much time together, I'd like to make the most of it, not just sexually (we do usually have sex, although he doesn't seem to make it a big priority), but in terms of physical affection too. I did tell him, "I feel like I am always kissing you first" and after that he did initiate ONE kiss, but that was the only time. He has mentioned that his wife has complained about his passivity quite a bit.

I keep worrying that he's just not that into me. We have a huge age difference between us (I'm much older than he is). He does tell me how much he likes me and that he thinks I'm attractive, but so far, he hasn't been very good at showing it. I'm not sure whether this matters or not. He also very obviously has low self-esteem and I've been trying to help him with this, although I don't know if I am succeeding.

Thoughts?

phoenix762 09-16-2010 02:29 PM

Don't know if this will help, but I'm like that myself.

I do not like people touching me. I must give off a VERY strong vibe, too, because I see people on occasion who are touchy-feely by nature literally recoil mid- touch when they attempt to touch me. Mind, I say nothing to discourage it-my body language says it all, even when I DON'T WANT IT TO...

I rarely was OK with PDA, and I think the men I dated /married were not too bothered by it, however, they were bothered A LOT by their having to initiate any kind of sexual encounter ALL THE TIME. Both my first and second husband would REALLY get pissed about it...

I loved the men I was with dearly, I did. I just was raised in a home where we were in essence literally ignored unless we did something wrong. We were not even SPOKEN to.

So, your BF....he may very well love you dearly, he may just have a very hard time showing it. To this day (I'm 48) I have a very hard time with any type of physical affection.

Oh...DK if being RC would have something to do with it, but if he's a conservative practicing RC, yeah, that would hinder PDA, too. You just don't DO stuff like that.
( I was raised in a Catholic home for about 10 years)
However, if you are having sex, nope, he's not really serious about the RC thing.

I wish I had suggestions to help you and the BF. I really don't. I just feel for both of you. I can relate to the BF, it's really painful to feel trapped like that....having a fear of expressing yourself...

I'm guessing the BF and wife have a poly relationship? or she's separated from him?

gwendolenthefair 09-16-2010 06:59 PM

Thanks for your kind and thoughtful response, phoenix. Yes, my boyfriend is poly, but he's a newbie. I am his first outside relationship. He has told me he would not be living as poly if his wife wasn't gay. Yes, they are still together. I don't see that lasting long term because there are no children and their relationship doesn't seem very solid to me overall, but for now, they are still together. I believe she stays with him for financial reasons, possibly also because she has been unsuccessful so far at finding a girlfriend for herself. I've met her and she seems very cold to him, but I know he cares about her and wishes her well.

I am thinking that perhaps boyfriend just has never spent any significant time around someone who was warm and affectionate and caring, and literally does not know how to handle it. I feel bad for him, and I know I am fortunate because I have always had physical affection and love in my life. I hope I can help him evolve.

vodkafan 09-18-2010 12:09 PM

You could ask him straight out whether he likes PDA . I suspect he may like it but doesn't know how to deal with it yet because of his other issues. Depending on what he answers you can get him to say what level of touching he is comfortable with and start off from there?

redpepper 09-19-2010 12:21 AM

There was an interesting thread on touch. I will try and find it for you... perhaps it will be helpful.

http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=3081

gwendolenthefair 09-21-2010 12:53 PM

Thanks folks. I did take your suggestion, vodkafan, and talked to him on our last date about how he felt about PDAs and what he had grown up with. He said that he was basically a conformist and wasn't comfortable with PDAs unless other people were doing them too. So I guess this means if we are at a party and other people are making out, he might too, otherwise no. I'm actually not sure if I can be comfortable with his attitude. He's to the point where if we're alone in a room kissing or cuddling and someone walks in (his wife, his roomie, or a friend), he'll immediately stop what he's doing. I can see how he wouldn't be comfortable cuddling me in front of his wife (the wife isn't comfortable with that either), but I don't see why he can't even give me a kiss with other people around whom he isn't married to.

This issue might be moot anyway. His wife just told him this weekend that she wants to move out. Poly was a way for him to still have a sexual and romantic life and and still remain married to his high school sweetheart, who has figured out that she's gay and no longer has any sexual or romantic interest in him. I don't think he has ever been comfortable with the concept though, and once she leaves him, I don't think he'll stay poly. He's already practically said as much, he said he would keep his options open if she left him, and of course, there are way more monogamous single women out there than poly ones.

I'm sad about the whole thing. I really like this guy. I definitely see him as a long-term secondary relationship I'd like to have. I'm very attracted to him and he lives 15 minutes from my house. I could fall in love with him easily, and I rarely say that about anyone. But I don't see this lasting.

vodkafan 09-25-2010 02:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by gwendolenthefair (Post 45156)

This issue might be moot anyway. His wife just told him this weekend that she wants to move out. Poly was a way for him to still have a sexual and romantic life and and still remain married to his high school sweetheart, who has figured out that she's gay and no longer has any sexual or romantic interest in him. I don't think he has ever been comfortable with the concept though, and once she leaves him, I don't think he'll stay poly. He's already practically said as much, he said he would keep his options open if she left him, and of course, there are way more monogamous single women out there than poly ones.

.

Hmm that's interesting. Because him finding out his marriage was a no-go you might think that would clear the way for you and him. But I guess he really wants to be in a mono relationship more than anything else.

AutumnalTone 09-26-2010 09:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by gwendolenthefair (Post 45156)
I can see how he wouldn't be comfortable cuddling me in front of his wife (the wife isn't comfortable with that either), but I don't see why he can't even give me a kiss with other people around whom he isn't married to.

You don't have to understand it. He decides if he's comfortable or not and acts accordingly. You can ask for more affection in those situations, certainly, though he determines whether or not he can offer more--and he doesn't have any obligation to explain it beyond indicating comfort or lack thereof. If he can't offer enough affection to meet your needs, and that's a fundamental need for you in relationships, then the two of you are likely not compatible for a close, romantic relationship.

Poly relationships are the same as mono relationships in those regards--nobody gets to dictate changes in behavior for the other(s) involved and if there's a lack of compatibility in key areas, it's best to end the relationship with as little muss and fuss as possible.


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