advice for transitioning to nonsexual relationship with primary partner
Due to health issues and chronic pain my sweetie and I no longer have sex. We have been dating for a year and a half and living together since late summer. I love her and am committed to her.
I have so very many things I am grateful for in my life, and I want to focus my energy on being a good support person for my sweetie, but I still feel a sense of grief for the sexual connection I used to have with her. Sometimes it's overwhelming.
I feel rather embarrassed because we are poly, I should be able to get my sexual needs met elsewhere but I can't. I don't feel confident anymore, it must come out as me being unattractive because no one wants to go on a date or play with me. I've been trying to find people for a year. Sometimes I give up but then I get the idea in my head I should be able to do it, so I try again. It's embarrassing.
Sometimes I just wish I could remove that part of my brain that desires sex, making out, flirting, kink, play, all of it. I want to stop feeling sorry for myself and thinking about myself and just focus on the things I do have. And I need to focus my energy on being solid to help deal with my sweetie's medical issues and being her support person.
There's a part of me that can't let go or accept this reality. I miss fucking, I miss feeling desired, I miss the energy and connection and passion. Sorry about the whining. Thanks for listening.
Grief, loss, and suffering can cause long term emotional pain, and the stress of such may also be causing clinical depression.
Especially given your lack of confidence, desirability, and such.
Not that identification of that issue means there is a fix for the issue, only that you consider if perhaps you are depressed? However, trying to treat the depression directly can lead to multiple positive side effects independent of your ability to get a new sexual partner.
It's something I've observed in my own, and my wife's, lives multiple times (and, sometimes, seen the cause of as well!)
Try to address that too (not necessarily first, but in general) if that is a problem because it will be an overall drag on your whole life otherwise.
Yes, I know I'm depressed. I'm in therapy and on meds. I struggle with depression anyway, and the work I do in that is ongoing. It's not something I "get better" from, it's something I deal with, and yes, the loss of sexual connection with my sweetie and repeated rejection in dating has made it worse.
You mentioned you are in therapy; what has your therapist suggested so far? Has he/she suggested anything as far as how you might find people you can date with?
I'm concerned about your sweetie's health issues and chronic pain per se. What are the options as far as treatment is concerned? No one should have to be in pain all the time (and just "deal with it").
So, what have you tried as far as looking for dates is concerned? For example have you tried
My sweetie has anemia which makes her arthritis really bad. Her anemia is caused by huge fibroids in her uterus. She is having a hysterectomy Christmas Eve which I am worried about. I hope the surgery goes well and not bleeding so much in the future will allow her body to heal and cause her less pain in the future.
My therapist hasn't suggested specific things to do to find dates. I have tried okcupid, fetlife, and craigslist. I don't get responses from the people I message. I have probably written over 50 messages to people just in the past few months and I am polite, articulate and thoughtful, not generic, so I suspect everyone can sense something about my depression between the lines or something.
After the surgery I probably won't be looking much anymore because I will be taking care of my partner. I am trying to adjust to a life in which my sexuality is unwelcome and superfluous but I am having a hard time not being upset about it. I also feel badly that I am spending energy on this when my sweetie is going through everything that she is. I don't talk about it much with her because I know she knows and feels bad and misses it too, but talking doesn't help and just makes both of us feel worse.
Well, maybe if the surgery comes out okay, things will improve for the both of you. We can always hope.
So, your therapist hasn't offered "dating suggestions." Is he/she just helping you to work through the depression? What has he/she tried with you so far? if I may ask.
I know you're probably tired of trying more dating sites, but I still encourage you to give PolyMatchMaker a whirl. It's not nearly as active and heavily populated as OKCupid, but it's a pretty good site and sometimes it's the "next rock you turn over" that's hiding the treasure.
Wow, arthritis sucks to have, but most people don't get it at least til they're older. Your sweetie's had some bad bad luck I believe.
But do you feel like she's rejected you on some emotional level -- even if your brain can reason that it's not that, it's the sickness and the pain? Observing the tone of your posts makes me think you might feel emotionally rejected by her ... and thence even subconsciously resentful? I should know, I "blamed my wife" somewhere in the back of my mind when she came down with Alzheimer's. It's not easy being a caregiver, especially if on some level you already feel rejected.
It's times like these when I wish doctors knew how to cure virtually anything. Unfortunately that such knowledge probably lies far in the future. :(
Perhaps talking things out (or venting a bit) on the forum here helps? in some small way.
I hope you and your sweetie can both get a little relief soon. I have to sympathize.
Please keep us posted on how things are going and let us know if we can help.
I suppose I do feel emotionally rejected by her and sometimes resentful. I do know that she didn't choose this, and doesn't want or prefer to be in such pain.
My depression is interfering with my ability to be a good support person. Last night she told me things would be so much easier for her if I weren't so sad. She also said that I have a lot of things to be grateful for, and I do get lots of things that I want. I didn't mention sex to her specifically. It wouldn't be supportive to do so, but I think she knew I was thinking it last night anyway so I'm not being supportive.
My sexuality used to be something important to me, but I guess part of growing older is giving up the things you used to have and adapting.
A lot of people have sexless relationships and are perfectly happy. So what's wrong with me?
Can your partner offer intimacy - which can be part of sex but is it's own thing - and connection to you? Or she just too sick and in pain? Illness can sometimes make it so hard, maybe impossible to focus on anything beyond coping, and hopefully, getting better. While understandable, it is a rejection.
You too are experiencing real losses. Yes, your partner is definitely worse off. You are not sick or in pain or facing surgery. But this is not a competition. Your feelings and pain count too. Your partner can't be that support person for you right now. Do you have friends you can talk to? Are you the only support person for your partner? If so, get help as soon as you can. If there are physical needs to be managed, hire someone to help. Pull in family and friends if you can (many people want to help but do not know how or if they should offer). Reach out, reach out, reach out. Ask your therapist if they know of resources you can tap. You cannot be your partner's only support. That may break you.
Your partner is in terrible pain. But she was wrong to imply that you should not be sad. I'm sure she does not want to feel your pain on top of her own. But we feel what we feel. Of course you are sad! The situation is so hard. It would be bizarre if you weren't sad.
Find a friend, a family member, a spiritual leader, another support person to talk about your pain and sadness. Continue talking with your therapist - and if you don't like your therapist or aren't getting much out of it, find another therapist. Not all therapists are created equal. Some are indeed better than others. Or they may be just fine but not a good fit for you.
There are support groups for family/spouses of people with serious/chronic illnesses. Ask your theraprist about groups. A good one will have some suggestions for you. You might find this helpful - you are not the only person struggling with these issues. It might be weird to go talk to strangers about your situation - but 1) as you go, they stop being strangers and 2) they may understand you better than anyone else, who is not in the circumstances.
I am pulling for you and wish you the best. This is such a difficult situation.
Just wanted to let you know you're not the only one on here in this boat. My girlfriend has chronic health problems, no diagnosis in sight, just more symptoms every month. We're coming up on two and a half years of celibacy due to her health issues, and the other side effects that come up from such a prolonged lack of intimacy.
I really feel for you, and can empathize with everything you said. Let me know if it would help to chat with someone who knows where you're coming from.
I agree with the others; "You should be grateful" wasn't a good response by your sweetie. I suppose we'll excuse her because she feels like crap. But the heart wants what it wants. You can't just "turn off" your wants and needs to please her (or balance out some duty of gratitude). She is limited and you by extension are limited along with her.
It seems to me that sex is the great big elephant in the room that neither of you wants to mention out loud. Even if nothing can be done to fix it, I wonder if talking about it wouldn't be healthier because then at least you could express your feelings to each other about it. The unspoken has a way of growing and growing until it explodes.
Definitely don't do this alone, and don't try to be a caregiver alone. Get help. And change therapists if your current therapist is just cycling you through an orbit. Get someone who'll be duly alarmed about, and appreciative of, the specific problems you're up against. So far I'm not hearing what your current therapist is even doing to help you detox from the depression, and that concerns me. What do you talk about when you're in his/her office?
IMO, sexuality isn't something anyone (unless they've been asexual all along and don't like sex) should give up quickly or easily. Yes as we age our libido often decreases. But even then people don't generally abandon it altogether. Humans are arguably the most sexual species on the planet. Yes bonobo chimps are more licentious but human anatomy, plus the way society is simultaneously innundated with sexual and anti-sexual messages, speaks for itself. Humans are generally obsessed with sex, even when they're turned off by it for some reason. If you can't have sex, at least have enough self-acceptance to proudly bear the desire for it.
Just some thoughts,
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