Newish, confused, seeking advice
So I have been scouring the forum and reading lots of input and it seems like everyone here is really great at giving advice and I have hit a roadblock in my relationship and thought this would be the right place to seek help.
My boyfriend and I are in our mid 20's and have been dating for over 4 years, I love him desperately, he is my partner, my best-friend, my idol, my confidant, my brother, my lover, my beautiful amazing boy. We have a very supportive and communicative relationship. He truly is an angel.
But, yes there is a but, we suck at sex together. He was my first and through a series of traumatic family problems and stress we never really got the chance to connect completely sexually. We never had a lot of sex in the first place because it was very painful for me and we had an intense amount of stress in both of our lives. Of course, as the years have gone by we have had less and less sex. It slaughtered my confidence and I constantly questioned him about why he wouldn't have sex with me and why he would never initiate to which he never had an answer. Lack of sex however was not worth breaking up to us, we love each other more than what sex could ever give us. Mind you, that doesn't mean I want to live without it either, cue our discovery of polyamory.
About 2 years ago I borrowed 'the ethical slut' book from a friend, and on our drive home I explained to him the main idea of the book.
I finally had the guts to pose the question, "What if we just aren't sexually compatible?" We had a long talk and he offered that if I wanted to sleep with other people I could because he didn't want to deny me sex in my life (since he was the only one I had ever had and that whole situation wasn't working out very well). OF course in return I had to offer him the same, I couldn't imagine in the situation being one sided like that, and I felt it was fair that he should be able to sleep with other women. ( I honestly just want what would make him happy)
But when the question came up of how we would deal with these other people in our intimate 'territory' we both were at a loss. I would feel insanely jealous and insecure if I knew he was with another women because I wanted him so badly to be with me and could never get that to happen. He said he would also feel similarly. We both acknowledged that it was just our EGO and that we truly did want each other to be happy, so we improvised an extreme Don't ask don't tell policy. We simply would not ask about it and would not talk about it. AT all. (Keep in mind we both had never done any research on the topic or knew anyone who was polyamorus so we didn't really know where to start)
So soon after that I had sex for the first time with someone else. Someone I thought I could trust because we were good friends, but it turned out rather horrid. I thought it was maybe just this particular person so over the last 2 years there have been others.
As far as I know, my partner is clueless, and I think he'd like to stay that way but I am having a really hard time with it. I've realized our arrangement is not safe, it is not constructive and it is not healthy and I really want to talk to him about it but I am so afraid.
I'm afraid he will ask who I have been with and be hurt by my answers. ( He is extremely judgmental of other men and feels no one is good enough for me.) I promised these other men it would remain confidential as well for their peace of mind. I'm afraid that because it was so long ago he will not acknowledge it as something acceptable for me to still be doing. I'm afraid it might drive us apart, and I'm afraid I will hurt him by confirming that I have been with other people. There is nothing more painful to me than upsetting him or feeling like I am the cause of some pain he is experiencing.
I know it has to happen, but I just really don't know how. I don't know where to start and I really have no way of telling how he will react. I don't know when would be a good time and what the best damage control will be. I most of all just don't want him to go sour on me, I want him to communicate with me and be open and honest but I am worried this situation has the potential to bring out his most stubborn and unsharing self.
ps. I know some of the ways I've worded things may not be politically correct or maybe contradictory but this is not meant to be an argument for my choices, merely an expression of what has happened, is happening and how I feel.
Hullo and welcome!
Few immediate thoughts;
1) You say you experience sex with him as painful. Is that a physical or emotional problem? Do the two of you (or you in general) have trust issues? What made you feel your first experience outside of this relationship was horrid?
2) Have the two of you had sexual therapy? Is it clear that you don't have orientation issues, in that either one or both would be gay or asexual? You have a disconnect of communication going on which could improve with therapy, methinks.
3) Have you had sexually satisfying experiences after the two of you decided it was okay to seek out partners outside? Yet again I'm wondering if you might be asexual, have incompatible kinks, trauma or if you just need to connect on a more profound level with someone in order to experience sexual joy.
4) Don't ask don't tell, like anything that involves closeting or lying by emission, is hugely stressful, and you want to move on. What is your ultimate goal? Reconnect with him? Be able to live free from fear of discovery and enjoy your other loves openly? Build a poly family/intimate network together?
You might benefit from learning some basic non-violent communication skills before embarking on this project. If he is not willing to do couples' counseling, consider getting into sexual therapy on your own.
Well, you're primarily responsible for that. If you are not behaving 'safely' you need to fix that.
Not constructive or healthy ? Who says ?
Don't ask/don't tell arrangements are perfectly acceptable, healthy, constructive arrangements for many people. It's what works with their unique personality quirks, insecurities and needs. Perfectly fine as long as handled properly.
Problem CAN come in when one party becomes uncomfortable with the seeming distance it puts between you. May be that that is what's beginning to happen to you ?
You really have to weigh the complexity and emotional toll involved in trying out a different model. Being more open in a quest for more closeness is going to be a trade off. At first there may be MORE distance, conflict, emotional damage. You can read plenty on here about what most people go through to get to a point poly is truly comfortable. It's a trial by fire experience/process.
Per your writing your relationships seems great, meeting your needs except for the sexual part. And you're both getting that met elsewhere and that's working. If only everyone was that lucky ! Most aren't.
There's a certain amount of wisdom in the "if it ain't broke - don't fix it" approach.
But the safety - you HAVE to address that. I'm not sure what you are specifically involved in that you feel is less than 'safe' - but you better fix that pronto anyway. That's a bigger subject that relationship needs.
First off thanks for your thoughtful response, I really appreciate it.
I also take a lot more time to become aroused before sex and very often he cannot keep an erection, so as soon as it's up its like, get it in there before it stops. Since we don't have sex a lot it's a lot of pressure for me to just do it for the sake of doing it, with the naive hope that if we can just have more sex we may get better at it. This is another issue that we have had a lot of problems with and I've suggested going to a doctor to get it checked out many times but he won't, because of his ego maybe?
That being said we have had good sex before it's just it happens very very few and far between and mostly when we have been drinking.
I don't feel that we have trust issues at all. In fact I think a lot of the reason we don't have more sex is because we are afraid of disappointing the other.
My first experience outside our relationship was horrid because I really had no idea what I was doing, and the interaction came with a lot of guilt and a lot of shame. The partner I was with was manipulative and pressured me a lot when he realized he was in a power position, since he knew my boyfriend and could threaten to tell him, and I couldn't bare the thought of him finding out. We had been friends for a while so I didn't think he would be like that but he most definitely was and needless to say it was a lot of stress and a lot of grief and I lost what I had thought was a good friend. I do take responsibility for this though - I didn't even know how to begin to evaluate whether this would have been a good person to sleep with out of my primary relationship or not. Lesson learned.
We are very open about our orientation with each other, he is not gay in the least, I am bi-curious but prefer men most of the time.
Have any suggestions where we can get therapy that isn't gonna cost us our rent money?
With other partners I had some very satisfying experiences and some not so. But I am capable of having sexually satisfying experiences. I do like sex but I can't say I wasn't worried for a while when I first started.
Again, thank you thank you thank you for your thoughtful response.
Again, first I would like to say thank you for taking the time to give a thoughtful and insightful response.
I don't think it was that I wasn't behaving safely. People I thought I could trust threatened me with exposure to manipulate me, and if I could have just told him and talk to him about it that threat wouldn't be an issue.
So yes, don't ask don't tell is unsafe for me. I don't like being in sexual relationships where I have no one who knows what I am doing, where I am going and I have no one to talk about the emotional stuff that comes with all the figuring out.
It is not healthy for me because I feel a lot of guilt and a lot of shame excluding him from this part of my life. I have to make a huge effort to cover up my relationships with other people and it becomes very stressful because I don't have control over what other people do.
No matter who I've slept with I've always given them the whole story and communicated to them secrecy and being discreet is key. I have always tried to build an emotional bond and trust with them so they can feel free to communicate to me how they are feeling and what they need from me to feel good about our relationships and vise versa. Its very important to me that my partner feels close and feels a connection to me. I always get a verbal agreement and understanding of my situation and it's delicacy from a partner before we even think about doing anything sexual. This usually works in the beginning, but people can really suck sometimes so it has ended often in manipulation.
I have learned from these unsafe experiences that I do not want don't ask/don't tell any more. I am not saying that it doesn't work for some people because it did work for me for a time, but it's not something I can handle emotionally anymore.
Thank you so much for your insight and I really appreciate your input.
How about making time for just intimacy and touching with an agreement not to take things to the level of intercourse at all? There are self-help materials available on-line or in books on sexual healing and tantric sex, for example. You don't need a guru or an exotic and expensive retreat to get the basic things down - it's more about taking the pressure of sex as an athletic feat and the focus away from male ejaculative orgasm as the Ultimate End Goal of Sex.
Ok - this is a bit more enlightening. I think maybe I missed a KEY word in your first post. You said "you THINK he'd prefer to not know" what's going on. I missed that. Me bad.
Because this post reads that there really isn't a DADT policy in place by mutual agreement - it's really more just what most call cheating. In a true DADT arrangement, the parties have agreed that there will be other lovers in the picture but because of their own fears & insecurities have chosen to not want to know or discuss any details. It conveys a high level of trust in each others judgement which is admirable.
If you TRULY had a DADT agreement in place all of this would be less of a concern. When other lovers etc realized the truth of it they wouldn't have this lever of manipulation to work with and the chemistry of the whole affair would change greatly.
But it seems you don't have this so you have a couple possible options.
1> REALLY have a discussion with primary and get it together (DADT)
2> Discuss your discomfort with DADT (even though you don't really have it yet) and raise the question of possible poly where you CAN openly discuss the gist of what/where you are going for safety reasons. Mutually benificial agreement.
Good luck !
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