The greatest illumination for your troubles
My partner and I have been together for three years, and ever since the beginning of our relationship we've been exposed to polyamoury in a positive light. My best friend has been poly for nearly twenty years, and my friendship with him gave us ample opportunity to discuss the benefits and difficulties inherent within polyamoury. I'd always suspected that I had more a poly leaning, but my partner was leery of it, so I set it aside in my mind, assuming that we'd simply be happily monogamous. Which we were, for the most part.
Nearly six months ago, polyamoury started coming up more and more seriously in conversation. My friend's mono girlfriend had decided to become poly. She started seeing a really nice girl, and my partner was struck by his happiness for her. We grabbed a few books on the topic, had a lovely conversation in the shower, and created okCupid accounts together. I was awash with compersion, and very excited to hear about her new lovers. Similarly, she was pleasantly surprised to discover that she was not particularly jealous of my new girlfriend.
Three issues have arisen for me. The first two pre-date our transition, indicating to me that it is probably not our polyamoury that is itself the problem. The third threw them into sharp relief.
1. Our sex life after the first year of our relationship can only be described as lackluster. Over the course of four months my partner went on heavy anti-depressants and underwent major surgery. Combined with the natural drop-off of attraction after NRE, the hit to her libido was sharp and understandable, but never recovered. I was frustrated, because I have a very high sex drive, and we'd had a very strong sexual connection. The worst part came when she stopped allowing me to stimulate her to orgasm, insisted on only having quickies, and rarely facing me, preferring doggy-style. At the low point, it was once a month. Now we're averaging maybe five, but with little enthusiasm. She maintains to this day that I am the best lay she's had.
2. We discovered our kinky sides when she was exploring ways of rekindling her libido. We went to a rope class, which awoke something in me I had never expected. As two beginners, we were clumsy and inelegant, not entirely clear about what was turning us on, and sometimes making mistakes. Her interest in bondage waned after a few sessions, while my fascination continued strong.
3. She began seeing four new people over the course of the month. This was not a problem in and of itself. I was surprised, but not displeased. What did displease me was the reports I started hearing back - I am going out with the local BDSM god, he tied me up and it was awesome. Check out my bruises, sex was so good (third time this week.) I didn't think the free tickets were for you too, so I asked him to go with me instead. Oh, I didn't think of using condoms or dental dams, I don't like it but I'll do it from now on. I was even more displeased when she broke an explicitly stated rule and had sex in the living room while I was at home sick.
I feel melancholy, frustrated and insecure. Everything that I've mentioned above is something that has been discussed with her in detail.
I've requested a dedicated date night where she turns her phone off (she is never without it, and her attention is perpetually divided.) I've requested that when we do have sex, we set aside enough time in our schedules to make it longer. I've requested more foreplay. I've requested more casual touching and physical intimacy about the house.
All of the requests I've made are met with variously with concern, defensiveness, prerequisites for me to fulfil first, expressions of frustration, and uncertainty of what further to offer me, and complete withdrawal. Through a combination of the type of response my requests elicit and the erratic nature of their implementation, I perceive no resolution, still feeling sexually frustrated and confused, so I bring it up again, to be met with further frustration and resistance. How much more can I offer you, she says, I am content with the intimacy we have. Cautious of the tenuous balance between silent self-martyrdom and needy pushiness, I'm uncertain of where to proceed from here.
Because it is easier to lay out my thoughts in this manner, I present to you:
My hypotheses -
My main enjoyment sexually comes from bringing my partners pleasure.
Sex is also a direct extension of my level of emotional intimacy with a person.
Because I enjoy bringing my partners pleasure, I do not like not being permitted to bring her to orgasm.
Because I know her physical responses so well, I know when she is less than enthused, which diminishes my own enjoyment of the sex.
So I feel sexually unfulfilled, as well as emotionally and sexually disconnected from her.
When she breaks explicit agreements, I begin to distrust her.
When I see the incongruity between the behaviour she displays towards her newer sexual partners, and the behaviour she displays towards me, I begin distrust her.
So I have begun to distrust that she even enjoys sex with me at all, and I feel further emotionally and sexually disconnected from her. I doubt my own ability to please her. I lose touch with what she enjoys, and what she enjoys about me.
I believe that it is this fracture in trust that is at the root of my difficulties dealing with this problem. I do not know what requests I can make, what changes I can make (if any) in my own behaviour and perceptions, and how to present my difficulties to her in a way that she will be able to respond to. I don't have many friends who are available to provide consultation, and it seems bad form to confide in my girlfriend. So I seek outside advice. Tell me internets! How do I fix my love life?