Sometimes I want to kick my own sheltered arse
Hi, everyone. I've avoided fora like this for far too long now, I think, and I'll appreciate any help/advice that ya'll can give me -- hopefully it's not too late.
Short story: I had abusive early experiences (including Catholicism, joke-only-half-intended) and have always been really sheltered & reserved about sex -- but also always hated that part of myself, always wanted there to be more eventually. I married a boy with a loooong history, lots of partners and experimentation, who, while he knew that I was thirsty to explore more, really just wanted to settle down himself.
Fast forward five years. Our marriage is AWESOME; we're family; we've raised a kid together and want desperately to grow old together. But seven years of stability gave me the guts to finally confront my persistent anxieties about sex, and once I did, I realized that holy cow am I poly and have always wanted to be poly and was just too scared to death to do anything about it.
This realization came in the form of a friend I made -- I always have several male friends whom I'm usually at least a little attracted to -- who was open with me about wanting to have sex, in a trusted-friends-with-benefits sense (this is what you call a secondary, yes? Though I gather that secondaries can be varying degrees of serious, and this one would have been someone I cared for and had fun with for however long it lasted; no expectation of a longer relationship). I've never cheated on anyone in my life, so I discussed it with my husband, who gave me permission to try it (and maybe I shouldn't have taken his permission, since if I hadn't been so eager I'd have seen how tough it was for him to give it). I tried it, I loved it, and I want to do it again, both with the current guy (who I've told for the time being that we have to just be platonic, and he's great with that, but I know he'd also be great with more sex if I were to offer) and eventually with others (though not a million others; I have to know and like people to want to sleep with them, and I don't think I could manage more than one "secondary" at a time just in sheer effort required).
But my husband HATED the experience of me doing it--he said it made him certain I was going to leave him, no matter how many times I said I wasn't-- and then when he went to try it himself, he had the common experience of not being able to find anyone, and anyway he doesn't really *want* anyone else, and has a hard time not taking it personally that I do. (IT'S NOT; can I say that here? I can't explain in ten words or less why I feel like I need other sex partners now and again, but it ISN'T because my husband is inadequate! I LOVE him and our sex life is AWESOME and yes, if I have to give up all other relationships to stay with him I will...but given my history and whatnot, he knows as well as I do that if I do that as a sacrifice, I will resent it and it could ruin us eventually, and we're quite desperate to avoid that.)
So I find myself in the position of having to (or how it feels, desperately needing to in order to save our relationship) figure out with him what our middle ground is, and how we can both get what we need. We've talked about "rules" and things but so far we can't reach an agreement that doesn't feel stifling to me or terrifying to him. We're still going strong with trying, which I take as a really good sign. But holy stars and garters, would I be thrilled with any advice that anyone had, or further reading for us (we've done some, but nothing's really been useful so far). We do know the basics -- we've talked about swinging and whatnot before, and we may yet try that, but it doesn't address the issue of my wanting secondary/ies and not being able to make/help him feel secure and wanted in the face of that. I also have to fight really hard not to feel like I'm just too broken to "do" marriage, and that makes me want to give up one way or the other (either give up on being married, or give up on being any kind of poly...which, considering my state of mind and personal growth, I'm really worried will lead to cheating and ruin my marriage anyway).
One sub-question for anybody who's brave enough to swing at it: How bad is "lying by agreement"? My husband finds hearing or knowing anything about my, um, activities really horribly uncomfortable -- even that I'm *thinking* about it bothers him. He brought up the possibility of us setting ground-rules up front, but then agreeing that I would lie to him about what I was doing "in realtime" so he wouldn't have to think about it. I don't like how that feels but I would do it for him if it was actually helpful. Is it, or is the need for any kind of lying a bad, bad sign?