I've been reading through the forums, and would like to start a [very common] thread. I'm beginning to explore poly, and would like to use this thread to welcome advice for starting out.
I'm a 32-year-old, very sexual, straight, married male, who grew up in an *extremely repressed* environment. Gradually, I've been realizing how much of my shyness with women has been an avoidance mechanism, based on shame over my sexuality.
I've experimented on-and-off in the past with coitus reservatus (sexual activity without ejaculating). This past time, I've begun to master the techniques. The result has been increased virility, greatly diminished interest in masturbation, and greatly increased desire to connect more deeply/sexually/intimately with other people. I'm also having increased reactive emotions, as I process and "transmute" all that extra sexual energy (I was a 1-5 time a day masturbater since I was a pre-teen).
My wife and I have been together for 6+ years, married for 4+. We're deeply in love, are very affectionate with each other, and are definitely best friends. We've had casual conversations about exploring/flirting/etc. with other people in the past.
We've also had some sexual incompatibility. Our sex is good/great/intimate/caring when we do have it, but it's something where 1-4 times a month satisfies her, and marathon/creative lovemaking sessions don't really appeal to her. And I don't find obligatory sex appealing. I want my partner to be "hot for it".
Our Core Issue:
The idea that we each have to be responsible for fulfilling each other's sexual needs. It's put a lot of pressure on the both of us. On my side, that belief made me feel guilty for being attracted to other people, and resentful for her if she didn't meet my needs. I've felt there was something wrong with me as a man, if I couldn't get my wife to me more interested in me sexually. On her side, it's made her feel insecure--that she doesn't "measure up" and that she'll lose me to someone who can meet all my needs. The result is that whenever we've had conversations about our different sexual needs, she feels defensive, and like she needs to promise to "fix herself" to become "enough for me".
The result was that I spent a lot of time masturbating and feeling isolated, while we go through this cycle of unmet sexual needs, fights, promises to change, and back to unmet sexual needs. This has been the default pattern for most of our 6+ years together. We've tried multiple books' worth of different intimacy exercise, etc. But we already have tons of intimacy.
All this kind of came to a head in the last week or two. I refused to accept our pattern, and my wife admitted for the first time that most of the items on my list of sexual needs (things like near-daily sexuality/flirting, lovemaking with creativity/imagination, trading time as the active/passive sexual partner) just didn't interest her all that much, and never had in her previous relationships.
I'm sorry to say that our fight was dysfunctional at first. But our fights never last very long, and we were able to resolve it. I suddenly realized how unfair and silly it was to the both of us to cling to the idea that we each had to be 100% responsible for the other's sexual fulfillment. There was no other reason for the belief other than "that's how our parents taught us."
So we ended our conversations with an agreement to explore alternate arrangements. We're both scared, and coming to grips with it emotionally.
At my suggestion, we are not acting on our agreement, but just spending the next couple weeks just letting go of our ideas about monogamous sexual fulfillment. I want us both to recover from the initial shock, and feel the difference when we're not putting unreasonable pressure on each other/ourselves.
I'm not interested in a "swinger" lifestyle. I find a hyper-sexualized, casual, "porno" lifestyle unappealing. I'd like more flirtation, affection, and romance in my sexual relationships. She is scared of me falling in love and leaving her, but I want to build my life with her, and grow old together. She finds a more DADT kind of open relationship less uncomfortable. So we'll have to find some compromises.
Whew! Sorry to be so long-winded...
Does anyone have any specific advice/guidance for me? Places to start? Red flags? Pitfalls to avoid?