Finding a separation of feelings
This is long, but if you have a little time, I'd really really appreciate some insight.
I know many of the forum members are in a different situation than I am. Many of you are married, or have been with your partner(s) for awhile. I wonder, though, if some of you might still be able to relate to the position I'm in, and maybe help me out.
I'm younger, still in college. The man I'm dating recently finished grad school and started his new job, so he's a little older than I am and has had some time to figure out who he is and what he wants. I'm still in an exploratory phase with what I want out of a relationship, but here is what I do know:
1) My other long-term relationship ended because I needed to see other people outside my primary relationship.
2) My current boyfriend of 8 months as always gone outside his primary relationship, and figured out that an open relationship is what he wants and needs in his life. I got together with him, knowing that this was who he is and accepting that.
3) I care about him very much. I love him, and I can see us going places down the road, and that doesn't scare me. In fact, I'm drawn to that.
The first few months of our relationship were great. We were open; he saw a sex buddy of his and a woman he met at a conference, and I had a couple hook-ups with other men as well. Sure, there was a bit of jealousy on both sides, but it couldn't touch what we had together. I felt like there was a separation from other people outside our primary relationship, and what we had together separate from all of that was amazing, exciting, passionate, and just wonderful. An incident came up that made him uncomfortable, and we talked about it and decided we might try a closed relationship for awhile.
I'm not sure exactly why - maybe the closing of the relationship, maybe the stress of finishing school for him, maybe just getting older, starting a job, getting comfortable with me, learning more about me, or any combination of these things - but his sexual desire for me decreased. It was upsetting; I felt like we had just been getting closer and closer, and suddenly I felt an emotional and physical distance. He didn't seem nearly as excited about me and our relationship together. And it took a toll on my self-esteem. Instead of having understanding between us, being on the same page, suddenly we seemed to be in very different places. It was hard, because I thought that there was something lacking in me that wasn't working out for him. I wanted his sexual and emotional attention back, returning to the level it was, or at least having us be on the same level.
We talked. He acknowledged that his sexual desire for me had decreased. He said his sexual desire in general had decreased, and while there might be many reasons for that, he thought that he wanted to open the relationship up again. I said yes, but warned him that I felt weird about it, especially since I was in a vulnerable state for my self-esteem. At first he didn't seem interested in getting together with anyone, but then he wanted to get together with an old sex buddy/friend. This relationship has made me nervous since I worry about the boundary of a good sex friendship becoming a romantic relationship. He said he wouldn't do anything until I was comfortable, but I didn't want to restrict him. he mentioned other women he was trying to get in touch with, and I had a negative reaction to that. I went to see a therapist to talk over my feelings, and realized some things.
I miss the separation. Instead of being confident in what we have between the two of us, and other people just enhancing that, I feel like other people get mixed into that and taint it. His sexual desire for me seems sometimes like it depends upon getting excited by other women. Also, they text him at night when we're sleeping together and I can hear the phone go off and it feels so invasive.
So I decided that I would just accept that I couldn't define what I wanted out of my romantic relationships yet, and would just try to stick with it and explore things when I felt comfortable. I love him, so I'm continuing a relationship with him, and an open relationship. I'm setting rules, like turning off his phone at night when we're together, and not having sex with other women in our bed, etc., and that's helping a lot. He's being great about trying to help me when I communicate my needs. He saw an old friend this past week, and I did feel a little weird about it, especially when I saw him after and I could taste her on him, but I didn't freak out, and he said it made him really happy because he was in the relationship he wanted to be in and he was glad that I chose to be with him still. He was sexually charged about me after that too, which was also a nice feeling.
Gosh, I know this is long, but it was necessary to explain where I'm at. Now, I'm handling things, communicating my needs for separation, trying to get him to be better at communicating what he's doing so I can prepare for possible negative feelings, but it's still tricky. I feel like me seeing other guys might help me feel a balance, but it's hard for a woman in my position. I don't have as many contacts as he does with people whom I could have a physical relationship with. I don't usually meet guys like that in my normal day to day life. I could meet them at clubs, but I'm scared by all the risks involved, like going somewhere strange, not knowing if they'll try to take advantage of me, whether they're sexually healthy and have been tested, etc. At my stage of life, and with my age and gender, it's not nearly as safe or easy for me as it is for him.
I just miss the old feelings between us. I get jealous about other girls not because I think they're going to steal him away, but because they get that passionate excitement that we used to have at the beginning, but have lost or misplaced along the way. I want him to want to be intimate with me on a physical level, for him to be excited about me, the way I am about him. Other girls get that feeling, and I'm missing it.
I'm not sure what to do. I don't know how to recapture that feeling. We've tried doing different things, making time, etc., but it still feels sadly perfunctory. I don't know if it's just something lost that we have to adapt to, or if it's something we can regain. There's just no high stakes anymore with him; I think that if we broke up, he would be sad, but he'd move on just fine. And while that's a very zen way to deal with things, it makes me feel like he's not going to fight as hard as I am; that he's not as invested in this. I don't know if I can pinpoint exactly what's going on, whether commitment scares him, or it was just being in a closed inhibiting relationship, or if it really is something in me that just didn't work out for him. I try not to get down on myself, because I know I'm not at fault for anything, but... like I say, it's hard. I'm just trying to think of what else might help things, what insights I can discover.
So I thought I'd share with all of you. It's so nice to see other examples of people in relationships that aren't the accepted norm in society, because it makes me feel less at sea. Thanks for reading.
Last edited by shakespeare147; 03-11-2011 at 02:09 PM.