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Old 07-16-2010, 01:06 AM
inlovewith2 inlovewith2 is offline
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Question The importance of sex

So, some of you may remember that my husband is struggling with this poly thing. There is so much there—my mental health crisis of last year, my sexual abuse history, which has dogged us our entire relationship, and now my discovery that I am poly. It's a lot. Most men would have run for cover a LONG time ago. And as you may know, I struggle with either denying an important part of myself for him, which, in truth, contributed greatly to this whole mess (albeit in a much different form, see below), or committing to do what is right by me in the hopes that it is indeed what is right by us in the long run, which I truly believe to be the case.

It would help if you all understood some of my background. I have, on more than one occasion, said that I could be asexual. In truth, that was just because sex terrified me d/t my lengthy abuse history. One day, my therapist made a comment about how maybe I'm meant to be asexual. And when I heard him say it, I knew that it wasn't okay with me, no matter how much I thought I could sacrifice. Fast forward a few years, and a few valiant but unsuccessful efforts to “fix” our sexual issues created by my abuse, and I meet my boyfriend. He too is an abuse survivor, so I knew he would get it. To be fair, my husband tried really hard, but I knew he never could (for which I am very grateful for his sake). I also want to be clear that in no way do I view my bf as a substitute for my husband. It is very clear to both of us that polyamory will never work if our relationship is not strong, if we are not the focus.

My bf and I did have sex, but it was much more about connection than it was about sex. We were both trying to emerge from a very dark place at the time too, so, voila, more connection.

I have since had more suitors, one of whom I feel has pressured the sex issue, although he's been very understanding when I've set limits. And that right there is new!!!!!! I never would have set limits with my husband—I thought that in order to keep him, I was obliged to have sex with him (this still makes me very sad).

My dh understandably feels like he blazed the trail with his patience and understanding all of these years, and now these other men are benefiting. He is very focused on the sexual piece of any relationship I may have. It seems pretty clear to me that he worries that he isn't “enough”, and I don't know how to assure him that it isn't that at all. I feel free to explore my sexuality at my own pace now, and yes, that includes other men, but it primarily involves him!!!!!! And I've tried to reassure him that no matter how great the sex was with these men, it is to him I want to come home. But that just implies that he's not “good at it”, which isn't true. How the hell would I know? Until recently sex=fear, so when it feels good, I'm thrilled. And it feels very good with him, I know that and that is so nice!!!

He says that he has no problem with my being emotionally intimate with these other men—it is only the sexual piece that bothers him. How do I help him to understand????? When he says “why do you need to have sex with them?” I don't know how to respond.

I don't “need” to (or maybe I do, I don't know, as I said, it is such a significant want that it feels like a need). The way I understand it is that I didn't “need” to have sex with him either, but I wanted to, as an expression of how I feel about him.

What I want is for him to know how amazingly important he is to me. I think to myself how I could stay with him if we never had sex again, but I'm afraid all he hears is that this indicates that he's not good enough. Quite the contrary, it indicates how deeply I love him.

We'd love thoughts and feedback (he's reading over my shoulder ;-)).

Christie
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Old 07-16-2010, 01:40 AM
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MonoVCPHG MonoVCPHG is offline
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Wow..thanks for sharing and making yourself so vulnerable in this. I think I get the want to have sex with other partners for poly people. Part of it is so totally foreign to us monos that we can't seem to wrap our heads around it. I get the desire to express emotions with the one person I love but can't really understand how it is applied to multiple partners. Why? Because I don't understand how someone loves more than one intimate partner. I can however understand having sex with random un-cared for people when I was single, but for some reason when I fall in love, I just don't desire my other relationships to take on that aspect. In all honesty I don't even think I need sex anymore....but I love having it!

This is useless advice but you made me think and discover something...thanks
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Old 07-16-2010, 02:32 AM
Ariakas Ariakas is offline
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This seems to be a lot to do with his trust in your telling him he is who you want to be with and that you are satisfied in your sexual connection with him.

Honestly, he has to trust you in this fact. You can't convince him of it, he has to believe it. Either by time and build trust, or...just give over to the love he feels for you and you feel for him
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Old 07-16-2010, 04:49 PM
inlovewith2 inlovewith2 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ariakas View Post
This seems to be a lot to do with his trust in your telling him he is who you want to be with and that you are satisfied in your sexual connection with him.

Honestly, he has to trust you in this fact. You can't convince him of it, he has to believe it. Either by time and build trust, or...just give over to the love he feels for you and you feel for him
Yes, I think this is true. I do think it has another dimension though in him not understanding why I need more than what he can provide. And it's not that I do, necessarily; I view it as an expression of my feelings for the other men in my life. I had a better way of phrasing that, but my kids came in mid-thought and I lost the better explanation ;-).

Thanks!
Christie
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Old 07-16-2010, 04:45 PM
inlovewith2 inlovewith2 is offline
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Originally Posted by MonoVCPHG View Post
Wow..thanks for sharing and making yourself so vulnerable in this. I think I get the want to have sex with other partners for poly people. Part of it is so totally foreign to us monos that we can't seem to wrap our heads around it. I get the desire to express emotions with the one person I love but can't really understand how it is applied to multiple partners. Why? Because I don't understand how someone loves more than one intimate partner. I can however understand having sex with random un-cared for people when I was single, but for some reason when I fall in love, I just don't desire my other relationships to take on that aspect. In all honesty I don't even think I need sex anymore....but I love having it!

This is useless advice but you made me think and discover something...thanks
Hi Mono!

I don't believe replies are ever useless; they always make me think somehow, or feel heard. I tend to be a very open person by nature (a strange juxtaposition with my difficulty trusting to be sure), and I feel like sometimes these details are important to give others enough info in order to best respond.

I would have been right there with you in not understanding how one can love multiple partners until 7 months ago. And isn't it funny how we are all different; I can't understand having sex with anyone for whom I didn't care a great deal. We are a complex make-up of our genes and our experiences aren't we?

You are most welcome, and again, your thoughts are helpful! Oh, and to your later reply, you are absolutely right; a better phrasing would have been most men would have fled. I know that those decisions are never easy!!!!

Thanks as always,

Christie
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Old 07-17-2010, 09:03 AM
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Erato Erato is offline
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Hey Christie

Quote:
Originally Posted by inlovewith2 View Post
...I tend to be a very open person by nature (a strange juxtaposition with my difficulty trusting to be sure), and I feel like sometimes these details are important to give others enough info in order to best respond...
Wow, we're a lot alike, hehe! I'm a survivor too (though I don't consider mine to be all that bad but I do have a tendency to downplay it, maybe it's denial? Not sure.) and I'm strangely open despite trust issues. I think sometimes I'm too open and it confronts people with how honest I am! I'm still trying to figure out a middle ground, hehe.

As for your relationship with DW and the sex issue, well, you were in a place of great suffering and he stuck with you through it. I commend you both: you for working through it and him for supporting you.

I think, from what I can say from recent experience with my man, that there is some healing which needs to happen. You're not responsible for making DW all better, I don't mean that, but if I were you I would try to be as reassuring as possible. I've recently figured out it's less about "understanding" or "making him understand" as it is about being understanding of each other.

If he only had one leg and you were asking him to hurry up the stairs (or down them) to you, would you be as patient as possible? I'd go so far as to say that I would want to be there on the stairs with him offering a shoulder (and I'm not implying you're being un-supportive, please know that) and silently encouraging him to take each step at his own pace. I know I can't take the steps for him, I can't carry him, but I can make him feel supported and safe while he deals with those scary things lurking in the back of his head. He waited for you, right? He now needs that patience.

Hello DW!

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Webb
- we struggle with intimacy our entire 15+ year relationship (due to the reasons in the op), but now it feels like it's all 'hey I am poly'... so some guy can come along, woo you for a couple months and now you're locking lips with him.
Have you forgiven yourself for the lack of physical intimacy in those years? I can't read your mind, or tell you what you're feeling, but it sounds to me like you have residual blame - like you wanted to fix the relationship faster but could not. Maybe I'm projecting as that's a thing I tend to do from back in my actively co-dependent years. I'd also be asking myself, were I you, if I had forgiven my partner for the struggle she went through.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidWebb
- worrying about others hurting you
This shows me how much you love her. Being supportive of her building relationships (when/if you can be) means giving her the freedom to make her own mistakes on who she relates to. If you want to be able to get to a stage where you can do that then it might be good to remember that you can trust her judgement. I'm not saying you don't but it's something to consider.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidWebb
Anyone, feel free to point out flaws in my thinking.
I don't know if you meant it that way but I read this as a little undermining of your views/opinions/feelings. Your post to me read as feelings - pure emotion - some desirable emotions and some which you perhaps would prefer not to feel. No one can be wrong when they speak of their "feelings". All your feelings, fears, desires, anger, all of those are valid and you have a right to feel whatever you do feel. Feelings can't be right or wrong they just are. I like to try to think of it as helpful or useful feelings and feelings which I find harm me or which I don't enjoy.

The bottom line is what you do with them. Do you use them to attack the feelings/actions/desires of others? i.e. When I implied that my partner was wrong for feeling possessive of me because I felt threatened by his feelings. Or do you forgive yourself for the ones you don't want to feel, explain them to the one who needs to know how you're feeling if you can do so calmly or work on them with someone else you trust if it's too explosive to talk to your partner about it?

I'm not a therapist or expert or anything, so feel free to take what you like of what I have said and leave the rest, I'm just sharing what has worked for me and what I'm only just coming to discover.

Bah, massive post! Hopefully there was something coherent/useful in it for someone.
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Old 07-17-2010, 11:23 PM
inlovewith2 inlovewith2 is offline
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[QUOTE=Erato;36433]Hey Christie



Quote:
Wow, we're a lot alike, hehe! I'm a survivor too (though I don't consider mine to be all that bad but I do have a tendency to downplay it, maybe it's denial? Not sure.)
Most survivors do; it's a coping mechanism. It all sucks, no need to compete ;-). In all seriousness, there actually are some pros to it if you look hard enough.


Quote:
and I'm strangely open despite trust issues. I think sometimes I'm too open and it confronts people with how honest I am! I'm still trying to figure out a middle ground, hehe.
Sounds like we do have a lot in common!

Quote:
As for your relationship with DW and the sex issue, well, you were in a place of great suffering and he stuck with you through it. I commend you both: you for working through it and him for supporting you.
He is awesome and I'm not bad myself!

Quote:
I think, from what I can say from recent experience with my man, that there is some healing which needs to happen. You're not responsible for making DW all better, I don't mean that, but if I were you I would try to be as reassuring as possible. I've recently figured out it's less about "understanding" or "making him understand" as it is about being understanding of each other.
Yes, we have much healing that needs to happen. From my depression, from the infidelity, and from the loss of what we thought our marriage would always be.

Quote:
If he only had one leg and you were asking him to hurry up the stairs (or down them) to you, would you be as patient as possible? He waited for you, right? He now needs that patience.
ITA. I'm not the most patient sort, but I'm developing skills in that area. I'm actually not in any hurry and the partner and potential partner involved are both being fantastic. DW deserves more than just patience.

I'll leave the DW section to him

Thanks as always for the feedback!

Christie
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Old 07-19-2010, 05:54 PM
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ILW2, your experience reminded me of my own recent experience with my fiance and our (now ex) girlfriend. We thought and talked about it a lot and I think one of the reasons was a difference in levels of comfort. When I am with my fiance I am the most able to be vulnerable because I feel safe. It's kind of backwards from how I expected it would be, but I think since I know I am safe with him, I allow myself to feel fears/flashbacks etc around him. With our girlfriend, while I was comfortable enough with her to have sex with her, it wasn't the same kind of super safe environment because she was a new person. There was of course all the NRE and accompanying excitement / anxiety that comes with a new partner and I think that can temporarily block out the tendency to have those negative feelings because you can only feel so many things at once. Unfortunately it does seem unfair to my fiance who has helped me get to the point where I am, but it is because I love and trust him so much, and trust that he will not hurt me when I am in a vulnerable state, that I can show that part of myself around him. (It turned out that our girlfriend was very negative and unkind about the things I did open up about, but that's another story)

Anyway, it sounds like everyone involved is doing a great job communicating and I wish you all the best.
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Old 07-16-2010, 03:06 AM
Jade Jade is offline
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Originally Posted by inlovewith2 View Post
“why do you need to have sex with them?” I don't know how to respond.
If sex is not love, and love is acceptable, why is the attachment of sex to love unacceptable? Is this forced limitation truly poly? It sounds like a fear of loss of primacy, but I'm only guessing. I'm not an expert. I've read no books (who reads books before falling in love?).
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Old 07-16-2010, 03:57 AM
inlovewith2 inlovewith2 is offline
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Originally Posted by Jade View Post
If sex is not love, and love is acceptable, why is the attachment of sex to love unacceptable? Is this forced limitation truly poly? It sounds like a fear of loss of primacy, but I'm only guessing. I'm not an expert. I've read no books (who reads books before falling in love?).
Not sure I completely understand, Jade. But let me try--the issue here is, at the core, a mono/poly one. IOW, he obvee understands that sex is a product of love (for us at least), but what he doesn't get is why sex has to be attached to all of those that I love or care for (in a dating sense of course).

He's no longer reading over my shoulder, but maybe he'll chime in to clarify.

And to answer your question about forced limitation, a couple of points. One, I truly don't see him as "forcing" anything. He's being honest with me about how he feels, just as I am being honest with him about how I feel. We just fundamentally feel differently, which makes it very tricky. Nonetheless, I do consider this process to very much be a part of transitioning a relationship from mono to poly. For 18 years, we've been monogamous and all of a sudden, NOT! As I said, lesser men would have fled.

I HTH to clarify. If not, feel free to ask. Clearly, I'm open.

Christie
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