Polyamory.com Forum  

Go Back   Polyamory.com Forum > Polyamory > Poly Relationships Corner


Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 02-02-2014, 05:15 PM
AstroTree's Avatar
AstroTree AstroTree is offline
New Member
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 1
Default Feeling Down About Lack of Desire - Any Ideas??

Hello, All... this is my first post here. I've been feeling pretty down about this for awhile, and don't know what to do.

I have an amazingly kind, loving, and supportive partner. We've been together for just over a year and a half. I was seeing another person, more of a friends with benefits situation, on and off for about a year. That pretty much fizzled out over time, and we remain friends. My main partner started seeing a nifty person about a month ago after being friends for awhile first. I've met her, and think she's pretty great. They don't spend much time together compared to us, and they haven't been sexually intimate yet.

So that's the poly-specific context... As for me, I've been dealing with often-severe chronic pain without a solid diagnosis (yet) for the last 5 months. I can't say I feel terribly attractive these days, and I feel like I am becoming the most boring person on earth. I want to meet new people and am looking around online; no luck so far. I'm rather picky, and if I'm going to make an effort to meet someone from a dating site, it really has to be worth the energy I need to save up for it. (I don't mean this in an elitist way, it's just the practical reality I am dealing with due to my health.)

I spend a lot of time alone, because I am usually in too much pain and/or lack energy or $ to do much, though I do love to get out more when I can. I have to ration my energy very carefully, and it's very difficult for me to make plans. I never know how well or unwell I might feel on a given day. This has been incredibly frustrating, but my partner can always lift me up and make me smile, simply by being himself. I do a lot of crafting whenever I can, but pain & numbness in my arms doesn't always allow for that. I want to have more going on in my life, and the dissatisfaction I'm feeling with my health and general situation is probably a significant factor in feeling so down about this, but I've been feeling this way long before the health crap became such a huge thing...

Ever since the initial NRE wore off, my main partner has had very little interest in sex with me... We've barely had any at all in the past year. He has had his own share of chronic pain issues, but can maintain a much better baseline of energy and activity than I am capable of anymore. I never want to get into any kind of "my pain > yours" BS with him... even so, I can't help wondering: if I can try to initiate sex, then why can't he? I try to talk about it with him in a non-blaming way and ask him to work with me on this, and he's simply not engaged in the conversation. He just looks sad and doesn't say much. His job takes a lot out of him & I do understand this, but when your partner almost never initiates the slightest sexual touch, you start getting really sick of hearing "I'm tired" and it just feels like an excuse.

I feel that he devotes time and energy towards everything except for us to have sex life. Now that he's involved with someone else, I feel pretty much completely forgotten about when it comes to sex... like maybe it doesn't even cross his mind to desire me at all, now that he has this new person to focus on. That's probably silly, and I feel no jealousy of her (I like her, and there's nothing about her life/personality/appearance/etc. that I'd choose over my own) and I am glad she makes him happy. But the fact that there is this huge blank spot in *our* relationship, and with the 2 of them getting closer towards a sexual relationship, it feels like the issue is directly in my face. It makes it especially hard when I am home by myself, very lonely and in pain, thinking that he's with her and they're enjoying a passionate connexion that he doesn't have with me; that I do not have with anyone. Most of my friends live on the opposite coast, and unfortunately I live in an area that's rather infamous for people being aloof and not really bothering with those outside their specific cliques. It all adds up to immense amounts of frustration.

I am the kind of person who has a strong need to feel desired in order to feel fulfilled in my relationships. I think most of us do, to whatever extent, but I'm likely much higher than average in this department. My partner and I have wonderful snuggly times and we hug a lot to show love and appreciation, but there isn't even much kissing. I can't even remember the last time he touched me in a way that made me feel desired, other than once last month, when I initiated it, and even then it felt like "Oh... I guess this is a thing I should do..." and it didn't last very long. The few times we have had sex in the past 6 months, he wasn't very present, and didn't seem too interested in trying to help me reach orgasm. He got distracted and was ready to get up and go do the dishes pretty soon after. (THE DISHES?!?!! ...that crushed me. After a year of so little, it was overwhelming.)

There is a great deal of love between us, and I cannot complain about anything else in our relationship. I am affectionate towards him in a way that shows desire all the time, just in casual, loving ways to show him that he is beautiful and sexy to me. This is reciprocated maybe one out of 15 or 20 times, and all of this is just depressing the hell out of me. The sheer dissonance between this and the rest of the picture is almost ridiculous... He is a wonderful listener, an ethical, conscientious human being with a deep sense of compassion and empathy for others, he really brings out the best in people and is well-loved by everyone who knows him, at least that I know of. He has great personal energy and he directs it towards helping people and making the world a better place in any small ways he can. I admire him and appreciate his support, in general and especially through these last few painful months, more than words could ever say.

I feel bad for feeling so bad about the lack of sexual intimacy between us... It's a vicious cycle that I worry makes me seem ungrateful for how awesome our relationship is otherwise. But I can't help it. At this point I do not believe he finds me even slightly attractive anymore (and I don't mean this only in regards to appearance). I just have no reason to believe otherwise, and that is a shitty, shitty place to find yourself in. I just don't think he wants me in that way anymore... I think he *wants* to want me, but he doesn't, and doesn't want to admit it to himself and/or hurt me by saying so directly.

I believe that he loves me a great deal and sees me as his main partner in life, as a solid companion and lifelong friend. We've talked about this and are both invested in building a future together. My sadness over this issue does not diminish that intent. But we've talked about this. And we've talked and we've talked and talked and talked. We've had several dozen versions of the same conversation, always with me initiating it, always feeling like a nag when the rest of our relationship is so loving. It never goes anywhere. He cites work, being tired, being focused on other things, but there's never more than a vague assurance that he'll "work on it", and I never feel like he actually *does* work on it. I don't believe that he truly understands how important this is to me, and it doesn't seem like it's very important to him at all. He ends up reassuring me in ways that make it seem like he thinks I am simply wanting more attention, more time, more [fill in the blank], like I am this needy person or something, and as kind as he is about it, sometimes that makes me want to scream. I am satisfied in literally every way *except* that he gives me zero reason to believe that he desires me sexually anymore. And it HURTS... more than I know how to fully communicate.

I can't go my whole life without a strong degree of physical intimacy with my main partner. I can't just seek that elsewhere, because other people are not a replacement for him, and no matter how much I like someone else, it ends up feeling like they're just "band aids"; like I'm using intimacy with them to replace the lack within my main partner. I don't want to do that to anyone. It does not make for healthy poly, and actually makes me very uncomfortable. It's not about getting off or even the sex itself, it's about my connexion with my primary, and about desire for him, and for us to have passion in our relationship. The idea of him only having passion and sexual chemistry with others and not me is awful to contemplate.

I've tried my best to address this issue with him, within myself, to try to get my mind off things and wait & see, to really ask myself what it is I need and what I can do about these crappy feelings on my own, I've tried seeing if more sex with other partners could help, and it's been over a year now, and I've got nothing. Nothing at all.

Meanwhile, something in my heart is withering. The sadness over this is leeching into areas of our relationship that have nothing to do with this issue. I don't want this to poison what we have, and I fear that it might, over time.

I mentioned dealing with chronic pain earlier -- I'm more depressed about this not getting resolved, or him realizing that he just doesn't want me that way anymore, than I can imagine myself being if my test results came back and showed that I had cancer, or would probably not be able to walk anymore within 5 years. The meaning I get in my life is from love and friendships. I've been through A LOT in my life and it's taught me that most other things I used to think were so important really aren't; so my chosen family is my priority. Losing those close connexions would be more painful than anything physical I can think of.

This is much longer than I intended it to be, but I've kept it inside for many months, aside from the attempts to talk to him that didn't amount to anything. Gues it really needed to come out. Any ideas, insight, or advice you could give would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

Last edited by AstroTree; 02-02-2014 at 05:32 PM.
Reply With Quote
Old 02-02-2014, 05:46 PM
vanquish vanquish is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Montgomery, AL
Posts: 303

Ive been on both sides of where you are now...and I know its rough. My sympathies.

On one hand youre not feeling amazing and possibly just fighting to be a dependable partner, but on the other hand you want that sexual connection that so often requires a bit of edge and distance.

Communicating this need doesnt always make things better (once you've initially discussed it) because it seems like nagging someone for something. Youreally have to either "fake it until you make it" I.e. act sexy when youre not feeling it or being something you're not that your partner wants and try to meet their needs in the middle...or justget better at ignoring that need and replacing it with some other interest.

If this were an 80's movie, you'd get a make over, win the championship game, and theyd remember what they wanted in the first place. Thats really not a bad paradigm. Now im not trying to communicate that there's an innate deficiency in you. Just that relationship complacency takes some shaking up to fix. (If you've read my other thread then you'll know thatim dealing with a form of this problem myself. Although I divorced my wife of 14 years because I was in your spot....tried everything and then a lot more...but got no affection and finally left.)

I dont pretend to have all the answers, but the good news is, if you attracted him before, you can attract him again.

Hope that helps.
Reply With Quote
Old 02-03-2014, 07:50 AM
Anneintherain's Avatar
Anneintherain Anneintherain is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Seattle-ish
Posts: 826

Just to check, when I read that he's moving closer to a sexual relationship with her, does that mean they aren't having sex yet?

I'm going to give you some advice you don't want to hear. 8 years ago, I was you. For me, it may be getting slightly better now after my husband being in counseling for over a year. Physical touch and a positive sexual relationship are very important to me with somebody I live with. Having positive sexual relationships with other people just makes me want that with my husband more, and although I have a couple serious relationships that keep me from thinking about it every day now, lack of sex (that's not really true, it's a lack of ability for him to be comfortable, and speak comfortably about sex, combined with negative self esteem and a belief he doesn't deserve to be happy) is what colors everything.

My advice - get to couples counseling ASAP. If it comes out the reasons he isn't interested are not ones you can identify with at all, and he doesn't express an interest in being more sexual..or if he does but doesn't take action.. well, let me just say, I think I'd make a different choice if I had to make it over again. I had no idea that my partner was plagued by all these issues until a couple of years had gone by, and only in the last year feel like I've gotten the whole story. I think in your place, with limited energy for dating but a desire for sex, I'd have to really make sure I made a suitable match for somebody to live with. I hope you figure out what you need.
Happiness will never come to those who fail to appreciate what they already have.
Reply With Quote
Old 02-03-2014, 08:45 AM
InfinitePossibility InfinitePossibility is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 669

I feel sad for you. This is a horrible situation to be in.

My partner was (and can be) a bit the same way. He has a tendency to raise the importance of work above sex. He also has had some illness in the past that I reckon affects it. Past relationships too have, I think, caused him damage in this area. Stress affects him also.

For a time, he was unwilling (or unable) to deal with his issues and I found myself feeling many of the things you describe.

After a time of this, I told him that I couldn't go on like that. I was willing to be his friend but didn't want to be his partner any longer. I am not willing to be in a sexual relationship without sex. I find that the closeness that comes from sex is needed to feel close to a romantic partner. Plus - I was finding that I regularly felt down about the lack of sex and closeness in our relationship.

He went off and thought about what I'd said, considered the situation and made huge steps to addressing the issue.

Things are pretty good now. :-) I would say that my partner still has a fairly low sex drive and a tendency to prioritise work over sex but he knows it's important in our relationship and he makes sure that he finds the time, energy and enthusiasm for it.

He is planning on having a chat to his dr about it too just in case his old illness may be causing some of his issues and also to see if his dr can suggest ways of better managing his stress levels.

I would not remain with a partner if doing so meant exposing myself to a an ongoing hurt. If time, patience and explaining the impact were not helping, I would take steps to shift the relationship to one of friendship and seek romance and sex elsewhere.


Last edited by InfinitePossibility; 02-03-2014 at 09:35 AM. Reason: fix typos
Reply With Quote
Old 02-03-2014, 09:21 AM
NovemberRain's Avatar
NovemberRain NovemberRain is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 712

Welcome to the forum, AstroTree.

I'm glad you got all that out. Sounds painfully familiar. I have a rare genetic condition that causes chronic pain. My first diagnosis was fibromyalgia, and I have family with CFIDS and fibro.

My ex talked about sex more than anyone I ever knew. And the last year we were together, we had sex three times. So. Freaking. Painful. He was cuddly, and very physically affectionate. We couldn't be in the same room without touching, a lot. We slept in the same bed (most of the time). The straw that broke my back was waking up in bed alone, and finding him at the computer, engaging in 'sex' in SecondLife. Srsly? Real grrl in the bed? (guess I'm not quite over that)

Among many issues, one of the big ones is that he was afraid of 'breaking' me. My condition causes my joints to dislocate (or partially dislocate), at random. (the whole thing is annoying, but the randomness is the most difficult aspect for me) I've been in chronic pain for well over 20 years, so I'm quite accustomed to it, and a wee bit less resentful. But I still get sad.

Mostly, I wanted to offer empathy, and let you know you're so not alone. And feel free to send me a private message if you want to talk about disease and getting a diagnosis or support.

You mentioned you don't want this to poison what you have. Unfortunately, I think it already has. And you know that. I'm sorry it's such a hard thing to cope with.

For me, living alone was a lovely freedom and reality. I was alone before, but it was extra painful to have him in the house. When he left, my reality was consistent. And that, in its own odd way, was quite a relief.

I did have another boyfriend (who is still with me). He also has fairly low desire (or perhaps it's just extreme introversion). I was hoping between the two of them, I would be feeling like I was having a 'normal' (whatever the heck that is) sex life. Not so much.

Wishing you strength,
Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own...
Robert A. Heinlein

Me: female, bi, (formerly hinge of a vee)
with FirstBoyFriend (FBF)(moderately long-distance)
and no longer with CurrentBoyFriend (CBF)(who now lives in a house far away-with stairs I can't climb)
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT. The time now is 07:28 PM.