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Old 08-02-2011, 02:00 PM
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gwendolenthefair gwendolenthefair is offline
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Default My husband's attempts at poly always seem to adversely affect our own relationship

I am in a long-term and mostly very happy marriage of 23 years. We have two children at home. I have known that I was poly for going on five years now and I have been in two long-term serious relationships, plus had a number of more casual connections. I do not have any partners outside my marriage at present unless you count a long-distance virtual connection whom I plan to meet in person, but have not done so yet. I am actively looking for a local partner and I do date a little bit, although nothing has caught fire in a good while except for my long-distance friend.

My husband has been very supportive of my outside relationships. His own poly experience has gone quite a bit differently. His first attempt at a poly relationship went as badly as anything could. Three years ago, he got involved with a needy and hysterical woman who wanted out of her own marriage and wanted to break us up. His brief (six weeks, only one in-person meeting) relationship with her culminated in her threatening to kill me, and chaos ensued in our relationship because he didn't want to take the threat seriously, and even actively tried to hide it from me. We had couples' counseling for a year after that, plus he had a lot of individual therapy. He did manage to get his head on straight, and to mend my shattered trust in him.

Fast forward a year and a half. My husband had not dated anyone else since his bad first experience. I was not at all comfortable with him being open to meeting strangers online because his judgment in his first relationship had been terrible. It felt exactly like what I've read about post-traumatic stress, the idea of him dating anyone after what had happened the first time. I did want us to progress towards us both being actively poly though. I thought that one way for me feel more comfortable with him having another partner was for us to date another married couple together. I met a married poly man whose wife seemed open to this (they are not easy to find, most married couples just wanted me, not both of us, it took some hunting!), and we started dating them. I liked the other woman, formed a friendship with her, trusted her.

At the point where we started in our quad, my husband had some mild sexual problems that we did not really understand, but thought it was just him getting older. He had occasional impotence, and his libido had not been nearly as high as mine for a number of years. This was one of the reasons that polyamory attracted me to begin with. I had the idea that our quad would energize and inspire him sexually. The other woman was a whole lot younger and I even joked with him that she would be "human Viagra."

Within a month of starting in the sexual relationship with the other couple, my husband was almost completely impotent with me, but functioning fine with the other woman. I insisted that we enter sex therapy together at that point, and we put the relationship with them on hold at least sexually (although the friendship the four of us had eventually fell apart too, for other reasons, and we never resumed things with them).

We both learned in sex therapy that his issues had at least partly been caused by extreme performance anxiety with me, which he did not have with the other woman. Sex therapy was a valuable experience overall for both of us, but my husband did not resume anything that looked like normal sexual function until over a year later, when a medical doctor figured out that he had low testosterone. (He'd been tested for it previously by two other doctors but for some reason 1 and 2 didn't seem to know diddly.) He's on testosterone injections now and he has been very sexually functional for about two months. It's been quite wonderful for me, I don't think sex our sex life together has been this stress-free since we've been in our 20s.

Recently, my husband added a photo to an online profile he maintains (he had not had one up since his disastrous first relationship), and sure enough, within a week, someone interesting and local was hitting on him. (What can I say, he's handsome.) His profile makes it very clear he only wants friendship, and this new person very clearly wants more than that. She sounds interesting and cool and potentially even trustworthy, although I have had no contact with her yet, and he has not met her in person even though she lives practically around the corner.

Husband now says that he's still mostly interested in friendship but if something catches fire with someone else, he wants to feel free to pursue it wherever it goes. I want him to have what he wants, I want things to go well for him. He's overdue to have a good poly experience, I know that. But we have a bad history. I know that if this new person is the catalyst for our sex life to take a nosedive again, I am not going to be able to support him having a romantic relationship with her. I'm also leery of him dating anyone who doesn't already have a solid primary relationship, because of what happened with his first partner. The person he's conversing with is married and that's about all I know.

The bigger part of me wants to just let go of my fears and misgivings and just be the perfect supportive partner he has always been for me. He deserves that. But a small part of me is just screaming "Danger, Will Robinson!"
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Old 08-02-2011, 02:46 PM
NeonKaos NeonKaos is offline
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Onl y you know yourself well enough to know if this is a true "bad gut feeling" or if you are just experiencing "gun-shyness".
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Old 08-03-2011, 01:29 PM
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gwendolenthefair gwendolenthefair is offline
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I don't have any kind of feelings at all towards the person he's communicating with. I would probably feel better about her if she'd made some attempt to communicate with me, I believe that he's encouraged her to do so, and she knows how to reach me on the site they met on. As far as I can tell, she hasn't even viewed my profile there. But what he has told me about her sounds fine, and she might well be an ethical and sensitive person with only good intentions towards him and us. She might also be Cowgirl, Part 2. I can't tell.

I'm probably the most worried about what a new person could do to our sex life. It's taken us a lot of time and a lot of work (not to mention a lot of injections!) just to get us to a point where sexual intercourse works MOST of the time. And I know he still has no control over his head and he's hypersensitive to just about everything connected with sex. He's far too likely to misinterpret things that I say to be negative even when I don't intend them as such, and him even imagining that I'm frustrated/uncomfortable/unhappy during foreplay will cause him to lose his erection and not get it back, in most cases.

(Yes, we are both quite aware that there are toys and oral sex and manual stimulation, but we are both passionately fond of intercourse, and if we can't have it, it doesn't feel like a complete or satisfying sexual experience for either of us.)

I have found that having a new sexual partner of my own revvs me up and causes me to want my husband more too. If he reacted that way too, it would be great, but last time, it was just the opposite.
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Old 08-03-2011, 02:46 PM
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Magdlyn Magdlyn is offline
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Why are you encouraging him to be poly, when he (or you two) have so many problems around sex?

Why not just rebuild your own sexual relationship with him for a good long while, now that's he's gotten medical attention? Not saying you, yourself, can't date, but if his self esteem is that low (imagining you're not satisfied during foreplay?) it seems he can barely handle sex with his long time, hopefully trusted, partner, much less with a new person.

OTOH, if he's afraid he's not pleasing to you in bed, maybe you seeing other guys is also a blow to his seemingly shaky self esteem at this time.
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Old 08-04-2011, 01:30 AM
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gwendolenthefair gwendolenthefair is offline
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Why are you encouraging him to be poly, when he (or you two) have so many problems around sex?

I'm not exactly encouraging him. He put a photo back up on the dating site without consulting me about it. I didn't argue, and I even gave him a better photo than the one he first used. You might say I'm enabling, but not encouraging.

I know that he'd like to have another relationship, even though he doesn't want it as strongly as I do, for myself. I want him to have what he wants, but not if it has a bad effect on our own relationship.

Why not just rebuild your own sexual relationship with him for a good long while, now that's he's gotten medical attention? Not saying you, yourself, can't date, but if his self esteem is that low (imagining you're not satisfied during foreplay?) it seems he can barely handle sex with his long time, hopefully trusted, partner, much less with a new person.

I totally agree. But he doesn't. Although he says that what he wants now is friendship, he just wants the POSSIBILITY of things going further.

OTOH, if he's afraid he's not pleasing to you in bed, maybe you seeing other guys is also a blow to his seemingly shaky self esteem at this time.

He says this is not the case. We've been poly for a while now and he has never been jealous or threatened by anyone I've dated in the slightest.

Last edited by gwendolenthefair; 08-04-2011 at 01:03 PM.
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