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  #11  
Old 05-04-2012, 09:09 PM
FigNewtonian FigNewtonian is offline
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If I may, as the hubby in question:

We're all mono people — we're accustomed to one set of rules and social norms that we've all adhered to for all of our lives. That being said, if you can understand that the following intellectual and emotional positions emerge from a place firmly established with those set of starting assumptions, it may make this a little clearer. Hopefully.

The sexual experience bothered me because I explicitly exited the marriage because she didn't want sex. And understand, my primary motivation for exit wasn't that I had to have sex — it was that I didn't want her to have to have sex. It wasn't that she didn't want sex with me, it was that she didn't want sex.

She says her action was a combination of loneliness, nostalgia, alcohol and also pure intellectual curiosity which reinforced in her mind that her asexuality was universal. All of those things are independent of me with the exception of loneliness — so I don't feel any shame in owning my part of that situation that she may not view negatively, but that certainly leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

To be fair, the aftermath has clearly been viewed negatively by her — both in the manner that it has complicated a friendship that she valued and was a situation that created a temporary rift between us as I worked through my valid emotions while still respecting the intellectual insights she gained.

So, let me go ahead and throw out something I've been struggling with. The idea that I can have intimate emotional and physical relationships with multiple people and yet would not be comfortable with those people having intimate emotional and physical relationships with other people is something that's real and deep rooted. I'm just not.

I understand the imbalance and I loathe imbalance, but I feel like I'm in this situation because of a set of specific circumstances and coincidence buttressed by my sense of ethics and responsibility to my previous partner and my current girlfriend. The idea of monogamy is in direct conflict with my desire to love, cherish and respect the two people I want to.

tl;dnr = it's freaking messy and confusing and I'm doing the best I can, flawed creature that I am.

That felt good. Glad to have a place where I can talk like that...

Last edited by FigNewtonian; 05-04-2012 at 09:11 PM.
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  #12  
Old 05-04-2012, 10:11 PM
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Re (from blytheandbonny, Post #1):
Quote:
"So. I have no idea what my boundaries are. What's acceptable to negotiate. When it's okay to express discomfort."
It's okay to express discomfort whenever you feel discomfort. It's just that simple. (Although like ThatGirlInGray said, hopefully you can express it in a nice way.)

Re (from blytheandbonny, Post #1):
Quote:
"I've asked tons of questions as I've probed how I feel about this. Been busy gathering data. Still pondering what this would look like and examining what my thresholds truly are. I've surprised myself at my easy acceptance of the idea of being on one side of a poly V. Of course, that's the abstract. Don't know what tomorrow holds."
Ah, but who among us knows what tomorrow holds? You've done your homework; now for the scary part of living the reality. Remember that every relationship is unique (as unique as the people in it), so you'll have to learn (by experience) what works for you (versus what theoretically works for everyone).

Re (from blytheandbonny, Post #4):
Quote:
"I think I will tend to err on the side of over-communicating."
There you go, that's the ticket.

Re (from blytheandbonny, Post #4):
Quote:
"I've stuck my toe in the water by being very open to his expressing to me verbally and in written word how he feels about her, and to my shock it didn't sting as much as I thought it would. It was mild discomfort, and that seems to be fading. Then, unexpectedly, my heart welled up at the beauty of their love. What's that all about? Weird."
That's called compersion.

Re (from blytheandbonny, Post #5):
Quote:
"I do think that there will be nights they choose to spend the night together over at her place. Not sure it's any of my business what they choose to do or not do on those nights."
Well yeah, I think it's kind of your business, if it's something you'd want to hear about. There's probably a happy medium in here somewhere between knowing "every little detail" and "knowing nothing" (which lets some folks's imaginations run wild).

Re (from blytheandbonny, Post #5):
Quote:
"I'd hate to think that either of them worrying about my feelings would dampen anything between them though. They deserve to treasure what they have between them without outside influence."
Ah, but you guys have a poly relationship with each other now. Nothing happens in a vacuum. You are an "inside influence."

Each of you will have your tricky feelings to contend with. This is a new reality for the three of you. You'll all have to get used to it (in your own various ways).

Re (from ThatGirlInGray, Post #6):
Quote:
"Sometimes it's just not possible to know where the limits are until you reach them, so there's nothing wrong with asking as long as you're comfortable with not being able to dictate the answer."
Well said, well said.

Re (from FigNewtonian, Post #11):
Quote:
"So, let me go ahead and throw out something I've been struggling with. The idea that I can have intimate emotional and physical relationships with multiple people, and yet would not be comfortable with those people having intimate emotional and physical relationships with other people, is something that's real and deep rooted. I'm just not."
That's actually okay, as long as all three of you are good with it and it works for (all of) you.

Re (from FigNewtonian, Post #11):
Quote:
"I understand the imbalance and I loathe imbalance, but I feel like I'm in this situation because of a set of specific circumstances and coincidence buttressed by my sense of ethics and responsibility to my previous partner and my current girlfriend. The idea of monogamy is in direct conflict with my desire to love, cherish and respect the two people I want to."
If it's any comfort, you're not alone in having "stumbled into polyamory." Many people have, including yours truly here. Probably has something to do with the media's/society's innundation with monogamous visuals and ideals, but perhaps the point of the matter is you do what's best for you and your loved ones, not basing the decision on "expectations" from the poly community or the "outside world." It doesn't even matter if you call yourself polyamorous (or monogamous, or sort-of-monogamous, or whatever). It just matters that the three of you are happy.
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  #13  
Old 05-05-2012, 01:04 AM
JaneQSmythe JaneQSmythe is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FigNewtonian View Post
If I may, as the hubby in question:
Thank you for joining the conversation! I think B&B was uncomfortable speaking for others (even though it would seem that the two of you have been very clear in your discussions with each other) so it is helpful to hear your thoughts directly.

(clipped very good summation of intellectual and emotional responses - confirms a lot of what B&B thought/felt was going on)


Quote:
Originally Posted by FigNewtonian View Post
The idea that I can have intimate emotional and physical relationships with multiple people and yet would not be comfortable with those people having intimate emotional and physical relationships with other people is something that's real and deep rooted. I'm just not.

I understand the imbalance and I loathe imbalance, but I feel like I'm in this situation because of a set of specific circumstances and coincidence buttressed by my sense of ethics and responsibility to my previous partner and my current girlfriend.
With you guys coming from a place of monogamy I find this not at all surprising - I have read a number of people here post about this. Since neither of the woman in question seem to be pushing for equal (sexual/romantic) freedom at this point (unless I missed it) I don't know that you have to push yourself to go there just yet. I would add a caveat that even "real and deep rooted" feelings CAN change over time for some people (not saying that they WILL of course).

For years and years MrS felt that he could not take me being with another man (I'm bi and, for him, me being with girls was not as threatening) and it was not an issue for a long long time. When the time came that it needed to be addressed again his initial response was almost a reflexive "NO!!!!"...and then, after some chaos and turbulence...and a lot of consideration...the answer changed to YES. He found that in the intervening decades, something had changed for him - he just hadn't realized it.

In the meantime this is still very new. My advice (FWIW) Be gentle with yourselves. Work with what you have and come to peace with where you are before moving further along some sort of "poly continuum" (if indeed you all feel the need to do so at some point - no reason that you have to if everyone is on board with how things are).

Quote:
Originally Posted by FigNewtonian View Post
The idea of monogamy is in direct conflict with my desire to love, cherish and respect the two people I want to.

tl;dnr = it's freaking messy and confusing and I'm doing the best I can, flawed creature that I am.
This, I think is the crux of it. And why I think you all have a chance of making it work. I think that you have all learned valuable (and perhaps surprising) things about yourselves and each other during this part of your journey. I'm impressed with how thoughtful you are being toward each other while still, it seems, making your needs (and fears and hopes) known.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FigNewtonian View Post
That felt good. Glad to have a place where I can talk like that...
Excellent! I have found that posting here can be quite therapeutic - just getting the words out seems to help clarify my thinking. As an added bonus, being able to talk to people who may have been through similar struggles (as well as people that can sometimes ask tough questions) may help give you some helping hands along the road.

Good luck to you!

JaneQ
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MrS: hetero polyflexible male, live-in husband (together 21+ yrs)
Dude: hetero poly male, live-in boyfriend (together 3+ yrs) and MrS's best friend
Lotus: poly bi female, "it's complicated" relationships with Dude/JaneQ/MrS
TT: poly bi male, married to Lotus, FB with JaneQ
VV and MsJ: bi-women with male primaries, LTR LDR FWBs to JaneQ


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Last edited by JaneQSmythe; 05-05-2012 at 01:09 AM.
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  #14  
Old 05-05-2012, 02:17 AM
Vinccenzo Vinccenzo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FigNewtonian View Post
If I may, as the hubby in question:

We're all mono people we're accustomed to one set of rules and social norms that we've all adhered to for all of our lives. That being said, if you can understand that the following intellectual and emotional positions emerge from a place firmly established with those set of starting assumptions, it may make this a little clearer. Hopefully.

The sexual experience bothered me because I explicitly exited the marriage because she didn't want sex. And understand, my primary motivation for exit wasn't that I had to have sex it was that I didn't want her to have to have sex. It wasn't that she didn't want sex with me, it was that she didn't want sex.

She says her action was a combination of loneliness, nostalgia, alcohol and also pure intellectual curiosity which reinforced in her mind that her asexuality was universal. All of those things are independent of me with the exception of loneliness so I don't feel any shame in owning my part of that situation that she may not view negatively, but that certainly leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

To be fair, the aftermath has clearly been viewed negatively by her both in the manner that it has complicated a friendship that she valued and was a situation that created a temporary rift between us as I worked through my valid emotions while still respecting the intellectual insights she gained.

So, let me go ahead and throw out something I've been struggling with. The idea that I can have intimate emotional and physical relationships with multiple people and yet would not be comfortable with those people having intimate emotional and physical relationships with other people is something that's real and deep rooted. I'm just not.

I understand the imbalance and I loathe imbalance, but I feel like I'm in this situation because of a set of specific circumstances and coincidence buttressed by my sense of ethics and responsibility to my previous partner and my current girlfriend. The idea of monogamy is in direct conflict with my desire to love, cherish and respect the two people I want to.

tl;dnr = it's freaking messy and confusing and I'm doing the best I can, flawed creature that I am.

That felt good. Glad to have a place where I can talk like that...
In my past relationships where someone had different expectations for me than they held themselves, felt my actions were more reactions to them than they were choices I made, my desire for them died.
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  #15  
Old 05-05-2012, 05:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FigNewtonian View Post
The idea that I can have intimate emotional and physical relationships with multiple people and yet would not be comfortable with those people having intimate emotional and physical relationships with other people is something that's real and deep rooted. I'm just not.
Hmmmm, this could become a real issue. I think this would be a really good thing to work on. Check out threads on One Penis Policies (OPP) and see what others have said. You can do a tag search for that.

Generally it just doesn't work for the long run to expect that those you are dating stay monogamous to you. You can't really expect that. Sure, they might want to do that, and be happy to, but the imbalance of them knowing that you would object seeps in with time for most and relationships with imbalances such as an OPP are not healthy ones in my opinion. It might be time to face why you feel the way you do.
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  #16  
Old 05-05-2012, 03:03 PM
Vinccenzo Vinccenzo is offline
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The one penis policy thought does run common with a few destructive themes.
That sex is something men do to women, not something they have with a woman and certainly never the other way around (heterosexually speaking of course). And through this it either is regrettable for the woman as if she stands less to gain from it like he does.Or regrettable to the man because his needs being so much greater he must use her in such a fashion. It implies he has power in the relationship she doesn't. It implies that a woman's desire should be lower by nature than any man's desire. This can cause sex to seem a bad/dirty thing to the woman over time and the one of the ways she can avoid feeling powerless is to say no to intimacy.

Now, I'm not trying to accuse Fig of being a bad person here. This mentality is born of echos from a male dominated history that gets reduced with every new generation. Trying to shame you over it would be, to me anyway, like shaming someone from that fight/flight feeling one gets when they realize a snake is near them in the woods. It can feel instinctual.

But it is the words used in BaB and Fig's posts that stuck out to me and drew my attention. He notices the imbalance but words it as something that just is - making me wonder if the women in his life have to do more adjusting for him than he does for them. I don't think it is malicious but it can cause a lack of care for his needs as a passive payback on their part. I'd even go so far as to wonder if his soon to be ex wife might not be so asexual as it would seem. She tells him she regrets it, but seeing as his feeling on the matter "just are", she might not feel any other answer on the matter would be well received by him. They are already divorcing. Upsetting him more might feel a further risk for rejection to her.
I took note that one of the motivations she had for sleeping with the fella was curiosity. Curiosity about sex is healthy and she should feel like she can act on her curiosities without angering Fig. He feels wife put herself at risk? - Does Fig also feel he is at risk when he chooses to be with someone else? Are the motivations of women something he should be on guard for too? Or is it just a risk for women? Are the motivations of men always bad? All this can make sex seem scary and sinister.
Shouldn't she be angry with him for his actions with BaB? Or not so because its different for him being a man? She may be seeking a way to identify with his behavior and heal herself. I also notice that she was curious and acted on it but once the fella wanted to have sex again, she shut it down proving she is still the one in control of what happens to her body. The first time SHE CHOSE. His request could have been seen by her as taking her power to choose.
Also to the assumption that she did this because Fig deprived her of tokens and affection. I get why he would assume this as it is why he sought out someone else when he felt deprived of intimacy. It still implies she can't have wanted intimacy with someone new too. She also followed it up with "and all it did was reinforce that I don't want to have sex". So she is still safe from feeling like she has to now have sex with Fig again at his request.

I guess what I'm saying is dealing with this mentality regarding sex and woman's role within it could have put a damper on the soon to be ex wife's sexual desire for Fig. Causing a lack of intimacy between them. Causing Fig to look elsewhere while still not being able to accept it from the two women in his life. Just some possibilities to chew on and discuss.
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  #17  
Old 05-05-2012, 04:01 PM
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blytheandbonny blytheandbonny is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vinccenzo View Post
The one penis policy thought does run common with a few destructive themes.
That sex is something men do to women, not something they have with a woman and certainly never the other way around (heterosexually speaking of course). And through this it either is regrettable for the woman as if she stands less to gain from it like he does.Or regrettable to the man because his needs being so much greater he must use her in such a fashion. It implies he has power in the relationship she doesn't. It implies that a woman's desire should be lower by nature than any man's desire. This can cause sex to seem a bad/dirty thing to the woman over time and the one of the ways she can avoid feeling powerless is to say no to intimacy.

Now, I'm not trying to accuse Fig of being a bad person here. This mentality is born of echos from a male dominated history that gets reduced with every new generation. Trying to shame you over it would be, to me anyway, like shaming someone from that fight/flight feeling one gets when they realize a snake is near them in the woods. It can feel instinctual.

But it is the words used in BaB and Fig's posts that stuck out to me and drew my attention. He notices the imbalance but words it as something that just is - making me wonder if the women in his life have to do more adjusting for him than he does for them. I don't think it is malicious but it can cause a lack of care for his needs as a passive payback on their part. I'd even go so far as to wonder if his soon to be ex wife might not be so asexual as it would seem. She tells him she regrets it, but seeing as his feeling on the matter "just are", she might not feel any other answer on the matter would be well received by him. They are already divorcing. Upsetting him more might feel a further risk for rejection to her.
I took note that one of the motivations she had for sleeping with the fella was curiosity. Curiosity about sex is healthy and she should feel like she can act on her curiosities without angering Fig. He feels wife put herself at risk? - Does Fig also feel he is at risk when he chooses to be with someone else? Are the motivations of women something he should be on guard for too? Or is it just a risk for women? Are the motivations of men always bad? All this can make sex seem scary and sinister.
Shouldn't she be angry with him for his actions with BaB? Or not so because its different for him being a man? She may be seeking a way to identify with his behavior and heal herself. I also notice that she was curious and acted on it but once the fella wanted to have sex again, she shut it down proving she is still the one in control of what happens to her body. The first time SHE CHOSE. His request could have been seen by her as taking her power to choose.
Also to the assumption that she did this because Fig deprived her of tokens and affection. I get why he would assume this as it is why he sought out someone else when he felt deprived of intimacy. It still implies she can't have wanted intimacy with someone new too. She also followed it up with "and all it did was reinforce that I don't want to have sex". So she is still safe from feeling like she has to now have sex with Fig again at his request.

I guess what I'm saying is dealing with this mentality regarding sex and woman's role within it could have put a damper on the soon to be ex wife's sexual desire for Fig. Causing a lack of intimacy between them. Causing Fig to look elsewhere while still not being able to accept it from the two women in his life. Just some possibilities to chew on and discuss.
Just checked in here before walking out of the door in a few minutes, and wanted to post a quick reply, though I intend to come back later with a more thorough one. No promises though.

First few thoughts - as someone with a degree in Women's Studies, I totally get this line of thinking.

However.

It seems to me that for this analysis to work here, the three of us would have to be unaware of and therefore unconsciously embrace this very patriarchal construct. The first premise: that sex is something men do to women is the underlier of the whole argument, and though I may not always be the most self-aware and insightful person, I am very confident that none of us in this arrangement feels that way.

But really, my biggest problem with this whole argument is the part where it assumes that Fig's wife feels like she has no agency and is (perhaps unconsciously) using her sexuality to exert otherwise absent control in the face of insidious oppression.

She has and exerts her own agency all of the time. Her asexuality is a real thing and not derivative of some roiling internal unresolved psychological state. She does not have and never has had a subversive agenda.

She's amazing, in control of her own life, and we should not insult her - or him - by pretending otherwise. Sure, she's got some self-discovery to do given that until not that long ago she'd never considered that she was asexual, but that doesn't mean that we should not listen to her words and respect her self-assertions.

Last edited by blytheandbonny; 05-05-2012 at 10:20 PM. Reason: bad grammar = no doughnut!
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  #18  
Old 05-05-2012, 06:30 PM
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I feel this discussion could well benefit from a more sympathetic view of asexuality.

Sexual therapists and sexologists have, since the inception of the discipline in the early 1900's, operated from a very sex-normative worldview. This is not how most people perhaps ever have viewed sex, in our culture or elsewhere. However, sexology succeeded in asserting itself as THE view on the reality of sex.

Most basic premises of sexology are:
1) Sexuality is an inborn need, operating according to an instinct model (libido).
2) If sexuality is not expressed via genital, orgasmic sex, it builds up and finds other outlets, possibly perverse, repressed or channeled (subliminated) modes of expression.
3) Sexuality is something everyone has, and it holds the ultimate truth of who and what we are.

The general critique of needs and instinct theories in psychology has not really affected the mainstream sexological discipline. Despite the abysmal failure of both psychoanalysis and its sub-discipline sexology to prove that genital orgasmic sexual expression is vital for human mental health and homeostasis (the balance of our bodily needs that allows us to survive), the school operates much like a religion: unbelievers are declared abnormal. They are repressing their true desires, which follow the religion's doctrine.

According to mainstream sexology, asexuality is sexual dysfunction, not a real, independent phenomenon. Asexual people have to deal with people judging them and devaluing their experience every day. Much like non-straight folks, they have to constantly face questions like "Are you sure this is not a phase?", "Maybe you just haven't met the right partner yet", or "So you occasionally enjoy the thought or actuality of straight sex, so YOU MUST BE STRAIGHT ALL ALONG".

Much like the majority of sexual people do not need to have actual genital contact with someone to determine that they, indeed, have sexual interest towards others, the majority of asexual people do not need to try sexuality on for size, while many do because societal pressure, curiosity and/or because they believe the sexological dogma that tells them they cannot be.

If you want to know more about asexuality, I suggest checking out the resources on asexuality.org and especially their forum.
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Last edited by BlackUnicorn; 05-05-2012 at 06:37 PM. Reason: hit the post button too early
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  #19  
Old 05-05-2012, 10:32 PM
FigNewtonian FigNewtonian is offline
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Viccenzo: Isn't there a possibility that everything I've said is accurate? That you can take my words as they're presented? That she's asexual. That there's no hidden intentional or otherwise agenda at play. That we're three people trying to muddle along as best we can in a new and entirely unfamiliar world?

The wife's response when reading your post?
*groan* ... Oh look, someone else who feels the need to read imaginary stuff between the lines.

One of the worst parts for her of discovering and dealing with her asexuality is the social view that she's somehow wrong. That she just hasn't met the right guy. That she had some deep-seated trauma that made her this way. The guy that she slept with has tried to make the argument that "He knows she wants it because she's a woman" and there's always some jerk out there who thinks he can plow into a woman hard enough to "fix her."

I love my wife deeply. We've spent more than a decade together and we were each other's first and on our wedding night no less. I hope that shines a brighter light on where we're both coming from as people, why we have viewed sex the way we have and the need for other experiences to eliminate any ambiguous variables.

It was hard, reading your post, not to take it as a cross between dime store analysis and a conspiracy theory that paints both myself and my wife in a quite unflattering light.

I don't mind critical analysis I'm INTJ, I dig it but I would also hope in the future that some weight could be given to the words of the people who come here looking for help, support and answers.

BlackUnicorn: I kind of want to give you a hug. AVEN has been a safe haven for both of us since we discovered it last year. We're both on the forums and active. I thank you very, very much for your post. Aces should have the right to be who they are without being judged by a normative standard something that I would think would be second nature coming from a community of people who don't exactly subscribe to the normative standard themselves.
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Old 05-05-2012, 11:30 PM
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Consider this your free hug coming up.
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