Four years ago, I married the first guy I ever fucked.
While some may balk at my eggs-in-one-basket situation, I have to admit that I found a really, really good one. I met him in 2008 while we were in our early twenties, and despite suffering from depression and some INTP absent-minded professor moments, he's a wonderful partner who I think might be a better human than me. I can be short-tempered and have a tendency to avoid conflict, yet he is emotionally intelligent, shows up when he needs to, and is diplomatic whenever issues in our marriage arise.
The one problem we haven't managed to solve is our sexual incompatibility.
Sexual incompatibility?!? No way. I totally didn't see that one coming. Please proceed, SBNH...
He's always had a low libido, and we hit a sexual rut a couple years ago and talked about the possibility of opening up our marriage. He says he feels guilty knowing he's the only person I've rubbed genitals with, and over the years we've discussed ad nauseam the topic of my constant bouts of sexual frustration and his unwillingness and/or inability to address them. Despite our mutual discontent, we weren't exactly action-oriented, so the subject matter of an open marriage was tabled.
Finally, a few weeks ago we came to terms with the fact that maybe we were just tired of sleeping with the same person, over and over again, for ten years. Instead of feeling upset, I think we were both OK with this revelation, at least on a logical level. I want to be clear that we're in a really good place right now. We are affectionate, we kiss, cuddle, hold hands—still very much in love. The man simply doesn't want to fuck me. And while he has always been sympathetic to my plight (read: I am a thirst bucket), I suspect his depression may impede on his ability to take initiative, or even become horny. That, or maybe he's just tired of sleeping with the same person, over and over again, for ten years.
With his consent, I'm determined to change this lame-o aspect of our lives by encouraging us to go out and sleep with other people. Here's the thing, though. He and I share the same proclivity for vanilla, monogamous relationships. In short: we're both huge fucking prudes. He and I have no idea how to take the next steps, let alone dive into the practice of polyamory. We're both bad flirts and we shy away from aggressive admirers. Before I met him, it took me a very long time to open up my heart (and my legs). I've always been envious of friends who could sleep with someone as casually as they would throw a frozen pizza into the oven. Even though we've yet to set up any rules or boundaries, we've both readily admitted to each other that we don't have the personality of a casual dater: in other words, we'd likely struggle with all the work, the emotional guilt, and the internalized weirdness that comes with sleeping with a person you aren't committed to.
So please help answer this: how do two married vanilla assholes who are still in love but no longer fuck learn how to fuck other people? I care for my husband and I really don't want to stop being married to him.
I also just really, really, want to fuck.
Sexless But Not Hopeless
I don't think vanilla + monogamy = prudery, SBNH.
Vanilla and monogamous may correlate more strongly with prudery, of course, but there's no causal relationship. People who struggle with sex-negativity and/or shame and/or self-loathing are prone to adopting prudish stances; terrified of their own desires they take refuge in a kind of performative prudery, judging and shaming others in a misguided (and often disastrous) effort to control themselves. But we can't let the fact that these dumb/judging/shaming fucks also take refuge in vanilla sex and monogamous commitments prejudice us against those whose authentic sexual selves are best expressed in the missionary position and with just one partner.
In other words, SBNH, if vanilla is what you like and monogamous is the relationship model that works best for you—or was the model that worked best for you—that doesn't make you a prude. I would only lump you in with the prudes if you couldn't like what you liked without judging and shaming kinky and non-monogamous people for liking what they liked.
Anyway, SBNH, the answer to your question is pretty simple. There are open relationships where the primary partners seek sex and only sex from outside partners. But a polyamorous relationship is different. It allows for both/all partners to seek not just sex with others, but relationships with others—the kind of emotional and romantic connections that for you are a prerequisite for physical intimacy, aka getting fucking senseless.
Don't have the personality of a casual dater? Great. Don't date casually. Don't think you can handle the work, guilt, and weirdness that you've convinced yourself comes bundled with sleeping with people you aren't committed to? Great. Don't sleep with people you aren't committed to.
Your search for other partners will take longer than the searches of those throw-another-pizza-in-the-oven types, of course, but that's the price of admission you're gonna have to pay (to yourselves and each other) in order to have the sex you wanna have with others.
But before worrying about flirting, SBNH, you're gonna need to hammer out rules and boundaries with your husband. Who is off limits? (No mutual friends? No one with any connection to your social circles? No one from work?) What is off limits? (No unprotected sex with others? Are there sex acts you want to reserve for each other?) Where is off limits? (Not in your house? Not in your city? Not in your hemisphere?) Once you have a better idea who you're allowed to do, what you're able to do, and where you're able to do it, SBNH, you should feel a little more confident about starting your search.
And then you'll just have to do what everyone does: put yourself out there—and that's scary, I realize, but it's scary for everyone. So get on the apps and be completely open about your situation: married and looking but not interested in sexing it up right away with a stranger. People who are looking for sex right away will ghost, and good riddance.