Can Two Prudish Introverts Open Up Their Marriage?

Savage Love Letter of the Day

Comments

1

I've enjoyed sleeping with people I'm not committed to because there's less work, no emotional guilt, and negligible internalized weirdness. If you feel the opposite about those things, best to be up front about it and rule me out for casual sex, and I'll do the same.

2

I found the throwing frozen pizza in the oven part hot.

3

Some very RC hair-splitting from Mr Savage, though I do see how he divided by zero.

4

The lw seemed to be piling on the self-deprecation a little too thick; perhaps as a preemptive strike for what she thought Dan would do to her.
No need to apologize for being wired how you're wired; no need to put yourself or your needs down.

5

Dan: You are wonderful as always. Compassionate, honest, sex positive. This is why the column has thrived for so long.

6

I would suggest going to see a male sex worker, but that may be as easy as finding a unicorn, and I doubt SBNH would feel comfortable doing it. Seeing a sex therapist (individually or as a couple) to overcome their sexual hang ups may be beneficial. From the letter it doesn't sound like SBNH and her husband, who aren't action oriented, have had the husband checked for any physical or psychological reasons for his low libido. I am surprised that DS didn't suggest that before opening the marriage. Depression and/or the medicines taken to treat it can result in sexual disfunction and/or loss of interest in sex. They may have already taken those steps, but more likely not given how uncomfortable they are about sex. The letter appears to be one of desperation. She has no real desire to fuck anyone else, she just wants more sex than her husband is capable of giving her. If that were to change for then the need/desire, from her side, to open the marriage, at this point, would dissipate.

7

I'm in agreement with @4 (nocutename). The LW is bending over backward so far, her head's nearly at the level of the floor (which is where her self-esteem is, too). Why is she doing it? To apparently bolster her husband's fragile ego by splitting the responsibility. She's also repeated the drudgery of sleeping with the same person year after year as if she needed to convince herself. It's not the year after year bit that's the problem; it's that they haven't grown together or even tried to experiment sexually (which wouldn't even involve straying away from vanilla).

So, given the above scenario, what's her eminently fair goose/gander solution? Open up the marriage from both sides. I can see the train wreck from miles away. While she's enthusiastically charming possible lovers, he's ... well, he's not putting himself out there - which only the most altruistic and generous woman might respond to even before she's faced with his low libido and depression.

The LW treasures the companionate mostly sexless intimacy she shares with her husband. They should keep that intimacy and trust as the foundation of their mutual bond without involving outsiders in what could prove to be messy. IMO, she should have asked for a hall pass - perhaps with a time limit of several months with potential for extension. As he's been unable and unwilling to take the reins in her sexual education (there goes the campfire rule), she might be the one who ends up teaching him a few tricks that may revive their sex lives.

8

This doesn't sound like nascent polyamory, it sounds like a very slow-motion amicable (so far) breakup. The longer it takes, the less likely it is to stay amicable. They don't have kids, they don't have sex, why not thank each other for ten good years and separate? If crippling social awkwardness is a compelling reason not to split, then it's a compelling reason not to open up, too. Isn't this kind of situation the best-case breakup scenario? LW's never had sex with anyone else, they've probably also never ended a serious relationship before, and that may be the real reason they're so reluctant to do so now. Split up while you're still friends.

9

Assuming there is no medical/psychological cause for the husband's low libido and given SBHN's disinterest in casual sex then having an emotional connection is a perquisite for her to have sex within anyone else. Problem being she is inexperienced having never had a sexual relationship with anyone else and has never experienced NRE with anyone else (and that was 10 years ago). She and her husband had better understand it and the effect it is likely to have on their marriage. I am sure that there are people here who are more capable of providing guidance and how to prepare for it. Isn't six months typically how long the lust phase of a relationship lasts?

10

New relationship energy (or NRE) is a state of mind experienced at the beginning of sexual and romantic relationships, typically involving heightened emotional and sexual feelings and excitement. NRE begins with the earliest attractions, may grow into full force when mutuality is established, and can fade over months or years. As the term implies, the phenomenon carries an implication of contrast with the feelings involved in an "old" or an ongoing relationship.

11

nocutename @ 4 These are two passive, risk adverse, introverted people with limited social skills who are sexually inexperienced and don't know how to go about implementing their agreed upon solution: opening the marriage so that the wife can find sexual satisfaction. Why is an accurate description of one's self, IYO self deprecating?

I will admit "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?" is a bit strong, but I think it is more an expression of her extreme frustration (been there, done that, got the tee shirt) than of self deprecation.

12

@11: a skeptic and a cynic, I think Helenka (also a Canuck) @7 did a good job of explicating my thought.

I will agree with Chase (@8) that I think this is the beginning of the end of this marriage. But I think that if they can stay friends, it can be seen as a positive experience/relationship.

13

Helenka @ 7 Did we read the same letter? IMO, she should have asked for a hall pass - perhaps with a time limit of several months with potential for extension.

"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."

Why does she need to ask for something she already has and without any time limitation?

I can see the train wreck from miles away. While she's enthusiastically charming possible lovers, he's ... well, he's not putting himself out there.

"He's always had a low libido. He says he feels guilty knowing he's the only person I've rubbed genitals with. 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. We're both bad flirts and we shy away from aggressive admirers."

The husband has always had a low libido and now has no real interest in sex. He also recognizes her need for more sex and is willing to open their marriage to provide her with what he can't give her. She is passive and inexperienced, she is never going to take the lead. She will always wait to be asked.

Campsite rule: In any relationship, but particularly those with a large difference of age or experience between the partners, the older or more experienced partner has the responsibility to leave the younger or less experienced partner in at least as good a state (emotionally and physically) as before the relationship. The "campsite rule" includes things like leaving the younger or less experienced partner with no STDs, no unwanted pregnancies, and not overburdening them with emotional and sexual baggage.

They are two people who are approximately the same age neither of whom is sexually experienced. "He and I share the same proclivity for vanilla, monogamous relationships."
Neither of them are sexually adventuresome. She is bemoaning the lack of sex, not the sex is vanilla.

14

I think step one for SBNH is to get both herself and her husband into treatment for their various issues - shyness, passivity, possible sex negativity, and depression - before they open up their marriage. I wonder at this stage whether SBNH has the emotional bandwidth to engage romantically with two people, and it is not clear at the moment that these inaction-oriented people will be able to deftly make the adjustments needed should their experiment with open marriage hit rough spots. And while treating Mr. SBNH's depression might not obviate the need to open the marriage as someone suggested, improving their sex life will undoubted improve the quality of this relationship.

@7/Helenka (also a Canuck): You see some signs of a fragile male ego in this letter? That sound like a gratuitous swipe a men in general given that it appears these are two introverted people with limited social skills, at least one of whom is suffering from clinical depression.

15

nocutename @ 12 Sex is important, but it is not the be all end of a relationship. It is far easier to find good, even great sex than to replicate or replace everything else she has with her husband. Being a passive person, she knows just how lucky she was when she found him. The husband also realizes how lucky he was to find her. In general two passive people are extremely lucky to find what they have once in a life time, finding it twice is rare. As long as the husband is willing (even encouraging her) for her to find sexual satisfaction elsewhere there really is no reason to divorce (it would be different he was opposed) In fact, the marriage will most likely be strengthened with the only real source of conflict removed.

16

SA @ 4 Thank you. You explicated my thoughts much more concisely and coherently (and in far fewer words) than I did.

17

SBNH Does your husband ogle and flirt with other women, does he watch porn, does he masturbate on a regular basis, is he having an affair, or is he showing any other indication that he is sexually active? If the answer is no, then his low libido and depression are the primary cause of his disinterest in fucking you. He is not interested in fucking any one? Yes, 10 years of vanilla sex with the same person does not normally inspire great passion. However, there are ways to spice up even a vanilla sexual relationship so that it doesn't grow stale.

18

SBNH stated: :I suspect his depression may impede on his ability to take initiative, or even become horny." This may very well be part of the problem. Depression can definitely decrease the libido (from personal experience). You didn't mention if he is on antidepressants or other meds for his condition. Antidepressants (and some other meds) can do a real number on the libido, like almost completely killing it. I've taken some over the years that have made me really indifferent to sex but when I weaned off of them, I saw my sexual desire return. Just thought I'd throw that out there as I suspect it may play at least a part into his lack of desire for sex. Good luck whatever you decide to do.

19

We also have to consider the possibility that he doesn't have a low libido, but that much as he likes and loves her, she has never particularly turned him on. And maybe when they met he was too young to realise that was a problem, or that there would be people he would lust after.

I know that some people in unsatisfying long term relationships think that they are asexual when actually they are just suppressing their libido because they don't want to use it with their partner.

20

Can't put my finger on what it is exactly, but something makes me think the husband might be into dudes. If they open up their relationship, in addition to the boundaries Dan suggests they discuss, they might want to discuss if a member of the same sex is ok.

21

Great answer, Dan. Vanilla isn't a synonym for prudish or repressed, and polyamory is not (necessarily) a free-for-all. There are other poly people who prefer to have multiple, closed, long-term relationships. Instead of apps, I'd suggest SBNH join a poly meetup group and spend, say, six months to a year attending meets, socialising, and getting to know people before approaching one for a secondary relationship.

22

Nocute @4: I think that's a very likely interpretation of the tone of the letter. "Dan will call me a prude if I say I don't want casual sex, so I may as well just cop to it up front."

Skeptic @6: Male sex workers are more common than unicorns. Male sex workers she finds attractive may not be. And if what she wants is a relationship, a sex worker may be her worst option. We may like to think we can find a sex worker we like and pay them to return ad infinitum, but if what SNBH wants is a loving relationship, most sex workers would sense that a client was getting attached and sever the business relationship. Nope, they're called "sex workers" not "love workers" for a reason.

Good point, though, about the depression. I'd bet money this is the cause of the low libido issues (or they're just mismatched, hey). I'd talk to his psychiatrist straightaway if they haven't already. A change of meds may make a huge difference.

Helenka @7: An excellent point. This self-deprecating woman wants more sex so instead of asking if SHE can date other people, she's encouraging someone with a sex drive that's too low even for her to date other people. Not everything has to be "fair"! YOU go get your needs met; it sounds like his already are.

Chase @8: Disagree. They seem very happy out of bed. Why go through the trauma of a breakup when you could open up? All she needs is to find one poly guy that she could see a couple of nights a week, and their marriage will be perfect.

Skeptic @9: Good point about NRE and the potential for Mr SBNH to experience jealousy. This is the reason many people in open marriages try to restrict the potential for NRE by imposing rules like "casual sex only." Mr and Mrs SBNH will need to be on board up front with the idea that their spouse will have feelings for their other partner. (I used partner, singular, as I think that is what she wants.)
It's my understanding that the NRE/"honeymoon period" of a relationship tends to last a year and a half or so. A bit long to "just wait out," particularly as year-and-a-half-long relationships often become decade-or-more-long relationships.

Sublime @14: I know few men who AREN'T at least a bit threatened by having a female partner with a significantly higher sex drive than they do. "Fragile male ego" is a very good guess as to why SBNH is bending over backwards to not say "you're not satisfying me, I want other dick."

Skeptic @15: Agree 100%.

BBM @20: Oh, snore. If a guy has a low libido, he must be gay. Even if there's a perfectly reasonable other explanation LIKE DEPRESSION.

23

Hi BDF NRE is a real concern since neither of them has much (if any) real experience with it. He's always had a low libido (did they ever have a lust phase in their relationship). People do strange and stupid things when hit with massive doses of adrenaline and endorphins (especially if they've never experienced it before) I'm less concerned with the husband having jealousy issues than SBNH going off the deep end, becoming obsessed with her new partner to the detriment of her marriage, causing her husband to have a major depressive episode. Being bipolar runs in my family and I can tell you from personal experience that this scenario is not unrealistic. What is your take?

24

The lust phase ends and they've really fucked up their life. They've lost what they in exchange for sex and now all they have is the sex (and maybe not even that, but the guilt they may experience over the loss can be crushing) I'm probably being overly pessimistic, but then again I am a firm believer in Murphy's Law.

25

My take is that being bipolar runs in your family and therefore you are projecting. Remember, it's SNBH's husband who has the mental health issues, not SNBH, that we know of. For the vast majority of people, NRE results in nothing more damaging than gushing too much about one's new shiny to one's existing partner, making them feel jealous. There's nothing in SNBH's letter that suggests to me that she's the obsessive type. She -might- be; but if -potential- reactions to NRE are considered sufficient deterrents to dating, the human race would have died out millennia ago.

26

Well, at least you're aware that you're being overly pessimistic. There are millions of happy poly people who've been in concurrent, multiple-year relationship who can provide a counterpoint to your predictions of gloom and doom. Hi! I'm one of them. More realistically, the lust phase ends, they either settle into a secondary relationship that is more friendship-based or split up, and life goes on.

27

@6. A skeptic and a cynic. I also thought a male sex worker was the answer. You say they're hen's teeth. I'm not so sure. Dan wastes a lot of time in his answer determining whether she's prudish. Maybe she suggested the prudery thing because the idea of visiting a sex worker has occurred to her, and she was soliciting encouragement to go ahead with something she found uncomfortable? The reason she hasn't sought out a professional isn't that she doesn't crave sex or she thinks it's wrong. It's social embarrassment, fear that it will mean admitting her marriage is a failure, shyness and unfamiliarity. None of these is a good reason not to try.

Where I might slightly disagree with you is in thinking that the onus is on her husband to step up to the plate and be more sexually exploratory. Perhaps he just has a low sex drive? He's depressed, he has a low sex drive, he's an absent-minded professor type. None of these need to be pathologized. There should be some way forward for her to be more sexually fulfilled without his being blamed.

Another thing that struck me was that, if he's depressed and not-highly-sexed, and he's been her only ever partner, it's unlikely (not certain, but unlikely) that she's ever been fucked assertively, or with a sense of (consented-to, yielded-to) mastery. She can surely get this from a sex worker very easily--and deserves it, if that's what she wants.

28

Skeptic @24: A few questions for you.
Do you believe that long-term happiness is possible in a monogamous construct?
Or do you believe that all relationships are just two people setting themselves up for heartbreak after a year and a half?
If so, how do you explain the existence of millions of happy couples who have been together for 30, 40 or more years?
If you believe eventual heartbreak is inevitable, do you believe that people should therefore never get romantically involved? That a year and a half, or five years, or twenty years of happiness aren't worth having because of the odds that any given relationship will end?
If you believe that it is possible to find a happy relationship, do you believe it is possible to experience more than one happy relationship in a person's lifetime? Let's say you're happy for 10 years and then your spouse dies. Is every subsequent relationship doomed to fail?

Now, let me ask you the same questions in a poly context. If it's possible to find a partner who makes you happy for five or 10 or 20 years, why would the number of partners who make you happy -- out of billions of people in the world -- be limited to one?
If some monogamous relationships last decades, why is it not possible in your mind that some polyamorous relationships could last decades?

From your posts @23 and @24, it seems as if you don't see any possibility here of a positive outcome -- that, for instance, SNBH will carefully get to know people, choose a secondary partner who respects her marriage (who is more than likely in a marriage or LTR of his own), whom she has more in common with than sex, and who can coexist in her life with her husband, who may or may not be interested in a secondary partner of his own. Yet this scenario is extremely common.

I'm wondering if your pessimism is rooted in prejudice against non-monogamous relationships or whether you believe relationships are doomed full stop, in which case, you might want to explore with a therapist how this family history of mental illness has led to this "Murphy's Law" attitude and how that is affecting your own relationships.

29

@4 nocute & @7 Helenka. Yes, I though just the same re her self-deprecation. Moreover she says things that come close to being contradictory, e.g. she has a short temper and is conflict-avoidant. I took this to mean that she was snappish, then backed off. But given how her husband is, this is entirely understandable: he will act (or not act) in some way that's supine, or just withdrawn and depressed, she will express irritation or try to rouse him, then feel embarrassed and not go through with the effort. Another sort of partner would be able to say, 'I see how you might be irritated'--with the lack of sex, for example. Or with the lack of curiosity. The difficulty exploring anything new or following through. 'Now you know I'm not hurt and not blaming you, do you want to talk about things calmly?'

She also makes contradictory excuses for him e.g. they're tired of sex with the same person for ten years, when he rarely puts out at all. Does she want sex with someone else or just good sex with her husband? It's probably the second; but I'm not sure it will ever be forthcoming. My instinct in this situation is that it would be good for her to have really great sex before reassessing her priorities. Maybe she will want to maintain a companionate relationship with her husband, while not looking to him (nor have him look to her) for anything sexual whatsoever?

30

@8 Chase & @12 nocute. I thought they might be drifting apart, too. This is something that the LW, who is given to self-examination, has considered, though, and is resisting. There would be no shame in calling it a day on the grounds of sexual incompatibility. None at all...

31

@21 @ 22. Bi. I think there's more to the self-deprecation in SNBH's letter; I'd say it reveals a pattern of her deferring to and making excuses for her husband in the relationship, and of denying or questioning her own instincts. This does not have to mean, at all, that he's dominating her in some malign way. Part of the way she cares for his depression--most likely, it seems to me--will be through her taking on the greater part of the emotional labor of the relationship--putting herself in his shoes, making allowance, anticipating his feeling and preempting causes for hurt, etc.

There wouldn't do this if she weren't genuinely, lovingly attached, and if he wasn't, in her eyes, a great guy.

Your suggestion of her going to poly meetups is perhaps the right way forward. I would anticipate something that Helenka also foresees, maybe: that, without his articulating it, this could sit badly with Mr SNBH; he could take it as disloyal in a way that sitting sexlessly and suffering in their marriage isn't disloyal. And he's not likely to look for partners on a comparable basis for himself.

I identify with SNBH in her thinking that 'sex is not for me'--something I also felt as a young man, because my desires were anomalous (being gay) and also because they were shamefully stereotypical (for someone of a camply feminized physique--craving being topped). I did not think that I would ever get the sex--so simple!--I wanted. But it wasn't really a reorientation of mindset that saw me having this sex. It was just experience itself. Right now, the LW lacks experience. She doesn't think she would like casual sex--but she's never had casual sex. It might be that she would love it, and think, 'what was the fuss all about? I didn't realise that you could just do that. Fuck and zip up'. Equally, she could try it and find it aversively impersonal or loveless.

32

I agree with BiDanFan: get thee to the poly community, LW! If not, you're going to have the same problem that "My wife has two boyfriends and I'm trying to trick a girl into dating me while she doesn't know I'm poly" guy has.* You may easily be able to find guys that would bang and leave, but if you are looking for a relationship, a lot of mainstream people will find your spouse a dealbreaker. So find the poly community where your married status is a plus.

Instead of spending tons of time getting shot down by monogamous people who want a closed relationship, while wading through tons of guys that just want NSA sex, find the place where there's other people openly looking for the sort of relationship you want. Also, there's lots of other poly people around to give you good advice and examples of what to do and sometimes, what not to do.

a shame we can't introduce these 2 LWs.

33

I'm kind of curious how someone can know they're in need of an open relationship when they haven't seemed to try actually spicing up what they have. It's like saying your house needs to be fixed up so you're going to buy a condo, too. These two are bad communicators. They need some level of therapy to open up and air out--figuratively and literally--their junk from the last decade. Only open the marriage when you establish that everything else truly is is off the table for you two (or you both simply want it, but the former seems likelier).

LW seems a bit ashamed of being vanilla, but I can't tell whether that's because she fears the judgment and scorn of this gaggle of hedonistic sex critics or, possibly, because she doesn't actually like being vanilla. She is, after all, a thirst bucket, in her own words. The two of them could try reviving something, some mutual spark of physical interest, before taking that leap. It could be that he, too, is a thirst bucket and just very bad at expressing what it is he thirsts for. If all else fails, LW, an open relationship or no relationship are both options, but see if there's a way to fix this communication issue.

34

It's been a while since I read a letter I identified with so much. This will surprise regulars since they know my situation and SBNH's are so different. (I liked sex almost from the start, slept with several guys before settling down, etc.) But the similarities are there too.

I fell in love, hard, with my first. I had a strong sense of sex needing to go with emotion and commitment, a sort of all consuming everything. I held a mixed admiration and repulsion of those contemporaries who were able to handle casual sex. I love the image of frozen pizza sex. If we think of him as the frozen pizza and me as the oven, it puts the whole frigidity problem in a new light.

My advice to SBNH. First, recognize that none of this is easy. In order to get more of what you want, more of the good stuff, you're going to have to give up some of the good stuff you have. The combination of love and sex is fantastic! That's good. No one could fault you for being squeamish about having loveless committmentless sex. It seems right now like that's the goal, but it needn't be the whole goal. It seemed like that to me. After I was dumped by the man (boy) I was sure was the love of my life (we were 18), I was sure I trying to learn how to have sex without losing myself in the all-consuming, sinking, selfless (in the worst sense of the term-I had no self) love.

Luckily, there is a mid point. There is somewhere between the extremes. You don't need a sex worker. You need a friend with benefits. You need someone you like and trust and find a bit sexy. He should not be married, and he should not be someone you work with.

This is where the hard part comes in. Remember the way you fell for your now husband first and discovered the sexual incompatibility later? It's like that all the way down. There will be many men you think you have something in common with you're not really compatible with. That would be true even if you were single and dating conventionally. You imagine everything would be great if you just found someone to fuck, but there are a tremendous number of men out there who aren't great at fucking-- or they're not great at fucking you. You know how you lack enough experience to be good at reading people and being sensitive to them? They lack that experience too.

The only solution is to dive in and start learning. Be prepared for disappointment. It's the only way. Meet someone. Talk to him. Like him well enough. Tell him your situation with your husband. Have sex with him. Learn. Try again. And again. And again.

35

Holy crap, Dan. I know you know (I've seen you mention it, and I've reminded you to before) that meds for depression can kill sexual desire: when someone with depression writes in, you need to mention that they should ask their doc to experiment with their meds to try to find meds/doses that leave their libido intact. (A person whose libido is killed by their meds will not still have their desire to do this so they must be urged to do so.)

Yes, I know "He's always had a low libido", I'm just saying that low does not equal this couple's current zero. Yes, I know that at some point in the letter the wife says that she too shares their "maybe we were just tired of sleeping with the same person"; but since many many more times she references that he doesn't want to fuck HER, it appears that at least some of the LW's lack of interest is due to the husband's disinterest.

Of course, good on them and good on Dan for exploring poly for them, that's great TOO! But honestly, if Dan doesn't start to urge tinkering with antidepressants to people with dead libidos, I think the advice columnist police should arrest him. (Yes, I know Dan is not a doctor, but I think this common knowledge is so closely related to a primary focus of sex columnists, that it is irresponsible to not address whenever needed.)

36

Fichu @34: Why shouldn't the FWB be married? Wouldn't the ideal setup be a poly guy who doesn't want an exclusive or full time relationship because he's got his own spouse, but would like a FWB?

37

36, Spiral-- I was thinking of emotional complications. I see your point that there will be complications no matter what. Maybe I was thinking of what worked for me when I the benefits situation that worked so well for me. SBNH just seems so guilty all around. I thought that thinking about a man's wife, while it shouldn't be necessary, would likely muck up things in her head.

38

I was a little surprised Dan did not recommend the excellent book Opening Up, which gives multiple chapters of attention toward multiple openness styles, a checklist for helping build rules for the openness, and interviews from people in working open relationships.

I also want to emphasize to the LW that there is something between 10-year-married deadbedroom, and casual sex with a stranger. It's called FWB, and it works for a lot of people, across what can become a second simultaneous LTR. It's possible to care for somebody, kiss them, see them in public, and bang them when both members of the FWB situation are down for that. I think that's what LW really needs, and just didn't know the words for.

I recommend that LW stay off the apps, and instead start finding real activities in her area. Start with whatever her hobbies are. Make friends, flirt, and upgrade one of those friendly flirters to FWB.

39

Before she makes a great big leap into sex workers or open marriages LW should try experimenting with sex toys. That may seem like too obvious an answer except that by her own description she is sexually inexperienced and has not been at all adventurous. At the very least some exploration with vibrators puts in charge of her own pleasure, puts less onus on the husband to "quench her thirst" and gives her a better idea of what stimulation she enjoys if and when she decides to seek sex outside the marriage.

40

I don't understand why companionate marriage isn't more of a thing. They love each other. They have a good groove going on in life and enjoy each other as partners. It's such a mindfuck that we expect our life partners to also be our sex partners. Guess what - you can be soulmates and also not compatible in bed! It's such an archaic expectation that "share my life" has to equal "share my genitals". How many of us would be better off prioritizing shacking up with someone with similar values around money, time-management, religion, politics, travel, family, sense of humor, etc. rather than making sexual compatibility the king almighty litmus test?

He has a low libido and is fine with that. She wants to fuck other people but hasn't learned how to do it recreationally, and in her mind she connects recreational sex with one night stands. If ever there were a situation crying out for making peace with a companionate marriage and getting a good friend with benefits, this is it.

SBNH, do you have hobbies or do sports that your husband doesn't share an interest in? Do you have any sexy friends who do share those interests? Maybe see if you can turn one of them into a friend with benefits (if your husband is cool with it). FWBs are a nice middle ground between full-on committed polyamorous partnerships and casual hookups. Have some physical fun with someone you already know, trust, and like.

41

Haven't many of us agreed before that, when a sexual relationship is in trouble, the worst thing to do is to go poly or open? Being poly or open should be like enjoying an extra helping of dessert or a new cuisine to provide variety in a already STABLE and successful relationship! But the LW has barely had reduced war rations for most of their ten years together. At least the nature of a hall pass recognizes that one wants or needs to go outside of the relationship to find something lacking.

Even though the LW seems to be passive (lacking the ability to follow through, letting things lapse), I believe her libido and frustration would eventually make her become more proactive to get her needs satisfied. As someone mentioned above, her husband's minimal needs are being met.

Their passivity is very frustrating. Has he investigated changing his meds or has he accepted the lower libido as a permanent side effect? Has she ever cracked open a sex manual - or was she too embarrassed to find one? Even when she was a virgin, it might have helped as an introduction to the mechanics, pitfalls and delights ... so she would not have had to rely solely on this partner to be the initiator and teacher.

42

@41. Helenka. I agree with you.

It sounds like they first broached getting sex (or her getting sex) outside their marriage when she turned 30--a full two years ago. So it's taken her this length of time--of lack of action--to get her to the stage, evidently in confusion and perplexity, of asking for advice. Her husband should have said, 'look, I'm the one who was (minimally) experienced before, for what it's worth. If you're frustrated, have a hall pass--two evenings a month when I don't expect to see you and during which you can explore in complete privacy'. The idea of reciprocity would only be pro forma here; it isn't something that the situation demands.

I would guess that her finding a FWB--besides being difficult for her emotionally--would destabilize the marriage in a way that her dating, meeting other poly people or going to a sex worker wouldn't. Her dissatisfaction is already there before her husband; there isn't that much of a step between stating that and her going on to do those other things.

43

@22/BiDanFan: I don't know many women who are blase about their male partners fucking other women, so I'm not really sure why we were even using this phrase in this context at all. Simply put, most people are not keen on their partners having sex with other people, and pathologizing that is poly superiority bullshit.

44

Fichu @34: I agree with Traffic @36: I think another married, and poly, man would be the ideal partner for SBNH. Did you mean he shouldn't be married and cheating? I'd agree with that. A single man would be likely to either want SBNH to leave her husband, or to leave her once he met a woman who wanted monogamy, then SBNH would be back to square one.

Helenka @41: I think what most of us have agreed is not that when a -sexual- relationship is in trouble, the worst thing is to open up, but that when a -relationship- is in trouble, the worst thing is to open up. This relationship is not in trouble. They love each other. They sound very happy together, aside from her being sexually frustrated. Never did she suggest "should I leave him," meaning the odds are low that she's considering opening up as an excuse to find the guy she'll leave her husband for. They ARE in a stable and successful relationship, so they would seem to be the ideal candidates for polyamory as a solution to their sexual imbalance.

Harriet @42: Can you elaborate on what you see as the difference between "finding a FWB" and "dating/meeting other poly people"? For me, when one relationship is obviously primary, in practice one's other partners essentially -are- FWBs. If there's a difference, it would be that one feels more emotional attachment to a secondary partner than a FWB -- which I would think would make a secondary partner MORE threatening to the marriage than a FWB. Are you, like Fichu, presuming that any FWB would be single?

45

Sublime @43: Sorry, who pathologised what? My assertion that many men feel threatened/emasculated if their female partners have a significantly higher sex drive than they do has nothing whatsoever to do with poly. Why so defensive? Helenka never accused YOUR ego of being fragile, so I'm not sure why you're lashing out like this.

46

For the record, I don't believe poly is "superior." I believe some people are suited for it, others are not, and there's nothing wrong with either.

47

I wonder how she defines "vanilla", and since she seems to think it's synonymous with "prudish" then I wonder if they are just having really bad sex. You can lose interest in sex with someone if it is boring and bad. That is not the same thing as vanilla. I'm mostly vanilla. I define it that way because I don't really have kinks and I don't really like role play. That doesn't mean I'm prudish and I don't think my sex life is boring or bad. We might all define vanilla differently, but for me, it includes sweet sex, hot sex, dirty sex, rough sex, slow sex, several positions, several toys, etc. But there's no fetish or kink or role play or multiple partners or bondage, so I say "vanilla". My point is, I suspect the LW and her husband mean "boring" when they say "vanilla". So it might be that a lack of libido has more to do with the fact that sex is a lot of work for something boring and it's easier just to avoid it and jack off. Opening up could help with this. Hiring sex workers (for both of them?) could help. Working your way through the Joy of Sex (old school!) could help. Seeing a sex therapist could help. Husband might really have zero interest in sex, that's a thing too. But since she described their sex life as prudish, it just makes me wonder if they've tried to make it hotter?

48

@27 "Maybe she suggested the prudery thing because the idea of visiting a sex worker has occurred to her, and she was soliciting encouragement to go ahead with something she found uncomfortable? The reason she hasn't sought out a professional isn't that she doesn't crave sex or she thinks it's wrong. It's social embarrassment, fear that it will mean admitting her marriage is a failure, shyness and unfamiliarity. None of these is a good reason not to try."

Or perhaps she just doesn't find the idea of sex workers appealing, not because of any prudery, but because the whole idea of having sex with someone as a transaction, someone who isn't actually into you at least a little bit, is a turnoff.

49

"I don't think vanilla + monogamy = prudery"

Neither do I. Rough blow jobs, facials, and rimming are common in supposedly "vanilla" porn (that is, porn that isn't marketed as "fetish" or "kink") and yet I personally know kinksters who don't like anything on that list (but are REALLY into bondage and spanking).

50

@49 That was just a side note, by the way, not necessarily a response to the letter or anybody's comment.

51

This bothers me. LW should definitely not go through with any of this while their husband is depressed. It can seriously impact someones ability to think clearly. He might be so apathetic in his depression that he'll just go along. He could wake up one day and feel like he was taken advantage of because of his compromised thinking due to depression.

Get the depression treated, and get him on solid footing before you do anything like this. I'm not saying not to, but I'm saying make sure everyone is in good shape beforehand. Otherwise, you could be setting him and yourself up for failure.

52

Are you kidding me? Boy don't wann fuck you. Divorce the asshole and find someone that is gonna give you a full marriage. Dan! Come on!

53

@52 b_l_f_
Thank goodness you put your shoulder into that one, I don't know what this thread would have done without you.

54

I’m in a somewhat similar situation - open marriage, poly, really prefer sex with feelings attached. But it is really hard to meet people who want to be your boyfriend and also don’t mind that you’re married. And most people on apps who see open marriage think casual sex even if you try to be pretty clear about what you’re looking for. I’ve recently been exploring more casual encounters - I still choose people where there seems like a possibility of human connection, but I don’t insist on developing feelings first. It felt a little strange the first time, I think mostly because it’s so different from what I’m used to, but it’s been fun and certainly better than nothing. I’m still hoping one of these casual things will grow into more, but it honestly hasn’t been as weird and scary as I expected.

55

BDF @ 22 so much for my attempt a humor. My sex worker comment wasn't a serious one. Casual sex is not really an option for SBNH, not now, may be not ever. The honeymoon phase is temporary and lasts anywhere from 2 months to 2 years. I hope he is being treated for his depression, but that is not certain since SBNH makes no mention of medical or psychiatric care. Mental health issues remain stigmatized in large parts of this country. The male ethos (suck it up you baby, you're worthless and weak) combined with a passive personality is problematical (men are less likely to admit a problem exists, talk about their problems, seek professional help) I doubt SBNH knows how important it is to remain focused on her marriage and husband should they open their marriage.

BDF @ 25 Reread my comment. I'm not projecting anything on SBNH vis a vis depression. My comment was on the impact of NRE on their marriage and HIS depression. There are reasons people talk about NRE rush, the euphoric high caused by high levels of endorphins and adrenaline. Like any other opiate it is quite possible to become overwhelmed and/or addicted to endorphins. These are not the vast majority people who have more than a passing experience with NRE. You need to go back and remember your own first experiences with it (probably as teenager who was quite possibly obsessed with some boyfriend or other) The I can't keep my hands off this person type of sexual passion which her "he's always had a low libido" makes me doubt that she ever felt since he is first (and only) man she has ever fucked. These people aren't poly and may never become poly. Their personalities (as she describes them) argue against it. " 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). He and I share the same proclivity for vanilla, monogamous relationships. we weren't exactly action-oriented"

As suggested by some else, finding a good therapist (sex and couples) to address their issues (beyond just the lack of sex) is a better choice for them. They should also get the husband checked for low levels of testosterone etc. These are things they should have been doing along time ago.

Conventional sex, or vanilla sex, is sexual behavior that is within the range of normality for a culture or subculture, and typically involves sex which does not include elements of BDSM, kink, or fetishism. This definition leaves room a lot of variation for what can be considered vanilla sex.

I wonder if they have ever watch porn together (or at all) I kind of doubt it, but it would be a very good first step if they want to become less vanilla.

Excluding abusive one, I think the best relationship (monogamous, monogamish, platonic, open, poly, whatever) is the one that suits the people involved the best. Problems obviously arise where the type that is best for one is not the best for the other(s)

56

BDF @ 28 I'm still uncertain how to respond. I don't view most relationships in black and white terms, but varying shades of gray.

My pessimism stems from three things: People waking up the next morning and experiencing WTF moments. The number of relationships that fall apart after the lust or honeymoon phase is over (sometimes soon after the wedding for people who are so obsessed with wedding that they forget that it is just the preamble to their marriage) and they see who the other person really is (blinded by love/lust and all that jazz) The divorce statistics in this country. The current occupant of the White House makes me pessimist in general.

You aren't thinking broadly enough about my comment @ 24. Family, friends, career, credit rating, self respect, health (physical and/or mental), etc. It's much the same with former cult members especially where they gave everything (including their children) to the cult's leader(s)

57

Nightscrawl @48: I agree. This woman wants an emotionally connected sexual relationship. She would never get that with a sex worker. She would get casual sex, and women can get that so easily for free, I don't see that a sex worker would fulfill her needs. Also, she never mentioned or even hinted at one, so I don't think she was making a veiled request for encouragement in that department.

Other Donny @51: The big question is indeed "how does your husband feel about this?" She's bending over backwards to try to make him OK with it by suggesting that he get his own partners, but he doesn't seem to want that. She says he's "sympathetic" to her higher sex drive, but does he really see a secondary partner/FWB as the solution, or would her taking action on this compound his depression? Perhaps they should discuss this with a therapist, or just someone with experience at polyamory, because if two years of discussions haven't got them any further than concluding they don't want casual partners, they might need some outside prodding to advance the conversation -- or conclude that poly is not the answer.

Skeptic @55: You weren't the only one to suggest sex workers, so how was anyone to know you weren't serious? Please use a winkyface or something to indicate when you're joking. (Read: "My wife kicked me out to masturbate," whose writer later joined us to say that HE was joking and that Dan -- and the rest of us -- "misread him." Smh.)

Para 2 re @23: You literally said that there is a history of bipolar in your family which causes those family members to "go off the deep end" when they -- not when their partners -- experience NRE. I'm the one who focused on its effects on her husband.
I'll also say, re your comments on their suitability for poly, that I know quite a few poly people who are total geeks, on the autism spectrum, socially awkward homebodies, and have several ongoing partners. SBNH's introversion does not disqualify her as a candidate for polyamory.

There's no evidence that either of them wants to become less vanilla.

Skeptic @56: I don't mean to be a Poly Anna (see what I did there) and I get how the current political situation makes everything look awful. But I'll note what you've missed: People waking up the next morning and experiencing a rush of happiness which grows into NRE, then mutual respect, love, commitment, longevity. The number of relationships that end amicably after a few months or years of good sex and fun dates. (I honestly see people experiencing an initial attraction, exploring that attraction, discovering they're not compatible for the long term, and quitting while they're ahead as far preferable to committing to the wrong person. In other words, there is nothing tragic about a short-term relationship.) People who elope or have small, intimate weddings, or who get married ten years into a committed relationship after never really feeling the need to before. The fact that, despite all of life's challenges, nearly half all marriages DON'T end in divorce! You're seeing far, far too much very dark grey, and if you truly are unable to see the many examples of relationships that do work out, I'd reiterate my recommendation for therapy.

58

@44. Bi. In making that distinction, there were two options in my mind: 1) her finding a FWB, and 2) her going along to poly meetups, making friends, learning about the lifestyle, perhaps being drawn to one person particularly, then in the fullness of time, beginning a committed secondary relationship with that person. (While doing this, SBNH could or could not slake her thirst by seeing a sex worker. That add-on seems to have found relatively few takers, but to me it's still a possibility). I was saying that, of the options, the not-leaping-in to anything casual and undefined seemed the way to go.

There are two reasons for this. First, she quails at the idea of casual sex. Quite possibly, this is something she can't change, and lies behind why she chose her current partner; she doesn't want to be with, sexually, someone who isn't there for her in life terms. (With a secondary, though, one would hope your primary partner is always there for you. Maybe SBNH could relax her standards a little with this in the background). Alternatively, she could have a need to be in love with anyone she fucks; but this could complicate her existing relationship.

The other set of reasons have to do with her partner's response. We know he doesn't argue with her but lapses into inactivity and depression. The letter probably can't give us a full picture: but especially given how prone SBNH is to making excuses for him, this could be a passive-aggressive or controlling tactic. She says she plans on looking for a second partner 'with his consent'. I took this to mean that she was at the end of her sexual tether and would break through his withdrawal and would get his consent, not that she had it already. (They just had a discussion about outside partners, since parked, two years ago). To me, there is huge potential for her husband to be hurt; or to agree to something formally or tacitly when he's still harboring major resistance. This is a great motivation for them to do as Dan said and hammer out their boundaries first.

It has almost certainly been present in the LW's mind, 'if he hadn't been the first person I had sex with, I would never have married him'. And so 'why shouldn't I have a relationship with everything--with sex as well?' Then at once she has convicted herself of disloyalty and backed away from the idea. Still, she should not be ashamed if it finally proves to be the answer.

59

@48. nightscrawl. Yes, maybe. Transactional sex is a turnoff for her. This will make the task of negotiating an outside partner even more difficult.

60

@57. Bi. She's never had great sex. Great sex, and nothing else. How is she to know how she thinks about it? She thinks she wants (or that great sex would require) an emotional connection. (She may well be right). But to use a gay male argot, let her be proficiently topped, then assess the place of sex in her life.

The reason I thought a sex worker preferable, if SBNH could countenance it, to e.g. a mutual friend is that her husband could find it easier to accept. It would not intrude in the same way on their companionate closeness.

61

Harriet @60: People know what they want, even if they don't have it yet. Did I know I was bisexual more than a decade before I slept with a woman? Yes, yes I did, and I'm sure you knew you were gay long before you had sex with a man. Casual sex, even great casual sex, does not interest this woman, and she's put a lot of thought into it. It's kind of insulting for a stranger on the internet to suggest that she doesn't know her own mind.

62

Skeptic @55

Your comments about NRE (and the high possibility that she's never had it at all) are why my initial comment was about seeing a trainwreck in their future. I interpret "vanilla" for them to mean "perfunctory", "boring", "awkward", and "unenthusiastic"! Possibly, something they initially had because it followed a preset formula (meet, get to know and become comfortable with each other, have sex, get married).

While he's going to be sitting around in his depressed state, waiting for her to come home, when she does, she'll be distracted and "floating" from the wonderful sex she just had ... and looking forward to continuing it with ONLY her new partner. For which she'll then feel guilty (and that's why she suggested they both do it, even if he's unlikely to try).

And BDF (@44),
I think you may be splitting hairs about whether the springboard for sex outside is a successful sexual relationship or just overall relationship. I don't think they even have a successful relationship, but that she reluctantly accepted all of their differences as the POA - because she didn't know any better. When it comes to incompatibilities, they wade through wet cement in their unwillingness to calmly and honestly face a problem and - most importantly - seek a resolution (instead of sending it to a virtual folder marked "Pending").

Her frustration over her unfulfilled libido (and eventually over him) is going to grow - even if it's glacially slow by the experiences of many of us on SL.

63

Helenka @ 65 From what SBNH wrote. These people have been together for 10 years, he suffers from depression, has a low libido, she's not getting enough sex, she knew he had a low libido before she married him and all they have apparently done about their problems is about it. They've not done all the obvious things. Watched porn to see if there is anything that arouses him sexually and become less vanilla. Therapy and counselling. Checked the husband for medical issues. Checked on his meds. All the steps the couple should have taken before considering opening the marriage. All of this assumes SBNH would prefer (an adequate amount of) sex with her husband.

64

@ skeptic
QUOTE: All of this assumes SBNH would prefer (an adequate amount of) sex with her husband. UNQUOTE

Of course, she'd prefer good and plentiful sex with her husband, but he's on the sidelines, not in the game. If she ends up finding satisfying sex with someone who's an MVP at it, it's going to change her perception of her husband even more.

65

BDF @ 57 In reading the letter do you really think seeing a sex worker or casual sex are realistic options. I was giving reasons specifically for pessimism (focusing on the negative outcomes). The first major decision for point for many (if not most relationships is when NRE wears off)

66

Helenka @ 64 I repeat, from the letter it seems like all they did was talk about (and accept) the husband's low libido instead of actually doing something about it.

67

Helenka @62: In my experience, that's not how it works. In my experience, she would go see her new partner, come home in a "floaty" state, and be so happy that her husband made all this possible by agreeing to the open relationship that she'll want to jump his bones as well. (Do poly people have a word for this phenomenon?) Now, in his low-libido, depressed state, he may not appreciate a wife who's even hornier than before. But it's highly likely he'll get one.
I'm taking her word for it when she says her relationship is otherwise satisfying and that they're "still very much in love." There's a huge gulf, not a hair, separating a happy but low-sex relationship from a miserable relationship. It's not my place to tell people who say they're happy that they aren't.

Skeptic @63: We don't know what they may or may not have done in the past 10 years to address his low libido. I agree that she seems to prefer more sex with her husband to sex with other men.

Skeptic @65: I have said repeatedly that seeing a sex worker and casual sex are NOT realistic options for SBNH. My reply @57 to your @56 was using the same general terms you were. Yes, most relationships don't last beyond the NRE phase, but how are you gonna find the one that does unless you take the chance?

68

@61. Bi. On 'people knowing what they want', it's not as simple as you make out. This is especially so for people of proscribed or stigmatised sexualities or gender orientations, and for people who could happily, and without a painful degree of repression, do, or be, one of two things. As you well know, I'd guess. My line now with gender is that I'm too old for it. Dressing like a woman my age would mean impersonating or masquerading as someone (probably) recently post-menopausal, and the politics of that are iffy--how far do you sexualize yourself? I'd rather put on the bodyform, drape myself in a few queer signifiers, some subtle, and launch myself into my own creation. But let's suppose I'm male, my birth gender. I would lie about one quarter to one third down the Kinsey scale from gay to straight. Do you think it was easy for me to have sex with women, even to avow straight desire? I was virtually in my 30s when this happened, more than a decade after graduating to being an out, in-your-face queer. And it took me a while, as a youth, to fuck as well as suck; and it wasn't altogether easy just to say that I would only bottom, since it seemed so craven, or so abjectly the stereotype of someone of my appearance.

What I'm saying is that people find compromise formations all the time. They find a place where they're half of the way to where they are in their minds, and think they (really) should be. Like when I dealt, in the face of family distaste, with sexuality, but couldn't deal with gender--and tried to embody a manly gay guy. There were all kinds of societal pressures, and pressures within the community that had opened up to me, forcing that position; I was strong enough to strike out for some basic form of self-determination, but not to be uncompromisingly femme. And when I had learned to negotiate relationships, to have a roster of lovers, to know when to say 'no' to a new guy, as well as 'yes' (that was hard), it was a task of a thoroughly different order to find and forge alliances and connections with queer women. It meant entering a kinky scene, that I had had no reason to join before, and learning tact and propriety in sexualizing friendships and activism--which was again beyond my experience as an amiably (but sometimes detached) easy lay.

Back to the letter. I can easily believe that the LW is in a compromised or half-way-there position. She likes sex, and for a while thought she could only have it with her husband. Now she's considering she might be able to have it with an emotionally significant secondary. Could FWBs be next? Some people's idea, of her resolving her issue by finding a FWB, is psychologically appealing to them because it's feasible as something they could do themselves. It might not be for her. Possibly loveless, uncommitted or casual sex is so inconceivable for SNBC that she can't give herself to it at all. The price of admission to her functional marriage may be sexlessness. (This seems to me as plausible an inference to her letter as supposing she will find a side FWB arrangement). Alternatively, perhaps she will feel her way towards having poly sex without having to give on up on her husband as notionally her primary sexual partner.

I don't feel that it would have been out-of-place, terribly importunate, for a well-meaning stranger to have said, ten years ago, 'are you sure you should be marrying the first guy you had sex with?'. And it would have taken a stranger: she wouldn’t have told that many friends (I'm guessing) about her sex life. By the same token, my advice to a 32yo (go out and have good sex) need not be taken as intrusive. 32 is young. Any age is young when we're talking about the potential for things to be different.

69

HBTB @ 68 Just how would a hypothetical stranger know she was marrying the first (and only?) man she ever fucked? Was she the first (and woman) he ever fucked? Do you really believe that she would been comfortable enough to discuss her sex life with anyone? While vanilla sex does not necessarily equal prude, inhibited and sexually repressed people do tend to be prudish. They almost always do not progress beyond vanilla sex. I know speculation on my part, but I'm working backward assuming that her statement about them being prudes to be accurate and factoring in her other statements.

70

Harriet @68: Good point about what one wants sometimes not being so obvious. But it sounds like this LW is more sure than young you, or young me.

I think we are talking at cross purposes. I am ruling out sex workers and casual sex, but ruling in FWBs and secondaries. What SBNH wants is an ongoing connection. I don't see FWB and connection as being mutually exclusive, not at all. Remember what the F stands for -- friend. A friend is someone with whom one shares a connection. I think a FWB could be for her because she's quite traditional. A secondary partner would have the trappings of a relationship -- actual dates; meeting her husband and possibly friends and family; public recognition of partner status; the L word -- while a FWB would have the ongoing sex and friendship without having to be openly poly. Both relationship types run the risk that either or both of them will catch feelings; it's just that with a secondary, it's expected that feelings will be caught, and with a FWB they're a sexually transmitted disease. ;-) Also, Mr SBNH might be able to more readily accept a secondary relationship if they didn't call it one. SBNH doesn't say she wants love; she says she wants commitment, and I've had committed FWBs. The best shot at that is adding benefits to an existing friendship, if she has a friend who's suitable. If not, I maintain that the poly community is the best place to find someone who could become a FWB. (Poly people can concurrently have primary partners, non-primary partners, FWBs, comet relationships, and casual sex. If she meets a suitable poly person they don't HAVE to "date.")

I'd also like to note that their relationship isn't sexless, just low-sex and "in a rut."

Skeptic @69: Indeed, and congrats on the magic number.

71

@69. A skeptic. 'Stranger' could mean two things. First, it could mean 'someone she does not know personally', and in this sense, I think, we are all strangers to the LW. Then, it could mean 'someone who knows nothing about her interior life, and sexual and other life-experience'. Now none of us are in that position. When she was about to marry, I'd think SBNH consulted very few people (between very few and no one) about her bf being the first. Ten years has gone by; she thought a lot, seen (in some shape or form) that she did something particular and has opened up enough to allow 'strangers' into her (still-anonymised) feelings. People are in a position to offer well-meaning advice--and why should we not?

72

@70. Bi. I would think my advice is not to rule in anything or rule out anything.

The way you describe a committed FWB is definitely a possibility.

But to float an alternative way it could play... SNBC flinches at the idea of casual sex. When she has sex for the first time with a 'FWB' or a secondary, she could think, 'I shouldn't be with my husband, I should be with this guy'. That this is an integral relationship; and that her preferred relationship style is monogamous (which, whatever she thought, is a principal way in which her discomfort with the idea of 'casual' expresses itself). IF this happens--and I'm not saying it will happen--the right thing to say wouldn't be--'but you're throwing away ten years ... but you're throwing away a good marriage ... but you have already grasped intellectually that people can be poly, can have multiple lovers, can be in companionate living relationships'. It would be to offer encouragement that SNBC has found something that works for her at this stage of her life. This is why I sort-of agreed, certainly was in sympathy, with nocute's feeling that this might be the start of the end for her marriage, sad as that invariably would be.

There may be people for whom the 'casual' sex of hooking up after a party is psychologically out of the question, who do not find the considered, quasi-therapeutic and exploratory sex of seeing a sex worker inconceivable in the same way. I'd think some people on the spectrum, or very nerdy people, may be like this. But I'd accept they're in the minority; and SNBC might not be like this at all.

73

She may be in for a disappointment (probably will be). Even with a friend, first time sex can be disappointing (uptight and inhibited) for either or both of them with no repeat. Unmet expectations. Will she be prepared for that kind of rejection. Then again there are men who are players. Something foreign to her. and yes there can be good/great first time outcomes, but they are less likely.

74

like kissing an aunt, sister, etc unless that is yourkink

75

Funny. Harriet @72 predicts that sex with New Man will be so great that SBNC will forget about her 10-year loving but mostly platonic relationship with her husband. Skeptic @73 predicts that it will be terrible. Of course either is possible, but the truth is probably somewhere in between. Yes, Skeptic, the first fuck with a new partner is never as good as it can be after both lovers get some experience with each other. But if sex with Husband is lacklustre, the odds are good that even okay sex will be far better than she's had in years. And if it's not, she's not required to keep the first fish she lands. I think she'll increase her chances of having good sex by getting to know the guy first, so that he'll have more incentive towards her pleasure. As far as SBNC being unable to grok the poly concept that she's getting most of her needs met by her husband, other needs met by her lover, and there's no need to pick just one -- yes, someone who's naturally monogamous may follow her oxytocin and start to see Husband as just a friend. That's a risk, not a given, and given how badly she wants a bountiful sex life I'd say it's a risk worth taking.

76

Harriet @68

Now that the comments about the LW seem to have evaporated, I'm bewildered by your statement in #68:
QUOTE
My line now with gender is that I'm too old for it. Dressing like a woman my age would mean impersonating or masquerading as someone (probably) recently post-menopausal, and the politics of that are iffy--how far do you sexualize yourself?
UNQUOTE

Um ... even though I - as a cis-woman - am well past menopause, I didn't just stop feeling or being sexual simply because my internal reproductive organs retired. But all my sexual organs including the brain are still in fine working order! I very much enjoy dressing up, getting my hair done, pampering myself with pedicures, and flirting. I don't ascribe any political statement to my actions, unless it's the belief that older women should be visible! Would you not continue to derive pleasure dressing as an older woman who is majestic or vibrant or serene (whatever your mood for the day)?

77

Oops! I thought the thread was dead. Should have refreshed before commenting.

78

BDF @ 75 Great, good, average, mediocre, bad sex. The sex will almost assuredly be better for her(unless she freezes which is a definite possibility). How satisfying do you think it will be like for the typical male, both in general and specifically in the poly community? Now you can rake me over the coals.

79

@76. Helenka. It's not so much that I derive pleasure from dressing as a woman. It’s that it's grinding or exhausting to look nothing like I feel. I've never had a body (which is effete or feminised, but also gross, bulky and tends to flab) that represents me anything like adequately. Some fat people may feel the same (some will want to reclaim and revalue 'fat').

Yes, 'serene' would be a good look. I like authoritative, expert. A lady judge. It’s true that women can look sexy over 50. More often, though, these women look rich. There's a special politics attached to cosmetic and other treatments--which I'm not so enamoured of.

Anyway, my point is it's easier to be in offensively, not-absurdly gender-indeterminate as one ages.