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WhyCantIBeACat

How to have an open discussion about sexual feelings

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WhyCantIBeACat
As I mentioned in my introduction thread, I'm trying to get a conversation going with my long term partner about our sexual differences to head towards some certainty in our physical relationship. Whether this certainty means no sex, some agreement on compromise, or even agreeing to some kind of open relationship, it's important to me to know where I stand rather than have to keep guessing (and getting it wrong).
 
While I know that I should let her apply the labels, I'm pretty certain she is a sex-neutral asexual with mild aromantic tendancies. I have tried to suggest that she may be asexual and I think she probably knows that she is, but doesn't want to accept it or be "labelled". I've been clear that even if the discussions led towads no sex again I would still love her. I've also pointed her towards AVEN, and she responded positively that I was trying to understand, but I don't think she has ever actually visited. On the other hand I am a heteroseual with a pretty normal sexual appetite (according to Kinsey averages).
 
The problem is that communication has never been our strong point - we have tended to avoid conflict rather than confront our problems and almost never have arguments. In particular, sex is something that we have never been able to talk about and this makes it even harder to have these challenging discussions now. 
 
Anyway, I started the conversation a month or so back and outlined how important sex is to me, how gorgeous and irresistable I find her and what it feels like to be continually rejected every time I try to initiate physical activity. I think she understood the words, but not really the feelings behind them, since she doesn't feel them herself. I also think she was a bit surprised that anything was wrong.
 
Her answer was that we have always known she has a low desire and that we need to find time to try to do more fun stuff together and see where this leads.
 
We have since tried to find a bit more time to watch a box set together and while it started well, it has since trailed off as she has got distracted by other things and gets stressed if I try to remind her.
 
I have also tried to talk to her again several times and get her perspective and how she feels. However, other than admitting that she very rarely feels any sexual desire, I get no useful discussion - she's "not had the time to think about it", or gets angry and says that "now's not the time to talk about it". Since then I've tried not to push and give her more time to think about it, but I know that she's really just trying to avoid the discussion, probably because she's happy as she is and doesn't want to see any change. I think she's hoping that I will forget all about it and we can go back to "normal".
 
Here's where I need the help. What's the best way to try to move the discussion along in a non-threatening way that will get her to open up about how she feels so that we can really try to understand each other?

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OldSoul

I mean, the box set bit is unrelated. A lot of people can't sit still that long.
And low libido does not mean she is asexual. That is a label only she can put on herself.
If you would happily be fine with no sex as you claim, then perhaps just let her act on her desires when she feels them and be happy when she does.
 

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Telecaster68

I think the OP's point about the box at is that his partner said she wanted to have more time with them together, so he's tried to act on this and she's still avoiding even that. My guess is that she knows when this happens, she still won't feel more inclined to have sex, and doesn't want to even start down that route or have conversations that for her will be stressful and can only result in disturbing her status quo. 

 

The label is irrelevant in a way - whether or not she's asexual, she's still avoiding dealing with a huge problem in the relationship. But since she clearly has no interest in finding out what's happening, it's completely understandable for her partner to try to figure it out and draw some conclusions. 

 

OP, have you tried letters /emails? Frame what you're saying as a joint issue for you both in the relationship - assuming she's unhappy that you're unhappy - and be very explicit about the consequences. Are you sure you're fine with no sex ever for the rest of your life? 

 

The immediate threat to the relationship here isn't lack of sex, it's her determined avoidance of any communication about it. She knows you're hurting, she knows you want to talk about it. If she can't or won't do anything to help the situation, it shows you that whatever is stopping her has higher priority in her life than you do. You have to take that into account when planning what you want to do. 

 

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WhyCantIBeACat
8 hours ago, OldSoul said:

I mean, the box set bit is unrelated. A lot of people can't sit still that long.

No, it's not unrelated. It's an attempt for us to dedicate some time to doing something together rather than sitting in different rooms doing different things. We used to watch films together regularly so it's not an attention span issue, but now the kids are going to bed later it is harder to fit in a film without them being around.

 

A box set episode is shorter, so easier to fit in. We will cuddle while watching, and have often watched an episode in bed. 

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OldSoul

Totally thought you meant a BOX SET.
As in, for example, EVERY JURASSIC PARK MOVIE in a box set. The WHOLE THING.
Like you were asking the wifey to sit down and watch all six original star wars movies or every Harry Potter or LoTR in one sitting.

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OldSoul

But beyond that hilarious misunderstanding, I still think that has more to do with your relationship, and less to do with asexuality.

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WhyCantIBeACat
17 minutes ago, Telecaster68 said:

I think the OP's point about the box at is that his partner said she wanted to have more time with them together, so he's tried to act on this and she's still avoiding even that. My guess is that she knows when this happens, she still won't feel more inclined to have sex, and doesn't want to even start down that route or have conversations that for her will be stressful and can only result in disturbing her status quo. 

I don't think that she is deliberately avoiding this because of a fear that it will lead to sex. I think she genuinely gets into doing something that she sees as important while I'm getting the kids to bed and forgets the time. I'm partially to blame because I don't want to keep interrupting her when she is in the middle of something she sees as important, partly because she will get stressed about it not getting done.

 

I genuinely think she does want to make me happy and wants to get back to the point where we have some sex for the emotional bond. (She has stated that she feels sex between us does help improve the emotional connection for her.) 

 

19 minutes ago, Telecaster68 said:

The label is irrelevant in a way - whether or not she's asexual, she's still avoiding dealing with a huge problem in the relationship. But since she clearly has no interest in finding out what's happening, it's completely understandable for her partner to try to figure it out and draw some conclusions. 

I agree that the label is not really important, other than it gives us a frame of reference to talk around and explore our different feelings. Talking and reaching a mutual understanding is what I want most right now. 

 

20 minutes ago, Telecaster68 said:

OP, have you tried letters /emails? Frame what you're saying as a joint issue for you both in the relationship - assuming she's unhappy that you're unhappy - and be very explicit about the consequences. 

I have thought about this. I sent some relevant links via text and got heart emoticons back, so it might be worth trying. 

 

22 minutes ago, Telecaster68 said:

Are you sure you're fine with no sex ever for the rest of your life? 

Honestly, no, I'm not. However, I'm a very logical thinker and want to try to understand her ideal-world position without putting a huge guilt-trip on her to agree to sex.  

 

Once we understand that then we can negotiate something we are both OK with. I don't know what that will be, and if it ends up being no sex, then I'll have to think long and hard and make some tough decisions. 

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coolandcute

You are okay to feel the way you do.  I am asexual and I haven't had sex yet and I don't think I could agree to a no-sex relationship, especially without trying and experiencing it first!  

 

I didn't sign up to be a nun!

Edited by coolandcute

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Sally

For whatever reason that she doesn't seem to want to talk about this, the fact remains that she doesn't.  There's no way you can force that to  happen; all you'll do is push her away.

 

Communication has to be between two people who are willing to communicate.  She may feel that she has already communicated and doesn't see the point in talking more about this.  You can either accept that, or not.  If you don't want to accept that, then you might want to think ahead and figure out what your response will be if she simply doesn't want to talk.  Will you let it go and continue with the relationship as it is?  Will you keep at her about it?  Will you leave?  Will you seek counseling for yourself?  

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WhyCantIBeACat
1 hour ago, OldSoul said:

But beyond that hilarious misunderstanding, I still think that has more to do with your relationship, and less to do with asexuality.

I think there's an element of truth to this. Over the years our interests have diverged a bit, and we have been spending less time together, especially since the children (who I love immensely), where we are being pulled in different directions to get them to different parties, clubs, sports etc. This certainly won't have helped and is part of the background to why we have been trying to make/allocate some time to something we can do together.

 

It's a start.

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Telecaster68
1 hour ago, WhyCantIBeACat said:

I don't think that she is deliberately avoiding this because of a fear that it will lead to sex. I think she genuinely gets into doing something that she sees as important while I'm getting the kids to bed and forgets the time. I'm partially to blame because I don't want to keep interrupting her when she is in the middle of something she sees as important, partly because she will get stressed about it not getting done.

It's more the fear of it leading to a conversation she doesn't want to have than sex itself.

 

It's great that you don't want her getting stressed about something she sees as important not getting done, but what about you getting stressed because something you see as important isn't getting done? Does she accommodate you in the same way?

 

As Sally said, if she doesn't want to talk, you can't make her. But in the absence of talk or action from her, you have to think about where you go from there. Avoiding the issue is as much an action as engaging with it.

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WhyCantIBeACat
53 minutes ago, Sally said:

For whatever reason that she doesn't seem to want to talk about this, the fact remains that she doesn't.  There's no way you can force that to  happen; all you'll do is push her away.

 

Communication has to be between two people who are willing to communicate.  She may feel that she has already communicated and doesn't see the point in talking more about this.  You can either accept that, or not.  If you don't want to accept that, then you might want to think ahead and figure out what your response will be if she simply doesn't want to talk.  Will you let it go and continue with the relationship as it is?  Will you keep at her about it?  Will you leave?  Will you seek counseling for yourself?  

This is an interesting set of questions.

 

Yes, I think there is a danger that she will resist discussing this and at some point if I keep getting blocked then I'll probably stop trying to communicate.

 

Personally, I think this would be a disaster and would probably mean the end of the relationship (in terms of anything beyond a platonic arrangement) for me. I would probably not leave in the short to medium term but would withdraw from any physical relationship and look at slowly disentangling our lives over time (financially and socially) for when the kids were old enough to leave home or for when things got too much. I would not want an acrimonious split.

 

I don't think I need individual counselling - I understand (or can at least intellectualise) how I feel and what drives me and I'm fairly confident that I can get good advice here when I need it. If I find that this isn't true then I'll re-assess and consider it.

 

I would be open to joint counselling if it would help us communicate.

Edited by WhyCantIBeACat
Typo.

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WhyCantIBeACat
1 hour ago, Telecaster68 said:

It's more the fear of it leading to a conversation she doesn't want to have than sex itself.

No, I honestly don't think she is "forgetting" as a means of avoiding the conversation. She takes on too much and gets very focussed on things, usually for other people/organisations. I do keep telling her not to take on too much, but she can't help herself - she's always been like that and it's one of the things that makes her who she is. I know from past experience that trying to distract her from a task is counter-productive. She can't relax if it isn't done and I won't get any attention anyway.

 

1 hour ago, Telecaster68 said:

It's great that you don't want her getting stressed about something she sees as important not getting done, but what about you getting stressed because something you see as important isn't getting done? Does she accommodate you in the same way?

I don't think she really understands how important this is to me or our long-term relationship yet. We've been "coping" for so long and due to our lack of communication I don't think she really understands how much of a struggle it has been for me, even though she knows she's not the same as most other people. My tolerance, patience and respect has probably led her to believe that sex isn't (very) important to me either, although she does know that I masturbate frequently.

 

1 hour ago, Telecaster68 said:

As Sally said, if she doesn't want to talk, you can't make her. But in the absence of talk or action from her, you have to think about where you go from there. Avoiding the issue is as much an action as engaging with it.

See my response to @Sally.

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