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Jumanji11

How to ask about an open relationship

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Jumanji11

Hi everyone. I'm sure this topic has been covered hundreds of times before but I am feeling overwhelmed and need advice on my own personal situation. 

 

I am a sexual female and I just recently discovered my bf of 3 years is asexual. I love him and we have discussed marriage but we have never had sex (I have in past relationships but he is a virgin). I always assumed he was just shy or embarrassed but I discovered this forum and realized he might be asexual and finally brought it up with him. 

 

He said he felt so bad about making me feel unwanted and unfulfilled so said he is open to trying one day if it will make me happy. The thing is, I can't see myself ever enjoying having sex with someone who isn't fully invested or wanting it himself. 

 

I am considering asking if he'd be open to me sleeping with other people every now and then (my sex drive isn't very high either so it'd be very infrequent) but I'm worried about hurting him and making him feel inadequate or jealous. 

 

I want to hear about other people's experiences with this and any advice (even if that advice is to not ask). For aces, how would you feel if your sexual partner asked this?

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Nowhere Girl
11 minutes ago, Jumanji11 said:

The thing is, I can't see myself ever enjoying having sex with someone who isn't fully invested or wanting it himself. 

👍 👍 👍

Really, kudos for not assuming that asexual partners should always sacrifice and have sex. (Which, "strangely", seems almost default for "paired" asexual women...)

And this is something you definitely should say when trying to talk to him.

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Guest Jetsun Milarepa

It comes across in your post like he knew he was ace already. If that's the case, why on earth didn't he let you know long before 3 years rather than you having to guess it for him?

I don't think you should have to sacrifice sex, but what if you ask about an open relationship and he refuses you? Or, says it's ok by him but then goes on to become jealous of you sleeping outside the relationship?

If I were you I'd consider how I felt about both the above and have a plan of action before asking him, so you won't be sideswiped if it happens.

 

As an ace though, I can't help thinking you're in for a long negotiation at the very least and probably some heartache. Good luck!

 

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Jumanji11
12 minutes ago, chandrakirti said:

It comes across in your post like he knew he was ace already. If that's the case, why on earth didn't he let you know long before 3 years rather than you having to guess it for him?

Sorry, to clarify he definitely did not. I think he always knew he was different and didn't want sex but he's not well educated on these things so didn't realize asexuality exists and it isn't "just a phase". I just asked if he's interested in sex and he admitted he never has been, never feels the desire to, and feels uncomfortable about the thought of doing it. 

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Guest Jetsun Milarepa

Thanks for clarifying. Probably it's a relief to him then, knowing what's going on. all the best!

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anisotrophic

I think the ideal is to start the discussion in a planned way, just like this -- before you already got yourself in a bind with being attracted to someone else.

 

And I think it's great that you don't feel like pressuring him!

 

My partner and I had sex immediately but he never seemed to want it, and now we've discovered asexuality. I don't think he should be intimate if he feels at all unhappy about it; to some extent we have the habits of a decade and a half now, and he assures me he's not uncomfortable, but it's okay if that changes. I think he needs it to be okay to never have sex again.

And I think it's been really valuable for him to be supportive of me to someday sleep with others, because I don't feel like I'm trapped. These are good conversations to have, without a sense of urgent change.

It's good that you worry about how he'll feel. Another thing to worry about is this: you may in fact develop feelings for a sexual partner -- this happens a lot, people think they won't, but then they do. Better to be prepared for that possibility too, I think.

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greynonomous

Also, I would say that an open relationship is just one tool in the tool box.

I would also see what he considers sex and not sex, and see what may work for you two. There are a bunch of things that trigger sex satisfaction for some people that aren't considered sex by others. It does sound like he is a bit averse on the scale, so this may be harder for you two.

 

Also, if you are going to 'sleep with other people once in a while', you will both need to determine and agree with the rules. Are you going to have one nighters a couple times a year, or go full polyamory with a second full romantic relationship. Also be aware that his guilt for not performing may get him to over agree to terms, so even if he says he's ok with it, don't jump to the deep end of the pool, and be sensitive to clues he may not be as ok with it as he said he was.

 

 

 

 

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Serran

How people feel about open varies. If my partners had ever asked for it, I would have immediately broken up, personally. Im monoamorous and monogamous and I couldnt be happy with someone wanting open or poly. 

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Jumanji11
4 hours ago, Serran said:

How people feel about open varies. If my partners had ever asked for it, I would have immediately broken up, personally. Im monoamorous and monogamous and I couldnt be happy with someone wanting open or poly. 

That is my greatest fear: that even asking will do irreparable damage. If he says no or expresses discomfort in anyway I won't do it and I will try to think of another option but I can't tell right now whether he will be offended by the very suggestion....

 

My main worry is because he does not understand what it's like to have just a physical need and a need to be desired sexually, he will interpret the request as me being dissatisfied romantically and seeking that fulfilment elsewhere...

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Jumanji11
7 hours ago, anisotrophic said:

And I think it's been really valuable for him to be supportive of me to someday sleep with others, because I don't feel like I'm trapped. These are good conversations to have, without a sense of urgent change.

How did the topic of the open relationship come up? Did you bring it up first or did he? 

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anisotrophic
34 minutes ago, Jumanji11 said:

How did the topic of the open relationship come up? Did you bring it up first or did he? 

Oh it wasn't pretty. I fell in love, then something gender something, then my gender therapist is like "is he maybe ace" then I start asking and learning he didn't actually want sex and I'm flipping out because we're a couple kids in so breaking up sucks, and we love each other, but I'm miserable at this being a forever-future thing

 

(That love thing didn't work out but it probably contributed to the cascade. And it gave a concrete example to think about I guess?)

 

But then I didn't actually go seek out anything -- because -- we were having sex before, so compromise and reaching a new equilibrium again was a reasonable goal and became more important. Plus I don't have time to date people these days. I'd rather go with none or awkward compromise for now.

 

Also we were open while long distance ~12-15 years ago, we both exercised the option just once, and it went fine. So I wasn't starting from nowhere.

 

I don't think you should be in a forever thing, and if you can't ask about this, maybe it's not a good relationship for you. Because I think the topic kind of has to come up. And it sounds like you're very caring about how he'll feel about it, and you just want to talk about the idea, which is as good as you can do?

 

But maybe you should also think about what sex means to you, it's not a physical need exactly, because there's always masturbation. Probably more like a social/emotional need for a physical thing. It's good to understand yourself if you're trying to explain yourself to him.

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anisotrophic
4 minutes ago, anisotrophic said:

we both exercised the option just once

Addendum: it didn't go fine with the other person he attempted to have sex with. I mean they had sex, it didn't go well. Anyway. In retrospect we're like, "oh I guess this may have been an issue", oops.

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ryn2
8 hours ago, Jumanji11 said:

That is my greatest fear: that even asking will do irreparable damage.

Can you bring up the topic as a hypothetical and see how he responds, before openly stating it’s something you actually want for the two of you, or is that kind of discussion something you have so rarely that he would immediately suspect anyway? 

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Telecaster68

Hypothetical, or based off something on TV/movie situation?

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ryn2

Yeah, something in the media, anecdote about a coworker or  friend, etc.

 

Kind of like mentioning a friend’s experiences to your parents before risking mentioning your friend may not be the only one...

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Mermaid Voodooist

I would simply bring it up and talk about it, of course it would depend on the other person. 

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Serran
20 hours ago, Jumanji11 said:

That is my greatest fear: that even asking will do irreparable damage. If he says no or expresses discomfort in anyway I won't do it and I will try to think of another option but I can't tell right now whether he will be offended by the very suggestion....

 

My main worry is because he does not understand what it's like to have just a physical need and a need to be desired sexually, he will interpret the request as me being dissatisfied romantically and seeking that fulfilment elsewhere...

Well... he can understand it as a need but he will also understand it is rather emotional and intimate for most people and thus different than say playing basketball with a friend cause your partner doesnt want to. 

 

And you can just have the general conversation without making it personal to feel it out. 

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Jumanji11
17 hours ago, ryn2 said:

Yeah, something in the media, anecdote about a coworker or  friend, etc.

 

Kind of like mentioning a friend’s experiences to your parents before risking mentioning your friend may not be the only one...

That's a good idea actually since I do have friends who have been in open relationships, albeit not because either party was asexual... And it caused a lot of problems and ended up being the reason they broke up...

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Telecaster68
36 minutes ago, Jumanji11 said:

it caused a lot of problems and ended up being the reason they broke up...

Lessons to be learned there?

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CBC

Unless your boyfriend is quite oblivious, which I doubt in this case, I imagine he'd pick up on your reason for mentioning whatever anecdote you came up with.

 

And yes, people agree to a lot of things they're not truly ok with, out of wishful thinking and/or desperation, when presented with the possibility of losing someone or something they love, when feeling guilty or backed into a corner, etc.

 

That said, if it's something you feel is a possible alternative to breaking up, presuming you don't want to be sexless your entire life, raising the issue is of course an option. He'll either say no, he'll say yes and turn out to actually be ok with it, or say yes and not be ok with it and it could lead to the breakdown of your relationship. The latter of which may happen eventually anyway due to incompatibility. Mixed relationships are hard, really hard. Both people have a right to feel fulfilled and both have a right to not have to deal with or do something that makes them unhappy. Unfortunately, no one here can say definitively what the best option is for you two.

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Traveler40

Like with any relationship decision, situations morph with time and experience.  You never know how it will go, so be careful, courageous and true.  Allowing yourself to really live isn’t easy or comfortable, but necessary for sustained happiness.

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CBC
3 hours ago, Traveler40 said:

Allowing yourself to really live isn’t easy or comfortable, but necessary for sustained happiness.

Off-topic somewhat, but I want to print this out on paper several dozen times and tape it up in various locations all round my house. In a completely different context to the one presented in this thread, and much of it not even related to relationships, I needed to be reminded of this because my headspace and existence are in a pretty disastrous place right now. Not that they're in a particularly wonderful one a lot of the time otherwise haha, but yeah... not easy or comfortable is the name of the game currently and my brain is about a dozen different types of exhausted.

 

But yes, indeed, really living is the only way we'll ever be happy. And yet doing so feels almost impossible at times. Eventually not living starts to feel impossible too, though. I suppose perhaps that's what "rock bottom" is, and it's a shame that sometimes we need to reach it before we take action.

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ryn2
20 minutes ago, CBC said:

But yes, indeed, really living is the only way we'll ever be happy. And yet doing so feels almost impossible at times. Eventually not living starts to feel impossible too, though.

People have varying prerequisites for this, though... in just about every possible arena, up against just about any lack/shortfall/obstacle, some people thrive and others just can’t.

 

I think figuring out what one’s own personal essentials are (can be really hard, but) is pretty... essential.  Otherwise you find yourself chasing after and even achieving someone else’s measure of happiness/success/whatever... or fleeing someone else’s intolerable situation... only to SURPRISE find yourself still miserable.

 

There’s definitely some mindset impact, but knowing what you must have and can’t tolerate is pretty crucial.

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CBC

Oh yeah for sure, what living looks like is different for everyone; we all have different needs and limits. But when someone's essentials aren't there and they're not really living in any true personal sense, it's going to take a big toll. Often I find it takes not having stuff in your life to realise how important it is to you.

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Telecaster68

I have 'life is best lived' over my desk. Someone on here put it in a post once.

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ryn2
27 minutes ago, CBC said:

Oh yeah for sure, what living looks like is different for everyone; we all have different needs and limits. But when someone's essentials aren't there and they're not really living in any true personal sense, it's going to take a big toll. Often I find it takes not having stuff in your life to realise how important it is to you.

100% agreed.  I just get nervous (in general, not related to something you said above) when people try to tell others what makes life unliveable... because what makes it unliveable for one person may be fine for another (and vice versa).  Obv. if the listener already knows their own prerequisites it’s not an issue.  Where the listener doesn’t realize prerequisites vary/they need to identify their own it gets tricky.  Not the speaker’s fault for being evangelical... just a risk.

 

Sorry for going off in the weeds!

 

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CBC

Oh no worries! Yep, there's nothing quite like people presuming to know what others need or don't need (or want, value, etc.). Happens here on AVEN a lot, tbh...

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ryn2
22 minutes ago, CBC said:

Yep, there's nothing quite like people presuming to know what others need or don't need (or want, value, etc.). Happens here on AVEN a lot, tbh...

I get why people are excited to share the discoveries that made (or didn’t make) them happy, in hopes of saving others the painful journey.

 

It’s more knowing when to stop - and, for the listener, knowing when to think “I shouldn’t just take this at face value without understanding how it fits my own situation” - that’s sometimes challenging.

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CBC

Yeah, we're always speaking through the lens of our own experiences. Which is not a problem, as we can do nothing else, but it's helpful to remember that. Leads to more respectful discussion, at least. (Or, hopefully it does.)

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anisotrophic

I think these days I'm partial to the Epicurean mode of hedonism, where happiness emphasizes tranquility, moderation, and pleasures of the mind. :)

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