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PaganUnicorn

What does a functional relationship look like?

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PaganUnicorn

So... since you are unhappy with your current relationships (or going through some trouble adapting to your partners asexuality, or have been through it), are for the most part a bit older and more experienced, i want to ask some questions about relationships. dont have to be mixed relationships can be any relationships.

 

1-> What makes a relationship successful?

2-> What was your most successful relationship and why did it end (if it ended)?

3-> What were some of the most important lesson(s) you've learnt from your relationship(s)?

4-> [question for those who have been in mixed relationships with aces] what did you learn from those relationships? did they end? if so how long did they last? are you still friends?

 

I'll see how this goes and depending on that, i may or may not ask these questions on Asexual Relationships just for asexuals who've been in relationships (mixed or otherwise).

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ryn2
1 hour ago, PaganUnicorn said:

I'll see how this goes and depending on that, i may or may not ask these questions on Asexual Relationships just for asexuals who've been in relationships (mixed or otherwise).

Does this mean you would prefer that only sexual people answer this version?

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PaganUnicorn
3 hours ago, ryn2 said:

Does this mean you would prefer that only sexual people answer this version? 

well i posted it here for a reason :)

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ryn2
39 minutes ago, PaganUnicorn said:

well i posted it here for a reason

*shrugs*  A lot of ace people post in here, just like the sexual posters post in the ace-“themed” threads.

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Aimeendfire

1. Communication and trust 

2. My most successful relationship is the one I’m currently in(married) to another avenite. It has yet to end ( and I hope it doesn’t) 

3. The most important lesson I think I learned is that love and how we experience love changes as the relationship changes . At first it was really hard to understand that we had moved on from the honeymoon stage. Also it was a LDR for 8 years so I learned to let go of my jealousy and to trust.

4. N/A

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CBC

Well to the first question, I'd say something like... compatible ways of feeling and expressing love (and to a good extent, compatible ways of experiencing life in general), open and honest communication, willingness to be vulnerable, and trust. I also feel like a relationship should make you feel like and be the healthiest and most authentic version of yourself. If you're not fully being you, what the hell is the point? That's kind of... toxic. Sometimes more insidiously than very obviously.

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Telecaster68

1-> What makes a relationship successful?

Having the same set of priorities for the relationship.

 

2-> What was your most successful relationship and why did it end (if it ended)?

When I was 23, with the mother of two kids, and she was 11 years older than me. On paper, we would've had nothing in common and plenty of huge differences, but we were both at a particular point in our lives when we needed the same thing from a relationship: someone at a particular point in recovering from previous shitty relationships, and somehow we recognised it in each other and trusted each other with our emotions completely. Also, we were both ready to kick back and enjoy ourselves, and fantastically compatible in bed. After four years, we'd both moved on to slightly different places, largely because of the way the safety of that relationship allowed us to both grow, so we split up, painfully, but amicably.

 

3-> What were some of the most important lesson(s) you've learnt from your relationship(s)?

Communicate. It's okay - necessary in fact - to have your own needs and make them clear. As CBC said, a relationship should help you make yourself a better, more authentic version of yourself, which sounds cheesey as fuck, but anything else is an indicator the relationship is at best a placeholder and ultimately disposable, at worst, toxic. Personally, I know that if someone doesn't have a sense of humour and an appetite for life (which is where sex comes in), I'm not interested in getting involved. Physically, I don't have a type, just a threshold of 'not troll-like'.

 

4-> [question for those who have been in mixed relationships with aces] what did you learn from those relationships? did they end? if so how long did they last? are you still friends?

I learned just how embedded sex is in the whole emotional tapestry of a relationship for me, and its absence metastatizes into cracking the whole thing apart, particularly when it becomes the touchstone which showed how little my partner was bothered about understanding me, and how apparently my problems were not her problems too. Aside from cosmetically being a marriage and in the same house, our relationship hasn't changed at all from the first time we met - it's at about the level of work colleagues who get on pretty well. I was fairly deluded about that status for a few years, but in retrospect, that was all it ever it was. Hence communication being important...

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CBC

Did you just kinda accuse me of being cheesy as fuck, Tele? ;) 

 

(I am.)

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Telecaster68
1 minute ago, CBC said:

Did you just kinda accuse me of being cheesy as fuck, Tele? ;) 

But in a good way.

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CBC

I'm very fine with that. :P 

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PaganUnicorn
12 hours ago, Aimeendfire said:

3. The most important lesson I think I learned is that love and how we experience love changes as the relationship changes . At first it was really hard to understand that we had moved on from the honeymoon stage.

Could you expand on that?

 

12 hours ago, CBC said:

Well to the first question, I'd say something like... compatible ways of feeling and expressing love (and to a good extent, compatible ways of experiencing life in general), open and honest communication, willingness to be vulnerable, and trust. I also feel like a relationship should make you feel like and be the healthiest and most authentic version of yourself. If you're not fully being you, what the hell is the point? That's kind of... toxic. Sometimes more insidiously than very obviously.

i agree, those are some very good points. it's what I (and most people) would want from a relationship.

Could you give any examples of relationships where you have experienced that, and how you experienced it?

 

6 hours ago, Telecaster68 said:

Having the same set of priorities for the relationship.

For example?

 

6 hours ago, Telecaster68 said:

When I was 23, with the mother of two kids, and she was 11 years older than me. On paper, we would've had nothing in common and plenty of huge differences, but we were both at a particular point in our lives when we needed the same thing from a relationship: someone at a particular point in recovering from previous shitty relationships, and somehow we recognised it in each other and trusted each other with our emotions completely. Also, we were both ready to kick back and enjoy ourselves, and fantastically compatible in bed.

Ok i have some questions...

1- what were your and her set priorities for the relationship?

2- how old were her kids?

3- what did you have in common? i mean, being 11 years older and having kids while you are 23 one would think you have very little in common... unless you were a very mature 23 year old and liked kids.

 

6 hours ago, Telecaster68 said:

After four years, we'd both moved on to slightly different places, largely because of the way the safety of that relationship allowed us to both grow, so we split up, painfully, but amicably.

so... why did you split up if I may ask?

 

6 hours ago, Telecaster68 said:

an appetite for life (which is where sex comes in)

Why would someone who is uninterested in sex lack appetite for life? there's plenty of people who become celibates because they want to live their lives more freely and not be tied down.

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Telecaster68
1 minute ago, PaganUnicorn said:

For example? (of same set of priorities)

Finding mutual emotional support in each other. Sexual experimentation. Travelling together. Starting a family. That kind of stuff.

 

2 minutes ago, PaganUnicorn said:

1- what were your and her set priorities for the relationship?

2- how old were her kids?

3- what did you have in common? i mean, being 11 years older and having kids while you are 23 one would think you have very little in common... unless you were a very mature 23 year old and liked kids.

 

We didn't set priorities, we just chanced upon each drunkenly at a part, fancied each other, and in the course of the next week discovered there something deeper going on emotionally that didn't need verbally agreeing, but we implicitly understood about each other. Also, great sex, which isn't actually as puerile as it sounds. There's something about the intimacy and vulnerability of sex that exposes similarities and differences in attitudes to life without them having to be spelled out in words. I find the same thing with how much people love music, as it happens.

 

Her kids were 4 and 11. I got on fine with them, the younger one especially, as we shared a sense of humour. I was a fairly mature 23 year old and I do like kids, in much the same way as I generally like people, and figuring out how they tick.

 

The most important thing we had in common was the life-stage thing I mentioned: at that moment, we both needed someone who felt safe because they understood the effect of the crappy situations we'd each just escaped from, and that we needed to have some fun. And the sexual connection was part of both those things. Oh, we also both loved the same kind of music, and made each other laugh.

 

10 minutes ago, PaganUnicorn said:

so... why did you split up if I may ask?

Specifically, I finished uni and was looking for post-uni type jobs and moving into a more careerist phase, and she'd got back into employment after having kids and it was taking her into a different direction. But underlying that, what we each needed when we met was to feel safe and secure and refind ourselves after escaping shitty relationships. We found that safety and security in each other (as well as just having a good time with each other), and we each developed as people, but as it happened, in different directions and realised our priorities had changed. We still liked and respected (and as it happened, fancied) each other immensely but as two adults who cared about each other, realised our own and each other's interests were actually that we split up. The paradox is that neither of us would have been capable of making that difficult decision without being able to grow in the relationship with each other in the first place.

 

Maybe an analogy is seeding a plant in a small pot. The soil in the small pot allows the plant to grow to a certain extent but then it needs to be planted outside; but it wouldn't have survived if you'd planted it outside as a seed.

 

18 minutes ago, PaganUnicorn said:

Why would someone who is uninterested in sex lack appetite for life?

I don't know, but my observation (directly and via posts on AVEN and the like), that most people who don't like sex tend to be cautious and anxious, and would rather stay in situations they find safe and risk free, than push themselves out of their comfort zones. And sometimes those comfort zones are pretty restrictive, like not going out, not meeting new people etc. I understand they may have issues like anxiety, but they're still tending to stay out of situations which have what they see as unpredictable elements, like, say, someone else's sexuality.

 

Complementing this, wanting sex is like a hunger, an urge to consume pleasure with another person, and sating it adds to the richness of one's experience. If you're not interested in adding to the richness of your experience, to me, you lack an appetite for life.

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CBC

I honestly don't really feel like going into too much detail without the permission of my girlfriend, who's also a member and currently asleep (it's a long-distance thing), and I'm not really sure how I'd expand a whole lot on what I said anyway. I guess I can try.

 

Bit of backstory, I suppose. I joined AVEN in 2004 (I was 19) because some aspects of asexuality resonated with me. I wasn't ever certain, but there were some similarities to my experiences up until that point. In 2008 I met someone here (a guy, heteroromantic and asexual) who I thought I was in love with, and we married a few years later. It was a relationship that should've been a friendship, not a romantic partnership or a marriage (a close friendship still though, he's a great person), and at some point it became pretty clear to me that I likely wasn't ace, and that I definitely was not straight and probably more sort of only "technically bisexual". I can have fleeting crushes on guys, I can be good friends with them, I could likely do very casual sex with them (but haven't), but an opposite-sex relationship isn't right for me when it comes to the whole... "in love" thing. And love being tied to sex and all that. I kept having feelings for people (girls) despite my marriage to a guy, and about four and a half years ago became close with someone from AVEN here (neither of us is asexual) who'd been more or less a friendly acquaintance for a few years at that point. Her background and side of the story are not mine to tell, but suffice to say it's not been an easy situation (I'm sure she would agree with that, haha). Very... off and on... for a long time, although more stable now. But. I realised I had absolutely no idea what "in love" was until this relationship. All the stuff I said... learning to communicate openly and honestly and to try to trust, allowing myself to be vulnerable in various ways I'd never even come close to with anyone before... it's why we are where we are, along with an underlying sense of "life without you just doesn't make sense" (or something like that). We've both fucked it up a bunch at times, no denying that. There are loads of complicated factors. But I'm fine with complicated and difficult because the experience of actually knowing love is the best thing that's happened to me. It definitely makes me more fully me, like I understand myself much better now, it makes me a better person and one I don't despise (I have terrible self-worth and a history of lifelong serious mental illness, so my brain isn't a very cheery place), and it makes me feel alive and... human.

 

Things worth having don't always come easy. I don't know what exactly the future holds. But that's fine. I've never been one to like uncertainty (it terrifies me, tbh), and historically I've not been great at interpersonal stuff (in all different types of relationships, not just romantic), but love makes things like fear and hard work seem very worth it.

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PaganUnicorn

@Telecaster68 How was that relationship different from FWBs? You liked each other, had good chemistry, liked the same music, got along well, similar situations... what part of it is the romantic element?

 

2 hours ago, Telecaster68 said:

The most important thing we had in common was the life-stage thing I mentioned: at that moment, we both needed someone who felt safe because they understood the effect of the crappy situations we'd each just escaped from, and that we needed to have some fun. And the sexual connection was part of both those things. Oh, we also both loved the same kind of music, and made each other laugh.

would this relationship have happened if you werent in those crappy situations and didnt need a safety net?

 

2 hours ago, Telecaster68 said:

Her kids were 4 and 11. I got on fine with them, the younger one especially, as we shared a sense of humour. I was a fairly mature 23 year old and I do like kids, in much the same way as I generally like people, and figuring out how they tick.

Do you have any kids?

 

2 hours ago, Telecaster68 said:

I don't know, but my observation (directly and via posts on AVEN and the like), that most people who don't like sex tend to be cautious and anxious, and would rather stay in situations they find safe and risk free, than push themselves out of their comfort zones. And sometimes those comfort zones are pretty restrictive, like not going out, not meeting new people etc. I understand they may have issues like anxiety, but they're still tending to stay out of situations which have what they see as unpredictable elements, like, say, someone else's sexuality.

i have observed the same things. i do have some anxiety but i dont think this applies to me as i feel the most anxious when i am at home. I go out, meet people, try out new things, do sports (some even a bit dangerous), take risks (some even a bit stupid). I like to explore and I too like to figure out how people tick and learn new things. Sex was just never a part of it for me.

 

2 hours ago, Telecaster68 said:

We still liked and respected (and as it happened, fancied) each other immensely but as two adults who cared about each other, realised our own and each other's interests were actually that we split up.

But you said you had the same set of priorities? How did it take 4 years to realize you were that incompatible?

--

 

What lesson(s) did you take away from that relationship that helped you in future ones?

 

 

 

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ryn2
7 minutes ago, PaganUnicorn said:

But you said you had the same set of priorities? How did it take 4 years to realize you were that incompatible?

I read his earlier posts to say that they were compatible when they met, but that - thanks in part to the supportive environment the relationship provided - they both grew and changed over the course of the four years they spent together.  As they grew and changed, they became less compatible.

 

So, it’s not something that took four years to see.  It took four years to happen.

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Telecaster68
3 minutes ago, PaganUnicorn said:

How was that relationship different from FWBs?

See this post. It quickly, clearly, fell into the latter of the two things I describe.

 

 

5 minutes ago, PaganUnicorn said:

would this relationship have happened if you werent in those crappy situations and didnt need a safety net?

No, it wouldn't, to the crappy situations, but then it also wouldn't if I hadn't been sacked from my previous job, moved, bumped into an old friend by chance and gone that completely random party, and she hadn't been dragged out to that party by a friend. Chance is a thing.

 

It wasn't a safety net relationship. We were both out of previous shit, and revving up for the next.

 

8 minutes ago, PaganUnicorn said:

Do you have any kids?

Not then, not now.

 

9 minutes ago, PaganUnicorn said:

But you said you had the same set of priorities? How did it take 4 years to realize you were that incompatible?

We did have the same set of priorities for most of the time, but having the security of that relationship enabled us both to grow, and in growing our individual priorities changed so they became incompatible in sustaining a relationship. We still liked, and cared for, and fancied each other, but realised that part of caring for each other was that splitting up would be best for both of us.

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PaganUnicorn

@ryn2 The priorities were

Finding mutual emotional support in each other. Sexual experimentation. Travelling together. Starting a family.

 

Either these priorities changed for one of them or both, or they had different priorities in the beginning of the relationship which changed into these ones in which case what were their priorities at first...?

 

I get it they helped each other, were in similar situations all that. I just dont understand how this relationship is any different from FWBs who happen to be some sort of roommates.

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Telecaster68
11 minutes ago, PaganUnicorn said:

What lesson(s) did you take away from that relationship that helped you in future ones?

Mainly that healthy relationships aren't necessarily built on the kind of form filling checklists approach and can't be predicted. You just have to try it and see if it works as well as you hope.

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Telecaster68
1 minute ago, PaganUnicorn said:

inding mutual emotional support in each other. Sexual experimentation. Travelling together. Starting a family.

They were examples, not to do with this specific relationship. 

 

And they're not set down like some strategic aims document. They just emerge as you get to know each other.

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Telecaster68
2 minutes ago, PaganUnicorn said:

I just dont understand how this relationship is any different from FWBs who happen to be some sort of roommates.

Reid that link, m.

 

 

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ryn2
1 minute ago, PaganUnicorn said:

The priorities were

Finding mutual emotional support in each other. Sexual experimentation. Travelling together. Starting a family.

 

Either these priorities changed for one of them or both, or they had different priorities in the beginning of the relationship which changed into these ones in which case what were their priorities at first...?

I read the priorities list as examples of similar priorities, not as Tele’s specific priorities for  the relationship he was in while in uni?

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PaganUnicorn
2 hours ago, Telecaster68 said:

Not then, not now.

Oh? I thought you mentioned a son at some point? maybe im confusing you with someone else, but i could swear it was you...

 

2 hours ago, Telecaster68 said:

No, it wouldn't, to the crappy situations, but then it also wouldn't if I hadn't been sacked from my previous job, moved, bumped into an old friend by chance and gone that completely random party, and she hadn't been dragged out to that party by a friend. Chance is a thing.

i understand that but my point is, is there anything about her as an individual that clicks? chance or not? does she feel that way about you? I may be inexperienced by afaik thats what romantic feelings are. otherwise you are just fwbs who get along really well and have great chemistry.

 

2 hours ago, Telecaster68 said:

It wasn't a safety net relationship.

i must have misunderstood then. you put a lot of emphasis on the safety part so I assumed.

 

2 hours ago, Telecaster68 said:

We did have the same set of priorities for most of the time, but having the security of that relationship enabled us both to grow, and in growing our individual priorities changed so they became incompatible in sustaining a relationship. We still liked, and cared for, and fancied each other, but realised that part of caring for each other was that splitting up would be best for both of us.

And that's great and very healthy.

 

2 hours ago, Telecaster68 said:

Mainly that healthy relationships aren't necessarily built on the kind of form filling checklists approach and can't be predicted. You just have to try it and see if it works as well as you hope.

Well there has to be some filtering right? of course theres giving people a chance and all that but theres people things work with and others it doesnt. you dont have to date them to know which are which in many cases. I'm not saying anything new here am i?

 

2 hours ago, Telecaster68 said:

They were examples, not to do with this specific relationship. 

Oh, i misunderstood again.

 

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PaganUnicorn

EDIT: ah nvm that. i may or may not reply on the linked thread.

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Anthracite_Impreza
46 minutes ago, Telecaster68 said:

Complementing this, wanting sex is like a hunger, an urge to consume pleasure with another person, and sating it adds to the richness of one's experience. If you're not interested in adding to the richness of your experience, to me, you lack an appetite for life.

What if you push yourself in other,  non sexual ways? Or if your version of pushing yourself seems small on the outside but is massive on the inside?

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CBC

Oh I guess I can answer your fourth question from the initial post, too.

 

My (asexual) husband and I still live together, actually. We qualify as legally separated at this point and will likely get divorced eventually, but there isn't really a rush right now. We're close friends and we're basically family since we've lived together for over nine years now. As I alluded to above, I struggle with mental illness. Also chronic physical illness. And because for some reason I managed to end up in the wrong relationship with someone who still cares about me deeply and is one of the kindest individuals I've ever known, he's still here for me. We don't work as a romantic partnership, but we work ok together as people and he's been a massive support. I'm aware that he could've just up and left, but he didn't, and I'm grateful for that. Even knowing that the future isn't going to be what we thought it would... he's not left. I'm doing my best but need more (professional) help, because I very much want a future that isn't the same as my present. One way I know it's not the right (romantic) relationship is that it doesn't really... make me care about being well. It makes it incredibly easy for me to stay stuck, doesn't allow for personal growth. And it doesn't make me feel like me. Which isn't to say I'm uncomfortable with him, but I'm not the healthiest or most authentic me. (And that's certainly not his fault. Or mine.)

 

Anyway. I imagine we'll always be friends. Life is weird and messy and often not what you expected. I'm glad he doesn't hate me. I can't exactly hate him for being asexual, either; I was always by far the more uncertain of the two of us, and then clearly the more sexually-driven, and it's not like he truly deceived me. For a long time he did think he might be demisexual... finding "the one" would make him desire sex... but it didn't. I put a bit of hope in that possibility for a while I guess, but it just didn't work -- and ultimately it doesn't matter anyway, if I connect much better with women. But it's not like either of us outright lied to the other. We just didn't know ourselves well enough.

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Telecaster68
3 minutes ago, PaganUnicorn said:

Oh? I thought you mentioned a son at some point? maybe im confusing you with someone else, but i could swear it was you...

No son. No offspring of any kind.

 

3 minutes ago, PaganUnicorn said:

is there anything about her as an individual that clicks?

Yep, the whole safety thing, just in subtext and micro-reactions. And post-coital conversations about relationships and realising similarities, but we'd just sensed a lot of that stuff on a non verbal level before we went to bed. It was a lot of why we went to bed. 

 

From things you've said, it sounds like your parents (maybe) had a pretty grim relationship. Mine too, to the extent of cPTSD and therapy, etc, and one of the things I'm sure about is that people who've been through that kind of shit can sense it in others too. Nothing mystical, just lots of little things, and attitudes, and responses. It's a deepseated, unspoken connection that doesn't need spelling out.

 

I had that level of connection with this partner.

10 minutes ago, PaganUnicorn said:

Well there has to be some filtering right?

Yeah, working that stuff out is what dates are about. But both people liking Seinfeld means nothing one way or the other. What does matter is stuff like realising you smile when you think about them, or you can just look at each other and know what you're saying to each other. That matters. Ticklists can be completely misdirection.

 

 

 

 

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ryn2
3 minutes ago, Anthracite_Impreza said:

What if you push yourself in other,  non sexual ways? Or if your version of pushing yourself seems small on the outside but is massive on the inside?

You’re a poor match for Tele?  :)

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ryn2
1 minute ago, Telecaster68 said:

both people liking Seinfeld means nothing one way or the other.

The “why” of it can, though.

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Telecaster68
5 minutes ago, Anthracite_Impreza said:

What if you push yourself in other,  non sexual ways? Or if your version of pushing yourself seems small on the outside but is massive on the inside?

I completely respect both, but honestly the tendency I see is that people identifying as asexual tend not to push themselves in the 'screw it, I'm doing a parachute jump for charity' way. Those that do, great. I'm only talking about a tendency.

 

Massive on the inside pushing still indicates general caution though, or it wouldn't be a massive push to get even a little way out of a tight comfort zone. If it's a massive push which results in having lights out starfishing sex twice a year, as opposed to none, I can truly appreciate the effort, but it would still be too little for most sexuals.

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PaganUnicorn
2 hours ago, Telecaster68 said:

I had that level of connection with this partner.

That kind of connection is so rare, why give up on it for a career and not try to make it work?

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