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CreativeWords

Non-sexual ways for sexual partner to foster intimacy?

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CreativeWords

My husband is a biromantic sex-repulsed asexual. We had been dating for nearly three years and were talking about engagement before he told me he was sex-repulsed. Because I am demisexual, at the time I didn't think would be an issue because I hadn't felt any physical desire for him, either.

However, at nearly 4 years of marriage, I do find myself desperately wanting sexual intimacy. When I have brought up the fact that my needs and desires have changed, his response has been, "You went into this knowing I don't want sex." And I agree that I did. However, I am trying to be honest with him about what my desires are now.

 

There are, as always, many other factors involved. We lost our home in a house fire, we purchased a business (my dream job, he's working there to support my dream) and have had to move several times since the fire to find a place that works for our new situation. He has in the last year come to realize that his older brother sexually abused him when they were kids. He struggles a lot with depression, as well. He is incredibly introverted and has turned inward to process all of this, leaving me, the extrovert, feeling very shut out of his thoughts and emotions.

 

I realized that I started really, really feeling the desire for sex as other intimacies fell away as he has grown more withdrawn. I am willing to continue without the act of sex as I know bodily fluids bother him greatly. But I also want to find a way for my need for intimacy to be addressed.

Are there ways to foster intimacy that are better options for sex-repulsed partners? I'm trying very hard to find a proposition I can give him that will help me feel connected to him without crossing his boundaries.

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Star Lion

Ask your partner, you two are supposed to discuss how to make your marriage the best for both parties. Also just because your husband isn’t interested in sex doesn’t mean he’s garunteed to shy away from things such as cuddling, kissing, or getting handsy in ways that don’t involve genitals. You guys just have to talk about it and come to an agreement on what’s okay/comfortable to do and what isn’t

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Sally

I agree with Star Lion.  There's no way we can tell you what your partner might find acceptable; you two need to have a conversation about it.  

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CreativeWords

I have been attempting to open conversations with him, but when I ask if he would be comfortable with more intimacy, he usually says, "Tell me what you mean."

So it is clear to me that in his mind, since I'm the one who feels things are lacking, I need to come up with the list of what to do. I do find this frustrating, as I have explicitly asked him what he is comfortable with and what would be intimate/fulfilling for him, and he usually just shrugs. He did tell me this week that he's wondering if he is aromantic because the things that I talk about wanting/wishing for, he just doesn't think about.

 

My hope had been to have some sort of list of "would this work for you?" that I could give him so that we have a springboard to actually talk about it.

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MrDane
5 hours ago, CreativeWords said:

I have been attempting to open conversations with him, but when I ask if he would be comfortable with more intimacy, he usually says, "Tell me what you mean."

So it is clear to me that in his mind, since I'm the one who feels things are lacking, I need to come up with the list of what to do. I do find this frustrating, as I have explicitly asked him what he is comfortable with and what would be intimate/fulfilling for him, and he usually just shrugs. He did tell me this week that he's wondering if he is aromantic because the things that I talk about wanting/wishing for, he just doesn't think about.

 

My hope had been to have some sort of list of "would this work for you?" that I could give him so that we have a springboard to actually talk about it.

I think, it is a good start that he wants you to say something. Do that! My own wife seemed very reliefed that I asked her for two things: love and help with cumming on a regular basis and those two things does not have to happen simultanously. “So it is like giving a massage?” “Yes, with a happy ending”

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Serran
7 hours ago, CreativeWords said:

I have been attempting to open conversations with him, but when I ask if he would be comfortable with more intimacy, he usually says, "Tell me what you mean."

So it is clear to me that in his mind, since I'm the one who feels things are lacking, I need to come up with the list of what to do. I do find this frustrating, as I have explicitly asked him what he is comfortable with and what would be intimate/fulfilling for him, and he usually just shrugs. He did tell me this week that he's wondering if he is aromantic because the things that I talk about wanting/wishing for, he just doesn't think about.

 

My hope had been to have some sort of list of "would this work for you?" that I could give him so that we have a springboard to actually talk about it.

You probably are talking a different love language. There are activity lists online you can google - pick all the activities you need, like, etc. Rate them as such. Then ask him to make a list of things he enjoys doing with you and rate them as "would hate to lose", "can do with or without" etc. And see if you can find overlap. 

 

My partner never thinks about things like feelings. I have to try to arrange and word it to make sense. She is romantic and loves me... just, she never really thinks beyond "oh thats fun/nice" whatever. Not what the activity means or how it feels or even things being specially ours, because to her its just nice and nicer with you. Thats as deep as it goes. I get a lot of shrugs and i dunno and you think about things more than me. Just have to get creative in phrasing and ask in a lot more detail. 

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Philip027
Quote

So it is clear to me that in his mind, since I'm the one who feels things are lacking, I need to come up with the list of what to do. I do find this frustrating, as I have explicitly asked him what he is comfortable with and what would be intimate/fulfilling for him, and he usually just shrugs. He did tell me this week that he's wondering if he is aromantic because the things that I talk about wanting/wishing for, he just doesn't think about.

Can strongly relate.  Big part of what had me initially thinking how different I was from everyone else (even well before I knew asexuality was an actual thing) was how in my first relationship, I never knew how to answer the question of what I wanted.  I "had" them already; why was I expected to want anything else?

 

I do generally agree though that it's up to the dissatisfied party in a relationship to come up with a plan of action, though.  He's not in your head; he won't have a better idea of what you want than you do.

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CreativeWords
22 hours ago, MrDane said:

I think, it is a good start that he wants you to say something. Do that! My own wife seemed very reliefed that I asked her for two things: love and help with cumming on a regular basis and those two things does not have to happen simultanously. “So it is like giving a massage?” “Yes, with a happy ending”

He is uncomfortable with anything that resembles sexual activity and foreplay. So while he is okay with me pleasuring myself, he doesn't want to be anywhere around or aware that it's happening. Which is one of the reasons I keep asking him, "What would work for you?"

 

20 hours ago, Serran said:

You probably are talking a different love language. There are activity lists online you can google - pick all the activities you need, like, etc. Rate them as such. Then ask him to make a list of things he enjoys doing with you and rate them as "would hate to lose", "can do with or without" etc. And see if you can find overlap. 

 

My partner never thinks about things like feelings. I have to try to arrange and word it to make sense. She is romantic and loves me... just, she never really thinks beyond "oh thats fun/nice" whatever. Not what the activity means or how it feels or even things being specially ours, because to her its just nice and nicer with you. Thats as deep as it goes. I get a lot of shrugs and i dunno and you think about things more than me. Just have to get creative in phrasing and ask in a lot more detail. 

It's good to hear that we're not alone in this. I want to be a good partner and ally and a good communicator, but there are times when I just get so tired of putting in so much effort to get a shrug in response. Thanks for the reminder to keep trying.
 

20 hours ago, Philip027 said:

Can strongly relate.  Big part of what had me initially thinking how different I was from everyone else (even well before I knew asexuality was an actual thing) was how in my first relationship, I never knew how to answer the question of what I wanted.  I "had" them already; why was I expected to want anything else?

 

I do generally agree though that it's up to the dissatisfied party in a relationship to come up with a plan of action, though.  He's not in your head; he won't have a better idea of what you want than you do.

Again, it's helpful to hear that we're not alone in this mismatch. It is hard for me to interpret the shrugs NOT as some sort of danger sign for the relationship. Which is one of the things that I have tried to explain, without much success. 

Another problem is that I don't have any sexual experience myself (raised very conservative + being demisexual meant I rarely had the opportunity and never the desire, prior to this relationship), so I don't have a ready-made list of "here are things I like" because I haven't been able to explore much.

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Sally

It's possible that his shrugs mean that he just doesn't want to discuss it.  That is his right, and his decision.  It may not make the relationship an easy one, but the way to communicate, or not communicate, is an individual one, and probably continuing to press the issue won't improve things.  

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Serran
2 hours ago, Sally said:

It's possible that his shrugs mean that he just doesn't want to discuss it.  That is his right, and his decision.  It may not make the relationship an easy one, but the way to communicate, or not communicate, is an individual one, and probably continuing to press the issue won't improve things.  

If its an avoidance it wont. But if its a genuine no idea, it could help to push a bit. Really just need to know which it is. 

 

OP if you dont know its OK. Can still suggest something as a try it to see thing. 

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MrDane

Yes, it is a rigth to not say anything, if one is uncomfortable about it. But if it is uncomfortable for the sexual person to live without clarity on the sexual issues or nonsexual connectional issues, then the result could be a choice between losing the relationship or losing yourself. 

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verymelancholic

Is he touch-repulsed entirely? If not, maybe just simple kissing and hugging. If he is, probably spend time with him and his hobbies.

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Tarfeather
On 6/6/2019 at 8:43 PM, CreativeWords said:

Again, it's helpful to hear that we're not alone in this mismatch. It is hard for me to interpret the shrugs NOT as some sort of danger sign for the relationship. Which is one of the things that I have tried to explain, without much success.

Yep, to me those two things would be red flags. Sexual orientation mismatch is one thing, but communication mismatch is an entirely different beast, and not something to be taken lightly.

 

What you describe is a common pattern that results in a negative feedback loop: You have a desire of some sort, and since it's intrinsic to you, you can't just ignore it. So short of getting it fulfilled directly, you want to talk about it openly. However, the other person is uncomfortable with that desire, and the more you make it the focus, the more uncomfortable they become. This will result in them giving signs of "rejection", which in turn makes you feel hurt, and the unmet desires more difficult to deal with. Which in turn leads to them being more of a focus for you, which in turn makes him more uncomfortable, and so on.

 

The best thing to do is to let go of your desire. You should reassure him that you care about him first and foremost, and that the lack of intimacy is no issue to your relationship. Once he understands that, you can try to communicate openly about the hurt you're feeling, still all the while being clear that you place no expectations on him.

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KoiFishShoes
On 6/5/2019 at 9:14 AM, CreativeWords said:

My hope had been to have some sort of list of "would this work for you?" that I could give him so that we have a springboard to actually talk about it.

Some of what you are describing sounds very similar to my ex-husband and I. The few times he did ask what I wanted, I seriously didn't know what to say beyond regular vanilla sex. I either didn't think about it or didn't know it existed, so a literal list would have helped immensely. I discovered an extensive checklist of sexual/sensual acts  with columns labeled Will, Won't, and Want a couple years ago that I think would have been very helpful. I've never made it through the entire list because it's slightly overwhelming, and I had a lot of "That's a thing?" moments, but it might be a good place to start.

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anisotrophic
On 6/13/2019 at 12:03 PM, Tarfeather said:

Sexual orientation mismatch is one thing, but communication mismatch is an entirely different beast, and not something to be taken lightly.

Yes, this.

 

If you feel you're pulling all the weight on communicating, that's a bad situation. Don't fall in love with being a martyr.

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greynonomous

I feel your headache with coming to terms on specifics when you do t know them yourself.

 

As you specify you want NON sexual acta of intimacy, I would say people also categorize those a bit differently? Like I grew up with massages being 100% not sexual, but my partner feels like it's more closely related.

 

Also, cuddling, tickles, hand holding, arm over the shoulder, kisses, head massages, etc can be examples that feel great and can be intimate without being sexual?

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AceyMacey

As many other people have said, things like hugging and cuddling may be better for your situation. This, of course, depends on what you husband is comfortable with (whether he is touch repulsed or sex repulsed), but, as a sex repulsed ace, I can say that these can build intimacy well while avoiding sex. Granted, everyone is different and has different boundaries, so I would make sure to communicate first.

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