Jump to content
Sinking_In

How do YOU compromise in a mixed relationship?

Recommended Posts

Sinking_In

@AceMissBehaving I appreciate your input as always! Your insight has been extremely beneficial to myself and others. Though I may quote/ respond to specific people, I also try to do so in a way for others to read and relate to/ contemplate. Also, @uhtred question was one I liked, too, thought provoking and possibly touched on a significant difference in  sexuals and asexuals, although I think I got it (see my aforementioned comparison to pumpkin pie)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Memento1
1 hour ago, Sinking_In said:

Again, not trying in invalidate asexuality, at all, but just trying to add a little validation to the benefit of sex in relationships.

I think the problem is asexuals already KNOW the benefit of sex in relationships.  That's why so many suffered silently for years, because all science and everyone around them said regular sex was an absolutely essential part of a happy, healthy relationship.  That it was literally impossible to have a healthy romantic relationship without it.  By the point where they're sick of doing it, being reminded of the benefits of sex just sounds like more pressure.  It reinforces guilt, which drives desire even further underground.  To use the pumpkin pie analogy, it's like the baker bringing up the health benefits of eating pumpkin.  It's perfectly valid, but it's not going to change your feelings about it.

 

This is hinting at the hullabaloo in the announcement forum: validating someone else's different experience feels so invalidating to your own.  And the feedback loop of increased invalidation is what destroys relationships.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
anisotrophic

@Sinking_In reposting because I'd initially intended this for you (put it in the wrong thread) – whether or not to compromise is something I go back and forth on.

 

One of the toughest things for me, as things have settled out, has been the awareness of my own desire and his own lack, and the sense of vulnerability I feel when I do let go and express myself sexually. There's an enormous potential for shame – but he has never, ever made me feel ashamed. He could easily do that, and I would be devastated. It's an ongoing act of trust on my part, and I appreciate his care for my own sexuality enormously.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sinking_In

@Memento1 I see the endless loop of validation/ invalidation, for sure. Everyone is valid, and therefore everyone has an obligation to be true to themselves, while respecting the boundaries of others. Unfortunately, in mixed relationships, those boundaries have already been crossed, new boundaries are made, and there is inevitably push-back and struggle when that happens. Everyone has my sympathy in these situations. I can play devil's advocate for both sides, though being a sexual person I probably do so more for sexuals. I hope that is not necessarily invalidating to asexual people, but I can see how it can be seen as such. I try to be careful, and I can try to be more so moving forward. In my own relationships I've learned to validate my wife's asexuality. It wasn't easy or immediate, I admit, but I believe it's headed in the right direction. I no longer ask/ expect/ need sex from her, and she is loving it (so far). In return, she no longer asks/ expects/ needs me to refrain from sex, and has opened the marriage for me. We'll have to see where all of this goes, but so far it's liberating for both of us. I still very much want to make love to my wife, but for her, making love is simply cuddling, which I am happy to do.

19 minutes ago, Memento1 said:

To use the pumpkin pie analogy, it's like the baker bringing up the health benefits of eating pumpkin.  It's perfectly valid, but it's not going to change your feelings about it.

^point well taken!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sinking_In
17 minutes ago, anisotrophic said:

the sense of vulnerability I feel when I do let go and express myself sexually.

I get this. Before I knew about asexuality, my wife would either say "okay", when asked for sex, or I'd get a scoff and an eye roll. The later would cut deeper than she may have realized. Whenever I got that response, I'd just tell her to never mind. Of course, this made both of us feel worse about it. She would feel guilt, and I would be hurt/ upset. Unfortunately, after her guilt got to her, she'd offer sex in about a day or two, but my hurt would still be there. If I refused, it would be weeks or months before she'd be willing, if I accepted, it didn't feel right, and it would still be weeks or months before she's be willing. I'm so glad to be out of that cycle, for the time being.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sinking_In

A short update to the open relationship: I've started with some online dating sites, have chatted with a few women (I made it clear I am in an open marriage), and I'm happy to say one appears to be very interested in me. We're supposed to meet this week. I have some mixed feelings about it (also not getting my hopes up, this is "online", after all), and I'm not sure quite how polyamory works, but I'll just be open and honest, and just see how it goes. I know now there will be yet another person's feelings I will be considering. I'm also not sure how my wife will react once the reality sets in, but my therapist has given me a referral for a couples therapist that he believes can help both of us in this new chapter of our lives. My wife is open to go for me, and I want to go for her. I'll have to be more aware/ sensitive to her reactions throughout all of this, and I hope she can openly communicate her feelings, if not with me, at least with a therapist. I can't imagine this will as easy on her as she is making it seem. Then again, if she is getting all of the love she wants without the sex, maybe it is just that easy for her? It's been an interesting ride, to say the least, but it feels a lot less bumpy right now.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
anisotrophic
47 minutes ago, Sinking_In said:

A short update to the open relationship: I've started with some online dating sites, have chatted with a few women (I made it clear I am in an open marriage), and I'm happy to say one appears to be very interested in me. We're supposed to meet this week. I have some mixed feelings about it (also not getting my hopes up, this is "online", after all), and I'm not sure quite how polyamory works, but I'll just be open and honest, and just see how it goes. I know now there will be yet another person's feelings I will be considering. I'm also not sure how my wife will react once the reality sets in, but my therapist has given me a referral for a couples therapist that he believes can help both of us in this new chapter of our lives. My wife is open to go for me, and I want to go for her. I'll have to be more aware/ sensitive to her reactions throughout all of this, and I hope she can openly communicate her feelings, if not with me, at least with a therapist. I can't imagine this will as easy on her as she is making it seem. Then again, if she is getting all of the love she wants without the sex, maybe it is just that easy for her? It's been an interesting ride, to say the least, but it feels a lot less bumpy right now.

My sense is to take this slow, and that polyamory can become very complicated. It sounds like you're thinking cautiously as well.

A first effort like this might mainly matter because it "makes it real" for your partner – and shit might hit a fan – so, maybe being prepared to back burner it a bit to focus on strengthening your primary (spouse) relationship. (And you can be open about that with the person you meet. That might even be taken well. Personally, if I would much rather date someone that's worried about how their partner is going to handle it than not!)

I do recall one instance on the forum where a partner's spouse said "sure, whatever, go for it" and they took it at face value (which you aren't) & went ahead… then came back a soon after reporting "turns out this is a lot more scary/upsetting than initially anticipated".... yup.

All that said, actually taking a step into it like this might be a necessary one, for all the hazards it implies.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Davida
47 minutes ago, Sinking_In said:

A short update to the open relationship: I've started with some online dating sites, have chatted with a few women (I made it clear I am in an open marriage), and I'm happy to say one appears to be very interested in me. We're supposed to meet this week. I have some mixed feelings about it (also not getting my hopes up, this is "online", after all), and I'm not sure quite how polyamory works, but I'll just be open and honest, and just see how it goes. I know now there will be yet another person's feelings I will be considering. I'm also not sure how my wife will react once the reality sets in, but my therapist has given me a referral for a couples therapist that he believes can help both of us in this new chapter of our lives. My wife is open to go for me, and I want to go for her. I'll have to be more aware/ sensitive to her reactions throughout all of this, and I hope she can openly communicate her feelings, if not with me, at least with a therapist. I can't imagine this will as easy on her as she is making it seem. Then again, if she is getting all of the love she wants without the sex, maybe it is just that easy for her? It's been an interesting ride, to say the least, but it feels a lot less bumpy right now.

@Sinking_In you and your wife are brave to persue this. I wish you both the best. I was recently researching books about polyamory for a friend irl who has strong feelings for a guy who is polyamorous. There are lots of books on this subject, and not surprisingly polyamory has its own lexicon. Perhaps you and your wife, in addition to pursuing therapy together, can read some books together to learn some new context and language to use to express your feelings and reactions to this new aspect of your relationship. Books may help prepare you for any anecdotally common experiences within the realm of polyamory (like how to prioritize, how to manage jealousy or other negative emotions, how to communicate) so that you two may be better prepared emotionally to process your experiences. I haven't read any of them, but two books that I was intrigued by were "stepping off the relationship escalator, uncommon love and life" and "the smart girl's guide to polyamory" (which reviewers indicated was helpful for all genders.) Good luck - we are here for you! 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sinking_In

@anisotrophic @Davida the therapist referred to us specializes in polyamory couples counseling, and I did ask they also be well versed in asexuality. I trust my therapist, and though he is familiar with LGBTQ and polyamory, the fact he politely declined to see us both, because he was already seeing me, spoke volumes for his integrity and concern for our well being, not just my own. I will continue to research the subject, not just for myself, but also because my wife seems to better understand things as I explain them, and the more I know, the more I can help her as well.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Memento1
1 hour ago, Sinking_In said:

I see the endless loop of validation/ invalidation, for sure. Everyone is valid, and therefore everyone has an obligation to be true to themselves, while respecting the boundaries of others. Unfortunately, in mixed relationships, those boundaries have already been crossed, new boundaries are made, and there is inevitably push-back and struggle when that happens. Everyone has my sympathy in these situations. I can play devil's advocate for both sides, though being a sexual person I probably do so more for sexuals. I hope that is not necessarily invalidating to asexual people, but I can see how it can be seen as such. I try to be careful, and I can try to be more so moving forward. In my own relationships I've learned to validate my wife's asexuality. It wasn't easy or immediate, I admit, but I believe it's headed in the right direction. I no longer ask/ expect/ need sex from her, and she is loving it (so far). In return, she no longer asks/ expects/ needs me to refrain from sex, and has opened the marriage for me. We'll have to see where all of this goes, but so far it's liberating for both of us. I still very much want to make love to my wife, but for her, making love is simply cuddling, which I am happy to do.

Ha!  I also have a strong inclination to play Devil's Advocate - not because I enjoy making people uncomfortable, but because it helps me understand the grey area to argue for both black and white.  Unfortunately language is so dualistic.  But yeah, I do tend to take the asexual's position more easily. ;)  Maybe this is why I've always enjoyed reading your discussions - you approach things a lot like I do, just from the opposite direction!

 

I guess what I feel made a difference to me is a more nuanced understanding of validation.  I've had to differentiate validation of FEELINGS from validation of BEHAVIOR that stems from those feelings.  For instance, many asexuals in these situations have trouble validating the sexual's feelings of sexual need because they equate it with validating the behavior of being pushy for sex.  In the same way, a sexual validating an asexual's feelings about sex is not the same as validating the behavior of denying them any sexual outlet.  It's INCREDIBLY hard for me to validate someone's feelings when their behavior is hurtful, and it's something I'm still working hard on.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sinking_In
42 minutes ago, Memento1 said:

Ha!  I also have a strong inclination to play Devil's Advocate - not because I enjoy making people uncomfortable, but because it helps me understand the grey area to argue for both black and white.

^THIS. I am usually a champion of the gray area in most everything. I'm not comfortable with breaking the world down into simple matters of black & white, right & wrong. Of course there are instances to take a stand, but to take such stands all of the time, on all issues, is too extreme for me. I'm more of a centrist on many, many issues. I like to believe I have a fair capacity for empathy for both sides of an argument.

49 minutes ago, Memento1 said:

I've had to differentiate validation of FEELINGS from validation of BEHAVIOR that stems from those feelings

I always ask myself "WHY did they do this?" in an effort to understand someone's actions from their perspective. Not necessarily as a way to excuse an action, but rather find the reason for it to help me come to grips with it. It's a good way to avoid jumping to conclusions and passing judgement. Not that I am successful in this every time, but I do put in the effort :)

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Davida

Update on "sensual yes, sexual no" understanding between me and my husband: a couple nights ago - 

 

Me: How will you handle any physical urge for sexual relief that occurs to you?

Him: I don't have a plan. I don't feel I need one. I feel much more present lately, and so I've just been taking things moment by moment. I've realized the source of my drive is to please you. I used to think that meant to please you sexually. But now I know better what pleases you. I feel more confident than ever in my own sexuality.

 

Me: Do you feel sad about anything in our relationship right now? 

 

Him: I can't think of anything to feel sad about. 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Janus DarkFox

A lot of communication is a start for me, there's some sexual stuff that's a completely repulsive, other sexual things are fine, 1 to 8 times a month is fine, unless ill or overstimulated, use of fetishes and fetish porn is fine.

 

Similar goes with romance, some things repulsive and off the table, light kissing is fine, some sensual touch is fine, cuddles is fine unless ill or overstimulated.

 

I just want to be in the same physical presence of the SO and that's about it at least a few times a month.  I know that can be less contact than actual friends, but that works for me.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
uhtred
On 10/28/2019 at 9:26 AM, Memento1 said:

I think the problem is asexuals already KNOW the benefit of sex in relationships.  That's why so many suffered silently for years, because all science and everyone around them said regular sex was an absolutely essential part of a happy, healthy relationship.  That it was literally impossible to have a healthy romantic relationship without it.  By the point where they're sick of doing it, being reminded of the benefits of sex just sounds like more pressure.  It reinforces guilt, which drives desire even further underground.  To use the pumpkin pie analogy, it's like the baker bringing up the health benefits of eating pumpkin.  It's perfectly valid, but it's not going to change your feelings about it.

 

This is hinting at the hullabaloo in the announcement forum: validating someone else's different experience feels so invalidating to your own.  And the feedback loop of increased invalidation is what destroys relationships.

I think there is a lot of variation. There are some asexuals who recognize the importance of sex to their partners, but do not have any desire for it themselves. There are others who dismiss their partners interest.    I've been married to someone who until recently was in the second category - for most of our marriage she thought that there was something "wrong" with me wanting sex "all the time"  (eg every week) 

 

Lots of possibilities for miscommunication. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
AceMissBehaving
58 minutes ago, uhtred said:

I think there is a lot of variation. There are some asexuals who recognize the importance of sex to their partners, but do not have any desire for it themselves. There are others who dismiss their partners interest.    I've been married to someone who until recently was in the second category - for most of our marriage she thought that there was something "wrong" with me wanting sex "all the time"  (eg every week) 

 

Lots of possibilities for miscommunication. 

I used to be in the second camp for years too. Until I figure out I was ace I assumed I was “normal” and thought it was cheeky as heck to suggest that I was the one who needed to change. Once I actually understood the situation I felt terrible about that.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
uhtred
1 hour ago, AceMissBehaving said:

I used to be in the second camp for years too. Until I figure out I was ace I assumed I was “normal” and thought it was cheeky as heck to suggest that I was the one who needed to change. Once I actually understood the situation I felt terrible about that.

No need to feel terrible - a lot of this information is just not easily available (fortunately that is changing).  Lacking other information I think its not surprising that most people believe that they are "typical", and that can lead to all sorts of resentment about a partners "unreasonable" requests. 

 

Of course in the end "typical" doesn't matter either. Only compatibility matters. 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
AceMissBehaving
6 minutes ago, uhtred said:

 

Of course in the end "typical" doesn't matter either. Only compatibility matters. 

 

Truth 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sinking_In
On 10/30/2019 at 3:05 PM, Davida said:

Me: Do you feel sad about anything in our relationship right now? 

 

Him: I can't think of anything to feel sad about. 

It's great that your husband has a new understanding, not just about the relationship, but also himself. Just be aware that his feelings can change, so don't take his current feelings for granted. Other than that, it sounds very positive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sinking_In
On 10/31/2019 at 10:13 AM, uhtred said:

most people believe that they are "typical", and that can lead to all sorts of resentment about a partners "unreasonable" requests. 

 

Of course in the end "typical" doesn't matter either. Only compatibility matters. 

^Agreed. Part of the "illusion" our relationship was under was due to my believing my own libido was atypical, unusually high, and that hers was more reasonable. After years of me curbing my own libido, and hers seemingly disappearing altogether, we started to see we are not sexually compatible. I thought we were at one point, when I pressured less, and she reciprocated more, but we decided the compromise wasn't sustainable due to our core differences. So far, we're doing fine with this new dynamic, but time tests everyone's mettle, so we shall see.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sinking_In
On 10/31/2019 at 8:15 AM, AceMissBehaving said:

Until I figure out I was ace I assumed I was “normal” and thought it was cheeky as heck to suggest that I was the one who needed to change. Once I actually understood the situation I felt terrible about that.

I believe my wife went through this, recently, as well. No need to feel badly, really, but it's likely she did, and why she thought opening the relationship was a viable solution.

 

So far, I've still not acted on it. Just knowing it's a possibly has been enough for me to find some peace. I'll also remain observant to make sure my newfound peace does not lead to her feeling anxiety.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
uhtred

Somehow the idea that people's natural libidos vary seems to not be widely understood.  It seems so obvious - but there is this deep believe that someone everyone is strongly sexually attracted to someone - OR - for people who don't experience sexual attraction, that its all made up by the media and *real* people don't want lots of sex. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sinking_In

@uhtred we're slowly lifting the veil on all of this, which is good. Both my wife and myself were definitely aware of differing libidos, long before meeting one another. We just didn't know about asexuality. I've known many folks with higher and lower libidos than my own, though I don't recall knowing anyone asexual, I'm certain there had to be. In comparison to my sexual friends, mine was probably slightly higher than the "average" of what I've known, and I assumed my wife's was lower than the "average". She, on the other hand, felt hers was "average", and that mine was "WAY ABOVE average". At least we acknowledged there is a difference early on, we just didn't know to what degree. You're right about the assumptions folks make, and how that leads to problems.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sinking_In

Update: I've had my first polyamory experience, and I dare to say it was really good, with the promise of something ongoing. She was aware of my situation beforehand, as was my wife. It has literally been decades since I've been with a lover like this. I didn't realize how much I had missed it to be honest. I mean, I wanted to have it with my wife so badly, but to actually get to experience it again was amazing. That said, I am keenly aware that there is a distinction between my relationships. Of course, people are human, and emotions can happen, but my wife is my north star. We shared so many intimate moments this weekend, and she even wanted to make love (it's all safe-sex from here on out, and under all circumstances), and no, it didn't feel like "hysterical bonding" at all (I had come across that term in my research). It's like we're falling in love all over again. Things have been so positive, and everyone around us is starting to notice. I'm hoping it all continues along this path for quite some time, but time will tell.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tunhope

Really pleased @Sinking_In Long may everyone's happiness continue.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
KiraS
On 11/4/2019 at 12:27 PM, uhtred said:

Somehow the idea that people's natural libidos vary seems to not be widely understood.  It seems so obvious - but there is this deep believe that someone everyone is strongly sexually attracted to someone - OR - for people who don't experience sexual attraction, that its all made up by the media and *real* people don't want lots of sex. 

I think a big issue that complicates this is that culturally there's a huge mess of mixed messages and a lack of consensus, even among sexual people, about the value of sex in a relationship. Especially post #metoo there's a lot of discussion about the power imbalances in heterosexual relationships, and is sex worth it for straight women when they routinely end up with the majority of the household labor, emotional labor, career consequences, and risk of abuse/neglect. Meanwhile, agony aunts and tabloids routinely sell coupling as an essential emotional need.

 

My point here is that sexual people have very different views regarding sexuality and often have difficulty negotiating sex with each other. And it's not just differences in libido that need to be negotiated, it's emotional safety, abuse experiences, medical concerns, and gender roles as well. As Tori Amos says, "So, you can make me cum/That doesn't make you Jesus." I've had so much great sex in bad relationships that celibacy really isn't a "compromise" anymore.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
uhtred
2 hours ago, KiraS said:

I think a big issue that complicates this is that culturally there's a huge mess of mixed messages and a lack of consensus, even among sexual people, about the value of sex in a relationship. Especially post #metoo there's a lot of discussion about the power imbalances in heterosexual relationships, and is sex worth it for straight women when they routinely end up with the majority of the household labor, emotional labor, career consequences, and risk of abuse/neglect. Meanwhile, agony aunts and tabloids routinely sell coupling as an essential emotional need.

 

My point here is that sexual people have very different views regarding sexuality and often have difficulty negotiating sex with each other. And it's not just differences in libido that need to be negotiated, it's emotional safety, abuse experiences, medical concerns, and gender roles as well. As Tori Amos says, "So, you can make me cum/That doesn't make you Jesus." I've had so much great sex in bad relationships that celibacy really isn't a "compromise" anymore.

I think a lot of confusion comes from people expecting consistent ideas across large group of people.  Even among sexuals the importance / meaning of sex varies wildly, so it only make sense to discuss what it means to one individual.

 

Then adding to the confusion, here is a lot of social pressure to, well lie about sex.  Its somehow considered bad to view sex as important, instead one is expected to talk about "true love", and romance etc.  

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
anisotrophic
2 hours ago, KiraS said:

is sex worth it for straight women when they routinely end up with the majority of the household labor, emotional labor, career consequences, and risk of abuse/neglect

#metoo provides its own oversimplifications. I shouldered much of this and didn't get happy sex out of it either (but at least I get a sex change?). There was a time this made me very bitter.

 

My partner is way more valuable to me than sex. But the sentiment "is sex worth it for women" would seem to erase the phenomenon of women who are sexually rejected by their male partners. Are you not merely providing a twist on the same old gendered narrative: that sexual access is a power women hold, and men seek? If a woman fails to attract others, to attract her partner, is she a failure?

 

I'm sure you wouldn't support that generalization either. Stereotypes continue to define men as pursuers, women as pursued, and that's an oversimplification I struggled with for many years. I'm happy with my exit strategy, but it's contributed to my alienation from being purely female.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
KiraS
7 minutes ago, anisotrophic said:

My partner is way more valuable to me than sex. But the sentiment "is sex worth it for women" would seem to erase the phenomenon of women who are sexually rejected by their male partners. Are you not merely providing a twist on the same old gendered narrative: that sexual access is a power women hold, and men seek? If a woman fails to attract others, to attract her partner, is she a failure?

Not at all. Because I'm not talking about holding or seeking sex. I'm talking about labor. Statistically speaking, women do more unpaid household and relationship work compared to their male partners. So a lot of women are not willing to commit to long-term relationships given the hidden economic and labor costs of those relationships. Especially women who have already experienced how that destroys relationships in the long run.

 

Whether you agree or disagree with that specific relationship labor vs. sex calculus is up to you. It's just an example of sexual people who are celibate, abstinent, or not actively seeking sexual relationships. My own calculus is radically different.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Whore*of*Mensa
2 hours ago, anisotrophic said:

#metoo provides its own oversimplifications. I shouldered much of this and didn't get happy sex out of it either

I think that what #metoo did was shatter the myth that all women are having 'happy sex'.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
KiraS

My somewhat crazy suggestion based on my own relationship experiences is that ace people and sexual people who are celibate/abstinent (there should be a word for this) may have common ground to be allies and possibly relationship partners. The running narrative that a mixed relationship necessarily involves a sexual partner who is deprived, pushy, or polyamorous relies on some broad generalizations.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...