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Sinking_In

How do YOU compromise in a mixed relationship?

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anisotrophic

@Sinking_In I was wondering if things feel closer or more loving with your spouse now.

 

I guess, reflecting or wondering if this has been a solution that's bringing you together, strengthening the relationship.

 

(I found falling for someone else drove me to be more affectionate with my partner, more concerned about his happiness... which seems counterintuitive, it was like... I was reminded of how much I love him too, more conscious of it.)

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ryn2
18 minutes ago, anisotrophic said:

I found falling for someone else drove me to be more affectionate with my partner, more concerned about his happiness... which seems counterintuitive, it was like... I was reminded of how much I love him too, more conscious of it.

That’s the core experience that separates being naturally polyamorous from naturally monoamorous... the experience of “the more love I give to one of my partners, the more love I have to give to the other(s).”

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anisotrophic
2 hours ago, ryn2 said:

That’s the core experience that separates being naturally polyamorous from naturally monoamorous... the experience of “the more love I give to one of my partners, the more love I have to give to the other(s).”

oof. I really didn't expect it. My spouse dated someone in a poly drama network, years ago, and honestly I spent 15+ years thinking poly people are nuts! 😅

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ryn2
7 minutes ago, anisotrophic said:

poly people are nuts!

That particular one could have been!  :)

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Sinking_In
On 1/18/2020 at 4:34 PM, anisotrophic said:

I spent 15+ years thinking poly people are nuts! 😅

I'd consider my situation to be nuts ;)

You're right, I've experienced the same thing; more affection on MY part with my spouse/ primary while engaged in another relationship. I've also experienced a decrease in affection, all around, when things with my lover ended. Both reactions definitely seem counterintuitive. I've tried to recognize my decreased interests and initiate more, but admittedly, it's somewhat forced, not necessarily disingenuous, though. Unfortunately, I am the ONLY one to initiate, physically, so it's entirely on me in that regard. I also have to take non-verbal cues from my wife, ie "I like this" or "I'm not feeling this right now", which takes more effort on my part as well. I probably got to the point where I was just always testing the waters, and when I got a negative cue, I backed off. I think my wife, for as annoyed as she was at the times she wasn't feeling it, liked the attention, nonetheless. I'm pretty much stuck in the "dating stage" of ALL of my relationships in that regard. For the pursued, that can be fun, but for the pursuer, it can be exhausting with little payoff if there is an end goal. One has to love the pursuit with no end in sight. My enjoyment of that comes and goes, which is where some issues arise. I get it, I recognize it, and I'm working on it.

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Sinking_In

Last week I had finally met with one of the women I've been in contact with online, one who is in an open/ polyamorous marriage. We had a nice conversation, and I think I'd like to continue a dialogue, but I cannot say there's any attraction there for me. I'm not completely ruling it out, but so far I'd like to keep this platonic. What I found curious was how nervous she appeared to be. She blamed it on the coffee, but she was trembling. I'm not sure what to make of that, if it's anything at all. There's another woman, farther away (though still within reasonable driving distance), but she seems to be unavailable for dating at this time. I'll just keep an open line of communication, and if one day she finds the time, we can go out. She also considers herself to be poly, though she is currently single. I'm starting to reach out to more women who are open to open relationships, though I'd be content with just one woman, I'm being pragmatic. Maybe I'm becoming an ethical slut? So far it's more work than fun, though. Not complaining, just being honest.

 

Nothing has changed with my marriage, good or bad. I still try to initiate PG rated PDA from time to time, but I don't do it too often, so as not to annoy her. I don't believe I have, and she hasn't said it's been too much or too little. We spent time as a family with some other families watching the Super Bowl. Great game, BTW, if you're a KC fan, not so much for SF fans ;) (I am neither, so I simply enjoyed the competition). My wife tends to be more affectionate in public, especially around other couples who are close. I suppose that's how she's reminded, getting social cues rather than cues from me, or herself for that matter. I find it interesting, almost cute, but certainly not annoying. I'll admit at times it makes me a little frustrated, but only long after the fact and when alone and getting no affectionate response. It's just who she is, and I'm accepting it.

 

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Sinking_In

It's been a while, but nothing much has changed. I've been trying to set up new dates, but so far it's been difficult to find times that work for both me and the few women I'm meeting online. I get a lot of initial interest, but that's about it. One woman tried to have lunch with me yesterday, but I couldn't make it (I was out of town). At least she is eager to meet me. Others, not so much. I'm sure being married is a big turn-off for many, though I do know it appeals to others. I had one woman who was excited to talk to me, only to become disappointed and bow out when she realized I was married. To be clear, I did state my open marriage situation on my profile, she just failed to notice/ read it, and she was taken aback when I brought it up in our first conversation. Oh well, I don't take it personally. I was flattered that she was so bummed out about it ;)  I just have to be patient. My ex-lover stays in contact with me, and things are genuinely looking up for her. I think she's in a much better place now. My own marriage is just moving along. Not much affection. I try, but she's luke-warm, so I dial it down. It more or less feels like we're just close friends. She wants to refinance and remodel the house. I think that would be great, but I also know that in another 5 years she'll tire of it, and she'll want to move or remodel, again ;) Either way, a little change right now is welcomed. I'll post again if anything interesting happens.

 

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KrysLost
On 2/28/2020 at 12:01 PM, Sinking_In said:

It's been a while, but nothing much has changed. I've been trying to set up new dates, but so far it's been difficult to find times that work for both me and the few women I'm meeting online. I get a lot of initial interest, but that's about it. One woman tried to have lunch with me yesterday, but I couldn't make it (I was out of town). At least she is eager to meet me. Others, not so much. I'm sure being married is a big turn-off for many, though I do know it appeals to others. I had one woman who was excited to talk to me, only to become disappointed and bow out when she realized I was married. To be clear, I did state my open marriage situation on my profile, she just failed to notice/ read it, and she was taken aback when I brought it up in our first conversation. Oh well, I don't take it personally. I was flattered that she was so bummed out about it ;)  I just have to be patient. My ex-lover stays in contact with me, and things are genuinely looking up for her. I think she's in a much better place now. My own marriage is just moving along. Not much affection. I try, but she's luke-warm, so I dial it down. It more or less feels like we're just close friends. She wants to refinance and remodel the house. I think that would be great, but I also know that in another 5 years she'll tire of it, and she'll want to move or remodel, again ;) Either way, a little change right now is welcomed. I'll post again if anything interesting happens.

 

Following your life sure on this thread has been interesting for sure. Glad things are working out for you. Maybe a positive friendship with the ex-lover might be better and healthier for both of you. Sometimes a genuine friendship is what people need.

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anisotrophic
On 2/28/2020 at 10:01 AM, Sinking_In said:

My own marriage is just moving along. Not much affection. I try, but she's luke-warm, so I dial it down. It more or less feels like we're just close friends.

It makes me wonder about the ways sexuality and romantic interaction are often deeply entangled, and to what extent asexuality when combined with "giving up on sex" marks a relationship as being a nonromantic one as well with mixed couples.

 

(That is to say, asexuals with romantic needs may be more likely to be interested in some form of "compromise" with sexual partners, knowing that it had this importance for their sexual partner.)

 

I think there's nothing wrong with a relationship that is more like friendship, without romantic affection, provided both partners are happy with it. Have you had explicit conversations about romantic intimacy and affection, separate to sex?

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Sinking_In
5 hours ago, anisotrophic said:

Have you had explicit conversations about romantic intimacy and affection, separate to sex?

We have, but my wife isn't limited to intimacy and affection when it comes to love, so while she values those things more than sex, itself, they also don't hold much value to her. She just prefers them to sex. 

 

I wouldn't label our relationship as "non-romantic", it's just "non-sexual". For her, just having a good conversation is "romantic", or having date night, or simply doing something thoughtful. These are also "romantic" things to me, really, and are not necessarily connected to my sexuality or desires. I think many or most people feel more inclined to be romantic when sex is involved, either before, during or after said romantic gestures and sexual encounters. I've heard/ read some asexual people say this is what makes them uncomfortable with romantic gestures, altogether. I believe my wife enjoys romantic gestures more now that sex is no longer part of the equation. I'm still saddened that we may never have sex, again. I have always found my wife to be very attractive, and I think I'm finally allowing myself to mourn the death of our sexual relationship in a healthier way. My frustrations are now redirected, so all in all, our relationship is better, overall.

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anisotrophic
4 minutes ago, Sinking_In said:

I wouldn't label our relationship as "non-romantic", it's just "non-sexual". For her, just having a good conversation is "romantic", or having date night, or simply doing something thoughtful. These are also "romantic" things to me, really, and are not necessarily connected to my sexuality or desires.

But you wrote,

 

On 2/28/2020 at 10:01 AM, Sinking_In said:

It more or less feels like we're just close friends.

Sorry I'm confused by this. But now I'm left wondering "which is it? What about this is romantic and not just close friends?"

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Sinking_In
20 minutes ago, anisotrophic said:

Sorry I'm confused by this. But now I'm left wondering "which is it? What about this is romantic and not just close friends?"

To be clear, I do "romantic" things for my close friends, too ;) Though I was feeling a little 'meh' that day, and "just close friends" probably comes across as negative. I was thinking in terms of physical affection we simply feel like close friends.

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Traveler40

So, my definition of “romantic” is wholly different. Good conversation with my lover isn’t necessarily romantic. Going out isn’t either. Kindness, thoughtfulness and general compatibility can be had between friends surely, but none of that equates to what I would call romance.
 

Romance is something experienced between lovers traditionally.  Those acts (typically touches, looks, gestures, bodily and emotional connection) is what separates friends and lovers. 
 

Do you simply define romance as thoughtful acts or time spent together?!? 

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ryn2
17 minutes ago, Traveler40 said:

Do you simply define romance as thoughtful acts or time spent together

To me the distinction is how I feel about the other person.  If I am romantically in love with someone, the same things that might feel “friendly” with a friend feel romantic when done with/for my special person.

 

E.g., dinner at a great restaurant (to me) is a completely different experience with a romantic partner, a friend, or a business contact.

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Sinking_In

Perhaps I'm "romantic fluid"? What I described is how my wife feels love, and to me being romantic is simply making an expression of love. Some folks find different things to be romantic. Where one might think candles and rose petals are romantic, another might find a barbecue on the river to be romantic. Whenever I do anything for someone that makes them feel loved, that is ultimately romantic for me. When we both get love out of it, feel touched by it, to me that's romantic, but I can see how one wouldn't define those things done with friends as "romantic". Probably not the best word to use in that regard, but to this there are varying degrees, for me, anyway, and so I can do "romantic" things for friends, and I can do them for lovers, but ultimately I get the same feeling from it, just at varying degrees of joy.

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Traveler40

Well, hmmm. When we here on AVEN take a turn into definition hell, I never know what to do with it. You were one of the last ones I expected it from. Just goes to show you never know! 😂

 

There is a major upside here: Based on your description, there must be a whole lot of romance going on over there! Win - win! 🙌🏻

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Memento1
8 hours ago, Sinking_In said:

I've heard/ read some asexual people say this is what makes them uncomfortable with romantic gestures, altogether.

Oh, I can relate to this.  I don't like guys doing "chivalrous" actions like opening a door or pulling out a chair or even paying for dinner.  I know it's not meant this way, but it always feels a bit like payment for sex.  Like, unless they would do that for a friend, it's trying to put me in their debt.  As I said, I'm sure it's not meant that way, but it does enter my mind and I can't get it to leave.

 

Frankly, I see friendship and non-sexual romance as gradations of the same thing.  It's all brain chemicals, in different amounts.  Oxytocin, the social bonding hormone released during sex, is the same hormone released during childbirth and nursing.  The same hormone is released in smaller amounts with normal friendly bonding activities.  Lust is associated with testosterone and estrogen, and the giddy, obsessive love of the honeymoon phase is linked to dopamine, norepinephrin, ACTH, adrenaline, and serotonin.  Here's a fascinating article on all that: https://sexinfo.soc.ucsb.edu/article/neurobiology-romantic-love

 

For even sexual couples who have been married for a long time and lost the sense of "romance", therapist advice is usually about adding excitement, intimacy, and novelty - to raise those dopamine and adrenaline levels associated with the giddy, romantic phase.

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ryn2

I don’t think it’s definition hell.  It’s about how people express romantic love and how they receive romantic love, and that gets to the whole “love languages” thing.  The means to that end is not the same for everyone.

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CBC

I think I'm somewhere in the middle on this. Good conversation, going out, whatever, aren't inherently romantic just by themselves, and if I engage in those things with a platonic friend, of course I'm not going to suddenly develop romantic feelings for them (though I may certainly feel more bonded). But if it's with someone for whom I already have feelings, chances are a meaningful, engaging discussion or a day/evening spent out somewhere enjoying ourselves will make me feel closer to them and that closeness will likely translate to increasing the sense of romantic connection. Hell, I've had a partner sit with me while I cried from stress/exhaustion and another time hang out with me throughout a bad panic attack... and those sure aren't romantic activities, nor am I going to want to make out in the middle of such happenings, but I can tell you that the love and support and kindness and physical touch as simple as a hand resting on my arm certainly increased the closeness and connection. It was emotional bonding, and since it was with someone for whom my romantic feelings were already established, it increased them. Those actions themselves may not feel like the ultimate expression of the existing connection -- that's what sex is for -- but they're still vital in allowing it to grow. And honestly even right in the midst of those very specific and otherwise distressing circumstances, I felt some element of romance. So if allowing someone to quietly comfort me when I'm stressed or panicky elicits that response in my brain, certainly something like a great conversation or attending a concert together will. But the "ultimate expression" of that bond is still sex for me.

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ryn2
49 minutes ago, CBC said:

Good conversation, going out, whatever, aren't inherently romantic just by themselves, and if I engage in those things with a platonic friend, of course I'm not going to suddenly develop romantic feelings for them (though I may certainly feel more bonded). But if it's with someone for whom I already have feelings, chances are a meaningful, engaging discussion or a day/evening spent out somewhere enjoying ourselves will make me feel closer to them and that closeness will likely translate to increasing the sense of romantic connection. Hell, I've had a partner sit with me while I cried from stress/exhaustion and another time hang out with me throughout a bad panic attack... and those sure aren't romantic activities, nor am I going to want to make out in the middle of such happenings, but I can tell you that the love and support and kindness and physical touch as simple as a hand resting on my arm certainly increased the closeness and connection. It was emotional bonding, and since it was with someone for whom my romantic feelings were already established, it increased them.

*nods* this is basically what I was trying to say.

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Traveler40

Oh Ceebs, what a fine line you do try to walk here. At its core, are you really describing romance? What’s a better word? I challenge you.


Yes, here on AVEN picking apart the meaning of a word and conflating the generally accepted understanding is a happy pastime. I’ve seen it more times than I can count.

 

Come on folks, there has got to be a better term for this round peg being shoved into the square hole.  Sure, you’re describing close and dear moments between people. However, when it’s not between lovers, most would not use the word “romance”. 

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Expedition

'Intimacy' in its slightly archaic sense would do.

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Traveler40
2 minutes ago, Expedition said:

'Intimacy' in its slightly archaic sense would do.

That’s what I would go with time and again...

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CBC

Well I'm describing something that fosters romantic connection for me, but fair enough. Yeah, 'intimacy' works. The connected emotions are different than the ones elicited by sharing exactly the same experiences with someone like a friend or family member though, which is why these activities can feel romantic. But point taken.

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ryn2
Just now, CBC said:

The connected emotions are different than the ones elicited by sharing exactly the same experiences with someone like a friend or family member, though.

This.  The broader context is what makes it romantic (or not).

 

Agreed that for many people this sense of intimacy and connection primarily happens with someone they connect with sexually, but it’s not 1:1.  People who do not express or receive love through sexual activities - regardless of whether they are sexual or ace, and even when they enjoy sex with one another - need their own preferred means of love communication to feel loved.

 

A romantic gesture is how(ever) you tell your partner(s) you’re in love with them, or how they tell you the same.

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Expedition

louis-armstrong-musician-if-you-have-to-

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Sinking_In

Agreed: intimacy > romance in what we're describing here.

 

@Traveler40 I really DO feel the love, though! Oddly enough, in the past year, two of manliest of men I know have told me they love me. I guess I just have that effect on people, and it might be due to my romantic/ intimate gestures ;) I've had to reassess, readjust and redefine much in my life knowing what I know now about my wife, and now welcoming new loves into my life. I'm allowing more intimacy in my life, and I'm opening up a lot :D 

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CBC
6 minutes ago, Sinking_In said:

two of manliest of men I know have told me they love me.

That's pretty impressive haha. A number of years ago I started keeping a small mental list of people I wish I had the nerve to say it to, although I suspect I may never reach that point. I don't know if that's just kind of... fine, whatever... or if it's actually sort of sad that I feel weird expressing it. People like to be cared about, right? Does it have to be such a big deal? But it's still so... eek.

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anisotrophic
11 hours ago, Memento1 said:

Frankly, I see friendship and non-sexual romance as gradations of the same thing.  It's all brain chemicals, in different amounts.  Oxytocin, the social bonding hormone released during sex, is the same hormone released during childbirth and nursing.  The same hormone is released in smaller amounts with normal friendly bonding activities. 

I tend to agree with this & see it this way, and I think there's research/thinking around descriptions of "love" that align with this as well, e.g. Dorothy Tennov's model for limerence vs. long term "loving affection" — (quote) "Those whose limerence was replaced by affectional bonding with the same partner might say ... 'We were very much in love when we married; today we love each other very much.'" Also, "storgic love" in Alan Lee's color wheel theory, or "companionate love" in Robert Sternberg's triangle theory.

When people ask what distinguishes "romantic attraction" from "platonic" in the absence of sexual attraction, I tend to think of it as "limerence minus the sexual interest". And also note that, in the long run, limerence fades & is (hopefully) replaced with philia/storgic/companionate love. The "neurobiology of love" article @Memento1 referenced suggests the "honeymoon phase" lasts months, but Tennov's model was more like ~3 years for limerent love (but could vary from weeks to decades).

If that's all true, in a long term relationship, sex becomes a unique distinction – otherwise, it is like one's love for family and friends. We might add to "sex" also "physical intimacy between adults" as well as uniquely distinctive; I don't know to what extent that's cultural. (Well I suppose sex is also cultural.) Without those things… yeah, for me it's hard to know what "romance" means in a long term relationship. Maybe, as @Memento1 suggests, rekindling those limerent feelings (which is totally possible, and can happen with a date, remembering why you fell in love, etc.).

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Sinking_In

@CBC to be fair, alcohol may have been involved the first few times those guys said it, but once comfortable with saying it, they still tell me they love me, even when sober ;) 

I used to fear love, mainly because I didn't want anyone to get hurt, not me or the other person. I no longer fear love. I know myself better now, and I know I can be more gentle with it. If I say it, or someone else says it to me, it just makes me happy, now.

But I also understand that everyone takes "I love you" differently, and it does scare some people, for any myriad of reasons. For those you may have wished you said it to, I suppose had you felt strongly enough about it, or had you felt comfortable enough with them to accept it, you would have said it. Sometimes it being unspoken can be just as profound. I've had friends who couldn't say "I love you", specifically, but we had our own way of saying it. I had a GF, once, who we would just look at one another and say, "you know", and the other would reply "I know", and we knew what that meant. Point is, even if you never said it, out loud, they probably knew, or at least had a pretty good idea that you loved them, especially if you performed any "romantic" gestures for them.

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