Are You heading Towards A Sexless Relationship?

I think this is one of the things that, at least in America, doesn’t get talked about enough. Tons of people have struggled with the frequency of sex in a relationship and many of those have gone on to feel like they are merely a roommate to their significant other.

I can say that I am one of those people and while it was occurring I didn’t really speak to anyone about it. Like one of the scenarios mentioned in this article I eventually didn’t have any desire to have sex at all; my body just wasn’t producing those hormones anymore. While it wasn’t the biggest reason for the end of that relationship it was certainly a factor.

So know that others have been through this as well. You’re not alone and if your relationship hasn’t ended maybe there’s something you can do about it.

7 Signs You’re On Your Way To A Sexless Marriage

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This is Your Brain on Drugs

In his TED Talk entitled, “Relationships Are Hard, But Why?” Stan Tatkin takes an approach you may not have considered previously. Relationship difficulties are largely because of how our brains function. That and because we’re wrong pretty much all of the time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xKXLPuju8U

So learn how to help cope with that crazy shit you think by starting with his speech. It’s helped me immensely.

Your Relationship Probably Ended for One of Two Reasons

This article is brilliant.

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2016/10/the-2-most-common-reasons-why-people-get-divorced/

The essence of it is that most relationships end:

Because one person gets empowered and outgrows their often stuck partner.

or

Because one person was unable or unwilling to work through the baggage that their partner is triggering in them.

I’ve experienced both of these. How about you?

A Tale of Three Loves: Personal time and relationships

When I was dating the woman who would become my first wife. Initially, I wanted to spend every moment with her that was possible. However, early on (like the first week of us dating) she established Friday nights as the night we would spend with friends. That was a big deal because at the time it established one of the three nights we had available to us for her own interests. After spending the first few nights at home alone hoping she would somehow change her mind, I got my ass out of the house and started making plans with my friends. I realized that Friday night was for my interests as well. That independence was one of the best gifts she could have given me. It allowed me to avoid being one of those people who shed all of their friends as soon as they had a significant other and it caused me to define myself outside of another person.

This led me to develop cycling as a hobby. I established new friends statewide, started racing with some success, co-founded and ran my own race team and helped build and maintain the first mountain bike trail system in a neighboring county. I was one of the people who actually contributed to the growth of the sport. These were good times.

Flash forward a bit (18 years) and I was going through a divorce from my first wife and had started dating my second wife. I was in the best shape of my life and had just completed my first race of the year. It was my best finish ever which was an excellent way to start the year. It was also my last race for almost three years which not coincidentally was nearly the length of my second relationship.

You see my new love expected more of my time than I was used to. While I didn’t mind the idea of spending more time with her I didn’t like that it had to be at the expense of my other interests and even who I was. She leveraged her idea by saying, “This is what couples do. You didn’t spend time together in your last relationship because you two had problems.”

It sounded legit and as it pertains to the tail end of my first marriage it was correct. However, for the first 13 years or so having our own time and space worked remarkably well. Time apart wasn’t what ended my first marriage, but I didn’t really connect those dots at the time. I desperately wanted to please this new person. There was also a practical aspect to the situation. I was using every dime to pay off my debts from my first marriage and racing is an expensive proposition. The money I saved could be put to good use paying bills.

So, I stopped racing, only did trail building a couple of times, gave the remaining interest in my race team to my friends and pretty much just checked out. By this time I was living in a new city which further isolated me from my main source of pleasure and friendship.

Then I moved again, this time 1000 miles away. I played hermit my first year and didn’t make a single friend. When I tried to carve out time for cycling or photography I was made to feel guilty about using some of my time off to do this if she also had the day free. I became completely beholden to her schedule and could only feel good about going out if she was also out. I don’t think either of us were really conscious of this dynamic as it was occurring. She was just speaking to her needs and I was trying to meet those. In reality, I’m sure both of us were acting on our insecurities.

However, I eventually realized that this wasn’t working for me. I started to change the dynamic by saying I wanted more personal time to explore my interests. It took a number of conversations, but eventually we agreed and I did go out. I started working on my photography and throwing a leg over the top tube of my bike again and it was wonderful. It was just like old times and I was having a blast. I felt like I had a small part of the real me back again.

About six months later my second marriage was over. I don’t really think that my newly established independence was the cause of it. If anything, my willingness to give up my time and her desire to garner the majority of my attention was likely the symptom of a deeper flaw. We were just trying to bandage it with being together, both being afraid of what would happen when we weren’t.

Now that I have some distance from that scenario though I can see the mistakes I made. I used to be self-made and independent. I was ashamed of that needy insecure person I was at 17. All it took to reverse my fortune was a new relationship. It renewed my insecurities about a partner’s fidelity which most likely hinges on my perception of self-worth. Even though I didn’t want to relinquish my personal space I let my fears dictate my actions. I gave up the balance that made me who I was. The conversation, and subsequent compromise, should have happened much earlier in the relationship. Maybe I couldn’t afford to race, but just going out to ride or do trail work takes little money.

There’s a practical aspect to this as well. When you give the itinerary of your life over to another person and that relationship ends then you are essentially left with nothing; a place where your life should have been, but isn’t. You are more than just your partner and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s wonderfully healthy.

I read stories about parents who balance work and home life so that they can each go out and go for a run, bike ride or to hang with their friends and I appreciate that. It’s something I need to learn more about and definitely something I have trouble with in a new relationship. When everything is fresh in a relationship and comfort and trust have yet to be established my insecurities can kick in when I’m apart from someone. It’s one of my weaknesses to overcome.

I know that I’m happier with time set aside for myself. I just need to make myself strike that balance until I’m finally comfortable with it. That’s going to take time and tackling a few of my demons (again). To that end, someone bring me a tall glass of beer and a cute priest.

Changing Your Last Impression

I’m not sure the reason but people often talk to me about relationship problems they’re having. Maybe it’s because I seem to be open and accepting, that I readily share my experiences with them or that I rock jean shorts.

Regardless, one of the problems I’ve been hearing from people as of late deals with their concern over the last impression that a former partner has. Usually this is expressed as something along the lines of “I can’t make my ex believe the reason that I left them. How can I get  them to understand?”

Usually I inquire about the nature of their relationship, the reason for them leaving and what their former partner thinks about the situation. While this can be useful information and I may be able to offer my suggestion for approaching the situation differently I always put emphasis on this one huge fact; you probably can’t.

I can hear you saying, “Wait isn’t he supposed to offer a solution?” The answer is yes, I am supposed to give you something to help you along, though it may not technically be a solution. Also, quit judging me already for fucks sake!

There are two big reasons that immediately come to mind that may cause someone not to believe you.

The first one is going to be a toughy because let’s be honest; you could be lying. I know you didn’t come here to get berated, but we’ve all had that person whose breakup reason was just a line of bullshit. For instance, the woman who told me that a 20 minute drive to see me was an obstacle was a bullshit reason. On the other hand, the girl that broke up with me in grade school because I threw rocks at her and her friend was completely legitimate (to be fair they started it – I think). So lies happen in relationships and let’s face it you could be that person. Are you really being honest about your motivations?

For the record, a break up is the perfect time to be completely honest. Just make sure to be kind in the process. Honesty is not an excuse to be mean. If you want the person to believe you though be as transparent and honest as possible. Forget about saving face and be prepared to admit a few things you did wrong (or that they felt you did wrong). Say you’re sorry for what was a mistake, but don’t apologize for your emotions or make them apologize for the way they feel.

Admitting these things and fessing up may be what it takes to earn your former partners trust. I’ve found that honesty is an amazing thing.

So assuming you have already been completely honest and your ex doesn’t believe you it’s important to remember another thing. The person you are petitioning may have their own reasons for not believing you.

They may be protecting their ego, guarding against more hurt or dealing with a myriad of insecurities. You can’t help them (or you as the case may be) on this front. You’re just going to have to lay out your case as truthfully as possible, hope for the best, and then go your own way.

They may eventually put some weight behind what you’ve said and believe you. Sometimes, people need time to process everything and gain some distance before they can even start to consider the merits of another person’s reasoning.

On the other hand, they might always feel like you lied to them. There’s not much you can do. Just as you want them to accept what you say, you may have to accept their explanation and move on. It’s shitty, but true.

Well, that’s pretty much all I can think to say on the subject (abrupt ending anyone). It’s not rocket science of course, but I never promised you the world cupcake. Sometimes though, it’s nice to read someone else’s thoughts just to get the wheels turning. To that end: I hope you enjoyed.

Sometimes Love Isn’t Enough: State of the Relationship Address 3

queer_house

 

I just had a two month relationship end and I’m heartbroken.

I never thought this would happen to me; that I would be so in love with someone and them with me but that ending the relationship would be the best way forward for me. It’s kind of like a movie where there are irreconcilable forces at work which drive two lovers apart. Except at the end of my story there’s no metamorphosis which causes one or both people to change, making them get back together and live happily ever after. Real change is hard, sometimes it never happens. Reality can be shitty like that.

A general statement of why we separated would be that our relationship consisted of a continuous cycle of highs and lows. The highs were amazing and those moments led me to believe that we would have a wonderful future together. The lows on the other hand were unbearable to the both of us, but in very different ways.

This high-low cycle would repeat itself every 4-7 days and I struggled emotionally and intellectually trying to cope with the varying circumstances and the different treatment I would receive with each mood. I tried to handle it, but I couldn’t.

Instead I started to break. One moment I felt like I was allowed to be happy and the next I wasn’t. I felt like my every move was being acted out under surveillance, my every word transcribed and analyzed to be used against me. I started to doubt my own experiences and my thoughts. I lost who I was as a person and I felt like I was sinking. One day I realized that the happiness that took me two years to build was gone. I knew I had to stop the cycle while there was still enough of me left to do so.

And yet, I love her. Does that sound weird? Fucked-up even? It no doubt reads that way and yet if you’ve been in a similar situation you’ll probably understand. In fact, maybe that’s the only way to really comprehend it all. You see, it’s not that she wanted to do any of those things to me or make me feel that way. Rather, she was gripped by fear and insecurity which led to our ruin. The effects it had on her were no picnic either I’m sure. No . . . we didn’t mean for it to go down like that, but it happened nonetheless.

It’s hard for me to go through this knowing that we could likely still be together if I wanted to (or so it was at one time). I miss so many things about her. I miss the way things seemed natural and easy with us in a way I had never experienced before. I miss her caressing my body as if she were worshiping me. She had the darkest brown eyes I had ever seen. So wonderfully dark and glossy that it was near impossible to tell where her pupil stopped and her iris began. I’ll never get to gaze deeply into them again or kiss the spot where her nose meets her forehead. I’ll miss all those funny expressions she made when we were goofing around and the way she jokingly said she “was very serious.” I miss the life we had begun to lay out together and the feeling that it had the very real potential of being the best relationship I ever had. I will miss so much more of her than anyone else will ever know.

Yeah . . . this really fucking sucks. I want to go back and tell her I’m sorry, I made a mistake, we can start over again and that I love her. Only two of those things would be true. She tells me I gave up on her and maybe I did, but it was to save myself. It wasn’t a mistake (I wish it was) and I can’t go back no matter how much I want to.

As of this writing, it will be a week since we went our separate ways. This is also the day that I’ve hurt the most.

Between the pouring of tears (of which there were many writing this) there are a few glimmers of hope. Every now and then I find that my happiness is reemerging. I’ve also started to work on my dating profile. I have no immediate desire to start dating again, right now dating feels like doing a disservice to what we had, but the fact that I can see a future where that can happen is a promising sign for down the road. The profile is just a small step among many.

For now, I’m healing through hurting in that cathartic way that only pain can sometimes do. While I know that this will eventually pass, I also know that this is something I must experience. It’s where my head and my heart currently reside and that’s okay.

 

A postscript to my former lover: If you read this I hope you know that I love you very much and that I’m extremely grateful for all the wonderful moments we shared. I’ll never forget our time and what you meant to me. With all my heart, I thank you.

Men and the Culture We Create

In talking to women I’ve been able to notice a few common threads when it comes to their dealings with men. One in particular has troubled me from the moment I realized the implication.

Usually we’re talking about dating and the horrible behavior that people bring into that sphere of interaction. Too often women tell me things men have said to them or done to them that were truly abysmal and then passed it off as being normal.

While I am appalled by the behavior of the men, I’m equally if not even more horrified by the culture we have created in which this behavior is deemed normal or expected and goes unchallenged. Whether it be guys that feel entitled to grope women or the actual site of women walking with their keys in their hand ready to use it as a weapon against men, we have created a environment where toxic masculinity is just thought of as normal. This social construct disturbs me to my very core.

This article and the author’s experiences brought the horrors of guy culture to the forefront of my mind.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/what-i-wish-men-knew-about-that-creepy-guy-at-starbucks_us_572b6ddde4b016f37894e05d?

Divorce at 20

I divorced in my mid-thirties, oh and again in my late-thirties, so I can only relate to a smattering of what is said here. However, I can fully understand how the twenty-something demographic is overlooked as it pertains to divorce. If you’re going through divorce I think there is something here for you regardless of your age.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/philippa-moore/getting-divorced-in-my-20s-made-me-a-better-person_b_9360484.html?utm_hp_ref=divorce&ir=Divorce

Dating Will Break You

I was going to write something about how I’m in love with dating. I’m sure I still will pen that article, but I wanted to take a very brief moment to share something else. Something almost the opposite of that. It’s not edited or poetic. It just is.

At times dating will break you. I had a date tonight that was pretty good, but at the end of it she said, “I’m not romantically attracted to you.” I was fine with this, thanked her for the honesty and said good night. Later at home it hit me like a ton of bricks.

I want to be with someone in a meaningful way and it seems like I’m so far away from this. I want to have someone to love and I want to be loved. It’s such a simple thing but yet so hard to achieve.

Tomorrow, I’ll dust myself off and jump back in with both feet. I’ll eventually find someone that will have made the struggle worth it.

For now though, I’m going to cry and that’s okay too.

Does Polyamory Make Sense for Me?

I wondered what to do with this writing. It provides a snapshot into one particular time of my polyamorous relationship. I figure that there might be other people going through this same situation and maybe they can glean something from it. I can’t say whether that will be a positive thing or a negative, but then maybe that is precisely the value of this story; it’s interpretation can be left to you the reader.

I used to find a lot of stories from the polyamorous trenches, but they always touted the value of being poly. Rarely did I encounter one that laid bare the doubts someone was experiencing as they experienced them. There was always an undercurrent in the culture that made it feel like if someone was expressing doubts then they hadn’t conquered enough of their demons yet. Those people were doing poly wrong. I call bullshit on that.

What I do know is that if this helps you in your poly relationship then run with it my non-conventional brothers and sisters. If it makes you decide that polyamory isn’t for you then so be it. I really don’t care which way it moves you, just that you do whatever is right for you.

I wrote this seven months into our polyamorous arrangement and two months before my wife and I decided to get a divorce. While my marriage didn’t work, keep in mind this is not a necessary blueprint for every couple deciding to venture down the same path. Your results will vary.

In retrospect, I was right to have my doubts, but I had placed too much faith in my wife’s proclamation of polyamorous happiness. In reality, she was happy because she had found someone else she liked better. As it turns out, she’s now in a monogamous relationship with the guy she was seeing while we were married. Her thoughts on this are that she thinks she wanted a polyamorous relationship because something was missing. It’s hard to argue otherwise given the results.

I don’t hold any ill will for those involved. In fact, I wish her and her partner the best of luck. I hope she’s found the one this time. My entire relationship with her was a grand experiment and we knew that from the start. I would do it all again (maybe sans marriage) because it was one of the most beautiful times in my life. I was able to spend three glorious years with someone I loved dearly and I learned so much about myself in the process. That’s a definite win in my book.

So given all of that, here is what I wrote one night on my phone when I couldn’t sleep:

Polyamory makes so much sense and gives a viable alternative to the dominant culture out there. I love polyamory on an intellectual level, practically speaking I’m not so sure.

Truth be told I’m in a polyamorous relationship even though I’m only seeing one person. The thing is my wife has another partner which I have been intellectually supportive of and yet I’m having some emotional trouble with simultaneously.

My conundrum lies with the fact that I’m not sure if this is what I want. It’s possible that I could meet somebody and fall in love with them at the same time that I love my wife. It sounds great except that it hasn’t happened for me yet. Plus, I don’t know if I really want this to happen with my partner and yet it has.

My finding someone isn’t for a lack of trying. I’ve been on dates with men and women but either I haven’t wanted to continue or they haven’t. In the situations where they ended it I was hurt and yes I cried. I didn’t shed tears over the person, I wasn’t super into any of them anyway, but rather the idea that I won’t be able to find someone at all. Moreover that I will always be caught out in a situation where my wife is happily partnered with another, but I won’t be. Right now my present and seeming future with polyamory has been to be the one sacrificing while receiving none of the positive things that I was hopeful would come with it.

Is there something that makes me undateable aside from the fact that I’m a middle age man who is married?

What if I can’t connect to someone because I’m not wired that way? What if I only want to love one person and for that person to be devoted to me? I don’t know if these are really statements of how things are. I can say that they are legitimate fears of mine because if these concerns are true then I have no reason to doubt that I would be happiest in a monogamous relationship.

Meanwhile, my wife says she’s never been happier and while I know that means it’s because she’s getting to express an aspect of her personality through polyamory that had long been silent, it’s still hurtful. It signifies that for everything great and wonderful we had, that it wasn’t as good as having her other partner as well. It makes me wonder if I’m not enough and if I ever was.

We always used to say that if we had to stop dating tomorrow that we could go back to having just each other and be perfectly happy. We didn’t know it then but that was a lie. Certain things have become clearer as we’ve moved along.

The first is that you can’t just stop loving another person. I can’t ask my wife to stop seeing her other partner, it wouldn’t be fair to him or to her. Her relationship with him happened under all of our watches and I knew going into this that there was no going back. My wife loves without abandon and she falls hard and fast for someone. It’s one of the reasons that polyamory suits her so well. On top of that she’s wonderfully intelligent, emotionally aware and a truly beautiful person inside and out. It was only a short matter of time before she found someone who would want to be with her and share in that. I also knew that they would both be in love in very short order. That’s how it happened to me after all.

We don’t practice hierarchical polyamory. So we try and keep everyone’s relationship on the same level as much as possible. Just as her partner couldn’t rightfully ask her to stop loving me, I can’t ask her to stop loving or seeing him. The genie is already out of the bottle, consequences be damned.

The second thing is that she couldn’t be happy with just me. Not really, not anymore. I can tell something has changed. It would be like a gay person trying to go back in the closet after feeling the liberation of being out. She is polyamorous and that’s that. Even if I could stop her, presuming I wanted to, she would always harbor a resentment for me and a longing for that aspect of her life back. I would be the reason for her misery and I love her too much for that.

No, polyamory is here to stay. That much I have to accept.

This brings me around again to my central thesis which is what am I? Polyamorous? Monogamous?

Sometimes I catch myself wanting to pull away. I have thoughts about how it might occur that I can’t take it anymore. Sometimes those thoughts culminate in me leaving. Other times, I just imagine how I will break down and wonder if I can ever recover again. Is this purely an emotional response or a way of my mind telling me that it can’t operate this way? Culture certainly hasn’t groomed me to accept polyamory. Does knowing that my partner has another person keep me from loving her as much as I could?

I don’t have any clue. For now all I have are haunting questions that I’m not sure I really want answered just yet.