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

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.

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

Fear Not and Do the Dishes

Read this first.

http://www.medicaldaily.com/more-chores-husband-does-more-likely-marriage-will-end-divorce-242815

I read this article because I instantly knew it would be a steaming pile of shit and that it would be a good example of how people misconstrue research. I was partially correct.

I studied sociology in college and so I have a passing familiarity with research and statistics, though by no means am I an expert.

However, I knew the headline alone was crap. It read, “The more chores a husband does, the more likely the marriage will end in divorce.” That is categorically wrong as it implies that one led to the other. There are quite a few studies similar to this where couples who believe in non-traditional roles will have lives that often follow non-traditional paths. In this instance, if a hetero couple doesn’t believe that females should do all of the house work then they are also less likely to view marriage as a vow that can never be altered or revoked and so can be more likely to view divorce as an option.

To the article’s credit they do mention this. That doesn’t make up for the headline or the leap they take next.

The authors say that this research contradicts other studies which talk about how men are happier when they share more of the home chores. How does this contradict? Because divorce is supposed to be unhappy or undesirable? Let’s keep in mind that sometimes divorce is both a desirable and happy occasion. Happily ever after can include divorce.

Still, let’s assume that divorces are horrible and that no one has ever been happy at the conclusion of one. What do we really gain by this? We’ve all likely been in relationships that have failed, but does that mean that we were unhappy all the way through? Of course not.

I can vouch from experience that when I didn’t pull my weight around the house I would feel bad about myself and the role I was playing. When I did step up and shoulder my share of the responsibility I felt so much happier about what I contributed to the relationship and how it removed a burden from my partner. The fulfillment I felt when helping was independent of whether my relationship continued or ended.

So in the end this article is the steaming pile of shit I had imagined it to be, but at least the authors caught a whiff of it before then passing it off as something of quality. Men; doing the dishes won’t lead to a divorce, but acting as if both people have a determination over the path their life takes just may. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

State of the Relationship Address: The saga begins

queer_house

I should have wrote this two months ago, because I can already feel myself shifting from this position, but this is where I was then.

—-+—-

Alright folks, gather round fer some truth tellin. So here’s what I know about my relationship situation so far.

I met my first wife when I was 17 years old. When that relationship ended I immediately (like next day immediately) started dating my second wife. Was that smart? Probably not, but you’re falling behind already so try and keep up. So, I’ve been in two concurrent relationships for the last 21 years which means that I only had sex with two people (perhaps shallow but relevant later). I’m now going through my second divorce and as far as break-ups go it’s one of the best. It would seriously go down in the record books for how well we get along and how we immediately moved into being friends.

I’m not afraid to be vulnerable again and in fact I’ve already put my heart in harm’s way a couple of times and I’m better for the experience. However, I have no desire to settle into anything similar to the type of relationship that I recently ended. Not yet. It would be too much too soon. Plus I’ve never really dated so I want to enjoy that experience for awhile.

So where does that leave me? Well, it means that for the moment I don’t want a monogamous relationship. Part of me feels that non-monogamy will be less serious. Not because it is necessarily so, there are some very serious open-relationships out there. However, there seems to be more non-monogamous people who are willing to accept casual as a viable choice. The other is that I want to experience sex in a multitude of forms and with more than one person for awhile. I settled down so fast that I was never able to explore. If it happens that I find myself with one person again I want to do so knowing that I was able to venture in my own way for awhile. I do have a few things to check off of my sex bucket list. (Sex Bucket! Coming to a store near you!) This means that I don’t expect my partners to be monogamous either. This little bit is pretty much all I know. Although, it’s not a bad start.

My unknowns are vast at this point. Mainly because I’ve never done this type of thing before and society doesn’t write the script for this relationship style. Quite the contrary it is generally frowned upon.

Among the many things that I wonder is how long should these relationships last? Sometimes I feel like it would be better to have shorter relationships in order to make sure I don’t enter into anything too serious before I’m ready, but I can’t reasonably guard against that without being unreasonable to my partners. “Sorry we have a really cool thing going, but it’s been 6 months so we have to stop.” I don’t want that to be my style either.

That brings up the question of whether my ultimate choice for a relationship will be one of monogamy or non-monogamy. The choices I’m making now could very much influence my future. I have to consider the chance that I’ll find one or two people so special that I want to try and live out the rest of my existence with them before I ever officially make a choice.

I don’t know if any of this really seems like a struggle to any of you, but all of this stuff is bouncing around in my head on a near daily basis. I’m trying to be open to all of the possibilities and not force anything, but it’s easier said than done.

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.

A Word On Marriage and Divorce

Marriage

I’ll just let this story speak for itself because no matter how much I wear a dress I can never fully appreciate what women have been taught about what a marriage proposal is supposed to mean. I did find the idea that a marriage is not an accomplishment thought provoking though.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/natalie-brooke/getting-married-is-not-an-accomplishment_b_9189828.html

 

Divorce

You should read this even if you’re happily involved with someone else. I wish I had this information earlier. This article basically talks about how divorce can be a positive thing and I totally agree. I love the idea of fighting for a marriage or a relationship, but not every battle ends as you would like.

For me my first marriage is most applicable to this article. I was chastised once by my first wife for considering divorce as one of all the possible outcomes for a relationship. She said I was preparing for divorce if I thought that. I developed a fear of bringing up ways that our relationship wasn’t functioning because of this.

To make a long story slightly less long, it’s pretty easy to see how a real or perceived inability to address relationship problems results in a non-functioning partnership, and so it was.

I went for maybe 4 or 5 years hoping that things would get better. They didn’t. One day I had an epiphany which let me see how bad things had become and I also realized that I couldn’t go on like this anymore. I was exhausted and done. Truly done. I had been trying so much by myself that I didn’t want to lift a finger for that relationship anymore. Perhaps that is horrible to say, but it was true. Once I was to that point of realization divorce was the only reasonable choice.

When I awoke the next morning after making my decision I felt so light and unencumbered. I knew divorce would turn my entire world upside down, and so it did, but it was also liberating (for both of us I imagine).

It’s for this reason that I can completely relate to what’s being said in the statements compiled in this article.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/whatever-you-do-dont-say-divorce-is-not-an-option_us_56b90119e4b01d80b24768f6?