DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I am in my late twenties, and am in a long-term relationship with my first serious boyfriend, “D”. I grew up in a very conservative religious environment, so I was delayed when it came to dating/sex and have experienced a lot of sexual shame. While I had a few very short-lived and not very enjoyable sexual encounters before meeting D, he was the one who “took my virginity” (I hate that phrase but it’s most accurate I guess); I love him and I find our relationship very fulfilling.
I think it’s because of the unconditional love and support that he’s offered me that I was finally able to explore my sexuality, think critically about it, and finally accept that I am a bisexual woman. Unfortunately, being in a monogamous m/f relationship essentially makes this realization moot. When I told D that I am bisexual he was very supportive and said that if I needed to go out and kiss a woman to explore that side of my sexuality, he was okay with it, and I immediately rejected the offer, not wanting to jeopardize the relationship.
The issue is, now I wish I had taken him up on his offer; I love him so much and if I had to choose between exploring my sexuality with women and keeping him, I’d pick him. I’ve thought about bringing up the possibility of my having a short, casual fling or having a threesome with a woman so he can be involved, but I am really afraid that if he isn’t comfortable with it, he’ll feel guilty for taking that away from me (I’m not at all afraid of him being angry with me, but I’m afraid he might feel hurt/inadequate). I jokingly brought up the idea of having a threesome about six months ago, and while he wasn’t hostile towards the idea he didn’t seem interested, so I dropped it.
I am also concerned that maybe my desire to branch out is in part due to our sex life; the sex is frequent and intimate, but not terribly adventurous, though I do try to spice it up every once in a while. Maybe I should focus more on amping up our sex life as-is before trying to explore sex outside of the relationship? Or maybe I should be honest with D about how I’m feeling anyway?
Looking For Options
DEAR LOOKING FOR OPTIONS: You’re presenting yourself with a false dichotomy here, LfO. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t – or couldn’t – pursue both options at the same time. In fact, it would probably be better for the two of you and your relationship if you did.
Opening up a relationship requires trust and communication. Going from a monogamous relationship to an open one has the potential to set off anxiety weasels in everybody’s brains. It’s understandable that someone might worry that this meant that they weren’t enough, that the sex wasn’t good enough or that this was just a delaying action before ending the relationship. Maintaining and working on the sexual connection in the relationship can be a huge part of keeping that relationship alive and healthy… as well as making everyone happier overall. And even if you weren’t thinking about opening things up, spicing up your sex-life together is an important part of a long-term relationship’s success. After all, sexual satisfaction is an important part of relationship maintenance. Getting in the habit of keeping things hot in the bedroom is how you and your partner tap into your inner Gomez and Morticia.
But you should also talk with your boyfriend about how you’re feeling, LfO. Even if you ultimately decide not to pursue something with a woman – either for now, or for the duration of your relationship with D – the other key to a relationship’s success is the ability to be open and honest with one another. Your sexuality is an important part of who you are, and that’s something that you should feel like you can discuss with your partner, without fear of judgement or recrimination. And just talking with him – how it’s part of who you are, what it means to you and your identity, etc. – can be an important way of reassuring him that no, he’s not inadequate or lacking.
It sounds to me like D was being sincere when he was being supportive and offering to let you off the leash. He sounds like a good guy who loves and trusts you, and that’s vital. And while it’s understandable to worry that he was just saying what he felt like he had to… sometimes you have to be willing to take “yes” for an answer and believe your snugglebunny when he tells you that he’s ok with things. I think you can feel safe to talk with him about what exactly it is that you want and need.
Now that having been said, open relationships and consensual non-monogamy are Dating 301. It can be tricky territory to navigate, especially when the two of you are new and inexperienced. You both want to make sure that you’re on the same page, that you both understand exactly what the other wants and needs and that you have the right vocabulary to express yourselves. This is why I would suggest that the two of you do your research, even if you don’t decide to open things up a smidge. I highly recommend checking out Building Open Relationships, More Than Two: An Ethical Guide to Polyamory, and Opening Up: A Guide To Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships. These are some of the best guides out there for making your way through the world of ethical non-monogamy and they can be a huge help to even just have the conversation. Just going through the books may be the best way to have the “I want to open things up” conversation, especially if you’re nervous at first. Treat it like a book-club; read one and compare notes and share your thoughts on what the authors had to say about the subject.
What I don’t suggest you do is use a threesome or something similar as your intro to bisexuality. That… is a bad idea in general and one that’s more likely to drop a drama bomb in your lap than it is to actually help. There’s nothing quite as alienating as having a threesome under false pretenses. When someone realizes that the real reason why their partner suggested it was so they could bang someone else – or worse, gets excluded entirely at one point – then you can pretty much see the moment their soul got kicked in the junk. Alternately, there’s the potential to feel like your sexuality is being used as a tool or a show for someone else’s pleasure? Well, that’s more soul-junk kicking.
And that’s before taking the feelings of the special guest star into account.
If the two of you decide you want to have a threesome because you want sexy adventure-times together, then hey, blessings on you both. But as a means of exploring your sexuality? That’s a bad idea.
But at the end of the day, the answer to all of this is what I tell people all the time: communicate, communicate, communicate. The more you can talk – about your sexuality and your sex life – with your lovebun, the happier you two will be over all.
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: In my marriage, I have a problem with sex. I am 55, techie, type-2 diabetic and feeling the effects of ED. I am not totally gone but having an erection is not my every day pleasure. When it happenstances, I really feel frisky, but not for too long.
Enter my wife. We have been together about 7 years, last year and change as husband and wife. But don’t think getting married killed sex. It has been coming for a long time.
My wife is, for the lack of a better term, OCD, when it comes to human cleanliness. For instance, if I woke up and have a woody, before I get out of the bed and she happens to be awake at the same, there is no way in hell that we are having sex, because we have sweat all over our bodies and unless we both are squeaky clean, sex is not an option. Also, I like to see my wife, partner in bed a little bit made up. Not like a plain Jane every time. Of course shower takes away any makeup she might be wearing and then she says it is too much work to put make up on or put a pair of silk stocking or sexy shoes or whatever. She just wants to have it her way.
Here is my dilemma. Two people taking a shower, even if together and immediately, getting the water ready and taking the shower and coming out, is at least 10 minutes by my wife’s cleanliness standards. Have I said I experience ED ? Well, in that 10 minutes, my woody turns in to a lump of meat and skin. Also considering her aloof attitude towards what I want combined, makes me sad and uncared for. At which point, even if I want like crazy, getting an erection is not an option. My mental state is no longer there.
I mentioned this to my wife. She knows my condition. I have had diabetes for a long time. So, she did not marry me or get together with me under false pretenses, but this is a progressive condition and it is getting worse, slowly but surely. I went as far as begging her to forego this being squeaky clean stuff, but she doesn’t budge.
Then every few nights, when we are in bed, she asks why we aren’t having more sex. And when I tell her about my condition and her refusal when I was ready, she comes to the same point, if we are not clean, there is no sex. And blames me, not finding her desirable. Reality is, at that point I really do not find her desirable but if I say that to her face, I know I will not be sleeping for the rest of the night, arguing about how she is right and I am wrong and her heightened sense of smell and how I wouldn’t understand this. So, I turn around and go to sleep, frustrated. I don’t even remember when we had sex the last time and under which circumstances it happened. It has been close to 6 months may be a tad more than that.
I don’t want this to go on forever this way, but I am out of reasonable options. I mean, I am not an extremely dirty or smelly person. We live in south end of the US, in a warm climate, but her and I work 8 hours in a well air conditioned offices. My car has a wonderful a/c and so does hers. When we both come home, we are not like two stinky people, dripping sweat from every pore that no one wants to touch. But her mind is not accepting this and I am getting frustrated.
Otherwise, other than this issue and few arguments here and there like all couples have, she is not a bad person. I do not want to leave her just because of sex but I know if I have 5-6 more years of having “some” sex, I do not want to waste it, waiting for her to be “ready”. I am seriously considering paying for a high class call girl to get what I want, every once in a while and I can afford it. Yet it sounds crass.
Am I really being unreasonable here ? What is your take on this situation ? Do you have any suggestions regarding how to approach this subject without bringing my marriage to an end?
Sexless in Somewhere South
DEAR SEXLESS IN SOMEWHERE SOUTH: I have four suggestions.
The first is to talk with your doctor about potential options for treating your erectile dysfunction. ED is a common issue for men with type-2 diabetes, but it’s not an insurmountable one. The fact that you DO have erections – even if they’re infrequent – is a good sign. The issue is the duration and the timing. There’re a number of potential options for you. The obvious answers are Viagra or Cialis. The less obvious answer is a cock-ring, possibly paired with a vacuum pump device. The medication gives you a wider window of opportunity, where any delay means that your get-up-and-go has got up and went. You may not be erect the entire time you and your wife are in the shower, but it does mean that you’ll be able to rise to the occasion afterwards. The pump and the ring, on the other hand, will help get an erection and keep it while you wait for your wife to finish cleaning up. The pump helps draw the blood into the spongey tissues of the penis, causing an erection, while the ring keeps the blood from flowing back out, leaving you with a hard-on for longer than you might have otherwise. Both of these mean that you won’t have a ten-minutes-or-nothing scenario while you wait for your wife to finish up and come back out.
Second: stop letting sex just happen. One of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to long-term sexual satisfaction is that they treat sex as something that can only happen spontaneously. This is easy during the early days, when everything is fresh and new and you’re banging out on every flat surface in the house. It’s a little harder when you’ve been together for a while and your schedules mean that you’re tired and she’s had a long day at work and…. As a result, sex tends to take a back seat to, well, literally everything else. Scheduling a time for sex may sound unromantic, but it’s anything but. It means that you are prioritizing sex. You’re specifically carving out time for the two of you to get freaky; that means that you’re clearing the decks and making sure that everything is in readiness. Your wife has enough time to get a shower and put on some sexy lingerie – especially if she gets started before you get there – and you have time to pop a pill or apply the devices to make sure that you’ll be able to perform on demand.
Plus, when the two of you know that you’re going to have sex, there’s all that delicious antici…
to be had, which makes it even hotter.
Third: dude, just bang in the shower, problem solved.
Fourth: you two need to talk to a sex-positive relationship counselor to help manage the disconnect in your sex life. Having a trained third party to facilitate the discussion and provide ways for the two of you to resolve your differences may be exactly what you need to get to the bottom of this disconnect that the two of you have. If you haven’t had sex in six months and nobody is willing to budge… well, needless to say, that’s a problem. The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists has an excellent referral directory on their site that can help you find a licensed and trained therapist in your area.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, email@example.com)