Want more women
July 6, 2009 6:12 PM   Subscribe

I am happily married, but regretful about being so chaste when I was single. How can I fix this?

I am male, and became monogamous in my mid 20s with a wonderful female who I adore. I was not a virgin when I met her, but my sexual experiences were limited.

Now I'm in my late 30s and starting to wonder if I made a terrible mistake. I love my wife dearly, but given that I only have one lifetime I feel as if I should have had more various sexual experiences when I was single.

I have explained this to my wife and she understands the desire, but offers no solution. She is not willing to have an open marriage, nor is she interested in swinging, swapping, or any of those things. And I don't want to cheat on her.

Now before someone suggests spicing up my sex life with my wife, that isn't it, it doesn't help my desire. Within the bounds of monogamy my wife is fairly experimental and willing to try new things. It isn't that I'm bored with sex, I just want to experience more people sexually.

No, I'm not willing to cheat on my wife. I'd rather go without than cheat, but I'd also rather not go without.

This is not new, it's been bothering me for 3 years now. But it's bothering me more as time goes on and I'd really like to fix it.

Is there anything that can be done to rectify this, or has anyone encountered this and come to a way to NOT want this?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (96 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
Previously.

Try therapy, and good luck.
posted by jstarlee at 6:21 PM on July 6, 2009


I think you should stop conceptualizing this as an interesting problem and realize that it's actually pretty universal. Everyone would love to have sex with whoever they feel like without consequence, but it's one of those things where you can't have your cake and eat it too. As Chris Rock says, you can be married and bored, or single and lonely - and I happen to think that you've got the better bargain. Focus on how lucky you are to be married to a wonderful female who you adore and love dearly (and I'm impressed beyond words by the equanimity with which she responded to your Terrible Dilemma).
posted by moxiedoll at 6:21 PM on July 6, 2009 [24 favorites]


Is there anything that can be done to rectify this

Let's see: no open relationship, no divorce, no cheating... No. You have ruled out all other options.

It's okay though. Sexual experiences with one person can be as varied as with many people -- but deeper and better.
posted by ook at 6:24 PM on July 6, 2009


I don't think it's unusual at all. A male friend of mine was talking about something similar to me last year. He's never had anal sex and never had a BJ to orgasm, and would never have cheated on his wife while they were together and would not cheat on his new partner (who is very vanilla sexually) and in middle-age is now starting to think that he's never going to experience those things.

If it's been bothering you for three years, then it's not a transient feeling for you. I see a lot of women who married young and didn't have the "party years" suddenly want to go clubbing in their thirties, and I think there's that same feeling of "if not now, then when".

Be honest with yourself if this starts becoming a bigger issue for you, because the truth is that there may come a point in the future where cheating does start seeming more attractive, and that's not gonna end well.
posted by Lolie at 6:25 PM on July 6, 2009


You say you don't want to cheat on your wife, and she isn't open to introducing new sexual partners in any fashion. This pretty much precludes you having sex with other people.

Is there anything that can be done to rectify this, or has anyone encountered this and come to a way to NOT want this?

That one is really on you. Not a lot of help, I know. But you have to ask yourself just how having had many sexual encounters with various people would enhance your life. Ask anyone you know who did have numerous sexual partners before settling down with just one person - did it make their life better? More enriching? I'd wager that the answer to those is "No."

Desires (or regrets) such as this usually mean that you should take a step or three back and take a long, objective look at your life and circumstances. You probably need to take a deeper appreciation of what you do have, rather than what you feel you missed out on.
posted by doh ray mii at 6:26 PM on July 6, 2009 [12 favorites]


My ex-husband was like this, and it got to a point with him that it was an obsession. So he cheated, he got his girlfriend pregnant, we broke up, and years later I hear that he lamented his choices that led him down that road. Don't be him.
posted by lleachie at 6:28 PM on July 6, 2009 [9 favorites]


Unless your wife bends on some of the restrictions she's placing on you, you will eventually cheat on her, or destroy your life as in lleachie's example, or explode from the stress of not doing so.

This is the human condition.
posted by rokusan at 6:34 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm in my late 30's, never been married, and by many yardsticks I've probably had about the level experience you're daydreaming about.

I would trade places with you in an absolute heartbeat. Not to belittle what you're bothered about, but -- the risks of actually carrying through are that you lose out on something way better, at least in the eyes of those who may have actually done what you're wishing you did.

(But if I were to continue with this comment I run the risk of ending up drunk in a corner and singing "I've Never Been To Me", and that wouldn't be pretty.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:38 PM on July 6, 2009 [13 favorites]


Ask anyone you know who did have numerous sexual partners before settling down with just one person - did it make their life better? More enriching? I'd wager that the answer to those is "No."

In my case, the answer is "yes". At a time when many of my friends are full of "might have been" wistfulness, I'm not wondering whether the grass might have been greener or whether I could have "done better". I am really grateful that I had those experiences and I think that my commitments were richer and stronger for them. The mileage of others may vary, but having had those experiences is definitely part of why I am able to commit with such certainty now.
posted by Lolie at 6:38 PM on July 6, 2009 [12 favorites]


I think you should stop conceptualizing this as an interesting problem and realize that it's actually pretty universal.

Sadly, the universality of a problem doesn't do much to dull its nagging pain. See also: all human worries and fears ever.

Ask anyone you know who did have numerous sexual partners before settling down with just one person - did it make their life better? More enriching? I'd wager that the answer to those is "No."

I'll take that wager. Look, the correct approach to a problem like this, surely, isn't to pretend that its universality will make it go away, or to convince yourself you're not really missing out on anything at all. Instead, why not be realistic? Yes, you are missing out on something that would be exciting and maybe even enriching and fulfilling if you did it. OK. But every binary choice between good things involves turning down a good thing, and the upside of your downside is a wonderful wife who you appreciate greatly (and who, yes — though I'm disagreeing with moxiedoll here on other matters — sounds like a seriously cool person). Your friends who are still single have an advantage over you, and you have an advantage over them; if you left your wife, or cheated, you'd be trading one advantage for another, one disadvantage for another. My point is, can you see that a version of your life with no trade-offs could not exist, and thereby become a bit more serene and less attached to the question of which particular configuration of trade-offs you happen to have?
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 6:39 PM on July 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


Find something else to obsess about - something that is not destructive like this is. Seriously. Stop obsessing about this. You know you have to stop it.
posted by The World Famous at 6:44 PM on July 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


You can reduce the desire's impact by looking at stressors that might be causing you to focus on this--work problems, other issues like that.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:45 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Has it ever occurred to you that you can't have everything you want in life? Do you really think you'd be happier being single, screwing tons of people rather than sharing a life of love with a wife?
posted by 2oh1 at 6:45 PM on July 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


You seem to be making the (incorrect) assumption that people have sex with lots of partners once or a few times because it's preferable over having sex with the same partner lots of times. In my experience that is not true.

Most single people have sex with multiple partners because they are looking for someone they are physically attracted to, is not psycho and that they can stand being around for more than 3 days at a time. You have that. Don't fuck it up.
posted by fshgrl at 7:01 PM on July 6, 2009 [89 favorites]


I'm kind of in the same boat you are, and, while I do regret, on a certain level, not having sowed my oats a bit more, the amazing relationship I have with my wife makes a certain amount of regret very tolerable.

Also, she's expressed a willingness in the past to "bend the rules" a bit, but honestly, I don't find my desire to be with anyone else worth the risk of possibly damaging our relationship, even if it was something we were both involved with.

What you're feeling is perfectly normal, and it sounds like you've talked about it with your wife, which is good. Hopefully having a relationship that strong precludes you from doing anything you might regret in the future.
posted by elder18 at 7:02 PM on July 6, 2009


I can promise you that the best sex I've had with a short-term fling doesn't come close to what I've had with a long term partner.

Also- the costs of going down this road, or even permitting yourself to continue thinking about it, WAY outweigh the benefits.
posted by twirlypen at 7:04 PM on July 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'd rather go without than cheat, but I'd also rather not go without.

What does that mean, exactly? Either you're monogamous, and love your wife exclusively, or you're not.

If your wife had approached you with the same conundrum, what would you have said?

I think that answer is your answer.
posted by trotter at 7:05 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Most single people have sex with multiple partners because they are looking for someone they are physically attracted to, is not psycho and that they can stand being around for more than 3 days at a time.

Yep. It doesn't mean that it was no strings attached sex or that it didn't happen within the context of relationships, it just means some people had a more sexual involvements than others before finding someone with whom they were happy to make a long-term commitment. Or had casual encounters between marriages, or whatever.
posted by Lolie at 7:09 PM on July 6, 2009


Sometimes there isn't a really easy answer.

I mean, my sex life has involved a greater number of partners over the past year or so than my entire life previously. That said, I'm currently looking for what you have - something solid and reliable and good, not just "hey apparently we find each other attractive." It's easy for me to say that, because I've been-there-done-that, and now I can make a decision about which state I prefer. You have only rumor, imagination, and media imagery to go on.

So no, assuming your wife isn't ok with any manner of open-ness and you're not going to get a divorce or cheat, you're never going to get to play with other people. That's sort of a shame - after all, all things being equal, it's probably best to experience all things at least once, right?

But it's not that simple. Your choices are binary: Stay and deal, or fuck up your marriage. Fucking it up has a lot of variations, from simple cheating to divorce, but they all fall under that basic category.

So stay. Deal. Do lots of weird kinky shit with your wife, because that's at least part of the appeal of many partners - the gentle one, the rough one, the silly one, the one who'll tie you up and the one who gets tied up. With a GGG partner (game, giving, good) you can make a solid go at getting a taste for that kind of variety. Recognize that, fine, in some kind of magical ideal wonderland, sure you'd have played around a bit more before you found her. But you did find her, and that is for the best.

Everyone has regrets about their past. I "wasted" nearly all of college, from a doing-crazy-silly-things perspective. I really, really wish I could have redone it. I wish I could have yelled at my then-self about dressing better and being bolder and had a much better time. But I didn't, and that part of my life is over, and you know what? So be it. Move forward. Fake it, as they say, until you make it - and just remember that the grass is always greener, and right now, I envy what you've got, and I'm desperate to find it.
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:10 PM on July 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


You are wildly overemphasizing sex.

Sometimes, being an actual adult means not indulging every little itch you get and learning to live within the structures you've built for yourself. So you didn't spend your pre-marriage life between the legs of whatever number of women you might imagine to be adequate. Oh well. Neither did most other men.

But, you're married now. That's not a bad thing. Now, turn your back on what might have been, be a grown-up, and enjoy the here-and-now.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:13 PM on July 6, 2009 [8 favorites]


I have explained this to my wife and she understands the desire, but offers no solution. She is not willing to have an open marriage, nor is she interested in swinging, swapping, or any of those things. And I don't want to cheat on her.

Since she isn't willing to do open the relationship, and doing that may hurt her, I think you might want to conceder cheating. Don't do it just yet, and wait for the right time and plan it out, but done smartly I think it would end up as a good thing (Hell, even planing on cheating and not might relieve some pressure). You work out your problems on your own, and she doesn't know about it like it would be in an open relationship.

Now, you may not think you would be able to do this, and that's up to you. But, going back to rhino's advice, for some the trade offs of the lying would be worth it.

(Take into account that I do not believe that people are really able to be monogamous and would want to know that a relationship would be eventually open once we got bored sexually before going into one. Also, it's situations like this that make me really happy I'm gay.)
posted by America at 7:15 PM on July 6, 2009


Eh, as guy who experienced these exact feelings, I'm finding it pretty hard not to say "Grow up and get over it."

Being single and screwing everything in sight isn't all that great (though it has its moments of course). It's a lot of work, often full of drama and half the time just not very fulfilling.

You go to two choices: You can cheat and destroy what you have or you can come to the realization that we can't have our cake and eat it too. That's it, ain't nothing else. You can either mope around, pining for what you think was or move on and enjoy the life you have. Happiness is choice, so choose.

Now get outta here and go get freaky with the wife.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:27 PM on July 6, 2009


Sure having sex with new people is fun, but having sex with someone that knows 20 ways to get you off is more fun.
posted by idiotfactory at 7:28 PM on July 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm going to throw a suggestion out there, which may or may not be workable. I am absolutely not suggesting you do this without your wife's agreement.

Is it possible that what you're craving is the fantasy, the thrill of the chase, the unexpected? If so, might a fictional affair help? You know your wife and some people would be OK with this and some wouldn't. What if you had "affairs" on second-life and your wife was an active participant in the game? I don't know if that's something which would help in your situation, it's just an option you may not have thought of.
posted by Lolie at 7:28 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


What kind of answer are you looking for?

Are you looking for some way to trick your wife? Are you looking for justification to cheat?

You are in a marriage (read: 2 people only). You want to bring others into it...wife vetoed it.

End of story.

Sorry your sex resume didn't read like a GGW vid, but why should you get to fuck up your wife's relationship for that? Kinda selfish isn't it?
posted by hal_c_on at 7:30 PM on July 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Prostitutes + Protection.

Perhaps you can do some doublethink and decide that seeing a prostitute is no more cheating than masturbating and thinking about someone else is.
posted by glider at 7:32 PM on July 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think you owe yr wife the respect of granting her a divorce while you go play around like a high school boy. sex is wonderful...but it ain't all that. I think you've already made yr mind up and won't admit it...just do as right by yr wife as possible in this selfish situation...
posted by dawson at 7:36 PM on July 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


This situation sucks, but look on the bright side--you got really lucky in the find-a-great-person lottery. So...

Maybe ask your wife again. Don't pressure her, but you really don't want this to become a silent source of resentment. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
posted by kathrineg at 7:41 PM on July 6, 2009


You could consider all the things that you have experienced and will experience that others (likely many more people than you think) only dream of.

Devotion to one person. The fact that you can be so honest and open with her. The quality of your life together.

Maybe a lot of people you know seem to have this -- but you only have to read AskMe a little while to realize that vast numbers of people seek this kind of human connection for years without finding it, and a huge number don't even recognize its lack.

Relationships like yours aren't that common, even though popular fictional media like to depict them a lot -- or do they? I'd be willing to bet that what you have is a lot more complex, and better, than the average sitcom relationship.
posted by amtho at 7:42 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have explained this to my wife and she understands the desire, but offers no solution.

Interesting that, as written, you've put the onus on her to offer a solution to what you characterize as solely your problem. As a person in the process of getting a divorce and with a kind of hindsight I hope you never develop, I'll tell you this is a quintessential example of the kind of thinking that leads to divorce. "I want this. And he/she won't accommodate me. I've got only one life to live. Time to split up."

And that's fine. You would just have to acknowledge that your thinking on this subject is further along than you admit in your question.

It seems to me you are actually asking "Should I divorce my wife?" I mean, you can't honestly be asking on MeFi for a way to stop wanting what you want. Right? Because that question never has an answer. It's the subject of centuries worth of poetry.

Anyway, I suspect this is indeed not solely a problem of your making, since you say "I'd rather go without than cheat, but I'd also rather not go without." This is your only mention of going without sex. That's what you mean, right? You said at the top you were "happily married." If you're indicating that you're going without sex but happily married, there's a river in Egypt we should talk about.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 7:48 PM on July 6, 2009 [9 favorites]


There is value is recognizing the universality in your situation, a value that many commentors so far have missed. The point to universality isn't to lessen the desire, but rather to help put it in context.

When someone cuts you off on the highway, it's natural (i.e. universal) to want to take out a gun an kill the mo-fo. But we don't. We don't because we understand that that sort of response is disproportionate with the trespass. We understand that that reaction might be more about our own shortcomings. We also understand that society works better when we just grumble and drive on. We want to kill the asshat, but we choose not to.

You are a male. And you want sex. Novel sex. Exciting sex. That is all fine. It's very common. Don't stifle those desires. But that doesn't mean that you need to act on them. The repercussions from your desire for novel sex are disproportionate to the dissolution of your marriage. And the attainment of novel sex will not satisfy your desire for sex. Your reptilian brain wants sex, and will continue to try to talk you into getting it long after you obtain whatever it was you thought you were looking for.

We, as a specie, owe our existence to our horny forefathers and their reptilian brains. That doesn't mean we are condemned to the whims of our desires. You are a thinking person. You can choose whether to acknowledge your desires while deciding to keep it in your pants, or whether the ephemeral siren song of novel sex is so great that you willingly toss your body upon the rocky shore.
posted by ochenk at 7:49 PM on July 6, 2009 [9 favorites]


"That’s why monogamy has such a bad reputation: it’s boring. Monogamy is the habit of not acting on what you want. I even hate the word itself: it sounds so staid, so bourgeois. Monogamy. Like a board game. The approximation of excitement. Sometimes of course I hear about “open marriages.” Jung had one. Sartre had one. Henry Miller, Dickens, Freud. I hear about open marriages and they seem like some fabulous exotic city that I’ve always wanted to visit, but never seem to get to. Istanbul. Open marriages are like Istanbul: some ancient, mysterious place where there are minarets and strange music, where one entire civilization suddenly ends and a whole new stranger one begins. A whole new religion even. The mysterious east. I’ve always wanted to go to Istanbul."

Quoted above is Act 3 of "This American Life", Episode 95: Monogamy. Here Ian Brown gives a remarkable, thoughtful, and ultimately inspiring monologue on why he chooses monogamy. I've shared this with people who later credited the monologue in their personal decision to decide to marry long term girlfriends. I'd recommend it as a perspective useful from your current vantage.
posted by u2604ab at 7:49 PM on July 6, 2009 [19 favorites]


I'm on the "don't cheat on her" team too, but the reality is that sex and money are two of the most common issues over which marriages do end - they may not be the most important factors in a marriage, but they're far from insignificant ones.

I'm just not convinced that the OP's only options are suppressing his fantasies or acting on them in real life, and I know that faced with situations in the past where my kinks have presented a challenge there's often been a way to accommodate them within my partner's boundaries.
posted by Lolie at 7:51 PM on July 6, 2009


I'm sorta curious as to why you were so "chaste" when you were young and presumably had the option to try other things, but didn't. Also sorta wondering what your definition of chaste is.

Posts like these remind me of how I used to avoid long term relationships in my 20's and say snarky things like "Yeah, I don't want to be the first wife--y'know the one who is there to support him during the lean years while he figures himself out."
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 8:02 PM on July 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


"make sure your wife doesn't find out."

Easier said than done.

If you cheat now, and if you stay with your wife for another 40 years, that means she has 40 * 365 days to find out. Cheating involves two people. Sometimes one of those persons blabs. Maybe not on purpose; maybe the person gets drunk or talks in her sleep; maybe she confesses to a lover who eventually gets mad at her and betrays her by giving away her secrets. And the "six degrees of separation" rule means that if someone blabs, your wife -- over a course of 40 years -- might find out.

I'm not telling you not to cheat. I'm saying that if you do, go into it with your eyes open, aware of the risks. Maybe there's only a 2% chance that, over the next 40 years, your wife will find out. Personally, I wouldn't do something that had a 2% chance of giving me cancer. Or at least I wouldn't pretend that there was no risk.

It always amazes me when people say, "cheat, but be discreet about it." It gives me the same nervous feeling as if they'd said, "Go ahead and rob a bank. Just plan the robbery really well, don't leave any traces behind, and you'll get away with it." Yeah, some people get away with things. On the other hand, Scotland Yard has some brilliant detectives working for them.

That said, I feel for you, anon. And I don't think most people here are answering your question, which is "how do I cope with constant pain?" People are moralizing, telling you you to buck up, and telling you to cheat. But that's not what you want. You want to not cheat but also avoid being unhappy a great deal of the time.

I wish there was a perfect solution. There isn't. But there are a few things you can do to help:

1) Allow yourself to have any fantasies that you want. Fantasies are free and private (unless you feel like sharing them with your wife). Porn is allowed, too.

2) Give yourself an outlet via a close friend you can talk to. Chatting with a guy friend about women is not cheating -- at least not in my book. (Just don't choose a friend who is likely to talk you into cheating.)

3) Throw yourself into life in other ways. Honestly, this stuff shouldn't be bothering you as much as it is, unless you have too little to do -- or unless the stuff you have to do bores you. Find passions and indulge them. (Note that I said PASSIONS, not distractions.)

4) If all else fails, seek therapy.

I think you're noble to value your marriage enough to want to deal with this problem. If you're as invested in your marriage as you say you are, then you'll seek professional help if that's what you need to do. Good luck!
posted by grumblebee at 8:06 PM on July 6, 2009 [10 favorites]


[few comments removed - it's okay to make your case, please don't turn this into an argument about your particular position on this]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:11 PM on July 6, 2009


Just out of interest, I wonder if something happened three years ago. It seems odd to me that the OP is so specific about when this started to become an issue. Was there an intense, unacted on sexual attraction to someone else at that time which has never really been resolved? If that's the case, then some kind of counselling is probably a good idea.
posted by Lolie at 8:30 PM on July 6, 2009


If you can, avoid watching movies and TV that happen to have a lot of uncommitted sex in them - American Pie, Porky's, Road Trip, Gossip Girl, Nip Tuck (is that still around?), 2 1/2 Men, Keys to the VIP, Big Brother, Survivor, etc.

I personally am easily brainwashed by the teevee - so when I watch shows/movies like this, I end up thinking "Why were all these people getting lucky in College and not me?" "Why are they all getting lucky in the office and not me?" "Why are they getting lucky in the grocery store and not me?" "Why is the jerk even getting lucky and not me?" And I get OBSESSED and miserable.

Same thing with music - all these songs about magic wands and lollipops and milkshakes and joysticks and how many licks to the center of the whatever - catchy tunes, naughty lyrics - lots of fun, but they were doing me more harm than good.

Now I avoid these types of shows and music as much as I can, and all these thoughts and feeling regret for decisions I made have pretty much subsided. Perhaps if your situation allows for it, this might help you too.

Good luck and don't cheat!
posted by bitteroldman at 8:32 PM on July 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


Unless your wife bends on some of the restrictions she's placing on you, you will eventually cheat on her, or destroy your life as in lleachie's example, or explode from the stress of not doing so.

OR, he could resolve that these fantasies & desires are not as important as originally thought, and stay faithful, and become happy with that, rokusan.

Not saying that this is a sure bet, but it is a possibility.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:42 PM on July 6, 2009


As penned in sharpie on a lightpost in new zealand, just live and be happy for crying out loud.

I had a whole snarky answer: but try to expand your experiences, period. You sound like you've gotten so bored that you've regressed to fixating on one of the topics of primal interest. Take up new hobbies, learn new things, become a more interesting person for your wife to have sex with - hell, explore kink without the actual "sex" - maybe your wife would want to watch a hooker walk on you or kick you in the balls. I know I would had my husband expressed to me the sentiments you have expressed to her.
posted by Acer_saccharum at 9:16 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


It isn't that I'm bored with sex, I just want to experience more people sexually.

This is not new, it's been bothering me for 3 years now. But it's bothering me more as time goes on and I'd really like to fix it.

These two comments scream "elephant in the room" to me. There are people I would like to have explored sexually if they turned up nekkid on my doorstep, but I wouldn't have gone to any effort to make the opportunity happen - even when there were no involvements to be considered on either side.

I also notice that the OP is saying "people" not "women", which raises another set of issues which might not be quite so simple.
posted by Lolie at 9:23 PM on July 6, 2009


Sex isn't all that great unless you really click with someone and you take the time to get to know each other sexually. First times are usually pretty "meh." There's only so much of that you have time for in life, and so many possibilities for bad relationships in between, bad relationships that have the potential to make you cynical and wary to be with someone else. Be glad you found the love of your life.
posted by zinfandel at 9:32 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Imagine yourself 40 years from now.

Imagine that you've acted upon your desire to broaden your sexual experience, and perhaps you've cheated on your wife, or left her, or found some other way to do this. You've fulfilled your sexual curiosity. Some of those experiences have been phenomenal. Some have been terrible letdowns. None have been what you expected beforehand, because no one can ever predict how any relationship will turn out, even less a sexual relationship.

Now, imagine yourself in 40 years with your wife. With a woman with whom you are comfortable expressing yourself, who responds to you honestly. For whom you've had to sacrifice certain things, but never your honesty. You have a history together that contains both miracles and tragedies. But you know each other, deeply.

In which vision are you happier? Would you prefer to wonder what it would be like to grow old with someone who truly knows you, while having a broad sexual experience full of both delights and disappointments? Would you rather go out and see what oats you can sow now, and wonder later what it would be like to have had a lifelong companion? Would you rather take the risk of letting go of your wonderful relationship with your wife, who you love, in order to sow oats, knowing that you're risking loneliness? Or would you rather relegate these interests to fantasy, and continue to build a life with your wife that will last you for decades? Maybe you'll find another woman, later, after some sexual escapades, who you can be yourself with like you can with your wife. But maybe not: many people are not so lucky as to find that once, never mind finding it twice, when it's convenient.

I can't answer those questions for you. No one here can. And, given what you've said, you do have to choose. But I can say this: I've sown my oats, and no time in my life has been lonelier. And now I'm with someone phenomenal, someone who I can be honest with, and make mistakes with, and I've never experienced anything as good as that. But that's just me.
posted by amelioration at 9:41 PM on July 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


Now I'm in my late 30s and starting to wonder if I made a terrible mistake. I love my wife dearly, but given that I only have one lifetime I feel as if I should have had more various sexual experiences when I was single.

You are being selfish. Get over yourself. If you truly love your wife you will forget this silly, selfish train of thought. Sheesh.
posted by caddis at 9:59 PM on July 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


After years of marriage to your wife, the sex you have with her is going to be better than any sex you could possibly have with an acquaintance or stranger.

Pour your desire into your wife. Explain your sexual needs to her, and hopefully she can help you out.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:03 PM on July 6, 2009


If you truly love your wife you will forget this silly, selfish train of thought.

One thing I've seen many men do is be selfish enough to stay in a marriage in which they're unhappy because they don't want to give up being taken care of. Staying for the wrong reasons is infinitely more selfish than leaving in my opinion - assuming that you've made a good faith effort to resolve the issues which are creating the unhappiness.
posted by Lolie at 10:10 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


OR, he could resolve that these fantasies & desires are not as important as originally thought, and stay faithful, and become happy with that, rokusan

Yes, it is possible... if he gets an entirely different brain.

But for those of us stuck with our big brains always screwing us over, no. The regret over missed opportunities will never vanish. At best, he can kick the can down the road a couple of years by "coping", after which he'll be older and even more bitter. Most likely, he'll start to blame his wife for his misery, even though that'll be cart-before-horseplay.

I have been lucky enough to dodge this bullet myself, but I have seen the situation too many times, from almost every "married too young" friend I have ever known.

This doesn't end until the person gets laid, a lot. Maybe they'll like it, maybe they'll get sick of it, maybe they'll realize it was no big deal after all, why were they so silly?... but at least they'll have done it, confronted the perceived problem and corrected it instead of living on in something that's become too trap-like for comfort.

It would be best if his wife was open-minded enough to understand that sex can be just for fun, and a lot healthier for their relationship if she were "on board" in some way. I can't imagine denying someone I loved the opportunity to experience something, including whatever kind of sex she missed when she was younger. I just can't imagine taking that away from her. Why would I want to become the villain?

So if she can't / won't be helpful.... then I am sorry, but the relationship will not survive and the OP is quite genuinely, well... fucked.

I realize this probably sounds like a very negative answer. I think it's best not to dance around it and try to train the OP to "behave", because that will boil over in nastier ways eventually.

Your wife is either your partner or your opponent. Best to settle that early.
posted by rokusan at 11:04 PM on July 6, 2009 [6 favorites]


I also notice that the OP is saying "people" not "women", which raises another set of issues which might not be quite so simple.

Not really. If that's what he wants, and that's what he regrets missing out on, then it doesn't change anything: the woman who loves him will still say Go ahead.
posted by rokusan at 11:06 PM on July 6, 2009


I have been lucky enough to dodge this bullet myself, but I have seen the situation too many times, from almost every "married too young" friend I have ever known.

This doesn't end until the person gets laid, a lot.


Unfortunately, this is the most common outcome I've see too when the issue has persisted for a period of years. I don't think the OP's wife is being selfish in not wanting to open their relationship up. I think the OP did the right thing by exploring that option. But after three years of this elephant stampeding around the room, I don't think it's going to just vanish.

Sounds like the OP's wife is going to end up miserable no matter what. If he stays but the issue is unresolved then she's going to feel inadequate and somewhat responsible for his unhappiness. If she reluctantly agrees to open up the relationship, there's a good chance she'll be unhappy. If he cheats on her she's going to be unhappy. And if he leaves she's going to be unhappy. There isn't really a "win/win" option at the moment, o matter how much the OP might want one.

I'm a woman with a "big" past, but I'd be utterly miserable if I thought someone was staying in a relationship with me out of either convenience or obligation in a situation where there was no possibility of a "happy ending". To be honest, if I was the OP's wife I'd be considering ending the marriage and finding a partner for whom I was "enough", because this seems like a situation in which at least one of the partners is almost guaranteed to be unhappy in the long-term. The "re-partnering" pool is only going to get smaller for both parties in middle-age, and the potential for their marriage to totally melt-down in mid-life after years of one or both of them being unhappy is very real (and all too common in my peer group).
posted by Lolie at 11:31 PM on July 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


The heart wants what the heart wants. Life's too short to be miserable. Either be very, very discreet, or reconcile your needs with your current relationship.

But don't force yourself to be unhappy or you'll make things much worse for yourself and your loved ones down the road.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:32 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't know, is this really about sex? With multiple partners? Maybe it is, and I don't want to insult the OP by suggesting he doesn't even know how to interpret his own needs and desires, but to me it doesn't really read like that's the issue.

OP is experiencing general life malaise, boredom, the routine is getting to him, his best days are behind him, most exciting thing most days is whether someone in the office brought pastries. His wife is loving and supportive and offers a sympathetic ear but generally offers little mystery or surprise. OP has channeled his disaffection with life into THIS ONE THING, that if he had only made a different choice regarding that ONE THING, or if he could rectify that ONE THING now, life would be filled once more with sparkle and meaning and fulfillment. It's an instant gratification thing, in some ways. Harder is to pinpoint small and gradual ways of making life better, often involving internal work and focusing on making loved ones feel loved and happy. Give your wife a kiss, tell her you love her, and make plans to do something she's always wanted to do. A weekend spent exploring a new city or whale watching or climbing a mountain. See the joy on her face and feel that connection and contentment. Maybe then this ONE THING will begin to recede and you can focus more on what you do have.
posted by JenMarie at 11:37 PM on July 6, 2009 [9 favorites]


Not really. If that's what he wants, and that's what he regrets missing out on, then it doesn't change anything: the woman who loves him will still say Go ahead.

There's no point in her saying "go ahead" unless she can do so happily. I love my kinks and they're an essential part of my sexuality, but if indulging them would make my partner unhappy, then I need to let that person go - it's not a matter of "right" or "wrong", but of incompatible needs which are both equally valid.
posted by Lolie at 11:38 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't mean to be harsh on the wife.

Lolie is right, and says what I meant in gentler terms: an accommodating wife would have to be fully on-board and happy to do it, otherwise it's pointless and will end badly, just in a different way, as something that festers on her side instead of his.

But there's a little too much "oh god how could you even have such thoughtcrimes" and confusing of love-for-wife and need-for-sex going on here, too. My point is that this horrible, horrible person asking the question here is Every Man.
posted by rokusan at 11:46 PM on July 6, 2009


OP has channeled his disaffection with life into THIS ONE THING, that if he had only made a different choice regarding that ONE THING, or if he could rectify that ONE THING now, life would be filled once more with sparkle and meaning and fulfillment.

And sometimes that "one thing" really is the issue. I spent a lot of my twenties and thirties around people who'd been denying some aspect of their sexuality for years - most often their sexual orientation - and believe me they tried everything in the book at then some to try and find a "happy ending", but it wasn't until they could find the courage to say "I can't live this lie any more" that they were able to find contentment, much less happiness. They wanted solutions which didn't involve hurting their partners and there simply weren't any.

Because I lived the first decade and a half of my adult life in the world of unconventional relationships, I never had to deal with trying to suppress or deny my kinks, but I've certainly been in situations where I know that I long-term relationship with someone would be unsustainable because of them. I can't imagine what it's like to only discover that some aspect of your sexuality is irrepressible when you're already in a committed relationship which cannot accommodate it. I imagine it would be heart-breaking for all concerned.
posted by Lolie at 12:02 AM on July 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


I know that some people are going to say that whether or not to act on sexual desires is a choice. That's equally true of whether or not to have children - it's not "essential" and it's not a "right" and nobody is right or wrong for wanting or not wanting children, but if the partners to a marriage aren't on the same page about the issue then the relationship is going to train-wreck unless one of the partners can happily change their own desires (and I've seen plenty of 10 year plus marriages break up over that one, too).
posted by Lolie at 12:19 AM on July 7, 2009


Have you tried pornography?
I only ask in case you're sexually repressed, or something like that. Some men sadly don't develop much ability to entertain themselves.
posted by Ingenting at 12:26 AM on July 7, 2009


Something I haven't seen others bring up yet deserves to be said.

Should you decide to divorce your wife and go out to sew those wild oats, be aware, you will be going out there as the nearly 40 year old man you are now, not the guy in his 20s you were when you met your wife.

All those hot 20 somethings you missed out on? Odds are they won't want anything to do with someone your age now.

I've watched more than a few people go through this. Long term relationship ends, and they expect life to pick up just where it left off. Unfortunately it doesn't work that way. You may want to be where you were back then, but now you're the creepy guy at bar macking on people fifteen years their junior that all the 22 year olds are keeping a five foot radius from.

If you're wishing for casual sex in general, well, I'm sure you'll be able to achieve that. If you're longing for something specific, though- all the girls in college you could have been with or whatever, nothing short of a time machine will help you.
posted by Kellydamnit at 1:03 AM on July 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


I would encourage you to google things related to the Hedonic Treadmill.

What all that googling will boil down to is that we become acclimated to the objects of our desires once we have them, which makes us go off in search of other objects of desire, which we will also tire of.

What you're working on right now is a relationship that'll give you feelings of comfort and security for a very long time. It also takes a long time to establish the relationship so you can get those feelings. It's like you're going for a PhD, but you're thinking of dropping out in your junior year.
posted by fnerg at 1:15 AM on July 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Although there's a lot of undue valorizing of the sexual instinct that takes place in our culture, I would like to propose that this is a biology issue-- same as in all those "I'm a girl, suddenly I desperately want a baby" questions.

You may feel at the moment like this is somehow really deep, about Fulfillment in a broader human sense-- but the reality is, we're all programmed to do what's needed to perpetuate the species, and there just happen to be periods of life when those hormonal patterns, for whatever reason, kick into overdrive. Why do you suddenly want to sleep with lots of women? Just because, right? That smacks pretty obviously of biological clock, and my advice would be the same as is given in all those baby threads: ride this out, be open to the possibility that you may feel differently in 1/3/5 years, and try not to do anything that will seriously mess things up for that future, less-hormonal self. Remember that you are more than just your body or your biochemistry-- that's what the rational mind is for.

Or, if you'd like firsthand verification of how much your desires are a product of your biology, try getting a script for an SSRI, and see how passionate you feel about fucking around after a few months on those chemicals.
posted by Bardolph at 1:37 AM on July 7, 2009 [8 favorites]


I've watched more than a few people go through this. Long term relationship ends, and they expect life to pick up just where it left off. Unfortunately it doesn't work that way.

That can also be an argument against staying in a relationship which isn't working. An awful lot of my peers are now resenting the extra years that they stayed in untenable relationships because the re-partnering pool is much smaller in their late forties than it would have been in their late thirties. And many people my age have no intention of re-partnering. They're not excluding the possibility, but it's not a goal.

Some people really would prefer to have an unhappy relationship which both parties simply endure than no relationship. I'd much, much rather be alone than wishing I was or partnered and causing someone else unhappiness.

I think it's very difficult for people who value the comfort and security of a committed relationship above all else to understand that not everyone is wired that way. And if you're in a relationship in which you're unhappy over a long period of time it's not something which is enhancing your life or your partners. The longevity of a relationship is not what determines its success. How well it meets the needs of the partners and enhances each of their lives is. For every person I know who regrets leaving their marriage, I know at least two who wish they'd left a lot sooner.

Sometimes, you get half-way through a degree and realise you can no longer stand the field, much less want an advanced degree in it.
posted by Lolie at 1:39 AM on July 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


she understands the desire, but offers no solution. She is not willing to have an open marriage, nor is she interested in swinging, swapping, or any of those things... Within the bounds of monogamy my wife is fairly experimental and willing to try new things.

So, let's get this part of it straight: You told her you wanted an open marriage, that you wanted to swap partners with someone, that you wanted to swing, and after all of that she still loves you and is willing to try new things?

I'd say that's an amazing woman you're married do, and you should quit fantasizing about getting something better. Time to grow up.
posted by jbickers at 4:05 AM on July 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Hmm sounds more like a thread hinting at I do not love my wife anymore what should i do.
posted by majortom1981 at 5:36 AM on July 7, 2009


Just pretending that you don't have these regrets or desires isn't going to work. But acting on them isn't inevitable. You need to own your feelings and accept your choices. Make a choice. Remember why you are happy to have married your life. You may never go to Istanbul and your life is going to be pretty awesome.

Additionally, as people have mentioned above, you are not missing out as much as you think you are. One night stands, etc. are not always as exciting as popular culture makes it seem.
posted by Gor-ella at 6:22 AM on July 7, 2009


Why is this your wife's issue to solve? You want to be free to explore yourself sexually with other people, which flies in the face of the whole monogamy thing that you committed to when you married her. She's not cool with it. I can't blame her; I wouldn't be cool with it either. In fact, I would probably be staying up nights thinking of ways to murder you and get the life insurance payout, but that's just me.

It boils down to this: is this a dealbreaker for you? It sounds like you're getting to the point where it is a dealbreaker for you, and it certainly seems to be a dealbreaker for her. So either you stay with your wife and figure out a way to sublimate these desires or you leave your wife and try to fulfill them.

That's a call that only you can make, not what your wife thinks is right or what we think is right.
posted by crankylex at 6:32 AM on July 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


> It would be best if his wife was open-minded enough to understand that sex can be just for fun, and a lot healthier for their relationship if she were "on board" in some way. I can't imagine denying someone I loved the opportunity to experience something, including whatever kind of sex she missed when she was younger. I just can't imagine taking that away from her. Why would I want to become the villain?

This is ridiculous. I would never accept my wife's having a sexual relationship outside our marriage, and she wouldn't accept my having one. That's what marriage is about. If you want to have sex with lots of people, don't get married; what's the point? Obviously some people don't feel this way, there are open marriages (though from what I hear they're usually not successful because one person is usually not as willing to be open as the other), but it is undeniable that the standard idea of marriage very much involves monogamy, and it is stupid to insinuate that the wife is a bad person or that if she really loved him she'd let him fulfill his adolescent fantasies.

And that's what they are. Apologies to the poster for being blunt, but seriously, you are letting yourself turn into a sixteen-year-old, and if you continue down that path your marriage will end. That may be inevitable, it may be one of those marriages that doesn't last (I've had one of those), but be honest with yourself and admit you are bored with your marriage and want out, don't fool yourself into thinking you are happy with your marriage except for this one little detail and if your wife would stop being so selfish and agree to your having a little extracurricular fun everything would be hunky-dory. Get a divorce and fulfill your fantasies (which I'm pretty sure will turn out to be less life-transforming than you imagine), or grow up and appreciate your wife and your marriage.
posted by languagehat at 6:35 AM on July 7, 2009 [13 favorites]


languagehat: You my dog and all but this: "If you want to have sex with lots of people, don't get married; what's the point? "

Is what the kids call "heterodiculous." Marriages are about whatever the partners want them to be about. Monogamy is neither a biological nor a societal imperative, and the "standard idea of marriage" also includes a huge divorce rate, and an even higher infidelity rate.

Listen to this woman:

My ex-husband was like this, and it got to a point with him that it was an obsession. So he cheated, he got his girlfriend pregnant, we broke up, and years later I hear that he lamented his choices that led him down that road. Don't be him.
posted by lleachie at 9:28 PM on July 6 [4 favorites +] [!]

Yes, don't be that guy OP. Use condoms with the very discreet strangers or expensive hookers you end up cheating with. Don't tell your wife unless you want to break up, and do continue to re-conjure whatever dim spark of interest you two still have in each-other. Maybe just one wandering encounter will snap you back into lust with your wife. Maybe it will wake you up to some realities about your own failure to commit. Who knows? Chances are you're going to find out, so do it purposefully and cleanly before you end up boinking a coworker at an office party or something equally lifeshitting.

Most importantly-- ffs young people don't get married til you've made a whole mess of powerfully regrettable fantasies come true.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:09 AM on July 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Consider that the grass is simply not greener. Rarely is it that a man implodes a marriage over feelings that they need to "play the field more", and feels it was worth it to do so. I think that you're expecting certain ideals or fantasies about what "other women" bring to the bed, and they are almost always non-existent. You might be shocked, in fact, at how similar sex can be from one partner to another. Not that it doesn't feel good either way, but I think that you'd find your self wondering why you blew it all up... for THIS?
posted by Citrus at 7:55 AM on July 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have explained this to my wife and she understands the desire, but offers no solution.

Aside from "be less selfish and appreciate our marriage," I can't imagine what solution you think she should offer.

Look, the grass is always greener and all that. But if you become obsessed with this, you're likely going to cheat on your wife, lose her, and then will be free to have sex with lots of people, at which point you're going to likely learn more about a number of other clichés, like forbidden fruit tasting sweeter and not being able to have your cake and eat it too. Not to mention some unhappy stereotypes about mid-life crises and trying to relive your lost youth.

I'm usually the one in these threads defending open marriages and polyamory as an option, but dude. DUDE. Fantasize.
posted by desuetude at 8:06 AM on July 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is what the kids call "heterodiculous." Marriages are about whatever the partners want them to be about. Monogamy is neither a biological nor a societal imperative, and the "standard idea of marriage" also includes a huge divorce rate, and an even higher infidelity rate.

and the divorce rate for open marriage is higher still, something like over 90%, so LH may have opened up a mefi can of worms (similar to declawing, circumcision, etc.) but really, he is right. If you want to sleep with other people why bother getting married? More importantly though, the only way an open marriage will ever work is if both partners are enthusiastically committed to the idea. Anon's wife obviously is not.
posted by caddis at 8:19 AM on July 7, 2009


and what desuetude said.
posted by caddis at 8:19 AM on July 7, 2009


Long thread to read, but I did not see where the OP said he wanted to start bedding 21-year-olds. For all we know, he might be just as interested in 40-somethings, no? With the divorce rate where it is, the coupling pool is actually quite large; it just may be a little more difficult to negotiate.

OP, welcome to the male gender. These feelings will never end (at least according to the 90-year-old guy I played golf with the other day). You are not alone.

Time to role play with your wife. Get her a blond wig or something...

Good luck.
posted by teg4rvn at 8:48 AM on July 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Although I feel for you, it is just sex. All I can think of for you to do is get massages with a 'happy ending'. That's really not cheating. You'll have that release and then you can concentrate on having a happy marriage.

The prudes (the Americans) will tell you it's cheating. But what do they know. 3 out of 4 of their marriages end in divorce.
posted by Zambrano at 8:55 AM on July 7, 2009


To be honest, if I was the OP's wife I'd be considering ending the marriage and finding a partner for whom I was "enough", because this seems like a situation in which at least one of the partners is almost guaranteed to be unhappy in the long-term. - Lolie

This, a thousand times over. If your desires haven't gone away in all this time, they're not going to disappear soon. So rip off the bandaid now instead of tugging on it for several more years. Your wife will probably appreciate finding someone who doesn't regret marrying her - which you do, when all is said and done.
posted by Bakuun at 9:07 AM on July 7, 2009


To me, this doesn't read as being all about the sex, so it's not a desire that pornography or more sex with the wife can fill.

"I just want to experience more people sexually." The 'experiencing more people' bit leads me to believe the issue might be the chemistry. Of course sex factors into the mix as well; unfortunately you gave up your freedom to experience these things with others when you married your wife. Presumably you also gained experiences through your marriage, which ideally would make the 'losses' worth it.

As others have pointed out to you, you're probably romanticizing a life not worthy of the glorification it gets in the media, in our friends conversations, etc. Would you like some STDs with that? How about waking up after a night of amazing sex to discover your fling took off with your belongings? What will you think during the occasional lonesome night, when you remember the wife you discarded for a lifestyle that's all about people discarding each other for flighty experiences? Will you still respect yourself then?

"has anyone encountered this and come to a way to NOT want this?"
Read this thread. Then read it again. It's rife with distortions, illusion and hyperbole [my own comment included], as much as can be expected from life. I am not married, but like you I wonder how much (or how many) more I could have experienced. The fact that some of those mysterious well-traveled people have come forward to tell you how much they'd love to trade positions with you, well, it's very telling.
posted by The Biggest Dreamer at 9:31 AM on July 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


The prudes (the Americans) will tell you it's cheating. But what do they know. 3 out of 4 of their marriages end in divorce.

It's cheating if you're lying to your wife about it. If you can do it without lying to her about it, then it's not cheating, but it doesn't sound as though that's the case for you.

And actually the divorce rate in the US for first marriages is about half of what you claim it is.
posted by decathecting at 9:45 AM on July 7, 2009


I would never accept my wife's having a sexual relationship outside our marriage, and she wouldn't accept my having one. That's what marriage is about.

No, that's what your marriage is about, friend. And good for you if it's what you want. But some marriages are different, and sometimes the thing they're about is different than or deeper than just who-you-may-fuck. Do you think you should impose this requirement on all people who have all marriages?

Obviously some people don't feel this way, there are open marriages (though from what I hear they're usually not successful)

All marriages are "not usually successful." Most end in divorce, statistically. That's not relevant here, I don't think.

If you want to have sex with lots of people, don't get married; what's the point?

But the OP here is already married. Ergo, the problem at hand. So advising him to go back in time and not be married is not helpful.

The question is how to deal with a situation he's now in. He "should not" be married is judgmental of us to say, and only works if we're projecting our framework of how someone else's marriage "should" be. And that's not cool.

"Get over wanting sex" also strikes me as not very helpful. Mankind hasn't solved that particular puzzle yet, so to expect one person to "just do it" isn't very practical.
posted by rokusan at 9:47 AM on July 7, 2009


Marriages are about whatever the partners want them to be about. Monogamy is neither a biological nor a societal imperative, and the "standard idea of marriage" also includes a huge divorce rate, and an even higher infidelity rate.

All well and good, except the OP said that he DID talk to his wife about this and she said that she isn't game for an open marriage. This isn't a case of "monogamy, how bourgeouise," this is a case of one partner in a marriage wanting something but the other partner NOT wanting it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:57 AM on July 7, 2009


OP, if you're still around, there's a great article in the new Time magazine that's worth a read.
posted by jbickers at 10:21 AM on July 7, 2009


How's the other aspects of your life? Are you sure it's as simple as "I wanna get with lots of different people and that's that," or does it have some weird murky underpinnings having to do with regrets about marriage, a compartmentalized sense of what being married means (settling down and all the conventions of that) you're carrying around unnecessarily in your head, a mid-life crisis sort of thing where your job and family life is not satisfying leading you to think "what if..." etc? I'm not saying it can't be as simple as the initial premise, but it almost might not be. For myself anyway, I only get cranky and obsessive about sexual adventures I imagine I'm missing out on if I don't have enough valuable, rewarding challenges in other parts of my life occupying my time and thoughts. The old saw is that people often cheat to escape the tedium of their normal everyday lives and their adult responsibilities. Are you sure a nebulous longing to be wild and escape isn't the real urge, as evidenced by the fact doing lots of new things with your wife won't help? If it is, maybe you need to re-evaluate what you can do about your life. So in short, as others said, maybe therapy...

My initial advice, aside from examining why you're hung up on this, would be to re-explore and be super communicative and adventurous with your wife, but you already nixed that as not the point. A shame, that.
posted by ifjuly at 10:26 AM on July 7, 2009


Look skeezer, here's the problem with the OP. The first line. "I'm happily married." Yeah? Then there's no problem. If you're happily married, this discussion wouldn't come up. I don't say I'm in a happy relationship and then go 'but I'd really like to go out with other broads." What is it you think you're gonna find out there, man? You're with somebody who doesn't think you're a complete bastard, who committed to you in a real way. And you're gonna give it up for some greasers? Come on. So, the real question is: are you telling the truth? Are you happily married? Cause if you are, end of discussion.

But if you're not, if your marriage leaves you more unsatisfied than satisfied, if it does more harm to you as a person than it fulfills you and gives merit to your existence, then that business is on you. You go to your wife. You tell her you're unhappy. You get separated. You get a divorce. Whatever. If you want to throw that part of your life away, go right ahead and do it. But if it's worth holding onto, if it does satisfy you so much that you wouldn't want to let it go, then drop this nonsense. Because if you are happily married, then there's nothing in this whole wide world worth robbing yourself of it for. If your wife loves you, and you love your wife, and it's worth it, then why are you here?

Looking for an excuse? Looking for someone to say she's unreasonable? Looking for a way out? Don't bother, man. Just answer the one question you really need to ask yourself: are you actually happy in your marriage? If you are, forget this shit entered your head, get your wife some flowers, make her a meal, take her out to a show or save up and get her a weekend getaway to ireland or somethin' for just the two of you. Hold her harder and closer than you ever have and thank anythin' you can that you have her in your life. If you're not happy, though, then man up, tell her, and lose that part of your life and yourself. See if the quick screws with bodies inexperienced to yours are worth it.

I just hope you haven't brought kids into it yet before having this discussion with your "deeper" self.
posted by happysurge at 10:32 AM on July 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


and the divorce rate for open marriage is higher still, something like over 90%, so LH may have opened up a mefi can of worms (similar to declawing, circumcision, etc.) but really, he is right. If you want to sleep with other people why bother getting married? More importantly though, the only way an open marriage will ever work is if both partners are enthusiastically committed to the idea. Anon's wife obviously is not.

Hey, we can both be right. Open marriages are another can of worms with their own very difficult challenges; it's sure as hell not for everyone, especially two people not equally committed. I can agree with this wholeheartedly and still think that "if you want to sleep with other people why bother getting married" is an erroneous generalization. We don't all mean the same thing by "monogamy," heck, some people consider masturbation to be outside the definition. (I know, I know, masturbation is a far cry from swinging. But not to someone who earnestly believes that it is functionally the same thing. Having had that debate with a friend once, I don't recommend it.)
posted by desuetude at 10:45 AM on July 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hah! Here's a thought -- why not spend some time reading about what it's like to be in the dating world these days? My god. If that doesn't make you glad to be married, I don't know what will.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:48 AM on July 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


In fact, you can start here. Think about the asshole men on that site, and the skanky, catty women who sleep with them and tell the whole world abou tit.

Then go and give your wife a nice hug, apologize for all that silly talk about screwing other women, consider spicing up your sex life with your wife (because she's obviously cool enough to consider it), have some good sex, and then go to bed a happy man, knowing that you don't have to deal with the indignities of modern dating.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:53 AM on July 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


[comments removed - do not turn this into a referendum on open marriage, thank you]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:01 AM on July 7, 2009


That can also be an argument against staying in a relationship which isn't working. An awful lot of my peers are now resenting the extra years that they stayed in untenable relationships because the re-partnering pool is much smaller in their late forties than it would have been in their late thirties. And many people my age have no intention of re-partnering. They're not excluding the possibility, but it's not a goal.

True, but if this is in any way motivated by being less physically interested in his wife as she ages, and longing for the opportunities he passed up before he met her, he will be disappointed. I'm not saying he won't find people his own age group who are interested in hooking up, I'm saying if he's missing the days of being with young women, that it is in all likelihood too late, unless he looks incredibly young for his age himself.
posted by Kellydamnit at 11:21 AM on July 7, 2009


Okay, I have read one too many responses that have filled your situation with extraneous (and quite probably fictional) information that you did not provide. For the love of god, of course you can be happily married to someone and still want to fuck other people. Perhaps for some people monogamy is synonymous with love and happiness, but for some people it certainly isn't. So accepting that everything you've said is true--you're happy with your wife, but want to fuck other people, but also don't want to hurt your wife. This is manageable, as long as you only want to fuck other people and don't actually want any sort of emotional connection or experience. If what you're lacking is an emotional connection, then your marriage is probably not going to be enough to sustain you long-term. But just fucking people--as many others have said, yes, you need to get over that if you've agreed to be faithful to your wife and breaking monogamy will hurt her. The only way I have found to just "get over it" is to completely throw myself into my current relationship, work, and other activities (I say this as a female who has the same regrets as you about not fucking around more before settling, (even though I was never "chaste") and who has always, in every relationship I have ever been in, still felt urges to fuck strangers/people/collect random sexual experiences, even though I also know that I am happy with my current partner, love him and don't actually want to be with anyone else in the non-sexual sense of the word). Make your life as fulfilling as possible elsewhere. If you give all of yourself to your wife, working hard to give yourself to her emotionally & sexually, you won't have a lot of energy leftover to want to fuck other people. Exploring other avenues of sexuality with your wife can help, even though you've said it can't--I doubt you've thought of everything (would she be open to the two of you watching others have sex? Having sex with one another in front of someone else? Masturbation in front of someone else? What about cam sex (either you two on cam or watching others)? I'm sure the list goes on, but there are ways to involve other people that don't involve you fucking someone else.) The desire to be promiscuous may never completely go away, but I'll bet it subsides a bit and becomes a lot more manageable. The problem with dwelling on wanting to have been more sexually promiscuous is that it will become a big thing in your head (as it seems to have already) and you may start to neglect your relationship with your wife because you feel remorseful/wistful/bitter and then it could very well fall apart, because it isn't going to magically stay together unless you two are both actively working at it.

I'd caution against the "cyber affairs" someone else suggested, because those seem more emotional than anything else and generally lead to break-ups and real affairs or constant living in fantasy-land. If that's the void you need to fill, then your marriage isn't working.
posted by Polychrome at 11:26 AM on July 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


The prudes (the Americans) will tell you it's cheating. But what do they know. 3 out of 4 of their marriages end in divorce.

FYI, there's new research debunking this myth. The New York Times did a piece on it recently. Apparently the oft-quoted statistic - that half (not three-quarters, you'll note) of all marriages end in divorce -- applies to people who were married in the 1970s. And also:

"A comparison of 10-year divorce rates among college-educated men married in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s shows that divorce is becoming less common, said Dr. Stevenson, the Wharton researcher. Among men who married in the 1970s, for example, about 23 percent had divorced by the 10th year of marriage. Among similar men married in the 1980s, about 20 percent had divorced by the 10th year. Men married in the 1990s are doing even better — with a 10-year divorce rate of 16 percent."

So, best not to give advice to the OP on the assumption that "3 out of 4 of [American] marriages end in divorce." It's not true, and it's also irrelevant.

OP, if I were your wife, I'd be urging you into therapy. No other route would be acceptable to me. I don't think hookers and the like are the way to go either. Some people here are suggesting them as safe, harmless ways to blow off your steam. But condoms do not protect effectively against the transmission of herpes (which can complicate childbirth severely, not to mention being damned inconvenient and uncomfortable) or HPV (which can cause cervical cancer. And believe me, early detection is not always enough to prevent this. I have a friend who caught it early, and still can't shake it).

In short, if we had married with the intention to be monogamous, the marriage would become untenable for me once you broke that agreement. I would assume you not only no longer cared to honor your vows, you no longer cared to place my health and safety over your libido. At that point, I'd be gone.

Therapy is at least worth exploring, I think.
posted by artemisia at 11:43 AM on July 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm a late 30's male, happily married to my wife and would never cheat. I too have these fantasies, as would most men. It's the human condition or whatnot.
However, I wouldn't trade my position for the world. Whatever I lose in terms of sexual experience, I gain more in terms of other experiences with my wife.
If you can't get past this, I'd suggest therapy might be an option to explore. Good luck.
posted by arcticseal at 11:45 AM on July 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


To all those advocating that the OP just suck it up and honour his vows at all cost, do you really believe that's a decision which will bring his wife happiness? Is that really the least worst option for her?

Quite possibly yes. You seem to assume that this is some all consuming desire to go forth and fornicate. We just don't know. If that is true then probably all hope is lost for this marriage. Another, and probably more realistic, possibility is that anon has some issues with his own sexuality and self worth. He may feel inadequate for having a below average number of partners. He says he is happy with his wife so to me it seems that the real source of his unhappiness is himself. He can't go back in time and change his earlier decisions. As has been explored so well by many others in the thread he probably won't find much relief now even with a string of new partners. The solution is to accept his happiness with his wife whom he loves and recognize that a desire to go beyond that and have other women is sort of selfish.
posted by caddis at 11:50 AM on July 7, 2009


You seem to assume that this is some all consuming desire to go forth and fornicate.

Nope. I assume that it's something much deeper than that and something which can't be resolved by "be grateful for what you've got" thinking. This has gone on for three years and by the OP's own admission is getting worse. That's not the common, transient "grass is greener" or "road untravelled" wistfulness to which many of us are prone occasionally.

I agree with you that this is about the OP's relationship with himself, but whatever choice he makes is going to have a huge impact on his wife. The decisions made now are the ones with the potential to make them both miserable for a very long time. Love is not enough to sustain a marriage, and neither is duty. I think the OP needs to take a very harsh look at whether or not his reasons for wanting to continue the marriage are selfish and whether "sticking it out" will just lead to him inflicting more of his own misery on his wife for the foreseeable future.

Everyone's mileage varies, but I think the OP needs to consider whether it's fair to his wife to ask her to stay in a situation where his unhappiness seems set to continue indefinitely and he doesn't have a workable solution to offer.

I'm usually one of the last people to recommend therapy, but in this case I think that marriage counselling is well and truly warranted and long overdue.
posted by Lolie at 12:24 PM on July 7, 2009


Prostitutes + Protection.

Perhaps you can do some doublethink and decide that seeing a prostitute is no more cheating than masturbating and thinking about someone else is.


Appalling advice. Do not do this.

You want to jeopardise everything you have built up with her over the years just so you can your end away with some random birds? (and of course you'd tell them you're married, woudn't you? That is, if you still are married now you've stuck that emotional icepick into your wife's heart by telling her you want to fool around).

Is there anything that can be done to rectify this, or has anyone encountered this and come to a way to NOT want this?

By being a mature adult who understands that there are consequences to my actions that extend further than the end of my own nose.

You say you love your wife? Wonderful. Don't fuck it all up.
posted by idiomatika at 1:06 PM on July 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, something else that may be helpful to keep in mind: you will never have slept with enough people. What I mean is that the number is sort of arbitrary and for those of us who regret not sleeping around more, well, I think we'd still want to sleep around more regardless of how high that number is. But for those who get married and promise monogamy, that person/relationship is presumably more important than the desire to keep jumping into bed with random (and not so random) people.
posted by Polychrome at 1:07 PM on July 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


What I mean is that the number is sort of arbitrary and for those of us who regret not sleeping around more, well, I think we'd still want to sleep around more regardless of how high that number is.

Quoted for truth.
posted by desuetude at 1:31 PM on July 7, 2009


Seconding role-play. Also, the intensity of a new romance can make the old one pall even though the new romance will not mature well.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:15 AM on July 8, 2009


Perhaps if the positive therapy isn't working, you could try some negative therapy. That is, think about how it could be worse. That's what I do. I'm in a sexless marriage and I've found it hard to cope but I'm coming around to it because I know that at least I'm in a loving marriage and I guess that's preferable than a feisty, sexy non-marriage.. at least, to the executive part of my brain, if not the animalistic side alas :) Oh, and my wife has been my only ever sexual partner, so put that in your pipe and feel lucky ;-)

(I realize this is a bit like telling a family in poverty that there are families in Africa who eat even less than them. Well, that sort of viewpoint can work occasionally..)
posted by wackybrit at 5:26 PM on July 9, 2009


Now I'm in my late 30s and starting to wonder if I made a terrible mistake.

If you made a terrible mistake, you'd know it. What you're feeling is just what people feel in the absence of euphoria or struggle; the nagging feeling that, now that everything's hunky-dory in a calm and relaxed way, perhaps that's a sign I should have tried harder and would have gotten more.

So if there's a problem to solve, it's not your situation; it's your perception and your nagging doubts. Without any specific problems you can point to in your relationship -- really bad ones, really obvious ones -- you might consider a combination of therapy and using your nice stable relationship as a springboard to new opportunities you couldn't consider when you didn't have such a nice supportive partner.
posted by davejay at 6:20 PM on August 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


« Older How to compartmentalize and get centered during a...   |   Long Weekend Road Trip Leaving from Central NJ Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.