I'm at the end of my rope
November 11, 2009 2:00 PM   Subscribe

Please shed some light on my extramarital issue.

1. I am into some stuff sexually, that a lot of people are not into. This includes my partner, who is squeamish. Nothing illegal, nonconsensual, or dangerous. In fact it's almost mainstream, well it is where I live.

2. I was not openly into this stuff when we got together.

3. I am getting really frustrated with my partner's unwillingness to experiment, although I know it's not my partner's fault that they are not into it...It is depressing to get shot down and frustrating. To ask that they do something with me that is not physically or emotionally taxing and feel like my partner is disgusted...

4. I'm really having trouble being sexually satisfied with my partner and the frustration at not having this is starting to seep into other aspects of our life together. Not because the sexual technique isn't there, or the attraction, I just feel empty inside while we're having sex, and rejected, and it sometimes leads to the sex completely stopping. Ughhh

5. I really don't want to be that person who pushes their partner until the activity is semi-consensual. I don't want my partner to feel blackmailed into this.

6. There is no one on the back burner or anyone that I am trying to have sex with so I'm not trying to use this as a justification for an affair with a particular person...if I went out and looked I'm sure I could find someone though, like I said because of where I live.

QUESTION: Should I go outside of my relationship? If I ask permission to do so, how would I frame it?

How do I deal with the disappointment if the answer is no?

I really don't want to end my relationship over sex...but I don't want to be someone who cheats and it's getting to the point where I want to just say fuck it and go do it safely with no strings attached, and just keep my mouth shut. I want to be an ethical person and do this in a decent way. Or am I deluding myself? Should I suck it up and deal? Is this where I should be an adult and get over myself? Do you think my partner will come around...? I am trying not to push.

I love my partner so much. Any insight, please share. I want to do the right thing.

Kids are not involved.

Thank you.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (43 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Is this something you absolutely must experience yourself?

There are adult materials on the web for just about every turn on, kinky or not. Read, watch videos, look at pictures. Fantasize and masturbate.

I would take your post and show it to your spouse (maybe sans the part about looking outside your marriage). Explain your frustration but explain how you don't want to force them. Especially if s/he disagrees with you looking at porn.

Talk to your spouse, communication is essential for all aspects of your marriage.

An affair, even sanctioned by your partner, is only going to end in heartache.
posted by royalsong at 2:06 PM on November 11, 2009


What is it that you want?
posted by ZaneJ. at 2:07 PM on November 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Remember the guy whose girlfriend wouldn't make him a grilled cheese sandwich? He broke up with her (scroll down a bit). Only you can decide how important these things are to you. Only you can decide if she really is being unreasonable, like the GC girl, or not. You might have to suck up and deal, you might be terribly disappointed. But if the rest of her is worth it to you, then you'll find a way to deal.

My personal opinion is, we only live once so do what you have to do, but don't be an asshole.
posted by Melismata at 2:11 PM on November 11, 2009 [5 favorites]


It sounds like you have a partner who is at least willing to talk about it. Talk. Tell him/her how you feel. Discuss it as best you can. Ask partner how they feel about it. Don't guess. (Assuming you can your partner can talk about this - that may be the initial barrier, and may itself be unsurmountable; work on that if you need to.)

There are several possible outcomes, based on your partner's response
1. A complete rejection or unwillingness to accommodate you.
2. A willingness to compromise, to attempt to come part way to help you.
3. A relatively enthusiastic embrace of the situation, a good faith attempt to fully come around.

Items 1 and 2 will call for you to make a decision. You cannot, no matter how hard you try, make someone do something they don't want to. If you continue to be unsatisfied, you can choose to continue discussing it; to live with the situation; or to leave the relationship.

I strongly recommend against cheating. If your partner is willing to let you have an outside relationship, that's another matter (and rife with it's own challenges). But the key to making the relationship work, at any level, is to communicate honestly. Cheating is the ultimate form of disrespect, and will not help you in the long run. I am not being moral here, it really is an entirely practical matter.

You may want to focus on the positive aspects of your relationship, too. It may be you who winds up doing the compromising in order to preserve it. You'll have to decide what you can live with, either way.
posted by Xoebe at 2:17 PM on November 11, 2009


This isn't an extramarital issue. This is a relationship problem. And it really is tough to answer unless you can be a little more explicit with gender and acts and whatnot.

But if you don't feel like sharing, maybe you can find useful information in the Savage Love archives. The podcast is also quite good.
posted by roger ackroyd at 2:18 PM on November 11, 2009


To ask that they do something with me that is not physically or emotionally taxing and feel like my partner is disgusted...

That's not really for you to say, is it? It takes two to tango, so they say, and your partner, in your words, is squeamish about this particular act. Why force it?

If you and your spouse are both healthy sexually (like, neither one of you has ever been a victim of sexual abuse) and you've discussed it and he/she still doesn't want to do it...there's not much else to be done. Seconding royalsong's advice: does it have to be actual sex with your actual partner? Could this desire be fulfilled solo?

In the end, it may be time for you to be an adult and just let it go. We don't always get to have everything we want.
posted by cooker girl at 2:18 PM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


is there any chance your partner would be okay with you pursing this particular sexual proclivity outside of your relationship?
posted by anthropomorphic at 2:19 PM on November 11, 2009


My $0.02 - everyone has kinks. Some people's kinks are vanilla compared to other people's kinks, but everyone has something that turns them on. Do you genuinely try to do things your partner's way sometimes? Do you know what turns them on, specifically? What environment, what technique, what attitude, what lead-up, what "script"? Have you talked about this? Being GGG goes both ways, and as royalsong says, communication is absolutely essential - in both directions. Maybe you aren't being pushy, but assuming your partner loves you as much as you love them, knowing that you dearly want something they aren't ready/prepared to give you has to put them under a certain amount of pressure. Make it about making the intimate side of your relationship happier for both of you rather than just getting what you want out of them.
posted by pammeke at 2:20 PM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


mefi mail me or email me.
posted by kathrineg at 2:20 PM on November 11, 2009


Cheating is really not an option here. This is not because monogamy is required, but that you have made a promise, implicit, or explicit, that you will be faithful. Cheating is a breaking of the promiseto be monogamous.

Therefore you have a few ethical options here:

(1) Ask that you be released from your promise.
--if your partner says no there are two options:
(a) leave your spouse for the purposes of sexual fulfillment
(b) suck it up.
(2) Suck it up and live without the sexual desire you have.
(3) Ask your partner again to participate in the activity
--if your partner says no there are two options:
(a) leave your spouse for the purposes of sexual fulfillment
(b) suck it up.

Also, what the activity is does matter. If the activity involves you doing something or your partner doing something to you, I think it is something which can be asked again.

However, if the activity involves your partner having sex with another person that he/she does not want to have (i.e. cukcolding, threesomes etc.) we are talking about something that presses against the boundaries of the spouse's personal autonomy in ways that will likely not work.

Finally, why is it necessary? I'm no kinkster, but I find that often we work out our issues through kinks and other sexual things, like cheating. If you suddenly feel a lot of pressure regarding this issue, perhaps you might need to look at other things, such as stressors in your life, trust issues, or issues stemming from trauma or a difficult childhood to reduce the pressing feeling like you must have this particular kink.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:20 PM on November 11, 2009 [6 favorites]


My sister had a similar situation. She married a man who was finished having children. So she had to choose, a life with him and never having kids, or a life without him and the hopes that someone else may come along who is everything to her that he is PLUS wanting to have kids.

She said to me that she realized she'd never find another man like him and so the choice was made in a fraction of a second, be with him.

You need to decide what is more important to you. Look at this as an either-or. Is your life without your fetish worth the love of your significant other?

MAYBE your partner will be game for an open relationship, but you don't seem to think so judging by your post, and so when the answer is "no" you need to decide if porn and other outlets are enough, and if they aren't then you need to do the mature thing and end the relationship.
posted by arniec at 2:22 PM on November 11, 2009


Nevereverever cheat. Getting your spouse's permission is admirable, but it would be ideal if you could resolve this without having to hurt your spouse by asking to go outside. Have you thought of making a game of this? Ask your spouse what he/she has always wanted to try. Have him/her make a list. Make one of your own. Then the two of you could designate a trial period where you both experiment with each other's kinks (or just old-fashioned likes if your spouse isn't kinky in the least)... just to give it a try. It could be fun for both of you, and it wouldn't have to mean "Okay, this is what we're doing from now on, I don't care if you're uncomfortable." You might learn a lot of things about each other in the process.

But if you've tried everything and still find yourself frustrated to the point where it's affecting other aspects of your relationship, and you're wanting to get your kink on somewhere else, it's time to leave. For your spouse's sake as much as yours.
posted by katillathehun at 2:27 PM on November 11, 2009


Yeah. I try to stay out of relationship questions, bu Melisamata nailed this one already. You have to decide whether this thing - whatever it might be - is more important than your love for your partner.

If you were a bastard, this would not be a problem at all - you'd just do the unethical thing. But you're not, so this is your decision:

Is this a deal breaker for you? Can you seriously not live a good and fulfilling sexual life without this? If so, you have to talk about it and work out ways to get what you want (porn, outside activity, whatever). But you have to be upfront about what you're doing if you're serious about the relationship.

Flip side is... if it isn't serious enough to talk about, then either it isn't serious enough to make you throw away the relationship, or the relationship isn't worth as much as you thought.

I'd avoid terms like "suck up and deal" though (sorry to prev. posters). Compromise isn't "sucking up and dealing", it's life, it's relationships. A good compromise, well reached, can be a positive thing. Sometimes you two are just gonna have to make a decision.
posted by handee at 2:29 PM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am getting really frustrated with my partner's unwillingness to experiment, although I know it's not my partner's fault that they are not into it...It is depressing to get shot down and frustrating. To ask that they do something with me that is not physically or emotionally taxing and feel like my partner is disgusted...

So, the fact that your partner is completely turned off by a particular sex act/situation isn't enough of a reason to stop asking them for it? How do you know it's not emotionally taxing to them? I think there's a bigger issue here of respecting your partner's wants and boundaries that you seem to be ignoring. As much as it hurts to want something you aren't getting, it's even worse to be continually harassed into doing something you find repulsive. I think you're turning this refusal to do what you want into some sort of huge rejection of you on their part. I think you're being immature and selfish in the way you're approaching this and need to either decide whether this thing is a deal breaker for you or not. If you don't want the relationship to end over this, then you are going to need to drop the subject.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 2:33 PM on November 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Whoops, sorry for assuming that the partner is a woman.
posted by Melismata at 2:34 PM on November 11, 2009


Fourth ethical option: "If this act or set of acts is really a giant no-op with your partner, and there's any chance of either of you being emotionally and mentally OK with it, sit down and have the hardest set of talks of your entire relationship and work out some other arrangement for the scratching of that kink."

But I'd be damn sure you're actually wired to commit to that sort of arrangement on both sides. I hate having the "...your coworker is hot and now you think you're poly and want your SO to commit to an open relationship five years into the current arrangement?" discussion with friends. That's not poly, that's opportunism.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 2:34 PM on November 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


You don't want to break up with someone over sex. But ... it happens all the time. And it's better if you know now, as opposed to ten years down the road.

If your sexual needs aren't being met, and you don't think there's any way they will be met inside your current relationship, you need to move on. No guilt, no blame -- in fact, it's probably the easiest "out" you'll ever give a guy (or gal). "Hey, listen. I'm kinky. You're not. This probably isn't going to work."

Of course you should give your partner every opportunity to say, "Wait! What if we had an open relationship?" or "Maybe I could be more open-minded," but you can't change what turns your partner on and off.

When it comes to kinks, some of us have them and some of us don't. You can't force a kink upon someone, and actually that would be a terrible thing to do. It would be much worse than moving on.

Perhaps you and your partner could take some time to figure this out. You need to see just how important your kinks are to you, as others have said. And don't feel like a bad person if those kinks are too important to let go. You deserve to have a fun, fulfilling sex life.

One last thing: Please don't add infidelity to the mix! As of right now you've done nothing to feel guilty over, but if you go behind your partner's back you will be creating a big old mess for everyone involved.
posted by brina at 2:35 PM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


To ask that they do something with me that is not physically or emotionally taxing and feel like my partner is disgusted...

OK, here's where you've gone off track. You don't think that your partner's feelings are valid. We don't know what your kink is, so I'll assume it requires zero physical effort on your partner's part. But emotionally? Who knows, and who knows why we have the reactions we do? I hate the smell of chili, it makes me want to puke, but lots of people love it. I can't explain WHY I hate it, I just do. It's visceral disgust.

My guess is that you are taking his/her disgust at this activity as a personal attack, that he/she is judging you as disgusting. You're really defending yourself when you convince yourself that you need this. You say you feel "empty and rejected."

It's not about your kink. You won't feel any less empty or rejected if you find a third party to fulfill it. If you love your partner, it's still THEIR attention and affection you'll want. You'll still be frustrated and resentful at home, plus you'll feel ashamed and guilty. This is why cheating is not the answer.

It's really difficult to know how to approach your partner without knowing the kink and your partner's gender. I'm a dominant hetero-ish female, so if that perspective would help you, feel free to memail or email me.
posted by desjardins at 2:48 PM on November 11, 2009 [13 favorites]


The OP can be reached at

auto5891@hushmail.com
posted by kathrineg at 2:49 PM on November 11, 2009


Leave, or don't. Unless you have some real, honest-to-God, not-fooling-yourself reason to think your partner would be into an open relationship, the only ethical way to do Sex Act 37B, whatever that is, with someone else is to end your relationship with your partner first.

Also... everyone has sexual needs, everyone has their own and they are what they are. Some couples are not sexually compatible at all, and those couples are probably best served by breaking up sooner rather than later.

But at the same time, you find yourself with a very powerful need for Sex Act 37B. A need for it that's so strong that it's invading other space, causing frustration with other sex acts and your nonsexual life together. A need that's strong enough that you're contemplating either leaving or cheating/asking to cheat, which is for most couples as good as putting a gun to the relationship's temple and pulling the trigger.

So, first thing, is your frustration really about the not getting Sex Act 37B? Or is this frustration over being balked at other things and other problems that are getting shoved onto this particular disagreement?

If you believe that this really is purely about Sex Act 37B, then have you considered talking to someone therapist-ish about your need for it? I mean, I don't mean to imply that there's anything wrong with you wanting or liking Sex Act 37B, unless it involves Brussels sprouts. But if you have a need for something -- anything -- that's so powerful and consuming that not getting that one thing means that you're thinking about leaving or killing a relationship that you claim has been otherwise satisfying, that might imply something unhealthy about that need in you. Whether that need is for Sex Act 37B or for tailgating at every home football game of your alma mater or for orchids or for anything else under the sun.

But I imagine that isn't true, and that at some level your unhappiness with some other aspects of your relationship is bleeding onto or sharpening your frustration at not getting Sex Act 37B.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:57 PM on November 11, 2009


Yeah, I'm gonna have to second what desjardins said.

It's hard to step outside of yourself and see how someone else perceives sex and what is sexually arousing vs. disgusting.

I think that a comprimise could be reached if you are willing to respect your partner's boundaries. At this point I think you need to relax and take a break from thinking about this and try to just enjoy your partner. Take a break from sex altogether if it makes you feel yucky.

Do what it takes to center yourself, spiritually and/or ethically.

Because right now, I don't think you're in a mental or emotional place to respect your partner's boundaries even if they do allow you to explore elsewhere.

I don't want to say this is just a phase, but how long have you been considering this? You said it wasn't an issue when you met. Maybe the priority you're placing on this problem will be different in a few months.

I don't want to tell you to "grow up" but I do want you to remember that even if you leave this partner, you're still going to have to live with yourself. So please, please, wait until you're in a place where you're sure you're thinking with your head and not your hormones.

I really, really wish you and your partner the best.
posted by kathrineg at 2:58 PM on November 11, 2009


I take it you are in a relationship that isn't at present "open" or polyamorous or casual or whatever other qualifier you'd want to assign to it. I also take it your partner would not be all that much interested in leading such a relationship since you described them as less adventurous. I hate to break it to you like this but in that case you really have no excuse to go somewhere else for sexual satisfaction without discussing this first. your partner sounds like a person who is expecting nothing less than fidelity from you and they are right to do so. it's perhaps an unspoken contract but it's still a contract you two made.

I understand your frustration. not being sexually compatible is terrible, especially when everything else works. a lot of us have to go through that once or twice in our lives. in this you have three options:

1. discuss with your partner continuing the relationship because you like each other while seeking sexual fulfillment elsewhere. yes, that means they can do it as well. I have a feeling that's not going to work.

2. lay out in no uncertain terms what is not working for you and discuss options. you need to be prepared to hear "but that wouldn't make me happy and you'd be transferring your unhappiness to me." be prepared for the relationship to end. I am not stating it has to but it is a possibility. choose this option if you decide you cannot live without the sex life changing and you want to give it one more shot at solving this issue together.

3. accept that your partner is the way they are and stop pushing. this is the option to choose if you decide you do not value sexual experiences as much as you love your partner. that is tough. I could not do it. I don't know anyone who could but I don't know you.

all these options mean you need to have a frank and open conversation with your partner. don't hide behind metaphors and insinuations. be clear. be nice. be quiet. but again: be clear. communication is key here. you will only know if this relationship has a chance if you know what is possible, what is not, what your partner wants and what you wants. asking the internet is not the same. we do not know your partner.

final point: sex is not trivial. you are not a lesser individual for wanting to have a fulfilling sex life. it's the most personal element of a relationship and in my book it's just as much worth as any other aspect of it.
posted by krautland at 3:02 PM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


It is difficult to say whether your partner will come around. I don't know him/her and I don't know your particular kink that he/she is so squeamish about. (Forgive me if this is disjointed as I am attempting to type it on my phone.) My suggestion would be to talk with the s.o. about it in a non sexual setting and very gently ask what aspects of it make him/ her uncomfortable. Maybe these could be overcome through enough discussion/self-reflection. If the s.o. comes around at all, don't jump into anything. Acclimate them to it slowly and don't expect too much too quickly. This advice is coming from someone who didn't understand their partner's kinks or know how to participate at first. I basically had to start in small increments until I had become desensitized to it. My main issue (while I may have seemed squeamish) was less about my judgement of the act and more just that I felt ridiculous and weird doing it.

You're right to not want to push. your s.o. likely feels somewhat inadequate and/or resentful for the fact that the sex stops, so it needs to be dealt with outside of that setting. they should only participate on their own terms and any prompting will be seen as pushing unless they've asked for you to "help" them.

At this point you both feel like the other thinks there's something "wrong" with you, and maybe talking about it will help you both see that you accept eachother. Do not go elsewhere at this point. Try to find some middle ground and make some compromises. Maybe there are some lead-up things your s.o. would be more comfortable with? Maybe there are books on the subject that will help them be less squeamish?

Also it might help just asking the s.o. what their fantasies are and doing that. Focus on pleasing your partner and he/she will likely be much more receptive to doing the same.

Only if all of this fails to work should you consider going outside of the relationship, and even then, you have to come to terms with the possibility of your s.o. saying no. Do not, under any circumstances, do it without the so's permission.

I think that's all. Good luck!
posted by a.steele at 3:08 PM on November 11, 2009


A lot of good advice already, but I didn't see this specifically addressed:

2. I was not openly into this stuff when we got together.

While a kink certainly isn't a first date topic, if you've got a kink that is a significant part of your sexuality it needs to be addressed early on in the relationship. If you spring it on someone after they've become significantly invested, especially after an engagement or marriage, that can feel like a betrayal, and it's not a cool thing to do.
posted by 6550 at 3:22 PM on November 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


Yeah, 6550 has a good point. Your partner might feel like they're not sure who you are or what else you might have kept from them, and THAT could account for much of the distance you feel, not the particularities of Sex Act 37B. Depending on the kink, it can really shift someone's mental image of their partner. I have seen this happen with crossdressers I've known; their partner just can't quite ever see them again as the masculine man they thought they were.* This may just take some time until your partner is reassured that you are who you've always been; there's just this new addition to your desires.

I would try to stop treating it like it is a Big Deal, both in your head and with your partner. Just try that, for a month or so. My guess is that it is becoming a much larger issue than it needs to be; that it's become the elephant constantly in the room. Talk about it, but don't have The Big Talk About Sex Act 37B. If you can separate "what you want" from "who you are," your partner will have an easier time doing this as well, and it won't need to be this Dark Looming Personal Issue.

*Yes, I know crossdressers can be manly men; I'm talking about the partner's perception.
posted by desjardins at 3:36 PM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


1. I am into some stuff sexually, that a lot of people are not into. This includes my partner, who is squeamish. Nothing illegal, nonconsensual, or dangerous. In fact it's almost mainstream, well it is where I live.
Well, I'd firstly like to know how you're into something sexual "that a lot of people are not into," but that is "almost mainstream." This is really defensive writing and makes me think that you are perhaps still insecure about your own desire, much less about how your partner is handling it.

I think it's important to try to be realistic with ourselves when we run into controversial subjects with loved ones, friends, people in general. You cannot very defensively say that your slightly non-mainstream sexual desire is okay, while also using the term "squeamish" for your partner. I say this, because what this really sounds like is "A lot of people feel this way where I I live, so it must be okay for me to feel the way I do. My partner's feelings don't matter as much, because, really, it's just illogical squeamishness that makes him/her feel the way he/she does." That is not a fair or logical standard, to hold your feelings as more valid, particularly over something as uncertain and variable from person to person as some sexual appetites.
2. I was not openly into this stuff when we got together.
This is pretty important. It's not earth-shattering, necessarily (depending on the kink, I guess), but it maybe isn't what your partner "signed up" for. Try to flip the scenario. What if your partner came home today and announced that he/she wanted to do something that, to you, is just unthinkable. It might be sexual, moral, political, any number of things. You would feel a little betrayed, personally, by your partner, almost as much as you would feel odd about what he or she was wanting to do. Change, particularly very intimate or risky change, scares most of us.
3. I am getting really frustrated with my partner's unwillingness to experiment, although I know it's not my partner's fault that they are not into it...It is depressing to get shot down and frustrating. To ask that they do something with me that is not physically or emotionally taxing and feel like my partner is disgusted...
Again, flip the scenario. Here's what your partner might be thinking:

- I'm getting really frustrated with my partner's demands for me to experiment. It doesn't respect my sexual desire.

- It's depressing and frustrating to have him/her throw that in my face, when he/she already knows how I feel about it.

- He/She doesn't think that this is emotionally taxing to me, but I've not been asked. I feel like my partner is disgusted with what we have, when I've been happy with it. Why can't he/she be happy with the way things have always been?

- I thought I was good enough. Why can't I make my partner feel good sexually? Should I cast aside my own feelings, in an effort to satisfy him/her?

- I don't want to lose my partner, but I'm afraid of losing myself.
4. I'm really having trouble being sexually satisfied with my partner and the frustration at not having this is starting to seep into other aspects of our life together. Not because the sexual technique isn't there, or the attraction, I just feel empty inside while we're having sex, and rejected, and it sometimes leads to the sex completely stopping. Ughhh
The thing I've noticed from point to point is that you rarely analyze what your partner might be going through. You excuse your feelings as being fairly normal and go on to talk about your frustration and depression. Could your partner not be going through different, yet very similar emotions? You seem so hung up on getting what you want, and justifying it in the process, that you're (mostly) forgetting there is another person in your relationship. Has it occurred to you that, perhaps since learning about your recently-revealed sexual need, your partner might not feel so sexually comfortable or satisfied, either?
5. I really don't want to be that person who pushes their partner until the activity is semi-consensual. I don't want my partner to feel blackmailed into this.
And you shouldn't be that person. There really isn't anything semi-consensual, if there are no substances involved that would affect both of you. When you're both in good sense, things should always be very clearly consensual. There should be honesty, communication and absolutely no mental, emotional or physical manipulation. Anything other than that is disrespectful not only to your relationship itself, but to the other individual in the relationship.

That aside, I'm not sure that you don't want your partner to feel blackmailed into this. Well, maybe not blackmailed, but you're very interested in pointing out that you feel your partner's feelings are unreasonable, while yours are not. If you're bringing this into discussions with him/her in the way you've presented it here (somewhat accusatory), then you are trying to work their feelings, which is inappropriate.
6. There is no one on the back burner or anyone that I am trying to have sex with so I'm not trying to use this as a justification for an affair with a particular person...if I went out and looked I'm sure I could find someone though, like I said because of where I live. QUESTION: Should I go outside of my relationship? If I ask permission to do so, how would I frame it?
I could be wrong, but it seems like you're hoping to find justification for going outside of your relationship here. But unless your "squeamish" partner is all right with an open relationship (that you most definitely should bluntly and clearly ask permission to have, due to risks involved), you need to seek professional couple's therapy or end things while no one is terribly undone and while no children are involved.
How do I deal with the disappointment if the answer is no?
Are you asking this in regard to continued rejection of your particular sexual desire, or in regard to the open relationship? If the former, then you need to decide what's more important: your relationship or your hormones. If the latter, you need to seek couple's therapy or end things as amicably as possible. If it's come to the question of an open relationship, and the answer's no, you should not feel like you have any right to go against that. That is toying with your partner's body. I have met two people who have been the very unlucky recipients of their partners' "safe cheating" mishap: herpes.
I really don't want to end my relationship over sex...but I don't want to be someone who cheats and it's getting to the point where I want to just say fuck it and go do it safely with no strings attached, and just keep my mouth shut. I want to be an ethical person and do this in a decent way. Or am I deluding myself? Should I suck it up and deal? Is this where I should be an adult and get over myself? Do you think my partner will come around...? I am trying not to push. I love my partner so much. Any insight, please share. I want to do the right thing.
"I really don't want to end my relationship over sex...but..."? Others might disagree with me, but I don't really believe that people love their partners "so much" when they begin searching for ways to change their sexual appetites or justification for cheating. If you truly love your partner, you will openly and rationally communicate, with the help of a therapist if there are problems with doing that. And, if you love your sexual quirk more, go after it. Your partner, who will be lower on the totem pole, will mostly certainly not mind in the long run that you let him/her go; you'll be doing both of you a favor, if it comes to that.
posted by metalheart at 3:56 PM on November 11, 2009 [8 favorites]


You're considering

(a) continuing to pressure your partner until they "come around"
(b) cheating if they don't
(c) ending the relationship if all else fails

None of these are the actions of someone who loves their partner "so much". I'd say do your partner a favor and jump straight to (c).
posted by JaredSeth at 4:24 PM on November 11, 2009 [9 favorites]


You're asking your partner to do something sexual that s/he finds disgusting. It doesn't matter if it's not physically taxing, you're asking your partner to pair something disgusting with sex--like some kind of warped anti-sex conditioning exercise. Surely there is something you find disgusting that your partner likes: it's a visceral reaction, not a matter of judging the other person.

What would you want to do if your partner announced that something that disgusts you was something s/he wanted to incorporate into your sex life? Start there. Have the conversation. It's ok to live without sharing a kink with your partner, or to end a relationship so that you can find a partner who shares your kink, but you should have the conversation with a reasonable perspective on exactly what you're asking of your partner.
posted by Meg_Murry at 4:54 PM on November 11, 2009


I don't know what your thing is, but let's say for the purposes of this discussion that it's golden showers (i.e., urine play).

Now, yeah, your partner is going to pee anyway (or if you want to be the pee-er, not the pee-ee, urine is relatively sterile and washes off just fine). So it's "not a big deal," you suggest.

But the thing is that it is a big deal, or you wouldn't feel like you really, really needed to do it. The inverse of your feeling that you really, really need to do it is your partner's feeling that they really, really need NOT to do it.

This is a bit of an impasse. You might be able to come to a resolution in working with a kink-friendly therapist (and you might find such a therapist here).

But you guys are going to need to fundamentally renegotiate the terms of your relationship if you want this relationship plus your kink. It may be that your partner will be comfortable with some kinds of scenes that also satisfy you; it may be that your partner will be cool with you doing kink play with other people who are into whatever it is; it may be that you guys decide that this is too big a barrier and move on.

What I can guarantee you will never, ever work is your pressuring someone who finds this squicky into doing it and feeling anything but rage and/or humiliation.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:14 PM on November 11, 2009


It doesn't matter if it's not physically taxing, you're asking your partner to pair something disgusting with sex--like some kind of warped anti-sex conditioning exercise.

Just wanted to quote this for truth.

Assuming this act isn't physically/emotionally taxing (and we don't know if that's true for your partner), and they "just" find it gross, and you somehow pressure/guilt/"reason" them into doing it anyway, I agree that you will be performing a kind of anti-sex conditioning exercise on them. And I think that will create many more problems than you have now.
posted by Ashley801 at 5:56 PM on November 11, 2009


Has your partner _ever_ performed this act with you? If they have, and don't want to do it again. . . then you're kind of SOL. Your options are 1) cheat, 2) negotiate an externality clause, or 3) leave.

But if they haven't, and if it's genuinely non-harmful, I think it's reasonable to negotiate around a SINGLE experiment. Even if they find it disgusting. I have to do disgusting things in my marriage all the time to keep the peace. Mind you, it's along the lines of "cleaning the cat box" or "unclog the shower drain" rather than anything between the sheets, but it's still gross and I don't wanna do it. Mind you, you have to promise your partner that after this once, you'll talk about it in a single post-mortem session, and then never bring it up again. . . and then you have to not.

why bother? Well, it might be that your partner wasn't as horrified as they thought they would be. It might be that the act is way hotter for you in theory than it is in practice. Your partner might see that this is so fulfilling for you that an externality clause is reasonable. &c.

However, I agree that it's difficult to answer this question without knowing more specifics about Sex Act 37B. There's a lot of stuff that seems to one partner to be reasonable and no big deal that might well be for the other partner. (anal or deep throat, frex.)
posted by KathrynT at 6:32 PM on November 11, 2009


From the OP (who is a friend, by the way, for full disclosure)
Thanks for the good advice, my partner got laid off from a nightmare job about 1 mo ago and I was looking forward to some time to spend together and hang out and experiment. I wanted there to be some kind of "comeback" because while he was trying to handle the job situation, we talked about trying some new stuff together in the vague future when we had more time and energy. This has been open for consideration for a while, at least I thought it was being considered and was hopeful about it. So I thought why not now to try this stuff out, and I feel heartbroken about it. Kinda like being a kid and not getting ANYTHING for Christmas. I know, I am feeling sorry for myself and it's pathetic, but that's how I feel. Maybe that is why I am so fixated on it.

We want to adopt kids, and the adoption process is extremely time- and energy-consuming (and yes we would make sure we have a stable home, which is more motivation for me to deal with this and not sweep it under the rug if it's really something I need). Both of his parents are elderly and need more and more help all of the time. All of this stuff is around the corner for us. When am I ever going to get to experience this? I don't want to be "that guy" who sneaks out of the house on Christmas Eve or gets desperate and does something dangerous and gets hurt or arrested.

For what it's worth I am into basic bondage and spanking and mild domination/submission, no sticking needles in anyone or anything like that (not that there's anything wrong with that if that is what you are into, I'm just not). I am really, really into it. I am open to giving and receiving and I feel like there is no way that someone could be open to NOTHING in that arena. Like, not even one spanking? or some scarves? blindfold? Just, like, being bossy? NOPE.

I am trying hard to have more empathy here. Example, don't want to have sex with a woman, If someone tried to convince me to be "into it" I would not be comfortable at all. I am trying to keep that in mind instead of acting like it is "willful" or just him not trying hard enough. But like I said there is a range of stuff.

My partner is 100% satisfied sexually, which makes me jealous. I don't want to be this kind of person but it really bothers me because I feel like I have been very sexually generous and open and I am getting a little bitter because what I am getting from his is an attitude of "whatever, I already got mine". But as far as he knew going in I "got mine" too, right? But isn't basic sexual experimentation normal as a relationship goes on?

I'm a lot younger (7 years) if that helps explain some things and I live in an area where it seems like many people are not "vanilla" which is why it would be easy for me to find another partner and it is tempting. I guess my best bet is to try to see if he would be OK with me doing stuff but having good boundaries around penatration/oral and just doing the spanking or whatever and then coming home and having awesome sex. I really hope that would work. Maybe I would even see that it's not all that important to me once I have access to it.

Your advice has been really helpful and thank you very much for being thoughtful and more empathetic than I have been and for seeing it from his perspective. I love him a lot and I want good things for him and to see him happy. I needed that empathy boost even if I don't agree with everything and am still having a hard time. Please feel free to add anything else you are thinking of.
posted by kathrineg at 7:37 PM on November 11, 2009


"I guess my best bet is to try to see if he would be OK with me doing stuff but having good boundaries around penatration/oral and just doing the spanking or whatever and then coming home and having awesome sex."

FWIW, I know more than one couple who does exactly this -- including couples who consider themselves to be monogamous. The one thing I will say is to make sure, if you do develop such an arrangement, that the amount of time you spend / sex you have with your partner goes UP, by a really noticeable quantity.
posted by KathrynT at 8:21 PM on November 11, 2009


OK, your elaboration definitely shed some light on things, especially with regards to how something can be both taboo and mainstream in a certain community. Thanks for the follow-up.

"Nightmare job" and "laid off" jumped out at me. My husband also recently got out of a horrible work situation, and the emotional toll was very high. It's stressful as hell, and being asked to do something new that seems fun TO YOU but not to him adds an additional layer of stress. I don't see you empathizing with this at all. You come off rather petulant, actually.

If I were you I'd let him entirely off the hook until the job situation sorts itself out. Is he really recovered from nightmare job? A month is not much time. Is there financial stress now that he's not working? (these are rhetorical) Any stress is going to magnify other changes. BDSM is exciting to you, but uninteresting at best and threatening/disgusting at worst to him. It may seem like a lot for him to think about, and if you want him to be dominant, you're VASTLY VASTLY VASTLY underestimating the mental energy it takes to be dominant, especially when you're not feeling it.

Anyway. I'm tired and I have a ton of thoughts on this, but mathowie would probably run out of server space and I'll definitely run out of energy. So I'll leave you with this: Make sure your partner is taken care of outside the bedroom. Do everything you can to de-stress him, yourself, and your environment. Don't bring it up for another month, because if you come off this whiny in AskMe, I can only imagine the desperation you give off in person. (Sorry, not trying to be harsh, but whiny and needy are totally anathema to good sex.)
posted by desjardins at 10:20 PM on November 11, 2009


I wanted there to be some kind of "comeback" because while he was trying to handle the job situation, we talked about trying some new stuff together in the vague future when we had more time and energy. ... So I thought why not now to try this stuff out, and I feel heartbroken about it. Kinda like being a kid and not getting ANYTHING for Christmas. I know, I am feeling sorry for myself and it's pathetic, but that's how I feel.

Desjardins said it best, but I'm going to re-iterate - being laid off is not relaxing. Even if the job was hellish - especially if the job was hellish, there's time required to get over the last job, fear of the new job being just as bad or worse....all sorts of issues arise. And...it's not easy generating a lot of energy for sexual experimentation if you are stressed. And...I find it stressful needing to take on a role during sex that I'm not naturally wired for - being dominant on demand is taxing and often not fun if that's not your thing.

I'm glad to hear that you recognize that you may not be being reasonable about this. I think you may be picking up on your partner's stress and this is causing your unreasonable response to your wishes not coming true right away. I really recommend that you focus on him right now, hugs are going to get you closer to your wish than anger. Reconnect emotionally, and you'll find the sex follows naturally.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 7:44 AM on November 12, 2009


A little bit of instruction and encouragement goes a long way, sometimes. I could imagine your partner is squeamish partially because he just cannot imagine "degrading" you in such a way. So, try a little "topping from the bottom." Ask him to hold your arms (or whatever) in place. If he expresses concern for hurting you, tell him that you like it, and you'll say something if it's too much.

People who aren't really into BDSM don't think of it as a spectrum so much as "vanilla" versus stereotypical leather and chains. Ease him in a little bit, have him be more dominant in "regular sex" before you ask him to do anything like tying you up.
posted by explosion at 7:58 AM on November 12, 2009


After some sleep:

Like I said, I'm dominant, but some days I'm tired, stressed, or just not feeling it. What we do is that he ties himself up: I don't have to do any of the physical work. And then we, y'know, proceed normally. Or, he could just leave you tied up while he watches TV or whatever, and then untie you when you're all worked up and then proceed. If pain is your thing, but he doesn't want to inflict it, nipple clamps are one thing to try. You can probably work out some sort of compromise. Also, it's common in hetero-BDSM-land to play with other people but only have sex with their partner. If your partner's OK with this, it might be the way to go. Most tops I know would be just fine with letting him watch.
posted by desjardins at 8:17 AM on November 12, 2009


Both topping and bottoming can be both physically and emotionally taxing, regardless of whether it seems that way to you. When you've talked about this, have you really shut up and listened to what your partner had to say (without composing your response in your head while he talk) and asked questions to better understand his position? Have you put yourself in his shoes?

Your partner is dealing with a lot of stress: a lost job, probably either a job hunt or the stress of starting and fitting into a new job (or possibly the stress of starting a business or retirement), elderly parents who need lots of time and emotional energy, likely financial concerns, the possibility of starting the process of adoption, and a petulant partner who lacks empathy and is pushing for intimate exploration of uncomfortable territory. No wonder he's throwing on the brakes!

I understand that this can be very important, and that it might seem urgent to you to explore this and its ramifications for your life and your partnership. You have every right to want those things. Your partner has just as much right not to want them, or to feel like he's not ready for them right now.

There are things you can do on your own to explore your feelings, with or without your partner. Read books and/or web materials on BDSM. Attend workshops. Try going to a munch or other social activity hosted by a local group. Blindfold yourself. Tie yourself up. Try CBT if it appeals to you (not the therapy, the other one). Use a crop on yourself. Practice orgasm denial. Explore in ways that don't put pressure on your partner and don't involve infidelity.

Once you've done some more exploration of your own and your partner's job situation is stable, approach him about introducing some very mild kink into your sex play -- like just a blindfold -- and if he is unwilling to either try it or give you a timeline, then it's time to decide if you can do enough on your own to meet your needs or ask him if he'd be okay with you getting those needs met outside the relationship, and make clear that you will respect his boundaries around that (such as only if he is present, only if there's no penetration of any orifices, only on Tuesdays when it's raining, or whatever).

If, at that point, he's not willing to explore with you and not okay with you getting those needs met outside your relationship, you will need to evaluate whether the relationship or the kink (which may turn out to be a lifestyle) is more important. If it's the kink, end the relationship rather than stepping out. It will be the right thing to do for both of you.
posted by notashroom at 11:05 AM on November 12, 2009


Both topping and bottoming can be both physically and emotionally taxing, regardless of whether it seems that way to you.

YES TIMES TEN MILLION.

Seriously, you're still not getting it. It IS a big deal. To both of you.

It's a big deal to you because you really really really want to do it.

It's a big deal to him because he really really really doesn't want to do it.

His feelings are just as valid as your feelings, and vice versa.

Please put the whole adoption thing on hold until a) you guys have figured this out, and b) he has a new job.

He's trying to deal with three overwhelmingly stressful things at once: job loss, adoption, and you guys renegotiating your sex life.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:27 AM on November 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


In response to the latest from the OP, I'd firstly like to say that if you're even considering cheating, your household is nowhere near stable enough for adopting kids. Before any process involving children begins, it is an absolute must for this to be worked out if it means as much to you, up to the point of being unfaithful or leaving. The attitude you have about this now would not create a safe, calm environment for children; children (perhaps especially adopted, older children that might need extra attention) will be able to detect problems in the home, even if they are problems you aren't openly revealing.

This has been open for consideration for a while, at least I thought it was being considered and was hopeful about it. So I thought why not now to try this stuff out, and I feel heartbroken about it. Kinda like being a kid and not getting ANYTHING for Christmas.
This is a little dramatic and shows that you've put all of your feelings into this one basket. Regardless of whether your partner ultimately agrees to your wishes or not, it's important that you not forget the many other things that he adds to your life. Not only will that help you to remain kind to him, but it will also lessen the pain of being on a different page to him. It is not uncommon that couples have sexual differences, such as one person wanting to try anal sex and the other not, one wanting to have sex nightly versus their partner's weekly traditions, and so on.

Compromises can be made, but I think that the time you're trying to deal with this is an unfortunate one. Your partner has just been laid off, which, as others have said, is stressful. Perhaps it's even more stressful to him that he got laid off from a job he didn't like. His parents are older and need care. Meanwhile, you are searching for immediate answers regarding something that it sounds like you brought up a while ago, but maybe didn't continue to communicate. It's possible that your lack of continued communication suggested to your partner that you were no longer interested in bondage play (or at least interested in talking about it), which may have given him a false sense of security that something he was uncomfortable with was now "over." To spring it on him again, in full-force, after a job lay off is going to be a pretty big thing for him to deal with.
For what it's worth I am into basic bondage and spanking and mild domination/submission, no sticking needles in anyone or anything like that (not that there's anything wrong with that if that is what you are into, I'm just not). I am really, really into it. I am open to giving and receiving and I feel like there is no way that someone could be open to NOTHING in that arena. Like, not even one spanking? or some scarves? blindfold? Just, like, being bossy? NOPE.
This is another area where you have set yourself up to be extraordinarily disappointed and to feel very rejected. Just because some or many people are into anything sexually does not mean that everyone is or that, because of that, you should just expect it in your own, personal relationship. Bondage and dominance/submission play is not a "given," especially since none of this was discussed at the start of your relationship.

Have you calmly discussed with your partner what exactly makes him uncomfortable? Perhaps he is all right with the idea of tying you up, but does not want to be tied up himself. There are any number of possibilities as to why he might not be interested in certain aspects of this sort of sexual play or why he might reject it entirely. Until you understand why he is uninterested and uncomfortable, it is very unfair for you to be going off (mentally or physically) and making life-altering decisions that will affect him too.
My partner is 100% satisfied sexually, which makes me jealous. I don't want to be this kind of person but it really bothers me because I feel like I have been very sexually generous and open and I am getting a little bitter because what I am getting from his is an attitude of "whatever, I already got mine". But as far as he knew going in I "got mine" too, right? But isn't basic sexual experimentation normal as a relationship goes on?
You are projecting your feelings onto your partner. This is a very unfair thing to do, because what ends up happening is you imagine feelings and conversations that, in reality, might never take place, perhaps even probably wouldn't take place.

You have no idea if your partner is "100% satisfied sexually." There are men who have believed that about their wives for twenty years, who in all actuality were faking orgasms or embellishing the truth the whole way there. It is an immature to assume that, because you aren't getting everything you want that it's unfair because your partner is. You don't know that; you are not in his head or in his body. Just as you kept something from your partner for a time, so can your partner keep secrets from you. It's unlikely, but you never know; perhaps your partner isn't willing to give you this, because he feels you haven't met a certain need of his. I say this, because it's important for you to not feel "jealous" over things you have no human way of knowing. This will cause undue stress in your life and the lives of those around you.

Basic sexual experimentation is normal in relationships, but only to the point that all parties consent. If you calmly communicate your needs and ask your partner what part(s) make him uncomfortable, and still there is no compromise, then--and only then--should you be considering other options. (And, again, please don't consider cheating, as cheating does not include mutual consent, but is based on lies and disrespect.)
I'm a lot younger (7 years) if that helps explain some things and I live in an area where it seems like many people are not "vanilla" which is why it would be easy for me to find another partner and it is tempting. I guess my best bet is to try to see if he would be OK with me doing stuff but having good boundaries around penatration/oral and just doing the spanking or whatever and then coming home and having awesome sex. I really hope that would work. Maybe I would even see that it's not all that important to me once I have access to it.
I don't think that age difference has much to do with how we handle things in relationships. Past age 18 and one's early 20's, when the majority of mental development has passed, we have the ability to choose to be mature about situations. It's just many choose not to be when they're young, out of a sense of entitlement, that everything they want should go according to plan. "The world is my oyster," sort of thing. Whatever your age, it would probably be good for you to realize that while this is a particularly intimate ordeal that you two are not coming into complete agreement on, it will be far from the last and probably not even the most important.

That's not said to belittle your situation or sex in a relationship, which is very important. It's said to make you realize that this does not have to be the end of your relationship, if you choose as such. And, in all likelihood, you will face many disagreements if/when you two adopt, as parenting opens up a whole new avenue for possible and formidable disagreements.

Talk to your partner, and please remember that you do not know for sure how he feels, sexually, or really about anything. You only know what he chooses to tell you and the signals he chooses to give. You also don't really know what the pulse of your area is, in the same way that seeing many scantily-clad women walking down a busy street does not mean that everyone in the town is "slutty." It doesn't even mean that those women are promiscuous. Looks, words and feelings can be very deceiving.
posted by metalheart at 11:51 AM on November 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


Hire a professional dominant.

You could do sessions as a couple. You could see someone by yourself once or twice a month as needed.

Obviously, you'll want to check references, be careful, play safe - and all that jazz.

Try it. This could be the solution you've been looking for!

Best.
posted by jbenben at 12:05 PM on November 13, 2009


Taking into account the update that katherineg posted:

Losing one's job can be emotionally devastating, even if a person is intellectually aware that it isn't their fault. This can really affect a person's sex drive, even for plain old vanilla sex. Suddenly horniness is a spontaneous thing that crops up like an itch, rather than something that is a drive like hunger.

If someone is really extending themselves to have sex on a regular basis (because they are depressed/frustrated/working through some stuff...legitimate stuff like rethinking future life plans, career trajectories, how to have a family—all things that come up after a person gets layed off, even from a crappy job) the kink factor isn't going to happen any time soon. When the need for sex is in this itch-phase and not a constant drive, a person is already extending themselves to have any kind of sex. It doesn't mean they'll be like that forever. It just means there is a lot more going on outside the bedroom, and this other stuff is more important right now.

Introducing new kink is going to go better when you're already having copious amounts of sex and everything in everyone's (you and your partner's) lives is not in flux. Bide your time. Frankly, you would do well to talk a great deal with your partner about life subjects that have nothing to do with sex right now. One month is not a lot of time to have passed after a major life event (like losing one's job!). Have some empathy! Be considerate! Love him! If your partner was once willing to consider trying new stuff, he'll be willing to consider it again. Keep in mind, there is not a perfect time table for this. He might bounce back next month. He might bounce back next year.

In the meantime: No, it is not okay to go out and cheat on the person you love while he sorts through major life changes and stress. No, it is not okay to ask him if you can get sexually satisfied elsewhere while he deals with major life changes. He needs you to be available to him emotionally and physically as someone he can trust right now.

If you decide you love your partner and want to stick with him, and you know he is interested in doing the bondage stuff someday, when life isn't so up in the air, then suck it up and watch bondage porn and masturbate to get your yayas out in the meantime. Fantasize in your head while you're having sex.

Frankly, I'm a little wowed by how you framed the original question in light of the information that came out later. Having sex in this very particular way is way less important than the fact that your partner is going through MAJOR, MAJOR shit right now. Life is long. If your partner is open to bondage someday, you'll get to experience it someday. Sit back and be loving. Part of being an adult means understanding that your immediate quality-of-life is affected when your partner's quality-of-life is affected. Best to you--
posted by whimsicalnymph at 5:09 PM on November 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


If the former, then you need to decide what's more important: your relationship or your hormones.

That's a ridiculous non-choice. You can't choose your hormones or what they do to you (within a certain gamut). You can still love someone deeply but have hormonal issues that significantly affect your emotional well being.
posted by wackybrit at 4:36 PM on November 16, 2009


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