How do you deal with sexual urges outside of your relationship?
April 29, 2010 4:17 PM   Subscribe

How do you deal with sexual urges outside of your relationship?

I don't want to be with anyone else romantically besides my partner but I find myself thinking about how much I want to have sex with other individuals, sometimes often. I'm deeply afraid one day I will act on these urges and ruin my relationship.

My partner has indicated being supportive of me having relations with these individuals but I'm not sure how it would play out once we got past the talking stage of this or how serious my partner was being. I think if we did open the relationship in this way, even if my partner was supportive I might feel guilty about it.

So, a few questions.

Being that I've never actually been in a situation to test whether I would cheat or not, how can I know if I would given the opportunity? I do not want to hurt my partner, cheating would hurt my partner, therefore I don't want to do it but, since I have never been in a situation to test my resolve I'm not sure if I would have enough self-control not to if an opportunity presented itself. Have you ever felt this way then were confronted with an opportunity and could easily not cheat? I don't want to cheat but I'm afraid my urges will be too strong and take over my rational mind and I will do something I will terribly regret.

How do I deal with these urges to have relations with others? It's purely about sex. The people I find myself wanting to have sex with are not anyone who I would ever date.

If you've had urges like this and a supportive partner and carried out your urges, how did it affect your relationship? If I did anything with these people this would be the avenue I would want to take.

(Just to be clear I am very attracted to my partner and the sex is great. I just feel urges to have sex with other people.)

posted by anonymous to Human Relations (38 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

Sometimes the best thing is actively avoid the situations that would result in cheating. Once you are there, I feel like temptation is easy. If you feel like a friendship is sexually charged, if it feels like you are flirting, then maybe you should not be doing that.

The urge will be there, and you will experience it. I guess the best I can say try not to focus on it. Try to remind yourself that everything you have and how lucky you are, because you are.
posted by kuju at 4:24 PM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I can't speak as to what would happen if you opened your relationship, and I don't know how to make the urges go away. But I think the best way to deal with destructive urges that won't go away, is to keep yourself as far away as possible from situations where you will be tempted by them. Don't even take the smallest, most innocuous seeming baby step down that path. If you find yourself in a situation like that or in a situation that is becoming like that, get out of there.

It might help, if you find yourself in a situation you absolutely cannot get out of and you are hanging on by a thread, to just let your SO know what's going on. (It sounds like this will be possible for you since you guys have already discussed this general issue.)
posted by Ashley801 at 4:25 PM on April 29, 2010

Being that I've never actually been in a situation to test whether I would cheat or not, how can I know if I would given the opportunity?

If you talk to your partner about what you want to do, and you two work out a way to open the relationship or any sort of polyamorous agreement, you wouldn't necessarily be cheating. On the other hand, aren't you always being 'given the opportunity' to 'cheat'? Every day you could choose to be with someone else, to 'cheat' or leave your partner, but you aren't yet. So perhaps that suggests that you wouldn't 'cheat.' The best person to talk to about this is your partner, tell them everything you're thinking, everything you want to do and work with them to understand how you can both meet your needs.

How do I deal with these urges to have relations with others?

It sounds like you're dealing with these urges in a constructive way by starting to think about the kind of relationship you want and talking to your partner. Continue down those paths. If you want to read about possible ways to do this, do a search online for polyamory. The alt.polyamory page is a good jumping off point.
posted by jardinier at 4:34 PM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I imagine a few things that might help. First, occasionally fantasize about the other people you want to have sex with while you're having sex with your partner. That might help suppress the desire to have actual sex outside the relationship.

Second, if you're not sure whether you'd pass the cheating test if given the opportunity, the best option is probably not to get the opportunity. Keep your partner around when you're hanging out with people you'd want to have sex with, and when your partner can't be around, hang out with people you don't want to have sex with. Or, if whatever social obligations you have require you to be around people you're attracted to without your partner, do like Ashley801 says and keep your partner updated. You don't even have to tell your partner your have thoughts about infidelity; just exchanging texts on a semi-regular basis about something unrelated to sex ought to keep you grounded enough to avoid indiscretions, as you'll be thinking about your text conversation with your partner as much as you are about whoever you're attracted to at the moment.
posted by Caduceus at 4:42 PM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Not to impinge your good nature but given more or less extreme circumstances (trapped in a cozy lodge with someone for a few days) there are few that will remain chaste. If you are seriously concerned, consider discussing the issue a legitimate sex therapist. There are likely methods to manage that class of urge. And just walk away from tough situations as early as possible.
posted by sammyo at 4:44 PM on April 29, 2010

having "urges" is a decision, or series thereof, that you make -- even if it's something as innocuous as letting yourself fantasize about fucking other people. it's like any mental rut, but this one just has a very obvious physical application associated with it, one that affects both you and your partner.

no matter what you decide, maybe try to get these "urges" a little less "urgent" before you decide what to do, whether via therapy or your own solo emotional work. good luck! :)
posted by crawfo at 4:44 PM on April 29, 2010

There has to be a reason why you want other people. I would try to figure that out. Something your partner not providing you maybe.
posted by majortom1981 at 4:52 PM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

The people I find myself wanting to have sex with are not anyone who I would ever date.

Why would you want to have sex with them? I'm actually asking, not posing a rhetorical question. What makes you want to have sex with them? I kinda don't understand given your mindset and your reasoning. I just want to understand where you're coming from...which may give clues about what you're actually seeking.

Since you didn't include a throwaway, can you memail a mod you feel comfortable with to post some answers after all these responses...and possibly get a throwaway and post it on here.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:53 PM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm deeply afraid one day I will act on these urges and ruin my relationship.

Not to sound glib, but.. don't act on them, then. Having sex with someone, anyone, is an active choice. It requires many steps - meeting someone, negotiating location, removing clothing, foreplay, etc. - and doesn't "just happen". You don't trip over a crack in the pavement and find yourself having cheated on your partner. Oops!

Seriously, though, as noted above, it is definitely possible to talk about this with your partner, set parameters for an open relationship, and go forth in a way that's less likely to hurt anyone or ruin any relationships. It's impossible to say that it won't hurt your relationship at all if you decide to open it up, of course, since some things are great in theory but not in practice. On the flip side, it might be a totally wonderful thing for you and for your partner.

But if there's one thing I learn from pretty much every AskMe answer, it's that relationships require communication to be successful. If you really want to have sex with someone other than your partner, you need to talk about that with your partner and figure it out together. But seriously, don't have sex with a random person and then come home and do the "oops!" thing.
posted by VioletU at 5:08 PM on April 29, 2010 [7 favorites]

How do you deal with sexual urges outside of your relationship?
A rich fantasy life.
posted by stoneweaver at 5:09 PM on April 29, 2010 [16 favorites]

I think it's awesome that you have a good communication pattern with your partner, and that you can discuss these things.

I would ask yourself how you would feel if your partner cheated on you. If you wouldn't mind, then maybe you could explore that, and open that up for discussion. Perhaps you would both be suited towards a more open relationship.

If, however, you would feel devastated, betrayed, and hurt, then perhaps you should keep this in mind whenever you're in the position to cheat on your partner. Whenever you feel tempted, picture your partner in that same situation.

Personally, I've been involved in monogamous relationships and open relationships, and I felt fulfilled in both. I don't think I could have transitioned my monogamous relationship into an open one, because that's just not how we related to each other. I couldn't have transitioned my open relationship into a monogamous one, either, once again because it's just not how we related to one another.

The key in my open relationship was balance -- we both had needs that another person met. If one person got a little jealous, then we discussed it, but it rarely ever came to that. I think it was one of my favorite relationships, because of the openness and mutual respect that was necessary in maintaining it. It isn't for everyone, and I don't recommend it for everyone, but at the time it was exactly what we both needed.

Before exploring that type of relationship, though, I would suggest really looking into the reason as to why you feel the urge to sleep with these other people. Is there something they have in common that you're attracted to? Or, and please forgive me if I am projecting here, is the reason that you are so concerned about possibly cheating tied to something that happened in your past? Maybe your parents divorced, or maybe you were cheated on before, or a million other reasons.

I hope that you chose whatever is best for both of you, and I wish you the best of luck.
posted by jnaps at 5:14 PM on April 29, 2010

Nothing is "purely about sex."
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:15 PM on April 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

For what it's worth, I strongly disagree with those posters who suggest that you repress the feelings you are having, avoid the situations where you have them, or just use force of will to avoid their implications. I think that Ashley801 and jardinier are on the right track and I don't think your feelings will "just go away" if you don't think about/avoid them.

Keep in mind that, if you and your partner have made an agreement that one or both of of you can have sex with other people, having sex with other people is NOT cheating! This could be an opportunity to expand your relationship in unexpected ways -- also remember that the agreements you make with your partner can be as broad or specific as you guys want.

I recommend this book: The Ehtical Slut. It's not anti-monogamy in any way, but encourages the reader to evaluate in a more comprehensive fashion the possibilities that each person and each relationship presents to us.

Good luck!
posted by Truthiness at 5:31 PM on April 29, 2010 [3 favorites]

I'm having a hard time figuring out if you actually want consensual, above-board multiple relationships, or you're just really tormented by the idea that you might someday succumb to the urge to have sex with someone else and mess up your relationship even though you don't want to and probably won't actually ever do it.

One of these is polyamory, the other is something that could stand a therapist's assistance.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 5:39 PM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

You're a human being. Monogamy may be a good idea for a lot of reasons, but it is NOT natural. Personally, I think you should go for it and have a fling under controlled circumstances. Your spouse is already supportive, and it will probably do you a world of good. Find someone who is looking for an NSA hookup and fool around. Either you will love it for what it was and satisfy your appetite, or you will be scared away for good from these kinds of things. Either way, your relationship benefits.

It's just sex. Don't stress.
posted by teedee2000 at 6:00 PM on April 29, 2010

How do you deal with sexual urges outside of your relationship?

Jerk off to these other people in the shower. Everyone feels sexually attracted to loads of different people regardless of what kind of relationship they are in. It's human programming. And, yeah, it's easy to say "Oh that's cool baby I don't mind having an open relationship" but bleaah, my guess is it's not a great situation except for a very, very, very select minority of people.
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:17 PM on April 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

Not to impinge your good nature but given more or less extreme circumstances (trapped in a cozy lodge with someone for a few days) there are few that will remain chaste.

What an odd assertion.

I think what you're dealing with is that line between having a fun, distracting fantasy, and taking the first steps towards potentially destroying something you value and love. The thing is, no one can tell you where that line is for you: it's in a different place for everybody. Some people can do a lot of flirting etc, confident in the knowledge that their relationship is bedrock, for others sitting to close to someone may be crossing a line for them.

Rather than be perturbed or in denial about your feelings (I agree with some others; no good will come of it), acknowledge your feelings, accept your feelings, then move on.

Have a listen to act three, "Istanbul" from this monogamy episode of This American Life. It's a monologue of someone facing the same temptations as you, and how they reconcile themselves by accepting their desires, and also their relationship.
posted by smoke at 6:25 PM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

You're a human being. Monogamy may be a good idea for a lot of reasons, but it is NOT natural.

There's no real scientific basis for that claim. A good case for monogamy is the existence of STDs. Anyway, learn to not stare at the opposite sex. One glance is ok, the second one will stir up these urges that you're asking for suggestions for quelling. The eyes are the window to the gonads, as it were.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:02 PM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Imagine yourself having sex with someone else other than your partner. Imagine the rush, the feeling that things are new / fresh, the heightened sensations, the excitement and the passion. Imagine having sex with that person again. And again. And again. Imagine having sex with them until what was once new, and thrilling, and passionate...seems less so. Imagine yourself eventually lying next to that new person, and feeling much the same way you do now. That you might like to have sex with someone else - someone new. Imagine finding that person. Imagine having sex with them. Feeling that rush again. Then as before, imagine the rush fading. Like before you find yourself attracted to someone else. You feel the urge again. You act on it. There's the passion again, but in time it fades and the urge returns, this time with someone else. Imagine this cycle in perpetuity.

Understand that there is no end-game to sexual satisfaction. It is like trying to get a colander to hold water. In any relationship, you will always, eventually, feel strong sexual urges to other people. And likewise, if given enough time, sex with your partner will seem less new, less thrilling. We are designed this way. It is natural. Hedonistic adaptation is just part of our programming. Bundled software.

When you see this cycle - it makes it easier to observe this urge with perspective. You realize that no matter how many hot models you bang...your brain is wired to, eventually, crave more hot models (glibly speaking). This realization allows you to understand that inevitably - your sex life will require work on your part to maintain - regardless of who you are with. And who would you rather start that work with than your current partner?

Sex can be a drug or a journey...but understand that you will always want more, the same people always want cake - and in the end how you reconcile this fact within your life is more about self-discipline and introspection than anything else.
posted by jnnla at 7:18 PM on April 29, 2010 [5 favorites]

*the same WAY people always want cake...ha
posted by jnnla at 7:20 PM on April 29, 2010

How do you deal with sexual urges outside of your relationship?

If you are under 25, give in.

If you are over 35, grow up.
posted by ovvl at 7:39 PM on April 29, 2010 [4 favorites]

I think most people think about or want to have sex with other people. And it's easy to say "just don't do it." If it was that simple, people would not cheat. The reality is that most people think of it from time to time, some people have the occasional opportunities, and a few people take the chances provided. Me, I know I could be a fantastic cheater. I am pretty enough to have opportunities galore, have low enough self esteem to enjoy the attention, and based on past experience, prefer variety anyway. So I stay the hell away from other men. Because I know myself well. And whenever a guy at work flirts with me and I start to think...what harm would it do to flirt back, I make myself think about how my husband would feel if he was there-how it would hurt him, destroy him, make him doubt every day of our life together. And I think about how it would feel to trade our kids back and forth every weekend and for them to wonder why we weren't together all because I could not control myself. So I step back. But it's a conscious choice and I have to force myself not to be that kind of person.

As for an open relationship-I have had one. Not knocking anyone else's choice, but for just made us ignore our issues with each other because we distracted ourselves with other people. I think you have to know what you are doing for that to work.
posted by supercapitalist at 7:41 PM on April 29, 2010 [6 favorites]

Ok, so the OP actually Memailed me and told me to post this for her:

"The issue is that I want to have sex with girls, I am a girl, and I have a boyfriend. I don't want to date girls, I just want to have sex with them. It's pretty much purely sexual attraction. Obviously, being a man, my boyfriend cannot exactly fulfill this desire of mine. I want to have sex with members of my own sex, which my partner isn't and therefore cannot provide me. And I only want to date people of the opposite sex."
posted by hal_c_on at 7:58 PM on April 29, 2010

i think you're feelings are natural

if you were going to act on them you would have already, and your worry about them is probably better proof then anything that you won't act on these

you really care and don't want to!
posted by Salvatorparadise at 8:08 PM on April 29, 2010

Well, first, grab "Opening Up", it is a great book. It has lots of personal stories in it.

The hardest part of non-monogamy is scheduling. Seriously, buy a big-ass calendar and prepare yourself for endless scheduling.

Well, maybe finding partners will be the hardest for you because you don't really want to date.

Guilt happens but the best way to deal with it is to spend a lot of time around other non-monogamous people. Stuff like "grow up" tends to be what you get and it's not really helpful. You don't want to feel bad because of something someone who isn't even in your relationship thinks about how you should live your life. Other non-monogamous people will provide better support and a better sounding board for discussing any guilt you feel. If you mefimail me I can hook you up.

Also, try to stay in the moment. Once you see that everyone is happy and have a little experience with it going well, guilt shouldn't be a significant problem.

I will probably be back to give more advice when I am less busy.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 8:09 PM on April 29, 2010

Yeah, the hardest part will be finding partners! I don't think there's anything wrong with you going ahead and doing what you want with everyone's consent.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 8:11 PM on April 29, 2010

Additionally, resources for swingers might be good for you, perhaps in addition to or instead of resources for polyamorists. I don't know what those are so much, but I'm sure they're out there.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 8:27 PM on April 29, 2010

In light of the new information offered... I am not changing my opinion, but do make sure your boyfriend's okayness with this is not rooted in some kinky belief that you'll be having sex with other women and this might be good for him too-either because he thinks he'll get ringside seats or because he thinks eventually you will offer him up one of your girlfriends. Not to generalize about all men, but even nice guys might think of this and think "yahoo!"
posted by supercapitalist at 8:27 PM on April 29, 2010

If you've had urges like this and a supportive partner and carried out your urges, how did it affect your relationship?

Not exactly the same situation, but it actually hasn't changed our relationship. I'm busier, though.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 8:52 PM on April 29, 2010

OK, yeah, that's different. That's going to take a bit of negotiation and an upfront commitment to everyone watching out for each other's health and sanity, but it doesn't sound like it's not something you and your SO couldn't work out with time and understanding.

And, yeah, part of that understanding needs to be the understanding that, unless everyone is on board and OK with it-- including being OK with the possibility of getting hot and heavy and having one or more people abruptly decide it's not OK-- your partner's not getting either a free lesbian sex show or a threesome out of it. That can be tricky.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 8:56 PM on April 29, 2010

I found that I struggled with these "urges" in my marriage for years, but I soon realised in my case it was a symptom, not a cause. I was deeply unhappy with myself about things that had no relation with sex, sex was a distraction where I was sublimating my dissatisfaction. I'd do some soul searching, find out why you're having these urges. When I addressed what was making me unhappy about me, I felt no need to be with other people.
posted by ExitPursuedByBear at 8:12 AM on April 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

@supercapitalist nailed it...on so many levels.

It is indeed about avoiding the situations that might lead to the next level where one "has to just say no" It is the ex-smoker who always liked to have a cigarette when he had a beer at the bar...the advice is not to go to a bar, have a beer, and just say no to's don't go to bars.

@supercapitalist also gets it because she effectively destroys the meme that women can flirt as much as they want, but at their core, are loyal monogamists....but men are dogs.
posted by teg4rvn at 9:21 AM on April 30, 2010

I am long-time married. Madly in love with my wife. And I have those urges too for other women. I don't know a married man who doesn't.

I don't reject them, because they are a blessed part of how I am made.
I don't act on them because I am the boss of me. Not urges.

I have invested in choices that are more important to my long term and ultimate fulfillment. My urges provide me with an opportunity to choose my wife. Every time.

Meditation (or contemplative prayer, po-tay-to, po-tah-to) helps with being able to do this. You practice letting thoughts pass through your mind, neither clinging to them or pushing them away.

You can do the same with these urges, by looking them in the eye, giving them a respectful nod, maybe even thanking them for giving you an occasion to reaffirm your life decisions while reminding you that you're still a man and all those systems still work. But you also grip the keys to your brain a little more tightly as they pass.

And the urges always pass. Unless you hold onto them. Or follow them. Or stuff them in a closet inside you somewhere.

"No, Mr. Urge, you do not always need to be satisfied. I am the boss. I'm not going to repress you or try to kill you. But I will not lend you the keys to the brain either. Why don't you run along and play?"

I heartily second the people above who say to avoid the situations and patterns that give rise to these desires. That is right square with the current research on infidelity which says that relating to the opposite sex is like driving. No matter how good a driver you are, you need to drive defensively and avoid dangerous situations. Good people who are very much in love still cheat because they rely solely on their ability to resist cheating instead of exercising prudence in avoiding opportunities to cheat.

You can do it. It's not really that hard unless you make it so.
posted by cross_impact at 10:01 AM on April 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

My partner has indicated being supportive of me having relations with these individuals but I'm not sure how it would play out once we got past the talking stage of this or how serious my partner was being.

You need to talk to him about this. What does "indicated being supportive" mean? Did he say "ooh baby it'd be hot if you did ___ with another woman" while you were having sex? That could mean that yes, he really wants that, or it's just a fantasy he has. You need to take that conversation out of the bedroom and be honest that you've actually been thinking about it on a not-just-fantasy level. See what he says.

I'm not sure why you would feel guilty if he was supportive. Could you work out some ground rules so you know you are not transgressing the boundaries of your relationship? It doesn't seem that you're clear on what these are. I haven't read it, but I've heard The Ethical Slut is a good book about this.

Echoing everyone else that the urges are natural, and the key is not putting yourself in the path of temptation. Specifically, avoid being alone with someone you're attracted to, and don't get drunk/high around them.
posted by desjardins at 10:44 AM on April 30, 2010

I feel this way when I'm unsatisfied with my relationship (except not for other girls). If it's a continuous thing for you then you should consider just flying solo. Your partner might think letting you do what you want will keep you with him, but being intimate with other people is just a recipe for falling in love - it happened to me more than once!
posted by foxy at 8:14 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

I completely agree with earlier posters that suggest 1.) don't suppress the urge because that won't "fix" anything, and 2.) communication is key.

I think that there are 2 people you need to communicate with: your partner and yourself. Because you are so new to these thoughts, and you are obviously concerned about them... I think you should spend some time in private journaling about these thoughts and feelings. In fact, I'd go another step further and say that you should take steps to ensure that your journals are extremely private (maybe encrypted even) so that you feel safe to explore all the deepest thoughts from your past, your present, etc. You need to give yourself the freedom to acknowledge that your current partner is PERFECT; he can't possibly fulfill every single need/desire for you every single moment of the day. That's an impossible task. But then again, you can't fulfill EVERY desire of your partner either. These are impossible standards to hold up to. But, give yourself the freedom to write about your thoughts and explore the core truths that you believe with no fear that your thoughts will get out there or shared.

I too, struggle with this exact same question. I found this amazing book "Opening up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships" by Tristan Taormino. I will tell you though, it's pretty direct. It may be too much for you to take, but it's raw and truthful, and it at least can give you an extreme example of some of the feelings you are having. I myself have never cheated on any partner, ever. Yet, I too am now finding myself with these same feelings that you have. I found it very helpful to discuss these feelings with my girlfriend (I'm a guy). In fact, I even asked her to read the book. The book was so over-the-top, that she cried and cried and thought we were going to break up. She thought this was my way of telling her I wanted to break up. But I didn't want to break up. And I didn't want to cheat on her either. And I didn't. I just wanted to tell her that "I have these feelings", and if we love each other and trust each other... we can tell each other things and we can help each other somehow overcome our individual struggles (my struggle in this case). We talked about the book and she understood where I was coming from. In fact, instead of watching TV for the next several nights... we talked about the book, we talked about our feelings for each other, and I re-confirmed how much I love her and that this desire of mine isn't something I feel like ACTING ON right away (yes, maybe someday... cuz I can't fight biological desire forever), but that I want us to figure this out together.

Bottom line: communication, introspection, and NOT FEELING GUILTY about your inner thoughts and feelings are so important. Acknowledging your true feelings and expose them in great detail to yourself, don't suppress them. This will help you figure out the best path going forward.

Good luck.
posted by sharingideas at 10:08 AM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Avoid hanging out around the dessert cart if you're on a diet (from House).
posted by meepmeow at 12:28 PM on May 2, 2010

We as a society have been programmed to see sex as really nothing at all..just like breathing or eating...our fixation on it is largely due to being completely surrounded by sexual imagery day in and day out. This is why the great temptation all the's just a mental thing.
I think it's important to remember that it's at it's greatest when your in a space of love. You love your partner. You say it's great with him! Anyone who has ever walked the path of sexual exploration has only ever discovered one thing..that sex without love is just an empty and bottomless pit of ego. That is all you'd discover if you go down that road! The question is how far down the path someone will walk before finding they've lost parts of themselves along the way? Only to discover there is nothing at all down the path anyway. except a slow erosion of the soul because in that space people are just taking from each other. It will definitely destroy your relationship if you do it..because the fact will always remain that you valued your desire for some physical pleasure (which is all it is) over the love you share with your partner..because you risked it. It's a dangerous game to play! for what? An ego stroke?
posted by lavender9 at 12:23 PM on May 27, 2010

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