Just 2-3 Shades of Grey
September 5, 2017 2:25 PM   Subscribe

I have moved to a foreign military base with my boyfriend of just over one and a half years. He is just getting back to a job where he is gone for long periods of time, he left three weeks ago for 2 months, and this is our first time apart. We have also been having major sex problems. I slept with an old friend of mine who came through town, and it has left me questioning my entire relationship. Do I have to break up with my boyfriend? Can we fix the problem we are having?

I’m pretty kinky, in particular very submissive. This is a very important thing to me, and when I was younger, I got into a few relationships with guys that were not interested in my kinks. Since then it has been my policy that I bring it up early in a relationship, so if the other person isn’t interested we can end things before anyone gets hurt.

My boyfriend, let’s call him John, knows this. We are both in our early 30s by the way. When we first started dating I brought it up immediately, like 5th date immediately, and he told me he had no experience with my kinks, but that talking about them excited him and he wanted to try it all out.

For a year things were great, we were having sex a normal amount for a new relationship. The sex was a little more vanilla than my preference, but we had enough kink in there that I was satisfied, and I also fell in love with John. He is kind, patient, affectionate, sweet, committed, smart, fun, loving. He’s amazing, my family loves him. I love him. I have never been with someone that is was so effortless just to be with him. We have the same sense of humor, he makes me laugh so hard. We want the same future. He got his new duty station, and asked me to come with. I was so excited.

6 months ago I got a series of UTIs, and we stopped having sex. Then he was gone, and I was gone, and another infection. For about 2 months we couldn’t have sex. But then it all cleared up and…

Still no sex. For the last 4 months we have barely had sex, maybe 1 time ever 2 weeks, if that. I always have to be the one to initiate, he almost always turns me down. We even went on a 2 week vacation together and didn’t have sex- there were circumstances (staying at friend's houses and an ill timed cold), but still, just no effort to try. When we do have sex, he barely touches me, and he definitely does none of the kinky things I like. So now its been 3 months of this, and in that time we also moved and life was chaotic, and I knew it was an issue, but things were already moving forward. Our stuff had shipped, everything was stressful.

I have brought up our lack of sex probably 4-5 times in the last 6 months.He keeps telling me nothing is wrong, and that we are only not having sex because of inconvenient circumstances. That is just not true. I have tried so hard to tell him that my kinks are something I need in a relationship, and he is not hearing me, or telling me he’ll try harder. I suggested a game where we each have to initiate once a week, and he agreed… and never initiated.

I stopped initiating and started majorly losing my sex drive. I thought I might be going through perimenopause because my sex drive had vanished overnight, and when we did have sex, it was hurting. I stopped trying, I didn't want to have sex with him, so him not having sex with me didn't seem so problematic.

Just over a month ago we moved here. Three weeks ago, John left for 2 months, and we didn’t even have sex before. Plus, now he’s gone and I don’t know anyone here and I am so terribly lonely. Usually I am so good at making friends and exploring by myself, but for some reason my anxiety has been majorly acting up and I barely leave the house except for my job. This place is very foreign to me, and also there aren’t very many women living here, which leads to a weird tension with every guy that I’ve talked with. Like, guys show up at my work trying to get dates and ask my coworkers for my number. Guys. Plural. I have been working here for less than 2 weeks.

And then Chris shows up, his boat pulled in for a few days. I have known him for a few years, but very casually. I thought he was cute, and I always suspected had a little crush on me- I know him and his girlfriend through a club I used to be a part of. The 4 of us had even been on a double date when John and I and Chris and his GF lived in the same place, but he's not someone I've hung out with more than 3-4 times.

Chris texted me when the boat pulled in and asked me to meet up for a drink, and I go, and immediately I realize that he is interested in sleeping with me. I knew I should have left, but it’s the first invitation I’ve had to do anything in the new city where I live, so I stayed, and we had an awesome time bar hopping around this new place. After that first night (nothing happened) I couldn’t stop thinking about him, checking my phone, seeing if he’d texted. So we met up two nights later, started drinking and of course, ended up in bed.

And then Chris just started getting really dirty in bed, and suddenly, all the things that John won’t do anymore start to happen. Chris has sex exactly how I like to have sex. It was insane, I didn’t have to tell him to do any of it, we just clicked and it flowed. It was some of the hottest sex I have ever had.

Chris left already. And I feel like I have majorly messed my life up. Once again, I have gotten myself into a relationship that is unfulfilling when it comes to sex, and it feels like a complete bait and switch. And I can’t even resolve this, because John is gone, and I can't call him for the next 6 weeks. Even when he gets back, he is only back for 2 weeks before he deploys for months.

Its like I just woke up today, and realized that I can’t have this dull sex life for the rest of my life. But I also just uprooted my whole life to move with someone I do love, and I thought that the sex thing wasn't that bad, but now I realize its a Problem with a capital P.

Am I destined to break up with John?
Can this sort of sex problem be resolved?
How do I get John to do the things Chris did to me?
What do I do for the next 6 months when this problem can't be dealt with?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Am I destined to break up with John?
Yes.

Can this sort of sex problem be resolved?
No. Not by someone who isn't willing to anyway.

How do I get John to do the things Chris did to me?
You tried, you can't.

What do I do for the next 6 months when this problem can't be dealt with?
Don't wait 6 months. It can be dealt with now. The timing sucks, but waiting does neither of you any good.
posted by Apoch at 2:39 PM on September 5, 2017 [31 favorites]


You know where the phrase "Dear John letter" comes from, right?
posted by Perodicticus potto at 3:05 PM on September 5, 2017 [5 favorites]


>Am I destined to break up with John?
We can't decide for you - what do you want to do?

Option 1 - You work hard to try to fix it. Because.... "He is kind, patient, affectionate, sweet, committed, smart, fun, loving. He’s amazing, my family loves him. I love him. I have never been with someone that is was so effortless just to be with him. We have the same sense of humor, he makes me laugh so hard. We want the same future." (Wow!)

Option 2 - You decide it's over. You wanted the same future.

Neither is gonna be easy... good luck.
posted by Dr Ew at 3:11 PM on September 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


Ultimately, it's up to you what you do -- we can offer support and advice but you know best in your heart, and it's OK to take some time to decide.

It sounds like you are very unhappy in your relationship with your boyfriend John and were looking for an out or at least a break. Chris provided that chance. If your relationship with John is excellent overall except for the sexual connection, you could speak to him about opening up your relationship and take it from there. If it's not great -- and it sounds like there are more issues than just sex -- then I'd take this as a sign to break up and move on.

Since you aren't married, it'll be hard to move out but not as hard as if you had legal commitments to one another. And this is definitely something you want to resolve before even seriously considering marriage with John. You need to do what's best for you but also recognize that what you're doing now isn't best for John, so breaking up would hurt short-term but probably be better for him in the long run. Whatever you decide, I recommend getting a full STI test because you had an STI risk: it's one thing to be affected yourself but you also need to think of your current boyfriend as long as you stay together with him.

Perhaps Chris isn't the person you'll be with long-term -- probably not, unless he's expressed interest in ending things with his partner and getting together -- but it's a good spark for ending your current unhappiness and looking for something that's more fitting for you.
posted by smorgasbord at 3:26 PM on September 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


1) weird phrasing. You can choose to break up with him or not. Don't make it about destiny. You have agency here. Do you want to break up with him?
2) this is no longer just a sex problem, if it ever was. TBH the focus on kinky sex seems displaced in your retelling of events. You are anxious, lonely, hardly having any sex and your partner and you are not communicating honestly. Perhaps the great sex with Chris has distracted you from these other things?
3) least of your problems? And agree, you can't, and you def can't when you have these other major issues in your relationship
4) sympathies. You can just leave. It depends how much you want to make this work and whether or not you think that is realistically feasible given what has been happening and what recently happened with Chris. If you want to make it work you'll just have to try to distract yourself u too then. Hard :(.
posted by jojobobo at 3:49 PM on September 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


After only 18 months you should still be all over each other assuming you both want to. If he doesn't but you do that's a serious imbalance, and it sounds from what you say as if John has lost interest anyway. Break up for both of your benefits.
posted by tillsbury at 3:54 PM on September 5, 2017 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry you're going through this, in a new country and presumably in a new job and all by yourself.

So there's this, part A, the emotional:
I also fell in love with John. He is kind, patient, affectionate, sweet, committed, smart, fun, loving. He’s amazing, my family loves him. I love him. I have never been with someone that is was so effortless just to be with him. We have the same sense of humor, he makes me laugh so hard. We want the same future.
And then there's this, part B, the physical:
I have brought up our lack of sex probably 4-5 times in the last 6 months.He keeps telling me nothing is wrong, and that we are only not having sex because of inconvenient circumstances. That is just not true. I have tried so hard to tell him that my kinks are something I need in a relationship, and he is not hearing me, or telling me he’ll try harder. I suggested a game where we each have to initiate once a week, and he agreed… and never initiated.
I guess the question is, do you feel like part A there is still true when part B is in play? Like do you feel like he's kind, affectionate, and committed when it comes to having the kind of sex you want to be having—or having any sex at all? Can you see a way through this issue, which seems like it's as much about communication as it is about the physical issues you were having? Or do you even want to put that level of effort into fixing an incompatibility in a fairly young relationship? That's important to figure out. It doesn't seem like you've been given a good explanation for why he's not into things in bed, but it sounds like between his reluctance to initiate, his reluctance to actually have sex when you initiate, and his reluctance to actually do what you need to be satisfied when you actually do have sex, you are not getting what you need here. This is not good on a few levels.

Then there's part C, which is dealing with all of this when he's not actually physically present currently, he's out of town for long periods frequently, and you can't even get in touch with him while he's away. The questions that come to mind for me: Do you feel like this is actually the life for you? Does John understand the difficulty involved here for you? Did he explain to you what would be involved and what your expectations should be when he went back to this job? What does the long-term plan actually look like for the two of you—would it always be this way, or is this a short-term gig for him?

It's up to you, but I think you should be planning to answer some of these questions for yourself as much as you can in the next 6 weeks, then have some hard discussions when John is back. You have no obligation to stay in a situation that doesn't work for you on multiple levels and that isolates you. And it's totally fair game to say that now that you've experienced what this life is like, it's not working out well for you in X, Y, and Z ways—and to ask that he work with you to improve things on those fronts or that you part ways.

This question will stay open for a while, so definitely give us an update via the mods if you can when you figure out what your next steps are. Good luck!
posted by limeonaire at 3:56 PM on September 5, 2017 [2 favorites]


This guy is basically your roommate + I don't think he cares that much about the relationship. Take your time sorting out new living arrangements and all that.

If you don't have an open relationship, don't confess anything. I don't know why you guys moved together if you were already having problems, but the relationship was dead before you moved. Also, did your doctor mention anything about your boyfriend re-infecting you with the UTI's? Did he receive treatment at the time, too? Is it possible he was cheating back then??

Just plan your plan quietly and move out. Be safe. Low drama. Be safe.
posted by jbenben at 4:21 PM on September 5, 2017 [4 favorites]


Yeah, jbenben touched on a couple of things I thought of as well after I wrote my initial response.

So to answer this question:

What do I do for the next 6 months when this problem can't be dealt with?

That's why I say you should really be figuring out what you want to ask him and how you want to proceed, depending upon his answers, in the next 6 weeks. This is not the kind of thing you should be sitting on for 6 months, so I strongly suggest that you find a way to have the conversations you need to be having with him when he's back for those 2 weeks before leaving again. If he cares, he will talk to you about this. It sucks to spend what little time you're going to have together hashing this out, knowing that he might avoid the discussion and then you might still not get the kind of sex you want to be having, but it's better that you find that out now. It sucks more to be by yourself for 6 months in a new country, your needs and wants going unspoken and unfulfilled—through winter, no less, if you're in the Northern Hemisphere. I want better for you.


Am I destined to break up with John?

It's not about destiny. It's about what you want, and to some degree what he wants. From what we know so far, it seems like what he wants is for you to wait for him, sex-starved and unfulfilled even when he's present. Or if he doesn't want that, it's unclear why you should believe in that brighter vision of you two together—maybe I skimmed too fast, but I'm not seeing a clear plan. That's why I ask you to think about what you really want here, long-term, and what plans you have together that are worth working through these issues. You don't have a long history together, and if I were you, unless there were a compelling reason that I thought a better future was on the horizon, I'd be looking into what my options were for moving out (if I liked the country but not my circumstances) or even moving back to my home country (if I liked none of it).

I guess the other thing that comes to mind, re: the UTIs, is whether you're just prone to them after sex, which is certainly common among women, or whether John could be a carrier of something you keep picking up. His behavior, in lieu of more information about his motives, makes me wonder whether he somehow has an issue with you or is turned off or is afraid to have sex because you keep getting infections, whereas that may just be the normal result of having sex at all, if you're prone to UTIs, or the result of having sex with him, if he's carrying something. You should of course get tested for STIs, now that you've been with Chris. But like jbenben, I'm curious whether John got tested when you were dealing with these recurring infections—and if not, why not.

Long story short, you need more from him, and you're not wrong to ask for it. As to whether this sort of sex problem can be resolved, and whether you can get John to do the things Chris did to you, it seems like you're a few steps away from that right now, and how you proceed may depend in large part on your and his answers to some of the questions above.
posted by limeonaire at 4:28 PM on September 5, 2017


Unless you can be content with a sexual future the same as it is now I would say get out and find someone who is truly compatible. It is possible, even probable, that your sex life with John will never get better. Ultimately you must decide, but don't pin your hopes on him becoming the lover you need.
posted by ChristineSings at 6:54 PM on September 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


You're really burying the lead there - this is, fundamentally, not about you not being sexually compatible. This is about you being fundamentally incompatible for a relationship with a military servicemember, who deploys frequently for long periods of time, and will expect sexual fidelity during those periods. Deployments can last up to a year with a tiny break. If you couldn't handle six months with infrequent sex, it is really unlikely you would be able to handle future deployments. It doesn't mean you're a bad person, it just does mean that yes, you and John should break up, the sooner the better. It doesn't matter if you can't tell him on the phone. I would email him and tell him that you need to talk to him about something important. The longer you wait on this, the worse the breakup will be.

Whether or not you ever could have gotten on the same page with John sexually, you absolutely cannot do so now. There is no way, no way at all, that you can say some variant of "Hey, I cheated on you and slept with another guy while you were deployed, and he was way better in bed, so can you do things like he did them?" Even if John were the most understanding guy in the world, that would not go well, and this particular scenario - you cheating on him specifically while he was deployed, with a shipmate whose ship was in - is pretty much the worst case scenario that people tell servicemembers to scare them.

You are morally obligated to tell John that you slept with Chris, for his own sexual health if nothing else, and I would not expect him to want to continue living with you afterwards. What I would do for the next six weeks is either make preparations to move back to the place you came from and seem to prefer, or to see if your job will still be open to you when you are no longer involved with John, and start saving money to be able to move out.
posted by corb at 8:24 PM on September 5, 2017 [10 favorites]


I was John (with some unimportant differences) for ten years. The end of that relationship was the best thing that's happened to me. Leave him, for both your sakes.
posted by agentofselection at 9:09 PM on September 5, 2017 [5 favorites]


You are morally obligated to tell John that you slept with Chris, for his own sexual health if nothing else

John's sexual health only comes into it if you're going to have sexual contact with John again. So if you really don't want to tell him about Chris, you have to make sure you're ready for that breakup conversation as soon as he gets back, before any potential back-together-hormones kick in.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 10:24 PM on September 5, 2017 [5 favorites]


I can speak confidently about family that deployed, multiple generations of my family including my brother... DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS A REAL AND HEIGHTENED RISK HERE, please don't confess. Please, for both of your sakes.

I don't think he wants to have sex when he gets back, you can always ask him to wear a condom as protection against UTI's. Say your doctor recommended this. But do not tell. Don't be there when he gets back, that makes the whole pressure one way or the other disappear.

Please don't freak out, but uh, you went out in public and people gossip. I really think the safest best choice is for you to be out of there.

I tried to telegraph the possibility of ptsd influenced domestic violence in an earlier comment before reading other answers. I can't believe anyone would counsel you to put yourself and this guy into a 2 week pressure cooker by having you confess if they thought it through enough. Geezus, NO. Please, NO. Don't confess.

Stay safe. Get out of there at some point soon. Low drama. Stay safe.
posted by jbenben at 11:10 PM on September 5, 2017 [7 favorites]


Also, whatever you do, take note of what this difficult experience has taught you about yourself. Given the sex problems, it's not shocking that you cheated. But now you know that you are (a) willing to cheat on your boyfriend (b) with someone who has his own girlfriend (c) who you actually even know and have socialized with. If you care at all about having ethical agency, you should manage your social life in future with this knowledge in mind--e.g., while monogamously partnered, not going out for drinks and texting with guys you are attracted to who you can tell want to sleep with you. Otherwise, you are going to be spreading misery and drama through your whole life, and your early 30s is pretty late to be doing that.

Especially in this particular context. It's pretty obvious from the way you tell the story that you secretly like the idea of being chased by all these random dudes on the base, which is really not a great feeling for a grown woman who's chosen to be monogamously partnered to be entertaining, as it's just a way to position yourself mentally to cheat again. Cheating is not great, but there's something particularly sad about adults who won't even accept responsibility for their own sexual choices and maneuver themselves around so that the hurtful things they do "just sort of happen." You sound like you're setting yourself up for round two already. Don't do it. At least, not without breaking up with John first (which would be my vote).
posted by praemunire at 11:17 PM on September 5, 2017 [4 favorites]


I thought I'd finished, but since this is moving toward John being declared a disease-ridden wife-beater in absentia, I'll say more. It's clear that John was never into your kinks, but went along with them for your sake. The trouble is that for people who prefer "vanilla" sex (which is as valid a preference as any other, by the way), kinky sex can feel distasteful and degrading. That most likely explains his loss of interest. Yes, you should break up, but your breakup isn't his fault - or, at least, it's less his fault than yours. Since a lack of kink is a deal-breaker for you, I'd recommend finding future partners in forums aimed at people who share your tastes.
posted by Perodicticus potto at 5:37 AM on September 6, 2017 [6 favorites]


I don't think he wants to have sex when he gets back, you can always ask him to wear a condom as protection against UTI's

A condom is not full protection against STDs, and it is completely irresponsible to have sex with someone who is making their decisions about sex with you under the understanding you are only having sex with them.

jbenben's concerns about domestic violence are definitely real, but the solution to this is not "wait for him to come back and just don't tell him what happened" - you did this in a base town, I guarantee, as she notes, that he will find out - the solution is, "tell him while he's gone and hear his reaction now" or "break up with him now and be gone before he gets back."
posted by corb at 6:57 AM on September 6, 2017 [7 favorites]


If he finds out you cheated you might discover you don't have a decision to make anyway. Are you in a base town? People TALK...
posted by intergalacticvelvet at 2:00 PM on September 11, 2017


« Older Connecting with other divorced/ing dads?   |   Should we rebook this flight? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.