Monogam-ish/Sexually Open Relationship

Czeverny90

New member
Hello, everyone. I am in a gay (male) open relationship, where we are sexually non-exclusive. The relationship was complicated from the start, as we were living on two different continents. However, after one year we decided to finally live together and he moved to where I was living. While we had talked in the past about monogamy and his sexual drive, he came completely clean only when we moved together (although it was not a permanent move yet). He said he had the need to sleep with other people and that he didn't believe that monogamy equaled love (I knew this is what he thought, but I didn't realize he wanted an open relationship until then). In principle, I believe that monogamy isn't fit for most people, and considering my previous experiences where I myself had had virtual flings and even one hook-up (i.e. I cheated) during relationships, I believe it isn't a good fit for me either. However, I have never been that much into meaningless hook-ups and I realized that most of my virtual flings were mostly related to self-esteem issues (but partly, also the desire to flirt with other people just for the sake of it I guess).
So, long story short, we decided to start an open relationship with an agreement based on being honest with each other and restricting frequency, as the latter would make me feel more comfortable. He said he wanted to do that as a commitment to the relationship but also to himself.
Anyway, during lockdown it became increasingly clear that not sleeping with other people causes him to suffer. On about three occasions during lockdown this April/May he was suffering because he was also feeling guilty for being the way he is that he couldn't even speak to me much, or hug me. Fortunately, those days are now gone and even when we were still stuck at home he found a way to accept himself and act normally (speaking, interacting, laughing). After that, he has met with two guys just for NSAs. However, now that a month has passed from the last hook-up he feels the need again. I understand that, but he says sometimes he gets obsessed with these thoughts and I think it'd be good if he knew how to process them differently but he likes to deal with things his own way. Anyway, the real problem for me is that I still feel a bit jealous/angry when I hear these things (although I show him understanding and I voice my jealousy only as a statement, as I want to own my emotions and manage them myself), but I also feel rejected because when he starts feeling like that he doesn't want to have sex with me. While I know (and he confirmed multiple times) that it has nothing to do with me, this rejection still hurts me a little and I start wondering if this relationship is good for me. In a way, it makes me grow even more in terms of self-esteem because I don't want it to depend on anyone but myself. But on the other hand, we are very different. I have had one or two very brief virtual exchanges of hot messages with other guys and then I also had sex with another guy. I know this doesn't change my feelings for him and I know it's the same for him too, but some things still bother me. Another thing it's that he uses grindr quite often apparently to check out guys or exchange hot pics, but sometimes he also posts flirty/sexual-like tweets on his account (like asking if his contacts have masturbated already, or expressing in sexual-jokey way with other guys. He doesn't have many followers and he doesn't post nudes, but still sometimes when I read these things I get jealous and irritated but I don't feel like it's my place as I don't think he's actually doing something bad.
I have been having therapy for mild anxiety and mild depression already way before him, and now that I am with him my main topics in therapy are my relationship and my work (my therapist says that it's simply because these are the two most important things for me at the moment). I suggested we could do couple therapy but we only had a session once when we started talking about the agreement and for him that was enough, so he's not open to the idea of keeping that.
I don't know why I am writing here, I guess because I don't have any friends who are in an open relationship and I wanted to seek some opinions. I hope this is a safe space and to not receive any judgments. Thank you for reading and responding.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
I had a hard time reading without paragraph breaks. So I don't know if this helps you any. The main parts seem to be at the bottom.


Anyway, the real problem for me is that I still feel a bit jealous/angry when I hear these things (although I show him understanding and I voice my jealousy only as a statement, as I want to own my emotions and manage them myself), but I also feel rejected because when he starts feeling like that he doesn't want to have sex with me. While I know (and he confirmed multiple times) that it has nothing to do with me, this rejection still hurts me a little and I start wondering if this relationship is good for me.

Well, you could reflect if it is or isn't.

In a way, it makes me grow even more in terms of self-esteem because I don't want it to depend on anyone but myself. But on the other hand, we are very different

Being capable is fine. But have you considered what healthy interdependence looks like in your relationships? What you want from a life companion, a helpmate? Not like dependent or co-dependent but health interdependence?

Is this relationship what you want or meet your personal standards?


.Another thing it's that he uses grindr quite often apparently to check out guys or exchange hot pics, but sometimes he also posts flirty/sexual-like tweets on his account (like asking if his contacts have masturbated already, or expressing in sexual-jokey way with other guys. He doesn't have many followers and he doesn't post nudes, but still sometimes when I read these things I get jealous and irritated but I don't feel like it's my place as I don't think he's actually doing something bad.

You don't think he's doing anything bad. But reading his flirty things online makes you feel bad. So... how about you quit peeking at this stuff online?

I have been having therapy for mild anxiety and mild depression already way before him, and now that I am with him my main topics in therapy are my relationship and my work (my therapist says that it's simply because these are the two most important things for me at the moment). I suggested we could do couple therapy but we only had a session once when we started talking about the agreement and for him that was enough, so he's not open to the idea of keeping that.

Is participating in this relationship ADDING to your anxiety or TAKING AWAY?

I don't know why I am writing here, I guess because I don't have any friends who are in an open relationship and I wanted to seek some opinions. I hope this is a safe space and to not receive any judgments. Thank you for reading and responding.

I don't think there's anything wrong with either poly or open relationships so long as all consent to participate and are doing well together. But open and poly relationships are not magic. Sometimes they work out. Sometimes they don't.

So now that you have been together a while? You might consider doing your soul searching and decide if you want to keep participating here when your partner doesn't want to do couple's therapy, doesn't want to share sex with you when he's in a funk, and contributes to your anxiety. The only one who knows if this is something you can work out over time with him or if this is just becoming "meh" is you.

Either way, I hope you feel a bit better for airing out.

GL!
Galagirl
 

Czeverny90

New member
Thank you for your reply!
Uhm I think it adds a little to my anxiety, but then I start thinking that even any job gives my anxiety but it's not like I can stop working because of that and I guess it's the same with anything else, like a relationship too for example. What I mean is that I guess I have to be the one to do the work to manage my anxiety and my anxious perceptions.
I will read more about healthy interdependence though...it sounds interesting. Thank you!
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
Could it be your style of open/poly doesn't match his style? Like initially compatible but not deeply compatible?
Like maybe you are ok with some open models but not others. Not definitive but a start in describing some models.


Uhm I think it adds a little to my anxiety, but then I start thinking that even any job gives my anxiety but it's not like I can stop working because of that and I guess it's the same with anything else, like a relationship too for example.

I have anxiety. I only have so much emotional energy I want to spend daily.

If I were in a job that was causing me anxiety drain? Like sucking all my emotional dollars away? I don't care if it pays the bills. I am going to start interviewing for other jobs and make plans to leave this draining job. Maybe the paycheck is smaller but the stress is less so overall it's a better choice than a bigger paycheck job that sucks me dry. YKWIM?

If I were in a relationship that was causing me chronic anxiety drain? I would ask to make changes. If changes don't happen or don't help? I would walk away. Unfulfilling or wonky companionship is not worth it to me. I know I have family, friends, and could find another romantic companion over time. I don't have to stick around with a relationship that is a drain.

Of course, it would be easy if it were big stuff. Like my companion turns out to be a kidnapper or something bad like that. Then it is OBVIOUS this is not going to work and I should end it. It's more of a thinker when it's one of those "Well, in these areas, this partner is great. In these areas, not so great. What do I do?"

Again... I encourage you to think about what you want from a life companion/help mate, and whether or not this partner is meets your personal standards. Only you can answer that because you are the one there and you are the one who knows what things you value more than others in your relationships.

If you need some sort of prompts, here are some from https://www.scarleteen.com/article/relationships/should_i_stay_or_should_i_go

Still not sure if you should stay or go? Already tried a bunch of the things in the list up there without results? Here are some common sticking points you can check in with yourself about. For the most part, these are all not-so-great reasons to stick with a relationship, so if any of them hits home, give them some real thought:

  • Is this the right relationship for you in your life now, or was it only right in the past?
  • Are you staying in because this feels good, or because this feels familiar?
  • Are you afraid of change in your life or of being alone or single? Is this relationship keeping you from needed change or growth?
  • Do you feel like letting go means you failed? Are you staying to try and prove something to yourself or someone else?
  • Are you staying because you feel guilty about having been sexual in something other than a lifelong relationship?
  • Are you choosing to stay because you've become a partner's caretaker or counselor rather than their partner?
  • Are you staying because any relationship seems better than no relationship, or because you're afraid this is the only chance you'll have for this kind of relationship?
  • Are you staying because it's what the other person wants or says they need, even if it's not what you want and need?
  • Are you staying because you made some kind of promise that you know you can't keep or don't want to, but feel guilty about breaking?
  • Are you staying in figuring you'll just wait and see if something better comes along, and stay if it doesn't?

Sometimes I see poly people hanging around in wonky relationships because they think "but maybe this is my only chance to poly!" or something. I hope that's not happening here.

GL!
Galagirl
 

Czeverny90

New member
Oh no, of course. I totally get that. Neither my job (well, I am a PhD student) nor my relationship is draining me, but there are parts that add anxiety, as you say. Yeah, I will have to think about the relationship carefully. To be fair, I feel happy or serene most of the time with him, and I do love him a lot. But yeah, the open relationship thing hasn't been super easy for me...but I have read it's pretty normal to feel jealous and it all depends on how we manage that jealousy and considering I have been managing the jealousy connected to hook-ups fairly well, I guess that's okay. Anyway, thanks for the links too, I will have a look
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Hello Czeverny90,
It sounds like you could use some tips/tricks for managing jealousy. Here's what I have that may help:
Keep in mind, there are two kinds of jealousy. One is the kind that is caused internally. Like it is because of some fear you have, or some trauma you experienced in your past. Two is the kind that is caused externally. Like say your partner stops wanting to have sex with you when he's thinking about sleeping with someone else, or something else your partner does that is unkind or unfair.

Sometimes the cause of jealousy is as simple as a need you have that is not being met. Like you need more of your partner's time or attention. On the other hand, if the cause is internal, you might want to self-analyze what kinds of thoughts/feelings accompany your jealousy. Do you feel sad? scared? Do you think that maybe he will leave you? Your therapist may be able to help you with this analysis.

Anyway, those are some ideas I have that might help. I hope you get feeling better.
Sincerely,
Kevin T.
 

FallenAngelina

Active member
....during lockdown it became increasingly clear that not sleeping with other people causes him to suffer. On about three occasions during lockdown this April/May he was suffering because he was also feeling guilty for being the way he is that he couldn't even speak to me much, or hug me. Fortunately, those days are now gone and even when we were still stuck at home he found a way to accept himself and act normally (speaking, interacting, laughing). After that, he has met with two guys just for NSAs. However, now that a month has passed from the last hook-up he feels the need again. I understand that, but he says sometimes he gets obsessed with these thoughts and I think it'd be good if he knew how to process them differently but he likes to deal with things his own way.
If going without NSA sex for two months causes strife to the point that you describe, this isn't a healthy, mutually fulfilling, open monogamish relationship agreement, it's a painful and recurring cycle of pain management for each of you. You say that he is dealing with things in his own way. How is he dealing with things? "Things" being ........ what? I'm not meaning to be judgmental, just pointing out that if you put any mind-altering substance in place of NSA sex here, you've got a very predictable and explainable addict/co-addict relationship. Needing NSA sex with a fresh person once a month or else all hell breaks loose is not just who someone is, it's an addiction.
 
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Czeverny90

New member
If going without NSA sex for two months causes strife to the point that you describe, this isn't a healthy, mutually fulfilling, open monogamish relationship agreement, it's a painful and recurring cycle of pain management for each of you. You say that he is dealing with things in his own way. How is he dealing with things? "Things" being ........ what? I'm not meaning to be judgmental, just pointing out that if you put any mind-altering substance in place of NSA sex here, you've got a very predictable and explainable addict/co-addict relationship. Needing NSA sex with a fresh person once a month or else all hell breaks loose is not just who someone is, it's an addiction.
Yes, I think it's a small addiction too, but none of the therapists he has seen seemed to point that out, and then again they say that addictions hinder your daily life...if you need to smoke marijuana once a month or every two months how big is that addiction? these are the things I ask myself sometimes.

Anyway, by things I meant "thoughts, emotions and feelings"
 

Magdlyn

Well-known member
I'm not going to jump to the conclusion that your bf is a sex addict. How old is he? Young men have tons of testosterone, which can cause sex obsession to a large degree. It can definitely override everything else! Gosh, I've known men who could barely function out of pure horniness 24/7. We all respond to our hormones differently. Sometimes I think sex is Mother Nature's joke.

I'm female, but I ID as gender non-binary. When I entered perimenopause at age 42, my estrogen levels started to drop, and my testosterone really came to the fore. My sex drive increased so dramatically! My ex h had always been super horny and he thought he'd won the lottery. We could easily have sex every day, and I still fantasized about others, a LOT.

The only thing I find concerning is that he loses desire for you when he's fantasizing/flirting/sexing others. I mean, every relationship has its sexual ups and downs. But it sounds like you two are fairly new to living together. Is he good to you in other ways when he lacks sexual desire from you? It sounds like he got over the issues of being unable or unwilling to speak to, hug or interact with you?

How long have you been living together? I mean, often our NRE (new relationship energy, or infatuation) is high in long distance relationships. Living nearby and dating irl, or actually moving in together can be a challenge. It sounds like this could either be headed downhill, or it could be a normal period of really getting to know each other and seeing if you are actually long-term compatible.
 

Czeverny90

New member
I'm not going to jump to the conclusion that your bf is a sex addict. How old is he? Young men have tons of testosterone, which can cause sex obsession to a large degree. It can definitely override everything else! Gosh, I've known men who could barely function out of pure horniness 24/7. We all respond to our hormones differently. Sometimes I think sex is Mother Nature's joke.

I'm female, but I ID as gender non-binary. When I entered perimenopause at age 42, my estrogen levels started to drop, and my testosterone really came to the fore. My sex drive increased so dramatically! My ex h had always been super horny and he thought he'd won the lottery. We could easily have sex every day, and I still fantasized about others, a LOT.

The only thing I find concerning is that he loses desire for you when he's fantasizing/flirting/sexing others. I mean, every relationship has its sexual ups and downs. But it sounds like you two are fairly new to living together. Is he good to you in other ways when he lacks sexual desire from you? It sounds like he got over the issues of being unable or unwilling to speak to, hug or interact with you?

How long have you been living together? I mean, often our NRE (new relationship energy, or infatuation) is high in long distance relationships. Living nearby and dating irl, or actually moving in together can be a challenge. It sounds like this could either be headed downhill, or it could be a normal period of really getting to know each other and seeing if you are actually long-term compatible.
Thank you so much for taking the time to respond. He's 30, same as me. At first I thought it was indeed connected to high libido, but I've come to realize it is an addiction in a way. But then again, I start thinking that sometimes I masturbate out of a mental need, rather than physical need or just because I find it pleasurable. So I think for him it's similar, but with actual sex with multiple partners. We've been living together for almost a year now. When he was isolating (i.e. shutting down, almost not talking for a day or two), it was because he handles bad emotions by shutting down. Not very healthy in my opinion, but it seems to work for him. He was feeling like he couldn't be without sex and as if he was imprisoned (and thus couldn't have sex with others) because of the lockdown, but I think there were also other factors at play, like the fact we had passed from being long-distance to being 24/7 together and he was even unemployed at the time for a while, which made the situation a bit desperate.


Anyway, other than not willing to have sex with me, he's acting normally...or at least he was because these past two days while he responds to hugs and kisses I can feel he's acting weird, because he's feeling like he's failing me but at the same time he wants sex. I told him he can go and have sex, because to be honest I want him to feel better, but I guess he hasn't found anyone for today, not sure.

Then I think about my own needs, and I'm not sure if I can be with someone who has this kind of addiction because it becomes painful for me too. When he had hook-ups within the time framework of the agreement I was okay with that and even the jealousy I had I just managed it. However, when I see he's suffering and not willing to engage in sex I feel sad and rejected (which of course it's his choice, it's not like I'm gonna force him but still it hurts a little).


While he doesn't feel ashamed as he used to, which makes it act as usual in terms of interaction etc, I don't think he wants to accept it is an addiction but just as "the way he is", because he says he feels good when he engages in hook-ups and the reason doesn't matter and he'd be feeling totally okay if he were single, but of course he said he wants to be with me without hurting me...so yeah, I guess it's hard on him.

I wonder if it's just a matter of time (meaning that we can work this out), or if I should really break up (I'm not asking you, of course, I know I have to be the one who knows that), but the thought of breaking up breaks my heart. It would be lots of things and he'd probably move back home and it's gonna be very hard on me.
 

FallenAngelina

Active member
Sex addiction isn't about a high libido or wanting sex frequently, it's about using sex partners and the prospect of sex as a mind altering substance for the same reasons that anyone uses a mind altering substance to the point of addiction. Extreme highs and lows surrounding the use is a much better indicator than frequency. And where there is addiction, there is often a partner of the addict, the partner having extreme highs and lows around the behavior of the addict. In my view, you'd get a lot more fruitful movement from focusing on understanding the addiction cycle than you will from trying to tamp down your jealousy or struggling to change any other feelings you have about all of this. Your feelings are healthy and accurate and speaking to you loud and clear.
 

SEASONEDpolyAgain

Active member
Do you mean that when he wants sex with others but cannot have it, he then rejects sex with you? Does it then recover when he meets that need?

If so, that's something like me. However, I'd kind of forgotten because there is nothing usually in the way of me having sex with more than one partner. When I'm restricted to one partner, it becomes "samey" and I lose my desire for them. This has happened during the pandemic. It is sensitive though and I wouldn't offer that information to my partner unless they needed to have a talk about it and it required my absolute honesty. My nesting partner has not initiated that talk but did suggest some other things we can do to increase intimacy and I took that as her saying it is becoming a problem and we need to do something about it. Luckily, another partner came to stay and the variety helped greatly.
 

Czeverny90

New member
Do you mean that when he wants sex with others but cannot have it, he then rejects sex with you? Does it then recover when he meets that need?

If so, that's something like me. However, I'd kind of forgotten because there is nothing usually in the way of me having sex with more than one partner. When I'm restricted to one partner, it becomes "samey" and I lose my desire for them. This has happened during the pandemic. It is sensitive though and I wouldn't offer that information to my partner unless they needed to have a talk about it and it required my absolute honesty. My nesting partner has not initiated that talk but did suggest some other things we can do to increase intimacy and I took that as her saying it is becoming a problem and we need to do something about it. Luckily, another partner came to stay and the variety helped greatly.
Yes, when that need is met he recovers. Isn't that some kind of addiction?
I don't know if I spoke too early to him, but probably not, considering it was hurting me...so it seems like we actually have broken up now and I feel like everything is falling apart right now.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
I'm sorry to hear that you have broken up. I can imagine you must feel like the world has turned upside down, like when you turn a box upside down and shake it, and all of the contents fall out. And maybe if some of the contents are glass, they shatter when they hit the ground. I'm sorry this is happening to you.
 

Czeverny90

New member
I'm sorry to hear that you have broken up. I can imagine you must feel like the world has turned upside down, like when you turn a box upside down and shake it, and all of the contents fall out. And maybe if some of the contents are glass, they shatter when they hit the ground. I'm sorry this is happening to you.
Thank you. It means a lot reading this right now, just because I don't feel strong enough to tell anyone of my friends/family yet, but I do feel the need to be comforted so thank you.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
I am sorry to hear about the break up.

Even when it is the best choice to make because the couple turns out to be initially compatible but not DEEPLY compatible? Breaking up is not FUN. Nobody goes "Let's break up!" like they go "Let's see a movie!" or "Let's make cookies!"

It's a grieving time, a processing time. Please do your self care things as you move through this space. I hope over time you start to feel better.

hugs
Galagirl
 

Czeverny90

New member
I am sorry to hear about the break up.

Even when it is the best choice to make because the couple turns out to be initially compatible but not DEEPLY compatible? Breaking up is not FUN. Nobody goes "Let's break up!" like they go "Let's see a movie!" or "Let's make cookies!"

It's a grieving time, a processing time. Please do your self care things as you move through this space. I hope over time you start to feel better.

hugs
Galagirl
Thank you so much! You're right...I need to accept that I am feeling awful now, but I'll feel better one day sooner than later
 

Czeverny90

New member
I'm sorry to hear that you have broken up. I can imagine you must feel like the world has turned upside down, like when you turn a box upside down and shake it, and all of the contents fall out. And maybe if some of the contents are glass, they shatter when they hit the ground. I'm sorry this is happening to you.
There's some sort of intrusive thought in my mind right now saying that maybe I should've just been happy he was feeling better as he had his hook-up instead of feeling so bad and breaking up. Sorry maybe this is not the place to vent this much. I am not sure about the rules here.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
No, you are fine, venting is one of the appropriate uses for this board. As far as I am concerned, you are doing fine.

I think the pertinent thing here, is, not whether he is feeling better at the moment, nor whether you should be happy for him right now, but rather, that you are (or were) stuck in a dysfunctional cycle with him, and you know what happens next. He feels better for awhile, then he gets the itch again, and consequently develops a shitty attitude about everything, including rejecting you. You know this, you are anticipating this, and you don't want to go there again. Something inside you has snapped. You have gone around in this merry-go-round one too many times. Something needs to change. If he won't change, then you have a hard decision to make about whether you want to stay with him -- whether that is even healthy for you.

I'm sorry I'm speaking so harshly of him, such was not my original intent. I'm sure he has many good qualities, and that the two of you are good for each other in many ways. But it saddens me to see you repeatedly hurt. I am sure that you deserve better.
 
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