What to Do When a Request is Ignored?

Arius

New member
How would you deal with it if a request for compassion was ignored?

I am in a conflict with one of my partners. I feel a strong need for her just to acknowledge that what I'm going through is hard. (She struck up a lifestyle BDSM relationship with someone else and has been routinely doing sexual things with him that I wanted to do with her, but which she said no to me about.)

I have asked for empathy multiple times in the past few months, but she just ignores my requests. I feel like the conflict would be going a lot better if she would just spend five minutes trying to imagine what this has been like for me, or even just say some words like "polyamory is really hard, and I know you're doing your best." That's all I want, and I've made several very clear requests for this. But she won't do it.

What should my next move be?
 

River

Active member
You're reaching to her for an expression of empathy, understanding, and she does not seem to be offering what you're wanting.

I'm curious, is she generally able and willing to express empathy and understanding toward you, or is this situation different or unique?

(She struck up a lifestyle BDSM relationship with someone else and has been routinely doing sexual things with him that I wanted to do with her, but which she said no to me about.)

Is your relationship with her a "romantic" one? Maybe she wants her romantic connections to be more vanilla while her play partners are for exploring BDSM?

I'm not at all drawn to BDSM, so know very little about it. It seems to involve a lot of games around power and pain and such. Maybe some folks want their romantic partners to be on a more equal basis (even when it is play / enactment)?
 

Arius

New member
I'm curious, is she generally able and willing to express empathy and understanding toward you, or is this situation different or unique?



Is your relationship with her a "romantic" one? Maybe she wants her romantic connections to be more vanilla while her play partners are for exploring BDSM?

She is a social worker who has been trained to work on a crisis line. She knows how to express empathy generally, but she rarely or never does it with me.

Our relationship IS romantic, but so is her relationship with her Dom. She doesn't want vanilla anything. She's just written me off as not sexy enough because I'm not that into or good at d/s roleplays.

We DO have different ideas about intimacy and sex, which I think is the cause of much of my agony. She does things I consider intimate, and seems somehow to think that they aren't. I suspect that a history of sexual trauma has caused her to turn off or chronically ignore the part of her brain that screams "this is intimate" when she's having sex. I know it's still functioning on some level, because she gets embarrassed after having sex with a stranger, but she insists that these things aren't intimate.

So she regularly makes choices that I read as strong indicators that she doesn't love or value me, and that she does love and value Random Dude X who she just met last week.

Anyway, I'm not here to talk about that. I just want to figure out a way to get my needs met with a person who seems uninterested in doing that.
 
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KC43

New member
To be blunt, I don't think it's possible to get your needs met by someone who isn't interested in meeting your needs. On the one hand, one of the advantages of poly is that if you're poly, you could keep this relationship with her and find someone else to meet the needs she isn't meeting. On the other hand, if she is this unwilling to even acknowledge your needs, let alone meet them, what are you gaining by staying in the relationship?

Also, I wouldn't consider embarrassment about having sex with a stranger to be an indication that her "this is intimate" radar is functioning, as you put it. I would take it as an indication that she, like most people (especially women), has been taught to feel shame when she has sex. I dealt with the same thing for years, but I didn't consider sex intimate and still don't, unless I'm having it with someone with whom I'm *emotionally* intimate. If it's someone I've just met, or someone I'm just friends with, it's fucking, plain and simple. It feels good, and it's enjoyable, but I don't consider it intimate.
 
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River

Active member
I suspect that a history of sexual trauma has caused her to turn off or chronically ignore the part of her brain that screams "this is intimate" when she's having sex.

I belong to the Sex Is Always Intimate school. If it is not intimate, then something has gone off the rails. That's my belief. Folks who think otherwise confuse the hell out of me. They speak a language I do not understand.
 

River

Active member
... but I didn't consider sex intimate and still don't, unless I'm having it with someone with whom I'm *emotionally* intimate. If it's someone I've just met, or someone I'm just friends with, it's fucking, plain and simple. It feels good, and it's enjoyable, but I don't consider it intimate.

Perfect example of "a language I do not understand". Might as well be Swahili.

To my ears, this is akin to saying "Water is only wet when I want it to be".
 

Arius

New member
I'm with River on the sex and intimacy thing. Humans release oxytocin when they have sex (and when they breastfeed). Oxytocin is a hormone that is meant to induce bonding and basically makes people fall in love. So if you're human, I don't see how sex could not be intimate.

In my strong opinion, the "I need to get the f out of here" impulse people feel after having sex with a stranger is discomfort around being super vulnerable and feeling loving feelings (induced by oxytocin and other hormones) towards a person you barely know, who hasn't earned your trust. I suppose shame could be another factor, but I don't think it's the sole one.

But to each their own. I must say, it does feel really good to have my experience (that sex is intimate) validated.

Anyway....

I'm not sure why I want this other validation so badly from the person whose actions stimulated my emotions. But the lack of validation has been a relationship issue for years and I just feel like I could let go of so much if she would just really GET what I'm feeling and why. Or at least TRY. It would just be SO helpful.

I can't get that need met by anybody else, and if it's not met by her, then our relationship is going to keep taking on damage and I'm just going to get increasingly bitter.

I guess there's nothing I can do?

Maybe I could try one more time to make really clear the likely consequences of her chronically not meeting this need. I'm not even sure if there's space to do this. She was upset by an email I sent and now needs time to process. I'm not sure if she even wants to continue the relationship.
 

River

Active member
Humans release oxytocin when they have sex (and when they breastfeed). Oxytocin is a hormone that is meant to induce bonding and basically makes people fall in love. So if you're human, I don't see how sex could not be intimate.

We are in agreement with respect to sex being intimate. But we are not in agreement with respect to the cause of intimacy, love, affection or bonding. Why? Chickens and eggs, obviously.

"Chickens and EGGS! Are you crazy?! I'm not talking about farm animals, here, I'm talking hard science!"

Oh, yeah?

Just exactly where in the sequence of events -- and under which specific conditions -- is oxytocin released into the bloodstream? Or brain, or whatever? Under which specific conditions is this marvellous cocktail injected into the system?

Is oxytocin the simple cause of these feelings or is it, instead, a conditional response to other conditions which are previously present?

Now, a milk cow will give up her milk to any ol' milking machine. Is sexual arousal and pleasure like the cow, here? Simply mechanical? (The cow has little choice in the matter. How about the human person?)

Your feelings are not simply caused by chemicals. Your chemicals are, in part, caused by your feelings. It's not a simple, linear causal phenomenon.

"I'm not sure why I want this other validation so badly from the person whose actions stimulated my emotions. But the lack of validation has been a relationship issue for years and I just feel like I could let go of so much if she would just really GET what I'm feeling and why. Or at least TRY. It would just be SO helpful."

Who in your family life, as you were growing up, withheld their "validation," resulting in your distrusting your own feelings and needs so much? How did you become so dependent on one withholding person for such "validation"?

It's a journey to learn how to self-validate enough to know how to genuinely, freely enjoy and appreciate the appreciation (not validation) of others, be they friends or lovers or partners. But your validity begins only at home, in your own being. And nowhere else. No one else can provide it for you. It's an inside job. And there is some grieving involved, in most cases, in accepting this lovely gift only you can accept in yourself, from within. But it is worth every tear!

Others may not have seen your feelings and needs as valid, at some point in your life. But they have ALWAYS been valid. ALWAYS. Always! Always. Now, please, tell this to yourself from within. Only you can accept this as a gift from within to yourself, as the healing balm for what was in the past not recognized by others.

I can only recognize what is valid already. I cannot validate you! No one can! That's for you to offer to yourself in your own freedom and innocence.
 

Arius

New member
Who in your family life, as you were growing up, withheld their "validation," resulting in your distrusting your own feelings and needs so much? How did you become so dependent on one withholding person for such "validation"?

...I cannot validate you! No one can! That's for you to offer to yourself in your own freedom and innocence.

I agree with most of what you wrote about chemicals and causation. Not all of it, but I'm not super invested in that conversation and would prefer to drop it.

And I do appreciate very much what you've written about validation, but I think it misses the mark. I'm not sure you've understood me.

I know my feelings are valid. I'm not sitting around waiting for her to tell me that my feelings are valid so that I can feel like they are.

Here's a rough summary of how my conversation with her went:

Her: are you upset about something?
Me: Yes. I saw a picture of you having sex with your other partner in my favourite position, a position that you won't let me have sex with you in. That seems unfair.

Now, at this point in the conversation what I wanted her to say was something like "Oh. That must have been hard for you. Here's some explanation about why I did that." The simple statement, "that must have been hard for you" would have made me feel like she actually cares about what I'm going through. That's the "validation" that I wanted. What I really want is some evidence that she cares.

Instead the conversation went roughly like this:

Her: My body, my choice.
Me: Yeah, but I don't understand your choice, and I feel personally insulted by it because I don't see any reason why you won't do this thing with me if you obviously have no problem doing it with him.
Her: I'm upset with you. I need space to think about this. (Which means she'll be back when she's figured out what I need to apologize for.)

This conversation happened in a context where she had already been expressing for months that our relationship had become too much work for her and that maybe it wasn't worthwhile.

I have a fear of abandonment.
So now I'm sitting here waiting for her to break up with me.

I'm also struggling to reconcile the idea that she loves me with the reality that she consistently appears not to give a shit about my pain, my needs, or my desires.

She could have prevented all of that with a simple statement acknowledging that she sees my suffering.
 
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GalaGirl

Well-known member
Consider better conversation skills.

I could be wrong in my impression. I will give a story in case it gives you another POV.

Her: are you upset about something?
Me: Yes. I saw a picture of you having sex with your other partner in my favourite position, a position that you won't let me have sex with you in. That seems unfair.

Could have said "That bothers me" rather than "unfair."

I shared some kissing and digital sex with a guy I was dating. He called me drunk to ask how come another guy I was seeing "could poke you but I can't? Not fair."

I was SO pissed and offended. It was MY body, and I share sex when *I* am ready to share sex. I'm not into strict monogamy or being exclusive. But that doesn't mean I am available to all any ol' time!

I was more willing to share sex with the guy who was closer to my own age back then because I could "get" him sooner. I knew what he wanted and expected, and he treated me with respect and didn't rush me. His physique was also easier to deal with. He was taller but we had a similar build. If it got ugly, I thought I could take him.

I needed more time to get to know the other guy because he was so much older than me. And his physique meant he was a LOT bigger than me. And you know what? Sometimes women like me worry about size. Not penis size, but size. Cuz sometimes sex can start out "yes" and then you change your mind or whatever. A way bigger guy than you can pin you down and it can go to the rape-y place and get ugly. So... it takes longer to work on trust and be willing to share sex and be vulnerable like that.

Maybe I would have kept on developing the relationship and moved on from digital sex to other activities. I WAS interseted in sharing other sex with him. I just wanted slow.

But when he called and made it be about him getting some PIV sex? Like "hurry up with the toast, lady!" And I was supposed to be sympathizing/validating how haaaaard waiting for sex was for him? TOTAL TURN OFF. I was no longer interested. And I dumped him.

So... you might not be getting the empathy you seek because of how you talk. Her body belongs to her. She doesn't not "owe" you sex in any position. She's gone defensive with that start up and I would too.

Now, at this point in the conversation what I wanted her to say was something like "Oh. That must have been hard for you. Here's some explanation about why I did that."

When you come at it like "He gets sex that I don't. Whyyyyyy?" because you want to feel close and connected to her? That startup might seriously be turning her off and you don't find ways to be close/connect.

And if you talk like everyone just knows what "that" is? You think you are being clear but the other person doesn't. It might end up in other conflict. What is the THAT? Like...

"(It's very hard for me to see these sex pictures at random.) I find them triggering. Could you be willing to understand that? Could you please be willing not to leave them just laying around and keep your private pix put away where you can enjoy them but I do not stumble on them?​


OR like...

"Thank you. I appreciate it when you notice when I struggle and ask me if I am ok. (I need to feel close and connected to you right now. I feel adrift, sad, lonely.) Could you please be willing to add other kind words like ___? Give me a hug? "


There (what that is) has been articulated. Don't make people mind reader you.

Her: My body, my choice.

NOT surprised the conversation went there. That would be my knee jerk response also. I don't like it when men seem to assume I'm a sex toaster.

It is MY body, and MY choice when I'm ready to share my body in sex with someone. Just their it is THEIR body, and their choice. Sharing sex consensually is a "two person yes." It ain't happening unless both people (or whoever the people) are all saying "yes."

Me: Yeah, but I don't understand your choice, and I feel personally insulted by it because I don't see any reason why you won't do this thing with me if you obviously have no problem doing it with him.

I cannot speak for her. But the guy who called me?

The reason I did not share sex with him was that I needed more time to bridge the age gap and build trust because he was so much bigger. I told him I needed more time. Then after that drunk phone call? I gave up.

I thought "Dude, I'm dumping him. Not worth it. I was willing to work with him, but he is not willing to work with ME and what I need. I am not used to dating older, bigger guys -- I need time to adjust. For him? It was about him getting into my pants ASAP.

Now he's calling me DRUNK to whine about how hard life is for him because he's not getting PIV fast enough? It's not about me being a PERSON and what I might need. It's about what he GETS or not. I'm a sex toaster to him."

I was not a candy bar where everyone gets a bite just cuz. I was not a magic sex toaster that dispenses sex whenever anyone pushes a button. I am an actual PERSON. I'm was not a free therapist to help him work out his emotional baggage.

So I ask you... why are you personally insulted that she wants to share her body with you in X ways only? What do you think she should be doing with her body?

Her: I'm upset with you. I need space to think about this. (Which means she'll be back when she's figured out what I need to apologize for.)

Not surprised she's upset.

This conversation happened in a context where she had already been expressing for months that our relationship had become too much work for her and that maybe it wasn't worthwhile.

Might be true. If you guys are incompatible in a lot of ways -- end it. Stop dragging it out.

If she's doing lots of emotional labor for you and she's burning out? That's another turn off.

I'm also struggling to reconcile the idea that she loves me with the reality that she consistently appears not to give a shit about my pain, my needs, or my desires.

One can care about you and your pain, but at the same time not want to "carry" you all the time. "Help you" is one thing. "Do it all" is another.

She could have prevented all of that with a simple statement acknowledging that she sees my suffering.

Or YOU could prevent all that by taking a step back and considering your "start ups" in your conversations better.

A better, clearer start up stating what you would like as in the blue examples above might have gotten you what you needed.

Going on about sex as your start up? Like she OWES you some toast too since she's off dispensing toast elsewhere?

That kinda of start up can be seen as depersonalizing her and reduces her to a sex toaster. And THEN you want the sex toaster to dispense empathy and cuddles and whatever to honor your personhood, validate your feelings, emotions, etc? When you have dishonored her personhood?

Dude, that approach is not gonna be a winning approach. :(

Her: I'm upset with you. I need space to think about this. (Which means she'll be back when she's figured out what I need to apologize for.)

She could have prevented all of that with a simple statement acknowledging that she sees my suffering.

Examine those again. If this is your habit? To be passive and expect her to do all the work? She has to be looking out for you in all sorts of ways and even telling you what to say? Then no wonder she says she's tired of doing so much work in this relationship.

You guys might really be incompatible. Or she may be fed up with "carrying" you.

So now I'm sitting here waiting for her to break up with me.

Why so passive? This approach is not serving you well. :(

You could go apologize to her. Actively partictipate. Rather than being passive waiting for her to tell you what to apologize for. That's her carrying you. That is not you participating in the relationship. Could say something like...

"Look, I realized how I talk might come off like I don't respect your body autonomy and I think you owe me sex. I do respect it is your body and your choice. I do know you do not owe me any sex. You are your own person.

What I really wanted was for you to say that you know poly is hard for me sometimes. And that you appreciate my trying my best. And please not leave these pix around like that where I can run across them. It's really hard to see those just laying around when I already have other poly hard.

I am sorry if I hurt you with how I talk. I will try to work on that. Please forgive me if I stumble with it again -- talking about stuff like this in the right way is also part of the hard for me.

I heard you when you said this relationship is a lot of work for you. I'm trying to learn how to carry more of my fair share."​

It might still be workable. Or it might be too little too late and all you can hope for is an amicable parting. But at least you know going into the next relationship what skills you could improve.

But the lack of validation has been a relationship issue for years and I just feel like I could let go of so much if she would just really GET what I'm feeling and why. Or at least TRY

Why keep staying there so long so it is YEARS of not getting what you need? I encourage you to be more ACTIVE, and actually PARTICIPATE in your relationships. If a thing isn't working, get out sooner. No point in passively being with people who are not really compatible. Not everyone you date is a long haul runner.

I also encourage you to articulate what you actually need and watch your start-ups in conversation.

My 2 cents,
Galagirl
 
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kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Hi Arius,

I'm thinking that perhaps what you're looking for is, the right words to say, or the right actions to do, that would convince your partner to show you some compassion. I wish I knew of such words/actions. I could take a wild guess and suggest you say, "If you can't show me any compassion, I'm afraid that our relationship won't survive." But then she could say, "Fine, we're done." Maybe the question is, do you want to hang on to a relationship that she doesn't want to bother with? It might already be over. Maybe.

I don't understand why she would refuse to do your favorite position with you, only to turn around and do it with some stranger. Maybe she doesn't want to get too close to anyone. I don't know. Your pain is very clear to me, so I don't know why it's not clear to her. Or maybe it is clear to her, maybe that's the problem, if she doesn't want to get too close to anyone. Maybe showing you compassion would be too intimate for her. Just kicking ideas around.

I'm very sorry she's putting you through this.
Sincerely,
Kevin T.
 

MsEmotional

New member
I agree with GalaGirl’s assessment. Throughout your posts I have had a hard time feeling sympathetic to you when you are complaining about someone exercising her bodily autonomy.

That said, I’m surprised that this continues to be an issue — in a previous post I thought you had said that she was refusing to have sex with you at all. If that is the case, then what does it matter what position she has sex with someone else in? In another post you said that you value sex and intimacy very highly — above friendship. So why are you still together with her when he two of you are clearly not getting what you want from your relationship? You are not getting your sexual needs met, nor your emotional needs. Unless there is a legal or financial reason to stay together, this does not sound like a relationship that is salvageable. You are spending a lot of time asking why she behaves toward you the way that she does, and I feel like the bigger question is why do you continue to engage in a relationship that does not seem to bring you joy?
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
kdt26417 said:
I don't understand why she would refuse to do your favorite position with you, only to turn around and do it with some stranger.

I'm not her but I could guess. Maybe that also helps give you other ideas to consider, Arius. Also just kicking some ideas around.

Because people are not copies. Me with slim physique BF back then? Easier to deal with than bigger football kinda guy who ALSO had penis with a sharp bend. Same position, but NOT the same people or same bodies. Just the idea of doggie style with a wicked penis bend gave me pause back then when I was younger, agile, fitter. Now in perimenopause when I'm so sensitive vaginally? I would run for the hills! A big football guy bendy penis poking me on the side walls of my canal -- UGH. There is just not enough lube in the world to make me excited about that.

I was also more mentally aroused by slim physique BF who understood that just because HE was ready to go did not automatically mean I was ready to go. Perhaps ironically, just him knowing that made me more aroused to be with him.

I was NOT aroused mentally by big guy who was all "WHY? WHY? It's not fair! I'm ready. He gets to!" For all that he was older, the younger one was better at actual relating skills.

When I read she's a social worker by trade immediately I thought "Dude, she has to listen to people all day long. Coming home to listen some more is NOT gonna be fun. When does she get a rest?" I would guess she might find it hard to get aroused mentally if sharing sex with Arius comes with a lot of emotional/mental work. That is just more mental and emotional labor after a long day at her job and she's already been saying she does a lot of work on this relationship. She's possibly burning out.

If Arius is going "You are not hearing me!" she might go defensive because she's not being heard either.

So I can see why she might be into the the "carefree" almost stranger BF right now where she gets to not be "on call." Less complicated and it might be a nice break. Sometimes when one has a demanding brain job, kink is VERY appealing because you get to surrender and SOMEBODY ELSE does all the thinking. That can feel refreshing. So... NRE + "finally a break!" kinda feelings there maybe.

MsEmotional said:
If that is the case, then what does it matter what position she has sex with someone else in?

Because some people get to feel "close and connected" to their partner through sex, and don't have many other ways. When sex is off the table, they are at a loss to figure out how ELSE to be close/connected to their partner.

So the idea that their partners are sharing sex and sharing connection elsewhere just highlights and underlines their lonely feelings. It's not so much the sex maybe, as the loss of connection and how ELSE to achieve that now.

Or sometimes it IS the sex -- because they prefer sexual exclusivity. Or something else.

Again, I could be totally off. But that's my guesses.

Arius, what would YOU like to see change in this relationship? From you? From her? From both?

You have to work on seeing some things from her POV too. Not just getting her to see your POV. Gotta try to meet half way.

Or if you can no longer meet halfway because you actually are incompatible... different wants, different values, different approaches...
Could let it end peacefully. So you can stop upsetting yourselves. Spending YEARS in a relationship that isn't the right fit... that's not a healthy thing to do.

I sympathize. But long story short? If you make reasonable and rational requests of a partner and they often go unmet? You can start counting. If it hits your personal limit? You end it and move on. Some might say 3 chances, or 10 or something else. But for sure it cannot be like 3,000 or 10 million chances, right?

If the kite just won't fly, you could stop trying to fly it and accept that this is NOT a match.

Galagirl
 
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JaneQSmythe

Active member
She is a social worker who has been trained to work on a crisis line. She knows how to express empathy generally, but she rarely or never does it with me.

When I read she's a social worker by trade immediately I thought "Dude, she has to listen to people all day long. Coming home to listen some more is NOT gonna be fun. When does she get a rest?" I would guess she might find it hard to get aroused mentally if sharing sex with Arius comes with a lot of emotional/mental work. That is just more mental and emotional labor after a long day at her job and she's already been saying she does a lot of work on this relationship. She's possibly burning out.

Still processing all of the other replies but THIS is something I can relate to:

After being at work 10-12 hours a day 5-6 days a week and having people (clients, co-workers, work friends) bring me all of their "problems" for me to "solve" - when I get home from work I don't want to hear about more. I don't want to have to put my "non-judgemental" work face on. I. Fucking. Need. A. Break.

I need someone to pay attention to ME, to ask how my day was, etc. I don't want to have to play therapist to my husband or boyfriend - I just DID that, all-effing-day-long! If they want a therapist after 8/9/10 PM (when I get home on a good day) then they are going to have to go find one that is NOT ME. Cuz I am DONE. (P.S. I don't actually expect MrS and Dude to be my therapist either - I pay someone for that, and have other friends, co-workers, to distribute that to.)

You can make the argument that I chose to be in the profession that I am (I did), but they also chose to be in a relationship with someone in that profession, and they benefit in that they have absolutely NO responsibilities other than supporting me emotionally and mentally, while I support them physically and financially.

...She's just written me off as not sexy enough because I'm not that into or good at d/s roleplays.

Has she actually told you that, in those words, or is that your interpretation?

We DO have different ideas about intimacy and sex, which I think is the cause of much of my agony. She does things I consider intimate, and seems somehow to think that they aren't.

OK, you admit that you have different ides, and then immediate dismiss hers? i.e. "seems somehow to think"

Sex is not, automagically, intimate for some people. For others it can be ...sometimes. For instance, if someone put an extension of their body into a mucus membrane orifice of another person, suitably covered with a thin layer of latex to reduce risk of infection, is that "intimate"? Because my dentist puts his gloved finger in my mouth every time I see him, and I don't think either one of us thinks that is "intimate". (Even if I find the end result, clean teeth, to be highly pleasurable!)

Maybe it is a female thing? Women, throughout history, have had to use their body as a commodity - trading sex for protection, social standing, a family, financial independence, etc.

Kissing, for me, is a far more intimate act than coitus...

I suspect that a history of sexual trauma has caused her to turn off or chronically ignore the part of her brain that screams "this is intimate" when she's having sex. I know it's still functioning on some level, because she gets embarrassed after having sex with a stranger, but she insists that these things aren't intimate.

These are your interpretations of subjective experiences. It is good to be mindful of the effects of sexual trauma - but those effects can be very, very different. The being "embarrassed after having sex with a stranger" confirmation of your suspicion I am going to have to call bullshit on. It is possible to be embarrassed about an act for MANY reasons. Perhaps she is embarrassed because you think "normal people" don't behave that way and she is actually completely and utterly fine with it (therefore "broken" in your eyes...:rolleyes:


So she regularly makes choices that I read as strong indicators that she doesn't love or value me, and that she does love and value Random Dude X who she just met last week.

Your "read" may be seriously off the mark from her perspective.

If you haven't heard of the idea of "love languages" you may want to consider reading up on the concept. You may be interpreting her actions as having a much more significant meaning then she assigns to them - and, on the flip side, may NOT be giving her the indicators that signify love and value to her. (i.e. she may be craving "words of affirmation" where you are offering "physical attention")

I am mostly an "acts of service" person - I don't care where you put your penis but taking out the trash without being reminded and having coffee ready when I wake up before work make me just about swoon. My husband vacuumed the library the other day and it made me smile and bounce for two days!


Anyway, I'm not here to talk about that. I just want to figure out a way to get my needs met with a person who seems uninterested in doing that.

If these concerns encompass your needs and your partner has no interest in satisfying your needs in this way, then you are not going to get your needs met with this person in this relationship at this time. People only every change because THEY want to, not because someone else wants them to. For instance: If MrS "needed" a partner to cook for him in order to feel loved and valued, then he picked the wrong person, I have absolutely ZERO interest in cooking even though HIM cooking for ME is an act of love (I love to EAT!).
 

Evie

Mod
I have a different perspective. I think it is unfair of her to withhold from you without satisfactory communication as to if there is a significant reason. That's not loving behaviour. Especially if you're exposed to the pictures by whatever means (sans snooping, that's just self inflicted).
I personally would support your desire for empathy, but I see that as a fundamental part of a relationship. I'm sorry so many people see it as such hard work. Reading the responses, I see just a little too much extrapolation going on.
 

WhatHappened

New member
And what if she sympathized with you that yes, she understands it's hard....it's hurting you...but she's going to keep right on doing it?

Is that going to show you true love and concern for your well-being?

The truth is, she knows it's hard on you. And she's going to keep doing it. Would you continue to do something that was clearly hurting you? Consider this and consider her willingness to consider doing what hurts you and make your decisions according to what offers you genuine happiness in the future.
 

SchrodingersCat

Active member
To be blunt, I don't think it's possible to get your needs met by someone who isn't interested in meeting your needs. On the one hand, one of the advantages of poly is that if you're poly, you could keep this relationship with her and find someone else to meet the needs she isn't meeting.

Some needs are self-specific, some needs are relationship-specific. Empathy and compassion are elements I need in any relationship I'm in, or it's not worth my time and energy. I can't substitute empathy in one relationship to feel closer or more cared about by someone in another relationship.

It's unclear to me whether she's ever agreed to your request and failed to follow through, or whether she refused to agree in the first place. If she never had any intention of showing empathy then there's nothing you can do to make her.

My husband and I are going through challenging times right now, but the one thing that tells me we have a chance is that we still have compassion and empathy for one another. When you lose that, what's the point?
 

Arius

New member
The most useful thing I got from GalaGirl's message is the notion that underlying all my pain, and buried in my expression of that pain, is an implicit idea about what my partner "should" be doing with her body, and how she "should" be sharing it.

I realized that this is true, and that it's wrong of me.

When I started to unpack that implicit should, here's what came spilling out:

I believe that when you love someone and are in a sexual relationship with them, you "should" prioritize their sexual pleasure. You "should" want to know what turns them on, and you "should" do these things as often as you reasonably can, unless you have some really good reason not to do those things at all - with anybody.

Consequently...

When she does things that indicate lack of interest in my pleasure - such as saying no over and over to an activity that she's obviously capable of doing - I feel unloved, and I also often wrestle with the notion that she might be a sociopath or else just incredibly selfish. I then experience some serious dissonance, because there IS plenty of evidence that a) she loves me, and b) she's not totally selfish: she works at a homeless shelter, ie.

When she does things with others that I want her to do with me, I think she is being lazy because she doesn't really care if our relationship dies. Again, my default assumption is that she secretly doesn't love me.

It doesn't help that I can't think of a logical reason why, if she loves me and cares about me, she WOULDN'T prioritize my pleasure. I certainly prioritize hers. But this seems like a poisonous path to follow. I guess I just need to assume that she does love me and be grateful for what she does share with me and not probe too deeply when confronted with evidence that she shares things that I want with others and not me.

So what's really happening here is 1) I have some expectations about how she Should behave that she isn't meeting, and 2) these expectations and her failure to meet them are setting off all my fear of abandonment triggers and feeding into my hypervigilance. (Because of some childhood abuse, I have trouble trusting that anybody really loves me, and I am constantly seeking evidence to the contrary.)

I also realized that when she gets angry, she gets cold with me, which I tend to see as more evidence that she doesn't love me. I spend a lot of my time angry at her for "not loving me" and "being selfish" when in reality it's mostly that the ways that she shows love are not ways that I show love and so I feel unloved even though she does love me.

I was finally able to gain access to a therapist through social assistance, and we're going to work on my fear of abandonment and hypervigilance.

FYI, the fear of abandonment is a big part of the reason my partner ends up calling a lot of the shots in this specific relationship. However, I do a lot more work and carry a lot more weight in my relationships than I probably mention here. Keep in mind that what I'm presenting on this forum is severely truncated - for the sake of brevity I have to leave out a lot. I play a much more active role in my other relationships, and I also play a much more active role in THIS relationship than I've probably let on.

On the other hand, it is true that I play a much more passive part in this relationship than I would like. Contributing factors to this dynamic include her tendency to make everything about her, her inability / refusal to apologize when she makes mistakes, and her need for control and dominance in pretty much all her relationships. She unconsciously (I presume) engages in all sorts of tactics, some of them in my opinion bordering on abuse, in order to seize control of our relationship; this is exacerbated by my fear of abandonment. She becomes cold and distant precisely when I need reassurance, and somehow the ball always ends up in her court - which, make no mistake, is exactly where she wants it. The passive things I said were based on frustration with this dynamic, which I find irritating but don't know how to change except by working on my very deeply-rooted fear of abandonment.

Much of the rest of Gala's critique is based on my really lazily constructed and totally inaccurate summation of what was actually probably about a 10,000 word conversation that was much more thoughtfully and artfully presented than what I put here, so I think I'll leave it alone for now.
 

Arius

New member
"You can make the argument that I chose to be in the profession that I am (I did), but they also chose to be in a relationship with someone in that profession, and they benefit in that they have absolutely NO responsibilities other than supporting me emotionally and mentally, while I support them physically and financially."


I didn’t choose to be in a relationship with a social worker. She BECAME a social worker after we’d been dating for about three years, burned out after maybe the first year, and has been unable to make space and time for us to work on issues ever since. I do my best to use other people for support, and to just support her, but there is a certain bare minimum amount of work that is required in order to maintain a complicated kinky poly relationship with people who speak very different love languages, and for years she wasn’t doing that work.

On the one hand, I understand. Her job is an important source of meaning in her life and I do my best to support that. On the other hand, her burnout led to a lot of damage under the surface that now we’re trying to work through. There’s YEARS worth of unresolved crud down there – crud I wanted to resolve when it came up but which she, because of her career choice, was chronically unable to work on.

And to be clear, I would NEVER date a social worker again.

This job destroys people. Social work should be a part time job. Like maybe 10 hours a week would be sustainable. I don’t know anybody who a) does social work and b) has a properly functioning adrenal gland and happy relationships. And I know a LOT of social workers.
 

Arius

New member
"Maybe it is a female thing? Women, throughout history, have had to use their body as a commodity - trading sex for protection, social standing, a family, financial independence, etc."

This is actually a really really useful thought.

For sure there's some gender stuff at play here. As a man, it's hard / nearly impossible for me to understand her perspective. This really helps.
 
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