I'm going through a relationship quandary and am sick of advice from friends too close to the situation to offer unbiased help.
I’m 26, in the most supportive and loving relationship with my partner of three years. He’s 32. I’ve never before felt such an instant connection, and we still love spending time together.
However, during COVID we couldn’t get together for three months because of our living situations. When we finally could be indoors together again, the sexual spark seemed missing.
Sex has dwindled in frequency ever since. We're currently in the midst of a six-month dry spell.
We’re still intimate in other ways (kissing, cuddling), but I need a consistent sexual relationship to be happy. I’ve raised opening our relationship, which he was open to only if I’m sleeping with other women, not men.
This past weekend I slept with another man and felt no guilt. I was happy I did it. I’m now questioning if I’m happy being with one sexual partner for the rest of my life.
I do see myself with this man long-term, but the thought of never having another sexual partner again makes me depressed.
Should I try to make an open relationship work? I'm afraid he’s just going along with the idea to make me happy and doesn't have an interest in other partners.
I feel like a bad person for making this man be non-monogamous just because I want other partners. But I don't want to sacrifice my own happiness any longer. Help!
No wonder you’re confused!
Losing your sexual spark with a three-year “loving partner” after a few months apart due only to Covid, clearly one or both of you distanced emotionally, physically, or for another unspoken reason.
But with enough mutual discomfort to create a six-month “dry spell,” the relationship itself has veered off course.
At 26, given your sexual nature, which you’re honest about, you hoped that an open relationship together would raise intimacy heat. But he’s equally open about not wanting to share you with other men... only women.
That leaves you with your own conclusion - lust with other men.
Since you also doubt your interest in having sex with just one man for years ahead, your own reasoning leads to a break-up.
Given, too, your partner’s refusal to share you with other men, he’s reached the same conclusion.
Your future depends on what you can handle: Random sexual encounters with other men (inevitably risking STD’s)? Or a new relationship that may be passionate initially but also wilts over time.
You’re wise enough to know in mid-20s, that your friends cannot help you choose between someone you’ve loved vs. your current sexual desires.
But neither you nor your past lover have openly discussed, or explored, why your intimacy changed.
So, do the rational thing and chat together about it. Consider talking to a therapist about your partnership. Urge him to speak to his doctor about any medical reasons (e.g., erectile dysfunction) for the change.
You began this relationship at 23. You enjoyed his being “supportive” as well as loving. He’s 33, and not a dating stud, but a trusted best friend and dear partner.
Instead of now choosing to accept hook ups with hot guys, you’ll soon enough no longer feel that’s in your best interest approaching 30.
Meanwhile, you still may be seeking reassurance of your own allure. Just take care of yourself in every instance.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the column on Life Coaches, plus husbands who’ve suddenly left their wives (November 22):
“I’ve known two such families where wives and mothers left. I don’t know the reasons (it was actually three women) why each went to live with another man.
“But I do know the effect that it had on their children, who were then pre-teen and younger little ones.
“In all these particular families, the father stepped up and did his best to be father and mother.
“The children in all cases were nevertheless devastated. Though as I stress, I don’t know the reasons, but will never understand how a woman can leave her kids.”
Ellie - Your empathy for children and support for fathers who doubled their responsibilities as the only parent, is understandable and caring.
But this is certain: Whether it’s a mother or father who leaves their family, they know their reasons.
Tip of the day:
A relationship’s sexual dry spell happens for some reason(s). Partners should discuss/explore why, before choosing a non-reversible solution.