Let's talk about sex, baby.
I mean, how important it is to you in a relationship? How important is it to monogamous people? Polyamorous people? What is the optimal amount of sex you'd like to be having? What do you do when that need is not fulfilled?
I'll admit it. Sex is pretty important to me. And that makes my relationships kinda tough.
Let me start with my primary relationship: Ark. At the beginning of the relationship, the sex was great: frequent, exploratory, enthusiastic. As we settled in, the sex died down of course, but it still happened often and still retained passion. After we moved away from home and began to experience the real world as a couple (later married), there were moments where the sex simply wasn't happening, but all it would take was for me to bring it up and we'd be having sex again. It wasn't that neither of us wanted it, but that we were too busy or too stressed or too tired to consider it. I felt, and often feel like, I am the only one missing it and craving it back in my life.
But, now, here's a different problem. As sexless time progressed and I explored other avenues, and I wrote in my personal journal and I dug deeper into myself, I came to a few startling revelations. The biggest one being that even though I was still in love with my husband and wanted to be with him, I had no desire for traditional heterosexual sex. What I mean by that is that I just wasn't interested in having his penis in me, and for a while just the thought of it was disturbing and I didn't want to touch it or look at it (though this stemmed from something else entirely). Physically distancing myself from Ark sexually bothered me. I love the intimacy, I love the closeness. Though I no longer crave or enjoy sexual intercourse, I still crave that. I want manual stimulation, oral stimulation, kissing, touching, feeling a warm body against mine, making me feel loved, making me feel sexy.
When we were recovering from the event that put me off sex with him in the first place, I gave him a task: get me off without using his penis. It was something he'd never accomplished before, so I thought it would be a learning adventure for both of us. I even thought it would be something we'd both enjoy and would bring us closer together as lovers and partners.
Well, it didn't quite work out that way. It took a long time for Ark to make his attempt, and it wasn't without a fair amount of prodding. And once he did get me off, it seemed that he immediately wanted things to go back to “normal,” that we would just continue having the same old sex the same ways we'd been having it before—no change, nothing learned, no revelations. The moment where I expected to feel joyful and warm-and-fuzzy was more or less ruined by the expectation that, since he'd gotten me off, now it was “his turn.”
I've only been with one other man besides Ark, and sex with him was also very penis-centric. At the risk of sounding sexist, it seems to me that men are very orgasm oriented. And I don't mean oriented to their partner's orgasm—their own. Sex for them isn't sex if it doesn't include ejaculation. And maybe that's just because it's simpler for men to reach climax, so they take it for granted? The two women I've been with don't/didn't seem to be as focused on their own orgasm so much as mine. And I can honestly say that I am far more interested in getting them off than I am in getting off myself. Sex between women takes skill and practice; the same thing won't work every time.
I feel that maybe our decision more or less to not have sex at all was made in haste. If only I could convince him that sex doesn't need to include his or my orgasm; it doesn't have to include penis insertion; to redefine sex, to start from scratch. Does he remember how to turn me on? Do I know how to make him feel desirable? Does he even want to have sexual contact with me, or is the romantic aspect of our relationship enough for him?
Since we're polyamorous, I don't feel pressured to be satisfied with only one partner. I have the option of seeking out things I need or want from other people. But as I find my sexual appetite exceeds even my new girlfriend's, I kinda start to wonder if there's just something wrong with me? How do I view sex in a relationship and how much do I need it? Enough to seek out many more romantic and sexual partners? I hope not. I doubt I would have much issue finding people to have sex with (in fact I have one or two options already), but I don't really want to have to seek out a new partner every time the honeymoon stage is over and my motor's still running.
So, back to the root of things. How do I view sex? How much do I need it?
I already admitted that sex is important to me. I need it to feel connected with my partner. Long periods of time without sex makes me question the health of the relationship. It makes me wonder things like: Am I not attractive to them? Maybe I've put on weight? Am I too clingy/do I want too much attention? Maybe they don't like my technique? Maybe I'm boring? Maybe I ask too much? Is the magic gone? Is it over for them?
Yes, I really do think all those things. It doesn't take much for me to doubt and feel insufficient.
This feeling doesn't last forever, though—it goes away eventually, once I've reassured myself that most of this is all in my head. At that point, I have to trust that if there is something wrong in the relationship or something wrong with the way we have sex/I do things during sex, that my partner will tell me and I can fix it. I have to accept that they don't want sex as much as I do, or that they don't need it the same ways I do (to feel wanted/loved/needed/sexy). Sometimes I feel disappointment at this (am I the ONLY ONE with a sex drive?!) but again, it's something I get over.
But then, and this may be a defense mechanism, after I accept this and start to move on, my libido drops drastically. So much so that when my partners do want sex, I'm either completely disinterested or I am interested, but can't get my body to respond. It's already hard to get me aroused (the best way: let me get them off first) and hard to get me off. And if I'm really craving a particular kind of sex (slow/fast, manual/oral, rough/gentle, vanilla/kinky) and it isn't what I'm getting, all I can focus on is what I'm not getting right at that moment and I can't get into it. Or if I'm stressed or worried about something... well, I guess those are normal libido killers. Anyway, I digress. Mentally, in order to be happy and remain happy and to not cause stress in the relationship, I pull the emergency brakes on my sex drive.
Communication could solve all of this. Maybe. I did talk about all of this with Ark, a long time ago, and we live now in this strange yet mostly comfortable sexless marriage. Is it fair to ask him to be the lover I want and need, to make love to me, but respect my wishes (sex without penile penetration)? Is it fair to ask more of my girlfriend? (I won't; we're too new, and I still have practically no idea what she wants/likes/needs.) Or should I seek satisfaction elsewhere?