So things have gone somewhat pear-shaped...(First post, long)

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So things have gone somewhat pear-shaped...(First post, long)

Post by Paladin on Fri Jun 12, 2015 1:28 am

Hey guys, I'm in a rather convoluted romantic situation and I am in desperate need of some advice.

So, about a year ago, my girlfriend moved to California to work on her Master's. It was tough, but we decided to see it through. In order to compensate, we opened the relationship up (which had already been kind of open anyway). Not surprisingly, she was a little more successful at it than I, but we managed.

Cut to this summer: She got a summer job on the east coast, and she moved back into town. Excitement! Except almost immediately things started going off. A few months before she moved back out here, she got involved with a guy on the west coast. Other Guy is incredibly smart, good with puns, and really involved with the kink scene (as is The Girlfriend). In fact, he's definitely better at kink than I am. But, it turns out he's asexual, so I figured there was at least one area where I wouldn't feel inadequate (something The Girlfriend had assured me of). I was really happy for her-she'd been very lonely out on the west coast, and Other Guy seemed really awesome. Unfortunately, I discovered when she got here that's she still in the NRE stage-she's constantly talking about him, texting him, messaging him, etc. Even more unexpected, she announced that thanks to her experiences with Other Guy, she's realized that penetrative sex doesn't really do anything for her, and she's really only interested in kink (she's also, nominally, subbing for Other Guy, to the point of wearing a collar he'd given her).

Basically, everything's a mess for me, and I get increasingly depressed and upset. I eventually talk to her about the issues, even tearing up a bit, about how I'd felt neglected and inadequate, and while she said those were valid concerns, she started tearing up because she was upset that I couldn't stand on my own, that I was trying to use her to validate me, and that it wasn't her sole responsibility to "fix my sad". These were also valid points, since, yeah, I was trying to seek validation through her, and I had been relying on her a bit too heavily for emotional support. But, somehow, it turned the conversation away from her behavior and towards mine, with me ending up promising to be more independent of her and managing my emotions better. Good things, I suppose, but not the problem I set out to fix.

Honestly, I have in fact done a pretty decent job of that so far (it's been about 2 weeks), but I'm still kind of unhappy, and afraid to talk to her about it again. I'm fine with respecting her boundaries, of course, but I really wish we could get at least some of the passion back, and as the Dr. says, it's ok for me to want sex, even if I can't have it with her.

The funny thing is, reading through the Dr. Nerdlove archives, we're actually in a position to fix a lot of this. After all, we're in an open relationship, all I need is another partner of my own, where I can get my needs met, and whom I can gush about just as The Girlfriend gushes about hers. But unfortunately I've had *comically* bad luck with this. Every time I've met a woman who seems interested in me, she invariably either lives far away, or shortly thereafter moves (at one point, I met a girl at a dance and really hit it off, only for her to move to freakin' Idaho a week later). My one previous FWB imploded rather messily about 6 months ago (though she'd been kinda shitty to me, anyway), and the one current person who's definitely interested in me is spending her summer in a cabin in Northern Minnesota doing field research on bears. (She's so far off the grid that the only way I can reach her is through hand-written letters. Romantic, yes, but infuriatingly slow).

So, this is the mess I'm dealing with. And I have no idea what to do about it. Any one piece on it's own, I could handle, but all this...I'm just out of ideas, other than just toughing out the summer and pretending I'm not miserable.

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Re: So things have gone somewhat pear-shaped...(First post, long)

Post by The Wisp on Fri Jun 12, 2015 2:46 am

Wow, that sounds like a rough situation. You have my sympathies.

So let's see if I have this straight, your girlfriend moves cross-country and so you open up the relationship (which had already sorta been open). She's had much more success than you in finding partners, but that isn't a huge issue on its own. She meets a new guy, queue the NRE and all the complications that follow, and then she moves back to your side of the country.

I'll focus on your relationship with her. Frankly, from the information given your girlfriend isn't treating you very well. For one thing, she's managing her NRE poorly. Obviously, NRE is intrinsically apart of open relationships, and if managed well can be a benign but fun state to be in, but if not managed poorly the negative consequences can harm the established relationship(s). The impression I get is that she is obsessing about this other guy, and isn't making a ton of effort to set those feelings aside with you at least some of the time in order to focus on the relationship you two have.

Furthermore, she's communicated very poorly with you. When you tried to bring up your feelings, she instead made it all about her and threw her emotions back at you, thereby changing the subject. It doesn't even sound like she wants to communicate with you, which is a bad sign because open relationships require a great deal of honesty and mutual communication.

Finally, she out-of-the-blue has a "revelation" that she has no interest in penetrative sex anymore, coincidentally right when she moved back in with you. This is after she strongly implied that sex would be something you two could share and enjoy that the other guy didn't offer. Oh, and she continues to wear a collar in subservience to her other boyfriend, even when she's on the other side of the country with you (who I'm assuming is nominally the primary). That strikes me as disrespectful. Have you two had sex at all since she returned?

So, putting this all together, she has made little effort to manage her NRE and shows little self-awareness around it, she's communicating poorly and actively avoiding communicating about your feelings and hurt by making it about her, and her stated sexual interests have completely changed which suddenly makes you two much less compatible sexually and she seems to be rubbing it in that the other guy is so much more compatible with her.

Now, it's only been two weeks, so maybe you can get through to her. Perhaps try communicating with her again and seeing if she has a more healthy response.

But I'm going to be honest, things don't look good. From what you've written, she doesn't actually seem to care that much about her relationship with you. Being charitable to her, maybe she's gained self-knowledge that she didn't have before with this new relationship and living apart from you, and she is just handling the fall-out of that poorly. The website More Than Two talks about "game changers" in open relationships, and this is certainly one. Uncharitably (and perhaps realistically), she's really attracted to this new guy and is just not as into you as she used to be.

To be blunt, what are you getting out of this relationship anymore? She seems to not care much about it from what you've said.

I honestly think you might have to consider a break-up. Even if you can get your sexual needs met elsewhere (though, as you said, you've had a hard time with that), you current relationship doesn't sound very satisfying and it seems less mutual.
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Re: So things have gone somewhat pear-shaped...(First post, long)

Post by reboot on Fri Jun 12, 2015 9:13 am

I second Wisp. It sounds like you two are not sexually compatible anymore and she is more emotionally attached to the other man than you. She is not handling her new relationship excitement well and not allowing you to express your concerns about your relationship. I know sometimes open relationships make people feel that it is hard to break up since it is (wrongly in my mind) felt that you can just get another partner, so why break up? But why stay in any relationship, open or otherwise, that is not making you happy? Your specific relationship with her is not working and should just end.
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Re: So things have gone somewhat pear-shaped...(First post, long)

Post by eselle28 on Fri Jun 12, 2015 12:15 pm

I'm kind of with Wisp and reboot here. It doesn't sound like this is a case where she has things she values about her relationship with you and a different set of things she values about her relationship with the other guy. It sounds like she's still highly emotionally invested in him and has done some reevaluation of her sexual needs and decided she's more compatible with him in that way as well. In contrast, when she talks to you about your relationship, she focuses on problems rather than things she cherishes. That sounds like a description of someone who's moving from one relationship to another rather than just NRE.

As a last ditch effort, I think you might want to consider a non-ultimatum. Not one that demands a specific course of action, more a statement like, "I'm incredibly unhappy right now. I feel ignored and sexually frustrated, and if things continue the way they've been going, I'm not sure I can stay in the relationship." And then...well, see what she does. If her reaction is nonchalant or leans toward focusing on her problems with you, I think it may be time to move on.
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Re: So things have gone somewhat pear-shaped...(First post, long)

Post by PintsizeBro on Fri Jun 12, 2015 4:35 pm

I generally agree with the others in this thread, but I would like to add a couple of caveats:

NRE can make people colossally stupid. They can get so caught up in their own happiness that they completely forget that their original partner is a separate person for them who is not just as happy as they are that they're in this new relationship. That doesn't mean this is okay. It's on the person in the new relationship to handle their shit, and your girlfriend is not handling hers. Rule 1 is do not gush to your original partner about your new partner unless they have specifically said they're okay with that.

Regarding the kink, it's not uncommon for someone who has just discovered a new fetish to temporarily lose interest in other sexual acts that don't relate to that fetish. It's possible that she'll find a reawakened interest in penetrative sex at a later date.

In short, it is possible that the combination of new relationship + new fetish means that her attention is consumed by all of these new things and she doesn't feel able to think about anything else. Once the "shiny and new" wears off both the relationship and the fetish, she may find that she does appreciate her relationship with you and the sex you have, she just isn't thinking about that right now.

Now, that's not a given. This might be, as Eselle said, she's moving on from one relationship to the next rather than adding a second relationship to an existing one. But even if she does eventually pull her head out of her ass, that doesn't mean that you have to stick around and wait for it. She is treating you badly right now, and you're under no obligation to wait around in the hope that maybe it will get better some day. I'm especially concerned with her statement that it's not her responsibility to "fix [your] sad." Maybe it's me, maybe the nuance is lost in text, but at least from where I'm sitting it just smacks of her being upset that you have emotions that aren't convenient for her.

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Re: So things have gone somewhat pear-shaped...(First post, long)

Post by Paladin on Thu Jul 09, 2015 1:35 am

So I was visiting the forums and realized I should probably write a post-script.
Good news: things are decidedly less pear shaped! Maybe a day or two after I posted this, and just after we'd been talking with a friend with his own incredibly messy dating issues (I may ask for advice about him later), she started a conversation all of a sudden about our relationship. Turned out, not surprisingly, she had picked up on the tension in me. She sincerely apologized for mishandling her NRE, said that she would try to focus on me more, and that she hadn't meant to push me away, but was simply worried that I would devote an unhealthy amount of energy to serving her needs rather than self-care (which, to be honest, I do have a bad history of doing). She capped it off by saying she couldn't imagine a universe where we weren't together at some way.

And, sure enough, she's kept her promises. All the old affection, the playfulness, everything I loved about her, came back into the relationship. She's done a lot of really touching things for me- for example, coming to an SCA event with me, even though it's not her scene, and then orchestrating a massive conspiracy amongst my friends and family to surprise me with a service award at said event.  And she's been better about providing emotional support, but also pushing me to be more dynamic in handling my own affairs, lest I become co-dependent.

The sex situation has also improved, somewhat. Needless to say, I can't force her to increase her libido, but we've come to a rough compromise. It helps that we've been able to link up with the local kink scene. At any rate, it's at least enough to get me through the summer.

So, I suppose, there's hope for all of us, no matter how pear shaped our situation may be.

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Re: So things have gone somewhat pear-shaped...(First post, long)

Post by Enail on Thu Jul 09, 2015 10:59 am

That's great, glad to hear it!
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Re: So things have gone somewhat pear-shaped...(First post, long)

Post by PintsizeBro on Fri Jul 10, 2015 7:49 pm

Hey, I'm glad to hear that things turned out well! Hormones are crazy things, they can make otherwise kind and considerate people act like jerks.

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Re: So things have gone somewhat pear-shaped...(First post, long)

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