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Open relationships who has tried them, how did they work?

(52 Posts)
HarmlessChap Thu 15-Dec-16 16:03:08

A bit of background. DW has a problem with affection and intimacy, as in its not important to her. Not just sex but no kissing, hugs, hand holding, unprompted words of love etc. etc. Its just how she is. She was never that lovey dovey but in the last decade its got progressively worse and she believes that its just how people are when they go through from their mid 30's to mid 40's.

Feeling totally rejected I had a bit of a breakdown early this year and brought it to a head eventually, after a 2 year absence, we DTD some weeks later and have repeated it twice albeit the last time was over 6 months ago.

No effort is made on her behalf to address the problem she admits to having, despite her knowing how it makes me feel and eventually 3 months ago I simply gave up being the source of affection as I was thoroughly exhausting it being a one way street and I'm fed up with getting my hopes up only to be disappointed time and again.

I can't carry on this way and don't think its unreasonable to expect a little tenderness in a relationship. I do however love her, I love us being a family and I think she does kind of love me but more as a best friend than husband. Half of me wants to leave and find a "real" relationship but I fear how it would affect my relationship with my children if I did and I really don't want to hurt my wife; when we last discussed it she didn't want me to leave and was entirely happy with the relationship.

I wonder if an open relationship might be a way forward, some way for me to get some of the affection I crave but not destroy the family unit. I have no idea how such a suggestion would be met, and I see various potential problems, but I wonder if any people on here have tried one and if so how did it work out?

I appreciate that it may sound like I'm trying to have my cake and eat it and I guess to some extent I am but I don't think the situation I'm in is fair either. One question I have asked myself an don't know the answer is how I would feel if we had an OR and she met someone she did want to show affection to, but I guess that would put our current relationship into context.

TheNaze73 Thu 15-Dec-16 16:19:38

No experience of it OP however, just wanted to wish you good luck.
Sometimes, unconventional answers are right & this could work for you both.
She can't expect you to have a sexless marriage yet not be prepared to do anything about it. Whether male or female I'd say exactly the same

wherearemymarbles Thu 15-Dec-16 16:19:39

Ask her. Doesnt sound like you have much to lose eitherway.
But I can't imagine an open relationship is much more than a sticking plaster and how it would work in terms of meeting up I have no idea!

MsStricty Thu 15-Dec-16 17:23:14

I think your DW's response to suggesting an open relationship will really determine the best way forward. If you're both able to talk honestly about it, and she agrees, like TheNaze says, it may be an unconventional option that works.

If she doesn't agree to it, then I'd be reconsidering the marriage. Staying in a sexless, affectionate-less (the second one being, I think, even worse than the first) marriage so as not to hurt someone is the definition of co-dependence. Perhaps it might prompt your wife to get some help.

BreconCarreg Thu 15-Dec-16 17:29:25

I'm in an open relationship and it only works because we communicate really well and want the same things. We didn't go into it as a substitute for problems in our own sex life. It can be logistically and emotionally difficult.

I think like other posters there's nothing to be lost by asking. But I would do some reading about it first and perhaps asking your wife if she would be open to counselling or therapy to discuss your relationship would also be a good move.

jeaux90 Thu 15-Dec-16 17:35:56

Harmless that's bloody awful. I can't see how you can stay bonded to someone without the sex and intimacy or affection. I hope you find the right answer whatever that is x

Therightplace9 Thu 15-Dec-16 18:13:54

I think there are lots of potential issues, not least finding a willing partner even if she does agree.

Ineedmorelemonpledge Thu 15-Dec-16 19:23:10

I think you have to have the discussion, but the poster who said "sticking plaster" nailed it for me. Op do you think you are emotionally strong enough to do it? My fear is that you'd be so overwhelmed by the love and attention from another person that you'd get right out of depth.

In my head open relationships need a completely solid and trusting foundation.

when we last discussed it she didn't want me to leave and was entirely happy with the relationship

How can a partner in a relationship be entirely happy knowing that the other person is unhappy? It's a very selfish state to be in.

I hope you find some contentment OP, it's often lonelier being in this kind of relationship than it is to be alone.

namechange102 Thu 15-Dec-16 19:24:07

Your comment that stood out for me was that you were unsure how you would feel if she found someone she wanted to show affection to. You are anticipating this OR to fulfil your own needs, yet don't sound as if you want her to get anything out of it.
Seems to me like wanting to have your cake and eat it too. I sympathise with you that you are not wholly happy in your relationship, but you knew what she was like when you married her. How did you think it would change? And how honest are you about it all coming from her? Have you mentioned to her that you find it so 'unfair' you are contemplating affairs? This post sounds a bit one sided tbh.

ChipIn Thu 15-Dec-16 19:40:33

Namechange I think you're missing the point about his wife showing affection to someone else... it's not that he doesn't want her to be happy, rather the larger concern that she'd show affection to someone new and not even her own husband.

OP, all you can do is discuss it with her to find out her response. She might realise she needs to give you more emotionally or she might not care and it might cause you to reassess the whole relationship. You wife sounds a bit selfish to be completely happy when you're clearly not.

namechange102 Thu 15-Dec-16 20:25:56

Chipin, I did get that, but to me that would indicate that she's actually not as happy in the present relationship as she (possibly subconsciously) thinks. And he didn't sound happy that she might realise this...that's just how I read it, anyway.

AnyFucker Thu 15-Dec-16 20:32:31

You sound like far too much of a decent chap for this to be the solution for you

I also think that your wife will not react well to the suggestion of an open relationship. From what you have said (in all your previous posts about this) your wife does not want sex with anyone

So really, what you would be proposing is that she turns a blind eye to you having sex with other women.

You need to leave her. This is my advice to you. Be Co parents. Lots of people do it successfully. ..why not you two ?

TDHManchester Fri 16-Dec-16 06:15:00

Shes just keeping you to pay the bills and do diy/keep her company. If you want more then get out. Better to be on your own.

HarmlessChap Fri 16-Dec-16 11:18:19

Thanks for the replies.

Some have said she's selfish, while I understand the reasoning I think its more a case of being in denial about the effects its having on me and the marriage. Previously someone said she might be autistic, she certainly seems to lack empathy.

Namechange, I did know she wasn't awfully lovey dovey when I married her and I didn't expect it to change dramatically for the better but then neither did I expect it to get progressively worse as time went on, as it has.

I guess I'm clutching at straws here, financially I think it would be very damaging to us both if I left but emotionally I'm worried about my MH if I stay, maintaining the status quo is the route of least resistance.

Tenshidarkangel Fri 16-Dec-16 11:27:06

You need to discuss it with her.

Jealousy is the massive green eyed monster in an OR. That comes from both side. Communication is also key. That means not letting twinges of upset or hurt be discussed ASAP not left to fester. That builds resentment.
You also have to think about the fact she/you may find someone and it takes the other a long time to find someone. That can do a lot of damage.

They are not an easy route. I've seen some work and others not. It really is down to the couple and how open and honest they are with each other about everything as communication is a massive thing in an OR.

Tenshidarkangel Fri 16-Dec-16 11:28:07

Ugh Illiterate brain is engaged today. Sorry OP. Hope it makes sense.

Saltedcaramel2016 Fri 16-Dec-16 11:34:37

It doesn't sound like she sees you relationship as bad how it is so I doubt she would want an open relationship. I think you to spell it out for her, either she makes more effort in the relationship or you will leave. If she doesn't, leave her, stay friends (which is all you are now really) and make the arrangement work for the children. Only pursue new relationships if you are free, the OR thing will not work and is not fair on anyone.

BarbarianMum Fri 16-Dec-16 12:05:09

I agree with AnyFucker. Don't make a bad situation worse, end your marriage and move on. Marriages don't work without affection and it's a horrible thing to model for your kids.

EvenTheWind Fri 16-Dec-16 12:09:35

If you are not getting affection from her, will sex elsewhere without affection really help?

Adora10 Fri 16-Dec-16 13:27:52

No it's not something people go through in their 30s and 40s!

She clearly is only interested in a platonic relationship with you; only answer I can see is to separate and find yourself a woman that will actually desire you, we all want and should have that, it's normal!

Staying for financial reasons is a pretty poor reason to stay tbh.

Somerville Fri 16-Dec-16 13:45:28

I too think you should end the marriage and work on a successful co-parenting relationship. I would if any spouse of mine didn't see that there was a problem with not wanting to be physically, verbally or emotionally intimate with me. (If they did see that this was a problem and we were working out how to regain the love and trust then I would stay in the marriage, however.)

previously somebody said she might be autistic; she certainly lacks empathy.

Just to point out that it is a myth that lack of empathy is symptomatic of ASC. www.nature.com/articles/srep23637 Indeed, people on the spectrum very often have elevated empathy. Making sense of that emotion and expressing it can be hard for them, for sure. But that's not what it sounds like is happening with your wife.

icy121 Fri 16-Dec-16 13:49:03

I agree with the PP who said you might get in too deep with another woman if you went full open relationship. On the basis you and DW agree to an open relationship, and if what you're missing is sex and intimacy, how about escorts? That way there is no risk of meeting and falling in love with someone whilst still having needs fulfilled.

Sorry your relationship is where it is btw.

EvenTheWind Fri 16-Dec-16 14:24:20

Please don't use prostitutes as per Icy's suggestion, OP. That would negate the Harmless in your user name.

AnyFucker Fri 16-Dec-16 15:38:45

No. Please do not use prostitutes. Awful.

PysgodMawr Fri 16-Dec-16 17:05:15

I would also encourage you to consider the feelings of any potential other partner you might begin a sexual relationship with .
I am struggling to end a two year relationship with a man who describes his marriage of several decades almost word for word in the way you do OP.
When we met , I was not looking for partnership and was happy to meet for fun , affection and sex. He was open about his circumstances and I was able to check them out via mutual acquaintances.
I think the effect , on him , of experiencing mutually exciting sex and intimacy has been profound and he initially felt himself to be in love with me. I felt a bond develop and feelings grew and are often expressed .
His W accepted the situation - encouraged it. But he moved out after a year . However , he feels tremendous guilt . He and his now ex are committed co parents to their DC . But he misses her terribly . He now feels that he still loves her , but also loves me. They share mutual respect , emotional intimacy and the bond of many years of friendship , commitment , experiences, DC , family and of course regret and disappointment . They spend the majority of their time together now, which he says is because it is what the children prefer and need ( under 11's )
Although he says he loves me, it has become increasingly clear to me , that a couple of years of fun and good sex, despite expressions of love, cannot compete with what they have. Although he enjoys spending time with me, his love for her is evident and she is the one he is emotionally closest to.
He finds it difficult to appreciate the impact this has on me . He maintains that our relationship is not just sexuaI, and that in time , things will move forward. They are legally separated and divorcing now .
His XW is very happy with things as they are, and has frequently invited me to events or to meet up.
This set up might be ideal for some women . But I have concluded that it is painful , confusing and ultimately not for me.

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