Wicked Wednesday #5: Condoms

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For me, as a woman who has recently started having the occasional sexual encounter again as a part of a journey into a non-monogamous relationship , the use of condoms is non-negotiable.  I was a little naive initially. as I assumed that anyone having sex outside of a committed and monogamous relationship would use a condom without question. Sadly, I have found that is not the case and I am frequently surprised at the amount of men I talk to through various websites and social media that think using a condom is unimportant.

I wrote a blog post a while ago about the man who decided he was going to try and have sex with me without a condom. I made the assumption that he would have some condoms and would use one automatically, but I had some in my bag, just in case . He did have some in his bedside drawer,  but he had decided, without asking me, that they weren’t necessary.  I was annoyed with him, but put it down to over-excitement and nerves on his part. However, on the next occasion, he tried again to penetrate me without a condom, knowing I had not consented opreviously. I was furious, gave him a lecture on safe sex and that was the end of that friendship. He has a 14 year old son and i sincerely hope that he has been educated to treat women with more respect.   The full post is here if anyone wants to read more.

With the next man I met, I raised the issue of using condoms well beforehand, but was astounded  to hear him say that he didn’t object, but if the friendship lasted, then perhaps we could dispense with the use of condoms in the future. This is a man who had fanciful ideas of more than one friend with benefits.

Other priceless comments have included:

‘I suppose we’ll have to use condoms….’

‘I don’t like wearing condoms, it spoils my enjoyment’.

‘I knew she was ok, as she told me that she hadn’t had sex with anyone in the last few years’

‘Will we have to use condoms?’

I recall an incident back in my early twenties, when I had a short-term relationship with a man of 35. He was a local businessman and quite arrogant. His behaviour on being asked to wear a condom was tantamount to a toddler’s tantrum. After complaining bitterly about it, he reluctantly agreed and then spent the rest of that evening sulking and saying he hadn’t felt a thing due to the condom.

I really don’t understand why some people are prepared to risk not only their own health, but the health of their partners too. The usual argument is that it reduces the sensation. If that is the case, surely that’s better than potentially catching or passing on an STI that could have devastating consequences for you and others.

I realise that no method is 100% safe, and I have had experienced a couple of occasions, back in my twenties when condoms came off. This meant a trip to the local A&E to try and get the morning after pill.  On another occasion, one vanished and slipped out several hours later.

I have had sex, without condoms, with a few partners pre-marriage. These were committed relationships and I was taking the pill at the time.  Sex is fantastic when you don’t have to think about condoms and can act spontaneously. However, in the world of more casual encounters and multiple partners, I don’t see how not using condoms can ever be right. And I will not be changing my principles to accommodate sulky men.

 

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Food For Thought Friday: No Strings Sex

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This is the first time that I have taken part in Food for Thought Friday and this is a good week to start, as the subject matter is one that is quite topical for me at present…

Is it possible to have a long-term ‘no strings’ sexual relationship?

I have blogged before about the fact that I am married, but the sex in my marriage gradually died out and is now non-existent. I did raise the subject with my husband earlier this year, but he made it clear that he is not interested in sex for various reasons. He agreed that if I felt the need to be sexually satisfied, then I should go ahead and seek other sexual partners.  I have no wish to enter into a full-blown emotional relationship with another man, and my mindset is very much that it is purely for sex.  I have come to understand that we cannot expect to get all of our needs in life met by just one person.

However, I would not have sex with someone just for the sake of having sex – I do think a spark, some chemistry or a connection of some kind is essential, so that you actually want to have get naked and have sex with this person. Apart from one drunken encounter on a Greek island 25 years ago, I’ve never been interested in one night stands after the pubs shut. I want to feel desired for who I am and have an enjoyable experience, not just a quick fumble and fuck.

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I have had a couple of experiences over the last few months, which I  hoped would turn into long-term, occasional sexual relationships. The first one was with anti-condom man. He seemed an ok guy, but when I discovered his irresponsible attitude to safe sex, it was never going to go any further. He was very formal and a bit uptight, so I didn’t feel like I could really be myself in his company. I couldn’t have envisaged laughing uproariously and making innuendos like I normally would. It was nice to be naked and intimate with someone, but there was no connection between us.  So when it fizzled out, I wasn’t particularly bothered. It was a good first experience of no-strings sex, as I felt no emotion or sense of loss.

The second one was a bit of a different character altogether. We had been messaging for four months before me met. I did enjoy exchanging messages as he was very interesting and intelligent and I felt we developed quite a good friendship through those messages, but I was starting to think that he really only wanted a penfriend. To cut a long story short, we did have sex on the third occasion that we met. He was very passionate and I felt comfortable with him and felt we could have an ongoing friendship too. However, his attitude towards me changed after that day.  He reckoned he felt guilty and talked about how he was a very emotional person. I am somewhat sceptical to be honest given some of the things he previously said, but if he is speaking the truth then he can’t obviously handle the emotional side of no-strings sex. He knew exactly what he was doing and it was not for the first time either. My only feelings were ones of annoyance at him blowing hot and cold and a bit of sadness for loss of what I thought was a decent friendship.

So, although my experiences have been short-term so far,  I do believe that it is possible to have a long-term, no-strings sexual relationship with someone. It’s just finding the right person(s) with whom you have the right chemistry and a similar mindset! But, of course, feelings are unpredictable and I suppose it would be possible to develop emotional feelings, but if you don’t try the experience, you will never find out how you fare in this type of situation.  And as I don’t plan to be celibate for the rest of my life, I intend to continue to enjoy finding out!

See how other people answered here on the Food for Thought Friday blog

 

Assumptions on safe sex

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Safe sex is a phrase that is commonplace these days and something that most people who have sex, or are thinking of having sex, or wishing they were having sex know the meaning of and understand. Or perhaps not. Or maybe they think it’s not that important and  contracting an STI is something that only happens to other people. I don’t want to play Russian roulette with my health, so I would never consider having sex with a new partner without using condoms. Especially in the domain of non-mongamous relationships.

I recently met a man whom I got on well with, and who seemed very taken with me. He is a decent, mature,respectable and seemingly sensible person, who is in a prominent position of  work. We exchanged several messages.  We met for coffee. A couple of weeks later, we met for lunch. Then a dinner date. It was an unspoken fact that we would return to his nearby flat after this third meeting.. Wanting to be prepared, I had my own condoms in my bag. Just in case. As I did not assume that he would have his own supply, although I would have been surprised if he hadn’t. And, of course,it went without saying  that he would practise safe sex.Or so I thought.

I learned that night not to assume anything. Without warning and very suddenly, he decided to try to penetrate me without a condom. I stopped him from doing so the second I realised what was happening. I said, very clearly, ‘not without a condom’. My intervention seemed to deflate matters at that moment but, later on,  he did rubber up, from his own supply, and without question.  I put his faux-pas down to over-excitement in the heat of the moment, and didn’t make an issue of it.

We met again, two weeks later, for a dinner date at his flat. Again, I went prepared. And there would be no repeat of the previous indiscretion, as I had made my feelings quite clear. How wrong I was. The same thing happened again. And I realised  that it was a deliberate act and not to be blamed on over-excitement. Again, I repeated, ‘not without a condom’. This time, he resisted. ‘Just for a bit – I like skin-on-skin contact‘, was the reply. ‘NO’, I assertively told him. I asked what his aversion was to using condoms. He replied that it was the reduced sensations and losing the moment when putting them on.. I ended up lecturing him on STIs and how you can’t tell by looking whether people have any nasty diseases etc. The kind of thing you might have to explain to a naive teenager.  He remained blasé about it and I was, very subtly, made to feel like I was over-reacting and being way too cautious. He never asked about my sexual history or whether I was using any form of female contraception (I am), so for all he knew there might have been a possibility of me getting pregnant, had I let him continue.   I knew that he had been sexually active during the last few months, so it was ultra-important to me that we used protection. I was left feeling annoyed and  disappointed in his attitude and the night was definitely spoiled. Needless to say, I haven’t heard from him since. Nor do I want to.

I am still amazed how a very intelligent man can show so much naivety and disregard for practising safe sex. The more I think about it, the more annoyed I get that he thought he could try ‘bareback’ again, despite me not consenting previously. I am particularly cross with myself for making assumptions, but I have learned a lesson from this in that not all men are going to adopt  a sensible approach to safe sex.  In future, condoms will be bluntly discussed at the coffee stage, and not on reaching the bedroom.

I am interested to hear others’ thoughts on this subject.

Wicked Wednesday: Monogamy

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I haven’t participated in Wicked Wednesday before, but when I saw the prompt of Monogamy, I felt I should put some of my thoughts down, as it is a subject that is very much on my mind at the moment.

A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog post about the lack of sex in my marriage, which is due to a number of reasons. In that post, I considered whether non-monogamy might be the way forward for our marriage. I read a great deal around this subject before suggesting it as a possibility. I subsequently posted an update on my blog, following discussion of the issues with my husband. To summarise, we have very different sexual desires, including his immense dislike of any type of oral sex, and he has no interest in sex at the present time. This is a paragraph from the update.

One constant throughout has been his appreciation of my frankness and honesty. But, he admitted that he can’t provide me with sexual fulfilment and acknowledged our differences in that respect. Consequently, he has given me freedom to seek other sexual partners if I feel the need for fulfilment, However, for him, sex is not a priority at present.’

Following that discussion, which was two months ago,  we have not discussed the matter again, and I think perhaps that has been a mistake on my part. I felt quite emotionally drained after the last discussion, and it took some time for me to accept my new situation.

Our day-to-day lives seemed to get back to normal pretty quickly, and it is almost as though nothing has changed. But, I am conscious that it has.

Incidentally, we usually communicate well on all other aspects of life and marriage, and used to communicate well regarding sex. He has a huge amount of freedom to pursue his technical interests and I never complain about the amount of time he spends on them. I know a lot of women would not be quite as tolerant. But it is important to have flexibility and give-and-take in a marriage, and I think that applies to monogamy too. Particularly when desires and needs in a relationship are poles apart.

The thing that is playing on my mind the most is setting some guidelines for the arrangement to work. I had planned to raise the matter for discussion again this week, but each time I went to say something,  I stopped myself.  I know this sounds ridiculous as I have done the hard bit in raising the subject initially, which he was appreciative of. I don’t want to be deceitful, so it is important that I know if he wants me to tell him if I have made arrangements to meet someone, or whether he would prefer that I kept things to myself. I know that the key to any type of open relationship is communication, communication, communication!

I am worried that raising it again will hurt and distress him. But the silly thing is that he prefers plain talking. and I suspect he might think I have already had meetings given his consent in our last discussion. I think the new ‘elephant in the room’ might be caused by me feeling guilty.

I contemplated forgetting the whole idea, but I really want, and need, some passion, and to experience being desired again. I know that if I keep avoiding the matter and it does end up forgotten, I will deeply regret a  missed opportunity.

 

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An Update on the Elephant in the Room

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A few weeks ago, I wrote a post regarding lack of sex in marriage. It seemed to make an impression on many people, as I received an overwhelming number of comments, tweets, DMs and emails from others willing to share similar stories. Thank you to everyone who contributed.

Particular thanks to The Shingle Beach for recommending a book entitled Rewriting the Rules by Meg Barker. The book examines the rules society places on relationships, and covers areas such as love, attraction, sex, monogamy and conflict, and considers ways of rewriting the rules and how we can adapt them to fit into our own lives. I found it to be a very interesting read and it certainly made me stop and question some of my own values. I think it would be of benefit to any type of relationship, not just anyone considering non-monogamy.

I decided that the best way of approaching the matter with my husband would be to let him read the blog post, along with another I had written regarding oral sex.  Finding the right moment to approach the subject was tricky, mainly due to me losing my nerve a couple of times and the fact I’d decided to raise it while we were away on holiday.

He seemed pleased that I’d raised the matter, which he agreed was overdue for discussion. We had a long talk and he obviously felt somewhat inadequate, which saddened me. We were both a bit exhausted by the talk, and the matter didn’t get discussed again until we returned home. Having both had a chance to mull things over by then,  we ended up having a more heated discussion where our marriage was laid bare. A lot was said – some of which was painful to hear and say. But digging into the mechanics of a marriage and assassinating each other’s characters is always going to be a painful experience. He said that he had lost interest in sex and, despite having told me otherwise, he can only get aroused by thinking or participating in corporal punishment activities. Which is as I had always thought. But even CP is not doing it for him at present. Oral sex, for him, is definitely not an option, and he does not understand why men get pleasure from going down on women. And, of course, we all have different likes and dislikes.

We both needed some space and the fact that he was due to go away for three days for work was welcome respite.

On his return, we talked a lot of things over. Neither of us want to split, but there are a few cracks there, which we both need to work on.  One constant throughout has been his appreciation of my frankness and honesty. But, he admitted that he can’t provide me with sexual fulfilment and acknowledged our differences in that respect. Consequently, he has given me freedom to seek other sexual partners if I feel the need for fulfilment, However, for him, sex is not a priority at present.

I feel strangely detached from it all at the moment and it feels a bit surreal. I’m certainly not filled with a feeling of euphoria, as one might imagine from being put in a position of consensual sexual freedom. For us, the rules have certainly changed and it will take a period of adjustment. I acknowledge that it is an unusual situation, and one that some people may not understand, or think is wrong. I am sure I will get used to the idea in time; until then, the male population is quite safe…

Raising the subject of sex with your partner can be awkward and emotional, as I have found out. But, in the end, acknowledging the elephant was the right thing to do and hopefully it will stay out of the room in future.

Lack of Sex in Marriage – The Elephant in the Room

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On a number of occasions, I have made humourous remarks on Twitter about married people not having sex. Judging by the ensuing banter, many people find themselves in this situation. I have also had numerous private conversations regarding this subject. No doubt there are many married couples who manage to maintain amazing and fulfilling sex lives, but there are those of us that don’t have regular, or indeed any, sex.

Certainly communication is an issue. Sex becomes ‘the elephant in the room’ – it’s too awkward to discuss the fact that there is no intimacy; perhaps too much time has gone by, so we ignore our desire for a basic human need and pretend everything is ok.

No doubt there is a multitude of reasons for this: loss of spark, boredom, physical and mental illness, medication, getting older, incompatibility; I could go on. I suspect the expression ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ rings true in a lot of cases. And, of course, it applies equally to both sexes.

I haven’t had sex with my husband in around 18 months. We haven’t slept in the same bed for 12 months. This is for a number of reasons:  incessant snoring, frequent bathroom visits, bouts of insomnia, 3am alarms =8pm bedtime on the previous night, etc… Plus his work regularly takes him away from home for several days at a time. And I do actually sleep much better by myself, so it just seemed easier to sleep separately.

Like most couples, when we first met, we had sex fairly regularly and it was ok. The usual initial passion you find with a new partner, apart from his dislike of oral sex, which was and still is a problem for me. But, I have never truly felt completely and utterly desired by him, as he indicated very early on in our relationship that he had never been sexually attracted to larger women (I was nearly two stones lighter then than I am now), but liked me so was trying to overcome this. This obviously did little for my confidence and ever since have felt unattractive and certainly not desirable. He has never told me that he finds my body beautiful and sexy.

He also told me he had a kink for corporal punishment and its association to footwear. This was a new thing for me, and I was happy to participate in role plays on a regular basis, although it held no sexual appeal for me.   As I have mentioned previously, I have an exhibitionist streak, which is not his kink,  so this has never been explored together. The suggestion by me, many years ago, of some erotic outdoor photography filled him with complete horror. As does the idea of women going out in public without knickers on. He doesn’t get any sexual pleasure from intimate looking and touching, or from boobs. Only from spanking and footwear.

Looking back, I realise that I was happy to have found a decent man and, at that time, did not see sex as a particularly important issue.

Over time, the number of occasions that we had sex dwindled, as is usual in a lot of relationships. He took a job that involved living at the other end of the UK, so for a couple of years we only saw each other every 6-8 weeks. I lost my sex drive completely due to stress and bouts of anxiety and depression linked to my work. I rejected his limited advances at times because of this. When I did feel like having sex, I felt awkward making the first move due to the length of time that it had been since any physical contact. As time went by, I became increasingly aware that he found it difficult to have sex without thinking of, or mentioning, corporal punishment in some way.  He assured me he didn’t rely on it, but I have never been able to shake off the feeling that he did, and I found this gradually put me off having sex with him, as I felt it was taking over.

So, all in all, since we got married eight years ago, we’ve had sex a handful of times.  I bravely made the first move on the last occasion. That was more out of my need than a desire for him.  And you are no doubt wondering why we bothered getting married.

Our relationship is akin to sister and brother. We rub along ok in general. We don’t argue very often. We laugh and joke. He’s kind and generous. He’s always there if I need him.  He’s thoughtful. He opens doors for me.  Together, we’ve been through a lot of the unpleasant things that life throws at you. The emotional connection is there. There are a lot of positives.  And yet, occasionally, I feel like I’m living with a stranger. He has no idea how I feel deep down about sex.  I have changed dramatically since we last had sex 18 months ago.  I am more confident about my body. I know that I am sexually attractive. My sexual needs and desires are stronger. There are experiences I would like to try.   I feel that I am now at my sexual peak and want to make the most of it instead of trying to suppress it.

I have read a great deal around the area of sexless marriages and the advice given is sensible and obvious. Usually centred around communicating with each other about sex, and possibly getting some counselling.  But what do you do when the fundamental reasons for not having sex aren’t going to change?  Our sexual interests and what turns us both on are so different. He can’t fulfil my needs and desires. I am no longer sexually attracted to him and I don’t think he has ever really had a true desire for me. Yet, our relationship is sound in most other areas. I know that having sex with other people without his knowledge is not the answer.

I have started to wonder whether there is something to be said for consensual non-monogamous relationships. Can we ever be all things to one person? Perhaps we need someone to love and nurture us, with our sexual needs being satisfied by other people. I don’t just apply this to my own needs. I have questioned whether his strong need for corporal punishment is being suppressed by me.

Sometimes, when I think about the area of open relationships, it makes complete sense, yet at other times I feel ridiculous for even considering it.  After all, it’s the sort of thing other people do, not me. Isn’t it?

We have never discussed this area, so I don’t know how he would feel.

When I read this finished post, it sounded like a really tragic story, yet I suspect that it is not too dissimilar to other people’s experiences. And I apologise to anyone who thinks I am being selfish and should be satisfied with what I have and the love of a good man.

The elephant in the room is becoming harder to ignore, so I know that we will have to discuss it soon.