“My husband and I have been openly seeing others for 20+ years but I’ve been largely out of the scene for 15 of them. My husband mostly plays separately but most times it’s just making out and fooling around. He’s only slept with two other women. I decided very recently to date more actively.
Since getting back into it, I’ve been on a couple of apps and talked to many, many guys. I’ve only had a physical relationship with one guy for three months and that has now ended. I also hooked up with this guy a week after I decided to get out there again so it was quick. I’ll admit I didn’t handle it well.. My partner and I didn’t communicate enough before. Since then, we have been communicating plenty and have hashed out a lot of things.
But he keeps asking me this question over and over again: “Why do you do it?” I do it because I like the thrill, the adoration, the sex is fun, and I like meeting different people through the apps that I never would normally. Also, the new connections are an escape and retreat from the regular work/kids/house/running around. He wants me to look deeper in myself because he says those are superficial reasons. He says that if that was all it was then I wouldn’t be as selective and I wouldn’t be going back for more visits since the thrill runs out. And he says I could join a book club to meet people. Why sex. I honestly have no other explanation.
Am I being too superficial about this? Should I be looking deeper to find out why I like multiple partners? Is sex really that different that anything else in the grand scheme of things? Like getting on a roller coaster. Viewpoints would be appreciated :)”
Dear Daffy April,
Your reasons are good enough. A lot of folks in the non-mono and casual dating communities commit to dating because they like the intensity and the erotic satisfaction they gain from connecting with other sexually. We live in a very sex-negative society that regularly and openly condemns sexual promiscuity. And openly seeking sexual connection for close intimacy is also a subversion of that societal norm that is very alluring to many. Sexual intercourse can also be incredibly validating as well as vulnerable. And the escape to other connections can be very cathartic and innervating as well. The reasons you outlined are plenty deep and meaningful enough.
It is also important to discuss the overall context of your relationship. You shared that your partner has slept with two other partners and fooled around with many while you’re only just starting out to explore forging more sexual connections. So it’s really interesting to hear that your partner is asking you about what you personally get out of your sexual connections even when he has had sexual connections with many other women.
But ultimately, I don’t know if it is your husband’s place – or anyone else’s for that matter – to judge and critique your personal reasons for why you seek other sexual connections. You do not need to convince your husband why you like pursuing other connections because your husband is not you. The only person you need to convince is yourself.
So when your husband points out your selectivity and offers a purely platonic alternative, he is completely missing the point. You are selective because women experience a disproportionate amount of sexual violence and harassment compared to men. According to RAINN, one in six American women have been a victim of an attempted or a completed rape in their lifetimes, and 90% of all adult rape victims are women. Women in modern society are asked to do an increasing amount of emotional labor on filtering who they date and be vigilant about their selection. When your husband offers book club as an alternative to forging sexual connections, he is communicating that he did not listen to the reasons you outlined.
You don’t go read Where the Crawdads Sing with other people to have fun sex. You would get completely different things out of attending a book club than you would get from going on an exciting first date. That would be akin to saying that going to an Olive Garden to eat their shrimp carbonara is the same thing as trying out a new Ethiopian recipe at your own home. Yes. They’re both for sustenance, but it is a completely different experience altogether.
You mentioned in the comments that your partner has halted dating for the moment. I am curious to what degree your husband is projecting his own internal insecurities about why he pursues other connections when he is questioning your own motives. Because he’s questioning so himself, he asks you the questions he wishes he can ask for himself. It is too bad that his tone could come off as accusatory as I can see that you definitely feel a bit defensive in answering his questions. It could also be possible that he is questioning your motives more now that you are more intently pursuing and developing outside connections. And he could be attempting to solidify your marital foundation to ensure that your connection with him will survive and thrive as you continue to connect with others, as he has doneso in the past twenty years.
Sex for the sex’s sake is good enough reason for many. And you have given many more valid reasons on why you personally seek other sexual connections than is necessary. You should not need to defend the reasons you listed. And your motivation wasn’t something you were asking to have challenged either. So stand your ground and do not self-doubt what you already feel based on what others have to say, even if that external doubt comes from your husband of twenty plus years.
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