I am in an open (some might call it “polyamorous”) relationship. This doesn’t mean I go around mounting strangers willy-nilly, but I do have a primary relationship and will sometimes develop one or two secondary relationships as well.
My (primary) boyfriend and I have been together for two and a half years. We cohabitate, communicate beautifully, and are absolutely one another’s best friend. I find him wildly attractive, and every day I am awed by his kindness, patience, selflessness, and good humor. While that sounds perfect, there is one little problem. When we have sex, I can’t stand incorporating any “intimate” behaviors such as kissing, caressing, or looking into one another’s eyes.
For a long time I suspected that maybe I was just into more aggressive sex. Nothing wrong with that, right? Some girls just like to feel a bit more . . . ”man-handled” in the sack. That is until six months ago, when I began seeing someone else (for ease of conversation, let’s call him FWB).
The relationship with FWB is strictly casual. Of course, we genuinely like each other and get along fine, but neither of us is interested in actually dating. The sex, though . . . it’s the best I’ve ever had. But beyond the multiple orgasms, we do something I’ve never been able to do before: show affection. When we’re in bed together, FWB is constantly kissing me and telling me how often he thinks of me and having sex with me in a much more romantic way. I’ve come to love it, and though I never wanted to develop serious feelings for FWB, I feel like my brain chemistry has been thrown for a loop.
All of this would be a good thing (“You’re learning to enjoy intimacy!” “You’re allowing yourself to be vulnerable!”) if it weren’t for the fact that when my boyfriend tries to be tender during sex, it makes my skin crawl. I don’t know why that is, and it breaks my heart that I can’t be as close to him as he’d like me to be. Because of the nature of our relationship, my boyfriend knows I hook up with FWB, and he is fine with that. What he doesn’t know, however, is how different my encounters with FWB are, and how I’m able to show FWB a side of myself I’ve never been able to show to him.
What’s wrong with me? How can sex feel so psychically and emotionally close with a causal hook-up, but not with my long-term boyfriend, for whom I care so deeply? I don’t need judgment about my choice of lifestyle, just thoughts about what might be going on with my head and how I should handle it.