Hookup Help: Can Polyamory Save a Marriage?

Q: Dear Jenny. I’ve been married for ten years. I love my wife, but we haven’t had sex for the last two and a half years. I still wanted it, still do, but I gave up trying a while back because the rejection is brutal. Once in a blue moon, I try to talk to her about it which has her sometimes getting angry and saying things like, “If you need it that bad, go have an affair!” I don’t want an affair, but I’ve been reading about polyamory and open relationships. I’d rather be open and honest and talk to her about that, rather than cheat on her. What do you think? -Ryan

A: Hi Ryan. Your marriage sounds like it needs an overhaul. When sex dies off altogether, it often means there are deeper issues to explore. Men can usually put problems aside to enjoy sex, while women who aren’t happy with something in their relationship have no interest in being romantic and sexual. And because there has been a disconnect for a long time, it might be best to seek couples counselling. With your communication breakdown, a third party works as a mediator and provides a safe place for all feelings to be expressed and heard.

When your wife tells you to step out on her, I’m sure she doesn’t really mean it. That type of reaction comes from frustration and anger, and quite possibly has nothing to do with your sex life. Counselling might help get at the root of your issues, if you don’t know what those are.

It’s difficult to switch to the polyamory lifestyle, when you’ve been monogamous all your life, and more so if you are married. But… you never know. I’ve met and talked to plenty of couples who have explored opening a relationship to secondary partners and thirds (someone they both engage with). In some cases it made their lives and relationships better, albeit challenging, and with others it was a lesson to them that they can’t handle their primary having sex with another person. Polyamory isn’t right for everyone. Also, you need a strong foundation of trust along with excellent communication if you are going to explore polyamory. If both people aren’t all in when it comes to exploring the poly lifestyle, then it’s just cheating.

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