Needs and communication (mixed messages much)

General discussion about relationship issues.
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spin
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Needs and communication (mixed messages much)

Postby spin » Fri Oct 17, 2008 7:11 pm

I have needs, y'all.

I need I need to feel appreciated. I need satisfying conversation. I need good one-one one time. I need touch--I am a cuddler, touch is a reassuring and happy thing. These are things I don't get sometimes when we're both tired.

I try to express these needs to my fella, but I think I have been confusing him by, when I'm most stressed and needy, seeking physical and emotional intimacy through sexual avenues. I'll admit I've occasionally lapsed into trying to use sexual activity as a shortcut to other forms of closeness (which, like most shortcuts, doesn't really work). I don't end up getting what I want, and I'm afraid he's probably getting very mixed messages about my needs.

This isn't a "what do I do" thing--this is something to talk to him about.

What I am wondering is, have other people run into this issue, from either side? Have you handled it/are you handling it?

How can we (asexual and sexual folk alike) sort out what we are and aren't getting from sex, and how can that improve our relationships?

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Placebo
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Re: Needs and communication (mixed messages much)

Postby Placebo » Sun Oct 19, 2008 10:54 am

I wish I could help, but most of the fixes we've made in my relationship are sort of approximations--we try one thing, go overboard, back up overboard to another thing, and end up somewhere in the middle. I'm not sure how it worked out, but some how my friend figured out that back massages are the way to my heart. Which is funny, because he doesn't like them at all.

I think it's really difficult to use a group definition (i.e., asexuality) as a reason at some point. I realized in the other post you made that I haven't talked about that at all lately with my friend, but it's because it hasn't seemed necessary--past the initial meet 'n' greet of basics, the relationship is now sort of on a specifics, nuts and bolts level, so it's more, "I don't like this, I do like this" from both of us and we're both willing to say, "Ok." --I don't need to say, "I'm not too into sex or getting aroused BECAUSE I'M ASEXUAL, but I like having sex with you because you enjoy it so much" and then have him be like, "WHAT? You don't like sex?!" --he already sort of knows about me, so there's less questioning on that front, fortunately.

It does seem to go in phases though, like you say--sometimes we're both unstressed and happy and things are great, sometimes one of us or the other isn't the greatest and things suffer. I think we do the best we can and weather through to the good parts and then try and figure out what when wrong or what was least satisfying before and try and explain it after to prevent it happening again. There are a few (non sexual) subjects that we've both argued to death and finally we got to the point where we agreed to disagree and not talk about it anymore. There are other things we're still working out.

I think usually my friend can tell what I like and don't like because of non-verbals. Not because I say anything, but just because he can feel that when we're cuddling and he's holding me, I relax. Or sigh. Or smile and give him a kiss. The same for him, although that more often includes sexual things, too. We are fortunately both incredibly tactile--some of our roughest patches are when we haven't been able to reserve a big enough block of time to relax/cuddle/(have sex) together for a while and we can both feel ourselves suffering and getting grumpy about it. :-) Other than that, I can't really say.

I guess, what are your partner's needs? Is he a cuddler or does he need something else? Sometimes it helps to compare to what you two need the most to understand; plus if you're leaving him unsatisfied too it could be rebounding on you. How does he react when you're stressed, or what happens if only one of the two of you is, and how is that different between which is the stressed one?

Hope everything works out!
"Now it's right for me to be me."

Phil Halvorsen, from "The [Widget], the [Wadget], and Boff" (Theodore Sturgeon)

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spin
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Re: Needs and communication (mixed messages much)

Postby spin » Mon Oct 20, 2008 7:24 pm

Gah, I've missed comparing notes, Placebo! I'm pleased to hear you and your friend are still working things out :^)

Placebo wrote:some of our roughest patches are when we haven't been able to reserve a big enough block of time to relax/cuddle/(have sex) together for a while and we can both feel ourselves suffering and getting grumpy about it. :-)

That's a big part of it. We are both very cuddly tactile people, and we haven't been getting much good relaxed quality time. I feel like I've been suffering more for the dip in physical contact, though.

One problem is that we are both really empathetic, and when one of us gets stressed it stresses the other one out. Lots of empathy is great for positive emotions but lousy for negative ones. I'm not a very energetic or upbeat person, and I don't feel like I'm able to cheer him up when he's down or stressed; I can just be supportive enough to level him out some. I'm just feeling all over the place emotionally. What makes me feel better is extra physical contact and one-on-one attention, which he doesn't have time/energy to give me and I feel horribly bad asking for.

Even so it seems like neither of us is feeling wanted quite the way we'd like to be, which seems to boil down to me missing critical bits of understanding of sexuality and him reacting to that.

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Placebo
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Re: Needs and communication (mixed messages much)

Postby Placebo » Sun Oct 26, 2008 2:26 pm

:-) Yeah, my partner and I are still going strong--it's nearly been a year, now. I'm rather dumbfounded by the concept, to be honest.

I've noticed with myself that I (like you) really need the physical contact, whereas my partner is OK with some combination of physical contact and sexual contact. The thing is that physical contact is harder to fill to my quota. I'm sometimes envious of my partner, because sex doesn't take that long, and then he is happy. For me, even two hours of cuddling isn't quite enough to fill the void. It usually takes, oh, sleeping together and cuddling for 8 or 10 hours to get to an equivalent level, I think. So, obviously anything that interferes with taking a night a week or so to cuddle together leaves me feeling deprived and grumpy--even if we get together for a couple of hours, I still feel kind of empty. :-(

(Possible TMI ahead)


My partner is still occasionally surprised that I don't feel the need to orgasm when we're together, whereas he obviously does. I've tried explaining it and it just doesn't come across correctly. It's a really really hard thing to describe, isn't it? The difference between sexuality and asexuality, I mean. I still have a hard time, and I spent a year or so "studying up" you could say--reading the boards and whatnot. However, for the most part he hasn't questioned my asexuality much. I still think I'm helped by the fact that this is new to both of us, so he doesn't have a mental standard that he's trying to measure me up to. (phew!) Anyway, most of our problems aren't so much sexuality oriented as they are oriented towards nonsexual things--we have different outlooks on life, politics, how much we want to move and what we want to do and where we want to be in our lives, but that can be worked on slowly. Problems with sexuality seem like they need to be resolved more quickly.

Do you need active cuddling time or passive cuddling time to feel better? I mean, does all his concentration need to be on you, or would it help even if he were working on something else (or whatever) and you were sitting next to him or something like that? Or would that just be a distraction to him? I've thought that before as a compromise with my partner. . .the problem is that I would very definitely be a distraction to him, even if I were sitting next to him reading a book or something.

Sorry I don't have any better suggestions! Hope everything works out!
"Now it's right for me to be me."

Phil Halvorsen, from "The [Widget], the [Wadget], and Boff" (Theodore Sturgeon)

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Lehcar
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Re: Needs and communication (mixed messages much)

Postby Lehcar » Sat Nov 15, 2008 9:19 pm

I can't speak from personal experience, but I can pass on something from observing friends in relationships; communication is key.

I don't think it's fair when someone is getting frustrated with what their partner does/doesn't do, and doesn't even communicate that frustration. It's like blaming your friend for not getting you a ticket to a movie they didn't even know you wanted to see. I've seen relationships sour because someone didn't mention how upset they were over unwashed dishes, or not setting aside a time during the week for 'couple activities'.

All I can add is to be sure you're always checking in with one another, and to try communicating in different ways if they don't understand you the first time. It seems to me that you've been doing a good job in communicating with your partner, and to that I say KUDOS!