Seeking Advice: My Partner Is Sending Mixed Signals

Just looking to share some behavior that I don't quite understand. 

We've been together 3.5 years. The sex has been bad for about 2 and sexless for the last 1-1.5 years. He had suggested we open up the relationship so I could have sex. I didn't really want that but eventually agreed. A couple of days later he suggested we remain monogamous and that I wait until he's ready to have sex again. I agreed to that but wondered why the quick 180 after I had finally agreed to an open relationship. 

My partner asked last night if I wanted to get couples therapy, and I said yes. I had said yes previously, but neither of us followed up on it. I felt that it was something he should investigate as a way to determine how serious he was about it and our sex life. Anyway, I took on the research myself last night and found a few options that would work for us and left him a note asking for his opinion. And this morning before he woke up, I wrote him a letter reaffirming my love and desire to be together – all true. When he read the letter, I gave him a hug and tried to keep things good between us. I was expecting a shift in his mood, but all day he seemed withdrawn and much less responsive than I imagined he would be.  

I'm puzzled. He's asked for me to ease up on him, and I feel that I've tried to do that. (Not just today but in general the last several weeks. I don’t bring up sex and just do my thing.) Sure, I'm emotionally disengaged as a response to the sexless situation, but we’ve talked a lot about the impact the sexlessness has had on my ability to connect. No news there. And I do love him and expected that expressing that to him would have opened up some conversation or opportunity for us to connect. 

Part of me really believes he wants out, but he keeps insisting that’s not true.  

Another odd thing – he’s left his journal out a few times now in the living room. I’ve never read it and wouldn’t (though if the situation were reversed he probably would so this might be a way he’s trying to communicate indirectly). 

He’s very ambitious and feels a lot of pressure to succeed but has recently said that he just wants to slow down and enjoy life more. I would think sex would follow, but it hasn’t -- at least not with me. I don’t think he’s having an affair. 

I don’t know what all of this adds up to. I’m actually pretty happy personally these days and have come to some sort of peace around the sexless marriage. I don’t intend to remain sexless forever and that helps my mood, so maybe he’s picking up on that vibe. 

Can anyone relate? See something obvious I’m missing here?  

XanderXander XanderXander
36-40, M
10 Responses Feb 11, 2010

Well maybe he is going through something y don't u try a nice n romantic dinner for him with candles n a nitie on may b that will turn him on.

Thanks. We just had a conversation but pretty quickly into he said that he didn't want to talk about this subject again until we could do that with a therapist. We'll see how long it takes to schedule that. There was so much anger coming from him -- suppressed anger but just under the surface. I realize it's always on his terms. What he's willing to do or not do. I can't live/love like this.

The first step is being truly honest. My earlier statement " . . . I've been dreading that and maybe even a little afraid of that too" was not totally honest.<br />
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Don't want to minimize or equivocate with words like "maybe" or "a little". <br />
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The truth: I'm afraid to share my feelings with him.

Thanks for reading and for the advice. Being a part of this group has helped me in many ways.Our sex life was fine the first year and has been bad the last two (sexless for much of that last two). I've gotten a reality check that we haven't been as honest and as open as I thought. I've been fairly transparent (therapy and meditation have helped me a lot with identifying and communicating my feelings), but I'm realizing that my partner has been keeping info/secrets. He always told me he didn't know why we were sexless, but now I'm beginning to believe that he knows but wants to avoid conflict. Avoiding conflict is part of his personality, so I might have realized that it would play a role here. He also has ADHD. I just read an article this morning about spouses with ADHD who seem really hot and passionate at the start of the relationship and then lose interest and turn cool. That describes him pretty well in some ways. Not trying to find reasons or excuses anymore, though. I'm much less concerned with intelectual fancy-dancing or mannuvering. The reasons for the sexlessness may or may not ever become clear. These days I'm more concerned with honoring my feelings as much as possible. I read someone's earlier post about realizing how the life they imagine will never be possible with their spouse. I'm coming to that realization now. It all happens in stages, I guess. I met with my therapist this morning, and we discussed how what I had once with my partner will probably never return. My partner and I had what seemed like a very strong connection early on, and I had believed that that would always be there. Wishful thinking and then denial on my part.I realize I need to sit him down and have a talk soon even though I've been dreading that and maybe even a little afraid of that too. I just got to a point where I didn't want to argue anymore or be accussed of being mean or attacked because I wanted sex. Writing this now I can see and feel the disconnect that I tried to deny. I have every right to have the kind of life I want to have. The silver lining in all of this is that I'm finally at a point in my life where I'm really focused on myself. The therapy has been tremendously helpful. Some of you might relate: I grew up in an abusive home where in order to get by I had to put everyone's needs before my own. I'm realzing now how much that has cost me in life and in this relationship. I want the remainder of my life to be about me first, not in a selfish way, but in a loving and strong way.

It strikes me that the offer to get counselling was hollow. He is really quite content with things as they are - and does not want to change the status quo. He probably hoped (maybe even subconsciously) that you would decline the counselling and keep going as you were . . . <br />
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Now that you have not only affirmed you want to take up the counselling option but also actively researched it, he is realising things are going to change in your relationship . . . So now he feels uncertain . . . <br />
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A characteristic of most ILIASM relationships is that, for one partner, the way of life is acceptable. Change is NOT what they really want. They will pay lip service to change because they need to keep you around - but in reality, there is no genuine commitment to it.<br />
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I suggest you forge ahead with the couple counselling. Be scrupulously honest with the counsellor in your sessions - even if you fear hurting his feelings. Honesty is hard, painful and may lead to the demise of your relationship. But without counselling, or confronting the situation in some way, you are still DYING. Just a slow, painful "death of a thousand cuts".

I have. We're both ambitious/motivated people so we get that about each other. I think he's hiding behind "life is stressful". We've talked a lot about living in the moment and appreciating each day while still going after our dreams. I feel that I'm in that zone. He seems more lost to me than I ever thought he was. Maybe he wasn't lost before but has gotten lost over the last few years. Or more dishonest. I thought we had the kind of relationship where we could tell the other if we needed a break, wanted out, wanted someone else. For me it's just about being honest with myself first and having the best life possible. We weren't a couple that felt that they had to get married, so I don't get all the funniness now.<br />
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The odd thing about sharing these experiences with this group is that it compels me to re-evaluate how I see him. In my own little world it's easy to see his behaviors as having good intentions. When I read the posts, though, it seems to me he's playing games, knowingly/unknowingly.

Since you don't have kids, I say cut your losses and run. Finding someone else is both less work and has much higher change of success than fixing this one.

Thanks. I think you both might be right even though I thought he had more clarity than that and respect for me/us. We both worked from home today, and he's done a lot to avoid me. Total time together was maybe 5-10min. And now he's out again. I can't believe I've been so blind. His behavior is the kind of behavior that I wouldn't tolerate in someone else, but I've always given him a lot of credit because he's good at saying "I love you" a lot and seeming to mean it.

he is definitely not being honest with his feelings. He is yoyoing you along. I suggest telling HIM what your boundaries are and dont waver from them.<br />
Every time you accept his new idea in attempt to make him happy you are short changing yourself.<br />
Tell him to **** or get off the pot -- that you deserve better and if he cant give better then it is time to call it quits.

Your buddy is using you and he does not love you. He is just stalling. <br />
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Sorry to have to break it to you but one day, you will wake up and he will tell you that it is over and that he found somebody else. <br />
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You should tell him to **** off and get the hell out.