NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: Pillow Talk is produced by a UNICORN staff writer strictly as personal views and should not be taken as a professional consultation. Help and advice is from an individual level. If you are feeling lost or down please seek the help of professional individuals or organisations. A great one to try is https://switchboard.lgbt/ we also have a number of articles this issue on queer therapy.
Thank you everyone for your questions. We will be responding to them within our issues so if you’ve asked something keep an eye out for our attempt to make things a little less tangled.
Let’s get stuck in with two questions. The first deals with libido during lockdown between physically separated partners. The second deals with polyamourous relationships and keeping those communication lines strong.
Q – My girlfriend and I are quarantined separately and making it work. The problem is I’m not feeling particularly sexy at the moment, I think the stress of the current crisis has just switched that part of me off. I know she is and would like us to do more long distance stuff, phone sex, webcam, etc, that I’m just really not feeling. She’s not pressuring me at all, I just feel guilty I’m not giving her what she deserves from me. And I miss her like crazy and wish I was in the mood. How do I fix this?
This is an unprecedented moment in our lives where many of us are having to adjust to new ways of socialising and interacting with the world. The uncertainty that comes from how long it will last, what will happen after lockdown, job and financial insecurity plus dynamics between the people we’re quarantined with or without makes it an incredibly difficult situation to navigate.
Surviving each day is all you need to do right now.
We develop our own coping mechanisms and, as you pointed out, we’re in a stressful situation right now! A crisis often heightens our stress levels which can impact on things like sexual desire. Rather than libido or sex drive, we actually all have accelerators and inhibitors when it comes to sex, basically what turns us on and what turns us off.
Stress for some people has little impact on their desire for sex or for some people increases it. For others, stress makes sex the last thing they want to do. It sounds like you and your girlfriend are processing this situation a little differently and can learn lots from each other’s different perspectives.
Think about what is making you feel anxious or stressed and what might help with that. Focus on ways to do long distance with your girlfriend that will help you feel safe, secure and connected, without focusing on sex. Maybe like playing a game together, having a virtual dinner date, watching something together (like on netflix party or live streaming something together) or writing love letters and putting them in the post.
By nurturing your connection and taking the pressure off it being sexual, you might find yourself wanting to ramp that up but if you don’t that’s also absolutely ok.
Lockdown will end, you will reconnect physically, this moment will pass.
***Please note that this was asked to us before lockdown. We don’t recommend or condone leaving your house to visit others.
Q – My husband told his girlfriend she was the love of his life.. We have been poly for 5 yrs. I have a boyfriend who is great, but not the love of my life. I also learned that my husband and his girlfriend of 5 yrs, exchanged love rings. Yes, they [pledged] undying love for each other. They text and talk several times a day. He whispers in her ear ” I live to love you”. I found out by reading his texts. He is sweet to [me], kind, caring. But not like he is with her. They have been together for 5 yrs. Should I be worried. He spends one night a week with her. They want more time, but are afraid to ask. What do I do.?
Two of the most important aspects of any relationship are trust and communication and it seems like both need a little work here. Unless you have an explicit agreement that you can read each other’s texts, it appears this could be a breach of trust. You also mentioned that your husband and his girlfriend want more time together but are afraid to ask. Have a think about why that is and how you all would like to move forward.
As you described yourself as poly and haven’t said that any boundaries set by you and your husband have been crossed, I want to focus on how you can open up a conversation about what you’ve discovered.
It’s a myth that non-monogamous people simply don’t experience jealousy. Many people feel jealousy but we each have a choice on what we do with it. Recognising jealousy and then thinking about if it’s because of our own insecurities or because of a miscommunication between people can help to feel empowered and communicate needs and wants with others.
Spend some time writing down your concerns about the dynamics between you, your husband and your husband and his girlfriend that have led to this point. Then when you feel ready, arrange a time for you and your husband to have a chat about it. If you’re able to, go for a walk together. This can often provide a good opportunity to talk things through as you’re not facing each other so it feels less confrontational. Aim to come out of that chat with clear boundaries and an understanding on what your arrangement is or will be going forward.
Submit your questions for Issue 4!
Written by Genevieve Collister Brown