“Eva always said she understood if I wanted to find someone else for my sex needs”

“Eva and I benefited greatly from couples therapy a few years ago. The reason was that I had fallen in love with another woman. In the end, this situation brought both some good and a lot of misery. As a result, we started talking more and better together and have had a good time together in recent years, even after Julia left home. Only: the problem that we couldn’t solve then, our difference in need for sex, still plays a role. It remained an obligation for Eva to have sex with me. Occasionally, maybe once every two months, it happened, but even then I felt it wasn’t necessary for her. She did it for me, which is sweet, but not really what you want in a man. Especially after the transition, it was sometimes even painful for her. Of course I wouldn’t either. She has said more than once that she understood if I found someone else for my sex needs and that she would try to accept it. But I knew she would have a hard time with it. So it turns out.”

“I met someone with whom I started a relationship. I wasn’t looking for that, but I think I was open to it because of the lack of intimacy with Eva. I didn’t tell them right away, but Eva quickly realized something was going on. So when she asked about it, I honestly admitted it. I immediately added that I didn’t want to leave her because I love her, but I also don’t want to give up the other relationship. I don’t think it should be a threat to our marriage. On the contrary. The relationship with the other woman is mainly about physical attraction. I enjoy making love with her and she enjoys it too. I think that I don’t leave frustrated around more because I somehow blame Eva for rejecting me in that area makes less tension between us Eva is my wife and my best friend.

It is also probably too much to ask for everything you need in one relationship with a man or woman. Eva and I discussed this and she said she would accept it. However, we now note that it is almost impossible for her to do. When she knows that I have an appointment with my partner, she is upset and scared, and that makes it difficult for me as well. I don’t know how we’re going to get out of this, but I know I’m not going to give up on the other relationship.”

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“I would like to accept it, but I think it is so difficult. I can’t understand you being in a relationship with someone who is only about sex. I don’t really think Eric is like that. He himself has always told me that what matters to him is intimacy and love, and that sex is an expression of that for him. At the beginning of our relationship I also experienced that between us, but after a few years it became clear that Erik’s need for sex was much greater than mine and that I could not fulfill it. It created a lot of tension between us. Erik often felt rejected by me and I felt guilty for letting him down. He wanted to love every day, and he thought I should find out why I gradually developed more and more reluctance to love.”

“We tried to make arrangements; that we would have time for each other and for sex once a week. But it didn’t work, because Erik wouldn’t love if I didn’t want to or didn’t enjoy it anyway. He wanted me to specify what I liked and for us to experiment more to find out. The problem was that I didn’t have an answer to the question of what I liked. Yes, I liked snuggling on the couch or getting a hug from him. But I gradually avoided that too, because Erik always wanted more. We discussed this with you in therapy and things got better for a while. I was happy that Erik chose me then and broke up with his partner. We really went through a period back then where we realized how much we loved each other and we chose each other again. Sexually it also went better.

But as I entered menopause, making love became more and more painful. Erik didn’t want to hurt me and so the intimacy between us stopped completely. Then I thought that given his age, maybe he was also starting to think that sex was a little less important. But suddenly I saw the same things about him that I saw during his crush on the other woman. He also immediately admitted that there was someone there, but he immediately said that he would not stop. He obviously thinks so, so if I don’t want to lose Erik, I have to live with it. But I don’t know if I can.”

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It is not immediately clear to me what Erik and Eva are asking me for and what they expect from our conversations. When I ask about this, it turns out that there are quite a few differences as well. Erik hopes that, through those conversations, Eva will give him space to continue contact with his partner, and that she won’t be too upset. Eva hopes I make it clear to Erik that it is not possible to have a sexual relationship with one woman and a romantic relationship with the other. What they expect from each other and from these conversations is another feeling. However, you can still change behavior if you want, but you have no direct control over emotions. You can only examine them, try to understand them and share it with each other. We don’t have a button to turn our emotion on or off.

I examine with them both the extent to which they can accommodate each other in relation to their behavior and what the effect would be on how they feel. In addition, I help them share their feelings about the relationship with each other and about the relationship with the boyfriend. It helps Eva to hear from Erik what the relationship with his partner means to him and especially what she herself means to him. She tries to understand that it is possible for him to be comfortable with this woman sexually without wanting to share his life with her. He already shares that with Eva. With her he has a shared past, a child and shared interests. It doesn’t help Erik to see Eva’s questions about what his partner means to him as control, but as a way to allow him to stay in touch.

As for their behavior, it helps to make good agreements about what Erik does and does not share with Eva. They both realize that it helps in this difficult situation to make an extra effort for each other and their relationship. Additionally, Eva seems to show a little more initiative to be physically intimate with Erik, possibly because the thought of her having to fight to win him back motivates her

It seems that Erik and Eva’s relationship survives these difficult circumstances by showing extra attention and love to each other. When we close the talks, they are in good spirits.
I have my doubts because in all my years of couples therapy I have rarely seen couples who could handle having a third person in the relationship. They must be there, but I haven’t seen them, probably because they didn’t make an issue of it and therefore didn’t need therapy.
Erik and Eva had made their choice to give their relationship and Erik’s contact with his partner a chance. It was their decision, luckily I didn’t have to make it for them.

Unfortunately, a few years later I hear from Eva that she and Erik have separated after all. It turned out to be especially difficult for Eva that the other woman demanded more and more attention from Erik.

Annette HeffelsEditorial

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