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Question that's been on my mind lately

Have there been periods of your life when you had no satisfying romantic/sexual relationships, or fewer than you wanted to have (if you're poly)?

How many such "dry" periods have you had in your life?

How long did each of them last?

Was anything in particular going on with you at the time that contributed to the circumstance, as far as you can tell? (Possibilities I can think of include being sick, being busy, moving to an uncongenial location, being socially inexperienced, experiencing a breakup, becoming more picky...etc.)

If this period ended, what circumstances contributed to its ending?

I'll say more about why I am asking this in a future entry.


( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 15th, 2002 10:24 am (UTC)
I've only had one 'dry' patch and I'm still waiting for it to end... it's more than 10 years since anyone has been romantically/sexually interested in me. What was the change that caused it or happened at the same time? My husband died... nothing so unattractive as being a widow apparently.
Dec. 15th, 2002 10:26 am (UTC)
I've only had two "dry periods" in my life.

1974-1992, and then 1995-present.
Dec. 15th, 2002 10:36 am (UTC)
I've only had one, at a time when my then-SO decided to be monogamous for a time with another woman he was dated who demanded it. I was very depressed at the time and, honestly, very needy. I met my third husband and another man within a week or two. Within 6 months the SO came back, as well, having decided that Ms. Monogamous wasn't The One.

After that marriage ended, I chose to put my self on a "relationship diet" for a year, as I realized that I had been moving from bad to worse due to my need to have an SO in my life. That was an extremely healthy and rewarding, but very difficult, thing for me to do. Since that time I haven't been alone, but I did fall into "settling" for less than I wanted or deserved with that same old SO again for a few years before meeting Sam.
Dec. 15th, 2002 11:12 am (UTC)
More dry than wet. (pun intended). I do live in a arid climate. (Couldn't resist that pun.)

Never, however, have I had as many Friends with Benefits as I want at any given time. Not even if I added them all up. And the family I have in mind is twice as big and more physically affectionate than the seven adults in my current family. My circumstances haven't been in my way at all. At least, I don't find any connections.

I'm slow to ask and slow to notice I'm being hit with a clue bat. And, even though I think about sex and sexuality all the time, it is more an intellectual exercise and a hazy fantasy than it's some concrete desire for sexual contact.

I also think about sex (not very interested) differently than physical intimacy (very interested). (I think that's way I miss the clue bats.)
Dec. 15th, 2002 11:29 am (UTC)
I've tried to answer this three times and come up short. I'm interested in the followup.
Dec. 15th, 2002 12:02 pm (UTC)
I dunno whether mine counts as one long dry patch punctuated with occasional relationships, or as a couple of separate dry spells. At any rate, when I first started doing the poly thing I was pretty successful in relationships, having a stretch of five years or so where pretty much everyone who I developed an interest in being interested back. That was nice. *wistful look* But after that, things slowed down a lot. I had a loooong stretch of nearly a decade where the only solid relationship that I had was my primary relationship with Mark. During the late 90s there was a period where I had a couple of short and unsuccessful relationships, but they were pretty much it until early 2001. That was the point when I started up relationships with australian_joe and mouseman within a month of each other. (And ironically, both of those relationships also ended within a month of each other very recently.)

So what was going on in my life during those various wet and dry spells? In retrospect, the only thing that I can really put a finger on is the broad social circles I was moving among. That first five years or so of "poly success" was also a time when I was developing many friendships and connections in the SCA scene. I had joined the SCA when an undergrad during the mid 80s, and the late 80s were a time when I was expanding my social circle and meeting a lot of interstate SCA folk in particular. So I was exposed to a large group of folk who I didn't already know well and who I had something in common with. It was a very fertile ground for me to form new connections with others, and I made a number of long-lasting friendships during that period, as well as having a good number of relationships.

I think that maybe my long dry spell after that was due to a combination of getting thoroughly settled in that social milieu, and having already had relationships with the folk that I was going to connect with there. I mean, there was some membership turnover but not a huge amount... it was a pretty stable group, population-wise, and I wasn't meeting a lot of new people through it. I was meeting plenty of new folk through my work (the Public Service) but they weren't people I really had that much in common with or formed strong connections with, by and large. I met a few folk in the late 90s through my brief forays into the Queer community, and that's why I wound up with a couple of relationsips during that period. But other than that, I really wasn't meeting many new people.

Then I started posting regularly to alt.poly, in mid-late 2000. And that's why I suddenly wound up with two new relationships that started within weeks of each other... that was how long it took to start really making connections and getting to know folk through that particular medium. When I had been posting regularly for long enough that other alt.polyites were starting to get to know me and I was starting to get to know them, that's when the possibilities for romantic entanglements began to present themselves.

Dec. 15th, 2002 12:57 pm (UTC)
Yes. Once, for 3 years while living in Pasadena. What was "going on?" Unemployment, lack of self confidence, being in a new place, and not being around the right people. Moving to the bay area ended it.
Dec. 15th, 2002 01:08 pm (UTC)
I had a decade-long (to the month) spell sans sex or romance that coincided with the peak years of my first career. It was frustrating, at times, but mostly I was doing the "driven by career" thing and didn't really worry about it much. And it was lonely; I really didn't know anyone outside the people I worked with. It ended (predictably) when I got tied of being work-obsessed and decided to rekindle my old interest in theater; not only did I find myself in an entirely new social pool, but I remembered that I've always found doing creative work one of the sexiest things a group of people can do together.

A couple of years ago, I my libido vanished abruptly for what turned out to be almost 14 months. I lost all desire; everything functioned OK but I had no interest. It was probably perimenopause related, and my doctor pushed me to go on hormones; considering what I knew about relative risks and benefits, I declined. It was ... strange. Intellectually, I figured I *ought* to be concerned about it, but on every other level I really didn't care. Other than the fact that this accellerated the end of an already flagging relationship, it wasn't a real problem. I was, however, glad when the Vanishing Libido returned from its vacation, tanned, rested and ready to go, as suddenly as it had disappeared.

(Looking back at your original question)Hm. If I emphasize the "satisfying" part, the list gets rather longer; some of my relationships have been more frustrating than satisfying. On at least one occasion, I think I honestly felt it would have been easiler being unpartnered, but felt paralazyed to do anything about that. So glad that's done.

Dec. 15th, 2002 01:50 pm (UTC)
I have had a few, but they've always been rather short, maybe... four to six months, max, and none since I switched from serial monogamy to poly. They generally seemed to be caused by "That Desperate Smell" causing any suitable partners to run screaming. Those periods came to an end either when I stopped exuding "That Desperate Smell" (which should be some kind of hideously unappealing perfume, heh) and got some self-confidence, or when I met somebody who made me feel more positively enthusiastic than negatively desperate, if that makes any sense.
Dec. 15th, 2002 04:30 pm (UTC)
I will speak to being under-partnered rather than non-partnered, since I have had at least one regular lover for my entire adult life (meeting blackfyr when I turned 18 has had its influence on this, y'see ;)).

After first attempting to build an alternate relationship with another woman about 10 years ago and having it fall apart, I had a couple of very doomed brief flings and then nothing until, well, this past week. I spent most of the last 10 years dealing with my personal issues ranging from intimacy to libido malfunction and others. Getting in touch with the local poly community and adding the right people to my Friends list on LiveJournal as well as resubscribing to WomBAT after a years-long absence were the practical steps which allowed me to put my new-found level of emotional health to good use.

I also had a lack of alternate male contact which broke about six months ago after a seven or eight-year gap, but that was less important to me overall. The reasons for the drought and revivification of my involvement are much the same except the alternate male contact I had was a threesome arrangement that simply stopped meeting with no rancor on any side.
Dec. 15th, 2002 06:20 pm (UTC)
You don't know me but I found your LJ through a friend...

The only "dry" period in my life was the 2-3 years following my first sexual relationship.
I had felt I'd made a mistake being with that person so soon, as well as I didn't find anyone in that time that made me comfortable enough to do things with.

Since then I've done serial monogamy, or been in Poly relationships.
Dec. 15th, 2002 06:41 pm (UTC)

Further deponent sayeth not.
Dec. 15th, 2002 08:26 pm (UTC)
When I'm partnered, I look back and think how much of my life has been times I was in r'ships. And when I was single, I remember seeing myself as mostly single with a few interludes of r'ships.

At least 3 dry spells. The longest was about 5 years, the others about 2 years.

- After a difficult breakup.
- During my first permanent job, where I was in a new city and not meeting many people my age or stage of life.
- And most of the time I was in grad school, with a, um, subsistence TOCOTOX and no energy for anything more.
Dec. 15th, 2002 10:07 pm (UTC)
i'm not sure how long my first dry spell, post high-school was--probably four years when all was said and done. it was the slow dying of one relationship and the aftermath and healing where i tried to get involved with people but had practically an aura of "Still Getting Over Bad Relationship" to drive people away.

since that first dry spell the only other dry spells were short--two and four months, post breakups until meeting new partners--i would say not due to anything unusual--just not having the right person come along. all of these periods, long and short ended when i met another person who interested me and who i interested. i was usually dating and meeting people and going out during these dry spells, just not clicking.
Dec. 15th, 2002 10:32 pm (UTC)
My current dry spell is 2.5 years, I think. No end, yet. I think that I could probably call it a dry spell before that, but it's kinda fuzzy. It may have just been late blooming. *shrug*

Much of the recent spell can be accounted for by not having much social interaction. I lived at my parent's home and commuted to school, so I didn't have much steady interaction with peers. Plus I was shy. The last six months is harder to explain. I'm leaning towards plain old ineptitude, but it's more likely to be just bad luck.
Dec. 16th, 2002 08:40 am (UTC)
I had a three year "dry spell" after my marriage broke up -- well, two years, ten-and-a-half months, but the marriage broke up on Valentine's Day, and the third VD thereafter was the next one that was wonderful.

I also had an extended "dry spell" as a teenager, before I met... ironically enough, before I met the person I married.
Dec. 16th, 2002 12:48 pm (UTC)
"dry" spells
oh yeah. in fact my current state is the longest non-dry romantic spell i've had, > 8 years. the previously longest one was 7, but 4 years of that was long-distance close friendship of which i didn't think as romantic at the time. i always get into trouble when i think of such things in terms of longevity/type -- i have a couple of TOCOTOX r'ships that have lasted for 20+ and 13+ years with some long interruptions of little contact; how do i count those? :)

my dry spells have been mostly due to me not being interested in romantic relationships, combined with a lack of people around me who would inspire a renewal of such interest. i am a very solitary person, and not interested in close relationships with the vast majority of people i meet. it doesn't bother me when i don't have a romantic relationship, even though i really get a lot out of the good ones i have, especially right now.

my sexual dry spells have been much longer than my romantic ones, and that bothers me even less. i've never had a strong libido, the SSRI has removed almost all of what little there was to start with, and i actually like it this way -- acknowledging this, and refusing to think of it as "something wrong" after thinking about it a lot has made me feel more free about sex than i'd been about it before. my partners have no problem with this either -- i feel extraordinarily lucky about that aspect of it.

i've never wanted to have more relationships than i've had at the time, that's not how poly works for me -- i'm just poly because i happen to love more than one person at a time, not because i am somehow driven to have N relationships at a time.

uhm. well, ok, i wondered about relationships before i had my first one, but i can't say that i really wanted to have one when none was available -- it was more that i was wondering whether i was abnormal that i had none, whether i was unloveable. i did go through another phase of that after my first one broke really horribly, but by then i had the above-mentioned close friendship, and i worked out how i really felt about all that relationship stuff.

i am glad i did that. it prevented me from getting into some relationships that would have been bad for me. my first one should have been a lot shorter than it was; it was profoundly unsatisfying for part of its duration, but i was young, inexperienced, and had no good role models, so i stuck it out too long and even tried to salvage it after it self-destructed with rather impressive fireworks.
Dec. 17th, 2002 02:55 pm (UTC)
I've been more "dry" than "wet."

Longest period? Hmmm (I try not to think about these things): I'd say around three or four years.

Dry periods especially suck because you have to fight your hormones from putting you in a bad relationship just to get your "needs" met.
Dec. 18th, 2002 09:09 am (UTC)
Oh, yes. I tend to describe my relationship-life as "feast or famine". I don't tend to start new involvements when I'm depressed or having major life stress, and if I go into a period like that unpartnered, I stay unpartnered until I'm feeling better. When things do pick up is when I'm feeling better enough to start being social again, and actively connecting with people.
Dec. 20th, 2002 12:48 pm (UTC)
Actually it is the rule rather then the exception.
Usually they last a few years and can be due to me focusing on other areas of my life, often revolve around traveling less and not meeting as many potential partners
Dec. 30th, 2002 05:12 pm (UTC)
I've never sat down and counted months or analyzed why they happened. However, I see points made in several of the other replies that apply to me.

It has been very much feast or famine, with the feasts rolling out when I'm leaving area or after I entered a monogamous relationship.

The worst dry spell was when I got the "You're a good friend" speech exactly a year since my last sexual activity.

Dry spells are self perpetuating. The longer they go on, the less you feel you can break them. It takes a concerted effort to change yourself or one hell of a BIG clue-stick to get your attention.
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )

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