My partner and I have been dating on and off for 4-5 years and are considering opening up our relationship. We are both transgender and go through different waves of body comfort, and a chunk of the time we don’t always match up with each other’s libidos. My need for sex is higher than his, and I’ve been feeling like sleeping with other people if he doesn’t want to have sex with me as often, although not at the expense of our relationship. I don’t want to neglect my own needs and I don’t want to lie and/or cheat on him. I feel like I have been patient, not rushing him to make a decision. It makes me happy to hear him want to discuss this with me, but I don’t know how to proceed. What is the best way to push this conversation along without seeming like I am trying to make someone do something they don’t want to do?
I can empathize, reader. I myself am not trans, but I am a sex worker, and as such my libido fluctuates in the extreme. If I’ve had a particularly light week where I haven’t seen a lot of clients or booked many shoots, my partners typically serve to satisfy all of my erotic energy. But if I’ve had a full work week where I’ve been outsourcing all of my erotic energy for pay, I then tend to prioritize healing, rest and relaxation activities with my partners as opposed to sexual activities.
My partners - bless them - have all grown accustomed to this, and yes, non-monogamy has been one of the ways that we can all get our sexual needs met when one or more of us is “out of commission”. My partners also periodically suffer from chronic pain, so they benefit from this no-expectation fluidity as much as I do!
Non-monogamy can certainly be the answer that many devoted couples with mismatched libidos are looking for. However, if I were you, I’d do my due diligence first to rule out that there’s no way you and your partner can work to support each other’s dissimilar libidos in a way that feels both sexy and satisfying.
I’ll speak to you as the person with the higher libido. I am assuming that the libido incompatibility with your partner has been a consistent rather than a temporary one, as you mentioned that it's intrinsically tied to body dysmorphia. Our libidos ebb and flow over time, and there are many periodic losses of libido that we experience. For example:
Being on a new medication
Recently suffering a traumatic personal loss or destabilization
Illness or injury, etc.
If this shift has been recent and/or has an end in sight, I’d recommend sticking it out a while longer.
Otherwise, I want you to ask yourself: Is it really the SEX that you’re missing?
Our erotic needs can be - and routinely are - filled by other shows of affection and intimacy that aren’t so overt or explicit. Sometimes I’ll think I’m craving sex, but when I finally get in front of a partner I’ll suddenly realize that it’s the connection, a simple physical touch, or attention that I’m actually seeking. When you’re feeling like having sex with your partner, see if you both can compromise with a hot and heavy makeout session, a mutual sensual massage session, an intense cuddling session, and/or a romantic date where you both share heartfelt affirmations with one another! Perhaps you can even dip into the bedroom solo afterwards and rub one out while your partner catches up on their favorite TV program or novel.
If you two can’t come to a non-sexual compromise, try a sexual compromise! Many times I’ve felt myself all fired up wanting to fuck the ever-loving shit out of a partner, only to come home to them in excruciating back pain. After getting them set up in bed with some painkillers and tiger balm, I’ll jerk off next to them while they talk dirty to me about whatever it is I’m fantasizing about. It requires little to no physical effort on their part, and I get my needs met! Or vice versa: a partner and I come home from a night out on the town and they want to get off, but I’m exhausted from drinking and dancing. I’ll get ready for bed, then lay down on my back and my partner will climb on board and ride my face until they orgasm. Again, requires little to no physical effort on my part, and we both pass out happily afterwards. If you and/or your partner are feeling particularly insecure about your body during this time, there's nothing to say that you can't keep all - or at least the majority of - your clothes on during these activities!
In the meantime, while you both are experimenting with these potential solutions, I’d encourage you to be doing some serious research on non-monogamy, both together and solo. Consider this to be the “information gathering” stage. Read books and articles on non-monogamy, listen to non-monogamy-focused podcasts, and acquire non-monogamous friends, all without any pressure, expectations, or predetermined timelines. The more knowledge and familiarity you acquire around something foreign to you, the less fear you’ll have around it. Whether you and your partner end up hitting the non-monogamy road after all - or whether one or more of my aforementioned mismatched libido hacks do the trick - you’ll strengthen your bond and be better prepared for the path ahead. I'd also recommend that the both of you seek independent professional help - whether it be a discussion group or a private coach/therapist - to work on your dysmorphia if you haven't already! Best of luck!