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My (29M) girlfriend (28F) believes that BDSM can help her, but I don't want an open relationship.


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I have been with my girlfriend for >2 years now. Altho it all started very positively, it has not being going very well. We started living together right before the pandemic started, so immediately being "lockdowned" together, mostly working from home, gave a lot of stress. But more importantly (to me): there is no intimacy between us.


My GF has always had trouble with intimacy, in her past relationships, and also in this relationship. She feels like she has a wall around that, and anything that could lead to intimacy, is scary to her (kissing, touching especially in bed, hugging in bed, etc). This is most likely caused by sexual trauma in her teen years.


This lack of intimacy, together with lockdown stress, makes that we currently do not feel (romantically) connected to each other; it feels like we're more roommates than romantic partners. We have been trying to work on this: do fun things together, hugging each day before we go to sleep, etc. But this has not had much effect, and I feel the energy is running out.


A couple of months ago, she told me she is interested in a more open relationship. I am not, and therefore have so far said "no" to being open. She is not happy about that, but has accepted it so far.


Recently, however, she admitted that she has been active in online BDSM-communities, and that she (now) believes that being a sub in dom/sub (BDSM) relationship can help her overcome her trauma's, which in turn might help with our intemacy issues and help us reconnect to each other. She wants her partner in this to be someone else (not me), as she feels it might hurt the dynamics of our relationship. Beside that, I'm not interested in BDSM, and we both don't believe that I would be a good dom.


Altho the final outcome (her making steps in overcoming trauma's) is great, I am quite uncomfortable with the idea of her being intimate (especially in such an extreme way) with other partners. I feel like I would be very jealous. This jealousy is amplified by the fact that there is no intimacy between me and her. Additionally, I am scared that I will completely lose my attraction to her: to me, it feels dirty, but not in a good way. 


Since our relationship started so well, we have a nice place together, and the "teamwork" is going okay, I have a hard time giving up the relationship. The facts that I don't easily find girls interested in me(I have had only had one serious relationship before this one) and I don't want to hurt her, also make the decision harder.


My question is therefore: is it worth going through this period of pain for me to have the possibility to repair this relationship? Or is it better at this point to give up on this relationship, and save myself some pain? What should I consider to make this decision? Has anybody gone through a simular situation?


TL;DR: My girlfriend believes submissive/BDSM interactions can help her cope with personality issues and trauma in her past. I'm not sure the hardship of having to cope with her doing that is worth it. Hoping for pointers on how to make the "stay or leave" decision.

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, RocketIce said:

to me, it feels dirty, but not in a good way. 

Sorry this is happening.

Agree it's doubtful that her cheating with anyone and whatever fetish will improve your relationship.

 It seems like it's been over for quite a while and just coasting along roommates.

Free yourself from this doldrums and prison and ask her to move out.

It's a win-win situation.  You are free to find someone more compatible and affectionate and she can have fun with her whips and leather.

Edited by Wiseman2
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Her issue is emotional.  She cannot be emotionally vulnerable with other people and getting dominated will not do anything to solve that.  Honestly, I would end the relationship.  Relationships require vulnerability "i can't share my thoughts, fears and feelings with you, so i am going to look outside the relationship" is what this is.  She is trying to "overcome trauma" with more trauma - even if its the role play type.

I would honestly end the relationship. You have gone as far as you can go with her. She even told you she wants to do this with other people.

You will find someone else.  Don't use the excuse that its "hard to find someone."  There are women who have found what their true priorities are during the pandemic and are probably looking for some meaning in a relationship.   There is no easy way to do this.  Tell her its over. She can sleep in a spare room (if it was your place to begin with) until the end of the month and by that time has to have found a new place to live. If she had the place and you moved in, start looking for somewhere else to live - be fair about the rent (give her notice - you don't have to stay for an extra month, but give ample notice of when payment will end even if its a couple weeks after you are out) and just do it

 

AND get checked for STDs

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5 hours ago, RocketIce said:

Recently, however, she admitted that she has been active in online BDSM-communities, and that she (now) believes that being a sub in dom/sub (BDSM) relationship can help her overcome her trauma's, which in turn might help with our intemacy issues and help us reconnect to each other.

Yeah... I don't think so.

5 hours ago, RocketIce said:

She wants her partner in this to be someone else (not me), as she feels it might hurt the dynamics of our relationship.

Nope.  If she prefers 'someone else', then let her go.. have them.

If she was truly into YOU, she'd be intimate with YOU, only.

5 hours ago, RocketIce said:

she told me she is interested in a more open relationship. I am not, and therefore have so far said "no" to being open

There.

She wants something you don't.  Be done with it all now.

 

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6 hours ago, RocketIce said:

he (now) believes that being a sub in dom/sub (BDSM) relationship can help her overcome her trauma's, which in turn might help with our intemacy issues and help us reconnect to each other.

This makes zero sense. 

It sounds a lot more like she is just interested in exploring other people and likes the BDSM lifestyle, and is looking for a way to sell it to you. It is completely illogical that this will help heal her past and consequently your relationship. 

I'm sorry, OP, but your relationship is essentially over. You two want totally different things and your boundaries and expectations are fundamentally incompatible. I would end it hear and save yourself the inevitable heartache that will come from this absurd plan of hers. 

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You have your answer already.

The answer is no. If you're not comfortable with it don't twist yourself into a shape for someone else. Keep it simple. Bow out gracefully and wish her well.

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Many people that have been sexually traumatized or abused come to associate that kind of thing as normal for them and an expression of love.  Strangely enough they feel safe in that environment. 

   What she needs to do is find a good therapist to help her with her past trauma that is still haunting her, not seek out someone that will simulate it.

  She isn't the woman for you if you want a healthy relationship.  She has a lot of baggage to unpack and you cannot help her.  It is like she is trying to drive you away and make you break up with her.

  I know it is easy to say just break up with her but what other options do you have?  Eat your feelings while she goes and has sex with other people while you sit at home hoping for a kiss?  Not much of an option is it?

  This is a dealbreaker for you so please stop trying to find a way to make it work or justify what she is asking of you. 

Lost

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If she has truly suffered sexual trauma then she needs therapy to help her, not BDSM. That's just absurd (imo).

OP, this is not going to work for you.  Do NOT do what you are not comfortable doing.  Be honest with her, tell her it just doesn't work for you and it is best for you to move on.

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Posted (edited)

If you actually hadn't mentioned her past sexual trauma/abuse to me, I would have thought this all sounded a bit dodgy. She's been with you for two years and apparently she's not really capable of physical intimacy. But instead of trying to work on the physical intimacy with you, her partner of two years, she just wants to get someone else to have sex with?

I have polyamorous friends but the relationships they have with their partners actually are sexual. It's not like they say to one partner "Sorry I can't be intimate with you" but then have sex with their other partners. Even if you weren't jealous of the actual open relationship thing, surely it would cause jealousy that she prefers sex with someone else? How are you actually meant to feel when nothing sexual happens between you two, but she's having fun with someone else?

Unless the case is that due to her trauma she separates being in a loving relationship from empty sex, then something is very up with this proposition. If she wants to work on herself by doing whatever she needs, e.g. BDSM or therapy or whatever she wants, that's her choice. But that doesn't actually mean that you need to just blindly accept whatever she wants. You're a person in this relationship too and your needs and wants are valid. If you don't want to be in an open relationship, then you shouldn't be. You shouldn't have to force yourself to do things you don't want. 

Edited by Tinydance
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55 minutes ago, Capricorn3 said:

If she has truly suffered sexual trauma then she needs therapy to help her, not BDSM. That's just absurd (imo).

Agree. End it and ask her to move out.

It's utter nonsense that running around in latex boots and a dog collar helps heal "childhood trauma".

What this does bring to light given her iciness is that she was using you all along for cheaper rent or a security blanket.

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If you didn't consent to this to begin with its called cheating. Relationships regardless of nature come from mutual consent and she broke it. 

Regardless of anything else she was in a relationship with you and crossed boundaries without ever asking. She is a cheater, end of story. Leave her. 

Good luck, you'll be better without her. 

 

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Thanks for all the responses! As was maybe unclear, nothing has happened yet, and she is aksing if we can open up so she can "cheat legally". 

I want to quote a few of you that are in my opinion especially helpful.

On 6/7/2021 at 7:45 AM, lostandhurt said:

Many people that have been sexually traumatized or abused come to associate that kind of thing as normal for them and an expression of love.  Strangely enough they feel safe in that environment. 

   What she needs to do is find a good therapist to help her with her past trauma that is still haunting her, not seek out someone that will simulate it.

  She isn't the woman for you if you want a healthy relationship.  She has a lot of baggage to unpack and you cannot help her.  It is like she is trying to drive you away and make you break up with her.

  I know it is easy to say just break up with her but what other options do you have?  Eat your feelings while she goes and has sex with other people while you sit at home hoping for a kiss?  Not much of an option is it?

  This is a dealbreaker for you so please stop trying to find a way to make it work or justify what she is asking of you. 

Lost

This reaction really hits most of the nails on the head: by talking/learning more about this in the past days, with the help of your reactions, I think she indeed doesn't associate sex with love in a healthy way. And I agree that therapy would be best, so I have to find a way to convince her of that. She had therapy before but it didn't help enough, so she has a hard time trusting that...

The "Eat your feelings while she goes and has sex with other people while you sit at home hoping for a kiss?" really hit home...

 

On 6/7/2021 at 10:12 AM, Tinydance said:

...

I have polyamorous friends but the relationships they have with their partners actually are sexual. It's not like they say to one partner "Sorry I can't be intimate with you" but then have sex with their other partners. Even if you weren't jealous of the actual open relationship thing, surely it would cause jealousy that she prefers sex with someone else? How are you actually meant to feel when nothing sexual happens between you two, but she's having fun with someone else?

...

This is also a very good point, and I like that you have experience with a working poly relationship around you to shed some light on the normalcy of her proposal. If my suspicion that she doesn't associate sex with love it true, then the BDSM surely won't help her be intimate with me. The opposite is more likely: it will strengthen the disassociation between them. And I need intimacy and want that from my partner. I'm not interested in multiple partners.

 

On 6/7/2021 at 6:44 AM, MissCanuck said:

It sounds a lot more like she is just interested in exploring other people and likes the BDSM lifestyle, and is looking for a way to sell it to you. It is completely illogical that this will help heal her past and consequently your relationship. 

This also makes a lot of sense.

 

I'm going to talk to her about all this soon. After your reactions and analysis of the problem, I'm certain that me accepting her doing BDSM is never gonna save our relationship. I think the only thing that can save it, is if she works through her trauma with a therapist (preferably one that has experience with this sort of stuff). So I'm gonna propose that to her. If she doesn't want that, I don't see any other way then to end it.

 

Regarding practicalities, we found this place together, but neither of us can pay the rent on their own (I mean maybe for a couple of months using savings, but not sustainably), so we'd have to both move out and somehow time that. 

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Posted (edited)
14 minutes ago, RocketIce said:

we found this place together, but neither of us can pay the rent on their own .

Ok, both of you can find roommates...separately. One of you can stay in the place and the other can leave. "Can't afford it" is an excuse.

That's the only reason she's with you? Cheap rent? Well then you are already roommates because she is ice cold to you but wants sex with others.

As a romantic couple it's just not working and you both know that.

Edited by Wiseman2
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I'm sorry.  This sucks.  she's basically using her trauma and emotional problems against you. 

She can't have sex with you,  but maybe another guy?

This is ridiculous (imo)

I would end things.  Even just saying no won't fix this.  your needs are not being met. And that's the bottom line.

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17 minutes ago, Lambert said:

I'm sorry.  This sucks.  she's basically using her trauma and emotional problems against you. 

She can't have sex with you,  but maybe another guy?

This is ridiculous (imo)

I would end things.  Even just saying no won't fix this.  your needs are not being met. And that's the bottom line.

Thank you for your comments. So do you believe then that her going into therapy will not even save this?

In other words, should I give her some time to work on herself in a healthy way (i.e. through therapy), while we're together, and I can maybe help her? Or do you think that's pointless/a waste of my time, because our connection is too damaged and it'll just be easier to be single/find someone new?

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18 minutes ago, RocketIce said:

 So do you believe then that her going into therapy will not even save this?

No, it's not about her trauma. It's about she is attracted to that lifestyle and other men.

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20 minutes ago, RocketIce said:

Thank you for your comments. So do you believe then that her going into therapy will not even save this?

In other words, should I give her some time to work on herself in a healthy way (i.e. through therapy), while we're together, and I can maybe help her? Or do you think that's pointless/a waste of my time, because our connection is too damaged and it'll just be easier to be single/find someone new?

Some people are too broken for us to be in a relationship with. You need someone who is capable of a healthy relationship. She doesn't need just therapy - she needs to be ready and want to go to therapy on her own because she is at a rock bottom point -- and years of it - but she doesn't want help right now. She believes that her BDSM lifestyle she wants or already has and is lying about it is her help.   And you should not be waiting around.   There is no guarantee she will want you or even be appropriate for you when she gets to that point. Find a woman who is more whole and its just a matter of figuring out if you are the ones for eachother  or not rather than trying to fix a broken bird

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6 minutes ago, RocketIce said:

Thank you for your comments. So do you believe then that her going into therapy will not even save this?

In other words, should I give her some time to work on herself in a healthy way (i.e. through therapy), while we're together, and I can maybe help her? Or do you think that's pointless/a waste of my time, because our connection is too damaged and it'll just be easier to be single/find someone new?

Hmmm... I am the type of person, if I see you helping yourself, I'm going to help you all that I can.

So with that said... I'm not sure I would believe she is willing to do the work. 

It's unfortunate that some things cannot be explained to a person. And this might be one of those situations.

The fact that she using past trauma as the reason and then wanting sex  with someone else "to fix" her does not show the best judgment (imo). 

It's more of a manipulation. So I could see her making excuses and blaming you for not understanding.

It's like where is the "we" in her choices? Sounds like there's her and there's you.  You doing a lot. Not that understanding when your partner doesn't want sex is such a big deal... but a roommate relationship is.  And she's asking you to understand a lot of things outside your comfort zone and values. 

It's a big deal to give those things to another.  And you have to have a lot of trust that they understand the sacrifice you are making for them.  If they don't, you're better off not doing it.

Bottom line... I would end it and explain that you're not compatible in how you want to handle things,  your needs are basically non-existent and she needs to fix herself. And as cruel as she may think this is, a healed version of her, in the future, would see you are doing what's best.

in an oversimplified example.... if my car breaks down but you drive me around, why would I get my car fixed? 

because I want to be independent and free to come and go,  right? 

But what if I like you driving, paying for gas, doing all the work? All I have to do is wait for you to do it 

A healthy person wants to be independent and have options.  That's a fact.  a weak person wants everyone else to deal with it, while they do what they want. 

be careful what you agree to. it's very similar to loaning money.   only do it if you don't care if you get paid back.

 

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btw, if this were a 35 year marriage and this suddenly happened, i might advise to try to take her to marriage counseling and see if this is salvageable but not with a girlfriend. find someone else

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5 hours ago, RocketIce said:

Thank you for your comments. So do you believe then that her going into therapy will not even save this?

In other words, should I give her some time to work on herself in a healthy way (i.e. through therapy), while we're together, and I can maybe help her? Or do you think that's pointless/a waste of my time, because our connection is too damaged and it'll just be easier to be single/find someone new?

Yes, you should end things and move on.

Even if she goes to therapy starting today, it is not a magic wand that will work in a month or two. These kinds of issues require a long term commitment  - think years, not months. Also, it is generally best for the person to actually be single and focused strictly on addressing their issues.

Basically, how many years are you wanting to sit by hoping that therapy will work and she'll be the warm loving person you want her to be and give you the relationship that you want?

There is also the fact that lets say in one year she really is all good and resolves her issues. Typically, when people are healed, they discard their crutches. You hanging around will inevitably become a part and a reminder of her disordered past and therefore not good for her anymore. So she will likely dump in order to free herself completely and move on. Good for her bad for you.

Above aside, people who pursue BDSM lifestyle tend to actually like the lifestyle. It suits them just fine and they don't see it as a bad thing. If it's not your thing, then you accept that you and her do not share the same values and the same lifestyle choices and part ways.

Instead of trying to make her be someone she is not, let her go and once you are ready, look for a woman who actually is who you want. Don't waste so much time hammering a square peg.....

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Posted (edited)
19 minutes ago, DancingFool said:

Above aside, people who pursue BDSM lifestyle tend to actually like the lifestyle. It suits them just fine and they don't see it as a bad thing. If it's not your thing, then you accept that you and her do not share the same values and the same lifestyle choices and part ways.

The lifestyle is new to her as well, but it is actually a really good point that because she is pursuing it, she already has a really different view on it then I do. Which will probably lead to problems. 

I think you are right, and I don't really have any other reasonable choice at this point then to work on as humane and clean as possible exit strategy and execute it...

Edit: I almost overlooked your point that:

Quote

There is also the fact that lets say in one year she really is all good and resolves her issues. Typically, when people are healed, they discard their crutches.

That's another really good reason not to wait... I wouldn't want her to guild-stay with me because I stayed with her when she was going through the therapy... So yeah...

Edited by RocketIce
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