Question: Dear Luise: I saw an old page on this issue already, and maybe you can tell me nothing new, but I wanted to ask anyway. I am a 22 year-old female in a relationship with a 27 year-old man. We have been together for 2 1/2 years, and have lived together for the last 1 1/2 years. While I would not say we have a “sexless relationship”, there is definitely an issue with sex. We have sex 1-2 times per month and 100% of it is initiated by me. Our relationship as a whole is wonderful. He is so good to me, treats me like a princess, is thoughtful, sweet, adores me, and on and on. I believe he truly loves me and we have talked about marriage, children, and potentially opening a business together. I love him more than anything on God’s green earth. But my sexual needs are not met. When we do make love, it’s wonderful. He makes sure of that. But it seems like he only does it for me. He himself has no interest. If I want sex, he tells me he has headaches/stomach aches/toothaches/all-kinds-of-aches. He has some sort of reason 90% of the time, and the other 10% will simply admit to not being interested in sex no matter what I offer. Even with no sense of obligation or expectation or action needed on his part, he will refuse me. It’s not that he doesn’t get physically aroused…he does but/and he still rejects me. We have discussed it. He has seen me shed many tears over it. I have told him how much it hurts and damages my self-esteem. All he says is he doesn’t know why he is this way and that he finds me attractive. We often kiss, cuddle and hug. He just doesn’t want sex. I have tried everything. No interest. What I need to know is, is it true that it is his problem? That he does not find me physically repelling? That he cares deeply for me but does not desire sex? Could it be low male hormones?
I understand only I can decide for myself whether I can live my life like this with him. But if I could just be reassured that even if I looked like a Playboy centerfold, things wouldn’t be different, I could at least accept it and feel better about myself. My sister says I have to take the bad with the good, and she thinks he completely adores me. Others have told me that can’t be the case, that he may be attached to me but not in love with me if he doesn’t want sex. K.
Answer: Dear K. There is no way you can figure your guy out. You either take him at face value, based on your gut reaction, or you will forever doubt him and his motives. You can ask others what they think, including me, but you will just get more diverse opinions. He is the way he is and that’s what you are going to get if you stay with him.
Arguments, pressure and tears are just going to wear you both out.
Whether you trust his reassurances about his feelings for you or not is up to you. He is uninterested in sex and you want sexual expression. I know that’s an over-simplification but it is the basis of your incompatibility. No couple is totally compatible; there is always the need to negotiate or compensate in every relationship no matter how healthy and balanced it is.
Sex is a minor issue to some and a huge issue to others. It is also human nature to want what we are denied and to take for granted what is plentiful. It sounds to me like your deepest issue may be insecurity. Sex can offer validation and it’s clear that you don’t have the benefit of that. On the other hand, self-esteem is an “inside job” and you are being given the kind of loving attention and interest that many women who have abundant sexual encounters, crave and don’t get. I hear often from those who feel sexually “used” because they never hear a kind word or are offered any consideration or understanding…out of bed.
Where do you want to focus? If it is on perfection, you had better move on. However, please keep in mind that you aren’t going to find it any place else, either. You can certainly find more sex, that’s a given…but you may find yourself focusing on some other lack in a new partner. We all have to eventually learn to live with the limitations of those around us. The antidote is to work on our own limitations. That’s a great distraction and usually a full-time job, once we take it on. Blessings, Luise