Question: Dear Luise: I am a woman in a loving and fulfilling relationship with a lot of joy – more than average – but, alas, sexless. Two years. We are both in our 40s, very close and very intimate. We touch, kiss, and hug a lot. However, he has NEVER touched me in a sexual way. I have and would love to do lots of things with and to him – he just cannot or will not reciprocate.I read in one answer to Googling “sexless relationships” an article of yours – and you said someone, “can feel dishonored, rejected, and insecure” – and that nailed it for me. This has hurt me deeply for two years now. Looking further I saw you ask “a marriage or a roommate?” Am I fooling myself? This may not be “forever” but we are both leaning on each other and loving each other. It works…but sexless hurts. I’m experiencing serious emotional pain and I cry a lot over it, actually. B.
Answer: Dear B.: I would weep, too, if I were your age and in your circumstances. Staying on the surface, physically, can be seen as “safe” by some…but to me, it would be experienced as pretty empty. How can you not take it personally? Your situation could be seen as ideal or as emotionally and psychologically abusive. It’s very subjective. I’m just saying it definitely wouldn’t work for me.
When I was young, people often entered into a committed relationship, (with plans to stay there for life), without any sexual interaction or physical compatibility to base it on. Sometimes that worked and sometimes it was a disaster. However, in the 90s, what could have drawn you into such a sexually barren landscape? You use the word “never.” Surely you didn’t just hope it would evolve. There must have been something sexual there for you before “never” took over.
The way it usually works with such an impasse, is that the two people have to eventually agree. Right now you are locked in disagreement whether stated openly or skirted around. One person has made a decision and the other one is stuck with it. That’s not a partnership. That’s a dictatorship.
You describe a very loving, affectionate, fulfilling and joyful union, so it’s a pretty benevolent dictatorship. None-the-less, that’s what you’ve got. All of the adjusting and all of the accommodating is being left up to you. Are you also the one experiencing all of the pain or is there something serious going on with him that is placing your union in jeopardy?
Talk to him and with him. Insist on it. Tell him it has to be addressed. Ask him what’s going on and where he expects the relationship to go. Let him know what your experience is and how it is affecting you. Make it clear that being affectionate roommates isn’t cutting it for you. Don’t give up yet. Surely there is a way your love for each other can be expressed sexually. Blessings, Luise