Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

You Turn: “How Long Should You Stay in a Relationship After the Sex Has Stopped?”

In a new feature I’m calling “Your Turn,” in which you, the readers, get to answer the question, I’m presenting the following letter without commentary from me:

My boyfriend and I have been together for four years. Things started going downhill at some point for reasons we can’t decipher. We started arguing over things that got blown out of proportion. He no longer initiated sex with me or showed any interest in sex at all, even though he was still extremely loving and affectionate. I know he wasn’t cheating on me. The lack of sexual interest made me insecure and bitter and we started fighting more and more. He now claims that his lack of sex drive is due to our relationship problems and his struggling with depression, saying he loves me but all our fighting has been a turn-off. I strongly feel that we wouldn’t be fighting like this if the sex never stopped. He is sweet, trustworthy, smart, thoughtful, physically affectionate, compliments me all the time, calls often, spends time with me, and assures me he loves me and wants to have a future with me. But we’ve had problems for over a year now, so I feel like enough is enough. How long do you continue fighting, being sexually frustrated and feeling unhappy before you say it’s over? — He Lost That Lustin’ Feeling
90 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Desiree February 21, 2011, 3:10 pm

    Ouch. Over a year? Even if he is all the lovely adjectives you attributed to him, that can’t be a very fulfilling experience. Either genuinely commit to a serious turn-around in the relationship (couple’s counseling, for instance), or MOA. And remember, he can be an absolutely wonderful person, but still not be the right man for you. And despite his interest in a future with you, what kind of future is it if it is chock full of fighting and devoid of sex?

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    Heather Girl February 21, 2011, 3:10 pm

    I don’t know that you can necessarily put a time limit on when you call it quits. This is obviously something that is bothering you and you have communicated that to your partner. Now, to me it would be time to either start the love grindin’ again or call it quits.

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    Jess February 21, 2011, 3:19 pm

    I totally agree about the lack of sex causing the fighting. I 100% agree this can happen, as feeling wanted is sooo important. I am much more affectionate and easy going when my boyfriend is initiating sex frequently. Although I can also understand not being as attracted after big fights, because I get like that.

    Try doing the “8 things to get the spark back” for 6-8 weeks. TRY INCREDIBLY HARD to do the last tip of “faking it to you make it” and biting your tongue when the fighting starts. If the faking it til you make it is too hard, or his sex drive isn’t coming back after a month and a half then its probably time to leave.

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      Jess February 21, 2011, 3:23 pm

      http://dearwendy.com/?p=959

      Tip #1 has already made a difference for me and my boyfriend 🙂

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      Laurel February 21, 2011, 3:37 pm

      I think this is great advice, if you two want to stay together.

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      He Lost That Lustin' Feeling February 21, 2011, 7:53 pm

      That’s the confusing part: we always did all those things! We go out together on dates all the time, we’ve kept the “mystery” (in fours years, we’ve each only accidently farted in front of each other one time each! Ha ha. And we keep up appearances for each other… he still freshly shaves and showers before seeing me and I still do my hair and make-up for him), we’re always doing sweet things for each other for no reason (flowers, back rubs, little gifts, flirty texts, fresh bakery, etc), and everything else. This whole thing is such a mystery to me. :/

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      • avatar

        Jess February 22, 2011, 2:40 am

        Hmm then I think there’s really nothing you can do 🙁 Maybe try to get him help for his depression, but I think if his depression was a big enough deal to be causing this it owuld be causing many other problems too. I mean who isnt a little depressed.

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    PFG-SCR February 21, 2011, 3:21 pm

    What’s not clear from the letter is what they’ve actually done to “fight” for the relationship and to address the lack of sex. If she thinks there is a future with him if the sexual intimacy can be restored, then she should work towards improving the relationship. If it’s been like this for a year, they likely need to see a therapist to help them work through the issues both of them are dealing with and the negative feelings and emotions both are harboring.

    However, no initiation of sexual intimacy in over a year and general unhappiness with one another suggests that one (or possibly both) is not that committed to the relationship, but neither is willing to “pull the plug”. If she feels that way or thinks her boyfriend really does feel that way, she ought to move on.

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      He Lost That Lustin' Feeling February 21, 2011, 7:04 pm

      Well, he’s seen a doctor and a psychologist and changed his diet and exercise routine. He started to commit himself to inviting me over more often (as the lack of sex went hand-in-hand with him no longer inviting me over or asking me to stay the night). He was really trying, which I appreciated, but the “trying” showed: it was very forced. Sex was like some committment he had to schedule in every now and then to keep me happy. He used to initiate sex with me any time, anywhere: in the car, in the woods, in public restrooms. We used to play lots of games and used toys and books and always kept things exciting and different. We were open to each other in bed. We picked out new things at sex shops and dressed up for each other and had tons of fun together. Things never got stale… they just stopped cold! All that has been gone for a very long time; about a year. Nothing I do seems to help.

      I trust his committment to me… he insists that he wants us to get married someday (I am 12 years younger than him and so have told him he needs to be patient while I finish school and get myself together) and says he wants to be with me for the rest of his life. Even now (after we’ve broken up) he tells me he will not see anyone else; he says he’s waiting for me because I am the only one for him. It’s very hard… I love him dearly and he is a rare human being. But I don’t think I can live with these issues.

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  • avatar

    TheGirl February 21, 2011, 3:22 pm

    Get him to a therapist. Depression for over a year is a serious medical problem and should be treated as such. I think it is more likely that his lack of sex drive is a direct result of depression than a result of petty arguments. My guess would be that the petty arguments result from the dissatisfaction caused by the depression and lack of sex. I’ve dated someone with depression and its very easy for them to get into this negative pattern and everything ends up just compounding itself. You don’t want to have sex because you don’t feel confident or good about yourself, then it makes you more frustrated, then you get angry and really don’t want to have sex.

    Write down the names of five therapists, put them in front of him, tell him how worried you are and offer to set up appointments if he doesn’t want to do it himself. If he still doesn’t want to do it (therapy that is, not sex) I’m afraid you’re going to need to MOA. Unfortunately, he is the only one who can help himself.

    However, if he agrees to get help and you love him, maybe you should just take matters into your own hands until he’s ready again, if ya’ know what I mean…

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    • avatar

      Jess February 21, 2011, 3:24 pm

      unfortunately anti-depressants are likely to only make the lack of sex drive worse.

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        WatersEdge February 21, 2011, 3:32 pm

        True, but therapy should help.

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        WatersEdge February 21, 2011, 4:29 pm

        Why would someone thumb down the idea that therapy should help with depression?

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        TheGirl February 21, 2011, 3:33 pm

        Yes, but anti-depressants aren’t the only way to go. There are lots of coping techniques and dietary changes you can make easily that will help boost move and change negative thought patterns. Plus, I know there are some new anti-depressants on the market that don’t have sexual side effects. You just need to make it clear to your therapist that sex is important to your relationship when you go in.

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        Uyzie February 21, 2011, 4:23 pm

        While it’s true that a lot of anti-depressants hurt your sex drive, there are some that don’t hurt at all, and actually, in some cases help. It took me and my psych a few tries to find one that didn’t completely kill my sex drive (or worse, leave my sex drive intact, but leave me unable to reach orgasm), but once we found one that worked, it really did wonders for my overall enthusiasm for life.

        And even if he doesn’t use the medical route, therapy itself can prove useful too. There are plenty of different techniques (such as CBT, among others), that can be helpful when you’re stuck in a negative rut.

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    Mainer February 21, 2011, 3:23 pm

    I always like to put myself in the other person’s shoes in situations like this. How would you want him to respond if you didn’t feel like having sex and were suffering from depression? I think we would all be quick to judge a guy who broke up with a girl because he wasn’t getting laid enough. So would you be okay being judged in much the same way? There’s really no right or wrong way, just use the golden-rule.

    I also think that the lack of sex is just a symptom of a bigger problem – the relationship, which he was clear to point out. It seems the lack of sex is perpetuating the fighting, which is decreasing the desire to have sex even more, which consequently just leads to more fighting, etc etc. Assuming his depression issue wasn’t the instigating cause of his lowered sex drive, I think it sounds like you two are just growing apart. If it was the depression, helping him through it seems like the most admirable thing to do rather than just leaving so you can pursue more consistent sex.

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    • avatar

      cdj0815 February 21, 2011, 3:54 pm

      I like this point of view. Also It sounds like the problems in the relationship were never resolved, that is why he lost his interest in sex.

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      He Lost That Lustin' Feeling February 21, 2011, 7:15 pm

      But his not wanting sex has been creating a lot of pain for me as well. It’s been a year of this, remember. I’ve stood by him all this time, but I find myself spiralling downward into sadness and low self-esteem over the whole situation. My life has become very bleak and unhappy.

      Also, this version of my message to Wendy was edited for length. In this version, it seems like I’m saying he has depression. What I actually said is that he was going through a period in which he felt depressed. He does not suffer from clinical depression; he was stressed over some situations in his life that made him blue sometimes.

      So to be clear: he does NOT suffer from actual depression. He feels his blue moods have been due to stress, situations, and poor lifestyle habits. I really need advice from everyone I can get it from, so I feel like that needs to be understood beforehand. Thanks!

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      • avatar

        Mainer February 21, 2011, 8:45 pm

        If the depression is not the issue, refer to my earlier point: you two don’t seem right for each other. If he’s unhappy and you’re unhappy, what are you sticking around for? I mean if you’re going through a rough patch that’s one thing, but if you find yourself “spiraling downward into sadness and low self-esteem” and you’re “life has become very bleak and unhappy” I’m wondering what it is you’re after in this relationship?

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        Mainer February 21, 2011, 8:47 pm

        EDIT: your “life…

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        He Lost That Lustin' Feeling February 21, 2011, 9:13 pm

        I suppose I remember how things used to be and I can still see that in him. It’s hard to describe what a wonderful person he really is… I’ve never met anyone like him in my life. I’m scared of letting someone so rare who has the potential to make me so happy go. I want to exhaust every option before I give up on him, you know? I really love him and he really loves me. I’d like to try everything I can so I can be 100% sure that I gave it my all and made the best decision, whatever it turns out to be.

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        AnitaBath February 21, 2011, 9:18 pm

        I hope things work out for you and you two are able to get through this. I know the voice of reason never helps much in these situations, but you say he has the *potential* to make you happy – which is great – but if he’s not living up to that potential than the potential is useless. Instead, then you’re just with someone who could make you happy but instead is currently making you miserable. Right now he seems like an amazing person to you, and that’s why you’re with him. Once you get to know a person intimately, they almost always seem like an amazing person, that’s why you’re with them.

        Just something to keep in mind if, a few months down the road, things don’t improve.

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        Uyzie February 21, 2011, 9:41 pm

        Oh, this is so tough. I completely understand exactly where you’re coming from, and I know how terrible it can be to let go of the first big love of your adult life. Were it not for the fact that your guy is 34, and my ex is 36, I’d swear we dated the same man. I met my guy when I was 19, and he was significantly older than me, just like your guy. My guy also had a TON of female friends (many of whom he had slept with in the past), and I constantly felt insecure about them as well, which only got worse when he stopped wanting to have sex with me. Like you, I wanted to exhaust every possible option before I gave up on him, because I didn’t want to look back with any regrets. Now, my only regret is that I held on for so long. I was so scared of letting this ‘amazing man’ go that I held on for seven very long years– and sort of wasted most of my 20’s in the process. I sincerely wish your story didn’t resemble my own so closely, but I’d sad to say that it does. You already know how my story ended, and I really hope that your heart doesn’t override your head when it comes to doing what is best for YOU here. This kind of sustained emotional beating takes a long time to recover from, and if you can, you’ll want to spare your psyche any lasting scars.

        One last anecdote: all through my tortuous relationship, friends and family members could visibly see the toll it was taking on my self worth, and virtually everyone who cared about me voiced their concerns to me at that time. Through the haze of young love that had lasted so long, I couldn’t see what was so clearly visible from the outside: that he was not good for me. So ask yourself, do you have people who love you, and whose opinions you trust? If so, what do they think about him, and your relationship? Often, the people who love us and know us best have a better view of what’s good for us than we do.

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        He Lost That Lustin' Feeling February 22, 2011, 8:11 am

        I’m so sorry about what you went through with your ex. 🙁 It is hard to imagine going through this kind of pain for so long. I’m glad you’ve recovered from it, as I’m sure it was a huge challenge.

        While we’ve been together about four years, these problems started about a year ago. He’s been very open to changing and hasn’t placed any blame on me so far. He’s gone to the doctor, he’s seen a psychologist, he’s changed his diet and exercise routine, he wants us to go to couple’s counselling, and he’s open to trying any suggestions I have. These things give me hope, I suppose, that he is trully trying. I think a lot of men would be too uncomfortable to pursue these things, but he does. I’m hoping that makes a difference.

        I’ll definitely keep your story in mind as I go about this, though! If we do manage to get back together and we don’t see any improvements at all in several months, or if he were to stop making an effort, I won’t drag things out. Thanks so much for sharing your story and advice with me!

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        MissDre February 21, 2011, 8:51 pm

        I mentioned below that it may be erectile dysfunction. I didn’t notice if anyone else brought it up… but stress and poor lifestyle can certainly contribute. Check my post below. Failing that, and there is no other medical reason for his lack of interest… maybe you should think about moving on. A year is a long time to be unhappy.

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        He Lost That Lustin' Feeling February 21, 2011, 9:17 pm

        He had issues with that a couple times (occasionally losing his erection or being unable to cum), but the changes in diet and exercise have pretty much cleared that up, though haven’t helped his actual libido much. The few times we’ve had sex in the past few months, he was only unable to cum once (though he had an orgasm) and claims it happened because he had masturbated earlier (I had suggested he try masturbating more often to rev up an interest in sex and get his mojo flowing again, and for a while he did try this, though I believe he’s since mostly stopped).

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        sarolabelle February 21, 2011, 10:44 pm

        MissDre! Welcome back! 🙂

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        MissDre February 21, 2011, 10:53 pm

        Why thank you! 🙂 Hope you’re well chica!

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        Jess February 22, 2011, 2:46 am

        I wouldnt judge a man for breaking up with a woman who didnt want sex as much as he did. Sexual compatibility is important, essential for many people.

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        Jess February 22, 2011, 2:47 am

        okay, you should leave

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    _jsw_ February 21, 2011, 3:23 pm

    I think it’s important to determine if he has no sex drive or if he’s simply not interested in sex with you. If he has the urge but not with you, and if it’s been as long as it has, I’d say that it’s unlikely to improve. Possible, but unlikely. On the other hand, there are a number of possible causes behind a low or missing sex drive, and it is reasonable to think that the lack of sex has nothing to do with you and is instead due to depression (as he mentioned) or other causes, some of which could indicate medical problems. In _those_ cases, fixing the root cause could very likely improve the relationship.

    Often, for those with low sex drive, it’s easier for everyone to place the blame on something else (i.e., “the fighting”) than to get to why things are actually going on. Instead of taking his inaction as an insult to you, consider that perhaps he is ill in some way and needs help and support and, likely, motivation to find out what’s going on. It’s up to you to decide if you want to look into the situation, and it’s not your fault if you decide to leave, but be aware that things might be fixable if only the problem is uncovered.

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      He Lost That Lustin' Feeling February 21, 2011, 7:19 pm

      He insists that he has no sexual interest in anyone but me. Even his masturbation, which he never did that much to begin with, has faded into a rarity.

      It’s hard to be a horny young woman who loves and wants her man but can’t get him to be sexual with her anymore. He always hugs me and kisses me and holds my hand. He rubs my back and is extremely physically affectionate, even in public, and also very open with compliments and sweet words. I love this, but it is never sexual in nature. It never turns into sex, the way it often used to. I miss it terribly.

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    AnitaBath February 21, 2011, 3:24 pm

    Rather than trying to pinpoint which came first (fighting or lack of sex), I agree with those above that say you either need to do something to change/fix it or move on. It’s obviously not getting better on it’s own. Is your boyfriend doing anything for his depression? Have you guys considered counseling? If you still feel committed to the relationship and desperately want to make it work (which I wouldn’t blame you if you just wanted to move on at this point), I think you need to take steps to fix it. If, after your boyfriend gets the help he needs and you both get the help you need as a couple, nothing has improved dramatically after a few more months, I’d say it’s time you moved on because the relationship doesn’t appear to be an extremely healthy or salvageable one.

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    WatersEdge February 21, 2011, 3:31 pm

    I’ll toss my Abe Lincoln hat in the ring…

    Over a year is a LONG time to be having sexual problems. It sounds like you guys have some general conflict resolution issues (small disagreements become large arguments). If you don’t know which came first, the lack of sex or the arguing, then I certainly won’t pretend to. But now you have both. As much as you love this guy, if you two have trouble resolving conflict and you aren’t having sex, then this relationship is not ideal. He also sounds pretty depressed. So, here are my few suggestions:

    1) If he is not in therapy, you’ll have a hard time making any headway. If he refuses therapy then get out now! It is impossible to be in a relationship with someone who is not actively working to have good mental health. We all have our rough patches, but it’s been a year.
    2) See if he’s really committed to making things work in the bedroom. Issue a sex challenge- Have sex every day for a month and see if that jump-starts things. Or set date nights and promise to do it then, no matter what. If he’s comfortable with not having sex anymore and doesn’t want to fake-it-till-you-make-it, then that’s another huge red flag that this relationship is not working.
    3) Figure out why small conflicts become big ones. I need more info here- are there sensitive topics, or can you not get through a day without bickering? If it’s sensitive topics, then maybe try to sit down and come to a resolution once and for all. If it’s just everything, I think that’s a sign of the relationship breaking down over time.

    That was my more objective advice. My subjective advice is that the relationship seems to have run its course, and this guy seems pretty unhappy. I’d be leaving after trying for a year to make it work.

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      He Lost That Lustin' Feeling February 21, 2011, 7:32 pm

      Thank you for responding!
      1.) He has sought counselling, which was his decision, but time and money are obstacles. I know he has seen a psychologist at least once in December, but I don’t know what’s come of that since or how many times he’s gone back. We both agree that counselling will be imperative. He would also like us to go to couple’s counselling, but I don’t know where we’d come up with the money for that.
      2.) We actually did this: he would invite me over on the weekend and we’d commit to having sex. It came out very forced and it was nothing like the sex we used to have: it was very mechanical and all the “playing” we used to do was absent. We continued doing this (I was willing to be patient and help build things back up), but nothing improved beyond that and even those weekends faded off and stopped happening. I’ve initiated things myself: a blow job in the car, sex in the bar bathroom. But he’s yet to show interest in initiating these things himself.
      3.) One of the bigger issues we argue about lately has been all the women he hangs out with. Every other week, it seems like another “old friend” is appearing out of the woodwork. I know he’s not cheating on me, but this makes me very insecure. He has a massive number of female friends and almost no male friends. I’ve always been fine with his closest female friends, but all these random women who haven’t spoken to him in years keep suddenly appearing back in his life out of nowhere. Just the other night, he had a beautiful woman thanking him for the “blast” she had with him. Again, he isn’t cheating on me with them. But it still feels crappy.
      Other than that, anything can really become an issue lately due to his very bad foot-in-mouth syndrome and the insecurity I’ve developed from the sex issue.

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      • caitie_didnt

        caitie_didn't February 21, 2011, 8:25 pm

        The fact that he has lots of female friends that he’s always “hanging out” with represents a huge red flag to me when looked at in the context of your letter. You have put a lot of time and effort into fixing this issue and it sounds from your letter that you are fairly young, so I would say cut your losses and MOA.

        I’d also urge you to start listening to Dan Savage’s “Savage Love” podcast if you don’t already. He actually featured a call in an episode (I think #207 but not positive) from a woman whose self esteem had been completely decimated by her boyfriend of several years no longer being interested in sex with her and actively refusing her advances because he just “didn’t feel like it”. His response to this and to the many similar calls he receives is that if you are no longer getting the physical and sexual intimacy you need out of a relationship, and there is no MEDICAL reason why your partner’s sex drive should be reduced, you need to end it.

        Physical and sexual intimacy are incredibly important parts of a relationship and it can be really damaging to your self esteem to not feel wanted by the one person who is supposed to want you more than anyone else. You don’t deserve that kind of rejection!

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        TheGirl February 22, 2011, 10:31 am

        Dan Savage is awesome and has totally heard it all. If this is truly a sexual issue and not a relationship or depression issue, he’s the man to talk to!

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        sarolabelle February 21, 2011, 10:47 pm

        huh? If my boyfriend entertained other women I’d throw a fit. That is just disrespectful!

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        Joanna February 23, 2011, 12:50 am

        You mentioned that these women keep appearing out of nowhere. Are they ALL suddenly initiating contact, or is he seeking them out? It seems that he’s searching for another relationship to move on to, as guys usually won’t leave a relationship to be single.

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    Jess February 21, 2011, 3:31 pm

    A note about antidepressants: I heard Wellbutrin doesn’t lower sex drive. If your boyfriend goes the medication route, the SSRI’s (Prozac, zoloft, lexapro) can just DESTROY sex drive. It’s AWFUL. I have a friend who just got engaged and her and her fiance only have sex every 2-3 months due to his “anti-anxiety” medicine. They’ve only been together a year! My ex took Zoloft and had zero sex drive. I tried desperately to get him to switch to wellburtin but he said since he was already used to zoloft switching gave him headaches. I’ve heard this side effect is much much more common than the pharmaceutical companies report to the doctors.

    NO SSRIs if you are are concerned about lowered sex drive. Not worth the risk. Plus I learned in my neuropsych class that 80% of people who got a placebo antidepressant thought it worked just as well as those who got the real thing.

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      Laurel February 21, 2011, 3:46 pm

      Just some anecdotal evidence, but the two people I’ve known who were on SSRIs (Lexapro and Zoloft) had a fine sex drive but had an extremely hard time climaxing.

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        Uyzie February 21, 2011, 4:26 pm

        I’ll second the idea that Wellbutrin doesn’t lower your sex drive, as well as the anorgasmia side effect for Lexapro. But that was only my own experience. Everyone reacts differently to different medications, and some people have no side effects at all. (Lucky bastards.)

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      Em February 21, 2011, 5:14 pm

      Just to add my two cents here: I am currently on Wellbutrin specifically because my sex drive has completely died. Let me say: it has worked WONDERS so far (it’s been about 4 months), and I’m on the smallest possible dose. You can also combine Wellbutrin with other anti-depressants to offset their effects on sex drive if necessary.

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      Mel February 21, 2011, 6:55 pm

      From personal experience lexapro killed my sex drive and gave me the jitters. But so far, it’s the only medication that doesn’t mess with everything else. Luckily, the BF will work with me on my “good days” (meaning I’m more sexual)

      But I’m still working on it. I hope to find a better medication soon.

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      RoyalEagle0408 February 22, 2011, 11:58 am

      While SSRIs might lower a person’s sex drive, they may be the only thing that cures the depression. Wellbutrin alters different chemicals than the SSRIs, so if there is an actual chemical imbalance, a person might have to take the risk of a decreased sex drive to treat their depression…

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    Laurel February 21, 2011, 4:02 pm

    My ex had a very high sex drive (wanted it every day, several times a day if possible) while my ideal was a little less (maybe 4 or 5 times a week). After a year or so I started becoming less into him (though I didn’t recognize it as that at the time), and thus, didn’t want to have sex as often. He kept on trying to initiate sex, and it caused a lot of fights between us. Also, he was not physically intimate with me ever WITHOUT wanting intercourse to be the outcome. After about a year of that (including me asking him repeatedly if we could do intimate things other than intercourse) we broke up.

    I mention this because it might help your relationship if you just took intercourse off the table. Tell your boyfriend that for a month (or however long you decide) you will not try to initiate sex with him, and you will not hold it against him if you don’t have sex. Then try to reestablish the physical intimacy you’ve been lacking. Make out. Roll around. Give each other massages. It should take the pressure off him and might allow the sex to come naturally. If it still hasn’t, and he’s unwilling to try to figure out why he no longer wants to have sex, you need to break up with him.

    You’ve been sacrificing for the sake of staying together. Is he willing to do the same?

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      WatersEdge February 21, 2011, 4:21 pm

      That’s great advice, and I believe it’s one of the things that sex therapists will tell you to do. Take sex off the table entirely, then slowly reintroduce sexual activities until you’re back at intercourse. It takes the pressure off. But again, he has to want to fix it.

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      He's Lost That Lustin' Feeling February 21, 2011, 6:55 pm

      While that’s good advice, we actually tried that. We were making out, touching each other all over, dirty talking, flirting, etc. I was patiently trying to give it time and hope he gained more interest naturally. But it never managed to turn sexual. It’s like he forgot sex even existed. After a few months, I was feeling both extremely hurt and painfully sexually frustrated.

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        Laurel February 21, 2011, 7:45 pm

        I’m so sorry that you’re going through this! You sound like a really resourceful, sexy caring young woman.

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        He Lost That Lustin' Feeling February 21, 2011, 9:21 pm

        Thank you. He is also a resourceful and caring man. We’ve made a great effort to gather lots of books and information for possible ways to help our situation. Unlike many men, who get uncomfortable with this sort of thing, he’s been digging through books for us and seeing doctors and has been open to suggestion. Unfortunately, things have gotten so bad in the last few weeks that we’ve pretty much just been arguing and “hashing things out” nonstop, which has been painful and left us both feeling agitated, sad, and distant. We’ve gone backwards twenty steps… hell, we’re broken up as of now. Bah.

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    Uyzie February 21, 2011, 4:03 pm

    I’m so sorry that you’re going through this, because I’ve had it happen to me, and believe me, I know how crummy it can make you feel. For your own sake, I hope you are able to MOA before you waste any more time, and get even more bitter and insecure.

    You’ve entered the point now where it’s become a vicious cycle– he doesn’t want to have sex, you’re upset, you both fight, and the fighting makes you more upset, which means you’re even less likely to have sex. You don’t say that you’ve specifically talked about how to fix the sex issue with him, but I’m going to assume that you’ve already tried that, and it hasn’t worked, given the excuses he’s currently giving you. You also don’t specifically say whether you’ve been trying to initiate sex and he’s been rejecting you, but I’m going to assume you’ve already tried that too. (Because I know that after a year, I definitely would have tried that already.)

    If you’ve tried talking to him, come up with strategies, and tried initiating sex on your own, and he STILL hasn’t made any effort to fix the problem, despite knowing what a rift it is causing between you two, then I think it’s definitely time to MOA. I know how hard it can be to think of leaving someone you love over something that seems like it shouldn’t be a big deal, but like it or not, intimacy is an important part of feeling loved and feeling emotionally close to someone else. If you’re not getting that, it can seriously erode your own self-confidence and feelings of security in a relationship.

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      Uyzie February 21, 2011, 4:19 pm

      BTW, In my case, I wasted seven years, not just one, and I would give anything to have that time back now. If I had left after the first year, I could have saved myself from so much heartache, not to mention the complete loss of sense of self and self esteem.

      I pray to god this doesn’t happen to you, but here’s what happened to me. Take it as a worst-case scenario ending: The first year he stopped wanting to have sex, I asked him what was wrong, and he told me it was him– he had gained a little weight and didn’t feel attractive, and it made him feel un-sexy in general. He told me he still loved me, still thought I was beautiful, etc., but didn’t want to have sex while he was out of shape. The second year of him not wanting to have sex, I asked him what was wrong again, since by then, he had started going to the gym all the time and was in great shape. This time, he told me it was our fighting (about not having sex) that was turning him off. He asked me to be patient with him, to stop asking for sex so often, and to “try a little harder” to seduce him by making sure I always looked sexy when I came to bed. So I did. The third year of him not wanting to have sex with me, I asked him what was wrong again, since I had made every effort he had asked of me, with no results. This time, he told me that while he still loved me and thought I was beautiful, it was simply my personality that was turning him off. He asked me to change a whole plethora of things about myself to make me more attractive to him. So…I did. (I know, I know, it’s ridiculous, but I was young, and very foolish.) The fourth year of him not wanting to have sex with me, I asked him one more time what was wrong, since I had made every change he had asked of me to make myself into his ideal girl. And this time, he told me it was because I had let myself go, and said he needed me to work on looking better for him, getting into shape, and dressing cuter for him. (I should probably mention that I was thin throughout our relationship, and when he told me I had “let myself go”, I was a size 2 at the time.)

      After taking a long, hard look at him, and a long hard look at myself, I realized that all of his reasons were really just excuses. It took a long time to build myself back up again after the beating my self esteem took all those years, and looking back, I only wish I’d MOA’d sooner.

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        callmehobo February 21, 2011, 4:35 pm

        Uyzie, that is absolutely abhorrent! What a grade A jerk.

        However, I think you make a very important point for the LW.

        No matter who you are, you deserve to feel loved, appreciated and wanted by your SO. If you are feeling crummy most of the time, you should find someone who makes you happy. What’s the point of being with someone if you both feel awful a significant portion of the time?

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        PFG-SCR February 21, 2011, 4:55 pm

        I’m sorry you went through that, Uyzie. I think you provide some valuable insight into what the LW might be facing if she stays with him, and the devastating effect on one’s self-esteem from being treated like that.

        *e-hugs*

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        Uyzie February 21, 2011, 5:15 pm

        Aww, thanks, guys!

        Luckily, it’s been a long time since all that happened, and I’ve definitely learned from the experience! Believe it or not, the ex and I are actually on pretty good terms right now. After I left him, he really re-evaluated his part in the demise of our relationship, and has apologized in earnest to me many, many times. He still has a long way to go, but hopefully, if he ever does seriously date again, he won’t make the same manipulative and abusive mistakes.

        I sincerely hope that the LW’s situation does not resemble what happened to me even a little bit, and I hope that they are able to resolve their problems, or split amicably. Either way, she deserves happiness, security, and sexual fulfillment– whether she finds that with him, by herself, or perhaps, with someone else down the road.

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        PFG-SCR February 21, 2011, 6:03 pm

        “Either way, she deserves happiness, security, and sexual fulfillment– whether she finds that with him, by herself, or perhaps, with someone else down the road.”

        Completely agreed.

        I’m glad you and your ex are able to be on good terms now, and I’m sure his acknowledgment of his responsibility in the demise of the relationship has helped you in your healing process.

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    Marie February 21, 2011, 5:55 pm

    A year is a long time to go without sex when dating. It is not like you two are already married and he has impotence from a health condition, the depression may have something to do with his lack of interest in sex but the fighting and all, I think that you should cut your losses, you have waited long enough. If you two were married and he pulled this, after a year you could divorce him so I think since you are not married yet, don’t go into a marriage with these problems, they will only get worse. I think you have done all you can and I would break up with him and look for someone else.

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    He's Lost That Lustin' Feeling February 21, 2011, 6:48 pm

    Thanks for all the advice, everyone. Here are some more details:
    He has seen a psychologist and a doctor, but I would like him to get his testosterone checked. At first he agreed to do it, then changed his mind (he was convinced that it was a psychological issue), and now (after I broke up with him on Wednesday) he is willing to do it again. He has changed his diet and exercise routine and insisted it was helping, but I saw no results from that. He really wants us to see a relationship counselor, though the massive expense makes me nervous (he’d pay for it, as I couldn’t afford it). We never stopped any of the things we used to do: We both kept up appearances for each other, we held hands and hugged and kissed, we complimented each other, I grabbed his tush and told him how much I wanted him… his lack of desire for sex came out of the blue. He insists he finds me incredibly sexy and that the sex is amazing. I’m at a loss. I’m 22 and he’s 34. I’m young and I have a high libido and a lot of my identity and happiness is wrapped up in my sexuality, so this is hitting me hard.
    The insecurity from his lack of interest in sex with me has compounded my unhappiness with the fact that he hangs out with lots of other women. He insists they are all old friends (though he’s admitted to having slept with some of them years ago). Most of them are women I’ve never heard of in the four years I’ve known him. He has maybe one male friend and a seemingly unending parade of beautiful female friends. When your boyfriend isn’t having sex with you, it can really make you feel like you can never add up or be special! Just the other night some good looking woman I’d never heard of before was thanking him for the “blast” she had with him Saturday night.
    We’re broken up right now but sort of talking. I love him very much and he is a wonderful man, but the insecurity from the lack of sex, the bitterness over his many girl friends, and the anger from all the fighting is making me wonder if we’re screwed. I would never ask him to ditch his close female friends, but some of these are women he hasn’t talked to in years who just randomly start appearing in his life, and it makes me really uneasy. :/ This whole thing stinks. Help, smart Dear Wendy readers!

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      Uyzie February 21, 2011, 7:19 pm

      Quick question– can you clarify the timeline for us, HLTLF? Which came first, the depression, the fighting, the random influx of new women, or the waning sex drive? And in what order? I’ve dealt with all four of those in the past and the order in which things progress can be pretty significant.

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        He Lost That Lustin' Feeling February 21, 2011, 7:40 pm

        It’s hard to say, really. I think he started feeling depressed first, which killed his sex drive, which lead to the fighting, which further killed his sex drive, which lead to more fighting! The influx of women is something that has happened on and off for most of the time I’ve known him (he has a huge amount of female friends… bigger than I even realized when we first started dating), and it’s always bothered me, but it’s become unbearable due to the sex issues. When he was initiating sex with me regularly, I could handle all his female friends because I could remind myself that he wanted me. Even though I know he isn’t cheating on me and that he isn’t trying to date any of these women, it’s still very hard on my self-esteem and I feel it isn’t good boyfriend behavior on his part. He assures me he wants nobody but me and that he is still incredibly attracted to me, but it still hurts. It’s hard to have all words and no action.

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        sarolabelle February 21, 2011, 10:53 pm

        If you are willing to fight for the relationship and so is he then talk to each other together about it. Go to the relatioship conselling. Let him pay for it.

        Also, I don’t know if you are religious so you can either take this next bit of advice or not. I don’t want to offend anyone. But I suggest researching Theology of the Body. It will really shed a new light on what the human body is and God’s purpose for it.

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      PFG-SCR February 21, 2011, 8:05 pm

      @ He’s Lost That Lustin’ Feeling: You’ve been with him since you were 18, and you say you love him – why do you love him? You mentioned that he has stated that he feels that way about you, but how do you feel about him and the future?

      To be quite blunt, if I was in your situation, I’d have a really, really difficult time with getting back with him. Him _telling_ you how he feels about you, but not actively engaging in sexual relations would make me doubt the sincerity of his statements. If he finds you desirable, and it was important to him, then he should proactively work to resolve an issue that has caused you so much hurt and unhappiness over the year. (I’m assuming that the doctors have verified that there is no ED, so the ability to be intimate was possible.)

      To be rejected for an entire year would be devastating, and since you mentioned “…his lack of desire for sex came out of the blue”, I would worry that it would happen again at another time.

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      WatersEdge February 21, 2011, 8:17 pm

      I hope it is a physiological issue that you can work with, and I’m glad that he’s going to the doctor. There are really only 3 possibilities here. 1) It’s physiological, 2)It’s psychological, or 3) It’s directly related to the two of you. So he should get checked out by a doctor to address #1, you should let him pay for couples counseling if it’s worth it to him to address #2, but #3 is a little trickier. How do you KNOW that he’s not cheating on you? Can you ever really know that? And have you considered that he might be gay? The bottom line is that you feel unhappy, bitter, angry and insecure in this relationship, and I think that’s the biggest red flag of all. Let him go work this out for himself, and you go find a guy who makes you feel great.

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      AnitaBath February 21, 2011, 8:54 pm

      I won’t presume to know more about your relationship than you do, but I’ve noticed you’ve felt the need to clarify and say, “I know he’s not cheating on me,” MULTIPLE times. I’m not saying he is, but I’m saying it *is* something to consider. All of these female friends of his is suspicious, and from where I’m sitting it does kind of come across that by saying that so often, perhaps you’re overcompensating or in denial. No one likes to consider that possibility, but it is a possibility. It could be at this point that he isn’t into the relationship romantically and just sees you as a security blanket and is afraid to be alone.

      Again, this is just me making assumptions, but it’s kind of the vibe that I got when I read all of this.

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        He Lost That Lustin' Feeling February 21, 2011, 9:34 pm

        The thing is, he very much wants me to meet these women and often invites me when he goes out with any of them. He says they are his old friends and like family to him, and he wants me to be involved in his life and his friends and family. Many of them have boyfriends or husbands of their own. He’s always had more female friends than male friends… his personality explains this a lot.
        There is no cheating concern whatsoever. It just makes me feel very insecure (some of these women are quite attractive). It’s just too much, you know? Knowing he’s bonding with and having fun with other women makes me feel pretty low. As I’ve said, it never bothered me when he hung out with his closest two female friends, but it’s gotten to be too many for me to be comfortable.

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        MissDre February 21, 2011, 10:29 pm

        Hey Girl, I would suggest that you take some time to really value yourself. You are #1! I’m sure your boyfriend is a great guy, and I know it’s hurting you to think of losing him or missing out on something. But you can only try so much, you can only give so much of yourself. Maybe start spending MORE time with your girlfriends or family or other important people in your life. Devote more time to a favourite hobby. Devote more time to your education or your career. Hit up the gym. Buy a pretty dress. Get your hair and your nails done. Do whatever it is you need to do to show yourself that YOU ARE WORTH IT! If you’re really struggling to make a decision about whether or not to stay with this guy, maybe see a counselor to help you be a little more introspective and come to a decision.

        Whatever happens… remember that you’re amazing and you deserve to feel good about yourself. If things aren’t meant to be with this man, I promise there IS somebody else out there who will love you to pieces.

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        Desiree February 22, 2011, 2:08 am

        I can’t begin to make assumptions about a person I have never met, but I am with AnitaBath. Some kind of infidelity (emotional, physical, what have you) may be taking place here. I understand dating a guy with a lot of female friends–my boyfriend has a lot of female friends and is a bit of a flirt (in good fun). I wasn’t sure what to make of this at first. But he maintains a reasonable distance in those friendships, is extraordinarily sensitive to my feelings, and our relationship has fantastic intimacy. What is probably bothering you about these friendships is that he is apparently having a great time with these women, but (seemingly) not with you. I don’t know how that couldn’t drive you crazy. If it seemed that my boyfriend consistently enjoyed the company of other women more than mine, I would react poorly, to say the least. And I know that you have said a lot about the positive aspects of your relationship, but sex really is an important barometer. If you have ruled out the other possible issues (already well covered by the other responders), it really comes down to the relationship. And, frankly, you are only 22 and sound like a considerate, kind person–enjoy your life. Like some of the responders, I have wasted years on bad relationships. That is a huge regret.

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      DramaQueen224 February 21, 2011, 10:00 pm

      Sweetie, STOP TALKING TO HIM. Really, tell him that you need time and that he needs to give you space while you figure out what you want in life and then STOP TALKING TO HIM for a while. Be by yourself for a week, a couple of weeks, whatever. Go ahead and be sad and miserable for a couple of days as you mourn the loss of your sexy, amazing 3 year long relationship. Because that stage of your relationship is gone. Even if he does have a medical condition and a doctor somewhere is magically able to give him a pill that makes his libido return, you can’t erase this past year. You can’t erase the insecurity or the anger that’s been building. And you, by yourself without talking to him, need to figure out if you’re willing to work past those issues. Plus, in all reality, he’s most likely not going to get all of his libido back, or maybe even any of it. So you also need to decide if you can deal with that.

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        Uyzie February 22, 2011, 11:54 am

        Yes! I completely agree. The whole “we’re broken up, but still talking” thing is never a good idea, IMHO. Time apart, while painful, is so necessary for figuring out what you want, who you are, and what you need on your own. I’m a big fan of the 60-day rule. No talking on the phone, emailing, texting, hanging out (and especially hooking up) for 60 days. It’s long enough that the chemicals wear off, the pain subsides, and you can see things for what they really are.

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        _jsw_ February 22, 2011, 11:58 am

        Agreed. It is amazing how often, when you’ve just ended something, you’re convinced that this time it’s crucial you stay in touch or else you’ll lose them forever, whereas once you get past that point – 60 days seems reasonable although it’s different for each relationship – you can look back and almost laugh at how worried you were. Either things survive the months apart or there was never a reason to stay in the first place. People break up for reasons, and those reasons need time to sink in.

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        He Lost That Lustin' Feeling February 22, 2011, 12:52 pm

        I agree with everyone on this. I am trying to maintain distance while we put things in perspective and cool our heads. I think it’ll give us time to think and figure out our priorities. While we texted a bit yesterday and the day before, we haven’t seen each other or actually spoken since Wednesday the 16th, which is the longest we’ve ever gone in the entire four years we’ve been together. I’m spending time working on myself, gathering advice, researching information, and focusing on other pursuits (school, work, etc). It’s been very hard, though, because I don’t have anyone else to talk to. I didn’t go to high school, and so somehow never managed to gather a circle of friends. I’m totally on my own in this, which makes it hard.

        Just knowing there are people out there willing to offer advice and support has made this whole process so much more bearable. I want to thank everyone!

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        MissDre February 22, 2011, 1:12 pm

        Enroll in some community college classes 🙂 It’s a great opportunity to meet new people. I understand what it’s like to not have much of a circle of friends… I was teased all through elementary/high school and didn’t really come out of my shell until after college, so I had nobody until about 2 years ago. Have faith in yourself! You’ll get to where you want to be 🙂

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        He Lost That Lustin' Feeling February 22, 2011, 3:45 pm

        Actually, I am graduating (with Honors 🙂 ) from community college in May with my Associates Degree. I haven’t made any friends there largely because I don’t particularly enjoy the company of people my own age (probably due to working instead of being in high school) and find I can’t connect with them. I’ve also been trying to make up for the fact that I skipped out on high school by really dedicating myself to college, so I avoided socializing so I could focus on my studies. It has paid off in the academic department, but has left me with no support system for things like this.
        I’ve started reaching out to the world, though! 🙂 I’m making an effort to meet people and reconnect with old acquaintances. I plan to try harder to socialize when I go to a university. We’ll see how it goes, ha ha.

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        WatersEdge February 23, 2011, 8:48 am

        I know this is off topic from the letter, but another way to make friends might be volunteering for charities or animal shelters. You’ll probably meet mature, like-minded people in those environments.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom February 22, 2011, 8:14 pm

        I agree completely. Take some time away and then see if the thought of getting back together seems wonderful or depressing. I’ve got a feeling that getting 60 days away will seem like a relief.

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    MissDre February 21, 2011, 8:18 pm

    Hey all. Not sure if anybody else mentioned this… but is there a possibility that he is suffering from erectile dysfunction and is having trouble facing that? Maybe he is just having trouble getting it up! It could be a confidence issue… he may be suffering performance anxiety which is causing him to not want to have sex.

    Ever thought about getting him to talk to a doctor about viagra or something similar? Maybe the stress caused the performance anxiety, and the performance anxiety caused the depressed state, and it’s all one big circle?

    Maybe it’s worth talking to him and the doc about erectile dysfunction!

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      MissDre February 21, 2011, 8:22 pm

      Something I pulled off the web just in case this is a possibility…

      “Psychological impotence is where erection or penetration fails due to thoughts or feelings (psychological reasons) rather than physical impossibility; this is somewhat less frequent but often can be helped. Notably in psychological impotence, there is a strong response to placebo treatment. Erectile dysfunction, tied closely as it is about ideas of physical well being, can have severe psychological consequences.

      Besides treating the underlying causes such as potassium deficiency or arsenic contamination of drinking water, the first line treatment of erectile dysfunction consists of a trial of PDE5 inhibitor drugs (the first of which was sildenafil or Viagra).

      Psychological causes: performance anxiety, stress, mental disorders (clinical depression, schizophrenia, substance abuse, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, personality disorders or traits.[6]), psychological problems, negative feelings.[7]

      Lifestyle: Smoking is a key cause of erectile dysfunction.[10][11] Smoking causes impotence because it promotes arterial narrowing.[12]”

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        MissDre February 21, 2011, 8:59 pm

        One more thing to add… the LW mentioned in her comments that he does not really even masturbate anymore, which further supports the possibility of E.D.

        I am not saying I think this is for sure the case, but just something that should be checked out before accusing the guy of cheating or assuming this is a terrible relationship that should end.

        Ps. getting counseling for her own self worth may be something the LW should consider

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        He Lost That Lustin' Feeling February 21, 2011, 9:40 pm

        It’s really been more of a libido issue than a performance issue though (I’m just going to quote my above post, because I missed your post before): “He had issues with that a couple times (occasionally losing his erection or being unable to cum), but the changes in diet and exercise have pretty much cleared that up, though haven’t helped his actual libido much. The few times we’ve had sex in the past few months, he was only unable to cum once (though he had an orgasm) and claims it happened because he had masturbated earlier (I had suggested he try masturbating more often to rev up an interest in sex and get his mojo flowing again, and for a while he did try this, though I believe he’s since mostly stopped).” He did go to the doctor and also a psychologist. One of the things I’ve considered is low testosterone, which he has several symptoms of.

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    Rachel February 21, 2011, 8:20 pm

    A lot of commentors have already given wonderful advice, so I don’t think I have too much to add. My (now) husband and I’ve been together for a few years now, and I think what’s made the biggest difference is my having remained open to sex, even when I’m not “in the mood” or interested. I don’t leave it to him to initiate on his own all the time, and I try to banish the thoughts of how it might be an incovenient time or that I have other things to do. I really think it’s allowed us to maintain and rejuvenate our intimacy. It would be beneficial if your boyfriend considered ascribing to this mentality, and if not you may both need to discuss what the impediment is to y’all having sex as a monogamous, devoted couple. It could be that, while you’re compatible, maybe he’s lost interest in attending to all the needs of the romantic relationship. You deserve to feel sexually, emotionally, and mentally satisfied with your relationship. If you talk to your boyfriend about your concerns and he’s unwilling to address them or solve them (by making an effort or going to couple’s counseling or discussing what issues he thinks are relevant), then you may need to reevaluate the relationship to ensure that you’re free to find what and who you deserve.

    Best of luck!
    P.S. My friend told me about a couple who committed themselves to having sex every day for a whole year, and the wife who wrote a book about it. I’ve never read the book, but here’s an article with updates on how they’re doing five years later, if you’re interested. =)

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1357771/Couple-sex-day-year-revive-marriage.html

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    Jessicaxmx February 21, 2011, 10:07 pm

    I’ve read something like this before on The Frisky. I remember something Wendy said that stuck to me.. which is more important to you? This lustful feeling that you so happen to miss or is his being affectionate towards you, kind, trust-worthy being more important? Which can you simply can not live without? If you need sex in order to be happy in your relationship, which you obviously do, then MOA. If you could be happy with the fact that he is a great guy but is not so intimate, then stay.

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    Jess February 22, 2011, 3:35 am

    Your boyfriend sounds like he would be the perfect man for another woman. Seriously, I’m sure there are *many* 30 year old women, with kids and without, that would be absolutely delighted with this amount of affection without sex being on the table. I think sex every few months is totally normal for couples in the 30s with young children. Perhaps your boyfriend is just not up to dating a 22 year old girl. He can’t keep up with you. My friend and her fiance have sex 5-6 times a year and they are both happy with it. He deserves to be with someone who is compatible with him, just as you do.

    Just as there are tons of 24 year old guys who would love to hound you for wild sex reguarly.

    I think you guys are just a mis-match libido wise. I think the age difference has a lot to do with it.

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  • Chicago-Dude

    Chicago_Dan February 22, 2011, 5:17 pm

    Sup Gang!
    A little late to the party from working-on-the-road-sucksville, but your guy Dan is here… and forgive me for not having read all the responses. The urge to respond was too great to wait.

    The issues seen here are two distinctly ones:
    1) the a-sexual nature of your partner
    2) the perceived “competition” from his increasing lot of female friends

    Both will be difficult to maneuver and the results may or may not entirely meet your ultimate desires.
    While the former may be a little easier fight and completely winnable, the latter may prove to be a bit more daunting a task. Upon finding that your sexual needs aren’t one you can compromise, I doubt anyone will fault you for MOA (had to use that term).

    It’ll be very important for you to understand the magnitude of the impact on your sexuality and how that could potentially not be completely matched up with your partners in the long run (provided you both commit to a serious turnaround of the problem at hand).

    http://www.asexuality.org/home/ may be a helpful organization for you and your partner on this?

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    Lindsay February 22, 2011, 7:09 pm

    I was in a relationship like this once. We dated for 3 years total, and for the last year+, all we did was fight. Sex was rare, although it was me who didn’t ever want it. It took me more than a year to realize I needed to break up with him because, like your relationship, most other things were there. We were great friends, made each other laugh etc, but the fighting… oh the fighting!
    However, I finally did break up with him and it was a complete breath of fresh air. It was so amazing to realize that I could go through a week, a day even!, without having to fight with someone. Today, I’m in the best relationship of my life, with a man I plan to marry. In my previous relationship, I never knew what I was missing out on. I never realized that it’s not ok to be so unhappy. Yes normal couples fight, but it should not be your entire relationship. At this point, I firmly believe that everyone can have an amazing relationship if they stop settling and get themselves out of bad & unhappy situations.
    Life is too short to settle. If he’s not making you happy, if all you do is fight, if there’s no sex, it’s unfortunately not worth it. I know it’ll hurt at first, especially after this long, but it will restore your sanity. Someone out there will make you happy.

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    Uyzie February 22, 2011, 7:29 pm

    I realize that once you’ve posted or replied no less than eight times on a single thread, you’re probably more than a little too wrapped up in the issue! So, with that admission, I’m going to try to make this one my last, and then I’ll leave it be. (I promise!)

    Aside from the main issue here, there are three red flags that popped up in your responses, LW, that worry me.

    1) In my experience, people outside the relationship who know and love you can often have a better perspective on whether or not a situation is good for you. LW, you never directly said what your friends and family think of this situation, but you mentioned several times that you don’t really have many friends or a support group of any kind in your life. That troubles me, since having platonic friends and other people who care about you is a really important part of life. A boyfriend who is essentially your whole world isn’t healthy for the relationship, or for you. When you said that you were “totally on your own” in this, it made me wonder if perhaps you’re afraid of losing this guy because you feel like he’s all you’ve got. If that’s true, it would add a whole other layer to the feelings of insecurity at him having a ton of female friends, while you have no circle of friends of your own.

    2) I understand that you’ve had a different life from most of your peers, and that since your experiences have been so different, you’ve found it hard to form friendships with other people your own age. But when you say that you “don’t particularly enjoy the company” of people your own age, it almost seems like you are purposely seeking out older people, and eschewing other young men and women who might have some wonderful things to offer you as friends. Not every single person in your age range is immature, and I’m sure that there are others like you who also didn’t follow the traditional high school route. I’m not saying that you MUST have friends your own age, but the fact that you actively discount them right off the bat is a bit troublesome. You were 18 when you started dating your boyfriend, and he was 30, so this is a pattern that was already in place before you started dating. Even at that young age, you had already started seeking out much older companions. Given that you’ve been together for four years now, this is probably the biggest relationship of your adult life so far. I hate to sound trite, but your whole life is ahead of you, and there are literally tons of fish in the sea, in a wide range of ages. Some of them would probably make great friends, and down the road, maybe some of them would make great boyfriends too.

    3) The last thing that worries me is one tiny comment you made earlier: “I’m young and I have a high libido and a lot of my identity and happiness is wrapped up in my sexuality, so this is hitting me hard.” Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being young and having a high libido; in fact, those things can be kind of awesome! The part of that statement that worries me is where you say that “a lot” of your identity and happiness is wrapped up in your sexuality. Sex is important to most people, and the quality of their sex life contributes to most people’s overall happiness. But if you literally mean that you derive a significant portion of your identity through your sexuality and desirability, then that is definitely not healthy. We all want to feel sexy, and yes, we all want to be wanted, but if your happiness is, as you say, “wrapped up” in your own perceived desirability, then you’re essentially giving another person total control over your identity and self-esteem. It’s healthy and normal to get a boost out of being wanted, but it’s even better to feel sexy and desirable all on your own, without having to seek validation from your significant other. Your identity is so much more than simply how much he wants you.

    No matter how this whole things turns out, I hope you can take some time to think about your own needs independent of this relationship. Everyone needs a support system of friends outside of their primary relationship. Having a few people in your life who are in their twenties and closer to your age might also be helpful in gaining a little perspective. And friends will also help you realize how amazing you are all on your own– whether someone wants to ravage you regularly or not. I don’t know you, LW (though I kind feel like I know you a bit better now, after all of this!), but as you can see from the support you’ve gotten right here on this site, you’re obviously deserving of having a great life, and I wish you the best in all your future endeavors– romantic, or otherwise.

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      He Lost That Lustin' Feeling February 22, 2011, 9:33 pm

      Hi, again! Definitely don’t worrying about posting a lot… I am super grateful for everyone’s input!
      1.) I realize that having so few people in my life adds to this whole challenge. Since we’ve broken up, the only times my phone has rang (aside from some texting between him and me the other day) was when someone needed to pick up something that I borrowed from them. I have been making an effort, though. On Saturday, I finally accepted an invitation to go out with two girls that I went to junior high with. It was nice to see them, but we couldn’t really talk because they were seeing a band and it was loud, and so I left early and told them I’d love to catch up with them sometime. I’m trying to be less of a loner. As for family, my mother thinks he is a wonderful, kind person and loves him dearly (and he adores her, as well), though she doesn’t really support the relationship, as she worries about me missing out on certain things by being in such a committed relationship with an older man. My father doesn’t support it, but that’s simply because he doesn’t support anything I do, ha ha. I believe he is mainly unsupportive because of my last relationship (which I will briefly describe below).
      2.) This part is tough for me. When I was 17, I was in a horribly abusive year-long relationship with a man 10 years older then me (when I finally broke up with him, he actually kidnapped me, assaulted me, set my clothes on fire, and attempted to rape me at a hotel for 3 hours until I managed to escape and run naked to the police!). I’ve always worked and played the role of a responsible adult; I was a bookeeper/store manager at 17. Having to grow up quickly because of my life situations has made it so hard to connect with people my age, though I’ve tried. I never know what they’re talking about. I have a hard time relating, though I try and I’m not judging- I know “different” doesn’t equal “bad”, but it’s a difficult foundation for a friendship. It’s like my head is in a different decade. I keep trying to focus on my own life so that, when I’m older, I’ll be better able to connect to people, since they will then be older, as well.
      3.) I never meant that my self-worth is wrapped up in my desirability to others. Sexuality is just a large part of my personal character. When I turned 18, the first thing I did was get a job in an adult store. I love sexuality in all of its facets. I want to be able to share this with him the way we used to: we’d go to adult stores together, watch movies, pick out books and toys, come up with new fantasies, etc. He used to tell me how much he loved what an open person I was when it came to sex and sensuality. Sexuality is as big a part of me as any other personality traits or interests, and I languish when it languishes, just as I would if I could no longer stimulate my intellect or my sense of humor. Going into sex stores makes me depressed now, because I no longer feel like an active participant in something I loved so much. It hurts, because I almost feel like I failed at something; like I’m a sham.

      I am absolutely working on enlarging and nurturing my friendships. I’ve been trying to reconnect with people from my past and friends that I’ve drifted apart from, as well as reaching out to new people. I plan on moving to another city after college, so I’ve already starting “meeting” people online who live in those cities so I can establish an online friendship in the hopes of turning it into a real-life friendship when I move.

      Thank you very much for all of your advice and support. I’ve felt so alone in all of this, and this has made me feel like some of the weight has been lifted. Hearing your story and the stories of others has helped me a lot. I will absolutely update on whatever happens. It’s all very up in the air right now. Thank you again!

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom February 23, 2011, 7:11 am

    When it comes to making friends, just like with boyfriends, you will find that there are lots of nice people out there but many of those nice people are really not the friend for you. You just won’t have enough in common to become great friends and that’s okay. Just take your time and watch for people who share your values. You will find that there are other students in college who also pay their own way and work hard at jobs. They may be harder to meet because they probably leave campus as soon as their classes finish to get to that job that pays the bills. Chat with various people and over time you will find you just click with a few and spend more and more of your time with them and you become friends. Take your time and your friendships will develop and if you’re picky forming them they will last for decades.

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    Michelle February 23, 2011, 3:27 pm

    there is no time limit… i was married, in a similar situation.

    My ex definitely suffered from depression. My ‘limit’ came 2.5 years after no sex. As noted several times here, the lack of sex was only a symptom. I waited. I was patient. But when asked directly if he was willing to get help specifically to help us i.e. couples counseling, he said no. I asked a few times, and that was it for me. Looking back on the relationship, I can see that it was a pattern with every aspect of the relationship, it was all about him, it didn’t matter what I needed/wanted. I can honestly say that when I do look back on it, I’m terrified at the prospect of ever feeling that low again. Once you’re out, you feel so much different. At least I did.

    I would say however, that if your boyfriend has not seen a doctor to talk about possible depression, he needs to. Having ‘the blues’ on a regular basis isn’t exactly normal. But he needs to be willing to help get you both back on the same page as a couple. It takes two.

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    Kat February 24, 2011, 1:01 am

    I’m just curious, I know that LW has mentioned how the boyfriend says he’s really committed to fixing this problem, wanting to be together etc etc – but maybe it isn’t about sex at all. Maybe he does really love her, but the problem is maybe she’s not the right person for him. It could be a stage of life issue, given that they got together when she was 18 he was 30. Yeah I know the whole ‘age is a number’ thing, but there are some life experiences you go through as you age, and maybe that’s why he’s been seeking out more time with these other women. It’s not because they’re women, it’s because they’re at the life stage he’s at.

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    Stew August 29, 2011, 8:32 am

    I know im late to jump on board with this, but I am hearing a lot of “his problems this and you dont deserve that”. It is very possible that things have just fizzled out for him or there are some other issues. I hear of girls in relationships clamming up all the time and normally you dont get such a backlash as when guys do it. I have noticed that when girls are not getting the intamacy or nookie, it is time for divorce, relationship counseling, “time to find it somewhere else” etc. What you need to do is talk to him to see what is wrong. Girls have been programmed from birth to believe that guys have insatiable libidos and want it at the drop of a bra and many women have gotten very used to that. When that stops abruptly there is a huge backlash. If it were the other way around he would simply have to deal with whatever was going on with you and be helpful and sympathetic to your situation. In this case “you dont deserve this” and, “I cant believe hes doing this to me”. Well you have options. The old me would have said girl please, if you did that he would have to just shut up and take it. The new me is saying talk to him to see whats going on. It could be any number of things. Good Luck.

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