Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Boyfriend Refuses To Kiss Me Because He Thinks He’ll Get Sick”

My boyfriend and I have been dating almost eight months and have always had a lot of chemistry. Kissing has never been a problem for us. However, near the end of June, I caught a cold. We made the mistake of making out while I had it, and soon enough he caught it too. Within a week, I was healed, but it wasn’t the same for him. No matter how much medicine and sleep he got he seemed to stay sick. And every time we kissed, even if it was short, he’d say a few hours later that he felt sick again and that I keep getting him sick. I’ve tried to reason that I can’t be doing that because you don’t catch the same cold twice, and I’m not sick anymore. However, he is so stubborn and refuses to believe me.

Fast forward to now, September, and he is no longer sick but he still will not kiss me. He admitted that he’s afraid of getting sick again and that’s why he avoids it. I can’t ask him to kiss me because it just makes him not want to even more. I’ve tried to explain that if neither of us is sick, then he won’t get sick, but my words have no effect.

I miss kissing him, and I’m tired of still doing sexual things without kissing. I want the foreplay, but there’s none. He won’t even kiss my hand or cheek. He says that I need to give him more time, so I’m trying to be okay with not being okay, but it’s difficult for me. I hope you can give me some words of advice. — Not Sick of Kissing

Well, first of all, it’s never a good idea in a relationship – or in a job or in life in general – to try to “be okay with not being okay.” That’s the opposite of what you should do. You need to honor your feelings, take active steps to change or improve the thing you aren’t okay with, or get out of the situation if it can’t be changed. In the rare case that none of that is possible, then you work on ways to find peace with the situation. (This is different than trying to be okay with not being okay; it’s essentially working toward being okay, period.)

In your situation, where your very reasonable needs aren’t being met in a relationship, your first step should be to get let your partner know that you have these unmet needs. You’ve tried this already – you’ve asked your boyfriend to kiss you and he keeps refusing. (And for what it’s worth: you say that kissing has never been a problem in your relationship, but that isn’t true. It’s been a problem since the end of June – nearly three months of the eight you’ve been together. I’d say that’s a signifiant problem.) You need to let him know how unhappy you are, how rejected you feel, and how he is failing to meet your needs in a way you simply don’t understand. The excuse he’s using to avoid kissing you is bizarre and signals something amiss. Either he’s got some kind of psychological thing against kissing (or, kissing you, specifically) that he masked earlier in your relationship (or possibly developed as your relationship progressed) or there’s something about your kissing that doesn’t appeal to him and he’s using the fear of sickness as an excuse to not address that for fear of hurting you. What he may not realize is that the rejection you’re feeling is hurting you more than if he’d just be honest with you.

I would sit down and ask him if there’s something about you or the way you kiss that is unappealing to him. This will be an uncomfortable conversation, but it needs to be had. Does he have a problem with your oral hygiene, does he not like the way you kiss, does he not like kissing in general? Tell him that you aren’t buying the fear of getting sick excuse, but if that’s truly what he feels, you’d like him to talk to a therapist about it because it’s not a normal reaction and it’s hindering your relationship.

If he refuses to address the issue, then it should be obvious to you that your needs are not important to him and you should see it as a sign for how he will prioritize you and your needs going forward. Since this issue started happening about five months into your relationship – the general point in a relationship when people start getting a little more comfortable with each other and showing their more authentic, less polished selves – it wouldn’t be crazy to think that maybe all that chemistry you say you felt early on was an act to reel you in. At any rate, it’s important for you to remember that there are other fish in the sea — some of whom actually like to kiss.

I have been with my boyfriend 10-1/2 years now. His son’s mother just passed away and the wake is this weekend. He and the mom never had a relationship. He doesn’t even have a relationship with his son. Long story on that. He would never let me meet his son or his son’s mother. I would ask to go to his son’s birthday parties and he’d never let me. He says it’s because he doesn’t have a good relationship with either one. But now my question is: Should I ask him if I can be there for him and show support during this time and ask if I can attend the wake with him? And If he says no, what should I do? I’m thinking of just ending my relationship with him for good if he does say no. I’m tired of the rejections. — Feeling Rejected

 
Yes, ask if you can attend the wake, and ask what he needs from you in the way of support. But I wouldn’t use his answer to gauge his commitment to you. If you are ready to leave him and if there’s a history of rejection – beyond his not letting you meet his son whom he’s apparently estranged from — then, yeah, maybe it’s time to break up. But a breakup shouldn’t be contingent on whether or not you’re allowed to attend a wake. It should be contingent on how you’re treated in general, whether or not you share common goals for the future, whether you’re on the same page emotionally, and if both your needs and his are being met. I think you already know the answer to all that, and whether or not you are invited to attend a wake for someone you’ve never met shouldn’t change what you know and feel in your heart.

***************

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.

18 comments… add one
  • avatar

    LisforLeslie September 16, 2019, 10:54 am

    LW#1 – he knows how germs work right? I mean, I get sick and I’m not regularly kissing anyone. I touch an elevator button and then my eye and bloof – sick. Honestly this sounds like the tip of the iceberg of irrational fears and beliefs.

    LW#2 – WWS.

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  • avatar

    csp September 16, 2019, 11:35 am

    LW1 – This sounds like a power game your boyfriend is playing. Like he wants to punish you for his cold. I couldn’t live with this long term.

    LW2- WWS – This is a big emotional time for your boyfriend. But honestly, once the dust settles and the custody of this boy is figured out, you need to think about where you want to be in this new reality.

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  • avatar

    anonymousse September 16, 2019, 11:57 am

    I guess it’s worth a shot really digging in and asking him why he won’t ever kiss you, or have foreplay anymore?

    Beyond the other reasons, it could really be true that he’s a germaphobe. That doesn’t mean you have to live a life without kissing! Break up. You’re incompatible. You deserve foreplay and kissing if that’s what you want.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark September 16, 2019, 12:16 pm

    LW1) What did the doctors say about his illness. I mean, if you really had no issues with kissing before hand — this seems a rather extreme reaction. Unless he was CRAZY sick. Again, how sick was he? It almost sounds like he contracted a much more serious illness than a cold by coincidence. How is his immune system. Very strange situation.

    LW2). Forget the wake. Instead, it’s time for you to wake up. Who wants a relationship with a cad who has no relationship with his kid? Aim higher.

    PS —So… he had NO relationship with either of them. And yet regularly attended the kid’s birthday parties… That statement alone makes precious little sense.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros September 16, 2019, 1:19 pm

    LW1: It seems like he has some sort of mental health issue, OCD, hypochondria, something that was exacerbated by that situation. Does he have any other quirks or is he a germophobe in any other setting? Regardless, if he’s not willing to get over it or seem some sort of professional help if it’s mental health related, then I don’t see how this relationship is sustainable.

    LW2: I’m confused. If he doesn’t have a relationship with them, why did he go to birthday parties? Anyway, I don’t know that I’d ask to go to the wake, but instead ask how you can support him and note that you’d be willing to go to it if he wants. But it seems unlikely that he will if he’s chosen to keep you out of his relationship with them in lighter circumstances.

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  • avatar

    FYI September 16, 2019, 1:37 pm

    LW1 — Break up. Find someone who’ll kiss you.

    LW2 — Why did you want to be introduced to people he was actively avoiding? Break up. Not because he’s “rejecting” you (how?), but because he doesn’t have the good character required to be a decent parent.

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  • avatar

    ron September 16, 2019, 2:12 pm

    LW #1 – So, in his mind nobody ever caught any germs doing sexual things apart from kissing. I guess syphilis was never an actual thing. He sounds like he wants prostitute-style sex. Tell him you aren’t a prostitute and that you enjoy foreplay and that therefore there will be no more sex until your needs are addressed. Or jus simplify things and MOA.

    LW#2 – The big question I’d be asking him is “so what happens with your son now? Is he going to live with us? Are you planning to take any responsibility for him at all? I understand that you didn’t have a relationship with his mother, but how does that in any way lessen your responsibilities to this boy you helped to create?” Unless he has good answers, it’s MOA time.

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  • CurlyQue

    CurlyQue September 16, 2019, 2:32 pm

    LW1: I can’t tell you how much i HATE that 1) your bf is using this bs excuse to not employ foreplay 2) that you’ve been settling for an unsatisfactory sexual experience because he refuses to meet your (basic) needs 3) that in your obvious attempt to meet in the middle he won’t even kiss your hand/cheek (i’d also like point out that this isn’t meeting in the middle and i’m so upset that he still denied you this). Please MOA. This boy is not worth your attention.

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  • avatar

    golfer.gal September 16, 2019, 2:45 pm

    Not that this is an identical situation, obvs, but I’ve been listening to the podcast Cold, about Josh and Susan Powell. You all may remember the case, she disappeared during a time her husband claimed he was camping with their children in the middle of a school night, in the freezing winter. As the cops closed in on him as the killer he killed himself and the kids. Anyway, the podcast describes in detail how he refused to kiss his wife or show her any affection outside of the bedroom, claiming he was afraid he would get sick. It was most definitely a power play and a bizarre way to dehumanize his wife as well as affect her self esteem. Are there other red flags in your relationship, LW? Or is this a one off in an otherwise very loving and supportive relationship? Do you feel valued and loved and supported? I like Wendy’s advice, this is definitely a red flag and you need to take it seriously.

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  • avatar

    Moe September 16, 2019, 2:48 pm

    LW1: It is hard to understand without context. If he is someone who is GENERALLY afraid of getting sick or has OCD or anxiety, etc., it may very well be that kissing you is linked to a lot of emotional stuff for him. If he is is generally psychically affectionate, and this is his only “thing”, that would be different than if he generally seems pretty distant and kissing is only one way you are feeling rejected.

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    • avatar

      FYI September 16, 2019, 7:52 pm

      No context necessary. If it’s due to OCD, it still doesn’t matter. It doesn’t work for HER. If he’s “generally physically affectionate” also doesn’t matter (spoiler: he’s not; read the letter). His level of affection doesn’t work for HER. His reasons don’t matter, and she can move on to someone who wants to kiss.

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  • avatar

    brise September 16, 2019, 5:13 pm

    It icks me so much to think that he is getting sex from you without any kissing and foreplay due to his preposterous fear of germs. Come on: what a jerk. He basically treats you like a whore and a dirty contaminated person. And you let him touch you? Yuck!

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  • avatar

    Fyodor September 16, 2019, 5:13 pm

    What LW1 is describing sounds almost like an anxiety disorder symptom. LW1, I would encourage you to get him to see someone.

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    • avatar

      Fyodor September 16, 2019, 5:15 pm

      Just to follow up, it’s not unusual for anxiety or OCD symptoms to have triggering events.

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    • CurlyQue

      CurlyQue September 17, 2019, 11:51 am

      It’s not her job to fix him. He should recognize what he’s doing isn’t reasonable and want to fix himself if it is indeed an anxiety disorder symptom. LW1 can tell him to seek help while she MOAs though.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark September 17, 2019, 1:02 pm

    I still want to know if this disease she gave him was real? Or imagined.

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  • avatar

    Prognosti-gator September 17, 2019, 3:01 pm

    LW1: Leave your baby of a BF and find someone who shows you the affection you want. The BF never has to kiss you again. Win/Win

    LW2: You’ve been with this loser for ten-and-a-half years? I don’t think anything we say now will have any impact if you haven’t gotten sick of his crap over the last decade.

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  • avatar

    Sea witch September 19, 2019, 4:02 pm

    Drop this sickly and inferior man. Would you want your future children to be weak and frail? Do you not want to birth strong warriors capable of fending off both invading armies AND a bad case of the sniffles?

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