“My Girlfriend No Longer Wants to Touch Me”

My girlfriend and I have hit a rough patch. Nearly two years ago she moved away for a teacher’s-aid-exchange-sort-of-program. She was only supposed to stay for the summer, but more than a year later she still hadn’t come back. At first it hurt on a very simple level that she wasn’t returning – I missed her. But as the months passed and the timeline for her coming back was continuously pushed back until eventually it became simply “I don’t know,” it started to hurt a lot more. I know she very much enjoys it in the smaller town she’s living in, but it nonetheless started to hurt on a personal level – it felt as though I simply wasn’t worth returning for, or that she didn’t miss me nearly as much as I her. I work as a web developer, and small towns like where she moved to don’t generally have booming tech sectors, so moving there to be with her was, unfortunately, out of the question.

Later, I was laid off and sought other employment – which I found in a smaller city than where I’d been living and one that I hoped would provide a compromise between her desire for a smaller town and the realities of my kind of employment. She visited a time or two and seemed to enjoy it, so I thought things would finally work out. But during these visits, and during multiple conversations over the phone, Facebook, and so on, other things started to bother me. She no longer seemed as affectionate as she had before she left. It seems a small thing to notice but I did anyway: virtually every hug, kiss, or even hand-holding needed to be initiated by me. But by pure bad luck, both times she visited it was her time of the month, so partially I attributed it to strange behavior during that time (wishful thinking, maybe, as the period is not a personality-altering experience to my knowledge). It also meant that certain activities obviously were not performed (not quite sex, which we’re saving for after marriage) – which despite the very reasonable explanation, only compounded my fears and made me feel as though I was no longer physically attractive to her.

Speaking of pettily small things to notice, she no longer seems enthused to buy or receive gifts. I always do my best to go out of my way to find creative, unique, or fitting gifts for her for her birthday, for Valentine’s Day, and for Christmas. She used to do the same for me and now doesn’t, just asking for a list and finding something from it that she can afford. It feels like the amount of care and thought I put into getting her something perfect isn’t reciprocated.

Well, cut to this past weekend, when we saw each other again. I caught more and more of these signs and small things until eventually I simply had to address it. I explained to her – admittedly very emotionally – that I felt she was no longer affectionate towards me, that she was no longer sexually attracted to me, that she no longer missed me nor was excited to see me. She then explained to me that she wasn’t the same person as when she left. She was no longer as affectionate as she had been, she was no longer sexual. We’d both been saving sex for marriage, but now she refuses to even consider it as a possibility. Speaking of marriage, we both used to be in agreement that we wanted to marry one another. Now she says she just doesn’t see the point of the “formality.”

Neither of us has brought up breaking it off, neither of us wants to. We’ve been together for nearly nine years. We both want to make it work, but I’m now faced with the incredibly hard question of whether it even can anymore. — Feeling Unloved

I’m not sure where you get the idea that she doesn’t want to break things off and that she’s interested in making your relationship work. Everything you’ve written — and you wrote a lot! I even edited out about two paragraphs — suggests very clearly that she’s done-zo. She’s over it. She’s no longer interested. I’m not sure what the title or formality of being in a relationship with you is providing her — maybe she’s simply too lazy to break up with you — but her heart clearly is not in it.

I realize nine years is an awful long time, and I’m assuming she is all you know in terms of a significant other. It sounds like you’re young now, so nine years ago you must have been really young. But having a long history with someone and not knowing anything else isn’t reason enough to stay together. You have moved in different directions. Quite literally. And there’s no interest on her end to meet in the middle.

Set her free. Set yourself free. There is someone out there for you who won’t cringe at your touch and literally run away from you. Surely you know this on some level — that this is no longer a true relationship anymore. She stays with you out of fear, or guilt, or some weird sense of obligation. She does not stay with you (not that she’s really with you at all) out of love. The ship has sailed. Let it go. It’s not the only one in the sea.

P.S. Any time a woman uses her “time of the month” as an excuse to avoid physical intimacy with a long-distance partner she doesn’t see often, game over.


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


  1. I get the sense she was probably done the moment she left for her job, perhaps before. maybe even SHE didn’t know it at first, but to some degree she knows it now.

    1. I got that feeling too. Perhaps she accepted the job offer and transfer because subconsciously she had already mentally checked out? Either way, this relationship has run its course — it happens. 9 years is a long time to be with someone, and it’s a lot of time to grow apart. Especially if you’ve been together from a young age. I’d say it’ll be tough adjusting to being single again, but it sounds like you’ve already been doing that for a while. Heck, you might surprise yourself and move on faster than you think.

    2. RedRoverRedRover says:

      With my first serious boyfriend, I only realized when I moved away how happy I was without him. We’d been together about 4 years, we were living together and engaged, and I went away for the summer for a job. I broke up with him as soon as I got back. I think when you’re inexperienced with relationships, you can’t see the problems while you’re immersed in them. It took being away for me to realize it wasn’t working.

  2. Bittergaymark says:

    Move On Already.
    Unless of course you really want a sexless, loveless marriage…

  3. Juliecatharine says:

    WWS 100%. Dude she absolutely does not want to be with you. If she did you would be in the same city or have a plan in place. That alone is enough to tell you it’s over. Pile on the rest of the story and she is clearly pulling the shitty move of trying to force you to do the dirty work of breaking up. Oblige her and MOA.

  4. My LDR and I were on a string of each time we visited I was on my period. We were still intimate to our comfort levels because we knew we wouldn’t see each other again for 30-60 days!

    It sounds like she doesn’t want to hurt your feelings.

  5. dinoceros says:

    I’m not trying to kick you while you’re down, but wanting to stay with someone who has no interest in a relationship with you (even though she doesn’t want to break up) is absurd. Why do you even want to be with her? It’s easy to get caught up in the fact that you have been together for a long time and that you like her as a person (or at least before she stopped putting any effort in), but there is no reason to have a relationship with someone if neither of you is happy. You could instead go find someone who wants to be with you and you with them.

  6. LisforLeslie says:

    Agreed, she doesn’t want to be the bad guy and break things off. From what you’ve written, it’s clear she has completely separated from you mentally and emotionally. She’s now laying down the physical barrier.

    You may love her, but you are clearly very alone in this relationship. It’s time to do what’s best for you and move on.


  7. She’s happy with her current life, and that life doesn’t include the guy. She’s too lazy to break up with him properly but she doesn’t want him anymore. Seems pretty obvious to me…MOA.

  8. Northern Star says:

    I’m sorry, but it’s over. Everyone is right. It will hurt to break things off, but you will feel so much better once you move on and open yourself up the possibility of meeting someone new. You deserve to be loved, not tolerated.

  9. You sound like a great catch, thoughtful, kind considerate and loyal. Let someone who will appreciate these qualities have you. You deserve every inch of you to be loved in return.

    1. This is very nice. I totally agree. LW, don’t settle for scraps.

  10. Given how hard both of you are clinging to a non-relationship makes me wonder if you both aren’t using this now totally nonphysical/non-emotional ‘relationship’ at long distance as a way of avoiding a real relationship in the here and now. There is a reason LW is clinging to this and it isn’t because of any joy/reinforcement/emotional support/benefit he has derived from it recently. It is a form of hiding.

  11. She loved you yesterday and yesterday’s gone.

  12. Yes, this isn’t a relationship. It is a friendship now. Don’t you want to feel intimate, emotionally and physically, with a woman you have a real connection with?
    Let that past relationship in the past. You grew apart and it is very common. You will start recovering once you admit the reality and accept a love in its reality: the presence of the other person.

  13. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

    From the LW:


    Your thoughtful and frank response is greatly appreciated. My girlfriend and I had another talk and I brought up some of the things you said. She’s acknowledged some of the points and we’ve agreed to give it one last try – with her making more of an effort on her end. If it still doesn’t work with the both of us making that effort we’ve agreed to go our separate ways.

    1. Avatar photo Cleopatra Jones says:

      LW should make sure that they have a check-in date to see if things are working for both of them. He shouldn’t hang around another 9 years (or even a year) waiting for things to work out.

    2. Skyblossom says:

      LW Please be aware that when couples go to marriage counseling very frequently one has already decided that they are done but they want to be able to say that they tried before leaving the relationship. I suspect your girlfriend is doing this. She probably is done but will say she is trying so that she can say she did everything possible but it didn’t work.

      How do you try to like physical touch with someone? You either like it or you don’t. How do you try to be interested in them and try to want to spend time with them? Those are things that are either there or they aren’t.

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