We’ve talked about the lack of a sex life, and when I say “lack of,” I mean I can count the times he’s touched me intimately on one hand. There has been no sex or sexual intimacy of any kind, however, for over four years. I just don’t know what to do or how to approach this. He’s not a physically affectionate kind of person. When he kisses me, he just kind of… puts his lips on mine? No feeling or anything and it’s over in an instant. I have to ask for hugs, and that’s about all I get.
When we started dating, I was 20, and it’s hard not to feel like I’m the problem. Am I not desired? Is something wrong with me? Am I not his type? When we first started dating, there was passion, but it fizzled out so fast, and I’ve been dealing with this privately ever since.
I love him to pieces, but I’m internalizing everything at this point and I’m so lost. I don’t want to ask him to take any pills as I’ve heard they hurt, and I don’t want him to be in pain at all! But now that I think about it, I don’t think he’s ever actually been aroused by me. I’m not sure what to do or where to go right now — any help is greatly appreciated. — No Intimacy
It’s not a coincidence that a 44-year-old divorced man pursued you when you were 20 and, four years later, you have a relationship that is completely devoid of intimacy. He preyed on you not because he felt a connection to you and fell in love with you, but because you met a need he had. I don’t know what that need is exactly – it is either the illusion of a (heterosexual) relationship and/or services you provide for him that he’d have to outsource to multiple people and probably at a cost higher than however much he spends on you. Do you cook and clean for him? Run errands? Do his shopping? You are definitely providing something for him that improves the quality of his life, and that’s why he’s with you. That’s it. He doesn’t love you, not in a romantic way – not in the way a man should love the woman he’s planning to marry.
How do I know he doesn’t love you in a romantic way? Because any man who did love you in a romantic way would want to be intimate with you, at least at this juncture of your relationship. Even if there was a legitimate reason he couldn’t or didn’t want to have sex with you, he’d want to touch you in an intimate way. If he loved you romantically, he would want you, at 24 years old, to experience romantic love in all its forms and expressions. He would want that for you, and he would do everything he could to give that to you, and if he couldn’t, he would let you go. At the VERY LEAST, he would communicate with you about all the ways you could work on this issue, and he would work on it. But, let’s be honest: It’s not work to kiss someone or touch someone intimately, to hold someone in your arms, to cuddle and be close. And if he has psychological issues keeping him from expressing romantic love in these normal ways, he shouldn’t rob a 20-year-old girl of the opportunities to have a healthy love life with someone who is capable of giving her one. This is not love. This is exploitation. You are being exploited by this man, and he preyed on you because of a combination of your young age, your inexperience in life, your naivety, and a vulnerability that made preying on you particularly easy.
How do I know you’re naive and vulnerable? Because you’re been “privately dealing” with a problem in your relationship that involves another person – a person you’re planning to marry. This isn’t a small problem either. This is an enormous problem that greatly affects the quality of your life and the health and success of your relationship. Only someone who is emotionally vulnerable would remain quiet about it, afraid that voicing any concern would rock whatever stability she has found in a deeply problematic relationship.
I know you’re naive because you believe “pills hurt” a man. Who even told you that? You heard that somewhere and, rather than explore what that meant and how that could be and what other options might be available if that were true (it’s not), you simply accepted it. Rather than even broach a single conversation about it with Jim, you have gone four whole years without so much as a passionate kiss in a relationship with a man who has easily convinced you that YOU are the problem. You are not the problem here. This is not about your not being desirable. This is 100% about Jim. Whatever his deal is is something he has chosen to hide through his relationship with you, and you were chosen specifically because he knew you wouldn’t question him.
I’m urging you to leave this relationship because this isn’t a question like so many ask about how to get the spark back or how to handle different libidos in a relationship. What you’ve described is an enormous red flag – a red flag so large it can cover your entire home. It’s a red flag that is accompanied by sirens and an air raid, and since you can’t seem to hear them, it’s my job to amplify the noise for you and warn you to get out, get out, get out. Get out of this exploitative relationship, seek a good therapist (this is non-negotiable—you must do this), and give yourself the gift of all the time you have left in life (you’re still only 24!) to have the kind of love everyone is deserving of – including you! Very much you!
I promise, once you get out of this relationship and you deal with the issues that made you such attractive prey to Jim, a whole new world will open to you. And the possibilities in this new world are endless.
***************Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram. If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.
Miel July 2, 2020, 10:13 am
WWS, but also it’s just so strange to me how there hasn’t been a long ongoing conversation about this. Like:
-If he’s asexual? Sure, that’s a conversation that you can have and continue to have.
-What about waiting for marriage to have sex? That’s also a conversation.
-Not wanting so much of a romantic relationship and just wanting companionship at this stage in his life? Well, that sure is a conversation that should happen on date one!
-Loss in libido due to a health condition? That’s also something that should be discussed, especially with a doctor!
I’m just thinking that so many guys start getting impatient and talking about blue balls if there hasn’t been sex after 4 dates, but here you are 4 YEARS in, and apparently there hasn’t been a conversation about this?
Like, hey what’s up, I have always associated a committed romantic relationship with some form of sex, and if we’re planning on getting married and spending our life together, I want to know if I should expect to have sex again before the day I die. So what’s up with that?
Kate July 2, 2020, 10:23 am
Right, but Wendy’s whole point is she was basically a kid when they met. She has little or no relationship experience and doesn’t know how to have these conversations, nor is she inclined to speak up, *and that’s exactly why he’s with her,* because she’s too shy and inexperienced to say anything. So it’s really not strange that there hasn’t been a conversation. She wouldn’t know how to have it, and he wouldn’t want to.
And not for nothing, but it would accomplish absolutely nothing. This isn’t a situation that communication will fix.
Kate July 2, 2020, 10:26 am
I just want to make it super clear, because I don’t want the LW to read what you wrote and think, “oh, this is my fault because I didn’t talk to him. Maybe I can fix this!” that, no, you can’t fix this, talking about it will do nothing because this is the way he wants it. She needs to leave.
Miel July 2, 2020, 2:39 pm
Yeah, I agree, it’s not at all “oh this is my fault because I didn’t talk to him, Maybe I can fix this!”. I was thinking more about “LW, dump this guy, and in your next relationship, realize that those are conversations that happen early on, and that being able to communicate clearly about those things is an important relationship skill to develop”.
But yeah, this relationship is not going anywhere and is not going to improve. Just dump him.
Fyodor July 2, 2020, 11:20 am
Unless one partner is facing an acute and fixable physical or psychological issue I have never heard of this kind of thing getting better. You might on the margins see things improve but if you never have sex you’re not going to start having sex. Move on.
LisforLeslie July 2, 2020, 10:24 am
You understand that Viagra has been on the market for over 20 years. They have sold billions and billions of pills. I think this is an excuse.
Your fiance is not dealing with something and I agree that you are very naive to go along with it without questioning him.
I know men who are in their 80s with active sex lives. Men who want to have sex will have sex. He doesn’t want to have sex. It’s not you – it’s entirely him. He is satisfied because you don’t ask for intimacy. You don’t sound satisfied. Why would you sign up for a life where something that is important to you is missing?
Break up – move on. Get therapy to find out why you’d even consider accepting such limitations on your own needs.
Lynn July 2, 2020, 10:32 am
He could also have ED and be scared to reveal it.
My ex had that problem. That in itself was not my issue with him. My issue was his unwillingness/inability to engage in finding a solution. He wouldn’t do therapy. He wouldn’t take pills. He showed a complete inability to confront this issue together. That same attitude bled over into every other issue we ever faced. He would give lip service to fixing things but never follow through.
Don’t stay with someone unwilling to go to bat for you. Long term relationships will encounter bumps at some point. It doesnt matter what the bump is, it matter how your partner approaches it.
Fyodor July 2, 2020, 11:23 am
Tens of millions of people are taking erectile dysfunction drugs globally.
brise July 2, 2020, 11:31 am
You have a father-daughter kind of relationship. No sex, he supports you , and you feel calmer with him, less “impulsive”: he reassures you, like a mentor, not like a lover, a fiance or a romantic partner. That is an unhealthy and very unbalanced dynamic you are bound to outgrow, because you are no little girl anymore. You are a woman and you would like to experience a full romantic relationship, including sex. And this won’t happen with this man who was 44 when he dated you as a 20 y.o.! Your brain is still growing as he has a marriage and 4 children behind him. This is completely manipulative of him. He can’t manage a healthy relationship with a grown woman and you were a naive prey. I am sure that there is a lot of love between you two, but this is not romantic love. This is a substitute of parent-child relationship that you realise won’t satisfy you anymore. Please end it. He won’t collapse, you won’t collapse. You will continue to develop yourself, discover what is carnal passion, learn to live with someone who is your peer. Don’t even try to fix it. It isn’t in the DNA of your relationship. Later, you will remember these 4 years as a step you were at in your very youth, that for some reason in your history or mental health, filled a need or void in yourself. Don’t miss the opportunity to act as an adult. Put an end to it.
brise July 2, 2020, 11:33 am
This post is so sad!
ron July 2, 2020, 11:36 am
I agree with Wendy that the reason for no sex, and beyond that, no intimacy is on him and not a measure of LW’s desirability. But… the big problem isn’t him, it’s her. He’s happy. She’s not. She’s actually agreed to marry someone knowing, virtually for certain, that there will never be intimacy. As a couple, they can’t even seriously discuss the problem. I think LW needs therapy. She needs to understand what led her to date a 28-year older guy as a 20-year old, what caused her to stay with him for years despite her extreme unhappiness over lack of intimacy, and why she would even consider marrying him under these circumstances. Her behavior suggests that she has major issues to resolve with a therapist. It is not her desirability which is at issue, it’s her extreme passivity and willingness to settle. And no, LW, your bf won’t be in pain if he takes Cialis or Viagra. He might actually take them now, in order to have sex, or better sex, with his bf.
Essie July 2, 2020, 11:52 am
Gonna be brutally honest here, LW. If you can’t talk about something this important with your fiancé, you’re not ready to be married. This is in no way a normal, healthy relationship. There’s something major going on with him that you don’t know.
You’re in a father-daughter relationship right now. That will not change when you say your vows. What you have with him now is the way it will be for as long as you’re with him.
anonymousse July 2, 2020, 12:49 pm
Wow, I agree with so many other comments. You should get into therapy because this is not functional- how can you be in a committed relationship where you don’t communicate about important things and never have sex? You are not ready to get married. You need to break up with him and work on yourself and learning what healthy relationships look like before you embark on a serious relationship ending in marriage.
Also…you are not happy. That’s one of the major issues here. You are not happy, you don’t talk about it and not to mention- these are prime dating/sex years. Don’t literally throw your youth away on a man you don’t even really talk to.
When I was your age (slightly younger,) I made the choice to be in a relationship with a man in his early forties. I learned all the hard lessons you learn from that. There’s a reason men in their forties look for women in their teens/early twenties-they want an immature, inexperienced girl to shape into the partner they want. As soon as you start having thoughts, opinions, wants, needs- things will change. Women their age won’t date them because they are so childish. Please, contact a therapist and start talking about how you feel, what you want, etc. You are not an unruly child who needs a daddy figure to watch over you and tell you how to live your life. You are an adult woman capable of making your own choices and I hope you make some good ones. Good luck.
Helen July 2, 2020, 3:09 pm
Exploitative is the perfect way to describe this relationship. He’s preying on you. You might not think so because you get something out of the relationship. I’m betting the home you grew up in wasn’t the best and when this guy came along you jumped at the chance to get out. Maybe you see your bf as your savior (if true this reinforces the parent/child dynamic) I hope I’m wrong because it would be so much easier to leave this guy if you didn’t have to untangle a traumatic childhood to do so. See a therapist. Its expensive but will be worth the money. You are so very young and I hope you start to focus on what you want, what’s good for you
000 July 2, 2020, 8:26 pm
I suspect LW doesn’t see herself as being used because they aren’t having sex, which is the first thing anyone thinks of as to why a man would pursue a woman half his age (to the year in this case). She thinks, “obviously he’s in this for the right reasons–he barely even kisses me!” Nope. Something (else) is still very wrong.
Helen July 2, 2020, 3:17 pm
ED pills aren’t painful. My husband has taken them before. Stress was killing his hard on, we had a conversation, he made the dr appt & was popping a viagra by the end of the week. It was simple because he wanted to solve the issue. This guy isn’t interested in sex
FYI July 2, 2020, 10:22 pm
Do. Not. Marry.
Keeks July 3, 2020, 7:43 am
I really do hope you leave. You are missing out on soooooo much. 4 years of no sex. If only we could jail him for his lack of intimacy. Hahaha.
Don’t even talk to him. If you can afford to leave – do it now. Rob him of communication as he did you with intimacy.
Bittergaymark July 3, 2020, 7:53 am
Eh, this relationship is doomed. But I don’t see how he is exploiting her. She hasn’t even really told him she’d like more intimacy. Instead she silently fumes and worries like she’s mute. After FOUR years of this he probably simply assumes she is asexual, too. HOW could he not?! Honestly? I find people like her exhausting.
bloodymediocrity July 3, 2020, 9:03 am
He sounds like he may be somewhere on the asexual spectrum. There’s nothing wrong with being asexual, it’s just the sort of thing that needs to be brought up honestly. Obviously he’s already had 4 kids so somewhere in the past he’s managed to be sexual, but it seems clear those days are behind him.
If he is asexual, that doesn’t really change the bottom line-this relationship isn’t working out for her and she needs to get out and find someone more compatible.
SubbyP July 3, 2020, 4:35 pm
As an asexual person in a romantic relationship of almost 12 years, it’s alarming to me that he doesn’t even kiss her, hold her hand, or hug her without prompting. Do they even sleep in the same bed? Does he do so much as pat her affectionately on the shoulder?
I went through a phase of avoiding all affectionate contact because of trauma related to asexuality (I thought if I was affectionate with my partner I’d be forced to have sex against my will), so maybe that’s what’s going on with him. But if it’s not, and he just doesn’t give a damn, then LW should probably let this relationship go.
(PS: ED drugs don’t stop you from being asexual; they just make you horny. If this eschewal of affection is due to him being asexual, ED drugs WILL probably make him uncomfortable, but he won’t be “in pain”–it’s just irritating to be turned on without feeling attraction.)
Ricky July 5, 2020, 4:45 pm
May be because I am gay, I don’t see anything wrong in that age difference. Such relationships are fairly common in gay community. I am 32 years old and my partner is 51. We met when I was 22 (next month we are celebrating 10 years of togetherness). With some of my friends the age difference is even bigger. One of my friend is 36, his partner is 66. They have been together when he was 24.
I mean even at 20 years age, which was 4 years ago, she is old enough to run for public office in many parts of the world. At 20, in pretty much all democracies, she can weigh in the state of her country and vote accordingly. But immaturity does loom large in her case. I mean even after dating a guy for 4 years, she cannot express her sexual desires? That’s some shitty communication and I think both are at fault here. Her lack of communicating, is on her regardless of how her partner is.
Sea Witch July 11, 2020, 10:22 pm
I think it depends on how old both of you were when you met. My partner is also 20 years older, but I was 29 when we met, I’d lived on my own for years, and we started out as friends. There is a big difference between a 29 year old and a 20 year old.
Phoebe July 6, 2020, 2:17 pm
This one makes me so, so sad. She thinks it’s all her fault, she’s CERTAIN he loves her and he’s special.
There is absolutely no happy future here. They talked about a lack of sex life and he did nothing about it. He can’t even make an effort to pat her hand. It’s great to be gay or asexual, it’s understandable if he has a medical issue, but it’s not okay to mislead your fiance into thinking complete lack of sex and affection is normal or her fault.
I only hope she updates us because I’ll be thinking about this one for a while, worrying about her.
Dear Wendy July 7, 2020, 7:35 am
From the LW:
“ Hi there,
Thank you for the post but I see I need to clear quite a few things up. ?
1.) He didn’t pursue me, I pursued him! I knew him for a year before we started dating, and we talked extensively about what I wanted my future to look like and vice versa. I see a lot of comments calling me ‘prey’, which is slightly amusing to me as I’m the one who developed feelings first and went after him.
2.) you raised a point asking about me running errands, cooking or cleaning for him. The answer to that is no, oddly enough! I work long hours and when I come home he has tea ready for me, and picks up things we may need on his way home.
3.) I was quite emotional when I wrote the first email so I apologise for missing important context. I had just been placed on leave from my job due to covid. We have spoken about this issue before, and when I was referring to being in pain I meant the injections, and I have heard from male friends that the side effects from both injections and pills can hurt a bit.
We have spoken about the lack of intimacy a few times, I came to the column to get a second opinion as we have been to therapy together, but they’ve just seen it as a ‘minor’ issue. Each time we’ve spoken he definitely does try more, but sex itself seems to be an emotional issue for him and he’s now said he’d like to go to another therapist.
I’ve been in relationships before, and in the past haven’t been that into sex as a whole. My first relationship didn’t go well, but here in New Zealand the age of consent is 16. In those three relationships I was never that interested in being intimate, being with ‘Jim’ has been the first time I’ve genuinely wanted too.
I know everyone sees the age gap and immediately assumes I’m some poor, vulnerable child who needs a father figure. That’s just not true with us. Yes, I had an abusive childhood and no longer talk to my biological dad. However, ‘Jim’ is nothing like my biological father at all. He always takes care of his other family members before himself, and isn’t some aggressive old man as it may have come across.
We sat down tonight and re addressed this, I’ve asked a few times if he feels he may be Asexual or Bi, as I’m Bi. He still says he’s straight and I respect that.
I’m thankful for the feedback, thank you for taking your time to respond to me! ”
Phoebe July 8, 2020, 11:06 am
Thank you. That does clarify a little, and honestly, still not sure there’s a happy future here. I’m glad they’re in therapy and that he knows he needs to go. I also wonder about therapists who think lack of intimacy is a minor concern.
I think a lot of this comes down to a common theme…you can’t go into this thinking you can change him, or that it’s likely that he’ll change himself. If you marry him, you know what you’re getting.
Dead bedrooms are an enormous cause of separation — eventually you realize it’s not enough to love your partner. It’s about whether they care enough about you to make an effort to meet you halfway. Do you see that effort? If he never is able to overcome his distaste/ lack of libido/ whatever it is, will you be happy?
anonymousse July 7, 2020, 10:48 am
Look, the age gap and daddy issues aside- you have had zero intimacy in four years. That is not something that gets better with time. It is not going to be cured with Viagra. Please, do not marry this guy. You aren’t happy. You’re missing out on so much fun, sex and real dating experience.
Kate July 7, 2020, 11:17 am
100%. Please don’t discount Wendy’s advice because you think she got it wrong about him preying on you. The fact is that he doesn’t want sex, and was happy to get into a relationship with an extremely young woman who also did not seem to want sex. He wants a sexless relationship, you don’t. This isn’t going to change. He knows it’s not. He’s stringing you along with the “let’s see another counselor” stuff. And I don’t know what you two told the first counselor that made them think this was a minor issue, but I suspect you were not completely open about how you’re really feeling, because no relationship counselor is going to look at a couple where one wants intimacy and the other does not and say, oh, this is minor.
Mark July 11, 2020, 2:15 pm
I am really sorry to hear this, I wish you the best and hope this gets better for you! <3