Your Turn: “How Can I Get More Affection?”

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

I have been with my boyfriend “Aaron” for almost three years. We’re both 26. I’m a doctoral student and he has a great job in engineering. We have lived together for about a year and a half. I love him and our life together; our personalities click, we have many shared interests, we laugh together a lot, we co-habitate fabulously, and for the most part we have reasonable communication. Our lives are full of volunteering with a youth organization very important to both of us, BBQs, camping with friends, and time to pursue our individual interests. I would like to have a family with him some day (ideally in our early 30s). The big issue we face is when it comes to sex and affection.

Love language-wise, I’m definitely a physical and verbal person. I come from a very affectionate family and grew up with lots of hugs, kisses, and “I love you’s.” From early on, I’ve known Aaron to be less affectionate than I and work to feel loved by him in many other ways. However, I often end up feeling like he’s just a roommate instead of my lover. Naturally, the initial intensity at the beginning of the relationship fades, but it seems like Aaron has lost sexual interest in me. He claims that this isn’t the case, but when I try to initiate sex or ask if he is interested, he often says he is too tired or that his stomach is full and he’s uncomfortable. He’ll give similar reasons of not having the energy when I ask to snuggle and talk before bed. If I wait for him to initiate, we end up having sex once every two or so weeks. He’ll often get defensive when I try to talk with him about my needs for physical love/affection. I am thankful though for the fact that he does hold me every night while we sleep, so it’s not like I’m completely without physical contact.

I’ve tried to talk with him about what I can do to help or what we can do together to make things better. I’m concerned about his physical and mental health; he’s gained quite a bit of weight since we first started dating, and he has lots of stress from work in addition to a stressful relationship with his family. He says he doesn’t have time to go to a therapist or to see a doctor and that he will work on losing weight when he is less busy, but that never happens.

I’m at a loss about what to do. I want things to work out, but I’m not certain if I can continue indefinitely in a relationship where my partner isn’t capable of providing physical love and affection. Does this situation seem like it could possibly change? Do you or your readers have any suggestions? — Speaking Different Love Languages


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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 have a few options for you.
    1.) I remember my husband said once, “you don’t wear low cut tops that show your boobs anymore.” i didn’t think about it but honestly, he was right. So start dressing up like you are first dating.
    2.) Start cooking healthier. If you cook it, he will eat it. Take less simple carbs and he will be less sluggish.
    3.) don’t “talk” about things but “act” on them. Start watching sexy shows on TV (i.e True Blood) give him a look and kiss him for a few seconds. I bet if you make out it will follow.
    4.) do things like pinch his butt in the morning and show him that you want him. not love him, want him. If he is gaining weight, he probably isn’t feeling good about himself. So objectify him a little bit. He will get more confidence and you will get yours.

    Good Luck 🙂

    1. kerrycontrary says:

      The low cut tops thing is true! A lot of my clothes transition between work and play, so I don’t dress as revealing as I used to. Even though the BF can see my boobs whenever he wants, he still likes cleavage occasionally.

      1. That is exactly what happened to my wardrobe. I like transitional outfits so I don’t have as many “party” outfits. It is like my husband thinks he is getting away with something with a low cut top. or sometimes I will wear a leopard print bra and he will catch the strap out. It is silly but it works.

    2. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

      Oh, True Blood is like the opposite of sexy. To be honest, I’ve only seen one episode but it just creeped me out to no end. Like I looked away from the tv.

      Also, I don’t think the LW should have to change her clothes for her partner of 3 years to want her. In the 5 years my fiance and I have been together, my outward appearance has steadily gotten more conservative (I no longer wear shorts, strapless items, always wear an undershirt w v-neck tops) because it’s what I am comfortable with. At home I spice it up with lingerie here and there, but I dress for me, in a way that makes me comfortable.

      But I do like your #4, increasing physical contact with hugs or butt taps or brushing against each other while cooking dinner is a great way to rev someone up.

      1. IDK, I don’t think CSP was telling her to do this all the time. But I honestly don’t see any problems with dressing up a little bit for your boyfriend or husband. Do it on a date night. Or if you’re cooking a special meal at home. I mean, I’m pretty sure I would do this even if my sex life wasn’t waning. But I love clothes and fashion and dressing up for people. Showing your legs in a cute skirt or your chest in a revealing top is just about the same as trying to get someone in the mood by wearing lingerie, but with less pressure. It’s more subtle, IMO.

      2. yes, I didn’t mean walk around like a stepford wife all the time. But I find alot of couples dress up for work then come home and wear thier rattiest, nastiest sweats for each other. I remember getting ready for so long when my husband and I started dating. Once he saw me all the time, we both started to just get comfy.

      3. I’ve kinda been dressing like a bum lately and it’s making me feel insecure. I need to step it up for myself AND my boyfriend.

      4. have you guys seen Extract? its a movie, and in it the main character guy is constantly trying to get home to his wife before 5, because “at 5 the yoga pants go on, and once the yoga pants are on, all bets for sex are off”. its so funny. he gets home *right* after 5 in one scene and she is tying the string-knot thing on her yoga pants, and there are these hilarious sound effects.

        i always think of that when people say to stop wearing sweatpants. dont create a yoga-pant steel cage from sex. lol

      5. lets_be_honest says:

        About a year ago, I stopped wearing t shirts and sweats as PJs, and got a bunch of nice PJs. Its made such a difference, and I’m still comfortable, just not sloppy. Highly recommend.

      6. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        Yeah, but if you’re not comfortable, you’re not comfortable. I still put a ton of effort into my appearance on date nights etc, but still dress in a manner that I’m comfortable with which means I dress more conservative. It’s not fair to put all the pressure on HER when she has already outlined that she is trying to initiate contact and sex.

      7. Fair comment, but she is the one asking for help. I think going head on and saying “why don’t we have sex” is too confrontational. It will make him insecure and less in the mood.

      8. Can’t wait for summer so I can start wearing dresses again! My boyfriend loves me in jeans but I have such a hard time finding jeans that fit me right. The only jeans I’ve ever found that look great on me are Apple Bottoms but I’ve outgrown all the bling and apple pockets and ruching and stuff.

      9. lets_be_honest says:

        Do you have boots with the fur?

      10. LoL no but I do have an awesome collection of high heels.

      11. Avatar photo gatecrashergirl says:

        I’ll bet the whole club was looking at hurrr.

      12. See though, you’re putting in effort to look special. Maybe instead of showing cleavage or leg, the LW can dress like she’s going on a date. God knows I don’t show cleavage on a date because 1. On a first date, I don’t want someone to get the wrong idea, and 2. I’m super flat so it doesn’t matter. I do make sure to play up my legs though, whether it’s a dress or flattering jeans/pants with heels to make me them look longer than they already are. There’s a way to be sexy in more conservative clothes too.

      13. Hell, even jeans that show off your ass, a fitted top, heels and some jewelry could go a long way. Or a wrap dress. Everyone looks good in a wrap dress and you can but one that doesn’t show much cleavage. I take that back. I have trouble with wrap dresses because of the small boobs thing.

      14. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        I have the opposite problem with wrap dresses- way too much cleavage. Like an embarassing amount since I have a fair sized chest. And I’m not even talking from a conservative stand point- the two layers just don’t connect/sit right.

      15. You should just wear wrap dress around the house for your fiance, because it sounds extremely hot, but just no to be shared with others.

      16. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        Good idea!! I did wear one with a big necklace to cover the boobage to a function last week and he was dying (in a good way). Maybe I should just start wearing them at home w/ boobage for no reason! (It sure would be sexier than the over sized sports t and yoga pants I’m wearing right now!)

      17. lets_be_honest says:

        Wait, everyone’s anti yoga pants now. Wasn’t it just a week ago that everyone said how sexy they are??

      18. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        Well, my yoga pants are about 8 years old and from the kids Abercrombie and have bleach stains so….but others can be sexy!

      19. I love girls in yoga pants, I just don’t want my wife to walk around wearing them so everyone can see the goods! I do like looking at everyone elses goods though!

      20. I think yoga pants are only sexy depending on the shirt you are wearing. If you are wearing an old ratty shirt vs a tight tank top

      21. I think it depends on how tight they are, and if you can see through them!

      22. I JUST had this problem today. Bought a cute wrap dress for work but didn’t realize the layers did not sit right….I’ve been wearing my jacket all day so I don’t accidentally flash anyone.

      23. I agree. I’ve been working from home a lot lately, and I’d noticed myself sliding into wearing “comfy” clothes all day long. I started making the effort to actually put on “real” clothes (jeans, casual summer dresses, nothing too fancy, but not yoga pants!) even when I’m working at home all day, and my husband commented on how good I looked. He never said anything negative about the yoga pants, but he really appreciated my effort to not wear them around all day. He also always says I look great when I wear my “office clothes” out to dinner, but he again really notices and appreciates it when I take the time to put on something a little sexier. I think it is very, very important to make sure that you still dress to impress your partner sometimes. Doesn’t have to be all the time and it doesn’t have to be walking around in a bustier or whatever, but guys like to see a little cleavage or leg, even the committed ones. And, the committed ones generally seem to like to see their SO’s cleavage or leg. Let him know you still think he’s worth the effort. And also, give him a chance to appreciate what a hot lady he’s got outside of the bedroom. Usually, that pays off inside the bedroom later!

      24. Seriously, True blood is hot. but pick your “hot show”. What get’s your guy going? Game of Thrones? The Client List?

      25. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        Tv doesn’t get either of us going. Okay maybe the Walking Dead does 😉

        I’d rather play some music and dance together in the kitchen while cooking dinner. Or sit on the back porch and just talk to each other. I don’t think parking yourself in front of the tv is going to really spice up a sex life or create more contact. It sounds like there is enough tv watching. Maybe they should go for a hike or bike ride together. Get though endorphans going.

      26. you are right. But if he is stressed and just wants to sit in front of the tv. you can spark him that way. There are tons of ideas.

        and walkind dead first season with Lori and shane…that was his name right? the other cop? anyway, that was hot.

      27. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        The only tv/movie that has ever gotten both of us excited was Friends with Benefits. We went and saw it in the theater, then came home and beat the bejesus out of each other on Mortal Combat and then had a great romp. TV just doesn’t do it for me most of the time. It puts me to sleep, haha.

    3. I have more ideas
      5.) Send PG-13 texts an hour before he leaves work. So at 4Pm send a text that says something kind of naughty. Sometimes I write very very dirty texts to my husband so it gets him worked up before he gets home.
      6.) one time I sent a text of my legs in fishnet stockings saying “miss you”. that did very well.
      7.) Have “remember that time…” conversations.
      8.) Give him a massage. If he is stressed, that will help unstress him.
      9.) email him different positions or toys you want to try together. and say “buy this and let’s try this tonight.”

      People are Habit driven. So you are just out of the habit. People will say that things “cool down” when you have been together awhile. I think it is more like waves. Sometimes you are really into each other and sometimes you take each other for granted a little. I do not think this is anything too crazy. Once things get revved up again, they will get back to normal.

  2. kerrycontrary says:

    Oof. Sex issues are tough. People can get defensive easily when you bring it up. I mean no one likes the implication of “you aren’t sexually satisfying me anymore”. The thing is, I don’t think your partner is willing to talk about this much with you as your past attempts have failed. He won’t change or get help if he doesn’t want to, there’s no way to make him. So I’m not sure if your situation will improve or get better. I think a lot of people find themselves in similar situations where they have an awesome friendship/partnership with the person, but the sexual attraction is gone. One way or another things will be figured out. Either he’ll finally get help and his libido will return, or you will need to break up because it’s not fair for you to have to live a life without affection. Intimacy doesn’t always mean sex. It can mean cuddling or massages or just holding hands while watching tv, but it seems like even those things are lacking in your relationship.

    1. “I think a lot of people find themselves in similar situations where they have an awesome friendship/partnership with the person, but the sexual attraction is gone.”


      LW, when I first started reading your letter, I was ready to tell again my story, i.e., no chemistry, but great friends. But this I read on and decided this was probably a case of him not feeling attractive anymore. Maybe even slightly depressed. So, I would follow CSP’s awesome advice and see if that doesn’t change things. I hope it does! Give it a few months and then if he doesn’t come around, reassess the situation and decide if his lack of affection is something you can live with. But I would not go on forever, or get married, and have kids, if it’s something you can’t. You’ll end up resenting one another.

      1. kerrycontrary says:

        My brother was in a relationship like this, ultimately they had to break up. They were good friends but they just did not have sex anymore. Now both of them are married to other people and it worked out for the best!

      2. Ditto. It’s why I called off my engagement. Thank god I figured it out before the wedding. You wouldn’t believe the excuses I use to make not to have sex. And I like sex.

  3. The situation is unlikely to get any better (could actually deteriorate further) unless your boyfriend agrees to take steps to find out what the problem is. He needs to get the message clearly from you that the status quo will not work for you indefinitely and that at some point you’re going to walk away unless he works with you. First step would be to go to a doctor. He can find time to do that. He needs to make an appointment with his PCP, and be willing to go talk with him or her and be totally honest about what’s going on. What’s tricky is that if he doesn’t see this as a problem, or is embarrassed about stuff, he may not be totally open and honest with the doctor, so you probably need to let him know exactly what things you want him to bring up and discuss when he goes in. The doctor will probably have some ideas about next steps, and your boyfriend will need to communicate those to you and actually proceed with those next steps.

    But if he won’t openly communicate with you about this, acknowledge it’s a problem, or do anything but get defensive… Things aren’t going to get better. And you may feel more hurt and resentment, which he’ll sense and get more defensive and less likely to want to be physical, and the cycle could just get worse.

    It sounds like you two are compatible, but your communication isn’t the greatest: “for the most part we have reasonable communication.” I would say that if you can’t communicate your concerns to him in a calm, non-accusatory way, just stating what the problem is for you and why it’s a problem, and what you’d like him to do, and he can’t respond constructively, then this relationship may have run its course.

    At least you’re still having sex on a fairly regular basis, and he does sometimes initiate. Those are some positive signs that this can potentially be addressed. I would say, take the logical steps to fix this, see if he’s working with you or keeps stonewalling, and give it a period of time, say 6 months, to re-assess. If he can address his stress / depression / weight issues, his sex drive may improve. However, it sounds like he’s not and never will be a highly physically affectionate person, and at some point you’ll need to decide whether you can live with that. It’s fine if you can’t.

    It sounds like you

    1. I actually think that you are blowing this way out of proportion. This sounds like they slipped into way too comfortable category. It happens in EVERY long term relationship. Sometimes it is quick and sometimes it is longer. I think some simple spice it up things can go a long way. Before he runs to a doctor and they make this a huge issue, why not just spice it up a little? I think that having a very serious talk can make it even bigger of an issue if handled the wrong way.

      1. I assumed she’d tried spicing things up a little already, because it is the obvious thing one would do first, but maybe she has not.

  4. yea, yikes, this is a tough situation.

    i do wonder how you have changed over the years of your relationship too- you mention he has gained weight, ect, so i wonder if that could be a two way street. if it is, like CSP said, just go back to the sexy “dating” clothes or whatever. maybe get some cute teddys to wear to bed, ect. that could help. i also wonder if you started doing physical things to him that could help his overall life if that would help- like, a footrub at night, or a back massage after a hard day. my boyfriends favorite thing ever is when i scratch his head, for instance. physical intimacy is definitely a two way street, so make sure you are still going that extra mile for him as well.

    i wonder if he knows how important this is to you. i know sometimes im the one that is like, oh well we cant right now because of x, y, z, and the excuses can drag on and on for days- and then im like, shit, thats bad for our relationship… oops. so maybe its time for a very serious coming to jesus meeting- like a this-is-relationship-ending serious. and then you need to figure out solutions. he needs to figure out how he can destress. you need to figure out how to help him. the sex and physicality of your needs notwithstanding, for him thats just unhealthy. he seems to be unhappy, right? that isnt good for him or for your relationship.

    and then, for the sex specifically, i heard of this method once on the radio, someone wrote a book about it. its called the marble method or something. so you get a little jar, and whenever one of you is in the mood, you put a marble in the jar, and the other partner has 24 hours to reciprocate the offer for sex, and have sex. it fixes a few problems- 1. the partner who needs to be in the right “space” to have sex can have the time/space to get there, so they dont feel badly for rejecting right off the bat, 2. the partner who wants sex doesnt actually ask for it, so there is no direct rejection to feel. and then 3. it makes you have sex, and most people will tell you that genitals in motion tend to stay in motion (its very true!), so it can just kind of get you both back into the swing of things.

    good luck!

    1. katie made some really good points here! The dressing up thing is huge, in my opinion. All the men I’ve dated have been very visual, and making the effort to look sexy has always put them in the mood.

      In regards to the marble thing, I’d be cautious with that method. Don’t push it too hard if he balks at the idea. I’m the type of person who resents being told I have to do anything. It’s not like I forget when my fiance initiates and I’m not in the mood – I definitely have it in the back of my mind, and since he’s important to me, I’ll reciprocate as soon as I can give it my all. He doesn’t want pity sex or shut-him-up sex or keep-him-with-me sex. In the end, I don’t believe you can force anyone into being intimate via artificial means without there being some resentment. But that’s just me personally, and it’s worth a try!

      1. well, according to whoever was on the radio that night, the marble system does eliminate all the pity sex, shut him sex, ect. its supposed to create a positive space for one partner to say “i want to have sex” and for the other partner to be able to reciprocate. ive never tried it, its just a method ive heard of for the sex-rut.

        but, i can see what your saying about it. it probably largely depends on the two peoples personalities.

      2. sidenote about the marble thing: i told my boyfriend about that, and his response was “i would just glue a marble to the bottom of the jar”.


      3. : ) !

      4. I can see my husband saying exactly the same thing. I don’t even want to tell him about the marble jar and put the idea in his head.

      5. I think the dressing up idea is great. Men, in general, are very visual. I realize this is a broad, general statement, but it seems to be true in my experience. I myself am very turned on visually. There are certain parts of a man’s body I really like to look at, and I love it when I get a little flash of them, especially when I’m not expecting it. I think a lot of men are the same way. After all, if he’s turned on, who benefits?

    2. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

      The marble idea is interesting. We just make a schedule and put it on our calendar, but it has the same affect.

      1. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        Oh Lordy, a sex schedule. What happens if one of you is feeling frisky on an off day? Do you make yourself wait? I bet you do, otherwise you’d be breaking the rule, ahhhh!

      2. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        Haha, no. Honestly lately we’ve been so busy we’re only home like two nights a week together (one or both of us is working our patrtime job untill 11 or 12 the other nights) so it pretty much happens those nights anyways. Or weekend mornings cause that’s my fav. I do occasionally break rules. Sometimes.

    3. I have never heard of the marble thing but I like it.

  5. csp has some great advice, especially about flirting–you have to remember to flirt with your boyfriend.

    As someone whose gf has a substantially lower libido, there are other ways to feel connected than just sex. You can shower together (my gf and I try for once a week or so), you can masturbate near him, you can just make out.

    One thing that you’ll have to watch out for is not making him defensive. Sex is one of those touchy subjects, even within a loving relationship. It’s easy to get into a cycle of rejection that is really hard to break. Try scheduling sex–if your boyfriend is busy, it can help to have that time carved out.

  6. “I’m concerned about his physical and mental health; he’s gained quite a bit of weight since we first started dating, and he has lots of stress from work in addition to a stressful relationship with his family. He says he doesn’t have time to go to a therapist or to see a doctor and that he will work on losing weight when he is less busy, but that never happens.”

    It sounds like your boyfriend is busy, but he has been using that as an excuse to put your relationship and his health on the back burner for far too long. It happens: people at one point or another need to divert attention away from their romantic relationships, and sometimes their partners need to be understanding of that (example: a PhD student gearing up for his/her dissertation). However, it is unsustainable over a long period of time, and it sounds like it has been going on far too long in your relationship. He is too tired to snuggle?! You need to have a heart-to-heart with him where you explain that, though you love him, you can’t have your relationship with him always be the last thing on his priority list. And, you should also emphasize your concern for his health. People think that they “can’t” drop certain commitments, but the truth is that we are always always making choices. Maybe he can’t lessen his work stress immediately, but he probably needs to get away from his family drama for awhile. To keep things fair and balanced, make sure that you also explore with him how *you* can help. But honestly nothing you do will make much difference unless he is actively working on a change.

  7. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

    Yikes. If someone is not a touchy/feely/expressive person, I don’t think you can change them. It sounds like he’s always been this way. …

    I hate how hard it is to find the perfect match. They’re either not affectionate enough, or motivated enough, or they don’t want the same things (kids, etc.) or … they have ALL of that but god damnit to hell they are critical and depressed and have emotional issues you can’t fix! Man, there ended my 4 week streak of cheerfulness!

    Except, actually, I’m still chipper. Sorry, I have no wise advise. Only you can decide what’s a deal-breaker, LW!

    Happy hump day, friends! Tra la la tee da.

    1. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

      But if you want to try to make him eat better, get Jessica Seinfeld’s book – the one that shows how you can hide veggies in your kids’ meals.

    2. I don’t think he will change either (maybe get a little healthier, but never be as touchy or have as high of a sex drive) so I think it comes down to incompatibility, and in a weird way I wonder if the LW has almost set herself up to fail… dealbreaker or not, I think she is crossing the line where her needs are not being met and rather than accept or move on she is just nagging.

      “I’ve known Aaron to be less affectionate than I and work to feel loved by him in many other ways.” (at a certain point you shouldn’t have to WORK to feel loved by your SO)

      “If I wait for him to initiate, we end up having sex once every two or so weeks.”
      (this says to me that at a minimum you are having sex twice a month, which for some people is plenty… but if you are also initiating and he is engaging with you then you are looking at what once a week? what frequency do you want? can he fulfill that?? Has he ever or were the rose-colored glasses of the honeymoon phase glossing over this issue???)

      “He’ll often get defensive when I try to talk with him about my needs for physical love/affection. I am thankful though for the fact that he does hold me every night while we sleep, so it’s not like I’m completely without physical contact.”
      (it seems like resentment is building, which is never good, especially if you are being cuddled to sleep EVERY NIGHT… so some physical contact is not good enough? Do you need affection and physical touching or sex!?! I worry that you’ve been talking about your need for physical intimacy, your SO is wrapped around you every night to try and meet your needs, and it still isn’t good enough)

      1. Yeah, I really wonder about the frequency thing. My gf’s ideal is once a month, mine is a few times a week, we compromise to about once a week. That works for us. We plan sex, we are otherwise very physically intimate, and that frequency of sex works for us.

        My bff, her ideal is a few times a week, her gf’s is several times a day, and when they compromise to 5-6 times a week that’s still a struggle for her gf. Her gf still feels rejected, and isn’t interested in scheduling sex. That compromise isn’t working well for them.

        I think a major reason that my frequency works out and my bff’s isn’t is that my gf and I constantly communicate. Quite frankly, we’re good at it. (I’m good at it.) She knows my fears around this topic, and I’m very open about when I’d like to have sex and how horny I’m feeling. I reassure her that I’m not trying to pressure her (because I’m not!) and she tells me, very honestly, how likely she thinks sex will be for a proposed date (definitely/probably/probably not is usually the scale she uses). It leads to crystal-clear expectations. I try to check in with her about sex, seeing how likely it is as we get closer to the scheduled date, and that way I know if I should get my hopes up. The absolute worst is to get your hopes up and then have it not happen, or to continually crush down your hopes for fear of it not happening. That SUCKS. Clear expectations are definitely necessary. It took me and my gf a while to get there, but I think we’ve got it.

  8. sarolabelle says:

    To me there are ups and downs, highs and lows in a relationship and this just seems like a low point. I’m sure it will get better with time. Remember, things aren’t always rainbows and puppies.

  9. Older and (hopefully) wiser says:

    I think you already know that this isn’t working for you. Do you want to spend your life affection starved, sexually frustrated and emotionally isolated? He’s shutting you out by refusing to work on himself and your relationship (and in a marriage,these become connected). You’re young. Go out and find someone who can’t keep his hands off you.

  10. I wonder if your bf is just feeling bad about himself because of his weight gain. This would be a fairly obvious answer if the genders were reversed, but plenty of men suffer from insecurity about their weight as well (thank you, news media, for constantly publishing concern-trolling articles about fat people). Especially with the “my stomach is full and I don’t want to” excuse, it just sounds like he might have either binge-eating issues (is overeating to the point where he feels gross) or other eating/body issues (shame/discomfort from a natural feeling of fullness). Can’t diagnose over the internet, but you might want to try reassuring him that you find him sexy (if this is true, which hopefully it is), asking him if there’s something getting in the way of feeling that way, and seeing where that takes you.

    Above all, don’t pressure him. Keep the conversation as kind as you can, and as understanding as you can, because it sounds like there’s a lot going on with him — but you have needs too, and if he refuses to have a conversation even when you are loving and gentle, then you might have to start thinking about whether you can live with twice-a-month sex.

    1. “my stomach is full” seems to be the migraine of men, I’ve heard it many times as a reason not to have sex.

      1. I think it was the combo of that + lack of interest + weight gain that made me think of it.

        Come to think of it my boyfriend says that as a reason not to sometimes but he doesn’t literally mean his stomach is full, he’s just politely telling me he’s got, um, indigestion. 🙂

      2. I don’t think you’re wrong, was just pointing out that it’s probably a standard way of saying “not in the mood”. Especially because it provides a good excuse & can’t be verified. 😉

      3. Heh, good to know, I had no idea it was a common thing! (But then, I’ve never whipped out “headache” myself either. 🙂 )

      4. I haaaate having sex on a full stomach. I feel like stuff sloshes around, and I’m more likely to let out a fart.

      5. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Cats, have you read the “Okay to lie?” thread? I feel like it’s begging for your wisdom.

        Also I totally second you on not having sex on a full stomach. Gross.

      6. Haha, no… but it must be STI related, eh? I’ll go take a gander.

      7. How long do you have to wait after eating, then? An hour, like for swimming? (BTW, pretty sure that’s a myth.)

      8. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        I just wait until I’m not fully feeing anymore! There is no magic hour.

      9. Good question. I guess it depends on the size and contents of the meal. Like GG said, whenever the nasty-full feeling passes.

      10. That was a joke, not a real question, but thanks for the respectful responses.

      11. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        OMG I hate it too. I feel so gross and bloated and barfy.

      12. Seems like I’m the only one who doesn’t really care. I’ll accept that this is a legit reason then.

      13. lets_be_honest says:

        I don’t like to have sex when I’m full either.

      14. kerrycontrary says:

        Having a full stomach or having a migraine are legit reasons to not want to have sex. My boyfriend and I will often not have sex due to full stomachs, but will be fine to go at it an hour later when we’re less bloated. And I’ve never made up a reason to not have sex, nor do I know many people who do. I just say ‘No, I’m tired and I don’t want to’. It’s not an excuse, it’s a reason.

      15. No_Clever_Name_Yet says:

        A full stomach gets almost empty in a few hours. If they are cuddling all night and nothing is happening, I guess there is something else going on. And I noticed somebody pointed out that the LW says nothing about her weight.

        I think the couple needs to cancel out some of the things that makes their life so “full” and pencil in some couples time, or a regular date night.

  11. fast eddie says:

    Realistically if he doesn’t WANT to do something about it there’s nothing you can do especially if he won’t talk constructively about it. On the other hand the symptoms/excuses of weight gain and lack of energy can be addressed. I’m not an expert and a bad example, but exercise would help both those issues or so I’ve read. It could also be hormone imbalance which is measurable with a blood test if he’s willing to visit a doctor. csp had some fun ideas to spice things up and there’s tons of other sources for more on that.

  12. I think that he could be suffering from depression, and it is influence his interest in sex. About 2-3 years ago, my husband seemed to be in a similar spot. Little interest in sex, excessive weight gain, and just blue most of the time. I finally got him to see a doctor, and he was put on anti-depressants and he started exercising. He lost 62 pounds, started handling the stress of his job better, stopped getting sick as often, and had more energy. And, the sex followed. Our sex life is much better now compared to where it was when he was in a funk.

    But, he has to decide for himself to tackle these things. No matter how much I encouraged my husband to exercise, he didn’t start going to the gym until he decided to do it for himself. I go to the gym with him, as it helps keep him motivated, but there’s not much you can do besides be a supporting, concerned girlfriend until he decides to start taking care of himself mentally and physically.

  13. I had a similar issue with my ex. He was generally affectionate, but I just didn’t get enough sexual attention from him – both in terms of how often he wanted it and the way he expressed his desire for me. It’s very hard. It’s difficult to tell someone “Please, just desire me more and show me that you want me” because it’s the kind of thing that has to come from the person you love in order for it to be really satisfying. I’m surprised by how different things are with my new guy (not only a function of it being a new relationship) and based on that experience I would now advocate for giving yourself a chance to have a better sex life with someone else if it can’t be fixed in your current relationship. I wish I had been clearer about how hard it was for me when I was with my ex – maybe he would have taken the problem more seriously then and tried harder to do something about it. I feel like too many people are a little shy about their sexual needs while they have no problem asking for other things. For many people, those ARE important needs and it’s legitimate to make them known. Obviously, you need to be willing to give as well – is he maybe missing something in the relationship? There are people who lose sexual interest when they don’t feel cared for in other ways, and it can become a vicious circle if one person in a couple needs more sex in order to be more giving and the other first needs more care in order to get into the mood for sex.

    1. And another thing, I think it can help to broaden your perspective and ask yourself if there are some other challenges in the relationship that may affect your sex life. You mention that you want to plan a future with him – if a decision about making a relationship more “permanent” is waiting to be made, then that can really put pressure on both of you and affect you subconsciously in lots of ways. Sometimes there are connections between different issues that you wouldn’t think of. For me for example, it turned out that the issue of me wanting children and my ex bf not being ready infected every part of our relationship, including our sex life. I think I got the impression that he was “withholding” himself in several ways while he felt I was too demanding/insistent. If something like that could be the case for you, it may help to get that on the table.

  14. My easy answer would be to cook healthier meals at home without even asking him, what you eat, and the weight he put on could really be affecting him. My hard answer is that unless he really wants to change this might not be something you can work out, and this might be one of those situations where an ultimatum of sorts might work. You need to tell him that you need the affection in your relationship, or you don’t think you can have a relationship with him. There are only so many times you can have the same discussion without any results.

    1. “My easy answer would be to cook healthier meals at home without even asking him.”

      Not to start a tangent, but I’ve come up against this advice before when asking for help with my husband’s preference for unhealthy foods.

      Do other men just eat whatever’s put in front of them without question?
      And do other men not linger in the kitchen and/or help out with dinner, and thus see exactly what’s going into their meals?

      1. Avatar photo theattack says:

        “Do other men just eat whatever’s put in front of them without question?”
        Yes. They do when the alternative is having to prepare it themselves. Or worse, having to drive to the store to buy something else to then prepare. I usually corner my fiancé into eating new foods. It’s not nearly as manipulative as it sounds. I’ll make small amounts of side items that I know he likes but then make a main dish I’m not sure about, that way he has to try something new, but he still got something good to eat if it didn’t work out. I think he’s more compliant than your husband in this regard though, so that might not work in your house.

      2. lets_be_honest says:

        I’m taking this a step further.
        Anyone who doesn’t cook will eat anything that’s put in front of them.
        I don’t cook, but Peter does, and I’ll be whining about not wanting this or that, oh forget it, I just won’t eat, blah, blah (real mature), and he’s learned to just put the plate in front of me. I always end up eating it.

      3. Definitely true about the sides. Some times we will make these healthy baked nuggets that are so good, and then have a small side of Mac and Cheese with it! It is all about portion control, and filling up the empty space on your plate with veggies if you don’t want to buy smaller plates.

      4. Hmm, maybe that’s the problem, he usually DOES make something else for himself, anything from a quick turkey wrap to actually grilling himself a steak because dammit, he was in the mood for steak and nothing else would do. The aggravating part of this is it totally messes with my meal planning. I only buy the food I plan on using each week, I don’t just have extra steaks lying around, so if he makes a steak on Tuesday that I had planned for Friday, then I gotta come up with a new plan for Friday.

        (And in the back of my head, I already hear a chorus of you saying “No you don’t, just stick to your plan and make him figure things out for himself on Friday.” Which, of course, makes sense. And just points out to me how much I am like my control-freak mother who flipped her shit whenever a plan or routine was disrupted. Sigh.)

      5. lets_be_honest says:

        Have you asked him to stop doing that? Its kinda rude to eat it if he knows you have it planned for something else.
        What if you keep him full all the time on healthy food so he doesn’t want to make steak?

      6. Heh, yeah, I’ve definitely made him aware that I don’t like it when he snipes our future meals. To my memory, the response has usually been “Then make better food!” >.< He can be difficult sometimes.

        Frankly, trying to improve his diet as a one-woman effort is more work and energy than I'm willing to put forth, and he doesn't make it any easier for me with his picky eating habits. Long story short, he doesn't, at the moment, care enough about his diet (and the poor effects of it) to be willing to make any changes. He's unhappy with his weight, but not unhappy enough to make significant changes (though I can give him credit for downsizing his usual Subway order to a 6" recently). Like others are saying about the LW's boyfriend, he has to want to change himself. No amount of poking, prodding or planning I do will get him there. I've grown tired of trying, and am trying to focus instead on taking care of myself.

      7. lets_be_honest says:

        Oh yea, I’d probably stop cooking for him entirely, at least for a little while. That would piss me off if I were responded to with ‘then make better food.’

      8. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Yeah, I don’t think that makes you a control freak at all. If you’re the meal planner in the household, you cannot work with a constantly shifting food supply. It only makes sense to make him figure something else out on Friday in that scenario.

        I wonder if you two should switch roles, at least temporarily. Make him the meal planner and you the one who deviates from the plan.

      9. Can I tell you my wife would kill me if I did something like that! You don’t need to tell him to figure something else out, you need to tell him to stop fucking doing it, her really can’t wait 2 extra days for steak? What is going to do if you tell him no? Is he really emotional or something? Does he throw fits if he doesn’t get his way? These are all serious question, I don’t want you to think that I’m making fun of him here or something.

      10. he not her.

      11. Tell your wife she’s lucky to have a cooperative, non-picky eater for a husband. 🙂

        I will say it’s rare that he’ll go as far as grilling himself a steak to avoid what I’ve cooked, that was just an example and steak is one of his favorite meals. Usually he’ll ask me what’s for dinner, and if my answer is unsatisfying, he’ll try to convince me to make something else instead. Or if I cooked something that he doesn’t like after the fact, then he’ll eat whatever part of it he can tolerate and then make a turkey wrap or scrounge for after-dinner snacks.

        I wouldn’t say he throws fits, but he can be a real pain about not getting what he wants. Not ALL the time, but can be. And at the same time, I can be a real doormat who would rather adapt to what he wants and avoid conflict than try to stand my ground over something as insignificant as what’s for dinner tonight. Not ALL the time, but can be. We’ve been together 11 years so have had lots of time to get used to, and take advantage of, each other’s traits.

        I’m glad I got on this topic today because it’s making me stop and question the way I handle him. Like, I really love yellow squash, but he hates all squash, so I’ve stopped buying it and planning it into meals. And even just typing that is enough to make me go
        “WTF is up with that, KKZ? Buy your damn squash!”

        Nothing like a DW-inflicted reality check!

      12. Hahaha believe me she doesn’t think she is lucky, I’m a meat an potatoes kind of guy, and she has definitely sacrificed her variety to help me eat healthy. She absolutely loves when I’m not going to be around so she can cooking her broccoli soup, or something else I just won’t touch!

      13. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        GatorGuy eats 99% of the things I come up with, unless they have olives or too many beets. He doesn’t complain because I do all of the meal planning, most of the list making, and a fair amount of the cooking.

      14. Well for me personally my wife just started making healthier meals of things I like. It’s not like she is putting brussle sprouts, and turnips in front of me. There are healthy versions of pretty much anything out there, and lots that taste great, I also think a big part of it was portion control. When I lived by myself, I would cook way too much, and eat it all, now we put everything on the food scale, and use low sodium, or low fat versions of ingrediants, that way you can’t overeat and your calories are cut way down.
        I also do all of the prep work for the meals, and from the begining I never complained that it was being done in a healthier way, unless I really didn’t like the meal. The other thing we did was go grocery shopping together, and held each other accountable when all of the sudden there were too many snacks in the cart, or we got things we really didn’t need. Since we have been doing that for so long, whoever does the shopping has it burned in there brain on what to get hahaha.

      15. lets_be_honest says:

        Damn brussel sprouts. I vowed to never eat one of those gross ball shaped broccolis. Wait, which is the ball shaped and which is the long stick? Anyway, whatever the ball things are, holy crap they are good if seasoned and grilled properly. I’m getting so grown up it disgusts me.
        Bagge, Isn’t that a pain in the ass, to weigh all your food?

      16. I love brussel sprouts if made properly. And I just started roasting parsnips. They taste like candy. Yum.

      17. Yeah tell me about it, I wouldn’t eat any veggies besides corn growing up, but I have learned to tolerate spinach, carrots, green beans, asparagus, and edemame!

        It really isn’t bad at all it takes a couple of seconds per meal. I weight my snacks too, because it is very easy to over estimate cheese curls!

      18. lets_be_honest says:

        Same with me and veggies. Weirdest thing is my daughter LOVES them all. Like would prefer veggies over french fries. Switched at birth?
        I was using an app earlier this year, which kinda forces you to pay attention to portion sizes. Man I should be so much heavier than I am. Its so easy to just keep snacking and all of a sudden the bag is empty.

      19. Yeah I agree, and I find myself falling off the wagon every once in a while, and I have keep my wallet in my pocket so I don’t buy too many snacks at work! I use myfitnesspal.com to track everything, and I link my fit bit to it to track how many calories I have burned.

      20. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        Oh but brussels are so SO SOOOOOOOOO good. I’m like obsessed with them. And turnips are are good too, roasted usually. You can take like two pieces of low-sodium or low-fat bacon and fry it up, then add the halved sprouts and sautee them in the bacon fat, then put the crumbled bacon on top. YUM. or roast them, or grill them. Man I love them. They are great with balsamic too.

      21. All very interesting. My husband is a pretty picky eater, unfortunately, and doesn’t like most of the healthy substitutions. One of the easiest changes we could make that would benefit both of us is to switch to wheat pasta and brown rice, but nooooo, he won’t go near them. (And I’ve had very little luck trying to sneak them in.) I’m an extraordinarily UN-picky eater so I just have a hard time fathoming his tastes and preferences, let alone trying to plan around them.

      22. Try Ronzoni SmartTaste pastas. Wheat pasta doesn’t always taste the best, but Ronzoni SmartTaste tastes normal!!!

      23. Is it brown at all?

        Seriously, if it’s even a bit off-color, he’s instantly suspicious. 🙁

      24. No. It’s not. It’s not actually wheat pasta, but they sell different kinds. One has ‘hidden veggies’ in it (never tried this one), one has a lot of fiber (so you get full and eat less — this is the one I like/buy), and I believe a third kind I’ve never tried. I probably should’ve been clearer — they’re not wheat, but have benefits that other pastas don’t have without the taste of wheat pasta.

      25. I Googled it — the third kind is whole grain!

      26. lets_be_honest says:

        How did I forget this?! When I was a kid, my mom would tell us we were getting sprinkles on our frozen yogurt, which were really just wheat germ. Do you guys remember wheat germ? All of us were so easily swayed by how yummy the word sprinkles is that we all liked it. I’ll never forgot the first time I saw/ate REAL sprinkles.

      27. lets_be_honest says:

        Yea, its not easy to sneak that stuff in. Wheat pasta I always catch.

      28. He just sounds stubborn. I guess you can’t change somebody who doesn’t want to be changed, and then you have to figure out if that is something you can deal with.

      29. Honestly, at this point your husband is starting to sound like a demanding toddler. I would totally stop cooking for him if he can’t appreciate the effort to be healthy and save money… cook better food comments may have resulted in my husband wearing the food 😉

      30. Yeah yeah I know. I’m not painting him in the most flattering light. The “make better food” comment … it makes sense if you know him. He is heart-on-his-sleeve, uncensored, and no-bullshit. And yes, that means sometimes he’s downright rude. He is also a BIG teaser, comes from a family where good-natured ribbing goes one rib too far for my tastes. He likes saying things that will prompt a reaction. Like last night, he took a clean glass out of the sink, held it up to the light and muttered something about doing a better job cleaning. I whipped around from what I was doing and he had this big shitty grin on his face. The glass was clean, he just wanted to push my buttons. Later in the evening, he kept stealing my slippers and throwing them across the room.

        He does these things to entertain himself, and when I finally stop playing along and giving him the reaction he wants (like when I took both of my slippers off and threw them across the room myself and refused to go back after them – Game Over!), or if I snipe back at him with my own harsh teasing, he gets pouty because “It’s no big deal, I’m just having fun, why you gotta get mad?”

        We’ve been together 11 years, since we were freshmen in high school. It might have been a dealbreaker at one point, if we’d met as adults and didn’t basically grow up together. As it is, I’ve had plenty of time to get used to this particular personality trait of his. And while yeah, it’s not my favorite thing about him, it’s not a dealbreaker. I recognize it for what it is: his FATHER’s influence. Because that’s exactly how his dad is – loves to get other people’s hackles up, but gets sulky, pouty, or extremely self-righteous when his own toes are stepped on. In other words, they both have an asshole toddler streak in them. I’ve gotten better at responding to it and shutting it down, but I also have a doormat streak of my own and sometimes just go with the path of least resistance.

        If nothing else, this conversation has been a useful reminder to Woman Up and not let him get away with this shit. It’s easy to fall back into old comfortable patterns and forget that.

      31. My dad does. He’ll eat whatever is in front of him. A couple of times, he has asked my mom to not make something again.

        The ex fiance was a good cook and enjoyed cooking, so we would plan meals together. And sometimes, he would cook.

        I think it just depends on what kind of guy you’re with.

      32. Yeah I actually cook all of those healthy meals now, because I like them, and they are actually pretty easy to make, so on nights she comes home late I will cook, but besides that she loves to cook even though I’m better at it! Well she makes amazing desserts though. I do make a way better pizza though.

      33. I wish I were a baker, but I hate measuring. I prefer guessing. I need to find myself a baker!

      34. So whenever my husband goes to the grocery store. he will pick up the healthy items we need and all sorts of junk food. I buy mostly healthy stuff. So if he really wants something, he will get it but for day in and day out, he will eat what I put in front of him. He can always order food if he doesn’t like it but is normally too lazy to do it.

      35. “Do other men just eat whatever’s put in front of them without question?
        And do other men not linger in the kitchen and/or help out with dinner, and thus see exactly what’s going into their meals?”

        I’ve been asking this question with my boyfriend, too. He hovers around the kitchen sniffing things most of the time (& helping! He helps a lot), & although I ~think~ he’d probably just eat whatever was in front of him, if he happened to come over once the cooking was done— I don’t really know?

        Last night I really wanted to make zucchini “pasta” (where zucchini strips take the place of pasta) & he didn’t think that was dinner-y enough. So we wound up making two separate meals, which seemed to bum him out. So frustrating!

      36. lets_be_honest says:

        Not dinner-y enough. Lol

      37. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        What…did you make the Skinny Girl recipe I posted in the biggest loser forum? My fiance loved it and got like seconds or thirds. It’s definitely dinner in my book.

      38. I’m working my way up to that, haha. Or, trying. I jullienned a whole zucchini & tossed it into a wok with goat cheese, olive oil, diced tomatoes, and garlic. That’s dinner-y as fuck! (and, as I told my boyfriend, zucchini is probably actually MORE filling than nutrient-less white pasta? But he does not believe me 🙁 )

      39. That… sounds… AH-MAZING.
        Husband hates zucchini and doesn’t like goat cheese and I don’t bloody care, I am MAKING that meal and eating alllll the leftovers myself. 🙂

  15. lets_be_honest says:

    Idk. He may just be really tired, and not have something “wrong” with him. I’m not in the mood when I’m exhausted either. He also just may be one of those people who only likes it every couple of weeks. If you can’t deal with that, it might just be the wrong guy for you.

  16. You know, most of the advice is good – better eating habits, marble in the jar, let him know he wants you. But if he doesn’t want things to be different, they won’t be. This is a 26 year old guy. I’m overweight, too, have a lot of stress, 47 years old next week, coping with aging. These issues have an impact on my performance and somewhat on my level of desire, but nevertheless, i am still substantially the same as i was at 26. (As my Dad used to say, “I’m not as good as i once was, but I’m as good once as i ever was.” You’d like him; he’s a card.) This guy may just have low libido, or he may not be feeling it anymore, but i find it hard to believe that stress, fatigue and a bit of weight are really the issue for a young man unless there is a serious health issue at play. I wonder about depression, but even when I’ve experienced significant depression, it hasn’t affected me as much as this. There is a difference between not being as touchy-feely as your partner and a 26 year old guy wanting sex only every two or three weeks. Not sure what my final point is, but I think he is just not as engaged as you are in the relationship. “I’ll work on it later’ is a standard lame excuse. It seems like the future of the relationship is at stake over this, so you might as well have a talk about it with real stakes on the table. “I’ve tried to express that i need more from you but nothing seems to change. I worry about us having a future if we’re just not on the same page about this.” If you do this, you have to be prepared for the response that he doesn’t feel he can change, and if so, I wonder whether you can go forward.

    1. Should have said “Let him know you want him,” but either way.

    2. Diablo – this sounds like a slump to me. I mean, they have been together a few years and have swung to too comfortable. I think they have gotten in the habit of not doing it so now they need to get back to doing it, no?

      1. That could be right, but in 24 years of my relationship, there have been only one or two times when we have “slumped” below once every two weeks. I mean, once we didn’t have sex for three weeks, and a couple of times we didn’t for about two weeks. But often there was some obstacle, like visiting relatives, that added to other stressors and issues. And we felt like “Are we OK?” I could see this more if there was a baby or other real challenge to intimacy.

        I’m not saying everyone has to live at my level of urgency for nookie, but this seems very low for a 26 year old guy. Slumping has more to do with repetitive patterns and not making it special. Even so, we both have times when we accede to sex and then get ourselves into the mood. And we both make frequent efforts to light the fires of romance. Again, I think this is different for people who are in their late 40s and have been together for decades. But, for example, a few months ago, i made of point of “my needs” and over the last while, my wife has definitely stepped up her game, as it were. Because no matter how tired we are after a long workday, etc, we both know that the whole point of work is to buy the time we have to share. I mean, what’s really important? (Hint:sex.)

      2. Meelomilo says:

        But maybe he’s depressed/anxious rather than just feeling unattractive? He could already have a low libido and this could be pushing it even lower. I have a pretty high one most of the time, but when I’m stressed I only want it a couple times a week.

  17. LW, I don’t think this is an unfixable issue. I agree that your BF probably should see a doctor for weight gain and stress management issues, and I totally get how frustrated you are that he’s just shutting down and not working on this issue with you. But what it really sounds like to me is that your BF is stressed, exhausted, not feeling attractive and not wanting to have sex for those reasons, then he feels bad that he doesn’t want to have sex, because all guys like sex, right?, so he just shuts down and doesn’t want to deal with it. It’s depression, stress and anxiety building on itself. Your BF may never be a lovey dovey touchy feely guy, but there are ways to work with the sex issue to see if he can be more available in that area to meet your needs and in other areas as well.

    csp’s suggestions were all fantastic. Cook better. Even if he doesn’t lose weight, you’ll both feel better. And, stepping it up in the sexy level of your dress (no need to go overboard or beyond your comfort zone) and flirting – verbally, if he doesn’t like physical touching that much – helps set the right vibe.

    Another thing to consider is the times that you are approaching having sex with him. Is it always after dinner/before bed? I don’t like having sex after dinner, either, honestly. I’m full, bloated, tired, there may be digestion issues, and if I’ve had a long, stressful day, sometimes I just want to sit back with a glass of wine and unwind before I have to do it all again tomorrow, you know? At that point, sex just feels like another obligation. But, I enjoy morning sex. And afternoon sex. And sex before dinner or before going out to dinner. Maybe your BF does, too. You said you snuggle every night, right? Maybe set the alarm a bit earlier and take advantage of a morning boner. Not much pressure on him there. Wake up. Sex. No pressure and no big deal. He’s happy. You’re happy. And, the day will inevitably be better, no matter what happens. Or, if you’re getting ready to go out in the evening, plan some time for a post-shower/post-getting dressed quickie. It’s the same principle. Naked people. Sex. No pressure. The point is to make sex less of a production (because it probably feels like a production to him at this point), but still have fun, obviously. And finally, don’t overlook the power of a good blow job. It’s again a pretty no pressure way to get the party started, even while you’re just sitting on the couch, and, if he’s feeling uncomfortable about his weight gain, he doesn’t have to get totally naked for it. Use it to lead to other things.

    I realize that these all require you to do a lot of the work upfront, LW, when you’ve been doing a lot (or all) of the work so far, but you’re the one who asked for advice, so I can’t tell your BF what he should be doing to fix the problems you guys are having. If I could, I’d have a list for him, too. Hopefully, if you can get sexy times rolling on a more regular basis and take the pressure off of the issue, then he will be less defensive about the other things you need. And, more sex tends to lead to more cuddling and physical affection in general. But if he’s not or it’s not happening, then at least you know you tried everything.

    Good luck to you!

  18. “He’ll give similar reasons of not having the energy when I ask to snuggle and talk before bed.”

    The sex issues may be with his self confidence or fatigue level but this sentence stood out to me as the most alarming. This kind of low-grade intimacy and connection is what makes up relationships. It both the difference between what makes up platonic roommates and friends with benefits, its the comfy reliable closeness of a working relationship. I would have an incredibly hard time with a partner who was making excuses for these activities. To be honest I would struggle even verbally asking for them.

    1. This is true. But it may be that he’s avoiding the snuggling and talking because he’s afraid it will lead to the sex issue coming up again and he doesn’t want to talk about it because it’s stressful and makes him feel bad and it’s snowballing. Sometimes, when it comes to sex and the frequency or lack thereof, I think it’s just better to stop talking and act by changing up the sex routine a bit. When it’s constantly talked about, it turns into something bigger than it is. I’ve been with my now-husband for about 14 years, and this issue has come up before with us. It happens. Life is stressful, people get tired and sex goes to the bottom of the list. Then someone wants more. Then the discussions start. Then, if you’re not careful, you’ve got a big old WE DON’T HAVE SEX elephant in the room whenever you feel like having sex or doing anything. And, for us, we’ve found that after the initial acknowledgement of the issue, the best way to get around it is to just act. Sexy texts, flirting, a.m. sexytimes, random nooners, whatever works. And before long, it stops being such a charged issue and the non-sexual intimacy returns along with the sexual intimacy.

    2. I stuttered at this line, too. It’s one thing to feel not up to sex, but no pillow talk/snuggles either? (But then she DID say he holds her all night when they sleep, so I’m confused)

      1. Yeah.. she says that he denies her and then alludes to getting cuddled every freakin’ night. I think she wants more sex not cuddles, is couching it in terms that aren’t obvious to her partner, and the frustration is building!

  19. Avatar photo Northern Mermaid says:

    Oh man you guys, I’m glad this question came up. I’m kind of having the same issue. I hope you all come up with some solutions because I am really struggling over here.

    1. Honestly, I have had this probably before too, and what it came down to was how much the people in the relationship really care to make a change. One person has to care enough to try and have sex more, or find away to fix a problem if they have one (my wife had a problem with the pill she was on, and it took a couple of different pills, and a lot of mood swings to get it right), and the other person has to care enough have sex less, to be supportive, and be willing to work out a compromise with frequency, timing, and so on. Also masterbate, with and without your partner.

      1. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        Yup, I second everything you’ve said. It’s what worked for us. That and making a plan or schedule for sex and just adhearing to it.

  20. Avatar photo gatecrashergirl says:

    I had a similar situation with my ex. We were in very different places in terms of physical intimacy. It ultimately was the demise of our relationship. We were wonderful in so many different ways but getting continually shot down for any sort of intimacy hurt my feelings, led to resentment and then our breakup. I hope LW does try and see a positive outcome from the ideas above but I have found, from personal experience, that a significant difference in need for touching in a relationship can be a deal breaker.

  21. Honestly I think this relationship has spun its course. You`ve only been together three years, and are in your mid 20s. And he only wants sex every couple weeks? And doesn’t want to talk and snuggle? (what the hell kind of “energy” does that take anyway?!). Yeah the way you can get more affection is to find another guy.

  22. I noticed that the LW is getting lots of suggestions about how to spice things up and turn her bf on. I think those are good, but sometimes they just don’t work. I said above I had a similar problem with my ex, and in my case, my attempts to spice things up actually made him even more defensive. I would wear sexy clothes and he would feel that was pressure to perform. Same with dirty texts etc. The more upfront I was about my desire, the more he rejected me. Looking back, it seems clear to me that he just didn’t want me to initiate sex.at.all. He didn’t like any direct initiating if it wasn’t done by him. He had to get into the mood through other ways first – he would usually be in the mood after a whole evening of talking, or going out together, or whatever. Now that was just too complicated for me. I need to be with a guy who at least sometimes responds positively when I initiate. Maybe the LW’s guy is also the indirect type.

    1. It may not work, but it’s worth a try, no? At least, it’s someplace to start.

      And then if she gets the kind of backlash you experienced with your ex, then at least she tried, and would know at that point that there’s something else going on, it’s not just about getting him in the mood.

      What you’re talking about with your ex, seems to me like that would be apparent before the 3-year mark? Was he always like that, or did he become like that over time? I get the impression from this LW that physical affection and sex were once free-flowing and have slowed to a trickle. Not that he is the indirect type and has been all along and it’s only *now* starting to bother her.

      1. I guess in my case it was a mixture of things that had been present from the start (and the LW also says her bf has never been all that affectionate, so it’s something that was there all along at least to some degree) and changes that occurred over time – my own sex drive increasing, for example. I definitely changed some of my behaviors – like wanting to initiate more. And I guess I started to mind some behaviors that hadn’t bothered me in the beginning, and we both also changed to some degree. But it happened after the 3-year-mark in my case.

  23. Bittergaymark says:

    I do think FAR too many women go from fab to drab the minute they land a man. And then whine about how their men should love them anyway. WhatEVER. To me it’s false advertising. Nobody who buys a shiny new convertible would be thrilled to discover said car randomly transformed into some dreary battered stationwagon… Nor would they be much interested in driving it anymore… Surprise. Surprise.

    PS – ugh, TRUE BLOOD? That show is about as sexy as an autopsy. The acting and writing is just… Well… Embarassing…

    1. But if we’re going to use that icky example, isn’t her boyfriend the “battered station wagon” in this case? I think it goes both ways, men AND women can get lazy, have health problems, suffer with mental problems or stress that causes them to stop taking care of themselves. At least be fair about it, though in this case I don’t think the LW should be attacked for not trying. It seems her man is the one, here, who gained weight and has no intention of doing anything about it right now.

      1. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

        Eh, women aren’t nearly as visual as men. Plus all my married female friends now drive either wagons on (gasp!) minivans… 😉

      2. “women aren’t nearly as visual as men”

        Or maybe that’s what men who have a growing fat tire around their midsection choose to believe, personally I think it’s total BS 🙂 But way to respond in a way that puts all sorts of pressure on women to maintain their looks whereas men can let themselves go… I was completely clueless despite the fact that every female anchor/journalist/movie star has to keep up appearances and eventually loses out to younger bustier models yet old men just get more seasoned and attractive. HA!

      3. ele4phant says:

        They’re not? News to me, I was always under the impression that visuals were one very important to me in getting me turned on. Thanks someone of entirely different gender for setting me straight!

      4. lets_be_honest says:

        I can’t speak for all women, but in all honestly, I think I get myself in the mood much easier when porn is on, so I’d say I’m pretty visual.
        I love how you just totally ignored Violet’s great point though. You must see that the guy is now in your defined position of “the bad one.” She wants sex. He refuses. Why aren’t you going off about this guy?

      5. Liquid Luck says:

        Gosh LBH, relationship problems are always the fault of the woman. You really should know that by now, but since you’re a woman yourself I’m not surprised it has to be explained to you again. Would you like your head pat now, or should I save it for next time?

    2. And I DO agree that True Blood is just cringe-worthy writing!

  24. I have this problem with my boyfriend from time to time, & yeah, it’s similar excuses—mostly, “I’m too full” or “I’m tired.”

    What I started doing is literally asking, “Okay well, can I just hop on your dick then for a little bit?” (aka, get him hard & then get on top without him really doing anything). If he’s cool with THAT… then I know he’s just too tired to INITIATE. Once *I* initiate it & get it going, then he’ll be into it.

    So maybe, LW, he wouldn’t mind having sex.. but wants you to do all the work (to least get it going)?

    That’s my scant advice for the day! My work day is unusual today, so I can’t really get too far into it 🙁

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      Good advice. If I’m not in the mood, simply asking me will not get me in the mood, but if you just initiate, I’ll end up getting in the mood every time.

  25. Avatar photo sobriquet says:

    How often are you initiating sex? Is it every day? I ask because that right there could be the problem. My boyfriend knows a couple where the woman in the relationship wants sex every single day. Therefore, the guy finds himself rejecting her a lot. They may have sex 3-4 times a week, but he’s rejecting her 3-4 times, too. That’s an unhealthy balance. Sex feels like a chore to him, like something he has to do to make his girlfriend happy instead of something mutually beneficial.

    My suggestion is to take a break from initiating while vamping up the sexiness. Wear your underwear around the house, write him sexy notes, etc. Show him that you find him sexy without any pressure. Give it a little time and see if there is any improvement. If nothing changes, then be prepared to move on. At best, that could be the catalyst he needs to actually work on his issues.

    1. That’s a good point. Though, if she said it’s about once every two weeks and she were initiating every day, then that would be 13 rejections to 1 acceptance. I’m not sure what my point is besides that this would be a really, really bad ratio.

  26. While I think that the suggestions to dress sexier and eat better are meant with good intentions, I think that they are counter productive to this situation. It doesn’t sound like he just needs more visual stimulus, he sounds flat out uninterested. If the LW makes these changes and doesn’t see any results she will internalize his lack of interest as a failure on her part to be sexy enough. Talk about a recipe for resentment! The only reason to really try these things would be if he expressed a desire for her to change her wardrobe. He might also see these as pressure on him to perform (which we all know can be a libido killer on its own!). I’ve dealt with mismatched libido in the past and it’s easy for it to turn into a cycle of avoidance and resentment if you don’t approach it head on. I agree with those that said you need to have a serious talk about how this is impacting your relationship and where it will go if things don’t change. Maybe he just needs a kick in the pants, maybe he just has a lower libido and can’t bring himself to do anymore than he is. The only way to find out if this relationship is worth salvaging is an honest conversation with him and with yourself about what you can live with forever. It doesn’t need to be accusatory, just a statement of “this is what I’m getting, and this is what I need, can we get there or not?” Good luck!

    1. But isn’t a conversation about “Hey, we’re gonna break up if you don’t have more sex with me” going to put the pressure on, too? The LW should in no way internalize her BF’s rejection because I don’t think it’s about her at all. He’s having some issues, for sure. But they’re a couple, and as a couple, sometimes you have to do things other than just talk about your problems to see if things can get better. Especially when the talking isn’t working. We’re just offering her suggestions to see if there’s a way for them to get past this because it’s a hump in the road that happens to everyone at one point or another, or if he’s just never going to be able to give her what she needs and there is no room for compromise there. If she tries this stuff and it doesn’t work, well, then it’s time to MOA for sure.

      1. @MissMJ: It’s not “we’re gonna break up if you don’t have more sex with me.” It’s more like, “these are my needs, I’m not gonna be able to go on like this without my needs being met, what do you think we can do to fix this? No idea? OK, I’d like you to go to the doctor and see if he/she can help you figure out if there’s a physical problem or something emotional like depression / stress that we can work on to get things back to the way they were.”

        What some people are missing here is that there’s a difference between “a hump in the road that happens to everyone at one point or another” and something that’s broken and isn’t going to get fixed. I think pretty much everyone gets that after a year or two you may not feel that need to be all over each other, and you have to keep things fresh, try new things, etc. That’s different from mismatched libidos, sexual problems that come up, or just a relationship that’s not working anymore and manifests in various ways including loss of interest in sex. If it’s something like the latter, then you do have to directly address it or you’ll stay in that crappy limbo for too long without things getting better, and possibly getting worse.

      2. I just know that when I was in this situation, those suggestions were the first things I tried and I certainly didn’t need anyone to tell me to try some lingerie. I doubt that she hasn’t tried initiating by dressing up. I started to feel like I was doing all the work. I made all of this effort and it wasn’t being reciprocated. If he’s gained a bunch of weight and let himself go, why do I have to put all this effort into looking sexy (resentment). He should be reciprocating and equally interested in reviving their sex life. Whats the point of dancing around the issue anyways? She can ask him directly if these things would help or not and from the way she describes the relationship, I’m guessing not. I agree that they need to do more than just talk to resolve this problem, but the talk is where the resolution will begin. She’s just shooting in the dark attempting to solve a problem when she has no idea what the origin is. That’s bound to lead to disappointment. The conversation doesn’t need to be “more sex or we are going to break up!” How about “would you like it if I dressed up? Do you think there is something I can do with my appearance that would make things more exciting?” If his answer is yes then great! go buy some sexy clothes and lingerie, but to go through all that effort and still be shot down is incredibly demoralizing. And if the answer is yes, what a good opportunity to talk about what he likes, how to spice things up and what his fantasies might be. Confronting the issue directly doesn’t need to be pressure, it just needs to be a statement of needs. If her needs are more cuddling and intimacy and his are more alone time and less nagging, I just don’t see how they will move past it. Much better to be honest now and find out if it’s a deal breaker before they end up married and not on the same page.

  27. I had no clue what to offer so, once again, I asked six guys (four the same as last time).

    I laid out the basic facts as the LW presented them, though not all the details and asked for their thoughts. I almost gave up because, even though I asked them separately, five of them tried to get me to say how hot the woman was before they would answer, saying it made a big difference.

    Best I could tell, their view was that if the woman was average or had gained weight (their words) the guy was simply drifting because the status quo was comfortable and he could have sex whenever he got horny enough. If the woman was hotter than average (their words again), they felt stress and/or physical reasons were more likely. Two came right out and said that 26 was much too young for every other week to be often enough no matter what (unless the woman had put on weight, I guess. Nothing like a double standard!).

    The sixth said that (for him) stress and weight gains reduced libido, and that guys graze on junk food at work when stressed or when they “face tofu at night” (his words). His recommendation was cut down on the volunteer work together and replace it with jogging or gym cardio together.

    1. The sixth guy is making decent sense. The other five, I think they mean well, but I mean of course they’re going to blame it on the woman’s appearance. When a guy loses interest in sex, he probably doesn’t really KNOW why, and he doesn’t want to think it’s an issue that HE has, because men are supposed to be manly and virile and want sex all the time. So they get defensive, they blame it on your appearance or behavior or whatever. They don’t want to have to look too deeply into figuring out what might be wrong, whether it’s an emotional or physical thing. That’s part of why these things suck to deal with and often don’t get better.

      1. Yes, couldn’t agree more

      2. So true. I assume they are just thinking of why THEY personally wouldn’t want to have sex with someone, though, which is affected by their personal experiences. It’s like asking people who’ve never had OCD what might make them obsessively count things or whatever. (Maybe? That might be a weird analogy.)

      3. Maybe. Sometimes there is more to it. But sometimes, a spade is a spade. I think it’s significant that 5 out of 6 more or less anonymous guys immediately wanted to know what the SO looked like when asked why a random guy wouldn’t want to have sex as much with his long term SO. They have no reason to shade the truth. And, you can talk and talk and talk and talk, but I don’t know many men who would tell their SO that they don’t want to have sex because she isn’t keeping herself together like she used to. It’s a hurtful thing to say and most men love their SO’s and would never want to say something hurtful like that. So, while I’d agree that communication is key, so is taking care of yourself and, even if you are, making a little more visual and physical effort when or if things in the sex area start to decline. Just to rule the unspoken out.

      4. I’d argue that it’s also cruel to withhold sex because you don’t find your partner attractive. If the guy wrote it we’d be asking what he was doing to help her out (ask her to go to the gym with you! ect) but it sounds like he isn’t doing anything on his end and he’s put on weight and probably isn’t looking his best either. I don’t know, this just feels like a double standard to me.

  28. So sad, beacuse boobs, butts, and that other special spot are just so fun to play with!

  29. When I first read this, I wondered if this has to a little to do with your boyfriend being an engineer. I know not all engineers have trouble being affectionate or communicating, but I think it happens enough for it to possibly be a reason why he seems to shut down.

    My boyfriend and I used to struggle a lot with emotional intimacy issues (we still do some) and he would often turn me down for sex. One thing that helped us was having sex whenever one of us wants it (unless of course there is a really good reason not to). Now, that’s never an issue for us. I know that won’t work for everyone, but my boyfriend and I will both get into sex once we get going, though one of us may be too tired to initiate it.

    It’s tough to get information out of someone who tends to shut down, and he’s not going to talk if he doesn’t want to. I would suggest you clearly lay out what you need from him, without criticizing him, and still supporting him, and be willing to just listen. I don’t really see this as an easy fix, but hopefully, I’m wrong.

  30. Liquid Luck says:

    One suggestion I haven’t seen is to just take sex off the table altogether. It’ll suck for you for a bit, but I know a few couples who have used this method as kind of a “reset” button for their relationships with some success. Tell your boyfriend that you love him and you miss connecting him with him physically, but you understand that you’ve been pressuring him about having sex more often. Ask him if he’s willing to give you some more affection (the cuddling and talking before bed, snuggling on the couch when you watch tv, holding hands when you go out, etc.) if you promise not to try to take it further for a month.

    The idea is that by taking away some of the pressure to perform, he’ll feel less stressed and sex will no longer seem like a chore or something he has to do to make you happy, and he’ll go back to having sex because he wants to, which will lead to better sex when it does happen, which will lead to having it more often, and so on. However, if hes perfectly happy to continue not having sex after the time frame you set is over, then it’s probably best to leave him, because then it’s probably a much bigger issue and possibly one that won’t ever change.

  31. My SO and I swing from sex every night to sex once every 2 months. It all depends on a variety of things, ranging from pain levels, moods, illnesses, kids, libidos, depression (him), etc. He’s 31 and I’m 29.
    Honey, if he’s in his early/mid 20s – he needs to see a doctor. If it’s a low libido, it’s easily fixed. If it’s depression, then other areas of his life are obviously suffering (stress can cause heart attacks, weight gain can cause body damage). Depression also makes you not want to change things and makes you downplay the severity of the issues.
    This is more than just sex, this is a mental health issue. Don’t pinch his ass for sex – light a fire under his ass to get to a doctor.

  32. Christina says:

    I agree that cooking more healthy is a great choice. Make more fruits and vegetables readily available to snack on. Don’t buy junk food.

    As far as the sex / affection issue, I am of the opinion that sexual compatability is a huge deal in a relationship. I went through this somewhat in my first marriage. You have two options. You either look for other ways he shows you he loves you and accept that; or you end the relationship because he is not meeting your needs. Sexual compatability will make or break a relationship. Now having said that, every couple goes through changes in desire, frequency differences, etc. It’s up to you to determine if you can get things back on track or even if you WANT to.

    In my first marriage, my spouse was extremely unaffectionate. The only time he would show affection is when he wanted sex. He never complimented me or showed appreciation for anything I did for him or our children. We were married for 20 years. I finally got enough of his narcissistic, pig-headed, constant complaining ass. Our sex life started great because it was “new” but year after year of receiving nothing from him made me bitter and quite frankly, I didn’t WANT to have sex with him!

    Fast forward to now… I just remarried in February. We’ve been together two years. We totally gel in our sex life and other areas of our lives. We live in harmony, we have fun, we have next to no drama, we are open minded about sex and fully enjoy each other’s bodies. We love experimenting together and we have sex at least four times a week. We crave giving ourslves to each other and feeling the emotional bond it brings.

    I know a relationship isn’t ALL about sex, but it truly is a very important part.

    Good luck to you. I hope all works out well.

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