Q. I have been dating my boyfriend for 4 months and we have only had sex 4 times. He hasn’t worked in over a year and hasn’t had a steady job in the last 4 years. He says he has no self-worth and doesn’t have any sex drive, because he is not happy with his life right now. He told me he doesn’t even masturbate anymore. This has been hard on me as I am feeling unwanted and I feel that we are lacking any sexual intimacy.
Everything else is great. We have fun together, respect each other, care for each other very much, but there is no passion or desire because he tells me he has no passion to do anything that gives him pleasure anymore, including his hobbies and sex. He just started a new job and I’m hoping things will get better, but how long should I wait? The thought of not being with him makes me hysterical. I don’t want to break up with him, but I don’t want to hang around waiting either.
Of course, my friends think that I should date other people, because of this situation, but I don’t want to date other people. Also, do you think it’s better not to discuss relationship issues with your friends? I’m 38 and he’s 41. Could he be having a mid-life crisis?
A: How did you get so deeply involved in only 4 months with someone who is in his 4os, hasn’t worked steadily for over 4 years and who makes you feel unattractive and unwanted? I’m with your friends — date other people. There is no reason I can think of to settle for a sexless relationship with a guy who has so little to offer. Since you have fun together, he might be good friend material, but it sure doesn’t sound like he’s good partner material.
Although it is true that many people do stop and take stock of their lives somewhere in their 40’s, it isn’t a psychiatric condition. Rather, it is a name for a normal time of coming to terms with our own mortality and how we are using our time on this earth. Lack of interest in things that used to give him pleasure, a reduced libido, and general unhappiness suggest that your boyfriend is suffering from depression, not a typical midlife re-evaluation. Ideally, he should see a psychotherapist for an evaluation. My guess is that some medication and some talk therapy are what he needs to get himself back on track.
If you have friends who are caring and generous, they are your best supporters and reality-testers. Long-term friends know us well and can gently (and sometimes not so gently but truly) let us know when we are fooling ourselves and when we’re not. Discussing everything from whether a bathing suit to a man is a good fit is part of what good friends are for. You don’t ever have to take their advice (any more than they have to take yours) but you should be able to count on them for tactful input.
I wish you well.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 1 Aug 2007
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2007). Sexless Relationship Makes Me Feel Unwanted. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 28, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/08/01/sexless-relationship-makes-me-feel-unwanted/