Boyfriend shows no affection.

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I have been with my boyfriend for over 3 years now and he is permanently handicapped. I am 23 and he is 32. He was in a car accident over ten years ago. And i met him taking care of him at a nursing home that he was temporarily brought into. We used to be so close. He used to compliment me and touch me and make me feel good but now he won’t even touch me.

Everytime i get angry at him i just tell myself that he has had a very rough life. When he was 18 his only brother who was 22 at the time was in a car accident and drowned and when he was 22 he was in a car accident leaving him paralyzed completely from the waist down. A few years ago his mother had a heart attack and died in her sleep and he lost his dad to a heart attack only a few years later. And now the only close family that he has is his older sister and her young family.

But he started losing interest in me after the first year we were together. The only affection that he shows me is at night when i kiss him goodnight and thats it. I have mentioned it to him in the past but he just ignores me and tells me i’m crazy for even thinking that. I love him so much and i want to marry him and have him be the father of my children but i just can’t keep going on like this. I am so lonely what should I do? Is it because we are always together 24/7? Is he getting tired of me? Please help me.

A: Sometimes the universe is extraordinarily unfair. In addition to an accident that eerily echoed the one that took his brother’s life and left him paralyzed, this man has had multiple experiences with losing people in his family. Perhaps he unconsciously believes that if he makes you part of his family, he’ll lose you too. Or maybe there is another reason that he either isn’t aware of or isn’t willing or able to share with you.

It may be that he cares enough about you not to tell you in words that he can’t manage a relationship with you so he’s trying to tell you in another way. An additional complication is that he is dependent on you for care. He may not want to lose you as a caregiver so is unable to tell you up front that he’s not interested in you as a lover. I also have to allow for the possibility that he can’t afford the quality and constancy of care you provide so he’s hanging on to you for financial reasons.

Whatever his reasons may be, here’s the hard reality you haven’t been willing to face: In the three years you’ve been together, he hasn’t shown you affection for the past two! You’ve tried to talk to him. You’ve given it your all. He’s not talking and you are lonely and sad. This relationship exists more in your head than in real life.

It’s time for you to separate your work from your personal life and find a man who can be in an affectionate, loving relationship that goes both ways. If it’s too hard for you to take care of this man and also move on personally, you should transfer his daily care to someone else. Perhaps then you will be able to hang on to the friendship without putting a demand on him that he can’t, or won’t, respond to.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 7 Feb 2008

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2008). Boyfriend shows no affection.. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/02/07/boyfriend-shows-no-affection/