Q: From Austrailia: I am 30 and have met a wonderful man (aged 33) who I have grown to care very much for. We have been dating for about six weeks and have lots in common. Over this period we have seen each other at least three times a week for many hours and we talk constantly on the phone. He has pursued me from the beginning and has told me that he has strong feelings for me and that he now considers me his girlfriend. However there is no sexual element to our relationship. He does not want to kiss me (to date we have still not kissed “properly” – ie our kisses consist of brief pecks) and he is reluctant when I take his hand to hold it. He never initiates touching me at all.
After four weeks of dating I gently asked how the physical side of our relationship might be able to progress, he told me that he is very reserved, not an affectionate person and that he needs to feel very comfortable and that this will take him a long while, but that he’ll get there. I thought that he may make efforts to touch me after our discussion but the physical aspect of our relationship has not progressed at all.
This is starting to make me very upset. I am confused because I truly like this man but I feel rejected by his lack of sexual interest in me. I am very affectionate and I need to have an sexual element in a relationship. I don’t mind waiting awhile but I don’t know how long to wait (or how long is fair for him to wait) before I give up. I would be so grateful for some advice as to how I should proceed. I want to be respectful of his need to take some time but I’m also worried that maybe he may never change – and whilst waiting I will get more and more attached to someone who can’t give me what I need. I also don’t know when to raise it with him again if things don’t change as I don’t want him to feel pressured. I also feel mortified at having to ask a guy to be affectionate/intimate with me when in all my previous relationships I’ve never had this problem before and have been told that I am not unattractive.
This man and I do have a wonderful connection on an intellectual level though so I want to give this the best shot I can. I have been wondering whether he has Sexual Aversion Disorder? I would be so grateful for advice on what is the best way to handle this (and indeed if I should wait around and keep hoping things will change.)
A: Slow down. You have legitimate needs and concerns but you’ve only known this guy for 6 weeks. He has told you he needs time but he’ll get there. He’s also told you that his hesitation isn’t about you. If he is as wonderful as you say, he is worth a little more time and talk around the physical part of your relationship. It seems that in the past you were more compatible physically with men you dated but something was missing or you would still be with them. This relationship has other strengths.
Every relationship requires cooperation and compromises. The first stage of romance focuses on similarities. It’s the second stage when people get serious. That’s when differences surface and the couple has to figure out how they are going to negotiate through them. With the exception of abuse, there is no “right” way for a couple to be a couple. It’s a matter of how the people in the couple decide they want to define their unique couple-ness.
Adults generally are who they are. It’s a mistake to think you can fundamentally change someone, especially if that person doesn’t want to change. But people can and do make some changes and compromises for the people they love. If you stay with this relationship, chances are that you will get less physical affection than you ideally would like to have and he will get more than he is entirely comfortable with. Only the two of you can decide if other things about the relationship make it worth the compromise.
I wish you well.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 3 Jun 2008
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2008). Love? yes! Sex? no!. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 31, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/06/03/love-yes-sex-no/