Boyfriend is asexual

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I’ve lived with my boyfriend for three years. He’s 33 I am 25.
At first when we were dating he was intimate but not to the point of sex. He regularly initiated this activity. But he would never let me touch him that way. And outside the bedroom he has never acted physically sexually or verbally attracted to me. In other words he is no more sexual or intimate with me than a therapist would be allowed to be with a client. After the first few months he stopped initiating anything sexual. I’ve tried everything I can think of. Iv’e tried to initiate he always pulls away, Ive told him that I want him to tell me I’m pretty without being asked, Ive bought lingerie and put it on and climbed into his lap and he didnt even take a second glance or make a comment. I could have been wearing a garbage bag. I’ve asked him if he’s gay he swears hes not. Ive told him its something I need in a relationship. Ive crawled in bed next to him and walked around the house stark naked to be greeted without even a glance, and invited him in the shower with me. It doesn’t even have to be sex I just need to feel attractive and wanted. He has no contact with his family and no friends. I have full access to everything including phones etc so I know he isn’t cheating. Even the last 4 months hes been on disability from his work due to his mental illness I am unemployed and have no friends or family either. So it has been just us in the house 24 hours a day together for the last 4 months and nothing.

The intimacy as far as deep friendship is there. I do love him and he swears he loves me. We don’t even kiss. He comes up and hugs me and I hug him. He sleeps with his arm over me right beside me. He kisses my forehead or cheek. Sometimes we hold hands when we go for walks. But it’s gotten to a point that I feel so trapped and ugly. I don’t know what to do about this. Its like the perfect relationship in a man minus anything remotely sexual… He seems entirely satisfied with how things are. Since its been four years without sex I’ve practically lost all of my libido, I feel less than, I feel incapable of changing this without loosing the man I love just to be wanted, and I feel bad about myself. Now on the rare occasion that I have grabbed him and kissed his mouth I feel weird as if I am kissing my brother. I am not even physically attracted to him any longer because I have trained myself not to act on this because I will only be rejected. Now I want a relationship with him that is complete but I don’t know how to change it and now I wonder if even if he engaged in sex with me if I would even want him too. Is this due to his disorder… please help me.

A: I really don’t know if the lack of sexual interest is due to your boyfriend’s mental illness. What I do know is that even though it makes you so very, very sad, you have stayed in the relationship for three years. I suspect that you stay both because there is something very sweet about him that compensates for the lack of intimacy and because you are afraid to move on.

Sadly, there is nothing you can do that you haven’t already done. Your boyfriend knows how you feel. However much he loves you, however much he might want a more normal intimate relationship, his own issues and fears are bigger. Unless and until he decides he wants to get treatment and make some changes, the life you have is what he can offer you.

Your boyfriend has made it clear that his lack of sexual interest isn’t personal to you. He loves you as he can. If you can hold on to your self-esteem and your belief in yourself as an attractive person, regardless of his interest, you could decide to stay in this relationship. Sexual intimacy isn’t a necessity like food or water or sleep. There are many, many people in the world who live without it.

On the other hand, if you want a sexual relationship, you need to accept that your boyfriend can’t do that and it’s time to leave. However difficult it is, you need to look at why it is that you have climbed into his depression with him and are unemployed, friendless, and isolated. It’s time to find the strength within yourself to make some changes. Therapy is probably a good idea. You are going to need some support and some practical advice to help you get your life moving again.

I wish you both well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 24 Jun 2009

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2009). Boyfriend is asexual. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/06/24/boyfriend-is-asexual/