Boyfriend bought me a house but won’t be intimate

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

I have been dating my boyfriend for almost 2 years. Early in the relationship I caught him cheating and left. He begged me to come back and promised never to do it again. I later found out he was still doing it and he was also using crystal meth and hooking up with guys online. I left again and he begged me to come back and “help” him work through it and not to abandon him in his hour of need.

He drew up a contract that stated if I caught him doing it again I would receive a $300,000 payout if he did. I caught him and told him I didn’t want his money; I just wanted him to leave me alone. He alluded to contemplating suicide if I didn’t come back and begged me to help him be a better person. Twice he has sought the help of a therapist, or so he said.

Ok, here is where it gets good. He is a very wealthy retired CEO, 52 years old (but due to an unfortunate skin condition looks about 62). He isn’t particularly good-looking, he has male pattern baldness and he is a little heavy, but I like him anyways. During the course of our relationship he has continually tried to buy me things, which I have politely turned down. He does very romantic and thoughtful things just to make me smile and to make me happy. He wrote me into his Will, deeded the house he bought in Michigan to me, treats me like I am a jewel. With the exception of his drug use and online hookups (which seem to go hand in hand) everything seems great.

Here is where it gets even better (odder). We have yet to have sex. I have tried initiating sex but he is either too tired or full from eating dinner. It seems like there is always an excuse. I have seen these guys he hooks up with and they are not attractive, most are drug users. My BF told me when we first started dating that he doesn’t like promiscuous people, talking about sex, or people who cheat on their partners. He turned out to be what he said he hated.

We met on a men’s online site, like those other guys he hooks(ed) up with, but for some reason he treats me like the Virgin Mary. He adores and cherishes me and has me on a pedestal. I am just confused what he wants me for. In some cultures men have “The Wife” at home, and “The Whore” on the side. Sometimes I feel like a prop and sometimes I feel like his child. His family told me he hasn’t brought any boy friends home to meet the family since the end of his last long term relationships before me. He has had two and they were both 10 years each. I am just confused and concerned that this relationship is really screwed up. Any insights you might have would be greatly appreciated.

A: Thank you for giving me an opportunity to respond. It sounds like you have been coping with this issue for quite a while. I am glad you are looking for options for your future.

But your future will require you to reflect deeply on the truth of this situation. Here is the bullet list of what you have told me:

Your boyfriend:

  • Has a problem with crystal meth
  • Is a cheater
  • Is a liar
  • Manipulates you with money
  • Manipulates you with the threat of self-harm
  • Withholds sexual intimacy
  • Appears to have a sex addiction
  • Uses gift-giving as a way to excuse his behavior

There isn’t anything about him that has the ring of ability for intimacy and stability, yet you stay with him and are somehow surprised he is who he is. He doesn’t honor your needs, and you haven’t yet taken responsibility for honoring them either. Why are you staying in a relationship that offers so little when you say you want more?

The real work here is for you to learn about the conditions that would allow you to choose and remain with such an unsatisfying partner – yet be surprised. I strongly suggest therapy (you can get a referral in your area from the find help tab) and for you to join Al-Anon or Nar-Anon groups nearby to help you get support as you grow.

Waiting for him to change will bring you nothing but more suffering. It is time for you to reclaim yourself.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 18 Nov 2010

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2010). Boyfriend bought me a house but won’t be intimate. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/11/18/boyfriend-bought-me-a-house-but-wont-be-intimate/