Q: I am a 51 year old male in a commited relationship for the past three years. It is a healthy and mutually nurturing and respectful relationship with my partner. This is my first real relationship in over 20 years. I am having difficulty having sex. my partner is not. In the years leading up to this relationship, I became involved in annonymous sex as my only sexual outlet. I kept all close friends as non-sexual elements in my life. Now that I am truly in love with one man and want to focus on sex with him, I cannot get past the non-sexual relationship equation that I have built up the past 20 years. I am sexually attrracted to him but my mind just locks me out sexually when we are intimate. I have discussed this with him but he has difficulty relating as he was in a previous committed relationship for 25 years prior to me. How can I break desensitized sexual feeling for one who is close to me now?

A: I have a guess that there is a little more to this. You have separated friendship and sex for a long time. In a way, that kept you safe. You didn’t risk friendships by crossing the line. You didn’t make a casual sexual relationship into something it wasn’t by pushing for friendship or intimacy. To put both friendship and sex in one relationship is scary. It means taking emotional risks. Of course you are having trouble throwing the switch. My suggestion is that you and your partner work on helping you face whatever fears you have about allowing yourself to be vulnerable and intimate again. Once you work that through, comfortable sex will probably follow.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie