Dear Keith and Maura,
I completely agree with and understand the concepts of knowing what I want and being able to satisfy myself. I worked hard to get myself there. Though, there is a point where this stops. Intimacy within a relationship cannot be achieved alone. My boyfriend for quite some time was exactly what I needed in my life. Self assure, mentally and emotionally strong, honest, attentive, and very much affectionate. This lasted until we decided to move in together. Now he tells me that sex does nothing but cause problems and it's just a cruel ironic twist of fate that women have stronger desires than men in their late 30's. He doesn't want to understand what I mean by intimacy and does not believe it is important to a healthy relationship. He spends all day and evening doing things for himself and when he decides he wants to go to bed he crosses his arms, closes his eyes, and only gets upset if I ask for a good-night kiss. Everything else is still there and is still great, but now I am finding myself stifling my desires to keep him from getting upset. I am so afraid that it will end up driving me into someone else's arms. This is an absolute unacceptable course for me. I will not be unfaithful. Do you think we can achieve intimacy? How should I approach it?
Faithful in Wisconsin
Thanks so much for your inquiry.
It definitely sounds like your relationship has some intimacy issues that need to be worked out. Obviously you are not happy with things as they are, and your boyfriend may not be happy either, whether or not he admits it to you - or even to himself. I'm sure you realize that true intimacy is not just about having sex, it is about connecting with your partner on a deep level, and having a genuine desire to support each other's desires in a way that works for both of you.
Have you thought about seeking counseling for this issue? There could be many reasons for your boyfriend's behavior, and an experienced family therapist or sex therapist might be able to help you get clear on this together. You say that "everything else is still there and is still great" but in our experience, the lack of intimate connection in a relationship usually tends to stem from other issues, so there may be other things going on here that you don't realize or don't want to acknowledge.
If your boyfriend is willing to address the issue, then your relationship definitely has a chance. If he does not want to go to a therapist with you, there are other options. There's a great book by Barbara De Angelis called, Are You The One For Me? You could read the book on your own, or together with him, and it just might help uncover what's keeping you from the intimacy you desire. If you do a search online, you are bound to find other books or resources to support you in this process. And if you want a good process for communicating with your boyfriend, check out The FormatTM in The Seven Steps to Successful Relationships.
However you decide to start the process, the important thing is that you begin to take steps in the direction you want to go. If you do nothing but worry about this, chances are it will stay the same or just get worse. But if you face it head on, and take just one little step at a time, you will begin to get clearer and discover what you need to do to have the relationship you know you deserve to have.
All the best to you in your journey!
Keith and Maura
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