My boyfriend and I have been together for 11 years. We’ve been through so much together and consider each other best friends. We can talk openly with one another without fear of judgement. I accept him and all his flaws as he does me. Everything about our relationship is great…except for one thing; we aren’t intimate anymore. It has been this way for easily over a year. We’ve talked about it and argued about who’s fault it is and have tried to come up with solutions many MANY times but nothing has changed. I hate it but he says he doesn’t mind. At the same time, however, he says he won’t marry me if we have this problem. I have been ready to settle down with him for over 5 years. I’m pretty meek when it comes to intimacy, which is one of the problems, he says. He says I don’t initiate it. I don’t know how. I’ve never had to before. He would always be the one. And on the very rare occasions I do try, I get denied. Maybe he’s bored with me? I don’t know. I feel like if it doesn’t get fixed, we will never end up married, which then would feel like I am wasting my time with him. I’ve spent 11 years of my life with him and being married is something that I want in life. So if I’m not getting it with him, do I leave? I’ve thought about leaving, but there are way too many things holding me back. I just don’t know what to do.
I’m sorry to hear you’re struggling with this. I’ve had intimacy problems too, so I understand what you’re going through.
Does he watch a lot of porn? That’s not just an idle pastime, it can rewire his brain to always crave new virtual experiences and to no longer be satisfied with one partner and one sexual routine. This has actually become a serious health problem for men in general. However, it’s something you can talk with him about, and something he can get help with, maybe as simply as going to therapy.
You can try couples counseling or sex therapy. There is a lot of shame in the idea of those things, and going makes it seem like your relationship is on the brink of failure, but that doesn’t have to be the case any more than you going to your therapist, which has largely been de-stigmatized these days. Again, intimacy is a serious issue that can tear apart a relationship, but it doesn’t have to if you address it. No couple has all the answers, but there are people who have been trained on these kinds of conflicts who, if nothing else, can be sounding boards and referees for your concerns.
As for marriage, do you want to marry HIM, or do you just want to be married? Those are two very different things. After 11 years together marriage is the next logical step, but marriages much longer than 11 years fail all the time. There’s an idea called Sunk Cost Fallacy, that if you’ve invested so much time, energy, money, etc. into anything that you need to keep pursuing it even if it even if it isn’t working, when the reality is that it may be better to cut your losses and start fresh. It sounds like you love him though, and that your communication is pretty open in other areas, so I think you have a good chance of addressing this if you can both admit it’s a problem that’s beyond your own abilities to handle.
Sex is a VERY sensitive and vulnerable topic. It’s natural to feel a lot of shame around it, but at its core it’s a mental illness, so if you can handle getting help with depression and anxiety, then you shouldn’t feel ashamed getting help with your outlooks on sex. Besides, who else has to know?
I wish you luck. Without elaborating, I understand what you’re going through and feel your pain; but if you and he are willing to put your pride aside and seek help from someone neutral I think you can come back from this.
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