Should I Marry A Man Who Doesn’t Want To Have Sex With Me?

Hey Evan,

My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost two years now, and everything is great, I couldn’t have found a more caring, wonderful person. He even loves to spend time with my family. I know he is planning on proposing soon, and for the most part, I am really excited about this. I love him. But we have some really big issues when it comes to our sex life, or lack thereof.

A few months after we started dating, we had sex, or I guess that’s what you could call it. Anyway, I wasn't complaining, even at 27, I didn’t have a ton of experience – I had only been with two other men. But then he never wanted to work on this issue, never wanted to approach it. Instead we would make out and then he would just prematurely stop at a certain point. I felt like I was in high school again. Eventually, about a year into the relationship he came clean and admitted that he was a virgin, had lied to me and had sort of freaked out when we slept together. 

I was upset at first that he had been lying for an entire year, but I can understand how difficult it can be for a guy to admit that and then to admit that he was lying.  However, it’s been another year, and he hasn’t been able to get past this, and I have just about given up on ever having sex again. Actually, I put an end to any physical relationship between us almost 9 months ago just out of sheer frustration. 

I have tried talking to him about this so many times, I have tried everything short of counseling and I just don’t know what to do.  I have asked him if this is something he wants to wait till marriage for and he denies that…I guess I just don’t know what to do.  I love him, and I know he loves me…but how can I resign myself to this for the rest of my life, at the same time how can I break up with a guy that I so want to be with?

Desperate

Dear Desperate,

You’ve got a big problem, all right.

And if you’re gonna solve it, you have to put yourself outside your comfort zone.

See, the thing with comfort zones is that they’re, well, comfortable. But just because something is comfortable doesn’t mean it’s healthy or good or ideal. It just means it’s comfortable. And the longer you stay in that comfort zone, the harder it is to extricate yourself from it. Consider a job where you’re happy with your co-workers, but severely underpaid. Or a job where you’re paid well, but you hate your work. There’s a strange sort of comfort in grumbling about the same sticking point over and over – knowing full well that it will never change. Apparently, it beats the alternative of getting another job.

You can complain all you want about the state of your sexual relationship, but apparently it doesn’t matter all that much. Because next thing you know, you’ll be married. Married to a man who doesn’t want to sleep with you. And who’s fault will that be? Not his. He’s getting what he wants, a sexless relationship. You’re the only one who is silently suffering. You are what psychologists would call an enabler.

You are what psychologists would call an enabler.

Because it takes two to tango. A woman can’t be a battered wife unless she stays in a relationship with a man who beats her. A husband can’t continue to be emotionally abused by the wife he left behind. But people stay because we are in love and because we don’t know what we’d do if we left….

As always, Desperate, this isn’t about right and wrong. He’s not wrong for wanting to forgo sex, just a little weird. Or maybe gay. And you’re not wrong for wanting to find a man who covets you sexually. I mean, seriously, there’s only one person who should be doing it with you for the rest of your life and that’s your husband. And if he’s not, well, you’re gonna want to look for it elsewhere. Aren’t you?

Yet you’ve avoided this issue for over a year now, which makes you guiltier than he is. YOU were the one who cut HIM off sexually 9 months ago, remember? Hey, he may not even care, you could be doing him a favor, but you definitely can’t complain that he doesn’t put the moves on you. He’s just following orders.

So, like the woman who is frustrated that her fiance won’t marry her, the choice is yours.

But no matter what you do, you have to do SOMETHING.

Ask yourself if you’re willing to spend your life with a beloved man who won’t sleep with you.

Ask yourself if you're willing to spend your life with a beloved man who won't sleep with you.  

If so, that’s fine. Now ask yourself if you’re willing to forgo sex forever. Presuming you’re not, ask yourself where you’re going to get it. And if your husband is willing to have an open relationship, that’s totally cool. I just don’t know if that’s an ideal way to start a marriage.

Listen, I spend a lot of time here telling people to be open. After all, you can’t get everything from one partner. But the one thing that’s supposed to distinguish a mate from a friend is sex. And if you’re not getting any sex, how is this guy anything more than your best friend?

Push the issue. Ask questions. Make decisions. If you don’t, you’re sealing your own fate.

Good luck.

3
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Comments:

  1. 1
    downtowngal

    Whoah – red flag here. It sounds as if he might have intimacy issues.

    Even if he might have been nervous the first time, by now he should be over it. And the fact that he won’t seek counseling is an even bigger red flag because it says that he doesn’t even want to work on this. And isn’t willing to satify you.

    Desparate, you’re young, but if you marry this guy, by the time you’re in your 30′s and your hormones kick into overdrive you’re going to wonder what in the world you’ve done with your life.

    It’s his issue, don’t make it your’s.

  2. 2
    Biff

    Don’t marry him; you are not having one of your most critical needs met, and Evan was right on point: if you are not being cared for by the one person who’s supposed to do so, who will do it? Don’t end up like me, going through an emotionally-wrenching divorce because I thought “it will get better (same issue as yours.)” It never does.

  3. 3
    naturegirl

    Good heavens! Desperate – talk to him about this immediately! If you can’t have a conversation about this issue, then why are you thinking about marrying him? Good communication is crucial for a long term relationship. Going through life in a relationship without good communication is a form of soul death.

    Do not marry him without improving your communication with him!

  4. 4
    Selena

    I agree with Evan, “if you’re not getting any sex, how is this guy anything more than your best friend. Why is there any need to marry?

    If you even think you MIGHT want sex in the future you need to table any plans for marriage until you’ve had some counseling. Why haven’t you considered counseling for this before now?

  5. 5
    verbosity

    My first flippant reactions is “So what? For most people, sex stops when you marry anyway”

    Ok. That said, something is very wrong here. I do not know it is fixable, since past experience has taught me that if significant problems exist at the beginning of a relationship (like this one of no sex), they do not improve over time. I think the obvious option is to talk to him. You should know what your options of success in this relationship are after that.

  6. 6
    Andrea

    People who ask for advise often (usually?) already know the answer and are seeking to have it validated. The fact that this woman wrote Evan indicates that she already know the answer.

    Evan’s completely right about this one. Do something about it immediately. Otherwise, you could be kicking yourself later and wishing you had. When you find someone who’s into sex you’ll be wishing you had sooner and wondering what you were doing all this time.

  7. 7
    hunter

    ..hhhmmhhh, there is a good chance the man no longer has chemistry for you…..

  8. 8
    BeenThruTheWars

    When Evan threw out the possibility that your fiance is gay — pay attention to that. Let’s just say I’ve “Been there, done that, designed the T-shirts and made a fortune marketing them on Melrose Avenue.”

    Read this book, Desperate. I did, and whew, was it an eye-opener: “Is He Straight? A Checklist for Women Who Wonder.” My guy at the time was a practicing bisexual who didn’t happen to share that information with me. For four and a half years. Many men are still heavily closeted, even in this day and age. There’s even a slang term for it, “living on the down-low.”

    I can tell you this from my own experience: few things are more devastating than losing your man to another man. At least consider this possibility when you go to counseling, and you MUST go to counseling, with or without your fiance.

  9. 9
    Markus

    Couldn’t…pay…me…enough.

  10. 10
    Hugh

    I recognize this problem having been throught it myself. The guy has sexual anxieties and knows he won’t be able to ” get it up” so he avoids the situation. The girl needs to feed the guy a couple of Viagra tablets and then seduce him, use her hands, get him hard and get him over the fright of the ” first time”. After that he’ll probably turn out to be a tiger in bed.

  11. 11
    Selena

    What a proactive approach Hugh. I wonder if it would work.

  12. 12
    hunter

    …..men go through traumas also, that may keep them from penetrating a woman……many were never told, educated,..others get few opportunities….if any, even in our modern “free” world….so,. they are unaware of the benefits of being in a relationship…

  13. 13
    Michele

    Well, Evan — aren’t you the optimist these days. The rest of Desperate’s life OR married life. Today’s stats do not paint a positive picture, for those who may want to live happily ever after. That said, it’s my opinion that Desperate has a serious problem on her hands…one that counseling may or may not correct.

    She did mention that he’s wonderful in most other areas, so let’s assume she gives him the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps the relationship can be salvaged…providing both of their issues are addressed in an honest and up front manner. Again, professionally.

  14. 14
    Bennie

    The guy is a faygele. Move on.

  15. 15
    Joe

    I think what isn’t commonly known is that there are a small percentage of people out there who really have no interest in sex, but are otherwise normal individuals. Therefore, if you want to work this out with your boyfriend, I think it’s important to figure out if the problem stems from actual anxiety or lack of interest.

    One thing to consider is that people are very unlikely to change after they become teenagers. Even if something very traumatic like torture happens, I think people tend to just become withdrawn and stay the person on the inside. So certainly just wishing and cajoling your significant other isn’t going to turn them into who you want them to be.

    You’re 28 or so now…you can find someone else! Evan wrote in one of his posts (maybe recently) that you can get that “right feeling” a few times and be wrong about it. If I were you, I’d ditch this guy…my gut feeling is that people who don’t want to have sex have much deeper problems with intimacy. You sound like a pretty together person and deserve more. You’re not an emotional handyman. If you want to have a successful relationship, then you’re going to need to find someone who’s your equal; not just in job status, education, etc., but also emotionally, sexually. And it certainly seems that is not the case here.

    Just my two cents.

  16. 16
    Been There

    Another been there, done that story. In my case, the sexual problems before marriage were due to poor emotional communication issues related to a subtle, undiagnosed autism spectrum disorder. Now divorced. Raising our son, who turns out to have similar issues, makes the marital struggles much clearer.

    But Hugh could be right also. So, give Hugh’s suggestin a try, then see if your partner is willing to go the professional help route ONE last time. But do not waste too much more time waiting or hoping for change that you do not see happening. If it cannot happen now, it won’t happen later. Unless you are willing to have a sexless marriage, move on.

  17. 17
    Trent

    Does your boyfriend look at porn? If not, then I guess he truly isn’t interested in sex. If he does, then he’s interested in it…just not with you.

    Is he unhealthy? On medication? Really overweight? Those things can kill someone’s sex drive. Do you often see him naked, or does he shy away from that? Maybe he’s self-conscious about his body.

    Maybe his first time with you was so disappointing or awkward that he doesn’t want to try it again. (I’m not saying it’s your fault, by the way).

    And maybe he *is* gay. I hate girls who always ask “Is my boyfriend gay?”, but in your case, I think you have good reasons to be suspicious.

    Do you ever spend the night at his place? Or vice versa? Sleep in the same bed? Why not try initiating something with him?

    You can try talking to him. But *don’t* do this in the bedroom. Guys hate it when they’re ready to sleep and their girlfriend wants to have some deep conversation about What It All Means. Personally, I always feel trapped and angry in those situations.

  18. 18
    Zach

    I tend to both agree and disagree with Evan on a few points. First, I do agree that this problem needs to be addressed and it is just as much his fault as it is hers. This issue could make or break a relationship if one partner seeks something the other doesn’t have the motivation to provide.

    Did you give him a hard time about lying to you when he first told you about hiding his virginity? If so, keeping it a secret for over that long should have told you that this is not just some small issue, it was important to him. If you gave him hardship when he came clean then it may have scarred him emotionally, maybe to the point where he is completely turned off by the thought of sex with you.

    I however disagree when it comes to the point of having an open relationship. Although it’s no way to start a marriage, it’s no way to maintain and, for lack of a better word, survive one. I’m sure monogamy is important to Desperate, why else would they be getting married?

    If you think there’s still a chance with this guy, I would suggest a prolonged engagement… a very prolonged engagement. Also, try asking direct questions getting down to the root of the problem. Sit him down and confront him, he’s been avoiding this for too long and obviously pacifism is not working. If he retaliates in an “un-humble” manner you may want to consider your life decisions as this will certainly affect the rest of yours.

  19. 19
    Michael Ejercito

    Desperate,

    Dump the guy. No good can come out of marrying someone who does not want to have sex with you.

  20. 20
    Mack

    Maybe he’s asexual. You know, he just doesn’t find sex all that necessary or interesting. About 1% of people are in that boat. Some A’s are cool with sex to please their partner, some are ok with sexual things (but not intercourse) to please their partner, and some are just plain grossed out. That can leave the sexual partner thinking they’r grossed out by them or not really interested. That’s not true. If he makes it obvious in every other way that he loves you, then you don’t need to wonder if he loves you or not. You know he does. After that…well, that’s why sex shops and sex toys exist.

  21. 21
    Identical Hand Twin

    Good god. I’m right there with you. I have had sex with my boyfriend 3 times in the last year. But we get along perfectly other than that. I tell him we are roommates. I know it’s not healthy. I know I will never be completely happy with him. But be the strong one (I mean the strong one between you and I) and leave him. Go find some hot piece of a55 that will give you everything you need…in bed. And for gods sake, pray that I will gain the strength to do the same. Did I mention that he found my “toys” and threw them away? Talk about adding insult to injury.

  22. 22
    Glenda

    In his reply, Evan had likened Desperate’s enabling to that of a partner of an abuser enabling the abuser. On behalf of all women and men in abusive relationships, I feel that I really need to post, even if it doesn’t speak directly to Desperate’s question.

    If it was truly that easy for someone to leave an abusive relationship, the majority would be long gone. However, many statistics show, at least for women, the most dangerous time for them is when they leave or when their abuser thinks they are getting ready to leave–that is when they are most likely to be killed, EVEN when there has NEVER been any physical violence in the relationship before. Add to the fact that most women will not only have to endure the same abuse they face during the relationship but may also have contend with stalking, loss of a place to live, poverty and loss of their children, it’s no wonder that they decide it’s a better option to stay in the relationship than face worse possible options outside.

    So, rather than judging these women and men, let’s have some empathy for them. Multiples studies have shown that 40% of all relationships are abusive, with 60% of those then progressing to physical violence. With that high of a percentage, we all know someone who has been in an abusive relationship–whether we know it or not.

  23. 23
    carly

    I have the same issue and i dont know what to do My boyfriend and I have been together for 2 years. at first when we were dateing he was all over me. but after we moved in together he basicly stoped touching me. we have not had sex in over a year. and i fight with him all the time about it. but he says it not me. I ask if he wants to leave and he says no. I ask if he still finds me sexy he says yes. but he refuses to have sex. Also he has been having lonts of stress and physicall problems. tirerdness pain in feet and hands. so could that be the reason.

  24. 24
    Karl R

    Carly (#23),

    Stress, exhaustion and pain would all lower your boyfriend’s sex drive. And by fighting about it with him, you raise his stress level, which lowers his sex drive further.

    Is your boyfriend seeing a doctor about the tiredness and pain? If not, encourage him to do so.

  25. 25
    patty

    I just got out of a relationship of 2 years with the same issue. My guy was all over me for the first 3 months, then wham, no sex. This went on for over a year and a half. We lived together for the last year. He treated me great in other ways EXCEPT, he’s a workaholic!!! I made him see a Dr. twice and both times he said the Dr told him to quit smoking. If my boyfriend had made an effort to quit or lose a few pounds or even try, I would’nt have left. Also, he wouldn’t talk about these issues and wouldn’t even compromise on things in our relationship. I was pretty unhappy for the past year and wanted to leave several times. One day I found out that he had put a profile on a dating website and that was it. I was devastated by what he did. Why couldn’t he have just been man enough to end it? To top that off, when I broke up with him, he changed his phone number and cut me out of his life completely. This from a man who swore to the end that he loved me. I say, leave him now. Don’t walk, run, do it for you…..

  26. 26
    Angela

    I married my best friend (our sex life had disappeared long before the wedding day), and for two years, we only had sex SIX TIMES. That includes our honeymoon. By the time I asked him for a divorce, I was miserable. Turns out, he was, too. Even though we are both attractive and healthy, we just didn’t really click that way. Five years after our divorce, we’re still perfectly happy being best friends, counseling each other on dating and relationships, and NOT having sex. 8) It’s great to marry your best friend, but he should also be the best friend you want to jump all the time!

  27. 27
    Peter

    Since everyone seems to bash the man not having sex, suggesting he is gay or plain out doesn’t understand I would like to state my reasons.

    I am a man who does not have sex with his wife. She is attractive and I love her so much. I would rather die then see her get hurt. But I have a problem that I have asked therapists for help with and doctors without either being much help.

    When I love someone I can’t have sex with them. I don’t know if it is because I hooked up a lot in my college years or because when I was young I was molested for a short period of time..maybe both. But when I am in love I can no longer have sex. The thought of having sex with the person I love grosses me out and sometimes even seems disrespectful.

    My wife and I fight about this from time to time. I am so scared she will leave me because she is my life. There is no other woman I want. It also leaves me with the fear she will cheat on me. I have never cheated on her and I am not having sex either.

    The strange thing is I could have sex with a stranger the desire is not gone. But with her I just can’t and I feel awful about that.

    1. 27.1
      gail

      Does your wife know why you dont have sex with her?

  28. 28
    Andres

    Desperate

    You shouldn’t settle with this guy – it’s obvious he has some deep dark issues with sex. Due to his inexperience he’s afraid he won’t be able to satisfy you correctly.

    He needs the help not you!

    I hope you don’t marry him because it sounds like you are still young and you don’t want to spend the rest of your days with a man who doesn’t want sex with you.

  29. 29
    mary

    I mariied a man who doesn’t want to have sex with me because he says I don’t know what i’m doing. I had only been with two other men prior to him and one was my ex. When I try to initiate sex with him he pushes me away. I say please try to talk to your boyfreind about this issue prior to marrying him. I love my husband and intend to do everything I can to get him to have sex with me, but I don’t intend to be in a sexless marriage for much longer.

  30. 30
    starthrower68

    If you’re wanting children, this might make it difficult. Not that there aren’t alternatives, but this would be the easiest way to make babies. Also not saying that marriage is strictly about making babies. You might also want to know if there is some sort of anger toward you that is an underlying issue, maybe a passive-agressive thing. If you truly love and want to marry this guy, then do so, but be sure you do so with your eyes wide open.

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