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

A woman with a man sleeping

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?


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.

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  1. 1

    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.

    1. 1.1

      How about this – since when the hell is anyone ‘obligated’ to have sex with anyone else?   Marriage? Says who?   Dating? Again, what law is on the books?   How about this – everyone learn to control their damn hormones.   Sex is as neanderthal as any ancient outdated thing humans can possibly give into; overrated, and everyone thinks they’re ‘entitled’ to it. Unless we need to procreate as a species, not a fucking person on the planet ‘needs’ sex, nor are they ‘entitled’ to it. Wow, I cannot believe in the 21st century we are acting like sex is something everyone needs, or worse – is owed.   Think with your brains people, not your genitalia.

      1. 1.1.1

        Different people have different ‘needs’. Hormone levels differ between people. Most people would classify sex s a ‘need’. Get off your high-horse.

      2. 1.1.2

        Maybe he needs to be with you

      3. 1.1.3
        Tianna Bicknell

        Ok I have to know your age and gender if you dont mind.

  2. 2

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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.

    1. 6.1

      Seriously? Do you or anyone else have any brain cells that aren’t sex-obsessed? Sex is overrated, neanderthal and all of you seem to base everything in life around it. How about learn a little self control, and who the fuck ever told any of you that sex was an entitlement? Like I said before, I now get great joy out of flat-out denying sex to anyone and everyone. The look of shock and awe is priceless. But ultimately, being able to turn it off is the most empowering thing a human can do. Maybe some of you should try it.

  7. 7

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

  8. 8

    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.

    1. 8.1

      I strongly recommend you skip the books by Bonnie Kaye. She’s a fraud. After a few failed marriages she decided to start calling herself a counselor and meddle in other people’s marriages since she didn’t have her own to mess up any more.

      Her books are full of stereotypes, distortions, and made up crap. For every reasonable insight there are five that are ridiculous…especially her checklists! Every page of her books is seething with anger and bitterness. She was only married to her gay husband for a few years..and that was 30 years ago..and she is just as broken, depressed, and delusional today as she was back then.

      I’ll save you the time and money you would waste buying any of her books and I’ll share you with her big insight….she believes 2/3 of all men are broken, dysfunctional, diseased, disordered, etc… Her big advice is.. if you suspect it, it’s true…you’re marriage is doomed… blame him for everything .. get what you can…take a year off from dating and Mr. Soul Mate will magically make all your boo-boos go bye bye.

      And then you’ll end up the same place she did each time.. angry and bitter that you keep falling into your own trap because you never made the investsment into understanding how you may have been dysfunctional and broken, how you made decisions that caused you to marry him and to stay for all those years…and since she’s still in denial about her 60 years of unresolved trauma… she’s happy to become your “pain pal” and pull you down into the black hole with her.

      Much of her persona story is changed from book to book, even page to page. She’s a compulsive liar, manipulator, and besides…why would you want to take even one word of advice from a woman who has only had faild marriages, can’t even tell the truth about her marriages, and isn’t a counselor?

      Follow her insights and advice, and you get what you deserve. You can’t say you haven’t been warned. Just go to her books on Amazon and check out the reviews. More and more people are starting to post the truth and tell the horror stories they experience with her.

  9. 9


  10. 10

    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.

    1. 10.1

      Yeah right, and can you just imagine what a huge double standard it would be if the genders were reversed and someone gave a man this type of advice?

      “Listen dude, if your girl suffers from “anxieties” and is holding back then you need to step up, be a hero and help her out.   Feed her a couple of pills/drinks and then seduce her. You know, use your hands, get her aroused, see where it leads…oh, but purely as a benevolent gesture towards helping her to “relax” and “unwind” of course (wink wink, nudge nudge)…you understand, right? After all, you‘ll be doing her a huge favor by generously helping her get over her fright, and after that she‘ll probably turn out to be a tigress.   Sometimes you just have to sacrifice your own needs in order to lend someone else a helping hand, right?”

      If a MAN where to actually follow this advice he would quickly be condemned as a rapist.

  11. 11

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

  12. 12

    … 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

    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

    The guy is a faygele. Move on.

  15. 15

    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

    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.

    1. 17.1
      Pretty lady

      Her boyfriend made just be shy.

  18. 18

    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


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

  20. 20

    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.

    1. 20.1

      @Mack…good points.   But if a person is asexual, they should tell their partner before making a commitment.     Otherwise it is completely unfair to both parties, not to mention dishonest.

      I look at it this way…love and friendship are great in a relationship/marriage, but sex is an important part of it too.      As a woman with a VERY high sex drive, I want to be desired by my man and when I’m not, it leaves me feeling unsure of what the problem is, esp. when he won’t communicate with me on certain issues.


      1. 20.1.1

        Agreed, to an extent. Everything should be communicated very early on. However, as someone who learned over time that sexual drive can be controlled, this emphasis on the ‘sex’ part of any relationship still astounds me. I may be going a bit overboard, but it’s becoming daunting and annoying that everything seems to hinge on this aspect, again… the entitlement and obligation issue I find so preposterous. Why does anyone, male or female, put so much stock into sexual desire to give them validation?   I personally don’t need validated by anyone, and certainly don’t let myself get caught up in the drama of such nonsense. Imagine how productive the world would be if it gave less of a shit about being validated, owed, obligated or entitled to something that really isn’t that necessary for happiness (once you find some happy independence and sovereignty within yourself).

        1. MB

          Well, good for you. I didn’t say anything about “entitlement” or “obligation” though.

          I said that in a relationship, while sex is not the ONLY thing that matters, it is still important.
          It’s wonderful that you don’t let yourself “get caught up in the drama of such nonsense” but people with a healthy sex drive who actually want to feel connected to their partner should not be shamed for that.
          Part of a healthy relationship is give and take on both sides, communication, and caring about how each person feels. It would be selfish if sex is the only thing that matters, of course. On the other hand, it is also selfish when one person constantly rejects/withholds and expects their partner to be OK with that.

          If a person wants to be asexual, fine…but they need to communicate that up front so they don’t waste other people’s time. And maybe sex isn’t necessary for happiness, but it sure as hell makes life a lot more fun sometimes!

        2. Evan Marc Katz

          Nobody here is asexual. Nobody said sex doesn’t matter. Nobody said sex isn’t fun. Those are the facts. So who are you arguing against? A: People who said that they are attracted to their partners, have good sex lives and are a bit mystified about the demand for your partner to think you’re HOT or BEAUTIFUL. That’s there is to this semantic debate.

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