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

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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.

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Comments:

  1. 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.

    1. 21.1
      michelle

      Im in the exact same boat. Sex 3 times a year and it feels like Im forcing her each time. After 10 years and 3 kids we are trying hard to let each other go. Same exact thing… I’m the pervert for wanting to see her naked, Im the pervert for wanting to touch her breasts (she has never let me in the whole decade we had been together) and she found and threw out my one sex toy and called me a pervert for having that too. All from a woman who claims she is a lesbian like I am. And who shows no interest in men either. Its a mess of a break-up and it all could have been avoided because right from the start it was one good excuse after another why we couldnt have sex and it was always her telling me it would get better after we moved in together… after we had a bigger place… after I built her a house…after the kids were older… after we had another baby…after.. after… after… for ten whole years until I left and by the way… somehow I’m the a$$hole for not staying with her.    RUN

      1. 21.1.1
        Russell

        There are many women like her.   I suspect that this one chose to be with a woman because she felt it would be easier to put off sex with a woman.    I suspect that she is one of those women who would lover to have a spiritual connection with someone, and a physical one so long as it never leads to sex.   RUN?   Yes, because it is likely that she will never change.   This will always be a major source of friction.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

    1. 23.1
      Ginger

      Read books by Bonnie Kaye they are very helpful.They address some of the issues why men don’t want to have sex

      1. 23.1.1
        Belinda

        Why would you recommend anyone read a book by Bonnie Kaye? She and others in our group helped to out my husband. She told me it would help begin my healing process. It made everyone miserable. She also said it would give me ammunition during my divorce proceedings. I almost lost any right to see my own children. When all hell broke lose in my life, Bonnie deserted me. The whole support group disappeared from AOL and I hear it went to Facebook. Go to an actual professional, steer clear of Bonnie Kaye, she’s a monster in human skin.

    2. 23.2
      Effie

      He may be diabetic. Have him go to the doctor to find out.

  4. 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.

  5. 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…..

    1. 25.1
      Jools

      Hi Patty, people can be thoughtless & cruel and some are just too dark to see the light. If someone doesn’t want to try to help themselves or to improve a relationship, progression is pretty much doomed. That’s so mean and childish of him. I hope you’re in a better place now.

    2. 25.2
      Holymoly

      I’m there right now. It is so sad. I feel so miserable and incapable. Don’t know what to do, honestly. My life depends on him.

    3. 25.3
      C

      In a very similar situation.   Together 9 months.   In the beginning sexual.   Once we became exclusive it was over.   Not even making out.   We lived together and slept in the same bed every night.   Nothing.   Workaholic, probably.

      Wouldn’t go to the Dr. said everything was fine.   Finally agreed to go to couples therapy.   That same night something was nagging me so I looked at his email to see he had booked a hotel.   He was going away with friends so I didn’t think much of it.   However, later where he said he and his friends were going didn’t jive with the hotel location.   Later in his emails I saw that he purchased movie tickets for 2.   One of them not me.

      I called him at the hotel.   He tried to deny he was there.   Pretty hard though when I called you on the hotel phone.

      Then he got angry and set it was a set up.   Later it was your my world.   Then angry.

      Threw him out.   Know it was the right thing but it feels awful.   I feel duped for 9 months.

  6. 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!

    1. 26.1
      cw

      Ugh. Again, the sex issue is all anyone seems to put any emphasis on and it sounds so juvenile.

  7. 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?

    2. 27.2
      Johanna

      That is awesome that you posted this because I too thought he might have been molested as a kid. Yet its crazy because I too was molested a lot of times as a kid but been open about it, just thought it would help him open up to me. Guess maybe not.

    3. 27.3
      dani

      there are conflict in your words. ” I would rather die then see her get hurt.”

      Don’t you see you are the one who hurt her by not having sex with her.. Do something if you doesn’t want to see her getting hurt.

    4. 27.4
      Clare

      I am so thankful you wrote this comment. My ex-boyfriend was molested as a child. As a result, can n0t have sex with someone he loves. Fear of intimacy. Relating sexual abuse to love.

      Please read more at malesurvivor.org and check out the discussion board. This is a REAL result of childhood sexual abuse in men.

      I unfortunately discovered the other terrible side effect of csa in men, sexual acting out. He couldn’t have sex with me. However, was sexual with lots of randoms from craigslist– recreating his abuse.

      I love him and in the end will be thankful for my time and experience with him. (Especially after I got a negative STD panel and a year of therapy.) However, I was completely devastated. Part of me wishes I would have ended it sooner when we stopped being sexually intimate. Saved myself a tremendous amount of pain. There were no other signs. He called always, text constantly, treated me well, close to my family etc. I tried everything I could from talks to lingerie and even getting angry. Nothing helped. Only he can do that through a lot of hard work on his own.

      Love is pain. I hope we both become better people because we knew each other. I also hope he continues therapy and healing from his childhood scars. I hope that one day, I’ll get over this and be able to love that deeply or even more so again.

      Maybe I’m completely wrong and he is just gay. I doubt that very much though.

      Good luck to the original poster. My only advice to her would be, it doesn’t matter why. It doesn’t matter why he isn’t sexual with you. Only that he isn’t and clearly you aren’t happy. If you want sex and monogamy, you wont be fulfilled in your current relationship.   Things will not change. If you stay long enough you’ll find out why, but it still won’t matter and you will have wasted so much of your precious time here on earth. Life isn’t infinite. Be thankful for the good times with your boyfriend and move on before you find out why and get all the pain that comes with that answer. Move on before you get deeply scarred.

       

    5. 27.5
      MB

      @Peter…my heart goes out to you, because I’ve also experienced sexual abuse (I am a woman).

      My advice?   You need to open up to your wife like you did on this site;   tell her what you’re feeling.     And therapy might not have helped much before, but you need to keep on trying if you want to save your marriage.

      I understand what a tough position you’re in because of what you’ve been through, but I can also relate to your wife because I am in a sexless marriage too.     I can tell you that your wife loves you but she is probably frustrated by the lack of intimacy.     It makes a woman feel unattractive and unwanted.

      Your situation is sad, but there is hope.   I agree with Clare…you need to seek help, specifically for male survivors of sexual abuse.   I wish you luck and healing!

       

       

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

    1. 30.1
      MB

      @starthrower68…in my case, this might be the issue.   My husband doesn’t want children and he failed to tell me this before we were married (although he claimed to want kids when we were dating).     I feel that this is another reason some men avoid sex with their wives;   they don’t want children and they don’t have the balls to admit that.   Sometimes I feel sad because I want at least one child;   I’m only 32 years old and I don’t want to still be feeling this way a few years from now when my fertility starts to decline.   Not to mention that even if we don’t have kids, I miss being desired by a man.   I miss being intimate and feeling that somebody wants me.

      And with people who withhold sex as a type of punishment or control, that’s just mean.   It shows dishonesty and an inability to talk about one’s feelings and issues in the relationship.     I’m at the point in my marriage where I would like to have an honest conversation with my husband about some things, but he isn’t open to it.     We love one another, no doubt about that…but babies and sex are taboo subjects in our home.   He is a great person in many ways, a good provider, smart, caring, funny, handsome;   he’s just not into me sexually.

       

       

       

       

    2. 30.2
      K

      Wow sometime you can feel like your in this situation all by yourself . But come to find out it’s people all over the world going through this same thing . Wow I’m in a sexless marriage as well all I can do is pray that one day things will change

  11. 31
    Gayle

    I had a boyfriend who is the same way.   He had issues from the start and as things dwindled from little to none, he started to blame me.  That was his way of ending it, when it was obvious something else was going on with him.
    I accepted the excuses and problems for awhile, tried every angle, but realized that he just might be gay and is in denial or else he has a physical problem and is in denial.   He liked me well enough in the beginning and still hangs around and yeah, he’s happy now that the pressure is off of him and doesn’t give a hoot about how that affects me.  
    I say dump him and look for somebody who is compatible with your wants and needs.   These duds don’t change.   And no, they won’t go to counseling because they don’t want to change.

  12. 32
    Ventressa

    I have a similar problem.   One thing I suggest you consider is if he`s using any substances such as marijuana.   My boyfriend smokes marijuana a lot and basically it makes sex seem like `too much work`… kills the libido when they smoke a lot.   That could be some of what`s happening in the situations mentioned here…

  13. 33
    Xa

    Has your boyfriend ever been sexually abused? This seems like a painfully obvious answer to this situation. He coudl be scarred by a past experience to the point where he is unable to talk about it, and sex could be absolutely terrifying for him. This isn’t your fault, but it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever for people to sit here calling him gay or saying he must find you unattractive when the issue is very likely to be something TOTALLY different. Instead of dumping him, encourage him to seek   counseling and try to work on having open communicatino with him.

  14. 34
    Rose

    This is not good. GET OUT NOW! I have been married for 18 years. We did not have a lot of sex before we were married because he wanted to “wait till marriage.” I thought that was romantic and I agreed. We kissed etc. but he was not all over me. He said his roomate was there he did not want to. I had a baby the first year and we never had sex the whole time I was PJ. Since it has ben 3 times a year. I have been having an affair for 2 years. I want out BAD!   I feel trappd and passively agressive abused by him like he has ownership papers on me. My DD graduates next year I am outa here! I have not had sex with him in 3 years. I felt like a freak. GET OUT NOW! Think of the future. You may be miserable as hell in a few years especially when you hit your 40s and your libido picks up. I am not proud of my life but am telling you this so you avoid a BIG mistake!

  15. 35
    Amy

    I would suggest to get this problem fixed before you are married! I know I’m currently in that exact situation right now.  If you can’t fix the problem there will be some one else who will treat you like a wife should be treated.
    I’m stuck with the same problem. Married 45+ years and only had sex once in my entire life. I can’t even remember what it was like any more. We had sex on our wedding night and then nothing. Never had a life long partner, no children or a loving family. He told me he hated sex with me, it was disgusting, disturbing, messy, smelly, not worth the effort. He didn’t under stand how any one could do such a vile thing to another human. I regret every day for not moving on.  

    1. 35.2
      MB

      @Amy…damn!     I feel for you.     That marriage sounds like it was doomed from the start.

      What kills me is the fact that your husband said all of those things to you;   that is emotional abuse.       It bothers me that people in sexless marriages often lose confidence and self-esteem because of this.     My husband has never said such things to me, he is a far kinder person, but I can relate to not having the type of family you wanted when you got married.

      Personally, I always wanted children and a solid marriage but I married somebody who avoids intimacy as much as possible, even talking about it.

       

       

      1. 35.2.1
        Amy

        Probably some people would think my husband is gay or have some body on the side. First of all I’ve   followed him and I had professional people follow him. There is nothing strange going on, he goes to work for about 12 hours a day even week ends and holidays. Then sleeps and back to work again. He’s   very recluse like, and prefers being by himself, as far as I know he has no friends. What time he takes for himself he works on his old pickup truck or does wood working stuff. He lives by himself in his work shop apartment thing, has no phone, tv, radio, computer no real connection to the outside world. I really don’t   think it’s fair to call him gay or have someone on the side. I lived with   over 40years in 4 different areas with him .

  16. 36
    brenda

    RUN!!! every women that must go through any of this RUN!!! he is GAY; a porn addict of a cheat!!! or a addict; choose??? just get the hell out of the relationship! i went through this hell for 3 years; mad as a hatter he made me; except he was the mad hatter and me a sexy desirable women; HOT and sexual.

  17. 37
    Bill

    I am now dating a beautiful woman. I love her in every way, other than sex. There is where the problems come in, Me being a man i find her attractive, but she has been mad at me not having sex with her. I dont want to have sex because I find sex wrong and disturbing. I see it that way just because I feel like that. I want to kiss her but not have intercourse. That is a big problem because she would like to have kids while I do not. Please realise that just because I dont want to have sex means that Im gay. Thanks for reading

    1. 37.1
      MB

      @Bill…this is where you need to be honest with her.     Don’t string her along and avoid talking about it, tell her the truth.

      It sounds like you are either asexual or there is something traumatic in your past (due to this statement:   “I find sex wrong and disturbing”).

      And you are free to feel that way…we’re all different.   But when you are in a relationship with somebody else, you owe it to that person to be honest.     It could mean losing her but that is the chance you’ll have to take.

      Honesty is even more important in your situation because she eventually wants to have kids and you don’t.       Please tell her how you feel so this can be resolved in a way that is fair to both of you.     There are women out there who don’t like sex and you can find one, instead of dating a woman who is sexually incompatible with you.

      Many people find themselves stuck in bad situations because they fail to communicate…don’t let that happen to you or your girlfriend.

  18. 38
    Hashmi Dawakhana

    Don’t marry with him

  19. 39
    Debra

    For god’s sake don’t marry him…I have been in a sexless marriage for 38 years…it does not get better. I have two children and we had sex to achieve that but he failed me even on the second night we were married.. The anger, depression I have suffered from this is immense and it continues on. Financially we are to entangled to break away and the possibility of me finding another man at 60 plus is almost impossible. Don’t live a lie like I did ..it will ruin your health and happiness ..run and don’t look back..

  20. 40
    HeatheN

    Evan is right. All the posters are right. Whether it’s that he’s gay, just has a low sex drive, or is foregoing sex with you for a ‘relationship’ with his right hand or online porn, it doesn’t matter. Need to let go. And make sure you’re honest with him. I hate when people break up but can’t stand to tell the other person why. He needs to understand, if not with you, then next time with the next person, that this is a DEAL breaker. If it happens enough MAYBE it will sink in that he needs to get on the ball and get some help.

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