Boyfriend avoids intimacy with me

All Woman

Dear Counsellor,

For some time now I have realised that my boyfriend doesn't really want sex. Most times I am the one who must ask. Sometimes when I ask I have to wait as long as a week even though he's not busy. Initially I thought that he had low testosterone levels, but he told me today that he doesn't. He says there are many times when he feels for sex, but not with me. He says he feels for something different. He says the actual sex act between us is OK, but he just doesn't want me when he gets the urge. He claims he's not planning to seek satisfaction elsewhere, and that he tries to be faithful.

I feel very hurt and frustrated sometimes. I love this guy a lot and I really enjoy our sexual encounters. Is it normal for him to behave like this? What can I do to make him want me more? I need your help.

Sexual dysfunction can manifest itself in one or a combination of ways — desire disorder, arousal disorder, orgasm disorder and pain disorder. The sex therapist would want to ascertain if the condition is lifelong or acquired; generalised or situational; physical or psychological. I won't go into too much detail except to say that narrowing down the options can give a pretty good idea as to what may be going on with your partner.

It appears that the medical (physical) matter of testosterone levels can be ruled out. Most sexual problems have a psychological component, that is, the issues are more in the mind than in the body itself. What you are thinking before, during and after the sexual act can determine how the body and the genitals respond.

So with your partner, based on the information provided, it seems that there is an issue with low sexual desire which is situational, meaning he may not have that problem outside of the relationship (generalised) but only when relating to you (situational). And it is for this reason that sexual problems in a relationship must be tackled as a couple rather than on an individual level.

First of all, don't blame yourself for your partner's low sex drive, but be appreciative that he was honest enough to share his feelings. Many couples don't reach this far in discussing the issue, and so anxiety and resentment build up between them.

Sex therapists have posited that the following are the possible causes of low sexual desire in men: low testosterone, anxiety, depression, use of prescription drugs (anti-depression), work-related stress, or the prior existence of other sexual problems such as premature ejaculation or erection problems. So in discussion with the therapist, the couple will talk about ways of addressing the main contributor(s) to the problem.

As an understanding and committed partner, you should have a conversation with him about what you both can do to turn up his flame a bit. One way of doing this is a change of scenery — taking a weekend away from home to a different setting. If that is not an option right now, then do something creative with the current space, something to change the ambience. Some couples go for candlelight and romantic music while others will go for role playing — strip tease, lap dance and venturing outside of the bedroom. Routine and predictability can put a damper on sexual activities, and so experimentation and adventure must be considered an integral part of the effort to increase sexual desire.

It is said that men are highly visual, so try to stimulate your man by the way you present yourself even before you reach the bedroom. The tattered house dress, the long flannel nightgown, face mask and those gigantic curlers that remind him of his mother will be a turn-off for him.

It is not unusual for men in committed relationships to wonder what the grass is like on the other side. The important thing is that you keep him focused so that he will not be distracted and will always say “nuh weh nuh betta dan yaad.”

So have that dialogue with your partner, be open to try some of his fantasies if they don't violate you or your values. You both may want to read or watch an erotic book or movie (not porn) that may help to set the mood, and then you both may act out some of the scenes afterwards.

Although you may be frustrated with your partner, don't give up or feel rejected. Continue to love and respect him, and let him know how much you enjoy making love to him and want to make the experience just as good for him too.

I wish you all the best.

Wayne Powell is a relationship counsellor. Write to agapemft@gmail.com; check out his work overseas on www.seekingshalom.org, e-mail powellw@seekingshalom.org.

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