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Boyfriend Doesn’t Like Sex

Q. I have been in relationship with a wonderful guy for the last 18 months. It’s a very healthy relationship only we seem to have different feelings about sex. Sex is very important to me, and it is SO great in a committed, trusting relationship. My sweetheart doesn’t seem to be as interested in sex as I am, and seems somewhat turned off by it even. He doesn’t really like it when I’m really wet, he seems to find it distasteful.

This difference is leading to me being more inhibited, and I’m not used to that. I don’t know how to talk about this without making it seem threatening to him, or like I’m putting pressure on him to perform.

A. There is a concept in sexuality called Erotophilia/Erotophobia. It’s a continuum, like most things related to Psychology, and expresses an idea that people have a natural comfort (or not) with sex. And also like most things in Psychology few people are at the extreme ends of the continuum, we tend toward the middle. It seems likely to me that we are born with a natural range on this continuum, and our life experiences determine exactly, within our natural range, we fall.

It sounds to me like you are mostly erotophilic. You like sex, talk about it comfortably, are interested in learning about it, and I bet you LOVE the juices, etc. Your beau is more erotophobic. It sounds like he tolerates sex, but doesn’t relish it, probably shys away from talking about it, wouldn’t really be interested in learning about it, and the details turn him off.

It also sounds like he really loves you, and that you very much want to try to work this out.

That’s a hopeful sign, because generally it’s not really something about someone that is very changeable. It’s sort of a part of your natural inclination, kind of like your orientation, whom you are attracted to (Vigo Mortenson or Orlando Bloom), or whether you are more comfortable asking someone else to dance, or you prefer to be asked.

This isn’t the answer you want to hear, and it isn’t one I’m super thrilled to give you, but it’s the truth. The prognosis here isn’t good. If he has an inner sexier side that might have been buried because of unfortunate experiences, he may be able to work with a counselor competent in sexuality issues to find and nurture that part of himself. But, he could just as easily be born that way. Either he does some work to find his inner sexually expressive self (which may or may not even be there) or you will have to suppress your own natural sexuality, and that’s a very unhealthy choice in my opinion. It might work for a year or even two, but eventually your sexual energy will leak out in unhealthy ways.

This is a pretty common scenario. When it happens in this direction in a heterosexual relationship, with the woman being more into sex for whatever reason, there are some weird gender role things that complicate the solutions. Women who are sexually expressive don’t get a lot of reinforcement for that in society, and often that’s true in relationship as well. Men who aren’t very sexual experience chastisement in various ways, too.

To start with, I think that it is important that you be able to find a way to communicate this to him, and you’re right, it sounds like this is going to be challenging. Try reading Passionate Marriage as a starting place. I think you’ll find many ideas there. If you choose to see a counselor together, ask if he or she is trained in this technique.

I would also suggest Margo Anand’s book, The Art of Sexual Ecstasy: The Path of Sacred Sexuality for Western Loversi. The way to reach a man like your partner is through his heart, not through his pants. This approach would likely be enjoyable for both of you. I can also recommend Sohini Genivieve and Carlo Ponti’s Kreative World (look them up on Google) classes, which aren’t too far from here if you’d rather experience it that way.