DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’ve been with my boyfriend for a year and a half. He is so caring and thoughtful. He is affectionate and always finding ways to show me he loves me. He splits household responsibilities with me 50/50 and is in many ways my ideal partner, with one exception.
My boyfriend has ED.
I’m ok with. In fact, when we first started dating and he told me, I was willing to work on finding other ways to be together and feel intimacy and it seemed like he was too. I could tell he needed to take it slow and I was ok with that, but at some point progress completely halted. Now I’m at the point where I feel he refuses to do anything about it. For example he says he doesn’t like the way, “vaginas smell or taste” (he’s never even attempted to go down on me, this is based on his past experiences). He also had never touched me down there for more than a few seconds at a time. The most we do together is making out and mastrubating and even this has gotten fewer and farther between.
I’ve asked him if he’s attracted to me and he insists that he is (he also gets erections no problem when we start fooling around), but it’s so hard to not feel like I’m doing something wrong. He says this is all stemming from a botched circumcision that led to decreased sensitivity but there is definitely another element at play here. I say this because once we managed to have sex and he came but it has never been attempted nor has it happened again. In fact, just a few days ago, he said the most hurtful thing he has said to me throughout all of this. He described the moment (which I felt was special because we were able to connect) as, “I barely felt anything and then I came.”
I’m honestly at the point where I’m thinking about breaking up with him. I love him but it feels like a constant blow to my sexual confidence and it hurts so much to not be able to physically connect with him.
I know that I will be heartbroken if things don’t work out between us, but I also know I can’t force him to do anything he’s not ready to do. Please help!
Sexless In Seattle
DEAR SEXLESS IN SEATTLE: I hate to say it, SIS, but I think you’re already at the break-up point of your relationship.
Now, I have a lot of questions about your boyfriend and his junk, starting with: does he have ED, or is he somewhere on the asexuality spectrum? Does he masturbate on his own, and if so, how? Has he had this problem with other partners before you? Has he tried any treatments for his ED? When, exactly, did he get circumcised, as a child or an adult? If it was as an adult, was there a difference in his sex drive and interest in sex before he had the foreskin removed?
I ask because… well, honestly, I kind of suspect the problem isn’t that he has erectile dysfunction. If you two are able to sit next to each other and masturbate to completion and he’s able to get hard enough for long enough to actually manage penetration, that would seem to indicate that he’s able to achieve erections and get himself off. That doesn’t necessarily mean that he doesn’t have ED — ED can have psychological causes as well as physical ones — but it does call some of his reasons into question.
Frankly, there’s a lot here that suggests this is a deeper issue than simple erectile dysfunction. As I’ve said before: sex is more than insert-tab-a-into-slot-b. Penises are great, but they’re not the only way to have sex. Dicks can be divas; they’ll often refuse to work if circumstances aren’t absolutely perfect. But hands, mouths, tongues and toys never go soft. In fact, oral sex and manual stimulation are actually more likely to bring you to orgasm than just penetration. You and he could still have great sex by using various penetration toys or vibrators… on you and on him. Even if he can’t necessarily get hard, there’re toys for men with erection difficulties that can still get him off.
But if I’m being honest, I think the likelier issue is that he doesn’t like sex. Maybe he’s sex-repulsed. Or it could be possible he has some sort of sexual trauma he hasn’t worked through. Maybe he’s asexual but keeps trying to force himself into sexual relationships because he thinks he’s supposed to. Maybe he’s got issues with his own sexuality and isn’t actually attracted to women. But from what you’ve told me, I don’t think he’s being straight with you. I don’t know if he’s lying or just not telling you the whole truth, or if he’s not even aware of it himself… but this sounds a lot like his trying to rationalize why he doesn’t want to f--k you.
The fact that he’s apparently repulsed by vaginas and can’t bring himself to touch you, never mind perform oral sex is one of them. The fact that he has no problem telling you how bad penetrative sex was. The fact that he doesn’t seem to care about the fact that you’re not having any sort of sexual intimacy at all… it really sounds like either he’s not interested in sex, or he’s not interested in sex with you. He certainly doesn’t seem to be bothered by this.
However, the more important thing is that he doesn’t seem to be bothered by how much this bothers you. And that, more than anything else, is the sign that this relationship is already reaching it’s end point. When someone can’t be bothered to care or address fundamental issues in the relationship that’re hurting their partner, that’s usually an indication that the relationship’s already over. What you have now is a zombie relationship, dead but shambling around anyway. The only thing left to do is put two in its dome and call it.
And look, I get it: you love him. You have a strong and affectionate connection. But you’re a sexual being and he, apparently, isn’t. Maybe not with you, maybe not with women, maybe not with anyone. And while your relationship may have all of these good points, the sexual incompatibility — and the lack of consideration he’s showing you about sex — is going to blow things up sooner or later. If you want to have some sort of post-breakup relationship with him, it’s better to end it now, before your affection for him can curdle into resentment. He may be a great guy otherwise but he’s not the guy for you. If you and your partner aren’t sexually compatible — and that includes couples who don’t want sex — then that dissatisfaction is going to be a rock in your shoe from now until the day you finally end things. And it’ll only get worse from here.
So if you care for him and want him in your life later on… it’s better to take the immediate pain of heartbreak now than watching the long, slow decay of your relationship. The heartbreak now may seem scarier and more intense, but I can promise you: it hurts far less than dragging things out, and the pain will be over much faster. And just as importantly: it will free you and your beau up to find partners who are right for you.
If it were to be done, ’tis best done quickly. Rip the bandage off, SiS. The sooner you do, the sooner you can heal and move forward.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, email@example.com