Rainbow Counsellor Elijah Luke Michel is here to help with your problems:
My partner is a lovely man, but he isn’t affectionate. He never hugs, cuddles, or shows affection because he never received it from his parents, especially his mother. I am warm and affectionate by nature, which is what I think attracted him to me in the first place, but I feel short-changed as I get nothing in return. Our sex life has suffered because of that, but we’re still good friends. Talking about this problem has achieved nothing. What do you suggest?
There could be numerous factors at play here, and only further gentle discussion with your partner could shed more light. It sounds like you are referring to general affection, like hugs and cuddles, as opposed to an deep-seated aversion to touch due to unsafe touch as a child.
You say your sex life has suffered, which implies it was once a reality, so why might things have changed? Was he putting his own feelings aside to please you in the earlier stages of your relationship? Is there a health issue that may be affecting his libido? If none of those options are feasible then it may simply be as you say, that he never received affection as a child so is unsure of how to give (or receive) it today. If that’s the case, there’s good news – we can learn. Patience will be required, as well as reminding yourself it’s not personal.
I love the fact you’re still good friends. That’s a solid foundation for any relationship, and intimacy is the icing on the top. You need to assess your own needs – are you happy remaining platonic friends? If not, is your partner open to seeing a couples counsellor or a sex therapist? If not, would he be open to remaining in relationship but allow you to receive physical intimacy elsewhere, in the form of an open relationship? Sounds like more discussion is needed. Maybe you could start by discussing it holding hands on the couch…
Elijah Luke Michel is a Chaplain and Counsellor for the GLBT Community, working with both Rainbow Youth and OUTLineNZ as an independent consultant and also on the board of OUTLineNZ. If you have an issue you would like Elijah to talk about in express, email email@example.com.