Love and Relationships

[Two Pronged] My partner is no longer sexually attracted to me

Margarita Holmes
[Two Pronged] My partner is no longer sexually attracted to me
'Just two years later, he’s not into making love anymore? Am I the problem?'

Rappler’s Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr Margarita Holmes.

Jeremy has a master’s degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives

Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.


Dear Dr Holmes and Mr Baer,

I am in a 2-yr committed homosexual relationship with my partner. I asked for us to be official; it was very emotional when he agreed. In the beginning, we were very sexual and touchy. He even got mad at me when he caught me touching myself instead of fooling around with him.

Then once, we were traveling and had to make some last minute changes. He chose separate (cheaper) flights but I wanted to fly with him and pay extra. My choice was the only one that was viable since I was paying and I didn’t want us to be separated. He became SO distant. He said that he doesn’t feel like he gets to decide and make decisions in our relationship anymore.

After pleading my case and my constant actions to win his heart, we got back together again but live in two different houses so we can make two different decisions in two households.

We see each other during our off days, alternate being in each other’s houses.

At one point, I caught him meeting up with other men on a gay hook-up app. I’m a very salacious Scorpio but for two years, I have not cheated on my partner. He said he just needed to feel validated, did not hook-up with any of them and just had conversations with them.

Whether it was true or not, I believed him. I forgave him. 

We became touchy again but not too sexual. We joke about dry humping  but it doesn’t progress to full-on sex anymore. We still cuddle, have  date nights at home, confide in each other but something just seems wrong.

Once, I made out with him but his body language wasn’t responding accordingly.

I asked if he was still attracted to me, he said yes.

Romantically? Yes. (I didn’t ask if also sexually.)

Don’t you like sex anymore? I don’t.

That confuses me because even before we became official, we couldn’t get our hands off each other. Just two years later, he’s not into making love anymore? Am I the problem? Has he just lost his libido completely? We’re both just in our thirties.

I’m lost. Is this relationship working out? Are we together just for the sake of our family and social media? I love him very much and even if the sex ain’t all that, I would still love him cos I committed to him. But the sex has to exist first.

Heartbroken,

Harry


Dear Harry,

There seem to be two main issues arising from your letter: waning physical attraction and relationship dynamics.

It is inevitable for sexual activity to diminish over time; however, for it to dwindle to zero in just 2 years is unusual. There are a number of aspects to consider, such as: 1) has his libido died totally or only as far as you are concerned? His flirtation with hook-up apps suggests it is still alive 2) can you imagine a relationship without actual sex? Your statement “the sex has to exist first” seems to answer this.

If, therefore, he is not attracted to you sexually any more and you do not want a relationship without sex, you are faced with several alternatives, including a more open relationship or breaking up.

It may be that this issue of attraction is linked to your relationship’s dynamics. Your boyfriend reacted strongly to how you dealt with the ticketing problem. You took a unilateral decision based on your financial strength without prior agreement with your partner. This underlined his subordinate role in your relationship and could explain his subsequent distance, your decision to live separately, and probably the cooling in the sexual ardor.

Not everyone, after all, enjoys a subordinate role, nor an overt display of power by their partner, even if there are compensations elsewhere in the relationship.

It appears you need to have some serious discussions about these and related issues so that you can explore where your relationship can go – and even if it has run its course.

Best wishes,

JAF Baer


Dear Harry,

Thanks so much for your letter and the accuracy with which you chose your words. For example, your sentence: “My choice was the only one that was viable since I was paying” is exceptionally clear, but patently untrue. His choice was just as viable, but perhaps you believe in the “Golden Rule” that he who “holds the gold, makes the rules.”

Clearly, he doesn’t, and thus understandably, his coldness towards you. He, at least, is consistent in what he feels and the messages he sends you.

Superficially, you are the supplicant in this relationship: you asked to be official, when he wanted to break up, you pleaded your case and did many things to win his heart, describing yourself as heartbroken, and it is you, not him, who seems worried that he may not find you attractive anymore.

But it is easy to seem the supplicant if, when things really matter, you BOTH know you are the ascendant one, because you can make choices, unimpeded by financial considerations.

That, perhaps, is the reason he needs to feel validated. Your romantic overtures, while sweet, mean little, because he probably suspects what’s truly exciting to you – the unpredictability of his responses – because you never had anyone respond this way to you before.

This is obviously mere guess work on my part, and a generalization from several clients I’ve had, where the “rule maker” is willing to play the needy one to get what he wants. But this only works if you are playing by the same rules. Your current partner, bless his heart, is probably not interested in this game because relationships really mean more to him than sex or flying to exotic places.  

I agree 100% with Mr Baer’s final paragraph: You need to talk about issues that truly matter in a way that shows how you truly feel. No more of this “true or not, I believed him,” Harry, not to a man who has the integrity to pick up on your non verbal messages and respond accordingly. 

Please write us again if you 1. want to set us (me) straight re my reading of your relationship; or 2. you want more insights from us. 

Best,

MG Holmes

– Rappler.com

Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email twopronged@rappler.com with subject heading TWO PRONGED. Unfortunately, the volume of correspondence precludes a personal response.