Love and Sex
June 15, 2005 11:15 AM   Subscribe

My girlfriend and I are in college and we've been together for almost a year. I know that she loves me, and we have a good relationship, but I'm not as attracted to her as she is to me. What should I do?

I thought at first that I was being too picky, and beggars can't be choosers, and besides, she seemed like a great girl who really cares about me. Well, she is a great girl who really cares about me, but I'm still not that interested in sex with her. I've come to appreciate her more over the course of our relationship, but I still feel like I never had that spark for her, whereas she does for me, and I feel pretty bad about that. She isn't unattractive, either; it's just that my brain still seems to parse her features more as "friend" than "lover." I'm very comfortable being physical with her, but I just don't feel that strong a desire, and I often find myself thinking about other girls. She seems happy with our relationship, but she occasionally hints that she wishes I were more enthusiastic sexually.

Has anyone been in a similar situation? I'm worried that I'm being too superficial and that I won't be able to find someone else with whom I have so much in common and who will love me as much, that I'd be throwing away a perfectly good relationship, etc. She's very attached to me, and I care about her a lot, so I really don't want to hurt her. However, I feel guilty about the inequality of desire in our relationship, like I'm being dishonest to myself and to her. Any advice would be appreciated.
posted by ludwig_van to Human Relations (58 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
You didn't mention if you love her.
posted by crapulent at 11:31 AM on June 15, 2005


It doesn't sound like you're in love with her at all, and I don't mean just because of the lack of lust. The nicest thing you say about her is that you "appreciate" her. I think you're just staying with her because it's safe, and to avoid dealing with the emotions that come from a breakup. But look at it this way: would you want her to be in a relationship with someone who doesn't love her? Would you want that for anyone you care about?
posted by JanetLand at 11:34 AM on June 15, 2005


Bluntly: You do not feel capable of giving her something you feel she deserves, i.e. love.

It's better to let her go and give both of yourselves the chance you'll each find someone better suited, someone you can love, someone who can love her.

It will hurt, but it really is the best option. Hanging on because you don't want to hurt someone isn't kind to either of you. It's better to hurt now for a relatively short time than it is to be somewhat miserable forever.
posted by angeline at 11:38 AM on June 15, 2005


That's a good point crapulent, but I suppose I see that as part of my question. I mean, I feel very fond of her, I like talking to her, I miss her when she's gone, I appreciate the things she does for me, I like to make her happy, and I've managed to spend a whole lot of time with her for the last 10 months without getting tired of her. But can I say that I love her without feeling a strong physical attraction? Isn't that a necessary component of love? Or am I being too shallow and short-sighted?
posted by ludwig_van at 11:38 AM on June 15, 2005


It seems like you want advice on what choice to make, one or zero, break up or stick with it. But I don't think there's a "right" answer to that question.

Personally it's not really something I can relate to, it doesn't take much for me to be turned on.

But what you can do is try to change your sexual responses, and 'force' your brain to be turned on by your GF. I think this is definitely within the realm of possible for the human mind.

Basically whenever you fantasize, think of her. Whenever you think about sex, think about her. The idea is to get your brain to associate the two. Is there anything, any situations or kinks that get your blood flowing? Then try to imagine you and your girlfriend in those situations.

You could also try; you know reading those books like the joy of sex together. Coming up with ideas and games that both interest you and doing them. I think that might help. If not, then I dunno.
posted by delmoi at 11:38 AM on June 15, 2005


Also I don't buy the "if you don't want to bang her 24/7 you don't love her" sentiment.
posted by delmoi at 11:40 AM on June 15, 2005


It's not superficial to want to be with someone who you find to be sexually appealling. If you want to keep plugging away at it, good luck. I've been on your girlfriend's end of the "I don't find my lover interesting sexually" and it royally sucks, and the longer it goes on, the more it sucks.

There's nothing that says that every relationship needs to last, or that every two people who can treat each other well should be involved in a relationship. It sounds like you two are good friends. You may end up being great friends if you address this presently.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:40 AM on June 15, 2005 [1 favorite]


You're just in college. There are a ton of other women out there, and there are a ton of other men out there for her.

Just move on.
posted by xmutex at 11:41 AM on June 15, 2005


delmoi, those are helpful suggestions, thanks. And I didn't mean to make this sound like a yes or no type of question.

janet and angeline, I'd be interested to know what else it sounds like I'm lacking her besides physical attraction. I recall reading about the two types of love; the short term infatuation type and the long term companionship type. I feel like I've got the latter, but never really had the former. But isn't the latter supposed to be the rarer, more valuable type?
posted by ludwig_van at 11:42 AM on June 15, 2005


her = here
posted by ludwig_van at 11:43 AM on June 15, 2005


and delmoi: "if you don't want to bang her 24/7 you don't love her" is a pretty unfair way to describe what he's saying. He is basically saying he's not sexually attracted to her. That is (or should be) incredibly important in any relationship. It's not superficial, it's ingrained in human nature.
posted by xmutex at 11:43 AM on June 15, 2005


It's going to suck for her if this goes on much longer. She will feel subliminally underappreciated and this will sabotage your relationship. I know you care about her on a lot of levels, but if the intensity is not there, it's never going to happen. I've been on both sides of it, and even though it's going to hurt like hell to break up, it's the best thing to do. You're both so young, maybe after 6 months to a year and a few rebound flings for both of you, she'll be able to laugh about it and come back to being friends with you, if you're lucky.
posted by matildaben at 11:50 AM on June 15, 2005 [1 favorite]


I'd be interested to know what else it sounds like I'm lacking here besides physical attraction.

But the physical part is what makes it a relationship. Otherwise what you've got is a best friend.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:53 AM on June 15, 2005


I recall reading about the two types of love; the short term infatuation type and the long term companionship type. I feel like I've got the latter, but never really had the former. But isn't the latter supposed to be the rarer, more valuable type?

A good question, and goodness knows I'm not much of an authority on lifelong relationships, but the thing is, even if that's what you've got, it's apparently not what she's got. You said that she's hinted that she'd like you to be more involved sexually. So the two of you are out of balance.
posted by JanetLand at 11:54 AM on June 15, 2005


If it helps, this:

I'm worried that I'm being too superficial and that I won't be able to find someone else with whom I have so much in common and who will love me as much, that I'd be throwing away a perfectly good relationship, etc.

is pretty much something everyone thinks at the end of every relationship. I recently broke up with a complete asshole who, at the end, was treating me like utter shit, and I still felt all of the above. It's normal fear of the unknown, and not necessarily a sign that you two were meant to be together forever.

I don't mean to minimize that *at* *all*, because that's a huge soul-sucking horrible emotion to go through, but I just want to point out that that feeling may not be the best guide to what you should do. (And realizing that everyone feels that really helped me through my own break-up, FWIW.)
posted by occhiblu at 12:01 PM on June 15, 2005


This is going to sound harsh, but you should break up with her. You're trying very hard, but if it isn't coming to you naturally now, then it won't come naturally to you in the future. I know that you're trying to love her, but you have to understand that she deserves someone who returns her feelings completely. You may appreciate her now, but love is what will keep you from resenting her later.

You will break her heart and she will probably hate you, but eventually she will get over it and understand. You are doing her a favor. You are both young and a year will not seem so long in the future.

I have been in a similar situation, and I would prefer to be dumped rather than waste my time. Also, don't tell her her that you think her feelings for you are stonger than her feelings for her. It's one of the worst things you can say to someone who cares about you.
posted by Alison at 12:02 PM on June 15, 2005


It's going to suck for her if this goes on much longer. She will feel subliminally underappreciated and this will sabotage your relationship. I know you care about her on a lot of levels, but if the intensity is not there, it's never going to happen.

Bingo.
posted by Kwantsar at 12:08 PM on June 15, 2005


Break up with her.

You're in college. You could probably rattle of the names of a dozen people who you'd like to screw this weekend, off the top of your head. That's what's getting in your way.

Go and get it out of your system.
posted by mkultra at 12:10 PM on June 15, 2005


Have you talked to her about this? She's already brought up the subject, how did you respond to her when she did?

Your response in that situation should be pretty indicative of what steps you need to take. I think delmoi has some pretty good suggestions for solving the physical attraction issue, but there is a lot more to it than that.

For instance, would this situation change if you were with another person? You mentioned that you fantasize about other women (which, IMO, is fairly normal -- you are human) but there's no reason that the situation would be any different if you were actually dating one of them.

Look at your current life situation. College offers a lot of opportunities that a monogamous relationship sometimes clashes against (alright, pretty much always clashes). If you feel that the relationship is stronger than all that (and that's really up to you) than sticking it out might be worth it. However, you could end-up wasting a lot of her/your time on something that may not change even post-college life.

My advice is to talk to her about this. There may be one small component to your relationship that is missing that would kick start the attraction factor and maybe you can both work on finding it. Also, without talking to her, you cannot be absolutely certain of her feelings for you. You mention it a few times in your question which might indicate that you are trying to convince yourself of her attraction to you but you're not necessarily 100% sure.
posted by purephase at 12:25 PM on June 15, 2005


I feel very fond of her, I like talking to her, I miss her when she's gone, I appreciate the things she does for me, I like to make her happy, and I've managed to spend a whole lot of time with her for the last 10 months without getting tired of her.

Why not stay with her and see what happens? Is there some reason why you have to make a decision, in or out, right this minute?

To me, all those points you list seem like a great foundation for a relationship. From these, physical attraction might bloom. There's an odd belief that if you don't feel it right away, you'll never feel it. Why should that be so? People sometimes become deeply attracted to people they've just seen as friends.

You're a college student, so that probably (but not necessarily) means you're really young. I'll be 40 this year. From my side of the fence, I think finding someone you can get along with, feel comfortable with and can talk to is really hard. And when you find that person, she's worth holding onto (at least until it's clear as crystal that it will never work). It's much easier to find hot bodies that don't engage your mind, that don't keep you warm at night.

Of course, the ideal is to have both. And that may very well come. Or maybe it won't, but you may be 75% of the way to having it all, so why blow it.

As someone who as been in a committed relationship for 10 years, I will say (and I think any married person will agree) that physical attraction comes and goes. As you mature, you learn to ride out the low tides and enjoy the high ones.

Having said all this, no one deserves a dull sex life. It IS important. I'm not saying you should stick with her no matter what. I'm saying that she sounds, in many ways, like a good thing. So if I were you, I'd continue with her and see what happens.

By the way, good sex doesn't always have to be based on a "spark." You can work at it -- together (assuming she's willing). Surely the two of you could do some fun stuff to spice things up. If she's willing to do daring, silly, fun, sexy things with you, maybe the spark will appear!

Oh, and you think about other girls? So what. Who doesn't.
posted by grumblebee at 12:26 PM on June 15, 2005


than sticking it out might be worth it.

argh.. then sticking it out might be worth it.
posted by purephase at 12:28 PM on June 15, 2005


Just to play devil's advocate, maybe you're just not all that into sex. We all like the release of orgasm but perhaps once you're over the thrill of a new partner your desire isn't that huge.

I often find that my level of desire is lower than that of women I date. My current girlfriend would be delighted to have sex twice a day. My body's demands are more like once a week.

I think the field of sexual behavior and desire are huge, as is the range in love and affection. People want different things from relationships, not just the wild humping in youth and quiet companionship in old age that are the stereotypes. Rather than wondering if you are right or wrong in some absolute sense you should be asking if you are happy with things as they are or not, as well as whether she is happy or not. If you're not happy and want something else, do you want something transitory or substantive?

My more glib in-my-30s answer is just break up with her. You're young and if you're not sure what you want or what makes you happy but are pretty sure this ain't it, move on and figure out what you do want. Figuring that out may or may not be something you do with someone else but you have plenty of time and this is the time to do the exploring.
posted by phearlez at 12:29 PM on June 15, 2005


You are young and the relationship is still fairly young, so my advice would be to move on now, before it becomes more complicated. These dynamics will almost certainly not just change one day. They may evolve and become altered by other things that happen, but the fundamental facts are that she feels more strongly for you than you do for her.

This is ultimately something you have to decide for yourself, by working out what's most important to you - there isn't a right answer per se. But I think it's important you don't think it's "superficial" to want that spark. What else differentiates "being in love" from close friends? When we call it 'being in love' it seems deeper and more romantic than when we call it 'sexual attraction', but it's not a totally different thing. Real attraction is not just getting a hard-on - it's feeling excited by the presence of someone, feeling your heartbeat increase, being fascinated by the way they move their hands or purse their lips... attraction is chemical.

Some people consider this trivial, because it will wear out a little over time, and tells you nothing about the deeper connection you may or may not have. But to me, it's pretty important. I think of it this way: if you marry a girl you think of as a friend, why not marry a guy who's just a friend? But wouldn't that be "living a lie"? A gay man could fit into society and have a perfectly deep friendship / relationship with a woman, but sexually & chemically he'd be thinking of someone else.

You can say that it's different because you're straight, but I think that's just a matter of degree. Perhaps you're more excited by her than you'd be by a hot guy, but it is still analogous, and if you stick with it, you may well regret forcing yourself to 'live a lie'. Don't feel that it's base of you to want that deeper chemical connection. That feeling is widely regarded as among the best experiences humans get to have, so don't deny yourself the chance to seek it out just because you feel bad about it.

On the other hand, if you are more concerned about having a stable, comfortable relationship than experiencing those romantic fantasies (which don't come true for everyone), it is perfectly reasonable to make a more pragmatic choice. It's always a question of what's more important to you, and what you really want. My main point is just that you shouldn't feel you're being superficial if you choose to end it.

geez, sorry about the length...
posted by mdn at 12:42 PM on June 15, 2005 [1 favorite]


I've been in a similar situation (she loved me, I didn't love her); I got out and never regretted it, and we stayed friends. For what that's worth.

physical attraction comes and goes.

Yeah, but first it's got to (ahem) come. I've been in plenty of relationships, and they all started with a period of mad mutual lust. I can imagine one starting differently, but after ten months, I think it's safe to say he's not particularly turned on by her. Bad sign.
posted by languagehat at 12:44 PM on June 15, 2005


occhiblu writes "I don't mean to minimize that *at* *all*, because that's a huge soul-sucking horrible emotion to go through, but I just want to point out that that feeling may not be the best guide to what you should do. (And realizing that everyone feels that really helped me through my own break-up, FWIW.)"

This is a great point, and a reminder that actually makes me breath a sigh of relief since I've been feeling this lately.

Another thing I've been thinking about lately is how movies tend to depict the bravery of romance as the moment when one approaches someone new, someone who is interesting but seems remote or likely to hurt us. I think there is a corollary, which is that it's very brave to leave someone who is just not right, even though comfortable and loving and cared about. The former bravery may only be possible after the latter has been displayed.
posted by OmieWise at 12:58 PM on June 15, 2005


Get out now. It's only going to get worse. If it's not there now, it never will be. If you marry her, you'll either be miserable or get a divorce, and eventually you'll resent her.

But what you can do is try to change your sexual responses, and 'force' your brain to be turned on by your GF. I think this is definitely within the realm of possible for the human mind.

I know you were appreciative of this advice, but it's nothing but nonsense. Believe it and you're in for a world of hurt. Getting out now will also allow her to be with someone who thinks she's everything, and she deserves that.
posted by justgary at 1:19 PM on June 15, 2005


I think it depends on your happiness: are you happy with the way your relationship is now, not being attracted to her? It doesn't sound like you are, and in that case maybe it's best to end it. In my experience, you can't force yourself to be sexually attracted to someone - you just are or you aren't.
posted by geeky at 1:41 PM on June 15, 2005


Sex is not the be all and end all of a relationship, and it shouldn't be; but the good conversation, the comfort and the simple pleasures aren't the alpha and omega, either. There has to be some kind of passion, spark, chemistry...something that makes this more than a really awesome friendship.

See, you can be comfortable, loving someone's company and there's a lot of real happiness there...but the happiness you do have eventually leaches away, because there's that chink in the foundation where an important bit is missing. You already know it's not there, and it sounds like she's starting to get that, too, she just doesn't get that it may not be fixable. Yes, maybe you can develop those feelings for her, but usually that doesn't happen.

You both deserve more than this, more than settling because you're afraid nothing more suitable will come along.
posted by angeline at 1:53 PM on June 15, 2005


I think you need to end it - I've been on your girlfriend's side of this and eventually it begins to suck in many terrible ways. It saps your self esteem and slowly destroys you and you start to feel like Mrs. Roper. Nobody should have to feel like Mrs. Roper. Yes, she'll be sad and upset and so will you, but even though it may not feel like it now, it's better to be sad and upset after 10 months than after 10 years, when you're married, have kids and then. . . somebody who DOES push all your buttons appears in your life. Believe me when I tell you that breakup will be much, much worse.

In a nutshell, what justgary and languagehat and matildaben said.
posted by mygothlaundry at 2:00 PM on June 15, 2005


I know you were appreciative of this advice, but it's nothing but nonsense. Believe it and you're in for a world of hurt. Getting out now will also allow her to be with someone who thinks she's everything, and she deserves that.

What exactly makes you think it's nonsense? You don't belive in operant conditioning?

but the fundamental facts are that she feels more strongly for you than you do for her.

How could you possibly know what the "facts" are. This thread is basicaly a bunch of people spouting off without knowing either of these people. How can you say it's a 'fundamental' fact that she cares more about him then he cares about her. She's just more attracted. Love isn't attraction. The last time I checked there is no way to mesure the amount of Love someone feels.

If he wants to stay with her, then I don't see what problem there is in trying to condition himself to be aroused by her. If he can then the relationship might work. If not, then maybe not, who knows.
posted by delmoi at 2:42 PM on June 15, 2005


Basically whenever you fantasize, think of her. Whenever you think about sex, think about her. The idea is to get your brain to associate the two. Is there anything, any situations or kinks that get your blood flowing? Then try to imagine you and your girlfriend in those situations.

What makes it nonsense is that (in my interpretation) what gets his blood flowing is thinking about having sex with other people, and not with her. The conditioning will probably work, but not like you think: he's going to associate things that get him exciting with something that doesn't. If everytime I was whacking it to online porn, a pic of my mom would pop-up on my screen, it wouldn't make me want to bang my mom, it would make me want to stop whacking it to online porn.
posted by 23skidoo at 2:57 PM on June 15, 2005


Thanks for all of the responses folks. My reluctance to break it off is definitely coming in part from a fear of the unknown and the loss of the security of my relationship, as occhiblu points out, but also because I've been trying to take the long view, as grumblebee suggests.

mdn's description of "chemical" attraction is something I can relate to, and pretty much what I'd say I'm missing here.

purephase asks if she and I have talked about this. We have discussed our sex life and ways that we could make it more interesting, but I find it difficult to discuss without making her feel like she isn't good enough for me, which, if you want to get right down to it, is the root of my complaint.

A number of posters have said that it comes down to what I want and what's important to me; and while that makes sense, if I knew that I wouldn't be asking this question. I suppose my problem is separating what I want from what I just think I want.

I'm not sure if I expressed this very well, as I was focusing on the negative, but I feel like this girl is a rare find in terms of how well we get along and how devoted she is to me. However, I'm 20 and I can count the number of serious relationships I've had on one hand, so maybe it's just naive to think I couldn't find the same thing in a person to whom I'd be more attracted.

I suppose I'll mull it over and see if she and I can talk about it some more. I especially appreciate the feedback from older folks and people who have been in similar situations. Thanks again.
posted by ludwig_van at 3:01 PM on June 15, 2005


you mention that "beggars can't be choosers" and that you won't be able to find someone else who loves you, etc. and that, to me, sounds like the real issue here.

imagine that you believed in yourself and that you recognized that if one person fell in love with you, many other people over the course of your life will too. then look at the situation again: in a world where there are many people who will love you, is this the person you want to be with? i'm not getting the sense from your comments here that you think this is that person. and that's not just about the sex, but about the way you feel, which seems more "friend" than "lover", as you describe.
posted by judith at 3:03 PM on June 15, 2005


I don't think it's fair to her for you to stay with her because you're afraid you'll never find someone else better. What happens when someday you do find that someone else that's better, be it weeks or years down the road? Where does that leave her?
posted by geeky at 3:12 PM on June 15, 2005


She should run like hell. Seriously. This is a situation I've encountered way too many times, and it always seems to end up ugly. Let her go find someone who adores her. You staying with her but not being romantically interested particularly in her will, if she's been typically socialized to think part of her identity is wrapped up in how desirable her partner finds her (I'm not saying this is a good thing, but a very common thing), fuck up her self esteem.
posted by ifjuly at 3:23 PM on June 15, 2005


That's a good point geeky.

ifjuly, I understand what you mean, but I don't treat her badly. She seems happy with me and she thinks I'm a good boyfriend.
posted by ludwig_van at 3:26 PM on June 15, 2005


Perhaps you just need a break from each other.

That having been said, that twitterpation feeling you are missing is something that does NOT last. Being young, you haven't had a lot of experience with that.

And for what it is worth, the person I married -well, I felt as you. Our anniversary -22nd one -is in August. We have definitely had our share of difficulties, but the rightness of the relationship itself has never been in question.

Finally, a thought experiment. Imagine her in a relationship with someone else. Do you feel relieved or jealous?

There's your answer.
posted by konolia at 3:37 PM on June 15, 2005


i don't doubt it, and i didn't mean to imply you were cold or rude to her. but in my experience it doesn't ultimately matter. most people--not all, i realize, but most, and maybe more than will admit off the bat to themselves as well as others--value their sexual experience and value with their partner(s). you can be the sweetest boyfriend in the universe, but ultimately (i've found at least) it doesn't remove the growing pain that your boyfriend just ain't that into you in that way. i think a lot of women still get successfully socialized to both think their identity is wrapped in how sexually desirable they are vis a vis other women, and (contradiction here) to underrate how much their sex lives with others matters; there's this idea you're still not supposed to be like "it's perfectly cool for me to say, yes, lack of full on pleasure is a deal breaker for me" the way guys feel entitled to say. i'm generalizing here of course. and projecting, so yes, take it with a grain of salt if you don't think it's relevant. but yeah. i and others i knew deluded ourselves for way too long, thinking it was okay, that hey, at least he was a decent activity partner etc, and "nice" to me, so i didn't have any reason to ask for more. ultimately that was inane and led to a big waste of time and a lot of anguish. if sex matters at all to her, and feeling sexy around her partner, you will run into problems, and it may escalate.

so consider my comments i guess the extreme response. ymmv, and all that. but i do feel for her. ugh.
posted by ifjuly at 3:38 PM on June 15, 2005 [1 favorite]


Good sex is 10% of a relationship. Bad sex is 90% of a relationship.

Obviously this relationship is important enough to you that it's worth putting some effort into. Have you tried different sorts of sex play with her and various ways that might arouse you? Have you talked with her (gently) about the problem? If you've tried these things and it's still not there, then you do need to end it before you both get hurt worse. Geeky has a good point - what if you fall madly in love with someone else before you left this girl? Is that more fair to her?

But I do think it's worth trying to put some work into before you give up.

on preview: You say she thinks you're a good boyfriend. Likely you are, in a lot of ways. But if she's allowing herself to be devoted to someone that's lukewarm to her, she's selling herself short. Whether she knows it or not. I can look back on past relationships that at the time I thought were great, but in retrospect I think "what was I doing".

And I think konolina has a good question for you to answer. Can you stand the thought of her with someone else?
posted by raedyn at 3:40 PM on June 15, 2005


She seems happy with me and she thinks I'm a good boyfriend.

Have you told her everything you wrote in the OP?
posted by 23skidoo at 3:43 PM on June 15, 2005


It may be the simple case of the wrong sort of relationship for this stage in your life. Sure, your priorities will probably change as you've been around the block a few more times and grow older... but that will happen only though experience-- experience you will not have if you stay where you are today. It's sad, but I think it's a necessary stage to go though.

(BTW, there's a lot of simmering hostility in this thread towards ludwig_van which I think is pretty unhelpful.)
posted by 4easypayments at 3:52 PM on June 15, 2005


Have her dump you. God damn you'll want her badthen :)
posted by bonaldi at 4:01 PM on June 15, 2005


You've found a sincere (albeit platonic) companion. That kind of connection is rare, and precious, but sometimes that's as far as it goes.

Case in point: I have a very, very dear straight male friend and how I feel about him is very close to how you describe your feelings towards your girlfriend (I feel very fond of her, I like to make her happy...), we are very suited intellectually and emotionally. I can tell him I love him with all sincerity. But I'm not dating him, would never consider dating him, and would frankly find it weird to even try because I simply don't find him sexually appealing, even though I can objectively say he's handsome. Between us we lack the instinctual physical attraction we have for our respective significant others, and thus also lack the heightened emotional/mental connection that comes from a good sexual relationship. That's just the way it is, and luckily we both realize that.

I tell you this so hopefully you'll see that love does not always mean in love. You may love your girlfriend, but it may never be in the way she loves you. That's okay, but it shouldn't keep you in the relationship because she's safe and nice to be with, or because you feel guilty she doesn't thrill you physically. It is in no way petty or superficial to want to be turned on by your partner. But attraction, especially all-sectors attraction, is enormously subconscious: we can't pick who we fall in love with or explain why. No matter how perfect a person is for us on paper, sometimes that gut desire just isn't there and that's just the way it is. One should never have to force or fake feelings, it just hurts both people because neither are getting what they want (honest love) or deserve (a whole partner). You both deserve a chance at a better relationship and a more satisfying love life.
posted by nelleish at 4:27 PM on June 15, 2005


AskMetafilter: Nobody should have to feel like Mrs. Roper.
posted by zardoz at 4:50 PM on June 15, 2005 [1 favorite]


I vote for grumblebee, but clearly follow L-hat's take. IMH, though, the importance of mad lust as a relationship initiator is a cultural construct, and therefore open to personal revision. Are you (and she) comfortable swimming upstream for a long time? If not, and you believe it would cause pain and ruptures later in life, by all means, be young.

Additionally, I believe that delmoi is correct, that practice can shape desire. Do you have the discipline to take conscious charge of your sexual desire, in order to change it toward your partner? It's possible, but will take a great deal of discipline - desire, if you will.
posted by mwhybark at 5:21 PM on June 15, 2005


If you've been with her that long, and you're still not sure you love her, then I think you have to set her free. She won't see it as a favor, but really, it's selfish to keep her if you aren't willing to love her the way she deserves to be loved. Getting over relationships is hard. Set her free so she can start to heal then you can both find yourselves and eventually... someone else.
posted by abbyladybug at 5:34 PM on June 15, 2005


I'm going to join the "break with her" crowd. She and you both deserve to be adored. I still think you can be friends.
posted by dejah420 at 6:18 PM on June 15, 2005


You know what I think? I think Tom Cruise's narcissistic showy dance on Oprah has everyone scared that they don't have the right kind of love. Tom and Katie have known each other about 2 months. They live in lalaland, not here on earth like the rest of us. It's true that love can grow, but if you're still having doubts after 10 months, then don't try to force something because you're afraid you'll be alone forever. My husband left me after we'd been together for 10 years. I was 32 when that happened. I thought my days of love were over. I was wrong. It isn't too late... not even remotely. And you know what else? I'm friends with my ex now... not like longing wish-I-were-still-with-you friends. More like talk-once-a-month grew up together friends. You just never know how the next chapter will unfold. Really.
posted by abbyladybug at 6:50 PM on June 15, 2005


Every relationship doesn't have to progress to some preset goal although if you intend to be monogamous then the stakes get raised a bit.

I'm more interested in what you were trying to do when you posted this non-anonymously? I'm pretty sure that you've already already got your answer.
posted by rdr at 7:08 PM on June 15, 2005


I'm not sure if I expressed this very well, as I was focusing on the negative, but I feel like this girl is a rare find in terms of how well we get along and how devoted she is to me. However, I'm 20 and I can count the number of serious relationships I've had on one hand, so maybe it's just naive to think I couldn't find the same thing in a person to whom I'd be more attracted.

Your thoughts here reminded me a bit of me 15 years ago.

Met this girl in college when I was 18. Nobody treated me as well as she did. I thought she was great, made me feel all romantic and stuff, but I romanticize pretty easily. We got along great, and the sex was good.

But I knew there were other girls out there too. So I got distracted and didn't make too much time for her. She got the gist and started seeing another guy. I got mad. We broke up after two years. Awkward, because she was pretty good friends with my family by then.

Awkwarder when she married another guy, and invited us all to the wedding. My two sisters were bridesmaids. I didn't go. My parents did.

She dumped the guy after a year, deciding she made a mistake. Got a divorce. My heart leapt at the news.

What I could not really appreciate at 20 I had come to miss greatly at 25. I had to date a lot of women to appreciate the college girl I broke up with. Thank God I got another chance. That was 12 years and three kids ago, and it just gets better every year.

YMMV and all that but my point is that you might not really know what you really want right now. You might not be old enough to consciously recognize what makes a woman "the one." You might need to get some more relationships on the odometer before you get it.

So whatever you do take the long view, and be ready to admit you made a mistake. Maybe, if it comes to that, she'll be there.
posted by sacre_bleu at 8:27 PM on June 15, 2005


I'm not making a recommendation, only a point of consideration: If you met somebody else who filled your thoughts and made your heart sing and your skin flush and your whole world go wobbly, would you drop your girlfriend like a hot potato to pursue her? Or would you pursue her, and then drop your girlfriend only once you were sure you could make a seamless transition? Or would you stay with your girlfriend and try to put the dazzling one out of your mind?

Examining the answers to these questions should help you form an idea of what your sincerity level is in this relationship, and whether or not your motivations are ethical by your own standards.
posted by taz at 1:39 AM on June 16, 2005


How could you possibly know what the "facts" are....

If he's felt this way the first 10 months, then I just don't see the facts as they currently stand changing much. That's all I was saying: if this is how it is, this is how it's likely to remain. I know a couple who were together for almost 10 years who just broke up, and they both say now that they may not have ever really been in love. They almost got married several times, but it never quite went through, I think because they both kept hoping something would develop that just wasn't there. (and they got together in college too).

Additionally, I believe that delmoi is correct, that practice can shape desire. Do you have the discipline to take conscious charge of your sexual desire, in order to change it toward your partner?

Do you think you could learn to be gay?

...I thought she was great, made me feel all romantic and stuff ...But I got distracted ...

I think you're projecting a bit - he pretty clearly states that this girl doesn't "make him feel all romantic and stuff".

taz & konolia's advice of asking yourself certain questions to clarify your motivations and feelings about this are good ideas.
posted by mdn at 5:54 AM on June 16, 2005


If anyone's still looking at this, we had a long and difficult talk today which hit a lot of the points in this thread, and we broke up. I'm not sure if it'll be permanent, but I feel like it will. She was very hurt, and I'm feeling very depressed right now. It seemed like what I had to do though. Thanks for all of the thoughtful comments.
posted by ludwig_van at 3:38 PM on June 16, 2005


Hey, ludwig_van. I'm sorry to hear that you're hurting. Take care of yourself.
posted by occhiblu at 6:27 PM on June 22, 2005


Sorry to hear about the breakup, ludwig_van, because they always suck. Hope you're taking good care of yourself.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:07 PM on June 23, 2005 [1 favorite]


Yeah, my sympathies too. I hope everything works out for the best for both of you.
posted by JanetLand at 6:28 AM on June 27, 2005


Even though this post is old, I had to throw in my comment. I am the girl...just so you know. I am completely in love with my boyfriend. In fact, we are living together. We are early 30's and have great communication. BOTH of us are very sexual (we're both Libras) but physical sexual attractiveness has been an issue for us since the very beginning. We both knew it. We are still dealing with it. EVERY OTHER aspect of our relationship is PERFECT...I mean it. We are connected ina way that neither one of us felt possible. We lay together on the couch every evening and cuddle. We ride bikes together, we work out at the gym together and both of us say we are each other's best friend. Sexually, we're okay. he has no trouble getting it up or maintaining or anything and I am satisfied. But our conversations about it revolve around whether or not he is willing to "compromise" sexual intimacy for what we have. He said the secual fireworks were better with previosu partners. Our record is going 23 days without sex. Believe me I'm not a cold fish by any means and have done everything he's asked. We are both attractive people. I am about 20-30 pounds overweight, but I wouldn't say I'm "fat". I even ran a marathon last year. But I asked if I lost weight if it would make a difference and he said he didn't know. He says he doesn't want to break up. He wants to see if things change. He is the love of my life and I can't imagine life without him. This SAME ISSUE came up only about 3 months into our relationship and we broke up. I started dating another man (my heart wasn't in it but I was trying to move on) and he couldn't take it and BEGGED me to come back to him. I did and neither of us can imagine the other with anyone else.

I don;t know what to do and am crying while I write this. Not only the two of us our in love but both of our families adore each other. They're just waiting with bated breath for our engagement. We've told no one about this issue and we have decided we won't take that step of engagement until we are sure we'll be okay. I hope someone reads this. ALSO, I'd liek to know what happened with the issue above. One last item. In our discussion, his exact words were that he wanted to be able to explore each other and not just have sex. I am insecure about my body BUT ONLY because I know he has an issue being attracted to me. I have a scar on my stomach that I depsise and I've never taken off my shirt in front of him. During sex I wear a tank top and pull the straps down so about 5 inches of my midriff is covered. I told him I'd try to get to the point of being naked with him and he honestly aid to me...that he was worried if I did that it may wipe out the small amount of sexual attraction he DOES have for me. I'm not mad at him for saying that. I'm just so sad. I want better for him...and frankly for me. but I can't imagine finding anyone better than him. I never did before him anyway.

Thanks to anyone that may respond. :-)
posted by VegasAnna at 5:13 PM on April 11, 2006


It's only by accident that I found your comment, VegasAnna. I feel for you, and if you really want to get some advice, I suggest you repost as your own AskMe, with a link to this thread. It certainly sounds like you guys could use some third-party advice, although personally I think perhaps some in-person counseling might be the way to go. Good luck.
posted by JanetLand at 5:51 AM on May 23, 2006


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