Boyfriend And I Don't Have Sex
November 29, 2011 11:02 PM   Subscribe

My boyfriend and I have been together for 3 years. We are happy and are sexually active, but we just don't have sex. I know that everybody does it at any age now, and that everywhere you turn, you are somehow reminded of it, but is that so bad? Basically, when we first got together, everything was (of course) perfect. He was a virgin but I wasn't, and he knew that. I liked the fact that we had a lot of sexual tension but that he didn't ever pressure me to do anything I didn't want to. Basically, he wanted me to make the shots. And I feel almost like it's still that way now.

We stayed pretty innocent for the first year and a half, and during that time, if I ever brought up sex, he seemed like he was a bit uneasy. We almost did many, many times but never quite went through with it. October of 2010, however, we ended up just going nuts and we did everything that we hadn't already (including sex twice), and looking back now it's like we just wanted to get everything out of our system. Thing is, we haven't had sex since. And I see a lot of people posting things about how them and their significant others don't have sex anymore, but the thing is, my boyfriend and I didn't routinely have sex, we simply just tried it out a couple of times. And afterwards, he was a bit nervous like "Oh man, how did I do?". A few months afterwards, I bluntly asked him if he wanted to have sex when we were in the heat of the moment, and he said that he didn't feel like it right now, but later definetely. Later, however, he confessed and told me that he wanted to lay off sex for now because he was worried of all of the risks involved with pregnancy, and that even though I was on the pill, it may not cut it. (We were both in high school at the time and coincidentally taking health) And both of us aren't really interested in condoms. I was fine with us not having sex, but just the fact that we did that October really threw me off, and I was wondering if that was the only reason why. And fast forward to now, were affectionate but I'm still the one calling the shots. He'll cuddle with me and touch me, but I feel like I have to push for anything sexual, even if it's for him. And everything will be great after that, but I just wish he would call the shots too. I know for a fact that we don't have low libidos, there is sexual tension between us a lot of the time, and I know that he's not cheating on me for sure, and I know that he enjoys everything, it just boggles my mind that he's a guy and not constantly thinking about sex like everyone else his age. Let me just say that I'm fine with us not having sex for now, its why that gets to me. And we talk about stuff that's bothering us with each other, but I feel like this would be such an awkward conversation. It sometimes takes somebody looking in from the outside to see what's going on.
posted by xopaigexo to Human Relations (28 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

If you were in high school last year that means you are either still in high school or just out of it. It very well may be he is still afraid of a pregnancy and not willing to take the chance of it happening. The two of you aren't willing to use more than one form of birth control, I can see him being afraid.

Having said all of that, talk to him. Ask him what is going on. Do it while you are not in the bedroom and just be completely honest with him.
posted by SuzySmith at 11:19 PM on November 29, 2011 [6 favorites]

In the event that he likes you, he's attracted to you, &c., he's probably just a nice guy who's a little squeamish about sex. It's up to you whether you're cool with that or not.

It surely does seem awkward now, but having a sexual relationship with someone with whom I couldn't discuss sex seems absurd at this point in my life. You can take the conversation slow if he's nervous about discussing it, but communication is really important, even in the most giving and game of sexual relationships. Try telling him that you are totally okay with not having sex (if that's the case), but you're not sure about where you guys stand, and that you'd like to know how he feels because you respect him. Just be honest at first about the fact that you are uncertain about how he feels, don't make it about whether it's good/bad/OK/not OK to have sex in general.

You're young and it sounds a bit like you are both walking on eggshells. Open up with one another! And it's up to you, of course, but condoms ain't that bad.
posted by stoneandstar at 11:20 PM on November 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

Is he feeling insecure b/c you are the first woman he has been with? Initiate sex with him several times, let him build some confidence then see if he begins to "call the shots" as you say. If he is not at that point, then time for a talk.
posted by mlis at 11:28 PM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

He may have OCD and is very distressed about something trivial about having sex. For example, he may have read that pills and condoms are not fool-proof and is obsessing about likelihood that you will get pregnant. I know... It sounds odd... But people with OCD view it very differently...

Try to talk to him to better understand his concerns, if any...

P.S. He loves you.
posted by jchaw at 11:46 PM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Later, however, he confessed and told me that he wanted to lay off sex for now because he was worried of all of the risks involved with pregnancy, and that even though I was on the pill, it may not cut it.

Sounds like he's respecting the fact that if you become pregnant, it's your body and your choice. It just happens that he can avoid that possibility and it's his body and his choice at this point. Do not pressure him to have sex that he does not want. Even if he physically wants it, he doesn't want the potential outcome enough that he willingly refrains. If you do pressure him and you end up pregnant, what are you going to do? This young man understands that sex can lead to eighteen years of child-rearing, or at the very least, eighteen years of child support. He doesn't want to get to the point that he has no control over the situation anymore, so he's avoiding it. Kudos to him.

Do bring up the idea of sex that doesn't involve penis-in-vagina. Oral, anal, hands-on, toys, anything that gets both of you off with zero risk of pregnancy. He might jump at the idea. If not, he may just be self-conscious. Open communication with zero pressure is important, but understand that he may never be the type to want to "call the shots" whether out of personality, misplaced chivalry, or fear of going too far. That one is your call on what you can or cannot live with.

As for what happened previously between the two of you, teenagers are prone to do things impulsively at times even if they know there could be serious consequences. He may have simply been acting on what he wanted (and likely still wants) to do for some time yet was and still is held back by rational fears of pregnancy. Again, discuss these issues openly, do not push him or become accusatory over it, and absolutely bring up sexual activities that do not result in procreation.
posted by Saydur at 11:48 PM on November 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

He may just not really be emotionally ready for a full-on sexual relationship. Despite the stereotypes and nudging by popular culture, this is totally not uncommon for teenagers or early-20somethings.
posted by desuetude at 11:59 PM on November 29, 2011 [15 favorites]

His pregnancy concern is legitimate. It's scary. Even if you're in a place you're allowed to get an abortion, it's not like he can make you do so. He may be stuck raising a kid he doesn't want. Learn to tolerate condoms if you're going to keep having intercourse. The pill isn't entirely effective and does nothing against STIs anyways.

There may be other reasons (insecurities, preformance anxiety, fear of hurting you, etc.) but we can't know until you discuss it. You should eventually learn to discuss sex. "Awkward conversation" is not a good excuse. They get less awkward.

Consider other non-intercourse, lower risk sex you can have with the rest of your bodies.

Try not to compare yourself to your peers. It's mostly your imagination anyways.

He may also just not be ready. Lots of people take their time growing into their skin.
posted by ead at 12:09 AM on November 30, 2011 [5 favorites]

I really get the sense that you feel bad for wanting sex and uncomfortable to be in what you seem to think is the "male" role of initiating sexytimes.

Be honest about that with him. The only real problem I see here is that your feelings of guilt/shame/frustration/whatever are standing in the way of open honest communication. Whether or not you have sex isn't the issue. Talking about it is. And if you're afraid of how he'll react to that talk, then that's something else altogether.

As a high school teacher (and with 4 abortions* from students this year) I can't emphasise caution and protection enough. Please let your head rule this least a little.

*that I know of...probably more.
posted by guster4lovers at 12:14 AM on November 30, 2011 [4 favorites]

are you sure he's heterosexual?
posted by nadawi at 12:47 AM on November 30, 2011 [23 favorites]

I wondered if he was question and fighting his sexual orientation. If that was the case, I hope you'd be loving, kind and understanding. If it were so, there would be nothing you could have done to prevent it.

I hope you're both ok. He might be very confused and feeling quite isolated.
posted by taff at 12:50 AM on November 30, 2011 [4 favorites]

i think he's gay. or, extremely uninterested in sex with you. either way, i don't think this status quo is something you're willing to put up with over the long term.

the reasons for not having sex you've laid out are not legitimate if a person has actually spent the time researching them.

condoms not working for him? sex w/ condoms >> no sex.

pregnancy? hj. bj anal. hormonal bc. other forms of bc. a person who wanted to have sex would respectfully suggest these possibilities.

do you want to have sex? if so, make this person just your friend, and have sex w/ other people.
posted by cupcake1337 at 1:13 AM on November 30, 2011

It's okay for anybody to decline sex, but for a 19 year old male, it's not typical. He may not have a strong understand of his own sexuality. There are plenty of potential reasons why he doesn't have sex with you; and he may or may not be aware of them. If you want to be in a sexually active, loving relationship, there's nothing wrong with that, either; young women also have pretty strong sex drives.
posted by theora55 at 3:25 AM on November 30, 2011

Could he perhaps be asexual?
posted by Anima Mundi at 4:42 AM on November 30, 2011

Anal sex really shouldn't be used as a method of birth control. Sure, it's less likely for you to get pregnant that way, but it's possible ("splash conception" is the common term). I also wouldn't suggest it to someone who's already hesitant to get it on.

Anyway. Talking frankly about sex, especially problems with sex, is probably the least sexy thing ever. But it's necessary to the health of your relationship! If you're so close to someone that you can be naked with them, it makes sense that you should be able to discuss what's going on when you're naked with them. There could be any number of things going on with your guy that we don't know about, and the only way for you to find out is to ask him.

It's nervewracking, but it's an important thing to be able to do in any relationship. Sex, and love in general, don't just wordlessly happen and go perfectly, even though we feel like they should. They need unsexy conversations from time to time.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:00 AM on November 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

  • he has a low libido and, contrary to what you think, he doesn't want sex with you all the time
  • he has some erectile dysfunction going on
  • he's still freaked about you getting preggers -- in that case, add condoms to your birth control routine (who cares if you're not really interested in condoms, when the alternative is not having sex that you presumably are interested in?)
  • he's shy and inexperienced and you (as a couple) would benefit in this area if you worked on building up his confidence
  • he got the idea from early on that you liked it when he let you call all the shots about how far things went (which you say you did at the time), and he doesn't realize things have changed

  • The time to talk with him is when you're not all hot and heavy. If you can't read his mind when you're right there, neither can the internet full of strangers from afar. You have to talk to him.

    There are basically two issues to address. One, what's going on with him. Two, the fact that you want to be getting it on like all the time. You don't, I suspect, not all the time, but compared to him you basically do and he might take it that way.
    posted by J. Wilson at 5:43 AM on November 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

    I'm highlighting the "last year in high school" as well.

    You are both young. Don't take that in a negative way. But he is emotionally probably not ready, just as others above have said.

    It'd be interesting to know more about him, as that would give more clues. It may have nothing to do with sex. Was/is he somewhat socially awkward? Is he an introvert and you an extrovert?

    What about family and religion? Does he come from a more conservative household/upbringing where sex was more of a taboo subject?

    Really, at this age, the *idea* of being free wheeling sexually and oh-it's-new-awesome-do-it-all-the-time! is great. But for some folks, it's a bit much, the pressure, the uncertainties, the warnings (pregnancy, disease, etc etc)..

    Couple all that with his "did I do ok?" questions.. he's probably a bit nervous around you, sexually, and maybe socially.

    But this is all theory, depending on if he fits in any of the above characterizations.

    Talking about sex may turn him off more/make him super nervous.

    If all the above strikes a bit true, then being patient and taking your time is the way to go. And when you have the opportunity, work him up to a fast boil and just jump him. I suspect he lets you take the lead because he's more of the introvert.

    On preview - what J. Wilson said, too.
    posted by rich at 5:45 AM on November 30, 2011

    And we talk about stuff that's bothering us with each other, but I feel like this would be such an awkward conversation.

    This isn't a reason not to have this conversation.
    posted by Ironmouth at 5:57 AM on November 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

    I know for a fact that we don't have low libidos, there is sexual tension between us a lot of the time, and I know that he's not cheating on me for sure, and I know that he enjoys everything, it just boggles my mind that he's a guy and not constantly thinking about sex like everyone else his age.

    You don't know that on his end. You can guess, but you really don't know. Your fear of talking to him about it is understandable as it is an awkward topic, but he's your boyfriend of 3 years. You should be able to talk to him about intimate things, especially when they clearly worry you so much.

    If you can never talk to him about sex in a real and constructive way, then you're doomed to either break up or live forever without your needs being fully addressed and that would be sad. So if you care at all for yourself and your relationship, you'll address this now before you start to resent yourself or resent him.

    Just because he doesn't desire you, doesn't mean you're undesireable.
    posted by inturnaround at 6:18 AM on November 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

    He might not even know the why, you know? It could be any one of a hundred things, some interaction of all of them (most likely), or none of them.

    If you're cool with the relationship and with him, then I wouldn't stress too much about how other guys or other people are or how it seems like they should be.

    After three years, you guys can probably talk about a lot of stuff, so maybe when you're just in a talk about whatever mood you can ask kind of casually about it - not a big talk, but open the door to talk about it. Just know that maybe he can't answer it, and it might not be something super simple or something he even knows or acknowledges is going on.

    Every relationship is different, and you kind of figure it out as you go along. And if you are okay, and safe and happy and loved and love that person, then it's a relationship that's working for you, and it doesn't matter a whole lot if that relationship looks like what other peoples' look like or what you think it should look like. And if something isn't working for you, then it's okay to say that and try to work through it, and/or eventually move on. And you'll figure that out as you go along.
    posted by mrs. taters at 7:02 AM on November 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

    Maybe his sister or a close friend had a pregnancy or a serious scare. Or maybe all kind of reasons why he, himself, is not ready for this. You have to respect his feelings about what's right for him. Maybe what you call "calling the shots" is him giving in to pressure to please you.

    Have more conversations, and take his concerns seriously.
    posted by Lesser Shrew at 7:06 AM on November 30, 2011

    You two are very young still. Just because he isn't calling the shots, doesn't mean he is not thinking about it or wanting it. He could be shy and unsure.

    When I was young, I had a boyfriend who was afraid of his performance. When I tried something new, it scared him.

    He may need to just sexually mature and feel more confident.

    Have you told him you would like him to initiate? Have you used toys? He may feel that he didn't want to seem to aggressive.
    posted by Yellow at 7:12 AM on November 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

    I think it's really funny that people would leap to the conclusion that he's gay just because he isn't interested in having sex with a sample group of one person.

    It's a big step. It's something that most people spend their teens fantasizing about, and sometimes it is more fun to fantasize about than to actually do, because of the very real concerns he has brought up with you. And also, when you're used to sexuality being a very private thing, it can be difficult to get used to the openness of sharing it with someone.

    And both of us aren't really interested in condoms.

    Get interested. Nearly every woman I know who has relied exclusively on other forms of BC (the pill, pulling out, etc.) has ended up getting pregnant at least once.
    posted by hermitosis at 7:19 AM on November 30, 2011 [4 favorites]

    The stereotype that all men want to bone all the time is pretty dumb and not true insofar that some guys are lazy and sex can be really, really hard to get into, especially the first few (dozen) times. If he's a virgin, it could just be that he's simply bad at sex at the moment and doesn't know how much better it gets. Maybe he's put off by the amount of work required to get off and how disproportionate it is to simply rubbing one out. God knows my first few times made me question whether or not I really liked it at all.

    If I were you, I'd start him out with oral sex, something easy to let him know that it does get better. And make sure he knows that positive reinforcement is the way to go with these kinds of things; saying "that sucks, that hurts" during sex can be a complete and total turnoff, and that's the last thing you want.
    posted by dubusadus at 8:14 AM on November 30, 2011

    Yeah, don't assume he's gay over this. Really don't. If he's already squeamish about his performance and the risk of pregnancy, he really doesn't need to start worrying that you doubt his heterosexuality on account of all this. If he's with you, he considers himself straight or bi and you should respect that. If anything, just make sure he's comfortable talking to you about sexuality issues, but don't lead or accuse or anything like that.

    A personal anecdote: I (male) was very reluctant to have sex with my partners (female) in high school due to the risk of pregnancy and the emotional involvement. I knew I was moving out of town as soon as I could, and I didn't want to be tied down by a serious girlfriend or, even worse, a kid.

    During my last semester of HS I eventually got with a girl I liked and trusted and we started having sex, and it was nice, but I was still 1.) wary of it for pregnancy/attachment reasons, and 2.) uncomfortable with it because it was new and awkward. It got better as we got more comfortable with each other, but it was never as good as with other later partners. These things are complicated.

    Even so, if you want more sex, and more better sex, I can think of one metric that might help: sex needs to be more fun, more relaxing, and more casual than masturbation.

    If for whatever reason sex feels uncomfortable to him (and it sounds like it might), then he's going to prefer masturbating, at least sometimes. This can change, definitely, but keep in mind that sex comes with the added burden of concern for someone else's experience, and you said he is concerned with his performance. Likewise, sex "just for him" might be uncomfortable because it feels like "using" you.

    If I had to take a shot in the dark, I'd say he needs to get comfortable with "using" you in that way. He's been getting off by himself, I assume, a lot longer than he's been getting off with anyone else. The first of those things is pleasant and familiar, the second is pleasant, but kinda weird. You can make it less weird by communicating actively, because this relieves some of his burden of interpreting your mood and responses.

    You can also help him be more comfortable with your body, and with interacting with it in a way he had only done with himself. In your own way, tell him that mi casa es tu casa, and assure him he can come to you whenever he feels horny, but otherwise to "save himself for you" if that isn't an option. :)
    posted by edguardo at 9:13 AM on November 30, 2011

    IT could be the pregnancy thing. He might not want to have a baby till after he graduates college.

    You two are still young.

    The only thing I can do is tell him to wear condoms everytime. That will help with the no baby thing.

    The other thing is he might not be ready yet. heck I did not have sex for the first time till senior year in college and I am fine now. Do not force him to be ready for sex. If you cannot deal with that then be a nice person and break up with him.

    Never force somebody to do something that they are not ready for.
    posted by majortom1981 at 12:06 PM on November 30, 2011

    sweetie, condoms are your friend. They are his best friend. They are the only form of birth control that he can control. What, exactly do you not like about them? He should experiment to find a brand that works best for him- that knowledge is going to serve him very very well. He can experiment privately, or with mutual masturbation (which would let you in on it but without pushing the intercourse thing).

    I'm guessing he's just not ready. I know many many men and women who didn't become really sexually active until they were in their mid-twenties. Don't obsess over intercourse as being some sort of magic end-game. It's just one little part of it. It's emotionally heavy. It's scary. But it isn't the only thing that counts as sex. You want to have sex? awesome.

    What do you mean by "we almost did it"? I'm kinda guessing that you were having non-penetrative sex. You can do a ton of stuff that is never going to get you pregnant- and still counts as sex. It still is fun and sexy and you are going to have a good time.
    posted by Blisterlips at 3:12 PM on November 30, 2011

    You need to have a conversation with him when you're not in bed. Some quiet time alone - make a picnic or something - and bring it up gently, and in the context of how much you love each other (assuming you do, of course, which isn't something you mentioned above).

    It's not about accusing him, or wondering what's wrong with him, but about the fact that you want a relationship with more sexual activity, and you'd like it to be with him, because you adore him, but you get the sense that he's not looking for that right now, and you wonder if that's something he'd like to work on with you, or something he doesn't really see changing - in which case you need to hear that and figure out what's right for you.
    posted by judith at 8:59 PM on November 30, 2011

    Try to get a copy of Passionate Marriage by David Schnarch. Read it. It will explain all.
    posted by feelinggood at 5:31 PM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

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