There for Me Through Thick and Thin, But Now He’s Hesitant to Be Intimate

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Reader’s Question

My boyfriend and I have a rather complicated history. We were together for almost five years, but I ended things when I fell into a significant depression. We were still very close for two of the three years we were apart, but I went off the rails quite badly and had many flings with men who treated me fairly badly. My boyfriend (ex at the time) picked up the pieces every time. I was eventually admitted to a psychiatric ward and as part of my recovery decided I had to cut contact with him even though I was still desperately in love with him. I worked really hard on myself and had a lot of treatment and counselling and now I’m fully recovered.

We were not in contact for a year and met at a party and started chatting last year. Then we started spending time together again. We talked a lot but not really about our relationship, and we became best friends again. A few months later, I decided to tell him how I felt, and he felt the same. We are very much in love again and are always hugging and kissing. However, in the nine months we have been back together, we have only slept together once. We had a lull in sexual activity when we were together before because he had put on weight and felt unattractive, but now I can’t see any reason for it. He says he adores me and thinks I am gorgeous and sexy. I’m starting to get quite down about the lack of sexual intimacy between us. It seems ridiculous talking about having babies in a couple of years when we aren’t even having sex.

He says it has nothing to do with how I was when we split up (having many flings with other men), but I’m not sure. We have talked about it but not really gotten anywhere.

Psychologist’s Reply

Given the history you describe, it would actually be more curious if there were weren’t some hesitation and anxiety associated with your relationship becoming more deeply intimate on multiple levels. It’s also more than a little curious that given the degree of turmoil you admit was present in your emotional life not so very long ago, you now consider yourself “completely recovered.”

My best suggestion: invest yourself in an ongoing aftercare program first and foremost. Your boyfriend might well want to be part of that process as well. Once all the issues have been worked through sufficiently, your chances for a relationship with a healthy level of intimacy and stability will be much greater.

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