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He loves me, but isn't attracted to me

By Anonymous May 11, 2009 - 6:06am
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My boyfriend and I have been together for 2 years. We met 4 years ago and dated briefly (and fell in love in that short time), but he had some things to work out so we broke up. My heart was broken because I thought I'd found the man that I would spend the rest of my life with.

We didn't speak to (or see each other, he lived 2 hrs away) for over a year, when randomly, he shows up in my city, 10 mins from where I lived, in a restaurant where I was having brunch. We exchanged pleasantries and I cried for 3 days straight after that. Months later, we started to communicate again and eventually got back together. It seemed that we had picked up exactly where we left off, with the same level of physical, emotional and mental attraction that we had 1 and a half years ago. The only difference was that, I had decided, before we started communicating, that I would be moving to another city (now a 2 hour flight away, as opposed to a 2 hr drive).

He then placed my hand on his heart, told me "this is yours," and said that I was patient enough to wait for him, so he would wait for me. He loved me. This was in May of 2007.

We haven't made love to each other since April of 2007. I've since moved back to the area he's in (we're back to being a 2 hr drive apart). He hugs me, kisses me, holds my hand, rubs my back, places his hand on my thigh, puts his arm around me... all those loving and affectionate things that we want our men to do. But he doesn't look at me anymore like he desires me. He doesn't initiate sex and if I try, it doesn't happen. I asked him if he was sexually attracted to me and he told me no. He said that he didn't know what was wrong with him. He thought it had something to do with the distance and him needing to turn that sexual drive off as we didn't get to see each other that often. We'd talked about it before, and we both believed that was it. Or maybe he just didn't want to admit that he wasn't physically attracted me to me anymore.

I've always been small...5'3, 128 lbs. I've gained about 15 lbs, mostly in the thigh/hip area, so it really just gives me a more womanly figure than i had before. *sigh* I just don't know what to do. He told me last night that he just needs some time to think. He said "this isn't over" but he just needs to figure out for himself if he needs to be alone. He cried more than I did, I guess because I have kind of been preparing myself for this. don't get me wrong, I'm devastated. Completely devastated. But what can I do, really? Not much. I just don't know if we have a chance... Neither of us really know if it's truly physical or if there's some sort of mental block since he admittedly has issues with ppl leaving him. And I left. I don't know. I know that he loves me, and his love for me hasn't changed, he just isn't sure why that one piece went missing or if he will be able to get it back.

I told him that I am willing to fight and try to make this work because of the love I have for him, but only if he is equally willing.

I'm sorry for the novel, I don't even know what kind of answers I'm looking for, since they can really only come from him...maybe I just need to know that I'm not a lunatic for wanting to work on this

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You are absolutely right about living in the middle. I know exactly how that feels. Your life hangs in the balance between what is almost yours and what is not yours at all. And if you leave this relationship, you don't know what else might or might not be waiting. And when your feelings are genuine, as I am convinced yours are, it seems impossible to just turn it off.

But now that I know your ages, I think I'm going to probably agree with Susan. If you had told me you two were in your mid-twenties, or even late twenties, for instance, I might have said, give it a little more time if you want to, while not tying yourself down. But in your early 30s, you are both completely grown. You are mature adults, or you should be. It feels to me as though you could be involved/half-involved/not involved with him for four more years, with hope and some small growth, and yet that wouldn't be enough for you.

Here's what I need to tell you most of all -- I think you need to trust that growing bit of dread in your stomach that tells you this is not right for you anymore. Even though it might feel like it's going to kill you to honor it. In our early 30s, if we want to find a lifetime companion and/or think about having a family, there isn't lots of time to waste.

If someone doesn't quite know who he is by the time he's in his early 30s, it doesn't bode well for the next couple of years, either. And honestly, men don't hear the ticking of the biological clock like we do. They can father children in their 30s, their 40s, their 50s and beyond -- while our true window of relatively easy opportunity closes somewhere around 40.

Here's what's going to be tough -- If you walk away, one of two things will happen. (a) He won't come after you -- which is a sign that you made the right decision. Or (b) he WILL come after you, which could be genuine or could just be not wanting to lose the one person he does have. If at that time he becomes sexually attracted to you, how would you feel about it? Happy? Patient? or perhaps worried that it will go away again?

When we are in a push-pull relationship like this, one bad thing is that even when we are in a good place, we are wondering if it's a temporary good place or if there's another shoe about to drop. That's as hard a place to live as where you are now, in the middle.

If you decide to stay, I would tell you to decide what YOUR goals are for the relationship in the short term and in the long term, and I would tell you to set a date -- perhaps six months in the future -- as to when you will check back with yourself to see if the two of you are on the same road. Is this relationship compatible with your goals?

If you decide to leave, I would tell you to be sure, and then just do it and don't second-guess yourself. Nothing good will come from it. Decide that you made the right decision and move forward.

And I agree with Susan -- the book "He's Just Not That Into You" is fairly brilliant. Check it out on Amazon or at a bookstore -- sometimes it's hard to read something that sounds like the truth, but very helpful too.

Take care, and I'd love to hear back from you.

May 13, 2009 - 8:57am

Hi, Anon. I'm so glad you found EmpowHer. You've been dealing with an awful lot. Thank you for your post.

Last things first -- You're not a lunatic. When we really love someone, we want to work hard to preserve a relationship. When we feel the kind of chemistry you are talking about, it's nearly impossible to just decide to move on. Our head fights with our heart all the time, doesn't it?

Second things second -- Men don't generally get turned off by an extra 15 pounds. It just isn't that much extra weight. It feels like it to us, because we see the number on the scale and we hate how our clothing fits (or doesn't fit). It is often a reason to dislike ourselves (despite how much we try not to) but it's not that often a reason for someone to fall out of love with us. If that IS his reason, then he's too shallow for you anyway.

Which brings me to my main point -- from reading your post, I have to say that you actually sound more mature to me than he does. Of course, I don't have his side to read here. But he's the one who originally had things to work out (did he give you details? Did you spent time talking about that after he came back?) and then he's the one who just "showed up" at a restaurant where he was likely to see you.

I'm very glad that you followed up on your decision to make your move, even though it took you an airline flight away. It would have been rather easy to change your mind and try to stay and make it work. But you didn't, you took care of yourself (I am assuming that your move was for your work or perhaps your family) and moved away from him.

So you fell in love 4 years ago, but have actually spent most of that time separated by some sort of distance. That's really, really hard to do. I was in a long-distance relationship and even with a lot of love, it is hard to maintain. No communication is normal -- you're either trying to stay close by technological means (phone calls, texts, email) or you're together and you're trying hard to make Every Moment Count. There's no normalcy, no times when you just hang out. A little disagreement carries extra emotion, because time is so precious. A big disagreement needs to be solved Right Now because someone is leaving in a few hours. There are too many hellos and goodbyes, but not enough time in between to feel just plain familiar. It can be a wonderful love, but the nuts and bolts of the relationship are very hard.

You didn't mention your ages; I am assuming somewhere in the 20s or 30s? Those are decades where we work hard to find our adult selves. We have competing priorities -- work, love, friends, family, social life -- and we're trying to figure out how they work in balance to one another. If he has difficulty with being left, perhaps stemming from his childhood? Or from another serious relationship? it's not odd that he needs to work through it. But whether he'll be successful or not remains to be seen.

It's hard for people to change. If we genuinely want to, we can, but it's hard. You may be up against a wall here.

You're not crazy. There's a lot going on. It might work out, or it might not. I think you need to figure out for yourself whether it's ok with you if he gets to decide whether this relationship moves forward or not. You sound like a kind, loving, trusting soul who is feeling out of control of something that matters very much to you. It sounds like it's an emotional rollercoaster and he has the controls in his hands. Is that ok with you?

If I've made wrong assumptions here, please chime in and write some more information. I'd be interested to know what the issues were that he originally wanted to work out, and why he thinks something is "wrong" with him now. And your ages, and whether each of you was faithful when you were apart.

But please don't get hung up on an extra 15 pounds, or thinking that you're just going nuts. I know that feeling and it's no fun. The way you can help yourself here is to stay level-headed as much as possible and to give him space to figure out what's going on. And to use that space for yourself as well.

May 11, 2009 - 9:04am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Diane Porter)

Hi Diane,

Thank you so much for your encouraging response. Yes, he did tell me why he broke things off the first time. When we started dating, he had just broken up with an ex and he still had some lingering feelings for her. He didn't feel that it would be fair to me (or himself) to continue building a relationship with me if he still had feelings for someone else...so he ended things with me to try and work through it on his own.

When he showed up at the restaurant, our meeting was completely unintentional (i would say coincidence, but I don't fully believe in coincidences). He had no idea how close it was to my apt (he'd never been to my place before) and of course had no idea that I would be there for brunch. At that time, we hadn't spoken in over a year, so we really knew nothing of what the other was doing.

We talked about why he'd contacted me so many months after running into each other at the restaurant...he said the love he had for me never went away, and I was constantly in his thoughts, as he was in mine.

I know the easy answer is that I gained weight, or that there's someone else, but I believe in my heart of hearts that the answer is not that simple at all. There's something more and something deeper.

We're both in our early 30s.

You're so on point about the long distance thing... we don't argue at all, but we've had disagreements, and like you said it carries so much extra emotion because someone will be leaving soon. We spent so much of our time the last 2 years being happy just to be in the others' presence that a lot of times, we didn't have those important talks. I've only been back in this area for a month now, so I wasn't expect a miracle and things to change immediately. I was just looking to open the dialogue now that we have the opportunity to see each other more often and have more quality time together. I was in no way expecting this result when I started the discussion with him (even though I was somewhat prepared for it.)

Like i said, I know he loves me, and I know he's scared. So I'm in a place now of not wanting to give up hope and get comfortable with the idea that we won't be together, and not wanting to have too much hope that things will work out. I'm stuck somewhere in the middle and it's a difficult place to reside.

May 11, 2009 - 10:43am
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