DEAR CAROLYN: Although we’ve had sex before, my boyfriend of two years has zero interest in sex with me or anyone else. He just doesn’t feel the need (we used to have sex often, before the relationship was committed).
This makes me feel unwanted, unloved, and incredibly self-conscious and paranoid. He’s been to therapy (I am also in therapy), but his psychiatrist flat-out told him she didn’t know how to help him (!), so he stopped going.
He turns down every other suggestion I make to try to overcome this issue, and talking about it leads to his anxiety and my tears. Yet, he says he loves me and he would spend the rest of his life with me if I could be happy. I need affection and I want children.
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The choice I have in front of me is this: Spend the rest of my life with the love of my life, but childless and sexless, or spend the rest of my life without the love of my life, which feels like dying (even though I know it isn’t).
– Sad Rock or Sad Hard Place
DEAR SAD ROCK OR SAD HARD PLACE: The sexless, childless marriage will give you pain for his or your lifetime, or the rest of the marriage — whichever ends first.
The breakup with “the love of my life” will give you pain until you find less frustrating sources of love and companionship. I suspect your recovery speed will be in direct proportion to your willingness to let go of the idea that he (and the attendant rejection, paranoia and tears) is truly right for you.
DEAR CAROLYN: I have an acquaintance who has gone through a major health crisis in the last year — we didn’t know if he was going to make it. But he bounced back like a miracle. I am truly happy for him.
Only one problem: Whenever he sees me, he now goes into a barrage of comments about how lucky I am, in a way that feels hostile. I am totally sympathetic and can honestly deal with it if he just goes on about how hard life is — we’ve all been there. But he always adds this twist: “Oh, I hate you guys at your company, you guys get paid so much money!” Or, “Don’t complain!” Believe me, I never complain about my life to him.
What he does not know is that I have a potentially fatal health condition that’s not obvious from the outside. I live with pain and fatigue every day — and I’m barely holding on to my job because I can’t do as much as most employees, and fighting depression.
In short, my life is far from this lucky one he has decided I have. I have no desire to share my health condition with him, but would like him to stop these comments. Any advice?
— You Have No Idea
DEAR YOU HAVE NO IDEA: You can’t make childish, bitter and/or entitled people into mindful ones with the flick of a well-chosen phrase. A brush with death is no guarantee, either, apparently.
You can make your case to your own satisfaction, though. “You’re assuming a lot,” “Appearances can deceive” and “I wish it were that simple!” — with follow-up questions brushed off — are not only pointed, they’re true. He is, they can and you do.