How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Dr. Norman Brown Your Own Question
Dr. Norman Brown
Dr. Norman Brown, Marriage Therapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1207
Experience:  Family Therapist & teacher 35+ yrs; PhD research in couples
Type Your Relationship Question Here...
Dr. Norman Brown is online now

Do I stay with my boyfriend of 4 years? We get on so well and

This answer was rated:

Do I stay with my boyfriend of 4 years? We get on so well and are best friends, but we have never had a good sex life. At the beginning there was no excitement on his part, and he didn't seem very keen. He wouldn’t even look at me as I undressed, let alone jump on top of me when we got into bed. First I thought it was because he was shy, then I began to feel that it was me, and he just wasn’t attracted to me. This led to lots of upsets and me crying. At this point I was staying with him because I liked him as a person, and wanted to support him.
Then he went to the doctor and was told that he has erectile dysfunction. Viagra helped him to keep an erection, and gave him a bit more confidence, but since he started using it we still only have sex every 2-3 months. It’s just so difficult because of the forward planning it requires. He will ask me “do you want to go to bed early this evening”, and I will say “yes ok”, but then later on I am sometimes tired or not in the mood anymore, but feel pressured to have sex anyway. Or on other occasions I will feel horny, but we either have to wait an hour for the pill to kick in, or we can’t try at all because he’s recently eaten or drunk some alcohol, which stops the pills working. When we do have sex he is still very dull in bed, and still doesn’t act like he’s into me or excited by me. I think that even if he didn’t have a physical problem things wouldn’t be much better, as his sex drive is so low.
It is driving me mad. I get frustrated, upset and angry. He doesn’t make me feel good about myself. I feel so horrible and unsexy, and even old, at the age or 27. I feel like I should be able to have some fun and passion in my life still. I’m not that old. I feel doomed to never enjoy sex again. I have told him all of this, time and time again, and nothing has changed.
Other worries are that we have little in common. My love of the outdoors, of wildlife and of the countryside is lost on him. He wants to live in London while I don’t want to be anywhere near London. I love active things like running, cycling, long walks, caving and climbing. I spend whole weekends exploring and camping underground in the Paris catacombs… He prefers to go to the cinema or sit in a pub.
Recently I have been going off and doing fun activities without him, and I feel we are drifting apart a bit. I feel that I might be more suited to someone who is into the same kinds of things as me.
I would also love so much to have a good sex life again.
But I don’t know if I can leave him. Would it be a terrible, selfish thing to do? He may never find another girlfriend having the problem that he has. I can’t even cope with the idea of that, because I really do care about him. Also my family all like him very much and I get on with his family. We have many mutual friends who we meet up with. I just don’t know whether it would be right to put myself first. I would be hugely messing up his life, and upsetting the lives of others. I can’t be more important than several other people. And anyway shouldn’t I be supporting him with his physical problem.
I am certainly not happy with the way things are, but if I did leave him, then I would miss him and worry about him, every single day. This is so so difficult…..
You have made a VERY good case for giving up on your love relationship and going through the grieving and recovery experience, so you can start over again -- in perhaps a year or two, since it takes time to get over the feelings you are talking about. In the normal course of human development, age 30 marks a transition from exploratory (young) adulthood into committed adulthood; and serious choices need to be made about career, family goals, and partnership, as well as your foremost values in life. It's time to "get serious" and that's what your discomfort is telling you about. If you are going to live a life of serial monogamy, as the majority of modern people in the West now do, you'll have to learn through experience how to go through the process of breaking up, which INCLUDES accepting the guilt for making your own choice, even though it's likely to hurt your boyfriend and his family as well as you and your family. If you were in a marriage contracted between your two families the forces would be stronger. But the biological makeup of human beings is such that if a couple has not been drawn by emotional/biological forces to marry and even produce a baby within the first 3 years, then the passion that naturally brings them to the marital bond is likely to subside enough that they one or both will question whether their feelikngs are really strong enough to convince them that this is the right commitment for them to make.It appears to me that you are there, and that you are also approaching your age thirty transition, when you need to make serious choices that you'll be willing to live by for a few decades , unless you want to just drift from one partnership to another without feeling fully at-home. You are clearly attached to your man, but that is through habit, and the awareness that you might feel lonely if he weren't around. But you're more concderned about HIM feeling lonely or not being able to replace you. If you try to live your life for HIM and for the relatives that are comfortable with things as they are, you'll probably become more alienated from your own passion. You're not FORCED to breake up with him, so you'll need a lot more courage to act than if one of you would just fall for somebody else. And you've apparently never had the experience of breaking up from a long-term relationship before; so you don't know how much it hurts, and how well you'll know that you can get through it and can feel love again, once you have given yourself to the 6month to 2 year process you may need to cut yourself loose from your boyfriend and gradually get ready to love someone else again.What you also don't know, perhaps, is how valuable it would be to stop being partnered in such a comfortable and uninspiring way, and then begin to regrow the shiny-green new branches of your own personality again. Getting to know yourself as a single woman who's now in a more fully functioning adult than she was before she got into a couple at 23 is a very valuable experience--because you can grow new branches of your personality when you're not "managing your excitement" to fit in with a partner who's bound to be very different from you in some significant ways; and you won't need to be willing to subordinate your passionate pursuits as much to a boyfriend's ever again once you have done that.I led a deep-discussion workshop around 20 years ago with about 10 middleaged people (doctoral candidates like myself--for my second doctorate). We discussed our relationship histories. And every one of them had developed their first committed love relationship of 3 -10 years with a person who was safe and comfortable, rather than a passionate or risky partner-choice. We were all (unconsciously or consciously) looking for a safe haven in the scary world outside of our families-of-origin, where getting betrayed or hurt was a major trauma every time it happened. It sounds like that's what you have done too. It also sounds like you think you'll be OK at finding someone else to love, but HE will have a harder time because of his sexual problem. I'm here to remind you that your worries and guilt about him are only part of what you will face. But learning to become more of the passionate side of yourself in adulthood is a benefit of standing on your own two feet that you haven't included in your predictions about what could happen if you choose to seek your own personal bliss, instead of sticking to the safe haven coupling that you've had for your mid-twenties.Pleae let me know your thoughts about these reactions.
Dr. Norman Brown and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your very good advice. I feel that you have really understood me. I have read through your message several times and it has helped me to see things more clearly. You are definitely right that it will take me a long time to get over this, but you have made me feel that breaking up might be more of a possibility than I thought. This had oddly given me a feeling of hope, which I suppose really shows how unhealthy my relationship is. Thank you again.