This is a preview. The full article appears in Neil's book: Love, Sex and Staying Warm: Creating a Vital Relationship
Dear Neil: I’ve been going out with my boyfriend for 6 months. He is everything I want in a man, but I keep pushing him away. I’m wondering if it’s because of my past. I was physically and sexually abused as a child, and my ex was a bully who was controlling and violent, and I lost my 2 children to him—so I have a lot of trouble trusting people.
But my boyfriend is everything I want and need in a man. So why am I pushing him away? This man means the world to me, and I don’t want to lose him, but I don’t know how to fix this. I’m afraid of letting him back in.
Dear Neil: My boyfriend frequently backs away from me sexually. Often (not always) we will start making love, and during the act he gets really tired and has to stop. He plays if off to work stress, aging and fatigue. Does this mean he does not want to be close to me? We’ve been together for a year and a half, and I am the most serious relationship he has had. He is 53 and never married. His longest relationship was 3 years, and he admits that they weren’t very close. I am not sure what to do.
Dear Crippled and Puzzled: Although your stories are different, it appears that the issues you’re presenting may be similar. The two of you sound like you’re describing a fear of getting close, and one of you may be associating closeness with feeling hurt, controlled and abused.
This also may be related to feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness, which means that I don’t feel worthy of being loved, or I feel that I’m not good enough for you. I fear when you find that out, you’re going to eventually leave me, so I wall myself off from you.
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