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oatmeal1642's avatar

I can't be affectionate with my boyfriend. What should I do?

Asked by oatmeal1642 (180 points ) February 16th, 2013

I’m going through a rough patch with my boyfriend. I’ve known him for 7 years and have been dating for 4 years now. We’ve always had a wondeful, loving relationship; however, for the last few months I’ve been having trouble being affectionate with him. I know I am still in love with him, and he is very handsome, so I am confused as to why I’m not as attracted to him as I use to be. I don’t know if this is a phase or if I’ve just changed. Furthermore, he’s been giving me too much affection lately because he is not getting enough from me. I’ve had a few talks with him about this and we’ve tried to figure out how to fix things. I’ve told him that he’s been giving me too much affection and it’s not making things better. However, although we’ve talked, I don’t feel like there is much change. I’ve considered taking a break – I know sometimes that can help, and I do not want to end things with him completely. I was just wondering if anyone has gone through something like this, what the outcome was, and what they think my best option is? It’s nice to hear opinions from others in situations like this. Thanks.

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34 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

I’ve bever been through this. I’ve never taken a “break.”

But I believe you need to trust your body. If you are not feeling the affection for him, then something is wrong. Your body is trying to tell you that something changed between you. It could be you. I could be him. I could be both of you. But there is a disconnect between you. I don’t know why. But it’s there, and you should pay attention to it.

Keep on talking. Maybe something has happened to him. Or maybe you’ve just realized in your bones that he isn’t the right person for you. You’ll figure it out, and take appropriate action.

If you take a break, it could be forever.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who speaks too loudly? Rather than correct them you tend to speak more softly in the hopes that they will follow your lead.
What usually happens? The other person speaks even louder because they can’t hear you.
Your boyfriend clearly cares for you and wants affection so he is trying to be affectionate to you.
Taking a break is only a step away from a break up. Be honest with yourself and him. Don’t string him along.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Why aren’t you so affectionate with him? That’s the big question.

bookish1's avatar

Hey, welcome to Fluther.
I agree with @wundayatta. There might be something going on that you can’t process consciously, and so it is manifesting in a lack of attraction.
The only way I experienced something similar to this, I suddenly had trouble being sexual with a partner. It was some serious mutual buried problems that neither of us were conscious of at the time. Emotionally, I still loved the person but I couldn’t be with them anymore.
I also agree with the above comments about “taking a break.” I’ve never taken a break where it did not mean that the relationship was on the rocks.
One of the main (only?) things I’ve learned about love in more than 10 years of dating is that if someone is losing their enthusiasm for a relationship, you can’t do anything about it. You can’t reason them back into feeling the way they used to. And if you have indeed lost your enthusiasm and it is manifesting itself physically, there may not be any way to “work things out” or “fix things” by talking.
Be as honest as possible with yourself, and honest with him. Don’t keep him thinking that if he just says the right things, or backs off in just the right way, that you will stay with him.
Peace to you both.

Kardamom's avatar

Because you mentioned going through a rough patch, I’m guessing that something has changed. Can you elaborate on what has happened (without giving away your or his identity) that has caused the rough patch? I’m sure the answer lies there.

CWOTUS's avatar

l think – just from reading the words you’ve written and doing a little reading between the lines – that you’re not really in love with him any more, but you’re trying to convince yourself that this is so, because “it should be so”.

I would expect that the relationship has been one-sided for quite some time, and he’s been “carrying more than his share of the load” for quite a while, which is why he probably feels that you should be more affectionate, and also why he’s trying ever harder to trigger that from you.

Your words said “I know I am still in love with him, and he is very handsome…” That’s it? Just “he’s handsome”? You’re trying to convince yourself, or us.

You don’t need “a break”. That would give him false hope. Just break up with him. Clearly, cleanly, and completely. He may express great anger (after all, he’s been trying so hard lately, and he’ll feel like you’ve been stringing him along, which is true to an extent, and something you’ll have to take responsibility for). But if you do this respectfully and with affection for the pain he’ll experience, and clearly, with no mistake, no false hopes and no ‘let’s still be best friends’, then he should understand that it’s over.

It’s over. Admit it, let him go, and get your own head in order, too. Don’t ever try to fool yourself into thinking that you love a guy “because you should”.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Jeez you guys are harsh. You can take a break. It isn’t the death sentence of a relationship. See if you like single life for a bit, and then decide. Or maybe try dating some other guys.

marinelife's avatar

Read Harville Hendrix’s Getting the Love You Want. You will either rediscover why you fell for him in the first place or you will get clarity that he is not the one for you.

gondwanalon's avatar

Perhaps you have a subconscious resentment toward your boy friend for not asking you to marry him? Any way for what ever reason he has not married you and after 7 years that would be a problem for almost anyone. You have spent too much time on him. Dump him and find someone who wants a committed relationship with you.

Unbroken's avatar

I’m with @LuckyGuy on this. Increase communication. The way you are communicating is escalating the problem. If it continues @CWOTUS would be correct.

Maybe you aren’t being honest with yourself about the real reason for the shift or rough patches. They do happen. It is common enough and if you want to continue to invest in it you can but only with honesty with yourself and him.

If you really are just looking for a way out but can’t justify it. Safety, years investment, familairity, love all keep you cautious and in check. Then you need to prepare yourself and him for leaving the nest. Sometimes you can have it all but still have no future. You will find future love if you want. It is OK and normal to move on.

We all change at different rates and sometimes the changes between couples cause painful friction. Will not lead to anything but further pain.

So whatever the case is, be brave bold and resilient. Take the first step the rest will follow. Don’t ignore your instinct.

Best Wishes

oatmeal1642's avatar

Thank you all for your great answers. They are much appreciated. And just to clarify, @CWOTUS, I said “I love him and that he is handsome” to clarify that I did not lose attraction due to lost love or because he is not physically attractive to me.

CWOTUS's avatar

I understand what you said, @oatmeal1642, but what I think is happening is that you’re damning him with faint praise.

If you’re not familiar with the expression, it’s as if I introduce you to my wife of twenty years and say, “Meet my wife. She makes fantastic potato salad!”

Now, maybe she does make the world’s best potato salad, but if that’s how you introduce a spouse of twenty years… she has been damned with faint praise.

The only other thing that occurs to me is that you have some type of physical / menal / emotional problem of your own, and your diminished sex drive is one of the symptoms.

The only times I’ve felt anything such as what you describe – or that others have felt that way toward me – we’ve split up and not looked back.

zensky's avatar

I second @marinelife ‘s recommendation of Hendrix, however, I would suggest you tell him you are reading it – and ask him to readi it as well.

It can be a powerful tool, especially since you’ve been together for so long now – and were friends prior to the relationship.

Age is a factor here, I think. Are you young? Is this your first or second relationship? If not – Hendrix. If yes – perhaps you just aren’t into him anymore.

Ugh. But it’s kinda true.

ETpro's avatar

Just to add the the litany of things “it” could be, which @CWOTUS covered pretty well above, hormone or other health changes in your own body can impact how affectionate you feel as well. Next time you see your doctor, it might be worth bringing it up. A few tests can sometimes find a perfectly physical answer to what otherwise seems like an insoluable metaphysical problem.

Good luck resolving it.

Rarebear's avatar

Couples counseling or break up.

lifeflame's avatar

I think it’s great you’re being honest with yourself, and it’s great you guys are talking about it.

Question: are you feeling affectionate and sexy in general? That is, have you felt a general decrease in your sensuality ? (e.g. does food taste vivid, do you see beauty around you?)
The answer to this might help pinpoint whether the origin of this is specifically from him, or it’s something else in your life that you need to resolve.

BosM's avatar

You posted a question back in September that seems to conflict with this one…
http://www.fluther.com/150411/how-to-overcome-shyness-when-speaking-to-a-guy/

Are you in College and playing around on your BF? When I looked at a few of your past questions this recent one didn’t seem to make sense. So, what’s up?

Rarebear's avatar

@BosM You’re right. In this post she says, “have been dating for 4 years now” in the post you linked to she says, ” but I’ve always had a problem with being too shy around a man I am interested in.” So, she’s either a tease, a liar, or a troll. In any case, whatever boyfriend she has should run away quick.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

“I was just wondering if anyone has gone through something like this…”

Yeah… and I’m surprised there’s been no mention of this.

Known for seven years, dated for four years huh… and no commitment for the future.

There comes a point, in a relationship, where the lady gets real tired of being the “free milk cow”. You want him to put up or get lost.

“I don’t feel like there is much change…”

And that’s the problem. You’re wondering why things haven’t gone to the next level, or if they ever will. Tell your boy to shit or get off the pot. You have a life to live… and you plan on doing that with him or without him.

Evolve or die.

Shippy's avatar

Seven years is a long time, so is four years. I am not of the belief that people should be dumped like rubbish once the desire for sex becomes less strong. Hopefully by then you have acquired other things that hold you together. I agree with @bookish1 communication is key. I never felt cuddly when things were annoying me.

Relationships go through phases and stages and at times we all wish or fantasize about other people. The problem with today’s society is we think if its not working just trash it, and then the whole cycle starts again with someone new.

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LostInParadise's avatar

There is more to a relationship than physical intimacy, though problems in that area often indicate problems elsewhere. How are the other aspects of your relationship? Do you have commmon interests? Does the communication flow freely? Do you look forward to being with him? Do you find it easy to express affection in non-physical ways? These are the kinds of questions you should be asking. If the spark has gone out of the relationship then it is time to move on.

Kardamom's avatar

Now I’m a little bit confused. Thanks @BosM for posting the Q from Sept. of last year. The OP said she was 21 (last year) and was currently un-attached and trying to get together with her friend’s roomate. The only thing I can guess is that she got back together with the ex-boyfriend, and that is how she is describing having been with him for 4 years (not continuously). But I could be wrong. Sometimes people word things poorly, so I wish the OP could come back and clarify the timeline of the relationship(s) and what the rough patch entailed so we can actually help her.

deni's avatar

I haven’t read the above responses so sorry if this is repeated. But honestly, what you describe sounds like what I’ve felt in the past when a relationship was about to end. Can you get to the bottom of why you don’t want to be affectionate towards him? For example, my last relationship I felt the same way….but I knew why. My boyfriend at the time just simply irritated me in a million little ways after a while. I couldn’t handle it. I didn’t want to give him affection or pleasure. At first I tried to pretend it was just a phase, but it wasn’t. We broke up and it was for the best. Sometimes it’s really difficult to accept that something is ending, especially with so many feelings involved. Good luck.

Oh, also, taking a break from a relationship with hopes of rekindling it later is a terrible idea, IMO.

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ebasboy's avatar

Loss of affection usually comes when the most admired features are explored to the fullest but the dorminating features now being the undesired.

For example: If you get attracted to a beautiful lady who is seducing sexually and maybe charming in someway, and say you are not denied a chance to exploit the charms, there comes a time to explore the unknown.

To be precise, at the begining you said to her ‘I love you’ but with the motive to explore the ‘sexual’ and she agreed to hook up with you. The next thing after exploring the ‘sexual’ will be to explore the unknown as I said. In the unknown, there has to be a lot of compromise if approval is not the option. So what about if you can’t compromise the recent explored features?

If affection for the desired features dorminates the compromised features, relationship will stay tuned, but if the recent explored features are of no compromise, the affection for the desired features will be impacted negatively therefore, relationship subject to failure.

So what? If your situation fits this concept you know your fate.

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deni's avatar

@ebasboy Hopefully you wouldn’t be telling someone you just met that you love them to begin with, that sounds like a terrible plan.

Unbroken's avatar

@ebasboy I agree that is how it works for a lot of people. Especially if you find your hook ups in bars. IMO however that is a bassackwards.

ebasboy's avatar

I agree with you dini, unfortunately I come from this society where people will just begin that way and it will be understood and tolerated. I am sory I put it in other people’s way not everybody’s…

snapdragon24's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe, AGREED. She’s been dating the guy for four years, she can sit back and think things through carefully! this ain’t a summer fling.

I think you need to see if you have a future with him and ask yourself why you think you are lacking in affection for him and then take it from there. Don’t lose respect for him though, cause that tends to happen when we lose affection.

Lets us know how it goes!

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