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Parallax - Advice

July 08, 2002

Virgin territory

Dear Conversely,

Ask us a Question!I have been dating someone for a little over two months. At the beginning of our relationship, we were physically intimate. Recently, he stopped all physical contact (except for kissing, hugging, etc.) I am a 23-year-old virgin, so the lack of physical contact is driving me insane! He claims he is attracted to me, yet he pushes me away every time I try to initiate an intimate moment. I approached him about it, and he says he's afraid I will get attached. This was not a problem at the beginning of the relationship, and I don't believe being physical would make me any more attached than I am, already. At this point, it's simply a matter of being sexually frustrated, although I don't want him just for sex and I've assured him of this many times. Why am I being denied physical intimacy with him? Email to a Friend

Her view:

Dear Insane,

Sounds like your virgin secret is out and he doesn't want the responsibility of taking that precious moment only to dump you four weeks later. You should think about that—are you sure you're not really attached?

Taking a relationship to that level of physical intimacy when things are very new for you may, in fact, drive you much closer to him emotionally than you are now envisioning. And it sounds as though he knows exactly where this relationship is not going.

He is being quite clear with you. He doesn't want any responsibility for you or the issues you might have or any upset you may develop over a swift dumping. He's trying to be a nice guy about it, so you should cut him some slack for that. Boyfriend material, he is not.

I suggest you set your sights on someone who at least presents a chance of hanging in there longer than a couple of weeks. I realize you are eager to get things moving physically, but rash decisions in these cases are never prudent.

Why not select yourself a nice boy who actually wants to date you, and is not worried that he won't be able to make plans with you five days later because he's really not all that interested.

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His view:

Dear Insane,

When women withhold sex from their partners, they are being cautious, or shy. When men do the same, they are either gay or sleeping with some other woman.

It is plausible that your boyfriend is having doubts about the relationship, that he doesn't feel very attached to you and believes continued intimacy would lead you to become more attached to him, causing further imbalance to the relationship. If this is so, then he is being honest with you and (unlike many other men who would have no concerns about sleeping with a girl they didn't care much about) he is treating you with respect.

If his claim is indeed true, then you should accept that he may be looking for a way to end the relationship—this physical withdrawal is the first step. On the other hand, more stereotypical explanations are also likely but, from your perspective, they probably still imply the relationship is at its end.

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