Intimacy deficiency


Intimacy deficiency


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I've been in a relationship with my boyfriend for about a year now. We've had our differences, but there's been nothing we haven't been able to work through and be the better for. Overall I would say it's been a very fulfilling, happy relationship.

The problem now, however, is that I've noticed a change in his behavior that has really started to concern me. I find that lately, he seems to have lost the desire to touch me physically in any way EXCEPT when we are having sex. Up until recently our sex life was healthy (as far as I could tell). He had always been very giving and concerned about my happiness or satisfaction in that area. Now it seems it's just about the actual sex. He hardly ever wants to kiss me anymore, and I've explained to him that for me, kissing is the highest form of intimacy, and something that I really need to avoid the feeling that sex is just sex, and not love.

I also told him that I don't feel desirable to him anymore as anything other than a sex object. He told me that he's always been that way after an extended amount of time in a relationship that that sort of 'thing' for him trails off, and it doesn't mean that his feelings for me are any less. It seemed like after we discussed the problem, he was making an effort to fix it by being more affectionate, but for some absurd reason it only succeeded in making me feel very self-conscious about it and frankly, stupid for bringing it up. After a few days he went back to the same behavior. In fact, now we barely TOUCH anymore unless it's in the bedroom, and even then it's not enough for my tastes.

My question is this: Will this cause greater problems further down the road in our relationship? Should the warning lights be on? I love him dearly and he IS very good to me, and I am very happy with him in all other aspects of our relationship. I want to be with him more than anything, but lately I've just been feeling very unhappy about the whole intimacy situation. Is this normal? I've never been in a relationship where the other person has just lost the desire to touch anymore. Any advice would be so helpful. thank you for listening!


    Robert W. Birch, Ph.D., ACS Certified Sexologist

People come in a variety of styles. There are touchers and there are non-touchers. There are those who are sexual and those who are non-sexual.

Thus, we find people who are touchers and sexual, who are non-touchers and sexual, who are toucher and non-sexual, and those who are non-touchers and non-sexual. It sounds as though you have found someone who is sexual, but a non-toucher. He was probably accurate in telling you that he loses interest in non-sexual touch as a relationship progresses, even though he remains quite sexual.

Unfortunately, many women in a relationship with such a man will eventually turn off sexually. For most women, sex is not just about orgasm, it is about relationship! We find true intimacy not just with our genitals, but through our words of affection, our sensual touch, and the sense of closeness as human beings... not just as sexual parts.

I have seen many couples who are in an "all or nothing" sexual relationship. There is no touch, no hugs, no snuggling and no kissing until the big night. Then there is everything! Nothing, nothing, nothing... then sex. This does not work well for many women, for there is no sense of an intimate relationship... it is the sensual and caring touch that is the intimate thread that links together and gives meaning to the more genital sexual encounters.

Your partner might just be a non-toucher or he might have what has been called "an intimacy disorder." It is not likely that he will change, and you might discover that he is the product of a family that did not touch. You will need to decide what you can live with, for you have told him what you need and he has tried. However, if he is just acting it, it will not last and his touch will feel artificial (as you apparently have already discovered).

The friendship aspect of a relationship is important. Enjoying each others company and having a lot in common is a key ingredient in a long-term relationship. However, if you are a toucher and need to give and receive non-sexual touch, you are likely to feel deprived.

You are between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Decide if you can appreciate all the other aspects of the relationship and can still enjoy the isolated sexual encounters... and think of doing so for many, many years. A well-rounded relationship includes friendship, sensuality and passion. It is based on mutual respect and is maintained by open and honest communication. Decide what you want, for either way you go you will have to give something up! Bummer... but who said relationships were going to be easy!

Robert W. Birch, Ph.D., is a retired sex therapist, now identifying himself as a sexologist and adult sexuality educator. He now devotes his time to writing educational and self-help books for adults.For more information visit:

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