Marry for lust or love?


Marry for lust or love?


your avatar   Seel, 32-year-old woman

I'm a 32 year-old woman who's had a history of unhealthy relationships. I was in an emotionally abusive but very passionate relationship last. Before that I was deeply in love with a man who left his wife to marry me. That fell apart when I realized he had lied to me about actually moving out (although later I discovered he actually did). I feel I let the love of my life get away.

Now I've been with a man for 9 months who is just wonderful to me. We're good friends, good companions and are discussing the possibility of moving in together and getting married. The problem is he comes from a very, very dysfunctional sexual background. This is the first time in his life (he's 44) that he's had normal sexual relations with a woman. It's been difficult for me because I've had to be patient. He gets anxious, unconfident and I have had to basically help him learn to let go.

My question is twofold. Would it be stupid of me to enter a marriage with a man who doesn't fully satisfy me sexually when good sex really matters to me? And, do you think that he can learn eventually to be a better lover (he's already better than he was when we started)? My greatest concern is that he's not a very physical person in general (can't get him to work out or dance or even wrestle playfully) and he's not terribly spontaneous. These are things I feel are necessary for good sex. What do you think?


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

Oh my, the age old question: Shall I marry for love and hope that lust develops, or should I first fall into lust and discover love in the process. An old question begs for an old cliche'... "It's hard to teach an old dog new tricks!"

Sexual comfort begins early in the lives of most spontaneous and creative lovers. Early in their lives they have learned that our sexual passion is of value and is intended for pleasure... alone or through a shared mutual experience with a partner. To have missed those messages is a handicap. To have avoided the early innocent explorations into the mysterious of our erotic nature is a loss. As the years roll on, the inhibitions become more firmly and deeply implanted.

To marry for love is wonderful, but I have told many couples that a long-term relationship requires love, compatible passion, trust, and mutual respect. If any one of these is missing, a gap will be felt. You will need to decide how big of a gap that will be and how well you will do living with it.

It is encouraging that your partner has been willing to learn from you, and you can give him an understanding of your sexuality and teach him techniques to that please you. You cannot, however, teach him spontaneity, enthusiasm, comfort, and creativity. Do not rush into a marriage, but continue in your efforts to loosen him up. Give it more time, for you need to ask the question at this point in your relationship says that you still have your doubts. Trust that side of you that remains uncertain. Wait to see if he can truly change. If not, you must then decide what you can live with.

Good luck to the two of you. It sounds as though you have been good for him, and I hope he continues to change.

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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