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Why won't my boyfriend touch me?

Tagged as: Troubled relationships<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (4 January 2010) 13 Answers - (Newest, 20 January 2010)
A female United States age 26-29, anonymous writes:

I'm 22 and my boyfriend is 18. I've been with him for 6 months, and I'm completely in love with him. He's my first "real" relationship, as in the first that didn't revolve around sex. He cooks for me all the time, he keeps me entertained every moment I'm with him, he's just great. The only drawback is, he won't touch me. I only got him to hold hands with me a month into the relationship, which was the result of tons of begging. We hold hands maybe a few times a week, and we see each other every day. Other than that, he hasn't hugged me, kissed me, or even brushed against me accidentally. Whenever I sit down next to him, he scoots away an inch or two. I've tried talking to him about it, but the most I've gotten is him telling me I can find another boyfriend or have sex with some other guy and he wouldn't hold it against me. I love him, and I'm not going to cheating on him or leave him. What could cause him to be like this? What can I do to make him more willing to touch me?

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (20 January 2010):

I am so sorry you are going through this. I am 29 and my b/f is 38. We have been together for 3.5 years and for the past 2 he has not wanted to be intimate at all. I don't have any advise for you honey, but you are only 6 months in, you do what you have to to make sure you have a partner that wants to do the same things you want to.

Good luck.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (4 January 2010):

To those of you that are mature, thanks for your responses.

1. He's not gay. That's an immature assumption to make. After all the "Oh, my wife/girlfriend doesn't want to have sex" questions on this and countless other sites, I've never once seen "b/c she's a lesbian" as a reply. Why the double standard? Like soon567 said, gay guys are physical with women too, my gay friends touch me more than my boyfriend does.

2. He knows we're together, and he tells me how much he loves me all the time. But it is heartbreaking to hear that from 2 feet away.

3. He doesn't seem particularly religious, and that *could* be why he won't have sex with me, but I haven't asked for sex yet. Hugging isn't a sex act. I don't think even Puritans would act this way.

The answers that make the most sense to me are he was abused or brainscanhug's idea that he thinks I'm a slut and doesn't want to commit to me because I might leave him. I hope to God he wasn't abused, but at the same time, it doesn't seem likely to me that he would even be with me if he considered me a slut.

I've been an idiot in the past, yeah, but this is totally different. I've been turning down guys that I would've said yes to in a heartbeat if I hadn't met my boyfriend first. It's been hard for me to bear this, because I have a very high sex drive, but I'm in it for the long haul. This is the guy I want to spend the rest of my life with, and I wouldn't have stuck with him this long if I wasn't 100% sure about it.

Starmonster888 recommended that I keep taking a step at a time, but if he was abused, will it work? Are there any other signs I can look for to tell if he was abused without asking him? Would it be best to confront him about it, or work around it?

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A reader, anonymous, writes (4 January 2010):

One more thing. He's not saying you can find another boyfriend because he does not like you. He's saying that because he thinks that if having sex is more important to you than him, then you weren't what he was looking for anyway.

He's basically using idiot men to shake the tree so he can collect any apples that drop.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (4 January 2010):

OR...

He might just have a developed sense of what is good. He would not even need to be religious. People who think that waiting until marriage is all about religion have no clue what they are talking about, and they reveal a disgusting egocentrism. He could just not want to become seriously involved with someone he's not seriously involved with, especially with no reassurance. Not wanting to hug or kiss would be a stubborn extreme.

But it is also not normal. Being completely non-sexual sounds like a defense mechanism. He's probably afraid (with good reason) that you are an idiot who will be "in love" right now but, come next year, suddenly you will think this guy is boring and you won't remember exactly what you were thinking when you liked him. And maybe he just realizes that such hollow involvement is not good.

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A male reader, Illithid United States +, writes (4 January 2010):

Illithid agony auntMy thoughts:

- He could be a little confused about his sexuality. Possibly he wants men, or doesn't know what he wants.

- He could be timid. It's possible that however much he wants you, he's afraid of doing something wrong and offending you.

- He could be religiously afraid to be sexual because of his upbringing and beliefs.

- He could even just have some self esteem issues that prevent him from believing you could truly want to be physical with him.

- He could be unsure of his feelings for you and is keeping physically distant as he decides where his heart is.

- He could have some physical defect that he's afraid of you discovering, ranging from a scar to a small penis to maybe a birth defect.

- He could have had some trauma in his childhood, anything from cold parents to sexual abuse, that makes him slow to trust anyone with touch.

- He could just be extremely old fashioned and believe in moving agonizingly slowly.

What worries me most is that he gave you permission to see someone else. That sounds to me like self esteem, like he doesn't believe he's worthy of your touch or that he could ever satisfy your needs. Honestly, I was mentally much the same way with one of my ex's, giving her permission to sleep with someone else (since she was bisexual and I was only one gender) until I grew to trust that I could truly be enough for her. Maybe he'll grow out of the low esteem with some patience and love from you. But if he never shows signs of healing, or if it's something else on the list... you have to decide if you can live like this.

The most painful advice I give, and the most frequent advice, is that people seldom change. People can HEAL with luck, but they don't usually fundamentally change. If he's not what you need in a relationship... odds are low that he ever will be.

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A female reader, billy bilou Mauritius +, writes (4 January 2010):

billy bilou agony auntMaybe, he is under the impression that by not touching you he is respecting you. Even if he considers you only as a friend, I find if weird that he avoids all physical contact. I think that in his childhood he may have been abused as he has a real phobia of physical contact. Try to find out what's the underlying cause of this phobia.

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A female reader, Lexie88 Australia +, writes (4 January 2010):

Lexie88 agony auntI find it really weird that an 18 year old guy has not touched his girlfriend within the 6 months you've been together. Something is definitely up and you need to find out what it is before you get emotionally involved even more. This is not normal behaviour and I don't think it has much to do with you, but not to hug you or kiss you in six months? How do you cope with this?

When I read your question, all that comes to mind is that he enjoys your company and only sees you as a friend.

Have you guys talked about your relationship...does he call you his girlfriend? Have you defined what you two are?

You need to have a talk with him and put it all out there.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (4 January 2010):

He has a tactile phobia, probably induced by a (sadly less delusional than you might think) belief that all or almost entirely all women are sluts. Did you tell him about a lot of previous boyfriends? Additionally, given the severity of his condition, he has probably undergone some tramatic experiences in his past that you are unaware of and that he might not even understand himself.

Tell him you don't want to have sex of any sort unless you are married, and you just want to be physically closer because you are seriously interested in him. Ironically, reassurance of commitment would probably help this guy to trust you.

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A female reader, fishdish United States + , writes (4 January 2010):

fishdish agony auntsexuality crossed my mind too, but an alternative may be that he was sexually abused when he was younger and isn't ready for anything physical that might make him...flashback or remember or whatnot. i think his saying that you could find someone else is a definite indication something is off, not that he doesn't like you but something else is going on that you REALLY have to get him to talk about. all girls need a little physical affection, in my opinion, it shows they're loved, and not that they can't get love any other way, but it's a valuable part of healthy relationships, so i think you need to pry a little further perhaps.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (4 January 2010):

I am being completely serious but have you asked him if he took a vow of chastity and wants to wait until he is married to have sex?

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A female reader, SeXylOvE12 United States +, writes (4 January 2010):

SeXylOvE12 agony auntYeah... that's a really weird issue. Physical touch and affection is really important in a relationship. Honestly, I couldn't make it without it. I don't know how you've stayed with him this long. Have you asked him if he had some sort of abuse as a child? Have you talked about counseling? There has to be an underlying reason he's acting this way. It's up to you how much time you give him to open up.

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A male reader, fullvee United States +, writes (4 January 2010):

He might be holding out for religious views.

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A female reader, pinktopaz United States +, writes (4 January 2010):

I'm being completely serious when I ask this question; is there a possibility that he could be gay??? Otherwise, a boyfriend not wanting to be affectionate or even want to touch you is plain bizarre and I would assume it's because he's not into any sort of affection or physical contact whatsoever, he's getting it from somewhere else, or he doesn't like women. Besides that--no clue! You need to talk to him some more because something isn't right.

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