May 21, 2015 at 9:44 am EDT | by Michael Radkowsky
Hoping for change
relationship, gay news, Washington Blade

Why stay with a partner who’s sexually and emotionally unavailable?



What do you suggest for a couple where one person wants to have sex and the other doesn’t?


I’ve been with my boyfriend Nathan for more than nine months and he has shut down to having sex with me for the last three. We have sex with a third party about once a week. But just between us, anything more than kissing is out of the question. He says he isn’t interested in having sex anymore unless it’s a three-way.


When we first met, we would have sex at least three times a week alone. Then I left my previous relationship and made a commitment to Nathan. I also vowed not to mess around even though I do get many offers.


We have an agreement to never play separately. But because we met while I was in a previous relationship, I have this fear that he is playing around, even though he does not have a chance to do anything as I drop him off at work in the morning and pick him up at night.


While I am happy in the relationship, I would love to have sex with him, just the two of us. Nathan is the kind of guy that if you ask him to do something, he will go out of his way not to do it. So, I have started asking less.


Could he be refusing because I am very high maintenance? I like to kiss and hug him all the time. I really love him, but he doesn’t show any emotion to me.


Michael replies:

Nathan says he isn’t interested in having sex with you alone. Why not take him at his word?

We could speculate as to his motivations. Maybe you are crowding him and he could use some space.  Maybe he’s turned off by commitment and turned on by secrets and intrigues. But it doesn’t really matter — he’s telling you that he doesn’t want to have sex just with you and your understanding his reasons won’t get him to change his mind.

You’re setting an awfully low bar for your life. You say you’re happy with a guy who goes out of his way not to do what you ask of him and who doesn’t show any emotion toward you. Even if Nathan were to start having sex alone with you, what is appealing to you about being with him? This is an important question for you to answer.

What are you looking for in a relationship? If you want mutual respect and collaboration, you won’t get them with a guy whose main message to you is “no.” Ditto for affection and generosity. I do think that this relationship is offering you an opportunity to grow: by opening your eyes, seeing reality, figuring out what you want and going for it instead of complaining and trying to get Nathan to change.

I encourage you not to see yourself as some poor naïf trapped by a guy who wooed you and now is holding out on you. You have helped to create this story, choosing to have an affair with Nathan and leave your previous relationship and then agreeing to three-ways with him.

I’m curious why your role is to be Nathan’s chauffeur. Is it by his request? Do you have only one car? Is this for the side benefit of you being able to keep a close eye on Nathan’s comings and goings? Your keeping Nathan under observation every moment that he isn’t at work may encourage subterfuge and withholding in return.

I’m certainly not saying that Nathan’s behavior is a result of your behavior, but you are also conducting yourself in ways that are helping to create a pretty lousy situation.

What was your parents’ relationship like? Do your friends have caring, supportive partnerships? My guess is that you haven’t seen much in the way of positive role models. But a relationship where partners treat each other decently is possible. If that is what you want, the main ingredients are two people who want to make a commitment to doing so.


Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D., licensed psychologist, specializes in gay relationship counseling and individual therapy in D.C. He can be found online at All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to

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