Dear Christine, Lost in Troy

Dear Christine,

I have been with my partner for one year.

We get along. We have fun. We talk, laugh and truly enjoy each other’s company.

The problem I have is that we have only been intimate once, and it was not even a true full intimate union.

We’ve talked about it. I have asked if she physically attracted to me. She claims she is. However, I never receive any terms of endearments. I am constantly telling her how beautiful she is, how attracted I am to her and how much I love her.

She says sex is important, and she has to be sure. She said she went to fast in the past.

But, one year? Nothing?

I asked her if she had urge’s, she said yes, and pleases herself in private. She said releases are important.  But, not with me. She claims she loves me, I’m her partner and she is very attracted to me.

She always tells me it’s not me, it’s in her head.

My self-esteem is down the tubes. Is it time to move on? She is highly educated, a social worker, and I would think she could understand my concerns. I am also educated, and that’s what she fell in love with. My intellectual side.

I have to be the one to always say I love you first. In fact, I have to say it a few times, then I’ll get a faint “luv ya.”

We pretty much live together. But, if I have to leave (she has only come to my home once in a while) she will not ever call me, I call and she only answers maybe 20% of the time.

I rub her back, neck, legs for hours. She will only rub my back if I beg, and for only a few moments.

She’s bossy and criticize me all the time. I do not fold the clothes right, cool, clean or even drive correctly. The funny thing is, she will never drive!

She has never bought me a gift or sent flowers. I have purchased her gifts and thoughtful gifts.  I know she had sent them to her former GF. We never go out. However, I know she always went out with her former GF.

I love her. However, I feel she loves me as a sister, not even a friend. A friend you treat with more respect.

Thank you for listening to me. Do you think it’s time to move on?

Lost in Troy.

Dear Lost,
Relationships evolve over time and honest, direct, sensitive communication is essential.  It sounds like you are trying to be specific about your needs and requests for more intimacy.  And she says that you aren’t the problem, that it is in her head.  What does that mean?  She has a problem with intimacy in her head?  Is it because she moved too fast into intimacy in past relationships?  There seems to be something(s) in her history that has caused her to move very slowly with physical and verbal intimacy.

Everyone has different needs, and those needs may change over time.  And the language we use can be confusing, because what you mean by “intimacy” may be quite different from her understanding.  Similarly, one person’s definition of “cheating” may be completely unlike their partner’s definition, and this can lead to fights and misunderstandings of what the boundaries of the relationship really are for both of you.


No relationship is perfect, and we all need to be flexible in a friendship and especially in a significant relationship or marriage.  Make a list of the things you absolutely must have in a romantic relationship, and without these you would know this is not for you.   These things might be cheating but be prepared to define that exactly.  Is flirting cheating?  Is kissing someone else?  Or is it an emotional connection with someone else (in person, on Internet) or is it if your partner actually has sex with another?

Then make a list of the things you must have to continue in an intimate relationship.  This could include physical/romantic intimacy and what kind of frequency of intimacy you need.  Many straight couples differ in this department, as men often want sex much more often than women.  Communication about these needs, these non-negotiables are necessary.

Take at least a week to come up with your non-negotiables.  Ask your partner to also make her list of her non-negotiables.  After an agreed upon time, choose a time to come together and to share those lists with each other.  This will give you both a sense of what your needs are that make or break a relationship.  They can be as specific as “non-smoker” or “no children” or “honesty” or “splitting chores.”

As you discuss your lists with each other, you may immediately realize that you both are looking for very different things in a relationship.  And if she can’t meet your non-negotiable, it is clear that no amount of discussion, begging, waiting or manipulating will turn her into the person you need her to be.  Then you know for sure that it is time to change the relationship.  Maybe being “just friends” or maybe saying goodbye.  These lists will bring self-awareness for both of you, so that you are not trying to make the other one be someone they cannot be.  Then you know it is time to look elsewhere for those intimacy needs that you have and deserve to have met.

Let me know how the relationship is going as you both explore, identify and communicate your non-negotiables.   Take care, Christine C Cantrell, PhD, LP

Christine C. Cantrell, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist
Prism of Possibilities Psychotherapy
3926 Royal Avenue, #A
Berkley, Michigan 48072
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