Dear Dr. Love, You have given sound advise to others, so here is my question.I have been seeing someone for over three years. During this time he has pulled back from me on several occasions. Though it hurt, I let him be and evetually he would come around. We have usually always been close emotionally and sexually.Lately, I have realized that the past few times we have been together he hasn’t wanted to have sex with me. He still acts very happy with me, asks me out and we talk on the phone pretty consistently but. . . . what is going on?I am wondering if he has found someone else? I feel very confused and don’t want to put him off by being overly aggressive, but our sex life has always been an important component to the relationship. Any insight?
Every human being struggles with opposing internal needs.On the one hand, there is a need for closeness, and on the other hand there is a need for emotional space and distance. You describe a man who has a high need for space. In fact, he seems to find it difficult to tolerate closeness for an extended period of time, which explains his periodic distancing.When you leave him alone, he always returns to you, as his need for closeness resurfaces. Now, he is demonstrating a new behavior. He is avoiding sex. This is another way of distancing himself from you, I think.By avoiding sex, he is holding you at arm’s length. Why he feels particularly threatened now, and why he needs this added physical distance at this point is for him to say. He may be feeling frightened by his deepening feelings for you. We can’t be sure without his confirmation.I would not assume that he has another girlfriend. If he were involved with someone else, why would he be spending time with you?I think you need to gently open a discussion with him. In order to not threaten him, universalize the issue. Meaning, let him know that we are all afraid of getting too close. You can talk about the kind of fears that arise in all of us when we become attached to another person. Fear of loss, dependency, abandonment, vulnerability, being hurt, etc. .Then, explain to him that when he acts on his fear, by going away, you don’t know how to interpret what’s going on inside him. Tell him that you have no intention of preventing him from taking his space whenever he needs it, but explain that it would be good for him to clue you in on what is going on inside himself before he heads for the door.Also tell him that when he stays away or avoids physical contact with you, you wonder if he is no longer interested in you. Then ask him if that is how he wants you to interpret him. Also ask him how he wants you to feel when he holds you at a distance.The ultimate goal of your discussion is to tell him that if he wants to maintain a relationship with you, he needs to put his thoughts and feelings into words. By doing so, he is bringing you into his world and keeping you in his heart, rather than leaving you to feel discarded.Reassure him that as long as he clues you in on what is going on inside him before he takes distance, that you will not give him a hard time about taking the space he needs.Let me know what happens.