Dr. Love,I am desperate. I will try to make this brief. I am living with and in love with a man who has no sex drive. . . for me. He has literally hundreds of movies, magazines, pictures of other women and I know he watches and reads them often because I pay attention to where they are and how they are placed. . . they get moved daily!He isn’t intimate with me much at all. . . maybe once a month if that much. I tried initiating sex for awhile and it worked okay until I found out during a blow-up that he feels I force him to have sex! He wants to know why we have to have sex so much, why I am not happy with just cuddling, and holding hands.I am so depressed. . . I am an intelligent woman, a college graduate with a high-paying job and I have analyzed this issue to death! I tell him that I am in love with him and sex is a natural way to express those feelings, but he just doesn’t get it!I feel like he prefers the women in the magazines instead of me. . but he tells me that is ridiculous. . yet I know he has a sex drive because he spends so much time and energy on these materials, but none of this sexual energy gets around to me!He is very loving, affectionate, but I can’t handle an asexual relationship. My self-esteem is Null and Void. I am extremely and dangerously depressed.Please Please Please help me. . . I have searched your archives, done my homework, and can’t find anything similar to my problem.
You are clearly feeling victimized by your boyfriend’s neglect. You also seem to be searching for a magic bullet that will fix him so that he will love you the way you want.Nothing, I repeat nothing that might say or do is going to fix him. The only power you have in this life is over yourself. So, let’s look at you, the bind that you’re in, how you got here, and how you can free yourself from this horrendous pain.You are suffering from what I call the ‘battered child syndrome, ‘which is the result of either emotional or physical abuse during childhood. Every abused child believes that he/she deserves the abuse. This is called the narcissistic defense of childhood, and what this fancy term means is that all children protect their parents from their anger.This is because all children engage in magical thinking, which means that they believe that angry thoughts and feelings toward their parents can actually cause their parents to die. Since a child needs his/her parent for survival, he cannot risk owning angry feelings toward that parent.Instead, the anger gets turned back against the self in the form of self-blame and self-attack. The abused child thinks, ‘It’s my fault that I am being mistreated, ‘or ‘If only I were a better child, the abuse would stop and I would be loved.’When the battered child grows up, he or she naturally chooses a batterer for a life partner, partly because familiar pain is preferable to the unknown, partly out of a deep sense that he/she is doomed to suffer (that ‘s the way life was and will always be); and partly because there is a deep hope that finally, one day, the battering will end and she/he will be loved.If you read over your letter to me, you will see that you fit the battered child syndrome to the last letter. You never once said to me, he is treating me like crap, and I don’t deserve this. What’s more, you blame yourself for his mistreatment. When you say that your self-esteem is null and void, you are telling me that you are misdirecting your anger and putting yourself down instead of giving him hell.Plus, when you search high and low for a trick that can fix him, you are also putting the blame on yourself. Behind the ‘Miss Fix It’approach is the belief that you are doing something wrong (it’s your fault that he’s acting this way) and that if only you could fix what you are doing, he would treat you better.You need to change yourself, not him. You need to know that you are not, I repeat not, supposed to be treated the way he is treating you. You are not supposed to have to jump through hoops to get laid or be responded to. If my letter isn’t sufficient to help begin the internal transformation that needs to occur, then, by all means, go and talk to a therapist.When you start to feel better about yourself and more entitled to good treatment and good sex, two things are going to happen. He is either going to rise to the occasion and change his behavior, or you are going to happily kick him to the curb.Stop focusing on him and start focusing on you. That’s your ticket to a satisfying sex life and relationship with or without him.