He is sexually stunted and I’m frustrated
My boyfriend is sexually stunted and I’m getting really frustrated with this. My husband passed away a couple of years ago, and I have been seeing Orlando for close to a year. Orlando has been divorced for several years. He is funny and attentive, and he likes the same things I do. We are both in our 40’s, and very active. Orlando and I have been intimate with each other for about six months, and there is where I see a big problem: When it comes to anything sexual he is extremely awkward. When it comes to displays of affection, Orlando will literally pull his hand away if someone can see us but he’s fine if we are alone. He will not put his arm around me or kiss me or anything like that if we are not alone. When it comes to sex he is just so nervous it is painful to watch. Orlando has been married before and he doesn’t seem to be gay or conflicted. He is not extremely religious, and as far as I can get out of him, nothing in his background has been traumatic enough to make him so averse to PDAs or sexual activity. I’m certainly relaxed about it! When I tell Orlando that he can be himself around me and that he doesn’t have to be so nervous, he agrees and says he just needs more time, but I am beginning to be a bit freaked out by his behavior. He performs adequately, it’s just so awkward that it is stressful and not fun (for me, anyway). Since Orlando has had sex with his wife and has done most of the things I’ve done previously, I guess it’s me he’s afraid of! I don’t know what to do since I feel like I’m pressuring him if I bring this up too often, but I can’t see continuing the relationship unless we can make the physical part of things work better. Please help! —Thnx, Marlene
Tony’s Take: Orlando’s problem starts with his mother and extends through his previous wife who is just like his mother. Those who are sexually stunted and have problems with any form of PDA yet actually yearn for it, start with our families.
There are many families, especially in immigrant or ethnic communities, where there is such a level of moral code enforcement that it leads to a very non-demonstrative physical upbringing. It would be nice to blame his ex wife, but she is an extension to this, since she most likely also became comfortable with that same class of code and conduct. His ex wife, just by the definition of who Orlando is today, was not passionate and intimate with him as a regular thing. This is why Orlando has problems now. He feels that sex is not mutual and freely engaged in but rather something he almost has to beg for. He is nervous because he always fears going over the line and facing rejection.
Quite honestly, when you can get Orlando over this whole moral dilemma disguised as a class of virginity expressed by his ex wife, he will stop being so sexually stunted and become much more than an average lover, as he learns that what he has to give is desired not merely accepted. I think that Orlando just needs time. He may never be good about intimacy in public, but he will get better at that too. And as far as being a lover, he wants to know what pleases you and he wants the touching and intimacy that you can give him.
Alison’s Take: For a variety of reasons, Orlando needs for you to be patient with him when it comes to being physical but I wouldn’t take it personally, Marlene. It is clear that you have a very slow blooming lover on your hands, but even sexually stunted people can overcome these issues.
As Tony also suggests, with time and patience you may have a wonderful lover as well as a good relationship in all of the other aspects that are necessary to maintain it longer term. You say you really like Orlando and barring the physical issues, you’d like to see a future with him. So hang in there.
We have no real idea where Orlando’s issues come from. They are likely deep seated and of long standing, but neither Tony nor I should play the role of therapist, and we cannot and should not “guess” at what his issues are. The most important thing for you to know is that you have to look at Orlando as he is, not as you would like him to be. He might change, but then again, he may remain the same.
My advice is to give it more time, but I wouldn’t wait forever. Continue to be patient on the physical side or things, and work on your relationship in all of its other aspects. But, if, after a suitable amount of time (and I’d give it another six months but not longer), Orlando has not loosened up at all on the physical issues that are bothering him, and therefore you as well, I’d re-assess the relationship. Not everyone could see spending the rest of their life with someone who makes them uncomfortable about sex and physical affection. If Orlando’s issues don’t start to resolve, and he doesn’t seek professional counseling for himself and the two of you, you might want to re-think a lifetime of “loving” with Orlando.