Somehow these days, it seems like everyone wants to be in a sexual relationship. But that doesn’t work for everybody. Your boyfriend may have chosen to be celibate, for example, at least for a time. Or maybe he has performance anxieties. But it’s more likely that he’s asexual. Which means he doesn’t have the feelings most people get when they see someone sexy.
Some asexuals don’t really enjoy physical contact at all, and won’t even share a bed. Some feel disgusted by the whole idea of sex, and remain virgins for life. Others are OK with physical contact, but holding hands and hugging is probably as far as they want to go. Some seek relationships for their practical benefits, the companionship, conversation and support. Some want children, or have sex just to please a partner.
Still others have some sexual feelings but can’t understand why everyone’s so obsessed with making love and feel no particular desire to connect with anyone. A bit like seeing food, but not wanting any because you’re not hungry.
Many asexuals lead very fulfilling lives without sex. But they and any ‘sexual’ partners can get very stressed about the whole subject. For example, many asexuals don’t understand what it feels like to be aroused. Words like ‘horny’ have no meaning for them. For others, it’s not that sex is horrible, it’s just that they don’t feel any need for it. They can love a partner, but not in a sexual way.
So what should you do?
Talk it all through. Avoid being critical or making it sound like this is a ‘break-up’ issue, and ask your boyfriend to be honest about his feelings. Check on performance and celibacy issues, and resolve them if either is the cause of the problem. If they’re not the problem, ask if he thinks he might be asexual. He may have never heard of the term; if so, research it together. Involve a therapist if this all feels too difficult.
Explore what you like about your relationship and each other. Is there any form of sexual intimacy that would be acceptable to both of you? What do you both want from the relationship? If you decide to stay together without any sex at all, how might you compensate for that? Work through all the possibilities, with an open mind. And if you can’t find a solution that works for both of you, politely split up.