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Hello,
I have been through a lot of things before meeting my current girlfriend. I went through a major life changing event (university-moving away) which led to my mental state deteriorating with Depression and social anxiety. Due to ill health, I had to leave and consequently I withdrew from studies. I could not cope with talking to people, always found it hard to be assertive and partake in lessons. Most of the time jsut sat there in silence always wondering, which increased the tension and effects of anxiety. I was on edge, bitter, angry, paranoid about the thoughts of others, and generally jumped to assumptions about situations.
This led to a complete shut down of confidence and emotions, I slept most of the duration at university. Until, the point the workload was too much and I left.

I was born with Cerebral Palsy (and although I only wish to mention briefly), this hugely impacted me and my perception of others and the world. I was bullied and tormented and was highly ambitious because of the nature of my disability. Furthermore, although I was wheelchair bound at one point, I managed to get out of the wheelchair and cir-cum many of the expectations made about me being worthless and overcame these things. -more to the point of this post- a short while after leaving university, I met this girl. She's cute, intelligent and very strong willed. Since dating her these past 4months, I have found out lots of things about her, she is very business minded, her family are farmers, and they own their own business (family-run). She is very headstrong, family orientated and independent, however something did happen to her as a child (she was taken advantage of), obviously the implications of this would affect her future and beliefs of men, and shes going to be cautious. I love her a lot, and don't want her to feel awkward around me, of which I discussed with her.

Its got to the point we both love each other a lot, we get quite intimate (kissing and cuddling) and are close. But...she told me that Sex is off limits because she believes that this is something only married couples do. To add, she said her Dad would kill her, and would be "heartbroken" if she got pregnant (which can be understood), however, I have no intentions of getting her pregnant.

At no point in the conversation did we mention contraceptives. But she seemed to be adamant on not pursuing a sexual relationship. But at that point, I did understand fully in my mind, her worries of becoming pregnant. That wasn't a problem.

My next point to mention is that, her Mother and Father are Catholics, and my girlfriend went to a Catholic school, and she said in the conversation that she went to a Catholic school and that they never really talked about things like that. So she felt awkward, and immediately told me that she wanted to stop talking about sexual stuff and preferences.

I felt a little shot down, because in my mind, Sex is an important factor of getting to know someone. Don't get me wrong, I am not a sex addict (I am a man!). I am not just after sex in this relationship, but I suppose I just expected her to at least open up a little bit more to me more than what she has. Sex is something you share with that special someone, and not even just sex, even sexual contact. It is fun, whilst it can be a serious indication of commitment.

I respect my girlfriends decision to stay abstinent until marriage, and if that's her opinion thats fine, I just feel a little bit miss-informed and still don't know exactly where I stand. In terms of whether or not she remains abstinent (from both penetrative sex or sexual contact) because of feeling uncomfortable from past experiences, her beliefs, or those of her family or pressures. I just do not know, and I want to! I don't want to keep asking her, and pestering her, but I do wish to understand why. This problem has frustrated me for a few weeks, when I'm with her I suppose I feel a bit kind of teased, because we kiss, cuddle, and caress each other. More explicity, the other night we were kissing, cuddling, and I was groping her rear (with her consent and enjoyment), and things were intense, I put my hand right down in her underwear, and I thing I must have been close to her genitals, which I did think she wouldn't mind, I thought the whole 'the sexual thing is not permitted' thing would be discounted over time because of her feeling more comfortable. But as I got closer, she looked at me and paused. I said what, and she immediately pulled me hand out. I know perhaps that, my move wasn't the most appropriate. But I just feel really frustrated, pushed out, and I wish me and my girlfriend could do the things that other couples do. I just want to understand why she feels this way, because whenever we talk about this she tries to change the conversation. We're both only young, 21yrs old, but she is my first girlfriend and I would like to experience things a little. I feel at a loss, I understand that from her perspective, she wants to focus on her professional life, as she will inherit her family's business when they pass it over, and she wants to be successful and married before having a child. But who said I wanted a child!? There is such a thing as contraceptives, and she hasn't mentioned or even brought this up yet, she did go to a Catholic school so maybe I assume she isn't keen on this idea, but I see no issue with having sex, enjoying things and been safe.

At the moment it just feels like a close friendship. Any advice would be greatly appreciated, thanks in advance.
Jerry.

Answer
Hi Jerry

Its a tough one. As a bloke I understand the need for sexual fulfilment , both from a physical and emotional perspective , and , having been there, I understand the frustration when you're in love but not "getting any". It not easy.
But here's the thing, I think she has been perfectly fair. It sounds like she has been loving, affectionate, playful but just not sexual and thats entirely her prerogative. Its not a question of , can she change, but more , can you accept it. Because if you cant it may be time to look elsewhere for someone who is perpared to be more sexual in a relationship.
And I'm not just being politically correct here, its desperately important that this girl, especially given the abuse that she has suffered, feels 100% in control of her own sexuality and her own body and if she decides that she's not sleeping with you or anyone then you have two stark choices, deal with it or move on.
Now, that said, what you can, and indeed must do first is have that conversation. What i'd suggest is this; sit her down when you're both feeling good and relaxed but not when your engaged in any sort of kissing, cuddling etc. In a restaurant or pub is a great place to have the conversation.
Tell her that you want to talk about sex but make it clear that you want to do so once, briefly , and that once its done you wont persist with it but you'd like her to speak openly and honestly for a few minutes.
If she agrees then ask your questions; ask if she's simply worried about pregnancy or just doesnt want physicality at all. Ask if she feels worried about it or suspects it may be painful or has a genuine moral objection to it. If she says she does, ask her why ? Don't dispute it but just genuinely ask her to explain how she feels about it? Ask if there's a compromise that she might accept; oral sex or touching each other to climax - I dont know how comfortable you are talking with her in such ways but the more open and frank the conversation then the better for you.

Now, if she cant, or wont talk about it and simply blanks you then Jerry its decision time because if sex is important to you, and lets face it, it is for most people, then you need to think long and hard as to whether this is something you can wait for. It wouldnt make you a bad or weak person if you were unable to wait. But what you cant do is "persuade" her that she's ready. Thats something that only she can decide, your only choice is how long you wait.

Good luck with it

Steve

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Steve Wilson

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Any questions on families or relationships are welcome. As are any issues or problems that you have with communicating or simply being understood by those around you. I have voluntarily worked as a counselor in the past, both with individuals and families. I cant promise to have an answer to everything but will help as and where I can, without making judgements.

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Both a former telephone counselor with a well known international support organisation and a former police officer within a major UK city. I've helped with numerous issues and worked with individuals and family towards conflict resolution.

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Bachelor of Arts (Honours). I've received training in family and teenage counselling.

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