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May 8, 2000   CONTINUED e-mail e-mail to a friend in need


Dear Breakup Girl,

Let me begin, as Shakespeare always ended, by self-consciously offering up a silly excuse / apology for that which I am about to inflict upon you...

We've talked to very close, trusted friends. We've talked to parents. We've talked to complete strangers. We've even talked to a marriage counselor (so don't suggest that, we're on it already). None of them had ever heard of anything like this before, and neither have we. I figure if anyone has, it'll be you.

Jack and I have been married a little more than a year. He's 22; I'm 25. We were married four months after we met, and it was actually the most well thought-out, rational, positive decision I ever made (which is not to imply that my previous decision-making skills, questionable though they may have been, were on par with Amy Fisher's; just trust me, it was not a blinded-by-infatuation thing). We've since varied between quietly content and ecstatically happy. We're in perfect agreement on all the big things like values, morals, goals, etc. We're wildly different on some of the smaller things, but the disagreements are fun. We communicate amazingly well. We talk for hours about everything: God, movies, politics, "us," friends, family, science, history, sex, food, the future, you-name-it. We do fun things together. We shop together without getting cranky. We sit on the couch and watch TV and use each other as a pillow. We split up for entire weekends on a regular basis so he can hang with the guys and I can bond with the girls, and we both like it that way. We get along great with one another's friends and family. We chase each other around the apartment threatening to tickle. We cuddle up at night and fall asleep smiling. We love one another; we trust one another; and we enjoy being around one another. We have some small problems here and there, but they're nothing earthshaking, and we deal with them as well as can be expected. We're both secure and strong and happy, both as individuals and as a couple. In short, it's about as perfect as life can be in the real world.

But no, I didn't write in just to brag. In addition to the small manageable problems, there is one honking, big one that we're doing our best with, but don't have the slightest idea of where to go with it: Jack's not sexually attracted to me.

1. He IS attracted to OTHER women. He's not gay. We're both VERY sure of this. I see the way he looks at other girls, and he knows he can be open with me about that stuff. He looks. He fantasizes. He (on rare occasions) goes to strip-clubs with friends and looks and fantasizes even more. He tells me about it. It's legit.

2. He's not having an affair. I KNOW this, not because "he said he's not," not because "he loves me so he couldn't." HeÕs got this integrity/responsibility/honor thing that goes down to the core. It's one of the reasons I fell in love with him in the first place. He's as close as people can come to being psychologically incapable of cheating on a spouse.

3. It's not my looks. I'm very attractive. I'm not saying that in a snotty, conceited way; it's just true. I take no "credit" for it; it's just random genetics. In a nasty case of irony, I think I was initially drawn to Jack because he was the first man I ever met who seemed more interested in me as a person than as a trophy (or just a plain ol' sex-toy). And I AM his type. I'm exactly his type. If you took all the women he IS attracted to and morphed them all together, you'd have me. He acknowledges this himself, and he can't explain it.

4. He is truly in love with me. No one is a nice enough person to have faked it this well this long, nor would he have had any real reason to. He wants us to have kids and grow old together. He WANTS to feel desire for me.

5. It's not the post-marriage cool-down. If we'd been married for five years and this gradually came to be, I wouldn't even worry; I'd just break out the saran wrap. But we're practically still newlyweds, and it's NOT a new development. He says he's NEVER really felt a strong physical attraction to me. He thought it didn't matter; he thought it would come in time (bless his naive heart). He only opened up and told me this recently. (If I'd known before, we wouldn't have gotten married until this was worked out. Guess it WAS a little hasty after all.)

6. It's not even the sex. The sex is far and away the best either of us has ever had. I'll spare you the details, but we're very open and very compatible, and we just do really well together in that area. He loves the sex, but he just doesn't feel any real passionate desire for me.

As for me, I'm very attracted to him. I love him completely, respect him, and admire him more than I've ever respected anyone. I know on every possible level that he's a truly extraordinary human being, and I happen to think he's just a yummy piece of man, too. (The not-attracted thing is NOT mutual.) I have no complaints about any other area of our life, and neither does he. I just don't know how to fix this, and I don't know how to handle it if it can't be fixed. I'm not wired to just throw passion and intensity out the window. I've thrived on it in one form or another all my life. In fact, I read El Duderino's letters about his past relationship in your archive, and I briefly wondered if he was my ex-boyfriend, fudging on a few details. I mention this because it may give you some idea of the kind of romantic intensity I'm "used to." I don't need that LEVEL of intensity from Jack, because it's just not who he is. But I don't think I can go the rest of my life without ever again being touched by a man who wants ME — not just an orgasm or an intimate moment — so hungrily and so viscerally that I can feel it through his skin. I don't think Jack should have to go the rest of HIS life without being able to FEEL that kind of desire for a woman and ACT on it. I don't know yet if I'd be willing to end the marriage over this (assuming it COULDN'T be worked out), and neither does he, but we're not to that bridge yet. Right now, we're working under the premise that there IS a way.

Now, to be accurate, he says there have been A FEW TIMES when he felt truly turned on by me. I consider that a sign of hope, but "a few times" just ain't up to snuff when we're talking about the person with whom you've vowed to grow old, right? I just think it should be more of a consistent feeling than, "There was that time back in June when I actually felt a slight urge to throw you down." I do have one theory: He's not as experienced in the relationship/love/sex department as I am, and he's slightly younger. It's not an "Age Difference" at all, and he's EXTREMELY mature for a 22-year-old guy (in most ways he's much "older" than I, in fact), but he had just turned 21 when we met, and he'd had only one other serious girlfriend (she was his first in every sense of the word) and less than a handful of "assorted others" between her and me. I wonder if this could possibly be a side effect of that. Could he subconsciously see me as the brick wall preventing him from exploring all the carnal delights out there in the wide world? If so, I can see where that would make me decidedly unsexy to him. I asked him what he thought of that, and he didn't dismiss it, but he wasn't too intrigued by the possibility, either.

Okay, BG, I think that about covers it. I honestly don't know where to go from here, and that's weird for me, 'cause I've usually always known what I SHOULD do, even when I couldn't seem to actually DO it. I really hope you have an idea (or a precedent or SOMETHING) here, 'cause I'm about tapped out.


Dear Jill,

No need for excuses, even Shakespearish ones! And for what it's worth, our Belleruth doesn't think you're that brick wall in Midsummer, either. She says: "Inexperience generally adds up to more passion, not less. I'm thinking:

  • He could be a little overwhelmed, though, by your passion or aggressive lust, if that's the way you express yourself. I don't mean that in a girls-should-be-prim way, nor that you're messing up; just that maybe if you're always cooking he never has an opportunity to feel hungry. This would be a simple and fixable scenario; you tone it down, he heats up.
  • This could just be a wonderful friendship and that's all. Marriages are made of worse things, but it may not be enough for you. In which case, worst case, you might wind up tempted affairs, or consider leaving break up, or you'll decide this is okay.... it's not like you're not having any sex with someone you love. Still, in these situations, the platonic (as in Friend, not Duderino) often starts to creep in and take over completely. En guarde.
  • He could suffer from the good ol' fashioned Oedipal thing; and therefore love and lust, in his mind, do not combine. He feels love, and/but then … Ooh! Taboo!
  • He could be a hetero guy with a low T count. In which case, a few shots of testosterone could do some extremely interesting and fun things.
  • He could indeed be gay and not know it for another decade or so."

Don't mean to be too "listy" about this. But you're already way past, like, square three in your thinking about and working on this. Counseling: good. Hope these listy things might give you more ideas and insight, and that you do find some magic in these thick woods.

Breakup Girl and Belleruth.



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