Q: When my boyfriend (28) and I (27) got together a year and a half ago, I was very open about my sexuality; I would talk a lot about my past experiences to show what a modern and independent woman I am. But unlike my other boyfriends who enjoyed this talk, my boyfriend was deeply hurt by it. He now worries that we are sexually incompatible, and that someday I will leave him because I will want that free and casual sex that I used to have (which is not what I want now). I feel very bad about hurting him so much, and I’m not sure how to reconnect with him sexually.
Dr. Klein: You are not the only one responsible for your situation. Your boyfriend apparently let you go on about your past far more than he now says was comfortable. It isn’t fair to blame you for going on and on when he didn’t stop you. He is now paying for his lack of assertiveness. Additionally, it is not your job to reconnect the two of you. This should be a project of the partnership. If he is unwilling to put energy into it then his upset is about more than your sexual past.
During the course of a long relationship each partner will do many things to upset the other. Relationships require a continual renewal of commitment and trust. Your boyfriend needs to work hard to recapture his trust and optimism; you cannot do that for him. If he refuses, he must take responsibility for the consequences. Your role, of course, involves reassuring and comforting him, but he must do the rest.
How is the sex? Is he afraid he can’t satisfy you? Insecure about himself sexually? Interested in less variety than you? Withdrawing from sex, claiming that he’s “too hurt” or “can’t get it out of my mind,” is not acceptable. If this is the case, challenge him to join you in renewing your couple’s erotic life. If the two of you can’t have a series of productive conversations about this, counseling is in order.