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I am a 29 y/o successful single mother who really has never thought about marriage until now. I am physically fit (runner, skier, mtn biker, hiker). I am healthy and happy. I have an 11 y/o genius, angel daughter, whom I adore. I have been asked out frequently over the years but either think I am too busy or just have not been interested in shaking up the balance of my harmonious life.

In January (2 months ago), I met a man I have never even dreamed existed. For the first time in my life I feel like I actually need someone. He is amazing, kind, loving, successful and a million other adjectives that describe all the stars in the sky. Since meeting him I am extremely carefree, or content or just peaceful, (very unlike me, I am a bit of a worrier). I find myself wishing him happiness during the day, thinking I hope he is smiling kind of thoughts. Needless to say I am very interested in this gentleman, and he says the same about me. He says he finds himself imagining a future with me, that he wants to come home to me every night and so on.

Before we spent much intimate time together he asked me how long it had been since I had been with anyone. Unfortunately I told him it has been years, he was surprised and said that made him a bit nervous but he liked that I was patient. This is where it gets a bit hard to put into words (sorry), when we kiss he gets hard very easily, but when the time comes for us to consummate he becomes soft. He says he is nervous because he wants everything to be perfect for me, but a few times trying is getting a bit uncomfortable for both of us. We have talked about this, and sex is very important to both of us. For me I want to be with him and I feel as if I have wasted my 20's being a bit of a prude, and would love to make love every day, (multiple times). He on the other hand lived with the mother of his 4 y/o child for the past 4 years until she left him about a year ago for another man, taking their son and moving out of state. He is devastated and I think deep down he still loves his ex. She has made it clear that she is not coming back to him and he is heartbroken not being with his son.

The logical conclusion I have formed is that he is not attracted to me naked, or something along those lines. And normally I imagine I would be a bit upset by this, but for some reason I find it a bit amusing and want to keep trying, maybe I need practice and I would love to practice with him everyday.

He says he feels like a failure and this has never happened to him before. Please help, I imagine this is not normal, is there something we can do to add sexual chemistry.

Any advice, no matter how harsh, I am open to. I feel incredibly lucky to have spent time with him, and I know, dream man or not, I will always be happy.

Thank you, Thank you

ask dr-robert ask psychologist todos santos ask psychologist dr robert saltzman

Dear Tracy--

Thanks for your very sweet letter. You obviously are in love, and it always warms my heart a bit to hear words from that perspective.

Since you lived for many years without much sex, and apparently did not feel deprived, I suggest that you concentrate on trying to deepen your friendship with this new man in your life while taking your focus off the sexual issue completely. In other words, although you feel in love, hot, and attracted to him, so that for you lots of sex would be just what the doctor ordered, it seems that he is not really ready for that kind of action; in this regard the male body usually does not lie.

Now you speculate that his failure to maintain his erection might be due to his not liking your naked body, but I doubt that. If that were the case, why would he become aroused to begin with? I consider it much more likely that his heartbreak over the rejection by his girlfriend, along with the loss of his family has left wounds which are keeping him from simply allowing the sexual instinct to take over when the two of you begin to fool around. In other words, I suspect that when lovemaking begins this guy becomes centered too much in his thoughts (where the pain is), and not enough in the pleasure centers. This inability simply to allow the sexual instinct to be played out normally and fully without the intrusion of rationality most likely results from the pain caused by the rejection and loss of his previous lover as well as fear that further sexual involvement will lead to even more pain. This kind of sexual inhibition often happens to men who have suffered rejection from an important woman in their lives.

The good news is that wounds such as these can, and almost always do, heal. Often time and the friendship and love of another woman are enough. Sometimes a course of psychotherapy can help. If the fear of further wounds and more suffering really is the problem, you can help him get over it by approaching the entire sexual issue as if an erection is not particularly important one way or another, as if any kind of physical closeness is just fine with you, and as if you really don't care one way or another if he can "perform" or not. If you are able to stimulate him to orgasm manually or orally that also could help. But mostly, by words and actions, simply indicate that you just like being with him and can wait forever for the main event. This will demonstrate your love, respect, and affection, while eliminating the pressure to perform sexually.

Another possibility is that, as you suggested, this man is obsessed with the possibility of a reconciliation with the previous woman, so that consciously or unconsciously he is afraid to become fully involved with you. Since getting her back seems unlikely, he will have to get over this obsession one way or another, and probably he will in time. However, if obsession with the previous woman is the primary reason for his lack of success in bed, the outlook for you two as a couple, I am sorry to say, is not so promising. Usually the lover who arrives on the heels of that kind of obsessive love is stuck in the role of "transitional figure," one who helps with the healing, that is, but then is abandoned for a newer lover when the man finds himself fully ready to trust again.

In any case, Tracy, I find this situation rather positive for you personally. If your new guy can get over his fear, you may end up with a real love. If not, at least you will have understood that you spent too long protecting yourself, distancing yourself from your sexuality, and sublimating your own sexual desires (perhaps a bit too much mountain biking and not enough exercise indoors?), so that even if this affair does not work out to your complete satisfaction, you may find yourself more open to the various possibilities which life offers in the romantic realm while still young enough to enjoy them.

Be well,


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