Dear Neil: I’m a 37 year-old virgin heterosexual woman who has never had interest in sex or other genital activity. What few relationships I’ve had consisted of hugging, snuggling and  kissing—all from the waist up. I don’t feel like I’m missing anything. In fact, intercourse repulses me.

My doctor says I’m anatomically normal. I’ve never witnessed or suffered from sexual abuse. My parents didn’t talk hatefully about sex. I am not religious.

My mother says when I meet the right man, my sex drive will magically appear. I already have the drive to snuggle and kiss. Obviously, I can’t get married because no man wants a wife who refuses sex. What do you make of my “asexuality”?

Born This Way

Dear Born This Way: The drive to snuggle and kiss is about wanting to belong, as well as wanting to be nurtured, taken care of, touched, pampered and accepted. If you watch a litter of puppies or kittens, you will notice that virtually all warm-blooded life wants to cuddle and kiss.

The drive to have sex—at least for most people—is related to wanting to bond with someone and be more intimate. It is also associated with wanting to nurture and give to someone else, as well as the desire to be nurtured, given to and wanted.

So the first question that occurs to me is how easy is it for you to bond with other people? If you have a hard time bonding and letting another person in, you’re less likely to feel sexual, interested or aroused.

I wonder if you’ve ever permitted yourself to explore sexual sensations and feelings. What do you feel when you kiss and hug? Have you ever touched yourself, or permitted yourself the experience of being sexually aroused?

If you simply don’t want sex, but you still want to be married, you could probably find an asexual man who also wants to marry. They exist also.

Dear Neil: My husband and I have not had a physical relationship for three years. We have managed to stay together in a  non-physical relationship that has been amicable and tolerable. I know that in his heart he loves me, but he has totally shut down to me. He has told me he has no sexual drive, but I know he masturbates frequently, which leaves me feeling very undesirable, lonely and frustrated.

How should I tell him what this is doing to me? Why is this effecting my self-concept? I do not want to be celibate the rest of my life.

Going Without

Dear Going Without: Your first step is to let your husband know exactly how much it hurts you, knowing that he’s masturbating while at the same time avoiding sex with you.

Secondly—and more importantly—why is your marriage in this position to begin with? Have the two of you fallen out of love? Are you battling each other over some unresolved, or even some unaddressed issue? What is the power struggle between you about? And why are you permitting your marriage to deteriorate without
doing everything you can to rescue it?

Ask your husband what he is so withdrawn about, and what he would need or want in order to come back. And do it now. Relationships are living and breathing entities which die when not given enough time, attention, affection and warmth.

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