Ask Elizabeth: Does Sex Make a Difference?

by | Ask Elizabeth


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Dear Elizabeth

I have enjoyed watching your facebook lives elizabeth. I have a problem, I am a virgin and have been with my boyfriend for 9 years. Throughout the years the spark has slowly vanished, the sweet things that he used to do for me he doesn’t do anymore because of how long we’ve been together. We haven’t had sex but we do foreplay and he doesn’t seem to satisfy me anymore because of his principles. I met a guy in the office and he provides me with everything my long term boyfriend can’t. He gives me time, attention, and although we haven’t had sex yet he satisfies me in a way my boyfriend cannot. This guy has a child with another woman, and he left her. I feel guilty because I might have something to do with it but he says I don’t. He knows I have a boyfriend but he wants me to break up with my boyfriend and be with him, he has plans for our future and he wants us to live together. I love my boyfriend and I don’t want to leave him, but for some reason I can’t leave the other guy as well. He also doesn’t want me to let go of him because he’s forcing me to choose him, I’ve tried breaking up with him before but I also run back to him because he has something that my boyfriend doesn’t. We’ve been at this for a year, and I don’t know what to do. I want to let go of him but I can’t bring myself to.


Thank you for your question

Of course you feel confused. There are a couple of issues coming through in your question. The first one is that your relationships with your boyfriend has lost it’s spark, there is the issue of your sexual relationship, and there is the temptation of a relationship with someone new.


First of all, it is only natural that you have lost the spark with your boyfriend. Nine years is a relatively long time with the one partner, and as a relationship progresses from the excitement of the first stage, it takes effort to keep the relationship going. If someone new comes along who is fun to be with there is a real temptation to move into a new relationship because the new person can feel so fabulous compared to the established one. However, you need to remember that after nine years you know everything there is know about your current boyfriend and so it is only natural that a new guy, who you have only known for 12 months is going to seem so much more exciting.


The fact that you are still boyfriend and girlfriend after nine years tells me a lot too. Somehow your relationship isn’t progressing. You are still boyfriend and girlfriend, what it feels like, from what you have told me, is that you are partners but not really and this will frustrate a relationship, quite apart from not sexually consummating your relationship. As you start seeing a new partner, it is only natural to expect that a relationship will progress from dating to being more serious, to a commitment – whether that involves children or not. It is like you are in a holding pattern, especially as you aren’t having complete sex. Foreplay is the beginning of sex; it is what happens at the beginning of a relationship or what teenagers do when they are first exploring sex. It is like something is holding you back from progressing to making a proper commitment and your sexuality is an expression of that.


I am assuming your boyfriend’s principles are to do with sex before marriage. I find it interesting that many people interpret sex as intercourse when in fact you are having sex – you just aren’t going all the way. Yes, it preserves virginity, but depending on what you are doing together, your hymen may well be broken anyway. To me – doing everything but sex is a way of having some sort of compromise where you trick yourself into believing you are ‘doing the right thing’ by telling yourself you aren’t having sex when in fact what you are doing is having sex and avoiding intercourse.  It’s like having your cake and eating it too. It’s a double standard.  


Sex is a very powerful natural urge and bodily function that you are being denied. It’s like your boyfriend has a lolly jar and he is waving it under your nose and saying have a look, smell the aroma and then just as you go to take a sample he says no you can’t have that. I am not sure how old you are – but nine years is a long time to be tempted, and if you are a virgin any wonder you are tempted to look elsewhere. Your current boyfriend has been with you for nine years; you haven’t consummated your relationship, and your relationship isn’t moving on to the next stage.  


Of course, you will feel conflicted when another man, who clearly has sex (he has a child) and who clearly wants to move into having a relationship with you which includes sex is interested in you. This man is offering you the opportunity to have a relationship in all its fullness. He is offering lollies out of the lolly jar, and if you haven’t had sex with him yet, you need to be very careful because natural urges can be very powerful things.  


Essentially what I see happening here is that you are having an emotional affair. It is obvious why it is happening, but it doesn’t excuse it. I am not sure whether your current boyfriend is aware of this guy you work with, but if he is he has been very tolerant of you having this attachment given it has been going on for 12 months. Having said that if your boyfriend is honest with you, and he really isn’t having sex elsewhere, this is a man who has been able to sexually withhold himself for nine years in the belief he isn’t having sex with you. I wonder if he thinks the definition of a relationship is whether you are having intercourse or not and so can tolerate your emotional connection with someone else? Clearly, for yourself, you do need to do something about this as it appears you are really torn between two men.


It feels to me like your boyfriend is in a ‘should’ space. That he is highly influenced by either religion or a strict moral upbringing or principles, he lives by.  Whatever his reasoning, he is very motivated by rules. When we live our lives by what society tells us we should do, we are very motivated by external influences. This can be a very painful place to be because often we aren’t being true to our ourselves.


It would be helpful to ask your boyfriend what he really wants. How long does he expect to keep going with your relationship the way it is?  Does he expect that you will have intercourse after you are married? For him does having intercourse mean having children and if this is the case you should find out exactly how he interprets sex and what he thinks your relationship might be like if you were to progress further or not. How does he see your relationship in 1 year two years or 9 years from now? All this is important information for you to help you work out what you want.


You need to work out what you really want for yourself. What are you looking for in a relationship? How much are you compromising yourself in this current relationship, especially physically, and how long are you prepared to continue to do this? If this other guy wasn’t around would you still be with your current boyfriend and going along with a few disappointments about a lack of spark? Or would you genuinely be seeking to end the relationship regardless as to whether there was someone else who wanted to be with you? These are the important questions you need to ask yourself.


You also need to be careful with this new guy. Remember you have been nine years without intercourse, I am not sure how old you are but nine years is a long time to be managing natural urges. There will be a huge temptation to rush in, and although you have been ‘friends’ with him and worked with him for 12 months, you really don’t know him on an intimate relationship level. So be careful that you don’t jump out of the frying pan into the fire. It can also be an emotional nightmare to go from one relationship to another, so take you time, so you work out what is best for you.


One last warning. I see that actually, these two men in your life are very similar in the way they are in the world. Your current boyfriend appears to have very firm ideas about what he ‘should’ and ‘should’ not be doing, and you have accommodated these ideas for nine years.  Your last words about this guy you work with are that he is ‘forcing you to choose him’. What is that about? Another strong-willed man with ideas about what you ‘should’ be doing with your life with him?

My strongest advice is for you to slow down and take stock of everything that is going on around you and work out what you want your life to look like. This may mean taking some time out away from both men so you can clear your head, it may even be useful to have some therapy or go to a support group so you can talk things through and clear your head.  

Big Love

Elizabeth R-J


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