‘I have a caring partner who wants me, but I don’t get turned on at all’
From low libidos to other vexing issues of a personal nature, clinical psychologist Jo Lamble answers questions from readers looking for expert advice on social dilemmas and relationship problems.
I’m a woman in my mid-60s and I have the most loving, passionate, caring partner who loves me and wants to have sex with me.
I do it, but I think there may be something wrong with my body. I don’t get turned on. I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember. I just feel nothing. I pretend to enjoy it, but I don’t. I have had other partners in the past and it was the same thing then, too. What is wrong with me?
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People with low or non-existent libidos often feel as if there is something wrong with them, which is quite unfair. Those with a super-high sex drive don’t question themselves, and nor should they. It’s just a fact that different people have different libidos. Sometimes there’s a physiological reason for a low sex drive, so it’s worth talking to your GP about it. From what you explained, it doesn’t sound as though sex is painful for you, but if it is, that’s definitely something to talk to a doctor about. You could try a vibrator to see if your body reacts to direct stimulation.
Sometimes you just need to explore your body in your own way to see what turns you on. If you still find your body simply doesn’t respond to any form of touch, then try to focus on the benefits of being close to your partner. Your passionate and caring partner wouldn’t want you to pretend to be turned on. Try to be honest about how you’re feeling and reassure them you’re happy to be close and it’s nothing to do with them or your attraction to them. It’s understandably upsetting that you don’t feel anything physically, but try to keep the intimacy alive with honest communication and affection, as well as sex when you’re happy to.
For many years, I’ve enjoyed my own company and never needed friends, never mind a love interest. In October last year, I started chatting to a couple of women overseas online and they developed into romantic relationships.
They made me think that maybe having a life partner wouldn’t be so bad after all. Now they both want nothing to do with me: one because I wouldn’t send her money for her birthday project and the other because I stopped chatting to her on a very expensive website and she found email to be too slow a form of communication. Other people in this situation would feel heartbroken, but I realised that I don’t. I feel relieved.
Is that a normal reaction to have?
There are so many questions I want to ask you here. Did you actually meet these women or plan to meet them before the world closed its borders? Did you chat via video or only via messages? Were you trying to decide between the two women?
There seems to be a few signs that you were only vaguely thinking of having a life partner and you weren’t all that serious about either of them. Thinking “having a life partner wouldn’t be so bad after all” sounds non-committal to me. And there’s nothing wrong with not being ready to commit to either woman because the relationships only existed online. If you are ambivalent about the notion of having a life partner, it’s hardly surprising that you aren’t heartbroken. And if the reasons they don’t want contact is because you wouldn’t send money and you wanted to use another form of communication, it’s clearly sounding a little suspicious to me and your relief is understandable – they may have been setting you up as part of a scam. At some point, you may consider seriously looking for a life partner.
And if you do, try sticking to women you can easily meet face-to-face (restrictions permitting), so you can see immediately if you have chemistry and can assess true compatibility. Yes, you’ll risk heartbreak that way, but at least you know it’s real.
Got an issue for Jo to tackle? Send your question to [email protected]