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I’ve been talking to someone for a little over two months, and we’ve been hanging out and spending time together, but he will not have sex with me. I have been up front about my wants and needs, but he wanted to remain strictly platonic after a big event that was important to us. He has told me he really likes me, and we’ve kissed, but a lot of our intimacy is within our conversations… What should I do? —Platonic Zoned
Oh, Platonic Zoned.
There’s nothing wrong with you for wanting more, but there’s also nothing wrong with him for wanting what is. Neither one of you is obligated to compromise. I was in a similar situation for years with a guy whom I now consider a close friend. I’m so thankful we’ve been able to stay in each other’s lives because there was a lot of turmoil that almost destroyed our relationship simply because it was so undefined.
The last time we chatted, I pointed out there’d have been so much less heartbreak between the two of us if we’d had language and understandings around things like “platonic romance” a decade ago. He agreed.
But we didn’t.
So, all I could see was what was missing from our little love affair. I couldn’t appreciate that this was one of the most romantic relationships of my life. I couldn’t see in real time how being loved and receiving nonsexual physical contact from a man was healing the part of me wounded by sexual trauma.
It created a safe, trusted space that wasn’t tainted by the desires or expectations of my partner. I was receiving so much, but I couldn’t value any of it. Mainly, because we weren’t having transparent conversations around what our relationship was and what we each needed. But also, because society said relationships had to look a certain way. And, because mine didn’t fit the mold, it triggered all these insecurities in me.
But it wasn’t really about me, you know? That’s just who he was.
So, when the lesson came back around recently, I did find the courage to be direct with the person I was dating about the differences that existed between their desires and my physical needs. There wasn’t any reason to shame them for it, or for me to take it personally or feel wrong for wanting more. I just had to recognize we weren’t the best fit and find someone who would be. We’ve also been able to remain friends. This was possible only because the amount of hurt feelings was minimal. Instead of being upset with each other (and I guess I can’t really speak for him, but at least, on my end…), there was just general disappointment in the situation overall. And that’s because I didn’t spend months on end prioritizing someone else’s needs over my own, quietly hoping they’d change into the person I thought they’d be when I fell for them. You can’t use your heart and your will to get a person to love you the way you expect to be loved.
Ask yourself if you’re dissatisfied dating this person because something’s missing for you, or if you’re just caught up in some outdated definition of what a relationship has to be. Then, ask your partner for their long-term vision for this relationship. If it doesn’t line up with yours, it’s time to go the friendship route. And hopefully, you can continue to have deeply satisfying conversations with this person while enjoying deeply satisfying physical activities with someone else.
Just remember — don’t take it personally.
There are so many reasons beyond you why this person might not be able to give you what you want.
They could be asexual, maybe they’re just not in a place emotionally or mentally to get physical, there could be health issues going on, they could just need longer than 60 days to fall into bed with someone — so many reasons!
And, honestly, the reason doesn’t matter. Regardless of what it is, the outcome is still the same: You need more. None of this is a reflection of your desirability as a person or even this other person’s level of affection for you.
I know reading this probably doesn’t make the situation any more bearable. But hopefully when you find that right person (or hey, if you’re poly, people), you’ll find relief in knowing moving on was best and that doesn’t have to diminish what you had with this particular person or any of the moments you’ve shared. Good luck. •