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Struggling to show my man affection

Trouble connecting: our lead contributor this week asks how she can learn to show her partner she cares for him despite their relationship changing over the years

Dear Dr Nekia,

I’ve been with my man going on six years now, and I am having issues with showing him affection and that I love and appreciate him. In the beginning it was all about the sex for me. I never knew we would end up being together. It has always been him as the aggressive one with me just giving in, never saying no. I have tried to switch it on a few occasions so I am the aggressive one but he has always turned me down so now I refuse to do it. The thing is that now he wants me to prove my love to him, to show him some sort of affection and I don’t feel right doing it anymore. I am 42 years old and my sex drive is not the same. To be honest, half the time I don’t want him to even touch me. How do I do this and make him happy?


He Wants Affection

Dear He Wants Affection,

It is common for people’s libido to decrease with age but unless you are fatigued, stressed, or have an underlying medical condition, 42 is hardly an age to accept that your sex life is on the decline. As we age, we may need to put more effort into our relationships and maintaining a healthy lifestyle that will give us the desire and energy for sex.

In your situation, you and your man started off with a connection primarily based on sex. From there things grew into something more, but do not be mistaken that sex is still a strong influencing factor in your relationship. Sometimes as relationships progress, sex becomes less of a focus and more often than not, at least one partner becomes somewhat disinterested in this physical aspect. This can lead to insecurity, feelings of not being wanted, and boredom. It is very important that couples maintain a healthy and fulfilling physical connection.

This is not always easy because as the relationship changes and as we change, so do our sexual needs. I would suggest that you let him know how things have changed for you. Take him through the timeline of your relationship and place emphasis on how much you enjoyed him in the beginning. Let him know that you were willing to give in to his sexual desires and that you made an effort to show him that you desired him as well. It could be that he wasn’t aware how turning you down caused you to feel rejected, or it may be that he is aware but does not understand it or how to fix it.

Do not be afraid to be completely honest about your feelings because even if he is hurt or upset by hearing them, the first step to resolving any problem is identification of the problem. Once everything is out in the open, you can begin to work together to rebuild the affection. You do not have to jump right in and become sexually aggressive.

Start with random hugs, kisses, and casual touches; strokes or caresses anywhere on his body. This can be done while watching TV, packing away groceries, lying in bed, anywhere and at any time really, because casual acts of physical affection do not have to be overtly sexual. Most women would be surprised how far their touch, a flirtatious glance, and a friendly smile can go when it comes to making a man feel wanted.

However, if your man is the kind of guy who is easily excitable or responds mainly to strong sexual stimulation, you will definitely have to keep the doors of communication open as this can become a turn off for you. Assure him that you are trying to improve things between you. Bottom line is that if you are a couple, you must work together. You may be the one having trouble showing affection, but it is up to the both of you to get things on track. So don’t feel too pressured or down on yourself.

Dear Dr Nekia,

I have a partner of 12 years who is a wonderful person. She is very energetic, expressive, and fun outside the home but does not express her heart to me anymore. She also does not enjoy spending quality time with our daughters, aged 10 and 14. She always complains of being tired and needing time for herself and allows them to spend endless hours on iPads. I do all the housework and homework and she prefers to escape to the gym or spa. When we have time alone she says she is happy, but when I ask her straight out if she loves me she responds with, “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t”.

Whilst she is very generous with expensive clothing for the girls and elaborate presents, she always seems to have a work crisis that means she is always on her phone sending e-mails and then is so stressed she has to escape from our home. I also work full-time in an equally professional capacity, but I put our family first. Of late she has become obsessed with her looks and outfits when going to meetings at work but doesn’t seem to care about her general hygiene on weekends in my presence. Is this a female midlife crisis? I have asked if everything is fine with us and she says it’s great. I’m confused.


She’s Confusing Me

Dear She’s Confusing me,

At first glance I would think that she is displaying signs of mental fatigue. In such cases, the more personal or emotionally demanding a situation, the more withdrawn a person will become. They will direct their efforts towards things that make them feel better — partly as an attempt to regain a sense of happiness within themselves and partly to withdraw from others demanding their affection.

Usually when a person has reached this point they are far too drained to give attention to loved ones because they are using everything within themselves to maintain their job obligations and try and regain personal joy; oftentimes they throw themselves into work or their personal appearance. In your case, I can’t tell whether her behaviour is due to a breakdown in the relationship or a midlife crisis of some sort but it is affecting the household and your relationship. It is very important that you find out why she is withdrawing from family matters — it could be something as drastic as she is having an affair and it could be something as simple as she prioritises work above her family. You have the power to turn this situation around by letting her know that whatever is going on cannot continue. You will have to be strong and not enable her by picking up the slack at home. She may love you but it sounds as though she has lost sight of the family. Begin by asking her if things are OK between you and her and also how she feels about the family and home. Ask her if there is anything that she would like to see changed and if there are or have been any situations that have caused her not to be so happy within the household. Consider that she may be having personal difficulty with balancing everything and may need help addressing any emotional issues she may be carrying. If you cannot get to the bottom of the whys of the situation, try attacking things by directly dealing with what is going on; hold her accountable for playing her role in her family’s life.

Want relationship advice? E-mail nakedtruth@royalgazette.com