More than Friends

Q: This woman and I have been best friends for nearly 30 years. After a separation for 10 of those years, we got back together and have been inseparable since. We live together, but due to some bad experiences, she now has a crippling fear of intimacy and is convinced that friendship is the "roof" of our relationship. I believe it's the foundation. This one stumbling block is causing friction. I can't imagine a compromise. Any advice? -- George

Dr. Susan: Friendship is great. But if you want the relationship to be physical and she can't stomach the thought, someone has to change. Has she tried therapy? Fears aside, she may not feel the need for intimacy that you do, in which case you have a "simple" choice: stay friends and go outside the relationship for sex (with her knowledge), leave the relationship and find someone to share a fuller life with, or stay and be satisfied with handling your sexual needs in a solitary fashion. Without knowing the extent of her sex block (though "crippling fear" does give one a sense of its seriousness!), I don't know whether "sneaking up" on intimacy, with her cooperation, might work for the two of you. You begin with cuddling, you get permission to satisfy yourself in her presence, eventually you ask her to massage you or somehow contribute to the intimacy you crave. Maybe sex will eventually follow if you're very patient. But if she's saying "No way, EVER," don't waste any more of your life trying to figure out the impossible. Stay friends, but move out and begin dating.

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