“I have recently found myself struggling to be intimate in long-term relationships,” the man writes in to advice columnist Pamela Stephenson Connolly at The Guardian. “I’m a gay man, and left a loving but sexless, five-year relationship six months ago.”
He continues: “I find sexual encounters with strangers exciting, and worry that I can’t be intimate with someone I like. When I was a broke student, I turned to escorting a handful of times.”
The man wonders if this may have tarnished his ability to love.
“I am now worried that this has been to the detriment of my goals of a fulfilling, loving relationship,” he writes.
Being a psychotherapist who specialized in sexual disorders, Connolly has no trouble getting to the root of the troubled man’s problem.
“Your ability to compartmentalize relationships and to separate love and sex does not necessarily hamper your ability to form a satisfying, long-term bond,” she begins. “But do you really want that right now?”
Keeping the fire stoked in a long-term relationship, she continues, requires some work.
“It seems that your relationships so far have used the immediacy or novelty of attraction to fuel a short-term encounter,” she observes, “but the far more difficult task is to adeptly deal with the vicissitudes of sharing daily living with another human being while maintaining the erotic spark.”
“True intimacy,” she says, “involves allowing yourself to see, and be seen, by your partner. … Perhaps you are not willing to reach so far at this point in time? Does it really matter? If you are not ready now, maybe you will crave a deeper union with the right person at a future time.”
What do you think? Could this man’s past encounters with strangers have stained his ability of ever finding real love? Sound off in the comments section below.