In love, but not in lust

Originally Published: September 20, 1996 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: March 25, 2014
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Dear Alice,

I have been going out with my boyfriend for nearly four years and we are both approaching the engagement decision. We get along great and never lose the ability to have fun and laugh together. The only problem is that while he wants to engage in intimate activities often (we are still both virgins), I am not that interested. I love him, but I still don't get physically turned on with him as I do while fantasizing about other guys. Is it wrong to marry someone whom you don't feel a total "romance novel" passion for?

-In love, but not in lust

Dear In love, but not in lust,

First of all, it sounds as if you and your partner are in a healthy relationship... you get along great and have a lot of fun and laughter... qualities that many sexually passionate relationships are missing. You have been together for four years, so it's likely that you know by now if you're well-suited in terms of interests, values, energy levels, lifestyles, temperaments, and personalities. Ask yourself: Does this relationship enhance who I am or diminish who I am? Do I genuinely like my partner? Do I respect my partner? Do I even admire my partner? When happily married couples have been asked to describe their relationships, it's not love or sex that they mention, but companionship and respect. Think about the qualities and characteristics that are: (1) essential; (2) reasonably important; and, (3) luxuries in your ideal relationship. In your situation, ask how you would feel after ten years of marriage and great sex, but ten years devoid of laughter, fun, or other shared intimacies.

When the time for commitment draws near, many people's fears begin to surface and demand attention. Have you told your boyfriend about your feelings? He might appreciate your honesty. Consider sharing how you feel with him and what that means for the future of your relationship. It may also be helpful to talk with someone you trust in your life like a friend, family member, or counselor. If you are a Columbia student, you can make an appointment at Counseling and Psychological Services (Morningside) or the Mental Health Service (CUMC). You might also be interested in checking out the Go Ask Alice! Relationships archive for more helpful information about how to start difficult discussions, relationship boosters, and more. Hope this helps!

Alice