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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Under Control

Dear Mistress Maeve,

My boyfriend is a chronic masturbator. I wouldn’t mind so much if he would also pay sexual attention to me more than two to three times per month. I have been trying to figure it out for nine years, and it’s making me crazy. I have a head full of assumptions, and I feel that it’s his way of controlling me. Otherwise, everything else in our relationship is OK. I do talk to him about this problem, but he doesn’t change and refuses to go to therapy. Please help.

Lost in Love

Dear Lost in Love,

Your boyfriend’s masturbation habits are not the problem here. If he were self-pleasuring 10 times a day, but still meeting your sexual needs, you probably wouldn’t care how many times he spanked his monkey. The problem is — he doesn’t seem to care about your needs. What’s worse is that you suspect him of withholding sex as a means of control in your relationship, and that’s a red flag.

Whether consciously or subconsciously, a partner will sometimes withhold sex in a passive-aggressive attempt to regain power when he or she feels inferior. Does your boyfriend feel challenged by you financially, professionally, at home or otherwise? If so, this may be the root of the problem. In some extreme instances, a man’s inferiority complex can manifest as erectile dysfunction.

Of course, this is all speculation. Because your man refuses to work on this problem or go to therapy, there’s no way to tell what’s really going on in your relationship. You can’t wave a magic wand and get him to change, so you’re the one who has to change. Look inside yourself — what are you willing to live with? You’ve invested nine years in this relationship. How long are you willing to wait to get a return on your investment? It’s time to draw a line in the sand and see if he’ll cross it to be with you. If he’s not willing to do the work to save your relationship, he’s not worth any more of your time.

And one more piece of advice: Just because he’s not willing to go to therapy doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek help for yourself. Whether you stay in this relationship or not, you deserve to have your feelings heard and validated — even if you have to pay someone to do it.

Not withholding,

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