Dear Dr. Peirano, I am 54 years old and have been in a new relationship with a 58 year old man for a little over a year and a half. We met through a dating site. We live half an hour away, I’m in the country, he’s in the city. We usually see each other twice a week, talk on the phone every day and can also go on vacation together very relaxed. We like our families and friends.

However, there is one big BUT: I like physicality, I cuddle my family and friends and have a very relaxed relationship with sexuality. On the other hand, he has hardly any interest in sex, only the first few weeks it was more, but that faded relatively quickly. At the very beginning I still thought that our needs would fit together perfectly. He was quite dominant, turned me around and took me from behind. I liked that because I had wanted a dominant partner (only in bed) for a long time.

Unfortunately, this phase was quite short. After that it became less and less, now sex takes place maybe twice a month, only in the morning in a side position. He only gets hard when I arouse him orally. Just because I want it, he penetrates me from behind, but he can’t cum inside me, he only cums when I satisfy him orally again. He once told me himself that in his last relationship, which lasted nine years, he hadn’t had sex for the last three years. At first I thought it was my fault that he only likes very slim women and that my normal weight doesn’t turn him on.

To make it shorter, here are the points why I think he might just not be into women: He only likes sex from behind/ In order for him to cum, I always have to satisfy him orally/ He has never looked into my eyes during sex can look/ Breasts and vaginas don’t really interest him/ When we get to know people, he’s hardly interested in the women; he usually makes contact with the men/ He often talks disparagingly about being gay and thinks his masculinity is important.

Maybe I’m misjudging the situation completely. I told him I found him sexy and attractive and I wish he felt the same way. And that I wish for more physicality. He then asked if I thought I was too fat. A diversionary tactic. So I relaxedly explained that if only people with perfect bodies had sex, very few people would have sex. He agreed with a smile. I casually asked what would arouse him, if BDSM would turn him on. Finally, he said that he didn’t have his first girlfriend until very late in his mid-20s. That he never cared about sex that much and it would lessen more and more.

When it comes to tenderness, he is also rather awkward, takes me in his arms and puts his hand on my knee, but it seems to me more like a learned behavior, but not like a need on his part.

We have a lot of fun together, talk a lot, share the passion for music, have a similar rhythm in life, like going to museums together. It keeps getting nicer and more familiar. We can also talk about it if something doesn’t run smoothly. That is not a matter of course either.

I just don’t know what to do. Does a joint sex therapy make sense? Is it possible to find out how we can also physically come together? I don’t want to give up what we have. On the other hand, I don’t want a sexless life either, I’m a healthy woman with a healthy need.

Best regards

Claudia G.

Dear Claudia G.,

I get quite a lot of letters from men and women who suffer from the fact that their physicality is not (or no longer) right. Almost all report feeling unaccepted, unloved, or rejected at a fairly deep level.

What was it like at the beginning of your relationship? Did your partner fancy you and show you that he desires you and that you are “his type”? Or was your relationship mostly friendly from the start? How did you feel during the first few weeks having sex with him? Did everything work out for you or did you have the feeling that he didn’t mean you at all? Basically, you doubt that your partner desires you physically. This is supported by your comparison to his ex-girlfriend, who was slimmer (“he desires a different type of woman”) or the assumption that he is homosexual (“he doesn’t like women with their vaginas and breasts at all”).

I work as a behavioral therapist and love coach in private practice in Hamburg-Blankenese and St. Pauli. In my PhD, I researched the connection between relationship personality and happiness in love and then wrote two books about love.

Information about my therapeutic work can be found at

Do you have questions, problems or lovesickness? Please write to me (maximum one A4 page). I would like to point out that inquiries and answers can be published anonymously on

You probably won’t find out if he’s gay if he either hasn’t been or has gone to great lengths to suppress it for 58 years. It is more important that you do not feel desired by him! That’s where the pain is!

Sexuality and physical intimacy are the most infallible and direct way to be close and to give each other validation. And as far as relationships without sexuality or with unsatisfactory sexuality are concerned, the opinions of therapists differ. Some colleagues say that there are or can be satisfying relationships without sexuality, others say to couples in no uncertain terms: If you don’t get your sexuality in order, you will probably break up sooner or later.

I believe that it is not important for a couple how often they sleep together or how unusual the sex is, but that both can always exchange information about their sexuality and are satisfied with their personal sexuality and have an opinion about it. Be it that sexuality is very important to them and both like to experiment and optimize, or that both are aware that sex plays a subordinate role in this phase of life in particular (e.g. because of small children) and it is “enough” every few weeks to have more standard sex with each other (when it’s just quiet in the children’s room).

You describe that you and your new partner can talk well together, but don’t seem to be very open with each other when it comes to sexual preferences. You don’t tell him that you suspect he might be gay, and he turns the tables and asks if you feel fat. It sounds like everyone stays within their comfort zone when it comes to talking about sexuality. Your friend’s avoidance of this topic seems to be more of an issue. That also makes sense if he either, as he says himself, has little interest in sexuality or, as you suspect, doesn’t admit to himself that he actually likes men. You now have two options.

You can ask him if he would be willing to dig into the subject with you (or individually) through books. Recommended are:

Of course, if he is willing to do so, you can go to sex counseling together or book courses or private lessons for tantra massages. Ultimately, however, everything depends on your partner’s willingness to discover and enliven this topic for himself. Without him, you only have alternative 1.

I hope that you can clarify the issue for yourself and start a process.

Best regards

Julia Peirano