How can I be in a relationship with a man if I don’t find him sexually attractive?

Hi Emily,

Your message shows that you are caught in great dichotomies: female versus male, emotional/romantic attachment versus sexual attraction, and assertion and confusion. It also indicates that you pay attention to various components of a relationship, and that you care deeply for the boy you are with.

This by no means is an easy process, and you might even find it suffocating or chaotic. Nevertheless, I see it as a privilege in two senses: first, this is a privilege of being only 16 as you start to shape up your sense of who you are and who you might want to become. Some people don’t have the luck to discover these things until much later in life! Second, it is a privilege because it is rather a rich and complex experience to have different layers of attachments, attraction and feelings for different genders and people. Not many people can have the same experience.

The key to fully appreciate your privilege is to see it as a process. You do not want to jump into the extreme two ends of each dichotomy, nor do you want to fix yourself in one way or the other. This piece of advice comes from a realization that sexuality can be fluid and romantic feelings can be ephemeral.

What is crucial is to stay mindful and patient as a way to attune your senses and sensibilities. This process also requires a patient partner who is willing to explore what is ahead of you. For instance, you might want to have more nuanced inquiries into the following questions: Is there any specific girl who embodies your female sexual attraction? If so, what is your interaction with her? How can you and the boy overcome the sense of awkwardness when the subject matter of sex comes up? Did you tell him how you feel? At the moment, do you want to have a sexual relationship? (With this boy, or with a girl?) What are love, lust, attachment and attraction?

Keep in mind that 16 is the beginning of a wonderful journey in life, and make sure that you give yourself ample space to be and to become! Keep asking yourself these questions to figure out what YOU really want. Sometimes romantic and sexual attractions don’t come to us at the same moment. Consider that even if you feel strongly attached to your boyfriend, romantically or emotionally, that it’s okay to not feel it’s the right time for a sexual experience.

Feel free to write back if you have more questions. Best of luck!


for AlterHéros

About Sue York

Sue has been a volunteer in the Queer HIV+ community, and studied Sociology and Communications. She received her PhD in 2003 and has pondered gender issues for long.

I'm interested in the psyche and offering advice to those who feel stuck or face dilemmas in their coming out.

Leave a comment