Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Ask boyfriend why he's uneasy with physical relationship
Nervous Guy's Girlfriend: I am dating a wonderful, hilarious, great guy. He, however, gets nervous when things get physical, and it's becoming a problem. I have tried being patient, I have tried asking how I can make him more comfortable, and he always just says it will get better with time . . . but it doesn't.
I'm willing to wait it out, but I don't know what I can do to help or make things easier. I am not aggressive with him, and we are taking things very slowly . . .
Carolyn: ''I am willing to wait, but it's important for me to know why I am waiting." You and he may be able to overcome a sexual problem, but you definitely can't get over an unwilling-to-tell-an-uncomfortable-truth problem — especially not if it's paired with a sexual problem. Pick a nonsexual moment, and say it kindly — but you do need to say it.
Me With the Nervous Guy: Thanks. I feel like a (female dog) for complaining about this when I should be thanking my lucky stars for finding such a great guy.
Carolyn: No, establishing intimacy (both sharing feelings and sex) is not (female dog-y). It is a simple statement that you want to live your life in the open, and an invitation for him to join you there. He can choose whether to accept or decline, and then you can decide what to do from there.
a nervous guy's wife: I married the nervous guy. No matter when or how I bring up the subject, he freaks out. It's to the point that if I even breathe a word on the topic of sex, he sighs and says, "We were having such a nice evening."
We've had sex four times in 18 months, and I initiated three of those times. The fourth happened the day after I told him, gently, that his lack of desire made me feel ugly and alone. With some people there is no way to bring it up.
fellow traveler: Speaking as a guy with, ahem, similar issues: You have taken the right approach and it hasn't gotten you anywhere. If it's not just a physical problem (doesn't sound like it) it is unlikely to get better on any kind of time scale that won't drive you insane. And that is doubly so if he won't even discuss exactly what the problem is.
I wouldn't hold it against him too much, he is probably incredibly frustrated at the situation. And there is a pretty good chance he had some traumatic events in his past. But it would probably be best to let this (guy) go for now and check in again a few years down the line.
talk while clothed: I was engaged to the nervous guy, until I talked to him about it when we were both fully clothed. Talking about it was as much a relief to him as it was to me, and now he's so not-nervous.
another woman: He's probably dating someone else and sees you when she's busy. It happened to me.
another man: My long-term boyfriend was exactly this way — he is happily in a relationship now with another man and I'm sure is not nervous at all. Not to jump to conclusions, but there it is.