Tell me about it: Becoming friends with someone, as opposed to casual lovers, takes effort
PROBLEM: I read your recent article about marriage problems and I hope you can help me out.
I am a 46-year-old never married man. I am really scared of being married. I think I have a big problem.
I am good at making connections with girls, but I can only stay with them for sex. In no way am I interested in what she says or what she does. I feel a great need to go back to my place and be alone.
Secondly, no matter how beautiful, hot and sexy a girl is, I feel less attraction after a month. I just want to meet her twice a week, and each time not more than three hours for a drink or sex. I am always interested in finding new girls.
I have been like this since I was 20. I think I am sick. I wonder if there is a cure for that.
ADVICE: Marriage is not for everyone, but it sounds as though you are wondering about connection and relationships and this might be a separate issue for you. Do you have lasting friendships? Are you able to maintain relationships at work? If you are able to answer yes to these questions, then you should be able to form some kind of relationship with women. If you find it difficult to maintain any relationships and this has been a lifelong pattern, it may be that you need to take things very much in a step by step basis and learn the basics of relationship.
Continuing to meet, and not just in a sexually-driven manner, would allow you to find out if there is a connection there
Clearly, you are attracted to women, so your libido and desire are working, but you say that you are not at all interested in what the woman says or works at. Your lack of interest in the person might be construed as demeaning and perhaps this is where you can start. Even if you only spend three hours with someone, that is long enough to develop an interest and care, and it is possible to develop this aspect of yourself with practice. The skills you need are curiosity, the willingness to listen to the other, and perhaps delayed gratification of your desire.
Your drive to be with women is sexual in nature and when this desire is satiated, your motivation disappears, and you just want to be alone. So, one possibility is that you put off sex with someone until you have found out, say, five interesting things about them. This would mean that you practise being interested and listening to their responses and this could help you to begin to form some level of attachment. Becoming friends with someone, as opposed to casual lovers, requires that you make an effort to see them, to care about their lives and to share experiences with them. Continuing to meet, and not just in a sexually-driven manner, would allow you to find out if there is a connection there; so think about meeting for lunch, a walk or hike or going to an event. This will help you to either form a connection or to see that there isn’t one.
Whenever we take a risk with someone and make ourselves vulnerable, we have a chance at intimacy
I wonder if you have had feedback from those women you have met – they probably have comments that could help point you in the right direction, even if the observations sting.
I’m sure if you asked for some feedback, you would find it difficult not to be interested in the answer and the effect might be surprising for you – intimacy. Whenever we take a risk with someone and make ourselves vulnerable, we have a chance at intimacy, and this is what is lacking in your encounters.
If you have never managed to form close relationships, you may need help in discovering if there is an underlying issue for you. A psychotherapist or psychologist will be able to help you uncover if there is something going on and they can work with you towards an understanding and possible intervention (see the Psychological Society of Ireland and the Irish Council for Psychotherapy for referrals). However, what you do know is that you now have a long pattern of short, sexually charged but ultimately disconnecting encounters and you are not happy with this situation. Use this unhappiness to fuel your curiosity so that you might discover a way of tackling the pattern.
We know that we get better at whatever we practise, even when it is not to our benefit, and changing habits is a tough proposition.
Instead of fearing that there may be something “wrong” with you, be curious and courageous enough to engage fully with the issue, find out what is maintaining the patterns and seek help to create the changes you wish for.