‘I’m in a fairly new relationship with a man I like very much.
‘He’s very successful and I admire him for that but he works a lot, which doesn’t leave much time for us. He even worked over the Christmas break.
‘He likes to plan our time together in advance because of his schedule and he isn’t as present as he once was.
‘He checks his phone and emails frequently, and sex feels rushed. I told him I would like foreplay to be longer but that hasn’t changed.
‘He told me when we met that he felt lonely, wanted a relationship and to be in love, but he is definitely that guy who is married to his career.
‘What do I do?‘
The reciprocal nature of a happy relationship is clearly something your new partner struggles with.
‘His work fulfils many of his personal requirements — self-esteem, respect, authority, challenge and distraction,’ says Dr Angharad Rudkin. ‘But what he doesn’t get from it is intimacy.’
While you are willing to offer him closeness and connection, he seems unable to offer you the same.
‘After all, two humans being together will never be as straightforward as a column of input and output,’ she adds.
It may be that your needs are too much for him.
‘Not because they are actually too much,’ says Rudkin, ‘but because he only has a tiny capacity for relationships and so anything that requires more is going to be a challenge for him.’
There’s a difference between an individual who is in pursuit of their purpose and goals, and someone who uses work to avoid getting close to others because of unresolved past pain. If you feel this might be him, then you have some important decisions to make.
‘We can ask ourselves the wrong questions about relationships,’ says James McConnachie. ‘We say “I love him” or “he’s great” as if they were good answers to the right questions but the only crucial question is this: do you feel good now?’
So if you feel there’s a future to the relationship, you’ll need to tell him what you’ve told us.
‘Think back to your childhood, your friendships, your previous partners,’ says Rupert Smith. ‘Have you adapted yourself to other people’s needs or have you been able to say what you want and make sure you get it?’
Your honesty might even be the wake-up call he needs, adds Smith.
‘I can only assume he’s screwed up like this before and he might need to hear some plain-speaking,’ he says. ‘He might retreat to the security of work but, whatever the outcome, you will have acted with integrity and self-respect.’
Rupert Smith is an author and counsellor
James McConnachie is the author of Sex (Rough Guides)
Dr Angharad Rudkin is a clinical psychologist
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