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Why Is My Boyfriend Taking Distance?

by Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

From a young woman in Iran: Hi, i’ve been with my bf for 4 months now.he is and I are both studying dentistry too and he is 24. And all this time he seemed like the perfect man and i love him.

we are Muslims and sex without marriage is not right though a lot of people do it. We haven’t had sex but had some touchings and sexual moments but it’s okay. The very first or 2nd time i got angry and cried and we argued for a while and since this kept coming up almost every time we went out, i kinda told him that he is only looking for a hook up which i’m almost sure its not this way.

So i tried to make it up to him and told him what i really felt. I said that i’m ok with this sexual stuff as long as you pay attention to my likes and dislikes and needs(not just sexual) and whilst we are doing it, we should talk about our feelings our love have eye contact these stuff. But he said that since this brings self embarresment and hiding these stuff from parents we shouldn’t do it anymore at least for a while and i agreed happily.

Its been a week from that day and he is really taking distance. We are not texting much and when we do he answers really short and careless and i thought maybe he is just tired and stuff. So we went out last night i just wanted to have fun and clean the air between us. But again he started touching and rubbing me and still it felt fun and cool. I was laughing and i thought if i be un naggy it will be okay but it wasn’t. He got really silent like the rest of the week. And not smiling much ( knowing he is smiling all the time). Dropped me off at home and didnt even shake hands or anything. Colder than before although i thought being cool and fun and not bringing up our issues until he does so would help.

So i dont know now. Should i take distance too until he asks me the reason? And when he asks me out what should i say or do? Please help me its not that kind of a problem that you can ask friends or family in iran so im pretty stressed out

I’m sure this is very stressful. It looks to me like you are both struggling. It is natural and normal to have sexual feelings and to want to be intimate with someone you love. But when acting on those feelings is against everything a person has been taught about what is good, right, and proper, it often creates an internal struggle that is very painful. If you are physically intimate, you are behaving in a way that is against the family and cultural values you’ve been taught. If you don’t allow yourself to be intimate at least to some extent, you feel like you are missing something important in a relationship.

One way to avoid the dilemma is to avoid each other. It looks to me like he is solving the problem that way. Your boyfriend is taking distance. You, on the other hand, tried to find a way to enjoy some physical intimacy by communicating “rules” that work for you. The problem is that you didn’t talk together about how to be physically close at a level that you both find acceptable.

I’m guessing that you haven’t known each other long enough to develop the trust necessary to talk as frankly as you need to about the issue. It can be scary to be that vulnerable. A talk about how you are going to support each other while talking about things you were taught are forbidden is the place to start. If you do that successfully, you can then talk about the tension between your upbringing and your physical desires and specifically how you are going to manage it.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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