Help! My Partner Doesn’t Like to Be Touched

Help! My Partner Doesn’t Like to Be Touched

Have you ever dealt with couples where one partner had issues with being touched? That’s the situation I am in now. I have been seeing a guy for about eight months and he’s really great. He’s sweet, gives me little gifts, great conversationalist, supports me, has a lot in common with me, etc. But one thing I’ve always found strange is that he doesn’t really like to touch me or be touched very much.

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For example, we will be sitting next to each other on the couch watching a show and I’ll reach for his hand, but while he lets me touch it briefly, he pulls away fairly quickly and folds his arms or something. I can lean on his shoulder for a little bit and that seems okay, but he doesn’t go out of his way to touch me. Even hugging seems difficult. He’ll do it if I initiate, but he always breaks it off first. He also never goes in for the first kiss. We have sex, but that’s kind of distant too, in that we don’t really make eye contact and afterward he heads straight for the shower rather than cuddling with me.

Help! My Partner Doesn’t Like to Be Touched

This has taken some getting used to for me, as I am used to relationships where there is a lot of touch. Everyone is different, and I want to respect his differences and his boundaries. I don’t think this is something we can’t overcome. It’s just hard not to be touched by my partner, and I don’t know why it’s not as important to him as it seems to be for me. I did a little reading online and saw that abuse or trauma in a person’s past could make them more averse to certain types of touch. If that’s what’s going on, he hasn’t told me anything. And it doesn’t feel right to ask him about his past in that way if he doesn’t want to volunteer it.

Thank you for your note. While I’m not sure how “some men” are, I know how this man is, based on your description. You sound quite compassionate, incidentally, a great quality in a partner.

It does sound as if your guy has some discomfort with physical closeness. It is hard to discern what the source of that might be. I was impressed with your research and estimation of the cause as you try to understand him better. I hope he returns the favor.

I was struck by your comment that “it doesn’t feel right to ask him” about his past. Why? It may be hard for you to broach the topic. You may fear you’re wrecking the “honeymoon,” but I don’t see a good reason for you to suffer alone; you need more info here.

One way to attempt this is to say you find the topic awkward but necessary to discuss. I am fairly sure you are not the type to say, “So what’s the deal here? Think I got cooties?” At an opportune time, you could start with something along the lines of, “Listen, this is awkward and I don’t mean to rain on our parade, but I’ve noticed you tend to pull away when we’re close, and it’s confusing me.”

You can state your feelings without making demands or intrusions. Examples of this might include, “I find it a little odd or disconcerting when you run to the shower after sex,” or, “I really like cuddling after sex, but it seems you really don’t,” and so on. It gives him an opportunity to open up about a potentially tender issue.

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