Being in love without wanting sex
Once upon a time I met a wonderful man. He was kind, funny and smart. We shared a love of nature, bushwalks, folk music, long drives and good food. We talked a lot, laughed even more, and had strikingly similar dreams. He was perfect for me in nearly every way, except one - I wasn't the least bit sexually attracted to him.
Greg* first contacted me via an online dating site. While I wasn't bowled over by his photos, he sounded like a decent guy, we had similar interests, and I knew from experience that you often had to meet someone in person to know if there was any chemistry there. We exchanged a few emails, then Greg suggested we meet. He did everything right - called me to organise the date, found a restaurant we could both get to easily, booked a table and met me at the train station. When I first saw him, my initial misgivings about a lack of chemistry were confirmed. I wasn't remotely attracted to him. But I vowed to make the most of the evening regardless.
I enjoyed Greg's company and knew without a shadow of a doubt that he was one of the good guys - trustworthy, honourable, a man of integrity. Towards the end of the night, he pulled a CD from his jacket and handed it to me. It was one from his own collection, an album by a folk musician he thought I might like. He wanted me to have it, even if nothing developed between us. I was gobsmacked. It was such a thoughtful gift and, to this day, it remains one of my favourite albums. I pondered whether the chemistry between us might grow as I got to know him better.
That first evening was followed by a few more. Sitting on the train together at the end of our third date, Greg, ever polite, asked if he could kiss me. Our lips locked awkwardly, and to my disappointment but not my surprise, I felt nothing - no warm rush of excitement, no stirrings of passion. It was clear things weren't going to progress in the way I'd hoped.
On our next date, we spent the day hiking in the mountains. On the long drive home, I psyched myself up to tell Greg how I felt. He beat me to it, asking where I saw things going between us. With a deep breath, I told him I thought he was a wonderful guy and that we were obviously compatible in many ways but I didn't think there was enough chemistry there to take things further. Greg didn't seem surprised or disappointed. We both agreed that given our common interests and how well we got on, it would be a shame not to at least be friends.
Over the next few months, Greg and I saw each other at least once a fortnight. We took long drives to go hiking. We went to gigs and movies. We went out for meals. We spent hours walking, talking and laughing. I even accompanied him to the wedding of one of his friends. Despite living in different parts of the city, Greg always picked me up and drove me home at the end of the day, even if it meant he had to backtrack. On our nights out, he always travelled home in a taxi with me before heading back across the city to his own place. Despite my protests, he insisted on paying for everything. Without a doubt, Greg was the most generous, kind and respectful man I'd ever met.
After a while, I'd come home after seeing him feeling on top of the world, as I usually did, only to find myself minutes later in floods of tears. I felt a deep, gut-wrenching sadness and had no idea why. Eventually it dawned on me that I was in love with Greg, implausible as it seemed. How could I love someone I didn't want to kiss, let alone have sex with? I'd never been in this kind of situation before and had no clue what to do. The idea of ending the friendship and never seeing him again was unthinkable, but equally so was the thought of having sex with him and pretending to enjoy it.
My mind grasped at other options. Could we have a committed but sexless relationship? Could we see other people and get our sexual needs met outside the relationship? None of the scenarios sat right with me, and I knew from our many conversations, they wouldn't sit right with Greg either. I contemplated talking to him about it but how do you tell someone that you love them but don't want to have sex with them? And what would that achieve anyway? It was an impossible situation, no matter which way I looked at it.
Soon after, Greg took a job in a town six hours drive away. We stayed in touch, sending each other birthday presents and chatting on the phone. Six months later, he told me he was moving back. I was thrilled. I emailed him a couple of times, asking if he'd like to catch up. He'd respond by saying he'd check his diary and get back to me soon. He never did. I eventually realised that he didn't want to see me. I figured he must have met someone else, although I couldn't understand why he didn't just tell me that. Looking back now, I wonder whether he was in love with me, as I was with him, and simply found it too painful to see me.
For the first year or so after we lost contact, I missed Greg terribly - his funny stories and sense of humour, his kindness and humility, and his unconditional generosity. Even more, I missed the way I felt when I was with him - accepted and acknowledged, supported and empowered. In his presence, I could be the best and most authentic version of me. I wasn't just in love with him, I was in love with the person I was when I was with him. I dated other men but always found myself comparing them to Greg. They inevitably never came up to scratch. Not only could I not be with Greg, it looked like I was destined to reject anyone else who didn't reach his impossibly high standard!
Three years later, while my heart no longer aches when I think about Greg, I still wonder from time to time whether we could have made it work. I always come to the same conclusion though - it was an impossible relationship. I'm grateful that I had Greg in my life and got to experience a love that was in many ways more real than any other love I've known. I truly hope he's happy and has met someone who loves all of him. He deserves that more than any other man I know.
* Names have been changed
- Daily Life