Dear Mrs Salisbury: I feel I'm being taken advantage of

Last updated 05:00 08/10/2017

What happens when your partner starts to withdraw physically?

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Psychologist Robyn Salisbury helps a reader with a relationship dilemma.

QUESTION: My partner and I have been together for five years, this is her third and my second relationship. She does not earn as much as I do and has always expected that I pay for her wherever we go, including for holidays. I pay rent to her and my share of living costs.

At the start she was sexy and playful and we had a good intimate relationship but, gradually over time, she has withdrawn physically. She always pushes me away now if I initiate so that I no longer bother and what was weekly is now monthly and only when she is in the mood. It is brief and predictable as she will not allow for variety.

I am feeling used financially and am now thinking of seeing other women for intimacy. I talked to her about my needs but she is feels that everything is fine. She sees us together forever, with me providing for her – including overseas travel and support when we retire.

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I feeling like I'm being taken advantage of and I deserve more in our relationship.

ANSWER: Everything in a relationship is never "fine" unless both people see it that way. Have you two discussed the financial matter? In the lust and romance of relationship beginnings, couples often don't contract as clearly and specifically as they need to about the many issues that are involved because it seems calculating and untrusting – but actually it's essential to do it sometime.

Being generous in your giving is an important component of love which needs to be mutual, unless one is happy in a martyr role.

While I see no future in the prospect of a money-sex trade-off, I think what you're saying in raising these two issues is that it feels like you give a lot and get nothing in return. Lay your cards on the table about this and speak from the heart about the kind of relationship you want.

She may see it very differently, of course – she has provided a home, you contribute some of the financial costs – so some good listening will be required by each of you before you work together to find a resolution that works for both.

It's your choice about outsourcing your sexual needs, but it won't do anything to enhance this relationship unless you both agree on polyamory.

Robyn Salisbury is a clinical psychologist. Email questions to

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