Dear Ellie: I moved to another city last year and immediately started a friendship with someone from my home town. We’d actually met when I was a girl of 16, and he was 23.
We now have a close friendship which seems like a romantic relationship which I’d want. But he suffers from erectile dysfunction (ED).
I’ve repeatedly suggested that we can still have an intimate relationship. He understands, but can’t bring himself to touch me intimately. He wishes he could.
I’m currently totally independent and am ageing well. But this situation is seriously affecting my self-esteem, causing me terrible emotional self-recrimination.
I feel I should end the relationship, but that also saddens me. After a long, loving marriage with a man who thought I was the most beautiful woman anywhere, I’m desperately confused by this rejection.
In every other way, he’s a very good man who cares deeply about me.
I don’t want to lose his friendship and he doesn’t want to lose mine. He’s been the only ray of sunshine since my beloved suddenly died six years ago.
I’ve been told going on a dating site is a possible solution. What do you think?
I think how lucky you were to have been loved and admired so deeply by your late husband!
Your friendship offers male companionship and caring but the emotional impact on him of erectile dysfunction means there’s no certainty of his ever being fully intimate with you.
So, it’s not your self-esteem that’s most the fragile here. Your friend isn’t rejecting you… instead, he’s deeply embarrassed by his inability to bring you sexual enjoyment and intimate lovemaking.
Work at re-booting your self-esteem and forget self-recriminations. The person suffering deeper emotional and psychological pain, is your friend.
Dating sites are a different situation, yet rejections aren’t uncommon as people pick and choose through many photos and profiles.
As for this current “very good man,” decide what you can live with, and what you cannot.
Dear Ellie: Our 36-year-old son recently passed away suddenly in his sleep. He was a compassionate, gentle soul. His brother, my wife and I, are devastated.
My 95-year-old mother and I haven’t had real communication in five years. It took her several days to phone briefly to express condolences. No card, flowers, nothing else.
My sibling asked about possible dates for my son’s Celebration of Life. He said, “If you could have it in August it’d be better for us. We have a cruise planned for September.”
He attempted to defend his comment. I reminded him that he had said something similar regarding our sister’s Celebration of Life on a particular date because they were scheduled to go camping.
The best man at my wedding has been a friend for over 50 years. Well-liked by our family, he attended our numerous social functions. When my father passed away, he missed the service, offering only a lame excuse. He did the same thing when my sister died.
When informed of our son’s death, he wrote, “I’m at a loss for words.” He then sent me an E-Card. I was so offended at such an impersonal message.
Are my angry reactions to these situations wrong or am I being overly critical?
Bitter and Saddened
Most people don’t know how to deal with others’ losses of spouses, parents, relatives, nor, especially, the death of children.
Some mumble the only phrase they can handle, which at least acknowledges another’s pain: “I’m sorry for your loss.”
But cold silence from family and so-called friends is especially hurtful. Say so. They’ll eventually learn.
Dear Ellie: I’m 52, wanting to join a group where consenting adults can have sexual relations without the worries of a relationship and complications.
I’ve heard of web pages and tried some like Ashley Madison but found it gets too expensive and no real results came of it.
What’s the best and safest course of action?
If someone seeks sex with a stranger through a website which charges for the connection, of course there’s expense… and more, if you keep moving on to another person to avoid “the worries of a relationship and complication.”
I get it that not everyone wants involvement with someone seeking more. But sex-only, with a stranger, opens the door to multiple possibilities of risk, from sexually-transmitted diseases to complicated scams.
There’s no guarantee of a best and safest plan. Some readers who’ve joined polyamory groups, especially those with agreed conduct standards, have said this works for them.
Ellie’s tip of the day
If a man with erectile dysfunction won’t attempt intimacy (loving words, embraces, kissing), enjoy his caring friendship, or move on.
Send relationship questions to email@example.com.