Virginia Ironside's Dilemmas: Just the odd kiss...

Dear Virginia, I'm 48 and a widow. Six months ago I met a wonderful man of 50. We share everything and we love each other. But he won't have sex with me - just the odd kiss. He says I am in too much of a hurry and it was a year before he and his last girlfriend went to bed. Do you think he's impotent and embarrassed? How can I broach this? Yours sincerely, Fiona

Virginia writes:

It's very difficult for a woman to understand completely why exactly it appears to be so humiliating for a man to admit that he is impotent or has erection problems. I mean, as a woman, it's easy to explain that one just doesn't feel sexy at the moment, or is too tired. Admitting that one isn't in the mood doesn't mean that one's entire world comes crashing down, or feeling that one can't hold one's head up in public any more. (Though, to be fair, it is far easier for a woman to fake interest than it is for a man, for whom it can be utterly impossible.)

So is this inability to admit to a performance failure something wired into men's brains that they can't help, or is it just because most men, when it comes to sex, are total cowardly idiots? If I were you, Fiona, I wouldn't know whether to feel great pity and compassion, or irritation that he is being such a complete wally in being unable to admit to a perfectly common problem.

However, because I like to be kind, I'm going to assume this bloke is not a prat and is, rather, deserving of great pity.

And by the way, if it crosses your mind that he is actually some kind of old-fashioned gent who should be admired for wanting to take his time, forget it. He's not a 75-year-old, for God's sake, who was born in the 1930s, brought up to believe in linen napkins, rings on fingers and ties and suits at weddings. He's only 50.

No, it's quite clear to anyone that he's impotent - or, at best, has huge anxiety about his performance. If he weren't, you'd be quite aware of his having an erection, and getting worked up sexually - at which point he might say, breathlessly: "I'd much rather wait a while before we go any further." But clearly this bloke is not even aroused.

How to broach it without hurting his feelings? You must use guile. You must try to make out that you are the wounded and humiliated party. "I feel so unfeminine," you might say. "I feel so unattractive. Obviously you don't fancy me and find me repulsive. Oh, what am I going to do? I feel like killing myself." Then, if this man has any decency, he will realise that his feelings of sexual humiliation are but nothing compared with your loss of confidence, and come riding to the rescue with, finally, an explanation of his lack of sexual interest.

Once it's out in the open you can try all kinds of things. Doctors, sex therapists, injections, Viagra - there are loads of impotent men out there and loads of different possible solutions to a problem that is fantastically common. And even if none of this works there are ways of his giving you a reasonably satisfactory sex life without actual penetration.

It may be humiliating for him to have to admit he's just not very interested, but remember: it's also extremely unpleasant for you to keep pestering him for sex and receiving no proper resolution for your desire. If you knew what exactly was wrong, you wouldn't have to put yourself through the humiliation of constantly badgering him for sex and feeling like some voracious sex addict, and could calm down about the whole matter. If you knew where you stood perhaps you could resign yourself to being just friends, and look somewhere else for sex.

Readers say:

It's just an excuse

You are wise in approaching this issue with great sensitivity. Your new partner has obviously got some "issues" with respect to the physical side of your relationship.

Regarding his potential impotence: he either is, is not, or is not sure but might have some related anxiety or concerns. If he is impotent then eventually something will need to be done about it, and the matter will arise (as it were) sooner or later in your relationship. If he isn't impotent, then there is less of a "problem", although your expectations in the relationship might not be aligned. If he isn't impotent but has some sort of performance anxiety then the proof of the pudding will be in the eating.

All said, I suspect his "it's too early" excuse is just that: a pretext behind which there is something more significant. You need to at least eliminate impotence as a possible cause of his inhibitions. I think it's time for you to move forward on this one, with some practical guidance for him - there's plenty out there - if your fears are confirmed.

Maggie Thomas

Worthing, Sussex

He's gay

Clearly he doesn't feel close enough yet to confide in you. But obviously he has a problem of some sort and you need to get to the bottom of it. Have you considered the possibility that he may be gay and not want to come out of the closet but needs companionship? Do you know why his last relationship failed? Could be for the same reason. Whatever his problem, unless he is willing to talk to you about it I don't see the relationship lasting.

Claire Jones


He doesn't want you

It sounds brutal and clear as a bell, but he's not attracted to you and doesn't want to hurt your feelings. If he was, he would have a hard time keeping his paws off you. One of the strongest ingredients to a healthy relationship is sex, and the last person who should be stopping you from enjoying that is your "wonderful man". Don't waste any more time on him and ditch him. You may need to polish up your self-esteem, but take your time - there's someone out there who does want to have sex with you.

Lin Bowles

Bury St Edmunds

He's a gentleman

No, I don't think for one moment that your wonderful man is impotent or embarrassed. I think that he is a member of a dying breed: a gentleman. He is courting you, waiting for your love to grow and flourish. Enjoy this time, without pressurising him. Physical love is only a small part of a relationship. Mutual respect is just as important, which is what your new man is showing you. When the time is right for your relationship to become more physical, rest assured: it will be worth the wait.

Carol Mears


Next Week's Dilemma

Dear Virginia,

I've been happily married for six years with a son of three years old. The problem is, I remember my wife becoming friendly with another man round about the time he was conceived, and I'm becoming convinced it's his child. I can even persuade myself that the boy looks like him. Can I ask my wife for a DNA test? I fear it might upset her too much. But how can I get these thoughts out of my mind? I seem obsessed by them. Yours sincerely, Derrick

Suggested Topics
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
Text messaging changes as a relationship evolves
The comedian, 42, made the controversial comment following the athlete’s sentencing to five years for the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp on Tuesday
peopleComedian's quip about Reeva Steenkamp was less than well received at music magazine awards
Cristiano Ronaldo in action for Real Madrid
peoplePerformer had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    SSRS Report Developer - Urgent Contract - London - £300pd

    £300 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: SSRS Report Developer – 3 Mon...

    KS1 Teacher

    £95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...

    HR Business Partner - Essex - £39,000 plus benefits

    £32000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Man...

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

    Day In a Page

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
    Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

    Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

    A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

    Liverpool v Real Madrid

    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
    West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?