'How do I get my partner to be less cold and robotic in bed?'

My boyfriend is lovely in so many ways, but our sex life is cold and even robotic at times.

He has trouble making eye contact when we have sex and we never properly kiss any more.

We cuddle and sleep closely but we only have sex about once a week and I would like it much more.

I’m worried if I say something, he might give me even less of him. What do I do?

Most couples have different desire settings.

‘Some people also don’t like kissing,’ James McConnachie. ‘I’ve kissed some who don’t and, boy, can you tell the difference. It’s hard to understand but that’s people for you – all different.’

Still, it’s clear that this is not about kissing, it’s about sex and, more than that, intimacy.

‘It’s also about personal power,’ McConnachie continues. ‘What worries me is how frightened you are to say how you feel. Why does he have all the power here?You will only start to recover your power when you express your feelings and your needs.’

You’re already feeling rejected so it’s understandable that you wish to protect yourself from more pain by not challenging the situation.

‘But your boyfriend is unlikely to suddenly start passionately kissing you one day,’ says Dr Angharad Rudkin. ‘I don’t imagine you can live with this in the long term and you shouldn’t. You’re not asking for too much.’

The next obvious step is an honest conversation but it will not be an easy exchange because of this cycle of avoidance you’re both stuck in.

‘You’re terrified of pushing him away but will sacrifice almost anything to keep him,’ says Rupert Smith, ‘and he’s developed a persona that can go through the motions of intimacy without ever making himself vulnerable.’

These patterns of behaviour are indicators of troubled relationships in early childhood, which should be explored. We also suggest choosing your words carefully when you do talk.

‘Instead of describing him as “cold” and “robotic”, make it about your feelings instead. Tell him you need an emotional connection when you have sex,’ says McConnachie. ‘Maybe you need to take charge too. Show him how you like it.’

And be prepared for a response you might not have considered, says Rudkin: ‘This conversation may open up a bigger, underlying issue but whatever comes up needs to.’

If your relationship isn’t salvageable, try not to fear losing the security and compassion you give one another. This is what good friends offer, not lovers.

‘We all deserve to be heard, loved and satisfied,’ says McConnachie.

The experts:

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