I met my boyfriend last February and by the lockdown in mid-March we knew we wanted to be together.
Everything was so new and exciting about his moving in that even some unusual behaviours didn’t worry me. He was gentle, respectful, loving and honest. He shared all the costs of our living together, helped with cleaning up, turned out to be an excellent cook, and shopped for us.
We both worked from home (my place, he sublet his) and we got along from morning to night, went for walks outdoors together, and even agreed on what series to stream, and what webinar topics to join.
Everything seemed idyllic, except when we went to bed together. He’d put on a fresh long-sleeved t-shirt and zippered sweat pants and kept them on all night . . . even while we had sex.
At first, I thought it was a COVID precaution, that maybe we shouldn’t completely expose ourselves to whatever potential infection the other one was carrying.
But I talked very privately to a friend who’s a hospital nurse and she said that it didn’t make sense. Instead, she said that each of us showering before bed was a better precaution.
I told my boyfriend this, but he brushed it off. He said he’d always slept that way; it’s how his mother had taught him from childhood.
His behaviour as a partner remains totally caring and helpful, but because he avoids touching skin-to-skin I feel somewhat bewildered about our relationship.
I do love him and he has said very loving things to me, but I believe he has some kind of hang up.
Is this habit of having clothes on even for sex a fetish?
Bewildered in Bed
Let’s start with a simple Wikipedia definition of a fetish: “A sexual attraction to objects or body parts of lesser sexual importance (or none at all) such as feet, toes or certain types of clothing.”
The definition goes further to say, “the word fetish is used to refer to any sexually arousing stimuli, not all of which meet the medical criteria for fetishism.”
According to a webMD.com article it’s not a disorder by definition, but can reach that level if it causes intense lasting distress.
And now, Dr. Richard Krueger, a Columbia University associate clinical professor of psychiatry, “if the person doing this by themselves or with a partner, if they are happy with it then it’s not an issue.”
In other words, in your boyfriend’s case, the act of dressing for bed appears to be part of his arousal which leads to having sex with you. It’s definitely not a rejection.
If you’re able to discuss this with him in a non-judgemental way you could ask when he began to notice his physical/emotional link between dressing for bed and sexual excitement.
Also, you could ask if it has ever caused a problem in other relationships. But be clear that you hope to stay together through a long and deep connection.
Explain that just as he has a way of expressing intimacy you also have a preference which is to lie together, close and naked.
If he can meet you at least half way, then you will feel secure that the relationship can last. However, if this continues to bother you and he persists on saying it’s a non-issue, tell him that all relationship have some difficulties that, if left unacknowledged by one party, leaves the other feeling unheard.
And that is not healthy.
FEEDBACK Regarding a wife’s concern over her husband’s younger female colleague who regularly, in Zoom-calls with him, says that she’d like to have a baby with someone just like him. (Aug. 20):
Reader – “There are a few simple ways to counteract the wife’s worries:
- “The man could introduce his wife, having her join in the next Zoom call for her added mature advice.
- “Or he could have his wife walk by several times in camera view during the call.
- “He could add a visible personized background of family photos that include his wife and kids.
- “The husband could make sure that he’s wearing his wedding ring very noticeably.
- “The husband can make sure to keep discussion topics to work conversation only.
- “During the conversation on Zoom, the husband could several times use the phrase “my wife and I think that . . .”
Tip of the day:
If a sexual fetish bothers your partner, discussion’s essential if the relationship is to last.