Dear Annie: My boyfriend and I have been together for five years. This last year, there has been no physical intimacy between us at all. We vibe very well in our relationship being partners in a small business. He says he is still attracted to me and keeps on blaming our busy work lives for lack of sex. But we are usually home before 10 p.m. and we rarely work on weekends. When we used to have sex, he struggled with erectile dysfunction.
I even asked him if he would go to the doctor to see if he had a problem. He agreed to make an appointment, but when the day came he made excuses and did not go. Now it’s gotten to the point where I’ve stopped trying, and he’s not trying either. Can you please help with some advice here? -- It’s Been a Year
Dear IBAY: ED is extremely common, impacting an estimated 30 million men in the U.S. While it shouldn’t be cause for embarrassment, it is cause for concern, as it can be an early warning sign of cardiovascular problems including endothelial dysfunction (damage to the lining of blood vessels) or atherosclerosis (the buildup of plaque in the arteries). He might be more receptive to you if you approach it that way -- out of concern for his whole-body health -- and offer to go with him to the appointment, to offer moral support. I hope he hears you out.
Dear Annie: I think you might have missed a chance, recently, to help a woman who had no sense of her own value, in your letter to “Lost.” Instead of referring her to a dating app in which she would latch on to another man who ignores her, “Lost” might benefit from some therapy first. She was so desperate to continue contacting a man who so obviously didn’t care about her. Her level of desperation in continuing to pursue someone after being blocked is a sad example of a person with no sense of boundaries and no love of self.
I was in a similar headspace many years ago due to my own poor relationship choices. My life decisions were the product of my low self-esteem and an upbringing that taught me that I needed a man to feel like I have value. I have since received much-needed counseling in self-compassion, self-worth, and healthy boundaries, as the result of having an emotionally unavailable parent. These days, I know that I deserve a relationship in which I can express my needs to my partner. If they are not met, I can let go of that person, knowing that they are not for me. I trust myself and have erected boundaries that protect me, but also let the right person in. I wish her well. -- No Longer Lost
Dear No Longer Lost: You’re right. I focused on the wrong aspect of “Lost’s” letter, her dating life, rather than on her inner emotional life and sense of self-worth. Thank you for bringing it back to the heart of the matter. I’m glad to hear you found yourself.
“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book -- featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.