‘I’ve been friendzoned – by my husband’

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Dear Meredith,

I've been friendzoned – by my husband. After 32 years of marriage, he says he is just not into physical intimacy. He promises there is no one else (and with our COVID-19 lifestyle, that would be challenging to hide). He claims to have aged out of intimacy, but he is in great physical shape and health, and is a young 68. We both exercise and have maintained our bodies.

I worry that unresolved tension and disagreements from our long marriage have contributed to this freeze, and couples counseling might help us share our perspectives. Although he is willing to go to a counselor, he doesn't think that would affect his attraction and desire. I miss this part of our marriage and feel grief that this chapter might be over. Feeling desired, sharing a loving physical connection and intimate moments feel so essential to me in maintaining a loving relationship. When I try to talk about it, he becomes irritated and says that many men his age are not interested and I shouldn't take it personally. It's now been two years and I am feeling very alone.

– Friendzoned in Framingham


"Although he is willing to go to a counselor, he doesn't think that would affect his attraction and desire."

Well, there's only one way to find out. And if you get through some therapy and learn he really doesn't want a physical connection, you can make decisions about next steps. This part of your life hasn't ended, and if having that kind of connection is "essential," you both might be happier remaining connected as humans with a shared history, but moving on for different kinds of romance.

I just want to validate it would be heartbreaking to end 32 years of marriage (or any years of happiness, really). It would be devastating to move on. But sometimes that's how you find what you need. If this is all he can give, it might feel less lonely to be alone.

I do wonder how much he thinks about the unresolved tension. You seem to think about it quite a bit, and maybe the physical part of your relationship used to make that stuff better. Now it's gone.

Try to get help. I will warn you that finding any kind of therapist is difficult right now (story to come on that). Everyone is very booked, and … I'm sure you can guess why (this last year has really done it). Please ask everyone you know for referrals. Hop on all waiting lists, no matter how long. Write personal notes to a therapist you want to see. Make this a priority.

– Meredith

Readers? Has this happened in your marriage? Any thoughts about leaving (or opening) a marriage at this point?