My boyfriend and I have been dating five months. Going into the relationship I knew he had never kissed a girl or been in a relationship. I thought I was safe from the “first girlfriend mistakes” most guys make because my boyfriend is a sensitive 24-year-old.

     He’s watched his friends, and his best friend is now engaged, so I know he knows at least the basics of a relationship by watching his buds. Little did I know, he is clueless! I have to tell him what to do to be romantic. He’ll ask, but it never feels romantic if I have to tell him.

     I know he is heterosexual because he has a heterosexual porn stash.

     The first time we got naked he freaked! Normally, the girl freaks out right? Anyway, I have to touch him before he will ever think of touching me. I tried using my hands as a guide, but he freaked out and got dressed!

     I hate it! How can I get him to do things I want without having to tell him or have him freaking out? I have my needs, and I want him to meet them.

     Brianna

     Brianna, one of the earliest games toddlers learn in life is how to sort shapes. A toddler learns she can’t take the star shape and pound it into the round hole with the toy hammer.

     You think sex is the missing element in your relationship. There’s a much more important element missing, and it is not sex. That element is empathy.

     We can look at empathy in three ways.

     First, it means we feel the same emotion as someone else. We literally feel their pain. Second, it means we feel distressed by someone’s pain. It makes us uncomfortable. Finally, empathy means we feel compassion. We are so concerned about someone’s pain we want to take action.

     You know there is something substantially different about your boyfriend. This is not how an inexperienced 24-year-old guy would respond, even with an insistent partner. If you told us someone did this to you, we would tell you to say Stop!, because sex between two people should never be forced.

     You don’t say you’ve been talking to your boyfriend about why he is as he is.

     Perhaps he doesn’t feel connected to you, or safe with you, or attracted to you. Or it could be he was damaged growing up. In addition, finding magazines does not determine someone’s sexual identity or their underlying challenges.

     Your insistence may make him feel he cannot say no, and that creates one more barrier between you.

     We cannot say what happened in his previous 24 years that is the underlying problem, but we wonder if you feel empathy for him. Once you saw his fear and confusion, there was no point in elevating his level of distress.

     Our home is not our castle. Our body is our castle. So is our mind. They belong to us. This man needs someone willing to engage with him. He is not a mountain to climb or a person to get a leg over. He is a human being.

     We are not saying you have to be his social worker or his sex therapist. We are saying, if you can’t help him or point him in the direction of help, then accept it as a matter of sorting shapes and holes. The star shape cannot be pounded into the round hole.

     The world gets more instant every day, with door delivery and internet access. But people are not instant. People are not food delivery or an Amazon package or a streaming device. They are people. We don’t get to treat people like a phone app.

     Just because today is the grand opening of a new Disney theme park, it doesn’t mean we have to go on the rides today. It doesn’t mean his problems can or must be solved today.

     While you are not obligated to open a window for him, you can. But merely wanting him to meet your needs shows neither love nor empathy.

     Wayne & Tamara

     Email us at DirectAnswers@WayneAndTamara.com.