Soapbox Therapy: The Thing About Relationships That Are All About Sex

Every man can feel insecure with his partner once in awhile, but if you're focusing all of your relationship energy in the bedroom, something's up.

Dear Brooke –

I found your site from Primer and recently read your article on being engaged.

I just became engaged to a wonderful woman who I love very much. We live together, have many of the same tastes and desires and get along great with our respective families. I’m really looking forward to a long and happy life together. There is, naturally, an issue that I can’t seem to get over.

And that’s my insecurities over her past relationship with her ex-boyfriend. They didn’t have the best relationship, but had a very strong and intense physical relationship. And when they broke up on numerous occasions, they always got back together as a couple or just for one night – for the sex.

She was open and candid with me about that when we first dated, which I appreciated at first, but then I came to resent it. I didn’t need to hear that “he was amazing in bed” or that she “had a dream that they slept together again.” I’ve never felt that I was a jealous person, but I now find that I have become that way. The last time they were physically together was about a month or two before we started dating (about 2 years ago), and not since, yet I find myself getting upset at the mere mention of him.

I’ve talked to her about that and she doesn’t bring him up and definitely doesn’t mention anything about their intimacy anymore, yet I still find little mundane things ticking me off.

I told a friend of mine all this and she said that means that I really love my fiancée. And as sweet and lovely as that sounds, there is a downside to it all. I now find myself questioning my ‘ability’ in bed and have even gone so far as to ask my fiancée ‘how I performed’ after we finished. My self-confidence seems to be shot and I feel that my fiancée sometimes shies away from intimacy because of the baggage I now carry with me. I’ve even resorted to taking prescription drugs to help my performance.

My fiancée has mentioned to me on numerous occasions how happy she is to be with me, how in love she is with me, and how she doesn’t want to be with anyone else. Yet I can’t kick this insecurity. Is there anything I can do?

Thanks so much,

Frustrated Fiancé

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Dear Frustrated Fiancé,

First of all, thank you so much for writing in, thinking about this, and admitting your insecurity. Men like you give men a good name…

I love that you asked your friend about all of this — she’s a doll for being such a great friend, and she’s right, you do love your fiancée. But you already knew that, right? It seems to me that on some level, deep, deep down, past all the performance enhancing drugs and love and jealousy and and and, what you really want to know has nothing to do with your love for your fiancée, but about her love for you.

You want to know…does she love you the most, the best, forever and ever and no one is better than you, not even a little bit? Not even in bed? And if so…really? And why? And are you sure? And prove it.

And that’s where I come in.

Metaphor time. Relationships are like houses. Being in a relationship held together by sex is like living in a house where all the rooms are empty, except the bedroom.

Let me explain…

When you move into the home of your dreams you don’t think to yourself, “I’m so excited to decorate and put every piece of furniture I own into the bedroom and leave the rest of the house bare and vacant. It’s gonna be great!” Similarly, someone hoping to find a mature and long lasting relationship doesn’t think, “I hope I meet someone who I have great sex with while everything else remains completely empty and missing. That’s everything I’ve been waiting for!”

In your fiancées past relationship (get your barf bag), the sex was all there was. And do you know why she kept going back? Because she is a hopeful person and thought to herself, on some deeper level, “Maybe this time he’ll have decorated the rest of the house, and there will be more…more rooms, more color, more substance, more relationship.”

Article quote - Being in a relationship held together by sex

And guess what…. Every time she went back, the bedroom remained the only room in the house with a lick of substance. And though it may have been a nice bedroom, it wasn’t enough. Because one room is never enough.

So, FF, do you know why she finally left him, for the last time? Because she met you. Because you’re a guy who not only has your metaphoric bedroom decorated to the nines, but she can be with you in the kitchen and in the living room. She can talk with you and share with you and communicate with you… in the dining room, in the basement, in the closet, and on the frikin’ roof. You sir, have every room in the house. How do I know this, while not knowing you? Because when you asked her to marry you, she said yes.

The thing about relationships that are all about sex is that those relationships are missing something…sometimes everything. Don’t get me wrong, sex is a big thing, but it’s not the only thing.

Sex is important, but so is loving someone. And so is feeling valuable and appreciated and taken care of. And so is having a place to sit with your partner, other than in the bedroom.

Darlin, it seems to me that you take the meds, and you ask the questions, and you get insecure, not because you’re actually worried that you’re bad in bed. You know you’re not. You do all of that because you want to know — and show — that you’re giving her more than she has ever received, and she is happier than she has ever been before. And because of her past, and details that you know, sex is where you’ve decided to prove it.

But while you’ve been focused on becoming a sex god, the love of your life has been sitting in the living room waiting for the man she fell in love with to re-emerge. The reason she’s shying away from you lately when it comes to intimacy is because, contrary to your goal, it’s actually not sexy having a partner who stays in their ‘bedroom’ all day.

She is marrying you, which says something important. It says…she wants to be with you in every room of the house, for the rest of her life. Including the bedroom. She wants to grow with you emotionally and sexually and physically and spiritually. And I don’t know that because I’m a therapist (though it helps) or a writer (makes it a little easier to pass on the message)… I know that because I’m a woman. And there are just some things almost all of us from Venus have in common. We want a full house.

So Mr. frustrated-but-not-for long-if-I-have-anything-to-do-with-it, you have a choice. And I say, choose to be confident in every ‘room’ of your relationship…because not only do you have the penis she wants, but you have the whole package (pun intended…sorta) she’s been waiting for.

Thanks for you,


*Disclaimer: Brooke cannot respond to every question asked, nor should her responses be considered professional medical advice.
Brooke received her Masters Degree in counseling psychology and is an MFTI (registered marriage and family therapist intern) working towards licensure in CA. Soapbox Therapy/Primer Magazine is not part of the licensing process and should not be considered psychotherapy. Soapbox Therapy/Primer Magaizine is commentary and advice based on Brooke’s personal opinions and insight and should be regarded as such. Soapbox Therapy/Primer Magazine is in no way related to or reflective of the opinions or insight of Brooke’s private practice supervisor, Cynthia Hoffman LMFT.
Brooke Miller

Born in Detroit and raised in Chicago, Brooke Miller, MA is now a San Francisco based advice columnist and relationship expert. Her column, Soapbox Therapy, has been called “ Raw, honest, thought-provoking, and wisely witty” by readers and critics and can be read in several publications including The SF Chronicle’ s affiliate, TheIsCollection, and Cheeky Chicago. Brooke supports clients all over the country via Skype and phone coaching sessions. She can be contacted at brooke(a)