Until last year, I identified as a straight man. Then, after we drank too much, I made out with a slightly older colleague, who identifies as a straight man. We now meet to kiss and make out. He doesn’t go beyond a certain point physically. He gives me hand jobs but doesn’t want anything sexual himself, just cuddling and kissing. I love him dearly. He says he loves me, too, but as a brother or best friend, not as a partner. Recently, he has stopped kissing me on the lips but we sleep in the same bed and cuddle. I am confused. Is he straight, is he gay/bi, and should I hope for romantic love with him? I love his company and we do lots together, but he will not go beyond the boundaries he has set. I don’t want to beg him to do more if he doesn’t feel comfortable, but it would hurt to walk away.

This man has indicated the kind of relationship he wants, and has established control over your love-making style. But for you, an erotic exchange involves giving pleasure and receiving it. Try not to experience his sexual frugality as a rejection; it could be down to embarrassment, internalised homophobia, self-punishment, fear of transmitting or contracting disease, or erectile or ejaculatory difficulties. He, too, may be confused. He may be unable to grant himself permission to cross that threshold. Consider framing your thoughts as a request, something like: “I respect your boundaries, but would be delighted if you would allow me to give you physical pleasure, too.” If he refuses, press with: “Help me to understand, what kind of feelings do you have about this? Could we talk about it?”

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Vijay Nanda

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