My boyfriend and I have been going steady for over a year. We fell in love with each other very quickly, and things were perfect for the first few months. We were always together, always laughing, always happy.

It was great for the first six months or so of our relationship; we were 100% sexless. I knew going into the relationship that he identified as asexual, meaning that he doesn’t experience sexual attraction. At the time I was alright with it, I had just escaped a highly sexually abusive situation, so sex wasn’t on my mind. I was also going through my own gender dysphoria and discovering myself, so my mind was other places, and all I needed was his emotional support, and I was satisfied.

We are both transgender males. When we finally had sex for the first time, it was very intimate: Awkward, loving, perfect. It escalated into us having sex every night we saw each other. It was: new, fun, exciting, and very emotionally satisfying. We’re two teenagers in love, so we were finally acting “normal.”

I mentioned my abuse earlier. Without going into detail, it lasted over many years, and slowly I separated sex and love. Sex became something I did for other people that took no emotional investment for me. However, with my boyfriend, every time we had sex I felt a little more closer to him. I felt a little more in love, and I finally felt like someone loved me too. Over the next few months, I unknowingly became dependent on our sexual relationship to validate myself and to measure his love for me.

You might be thinking: If he’s asexual then why did you guys have sex? The simple answer is he liked it; it was a fun activity, it was new and exciting. I don’t know why things changed for him, but they did, and it changed our relationship.

After months of having sex regularly, my boyfriend lost all sexual desire. Not only did he not have a sex drive, but he especially did not want to have sex. I’d ask every night, and he’d say “no” or “he wasn’t in the mood,” “maybe later,” “not tonight.” He eventually asked me to stop asking because turning me down made him feel bad.

I couldn’t help how I reacted; it was humiliating to hear no over and over. I began to question myself every. Single. Night. “Is it because I’m chubby?” “Is it because I’m ugly?” “Is it because I’m a bad boyfriend?” I turned all of the blame on myself. It had to be my fault, I had to have done something. Maybe if I was thin, maybe if I had a penis, maybe if I was more muscular… Every time he turned me down, I’d wind up crying or leaving the room for a while to cool off. Getting on testosterone didn’t help. Testosterone is known to make your sex drive higher, so it just made me need sex more and more.

We talked about it, and I tried to stay emotionally stable. I told him how I felt: His lack of interest in sex made me feel ugly, unwanted, unloved and so on. He said that didn’t make sense to him. I hadn’t gained weight, I didn’t change at all. He wondered why would I think it had anything to do with me? I didn’t change, so how could I turn him off now when I didn’t before? I felt unloved, and he felt pressured.

This caused a huge tear in our relationship. It got so bad at one point that we broke up for a week. We are back together now and are still madly in love but we had to talk about it.

He told me he just doesn’t want to have sex anymore. He doesn’t know why. He just doesn’t and he can’t help that. He can’t change that and I have to learn to accept that. He assured me that it wasn’t because of anything I did but that was very hard to believe. Oh, and about staying level headed? I broke down and cried again after he mentioned that making out wasn’t very fun anymore.

A few months later, we have a fairly slow sex life. We’ll have sex rarely but I’m more emotionally able to cope with it. I’ve founds ways to feel validated in the relationship that isn’t full blown sex, like just foreplay or cuddling. They help me feel wanted and loved without pressuring my partner to have sex with me. It’s not always easy, but we are both learning and growing together as all couples should.

If you’re looking for advice, I don’t have a lot. If you’re a sexual person in a relationship with an asexual person, it’s going to be hard. Very hard, sometimes. The best thing you can do is be as open as possible. Communicate, maybe find an alternative to sexual contact. Romantic contact helps. If you’re craving sex, and your partner is not sexual, maybe ask for a back rub or some kissing. The most important thing is that you try your hardest to not make your partner feel pressured. You might have urges to say things like “If you loved me, why don’t you want to have sex?” Because heck, that’s how you feel! But this will make your partner feel pressured and make them feel like a shitty person for being who they are. Don’t do it, try to use alternative phrasing like “I’m feeling very unloved. Can we talk about it?”

Lastly, it won’t always work out. Love isn’t always enough to save a relationship. Sex is very important. If it doesn’t work out, try to find peace with that. Know you aren’t alone- I always feel very alone because this isn’t very common. I hope this article helps someone else feel less isolated in their situation.

As for me and my boyfriend, we are in love. We are making it work. And sometimes, you can. It’s a lot of effort but it can be worth it. Totally worth it.