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My partner has started withdrawing before ejaculation – why?

We’re feeling our way into our new relationship, and have agreed that children are not on the immediate agenda. He says he pulls out because he doesn’t want kids. Does this mean

After many years, and dancing around the edges, my best friend and I have fallen for each other. We recently confessed our feelings, and are now together. We’re in our early 30s and feeling our way through our new relationship, and it’s wonderful. He is clear he does not want children, and I don’t see them in my future either. He knows this. Very recently during sex, he has started pulling out to ejaculate. I asked him about it, and he just said that he doesn’t want kids. I take oral contraceptives. We had sex a handful of times before our relationship, and it was not an issue then. I’m insulted, and worried that he thinks I would be careless or might “trap” him. We’re at a delicate stage in this transition, so I don’t want to make a fuss, but it’s really playing on my mind that he now doesn’t trust me. He says he loves me.

You are right to judge this transition as delicate; tread carefully, and try not to take his withdrawal personally. His opposition to having children may be rooted in deeply troubling aspects of his life, such as painful childhood memories – although perhaps he simply doesn’t feel ready for parenthood.

Even though withdrawing is not a secure method of contraception, try to reframe his doing so as his way of protecting your relationship, or warding off what he may see as disaster for both of you. Perhaps he has been “trapped” in the past, in which case trust is at stake. In fact, many cases have shown that if there is even an unconscious desire on a woman’s part to have children, she might unconsciously “forget” to take her pill. Talk with him gently, seeking to understand his true feelings – and express yours. Also, examine your own feelings when he withholds his ejaculate – clearly, you feel distrusted, but do you also feel rejected? Punished? Dishonoured? Help him to understand and, hopefully, empathise. By the way, if you are hoping to have children at some point – and feel you need to do so at a biologically optimum time – it is essential to have that conversation pretty soon – in a frank and non-punitive manner.

Pamela Stephenson Connolly is a US-based psychotherapist who specialises in treating sexual disorders.

If you would like advice from Pamela Stephenson Connolly on sexual matters, send us a brief description of your concerns to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (please don’t send attachments). Submissions are subject to our terms and conditions: see gu.com/letters-terms.

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