Sexual Anxiety – The Catch 22

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Sexual Anxiety – The Catch 22

Since the dawn of my blog I have wanted to write this post. The problem is, I couldn’t work out how it could benefit you, as the reader. I don’t know the answer to curing my sexual anxiety. I’m still amidst the nightmare. So can sharing my problem, with no solution, really help anyone? Maybe knowing you’re not alone will help. Maybe my perspective will open your eyes to a different way of seeing things. Or what I really hope, is maybe someone reading this will gain understanding of what their sexually anxious partner is going through. And what they can do to help.

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I don’t want to dwell on the cause. The cause is likely to be different for everyone. I will say it began from numerous experiences in which sex did not feel like a choice, and leave it at that.

So what is sexual anxiety?

I can’t speak for everyone. But for me it’s a fear of sex. Not just penetrative sex, but all forms of sexual intimacy. Not a small fear. But a fear that has left me paralysed. With a feeling that I can’t breathe under the weight of my partners sexual expectations. I’ve suffered panic attacks. I’ve cried. I’ve been angry. And I have destroyed relationships with my defensive barrier.

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It breaks my heart, because I love sex. I always have and I always will. It’s why I started this blog after all. But right now, I love it from the safety of my laptop. I love it vicariously through others. Through blogs, writing, fantasy and masturbation. But as soon as a partner comes into it, my love goes out of it.

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How does it affect relationships?

At first I did my best to ignore it. I’d face my fears in the hopes that would decrease them. It didn’t. I think if anything, it made it worse. As the anxiety heightened I found excuse after excuse not to have sex. I was tired. I was ill. Or I was too full. Anything and everything. But soon my partner was aware of the problem. And as any person would, he thought it was about my feelings for him. No matter how many times I assured him I found him as attractive as ever. I loved him as much as always. He didn’t believe me. His insecurities rose and his confidence fell.

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With this I began to put more pressure on myself to be sexually active with him. I loved him too much to allow myself to break him down. But the increased pressure was suffocating me. And that is when the panic attacks began.

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I remember the first one. It was a saturday. Every saturday we had sex. Walking to my partners house, lingerie under my clothes, my chest began to feel tight. I felt like the sexual pressure was crushing me as I struggled to breathe. I froze. There was no way I could take another step into the direction of his sexual expectations. I turned. Headed home with an excuse text and broke down. It was clear now this was a problem. And it wasn’t going to go away.

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What could my partner do?

The problem people with vaginas face is that whilst their anxiety is easy to hide, it’s also hard to prove. How can he sympathise with something this sensitive, when he can’t physically see the problem? How can I convince him this problem is about me, and not about my feelings for him?

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What I ask of him is to make me feel valued when we aren’t having sex. To reassure me again and again that it’s okay if I don’t feel up to doing it. I’ve even asked to be in an open relationship, so I can relieve the pressure off myself to fulfill his needs. Unfortunately it’s a catch 22. Whilst this is what I need from him, my anxiety has caused anxiety in him. And what he needs from me is the opposite. He needs intimacy. He needs to feel desired by me. He needs to feel wanted on a physical level.

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And so there lies the problem. There is the problem we have been living with for over a year now. Him often feeling disappointed and unwanted. Me often doing things I don’t really want to be doing. The sexual anxiety still at its peek, with no sign of relief. But both of us too in love to let go.

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Please comment if you have any advice or tips! I would really love to hear them!

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8 thoughts on “Sexual Anxiety – The Catch 22

  1. Thank you for opening your heart to us by posting this. I experienced mild forms of what you describe but they were caused by relationship problems (at the beginning when I felt loved and appreciated I had almost no anxieties in bed, I was like “I might fuck up, so what? We are here to have fun, not win an olympic medal”. The worse the relationship got, the less capable and sexy I felt, until my creativity was completely blocked and my confidence non existent). It looks like you don’t have a problem that could be solved by DTMFA.

    My suggestion is that since you tried powering through it, searching for answers on your own, asking your SO for help, and nothing produced a solution, that next logical step would be to get a good therapist. Anxiety is no joke. If it was something you could fix on your own you’d most probably would have done already. You are an intelligent, self-aware woman and you are doing your best. There is no shame in admitting that this is not enough, that you need help to break down barriers that keep you from living the way you want to live.

    • Thank you so much for your lovely message! I admit it may have made me shed a tear though lol Did you find the problem was sorted by leaving that relationship? I am awaiting sexual abuse therapy, but sadly it seems the waiting list is very long. I hope there will be some improvement when I get the chance to do that.
      Thank you again!
      Aurora x

  2. Thank you for writing this post! I’m kind of on the other side of the issue – my girlfriend has sexual anxiety sometimes (less extremely so than you, though, so I am very sorry for you), and it’s hard for both of us. I showed her this post and it really helped her, so thank you, genuinely.
    It helped her figure out that for her, previous relationships have taught her that saying yes to sex means saying yes to everything she’s ever expressed interest in or done before, sexually – which means that saying yes to sex means a complete absence of boundaries, for her, which is terrifying. Since obviously, she doesn’t always want everything, and her desires vary quite a lot, sex becomes anxiety-inducing when she feels she can’t say no to specific acts without disappointing her partner, even when she does want other aspects of sex.
    My experience contrasts quite strongly with hers – I’d never had sex or a relationship before her, I was bullied about many things, including my (lack of) attractiveness, and as such I do not emotionally believe in my own desirability – and through no fault of her own, her sometimes ambivalent feelings about sex amplify that insecurity of mine, because it’s hard to emotionally realise that those feelings about sex aren’t due to her not really being attracted to me, but to previous experiences.
    We’ve talked about it some more when I brought up your post, and it really helped. She knows, of course, that I strongly encourage her to set boundaries during sex, that I don’t think saying yes to sex means saying yes to everything, and that any temporary disappointment about her not wanting to do something would be infinitesimal compared to how upset I’d be if I ever realised I’d pressured her into something, even without knowing it. It still helped her to hear it again, just like it helped me to hear that her occasional anxiety about sex isn’t my fault. That realisation and conversation was in part thanks to your post, so I really wanted to thank you for writing it.

    • That is so wonderful to hear! I had never thought of it in that way of saying yes is saying yes to everything but that really makes sense for me as well. It’s lovely that she has someone so supportive and I’m sure it’s something that will eventually be worked through with you being so understanding. I do feel for you though as I have seen how it has effected my partners confidence. It must be so hard if your self esteem is low to keep reminding yourself it’s not personal. Thank you so much for your comment, it means a lot to know my post has been helpful!
      Aurora x

  3. Aurora Glory,

    I’m moved by your words. Thank you for sharing such a personal experience. You are changing the way people view sexuality in a positive light. Well done!!

    Rebecca,
    The Flirting Fox

  4. I have experienced similar feelings as you – and like you I have never seen the point in dwelling on why that happened. But relationship after relationship would break down because of my problem with sex. But I love sex, so how could that be?
    Now I have a very good sexual relationship with my Man of 4 years. Before I agreed to “be with him” I attended counselling to try and get to the bottom of my problem.- This man was/is special- I didn’t want it to end like the others.
    I don’t know if the counselling helped me to get to the conclusion that I reached. But it works for me, and it works for him – We don’t do intimacy during sex. We enjoy the sex for sex sake and are intimate in our everyday lives in ways that are not sexual. It works for us. He said it was a relief to him too as he always felt pressurised into being intimate in bed when what he really wanted was to get his rocks off 😉

    • Thank you for this! It’s very reassuring to hear there might be a way to deal with it. I do start sex therapy in a month or so and hope it can help the situation. I feel even more hopeful now I’ve seen your comment. So glad you have found a way for both you and your partner to enjoy a sexual and intimate relationship. Perhaps I should try out your strategy lol x

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