Anxiety is affecting sex...

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theatreluvin
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Anxiety is affecting sex...

Unread postby theatreluvin » Sat Jun 06, 2020 12:44 am

Hi! I’m Dani. I had an account a while ago but I forgot the password :?

So, my mental health has been the worst it’s been in a while. I’m a 19 year old black sexually fluid female in America.... it’s scary to be who I am right now. I still have pandemic anxiety, too. So... I know that much.
I have a boyfriend, Anthony. And when we try to have sex, I like, lose focus. I also have problems not being wet, hardly having much feeling down there when he touches me, and again, the zoning out. I actually started crying a few nights ago because I just feel super guilty about my body not properly working. When I’m with him I’m not anxious at all. I feel safe and like I have an escape, so I don’t know why I have all these issues. Tony says it’s fine but he’s clearly frustrated and doesn’t want to talk to me about it.
Is there a way I can separate my anxiety from my sexual feelings? Because I don’t think my anxiety is going away any time soon. I truly do want to be intimate with him. Like some part of my mind and body wants it but it’s just not happening when it’s time.

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Re: Anxiety is affecting sex...

Unread postby Sam W » Sat Jun 06, 2020 8:31 am

Hi Dani,

All that fear and anxiety is totally understandable right now. That doesn't necessarily make it easier to deal with, but sometimes it can help to remember that you're not somehow overreacting in your anxiety. You're reacting to a world that's demonstrated itself to be deeply, unfairly unsafe for you.

As you're discovering anxiety, even if it's completely unrelated to sex or relationships, can bleed into those areas. You mention feeling guilty that your body isn't working properly but in a lot of ways it is; your brain is steeped in stress, and so even if you want to be having sex it's telling your body "nope, can't do it, too many other things to focus on and worry about right now." There are some ways to approach that situation, but I want to check in on a few other things first.

You mention that Tony doesn't want to talk about this. Does that mean the two of you haven't been able to talk frankly about the fact that you're stressed by so much of what's happening in the world and you think that's affecting you during sex? Or have you explained that to him and then he doesn't want to discuss the issue beyond that?

Can you also give me sense of what things, if any, you have in place to manage that stress and anxiety right now? That could be therapy, friends, self-care, boundaries around how much news you consume, and things like that.

theatreluvin
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Re: Anxiety is affecting sex...

Unread postby theatreluvin » Sat Jun 06, 2020 2:24 pm

Well the thing is, Anthony’s trying to navigate everything in a different way, too. But he’s a straight white male... So I think he kind of feels guilty about him being privileged in that way. So whenever I try to tell him that it’s not his fault and he’s been a great advocate, he just says forget it and gets frustrated and leaves.
before this new civil rights movement, obviously we knew the country has it’s issues, but it was never something that had been in our heads. So we’ve been walking on eggshells around each other avoiding the topic. I tell him he didn’t do anything wrong by being who he is, he can’t control how he was born and neither can I. he has always been an ally and supporter for the black lives matter movement and always stays culturally sensitive and aware. and was always proud to be in an interracial relationship with me. now it seems like he’s scared of that

theatreluvin
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Re: Anxiety is affecting sex...

Unread postby theatreluvin » Sat Jun 06, 2020 2:37 pm

I totally forgot to proofread that before I read it and I’m a typo fiend. My bad haha.

About my mental health, it’s a bit hard at the moment. My mom is a psychiatrist and I’ve explicitly told her that I experience anxiety and that I believe I need help for it. Instead of her saying “okay, I understand that,” she takes it as she’s failed as a mom because she her child has some issues with mental health sometimes. when the two are not correlated... so instead of getting help, I get yelled at and told I need to to better for myself. Me trying to seek help is me trying to do better for myself. But in her mind me trying to get help is her being a bad mom. when she’s a great mom and the two have nothing to do with each other. i have an app called iPrevail because frankly, I make minimum wage and the others are too expensive for me right now. It has helped me a lot. I feel like a better person after I can speak with a trained coach. But it only lasts so long until the scary thoughts are back, so I don’t know what to do about that.

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Re: Anxiety is affecting sex...

Unread postby Mo » Sun Jun 07, 2020 10:11 pm

Hi Dani, I hope it's ok to jump in here and share some thoughts I had.

I'm really sorry to hear that your mom seems to be making your anxiety all about her and not about you and your needs. That's a huge bummer and I really wish she was able to hear you when you say you need help and try and get that help. I'm glad you have found that app helpful, but I hope your mom will be able, eventually, to understand that your mental health isn't a reflection of her parenting.

It sounds pretty frustrating that your boyfriend isn't able to talk with you about your anxiety and seems to be shutting you out when you do try to talk about it or about other important things going on. I do think the first step in addressing how your anxiety is impacting your feelings during sex is going to be having a talk with Anthony about the situation; I know you've said that he hasn't been willing to talk about it with you so far but I do think being able to share your feelings openly with each other is going to be the way to start figuring out what you can do together that will hopefully be less stressful and anxiety-inducing for you.
If he isn't willing or able to have that discussion right now, it may be best to put sex on hold, for the time being. If this anxious response is happening every time you have sex, that's a lot of additional stress and frustration to go through right now. Are there ways of being nonsexually intimate with him that do feel consistently good to you, and don't tend to set off that strong anxious response?

theatreluvin
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Re: Anxiety is affecting sex...

Unread postby theatreluvin » Mon Jun 08, 2020 11:16 pm

Thanks for replying. A lot of nonsexual things feel good with anthony. Like when he cuddles with me or listens to me play piano or things like that. I only get anxiety when he wants to have sex.
The thing is, tony is my first sexual partner and serious boyfriend. But i’m not his. So whenever I have sex with him I’m scared that he’s comparing me, whether subconsciously or by choice, to his ex girlfriend. Or even flat out thinking about her instead of me. So I get really insecure about my body, and how I’m doing, and what he thinks of me. Anthony’s special to me because he’s my first and hopefully last. But I know I can’t have that same specialness in his mind/heart because that spot has already been filled. Then, my anxiety goes on a spiral which includes the protests and the pandemic strangely enough because neither of those things has anything to do with sex. All of my triggers creep in and it seems like I can’t gain control of my thoughts. My body has a whole physical reaction to it... it gets to the point where he can’t even put his penis in me because there’s like, no moisture. And him touching me doesn’t create any. I like when he touches me and everything, it’s all welcomed touching, but it just doesn’t work. Some part of my brain wants it but my body doesn’t comply.

Last night we were making out, and before things went further I flat out asked him if he thinks about his ex girlfriend during sex so I could get the worry out of my mind. I admit it was probably a bad time to ask. But he got really upset with me and now we’re fighting.

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Re: Anxiety is affecting sex...

Unread postby Sam W » Tue Jun 09, 2020 7:28 am

That sounds like a really rough headspace to get into during sex (or any time, really). I do want to say that the thing where one anxiety tends to send the rest cascading is pretty common. It's sort of like our brains go, "oh, we're in anxiety mode now? Here's EVERYTHING that worries me."

As you pointed out, that wasn't a great time to ask that question, since it probably felt pretty out of left field for him. But I do think it could help you two have a conversation about what's going on with you and sex, assuming you can work through the fight. Can you give me a sense of what the fight is about?

I will say that when people get anxious about their partners thinking about a past partner during sex or comparing, it usually has way more to do with internal insecurities than anything else. How do you feel about your body in general? Do you feel like you're under pressure, whether from your own brain or somewhere else, to "perform" a certain way during sex?

I do want to give you some extra anxiety resources, including ones that might give you tools for interrupting the anxiety spiral (I've used both MoodJuice and the SAM app listed and found them helpful):Anxiety and Other Mental Health Resources. I also want to give you this resource, since it's built by and for black women, and the podcast they create goes over various mental health tools: https://providers.therapyforblackgirls.com/.

theatreluvin
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Re: Anxiety is affecting sex...

Unread postby theatreluvin » Tue Jun 09, 2020 9:19 am

We’re fighting because he was offended by my question. He was like, “Why is that something you’d even ask me?” and I tried to explain my feelings. He’s frustrated because he says “I shouldn’t have to prove that I’m focused on you. That’s something you should believe and feel from me.” When I think he’s guilty because all he had to do was say no, I don’t think about her.
I should say that I wanted to wait until I was 19 to have sex. I just turned 19 a little less than two weeks ago, and ever since then it seems like he thinks sex is the only answer. He used to talk to me when I was upset about something and he helped me to manage my anxiety a lot. But now that there’s this new element in our relationship, it seems like he just wants to have sex and not talk. And I do feel pressured to perform a certain way. He wants me to say all these things and be in these positions that I’m not totally confident in yet. Then when I tell him I just want to take it slow so I can become more comfortable, he’s like “Well the only way to become comfortable is to do it.” and I feel like I have to. The first time we had sex he was so gentle and romantic and it’s like all that care is gone now that I’m not technically a virgin. He has a lot of experience. He knows what he likes and he’s done it before. When I started having sex I did research and I know what I like too, but I don’t have any experience. The only, albeit unrealistic, idea of sex I have is from certain “videos” if you know what I mean. And I know those girls are actors so I shouldn’t really replicate what I see.

I have some body insecurities. I don’t mind wearing a crop top or showing off my body in a bathing suit. I have a cute face. I’m just shorter than everyone, which is where my insecurity lies. I always get lost in a crowd and I stand out in a bad way among my beautiful tall friends. His last girlfriend is tall and pretty and has nice legs and is athletic and everything. I’m a dancer so I’m very fit and I have some curves but I’m just plain because I’m short.

And thank you for those anxiety resources, I’m checking them out now.

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Re: Anxiety is affecting sex...

Unread postby Sam W » Tue Jun 09, 2020 9:43 am

Oof, okay, that dynamic you're describing with him isn't helping the anxiety. When one partner is more "experienced" than another, that doesn't mean they get to call the shots or say things like "well, the only way to get more comfortable is to do it." It means they work with you to figure out what you're both comfortable with, and taking it slow when one or both of you asks to. Yes, experience can help us feel more confident in certain sexual things, but only if we're allowed to go at our own pace. When we're not, it becomes a source of anxiety. What do you think about, the next time you're not comfortable or need to slow down, being ready to hold that boundary or end the interaction if he tries to dismiss that? Does that feel like something you're able to do?

Have you been able to talk to him about these changes you've noticed? Or is that something he refuses to address?

I feel you on being short (I have to climb my kitchen counter in order to reach certain shelves). I remember someone saying that only tall women could be "beautiful" and short women could just be cute or adorable and that stuck with me for a loooong time when I was a teenager. Something that has helped me is to look for examples of women who rock the fact that they're short. I play roller derby, so I like looking up pictures of the "jammers," because being small is often part of that position. When I see those pictures, I can go, "wow, look at those badass, sexy women" and then tell my brain, "yeah, they look like me. I am also a sexy badass." It's not a perfect approach, and it can feel kind of silly at times, but it helps me remember that I, like many people, am much harsher on my height than I ought to be.

theatreluvin
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Re: Anxiety is affecting sex...

Unread postby theatreluvin » Tue Jun 09, 2020 12:01 pm

I want to try setting a boundary with him. But it gets difficult sometimes because he always knows just what to say to get me to change my mind and it’s like I get swept up all over again. Honestly before you told me that, I thought the more experienced person just knew what to do so they should lead. It makes sense now. I don’t know if that’s him being manipulative or something. I know it probably sounds kinda stupid that I can’t tell. We have a safe word and everything and if I say it he stops without question. But sometimes it’s not that I want to stop, I just want to go slower. I told him I don’t want to have sex until we solve whatever problem is going on. I think at the root of it, I feel like I have to do whatever he says during sex. And that the way I feel or my pleasure doesn’t matter to him.

I have self esteem issues because of my friends honestly. I love them but they can get really mean. They always talk about how all the cute boys are too tall for me, and I should stop in the kids section... things like that. Even though they know very well it’s a source of insecurity for me. Also, it’s funny that you mentioned roller derby, I just went out and got roller skates today because I’m trying it soon. I didn’t realize jammers are typically shorter. That makes me feel better. I’m ready to start feeling like a sexy badass.

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Re: Anxiety is affecting sex...

Unread postby Mo » Tue Jun 09, 2020 3:59 pm

You know, if you are setting a boundary around sex, or even saying "let's slow down" or "let's try something else," your partner's job is not to try and change your mind; it's to respect the limit you're setting and talk about how (or if) you can move forward doing something you're both comfortable with.
It worries me that your boyfriend is trying to change your mind instead of listening to you, in that moment, and that you feel like your feelings and your pleasure don't matter to him during sex. Both of those things are a big deal, and something that's important to address. I think the time to talk about this is not when you're in the process of having sex, but at a time that you can set aside to have a serious conversation, and honestly I think this would be good to talk about before you do have sex again. Does that feel doable?

Also, congrats on picking up some skates! I am not a roller derby player but I'm a huge fan of the sport and one thing I love about it is that people with all sorts of body types can be really successful and have a place in derby. :)

theatreluvin
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Re: Anxiety is affecting sex...

Unread postby theatreluvin » Tue Jun 09, 2020 5:16 pm

I am going to talk to him about setting a boundary and that I should be enjoying it too. I definitely think that's worth talking about with him. I haven't realized that he's been kind of manipulating me into certain things sexually. Like. I never finish when we have sex. Only he does. And he never asks if I enjoyed it or anything. He only says that was good and goes to sleep. I don't know if I should even bring that up with him.

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Re: Anxiety is affecting sex...

Unread postby Heather » Wed Jun 10, 2020 9:20 am

If that isn't something you feel happy with -- and I think it's safe to say that a one-sided sex life isn't something anyone is ever happy with --- then by all means, you should talk about it with the person engaging in that behaviour.

How can we help you prepare for that conversation? Can we maybe start by listening to you talk about what kind of sex and sex life YOU want? Just writing that down and being seen and heard in it in a safe place can be a good place to start with something like this.
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theatreluvin
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Re: Anxiety is affecting sex...

Unread postby theatreluvin » Fri Jun 12, 2020 8:45 pm

It’s been a while since I’ve been on, but I’ll give you some updates about what has happened between Tony and I since we last chatted.

So the other night, we finally sat down and talked about things. I told him I felt like sex is very one sided and he’s using it as a way to cope with our problems instead of showing our love and he agreed and said he’s sorry. I also told him about the body image issues I’ve been having, and the way it’s affecting sex. Also, we came to an understanding that we’re both worried about each other’s exes. My ex “boyfriend” has been my best friend since we were kids and we just didn’t think being romantic was for us, because we are so close and didn’t want to ruin that. He’s worried that I love him in a romantic way, when that’s not the case at all, I just care for him and want him to be well. I’m worried about his ex because he was cheated on multiple times by her and he still lives with the pain of her cheating. And it feels like whenever we get into an argument he brings up the fact that she cheated on him and that’s why he’s so guarded. He’s also said to me before that he didn’t get the closure he feels like he deserves, while we were in a relationship. In all honesty, it’s a turn off knowing he still needs closure from another girl even though he’s been dating me. I suggested we take a break from our relationship, he was not interested in that idea and wants to work through it together.
Is this just wasting my time? I’m wasting my time if he still wants closure from someone else. He’s always been a really amazing guy to me and treats me incredibly well and gets along with my parents and all my brothers (which is a major accomplishment cause they’re tough cookies). But if he’s in love with someone else or something... then that’s not something I should have to deal with the repercussions of. But again, he really wants to work through it, to the point of tears even and I’ve only seen him cry once. I’m open to opinions. I love Tony. He treats me way differently than he treated his ex girlfriend even before she cheated on him. I can tell there’s a difference. But, I’m not sure what to do at the moment.

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Re: Anxiety is affecting sex...

Unread postby Sam W » Sat Jun 13, 2020 8:34 am

I'm glad you two were able to talk about this and that you got a chance to voice your concerns. Did the two of you agree that, going forward, the dynamic around sex is going to change?

It's tricky, because someone can be in a relationship where they love their partner and want to be with them while still feeling like something was left unfinished with an ex. And people can definitely seek closure while still being invested in their current partner. It may be worth asking what that "closure" would look like to him; a lot of people think of closure as this one conversation or answer that will make everything about the relationship make sense, or make some of the leftover hurts stop hurting. But that often just isn't how it goes, and it ends up more like picking at a wound than healing it.

But, I also think it's worth touching on that one of your suggestions was taking a break from the relationship. When you think about taking a break, how does it make you feel? Scared? Excited? Relieved? Something else entirely? And how does that compare to how you feel about continuing the relationship as it is?

theatreluvin
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Re: Anxiety is affecting sex...

Unread postby theatreluvin » Sat Jun 13, 2020 6:47 pm

It honestly makes me sad to think about taking a break from Tony because I know we can work through it. We just don’t really get into arguments or have problems much, but this one I’m concerned about seems like a big issue. I don’t know.. he’s coming to my house tonight and we’re going to talk some more.

He said he just wants her to say she’s sorry for the cheating. When frankly an apology is something very far fetched to get from her. I don’t want to leave him, but it hurts to know that he’s thinking about someone else. It just feels like he doesn’t actually love me like he says he does.

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Re: Anxiety is affecting sex...

Unread postby Alexa » Sun Jun 14, 2020 7:13 am

It can be really hard to know that your partner is still healing over an ex of theirs. I know that that has pulled on some of my anxiety and jealousy strings in the past. But I have to agree with Sam -- relationships are almost never "clean cut." Starting one doesn't mean that you completely forget the effects of another. In some cases, I'm still often reminded of lessons I learned 4 or 5 relationships ago! When that happens, those exes are certainly on my mind, but not in any way that involves desire.

If you feel only sadness thinking of a break up with Tony, and not relief, then it might be worth asking yourself how you can identify things that are bothering you and work on them internally. If you're able to think about your jealousies and heal around them a bit on your own, it will make it easier to talk to Tony about what you need from him to feel secure in your relationship. This article was written about someone in a polyamorous relationship, which is very different from your situation, but I wonder if you'd find some of the advice in it helpful.
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theatreluvin
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Re: Anxiety is affecting sex...

Unread postby theatreluvin » Sun Jun 14, 2020 9:48 pm

Hi Alexa,

The self reflection question(s) portion of the article was actually quite helpful. Thank you. Also, another update.
So he came to my house and we talked some more. It was the most normal things have felt in a while. I just listened without jumping to conclusions. Things are better. That whole conversation sortaaaa... kindaaa... turned into sex. Which might have been rushing into things a bit, but it felt right at the time lol. I just gotta get used to my body. I only recently tried embracing it and owning my inner sexiness. So, I think with time things will improve in that aspect. Thank you all for your help with this. I have a few more questions I want to ask about a completely different topic so I guess I should start a new thread? I’m really satisfied with how you guys helped me in this one.

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Re: Anxiety is affecting sex...

Unread postby Sam W » Mon Jun 15, 2020 6:42 am

Hi theatreluvin ,

It sounds like the two of you are making positive progress in communicating, which is a good step. I'm glad this thread was helpful! And it's really up to you; you can start a new thread on a new topic, or continue asking us things here.


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