If sex creates fear or anxiety for you, but you still engage in it, why?

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In my teenage years I was very active sexually, and I felt very unambiguously positive about sex. In the past couple years (I am in my mid twenties), I have struggled with anxiety and depression generally, and have also all but lost my zest for sex. My fiancee and I have taken a major step back from how sexually active we were in the first few years of our relationship. That has been a mutual decision, because she is a sexual assault survivor and stepping back has helped her to work through those feelings. Still, we both miss the intimacy and passion of a more active sex life, and we have both been quite frustrated by our attempts to rekindle our sex life, which seem never to go anywhere. When we do engage in sexual activity, I sometimes feel uncomfortable about the pleasure/physical aspect of it, but I do it anyway because I value the intimacy that it brings to our relationship.

Another possible option: *because I experience anxiety and fear about practically everything. This is a mental health issue, not a (or solely) sexual issue for some people. But maybe the word "creates" is key here. In the cases I'm talking about, sex (or the sex I'm trying to have right now) didn't *create* the anxiety. I feel anxious (about heights) going out to enjoy the view on the top floor of a building . . . but I try to work through it. I feel anxious in cars . . . but I'm not satisfied with just not going anywhere. I often experience less generalized anxiety (for an extended period of time - days even) when I have good sex, so maybe "the positives it gives me are worth it". :)

This is a very interesting poll. I am an adult, so I did not vote.

I had a fear of sex or any kind of penetration for most of my ;life, but with the help of a good therapist and a patient partner I'm starting to get over it. I engage in sex with my partner because I want to conquer my fear. However I started out slow (at first just having a finger or tampon inside was scary and painful) but I've managed to work my way up. I enjoy other forms of sex, and love being intimate with my partner so I don't mind conquering my fear of intercourse because I feel it will be worse it in the end. the most important thing is that this is something I want and I decided, and I wasn't pressured into.

I am not a huge fan of sex, and I've come to realize I am asexual. I could do with having sex once a month-- ovulation makes me horny and to quell the irritating horniness, sex helps. Otherwise, not interested. My partner however is a very sexual person. We compromised: we have sex once or twice a week, but I have complete control over when (so I can be as "in the mood" as possible and not start to completely resent it or him). He gets more of the sex he needs, while I get the control I need to be able to tolerate it. It's working well for us so far-- 3 years.

Your reply gives me hope. :) I'm asexual - same way, too; ovulation makes me horny. I've recently realized I do want a romantic relationship, but I've been rather terrified that no sexual person would ever be able to stand being in a relationship with me.

Knowing at least one couple out there's been able to find a good working compromise - you may have just given me the courage I need to really start dating. Thank you.

I'm asexual too. My partner and have only had sex a few times (maybe 15ish times) in the entire 5 and a half years we have been together. He is sexual but really supports me and wants me to feel as comfortable as possible, though I tend to feel bad because I could literally go years without sex and not want to in the least. Also I am on the pill so I don't ovulate so I don't experience arousal because of it. The past two weeks we have had sex maybe 4 times, which is a record for us lol. Sometimes it is tricky navigating sexual relationships when you are asexual but it definitely can be done. Personally I have nearly a complete aversion to sex, I really don't like it and the only times I have had sex were because I really didn't care either way but I knew he would like it, but many asexual people do like sex.

I identify as asexual and was totally sex-repulsed initially. I put a lot of effort into becoming comfortable with sexually explicit material, then some light sexual activity, and eventually full intercourse. It was tough at times but my boyfriend has been very supportive. It's been two years, I'd consider our sex life good, and though I don't think I'll ever have "normal" feelings about sex/sexual attraction, I am comfortable enough to enjoy sex with him. Just remember: communication is key.

Sex is one of those things my anxiety and depression attack me over. I enjoy it but I think so much about how I am not good enough at it. I worry about doing certain things to please him because I think I'll be bad at it. I think I'm too ugly or fat or unable to deserve it. However, I know that's my demon. I make myself beat it. I have a loving boyfriend who I don't know sometimes if he realizes how ill I can be but he does try. It's like any other social situation with my anxiety, I have to throw myself into the fire for it to get better. Because then you realize it is not bad. Once you are ready for it, it's this giant fulfilling moment of pleasure that you get just because you are a human. It's amazing.

I was molested when I was 9, and I'm just now in therapy and telling people about it for the first time (I'm 20 now). Sex still freaks me out, but I'm working through it and able to have sex with my fiance now, although sometimes I have to ask him to stop to let me breathe for a second. Progress!

Hi, I’m 22 male, and me and my girlfriend starting having sex about three months ago, she is 21, and was raped when she was 17, by her then boyfriend. She started therapy about a month ago, and from our first time on its been hit and miss, I do anything I can to keep her calm and make it an enjoyable experience for her. However sometimes I say something wrong or she has what I call “flashbacks” when she confuses me for him. At that point she freezes up and I step away as fast as possible, and give her the space she needs; but I’m still right there for her when she says its ok to touch her again. Its been a long process for us, it started out as about one in three times she couldn’t go through with it, and now between the therapy and slowly starting to associate sex with fun/pleasure its gotten a lot better, about one in twenty now. The way I figure it will never be 100% pleasure for her, but I want to make it as much as possible. We have made a lot of progress, and I feel like we can still do some more, between doing what she wants, and therapy it can get a lot better.

My anxiety stems from my religious upbringing and all the pressure that is put on staying pure until marriage. I am not actually against sex before marriage, but the thought that it is "wrong" and "sinful" is always lingering in the back of my mind.

"some other reason" for me is gender dysphoria. I want to have sex, and I enjoy it, but sex creates a lot of gender dysphoria based anxiety for me. If I avoided that anxiety, I'd never have sex, and I'd just rather face the dysphoria and anxiety than avoid sex all together. It's nerve-wracking though.

Childhood sexual abuse coupled with the fact that I grew up around mysogynistic men and misandrist women has led me to being wracked with anxiety when it even comes to merely thinking about having any form of sex in the first place. My mind has been very desensitized to abusive sex from a very young age and it was trivialized in my household. I've been called a loser and a never-will-be for not losing my virginity early for as long as I can remember.

I come from a dysfunctional home with an abusive family.

So, even though I am consciously aware of what has happened to me throughout my entire life, I cannot do much about the deeper aspects about it because it is neurologically built into my brain. In other words, even though I have destroyed any and all conscious behaviors which were socially maladapted or otherwise negative, except for ones found in sex and relationships, my brain is constantly at a hightened level of anxiety, distress and being on edge for physical and sometimes even sexual danger.

If I think too much about sex and it plays into my deep seated psychological damage, I can go from anywhere from being anxiety ridden, to having a switch in my mind go off which makes me extremely agitated, to fly into a rage and to fall into a depressed state; all of these can happen for days on end.

Other areas of my life except for sex and relationships are as best as they've ever been in my entire life.

I've been left to my own devices since I was a young child because my family could really care less about me. I never learned anything about familial closeness, warmth, rapport or unconditional love. I feared people in my family and pretty much my entire life has been spent desperately trying to escape from them.

I will be getting psychotherapy sometime soon but I doubt it will do anything for me at all.

I started this process of getting away from them, once and for all, when I was 17 and only around 6 months ago have I partially succeeded. I'm now 19 years old and I don't have the slightest clue about where to begin in relationships in general.

I still see sex as a tool of power, control, secrecy and ultimately a means to evil ends. I can't help myself from hating everything about it and wishing that it could simply be destroyed and obliterated from our basic biological functions.

I really think that the last option should be split in two. These are two almost opposite feelings.

My own feelings are best represented by the first half of last option: I simply don't have sex. I don't want to ever push myself to do something which creates such intense discomfort for me. I believe that my sex aversion (which is non-traumatic, by the way: I have never been abused or assaulted) makes me at least effectively asexual. I simply don't want to have sex - at all. I do have some sexual feelings, but they are never about myself; third-person fantasies and self-pleasuring satisfy my libido and I have no desire to ever engage in partnered sex.

There is a lot of negative value judgement placed on making such choices. We - sex-averse people - may be told that we are "not adventurous", "repressed", "afraid to leave our comfort zone". If our sex aversion has something to do with nudity discomfort, we are told that we are "giving up", or even "advocating body hatred". But celibacy is a valid choice to make. We should never be required to excuse ourselves for making this choice. As long as we don't harm other people, we are free to make personal choices even if they may seem strange to the majority. For example: I'm a proud person and won't let people tell me that if I feel intensely uncomfortable with nudity, I supposedly have "low self-esteem". No, in fact one has to be really tough to live entirely without undressing in other people's presence and still defend this choice. I feel that by choosing not to do things which make me so uncomfortable, I am exercising self-respect.

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