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Sex - My Biggest Hurdle


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Guest capitalist

This is only my second post, and its more candid than I've ever been anywhere with anyone, so I ask that you please be kind in your replies, if any. This was very hard to write.

 

Growing up in a Christian household, sexuality in any form was dealt with in the severest psychological manner possible. Sex and nudity was always described as dirty and evil, and any instances that called for such lectures always ended in the sternest rebuke of all: "God knows what's in your heart and mind, and giving in to temptation - even in imagination - is still sin."

 

I never developed the skills - and they are indeed skills - one needs to know when realizing I like someone; instead, I shied away from girls when growing up. In high school, the only thing I really had to worry about is whether a girl I liked was already dating someone. (If only I had known that then ...) In college, dating was more difficult to pursue, as the prospects could be engaged, married, have children, be gay, or part of the "nobody dates anymore, they just hook up" scene. Now that I'm grown up, there are no sexual boundaries anymore, as the 25-35 age group is one that is experienced in a variety of sexual situations, many of which I couldn't even imagine.

 

I've dated a few times, had a humiliating first sexual experience, and have even been in love with a woman, but when the time came to show the least bit of physical affection, I gracefully withdrew with some excuse ... so that I could exerience the ensuing panic attack in private. (I often think this is what a life-long aborigine would feel like suddenly teleported into Times Square - confusion, fear, shock ...)

 

I've developed a facade that helps me outwardly cope with it all, but it's not easy to maintain. I'm scared to make friends with people, since everyone nowadays is so open about sex that it quickly enters into most conversations. Bullshit can be spotted a mile away, and awkward silence can be even more revealing than a lie or an evasive wise-crack. I'm tired of the panic attacks, tired of the anxiety, tired of the fear and reluctance, tired of the celibacy, but mostly tired of the loneliness. I love women, but can't get close to them romantically/sexually, and it's driving me crazy.

 

I don't want to be a lethario ... but I don't want to be a monk, either. The only people I feel like I could be comfortable around are hard-core Christians, who would see my inexperience as a good thing. It's not good. It's a horrible and embarrassing secret, and I want to treat it, not glorify it. The problem is that the kind of woman I'm most attracted to - intelligent, independent, purposeful, both professional and playful when appropriate - wouldn't take a second glance at a guy who doesn't display masculine confidence.

 

How have others dealt with this kindof thing? How do you trust someone of sexual interest when you're at your most vulnerable? Is professional counseling something I should seek, or is it possible that I can conquer this on my own?

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capitalist, I'm sorry to hear of your troubles, although many who were raised in households like yours deal with similar problems.

 

First, don't feel like a freak or a weirdo. You're not.

You got screwed up by a cult; you sure as hell didn't screw yourself up. Just relax, take a few deep breaths.

 

Second, I would recommend counseling since this is causing so much anxiety. Find a good therapist or counselor. Just talking about it to an understanding ear can be extremely theraputic.

 

Third (and this is hard to do even though it's simple), don't worry about it. The best advice my Dad ever gave me was, "Just do your best, and if you've done all you can, quit worrying about it and get a good night's sleep".

 

You'll be ok - things will work out. Just do what seems right to you, try to relax, and remember - it's all for love & sex! ;)

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I second AGF's opinion. My problems were somewhat different, but I always had problems with meeting men and dating for the same set of reasons, and made a dismally poor choice for my first marriage as a result. Your problem is far from unique, and I really do think that counselling would help.

 

Good luck, and relax!

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Hun, what you endured was a form of sexual abuse. You may have never been touched inappropriately, but sex is just as much an act of the emotions and the brain as it is physically pleasurable. If you do not develop healthy outlooks on sex, it will give you sexual dysfunction.

 

You're not alone. I went through it too and for many years I couldn't get close to men or acheive any sexual pleasure in the middle of the act no matter how badly I tried or wished otherwise.

 

Seek counseling. You shouldn't have to live like this. The best way to deal with it is going to have to be letting the emotions come up and letting them present themselves. You're going to need a good counselor by your side for it. Find one that is experianced with sexual issues that you like and be brave. You CAN heal from this and live a normal, healthy, pleasurable life. Good luck.

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I agree with everyone above and would also like to add one thing:

I would not recomend not to force yourself to do things if you don't feel comfortable doing them. You should wait until you have a better outlook on sex before partaking, or you could worsen the situation.

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Guest capitalist

Thank you all for your kind and encouraging thoughts.

 

I believe I have a healthy intellectual understanding of sex and its proper role in a man's life. But intellectual understanding is one thing - knowing is another. (After all, one does not have to be a communist, for example, to have an intellectual understanding of their philosophy and motivations.)

 

I'm a little wary of the identification of my state of mind as being the result of a "form of sexual abuse." I understand the implication, just disagree to an extent. I can, ahem, function, and I have no dangerous desires or fantasies. It's just a case of deep anxiety. The possibility exists, though, that I'm dealing with the idea that it could indeed be abuse like the Black Knight of Monty Python fame, shrugging off a severed limb as a just flesh wound. But I'll seek a therapist's attention before succumbing to the idea that it's a result of sexual abuse.

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I agree. Seek counseling. A cognitive behavioral therapist (there are many different types of practice) would probably be most helpful with this issue. This IS like sexual abuse. A lot of us have experienced sexual difficulties/dysfunctions because of religion's early molding. The mental/emotional abuse manifests itself in different ways. Do seek a cognitive behavioral therapist. Don't be afraid to go to several different counselors until you find one that you are comfortable with. Make sure you ask them about their areas of expertise and how they practice.

 

You will get through this.

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Guest Shiva H. Vishnu

Thank you all for your kind and encouraging thoughts.

 

I believe I have a healthy intellectual understanding of sex and its proper role in a man's life. But intellectual understanding is one thing - knowing is another. (After all, one does not have to be a communist, for example, to have an intellectual understanding of their philosophy and motivations.)

 

I'm a little wary of the identification of my state of mind as being the result of a "form of sexual abuse." I understand the implication, just disagree to an extent. I can, ahem, function, and I have no dangerous desires or fantasies. It's just a case of deep anxiety. The possibility exists, though, that I'm dealing with the idea that it could indeed be abuse like the Black Knight of Monty Python fame, shrugging off a severed limb as a just flesh wound. But I'll seek a therapist's attention before succumbing to the idea that it's a result of sexual abuse.

 

I had similar problems after I divorced and had only had sex with my wife up to that time. I dealt with it, after a period of slovenly depression, by getting in the best shape of my life, feeling great about myself, and making out with a whole lotta chicks. Making out, without the pressure to have sex, is a great way to get your feet wet and get comfortable being close to someone. You can tell alot about how the rest of the event is going to go down by some earnest spit-swapping.

 

I'm not saying you gotta be a whore, but it might not hurt to be a little bit of a whore for a little while until you get over the awkwardness. I find that as long as I know the woman wants to be there (and if they are there, it's usually a good sign) I am now totally comfortable and confident, even if we knock teeth or I lean on her hair by accident.

 

Now, if she's going down on you I would recommend that you not feel so comfortable that you accidentally pass gas in her face. Trust me.

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You may not be comfortable with the term "sexual abuse".....but IMO it is mental abuse that affects your natural sexuality.

 

 

I was in my early 20's ...had a steady girfriend....we were completely safe and monogomous....had sex about once or twice a week and I STILL felt guilt....it was horrible!!!

 

It tooks YEARS to feel OK about having sex with the women I loved....how screwed up is that!

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Wow, capitalist, I feel yer pain... religion can do a number on a person's sexual development, and I applaud you for having the courage to post about it.

 

I'm in agreement with others that you've been abused. Abuse is abuse is abuse, it just takes different forms, many of which intertwine with one another. Emotional and psychological abuses can be subtle, since nobody has to touch you do it, it never leaves any marks, and it's easy to blame the victim or convince them they deserved it. It feels to me like what happened to you was essentially a psychologically-based sexual abuse, wherein your abusers used religion as a weapon. It's certainly possible to sexually abuse someone without ever physically touching them at all, and I'd count the long-term, systematic denigration of your sexuality as a serious form of abuse.

 

In the end, though, it's up to you to figure out how you feel about it. Given the depth of the damage you've experienced, and the severity of your anxiety and issues, you probably won't be able to overcome it without some kind of therapy.

 

So I guess my first piece of advice would be to find a therapist. It can take some time, but once you get the right one it's worth it. You might also temporarily try anti-anxiety meds, just to help take the edge off of the anxiety and help eliminate panic attacks. Meds aren't necessarily a permanent solution - it depends on your situation - but can be very, very helpful when first addressing a problem, especially to help bring physical symptoms under control for awhile. It's kind of hard to deal with anything if every time you try you have a panic attack, for instance... meds can help with that.

 

Additionally, don't push yourself into any kind of sexual contact you're not ready for. It's going to take some serious deprogramming to undo a lot of the damage that's been done, and while there will probably come a time when you'll stretch your sexual boundaries a little at a time, right now probably isn't that time. I mean it's kind of like teaching someone to swim by throwing them in and watching them flail around, gasping for breath, and hoping they don't drown.

 

One of the most important things about becoming comfortable in your own body is learning that it's your body, not anybody else's - and the only person who has any right to do anything with it is you. Which means, in part, making choices about who you want to share it with, or not, and how - and what makes you feel good, what doesn't, and so on. It can be just as healthy to learn how to say "no" to sex as it can be to learn how to say "yes" to it.

 

Heh, it occurs to me that masturbation is a great way to get acquainted with yourself sexually... but again, I might not attempt that until you have some of your anxiety under control and have had some therapy. It's up to you on that.

 

But just being able to admit there's an issue and to post about it looking for help is a big step, seriously. It shows a willingness to face it and make your life better somehow.

 

If you're into books, I can highly recommend Wendy Maltz's The Sexual Healing Journey. It's geared for sexual abuse survivors, which you may not identify with, but outlines a plan for completely reworking your own sexuality from the ground up - on your terms, not anybody else's.

 

In any case, I commend you again for being willing to talk about this. It's a hard issue and to address it takes some courage. Don't let go of that desire to become sexual, and hang in there.

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Capitalist- I agree with the advice that everybody has given here. I agree that therapy would be good... but I know that you may or may not have the money, and may or may not actually ever get around to it.

 

I had a very similar problem for a long time... took me years to get over it, but I did. I'll give you two scenarios.

 

First, here's what I think a good approach would be- this is how I think I'd approach the problem knowing what I know now. If you just want random sex (not that there's anything wrong with that), then this wouldn't likely work. But if you're in a real relationship, I'd suggest that you just be completely honest- tell the gal that you're physically able, and WANT to do the deed... but you have hangups. Explain what and why those hangups are... and if she's a patient and understanding gal, she'll help you through it. Doin' tha deed need not be that big a deal.

 

Here's how I actually approached the problem- it wasn't fun and it may have only worked due to luck: I had a few mediocre relationships(of sorts) over the years- the sex (when it happened), frankly sucked (not in a good way). I wasn't particularly interested in any of the gals, but I wasn't about to turn down some foolin' around... and I figured it was good practice at least. Then one day by sheer luck and no effort or merit of my own, I met the love of my life. Had a few very minor difficulties at first (maybe wouldn't have been so minor in a different situation?)... then things just worked and still do years later. I can't say how things would've turned out if I hadn't met my wife.

 

I know what it's like to think you're woefully inexperienced for your age... afraid discuss the subject for fear that your lack of experience will show. Now that it's no longer a big issue for me(and I THINK I can see the situation more clearly), I can tell you two things that I wish I'd known in my early 20's. First, 30-year-old virgins are WAY more common than you might think (do a 'virginity' search on this site- LOTS of old virgins around here). Second, nobody really cares that you're inexperienced anyway unless they're just an ass. I think that since this problem is a big deal to you (and understandably so), then it's easy to assume that your lack of experience is a big deal to other people- it isn't, though.

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Sex is the highest achievement for your emotions and personal loving relationships. It is a selfish thing, you obtain alot of value from the person you want to have sex with, accordingly that person should represent your highest ideals and values. To fall short of that would be only falling short of yourself, only lowering your value in your own eyes. So sex is a wonderful, perfect thing... you should feel no guilt that you love someone and seek to show that person physically just how much you love them, want them, desire them and want to show them the same pleasure you do.

 

Don't feel ashamed... it's irrational and unnatural. Sex is moral and good for you.

 

 

A favorite qoute to part you on "In order to say 'I love you' you must first learn to say 'I' " -- Ayn Rand

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This is only my second post, and its more candid than I've ever been anywhere with anyone, so I ask that you please be kind in your replies, if any. This was very hard to write.

 

Growing up in a Christian household, sexuality in any form was dealt with in the severest psychological manner possible. Sex and nudity was always described as dirty and evil, and any instances that called for such lectures always ended in the sternest rebuke of all: "God knows what's in your heart and mind, and giving in to temptation - even in imagination - is still sin."

 

I never developed the skills - and they are indeed skills - one needs to know when realizing I like someone; instead, I shied away from girls when growing up. In high school, the only thing I really had to worry about is whether a girl I liked was already dating someone. (If only I had known that then ...) In college, dating was more difficult to pursue, as the prospects could be engaged, married, have children, be gay, or part of the "nobody dates anymore, they just hook up" scene. Now that I'm grown up, there are no sexual boundaries anymore, as the 25-35 age group is one that is experienced in a variety of sexual situations, many of which I couldn't even imagine.

 

I've dated a few times, had a humiliating first sexual experience, and have even been in love with a woman, but when the time came to show the least bit of physical affection, I gracefully withdrew with some excuse ... so that I could exerience the ensuing panic attack in private. (I often think this is what a life-long aborigine would feel like suddenly teleported into Times Square - confusion, fear, shock ...)

 

I've developed a facade that helps me outwardly cope with it all, but it's not easy to maintain. I'm scared to make friends with people, since everyone nowadays is so open about sex that it quickly enters into most conversations. Bullshit can be spotted a mile away, and awkward silence can be even more revealing than a lie or an evasive wise-crack. I'm tired of the panic attacks, tired of the anxiety, tired of the fear and reluctance, tired of the celibacy, but mostly tired of the loneliness. I love women, but can't get close to them romantically/sexually, and it's driving me crazy.

 

I don't want to be a lethario ... but I don't want to be a monk, either. The only people I feel like I could be comfortable around are hard-core Christians, who would see my inexperience as a good thing. It's not good. It's a horrible and embarrassing secret, and I want to treat it, not glorify it. The problem is that the kind of woman I'm most attracted to - intelligent, independent, purposeful, both professional and playful when appropriate - wouldn't take a second glance at a guy who doesn't display masculine confidence.

 

How have others dealt with this kindof thing? How do you trust someone of sexual interest when you're at your most vulnerable? Is professional counseling something I should seek, or is it possible that I can conquer this on my own?

 

I think part of your problem is how you view yourself. I also think there are quite a few Atheist men who share your problem. For example, my husband. His story sounds a bit like yours only he was so tired of it he actually did something about it.

 

You just have to take a chance.

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