My ex told me I was a terrible lover. So why did they get back in touch wanting sex?

They said they wanted to be my friend, but this latest contact has left me shocked and confused

I am a gay man in my early 40s. I was recently in a relationship with someone who broke up with me citing my sexual performance as the reason. I was crushed. This person offered friendship, but I told them I wanted more. After a few months they got back in touch, wanting to have sex. I was shocked, hurt and confused. Why would they want to sleep with me, if it was so disappointing before?

Your reaction to such cruelty and to those subsequent mixed messages is completely understandable. Your needs are clearly at odds with your ex’s, so why even bother to consider their approaches? When people hurt or belittle us it is easy to fall into a trap of giving them a chance to do so again. Do not give this person that power. Instead, gravitate towards people who make you feel good about yourself. This should apply not only to sexual partners, but also to your life in general. People who consider sex to be a win-or-lose performance – who grade themselves and their partners on their “technique” rather than placing value on the unique connection, love and eroticism that can arise between two people – will never have a truly satisfying sex life. Focus on pleasure.

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

If you would like advice from Pamela on sexual matters, send us a brief description of your concerns to [email protected] (please don’t send attachments). Each week, Pamela chooses one problem to answer, which will be published online. She regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence. Submissions are subject to our terms and conditions.

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