My first intimate partner publicly shamed me. Now sex makes me freeze

I lost my virginity to someone whose sexual needs far exceeded mine. Years later, I still hunger for a trusting relationship, but am haunted by the pain of that initial experience

I am a man in my 30s and have recently admitted to myself that I cannot form an intimate sexual relationship. I am not, and never have been, interested in sex for its own sake; I want trust and intimacy even more than sex, although I hunger for both together.

I have been close with potential partners many times, but each time I get to the point where the other person wants to progress to sex, I freeze and cannot carry on, until one of us breaks it off. I then hate myself for not following through yet again.

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: see gu.com/letters-terms.

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