I have had difficult relationships, which have affected how I feel about sex. I understand my current partner’s concerns, but am not sure anything will improve the situation
My partner and I are in our late 30s and met a few months before the pandemic. We are in the process of buying a house and planning to have kids next year. I have a relationship history with some abuse, and have also been sexually assaulted more than once. This means that sex is sometimes difficult for me, and I go through patches where it shuts down completely. Lately I have also been feeling quite low because of various changes that happened in my life due to Covid, and one consequence of that has been a drop in libido. My partner obviously finds it difficult when sex disappears, and he feels frustrated that this means sex is “always on my terms”. He never pressures me, but he can be moody. Sometimes, I think he should have more patience and should engage with me to find solutions, but at other times I understand that he feels sad, frustrated and worried about a future with me if it means hardly having sex. I have tried counselling in the past, but nothing has ever worked. Do you think I can get better, or do we need to find partners with sex drives that are better suited to us? I would have liked a more active sex life, but that feels hopeless now.
It sounds as though you still need to seek healing to overcome the aftermath of abuse and victimisation. Survivors are often left with feelings of shame, fear, worthlessness and a sense of being undeserving of love and happiness. There can also be a tendency to repeat negative patterns from the past, so it is important that you really look carefully at this relationship – preferably with some good therapeutic help – before embarking on a future together. At the moment, your body is shutting down sexually as a self-protective measure, and as a natural accompaniment to depression. Don’t allow the legacy of abusers to sabotage your future. Take charge of your life now.
Pamela Stephenson Connolly is a US-based psychotherapist who specialises in treating sexual disorders.
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