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Fear of sex? This is how you can defeat them
For many people, sex is an important aspect of their own life and partnership. Fear of sex can therefore significantly affect well-being. Avoiding sexual closeness can lead people to withdraw from people they like because they suspect that sex may play a role in the future. This can lead to difficulties in partnerships.
Not having sex when you want to also restricts self-determination and self-esteem. But where does it come from, the fear of physical intimacy? And what can you do to have the sex life you want?
The cause of the fear of sex
Fear of sex can occur in both women and men. It can have various causes, which those affected can be consciously or unconsciously. Often they can be assigned to the following aspects:
If we have experienced sex as uncomfortable or even painful in the past, fear tries to protect us from having this experience again. You can find more about pain during sex in our article: How can vaginismus be treated?
In traumatic experiences such as sexual abuse, sex and intimacy are linked to the experience of absolute helplessness, despair and sometimes even fear of death. Here, too, the fear of sex wants to protect us from having such experiences again. Like some kind of early warning system.
Fear of the new / unknown
If the fear of sex is before the very first sexual contact, fear can arise because we do not know what to expect. Sex with a new partner can also (repeatedly) frighten us or put us under pressure to try new sexual practices.
Pressure of expectation and fear of failure
Behind the fear of intimacy can also be the fear of not being able to satisfy your partner sexually.
Negative body image
Sex and nudity usually go hand in hand. But many people are afraid of showing themselves naked to the other person because they feel uncomfortable or fear rejection. If this cause plays a role for you, you can find tips in our article Strengthening self-esteem to influence your self-esteem in a positive way.
Perhaps you already know the cause of your fears. However, if you are completely in the dark, conversations with people you trust as well as medical and psychotherapeutic professionals can be enlightening. Or you look for support in a sex therapy practice. It is also possible that you find yourself in multiple causes. However clear or unclear the cause may be, so-called avoidance behavior often plays the leading role in maintaining your fear.
Fear of Sex: Maintaining by Avoidance
Fears are perpetuated when we avoid the situations or things that cause fear. In the case of sexual fears, for example, this means that we avoid sex or actions that could bring us closer to sex. These are, for example, physical tenderness or a partnership.
The problem is that sex is becoming even more important as an anxiety trigger and can cause more and more fear. This then works like a self-reinforcing mechanism. We also deprive ourselves of the opportunity to have new and pleasant experiences. So we cannot positively overwrite the old experiences. However, these other neutral or even positive experiences could reduce the fears. How can you proceed if you perceive avoidance behavior and want to reduce it?
Talk to your partner about your fear of sex
If you are in a partnership, you can first relieve yourself, your counterpart and your partnership by talking about your fears. This also takes some effort, but an open conversation is often a step in the right direction. If you've made a decision to allow sexual closeness despite your fears, you can tell your partner so. So you can proceed step by step together.
This works systematically, for example, following the sensuality training from Masters & Johnson. This is a couples therapy treatment program in which couples are first banned from sex and then gradually get closer to sex through, for example, tender touches.
Get to know yourself and your preferences
In order to experience sex, intimacy and closeness as beautiful events, it is recommended that you establish a sexual connection with yourself and reduce any fear of contact. Explore your body and find out what you like. What touch do you like? Where do you want to be touched by another person - and where not? How exactly does it feel when you're sexually aroused? Also in sexual contact with another person, focus on your own feelings, dare to express wishes or gently guide the other. There is no reason to feel selfish or demanding about this. Perhaps your sexual partner is even grateful to learn what you like and then dares to express wishes himself.
Fear of sex and lust
Knowing your sexual preferences can help you become sexually aroused. This is not only pleasant, but also has the advantage that it automatically reduces fears. Unfortunately, this biological mechanism also works the other way around: When fear is involved, it becomes harder to be aroused. Understanding why you don't automatically find sex pleasant when you're very nervous or even afraid can help you be more compassionate and patient with yourself. However, as soon as you get the ball rolling, allow closeness and experience arousal, the fear during sex and thus also before sex becomes less.
Fear is a biological antagonist to pleasure: when we are afraid, our body prepares itself for fight or flight. Sexual arousal would cost unnecessary energy and is therefore inhibited.
Take one's time
When confronting fears, there are different ways of proceeding. Basically, you should trust your gut feeling. For example, whether you start with single touches or feel ready for sexual intercourse despite fears, you can and should decide for yourself.
If the fear feels overwhelming, for example because traumatic experiences play a role, you can seek psychotherapeutic support to process these events more thoroughly. In this way you can slowly and systematically overcome fears over time without overwhelming yourself.
The HelloBetter online training Paivina Care
As already mentioned, there can be different causes for the fear of sex. If pain or the fear of pain during sex play a role for you, our online training Paivina Care could be right for you.
In this training you will receive valuable information on the subject of pain, tips and exercises for communication with your partner as well as instructions for vaginal training. You can find an overview of the content and the option to register under the link above for the training. Further information on sexual dysfunction in women can also be found in our detailed article on vaginismus & Co.
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