~ SEPTEMBER 2022 ~
Sexual anxiety, no matter your age or gender, has the potential to impact both your physical and emotional relationship with your partner if ignored or pushed aside.
As much as this incredibly upsetting feeling seems to have taken a firm hold of you, this anxiety doesn’t mean the end of sexual intimacy!
This article explores how to cope with anxiety about sex and how you can take steps toward shedding that anxiety once and for all.
Identifying your Anxiety about Sex
Sex and anxiety go hand in hand for some, which can feel overwhelming and can really dishearten you if you tend to experience it often or even constantly. There are so many things that we tend to pick ourselves apart over, but understanding the reasoning behind those negative thinking patterns is key to unlocking a comfortable sense of intimacy in the future.
How do you know if you Struggle with Sexual Anxiety?
This may sound like an obvious question with an even more predictable answer, but for most, life has thrown many anxieties your way, causing stressful thoughts and situations to overlap. So how do I know if sexual anxiety is the culprit to how I feel?
Identifying the answer to this question comes down to the relationship between sex and anxiety in your life. Do you tend to tense up when physical contact or intimacy is initiated? Do the acts leading toward sexual activities cause that anxiety to flare up? If you notice that your body reacts adversely to those intimate acts before your mind even has a chance to catch up, it’s an obvious sign that you may be experiencing sexual anxiety.
It may be difficult to pinpoint the cause of this anxiety, and it can oftentimes be confusing to understand why these thoughts occur. Here are a handful of common reasons behind it that may apply to you and help you to take your first steps towards combating those negative and destructive thoughts.
- Negative body image – This is a huge factor in self-esteem and self-value. Being self-conscious about certain aspects of your body can severely harm your ability to feel confident in sexual situations, particularly in new relationships. Masturbation and exploration with orgasm-inducing sex toys are a wonderful way to learn more about your body while learning to love and appreciate it, both sexually and spiritually!
- Inexperience – It can be daunting to perform well with a more experienced partner, particularly if you don’t yet understand your own body well enough. Personal experimentation is the solution to the majority of this fear and can help immensely with your sexual confidence and lessen your sexual anxiety.
- Sexual dysfunction – This is often difficult for both partners because as much as it physically only affects the partner with dysfunction, the other may, in turn, worry for the sake of the one afflicted. This is a back and forth anxiety-inducing situation if unaddressed.
- Relationship difficulty – Undergoing some turbulence within your relationship? Believe it or not, this has a major impact on your ability to feel comfortable with your partner long after the incident happened. If you are going through a patch of fighting and mild aggressive behaviors, anxiety about sex and intimacy may become second nature until those differences are resolved.
- Partner incompatibility – Sometimes, as much as you try, you can’t bring yourself to enjoy intimacy with your partner. This can be due to a lack of attraction to your partner or even just feeling uncomfortable with a new relationship. Some of these incompatibilities are temporary, although others tend to be permanent and require a change to be made for your sexual wellbeing.
- Fear of intimacy – This fear causes sexual anxiety for numerous personal reasons. For some, intimacy may be difficult to comprehend due to sexual preferences or the fear of being pressured into sexual acts. This is especially prominent in individuals who struggle to trust others with their bodies along with their minds.
- Poor experiences – These negative past experiences can be mild or severe, impacting each individual differently. These individuals may have difficulty speaking or thinking of sex in healthy ways instead of linking it back to their personal trauma. It can take time to repair and reconstruct what sex should be for them and their partner.
How to Deal with Sexual Anxiety
So you’ve found the root cause of your sexual anxiety, but now what do you do about it? This isn’t an overnight fix; this is an ingrained way of thinking that must be worked on and improved on daily.
The best way to take those steps is through communication. As much as many of the thoughts and self-assurance need to be done within your mind, you need the help of your partner to make progress.
Once you have identified the causes behind your sexual anxiety, you can begin to remove some of the power that those triggers hold over you. Honesty and open communication with your partner about your thoughts and feelings can help them to conduct themselves in a way that helps your anxiety about sex, as well as ensures that they don’t trigger that spiral of thinking.
Talking to your partner about things that they have said or done in the past to trigger that bad relationship between sex and anxiety can help them to understand that they, too, need to make a change to improve your intimate time together.
Occasionally the feelings of anxiety may overwhelm you. Here are a few tips to reboot your mind:
- Don’t push yourself to engage in sexual activity when you aren’t ready – prior discussion with your partner is key, helping them to understand that you are not in the mindset to enjoy intimacy at this time, and this isn’t a reflection on their desirableness, but rather the circumstances. This prior discussion will prevent negative feelings and miscommunication in these situations.
- Prioritize emotional connection – don’t feel that sexual intimacy is the crowning jewel of a relationship; emotional connection and a close bond are first and foremost, without exception.
- Spend time engaging in non-sexual touch – spending time growing closer physically to your partner without the linked sexual atmosphere is the best way to become accustomed to being closer to your partner, particularly if you are in a new relationship or have struggled with negative experiences in the past.
- Experiment with erogenous zones with your partner – this is an intimate way of growing closer to your partner, allowing you to choose how far it goes and if you are ready to engage in sex or not.
- Explore your own body – allow time for yourself to focus on what feels good, removing the pressure of performance with a partner. Understanding your own pleasure will allow you to gain confidence with your partner in the future.
Focus on the experience – when with your partner, try to step away from the belief that performance and an orgasm determine the enjoyment of this intimate time. You can even discuss with your partner your intent to purely enjoy the foreplay aspect of sex and avoid the climax altogether.
Supporting Someone with Sexual Anxiety
This is a highly important step toward helping someone with anxiety about sex. In fact, there is only one rule, and it is by far the most important thing you can do:
This may seem obvious, but sometimes someone describing their sexual anxiety may not understand it themselves, and they need every ounce of patience that you have because heavens know that they aren’t patient with themselves.
Have these necessary conversations when your partner is in a good mental place. It takes work and effort to overcome sexual anxiety. The partners of those battling with it must act as their support system and encourage them through the process for the benefit of their relationship as a whole, not personal gain.
Redefining What Sex Means to You
Sex as an act makes up a portion of a romantic relationship, but it is by no means the most important aspect. Sex should be viewed in its entirety for what it is: intimate time with your partner. This means that any form of intimacy can be viewed as equivalent to the importance of sex.
There is no right way to love, and there is no right way to show your love. Take your time. A relationship is built on the foundations of trust and comfort. Pushing oneself to engage in sexual activities before you are ready will ensure that you don’t have the foundations needed for a lasting relationship.