Avoiding sex and romantic relationships


Thanks for your response to my post. I hope I didn't give the impression that marriage or God will "fix" everything. I meant that marriage is the only place where you'll be in a committed, safe (hopefully) relationship where sex won't leave us feeling used and abused. And as far as God goes, He WILL heal (not totally fix) but only IF you let Him. It took years of me being a Christian and being completely messed up before I was ready to do the work that needed to be done. It wasn't easy; it was painful and so difficult. But pure worth it. My husband was a saint, having to go through a lot of hell with me to get to the other side. He has paid a high price for my baggage, but by God's grace and his patience, we got through it. I'm so grateful to have a husband who was willing to walk alongside me in my pain.
Yeah respectfully I disagree. I understand you'll be fixed in heaven. What you're saying is you have to earn Gods healing which is totally wrong.
This is legalism or the root of it, the single biggest problem (my opinion) in the church today.

But good luck, we can disagree, both positions fall under the pale.

Which, along with everyone else, is why I have nothing to do with Christians. : ). That's not totally true, just generally.


I asked my therapist about this a little bit today and she shared something I wanted to add to the conversation here, because it was helpful to me and may be helpful to others reading and posting.

She said that in order to feel attraction, you need to feel safe. So if you're someone like me, who doesn't have a basic feeling of safety when going around in the world, you won't feel attraction very often. I think this helped a bit, to at least have some sort of explanation.


Content note: discussion of sexuality, mostly in general, non-graphic terms.

Back story: I'm 28 and female, and was sexually abused as a young child (3-ish years old) by a relative who did not live with me.

I have never had a romantic relationship in my life, nor have I ever gone on a date. I am trying to figure out if this is because of a true preference or if this is trauma-related. I feel like my trauma experiences are in some ways "etched" into my mind on a neurological level. Whenever I think about going anywhere with a male or having any sort of relationship with one, my mind immediately jumps to risk of sexual assault and abuse. Even if I don't actually think it is likely with that particular person. It seems like my mind is so focused on making sure that my abuse experience never happens again that it is hard to look at anything else. It's like I see that there is a risk of assault so I determine it isn't worth it, even if the risk is small.

I also don't understand how people enjoy sexual relationships. I don't know if I am asexual or if this has to do with trauma, but it seems very unpleasant. I do think a big part of that is that I have never had any consensual sexual contact so my only point of reference is horrific abuse, and since the basic physical acts are the same, it's difficult for me to intuitively understand why someone would want to participate in something sexual. I feel so frustrated and ashamed of myself, like everyone else on the planet understands something that is beyond my capability. People talk about how wonderful sexuality and relationships can be and I'm completely missing out, and I don't feel like I am able to just change that.

I guess I just feel really alone with this, like something is deeply wrong with me. I know other survivors of sexual abuse who are able to at least participate in relationships and sex -- why can't I? I feel so defective. I imagine part of it might have to do with how young I was, the severity of the abuse, etc., but I see others that move through all this and wonder what's wrong with me?
I know two ladies who are in their 70's who have loved and lost your story is sad and there are many like you. I suggest that if you do want to find friendship and love as we all do then you find someone who has similar interests, photography, creative writing, sport , keep fit or even maybe judo or Karate classes which are great for building confidence and being part of a team but achieving as an individual. If someone shows an interest in you you can then slowly build a relationship until you are able to decide when you want to take things further . You are not alone there are men also who have such experiences who do not want to be hurt again. There are people who are not happy with the world they live in who never want to have children but we cannot live our lives believing that to love is not for me just because of the abuse of a sick individual. THE PAST CAN'T HURT YOU UNLESS YOU LET IT .Be brave there is someone out there for you and finding a common interest is the start . A judo class or Karate would be my choice and they also keep you fit. If you are a non violent person please remember that these sports are none violent self defense and are character building and you meet people of all ages and even families with children . Life is to enjoy you have much to give


New Here
Yeah respectfully I disagree. I understand you'll be fixed in heaven. What you're saying is you have to earn Gods healing which is totally wrong.
This is legalism or the root of it, the single biggest problem (my opinion) in the church today.

But good luck, we can disagree, both positions fall under the pale.

Which, along with everyone else, is why I have nothing to do with Christians. : ). That's not totally true, just generally.

Oh dear, when I read this, my heart skipped a beat. I guess I've really been miscommunicating, because I totally agree with you that legalism is wrong. I do everything possible to avoid it. Like you, I don't believe that we have to "earn God's healing"... but I do know too many people who've been raped or sexually abused who refuse to bring it to the table, so to speak. It's like alcoholism, I guess, where God can't help you with it until you decide you want to work on it. God can't help an unwilling person. He's definitely a healer and will heal a person who asks Him to heal. ("Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you." Matthew 7:7 or "Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved; for you are my praise." Jeremiah 17:14 and many other verses) Is this making any better sense? If not, forgive me for not being good at explaining my position.

I'm so sorry that the Christians you've encountered have turned you off to Christianity because of legalism. Yes, that is a problem with some churches, but not the churches I've attended. They are full of grace. My pastor, Larry Osborne at North Coast Church, always says we shouldn't put fences where God didn't put one, which is basically what legalism does (i.e. add extra fences).

To the original poster, if I have led you to believe in any way that you have to "earn" God's healing, forgive me. I don't believe that and never meant to imply that. But I do hope you will ask Him for it :)


@Catlovers141 Are you able to form and feel safe in other types of intimate relationships? Friendships or family relationships with relatives who did not abuse you? If not, might be a good place to start.

@laverite I disagree that marriage is the only type of relationship where you will not feel sexually used and abused. I am not a Christian and this sounds like a religious belief. There are many types of safe sexual relationships that do not involve a legal contract.



WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Wives are the most frequent victims of fatal
family violence, according to a study of family murder made public
1995 by the Justice Department.

Imho, getting intimate sexually or not
is as rewarding as it is triggering. Again imo, it’s devastating to feel betrayal
by someone you trust and it is human to loose control of your emotions. We
can’t ignore facts and reality. Perhaps it is a lot safer to avoid intimacy but the
choice has so much to do with the risks we are prepared to take. That is entirely
up to each individual. It can’t be pushed or forced.

We don’t tell our daughters not to marry despite the stats. We have lived too long
with fairytales and illusions that simply don’t match up. My guess is that at least
half of the population has intimacy issues of some kind. And the good news is that
we can do something about it.

And unless we as humans understand just how important it is to regulate emotions
and practice better ways of communicating our emotions to family members ....unless we
stop acting violent and stupid at home, we have no business judging people who won’t
or can’t put themselves out there.


New Here
Hey Catlover,

I'm currently dealing with a similar situation. 28 y/o CSA & adult intimate partner/domestic violence survivor and haven't had a date in roughly 8 years (except 1 time and it didn't go well). I've been in therapy for 2 years and I'm seeing change but agree - it is soooo slow.

In theory I believe I want a loving healthy relationship and potentially children but any time someone talks to me and seems interested in me or asks me out I get triggered. I read male attention as something to be feared. I'm super avoidant and pretty set in my ways for this.

I'm even having trouble maintaining platonic friendships w folks of any gender. If someone gets too close -emotionally or even just spending too much time together- I feel trapped, I hide from them, and eventually cut and run.

In some ways I feel frozen in time, like at a pre-puberty sort of stage
This part you wrote really stood out to me. I experience this in terms of feeling a childish embarrassment towards attraction, crushes or any sexy stuff. I feel like I'm stuck developmentally because I was robbed of my teens/early twenties - a time when many people explore (dating. sexuality, discovering myself in relation to others).

If you'd like to message me directly to talk more, you're welcome to do so.



I know other survivors of sexual abuse who are able to at least participate in relationships and sex -- why can't I?

Because you were damaged by trauma. Not defective. Damaged and defective are way different.

A short story of me hoping it will help. A few years ago my therapist worked very hard for me to stop seeking men out for sex because it was recreating my trauma and was super unhealthy, even dangerous and it was risking being retraumatized again. I have not had sex with another in well over a year. But that's what we wanted. Now we can focus on me and healing me and we don't have to worry about the recreating trauma that seemed to happen a few times a week.

It's very much ok to avoid sex. I am personally doing that on purpose. There should be no pressure to have sex. You have sex when you are ready! Not when married necessarily but when you are ready! Whenever that might be.

The fact that you've been in therapy for 10 YEARS already isn't a great advertisement for your therapist. In 10 years, an excellent therapist would have helped you to get further along

Time in therapy doesn't necessarily reflect on the therapist but the damage done to the person in therapy!

marriage is really the only "safe sex" one can have

What about domestic violence? And all of those very happy unmarried couples living together having very safe and healthy sex? You can be married and be sexually abused (as well as physically and emotionally and verbally) by said spouce and you can be unmarried and have very healthy and safe sex.


I too have avoided both sex and romance for two years, I enjoy focusing on hobbies,
new and old friendships and feel more energized and more relaxed than I have ever felt
in years.

When in love, I easily fall into the role of doormat if I am not careful and it has taken me too long to accept responsibility for insisting on better treatment. I put others needs ahead of my own.

I know how heartbreaking it feels when someone you love cycles between seduction and sexual rejection.
It took me too long to understand that while sex may be desired it may also be damaging to my loved one.
It feels like the mere fact that I exist seems to hurts him. Since he is incapable of changing his avoidance behaviours, I chose to deny my needs. However, after four years, I finally feel that all the lessons that this scenario can teach me have been learned. Maybe now I can move on. I don’t need him to change but I need to break out of the spell so to speak. It is not healthy for me to be in a relationship with someone who needs to be desired by me but avoids sex with me. However, with that said I totally defend anyone’s right to have sex only when they are ready.