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Avoiding sex and romantic relationships

Thread starter #25
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.


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.


Juna

Thanks for this. A lot of what you said above really resonates with me. I also tend to read male attention as being scary, even if I know the person means no harm. And I also want a relationship in theory but run away at even the slightest bit of attention. It's tough.

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

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.
Thanks for this; I definitely agree, just didn't reply to the comment because I didn't want the thread to turn into an argument about my therapist. In my case, I know I sound bad, but I've come a long way. You can't see progress without knowing what my starting point was.

Agree totally!
 
#26
Intimacy and relationship is on the the list with T but first i got to stabilize my symptoms..if ever. I know things improve.
Recently discharged from sex rehab because nothing progressed sexually. Just avoid or revert into child mode or freeze. The trauma flipped many areas 180. Before i had a high and creative X.drive and after TBI PTSd i lost the drive and desire. I appreciate the female energy and do miss that feeling of closeness. Doc actually gave me homework to have skin to skin contact and report back. 1 month follow ups turn to 3 and on...no updates so discharged. TBI and spinal injury i did make progress physically. Doc says its a psycho social disconnect related to TBI and PTSd. I dont feel safe and mind gets distracted along with processing issues.

I have no problems hugging my stuffies. Please dont assume i hump them...i do not.

Psycho social disconnect..... i think doc is right. She said it is therapist area not something hospital can provide.
 
#27
Firstly
Thanks for being so open and vulnerable in your post, it takes a lot of courage

I echo the theme that it is different for everyone. I am still working thins out and could easily be defined as avoidant. I get into relationships but they're non stick. During these relationships I have learned more about what I like and how I would like to express the creative/sexual/life force energy and it often isnt through sex but through sensuality, massaging, baths, exploring tentative touch, intimate conversations, cooking for someone, reading them a story in the bath etc. It might seem off topic but I just want to share there are many ways to express this energy of creating/relating. I find that when I am creating I am more open to and freer with relating

Perhaps if there was a way that felt comfortable expressing this energy
it could help begin the exploration in a
way that felt managable...

Also, it is fine to be where you're at unless your whole being no longer wants to be there. When this is the case, trust me, your whole being will find a way

Wishing you well

And yes working with a CSA and trauma specialist T is a good idea

My comments were more about seeing what you can explore with the capacity you have now
 
#28
I had similar concerns and they still affect me. I was abused by my first boyfriend. I was 14, he was 17. I spent years thinking that there was no way I could genuinely enjoy sex without a man using it as a form of power over me. I thought everyone would treat sex the same way.

It is possible that you are just asexual, but if you aren’t, this feeling can dissipate. The first thing that helped me was realizing that what happened was assault and abuse and not a normal relationship (you’re already there, so that’s good). Next, I began to open up to the idea of good people when I started joining feminist groups and found plenty of people who felt that sex was about consent and communication, rather than power and satisfaction. This can obviously be difficult because your brain might be telling you that those people are just lying and trying to trick you.
I think it will take a lot of time and it sounds like you’re interested in working on this as an issue rather than a preference. You sound perfectly normal and rational to me. Your first experience with something was horribly traumatic, it’s normal to want to avoid it in the future, even if everyone else seems to like it. Don’t push yourself before you’re ready.
 
#29
I've had all sorts of issues with (no) sex and relationships. I'm 58 (well, 59 in 45 min) and my first consensual relationship was when I was 45. :-( I sought it out, because I felt like a complete freak. I found someone who was amazingly kind and gentle and enormously patient. That relationship lasted 6 years and, even though I likely would not do it again (sex and relationship are very overrated, imo), it was the best 6 years of my life. I learned so much. And I started to look at myself in a completely different (good) way.
 
#30
It's a much different dynamic for a woman than for a man.
A woman can find sexual and romantic partners much easier, as most makes are sexually driven. Many men these days don't seem to want relationships, though.
 
#31
Imho, confident people find sexual and romantic relationships with ease. I don’t see it as gender based. Most people men or women, old or young want a relationship that is not based on fear or power nor a struggle with these. When I was growing up punishment was a normal part of raising kids. Parents and teachers taught us that there would be consequences for bad behaviour. Today many of those punishing acts are considered physical abuse but back then it was done as a form of tough love. Money and sex as we got older, became often symbols of power. If we have experienced being overpowered or if we have inadvertently given away our power at some given point that has caused us pain and suffering, it makes sense that we avoid any kind of relationship that reminds us of that. Personally, the best years of my life are those that fill me with memories of kindness, closeness, intimacy, openess and trust. We owe it to ourselves to try even if we fail and I agree with the posters that write that it has nothing to do with sex. It has to do with the courage, imo, to say “I can offer you this but not that” and “hope that’s ok with you.” I imagine that it is hard for us to imagine that someone would not choose to repeat the best days of their lives. I imagine that maybe we dont dare to risk ruining the good memories. Each new year we prolong the good relationship increases the risk of loosing someone we greatly value. It is a plausible explanation as to why sufferers can leave us after having one of their best moments. It’s so ironic don’t you think?
 
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#32
Its gender neutral IMO. One of you gives power away. Once you do that you can't go back. The sexual relationship is just a relationship. Kids on the playground behave the same way. If you let a kid push you around, he or she will never get off you until you do something about it.
 
#33
Imho, confident people find sexual and romantic relationships with ease. I don’t see it as gender based. Most people men or women, old or young want a relationship that is not based on fear or power nor a struggle with these. When I was growing up punishment was a normal part of raising kids. Parents and teachers taught us that there would be consequences for bad behaviour. Today many of those punishing acts are considered physical abuse but back then it was done as a form of tough love. Money and sex as we got older, became often symbols of power. If we have experienced being overpowered or if we have inadvertently given away our power at some given point that has caused us pain and suffering, it makes sense that we avoid any kind of relationship that reminds us of that. Personally, the best years of my life are those that fill me with memories of kindness, closeness, intimacy, openess and trust. We owe it to ourselves to try even if we fail and I agree with the posters that write that it has nothing to do with sex. It has to do with the courage, imo, to say “I can offer you this but not that” and “hope that’s ok with you.” I imagine that it is hard for us to imagine that someone would not choose to repeat the best days of their lives. I imagine that maybe we dont dare to risk ruining the good memories. Each new year we prolong the good relationship increases the risk of loosing someone we greatly value. It is a plausible explanation as to why sufferers can leave us after having one of their best moments. It’s so ironic don’t you think?
thanks. really appreciate the way you put this: "We owe it to ourselves to try even if we fail and I agree with the posters that write that it has nothing to do with sex. It has to do with the courage, imo, to say “I can offer you this but not that” and “hope that’s ok with you.”
 
#34
Hi, Catlovers141. You are being smart. Now is not the time to worry about romantic relationships and sex. Now is the time to work on healing from your trauma.

I know from experience, if you push yourself into dating or romantic relationships too soon you will only end up with more junk to work through. I ended-up picking abusive people. This added to my trauma, because I hadn't yet properly addressed the CSA, rape, abuse and neglect from my parents before dating.

You are being smart. Keep on taking care if yourself. When the time is right, with the help of your therapist, you will be able to explore your feelings around dating. And take steps to begin dating if that is what you really want.

I've been celibate for 20 years, and have had some very good close friendships during that time, with both men and women. I moved, so we aren't as close as we used to be. It is not for everyone, but for me it has been the only way to keep myself safe. Still, I am hopeful that perhaps one day I will be far enough in my healing journey to consider dating again. But I'm not going to let society convince me that I need to rush myself.

A very dear friend of mine once said she felt like I was letting the rapists win, because I wasn’t dating. She didn't get it though. It wasn’t her fault, she grew up in a loving home and picked kind men. She couldn't relate. I explained that I just didn’t have the insight or skills to pick kind men, and was always drawn to abusers. At that time my son was young, and being a good mom to him was my top priority.

You are doing a good job working through this trauma. The way you feel is normal. It might help you to talk to your therapist about this, since it's something that occupying your thoughts.

Wishing you all the best. 💖
 
#35
Hi!! Similar case to you, here. I was molested by my brother on a few occasions growing up and it definitely did a number on me. I was v. curious about sex at a young age and by the time I got into uni, ended up having sex with anyone who liked me and it didn't end well. Since then, I've been avoidant for about six years now (minus one occasion when it was a complicated situation but combination of thought patterns caused by trauma meant that I ended up using sex to get out of being molested? something like that? it wasn't fun). So all-in-all I've been avoiding relationships for 4 years total, and it's been difficult because I still want romance and sex but then I get into situations where I can pursue such things and chicken out/self-sabotage/etc.

You're not broken. We're not broken. We're healing. It takes a long time, and you should absolutely not force yourself into anything because it will just force the wound open again. When you're ready to take a step forwards, you will do it not because someone told you to or because you feel like you should, but because you feel safe, you feel confident, and you want to.

In terms of all the advice above about certain types of relationships and which one is better and what system of faith (whether religious or not) you can follow, I mean.... nobody is wrong but that's because all of these answers are about ourselves and we, though we share similar experiences and tendencies, are all different people and healing comes in so many ways. I'm finding that the common themes that we all share, though, are that we need to build healthy support networks (not just your therapist, but more a general net of people around you eg. churches, exercise groups, etc. etc. none of you are wrong) and if we choose to try sex again, it should be in a place where we feel safe having sex. Whether in a relationship that is committed or not, the person we are engaging in this journey with should be someone we trust and feel safe with (and, as someone pointed out in a previous post, attraction often comes with feeling safe, which is why we all have different definitions of "the best relationship to be in when having sex" - some people may only feel safe after marriage, some only feel safe after several years of knowing their partner, some feel safe as soon as they meet a person so long as they show no red flags, etc.)

Take care of yourself. Only you know what's right for you, and nothing is wrong with you at all. It's difficult not to measure healing in years or against others, but that's what we have to do - people who judge you for not having sex for certain "astronomical" periods of time just don't quite get it. Avoiding an activity is just what you learned to do in order to protect yourself from something that was horrible and should never have happened. The real solution, as my T says, is to overwrite those experiences with good ones but that's only if having sexual and romantic relationships is a goal you want to achieve. And even then, it's hard and will take a lot of time until you feel ready. Sending all the love and good vibes!!!!
 
#36
Hi, this is my first post here (sorry it's so long!) and I wasn't sure what to write about myself, but your post stood out since I can really relate to your experience of wondering whether being shut down in relationships is just you or because of what happened.. Except I'm sort of on the other opposite of the extreme, because what happened to me was so "mild" I hesitate to even call it trauma. I believe the person I had my first sexual experiences with was sexually abused as a child, which instilled a need for him to always be in control.. So there were things I consented to but after being repeated over and over eventually caused me to completely detach myself from my physical body sexually. I became promiscuous but was always numb. I developed other addictions and was later in a physically violent and abusive relationship, which really did the most damage in terms of my ongoing PTSD. But I left that person years ago, finally got sober and now (fortunately or unfortunately) I'm able to feel things again.. or for the first time really. In late 20s I feel like most people have at least a 10 year head start on me and I'm essentially re-experiencing the adolescence I never let myself have. Yet I'm far more cautious with how often I date or who I choose as a partner since I'm completely present now.

Initially it was all way too much too soon, but I'm slowly making progress. It might sound cliche but meditation and yoga has helped tremendously.. I never go into it with the intention of "being sexual" but yoga is a great way of strengthening the mind-body connection, and just being comfortable enough with yourself to be in tune with all other sensations that have nothing to do with sex. Usually I've realized I can't just block out certain feelings and not others, everything is interconnected. So I think healing the mind and body of past trauma can start in ways not directly related to to the injury itself, if that makes sense. As other posters said it's also super important to find a partner you can trust enough to be honest about this with. Someone who will have the patience and understanding to go at your pace. If it seems too intimidating at first start with building a platonic connection and go from there. I know it's been a while since anyone posted in this thread but just wanted to say I hope you're doing well and be patient with yourself too!
 
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