How to stop dissociating during sex

grief

Sponsor
i haven't gotten anywhere near passed this, per se, but we have found ways that make things easier.

and kind of like "ingredients": a healthy dose of acceptance-this is where it may be, this is what may be happening, la la la. if it happens it happens. for me in particuler my dissociation is pretty bad. i dissociate from my entire body. and i have no feelings anywhere. and i struggle with everything physically.

and that has never gotten better and i'm not convinced it will get better, but it may, with time. there have been moments where it has been okay, but they are outliers. it's not something i strive for because it is sastisfactory as it is, and i don't enjoy forcing myself to suffer-and neither does my husband.

so it almost is a completely different experience (and i'm talking about sex in general, not intercourse-which is completely f*cking different altogether-it happens, but it's less frequent-for obvious reasons-physical and emotional, blah blah). and more or less with the caveat that if any one of us is distressed, we stop. full stop, immediately.

having that freedom has really helped that this is a space where we can experiment and play and not set things in stone. that something may work one way or one day and other times it may not. that one or both of us is not failing at sex, we are just moving through the experience in the place that we are at.

we both observe each other and check in and things. it's not a one way street, or something one of us is doing to another. and most people would say that is all highly dissociated and i'd agree that it is. for us what has helped at the end of the day is freedom, space and acceptence and letting things unfold, and being willing to hit the pause button.

to find things that actually work to cause pleasure without causing distress-

(tmi shit) this one is hard for me because the obvious things, which is-physical contact-almost universally f*ck me up. some times i can move through this and work with it. it depends on what it is paired with. for me being verbal works really well, because it is harder for me to just lie there and zone out.

some times i cannot work with it at all and it ends up becoming more cerebral. and this is some thing that i have learned is very individuel to me that i have not heard other people describe-it's almost in the realm of like-i don't know how to describe it-like your stories, or sexting, or something. where the physical aspect may take a back seat, but we are still together.

anyway, bla bla! i have absolutely no advise for solo at all. that's something that pretty much does not happen for me. but maybe there is something in that text wall of blah!

i'm someone who struggles immensely in almost every area of this. so maybe it may be usefull but at the end of the day for you your solutions are going to be different. sex is very personel everyone's idea of good sex is distinct.

and this is ultimetely a problem i haven't solved so all of this may actually be entirely f*cking useless, my apologies.
 

Mee

MyPTSD Pro
it’s really tough. Dh and I try and talk to each other - not just ‘that feels good , more’ sort of stuff but grounding - ‘I love the feel of your skin, ( bringing things you can see , smell, taste , touch and hear into the experience to ground)

I wonder if gender is relevant to how we tackle the issue here? Sometimes non ptsd suffering men do disassociate / think about other stuff to delay ejaculation ? Does that become almost habitual? for me my ‘performance anxiety’ is the other end of the extreme- will I relax enough to allow any penetration, will I lubricate at all ( I know lube shouldn’t matter and we use anyway but - it’s like orgasm doesn’t matter - it sure helps you feel good. And yes- will it hurt a lot or only a bit ? Will it feel anything near good? And a lot of junk about orgasm. Anything that comes near ‘turning me on ’ more can only be good where as I wonder if the pressure to maintain an erection and delay ejaculation means that sort of stuff might be tougher for some men facing similar trauma issues?
 
The pressure to achieve and maintain an erection is so immense that I can't do it. So we've taken that off the table, which makes me feel horrible since I know my partner likes intercourse more than anything else sexually.

But I don't know how much that has to to with the topic. Even if I'm just lying there and my partner is working on me, I can't just enjoy the feelings - I have to go to a fantasy in my head. Even if I'm just masturbating, I can't just let myself feel good - I have to go into my fantasy world. If I don't, no erection and no orgasm.

I guess erection and orgasm might be too important to me. But I'm afraid about what will happen if they're not there.
 

ruborcoraxxx

MyPTSD Pro
But I'm afraid about what will happen if they're not there.
Perhaps you can work on this.

I struggle immensely with being present when intercourse happens. It's like I come back and forth from some lurch land, it's not exactly a fantasy, it's a nothings.

What has worked a lot for me is superficial touch and sort of asmr sensations. The upper body has a lot of nerve endings and it can feel as strong as an orgasm just on a clavicle, your back or whatever. It really comes on how you like being touched. I noticed that the indirectness it works far better than with yalla let's go.

Alone I try to work on edging. Edging edging edging. Music helps too. Having a soft half focus. I'm very much subject to random sexual urges that pop literally out of nowhere and not super often so it's quite difficult to remember to listen to my body instead of just blaf and have a shit orgasm or no orgasm at all.

I try to make special moments inside of my room and work on the space as being comfy and safe and handy for it all at the same time. Very much "this is my room and nothing bad will happen".

Also I noticed it was less bad with partners who did tolerate the dissociation and wouldn't get scared I'm a bit off. In my specific case, I know I am still consenting and I can state it again. But there were many moments of confusion where they'd be disturbed by the fact I looked a bit in trance, but it worsens if I'm told this is happening. Gentle touch and holding makes me come back, as well as talking and yada yada.

I don't know if it should be such a requirement to be grounded at all times in sex. In fact, I think it has some dissociative component in the sense your attention is shifting from your environment to what's happening. Now the thing is to realise it's something of the here and now and not wherever with whomever. But I think partners should be allowed to drift away and gently come back in turns. There is nothing wrong with that as long as everyone is comfortable. I often found massages and snuggling and decoration and outfits to be more fun and physiologically pleasurable than sexual stimulation per se. There are just many many many ways to have quite strong sensations without direct sexual stimulation at all. And it can be very gentle and not frankly kinky, just sharing kindness. And just throw performance in the pit, that idea really doesn't bring any joy! 😝

I don't know if it makes sense of helps. I hope it does a bit!
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
The pressure to achieve and maintain an erection is so immense that I can't do it. So we've taken that off the table, which makes me feel horrible since I know my partner likes intercourse more than anything else sexually
That sounds a really good idea to take the pressure off. And it's just off the table for now, rather than for ever, so is there a way of making you feel less horrible about the situation? It's working towards it at a time that is better for you both?

- I have to go to a fantasy in my head.
It sounds as though this is something you don't want to (have to) do? Because lots of people prob have fantasties in their heads (do they? I do.). Is it the 'having' to have a fantasy that needs worked on?

It's all so freaking complicated.

I find that having sex/solo sex when I actually desire it, helps. So so so so so many times have sex/solo sex because of other reasons like: it's on offer so i should (the main reason); or I want to prove that I can; or I am experimenting about whether I will cry or not.
But actually doing it because I am aroused and want to: that helps focus on feelings and the here and now.
It also helps with the fantasies as they are not needed then: too focused on the feelings to have head space for those thoughts.
 
It's working towards it at a time that is better for you both?
I haven't thought about it like this. Hmmmm.

I am also terribly bad at communicating about sex, so my partner and I haven't ever discussed whether the lack of intercourse is temporary or permanent. I've just assumed it's permanent, and I think she has too (but in actuality I have no way to really know that).
It sounds as though this is something you don't want to (have to) do? Because lots of people prob have fantasties in their heads (do they? I do.).
I really do not like my fantasies at all since they are all about the same abuse-related thing every time.

I had some success replacing these fantasies with more "typical" fantasies a few years ago, but it was very hard work. I guess I just have to do it again, groan.
So so so so so many times have sex/solo sex because of other reasons like: it's on offer so i should (the main reason); or I want to prove that I can; or I am experimenting about whether I will cry or not.
This also hit home with me - I usually masturbate not because I want to, but because I feel like I have to. So that's something else to work on, I guess.
 

Mee

MyPTSD Pro
The pressure to achieve and maintain an erection is so immense that I can't do it. So we've taken that off the table, which makes me feel horrible since I know my partner likes intercourse more than anything else sexually.

But I don't know how much that has to to with the topic. Even if I'm just lying there and my partner is working on me, I can't just enjoy the feelings - I have to go to a fantasy in my head. Even if I'm just masturbating, I can't just let myself feel good - I have to go into my fantasy world. If I don't, no erection and no orgasm.

I guess erection and orgasm might be too important to me. But I'm afraid about what will happen if they're not there.
Its really difficult.
For me my physicality and ‘performance’ ( horrible word- what’s an alternative please?) is totally related to the topic - but I didn’t ask the question!

if you need to fantasise, then is staying fully present truly desirable?

disassociation in itself isn’t dreadful or wrong, after all? For me it’s not helpful during sex as my ‘leaving the situation’ takes me somewhere bad following. Otherwise maybe fantasy would work for me too:)
 
if you need to fantasise, then is staying fully present truly desirable?

disassociation in itself isn’t dreadful or wrong, after all?
Yes, I guess not in moderation. I feel like what I do is not in moderation though. I feel compelled to fantasize and would really like to be able to stay present some of the time.

I really appreciate all the responses so far from everyone - thank you.
 

grit

MyPTSD Pro
Sometimes we are injured certain ways and the injury - we cannot do much about but how we react, process and compensate is our own creative and unique way of living. I am sorry you are struggling with dissociation during sex. Reading your post, I felt you were judging and being hard on yourself. I felt you were comparing yourself to others whom of course we will never know for sure how they keep up their own erections. We are all so unique in our own way of pleasing us or others. Maybe I am not understanding something, but I do not think it should matter to your partner what is in your mind/head while being pleased only that their contribution is part of the pleasing. I do not see this being any different than having paralysis and still wanting to please a partner - we gotta do what we can do with what we get. Still this does not lessen the dissociation factor which you are working hard to dispel. I hope you are more compassionate with yourself.
 

grief

Sponsor
Reading your post, I felt you were judging and being hard on yourself. I felt you were comparing yourself to others whom of course we will never know for sure how they keep up their own erections.
i'd agree with this. i'm assuming that i'm honestly just built different or whatever, but erections and orgasm are not even really part of my sexual repetoire. and i still have sex. a lot of it! lol. so, you know, it's-it's variable it really is, everyone has a different sexual experience, because sex isn't actually about any of those things.

i remember reading about this shit called a psychogenic orgasm and that's pretty much what happens to me. it's like @ruborcoraxxx says, your body will actually adapt and start sending the signals to other parts of the body. and this is not woo-woo bullshit, it's scientific-they have done studies on paraplegic men and that is exactly what happens.

i literally almost never engage in these physical processes. it happens physiologically, sometimes (orgasm pretty much never but erections sometimes, you know, it happens. i'm fairly young.)

but i ignore it-don't feel it, don't care. husband has learned to ignore it as well. (and this one was probably the hardest part of our problems because, like, he would assume that it meant i didn't want him, or what ever. but openness and consistency and experience has obviously proven this is false, so he doesn't care anymore.)

my brain and my body decided unanimously that those two things, are not okay for me. so i don't do it. and i know it's trauma, but whatever! whatever. it just is trauma and that's fine! and if i go through all this therepy and shit and it gets better? okay! but if it never gets better-you know what i mean? the biggest factor for me was just learning to accept that i am the way i am.

and i know that isn't easy for you @somerandomguy , i know you're stuck on this. but i think you really should consider the ways you are able to have sex, that do work for you. the parts of sex that aren't about the things that you have a hard time with. are they there, at all? or is sex just about erections and orgasming? like, you know what i mean? i don't say this with judgment to you at all.

and coming to terms with things like: what gets you off, that is not about abuse. what actually is healthy for you versus unhealthy. what stimulates you that is healthy. the things about your partner that get you off. fantasy is a normal part of sex, are there fantasies you have that are not abusive? instead of fantasizing about them, maybe you can start to narrow down the actual aspects of it that are appealing.

and i know this is f*cking cerebral as hell, but that's the kind of shit i had to do. literally analyze and examine all the things that were in common with my fantasies and how to incorporate this stuff into my life in a healthy way. like-i obviously (tmi) like being dominated, a lot. it's possible to include that without humiliation and degredation which was a big part of my fantasies as well-like abuse fantasies like you say.

and the reasons are very obvious, it's probably trauma, and that's okay. but when i could incorporate some things (like my husband will order me around and shit, sorry, tmi)-in a way that wasn't abusive, in ways that don't make me feel bad or weird or-you know, taking the parters of all of this, and building a network that may include some of these concepts, but not all of them.

i used to be the exact same way. it wasn't sex unless someone was getting off. sex was just about body parts, only. that's all it was. no meaning and purpose beyond mindless movement. (and i'm not saying you're thinking like this, just that this is what it was like for me.) and honestly maybe it still isn't sex, i actually don't know, to me it is, that's what matters.

and if your partner likes intercourse more than anything else, there are ways to achieve that without an erection. have you guys ever explored things like toys? or even prosthetics? i have a lot of transgender friends and they use prosthetics (which are different than toys, they are softer and more pliable but also are designed, in some cases, for penetrative sex)

there's also sleeves and shit you can use that form the shape (my trans friends who have had stage 1 phallo use these in place of an erection rod). there are a lot of options! a big part of a lot of this is learning to be more open about sex in general. and that's f*cking hard. i'm not good at it either. me and my husband communecated about a lot of this through writing because i wasn't able to talk about it face to face.

is that an option for you and your partner? (written versus verbal.) because you do seem more able to be open about it online, maybe it may help her and you both to have a more written exchange (not like text messages-i didn't find texting helpful because it was almost like talking. we did emails.)

anyway this is another blah blah but i hope that you can start to work some of this out!
 

Freddyt

MyPTSD Pro
This also hit home with me - I usually masturbate not because I want to, but because I feel like I have to. So that's something else to work on, I guess.
It's our old friend hyper-vigilance and his best buddy hyper-arousal. You are not alone.

OMG this could turn into a wall of text pretty quickly. To stop that, I guess just a few points:

1. Intimate time together is about her and her alone for me. If things on my end are substandard then it's still about her. Be creative and find a way. Websters says disorder is a state of confusion. That's whats going on for you. Confusion causes stress and that fires up everything else that's not good.

2. Alone time is the same as you @somerandomguy. We have a disorder. Just understanding that word says most of it - it's disordered. Fantasies included.

3. A year of therapy and there are changes to fantasies. They were in some unsavoury places but it's changing back to more "mainstream".

4. I don't have the focus today to look for an answer but I believe when your trauma happened feeds into this. I am beginning to think that maturity level that affects all this:
  • Post puberty - there is an understanding of normal sex that is interrupted and except for the actual trauma they have a chance to recover to a more normal sex life.
  • Pre puberty - You are using a warped sense of what sex is and is about because it developed in disorder with trauma past or present, along with all the other symptoms of PTSD. Hyper everything helps really screw things up here because it is more of a chemical need (see cortisol) than a true sexual need but a powerful need all the same.
5. I still have no idea what the hell normal is in all this.
 
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