Sex while shut down

crob529

New Here
My partner is upset with me because, a couple days ago, we had sex while I was shut down. It just sort of happened. He’d been avoiding me for a few days, then suddenly he was there and cuddling with me. It didn’t feel good. I wasn’t feeling much of anything at that point, but it definitely made me feel uncomfortable. I diverted to sex instead. Is that weird? Or wrong? I told him he didn’t need to feel bad about it. I consented. Hell, I initiated it. And I enjoyed it. It felt good to feel something. Didn’t feel so good afterward, because it didn’t address the reason he’d been avoiding me for days. That isolation is what prompted my shut down. I’m coming out of the shut down now, but still not feeling much. Confusion, mostly, I think. Last we talked, I laid out for him how I was feeling and where I was at. That’s when he went into hiding. I’m not upset about the sex. I am upset that he spent the two days after it pretending that things were back to normal, while I was still shut down and waiting for us to finally talk things through. His avoidant behaviour is a major trigger for me. It’s exactly what my abusive ex would do-hurt me, then disappear for days after I tried to address it, just to come back and pretend like it had never happened. Sends me right back there when my current partner repeats this pattern. He knows this. We’ve talked about it a lot. My therapist thinks my partner is having his own trauma response when he hears that he’s hurt me. It could also be RSD, or even both. It’s too much for me, though. I need things dealt with as they come up, or I don’t get to feel safe. There’s just a pile of reasons for me to not feel safe otherwise. Anyway, that got really off track. Any advice would be appreciated, but what I really wanted to know was if engaging in sex while shut down is wrong for me to do.
 

prynne

Confident
By "shut down" do you mean feeling dissociated, feeling emotionally numb (but not dissociated in any other way), or something different?

I avoid sex when I'm feeling dissociated or upset in any way because I know that sex will very likely turn into a situation where I go into a flashback (sometimes involving me thinking I'm in danger again and I need to pretend to want sex or I will be hurt) or dissociate so badly that I can't signal to my partner in any way that I don't want to continue.

It's upsetting for both me and my partner when this happens. It upsets me because it feels like being raped all over again, it upsets him because he feels like he raped me. Even though I technically consented, he feels like when I'm upset it's impossible for me to give true consent. No matter how much I try to convince him that he didn't do anything wrong, he doesn't believe it. He always feels like he should have been able to tell. He has also had some complicated feelings of anger towards me, feeling mad that I didn't say anything and feeling like I tricked him into doing something horrible, even though he also feels like during those times I'm not capable of saying anything. Your partner may feel something similar when you have sex with him when you're shut down.

It is concerning that instead of feeling like you could tell your partner that you were uncomfortable with cuddling, you initiated sex instead. Not weird or wrong, but it doesn't sound healthy for either of you or for your relationship. You said that you know that you guys have communication issues though and that you're working on it
 

crob529

New Here
By "shut down" do you mean feeling dissociated, feeling emotionally numb (but not dissociated in any other way), or something different?

I avoid sex when I'm feeling dissociated or upset in any way because I know that sex will very likely turn into a situation where I go into a flashback (sometimes involving me thinking I'm in danger again and I need to pretend to want sex or I will be hurt) or dissociate so badly that I can't signal to my partner in any way that I don't want to continue.

It's upsetting for both me and my partner when this happens. It upsets me because it feels like being raped all over again, it upsets him because he feels like he raped me. Even though I technically consented, he feels like when I'm upset it's impossible for me to give true consent. No matter how much I try to convince him that he didn't do anything wrong, he doesn't believe it. He always feels like he should have been able to tell. He has also had some complicated feelings of anger towards me, feeling mad that I didn't say anything and feeling like I tricked him into doing something horrible, even though he also feels like during those times I'm not capable of saying anything. Your partner may feel something similar when you have sex with him when you're shut down.

It is concerning that instead of feeling like you could tell your partner that you were uncomfortable with cuddling, you initiated sex instead. Not weird or wrong, but it doesn't sound healthy for either of you or for your relationship. You said that you know that you guys have communication issues though and that you're working on it
I wasn’t dissociating. Not fully, anyway. I was still here, just mostly emotionless. Sex is actually easier for me in that state than it normally is. I’m much less anxious going into it and am less likely to end up triggered by anything that happens during it. I think he would have left if I’d said I was uncomfortable with the cuddling. He definitely would have felt rejected and that wouldn’t have gone well. I didn’t want him to leave, though. I was tired of being alone. Definitely nothing healthy about any of this. I hate it.
 

arfie

MyPTSD Pro
that is as personal as decisions get with no absolute answer, but it's wrong for me. it leads me to extremely ugly places that the love of my life has no business ever visiting. he deserves far, far better than that. he also deserves better than being effected by my aversion to touch, etc. what's a crazy woman to do? am i lucky to have found a man which has put up with that conundrum for 42 years, or what?

i compromise with gentle, compassionate honesty and take it one play at a time. sometimes i practice clinical detachment when my husband **has needs**. the psychic repercussions seem milder when i do so with open honesty. sigh. . . gentle empathy on the delicacy of the problem.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
but what I really wanted to know was if engaging in sex while shut down is wrong for me to do.
Spent most of my life having sex in this state! And totally understand what you say about it. It can be enjoyable in the moment (can also partly not be in the mind), and afterwards there can be a feeling of something not positive.

It's understandable that your partner is upset that you had sex whilst shut down. I see that as a response from a partner who wants you there, consenting, because you desire your partner and you're focused on them and you and the moment.
Having sex whilst shut down isn't that.
Like you say, it's a way to 'feel something'.

Is it wrong? I don't think it's a matter of wrong or right.


What I'm hearing though is an issue about communication. You've been shut down, upset her has retreated, and then sex came (a form of communication and a way to experience attention etc). I wonder if there is another way to communicate during these times?
 
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