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How to enjoy sex after bad experiences with sex

I'm in a long term relationship with a man that I love. His supportive, caring and great. The reason I'm seeking guidance is because I cant feel emotions during sex and I'm not sure what steps to take to fix it? I'll explain why.


My partner was telling me how he loves 'being' with me because it's an emotional experience and it makes him feel close to me. I didnt understand this. Sex has never been emotional to me and having sex does not make me feel close to him. For me, sex seems like something I do to be satisfied 'physically' rather than 'emotionally'. He explained that physical and emotional are two different types of sex which I do understand but I havent personally experienced. 


He speaks of this emotional connectedness as something amazing and that two partners should share in a healthy relationship. I'm sad because I dont feel this? I do know that I love him and care for him deeply but when it comes to sex I dont feel this emotional thing he speaks of?


I think it might be because my first ever sexual experience wasnt great. I was 15 and without going into details I was essentially taken advantage of (sexually) by two people I honestly believed would never hurt me. We grew up together, I classed them and two of my closest friends but they drugged me and... yeah. I could tell that something bad happened because I was...kind of hurt down there and they just disappeared. Never heard from them again. I told my mother and she didnt do anything so I pushed it to the back of my mind. A few years later I met my partner and fell in love. I felt like I could finally open up but I still struggle with the intimate side of things.


My partner knows what happened. How can I experience intimacy? Sex just feels like a physical process to me. I want to know what it feels like to be normal and involve emotions in sex with someone you love and trust. I want to feel like 'connectedness' people speak of but at the moment it just seems hopeless because I feel like it's so ingrained into me to be the way I am.

Re: How to enjoy sex after bad experiences with sex

I'm very sorry you had that traumatic experience Smiley Sad how wonderful that you're in a healthy relationship with someone you love, though!


Perhaps you could try involving other things that do help you feel emotionally connected to your partner either during or before sex? Eg telling each other what you love about each other or playing a song that you feel captures something of your relationship...


Good luck, I think it's great that you're wanting to grow this area of your relationship Smiley Happy


Re: How to enjoy sex after bad experiences with sex

Hey @Unknowwn


Thank you so much for sharing such a deeply personal story. You are very brave for letting us hear about such a personal event. @hellofriend has given some really great. I also really really strongly suggest that you get in to contact with 1800 Respect (1800 737 732, or They have a 24/7 support line for those who've been impacted by sexual abuse and would have a lot of professional advice about what to do in your current situation, and rebuilding a healthy attitude around sex. 

We're all here to support you Heart 


Re: How to enjoy sex after bad experiences with sex

hi @Unknowwn and welcome
im so sorry you had this experience but i want you to know that it wasnt your fault and that your not alone. i can relate to you in some ways as i was to abused sexually when i was younger and im ok to talk about things that you might be experiencing from the incident as well.

I can only go off my own experiences but have you heard of dissociation before? It sounds like perhaps that when you are being intimate with your partner your mind is shutting down, usually this is a result of the trauma you have experienced. Its not intentional on your behalf but rather a subconscious thing.
Trauma also can have that lack of connectedness feeling attached as well.

For me i find it very hard to connect with others, love yes but not actually feel connected and not just intimately but in general as well.

You meantioned not getting help when it happened but do you think you could get some counselling sessions now to help you to move forward, its never to late to get help? A sex therapist or a truama focussed therapist i think would be able to both help you work through what happened and to also help you to feel connected to your partner

Hellofriend and Jess have given some really good suggestions as well. Please know we are all here to support, listen and help you
**NEVER be afraid to ask for help because you're WORTH it!**

Re: How to enjoy sex after bad experiences with sex

Thank you everyone for the advice. I should probably look into counselling however o would find it hard to speak to a complete stranger dace to face about what happened. Also it happened 6 years ago so i dont know if thats still relevant.

You speak of dissociation, I guess this makes sense as I do feel like my mind shuts down during. Not only that but the thought of being very close to someone makes me feel uncomfortable almost like it makes me want to cringe??

I can relate with you as don't know how it feels to connect with someone. I can communicate and be around others but I don't feel as if I have a 'connection so to speak. I think yous are right in saying that I should speak to someone.

Re: How to enjoy sex after bad experiences with sex

hi @Unknowwn
if you put an @ symbol names will pop up and you are able to click and tag them so that each member knows your 'talking' to them Smiley Happy

Speaking to someone sounds like a good idea, the timeframe doesnt matter, mine happened around 8 years ago now but like you i hadnt reached out for years after. Perhaps to start with if face-face isnt something your comfortable with then contacting KHL and arranging weekly sessions with a counsellor would be helpful for now? you can speak to the same counsellor (or someone else if your not comfortable with the person your speaking with) and you can also request male/female counsellors without judgment.

Or if you arent comfortable in actually saying what happened to a counsellor perhaps writing what happened ona piece of paper would be ok, you dont have to tell your story all at once but maybe give them something to go on like 'i was assaulted and im having trouble feeling connected to people' might be ok for you...

**NEVER be afraid to ask for help because you're WORTH it!**

Re: How to enjoy sex after bad experiences with sex

hey @Unknowwn, a lot of people have already given some really great insights but I wanted to add in my own two cents. 


I agree with @scared01 that you might be experiencing some dissociation during intimacy with your partner, and that it's probably rooted in your early bad experience with sex. Experiences (especially things we experience early in life, and our first experiences)  play a huge part in shaping our reactions, emotions, and behaviours around the topics of those experiences, and sex is especially tricky because there are so many complicated things such as consent, bodily autonomy, emotion and intimacy involved. Like you, I had a really bad early experience with sex and because of that I always saw sex as something you do but never felt a sense of connection from it; for me it was primarily a way you used to control and hold power over other people. It was only until I was in a long term relationship with a loving and sensitive partner that I learnt to relax and enjoy the process and feel emotions during it.


I agree that speaking to a counsellor or calling a hotline would be a good idea in helping you talk about what happened, but I also want to add that there is no 'right' way to feel about sex. Many people see sex as a way of establishing emotional connection and intimacy and that's great! But there are also people who don't enjoy having sex, feel indifferent to it, and are even repulsed by it, and their feelings on sex also deserve to be respected. I think it's much more complicated for you because you were taken advantage of your friends, and because of that it's important to explore what meaning sex has for you in a space where you feel safe and not judged without feeling pressured to 'feel' in a certain way.