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Relationship distress TW negative sex experiences

TW negative sex experiences


I'm not feeling good about my relationship, especially the sexual side of things, and it scares me.


I'm 25 and my husband is the only serious relationship I've been in. We started dating when I was 18. I was in a really bad mental health space (although honestly I don't think I've ever really been in good mental health). I opened up to him and initially he was a good support. But it got too much for him and he told a bunch of people and it really hurt me, and really damaged my relationship with my family. And he got sick of it and stopped wanting to hear about it, and started responding with frustration or dismissiveness or anger rather than support. I stopped sharing those things with him.


We got married a couple of years later. We were Christians when dating/ getting married and had the mindset of dating each other to figure out if we were going to get married and to prepare to be married. While dating I was afraid of losing him. I'm autistic (although I didn't know that at the time) and like many other autistic people have experienced a LOT of rejection and rarely feel accepted, and opportunities for meaningful relationships feel really scarce. And he added a lot of good things to my life (still does) and I didn't want to lose that.


In terms of the sexual side of things, we were waiting until marriage. We set boundaries for while dating. For autistic me that's pretty simple- we've said we won't do X, Y or Z, so we won't. But then sometimes he would, and it was confusing and distressing. I would shut down and go nonverbal and freeze and feel really wrong. Then we got married, and it went from nothing being 'allowed' by our religion because we weren't married, to everything feeling like it was expected because we were married, in the space of a day. And it was awful. For the first 2 years I found sex really distressing and stressful and I dreaded it and didn't feel like I had a choice. And I felt like I was letting him down. I had never orgasmed. There were points it seemed he knew I didn't want to do something but he kept going anyway and it made me feel really hurt and like I didn't matter. At one point I tried to tell him how I was finding it (there was broader context but I said 'I don't know if I ever like sex'). He got really angry and defensive and tried brought up a time I was happy while having sex and then every few months would bring up how hurtful it was the time I said I didn't think I liked sex. Part of me thought maybe the reason it wasn't good was my fault because I'd married him not fully trusting him (like with mental health stuff).


I also wondered if I might be asexual, or gay, and felt trapped and locked in. After a couple of years I read some kinky stuff and got turned on and realised some things I was into, and we started trying that. It was better, and I experienced some sexual pleasure and started sometimes enjoying or looking forward to it. But I'm only sometimes in the mood or able to get into it. It is better now, though, I feel way less pressured into sex and I sometimes enjoy it.


Yesterday he came home from work and I was wearing casual clothes (hippy flowy pants and a bright  t-shirt) and he brought up that he wished I'd wear summer dresses more. Then later he asked what would make me feel like dressing up in pretty clothes and being flirty with him when he got home from work. And I don't know the answer to his question but it makes me feel like I'm still failing, even when things felt somewhat better, and it brings up a lot of feelings over our history that I've really only recently been acknowledging to myself.


Any insights or suggestions or general kindness very welcome


Re: Relationship distress TW negative sex experiences

Dear @inthewoods ,


Firstly, Welcome to the forums. 


As a peer support worker, I want to acknowledge your bravery in reaching out to share your story. You have been very honest in speaking openly about your negative experiences.


I'm sorry to hear things did not start off so well, but glad that things are somewhat getting better. It sounds like you have thought a lot about this and was wondering if you have a trusted person or support networks around you who you can reach out to?


Conversations around sex are very important to have, particularly around negative experiences. We want you to know we are here for you and there are services you may be interested in including

Relationships Australia: 


There are many here who relate to negative experiences of sex. We hope you find validation, support and a listening ear.






Re: Relationship distress TW negative sex experiences

Hi there @inthewoods

There are themes in what you wrote that I can relate to (male, 28)

All I can say is that from what I have read and heard around people our ages (in your 20s) is that it is hard to navigate these things because they involve ourselves at our most vulnerable.

If we are to be vulnerable then we don't want to be taken advantage of. I sense there is conflict in yourself and in your post. I hope it resolves and you find the answers you need. Many here will sympathise.

I can't pretend to say that the religion side of things is foreign to me. I was religious in my teens and I have a lot of repression from it. I don't mean that in a disrespectful way to you.

I do hope you find some answers.

Re: Relationship distress TW negative sex experiences

You said that you were both Christians when you dated/married, so I'm not actually sure whether to address you as someone looking from a Christian, secular or some other position, in this current moment. From a "people based" perspective, I'm happy to address from any mix of positions (same would go for just about all of us, feels safe to say).


A cleric and a clinician would approach things differently but with significant crossover. From what I can tell for now, I would recommend a mix of spiritual and secular approaches. That way you can find the parts of both that matter the most to you.

Re: Relationship distress TW negative sex experiences

Hey, I hope you’ve found some help in coming forward and writing all this out. Sometimes it can help to clarify matters in our own minds by doing so. Are you both still Christians, or in the same denomination you were when you were dating?

While I don’t want to invalidate your feelings of being scared of not finding a meaningful relationship, I’ve always seen it as not being something to be afraid of – because none of us start out coupled up, and a relationship should add joy to your life. I know that a couple of my Christian friends, when they were seriously courting and engaged, they did some explorative activities together, and once I stayed with them on a trip away and made them sleep in the same bed together – thus, effectively chaperoning them, haha. I’ve also heard of some Christian couples, who, upon marrying, gradually ease into sexual activity, even waiting for their first anniversary to have ‘full’ sexual intercourse.

I can see why you might have felt anxious upon the wedding night and the early days – going from nothing allowed to everything expected must have been scary. I can also see how not feeling like you could confide in him about mental health stuff may have made you feel more apart from him, when ideally you two should have been leaning into each other and growing together.

It’s quite common for women to be ‘demisexual’ , a kind of asexuality – only experiencing sexual attraction when you feel a safe emotional connection with your partner. You may be slightly demisexual, or you may simply be somewhat gunshy about the whole sexuality thing. Again, not uncommon among young women, who can even experience pain during penetrative sex (vaginismus) if they are anxious.

I’m glad you’ve found some stuff that you’re into. May I suggest that you find some quality time to masturbate on a regular basis? (You don’t have to say here whether you do or don’t!) It will help your brain create the neuroplastic pathways for pleasure and enjoyment, and it will create a positive response cycle. ( ) I would also recommend reading everything you can about sexuality – if you’re into books, Emily Nagoski’s Come as You Are is great, and Nancy Friday’s book My Secret Garden is a very interesting look at women’s sexual fantasies (if difficult to find in a library). If you’re more into websites, is a great American source, but it’s not Christian in focus. I would want to caution you regarding romance novels, though – I’ve found that the more I’ve gotten into romance novels while in a relationship, the unhappier I was with my relationship – not that the romance novels caused the unhappiness, but it was a symptom of the unhappiness in that I turned my energies away from my partner.

I can see why your husband’s wish brought up a lot of feelings for you, and I would second tyme’s suggestion that you talk it all out with Relationships Australia. Maybe it’s as simple as that he wants to feel wanted by you, or that the honeymoon period is over in the relationship. It can become like a monkey’s grip situation, where the more he feels unwanted, the more wishes he makes, which makes you feel like you’re failing, which makes you not want to be sexual with him, which makes him feel unwanted. Relationships Australia might be best placed to help you brainstorm some strategies to break the cycle.

Anyway, I hope that something of what I’ve said is of use to you. Best of luck, @intothewoods .

Re: Relationship distress TW negative sex experiences

Ack! sorry, I meant to tag @inthewoods!
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