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Dr. L
Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1165
Experience:  Psychologist, Marriage and Family Therapist
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I have some intamacy issues. I have trouble being intimate

Customer Question

I have some intamacy issues. I have trouble being intimate with my husband, I believe it is due to a past relationship that was very dysfunctional. I was with this person for 8 years from the time I was 17, it was a bad relationship, therefore there was never a healthy sex life, so I grew to dread having sex. Now that I am with someone that I love very much, bit it's like I have a conditioned response, and as soon as I know we are going to be intimate, my body tenses up, I get nervous, I have a very hard time enjoying sex and I feel like it is becoming a problem in my current relationship. My husband wants me to initiate sex, and I just can't do it. I need to find a way to overcome this response, relax and enjoy sex. I would like to meet with a therapist in person, but there are none in my area that specialize in sex therapy. Thank you in advance for your advice.

Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. L replied 1 year ago.

Dr. L :

Hello,

Dr. L :

I would like to help you with your question.

Dr. L :

I am sorry that this is happening to you. I do think you are correct in believing that there is a link between the intimacy issues you have today..and the past abusive relationship you were in.

Customer:

Yes, and I would like to take steps to fix it.

Dr. L :

While your experience of sexual intimacy was negatively impacted by this relationship..there are other issues that likely were damaged as well. I am referring to trust, self-confidence, and an understanding of being "partners".

Customer:

Yes, the relationship was dysfunctional in every way.

Dr. L :

So...while your thought would be to see a therapist with specialized training in sex therapy...what might be even more important is to see a therapist who has experience with trauma. When I read what you wrote...I imagine the greatest part of what you have experienced is trauma.

Dr. L :

Yes...you are right in thinking that you need help with intimacy...but the broader experience is that you were traumatized by this relationship.

Dr. L :

Does this make sense to you?

Customer:

I suppose, but I feel like I have gotten past most of the other issues, I am satisfied in my current relationship, except in this one area.

Customer:

Yes, I was traumatized by that relationship, I was young when I got with that person and never had a "normal" relationship

Dr. L :

And that is the point I was trying to make...that your experience in that relationship
provided you with a road map that was dysfunctional and is now causing problems...specifically in the area of sexual intimacy.

Customer:

yes, I need to find a way to change that automatic response that seems to happen, where my body just wants to tense up and shut it out.

Dr. L :

Most therapists have training in sexual development as part of their course work.

Dr. L :

Those automatic responses are trauma.

Customer:

I have been to thereapists in the past, I feel like all they ever want to do is make you answer our own questions. I get that you have to find your own answers because only you know what goes on in your own head, but I need to know actual steps to take that will help me get past this.

Dr. L :

Your body shut down during those past abusive experiences...and are likely to continue until you can work to address those past negative reactions.

Customer:

I suppose, it's a response that happens when I know we are going to be intimate, I am assuming that it started when I had to be intimate with someone who treated me badly and who I actually came to hate.

Customer:

Yes, and I don't know how to get past it.

Dr. L :

Yes...you are right...it's like a switch that gets flipped...your body learned how to block out those negative experiences and continues to do so today...even though you are with a person that you love and respect.

Customer:

Ok, so any advice on how to get past it, or to start to change how I think about it?

Dr. L :

I can suggest some reading for you as a way to better understand what you have experienced. Still...the greatest benefit is going to come from seeing a trauma therapist.

Dr. L :

The first part of changing is realizing that you have been traumatized and that what you are experiencing is likely post-traumatic stress disorder. I would encourage you to talk to your family physician or to find a trauma therapist so that you can have a proper evaluation.

Dr. L :

You can learn to act and react differently. Still...it will take time and courage. Your husband will also need to be involved so that he learns how to support you emotionally and physically. Both of you will need to practice patience as you come to understand how your past has impacted you and how you can move forward with a healthy sexual relationship.

Dr. L :

I would encourage you to read:

Dr. L :

Secrets, Lies and Betrayals by Maggie Scarf

Customer:

Ok.

Dr. L : Also see: Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror by Judith Herman
Dr. L :

You might also check the literature on Domestic Abuse, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), or Trauma

Dr. L :

Is this helpful to you?

Customer:

I will look into the reading and see if I can find a therapist in my area.

Dr. L :

A good place to look for a therapist is:

Dr. L :

www.psychologytoday.com

Dr. L :

You will see an icon on the home page that says: Find a Therapist

Customer:

Yeah, I found that site throug google as well.

Dr. L :

Good. You will be able to find a list of therapists in your area. It will include biographies as well as contact information.

Dr. L :

Is there any thing else I can help you with this evening?

Customer:

No thanks, XXXXX XXXXX look into finding a therapist that I can meet with.

Dr. L :

Very good.

Dr. L :

Take care!

Dr. L :

If I can be of help to you in the future, please let me know.

Dr. L :

Thanks.

Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1165
Experience: Psychologist, Marriage and Family Therapist
Dr. L and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Dr. L replied 1 year ago.
Hello,
I have another suggestions for you:

Please take a look at the following book as it might be beneficial:

Healing Sex. A mind-body approach to healing sexual trauma

Author: Staci Haines

I have used this book with clients and they found it helpful.

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