Turned On By Kindness

image (1)“I love him but I don’t desire him” is a statement I often hear from clients and course members.

Our culture teaches us to be turned on by mystery. Desire and longing are so intimately linked that it’s often when a relationship becomes solid and real that the desire withers. This can happen on the first date if you sense immediately that the person is available and wants you, or it can happen several months into the relationship. The shift often happens when the burning, desire-inducing question of “Do you really love me?” is answered. Heather Havrilesky nails it in this article:

I’m an advice columnist, so sometimes people ask me about how they can “keep the romance alive” in their marriages. This stumps me a little because, by “romance,” I know they mean the traditional version, the one that depends on living inside a giant, suspenseful question mark. This version of romance is all about that thrilling moment when you think that someone may have just materialized who will make every single thing in the world feel delicious and amazing and right forever and ever. It springs forth from big questions, like “Can I really have what I’ve been looking for? Will I really feel loved and desired and truly adored at last? Can I finally be seen as the answer to someone else’s dream, the heroine with the glimmering eyes and sultry smile?” And this version of romance peaks at the exact moment when you think, Holy Christ, I really am going to melt right into this other person (who is a relative stranger)! It really IS physically intoxicating and perfect! And it seems like we feel the exact same way about each other! Traditional romance is heady and exciting precisely because — and not in spite of the fact that — there are still lingering questions at the edges of the frame: “Will I be enough for this person? Will she stop wanting me someday? Is he as amazing as he seems/feels/tastes?”

For many people, their relationship anxiety literally begins the moment the question of “Does he/she really love me?” is answered. For some, this is at the moment of engagement; for others, as I said above, it’s on the first date. For still others it’s many years into a marriage, often during the tumultuous time of a transition. It’s at that moment that “Does he/she really love me?” flips to “Do I really love him/her?” and the anxious spiral that I’ve defined as relationship anxiety begins.

This is also often the moment that sexual desire slinks away. Because we’re conditioned to use sexuality to answer the question, “Do you really love me?” and feel the stamp of approval when the desired other desires us, we have no idea how to cultivate healthy desire once that question is answered. What a devastating pickle our culture creates! This distorted and dysfunctional view of sexuality is completely backward and upside down, and can lead to so much pain and suffering for both partners.

Can we re-condition our minds and bodies to be turned on by presence instead of absence, by kindness instead of distance, by security instead of mystery? I believe we can. It means breaking down our filters that convince us that we can only be turned on by a certain type of partner and learning to see – truly see – the beauty and gift in the partner we have. It means taking small, daily actions toward breaking down the walls that keep us separate as we redefine our culturally imposed and faulty definitions of romance and desire.

Healthy sexual desire is born of connection, not mystery, on opening our hearts to each other, not on prescribed physical technique. Because everything in our culture teaches otherwise, and we’re so deeply wired from an early age to link longing with desire, we have to consciously and proactively take steps toward rewiring our conditioning. As always, the first step is bringing awareness to our unhealthy wiring, for we can’t change what we’re not aware of. We also need to douse our minds with the truth, which is that desire can and must arise from connection to ourselves and to each other. As the brilliant relationship psychologist Sue Johnson writes in Hold Me Tight:

“Secure bonding and fully satisfying sexuality go hand in hand; they cue off and enhance each other. Emotional connection creates great sex, and great sex creates deeper emotional connection. When partners are emotionally accessible, responsive, and engaged, sex becomes intimate play, a safe adventure. Secure partners feel free and confident to surrender to sensation in each other’s arms, explore and fulfill their sexual needs, and share their deepest joys, longings, and vulnerabilities. Then, lovemaking is truly making love.” (p. 186)

What’s essential to point out here in the context of relationship anxiety and the link between love and fear is that you can a have an accessible relationship with your partner – meaning that there is trust, safety and secure bonding between the two of you – but if fear is at the forefront of your heart you’re not going to feel open sexually. Great sex is, in fact, dependent on an open heart, for we know that fear contracts while love expands. In other words, we cannot connect sexually or even feel desire if we’re trapped behind a fear wall. As Sue Johnson writes, “We simply are not wired to be wary or afraid and turned on at the same time.”

What are we so afraid of? In one sense, that’s the million-dollar question, but in another way it doesn’t actually matter. One part of our mind longs to dissect the fear down to its roots, and while this is an exercise I recommend in my Break Free course, it’s not one that I focus on in my other courses. We can understand the “why” and still remain stuck behind the cold, hard, impenetrable walls of fear. Ultimately, it’s action that dissolves fear, and that’s the focus of Open Your Heart: learning doable, effective actions that will soften the walls.

One small action I always recommend to people who are trapped behind their fear-walls and feel little to no sexual desire for their partners is to lie down together without clothes on and without expectation of having sex. I advise them to feel their hearts, feel the points of connection between their naked bodies. Notice any flicker of desire, no matter how small. We have a very narrow definition of sexuality in our culture and don’t realize that lying down naked together qualifies as sexual contact even if there’s no sexual touching. This is how we begin to bridge the chasm that can start to grow between two people who love each other but have lost their sexual spark.

There are many other actions as well. This is what I teach in Open Your Heart: A 30-day program to feel more love and attraction for your partner. While the course isn’t specifically focused on sexuality (that course will be released next year), when we take the small yet dedicated daily actions toward opening our hearts, the stagnant underground aqueduct of our sexuality begins to thaw out and bubble like a spring rising up through the layers of fear. The course will begin on March 12th and is open now for registration. I look forward to guiding you toward a more open heart in all ways.

55 comments to Turned On By Kindness

  • Megan

    Hi Sheryl,

    I feel so connected to what you have written today. I have been doing so much work since taking your break free course, and yesterday I could literally feel my heart softening. I have been opening up to my pain of my past and making room for more love. I felt so connected to my partner, and even ‘in love’. Although I wasn’t really ‘turned on’ I wanted to make an effort to take advantage of this amazing day. I made myself feel good by wearing clothes I thought made me look sexy and I initated sex which is something I never do. It was truly amazing, and I had a moment of realising that my fear has holding me back from accepting that all is beautiful just as it is. In that moment everything felt ‘perfect’ and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

  • M

    Another great article. I love my husband but I don’t feel as sexually attracted to him/want to have sex with him in the way I have with previous partners. This triggers anxiety for me. My therapist told me at my last session that when you don’t have sex in the marriage that opens up a door for problems and can lead to divorce. You can imagine the anxiety that spiked for me since this is a problem for me and causes me to question if I really love my husband and made a mistake marrying him. Is a marriage doomed if there isn’t a lot of sex? Thank you.

    • I do NOT believe that marriage is doomed if there isn’t a lot of sex. Every partnership has different needs around sexuality, and as long as it’s working for both of you it’s not a problem. A healthy sex life means different things for different coupled in terms of frequency and availability. What’s more important is to tap into any part that fear might be playing in your own sexuality and the limitations that might create in your marriage.

    • H

      M, jusf because you don’t have sex that often it does NOT mean your relationship is doomed. I love what Sheryl said. Me and my partner sometimes only have sex once a week. I have noticed some pressure I put on myself once I notice this because I think that we should be having more because of what our culture says. But if you put that aside, and realise how much you love your partner, how much you get on, how much fun you have together and how much safety and trust there is, not having sex more than once a week really is insignificant. Our culture are stuck in adolescent ways and believe that you should be having great, mind blowing sex all the time. There is more to life and more to a relationship than sex, and if our culture carry on thinking this way then nobody will have a loving, long lasting relationship. There is nothing wrong with not having much sexual desire. Every relationship is different!

  • Newly Married

    This kind of spikes me because I know that at the beginning of our marriage and a little before we got married I felt like I sexual desire and that was kind of scary and now as I feel more comfortable with our relationship even my husband saw a shift in me where I am more sexual with him and more comfortable asking for things that we both like and I approach him even if I am not really excited. I guess what scares me a little is the fact that now that I feel more comfortable and a little less paranoid lol, our sexual life is more fulfilling, I dont really feel all crazy about him and passionate fire but I do feel desire for him although not all the time and not with the same intensity, I do feel though that its true what they say, that as you stay longer in the relationship there will be times when you want him more than other but I have felt a sence of being safe with him and as we move closer or sometimes not so close into the relationship sex feels better and I guess I feel more connected….. is this a normal healthy thing what I am expressing? it scares me sometimes to feel desire for my husband because I question myself and my anxiety spins in the though, ( oh my god is it normal to have a desire of my husband? what if it means that we are doing something that is not healthy and thats why I have this desire for him?…… and when I have not had that desire for him, then it turns into the though on my god, I dont have that desire for him…. )
    Would you consider this normal in a healthy marriage that I am having sometimes desire for my husband and other times I dont, its not like a flame of craziness its just a desire for him with a slight pinch of passion. ???

    • This all sounds very healthy! It sounds like as you grow more comfortable in your marriage, your desire is increasing. That’s the sign of healthy sexuality. It sounds like you may have some shame-based beliefs about sexuality that say that you’re not supposed to feel desire for your husband. It’s time to let those go.

  • Newly Married

    I meant to say that at the beginning of our marriage and a little before I had very little or no sexual desire for my husband. I was very scared and anxious.

  • Newly Married

    Wow thank you Sheryl, You are a blessing into the world, You have no idea how much I have grown and it wasnt until I got with my husband that a lot of my thoughts and anxiety from other things started to make sense and once I found your website that you gave me a since of relief not only from my relationship but also from my self… My husband too now says that you have a beautiful loving way to express knowledge and he sometimes reads your posts now, he said he got inspired by how I would read your articles and how much it would help me grow, and although he is not an anxious person like me he says that reading your articles brings a beautiful loving way to grow and learn about love.
    Thank you.

  • MohTA

    hi Sheryl,

    Such a great article!

    I think this is the first time for me reading (realizing) the statement of “We can understand the “why” and still remain stuck behind the cold, hard, impenetrable walls of fear”.. Oh God! I needed to know this before!

    For few weeks now, i have been suffering and trapped in the thought and fear that say “you did a lot of hard work, and still you have downs, you have pain..etc, so can’t you realize the fear content is real and you are just denying it?!”

    Now realizing that it is normal to remain stuck despite the work, I feel little relief that am okay!
    I was very stuck in doing actions as with each action i was trying to do, anxiety spikes and tells me “don’t deceive your partner.. you don’t mean it and you will not continue the relationship eventually, so stop hurting her” and I remained stuck in not doing actions.

    Clearly I have been conditioning “actions” with “choice making”, and conditioning “choice making” with “breaking from anxiety”!!! This is bad! but thanks God I can see it this way now!

    I have started recently to take loving actions with my partner, and will do my best to continue this rhythm although anxiety tries to spike with each action!

    Thank you

    • Yes, we can become so stuck behind the need to “know” and “understand”, and also convinced by the classic ego-statements like “you’re just deceiving your partner” and “you’re just denying your truth.” It sounds like you’re continuing to do excellent work. It takes time!

  • FrenchCDN

    Hello,

    My comment is not directly linked to the subject of today’s blog but I just wanted to say that I did the Open Your Heart course last October and it REALLY helped me in dealing with my relationship anxiety. For example, I used to have great fear about being seen in public with my partner (I still feel awful admitting this out loud) and would dread any social occasions together. However now I have just come back from a vacation with him and we had a wonderful time together. I was happy and proud to be with him.

    I certainly still have moments of fear and anxiety, but when I do I use the tools we learned in the course and it helps me a lot. I would really recommend this course to anyone dealing with similar issues.

    Love,
    FrenchCDN

  • Sharan

    Love love love thissss! I remembered that sexual desire was the first thing that shut down when anxiety first hit. I am pleased you could answer the bit about “what are we so afraid of?”. Its a question that can plague the mind during times of sexual contact! It’s actually one that makes me feel more shame, that something is wrong because i can’t sleep with my BF! Whilst anxiety is less of a problem i definitely have work to do on my and our sexual connection. I’m reminded that sometimes it’s not about having all the answers. More about working on taking loving action 🙂 thanks Sheryl x

  • Course member

    Hi Sheryl,

    Such a great article. I love my boyfriend so much but for some reason have zero desire for a sex, whereas he wants it all the time.

    When I do give in because I feel it’s important for the relationship, the sex hurts or is uncomfortable. I know it’s because I’m closed down and contracted inside, because there is fear and a desire to push my boyfriend away.

    While I’m aware of this, I’m not sure what to do about it.

    Luckily I’m taking your Open Your Heart course soon!

    Is there any other small action you could recommend until then?

    Thanks 🙂

    • It’s never a loving action to continue having sex if it’s painful. While I do recommend moving toward sexuality and giving it as a gift to the relationship, if the actual act of having intercourse is painful you need to honor that and stop. I suggest shifting away from intercourse for a while and focusing on other ways of connecting sexually, like lying naked together and just kissing. You can also give pleasure to your boyfriend as a gift without necessarily needing him to reciprocate.

  • Abigail

    I am so glad I read this today! I just got married 4 months ago, and have been grieving the loss of the romance that my husband and I used to have, and wondering if we spent more time apart if that would bring back those feelings of longing and desire. How silly!

    Also, in our intimate moments, I do feel an inexplicable sense of fear at times, even though he’s the most loving and thoughtful person in the world.

    It’s great to know that what our culture says is romance is actually shallow and temporary!

  • Eem

    Hi Sheryl,

    This is unrelated to this particular article but I wanted to ask u something. I’ve been doing your coursework and its very helpful! It has provided me with a lot of tools and insight! One thing I did want to ask is how do u determine if something is a projection or actually a red flag? Particularly if what’s currently bothering you (although it comes in waves as to whether I’m bothered or not by it) has to do with your partner smoking frequently? Any insight would be helpful.

    • By smoking do you mean smoking pot? If so, that’s a tricky one, as everyone has a different bottom line for what’s tolerable. How often does he smoke?

      • Eem

        Yes, it used to be nightly (but after full day of work and working out after work) but now that I’ve expressed concern over it he will not smoke some nights, or he will wait until after dinner/ closer to right before bed if he does. Half the time I can’t even tell a difference in behavior if he smokes though, so I’m not sure if it’s a projection or not. He used to smoke more when we first met, but ironically it didn’t bother me as much then. And sometimes the more he cuts back the more it seems to bother me when he does smoke.

        • If he’s smoking daily it’s an addictive behavior and, thus, crosses into red-flag territory. Pot is tricky because, like alcohol, it’s socially accepted, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not an addictive and something to pay attention to.

          • Eem

            Thank u for the honest feedback. I definitely pay attention to it. I ask him to not smoke usually 1 or 2 nights a week and he does and then other nights I’ll ask him to wait and he does. So there is definitely compromise there. Is there anything else u would suggest doing to ensure this doesn’t become a larger issue? Any insight would be helpful. Thank u!

          • Eem

            I guess it’s important to note he has quit a couple times before. But I don’t want to
            Ask this cuz I fear this is just going to be the breeding ground for a lot of resentment. We both agree we don’t want it when we have kids as well

          • Yes that is important to note that he has quit a couple of times. And it’s important that he doesn’t want to smoke once you have kids. Are you in your 20s? A lot of guys smoke through their 20s and then give it up once they have kids. But what’s most important here is for you to tune into your own bottom-line, which is different for everyone. And yes your bottom-line can be confusing when relationship anxiety is in the picture, but if you stay with your own inner work long enough you will learn to know yourself and trust yourself more consistently.

  • Jenny

    This post resonated with me so deeply today, thank you for writing it, Sheryl. While I’m a woman with a high sexual desire, I am feeling less desirous toward my partner than with past partners. Even though he is BY FAR the best man I’ve ever been with, I’m having an issue, “breaking down our filters that convince us that we can only be turned on by a certain type of partner”. This is so true!! I’ve always felt most turned on by uncertainty/mystery.
    Thank you for showing us that we have to look inside to see what is driving our fear that is preventing us from feeling desire toward a loving, dependable partner. I’m going to work on this asap.

  • Newly Married

    I have a question, if a relationship is working of several things and taking them as opportunities to grow together and learn and one of the issues is just rebuilding trust, can we still work on your courses Sheryl like the break free from anxiety etc….
    My relationship is awesome and my husband is great we are just working on growing together and more maturity and some wounds from when we were young (6 years ago) and very immature that created for us confusion because we were never clear and would not communicate and act from our ego, this when we were dating back then, we stopped seeing each other and now 5 years later we got together, some of those behaviors were still there but we are now growing up and we are learning in a loving and healthy way to be adults and because this is a great relationship we are learning from those “call it young mistakes of the ego and immaturity” to become stronger…. My husband back then used to give me some kind of jealousy about how before he would date all kinds of girls ( see this is where he was immature) and he confessed that he used to do it because at the beginning he was jealous of me, although that behavior caused me to feel like maybe I could not trust him because he would tell me lies about how he would date girls and things and now he told me it was all to try to make me jealous and it was not truth… He really is wonderful, we work together great and we have the same values, he is so loving and amazing, all I ever wanted, its just he just really didnt know how to be a man coming from a family who was always unavailable…… and now we are both mature and learned from that and I wanted to know if I can still take your courses Sheryl…

  • Newly Married

    Just to mention too, he told me that he used to be a boy not a man, and now he has learn to become a man by being a man and by offering me the best there is… He really does do that and there is no more of that anymore, just the wounds that were left, he respects me and shows me love and he is just amazing….. This was just behaviors from back then that we never worked too. I come from a family that was very unhealthy and my husband and I are both in a healthy relationship based on respect…. Just those little things I mentioned to you before that he used to do before, not now…. I was molested when I was little and so that caused me to feel like I have trust issues with everyone and I am a very anxious person that has sometimes the spinning wheel of intrusive thoughts…. I just want to know if its ok to take your courses because I would like to continue with my growth and we having some money coming up 🙂
    God Bless.

  • Bra77

    Hello, can anyone help?! Ive prayed to God multiple times about a sign whether to marry my girlfriend and it was always a yes until I did it one time in October and he didn’t answer it and what I was asking didn’t happen and now I’m freaking out. Is this a sign that we aren’t going to get married and I can’t spend the rest of my life with my love? I’m very religious and she isn’t as religious, but we are both Christian is that okay? Can someone respond to give me peace of mind

  • Angela

    Hi Sheryl😀 What an insightful post!! 😀 The word desire does frighten me, it has since anxiety hit town. Thank god to you Sheryl that is no longer the case😊😀 The society has embedded on all of us from years and centuries ago. If we dont feel it then we are clearly with the wrong partner. What a load of crap, I wouldnt take professionals comments face value. I stay away from them. Feeling the connection without orgasms is very normal. I dont even care about whether I reach climax during intercourse. I know my husband knows i enjoy our intimacy regardless.

  • H

    Love this article. Couldn’t agree more. I am bookmarking this on my phone. Thank you Sheryl x

  • Silver

    Hi! This resonates with me however I currently hit with depression because everything is lost from things that I do and to people around me. This incident makes me blame my partner, although because they disrespected her and she told me that they are fake people which myself keep coming back to them and things that I do is mostly I expect validation from other people like a show off. Now I stumbled a huge wall that makes me anxious and give up on doing anything because it makes me feel that I’m showing off and it’s not something that I really want. She doesn’t even want me to have friends that are girls due to me having close ones that are detrimental to our relationships (I didn’t really understand before thus turning into them when we have problems in our relationship.

    I now undergo deep sadness and guilt due to constant hurt to her. I can’t fully see her in a beautiful and clear lenses, she’s very amazing inside very loving to our Heavenly Father GOD, she’s not that beautiful but there is something that makes me go look at her and pursue changing myself for her. Although still the lack of feelings bother me and the loneliness.

    Hope someone understands and could help me somehow.

  • Emma

    Hello Sheryl,

    Thank you very much for this insightful post! I was happy to read that you are preparing a course around this topic! I just wanted to bring your attention to the flip side of what you are writing about – when the anxious partner is actually the one with a higher drive. This is certainly my case, and I have seen this theme coming up on the forum lately. I have a wonderful partner, but sex is not very important to him and he is not an anxious person. This has always triggered a lot of anxiety for me. I have read Sue Johnson’s book and have a better understanding of the pursuer/distancer dynamic, which has been helpful from an intellectual point of view. However, my anxiety around the topic is still very high! My ego loves to tell me that our relationship is doomed because of this. At the end of the day, I cannot force my partner to be more sexual!

    Also, reading what you wrote about being naked together as another form of love making made me think – my partner is quite open to that, but somehow my ego does not find it satisfying and feels uncomfortable when it happens – it wants “the whole thing”. I feel that there is a difference between affection and sex/eroticism.

    I think my point is that a high libido could also be a sign of anxiety and a closed heart, in the sense that I feel it’s a trick of my wounded self to control my partner and feel safe in the relationship. Sex is also a way to release tension and feel validated – which can be addictive for an anxious mind. So although it looks like the opposite of losing desire for one’s partner on the surface, a high drive could be just the flip side of the same coin?

    What you write also seems to go against the grain of what Esther Perel’s message, who maintains that eroticism and desire can only live with mystery/distance. I find your message more subtle and reassuring, but also find that what she writes/says rings true, so I’m just curious about your view on this!

    I just wanted to share those insights!

    • Great point, Emma. Yes, high libido can be a flip side of anxiety if it’s coming from the need for approval and validation, but it can also just be high sex drive! I haven’t read Esther Perel’s book but I’m familiar with her message and, yes, I would say that I go against the grain of what she says. Although I’ve heard from people who have read her book that, if you read closely enough, we’re actually saying the same thing.

      • Carebear167

        Very interesting! Thank you for bringing this topic up Emma. I had an issue along the same theme with my ex, with whom I constantly had “mind-blowing” sex, and despite feeling very close to him at the time, I came to find out he was keeping things from me. Ultimately I realized that I was addicted to our sexual relationship as a form of control and validation, and also used sex as a way to avoid my feelings and/or “numb” out.
        Since then I have met and married my husband. We do not have sex often and, I’ve felt stuck, in a lot of senses, in my sexuality. He is my best friend and says its important to do it when we both want to. I’m learning about myself and my sexuality all the time and our sex life gets better all the time as well (with relative highs and lows within the overall pattern). I find I mostly get turned on by his availability and emotional intimacy. I also find that this doesn’t always lead to immediate sex and is often more “foreplay” before we have the time and energy to make love. Not as often, I also get turned on by what Esther refers to as well (mischief, adventure, power). I have only watched her TED talk but I do think Sheryl and her are essentially saying the same thing.
        Esther states in her talk that nobody is turned on my care taking. Interestingly, the other night my husband and I were talking about an issue I am having with work (and my self-esteem) that he is helping me with and has been incredibly supportive about and he became turned on after telling me what he appreciates about me and what I’ve brought into his life. I was turned on too but, I also felt I was being needy of his emotional support at this point and had to turn him down, as I didn’t feel I was in the right mindset for sex. While I appreciated what he was saying, I felt weak, and in a powerless place. I think it was confusing for me because he truly was being emotionally available and vulnerable however, I was also looking to him to build me up to a certain degree and thereby I was looking to him to caretake me, to fill my well so to speak. I felt really conflicted and guilty for feeling turned on at this time. Sex seems to be such a complicated, multifaceted ordeal, especially considering the intentions and emotions of two people. What do you think Sheryl? Was my husband care-taking me? Do you think we are able to hold such large and possibly conflicting emotions in the face of making love?

  • Anna

    I’m really happy to read this post, because this issue is something I have been dealing with for over a year. It’s so much better now than a year ago but it’s still helpful to read these wise words. I love this blog, it really helps me to understand myself! Thank you so much Sheryl.

  • N

    Hi Sheryl 🙂

    I am over a month in the course and I am in such a better place than I was before … my thoughts barely come, and when they do, I am able to work with them! For the first time in awhile, I find that I am starting to see my partner more clearly. Although I have been feeling better lately, I find that there is a bit of doubt (probably my ego) trying to stir the pot… the whole fear of uncertainty is really bothering me right now. I am going to try to just “be okay” with the feelings and not give it too much power or control by dwelling on them, but it’s hard! I just finished hanging out with my partner and there were moments of uncertainty (probably “what if” questions disguised) that kept popping in my head.. I tried to breathe through them.

    I did have a question though — do you suggest we journal every fear/thought we have? I know we are not supposed to feed the thought and fear water because it will only grow, but how do we dive into what the thoughts/feelings are really hiding without feeding it water? I just don’t want to end up going down the rabbit hole again (been there before.. it is NOT fun!).

    Any advice on getting through the fear of uncertainty would also sooo appreciated 🙂

  • H

    Quick question for you Sheryl that I forgot to ask when I posted the other day…. But I made a post on the forum about this but I do really love my boyfriend ALOT. We live together and we really do have a great life. I look forward to the day that we have a family together and finally buy our own house together instead of renting. But when I think of him proposing I’m not sure if I’d yes. I’m not sure if this fear? I do really want the long term commitment with him and the challenge of learning to love him more everday but I just don’t know if id be ready to marry him yet. I think it could be because I would really be making myself vunerable. But I am never confident in what I’m saying and not sure if I’m even scared of being vunerable because I don’t trust myself enough!! I would be grateful for a response and some insight. I have been thinking of doing the trust yourself course or maybe even the open your heart course for the second time! Thanks

  • anxious

    I sheryl i love everything you write about i find it very helpful and soothing to an anxious mind i always feel soo relaxed after i read most of your articls even tho sometimes the anxiety will come back sometimes right after but its a start lol i just have a question what would say about a long distance relationship and anxiety .. Me and my bf have been together for 3 years now and he work 3 weeks and 3 weeks off and my anxiety hit me hard about a year and half ago just randomly and ever sense then ive been douting myself wondering will this work , do i love him , why am i bored on the phone sometimes , why dont i miss him as much or at all sometimes etc and then i get really nervous and anxious when he comes home wondering will we connect again or have a spark right away because i feel so distant and then after a week or so well become our usual selvs which is nice and ill stop worrying and after all that he’ll leave again :/ how do i break this stupid cycle and be okay with him being gone all the time because i dont want this to seperate us at all and we are buying a house together soon sothis adding my axiety sorry for the long post just need to get it off my chest

  • A

    Hi Sheryl,
    You always have the best timing…it’s as if you know exactly what’s going on in my life! I’m so grateful for this article today especially since I have read an article on Facebook that is already causing me a great deal of anxiety. I have a very bad habit of clicking on links to posts about love and relationships that I can already predict will cause me to spike. But I can’t help it. Then I will see how it applies to my relationship. Which causes great distress and I fall into the rabbit hole of intrusive thoughts. I literally just got done reading a post written by a young woman who talked about how she was mean to her ex boyfriend on purpose so he would hate her and eventually leave her (she couldn’t end the relationship on her own). She described falling out of love with him. Not feeling joy when she looked at him. Not missing him. That they had different ideas of what the future looked like and they did not grow together. So she was mean and hurtful towards him and lied about there being someone else so he would hate her and decide to end the relationship. Right away I was feeling anxious and panicked. I thought well I feel extremely irritated by my partner a lot of the time. I don’t always miss him. The initial “hopelessly in love” feelings aren’t there anymore. I sometimes pick him apart in my mind over physical attributes and challenging personality traits. We argue a lot. His snoring drives me crazy haha. I worry if we’ve lost that “spark.” There’s lack of passion and desire. What if I’ve fallen out of love but I don’t want to admit it? What if I’m lying to myself? What if I only fell in love with how he made me feel, and I didn’t fall in love with the real person? But deep down in my core I know that I love him still. I know that while we did experience the honey moon phase and burned with passion for each other, that I feLl in love with him, not just how he made me feel. He is a wonderful person who I share a strong emotional connection with. He has shown me time and time again that he loves me and supports me. So I hang on tight to that. At times the fear is so powerful that I lose sight of all of this and I can’t see what is real and what is not. I’ve also realized that I’ve been stuck in a projection towards my partner and I must tend to myself and my needs. We were long distance for the first few years and now we live together. Currently we are moving and I know that transitions are usually challenging for me. I would love your input on this Sheryl, and I’ll try to stay away from Facebook as a healthy choice for myself 🙂

  • anxious

    Just wondering of tips to break the cycle

  • Lili

    Hi sheryl,

    Thanks for the blog great as always. I am now in my vulnerable depressed self…upset, thinking about why i feel lonley…i have purchased your r-anxiety e course and am doing much better…one thing that really bothers me is the fact that my husband is quiet and i feel like we dont have much to talk about..i dont think we are connected in that way….i did not notice it before we got engage as i didnt see it as a problem( i did notice it but didnt think it would bother me later),he is a good person and he loves me, but its the one that has been with me all these years …and when i see couples who chat together or have these fun conversations i get jelous and now i am in my very deep upset mood and don’t knw what to do about it…am tired of geting involved with the thought but at the same time im thinking its important…do u think this is an important problem? To not have much to talk about? Of course if we do a mutual activity like cooking or watching a movie i usually feel ok…but other than that not really….do u recommend any readings about this? I dont recall seeing anything directly about this issue in the ecourse. Any advice is highly appreciated, many thanks

  • Lili

    Also if theres anyone having a similar issue please let me know…i am in need of advice!

  • Bby

    Dear Sheryl

    “Can we re-condition our minds and bodies to be turned on by presence instead of absence, by kindness instead of distance, by security instead of mystery?”
    That awesome and True!!
    must be not easy, I’m the one who available in my relationship, my partner always feel unsure and distance, but he always the one who brings me back to myself
    sometimes he feel weird after sex, and complaint about my broken English
    he wanted to break up with me because he didnt want my broken english affect his english ability, and when I surrender and accepted thedecision, he wanted to be together again
    Im really not sure he love me or not , he gave a ring couple month ago to get married but he’s still not 100% sure
    what is love , does he really love me

  • Tündi

    While I’ve managed to contain my anxiety almost completely, desire and sexuality is still an area I’m struggling with.
    I remember the call we had in the June OYH about this topic, it gave a completely new view on sex for me. I realized that, with a father who showed very little affection to me my whole life, ever since my teenage years I had been using seduction and (mainly a lot casual) sex for validation of my worthiness and lovableness.

    Knowing this has already given me comfort, but I’m still quite “shut down” and in general, I find it hard to get in the mood. Most of the times I have to force it a little, but it usually turns out well. I recently “got in the habit” of bursting into tears and simultaneously having to laugh like crazy at the end. It’s like my walls come tumbling down and cause an earthquake in my brain!

    The frequency used to freak me out too, but I don’t really care anymore! With 2-3 times a month we’re not gonna break any records but that’s not the point, right?!

    That said, I’m eagerly looking forward to your course focusing solely on this topic! I still have a lot of work ahead of me.

  • ishani

    Hi sheryl I jus love ur work but pls pls I need ur help.. I beg u pls…
    I have been in a wonderful loving live in relation since last 4 years. We were soul mate and we were just right for each other. But since last one yr I feel I don’t love him.. It all started when he went to his parents home and I didn’t miss him since then I started checking my feelings and analysing them. I feel I want to be free from him. I feel extremely attracted to ‘every’ other men as if I want to cheat. I have literally not stopped thinking about this since last 1 yr. From moment I wake up to I sleep I think that I don’t love him. I fantasise being with other men as if I want to fall in love again in the same way as I used to fantasise when I was single. My partner is the best and most loving and caring but I just can’t love him. It’s been a yr and now I have started thinking that maybe we aren’t meant to be together and plus this attraction to other men is killing me. I can’t walk on road without feeling guilty. I watch TV and find every other person attractive. It feels as if I am trying to fill a hole in my heart but I just want to love my partner. Pls help me pls