Let’s Talk About Sex

by | Jan 22, 2013 | Anxiety, Relationships | 43 comments

We often hear that money is the new sex, meaning that we can talk openly about sex but people still keep their pursestrings tightly shut when it comes to specifics about money. I don’t agree. Although we’ve certainly exploded the taboo around seeing sex portrayed in the media, very few sources speak explicitly and honestly about what average, everyday people are thinking about and doing in the bedroom. In other words, we see a glamorized view of sex in films and television, which then creates an expectation that that’s what us mortal humans are supposed to replicate, but we still don’t have honest conversations about what is normal to experience and expect. This leaves most people with a sense of inadequacy and guilt when they believe that their relationship isn’t living up to the cultural standard.

What is Normal

Like love, romance, and marriage, sex is fraught with misconceptions and assumptions about what is normal. Thanks to Hollywood and mainstream media, most people develop an idea about what sex “should” be like (it would be helpful – possibly life-changing – to strike the word should from the English language – or any language, for that matter). Here’s the common list of shoulds:

  • I should always feel hot for my partner.
  • I should always be attracted to my partner.
  • I should always want to have sex with my partner.
  • We should be having sex 2-3 times a week.
  • I should never fantasize about anyone else.
  • We should always know how to please each other.
  • Sex doesn’t count unless we both have orgasms.
  • Sex doesn’t count unless we have intercourse.

Here’s the reality:

  • You won’t always be hot for your partner.
  • Not only will you not always be attracted to your partner, you may, at times, feel repulsed by your partner. Like love and hate, attraction and repulsion exist on the same continuum. When you soften into repulsion, you open the doorway to attraction.
  • You and your partner decide what works for you in terms of frequency. If you’re both okay with once a month (or less), that’s fine. Like marriage, there’s no paradigm or model that you have to mold yourselves into. If it works for you, great. If not, you can work on changing it together. People have different levels of libido, and if you and your partner aren’t very sexual, that’s fine.
  • It’s normal to fantasize about other people.
  • It’s normal to fantasize about the same sex even if your preference is the opposite sex. This doesn’t mean that you’re gay or that there’s a problem with your sexuality.
  • It’s okay to fantasize about the opposite sex even if your preference is the same sex. This doesn’t mean you’re with the wrong person.
  • It’s normal for your mind to drift during sex.
  • It’s normal not to enjoy it every time.
  • It’s normal to be bored sometimes.
  • It’s normal to want it to end sometimes.
  • Sex comes in many difference forms. You can make love without having intercourse. You can make love without having orgasms. We live in a culture that is outcome and achievement oriented which means we only value the end result: orgasm or intercourse. A healthy sex life includes all forms of connecting with your bodies, from kissing to intercourse and everything in between.
  • Many relationships have a high-desire and a low-desire partner. This can be challenging if your partner wants sex 4-5 times a week (or more) and you’re happy with 1-2 times a month. Challenging, yes; a deal breaker, no. Like any other difference in a relationship, you can work to find creative and respectful ways to handle differing needs. But it’s not a reason to walk away.

Good Sex and a Good Lover

When I ask my clients to define “good” or “bad” sex, they’re usually at a loss for words. Sometimes they mean that they’re not having enough sex. Other times they mean that their partner doesn’t turn them on enough. I generally hear confusion about their partner’s responsibility and a lack of responsibility for their own sexuality, as if it’s their partner’s job to “make them feel” aroused.

If you’re an infatuation junkie, a love addict, or have been attached to the chase in any way, you likely define good sex as the moment when the object of your longing returns your gaze. It’s a drug-like high when you finally tumble into bed with the coveted lover, and even if the chase turns into a relationship, if you’re in the pursuer position you’ll always experience sex as a confirmation that your partner loves you, which will sizzle the sex with an ecstatic quality. You may feel hot and bothered during the sex, but afterwards you generally experience a hollow pit in your belly that makes you want to cry (and you often do).

Here’s my definition of good sex: two loving people in a loving partnership showing up to express and receive their love through their bodies. Good sex is when each partner is connected to his or her own sexuality and can bring this aliveness to the partnership. Like love, no one can “make you feel” turned on. In other words, the fire ignites first inside of you, and through your love making (which may or may not always include intercourse), two flames intermingle and the fire burns brighter than it did individually. Good sex – like good love – is when you’re concerned about your partner’s pleasure: if you each put the other first, you’ll both come in first. Good sex isn’t about outcome (orgasm) but about connection. Good sex leaves you feeling close to your partner and close to yourself. You may cry because you’ve been touched in a deep place inside of you, but they’re not tears that arise from feeling used (as in the above scenario).

I often hear my clients say about an unavailable ex, “He was such a good lover.” I can only assume that to mean that, because of his unavailability and possible jerkiness, the ex flaunted an air of superiority, which translated into the image of hotness in my clients’ eyes. This, of course, has nothing to do with good love or good sex. A good lover has nothing to do with technique or tools or arrogance. A good lover is someone who can receive you and cherishes you as the beautiful person that you are. A good lover is someone who is willing to listen and explore with you. A good lover is someone with whom you feel safe to be vulnerable and peel away the layers of armor around your heart and your body. A good lover holds you when you cry and celebrates your triumphs. A good lover isn’t threatened by the fullness of your being and encourages you to become who you’re meant to be.

And yet, the best lover in the world can’t “make you” feel alive and aroused in your own body. The aliveness must begin inside of you. Good sex depends on you claiming your sexuality and developing a healthy and loving relationship to your own body. I cannot emphasize this point strongly enough: you are responsible for your aliveness, including your sexuality and your arousal. I’ll say it bluntly: if you feel hot and you have a partner who celebrates your hotness, you will have a good sex. Conversely, if you’re depressed or anxious or feel disconnected from your body and sexuality, there’s not a partner in the world who will turn you on past the initial honeymoon stage.

Again, if neither you nor your partner are naturally very sexual and you’re both fine with infrequent sex, let go of the worry! You’re fine. There’s no rule that says that a good marriage depends on frequent sex. Yes, we read things in Cosmo like, “Sex is the glue of a marriage,” and while that may be true for some people, it cannot possibly be true for everyone. We live our lives with a severe expectation of achieving “normal”, and when the reality of who we naturally are deviates from this benchmark, we feel inadequate and like something is wrong with our relationship. Claim who are you: if sex isn’t your thing, fine. Figure out what is the glue for your relationship and focus your energy there.

Final Word: A Woman’s Cycle

There’s a little tidbit of information that I’ve always thought should be included in high school curriculum: most women feel more sexual when they’re ovulating. For some women, that’s the only time of the month when they feel sexual. While men have sex hormones coursing through their bodies at an even rate 24/7, women are biologically primed to want sex for the 5-7 days of the month when they can conceive. If you’re in tune with your body, you may have noticed that on and around ovulation you think about sex, you desire sex, and you feel aroused. When both partners understand this fact, it helps them loosen up their expectations around frequency of sex and ease of arousal. This doesn’t mean that you don’t try to make love when ovulation isn’t in the air, but it means you bring a different understanding and set of expectations to the bedroom which may allow you to ease up on yourselves if the sex isn’t as effortless as it is when the egg is dropping.


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  1. This is such a timely piece for me! As a (somewhat) newly-engaged person, I am constantly battling the “you should be . . .” adages and trying to resist the impulse to compare my relationship with all of the standardized relationship advice and images of “normal, healthy” relationships conveyed to me through a variety of venues (entertainment, news media, friend and family networks, social media, etc). There are so few voices that validate the notion that if you and your partner feel confident in a dynamic that works for both of you, then you’re fine. Anyway, just wanted to voice my appreciation for this article and for all of your past blog posts that I return to week after week when I’m feeling overwhelmed!

    • Thank you, Tierney. I’m so glad my work has been helpful!

  2. Sheryl-thanks for doing a piece on this topic.
    It is interesting the way sexuality can ebb and flow…
    In dating, sex is typically so regular w/o many life stressors to get in the way of libido, timing, logistics, etc.
    Then we get married and have kids…!
    And hardly has to be the death of sex (as the men on sitcoms continuously use for comedic material), but for sure it does take a dip!
    Us women, at least myself, need a minute to warm up and it is hard to get to that place with all the ‘letting go’ of the day to day as a wife, mother, worker, etc. Add to it the logistics of timing. And to that men too can be libido-sapped by the day to day grind (no pun intended;)
    It is no wonder it is easy to not get around to it.
    I have heard women refer to sex ‘as one more thing on my to-do list’.
    I can relate–and sometimes wish my husband was able to always initiate b/c I don’t have it in me to drum up romance, though learning these guys are just as wiped sometimes.
    I am learning to find a good balance between accepting that sex in a relationship will ebb and flow and change w/ the relationship circumstances, i.e. dating->marriage->kids, career changes, body changes, etc. and yet still making a point to keep that fire going b/c I really do think it is a nice bond in a marriage to keep strong–though without putting too much pressure on the ‘should’ and holding impossible standards on what one’s sex life must look like. I am learning to see that if there are dry spells it is not cause for panic that the relationship is falling apart or doomed–but perhaps a moment to step back, take a deep breath and be reasonable about what’s really going on.

    • Beautifully expressed, Marybeth. The fact is that it’s such a complicated area to begin with, and it only becomes more complicated when we add kids (and subsequent exhaustion) to the mix. So good to step back and take those deep breaths that help us connect to the bigger picture.

  3. Thanks Sheryl. You always seem to post the right topic at the right time. I’ve been feeling so much pressure about this issue lately, and it is all self-inflicted. My partner is loving, compassionate, patient and understanding with me and with the fact that I am just not feeling as sexually aroused as I did during the first few years of the relationship. I have put so many expections on myself about what “should” be the case and then feel terrible guilt and failure when I can’t measure up. Your post has really brought this home for me and made me realize that there is no should – there is only what works for our relationship.

  4. Well done Sheryl!! This came at a perfect time and speaks so much truth to me that I was almost in tears! If only we lived in a culture that didn’t portray things so unrealistic all the time we would all have less anxieties about such things!

    • EXACTLY! I keep wondering when the cultural images are going to shift so that they accurately reflect reality… It will probably take several TED conferences about this very issue!

  5. Thank you as always for presenting an alternative to the Hollywood-ized ideas of sex and womanhood that our culture feeds us. Like the other commenters, this post has soothed the worries that have been on my mind this week.

    In strengthening my bond with my partner, I have found myself having to challenge many of the “shoulds” that I brought into our relationship. I imagined myself doing it all – working, socializing, exercising, keeping a clean house and still managing to deliver a home cooked meal and passionate sex every night – and when I found myself routinely failing to meet my own expectations, I questioned whether I was a worthy partner.

    But what has been most comforting in opening up to my partner is that he has none of these expectations for me! And even better, I realized there was a purpose to my madness — that I had been spinning my wheels trying to do everything “right” to avoid “messing up” or losing the relationship. I was convinced that being myself wasn’t enough; I had to do do do to prove my worth.

    I am so grateful for your blog as it is slowly helping my shed my perfectionist shell. Your posts about peeling the projection off your partner have helped me connect with and bond with my partner’s humanity; this post is helping me bond with my own.

  6. Hi Sheryl et al,

    This article came at just the right time for me as well. I was actually worried about this area within our relationship and was concerned that the flame had died. It was only this morning I remembered that it was only a few days ago that my husband flirted with me, but it felt like years ago in the midst of life transitions, such as career change and long days. Both of us sometimes just go to sleep because one or the other is really tired. I appreciate your wider perspective that actually addresses the ebb and flow of relationships as well as many variations on the “normal”–comparisons that make people like myself feel as if there is something wrong with our relationship. Thank you for a great reminder that it begins with us and our own sense of vitality and relationship with our bodies. This is an area I can really bring consciousness and compassion in lieu of the expectations of perfection I place on my own body and relationship.

    • And those moments of flirting are along the continuum of a sexual relationship : ).

  7. “… you may, at times, feel repulsed by your partner. Like love and hate, attraction and repulsion exist on the same continuum. When you soften into repulsion, you open the doorway to attraction.”

    Inaccurate and irresponsible information being distributed to vulnerable women. If this is your personal experience then that is very unfortunate; but you should in no way be conveying to these women that it is normal.

    • There’s nothing irresponsible about validating an extremely common experience of feeling repulsed by one’s partner, one that I hear about every day in my practice and on my ecourse forum. The repulsion actually has nothing to do with one’s partner, however, and is always a projection, or the wounded self’s way to protect against the vulnerability of loving. That’s why softening into it creates a doorway to intimacy.

    • Gina,

      I read your comment a few times, and correct me if I’m wrong, but are you arguing that women should feel attracted to their partners 100% of the time?

      Perhaps what Sheryl is conveying here is that when one doesn’t feel an inner connection to oneself, or the confidence to “let go” in the bedroom, that it is hard to find an attraction to one’s partner. I don’t want to cause an argument at all, but I believe some of the comments you say about what is or is not normal are a bit harsh. Perhaps the word “repulsion” was used too carelessly, however the message she’s sending is that breathing into the negativity (“repulsion”) in life, can bring love and light into one’s heart.

      I value your argument. But after being plagued with anxiety for almost a year now, I can see that your comment will, without a doubt, bring uneasiness to many women and men on this site. However, I think your comment is there to remind me that all people (and relationships) are different. And your opinion is not the truth for everyone. Wouldn’t it be nice to feel 100% perfect, sexy, in love, etc., etc., all of the time? Sure. That’s how the first few years of a relationship without anxiety felt for me. But to say that it isn’t “normal” for someone to not feel those perfect feelings makes me sad. Because it’s unrealistic.

      • Beautifully expressed, Meg. Thank you for speaking up and having the courage to share your perspective.

        Truthfully, I used the word “repulsion” quite intentionally as it’s the word I hear quite often in my practice. Is it a strong word and feeling? Absolutely. But that’s because when we’re touching into the center of our vulnerability, the wounded self will pipe up in the most powerful way it knows how, which is by trying to convince us that we feel repulsed. It’s truly the other side of attraction, meaning that the strength of the attraction will often elicit a strong repulsion at some point. It’s nothing to be ashamed of; simply a doorway to more intimacy with one’s partner.

        • Hi Sheryl,

          I’m glad I had the opportunity. And I would also like to clarify that I didn’t mean to say the would “carelessly”, I meant “casually”. And yes, I can relate to the idea of repulsion… It’s been a projection I’ve experienced since my anxiety has begun. It’s great to understand that it is normal for people to have these thoughts and feelings, and that they are often times a signal for us to check in with ourselves to notice any negativity, judgements, or high expectations we feel we aren’t living up to.

          Thank you for your wisdom, as always.

  8. Thank you for this post. After my son was born I had no desire for sex for five or six months. I felt uncomfortable with my body and shocked by the impact that giving birth had had on my body and soul. I felt so guilty that I didn’t want sex, but my husband was very understanding. Even now, a year later, I still struggle with feeling like I should “want it” more often but i’m still working on accepting my post-baby body. Thanks for the gentle reminder that we don’t have to want sex all the time to be normal, healthy loving partners.

    • I don’t know any mothers with young children that want sex all the time!

  9. Thank you Sheryl.
    As always, you shed light on areas of being human that live mostly in the darkness given our culture. The part of this post that I find most comforting is the comments by other readers sharing how loving their partners are. I am currently recovering from a lifetime of love addiction. I am not dating or looking for a relationship just yet but I have always had partners who where addicts just like me, and the high was all that was acceptable. I have lived with so much fear of being found inadequate eventually. With my continued recovery, and the wisdom of you and your readers I have hope.

  10. I feel like this post was written for me. This is the most difficult issue in my marriage. I have only been married for a little over a year and we’ve never had sex 3 times a week! We’re lucky if we have it once a week. For all of the above reasons you listed, I feel such pressure to perform well in the bedroom. My husband has a lower sex drive than I do and frequently he does not reach climax. He says it doesn’t bother him but it makes me feel so inadequate. I’ve even come out and asked him if he was gay! I’ve shed more tears over this issue because I was comparing myself to what I thought was the standard of a good marriage. It’s so freeing to hear that we’re all different and if both partner’s needs are met there’s no cause for alarm. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with us!

    • I’m so glad it was comforting, MB.

  11. After experiencing relationship anxiety for some time in my 3+ year relationship, my boyfriend was the one who discovered and turned me on to this website. Like many of you, this blog came when I needed it most as sex has been one of the primary sources of anxiety in my relationship. Like so many of you, it made me question if the relationship was “right,” if the man was “right” for me, or if something wasn’t “right” inside me that was wreaking so much havoc. It put me on a quest to make things/the relationship/myself “right” so there would be less anxiety….which only enhanced the anxiety and fed into my fear that I’m flawed. I am starting to find balance now, am seeing a doctor versed in Chinese medicine to restore my yin energy (a worthwhile exploration for women with depleted libido), and am finding so much comfort in the sharing that takes place here.

    Thank you Sheryl for this wonderful forum and for your always soothing words. Thank you everyone who posts. Your ability to take a risk and put yourself out there – to be honest and vulnerabile – is refreshing and promotes mass-healing. Thank you to everyone who may just come to read and take it all in. I feel the energy, it alleviates the feeling I sometimes have that I’m “alien,” and reminds me that anxiety isn’t a sign of impending doom, but an invitation to open up my heart.

    • Thank you, Andrea. I second the suggestion for Chinese medicine!

  12. One of the beautiful things about sex it that it is a dialogue. Firstly with yourself and then with a lover. When we are open to the dialogue and not to the outcome, magic happens.

    In tantra, sex is a pathway to the Divine. Moving from knowing thyself to meeting your lover in intimacy and then allowing that energy to be a conduit to take you beyond duality and into the arms of God. In this way we truly understand that the sensual and the sacred are one.

    Much love for your teachings

    Catherine x

  13. I really like that you pointed out that being increasingly comfortable watching sex scenes on TV is NOT the same thing as shedding taboos and talking about sex openly. It’s so true that having good sex is so much more than a “secret technique” or sexy lingerie. It’s only when I feel connected to myself that I’m able to say “that was good,”…apart from that sex never works when I’m trying to convince myself I’m not upset about something, or telling myself “you should want this.” I also LOVE that you mentioned women’s cycles. I have charted for a few years, and it’s much easier to accept that I’m not feeling too sexy when I know at least part of it is the place I’m at in my cycle. I’d love to see the future bring women that were more connected to their bodies, men who were willing to learn about them as well, and couples who are willing to talk plainly about sex, even when that brings a vulnerable feeling that can be hard to face up to. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  14. Hello.. im just looking at this post now.. I have struggled with this in the past but the main thing I have strugged with its the issue of “Im in love with my husband but noT IN LOVE with him. Meaning , I feel like the passionate feeelings are going but I dont want to divorce. Is that normaL? anyone else experience it? We have been married for five years and together for 4.

    • Hi Caroline: Yes, this is very normal, and you’ll see this sentiment reflected all over my site. If you love your husband, the “in love” feelings can be cultivated through loving action, appreciation, and continually moving toward instead of away from him.

  15. You know Caroline. My old therapist used to say that to not feel passion in a relationship is your psyche telling you that you are not “in love” and that it means you must leave the relationship. I was really surprised by this because I expected my old therapist to be more open minded to the realism that emotional bonding must be done with the self first before it can be done with something else. I just started reading “Comfortable with uncertainty.” by Pema Chodron which Sheryl recommended. Wow, it’s amazing. I am beginning my journey into connecting with me so that I can feel that “in love” feeling again with my husband who I’ve been with for about as long as you. It felt like that “in love” feeling disappeared when all the anxiety started. I realize I have been holding back a lot and this anxiety was a sign that I needed to be ok with feeling “stuck” and “indecisive” about not knowing where this journey of self exploration would lead and that accepting uncertainty as a means of achieving that “In love” feeling is one of life’s biggest challenges but it’s something we are all capable of and is certainly a worthy pursuit.

  16. Another thing I learned via this “comfortable with uncertainty” is that you cannot go into it with the obejctive of wanting to feel in love with someone else. Having an objcetive takes one’ sfocus away from the point of practicing which is to cultivate compassion and accept uncertainty to open our hearts to love.

    • Beautiful responses, Catherine. Thank you : ).

  17. I think it’s also worth mentioning that its a lot to do with your motivations for having sex in the first place, which might not always be because you fancy it. Personally I have the best sex with my husband when I’m least expecting to, not when we’ve planned to or when I’ve put pressure on myself to because its been a few weeks and i’m feeling worried that we ‘should’.. I also completely agree with Sheryl and everyone who has commented to say that unless you’re feeling good/connected in yourself forget it, its so true. If im stressed, worried or anxious its the last thing I want to do. Ive also noticed that if things get going and im not really enjoying it, i dont feel i can stop things, and i’ll immediately project onto my husband and then the reason im not enjoying it becomes ‘maybe i dont find him attractive enough’, rather than owning those feelings myself. As im sure a lot of people do, i judge myself against how I perceive other peoples sex lives and conclude there is something wrong with me or my marriage. I think its helpful to try and get some perspective, not run headlong into anxious thoughts, remembering the 98% of great sex ive had with my husband and trying not to get consumed by the 2%. Anxiety is surely sex’s biggest enemy! Also thought Gina’s comment was highly insensitive to the ‘vulnerable women’ that value Sheryl and her blog so much, for being the only source of truth and reassurance out there on these highly challenging matters.

  18. Dear Gina,

    Its interesting that you take such a strong stance against Sheryl’s comments about attraction. As women, most of us unfortunately have experienced some kind of sexual trauma or at least a frightening event related to sex. Attraction is a very complicated thing, especially if you feel at all threatened or pressurised by a male partner, sometimes just by dint of them being male. As someone who struggles with sexual anxiety, anxious episodes mean I can be so frightened and self-protective that I struggle to find my (wonderful and sexy) partner attractive. Websites like this one are really gentle and sensitive about such issues, and really help to calm me and other users down. I always find that when I am calm, all my love and desire are right there, because they are truly my own.

    Perhaps you feel anxious that Sheryl encourages women to stay in relationships which they don’t enjoy? Calming down and reconnecting with the true life of the relationship is never a bad thing, even if eventually it turns out the relationship isn’t right. Anxiety obscures the truth from us, and any attempts to minimise it are empowering to women, rather than dangerous. We cannot be powerful if we’re quivering wrecks. Anxiety and fear historically have made women more vulnerable than ever.

    • What a beautiful and insightful comment, Grace. I strongly agree with this:

      “As women, most of us unfortunately have experienced some kind of sexual trauma or at least a frightening event related to sex. Attraction is a very complicated thing, especially if you feel at all threatened or pressurised by a male partner, sometimes just by dint of them being male.”

      Absolutely spot-on.

  19. Hi everyone,

    This post really helped assuage my anxieties about sex, but I have a separate/tangential question – I know that “It’s normal to fantasize about the same sex even if your preference is the opposite sex. This doesn’t mean that you’re gay or that there’s a problem with your sexuality,” but I’ve had an unusual circumstance around this. I have never, ever been attracted to women. I think women are pretty or beautiful but have NEVER had any sort of sexual idea about them. However, the other day the thought of lesbianism or being attracted to women passed through my mind, and since then my anxious brain has not been able to let this go. Has anybody else experienced this? I feel like it’s not real, it’s coming from my anxiety, but at the same time, when I’m anxious, this feels like a very real concern. I have been in a great, loving relationship with my boyfriend for over 3 years and I don’t want to mess anything up.

  20. Sheryl,

    I missed this blog post alert in my inbox, but interestingly enough i found it at the perfect time. I am getting married in 3 weeks, and find myself fearing that our sex life will be “crappy” (yes , that is the word i am choosing) once we get settled into our marriage. I know i hold a lot of high and unhealthy expectations in regards to many things and when it comes to sex i don’t think it has been any different. (thank goodness for your work- so life altering) When we first started dating a few years ago, we had sex a lot, and physically is was great! However, i’ll admit that emotionally i wasn’t my truest self. I didn’t truly open my heart to feeling vulnerable during sex, specially since i never knew if our relationship would last and i didn’t want to get hurt as i did in previous relationships. Although Lately, as the wedding comes closer i find myself wanting to be very emotionally close through sex with my partner but periodically finding myself not wanting to be touched by him. I know there are a few things causing this weird confusion and back and forth attitude. His desire to have sex has become less often and it scares me and is causing anxiety and doubt. Especially since my girlfriend just got married and told me her husband wants it ALL the time.. (comparing is so not good for us).. now granted, my fiance is working more- a lot more than he used to and says his lack of desire is because he is so wiped out. (Thank you to the above post for simply saying how even men can become to exhausted by life to want to have sex- that was nice to hear) but i really wanted to think of our first years of marriage as our exciting ones, especially when it comes to sex… I just don’t know what to do. Maybe i am idolizing “marriage sex” … which is sure to cause anxiety b/c as of now we are not close to what i think “marriage sex SHOULD be like”…(im kinda of thinking out loud now)- i think your right Sheryl- we carry around the “should’s” and thats the problem. Who says my wedding night HAS to be amazing? Who says that my 1st years of marriage (when we don’t have kids) HAS to be filled with tons of sex!? I guess I am scared of rejection as a wife (since that is how i have been feeling lately) and what that will represent… I guess I am nervous i won’t experience that deep wonderful vulnerability that I definitely want, now that i am in a truly committed union. And honestly, i think i have been carrying around frustration with my partner since his desire has decreased. Maybe this frustration with him…. and my fear of rejection is what causes me to feel not attracted to him? maybe i am protecting myself because i want a deep emotional connection with him as his wife- and i don’t think it’s going to happen? and maybe my idea of what i am supposed to experience as a “wife” is actually construed and idealistic.. I don’t know- so many thoughts- don’t want to ramble in circles , would receive some objective sound thinking 🙂 any thoughts anyone? wisdom Sheryl?

  21. I recently broke up with my boyfriend of eight months after feeling a lot of sudden anxiety over whether we were right for each other, if I should be feeling more passion in the relationship and other general doubts. I desperately tried to find some validation to stay with him, but didn’t run into any info about relationship anxiety until after we’d broken up and moved away for the summer, as I’d already planned on doing.

    But my question is, when we got back together for one day — after I explained a lot of my fears, he admitted he’d been naive about me being the one, and we agreed to work on things — we met up and almost immediately had sex. But I wasn’t really into it, I felt more or less empty and afterwards, the tension and anxiety came back. I couldn’t help but feel if we were meant to reunite, then sleeping together again would make me feel better, not worse. Am I wrong?

    He’s an amazing guy, and we had a great relationship. And I did love him. But now a few weeks after ending things and moving, I’m not feeling very sad or anxious. Is that a sign I did the right thing? Or did i just take the easy way out?

  22. Hi everyone!
    I’m not sure if anyone will even see this comment but I need some advice regarding this topic and i figured this post would be the best place to comment on for advice.
    “It’s normal to fantasize about other people.
    It’s normal to fantasize about the same sex even if your preference is the opposite sex. This doesn’t mean that you’re gay or that there’s a problem with your sexuality”

    Those two quotes spike my anxiety a lot because i’ve been struggling with hOCD for a while now as well as rOCD. But the hOCD has become the louder noise lately.
    I wonder if anyone can help me

    So my anxiety right now is based around “what if i’m lesbian”
    I know for a fact I am straight, i’ve only ever dated and been interested in men. When i was young i experienced a little bit with my best friend, nothing very sexual, no kissing or anything just rubbing(I’m sorry if this is too much info) but even after that experience i never pursued women. It didn’t appeal to me.
    But as i got older and was introduced to porn, I found out i liked lesbian porn a lot better and never until recently i started questioning why i was watching it and not straight porn. Then obviously the question popped up “what if im lesbian” “i must be lesbian if i prefer lesbian porn over any other”

    ever since then i have never been able to get a clear picture as to what my sexuality is even though i only want to be with a man. I can never see myself with a women especially in a relationship.

    So not only is my anxiety crippling me, but i also have the question as to why i enjoy watching lesbian porn so much more?

    i really hope someone can answer me and give me there insight. I wonder if any one else is experiencing this or something close to the same experience!

    Thank you 🙂

  23. Hi Sheryl,

    I just wanted to say that I am truly inspired by your article. I recently got married, about 7 weeks ago. Being the traditionalist that I am, my partner and I decided not to have sex until we got married. After 7 weeks, we still have not consummated our marriage. We are so very very close and I do have sexual intimacy with him like you describe but just not intercourse as yet. Over the two years I have known him, we have been exiting each other a fair bit and what I came to realise after my period had finished last month was that I become very sexually aroused at that time. Like when I feel I am ready to conceive almost! And like your article states that one doesn’t always need to have sex once or twice a week in order to have a happy marriage. I think I am slowly realising the type of person I am. And realising that I don’t need to conform to society’s pressures about sex and that ‘I should have sex straight away after marriage’ and ‘I should have have twice a week after marriage’ and ‘ I shouldn’t feel feared about having sex at 33’ etc etc. but what can I say? I grew up late in life I guess.

    Thoughts please. Sheryl, you are a gift from my higher power. Look forward to reading more inspiring articles. God bless. xxxx

  24. Love this post, Sheryl!! Such a real, meaningful post. I have struggled with anxiety relating to this area in my relationship with my fiance in the past-constantly worrying about whether or not we had sex frequently “enough,” whether he was still as attracted to me, etc. What this post conveys is that these ideas about “normal” sex are completely unfounded and are coming from a place of anxiety and fear. Every person’s sex drive and personal needs are different, and as long as you are your partner are satisfied, who cares?? I’ve also found that when I let these worries go, I am able to connect with my partner on a much deeper and more meaningful way in general, in and out of the bedroom, completely free of judgment. I love knowing that, regardless of how much sex we have or if I look unattractive, he will always love me and want to feel connected to me. 🙂 Thanks again for showing us how to have deep, meaningful relationships!!

  25. Also, just wanted to add that I can very much identify with the notion of being the “pursuer” in a relationship. It’s exciting for awhile, but ultimately left me feeling empty and unwanted (except for physical intimacy). This is the first time I’ve been on the same page with a partner (my fiance) where we both put equal effort into keeping the connection alive. It’s awesome!!!! 🙂

  26. I haven’t orgasmed the last 4-5 times we’ve had intercourse and it plays into this belief that if I’m not climaxing there must be something wrong with ‘us’ … he’s not the right one, it must mean I’m falling out of love.

    Now every time we have sex If I don’t orgasm it’s more proof, and it’s on my mind every time we enter the bedroom.

    Is this true? and will I ever have an orgasm again?? I get worried I won’t

    Thank you for your incredible work BTW… x

    • There are many, many reasons why we don’t orgasm during sex. It sounds like your anxiety has latched onto this as “evidence” that you’re with the “wrong” person, which is a textbook sign of relationship anxiety.


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