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Love And Relationship Issues

Fear Of Sexual Intimacy | ‘I Only Go For Men Who Are Not Available’

Fear of sexual intimacy

The pursuit of the unobtainable is a problem for many people. Its causes lie deep, but intimacy can be found – and accepted – through therapy.

Emma (24): I’m 24 and have had about ten partners over the last couple of years. This in itself doesn’t worry me, but I am concerned that every man I go for is, for one reason or another, unavailable. Why on earth do I do this? It is really painful and I cannot go on for much longer living my life like this.

Wendel (32): I happen to be the guy of the moment whom Emma has gone for. I have a girlfriend whom I’m keen on, but Emma keeps trying to get me to have sex with her. It’s difficult as we work together and much as I’d like to have sex with her, I’m really spoken for and don’t want to hurt my girlfriend.

The Lovers’ Guide replies:

This is a pretty common problem, Emma. It is hard on everyone concerned, not least yourself. We think you’ll probably have to seek professional help over this, because the reasons you do it yourself are many and need careful sorting through with an expert in such matters. However, here are some thoughts for you to chew over in the meantime. Some you might be able to discuss with Wendel, but others you won’t.

First, we should point out that when this happens it is usually the case that the pursuer really wants or needs to feel rejected and unloved. At first this seems a bit of a paradox, doesn’t it, as you end up spending so much time and energy seeking out man with whom you would apparently like to be intimate.

Clinical experience teaches us that women like you, Emma, have a long history of rejection, perhaps symbolic rather than real, right from the early childhood. They then come to expect it and create scenarios in which it will then occur. Of course, all this is completely unconscious – they don’t do it deliberately.

It is not at all uncommon for a woman with this type of problem actively but unwittingly to choose people who will eventually reject her. It is as if she is saying, ‘If only it weren’t for such and such, everything could have worked out OK.’

This lets her off the hook, rather than having to accept that she doesn’t really want, or cannot cope with, the connectedness involved in true intimacy. The man then doesn’t have actually to reject her; she doesn’t actually have to reject him – the situation ensures that it is all a nonstarter right from the beginning.

Fear of sexual intimacy

At the heart of all this is usually a deep fear of intimacy. This needs careful professional help in sorting out. It is often the case that such a woman discovers this sort of intimacy in the process of therapy for the first time in her life. She is then able to transfer this learned skill and feeling of trust in the therapist outside the consulting room into the real world.

In this sense, a good therapist has to re-parent the client, offering them something they never had from their real parents. This can be a difficult process for both therapist and client because, by definition, an individual with your sort of background, Emma, seeks to avoid such intimacy. It feels far too dangerous, too likely to lead to loss, and it is the fear of loss that keeps the individual from making the investment they so desperately need to make.

We are sorry that you have had to become involved in all this, Wendel, but it might not be all Emma’s ‘fault’. After all, for every woman with this problem that have to be men to fuel the fire.

You say you are happy with your girlfriend. Perhaps the very best thing you can do for Emma, if you care for her at all, is to make it plain that you will not be betray your girlfriend by having sex with her. By hearing this and seeing it in action Emma could learn a valuable lesson – that relationships do mean something to an overwhelming number of people and that human beings can be intimate and make this a special part of their lives together. This could well be a message she has never experienced, either at home with her parents or later on in her life with men.

As long as you make it plain that you’re not going to have sex with her for these reasons rather than that you don’t fancy her, you could play a vital part in Emma’s inner healing.

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