In episode 310, I received a question from a listener struggling with intimacy in their relationship as they find everything related to sex unappealing. In this post, I explore this in more depth and take a look at what could be at the root of these issues and the options available to help you move forward.
I hope you’re doing fine. To introduce myself a little bit, I have been fighting anxiety and depression for almost a year. I took two types of SSRI medication; one was A Citalopram which didn’t work on me, and the other one was fluoxetine which was only helpful for my anger and the feeling of being constantly on edge. For anxiety, I took Buspirone and propranolol. Although I know it’s very wrong, I stopped taking my medication for some reasons that made me worse than ever, and I am on medication for Hypothyroidism as well. I recently married my partner of seven years and told him about my depression and anxiety after nine months of struggling and overthinking. He took it well and was supportive.
So now the problem is that I don’t feel anything related to sex appealing. I hate it even when I think about it, I wasn’t like that, and I know it’s due to depression and anxiety. But I can’t tell my husband about that. I think he’s under enough pressure himself, and now he knows about my depression too. I am the type of person who hates to be a burden on loved ones, and even though I have told him about my depression, I do not talk about how awful I feel most of the days and try to hide my constant crying with him because I believe it makes him sad and depressed, and I hate that. So, I can’t see it in myself to tell him that I do not want to have sex with him, or even kissing is a hateful thing for me. We do not live with each other yet because we are moving to Canada, therefore I try to ignore him by making myself busy. And whenever we have sex, I hate all of it, and I don’t even feel anything. I know that is the only pleasure I can give to him right now, and I think it would jeopardize my marriage if I told him how I feel about sex. It shouldn’t be always about me and my feeling you know! So, What should I do? I am really helpless here. and I can really use a bit of good advice.
First off, thank you for trusting me with this question. I’m very sorry for what you’re going through. It sounds like the past year or two have been super hard for you and you’ve experienced a lot of ups and downs. I want to warn you upfront that this response is going to be a little bit of tough love.
You have some serious work to do in the communication department. I have worked with many people that have been in situations like this. But when I encounter them, they are years and years down the line when this has been unaddressed and now they are trying to navigate a divorce or separation. I understand that you are trying to care for him, but in doing so, you are actually hurting him, yourself, and your relationship altogether. You would not be a burden by sharing what is actually happening for you. You need to give him the credit that he cares about you enough to handle it.
One of the things that you need to realize is that your behavior is already being shaped by the feelings that you described. And without knowing WHY you are acting this way, he is only left with his own guesses and interpretation. He may interpret your lack of interest or avoidance of him as being unworthy or gross. He can interpret it any way his mind bends because he has no other information. The answer is not hiding things from him. You are not going to protect each other by being inauthentic. That is not a healthy foundation for a marriage. Honestly, if even the thought of kissing him is something that you hate, this is a serious situation. You are trying to ignore him by keeping yourself busy. Neither of you deserves that. I understand that it comes from a place of care, but you are avoiding the problem instead of addressing it, which will cause it to fester and grow over time. It’s also important for you as a person that you don’t just force yourself to have sex when you don’t like it and build this negative association and potentially trauma related to sex.
You mentioned that it would jeopardize your marriage if you were to talk about this. But as I said, that’s not giving either of yourselves enough credit. If your marriage is going to crumble over you being authentic about your real challenges, that is a problem. You guys need to work on this together. You said it shouldn’t always be about you and your feelings, but you have to understand that from his perspective, you haven’t been sharing your feelings. He may feel like it’s all about him because you are not sharing what your behaviors actually mean. You are just privately struggling with them and they are dictating your behavior. I implore you to be honest with him. It is difficult, but necessary.
There are things to work on here if you want this to improve. I think it’s important to consider whether this is a new issue or one that has existed under the radar for a long time. You mentioned that you feel this is due to your depression and anxiety. That is totally valid and possible. But it appears that you were on the wrong medication before if you didn’t get relief from your symptoms. There is more than can be done here. But I also don’t want to be pushing you into something you don’t want if you are actually asexual or something like that. Only you know those answers. Regardless of the sexual issues with your spouse, your depression is not under control and you need more help managing it. Whether that is psychiatry, therapy, or both. You deserve to have more control over your life instead of your symptoms just running the show. If you were to take some action here like work on your own depression, engage in sex therapy, or engage in any other resources, this should be a good signal to him. Rather than being a problem, this might be a meaningful sign that you are willing to work on things. That he is worth working on things for. I’m not trying to say that it’s easy. Not by any means. But it is necessary.
There’s no perfect way to broach the subject, but I would encourage you to be honest. You could say that you have something really difficult to talk to him about. You could say that it’s been hard to bring up because you are ashamed and you don’t want to hurt him, but you also don’t want this to fly under the radar forever and be unfair to him. Tell him that you don’t fully understand why, but you find sex to be something aversive. You don’t like thinking about it and you aren’t feeling the desire for it. If it’s true, let him know that it’s not just him. That you can’t stand the idea of it regardless. If you feel like it’s secondary to your depression, be honest about that. But please be honest.
If you aren’t attracted to him and have never been, don’t lie about that. But if something has changed because of what you are experiencing, be honest about that. Say that you are worried about ruining things, but you need to come clean because you need help and you don’t want him to think it’s just because you’re not attracted to him. If there is anything that you need to stop hiding from yourself and be brutally honest with yourself about, please do that. For example, if you feel like it wasn’t a good idea to get married, or you have never felt sexual feelings toward him etc. You need to bring that stuff into the light and start facing it.
For your sake, these things need to be worked on. Or if they have always been this way, you need to work toward accepting that and adjusting your life accordingly. You seem to be young and this is very early in your marriage, so there is a lot of room for growth potentially. Talk to your doctor, talk to a therapist, see a sex therapist, see a psychiatrist to get on a better medication regime, talk about it with your spouse and trusted people in your life. There are many options and you are not alone. The only thing I’d advise you to NOT do is keep avoiding the issue.
You can do this!
You can listen to this on Episode 310 of the podcast!
Thank you for the great question!
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