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sexual inhibition - emotional hangup or less complicated?


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I'm a 25 yr old male and have never had sex. In fact, I hardly ever date. I have questions regarding any emotional content or patterns that are hanging me up.

So, I have flirtatious relationships with several girls that are acquaintances of mine, and have recently tried dating someone for the first time in about 4 years, and it ended disastrously. In fact, most of my relationships are disastrous, and end so - mainly because of emotional distress and difficulty communicating. I have never been sexually intimate with anyone, and tend to avoid affectionate behavior, even though I find it stimulating and comfortable. Rationally I can be very aware of my partner and myself and try my best to be respectful of what needs and wants i perceive in my partner. I have had a few opportunities at intimacy with different women, but find the emotional part of myself, which i can usually recognize as irrational in hindsight, mucks up the works. Basically I become highly agitated, cautious, despondant/distant, easily angered, depressed, and most of all avoidant. Meanwhile I simultaneously experience very powerful emotions concerning the other person, in private, to the point where I'm sobbing ;) (rarely experiencing strong positive emotions in this regard). I find myself emotionally responding to their life, but unable to express it in person. Again, rationally i can recognize a degree of casualness to a relationship, but emotionally/?neurotically? I experience uncomfortable attachments. I wonder if i have dependency issues seeing as though i tend to become emotionally invested very quickly and feel upset when it is not reciprocated. And overall, again, I tend to be very avoidant and easily agitated. It's also exhausting: I make myself sick with stress alot in relationships, and lose perspective on bigger personal priorities.

My overall life is fairly steady and emotionally stable, but relationships are consistently difficult and I've never been in one that i wasn't happy to get out of, despite strong wishes to make it work for the sake of personal growth.

I have adult ADD - rarely using medication, but definitely noticing a positive effect as long as I'm not coming down off of it. It's also been suggested that I might have (and I don't know much about it, or if I'm recalling this accurately) a neurological condition where pleasure and stress synapses are fused.(?) Something akin to, but different from, the neurological confusion that may be behind Sadomasochism. I figure, some of this may be associated with an abusive childhood. I was never sexually abused, and cannot recall physical abuse until adolescence, but did receive constant verbal abuse and witnessed physical and emotional abuse to my brother and mother. I box as a hobby, and must admit that i enjoy the sensation of being beaten sometimes. During a therapy session, we explored the abuse issue and concluded that it affects expectations and definitions about my concept of "relationships," and through a great cathexis experience found that i have some irrational hangups on needing to be very close to someone and almost define their behavior in order to feel like i'm even in a relationship (so that when someone confides in me that they think we're dating after a few dates, I become, in their eyes, really just freakin weird). I'm mild in personality, and have never stuck a person or animal outside of boxing, and even therein I tend to be discreet and not very aggressive. However, I've inherited a terrible temper and when I lose it I become violent towards inanimate objects (poor things) - this meaning I've broken my hand several times, smashed through car windows, tables, other things. Afraid my bad attitude is exacerbated in emotionally tense situations such as those triggered by relationships.

So generally the problem is that I have a terrible time communicating with people, have extreme discomfort initiating affectionate behavior, and have an irrational emotional responses to people including a need to control and an overall fear of rejection. Is this something i can work through. Is it a matter of just keep trying with people and trying to get over it? Is there some pattern i'm running that I don't see. Is this something unconscious that i need professional help with? Am i just a late bloomer with hangups? I thought for a while I might be suppressing homosexuality because i was so unable to be intimate with women, could that be the case? And most of all, is there anything I can do to make this process easier? I really want to be close to someone, but am skeptical if this is a rational thing to want in my case. I mean, should I just put emotions on the side burner and just go a'fornicating to get over some of the intimacy issues? It's a serious question, i mean, i want to be emotionally close more than i want sex, but if i forced myself through the sexual inhibitions first and was maybe more comfortable with that, would some of the emotional intimacy issues resolve themselves? I have no clue how this stuff works, and i'm terribly suspicious of my friends' advice. I mean "just be[ing] an asshole," while it works for some doesn't really uphold my values.

It's frankly exhausting, and I'm getting depressed. Also, I feel like i'm wasting some really fun and life-affirming opportunities here. Any advice that would make things easier would be so very much appreciated. Thanks for readin my babble you fine persons.


MM :)

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi anthrofix,

Thank you for your very complete description of what you experience. No, what you are going through is not just a stage that will pass. In point of fact, you describe witnessing physical abuse and experiencing verbal abuse. That would explain your avoidance of intimacy. It seems to me that you do want sexual and personal intimacy but fear it because of your childhood experiences.

Your issues are complicated by ADHD and by a possible neurological disorder. You ask if you need professional help but I thought you wrote that you are in therapy.

In my opinion, you should be in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and, if your ADHD are heavy, you should also be receiving training in how to respond to people in social situations. It seems to me that "talking therapy" known as psychodynamic therapy is not going to do it for you.

What do others think?


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  • 2 months later...

Hey buddy your not the only one out their suffering from this. I assume your an American like me brought up in a sexually-negative childhood environment. Just know that there's nothing wrong with you, your a product of a messed up view of sex and it's not your fault . And don't pressure yourself to HAVE to have a relationship. You can learn to be very happy and contented single if you work on yourself spiritually - and don't abuse drugs & alcohol either (I made that mistake in my younger days and hurt myself too).

I would take the classes the above poster recommended if possible, and try to get out more - get some hobbies. Stop dwelling on your misery and work on yourself and in time maybe someone will come along that you just gel with (or not - who cares).

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Anthrofix, you're definitely not alone.

I was a 40-year-old virgin when I met my wife-to-be, and like you, I had only dated in a very distant fashion. I think I had an idea what it was supposed to be like to date and have a relationship, rather than just letting it happen.

Unfortunately, I don't have any solutions for you, and certainly recommend against the one I chose: marrying someone just because she tolerated me and maybe needed me. In fact, I almost didn't post, because I have nothing to offer you except:

You're not alone.

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You've talked about a lot of complicated stuff in your post here, Anthrofix, but maybe that is not all necessary to understand what is happening here. Mainly, you are avoidant and you get agitated when you have the opportunity to get close to a woman? That could be something as simple as social phobia (aka social anxiety disorder). I say simple not because it is easy to escape, but becuase the mechanisms that keep this sort of thing going are fairly well understood and there is good psychotherapy for it. If it is basically an anxiety problem, then the solution will be some kind of exposure therapy (where you learn how to tolerate the anxiety that comes with acting in spite of your urge to avoid), and some kind of cognitive therapy where you learn to be more aware of and critical of your "automatic thoughts" (e.g., the stream of consciousness that passes through your mind mostly unnoticed that has intense rammifications for how you feel.

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