Sex and Anxiety: Why Do I Hold Back – Part 2

Therapist: “There are many lessons we learn from the deaths of the loved ones: People I love can’t be trusted. They can die at any time and cause a terrible pain. My happiness is only temporary, and it will end in disaster. I need to keep my guard up to prevent these bad things from happening. Their death is somehow my fault. I am guilty because I should have known this would happen. I failed in my responsibility to prevent it from happening. I must try harder to control and prevent this disaster from happening again.”

Suzanne: “That’s the way I feel. It’s all true. But how can this help me with my problems with my husband? Why am I so uptight when it comes to sex?”


Therapist: “Do you love your husband?”

Suzanne: “Of course I do, and I want him to be happy.”

Therapist: “You don’t want him to die, do you? You have been trying to save his life by not loving him too much. You don’t want him to die like the last two men in your life and your desire is reduced as your concern increases. So perhaps your anxiety is a way to keep your guard up and have control to protect against the vulnerability inherent in love.”

Suzanne: “Oh my God. It sounds so absurd, but you’re right, that’s the way I feel.”

Therapist: “Now that you are in touch with those feelings, you can choose to replace them with more appropriate, realistic ones.”

Suzanne: “What can I replace them with?”

Therapist: “Can you catch yourself feeling responsible for your husband’s life? That is caretaking, which inhibits sexual desire because love becomes fused with responsibility and obligation. Instead, you can replace it with the feeling that he is responsible for his life. By promoting your own independence, you will reduce this worry and increase feelings of desire and passion.”

Suzanne: “I never thought of it that way.”

Therapist: “Can you remind yourself that when you avoid being possessive and controlling, you increase excitement, passion, and desire.”

Suzanne: “Yes, I’m sure I can now that you have spelled it out for me. But how do I go about replacing these old feelings with the new ones? Just talking about it doesn’t seem to be enough.”

Therapist: “You’re right. It isn’t enough. You have to do your homework in the real world. For example, in the moments that you are intimate with your husband. You are not powerless and out of control. You do not have to keep a watchful eye out for disaster. You have a the power of choice: you can choose to let go and see what happens.”

Suzanne: “I’m afraid.”

Therapist: “I know you are, insecurity triggers fear and increases the need for control. We are talking about life and death, and it’s scary to have so much responsibility. One antidote to your fear is to remind yourself that you are not that powerful. You are no more and no less powerful than anyone else. Another antidote to your fear of letting go is to have courage. Courage is the willingness to take a risk by trusting your judgment to solve problems in reality, not preventing potential disaster that may or may not ever happen. You have the power to take life as it comes and do the best you can with it. That is power and control, and it is not too much or too little, it is just enough. Can you remember tonight that you have the power of choice, that you are a self-respecting human being who is competent to take life as it comes? Can you choose to let go and see what happens?”

Suzanne: “Yes I can, and I know it will work. Thanks for showing me that I have choices. Is my time up? I have to go home and get ready for some homework.”

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Shared by: Aaron Karmin, LCPC, Contributing Blogger

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