I recently read a book in which the author described dreading sex with her husband who had previously cheated. She described trying to feel numb and leaving her body. And the awful feeling when she wasn’t able to do this, or just enduring until he was finished. To me this is shocking, but to many this is reality.

In this scenario she has lost the love for her husband, but is trying to make it work as he is a good father. She’s desperately clinging to the family unit. I don’t think anyone would ask a partner to stay with them forever but not have sex. But is it OK to have sex when it’s like this?

Is this self harm?

Having an outer body experience or going numb are the same things experienced by many people when suffering abuse. When outwardly you’re putting on a show that everything is fine we can’t really call the man here the abuser can we? If you act like everything is perfectly fine, to the point where maybe you’re even trying to convince yourself, there may be no signs for him to know that secretly you still hate him. So is this some kind of self harm?

If you’re letting someone have sex with you when inside you’re dreading sex- you’re not consenting to yourself. You may consent to them, but to you this has not been agreed. That is why the soul tries to go elsewhere while it’s happening. It’s escaping, trying to pretend that you’re not letting this happen.

I worry for people living this way. There is nothing worse than being abused, and to be the one doing it to yourself can be as damaging as someone else being the perpetrator. Just to be clear this is a different situation than someone being mentally/physically abused by a partner.

Stop living a lie

I actually read an article recently that promoted “maintenance sex” where you have sex with your partner even if you don’t want to, to keep the spark alight. I find this appalling. A partnership should be one where you are free to be honest, and the same for them. If it turns into a problem have therapy or something, don’t start just giving yourself up to them. You are your own property, married or not.

You cannot live a lie hoping that one day it will become reality when that lie is centred on hate. You’ve got to work on recognising the lie and admit to yourself that you do not want this. Until that happens history will just repeat itself. Once you admit it to yourself then you must talk it through with your partner. Surely they won’t want to know that they’re having sex with someone who’s dreading sex with them?

The fear, I assume, is the alternative of living the lie, and the unknown. Rejecting a partner physically is personal. You never know how they are going to react. Will they propose that they stay and you both don’t have sex for every more? Unlikely. So is the thinking that they’ll then want to leave you? What does that look like? Where will you both live? What will happen to the kids? I assume that for many it is the fear of this that makes them suffer sex. They’re taking one for the team as it were in exchange for everything else.

But I say all those articles about trying to bring the spark back are wrong. They have a place for people who want to have sex, who want to liven things up a bit. But for someone who is at the point where they’re dreading sex you cannot just force it.

Start the conversation today

If you’re reading this thinking this sounds like you I hope you start an internal conversation today where you can be honest with yourself about your feelings. Don’t shy away from them. Every feeling has a reason. Feel it. Face it, and learn to be true to yourself in what you want and don’t want. Hopefully some courage will come from that to start thinking about steps to not have to live this way anymore.

There are many reasons that you may not want to have sex, and each of them is valid. Try the following for further information: