Dear Dr. Frankie,
I have been single and celibate for more than a decade. At some point along the way, my dry spell has become self-perpetuating. Potential new partners are scared off by my situation, and my degree of sexual inexperience compared to other people my age makes me nervous about physical intimacy, killing the mood for me. I’m really not interested in casual sex – if I were, I wouldn’t be in this situation. I know that I have the potential to be a wonderful long-term partner and have a great sex life with someone willing to have some patience with me early on in the relationship. What is the best way to approach physical intimacy, and present myself and my situation as I date, so that I can finally break this cycle?
I would initially avoid revealing your level of anxiety regarding sex to your dating partners. When the time is appropriate start by explaining that you need to experience an intimate connection before having sex. Be confident about who you are and of the decisions you’ve made. Does thinking about having sex conjure up so much anxiety you’d rather not deal with sex at all? It may help to see a therapist to discuss the source of your anxiety and ways to overcome it so you can fully enjoy dating and having a sexual relationship. In order to reduce your anxiety you need to expose yourself to what makes you anxious. Exposure will desensitize you to the situation and lower your anxiety. By speaking with a therapist you can learn techniques to reduce performance anxiety and relearn to enjoy sex. It will also bolster your confidence knowing you have some “tools” 😉 in your “tool belt”. In the future with a potential partner make it fun, a journey, something to explore and learn about each other. Sometimes how we approach a situation can change one’s attitude and how they react. Be open to exploration and acknowledge that you don’t owe anyone an explanation (unless you want to) for not having more sexual experiences.