How Do I Stop Being Irrationally Terrified of Sexual Interaction?

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

I just started dating this guy who I’ve known for nearly a year and he’s liked me for just about all that time. I think he’s amazing and I’m really happy to be in a relationship with him. I like cuddling into him, hugging him and holding hands but anything past that gives me a boatload of anxiety.

After he’d asked me out he kissed me on the cheek (i was going for a hug so wasn’t expecting it) and it gave me all this adrenaline. I started breathing really heavily and had an insane heart rate when I got into the car and when I thought about it later that night it made my heart rate speed up. I had to convince myself it was in a good way.

I’ve never kissed someone I’ve actually liked before and so I’m incredibly nervous about when that time will come. My friend told me about how her boyfriend was feeling her up and it made me so so anxious. It didn’t make me feel excited or have no reaction.

It’s gotten to the point where it’s affecting my relationship with him as i feel awkward and anxious around him. I can’t even think about sex or hand jobs or anything like that.

Is this just a normal level of anxiety about a first relationship? Or am I just a victim of my own overthinking? I’ve been raised in a family where the channel was always changed if sex was on. I don’t think I’m asexual or heteroromantic but maybe I am??

A: At 16 your experiences are very new and being cataloged. These first reactions should not be pathologized, but rather observed and reflected upon. Your anxiety seems to have taken you quite by surprise. My suggestion is to find a way to talk about these reactions with your new boyfriend.

The real intimacy in a relationship comes through dialogue, not physical reaction. Try to open up the safe conversation without blame the judgment was self-criticism. This may allow you to find ways to experiment with reducing anxiety.

If after a month or so of this kind of dialogue things don’t change you may want to talk with the counselor about these feelings.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 10 Apr 2014

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2014). How Do I Stop Being Irrationally Terrified of Sexual Interaction?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/04/10/how-do-i-stop-being-irrationally-terrified-of-sexual-interaction/