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My Boyfriend Has Sex with Me when I’m Asleep

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My boyfriend and I have been dating for nearly 5 years, since our junior year of high school. We have not had sex for various reasons. He is religious, and I suffer from panic attacks during intimacy. We used to fool around in high school, coming very close to sex at least once, but we never actually did the deed. A couple years into our relationship, I started to suffer really badly from anxiety. I didn’t want to be intimate anymore. It would always cause me to panic.

Everything was fine for a while. My boyfriend did his best to give me space and understanding. But 2 and half years later, our relationship has spiraled downhill. We’re barely intimate at all, except when I feel guilty and we mess around for a little while. But he has gotten increasingly sexually frustrated. He says he has to masturbate everyday, and that he hates it, and that it isn’t satisfying physically. He says that he physically hurts from not being able to be intimate.

A few months ago, we fell asleep on my couch, and I woke up to him touching me and kissing me under my shirt. Half-asleep, I actually gave in. I enjoyed it until I came to full consciousness and grew very disgusted that he had been intimate with me while I was asleep. I confronted him and he told me that I only like to make out when I’m half-asleep. This happened at least one more time later. And then a third incident occurred, where I woke up to him helping himself, using my feet. Again, I would go along with it and enjoy it until I would come to full consciousness.

He’s not very apologetic for what he’s done, except that he’s sorry THAT I feel violated. He insists that I consented, and that he didn’t realize that I was asleep, in spite of the fact that first time this happened, he said “You’re only into it when you’re half-asleep.” We’ve been having huge, massive fights ever since. And now we’re on a break.

But he’s my best friend. I have no memory of this happening prior to a few months ago. He went 4 years being a normal guy, minus the fact that he’s always liked my feet. He’s a genuinely wonderful person. He loves his family, he loves his friends, he loves his pets, and he aspires to changing the world for the better. He’s not a bad person. But I feel violated, sexually and emotionally. I recognize that it might be hard for him to apologize because that would mean acknowledging that he is guilty of actions that many would classify as rape-y. But nonetheless, I am afraid of the implications of his actions. How screwed up is he really? Do I really know him?

Lastly, I’ve been looking into these kinds of instances, and things like somnophilia, etc. And I came to the startling conclusion that I might be experiencing sexsomnia…I am a very deep sleeper, he says I consented and even participated (though I DON’T remember it), I have sexual dreams, and I enjoy messing around with him and am even turned on until I come to full consciousness.

Tell me: Is this forgivable? Might he be secretly a bad person? Am I actually consenting and forgetting? Is this confusion due to my panic attacks and anxiety disorder?

I miss my best friend, and I’m angry that he’s put us in this terrible place.

My Boyfriend Has Sex with Me when I’m Asleep

Answered by on -


This is a very complicated situation. I understand that this is very painful for you but I do think you are asking the wrong questions. Your boyfriend didn’t put you in this position — at least not by himself. You are very much a part of it.

First, let me make this clear — non-consensual sex is never okay (unless it is a part of pre-agreed-upon sexual play). What you describe could very well be considered rape or sexual assault and it’s something you should consider reporting to the police if it continues and you have no further interest in this relationship.

The two of you haven’t developed a normal intimate life in spite of the fact that you’ve been together for 5 years. Something about sex makes you panic. When you do anything that approaches being fully sexual, you feel guilty. He’s been masturbating but has grown increasingly frustrated. He doesn’t want to be intimate with himself. He wants to be intimate with you and settles for getting something from your feet. You seem to be able to be more sexual when you are “half asleep” which means you give crossed messages. He takes you up on it even though he knows better. You both end up feeling terrible. And this has been going on for years? It’s a wonder the two of you are together.

I don’t think this is an issue of forgiveness. It’s an issue of serious sexual dysfunction in an otherwise seemingly good relationship. It doesn’t matter how the issue started. That is probably lost somewhere in the last 5 years. What matters is that you are both now stuck in a cycle that is disturbing to your both and that could very well end the relationship.

I urge the two of you to make an appointment with a couples therapist to have a safe place to talk about sex and what you expect of yourselves and each other in terms of intimacy. Take your letter and this response with you to jumpstart the conversation.

I hope you will follow through. This sounds like a relationship that is worth saving.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Updated: October 2018

My Boyfriend Has Sex with Me when I’m Asleep

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). My Boyfriend Has Sex with Me when I’m Asleep. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 28, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Oct 2018 (Originally: 21 Sep 2014)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Oct 2018
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