Social Anxiety in the Bedroom #1: The Struggle Is Real

Content warning: …sex. Obviously. (Not too graphic though.)


If I had to break down socially anxious sex into 4 overly simplistic, tongue-in-cheek steps, it might look like this:

Step 1:

Start with all the typical fears related to social anxiety.

To name just a few:

Being judged by others in social situations

Being embarrassed or humiliated — and showing it by blushing, sweating, or shaking

Accidentally offending someone

Being the center of attention

Source: WebMD

Step 2:

Hold on tight to those fears as you remove all your clothing.

You are now naked.

Proceed to step 3.

Step 3:

Continue to hold on tight to those fears as you turn to other human or humans in room.

Note that they, too, are naked.

And looking at you.

Step 4:

Prepare to interact with other human(s) in the most intimate way imaginable.

Now.

Right now.

Congratulations!

You are now ready to have socially anxious sex.

But Seriously Though

It’s not your fault if anxiety is creating challenges for you related to intimacy or sex.

You didn’t choose to have anxiety in the bedroom any more than you chose to have it outside the bedroom.

Anxiety doesn’t END at the bedroom door

(I keep saying bedroom but feel free to replace this with your sexy location of choice.)

Anxiety is hard enough to manage during non-sexy times, and it affects an individual’s whole life.

So it only makes sense that these challenges would carry over into the bedroom. You’re still the same person there, after all.

Anxiety can be a mood killer

It can be physically difficult, if not impossible, to relax enough to enjoy the moment. (No relaxy, no climaxy.)

Medication can be a factor

SSRI and SNRI medications can cause sexual side effects.

This can be infuriating, embarrassing, and discouraging. (There are ways to mitigate this effect depending on the medication. For example, for me, adding Wellbutrin [buproprion] offset the anorgasmia caused by SNRI and SSRI medication. Talk to your doc.)

Anxiety is pretty common here anyway

Sex can be nerve-wracking even without an anxiety disorder in the mix.

It can be fun but scary, exhilarating but finicky, restorative but messy. (So messy.)

Moral of the story: We’re all imperfect

Please don’t be too hard on your imperfect self for being imperfect in the bedroom, too.

Anxiety disorder or not, WE ARE *ALL* IMPERFECT IN THE BEDROOM.

AND DON’T LET ANYONE MAKE YOU BELIEVE OTHERWISE.

xoxo

P.S. Why I Wrote This Post

The impact of social anxiety on sexuality is a legitimate issue that I would love to see discussed in a candid and relatable way.

The tone I aimed for here is lighthearted and hopefully a little funny.

This isn’t “the” definitive post on socially anxious sex.

I’m just hoping to open the door to more conversation and thought.

And even if there’s no public talk, maybe someone out there will feel a little less alone and a little more understood. xoxo

23 thoughts on “Social Anxiety in the Bedroom #1: The Struggle Is Real

  1. The sense that I get is that, for straight guys, if there’s potential vagina access, it’s kind of like a sexual equivalent to beer goggles, and any woman’s attractiveness goes through the roof.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There are enough challenges getting things “just right” in this area. I can’t imagine throwing social anxiety into the mix. I would have thought,though, that the social anxiety would dissipate in the company of an intimate partner, but apparently not. I learn something new every day from this blog.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s a good point — you would think that the social anxiety wouldn’t surface with an intimate partner, but it does. I guess that’s why it’s a disorder. Something like shyness might go away with familiarity. Social anxiety is different.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m wary of typing this lest I be accused of ‘onedownmanship’ (boasting of how bad I have it), but… I’ll be thirty-seven in two months, and (whisper) I’m still a virgin. This is mostly not for reasons that have so much to do with social anxiety per se (more to do with depression if anything), but I do worry that after waiting this long, it’s turned it into such an ‘event’ that if I ever do get to have sex, it will be very anxiety-inducing. I mean, I hope that with the right person it wouldn’t be, but I don’t know. And I’m glad that being religious means I have a valid excuse not to have casual sex, because that just seems the scariest, social anxiety-inducing thing possible.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Okay, you get mad respect for being willing to open up about this. Especially since it’s an area that you struggle with. I’m SO SO inspired by this.

      Also I now love the term onedownmanship.

      I know it’s not the same circumstances, but my first time (and most peoples, I would imagine) was nothing to write home about. It was awkward, I was awkward, he awkward.

      I’ve had many awkward, anxious moments since then.

      It’s kind of like… jogging? Some days you feel great and it goes well. Other days you limp home sweaty and crying. 😅

      I don’t know if that’s helpful at all.

      I think everyone is a bit bumbling at sex, but no one talks about it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, I’ve heard from lots of people that the first time is usually awkward.

        In terms of opening up about it… I kind of feel I have to for the same reason you wanted to write this post. I feel like every type of consensual sex is spoken about… except for people who don’t have sex, through choice or otherwise. So we’re left feeling weird and freakish. I want to change that!

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you for introducing this topic.

    Sexual intimacy is a major trigger to dissociation for us. This we attribute to (1) rape culture; (2) being sexually abused; (3) having many mental challenges due to (1) and (2). We are ashamed of our body and of having sexual desires.

    A licensed sex therapist (T-1) helped us shift sex from retraumatizing and disconnective into a life-energy affirming, connective (to self and Spouse) mindfulness practice.

    In order to be with Spouse and not relive abuse or rape culture’s tropes, we must be aware of our body, of Spouse’s body, of both of our responses to stimuli.

    It is not perfect, because it involves humans. And it is a beautiful experience to be connected to Spouse when we are successful at mindfulness. With a full house—2 older teens—our opportunities to connect and want to connect sexually are currently diminished. We didn’t realize we were mourning this disconnection.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for sharing this. I’m honoured that you feel comfortable sharing in this space. xoxo

      “It is not perfect, because it involves humans.” I think this is a very good way of summarizing the experience of sex.

      Your personal history and trauma are things that I cannot presume to understand — it would be disservice to you for me to say anything like “I can imagine how hard that must be.” I truly don’t think I can imagine the challenges you have faced, and continue to face.

      I think you’re really brave and strong for doing all the writing, sharing, therapy, and growth that you do. Truly. That is something I can say straight from the heart. xoxo

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Interesting post. Thank you for sharing. I have some more thoughts that I’ll share later, after I’ve done some things I’m supposed to be doing for work right now, and after I’ve decided how much I want to share here in a comment vs. how much I want to share in a private message vs. how much I don’t want to share at all.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My struggles always happened way earlier in the process, with meeting potential romantic and sexual partners in the first place. I never had any healthy discussion of sex growing up, other than when we studied that in school. Sex was never talked about at all in my family, unless it was Mom being condescending and gossipy about someone who was pregnant and not married. And in my 20s (I’ll be writing on this topic eventually) I got involved with a lot of extreme purity types, the kind of people who go around saying that dating is bad, and it’s unhealthy to spend time alone with someone of the opposite sex before you’re ready to discuss marriage, and that one should wait until the wedding to kiss and wait another six months after marriage to have sex, stuff like that. Not to mention that, but some of my friends who preached that the loudest were the first ones to throw it all out and get it on once they met someone. So I had a lot of mixed messages with what was and wasn’t okay in terms of interacting with women, which culminated in 2004 when I was living in “Pleasant Creek” and the pastor of the church I went to at the time told me I wasn’t allowed to talk to women anymore, because my socially awkward mannerisms trying to start conversations scared them off. That was a long time ago, but it still affects me today. And it also doesn’t help that most people who grew up in that kind of culture and rejected it went to the other extreme of casual sex and f***-buddies and such. I still believe in some of the ideals of purity culture, particularly that saving sex for the marriage bed is ideal, but I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with dating or kissing or cuddling or holding hands. That’s too far for purity people but not far enough for the general population. And all those mixed messages and judgment certainly doesn’t help the anxiety situation.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m honoured that you decided to share. I know it’s not easy, even if you aren’t writing under your own name. You’re still YOU at the keyboard typing.

      I think this line summarizes what you say so well: “too far for purity people but not far enough for the general population”

      That has to be SUCH a tough in-between zone.

      I don’t have the shackles of purity ideals of religion, and I’m so grateful for this privilege. I can’t imagine the pit it must create inside… the shame?

      My struggles are truly at the level of social anxiety, generalized anxiety, body image, and low self-esteem. These have impacted my sex life and sexuality significantly.

      I know not everyone likes to talk openly about sex… but I like the idea of being able to have these conversations. Bottling up hard topics doesn’t really serve anyone.

      But not everyone has the privilege to share openly without repercussion.

      But I digress.

      Thanks for sharing xo

      P.S. I’m sorry you got told that you were “scaring off” women. 😦 Feel free to message me if you want to talk more about that. I’m not sure if I can help or reassure, but you never know.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you. I have a lot of body image and self-esteem issues too, believe me. I did one episode on the topic of sexuality (https://dontletthedaysgoby.home.blog/2019/02/18/october-13-1994-the-walk-of-shame/). I could have done more, but they would have either come out similar to that one or they would have just been me talking dirty to girls on the Internet and then masturbating, which I did a lot of that year, and I don’t want my blog to be all about that. Sophomore year I lived alone, so I will probably have a few episodes about that tied to the feelings of loneliness. But it’s so hard for me to share about that, which is why I’ve debated how much to include that part of my story (and also why I waited several months before sharing it with my mother).

        I’ll email more later tonight after I finish stuff I have to get done today. I sent a test message to make sure the email link on your about page worked, and I see you got that.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks for the link — I’ll take a read. I’m in sort of the same boat as you in terms of not wanting my blog to be all about sex. It’s a topic that stands out. I just don’t want it to stand out too much. I’ll look for your email!

          Liked by 2 people

  7. Abuse, plus purity culture, plus anxiety mean PiV sex is currently impossible for me (I wrote a post about seeing a gynaecologist for it) – but fortunately sex isn’t always intercourse. I get REALLY anxious though, like extremely anxious.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing xoxo do you have a link to that post you wrote? I’d love to read it 🙂

      And I don’t envy the challenges you face 😦 I deal with anxiety, but I have not been through the abuse you have written about so bravely. And I didn’t grow up with a strong purity culture. It must be so so hard to be intimate with all those obstacles and trauma 😪😪😪

      Liked by 1 person

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