The Sexual Avoidance Cycle is far more common than many would believe, and I talk about this situation, what causes it and perpetuates its continuance.
I also answer the first of my listener questions during this “Soapbox” episode where I get to help you understand this important topic.
The Sexual Avoidance Cycle is pretty much the basis for my new book, Sex Without Stress, and today I try to answer some important questions people commonly have about it.
Firstly, what is the cycle? And what are all the things that play into it? How do people get trapped into the cycle and why does it make sense that you may be stuck too?
And most importantly, how do you get out?
You Are Not Alone
This cycle is very common, I see it all the time in my practice. It starts with some sort of disappointment around a sexual experience, often leading to avoidance, which can put undue stress and pressure on the sexual piece of a relationship, which can be disappointing…and you can see where this is going.
Sex Gets Hard
It’s normal to have trouble with sex. Things come up. Physical issues like sexual dysfunction, illness or disease, or changes in physical functioning as we age.
We all experience challenges within our relationships too. The dynamics change, there are communication or conflict issues, we grow and change as people, and our desires around sex shift as well.
Then there’s the general busyness of life and things that happen as we get older.
This is generally the first step towards a lap around the Sexual Avoidance Cycle. There is some negative experience with sex and if it happens on a regular basis, it can make it feel risky to even have sex.
It’s like a test, but you’re not sure how you’re going to do. Are you going to pass? Or fail? Sex isn’t a test, but this is how people often feel and it can be extremely stressful.
It creates a perpetual increase in anxiety around sex which will often lead to…
You find yourself, or maybe your partner, avoiding conversations about sex. And even avoiding the act itself. Maybe not both of you, but one of you for sure avoids sex or sex talk. It almost becomes natural.
All of this then builds…
The topic of sex becomes the “elephant in the room.” What’s wrong with us? Why don’t we want to have sex? It’s definitely on your mind, even if you’re not talking about it.
This all increases the pressure, so if you do have a sexual encounter, there is enormous pressure on it to be “successful.”
And if it isn’t, you’re back to disappointment. Round and round…
How Do You Break the Cycle?
First, adjust your expectations so that there is no disappointment. No matter what happens, there is no “failure.”
Then, keep communication open and honest to make sure there is no avoidance of the topic of sex.
Finally, the pressure to perform is relieved when you approach every experience as a gift you share with your partner. And realize that nothing specific has to happen, which helps adjust your expectations, so there is no disappointment…
And the cycle is broken.
New to the show, I respond to a listener’s questions about difficulties in his relationship.
Jessa’s book, Sex Without Stress: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FQKTLLN/