Hey Joe:

I am a male survivor who has done over 3 years of recovery. Before the therapy, I had many one-night stands and looked at porn often. I have been to two WoR and am now in a stable place with both my sexuality and my addiction.

I am with a steady partner who is just amazing. I have problems connecting with him during sex. When we are having it, I often have to resort to fantasy, or I have very retarded ejaculation (he goes very fast). I am wondering what I can do to make the sex pleasurable, connected, and non-traumatic. Any ideas?

--Partner in recovery

Dear Partner in recovery,

First, congratulations on the work you have done over the past three years. Getting to a stable place after trauma resolution and years of sexual acting out takes a lot of work and perseverance so I give you so much credit.

Your question is a good one and a common one as well. We know a lot about how to help folks with sexual trauma and less about how to teach them sexual health. So the good news is you are right where you need to be.

This is also exactly where I am at in my work as a therapist. My thoughts are that I hope you are talking openly and honestly with your partner about what is happening for you. You say he is amazing so I am thinking he is open to talking about and hearing what you have to say.

Resorting to fantasy is not entirely a bad thing especially if it helps you be sexual with him. I know most survivors worry that will contaminate their newfound sexual healing. I cannot speak for everyone however I am not always so against whatever it takes to bring eroticism into the bedroom from what worked before. Maybe before your fantasies caused you to act out in negative ways but perhaps your partner and you could act some of them out or talk some of them out and connect in that way.

Just because fantasies and sexual behaviors have origins in sexual abuse doesn’t have to mean that in recovery you cannot claim them as yours.

As for the delayed ejaculation there are plenty of things you can do for that to help you. I recommend going to an experienced and certified sex therapist in your area and work on behavioral techniques. The therapist should also understand about the sexual abuse as the delayed ejaculation is most likely from not wanting to be vulnerable to feel safe in a sexual environment. It is a part of you which is protecting yourself which you don’t need any longer with your partner.

That said there is a great book called, “Sexual Healing Journey”, by Wendy Maltz where she spends the entire second half of the book talking about ways to bring back healthy sex into your life.

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