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#442486 - 07/29/13 06:42 AM question to survivors about sex drive
HopeDiesLast Offline


Registered: 01/15/13
Posts: 58
My husband disclosed that he never has an ache for sex. Ever. Sex is mechanical at best for him, and he doesn't like it or want it. I knew this in part, of course, seeing how we don't have any. But I'm not sure where to go from here. Does this mean sex is off the board forever? Do I just have to suck it up and forget about this part of life and about children and family? I know that you can't answer this for me, but I'd like to get some more insights. Hence my questions: If you didn't have a sex drive at all because of what happened to you, did that change for you at any time? Was there anything that helped you learn to enjoy physical touch? How did you get a connection with your significant other that held in the physical realm, too, and how did you build on this to actually have sex?

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#442504 - 07/29/13 11:18 AM Re: question to survivors about sex drive [Re: HopeDiesLast]
newground Offline
Chatroom Moderator
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 10/11/11
Posts: 643
Loc: michigan
hi hope
I think it is really hard to answer very well not knowing your situation. if you husband is on meds say for depression especially though there are many others it can have a HUGE impact on the sex drive and the function. also the abuse has its influence on the feelings related to sex and to intimacy and there may be any number of triggers that make the experience unpleasant or just weird and that can pass through being close giving him time to adjust( again I don't know your story)or therapy even couples therapy. short answer is there is hope but the hard part is it will not be easy hope that helps
Jeff
_________________________
Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee. let me then tow to pieces, while still chasing thee, thou damned whale! Thus, I give up the spear!"
Herman Melville

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#442590 - 07/30/13 04:25 AM Re: question to survivors about sex drive [Re: HopeDiesLast]
dark empathy Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 1862
Loc: durham, north england
Also, remember that there is a huge difference betwene having a libido and actually enjoying! having alibido.

I have a libido, I often wish I didn't since I am genophobic, (the reason i prefer the term libido to s/x drive). For me however, s/x is something to avoid. It has one, and only one meaning, that off humuliation and disgust, I even dislike my own physical responses.

I have often wondered what actual love making would be like and whether in fact I'd go through with it. I can see three possibilities, either A, it would be an emotional and not physical experience and thus would be something entirely different to my abuse and those experience which trigger fear reactions, this is the best possible course, B, it would be something I'd utterly fail at and find myself reezing just as I did during my abuse, or C, it'd simply be nothing, devocrced from either good or bad emotion and be just like what happens when I mb (which I do to regulate the dreams and bad reactions).

In general I don't know, never having had a significant other, but one thing I would hope is that she would be able to help me make love making more in catagory A, something emotional, rather than either of the other two, and thus help me overcome my own genophobia.

Unfortunately I'm not particularly likely to find out, but maybe this is something to considder.

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#442593 - 07/30/13 06:13 AM Re: question to survivors about sex drive [Re: dark empathy]
HopeDiesLast Offline


Registered: 01/15/13
Posts: 58
Thank you both for your answers!

Originally Posted By: dark empathy
I have a libido, I often wish I didn't since I am genophobic, (the reason i prefer the term libido to s/x drive). For me however, s/x is something to avoid. It has one, and only one meaning, that off humuliation and disgust, I even dislike my own physical responses.

I think this might be close to what my husband feels. It is definitely a feeling that is always there and doesn't have anything much to do with direct triggers (which happen, of course, no matter how we try to avoid them).

For me (I have also been abused, although not as severely as my husband), triggers are something that is a part of my daily emotional landscape, too, so I "get" those (literally and metaphorically). But I haven't had the wish to have no libido at all. Instead, for the longest time I was averse to being touched while at the same time having a burning but purely theoretical desire for it (humans make no sense at all). But with my husband, things are different. I have a desire for him to touch me and for me to touch him. It feels really good and emotionally close to me on a good day and I want it. I actually feel bad about wanting it, though, because I know I stress him out with it. Sigh. It's complicated.

BTW he is not on any meds, though he says things were easier when he was still on them. He didn't have any more desire of course, but I guess he wasn't afraid quite as much.

I guess, I don't know, I'd love for us to find emotional closeness together also when physically touching (Option A), but these days I do not know anymore whether it's possible. And if it's not possible, it is not fair for me to pressure him into trying, knowing that it will only make him feel bad. Of course, if that is the decision, then I have other decisions to make, too. Like, am I ready to give up that part of my life forever without really having found it in the first place. I don't know the answer to this and I don't really want to have to think about it. I love my husband. I want to grow old with him. That's why I asked my questions. I cling to hope, because hope dies last... (yep, chose my user name for that reason).

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#442626 - 07/30/13 01:13 PM Re: question to survivors about sex drive [Re: HopeDiesLast]
dark empathy Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 1862
Loc: durham, north england
Originally Posted By: HopeDiesLast
for the longest time I was averse to being touched while at the same time having a burning but purely theoretical desire for it (humans make no sense at all).


This makes infinite amounts of sense to me, and it something I could've written, however remember there is another component.

For me as a teenager, having a e//////n, (rhymes with direction), actually triggered abuse sessions. I learnt that if anyone suspected it I was in for something bad to happen, I therefore tried to repress such things as much as possible, even to mb as much as I could in order to avoid those reactions occurring.

Thus, there is a very distinct link betwene s/x, ---- indeed anything to do! with s/x and threat, humiliation and unpleasantness, this is why i wish to be without a libido.

I do believe if I ever did have anyone who might wish to change this it could be changed, but it'd take essentially relearning all those reactions, and making something has previously been a purely physical form of humiliation, into something emotional and sharing, ---- which is indeed what I have wanted, but have never experienced.

I would therefore suggest beginning with gentle physical activities to do with sharing experience, massage, hand holding, kissing etc (it always bothers me I've never kissed anyone), and working on from there slowly, keeping your husbands emotions involved.

As I said, this is entirely a theoretical sugestion of what I believe might! help me in a similar situation, rather than anything based on practical experience, still I hope it helps.

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#442744 - 07/31/13 10:13 AM Re: question to survivors about sex drive [Re: HopeDiesLast]
HopeDiesLast Offline


Registered: 01/15/13
Posts: 58
Thank you, dark empathy. Theoretical or not, your insights are really helpful. And I think you're right. We have already accomplished a lot of small steps. We hold hands, we cuddle, we kiss. Concentrating on what we have accomplished and building on it step by step seems a good way forward.

I hope this is not out of line, but I hope for you that you find someone to experience kissing with at some point (only if you want that, of course). It really is very nice with the right person.

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#442775 - 07/31/13 03:08 PM Re: question to survivors about sex drive [Re: HopeDiesLast]
dark empathy Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 1862
Loc: durham, north england
Thanks, i appreciate the thought, but experience has shown that this is something which I just have to live without, or risk far too much pain and disappointment.

I very much hope you can work things out with your husband and help him, and yourself experience what I haven't.

Luke.

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#443912 - 08/10/13 02:53 AM Re: question to survivors about sex drive [Re: HopeDiesLast]
HopeDiesLast Offline


Registered: 01/15/13
Posts: 58
I work in nature sciences, so I use this approach every day. I try to predict from patterns in the past what's going to happen in the future. And it's a very reasonable approach. It works quite often. But not always. Sometimes an event happens and it doesn't fit past patterns and you have no way of predicting or modelling it. Those are the most excruciating and most interesting moments in science.

So, what I want to say with this, and I guess in a way I'm answering my OP with this, too, is that, yeah, I get you. There's no other way to perceive the present than to build on past experience. But it's not necessarily a good predictor for the entire future.

Whether that gives hope or is kinda scary, I'm not all that sure myself.

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#443970 - 08/10/13 05:54 PM Re: question to survivors about sex drive [Re: HopeDiesLast]
lucylives Offline


Registered: 04/07/11
Posts: 357
Hope, Have you read Sexual Anorexia by Patrick Carnes. An amazing, eye opening book. It may really help you understand a bit better even though it is your husband who should read to try to understand.

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#443984 - 08/11/13 12:25 AM Re: question to survivors about sex drive [Re: HopeDiesLast]
dark empathy Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 1862
Loc: durham, north england
@Lucy, from what I've read there is some difference between S/xual Anorexia and genophobia.

since the one is fear of emotional entanglement through s/x, the other is simply a fear of s/x itself, and indeed it's quite possible to be very much in love and still! be genophobic.

I'm not sure which applies to hope's husband, but I can say from personal experience that at least the online articals and stuff I've read on s/xual Anorexia do not apply to genophobia, indeed I couldn't find much on genophobia at all when I looked (or at least not online, not sure if there is stuff in print). In some ways at least genophobia is almost the opposite, since there a person can still desire emotional intimacy but want to avoid any! kind of s/x at all, even in books, films etc.

Of course it is entirely possible that I'm assuming Hope's husband is more similar to myself than is actually the case, and I could well be wrong.

@Hope, I appreciate the thought, however I've had people tell me "give it time" for years and while I don't doubt that's kindly meant there is only so often you can be told that. my thirty first birthday is next week, and I've been "giving it time" since I was eighteen, often with considderable pain, uncertainty and expectation (good grief I hate being male and having to make the first move), indeed it was attempting to show a girl how I felt and the utter failure of that to go anywhere that made me realize I needed to start recovery in the first place.

The only scientific principle that I've been able to make to my situation is that of biological fitness, ie, a species is fit for an environment when it is in the best position to survive there in, and if we take my usual environment the answer is a very large negative.

As I said, I appreciate the thought and thank yu for the good wishes.

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#444095 - 08/12/13 11:17 AM Re: question to survivors about sex drive [Re: HopeDiesLast]
HopeDiesLast Offline


Registered: 01/15/13
Posts: 58
lucylives, thank you for the book suggestion. I will check it out. I'm somewhat wary of anything 12-steppy, though, as for me it seems that those programs often try to initiate a behaviour change without looking at root causes, which at some point usually makes people revert right back to where they were in the first place. Or even if the outward behaviour change holds, the inner feelings still stay the same. But of course this book can be different and maybe goes deeper.

Apart from that, what dark empathy writes about himself resonates deeply with me and I believe my husband is indeed quite similar to him.

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#444108 - 08/12/13 02:21 PM Re: question to survivors about sex drive [Re: HopeDiesLast]
lucylives Offline


Registered: 04/07/11
Posts: 357
Sometimes the 12 steps is the only answer. I hear you about the root causes but if they follow the steps and do them completely over and over, it helps to lift the shame so that they can deal with the root causes. Without the shame lifting, not many are willing or able to deal with their pasts or they are too high or drunk.

The outward appearance changing but the inner feelings staying the same is called a "dry drunk" and that is someone who doesn't fully surrender to the program and the steps but who has quit drinking and is white knuckling it. The 12 steps have helped millions of people. There really isn't much else out there for addicts and they really can't get to the root of the problem until they are sober. I always turned my nose up at 12 step programs until I/we had no choice. There was no place else that has the proven track record. Is it 100% effective? No. U get what you put into it.

And by the way, my husband suffers from sexual anorexia. it is a very common theme with sex addicts. Sex addiction is a very common thing (or any addiction) with abuse survivors. sexual anorexia is just another from of addiction, the addiction of withholding intimacy from your spouse. not combining intimacy and sex.

I am sorry you are going through this hope, it is very very painful.

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#444109 - 08/12/13 02:24 PM Re: question to survivors about sex drive [Re: HopeDiesLast]
lucylives Offline


Registered: 04/07/11
Posts: 357
aoh and Patrick Carnes who wrote the book Sexual Anorexia is very much a pioneer in the steps for sex addicts but this book won't go down that path. I think it will be beneficial for you. There is also a book called Intimacy Anorexia by Robert Weiss which is excellent as well. He is also a 12 stepper but there isn't much about that in the book. They are both eye opening.

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#444120 - 08/12/13 04:41 PM Re: question to survivors about sex drive [Re: HopeDiesLast]
L84 Offline


Registered: 11/17/12
Posts: 22
Loc: USA
HDL,

Greetings, Sorry to hear of your distress and hardship in this area. You are special and made to love and be loved in all aspects. Life does get in the way of that for everyone, but intimacy difficulties seem to be magnified for those who have experienced CSA.

I am a survivor and hoping/working towards thriving.

It sounds like you are heading in the right direction by taking the small steps and celebrating those small victories as you hope for greater victories. I think (at least for myself) having a safe person (safe place) to be is like an incubator for establishing more trust. When trust is there, then things seem to naturally flower… natural desires (which were hijacked, warped or just plain shut down by abuse) will grow.

I have experienced fluctuations in my drive and really even just in wanting to be close emotionally and physically. The sx drive in last 2-3 years has been mostly shut down with short periods of shooting off the charts. I actually went for about 30+ years with absolutely no memory of the abuse I had experienced. What brought it all to the surface was many life troubles all on top of one another… difficulty in marriage, betrayals & layoffs from long time employment, and major surgeries… then… PTSD brought me to a very humbling spot of “whatever it takes!”. Counseling, medicine… I’ll do it!

I had no idea what was going on… I had a knowledgeable counselor who really probed into family of origin issues and then also administered a PTSI test. There was abuse in FOO, but the s/xual abuse was by strangers, but the FOO abuse most likely was the key factor in making me vulnerable to predators. When you have to Deny to survive, your sense of discernment is not good.

In regards to the PTSI Test, I didn’t know what it was at the time, however after the counselor rated the scores I literally “pegged out” in every category for someone who was s/xually abused. These test results and some dreams I had and other pieces of the puzzle started to come together and it was so hard to admit, but I knew I had been abused (and knew and recognized the times and place).

The counselor then started to ask me simple questions about just what the place looked like and I freaked out. A panic attack started right in her office. I had to go to a couple more specialists who could help me relax more and recall. EMDR has helped. I did have to stop for awhile, but have started back to EMDR.

Btw.. to quote a famous book “Hope is the anchor of the soul”
We were not made to despair or be broken. That’s why we strive for healing
(for ourselves and others). Thank you for being there for your husband.
Your example gives hope to survivors like me and those that love them. 

Feel free to PM me if you would like to know more details or have questions.
I hope in some way this little bit of information helps you and your husband,
As well as others out there. MS has been very helpful to me…
..in helping to know how very normal our “crazy responses” are to very unhealthy circumstances and
Also in knowing and seeing how others choose healthy responses to the same circumstances.

L84


P.S. (didn’t know where to put this after I started writing more)

At times I think some of my responses in drive and intimacy are triggered by my wife. In gauging her response to the revelation of my abuse I wonder if she has had similar experiences of abuse. One of my counselors mentioned that a very high percentage of abused people marry abused people. Also, it seems like she has turned down all my advances for physical intimacy, since the revelation of the s/xual trauma/abuse in my life (we get along well and are good to each other, so it’s not because of bad treatment). She does not really touch me anymore, even back rubs (though she will let me give her one, but that and no further). Her actions in this arena have affected me a lot and seemed to exacerbate abuse symptoms and actually reliving the abuse (in thoughts, emotions, and body responses). This is very frustrating at times, but on the positive side, it has helped me to be more determined to get myself healthy because I don’t have our intimacy to lean on. I thankfully have a couple of trusted friends that I can confide in and bounce ideas off and receive feedback (as sometimes it seems a lonnnggg time between counseling sessions).

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#444178 - 08/13/13 03:19 AM Re: question to survivors about sex drive [Re: HopeDiesLast]
dark empathy Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 1862
Loc: durham, north england
Hi Hope.

Everyone has different experiences and often different things that are helpful. Personally, I never had the problem of blanked memories that l84 mentioned. I always dam well knew! what had happened to me, but then again I was 12-15 at the time of the abuse. Likewise, my abuse was perpetrated by strangers, ---- or at least pupils at school, not by adults, parents, family members etc.

For myself i always knew! what had happened but I spent ten years telling myself "yes iit's fine!" ignoring all the signals, fear of crowds, avoidance of s/x, utter lack (and indeed incomprehention), about relationships at all, despite my realization (almost an epiphony), at 18 that there was a state of emotional communication with another person (in my case a female person), that went beyond simple friendship.

It took being 26, attempting to actually admit what I felt for a certain girl, and having that fail, ---- or at least having her simply respond with the usual "I'm flattered" which I'd recieved on the two previous occasions. that made me realize I was not as fine as I thought and all the fugues, depression, intensive feelings of worthlessness, addiction to isolation were not just things that happened.

For myself though I tried counselling I never really found someone who helped much, indeed I often found myself quite at odds with people telling me what I ought to feel, especially when they related it to stuff that had nothing to do with anything like the fact I was born prematurely, and me having an arguement about the basic principles of psychodinamics really wasn't helpful, heck, if I wanted to do that i didn't need a counselor.

For myself the only thing I found helpful was firstly finding some coping mechanisms, arranging weekly commitments to interact with other people to prevent myself isolating too much, finding coping stratogies for when I needed them, ( logic puzzles and resource management computer games are great for just being purely ceribral).

Indeed in terms of twelve steps, while I've never drunk much, I utterly abstained for about two solid years, simply because I realized I couldn't trust my own reactions with loss of inhibitions.
The single most crucial thing I needed to do was become self aware, realize that I am not my own best judge, that I have no objective opinion of myself. This has helped me at least reach a state where I am in a better position than I was, which is all I can really say.

Some things like genophobia or desire for emotional closness are just not possible to solve alone, and one of the major struggles I have is coming to terms with that.

Regarding addictions, well s/x addiction is alien to me entirely, it's like saying "I'm addicted to eating mud" I can understand that some people feel it, but I have no comprehention of the experience. For me, s/x is simply something unpleasant, either distasteful or outright unpleasant.

I have to take care of my body's own s/xual needs, because if I don't i will have nightmarres, but at best this is simply an expression of the sort of intimacy I can't have, a fantasy wish fulfillment, and at worst it's just utility.

For me, there is only one association of s/x. I learnt as a teenager exactly what it meant, that it was a form of humiliation, one element of physical violence and violation, and that to me is the only association.

Fixing this would be a matter of forming a different association, making s/x something to be enjoyed as a form of emotional communication, not a fear response. This would doubtless take a lot of work, commitment and above all honesty, but I am reasonably certain this would in the end be possible with someone else, indeed much of the problem I have is not! having someone to fix this with.

Btw, this isn't to say relationships=fixing, that is blatantly untrue, I just don't see another way to deal with genophobia or change those associations.

I've attempted mild forms of desensatisation, eg, watching something like james bond and not zoning out as I normally do, or saying the word to myself, but those seem to never work, and anything more distinct would be down right painful.

As I said this is just my personal experience, other people are manifestly different and both in their abuse history and the ways they deal with it, ----for instance s/xual anorexia, and different ways of solving those problems, however this is how it has been for me.

Luke.

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#444249 - 08/13/13 09:56 PM Re: question to survivors about sex drive [Re: HopeDiesLast]
CruxFidelis Offline


Registered: 06/16/10
Posts: 486
Loc: NJ
My wife and I had a great sex life and a very intimate marriage until when I was raped, now it is non existent. She has taken it very personally even though she knows and understands what happened to me and why I feel the way I do. I have basically told her that I can't do it again... that part of me is just gone.

She wants more kids and I do wish I could give them to her. I would love to be able to fulfill her longings and complete her in the ways I used to complete her. I can't imagine that she would be satisfied with me anymore even if I was able to do that again. It would probably just disappoint her.
_________________________
“If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.”

- Saint John of the Cross

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#444762 - 08/20/13 05:06 AM Re: question to survivors about sex drive [Re: HopeDiesLast]
HopeDiesLast Offline


Registered: 01/15/13
Posts: 58
L84, have you asked your wife directly why she doesn't touch you anymore? It may be she's insecure and doesn't know how to react or what to do or what will hurt you. I know that in doubt I try to err on the side of caution with my husband in that regard. On the other hand, it is absolutely possible that your revelation triggered memories of abuse that happened to her. I don't know the statistics, but I do know that at least for my marriage your quote about abused people marrying abused people is true. It makes some things easier (because some stuff just doesn't need to explained), it makes other stuff incredibly more difficult (two people getting triggered at the same time is no fun at all).

Luke, as usual I agree with you. I think changing the associations with touch and sex within a trusting relationship by, well, just trying it out and seeing what happens is the only way to move forward with this form of emotional communication. Of course it's possible to work on PTSD symptoms and trauma in therapy and in daily life and increase the overall quality of life on one's own (and that's a good thing). But for communication you need a person to talk to.

CruxFidelis, I'm so sorry for you. It is hard. For both of you.

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#445563 - 08/27/13 08:17 AM Re: question to survivors about sex drive [Re: HopeDiesLast]
dark empathy Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 1862
Loc: durham, north england
Well hope "communication" is the term of I've always used, since it seems best to describe the state I would like with another person, and what I've seen betwene others who are together. This is chiefly why I have never sought out anything purely physical, eg, a prostitute, since even if I could actually go through with things, it is simply not what I am looking for and would feel almost like my abuse reoccurring simply for that reason, (bare in mind the chief perpetrators in my abuse were female).

One other factor I have always myself found hard to deal with is the level of closeness involved. It hurts quite a lot that while I have experienced as close to gang rape as it is possible for several teenaged irls to do to a boy (my mother was the first to use the word in connection with what happened), I have never actually kissed anyone on the lips or even from my perspective had anyone interested, (in fairness I know I am no judge of this, but again, this is a problem of being male).

This fact hurts a lot, and there is little I can do about it. I am fairly certain if someone could assure me that she desired! that sort of closeness with me it would help a great deal, so I would very much suggest actually tellingyour husband this in quite uncertain terms if you believe he is in a similar position, (bare in mind worthlessness can be quite tricky, I tend to believe myself that anyone who says they are my friend is "Being nice" or Tolerating me because they are a decent person, though again, realizing that I have a tendency to believe this is an ample opportunity for me to maintain a healthy schepticism about my own self judgement.

Luke.

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