"I love my girlfriend, but she rejects me and now I feel dirty when I try to touch her."
I'm becoming more concerned about an issue I have that seems to have worsened over the past two years. In short, I'm completely out of practice when it comes to initiating sex. I've been with my partner for 6 years and although sex has always been infrequent it was never an issue. I have no problem trying my luck after a night out but my girlfriend refuses because she says sex when she’s slightly tipsy makes her feel dirty. Unfortunately, when sober, we go to bed reading books.
I know the answer is to express myself and explain I’m not happy but how do you start that kind of conversation? I still love her and still find her extremely attractive but right now I feel wrong and dirty for wanting to touch and kiss her.
What a sweetheart you are for taking this problem and making it yours, when the real issue, I suspect, lies with your partner. I’m guessing she grew up in an environment where sex was seen as ‘dirty’ or shameful. Certainly not one where it was seen as something you do to express love and desire. Most of us enjoy sex when we’re a bit tipsy because it releases any inhibitions. I suspect she doesn’t enjoy sex while under the influence of alcohol for this very reason. It causes her to experience conflicting emotions. She, like everyone else, probably feels more up for it when tipsy than she does sober. Also like everyone else, she probably feels up for doing saucier stuff than usual when tipsy. Most of us are able to give into these feelings and see them as a plus. But if she’s been brought up with negative attitudes to sex, it’s hard to relax into them. Instead, they make her feel out of control and overwhelmed, so she avoids sex completely.
The trick here is getting her to challenge her core beliefs about sex. Ideally, she’d do this with the help of a good therapist, either solo or with you there with her. If you think she’d be up for that, you can find one at Relate. There’s also a brilliant book called ‘Sex Smart: How your childhood shaped your sexual life and what to do about it’ by Aline Zoldbrod which addresses these issues.
How to bring all this up? There’s nothing for it but to do what you’re dreading: coming right out with it. Wait until you’re chatting comfortably, then say ‘Honey, I really miss the sex we used to have. Can we chat about how to get that happening again?’ Ask her why tipsy sex makes her feel dirty and ask if her parents or upbringing left her feeling bad about sex. You could then say you’d read about a book (Sex Smart) in an article about people’s childhood and attitudes to sex and suggest you buy it and read it together. Yes it’s hard having that first conversation but once you start talking about sex, it becomes much easier over time.