How To Deal With Sexual Shame And Fear In Your Relationship

Let’s be honest, sex in a marriage or any relationship isn’t always amazing. Sometimes, things get a little tough. Maybe you, as a guy, feel nervous, or maybe you, as a woman, just don’t feel relaxed. The truth is, both men and women can feel shame and fear about sex, making it hard to be close.

But here’s the good news: you’re not alone! Many couples go through this, and there are ways to work through it together. This article will give you some tips on how to deal with that shame and fear, so you and your partner can enjoy a healthy and happy sex life again.

What Is Sexual Shame?

Sexual shame is that uncomfortable feeling about sex, your body, or your desires. It can ruin the mood and make you feel distant from your partner, making intimacy hard. 

This shame might make you feel embarrassed or guilty about having sex, even with someone you love. You might have negative thoughts about your body or how you look naked. 

Maybe you worry about performance or not being “good” enough. It can also make you feel pressured to have sex when you’re not comfortable or even avoid intimacy altogether.

What causes sexual shame?

We all want to feel comfortable and confident during sex, but sometimes uncomfortable feelings can sneak in and make things awkward. This sexual shame can come from various sources, and understanding why it happens is the first step toward feeling good again.

What causes sexual shame

You May Feel Physical Insecurities

Let’s be real, everyone has parts of their body they’d like to change. Society often promotes “perfect” bodies, which can make us feel self-conscious during intimate moments. But remember, your partner loves you for who you are, not for some unrealistic, airbrushed image!

You Suffer From Past Experiences Or Trauma

If you’ve experienced something like sexual abuse, or harassment, or seen unhealthy relationships in the past, it’s normal to feel scared or cautious about sex. These experiences can be really tough to handle, but there are people who can support you and help you heal.

Religious Beliefs Are Feeling You Down

Religion and culture often influence our views on sex. Some teachings might make sex seem shameful or wrong, causing a conflict between your desires and beliefs. Remember, a healthy sex life can be part of a fulfilling relationship, even if you’re religious. 

Confusing Sex Education

Sex education can be awkward! It often raises more questions than it answers. This lack of clear information can lead to confusion, fear, and even shame. 

Effects of Sexual Shame

We talked about why sexual shame might creep in, but what does it actually do?  Shame can be a real downer for your sex life in a few ways:

  • Feeling Disconnected: Shame can make you feel distant from your partner. You might withdraw emotionally or physically, making intimacy difficult.
  • Low Self-Esteem: Shame whispers negative things about you and your body. This can lead to low self-esteem, making it hard to feel confident and sexy.
  • Performance Anxiety: Worrying about not being good enough can lead to performance anxiety, making sex stressful for both of you.
  • Avoiding Intimacy: Shame can make you want to avoid anything sexual altogether, even cuddling or talking about sex. This can create a barrier between you and your partner.
  • Loss of Desire: When sex is wrapped up in shame, it can become unappealing. You might lose interest in sex altogether.

Signs of Sexual Shame

Extreme Discomfort With Sexual Topics

Does just talking about sex make you uncomfortable? Do you avoid discussing intimacy with your partner or friends? This could be a sign of underlying sexual shame. Open communication is crucial for a vibrant and healthy sex life. If you find yourself always avoiding talks about getting intimate, it might be helpful to explore why you feel uneasy about it.

Difficulty Saying Sexual Words/Terms

Maybe you have trouble using even basic sexual terms and feel awkward or self-conscious about it. It could be because of negative experiences during sex ed or cultural/religious beliefs that make sexy words feel taboo. Remember, open communication is crucial during intimacy. If you’re having a hard time with certain words, talk to your partner about it and find alternatives that work for both of you. It’s totally okay to use terms that you’re comfortable with!

Signs of Sexual Shame


If you’re constantly comparing yourself to airbrushed models and feeling insecure about your body or skills in bed, you might be experiencing sexual shame. This could lead to low self-esteem and a critical inner voice telling you that you’re not good enough. However, it’s important to remember that everyone’s body is different and beautiful in their own way. 

Making Yourself Small or Trying to Disappear

Do you find yourself physically withdrawing or making yourself seem smaller during intimacy? This could be a sign of sexual shame, making you feel uncomfortable or exposed. A healthy sex life is about feeling connected and comfortable with your partner. 

Refusing Nudity

If the idea of being naked in front of your partner is completely off-limits for you, it could be a sign of sexual shame related to your body image. While some people are naturally more comfortable with nudity than others, a complete aversion could be a red flag. 

Feeling Pressured to Meet Others’ Expectations

Do you feel pressured to perform a certain way or meet expectations in the bedroom, making sex stressful? Social media and pornography can create unrealistic expectations about sex, leading to performance anxiety and shame. 

Discomfort Making Sounds During Sexual Activities

Do you avoid making sounds or expressing yourself during sex because you’re afraid of judgment? Sex is a natural and pleasurable experience, and expressing yourself vocally can enhance the intimacy for both partners. 

Concern About Smells or Taste Related to Sex Acts

If you’re constantly worried about smells or bodily fluids during sex, it could be affecting your experience. Focusing on these concerns can lead to anxiety and detract from the pleasure of intimacy. 

Dissatisfaction With Sex Life

If your sex life is lacking spark or passion, it’s important to address it. Do you find yourself avoiding intimacy altogether? Sexual shame can manifest as a disconnect from your partner and a general lack of interest in sex. If this sounds familiar, talking to your partner openly and honestly can be a good first step. 

Avoiding Masturbation

Do you steer clear of masturbation because you feel guilty or ashamed? It’s important to know that masturbation is a healthy and normal way to explore your sexuality and learn about your body. While shame can make us feel like self-pleasure is wrong, it’s actually an essential part of sexual health and self-discovery. Give yourself permission to explore your body and enjoy solo pleasure without shame.

Feeling Like You Can’t Keep Up

Do you constantly worry about not being “good enough” in bed, which leads to performance anxiety and a fear of intimacy? This can be a major sign of sexual shame. Remember, sex is a team sport, and it’s about mutual pleasure, not perfection. Focus on open communication with your partner about your needs and desires. 

Feeling Isolated

Sexual shame can make you feel alone and isolated, like no one understands what you’re going through. The truth is, sexual shame is more common than you might think. Talking to a trusted friend, therapist, or counselor can be a great way to process your feelings and find support. 

How To Deal With Sexual Shame: 

So the first thing to do when dealing with sexual shame is to understand where it’s coming from. This can really help in overcoming it.

How To Deal With Sexual Shame

Find a Supportive Sexual Partner: 

It’s super important to have a supportive partner when you’re dealing with sexual shame. Talking openly and honestly with your partner about your feelings can create a safe space to explore your sexuality without feeling judged.

Work to Build Confidence Regarding Sexual Desire: 

Building confidence in your sexual desires is crucial. It’s all about challenging the idea that your desires are wrong. Communication is key, whether you’re exploring your sexuality on your own or with a trusted partner.

Focus on the Influence of Positive People Who Embrace Their Sexual Selves:

Surrounding yourself with positive and supportive people can make a big difference. Having people around who are open and confident about their sexuality can help you challenge negative beliefs and build your own self-acceptance.

Be Mindful of Social Media and Shame: 

Be careful with social media, as it can often portray unrealistic body images and sexual portrayals. Curate your social media feeds by following body-positive accounts and realistic portrayals of sexuality. Remember, social media should be a source of inspiration and connection, not shame.

Therapists Help Navigating Sexual Shame: 

Seeking help from a sex therapist can be really beneficial. Therapists provide a safe space to explore your experiences and can help you challenge negative thoughts and beliefs about sex and sexuality.

Examine Your Past Experiences: 

Take the time to reflect on your past experiences with sex and sexuality. Writing down your thoughts and feelings can be a powerful tool for understanding yourself better. Opening up to a trusted friend about these experiences can also be really validating and comforting.

Challenge Negative Beliefs: 

Pay attention to the negative thoughts that come up around sex. Try to identify where these beliefs are coming from and work on developing positive affirmations to challenge them. For example, instead of thinking “I’m not good enough,” try telling yourself “I am worthy of love and pleasure.”

Bonus Tips

Tips To Break This Cycle Of Shame And Fear For Women

  • Sunshine Showers for Your Partner:  Let your partner know how much they brighten your world! Express frequent appreciation for their unique qualities and the things they do that make your life better.  Respect their opinions and ideas, even when they don’t mirror your own.
  • Walking a Mile in Their Shoes:  Try to see things from your partner’s perspective. What are their challenges? What might be causing them stress or anxiety? Cultivate compassion for their struggles and celebrate their victories.
  • Catch Yourself Before You Shame:  Sometimes, our words or actions can unintentionally knock the wind out of our partner’s sails. Be mindful of any negativity or criticism that might be coming across as shaming.
  • Speak Your Truth with Love: Don’t bottle up your needs and desires!  Express what you want clearly and directly, using positive language. Instead of saying “I hate it when you…” try “I would love it if…”
  • Chill Out Before You Freak Out:  Learn healthy ways to manage your emotions. A calm conversation is way more effective than a heated argument. Take a deep breath, express yourself clearly, and listen attentively.
  • Actions Speak Louder Than Words (Sometimes): Don’t just talk about getting closer, get closer! Sometimes, a hug, a cuddle, or a massage can open the door to deeper emotional connection later.

Tips To Break This Cycle Of Shame And Fear For Men

  • Vulnerability is the New Sexy:  Sharing your feelings, even the scary ones, can create a powerful bond. Don’t be afraid to express happiness, sadness, anger, shame, or fear. Let your partner see the real you, and you’ll be surprised by how much closer you become.
  • Own Your Mistakes & Say Sorry:  Mistakes happen! When you mess up, take responsibility and offer a heartfelt apology. It shows respect and strengthens the foundation of your relationship.
  • Perfect is Boring (and Unrealistic): Stop chasing some imaginary ideal. We all have flaws and limitations. Embrace yours, and be open to learning and growing together with your partner.
  • Listen Up, Really Listen:  Give your partner your full attention when they’re talking.  Validate their feelings and experiences, even if you don’t necessarily agree. Don’t jump in to fix things – sometimes just listening is the best medicine.
  • Love Languages: Deciphering the Code:  Everyone has a preferred way of receiving love. Discover your partner’s “love language” – acts of service, gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, or physical touch. Then speak their love language and watch the connection grow!
  • Give Freely, Receive Joyfully: Forget the “golden rule” (treat others how you want to be treated). Instead, focus on what truly makes your partner feel loved and appreciated. This act of giving is a gift that benefits both of you.

Final Thoughts

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by sexual shame or fear, remember there is help and support available. PsychiCare offers a team of qualified sexologists and marriage therapists who can guide you and your partner through these challenges.

Our therapists create a safe and supportive space for you to explore your concerns and develop healthy coping mechanisms. They can help you build communication skills, address past experiences, and rewrite the narrative around sex and intimacy in your relationship.

PsychiCare Online Sex Therapists


How to Deal With Sexual Guilt?

Sexual guilt can stem from various factors. Explore your feelings and the source of the guilt. Was it something you did or something done to you? Open communication with your partner can be helpful. Consider seeking guidance from a therapist or counselor to explore the root cause and develop healthy coping mechanisms.

Why Do I Feel Shame After Sexting?

Sexting can be a fun and playful way to connect with your partner. However, shame can arise if you feel pressured, uncomfortable with the content, or worried about privacy. Communicate openly with your partner about your boundaries and expectations. Sexting should be a consensual and enjoyable experience.

How To Deal With Erectile Dysfunction Shame?

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common issue, affecting many men at some point in their lives. Feeling ashamed about ED can worsen the problem. Talk to your doctor to rule out any underlying physical causes. There are also effective treatments available. Remember, ED doesn’t define your masculinity.

How to Deal With Shame in Relationships?

Shame can creep into relationships for various reasons. Open communication with your partner is crucial. Discuss your feelings honestly and work together to create a safe and supportive space. Consider couples therapy to develop healthy communication skills and address the root causes of the shame.

Why Do I Have Sexual Shame?

Sexual shame can have numerous roots. It could stem from societal messages, past experiences, or religious beliefs. It’s important to understand the source of your shame. Consider journaling to explore your feelings or talking to a therapist who can guide you through self-discovery and challenge negative beliefs about sex and intimacy.

How To Deal With Sexual Shame

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