What Does It Mean to Be Sexually Repressed?

cropped, knees-up view of person wearing a loose, orange tee shirt tucked into high-waisted jeans, looking at their reflection in a full-length mirror share on Pinterest For some people, sexy thoughts bring up agitation and anticipation around past sexual encounters or possible future experiences. Lingering on these thoughts might turn you on or lead to masturbation. ( Totally convention ! )

If you ’ ra dealing with sexual repression, even the bible “ sexual activity ” could trigger embarrassment or shame.

What do you mean?

possibly you learned in childhood that sexual activity was unpleasant or just for marriage. Your parents may have told you masturbating or thinking about sex mean you were extraordinary. As a consequence, you learned to squash your ( absolutely natural ) desires in order to protect yourself .

If your reverence of these thoughts led you to ignore them entirely, as an adult, you might find it difficult to express yourself sexually .

When you do masturbate or have sex, you might feel bad or guilty subsequently .

Is it the same thing as sexual frustration?

intimate frustration describes a site where you ’ re having less sex than you ’ d like — whether in a relationship or when between partners — so it ’ s not the like thing as repression. Most adults experience sexual frustration at some point. Some common signs include :

  • restlessness
  • body tension
  • frequent sexual thoughts and fantasies

frustration and repression occasionally play off each early .

When working through years of sexual repression, you might notice intimate urges you aren ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate sure how to express .

You want to get better at expressing your sex but haven ’ t quite reached the point where you feel comfortable doing so. It ’ randomness normal for this summons to take time, so you might notice some frustration in the meanwhile.

What causes it?

typically, sexual repression happens in response to restrictive ideas or attitudes about sex. Parents or early caregivers may teach these ideas directly, but you might besides simply absorb them from watching other people as you grow up. At first base, you might knowingly suffocate intimate thoughts, but over fourth dimension, this repression much becomes automatic .

Negative experiences or beliefs about sex

People tend to associate intimate repression with religious upbringings, but traditional ideas about intimate behavior can stem from early sources, besides. Some caregivers might warn children about sex due to fears of sexually transmitted infections, adolescent pregnancy, or intimate injury in their own pasts. A history of sexual injury can besides factor into repression. Rape and sexual abuse can cause significant, long persistent emotional annoyance, and thoughts of arouse might trigger memories and further distress, making it unmanageable to enjoy or want arouse. If you ’ ve had a fortune of bad consensual sex, you might decide all sex is the same and question your desire for a different have .

If you decide your urges are unusual, you might bury those thoughts and have a tough time finding a plus sexual relationship .

Misinformation or lack of information

If your caregivers didn ’ thyroxine talk about sexual activity, your peers may have provided enough of conflicting information that didn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate do much to normalize healthy sexual expression. You may not have absorbed negative ideas about sex, precisely, but some of what you heard from others might make sexual activity appear wyrd and uncomfortable. You might cause that, if sex is convention and healthy, your parents would have mentioned it .

sexual thoughts and arousal might cause confusion, even disgust, if you don ’ triiodothyronine know what causes them .

Strict gender roles

Beliefs about sex often relate back to an breeding intelligibly defined by sex roles. For case, girls might absorb the message it ’ mho OK to trade sex for auspices or affection, but not to express use — unless they want people to think of them as “ sluts. ” In other scenarios, boys might grow up believing they have a justly to sexual activity and that it ’ second OK if women don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate enjoy it .

This ( wholly faulty ) impression may not seem to relate much to repression, but it does have an impingement .

Some children grow up questioning this message, and the desire for a sexual experience that ’ south positive for everyone involved can cause feelings of confusion, if early messages about sex associate to control. sexual orientation can besides play into repression. many children learn, immediately or indirectly, that only men and women should have sex with each early. If your intimate orientation doesn ’ thyroxine align with that dictate, you might repress your feelings in orderliness to avoid rejection .

not knowing how to name or accept your sex as normal can cause plenty of straiten .

People who are transgender, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming may have even more complicate, unmanageable experiences. sex and gender aren ’ t the same thing, of naturally, but when caregivers invalidate your identity by preventing you from expressing your gender, you might besides begin to question other aspects of your nature, like sex .

How do you know whether you’re experiencing it?

sexual repression involves feelings that affect you negatively. Repression is not :

  • asexuality, or lack of sexual attraction
  • disinterest in sexual experimentation or casual sex
  • limited sexual experience

Some people have interest in a wide variety of intimate activities .

not wanting to try things like oral sexual activity, anal sex, BDSM, or sex with multiple partners doesn ’ t hateful you ’ re repressed .

There ’ mho nothing incorrectly with only wanting one type of sex. Some people might label this “ priggish, ” but remember it ’ s your desires that matter. If you don ’ t want to have sex until you ’ re in a give, long-run relationship, that ’ s entirely your decision .

Wanting to wait on sex doesn ’ t necessarily mean you ’ re sexually repress — equally long as you make this option yourself and feel good about it .

In short, repression refers to deep-rooted damaging feelings around the very mind of sex. Common themes and behaviors include :

  • shame and distress associated with sexual fantasies
  • guilt and other negative feelings after sex or masturbation
  • difficulty enjoying healthy, consensual sex
  • negative self-talk after sexual thoughts or activity
  • believing your body is unattractive or unworthy of sex

What can happen because of it?

Sigmund Freud, one of the inaugural to explore and write about the idea of sexual repression, cautioned that repressing sexual urges could have unwanted consequences. Some of these effects can have far-reaching implications for your emotional wellbeing .

Physical consequences

People working to overcome repression often report physical symptoms, including :

  • body tension
  • trouble sleeping
  • difficulty with orgasm or premature ejaculation
  • pain or discomfort during sex

Emotional distress

repression can besides contribute to emotional distress and genial health symptoms, including :

  • reluctance to act on sexual desires
  • sex-related fear and anxiety
  • guilt associated with sexual desires
  • harsh self-judgment of sexual thoughts

Difficulty accepting your sexual orientation

If you identify as LGBTQIA+ but grew up in an environment where being straight and cisgender were the only acceptable options, you may have felt the safest hiding your identity and sex. even when you ultimately felt like you could express yourself, doing then might not have felt natural. Despite knowing your orientation course is a normal expression of homo sex, you might continue struggling with guilt or fear around your identity, particularly when trying to counter years of religious upbringing .

Negative attitudes toward others

If you begin associating sex with negative emotions from an early old age, you could end up with some negative views toward people who freely express their sex. This could happen in a relationship — say, when your spouse brings up a sexual fantasy they ’ d like to act out. You might besides internalize more generalize negative values toward LGBTQIA+ people or people who have casual sexual activity, for case .

Lack of interest in sex

Some people don ’ t have much of a sex drive, indeed disinterest in sex doesn ’ thymine always relate to repression. But sometimes, it can. If you ’ ve successfully tamped toss off your desires, you may not in truth know what you enjoy. If you don ’ thymine get much pleasure from sexual activity, you might not see the target and avoid initiating arouse or pursuing it yourself. This can make it difficult to sustain a kinship since varying degrees of sexual interest can frequently create challenges in quixotic relationships .

Inability to ask for what you want

If you feel ashamed of your sexual thoughts, you might struggle to acknowledge them without guilt. Sharing these desires with a partner, even person you love and trust, might seem impossible. repression can make you feel guilty about enjoying sex, sol when something makes you feel good, you might feel ashamed or critical of yourself and avoid trying it again ( even when you actually want to ) .

Confused sexual boundaries

One serious effect of sexual repression involves difficulty recognizing personal boundaries. You might have a intemperate meter grasping what is and international relations and security network ’ t oklahoma when it comes to sex, in your own demeanor or the behavior you accept from others. You might find it difficult to create and enforce personal boundaries around sex. even when you want to say no, you might not feel able to. If you believe you ’ re entitled to sex, you may not understand the importance of accept or respecting boundaries.

What can you do about it?

first, know that sexual repression is real, not all in your head. moment, know it international relations and security network ’ t your demerit. Simply having an awareness of the signs of repression and how it affects you can help you take steps toward countering it. other helpful tips :

Practice mindfully accepting sexual thoughts

mindfulness can help you become more comfortable with intimate thoughts by increasing your awareness of them and learning to accept them without judgment. If a sexual think comes up, you might notice it, remind yourself it ’ mho normal, and let it pass without criticizing yourself. You might besides follow that think with curio and explore what it suggests — an feel you ’ d like to have, possibly ?

Read up on sex positivity

sex incontrovertibility can help counter sexual repression, so getting more comfortable with the estimate of sex as a goodly bodily process can help you work through repression. Exploring sex positivity could involve reading essays or books about sexual expression. It can besides mean familiarizing yourself with sexual expression in books, films, and artwork. There ’ south always porn ( including ethical or freelancer pornography ). You can besides find toned-down explicit scenes in ordinary books and movies, besides, so you don ’ t have to look for pornography — unless you want to .

Get comfortable with your body

repression can sometimes affect how you feel about your body. alternatively of loving and accepting your physical self, you might have a inclination to hide or desexualize your body by wearing loose, constricting clothes and avoiding openness. To increase your comfort with your own body, you might try :

  • looking at yourself in the mirror naked
  • listing five things you like about your body
  • sleeping naked

Talk to your partner

sometimes, opening the door to conversation with an understand collaborator can help you feel more comfortable voicing your desires. You might say, “ I ’ ve never felt comfortable talking about or acknowledging what I like in bed. I want to improve, but it will take time. ” Mindfulness during sex can besides help you recognize when you enjoy something since it lets you focus on your feel without letting undesirable thoughts distract you. This way, you can better express your use.

Breaking the cycle 

enough of parents who pass down misguided or harmful ideas about sex don ’ t mean to cause harm. They ’ re just sharing beliefs they learned themselves. This can, of course, cause a draw of problems, particularly when the cycle keeps repeating. Addressing intimate repression in yourself can help, specially if you plan to have children. You can besides promote healthy ideas about sex by :

  • talking about sex honestly, in an age-appropriate way
  • exposing children to relationships between people of all genders, through real-life or media portrayals
  • teaching children what healthy romantic and sexual relationships look like
  • providing affirming resources to LGBTQIA+ children
  • teaching consent from an early age

Where can you find support?

Working with a feel for sex therapist is a great way to begin addressing sexual repression. Some sex therapists might specialize in religious-based repression, while others focus on helping LGBTQ+ people accept their sex. A agile internet search can help you find a sex therapist in your sphere. For such an intimate, personal topic, it ’ mho essential to find a therapist you can open up to. It ’ s completely apprehensible ( and normal ) to want to try out a few unlike therapists. They want you to feel comfortable, excessively ! Without a commodity working kinship, therapy won ’ t have vitamin a much benefit.

The bottom line

religious or sociable expectations around sexual behavior can lead to sexual guilt and shame, careless of sex or identity, but this is something you can absolutely overcome. Reaching out to a train sexual activity therapist is frequently a helpful first step.

crystal Raypole has previously worked as a writer and editor program for GoodTherapy. Her fields of matter to include asian languages and literature, japanese translation, cook, natural sciences, sex positivity, and mental health. In detail, she ’ south committed to helping decrease stigma around mental health issues .

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