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Why Sex Triggers My Fear of Abandonment

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One of the most prevalent symptoms of my borderline personality disorder (BPD) is fear of abandonment. I am so afraid that someone is going to leave me that it often prevents me from doing a lot around that person that I think might make them leave me.

I am so afraid of being vulnerable in front of people in case they decide to abandon me in the future that I try to remain as in control of situations as I can.

A huge activity that this boils down to is sex. I find it hard to lose myself in it, and to truly enjoy it because usually for me those moments after when most people are lying in post coital bliss are the moments where I am feeling completely bare and raw in front of a person. I feel so exposed and vulnerable.

I found it so hard to lose control during sex, so I didn’t truly start enjoying it until I was in my 20s, despite being sexually active since I was 16 (the legal age of consent in the U.K.). Never mind the fact that I spent years having sex with men only to later realize I am actually definitely a lesbian, so there were naturally all sorts of difficulties there that meant my relationship with sex was stormy and confusing at best. Early on, I found myself crying a lot after sex, finding it hard to lose control. I dreaded it, it seemed like such an anxiety-ridden, pain-filled activity that it was better to just avoid the act altogether rather than keep persevering and hoping that one day it would get better and I would start to truly enjoy it.

It was only when I was about 22 that I realized that my inability to enjoy sex came from the fact that I didn’t want to lose control in front of another person. I didn’t want them to see me when I was vulnerable because that would mean I would be exposing myself and then if they abandoned me later… it would make it 10 times worse to deal with. Also what if they abandoned me because I lost control?

As soon as I admitted this to myself however, oddly, sex began to get better. I began to push myself. I stopped associating it with anxiety and fear and started to associate it with fun. Once I discovered I had been pursuing the wrong gender all this time, my relationship with sex naturally got infinitely better.

But there were still issues. One time after sex my partner at the time got up to use the bathroom and I burst into tears immediately because I felt like she had abandoned me and wasn’t going to come back. Rationally I knew she would return, but the anxiety was controlling my head and telling me she ran off because it was too bad seeing me lose control. She came back to find me in a complete mess.

Nowadays my relationship with sex still wavers. While I do now enjoy it every time I do it, I still often get overwhelmed afterwards by the surge of emotions and the flood of dopamine that comes with it and find myself trying to suppress tears, or full on just having a bit of a cry. Luckily my partner is understanding, and knows to just hold me extremely tight during these times and assure me she isn’t going anywhere.

It continues to get easier, but I don’t think I will ever be able to have a completely normal relationship with sex.

Getty Images photo via Rawpixel Ltd

Originally published: March 9, 2018
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