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Old 12-15-2009, 07:42 PM   #1
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acoa difficulty with sexual intimacy

hi there: i am wondering if other people with alcoholic parents have difficulties with sexual intimacy? i'm in a loving marriage but i find it incredibly difficult (in fact almost impossible) to initiate sex. i am quite closed off and i think the big issue is showing and expressing myself.

i chalk it up to having to keep so much of myself hidden when my mom was drinking. i was taught and sometimes forced to bottle my emotions away and i find myself living with immense guilt all the time that i can't show my husband how much he means to me sexually.

it would be helpful to know if others have similar problems, or if anyone has any tips for getting over this issue.

thanks x
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Old 12-16-2009, 03:32 PM   #2
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Hi Rainshadow. I am a recovering alcoholic and also an acoa and an only child. I think I may have had the same issue, but I "self-medicated" with alcohol for a long time to deal with the problem and not be inhibited. When I got sober, all of a sudden after years of marriage (now 25 years), intimacy was tough again and then was complicated more by cancer surgery and radiation leaving my body scarred.

Is this something that bothers only you, or is it bothering your husband? If possible, just try to talk to him about it. Maybe try talking to your counselor about it.

I have thought about counselling from time to time, but then never go. I do try to read a lot about a problem and work on myself that way. I tell myself that my husband loves me very much and that he is not going to stop loving me because I make a sexual "mistake." I know also that men see sex as a way of showing women they love them, so when they get turned down or think you are not interested, they can really take the rejection hard unless there is a good, legitimate reason. So I try to remember these things, then just try not to be so shy with him. If you have a good relationship and you are good friends, then with time this will get better and become easier for you. If you can talk openly with him about it, then he will have more understanding why you are the way you are and maybe he will be willing to work with you more, too. If you can't, a counselor may have some exercises for you to try to be less inhibited. Or try to find a book on the subject.
Hope this helps. I know this is a very tough subject to bring up with anyone. Hope things get better for you! God bless!
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Old 12-17-2009, 05:35 PM   #3
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I am acoa and I tell you I dont know if it was my alcholism or that but was it was hard to iniciate sex for me and am male.I want to say some things her and dont want you to think I am being dirty or vulgure just honest and as harmless as possible.I went throug treatment and couldnt wait to get home and have sex with wife.I had the plan and was excited.But upon release and home for the first night found it hard to do.Fear was there among other things.I can tell you it didnt go well.I performed but not totally.I think now that I look back on it I can say that sex makes you very vulnurable.The feeling of letting someone that close o you is a tough thing even if you are a good looking man like me LOL.Listen it took time and me and my wife enjoy a healthy sex life.I would say talk to you husband about it.Me and my wife talk about sex and needs now yrs later.I think the man you described would have no problem in helpping to ease you on this subjects.It was easier probably for me as a man becouse we eat breathe and dream sex.And to not initiate sex means I probably wont have sex so I really had to put some of that aside or take cold showers.It think this will change over time.I am sorry if I offended anyone with this I didnt mean to just tryin to help.
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Old 12-18-2009, 03:03 PM   #4
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hi again:

thanks for both of your responses. in some ways, you reiterated what i already suspected: that it's scary to open up to someome sexually no matter how safe you feel with them. my husband and i have talked about this issue quite a bit and he's actually very patient and doesn't pressure me about it. it's more that i feel immense guilty about not being the initiator and he has expressed (rightly) it would be nice to feel desired. while he is patient, i don't think he understands how hard it can be to make that intimate leap. he likes to show me how much he loves me through sex, and yet i express it differently.

in some ways, i should be honoured that i have a partner who wants to have emotional sex, but i guess i need to get over my vulnerability issues. i'm not sure about you guys, but i find that having lived with an alcoholic (perhaps it's the same as being one) meant that i have had to keep myself very closed off from the rest of the world and opening up intimately can seem like the most uncomfortable thing in the world.

so long story short, i am grateful for the responses and relieved to hear i am not the only one with this issue...thanks!
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Old 12-27-2009, 09:00 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by rainshadow View Post
hi there: i am wondering if other people with alcoholic parents have difficulties with sexual intimacy?
Absolutely. Sexual Dysfunction caused by an often unconscious fear of intimacy is very common in ACOA's.

In women it tends to be an inability to give and receive true intimacy which in turn means that women with this suffer from low sexual desire which in turn causes ******l dryness and anorgasmia.

But in many ways it is worse for men because it can cause erectile difficulties or the inability to ejaculate during partner sex. This is caused by a fear of intimacy which causes anxiety, (often subconscious) which in turn causes these sexual dysfunctions.

With me it manifested itself sexually by causing me to have a total sexual shutdown once a relationship with any given women would become established. There would be 4 or 5 normal satisfying sexual encounters and then right out of the blue I'd suddenly lose all sexual desire and lose my erection.

It took 15 years of therapy to find the root causes of this. I spent most of that time going down therapy dead ends in an attempt to treat the sexual dysfunction rather than trying to find and identify the root cause- the fact I am an ACOA. According to one therapist because my parents hated each other, my mother felt trapped in her marriage to my violent, alcoholic father, I never had any marital intimacy and joy modeled for me as a child. On the surface I wanted to fall in love and get married but the scars left by my childhood trauma would make that impossible.

I have spent my whole life moving from short term relationship to short term relationship unable to settle down due to loss of sexual functioning whenever a relationship became emotionally intimate. Indeed I am now in my mid 50's and although I have had relationships with dozens of women over the years, I have never been in love.

This is also reflected in all my relationships with people in general. Getting too close to anyone makes me very uncomfortable and stressed as I hate feeling obligated to provide the emotional base on which to build a friendship upon.[/

Last edited by DannyL; 05-26-2012 at 12:56 PM.
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Old 01-13-2010, 02:24 PM   #6
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So many lights go off for me as to why I am the way I am.

I cannot bring myself to tell my partner what I want but I can go off and have an affair and have no issues, concerns or worries. He knows exactly what to do and how. While we communicate and share a closeness - he's married (another pattern for me - unavailable) - it isn't a long term building/sharing relationship and truthfully that is what I seek.
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Old 01-15-2010, 12:35 AM   #7
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I kind of just let sexual intimacy happen. I don't resist it because I learned fast in life that if you're quiet, no one will hurt you. I don't think my husband knows that I just basically space out and pretend I'm somewhere else. I don't really know how to tell him.
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Old 04-27-2010, 12:38 AM   #8
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Thumbs up

Originally Posted by deferred dream View Post
I kind of just let sexual intimacy happen. I don't resist it because I learned fast in life that if you're quiet, no one will hurt you. I don't think my husband knows that I just basically space out and pretend I'm somewhere else. I don't really know how to tell him.
What would this help to tell your husband that you have been doing this?

I too have difficulty enjoying intimacy with my husband. It usually depends on my mood and whether or not he has shown me he loves me in some way...cuddling, kissing without more, massage without more, love notes, etc. Unfortunately he doesn't do these things I so crave...thus making it hard for me to appreciate and/or initiate intimacy.

Thank you for sharing because you have given me an opportunity to think about how my background has effected me in the intimate part of my marriage.
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Old 06-22-2010, 10:58 PM   #9
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Wow. All I can say is I relate to everyone's posts. Thanks for bringing this up. When I was younger, I was very promiscuous, seeking approval through sex. I have had lots of guy friends, but I would never have sex with someone I actually knew that I liked. I can't get turned on at all. My marriage was a complete disaster for many many reasons, but the intimacy issues didn't help.

My divorce is almost finalized and I believe that in about 6 months I will be ready for some casual dating without intimacy. More than enything I crave that suck you in, the drug, the rush of excitement that you get from falling in "love" but it's never real. i am beginning to understand that while you can have lust at first sight, a real love comes from friendship and friendship only. At least for me. I really want to be in a relationship that I am comfortable enough in to transcend my fears of rejection and open up intimately.

So I have lots of ideas about what I like, etc, but when it comes to expressing myself, OMG, it's like there is a total blank and pure fear int he place of communication. Such a fear of rejection!!!! I would rather say NOTHING EVER than to risk someone not liking what I say. Or to ask for soemthing and have it not be "right" either and have to say I change my mind? I think sometimes I would rather die than have to do that!! LOL! And just saying this makes me realize that I do the same thing to my kids. ohhhhhh man. I really never saw it like that. I totally give them a hard time about changing their mind and expressing what they want. Great. More work to do, more work to do....

But I will not beat myself up about it, I will move forward and try to be more mindful of my actions and intentions. That's all I can do, is keep bettering myself and my little ones will hopefully learn by example.

THANKS AGAIN!!!!! I love this place, it's safe and I can see the true me.
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Old 06-23-2010, 10:18 AM   #10
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In my youth and young adulthood, I was promiscuous. I had a counselor point out to me that I was using sex to ESCAPE relationships. In other words, it was easy for me to cut my emotions off and just have sex in the physical sense of the word. This injured my self respect and I was convinced that perhaps the next man was going to be THE ONE. He never came to me during that era.

I was also a drug addict so I had that to smother those emotions. When I entered recovery, I went through several marriages. One I left a year into sobriety which was 6 years in duration. I cheated on him habitually. If I was angry that is how I dealt with it, go out and sleep with someone else and the anger would dissipate. Once again, using sex to escape intimacy. Then in sobriety had 2 more marriages with other addicts who were also in recovery.

My intimacy healing only came when I was willing to accept responsibility for the demise of these marriages. No they weren't the sharpest knife in the drawer either, but I was the one entering into these relationships.

I had a lot of therapy and only found true intimacy (which is not necessarily sex) through friendships with other women, practicing being vulnerable. Went celibate for a couple years and really worked on myself.

When I married my current husband 10 years ago, I stayed in therapy for a long time, teaching me healthy habits. We do enjoy sexual intimacy where we talk about it and pray about it...God created sex. Sometimes I am shy about it especially because of my weight, I have put on so much that I no longer feel desirable, but he goes out of his way to show me he still finds me to be.

So that was my journey from sexual dysfunction to sexual intimacy. Yes, is the short answer to the question that this ACOA did have sexual problems. What I gave you was the long version.
Recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind.
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