If you’re familiar with relationship anxiety, you know that it doesn’t take much for a flyaway thought to send you into a tailspin of anxiety that then leads you to question if you’re with the right person. This thought could be, “I’m not feeling in love” or “My partner always irritates me” or “I’m not attracted right now.” Because we’re not properly educated both about how to work with thoughts and how relationships actually unfold in the real world (as opposed to the media world), it’s a quick jump from the normal thought to the assumption: “I’m with the wrong partner. There must be someone better out there for me.”

When it comes to sex, the situation is heightened, for the culture places the highest possible premium on the correlation between “great sex” or “amazing chemistry” and being with the right person. I’ll give you some examples about how this translates into relationship anxiety:

You kiss and there are no fireworks
You make love and you can’t quite feel each other.
You don’t have the “I have to rip your clothes off” level of desire.
Your partner’s touch doesn’t send you into ecstasy, and sometimes can irritate you.
… and then you assume, “I’m with the wrong person because if I was with the right person our kisses would be sparkly, we would fit together perfectly, I would have massive desire, and my partner’s touch would instantly arouse me.” In other words, you use these markers as tests of so-called chemistry or sexual compatibility against which you gauge the “rightness” of your relationship.

Correcting Cognitive Distortions
This is incorrect thinking, what we call cognitive distortions in psychology; your incorrect beliefs are shaping your assumptions. You might be thinking, “Are you saying that chemistry doesn’t exist? What about pheromones and two people just naturally clicking together?”

These are valid questions, yet they stem from a culture that seeks simplistic answers to the complexity of human relationships. To assume that because there weren’t fireworks when you kissed negates the multiplicity of causes that could be contributing to a lackluster sexual experience, including – and perhaps most importantly – your own history, shame stories, and trauma. If, for example, you have a history of trauma around kissing – let’s say that your body wasn’t respected and you were kissed too much or in ways that felt violating – you will likely shut down when it comes to kissing your partner.

Kissing is just one example, of course. The point is that the media culture sends the message that “fireworks” and “chemistry” are evidence that you’re with the “right” person, and that if those “feelings” are lacking – because our culture uses feelings as the gauge by which we measure “true love” – then you’re with the wrong person.

You might also be thinking, “But I’ve had fireworks with other partners. It’s not across the board.” To which I will always respond, “How emotionally available were those other partners? Fear will only make an appearance with a partner who is available, and a lackluster sexual response or any type of shut down is a manifestation of fear.” If you were the pursuer in the pursuer-distancer dynamic, you would have been the one with all of the longing and, therefore, all of the feelings. But once available love shows up, we have to incorporate a new definition of love, arousal, and chemistry.

Clear Away the Fear and Open to Love
The work, as always, is to clear away the layers of your fear, faulty messages, shame, and pain so that you can show up more fully for your partner and yourself in all ways, including sexually. Healthy, vital, and awake sexuality is our birthright, yet we live in a culture where it’s nearly impossible to protect this most sacred part of our experience. But when you learn what is normal and healthy about your sexuality and what is realistic to expect in your relationship, you create a platform from which to heal. On the other hand, when you’re bogged down with the weight of the cultural expectations about sexuality, the passageways quickly slam shut. In order to open back up again, we need to clear out and clean up the distortions, then spiral deeply yet gently into the territory of sacred sexuality.

This doesn’t only apply to those of you in relationships. If you’re single, you’re also subject to an onslaught of assumptions and “shoulds” about your sexuality that can quickly morph into shame and anxiety. In fact, for many people committing to their inner work around their sexuality being single can be even more fruitful as they’re not subjected to the daily triggers and expectations that can arise in partnership. And as about 75% of my Sacred Sexuality course addresses sexuality separate from partnership, it’s the ideal course through which to explore, dismantle, and heal this aspect of yourself.

With my busy year ahead, I will likely only offer this course this one time in 2019. If it’s been on your mind to enter into the territory of your sexuality and reclaim what is rightfully yours, I encourage you to join us for this next round of Sacred Sexuality: A 40-day course to heal shame and ignite desire. This is one of my favorite courses to lead as the discussions on the forum and the group phone calls are rich, meaningful, profoundly honest and vulnerable, and it’s exciting to watch the insights and changes unfold before my eyes. I learn so much from all of you, and it’s a joy to be your guide. I look forward to seeing you there.

Author's Bio: 

Sheryl Paul, M.A., has counseled thousands of people worldwide through her private practice, her bestselling books, her e-courses and her website. She has appeared several times on "The Oprah Winfrey Show", as well as on "Good Morning America" and other top media shows and publications around the globe. To sign up for her free 78-page eBook, "Conscious Transitions: The 7 Most Common (and Traumatic) Life Changes", visit her website at http://conscious-transitions.com. And if you're suffering from relationship anxiety – whether single, dating, engaged, or married – give yourself the gift of her popular eCourse