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Paranoid About Sex

Erika wrote:

I'm a student, just turned 20 and am paranoid about sex. I have close guy friends and have (at various points) had four short-term boyfriends. I know you get questions from girls paranoid about sex all the time but I think my case is different because I spent the majority of my childhood in a Christian boarding school where I guess "puritan thought" was first inculcated into my impressionbale head.

Basically, a part of me still believes sex is shameful. When I think about sex from a rationale perspective, I know it's a perfectly natural act (which many, if not most, of my friends engage in frequently). Yet everytime I'm with a man I cut the relationship short so the idea of sex never pops into his head (is it true men constantly think of sex? Was Freud right?).

I know you must think I'm a real prude but I don't know how to un-brainwash myself. Although everyone at my university seems to be sexually liberated, I'm not really concerned about my "sex phobia" as much as I'm worried that this phobia prevents me from staying with a man for more than a month (even if sex is never mentioned).

Should I settle for scoping out the student union for asexual guys? I feel bad just writing to you about sex!

Dear Erika

First, lets clear up a few contradictions ... Plenty of people have spent years in religious boarding schools, then gone on to make babies (and send them to boarding schools ... so I think you need to look at other causes of your feelings.

But the big issue, which you have not really cleared up, is are you simply frightened of sex, and do you just not want sex, but feel 'it's the thing everyone else is doing'. Because that makes a difference. There's no hurry to have sex, indeed, many women do not until late twenties, even thirties - and a few, never. What matters is what you want.

If you are curious, then the standard advice is 'take it slow' - and I mean slow. Start by finding someone you trust to discuss sex with. Then ask yourself why you have not got female friends with whom you could have discussed this years ago.

Take it very slow. Remember that however much they think about sex (a lot), men often realise that women do not want to have full sex three minutes after meeting. That's ok.

Take it very slow. Remember that there are men, and there are men. Don't go out with Mike Tyson, or the captain of the football team. Find someone quiet and gentle. Make friends with men. They don't all bite.

But also remember that sex is part of life; if it really frightens you that much - and you don't know why - then you might think about counselling.

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