Fear of rejection impacts your sex life negatively

Agatha is afraid that Sam her husband will abandon her. It has led to a sexless marriage

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Agatha is afraid that Sam her husband will abandon her. It has led to a sexless marriage

I first met Agatha at the Sexology Clinic two years ago. She was accompanied by Sam, her husband. She has a black briefcase in her right hand and her yellow woman’s handbag in her left hand. The briefcase was her husband’s. As soon as they were in the consultation room Agatha quickly pulls Sam a seat, get him a bottle of mineral water from her handbag and asks him if he is comfortable. She remains standing beside him like a mother in charge of her sick child.

“So how can I help,” I ask instinctively looking at Agatha for instructions.

“We read your article on sexless marriages and we thought we should see you,” Sam, answers, “we are good friends but somehow sex just does not happen.”

They had been married for three years and had one child. In their first year of marriage, they had sex two to three times a week. Over time this reduced to once every three to four months making it a maximum of eight times a year.

“Do not get me wrong, we live together and sleep on the same bed every night but that is how far it goes!” Sam explains. All along Agatha nods in affirmation.

“Do you frequently disagree or fight?” I ask trying to understand why Agatha, initially portraying herself as a mother, was now playing a sycophant role.

“What? Never, we cannot do that!” Agatha exclaims frowning in disapproval.

I delve further to understand their sex life and learn that it was Sam who always initiated the act. Agatha was simply there to do as instructed. Over time Sam withdrew from driving the process and so increasingly no sex was happening.

“You know sometimes I am never sure if my advances are welcome,” he explains, “tell me, if she was equally interested wouldn’t we both be initiating it?”

After an in-depth interrogation, I arrived at the diagnosis that Agatha was afraid of rejection and abandonment. This is an emotion that develops after a devastating life experience of rejection and/or abandonment. It could be that while you were a child your parents rejected or abandoned you emotionally or physically by having you stay with relatives or friends. Or it may just be that they took you to boarding school and that made you feel rejected.

In Agatha’s case, it was abandonment by her first love.

“This is a man I truly trusted and who unfairly walked out on me,” she explains in one of the sessions, tears dripping down her cheeks, “We had planned a wedding, invited people, and even made reservations for our honeymoon.”

Three days before the wedding, the man walked into her parent’s home and declared that he was no longer interested in her. No persuasion would make him change his mind. The wedding was cancelled, and Agatha was left with disappointment, anger and shame.

After three years of nursing her loss, Agatha met Sam. They wedded eleven months later. As they grew closer in their relationship, a subconscious fear gripped her: what if Sam decided to abandon her one day? She increasingly behaved in a way to hold on to Sam, albeit subconsciously. She chose to be a housewife to “effectively take care of her family”.

In the bedroom, her subconscious could not allow her to make the first move just in case Sam said no to her. This would have provoked strong feelings of rejection. Further, she remained inactive during sex, not sure if a strange move would offend Sam. This made her a sexual zombie.

Without reciprocal activity in bed, Sam soon got tired of initiating and leading sex. He got emotionally withdrawn from her. The result was a sexless marriage.

I took Agatha through several sessions of therapy. Her view of love slowly changed. She started to see love, not as enslaving, but meant to motivate and make people grow emotionally and be able to face life with confidence. She also realised that when you are rejected the problem is not that you are bad, the person rejecting you is the one with a problem in most cases.

Sam also appreciated that his acceptance of unusual favours from Agatha only served to worsen her situation. Henceforth, he would make Agatha know whenever she went beyond limits with her kindness. It took six months before the couple was back on their feet. The frequency of sex naturally picked up.

One year later, Agatha was more confident in life and stepped out of the house to start her own business. She had new aspirations and ambitions for her life and had planned to register for a business management course.