Physical intimacy can be a way to build an emotional connection between partners. Some individuals, however, might have anxiety about being so vulnerable. You can reassure your partner that you’re there for them and help soothe their troubled feelings. Your care and attention can lead to greater satisfaction both in and out of the bedroom.
Describe Your Fantasies
Sometimes anxiety can come from feeling shy. Your partner might feel awkward about sharing their fantasies and describing what they want. Create a safe space. Try describing your fantasies in gentle and hypothetical terms. There’s no need to get explicit at this point. You can describe what you want in general terms and then get more specific as you and your partner get comfortable. Respond with enthusiasm whenever your partner shares their own desires. Over time they may start to feel more comfortable about being that open.
Respect Their Boundaries
Anxiety could also be rooted in physical shyness as much as emotional shyness. Notice if your partner starts to freeze up if you touch a certain place on their body. Ask them if it’s okay to touch or kiss them there. Stop immediately if your partner doesn’t give their consent. Try working with a “yes, no, maybe” chart.
This list shows what you would generally love to do, what you might do under the right circumstances, and what you are not comfortable with. This sort of chart gives a detailed list of intimate acts and behaviors. Go through this chart with your partner to get a better understanding of what their physical limits are. Filling out a chart like this with you can help you both feel more comfortable and at ease.
Address Potential Symptoms
Some individuals experience “performance anxiety” when it comes to intimacy. Your partner might feel like they don’t measure up if they can’t satisfy you or themselves. This may be rooted in certain health symptoms. Erectile dysfunction is an example of one such symptom. This term refers to the inability to achieve or maintain an erection. Erectile dysfunction can be treated with either medication or therapy. It’s best for your partner to discuss treatment with their healthcare professional. Don’t pressure your partner into seeking treatment. Be supportive of their choices.
Take a Break
Hitting the pause button on intimacy may seem counter-intuitive. It could be a good choice, though, if your partner’s anxiety is rooted in feeling like they should always be intimate. Let them know it is okay to not be intimate if they’re tired or worried. There’s no rush. Your partner can vocalize when they don’t want to be intimate and take initiative when they do. Help your partner understand that they have agency in this aspect of your relationship as well.
Intimacy should be fun and playful. All couples approach it in different ways and there’s no right or wrong here. Getting less anxious about physical intimacy can take time, but that doesn’t mean there is something wrong with either of you. Take concrete steps to alleviate your partner’s anxiety about intimacy so you can find the approach that works for both of you.