Sex advice with Mrs Salisbury
I’m 20 years old, and male. Every time I get close to a girl something goes wrong, but over the years I’ve noticed that most of the time it’s my own doing. I get cold feet and freak out, justifying it by saying that I don’t want any drama near exams, or I’m not sure I’m 100 per cent into her. I’ve never even kissed a girl and I know that it is because of my tendency to avoid any kind of commitment – which is ironic, given that backing off actually hurts people, including myself. What can I do to stop ruining something potentially good with my own commitment issues?
This sounds very much like anxiety. Do you experience it at other times? I wonder if you’ve learned to control your life intensely as your way to manage anxiety and the prospect of letting someone else get close threatens your sense of control. It’s true that being in a relationship means there is someone else’s needs to consider. It’s also true that if you love, you risk being hurt.
What has your experience of love been since the beginning of your life? Was there consistent, nurturing love available for you as you grew up or have you learned what it feels like to have that disappear or be withdrawn? Have you had a girlfriend – however briefly – and been hurt? And what have those close to you as you grew up modelled for you about committed relationships? If that has been negative or missing, then of course it will not only be hard to believe that mutual commitment is possible and can be a source of great joy, but also to have the skills to go about achieving it.
The exact path forward depends on your answers to these questions. If you’re studying, your institution should have a student counselling service where you could seek professional help to learn how to cope with anxiety, or learn the skills of loving and communicating in close relationships.
You’ve been making excuses for your choices, but now you sound ready to face yourself, which is great. It may be uncomfortable at times, but that’s only a temporary stop on the way to changing and growing to become all you can be.