Struggling to continue in this relationship

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    Hi everyone,

    I’m not really sure how to go about talking/writing about this so apologies in advance structure may be a bit all over the place.

    Brief background:
    My partner and I have been together almost a year at this point. When the relationship began we were able to have sex a handful of times but it was not satisfying for either of us. I didn’t know what the problem was at the time but I could tell it wasn’t comfortable for her and as such it wasn’t satisfying at all for me. Further into the relationship we talked it through and she told me about her vaginismus. She thinks she remembers having enjoyable sex earlier on in her life but after a case of thrush and a painful sexual experience she hadn’t enjoyed sex in a long time. At the time I had no idea what it was or the severity of it. We gave up on trying penetrative sex 8months or more ago. Since then we were maybe having oral sex (her to me as she does not want to be touched at all) once a month but as of the last 4months we have had no sexual contact at all. She has no interest in any sexual contact as it makes her anxious and gives her a “sicky” feeling in her stomach.

    We attended couples therapy for a period of about 3months. I was solely responsible for paying for this and after 3months it had made no difference. I grew frustrated and stopped the sessions.
    She has been seeing a physio through the NHS and I’ve bought her the dilators she needed. The physio recommended multiple times a week and I attended a session (at my partners request) to learn to do the dilators but my partner now admitted she hadn’t been doing the dilators herself in weeks. When I asked her about this her response was “you don’t know what it’s like to have to cause yourself pain every week”. Obviously I don’t but I’m positive if the roles were reversed I would be willing to do it for her.
    We’re now trying hypnotherapy but I believe she’s just looking for a easy option/magic pill and I’m not sure I want to be with someone who values out relationship so little their unwilling to do what’s necessary to make it work.

    My current thought:

    At this point I am truly struggling to remain in this relationship. We have ZERO sexual contact and I feel she’s more of a friend at this point than my partner. I’m really questions whether the relationship is salvageable at this point, if the vaginismus was suddenly gone I just don’t know if we would ever have a good sexual relationship.
    I’m upset the way the relationship has gone to this point, whereby she has continuously reduced the level of sexual contact to nothing and I think she would happily keep it like this had I not made it clear that wasn’t an option for me.
    I still love spending time with her but I absolutely hate going to bed and waking up with her. I feel depressed and frustrated every time we spend a night together. My confidence is at an all time low and I selfishly feel like for my own sake I should just give up on us, but then I do love her. Our relationship is so strained it’s not fun in any sense anymore, not just sexually.

    I don’t know what I’m expecting from this forum. I guess just to open a dialogue. I can’t talk to her about it because she has such a set opinion on it and can’t see anything from my side.

    Sorry about the essay and if you got to this point thanks for reading. Any comments appreciated.


    sl_partner – I’m really sorry to hear about how your relationship has been going. It’s such a tough place to be in when you’re unhappy and feel like you have no power to fix the problem that’s ruining the relationship. It’s clear you’ve been a good and caring partner to your girlfriend, but your own needs and desires still deserve to have space in your relationship.

    One of the great pains of vaginismus for men is that as you’ve already observed, you can’t force your partner to seek treatment; she has to want to do it. It sounds like your girlfriend is resistant, which is a normal reaction to people suffering from the problem since it can feel easiest to ignore the problem and hope things can stay okay if it’s never addressed, but it’s obvious that isn’t working since your sex life has tapered into nonexistence.

    I was into my 9th year of vaginismus when a man I had been dating for a few months told me that if I didn’t seek treatment for my problem, the relationship couldn’t continue. At the time this was devastating. My great fear had been that vaginismus would keep me from experiencing love and connection, and this man’s words seemed to prove that was exactly what was happening.

    I was really resentful of this man’s ultimatum at the time, but with the wisdom of a few years’ remove from the situation, I can see his words for what they were: an unequivocal statement of his needs. He was just telling me something that was true about himself that I needed to know to make an informed choice about our relationship, just as he needed to know if I was willing to put in the work to fix the problem so he could know if I was someone he could invest in. I also acknowledge now that if he hadn’t given me that push, I would probably still be suffering from vaginismus. Until he came along, it always felt like a problem that could be handled next year, or maybe the year after that. By telling he what he needed, he forced me to choose that he was worth trying for.

    I’m not saying you need to give your girlfriend an ultimatum, but I do think she deserves to know the things you’ve told us abut how you feel and that you have real doubts about the relationship. These things will hurt her to hear, but if she doesn’t know this is important to you, she’ll probably keep finding excuses not to help herself. Tell her what you need and see if she’s willing to meet you in the middle, to put in the work and time to invest in a more beautiful life for both of you in the future. Either way, this conversation will give you information you need to decide what you really want.



    I’m sorry for everything you’re going through. This is such a tough situation for you, and I wholeheartedly understand how you feel.

    It seems like you have been encouraging and supportive, which is very important, and I hope you can continue to be supportive, loving, and patient. It is also important for your girlfriend, if she does want to overcome vaginismus and eventually be able to have comfortable sex, to take steps to do so. I know it’s difficult to talk to her about it because she seems very set on her opinions, but tell her that you think it is important and fair for her to take some action (even if small steps at first) to overcome vaginismus and her fear of penetration that comes with it.

    These small steps could be in the form of: putting in the smallest dilator with tons of lube for a few minutes a day (I know she says it’s painful, but getting over vaginismus is worth it!), making an appointment with a vaginismus clinic or specialist, or even starting out by looking through this forum to read all of the success stories of dilation therapy to give her the confidence that she WILL be able to overcome this. Vaginismus can be a lonely and shameful thing until you realize there are many others going through the same thing, and even more who have overcome it.

    Her having vaginismus is *not* a bad thing (at first I thought it meant something was super wrong with me and I wasn’t ever going to be normal)! Vaginismus is completely treatable – it just takes work and determination!

    Using the dilators, whether by herself, with your help, or if she is able to go to Maze or a similar clinic, will be able to ‘stretch’ her muscles to get them used to larger and larger dilators which could then help lessen her fear of sexual experiences with your penis.

    I hope this makes sense – definitely let me know if you have any questions or concerns good luck and we are all here for you and your girlfriend.

    I would also feel guilty not mentioning: there is the possibility that her extreme avoidance is coming from something deeper, like a traumatic experience. Even if not, I would be sensitive to that if I were you

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