Dear Dr Eve,


I have been dating my boyfriend for the last 3 years and we now live together in a very committed way.  When we first began having sex, I was very excited and enjoyed it a lot because I felt this could be a significant relationship.  Over time he began suggesting sexual things that were new and different for me.  Initially, I was intrigued and liked the novelty.  I felt kind of grown-up and proud of myself for trying them out.

However, over time he stopped doing what I enjoyed, kind of regular vanilla sex, romantic lovemaking, and just wanted things his way.  I have told him, he listens and once we are in the act of sex, he just does what he wants.  The reason I write to you now is that I have pain with penetration and find I make excuses not to be sexual with him even though I still love him.  Can you help me, please?



Dear Anonymous

Thank your body for alerting you to emotional distress that you are feeling and perhaps finding hard to verbalize. Think about this: imagine your kind of sexual play that you enjoy, sexual play that you know arouses you, gets you well lubricated and perhaps even orgasmic.  Check in with your body and notice the sensations that come up for you. Perhaps your face smiled, and your body became happily alert and alive.


Now think about the sexual play with your boyfriend. And notice the sensations in your body.  Perhaps you noticed that your body contracted somewhat, that you felt a tightening in your gut area and that your heart area went kind of cold and still or else began to beat very quickly.

And so, it makes sense that your vagina is going into a spasm in anticipation of the history of pain it has developed.  That pain was initially created to protect you from engaging in sex that you do not want to have.  Of course, it can be extremely difficult to talk about sexual likes and dislikes so well done to you that you had the courage to talk to him.  Perhaps that is partly where your pain comes from as well – that he is not listening to you.  Maybe this leaves you feeling unsafe… and feeling unsafe is not a good environment for healthy pleasure filled sexual activity.


Certainly each individual has their own unique sexual preferences and it is almost impossible to find 2 people with exactly the same sexual love maps.  So just as you long to enjoy your kind of sexuality, your boyfriend longs to enjoy what makes him emotionally and sexually happy.


  1. Switch your conversation away from sexual preferences, to a conversation about listening, being heard and respected.
  2. Discuss how to feel safe and secure with each other in the relationship generally and most definitely, in the sexual part of your relationship.
  3. “Safety and security” are established when the person is reliable and predictable. In other words, you both want to know you can go into a sexual space knowing there is an understanding of what will happen and that it will be honored as such in each moment.
  4. Flexibility is essential in a relationship- and when there is a foundation of safety and security, flexibility is fun.
  5. Accept and acknowledge openly and honestly what turns each of you on. This allows you to KNOW, and so feel safe.
  6. Then negotiate and set boundaries around sexual activities that are deal breakers for each one of you.  For example, there may be agreement that he/you masturbates to online porn that reflects his/your kind of sexual arousals.
  7.  As for your sexual pain, it requires mindfulness work, so begin there.


Take care

Dr Eve

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“Dear Dr Eve” is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, mental-health professional, or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical or mental condition. By submitting a letter, you are agreeing to let DR EVE use it—in part or in full—and we may edit it for length and/or clarity.