DEAR FIONA: I’m terrified by the thought of sex

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Our agony aunt attempts to solve your problems

Q I’m 23 and a virgin because I’m terrified by the thought of sex; it all seems so violent and unpleasant to me.

I don’t know why I feel like this, as I’ve not been hurt or abused, and I’ve only ever had two boyfriends with whom I experienced nothing more than a quick kiss.

I told one of my friends in confidence the other week and she thinks it’s because I’m so ignorant about sex that I’m scared of it.

Could she be right?

What I do know, I’ve picked up from reading or from television.

I suspect I’m frigid, which wouldn’t matter if I was happy being alone and single, but I’m not – I’m really quite lonely and depressed.

A To be in a relationship and have a sexual problem is one thing, to think you are ‘frigid’ (whatever that means) when you’ve never had a relationship, is rather putting the cart before the horse.

It’s certainly possible that your lack of knowledge is making you afraid, but I suspect that a lack of confidence may be the real problem and you have somehow let this grow to include sex as well.

I’d encourage you to talk to your doctor and see if you can’t get a referral to a counsellor who will help you grow as a person and gain a better understanding of what is involved in relationships.

I’d also encourage you to look at the Brook website (brook.org.uk) where you will find plenty of no-nonsense help and information.

Q My daughter died suddenly 18 months ago and I thought my world had come to an end.

I cut myself off from everyone, even my husband, and wouldn’t see or talk to anyone.

It’s taken a while, but I’ve come to realise that life has to go on, so I’m now trying to rebuild relationships with people I’ve neglected for too long.

I am still far from over my daughter’s death, and at times I see or hear something and I just can’t stop myself from crying.

Things between me and my husband are improving, but I still can’t let him get close to me without bursting into tears.

There are times, too, when I get so angry and I’ve been known to lash out at people who I know are only trying to help me.

Why am I like this – just when I’m getting close to someone, I lash out and lose them again?

A Children are not meant to die before their parents and losing a child creates unbearable pain.

I think you have done remarkably well in recognising the need to start rebuilding your life.

Feeling angry now and then is perfectly natural, and I’m sure people around you understand and won’t take it personally.

You are being a bit harsh on yourself if you think you are going to recover from your loss quickly.

It will take time and I can’t tell you that you’re going to get over this, because you probably never will.

Grief will continue to come and go, but it will get easier to cope with and you will become better able to deal with significant dates, events or objects that trigger your memories.

I don’t know if you’d had any help in coming to terms with your loss, but do talk to The Compassionate Friends (tcf.org.uk), the organisation that helps bereaved parents.

Do encourage your husband to talk to them as well – he is likely to be suffering just as much as you even if he’s not showing it as much.