• Guilt/Shame

Sexual guilt or shame refers to a feeling of grave responsibility and deep remorse associated with participation in or even thoughts and fantasies about sexual activity,” according to howstuffworks.com.1

Some sources show a difference between shame and guilt. “The difference between the two emotions is best described as public and private, according to June Tangney, PhD, a George Mason University psychology professor … ‘You feel shame when others know what you’ve done; you feel guilt when only you know,’ …”2

People feel shame or guilt about sex, sexual activity and fantasies for many reasons. Those reasons may include a strict religious upbringing, conflicting personal feelings, being judged by society and family members, being pressured into sex, or sexual abuse.

One way to come to terms with understanding the underlying issues of guilt and shame about sex is to express them with a supportive partner or professional.

The sourced articles below should provide more information on guilt and shame associated with sex.

    1. The Problem Of Sexual Shame

      “In a caring, mutually supportive environment, our acceptance of our sexuality is one of the most generous and mature acts we’re capable of. We – the ashamed ones – deserve to rediscover sex not as a zone of guilt and fear but as an intensely fulfilling, innocent and in the profound sense ‘fun’ pastime, something we truly deserve to enjoy in the same way that, despite early intimations to the contrary, we truly deserve to exist.”

      The Book of Life, theschooloflife.com, accessed on 5/7/2019

    2. The Gateway To A Satisfying Sex Life

      “You may have some guilt about your sexual thoughts and desires. So, you keep those kinds of thoughts to yourself out of fear that you will be judged by your partner or by others if they found out. In order to be fully comfortable in your relationship and to begin discussing sex openly, you need to let go of those feelings of guilt, shame, or embarrassment. Let go by: accepting yourself, recognizing that everyone has unique sexual thoughts and desires, and scratching the idea of expressing those thoughts with your partner.”

      Chris Cummins, themarriageandfamilyclinic.com, 12/13/2018

    3. 5 Things You Need To Stop Feeling Bad About In Bed (Like, Right Now)

      “‘Some people have grown up in really religious or conservative backgrounds that teach specifically that sex is sinful, shameful, or something that we should be embarrassed about,’ Marin says. ‘But all of us have internalized sex-negative beliefs in one way or another.’ … Here are a few common guilt-inducing hang-ups that need retiring immediately. …
      [1.] Asking for what you want (even if it’s something totally new) …
      [2.] Taking your sweet time …
      [3.] How you look …
      [4.] Not being on the same wavelength …
      [5.] Not doing it ‘right’ …”

      Gwendolyn Purdom, wellandgood.com, 9/13/2018

    4. What It Really Means If You Dream About Cheating On Your Partner

      “Dreams serve plenty of purposes, [Stephanie] Gailing says. Sometimes they really do reveal the deep desires of our souls, but sometimes they’re just there to entertain our sleeping minds. So don’t worry so much (unless you have something to worry about).”

      Kasandra Brabaw, refinery29.com, 8/1/2018

    5. I Need To Scrub Myself Clean’: How To Know If You Have Post-Sex Shame

      “Post-sex shame (also known as post-coital dysphoria or post-sex cognitive dissonance) can affect anyone. But it’s particularly prevalent within the LGBTI community. It’s a feeling of sadness, anxiety, agitation or aggression after sex. Stefan Walters is a sex and relationship therapist based in a Central London and says it’s ‘pretty common’. He trained as a systemic marriage and family therapist, which means he counsels a lot of couples. He said he sees couples where one or both partner’s ‘sexual identity is not integrating fully with their identity.’”

      James Besanvalle, gaystarnews.com, 5/20/2018

    6. Women Have Less Regret After Casual Sex When They Initiate It

      “Women typically regret having casual sex or one-night stands, and researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology have identified factors that affect how much remorse they experience. According to the study, when a woman initiates a fling, she feels much less regret afterward. Men do not have guilt after casual sex as often as women do, and initiative is not a factor that causes men to feel regret.”

      Chrissy Sexton, earth.com, 3/12/2018

    7. Sex And Guilt: Navigating A Sexually Unhealthy Society

      “Religious influences may be an obvious culprit in creating a society that shames sex at its very foundation, but other aspects of our lives play a part too, even for those who grew up in non-religious households and who, as [University of Washington, Seattle, sociology professor Pepper] Schwartz points out, may not even consciously believe in sexual shame. ‘And then it gets down to the family … and then it gets down to the peers and their judgmentalism, and pretty soon you’ve got it well-threaded through the society so much so that even when people get sexually abused they take on personal guilt even if it was rape, even if it was molestation,’ Schwartz said. ‘Shame and guilt come along with it even for people who know they shouldn’t feel it.'”

      Kendall Upton, dailyuw.com, 2/8/2018

    8. 9 Signs Your Significant Other Is Guilt-Tripping You Into Having Sex

      “If you feel like you’re being unfairly guilted into having sex, then chances are good that that’s exactly what’s happening — and it’s not something you ever have to put up with. The below examples will help you figure out if your significant other is guilt-tripping you into having sex, and hopefully help you figure out how to move forward from there. …
      [1.] They say things like, ‘Don’t you want me to be happy?’ …
      [2.] They keep asking even if you’ve already said no. …
      [3.] They use your past against you. …
      [4.] You often start to feel annoyed with your partner, even if you’re not sure exactly why. …
      [5.] They’ve brought up the idea of breaking up after you say no. …
      [6.] They blame your behavior for their pressure. …
      [7.] They act differently after you say no. …
      [8.] They make it seem like sex and love are the same things. …
      [9.] They put themselves down after you say no. …”

      Jessica Booth, hellogiggles.com, 12/27/2017

    9. 5 Ways To End Sexual Shame And (Finally) Truly Enjoy Your Body

      “The good news is that it’s possible to free yourself from the invisible web of sexual shame that holds you back. It takes time and persistence, but the results are well worth it. Once you identify the ways that shame is holding you back, you can start undoing its power over you and start feeling more authentic and free in your sex life. Here are five steps to get you started: …
      [1.] Identify the shame message and where it came from. …
      [2.] Decide whether your agree with it or not. …
      [3.] Change the story. …
      [4.] Notice (and honor) your body …
      [5.] Don’t poison others with shame. …
      Once you start noticing moments of sexual shame in your life, you can start taking action steps to dissolve the shame and find your more authentic sexual expression.”

      Pleasure Mechanics, yourtango.com, 4/22/2016

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    Footnotes

    1. howstuffworks.com, 5/6/2019

    2. apa.org, 11/2005