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Incapable of forming romantic relationships - scared and alone

Community Member


I joined this forum a couple of months ago and have found it a great source of support. I'm experiencing depression and anxiety, which I have had bouts of since I was 12.

Here goes.....

There's a range of issues that contribute to my depression but at the core, the biggest contributor my pain is my inability to form romantic relationships. I essentially have a phobia of sex and dating.

I first became aware of it at 13, when a boy told me he liked me. Instead of making me feel excited, I felt terrified and I didn't know why. Fast forward three years and I thought it was time to face my fears head on and deciding to start 'dating' a boy at school. The day we agreed to go out, he came up to me at lunch and put his arm around me while we sat together. A feeling of absolute dread came over me. I spent the rest of the day feeling sick with anxiety and had to tell people I was unwell as the colour had drained from my face and I looked terrible. I went home and cried my eyes out. I stayed home from school the next day. I didn't understand why this was happening to me, all I understood was that I had to get out of the situation as quickly as possible.

Fast forward to now, I'm almost 29 and am absolutely terrified of spending the rest of my life alone. For the past decade or so I've been able to distract myself with work/study and enjoy an active social life with friends. I'd try and put my issues at the back of my mind and simply hoped that prince charming would come along and be the answer to my prayers. I now have to face that this is not going to happen. I'm so scared at the prospect of spending the rest of my life alone and not having anyone to help me through the ups and downs.

I can't really talk about this with others as it makes me feel ashamed. My mum has always been aware of it and I recently confided in a friend but otherwise discussions amongst friends about dating are really awkward and difficult. 

I don't know why I felt I had to put this on the board as I know there's no easy solution to what's happening to me. I think I just needed to get my thoughts and feelings 'out there' in a non judgemental and supportive place.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post.


8 Replies 8

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hey Ellie,

Welcome! I'm really glad you decided to put your thoughts and feelings up on the board, you're amongst virtual friends here and a lot of us have had difficulties with so many things we've been ashamed to talk about. I love it here, we can just blurt how we're feeling and no one judges - we're all the same.

It sounds like a pretty frightening thing you've been dodging for 10 years - that's got to be exhausting and no wonder you feel ashamed. It's hard to feel anything else when your mind prevents you from something so lovely.

You told us so so nicely what it felt like when you sat with the boy at school, I wonder what your thoughts were, do you recall?

Are you able to tune into the thoughts that babble away in your mind when you think about being close to a guy?

Because you're amongst anonymous friends is there anything about sex or a relationship that you can think of that would lead you to feel what seems to be anxiety?

Have you thoughts of visiting a counsellor or psychologist to explore what might be going on? 

There are lots of health professionals listen on the Beyond Blue website, "Get support", "Find a professional".

Stay in touch.



Community Member

I Paul - thanks for your response.

I can't remember any specific thoughts, I only remember the feeling. I've started seeing a psychologist recently and have talked to her about it.

I honestly don't know what is behind the fear I have. It might be driven by the fact that I have very low confidence, particularly in regards to my appearance. Perhaps it is due to the disrespectful way boys (and some girls) talked about girls in relation to sex when I was growing up (labelling them sluts, prudes etc). Maybe it's because I was very sensitive to the stories of domestic violence and rape that I read about in women's magazines (leading me to question whether love really existed). Maybe it's a combination of all these things or something else entirely. I really don't know.

All I do know for sure is that I was raised in a safe, loving environment and on a rational level I know there is nothing to be fearful of in the dating game. It's all very confusing as to why I am the way I am.


Community Member

Hi Ellie,

I feel as if I can relate to your situation. I'm a 22 year old female, and got over my anxiety/fear of intimacy and dating in April this year. I had my first boyfriend for several months last year. Because I was unable to relax in situations that involved kissing or other intimacy, he realised it wasn't going to work. He was four years older, so that may not have helped. He said he loved my personality and who I was, but just was struggling with my "rigidity". He said he thought we could have a break, and then try again. I ended up telling him weeks later that I just wanted to be friends, and he understood, and there were luckily no hard feelings.

Earlier this year I was hanging out with an interstate friend one night, who I had a bit of a crush on. We were sitting on his couch and watching a movie. He suddenly turned to me and started full-on kissing me. It happened really fast, and I just kissed him back. I stopped before the kissing got well beyond my level, and apologised. He was really understanding and just thought I was nervous. I ended up admitting to him my difficulty with this sort of stuff, and he was really good about it. We had a nice night, but he said we should just be friends as he lives interstate and our lives are quite different. I found this hard, but I knew he was right. That night helped me get over my fear of intimacy. Because this guy was more confident and really kind, he actually helped me relax a bit when I was kissing.

The month after this (in May this year), I started going out with a guy in my friendship group. It turns out that about half the group predicted it! He had liked me this way for a while, but wasn't sure about my feelings. I didn't think properly about it since the night I kissed my friend the month before. I don't like to rush things, and I am not someone who is impulsive. However, the night with my interstate friend helped to push me out of my comfort zone. It was important that it was with someone I knew and trusted though.

Soon it will have been six months that I've been with my boyfriend. I am really happy and I love him a lot, and he feels the same way. Like you, I could never see myself overcoming this fear of dating and intimacy, but I have! It could just take the right person to nudge you out of your comfort zone (best if you know them and trust them).

I just wanted to let you know that things can suddenly change 🙂


Community Member

Hi Ellie.  Something comes to mind after reading your post.  You said when you were growing up, girls who were considered 'easy' were called 'sluts'.  I can recall when I was growing up, a girl in our neighbourhood became pregnant, she was only about 14 (I think) that, then, was a no-no.  She was totally ostracised.  We read books, see movies about 'boy and girl meet, fall in love, get married, have children'.  In that order (I might add).  In reality, today, that doesn't happen.  More and more young girls are having children, some girls as young as 14 have children (baby's having babies).  It could be (not saying it is), but because you've been conditioned (as I was) that 'nice girls don't'.  When you're on a date, make sure before you go that the boy is not the 'pushy' type.  Kissing can be frightening if you think one of you is going to 'lose control'.  Respecting each other's feelings is paramount to enjoying each other's company.  I think once you start relaxing and enjoying his company, knowing he respects your boundaries, you will get past your fear. 

To have that boy kiss you at 14 would've been terrifying, knowing or waiting for what could happen.  When you meet 'Mister Right' believe me, you will 'know it' and you'll relax and enjoy being with him.  Because that hasn't happened yet, doesn't mean it won't.     


Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

dear Ellie, this is a topic on how so many people would feel during their dating, and no different to me as I met my wife (ex) through going to events with a mate who was dating her, and when they finally broke up my wife and I started to go out and I was almost 20, but too scared to date someone by myself.

This probably happened because I went to a private all boys school, and socialising with females never happened.

Prince charming may not appear straight away, but when someone does appear you could make them into a prince and you can decide, with your heart pounding away, to tell him just to be friends, and if they accept this, then they aren't only after one thing, then he's half way there to becoming your prince.

Men can read whether or not a female doesn't want to be spoken to, and then asked out, it's as clear as day, so you just have to try and change your facial expressions, that is, rather than looking down at the concrete, view what you see, and if you see someone who you really like keep focusing on them.

Can I suggest that you read this 'book on body language pdf', because it says a great deal on how humans behave, then this might give you some confidence. Geoff. x

Community Member

Hi SM,

Thanks for your reply. It certainly is comforting to know others have the same type of fears and have managed to overcome them. Best of luck to you and your boyfriend.

Community Member

Hi Pipsy,

I think that's probably a part of it. There were lots of confusing messages regarding sex and dating when I was growing up. When I was a child I was also exposed to a movie/program where a girl was raped/murdered by a group of 'friends'. I was really confused and horrified, and being such a sensitive person I wonder if this has caused some deep seated sub-conscious fears or beliefs.

Community Member

Thanks Geoff,

I do really hope I'll meet my prince one day, and that I'll be brave enough to open up my heart.

What a gorgeous little dog that is!