Pain and Intimacy Don’t Mix

When I became ill I was not in a relationship. Now I can’t see how it will ever be possible to start a relationship.

I’m in pain every minute of every day. That’s not exactly conducive to fulfilling my carnal or emotional needs or responding to those of another person. But to get those needs fulfilled I’d first have to have desires. I have none. I don’t think about being with anyone. Not kissing. Not touching. Not having sex.

I spend my days trying to focus on doing the most basic activities – showering, dressing, taking medication, eating, sleeping – so thoughts of intimacy rarely make it to the front of my mind. If they do, they are in the form of longings about what used to be; with a resigned acceptance that I may never experience the comforts and pleasures of a relationship again.

My friends try to reassure me that my illness doesn’t have to rob me of a full life that includes being close to and sharing my life with someone else. I’ve also been told that I need to expand my definition of what sex is to include more than intercourse. But the issue isn’t just the act of sex. I’m in so much pain all the time I can’t imagine someone touching me or getting close to me with physical intimacy being the goal. Besides, I’m taking so much pain medication I don’t know if I could think clearly long enough to get to know someone sufficiently to decide if I would want to be in a relationship with them.

So what do I do? How do I pursue intimacy knowing that I might not be able to make my body follow the will of my mind? And worse still, what happens if the pain never gives me a break so I can think, talk, and act on behalf of my desires when they show up?

U2 – Desire


11 thoughts on “Pain and Intimacy Don’t Mix

  1. I can relate to this quite a bit! I’m not sure if you have ever been by my blog, but I suffer with chronic pain and then some every damn day of my life. I also recently got married, when I didn’t think it was possible or would ever happen 3 years ago. I think if you focus on just living your life, love will find its way to you when the time is right, Or if you’re like me, it will come when you least expect it. The key is to stay open to the idea and if someone comes along, see where it goes. You never know! The right person will just naturally fall into place in your life and will accept you as you are and love you for it. Most people who suffer from chronic pain, in my opinion, are some of the strongest people out there. 🙂


    • Thanks Kellie.
      I’m happy you were able to find someone to share your life with.
      I wasn’t necessarily thinking about marriage. I’m thinking about simpler things like going on a date, kissing, holding hands or maybe a bit of sex 🙂
      I rarely think about any of that because I’m so consumed by pain.
      I’m in the process of figuring out my life with pain and a relationship or intimate contact doesn’t fit


  2. The only long-term relationship I’ve ever had is with my pain… Is a long-term, intimate relationship one of your goals in life? If so, maybe it’s time to reassess. Re-define the words “intimate” and “relationship.”

    Do you think there are others out there who are suffering from pain and also feel no hope for an intimate relationship? Or are you hoping to find someone who’s not broken and can concentrate on taking care of you?


    • This post isn’t about feeling hopeless, feeling broken, or wanting someone to take care of me.

      If I wasn’t clear it’s about having my senses and body so numbed from being in constant pain and taking so much pain medication that I feel nothing I can call desire. I have intimate friendships. I’m talking about a different kind of human interaction that would require me to feel like I want to be physically close to someone else. I can’t even go for a massage let alone think of someone touching me intimately.

      And I have no idea how others suffering from pain may feel. I can only talk about me, and what I’m living with, and how I feel.


      • I’m sorry if you took offense at my comment. Your post sounded like you were saying that you’re broken — why else would you need all that pain medication? But, if the pain medication has had these kinds of effects, maybe you should lower the dosage.

        At my pain levels, I don’t like to be touched either. I gave up relationships and sex about 20 years ago because of the pain. So, I guess it depends on what is more important to you — managing your pain or having an intimate relationship. Although, one can have and do both, if you’re lucky and try hard enough. I’m sure you’ll figure it out.

        And maybe if you wondered what others suffering from pain feel about issues like this, you might get a little more insight into different ways of managing your own pain.


        • I didn’t take offense. Although, I think you may not understand what I wrote in my post.
          I never used the word “broken” to describe myself or my situation.
          Not only that, why do you feel like you’re in a position to comment about my pain medications? You don’t know the combination of what I’m taking or why. There are days when I’m in so much pain I can barely stand up straight even with the strict schedule of meds I’m on. Furthermore, without meds I wouldn’t be able to live independently as limited as my life has become.


  3. Well in that case, I should also add that I have many moments where I don’t want to be touched, much less have sex because I’m already so consumed by pain and anything else is just too much. So, your not alone in that.


  4. Pingback: Who the fuck am I? | All Things Chronic

  5. Yeh, it’s really hard to think about being in a relationship when you have illness issues. It’s like trying to go for a job interview and present your best side when you don’t have the drive to do that. I hear you. I’ve often wondered how I’d be able to find a mate if I didn’t already have one. He’s more of a platonic roommate now, but I’m glad to have at least the companionship.


    • Not having regular companionship is getting difficult.
      When I talk to anyone on the phone or see people I’m a chatterbox because I don’t have human contact every day. I’m not sure how I’m going to deal with it if this turns out to be a permanent way of life for me.
      I’m glad you have company 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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