My sexual partners are always people I find unattractive – why? | Life and style

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I am a 20-year-old gay man and my sex life is bringing my mood down. I tend to meet guys to whom I am not attracted physically or in any other way. I feel that I do this because I am scared to be validated and judged by someone who I do find attractive. Doing this makes me think less about sex; I don’t feel good afterwards and it is reducing my sex drive. I simply can’t bring myself to meet someone I do find attractive. I think I am sabotaging myself subconsciously, and that’s why I go for guys I find unattractive.

You deserve to feel safe and confident in your sexuality, and to have partners with whom you can truly enjoy sex. You are very young – at the beginning of your sexual life with others – and it is understandable that you should experiment with different kinds of people and situations. But there is an element of self-abuse in what you are doing, and it is important that you take better care of your body and mind. Some people fall into this behaviour because they feel pressured by their social circle into engaging in sex with strangers before they are ready. You do not have to do this.

Examine the roots of the self-loathing you seem to be experiencing, and do not allow it to control your sexuality. You do not like the way you’re going about things, so change. Never bypass your distaste with someone to have sex with them; just walk away. Try approaching this formative time of sexual discovery as more of an attempt to form genuine personal connections with other men – which may, or may not, lead to sex after you get to know them. Eventually, you will have achieved enough self-confidence and self-appreciation to be able to summon true desire and act on it.

  • Pamela Stephenson Connolly is a US-based psychotherapist who specialises in treating sexual disorders.

  • If you would like advice from Pamela on sexual matters, send us a brief description of your concerns to [email protected] (please don’t send attachments). Submissions are subject to our terms and conditions: see gu.com/letters-terms.

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