Shame and Intimacy

There are many different reasons why people feel shame around sexuality and intimacy. In this post, we will focus on one reason, which is what we have been taught. In families in which bodies are taught to be dirty and sexual desire is to be avoided at any cost until marriage, shame can raise its head as an adult tries to have intimacy in adult relationships.

I remember when I was pregnant many people told me, “I hope you do not have a girl because she might get pregnant, and then what?” They were assuming that my unborn child, if a girl, might get herself pregnant and so become a problem for me. Little did they know or remember, I was born to an unwed mother, and I certainly do not consider myself a mistake or a burden. Quite the contrary, I feel quite accomplished, independent, and proud of whom I have become.

Those messages spoken to me are but one example of just how we are shaped to understand gender, bodies, and sexuality by our society. Some of these messages are: Women are temptresses and will get pregnant; men only want sex and so they objectify women.

With those messages bombarding us, many feel shame about sexual feelings. They struggle in their sexual relationships and feel they do not know how to truly accept their desires in a way that is healthy.

Can I take you on a journey for a moment?

Imagine the first time you felt shame around sexuality. How old were you? Where were you? What did that little boy or girl need to hear? What did you need to have happen at that moment to not feel shame?

Take a moment and think about it; picture it. Can you tell yourself what the “child” in you needs to hear? Can you say “what you are feeling is normal” or “you’re ok.” Say whatever you think needs to be said at this moment to your inner child.

How did that feel? What did you notice? Having these “mini-talks” with yourself can be a small step in healing from sexual shame. Talking about it in a community that loves and supports you is another way to free yourself from sexual shame. Shame cannot survive when it is surrounded by love and acceptance.

Where are you when it comes to sexuality and shame? Are you carrying shame concerning your sexuality, body, or desires that is hindering your ability to engage in intimate relationships? Is shame hindering you to accept yourself? If so, there is help! There are blogs out there like “” that strive to create a community where you can find others just like you! There are also sex therapists that can help you overcome the pain of shame. Today can be a start of a journey to put sexual shame in its proper place: gone and without power!

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    Kimberly Castelo, LMFT, CST, CIIP


    Annie, Clinical Intern