How to Build Trust (When Sex Hurts)

Published: October 10, 2022

Trust and sex.

Wait, those two things are connected? Can’t we just skip to the fun sex part? Well, for a long lasting relationship…no.

Trust is the foundation of every relationship, from your relationships at work, to your relationship with your mom or even your dog. Trust is especially the foundation of your most intimate relationship.

But what happens when trust gets broken? Often, couples trust each other in many aspects of their relationship, but when it comes to sex there’s a barrier to truly deeply trusting each other.

Maybe it’s a big trust breaker like infidelity or lack of commitment to working on the relationship. Or maybe it’s less obvious, like slowly chipping away at trust by not showing respect for your needs in the bedroom (or in life), or years of painful sex.

For this post, I’ll focus on how painful sex damages trust.

I’m going to narrow in on painful sex here because this is an important trust concept. No, your partner isn’t hurting you intentionally, but it still affects trust.

Imagine that you get allergy shots every week. And every time you go, the doctor sticks you in the arm with a needle and it hurts. Do you trust him not to hurt you? No. In fact, he hurts you every time. You may trust him with your health. You trust him with your privacy. You trust that he is a good person. But no, you don’t trust him not to hurt you.

This is similar to how a woman feels emotionally when sex has repeatedly been painful. Her brain recognizes the pattern: when sex happens, I hurt. It’s only natural to feel anxious and lose a little trust in the bedroom, even if you trust your partner everywhere else.

How do we build trust again?

I’ll give you 4 key elements to building trust in this situation:

  1. Make a resolution. Examine how you lost trust in the first place and resolve to stop doing that.
    Yes, that means if sex hurts, stop having sex (or trying to have sex). This is just temporary until you do the work to resolve that issue. If sex is not pleasurable, resolve to only have sex when you both are willing to put in the time and effort to make it pleasurable.
  2. Move slowly. I mean this both physically and emotionally. There is no magic bullet to building trust, it takes time. Build trust by physically moving slowly – I mean like a sloth. Fast movements (especially in the beginning) will increase pain every time.
  3. Be transparent. Say what you are going to do and then do it.
    Sometimes this means sticking to a schedule, for example doing your assigned therapy ;-). Other times this means saying what you are going to do in the bedroom, step by step, before making each movement.

    In all aspects of your relationship, transparency is respectful, thoughtful, decreases fear, and builds trust.

  4. Be receptive to feedback.
    Completely put down your defenses, remember that you are on the same team and be completely open and welcoming to feedback. Again, this improves all aspects of your relationship.

A great relationship is built on a solid foundation of trust, in the bedroom and everywhere else.

For more inspiration, check out why your sex life matters and for working on trust outside the bedroom, check out ways to build connection at home.

For a guide to a better self, a better relationship, and better sex. Check out my book on my site for a signed copy with a personal message or buy it on Amazon: Good Sex Requires More Than Just Doing It.

Book cover for Good Sex Requires More Than Just Doing It

If you’re looking for more ways to build trust and improve your intimate life, you can schedule an appointment to see me in real life, or  schedule email or video sessions and work with me online

7 Essentials for

Pain-Free, Feel-Good Sex

Pain with sex? Decreased desire, Arousal, and orgasm?

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Hi, I'm

Dr. Lauren Crigler.

I specialize in pelvic floor therapy, and have spent over a decade helping women have sex without pain.

I’m here to help you stop having pain and start really enjoying your sex life.

My favorite part of what I do is helping women reconnect with their partner. This isn’t just a job for me; it’s a passion!

Are you ready to look forward to Friday nights? If you want to have sex without vaginal or pelvic pain, you can work with me via professional coaching.