Dirty Talk Advice ColumnThe past is like a shadow—it can shrink or it can loom large, but it will never disappear entirely. Sometimes the past is a good thing, filled with cherished memories, but other times the shadow it casts is so heavy it affects our present. What does one do when their past is traumatic enough to cause panic attacks? How does one go about getting on top of such a thing?

Today’s column comes courtesy of a reader who is seeking a fresh start and new experiences but keeps getting ambushed by anxiety severe enough that they can’t breathe. Is there a way to be left breathless by epic threesomes, or will memories of the past always come knocking at the exact wrong time? SWING is looking for answers and the DT advice column has some! Buckle up, it is time to put trauma behind us and create new patterns.

“Physical intimacy is a touchy subject for me but I’m at a point in my life where I want to get to know myself, my desires and needs. I am now 38 and have been working with a therapist to overcome a deeply traumatic past. While my confidence has been probably the most challenging thing it’s going very well. I have severe trust issues but have been with an amazingly understanding partner for a while now. It took some time for me to let him touch me but we are in a very good space right now.

We are having a fantastic time…but every time the notion of a threesome comes up I panic. I still have an issue with people touching me. I don’t like it, my anxiety flares up and I panic to the point of not being able to breathe. I want to be able to do things like threesomes. My partner gave up his swinger lifestyle for me and it’s honestly something I really want to experience.

How can I overcome this thing of strangers touching me? Is there a way to start slowly or something? I feel like I’m missing out and worse, not giving him what he wants. He’s so wonderful and I trust him which says a lot! How do I get to the point of not panicking with the addition of someone new in the bedroom?”–Sexy Woman Is Now Game

I condensed your question SWING, but based on the background you gave me, you have come a very long way. Nevertheless, there is still a fair amount of trauma on your plate in the present day that is taking up a lot of room, more room than you want. The fact that you can get so panicked from a stranger’s touch that you lose the ability to breathe is going to make swinging a bit challenging.

Hopefully, Your Partner Isn’t Pressuring You Into Swinging

Looking At SwingingYour original letter contained much more details, but the one detail I am not clear on is who exactly is bringing up the notion of a threesome. Is it you? Or is it your partner? You say that every time the notion of a threesome comes up you panic. If it is your partner repeatedly bringing up the concept of a threesome despite the fact it’s triggering panic attacks for you, my answer is going to be much different than if it’s you who is bringing up the concept.

I am hoping it is not your partner that keeps broaching the topic but based on how understanding and patient you say he is, I’m going to guess it is something you are trying to get in the headspace to do with them. I’m making that guess due to you saying that you are concerned about not giving him what he wants and that he “gave up” his swinger lifestyle for you.

Shifting from a swinger lifestyle to getting into a relationship with someone that has past trauma severe enough that it takes a while before they can be touched is not something undertaken casually. Someone that takes a while before they can be touched is wildly different from a swinging lifestyle, and that your partner was willing to do so says a lot about them as a person. Your partner wouldn’t have done so if they were not deeply invested in a relationship with you.

Rather than looking at it as your partner “giving up” on a swinging lifestyle, think of it as a sign of just how much you mean to them. Being with you, past trauma, touch-induced panic attacks, and all is far more important to them than any threesome. Is there a way to get to a point where you are not panicking yourself breathless when a stranger touches you? Maybe. Hopefully.

Be Patient With Yourself

Self PressureThe most important piece of advice that I want to give you is to be patient with yourself. There isn’t a timeline for healing. You can’t rush these things. You mention that you are in therapy. Good! I want you to continue with that. From your letter, I could tell based on what you were saying and the way you were saying it, the panic attacks that leave you breathless and the fact that it took a while before your current partner could touch you that there is still stuff that needs to be worked on.

I don’t want this to discourage you! You’ve done an amazing job. You’ve made so much progress. You are on the right path and you cannot rush recovery. As nice as it would be to be on the other side of your trauma and to indulge in all of the threesomes your little heart desires, that’s not where you are at this exact moment. And that is ok. I promise.

You have a partner who is committed to you and didn’t touch you until you felt like you were in a trusting space with them. Trying to tackle threesomes while you are still getting panic attacks from a stranger’s touch is a bit overly ambitious, to be honest. We have to walk before we can run. Healing is a journey that is going to happen at its own pace and we have to make our peace with that fact. It simply isn’t the sort of thing that can be rushed. A very common technique is called exposure therapy, and that is what I want you to try.

Find Something Lower-Pressure To Explore Touch

Exploring TouchTry something more intermediate like a cuddle party or a negotiated massage session before you attempt to pull off a threesome. Be sure that the cuddle party or massage session is at a location and space in which you feel very safe. Be clear and honest about possible panic attacks with your potential cuddle partners. Might that drive someone away? Could some people decide they don’t want to risk a possible panic attack? Possibly. But it’s much better to have all the information going in so that people can make clear and informed decisions.

By being honest and clear about potential panic attacks, doing low-pressure touch in a safe and comfortable space, and taking your time, you will create new and different memories around touch and rewire your brain. Might you end up in a panic attack situation anyway the first time you try something like this? Yes. Of course. But much better to have a panic attack happen at a cuddle session with someone who is anticipating it than to have an attempted threesome at a swinging party go seriously sideways.

Once you have built up good memories around touch and are no longer panicking at a stranger’s touch, you can look into threesomes and swinging, but I want you to give yourself permission not to rush. I want you to be patient with yourself. And most importantly, I want you to be aware of just how far you’ve come already. You are doing great SWING, and I for one am immensely proud of you.

Keep it Kinky My Friends,

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Rain DeGrey

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