Sexual issues can easily surface in any relationship.
We all have different likes and dislikes and different desires and turn-offs. In truth, many, especially women, have never stopped to really think about what they want.
Unfortunately, letting your differences in sexual preferences take over your love life can lead to other problems in your relationship.
If you’re having trouble connecting sexually, it’s important to understand you’re not alone. Even healthy relationships have sexual struggles. But it’s also important to know that there are things you can do to get through the struggle.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to begin to understand your differences in sexual preferences and expectations. When you can identify and talk about them, you’ll likely notice a positive change in your entire relationship.
1. Do You Know What You Really Want?
You might think your sexual desires are just like anyone else’s. Or that there is just one way to get from A to Z. But, the truth is, our sexual template is as unique as our fingerprint. Sit back and think, even fantasize, about what your ideal sexual relationship would look like. Maybe it’s more affection, more fun, or more adventure. Maybe it’s less. Remember there is no right or wrong.
Once you have a clearer picture of your own preferences, it’s easier to express them. If you don’t fully understand them, you are likely to be dissatisfied, but not sure why or what to do about it.
2. Do You Know What Your Partner Wants?
Knowing what you want in a sexual relationship is only half the battle, though. Encourage your partner to ask themselves the same question. Then, take the time to learn their answers.
You may be surprised to learn that you have more in common, sexually, than you originally thought. Or, if you have huge differences in preferences, at least you’ll be able to openly discuss them. Communication is key!
3. What Are Your Desires With Regard to Non-Sexual Intimacy?
Non-sexual touch is an important aspect of a healthy sexual connection. Hugs, holding hands, cuddling and other comforting touch helps us to be more at ease with our partner. The more relaxed we can be the easier it is to transition to sexual intimacy.
Think about how often you engage in these behaviors. They can often be avoided when sexual connection isn’t desired because one is afraid of sending the wrong message. But this only deprives us of a basic human need. Think about how you can communicate when you want non-sexual versus sexual intimacy.
4. What Are Your Barriers to Intimacy?
It’s not uncommon for one partner (or both) to have emotional or physical barriers. Cultural influences, religious background, depression, anxiety, previous sexual experiences, among other things, might hold a partner back from fully experiencing sexual intimacy. This can cause a myriad of feelings including shame, guilt, sadness, loneliness and inadequacy, among other emotions.
Fortunately, the barriers don’t necessarily need to be resolved or go away to have a fulfilling sexual relationship. It’s important to identify and discuss them with your partner. The more open you are about them, the more you and your partner can work together.
5. What is the Correlation Between Your Emotional Connection and Your Sexual Connection?
Some couples might be emotionally disconnected and still be able to maintain a satisfying sexual relationship, but many may not. Most couples do have a sense for the delight in being both emotionally and physically connected, even if it doesn’t happen every time.
When the emotional connection is out of sync, some couples resort to engaging in two types of sex. Solace Sex is when one or both partners are seeking reassurance of their partners love for them. Sealed Off Sex is when one disengages from emotions just to take part in the physical aspect of sex. Too much of these types of sexual experiences can lead to heartache and frustration. (Read more in Hold Me Tight, by Sue Johnson.)
Explore how staying emotionally connected impacts your sexual relationship. You might make some exciting discoveries!
6. Can You Effectively Communicate the Above?
What do you communicate about your sexual desires and what do you keep hidden? Give it a try and see how it goes. Sometimes, differences in sexual preferences just can’t be worked out on your own. That’s okay. It doesn’t mean your sex life is doomed.
Our staff can compassionately offer support and guidance. Even though it may be awkward at times, talking about it with a professional can make a big difference.
If you’re struggling with your sex life due to different preferences and expectations, seeing a counselor may be just what you need. Together, you can work through some of these differences and make your sex life better than ever before.
The more you know about what your partner’s expectations are, the better. It would be our pleasure to help you understand each other, help you through any barriers and get to the bottom of your sexual differences. Please, feel free to contact us.