How is it that sex, something so magical and intimate, can once feel like an act of pure connection and pleasure, then seemingly turn into an overwhelming topic that only creates tension, insecurity, rejection and discomfort in your relationship? Many couples suffer from intimacy “issues” and I often hear complaints by my clients in regards to “incompatible sex drives.” This can often lead to arguments, full-blown resentment and even affairs, as the lack of understanding the underlying issues of each other’s sexual needs, desires, and (especially) discomfort and expectations fall to the waist-side.
My approach to understanding physical intimacy is largely influenced by the emotional security and understanding of each other within the relationship. This doesn’t mean that sex has to become rigid and overly emotional, but it does mean that in order for both parties to feel desire and passion, emotional vulnerability is truly key. Can you trust your partner? Do you feel they really understand you (or want to?) Do you feel the commitment you have to each other is sacred? Do you enjoy your relationship, feel appreciated and acknowledged?
Sexual issues within a relationship are most often a symptom of a deeper problem. Identifying what that may be requires personal reflection, but also involves strengthening your communication and challenging yourself to be open about your own feelings about love, sex, and overall emotions.
While sex may have felt “easy” and safe in the beginning of your relationship, it may now cause conflict between you and your partner. It may feel like an obligation; it may feel overwhelming or not reciprocated; you may feel rejected, embarrassed or frustrated.
(Relax… this is quite normal and here’s what you can do about it).
First thing’s first. Get clarification!
Don’t be afraid to ask your partner about sex, even if you feel these are things you should already know.
What does sex represent to them? How do they feel they show love and feel connected to you? How important is sex? How often do they expect it? What helps create the mood for them? How does it make them feel when sex isn’t fully enjoyable or when it isn’t present in your relationship? How comfortable with sex do they feel they are? How do they view intimacy and is that important to them? What specific things really turn them on? What are their biggest fantasies? Most importantly, are they feeling connected to you on all other levels of your relationship?
All of these questions about sex in relationships require trust, honesty, and vulnerability. All of these questions embody truths that outline your partners underlying meaning(s) of your relationship, sex in its entirety, and how they feel about themselves in relation to sex with you. Answering these questions may allow you both to uncover the hidden issues that haven’t been discussed or fully understood, which have been displaced onto the topic of sex in your relationship.
Communicating about sex in relationships is part of strengthening your entire connection and can even positively affect your self-esteem and sex drive. Good sex, along with other elements of your relationship, take effort, patience and emotional vulnerability for both members.
Sex may feel like a dark cloud hovering over your bed, but once you start understanding the elements that have contributed to it, you may find that it’s an opportunity to really bond with each other, rather than be the percieved cause of disconnection. You may also uncover each other’s perception of sex altogether which can be very helpful when identifying each other’s needs and overall differences that have been fueling the disconnection.
Bottom line, “sex” changes as the relationship changes and it’s important to realize that sex in relationships may have underlying meanings to each person that aren’t easy to address. Best practice is to remember that if sex in your relationship is creating anxiety and frustration, there is a good chance that both partners aren’t feeling secure in their relationship.
If you are struggling with sex in relationships and live in the Denver area, feel free to contact Alysha Trujillo with Modern Love Counseling.