Who’s talking about sex?
Did you know that sexual dysfunction and dissatisfaction is more common than anxiety and depression combined in the mental health field? When you work with couples regularly, it is extremely common for sexual issues to come up. Sexual issues can be a multitude of things: mismatched desire, little time for sex, pornography, fetishes, extra-marital affairs (EMA’s), cybersex/cyber affairs, sexual trauma with one or both partners, problems with desire, physiological problems and more.
Given that sexual problems are so common, we need to talk about it more and normalize these problems for everyone.
What should sex be?
Part of the problem is our expectations of what we think sex should be. What most people don’t know is that sex is mostly asynchronous with couples (sex is better for one person in the couple). This is normal and this is common. Less than 50% of couples experience synchronous sex and even with those couples, around 5-15% of those sexual encounters will be dysfunctional or dissatisfying. Synchronous sex is when both partners experience desire, pleasure, and eroticism. This does not mean simultaneous orgasm or that both partners have to orgasm. In fact, the idea of the simultaneous orgasm as the thing to achieve is false.
Another Sex Myth
Another myth is that people think spontaneous sex is often the best sex. However, planned sex is actually an excellent idea because it creates positive anticipation. To better explain this concept, think about how you look forward to going to your favorite restaurant or favorite concert. It’s the same idea with sex! It also gives you time to prepare for how you want the encounter to be. When people are in the dating phase and don’t live together if they know a date may end in sex, think about how exciting that is for them. They are looking forward to the experience, in the mood and the desire has already started before the event has occurred.
Was it good for you?
We may set ourselves up for disappointment when we have unrealistic expectations for our sexual encounters and it makes sense that we have them. We are bombarded with ideas of what “perfect sex” is supposed to be like through the media and pornography.
Sex Therapy, anyone?
There are many ways a therapist that is trained in sex therapy can help couples experience more desire and pleasure in their sexual relationship. Sex therapy can break the myths and expectations the couple has together and individually, can give exercises to help the couple in the areas they need, and help work through the deeper issues that underly many sexual problems. And remember, it’s a good idea to have a glass of wine (if that’s your thing) before sex!
Great Books on Sex
Some great books on sex that were recommended to me by some of the best sex therapists (Tammy Nelson and Barry McCarthy are):
- On women’s sexuality: Come as You Are by Emily Nagoski
- On affairs: Getting Past the Affair by Douglas Snyder, Donald Baucom and Kristina Coop Gordon
- On premature ejaculation: Coping with Premature Ejaculation by Barry McCarthy and Michael Metz
- How to build great sexual communication skills: Getting the Sex You Want by Tammy Nelson