I am sad to realise that most of us find it very difficult to communicate our sexual desires and wishes to our partner. There is so much fear of stigmatisation and sexual shame. People often come to see me and start off being very reluctant to talk about sexual problems such as desire discrepancy, loss of libido, performance anxiety and anorgasmia. It may be a little awkward when we first start talking about presenting issues but as we progress it becomes easier and safer to communicate and much useful information is revealed.
Sexual problems affect both people in the relationship, not just the person who may be experiencing difficulties. If a couple are unable to discuss problems in the bedroom, its unlikely they will be able to solve them. This can lead to what I call the Naked Awkward Moment. The moment when things don’t go to plan, everyone is naked and doesn’t know what to say or what to do. *Tumbleweeds* Lets face it, none of us enjoy a moment like that and it can lead to avoidance of sex and subsequently intimacy as people struggle to steer clear of finding themselves in a situation like that again.
Anxiety is the cause of many sexual issues and anxiety fears seem to be rooted in the “What if ….” question(s). When I am working with clients to address sexual anxieties and problems I often get them to work together and develop a Fall Back Plan … a plan or a number of different endings to the story in case things go wrong. For example: What if I lose my erection? Well we can:
- shake hands and say “see you here again tomorrow”
- take a shower together
- I could do something to make my partner's eyes roll back in their head
- we could lie and cuddle and see what happens
- we could stroke each other or use other methods to reach orgasm (or not)
Its up to the couple to devise the many different endings to the story. Once they have done this they can feel confident that if they get into bed and any anxious thinking arises, they will know the answer to the dreaded “What if” question. This not only helps them feel more confident but it also allows them to be more present in their interactions, rather than off in the future in a potential catastrophe.
People often put off talking about sexual issues with their partner for fear of upsetting them or making them feel awkward. Its important to remember that feeling awkward may only last for a minute or two and then a fruitful conversation can be had. Better to feel awkward momentarily than to avoid intimacy altogether?