As a Relationship & Sex Therapist, I help people daily who are struggling with their relationships & sex lives. Quite often, shame is at the root of their struggle.
Their shame may be rooted in early childhood experiences and sometimes it's a result of sexuality struggles as an adult.
By the time they come to see me, the shame may have trickled into their relationship, blocking their ability to enjoy healthy sex lives together.
The most troubling situations are when partners have begun to sexually shame one another.
Sometimes it's a result of frustration and anger and sometimes it's, merely, a result of misinformation.
The most challenging scenarios are when shaming has transformed into ongoing verbal, emotional, and/or physical abuse.
Here's What Your Therapist Wants You to Know - if you're going to have a healthy, mutually-satisfying, pleasure-based relationship then you should never sexually shame your partner, especially, about these three (3) areas:
- Their Sexual Past: Whether your partner had zero sexual partners before they met you or 100 sexual partners before they met you, you should never use their sexual past against them. Yes, its important to know about their sexual history in order to make informed decisions about your sexual health, but not to serve as leverage in positioning yourself as morally superior over them. Your partner is an autonomous individual who had a life before they met you not just a co-creator of your relationship. If their sexual history is something you can't get past then you may have to reevaluate your choice to be in a relationship with them, but it should never be used as ammunition during an argument.
- Their "Sexual Performance": If you're unsatisfied with your partner's ability to contribute to your sexual pleasure then learn to help guide them on what it is you desire, but never ridicule them for their inability to meet your expectations. First of all, make sure you know what you want and what brings your body pleasure. Second, make sure your expectations are realistic. What are you basing the expectations on? Porn? Past Lovers? Friends' advice? Make sure your expectations are not rooted in fantasy. Helping guide your partner on what brings you pleasure is key, but condemning them for not meeting your expectations is a surefire way to shut down your partner's ability to be vulnerable with you. This may be difficult to accept but it's not your partner's responsibility to bring you to orgasm. It's your responsibility to understand what feels good to your body and then communicating that to your partner. Repeat after me, "I am responsible for my own pleasure."
- Their Sexual Fantasies & Desires: Contrary to popular belief, we can't always explain why something turns us on. Kinky fantasies aren't necessarily pathological. This can often be unsettling when these sexual desires don't fall in line with the mainstream. If your partner opens up to you about a sexual fantasy or desire they have that you find unsettling, pause and breathe before responding. Remember, they trust you enough to share that fantasy with you which means they feel comfortable being vulnerable with you. Honor that. Second, a fantasy is just that - a fantasy, it doesn't necessarily mean you have to act it out. Instead, try being curious about what your partner is sharing and attempt to learn more. This doesn't mean you are obligated to act out the fantasy, but this may be an opportunity to deepen your emotional intimacy with them.
When couples are able to have an ongoing dialogue about their sex lives that leaves room for change and exploration within the boundaries of their relationship they are more likely to have experiences that bring each of them satisfaction. This isn't always easy because talking about sex is often taboo even between sexual partners. If you find yourself struggling to get past any of the areas cited above then working with a psychotherapist that specializes in sexuality, like Your Favorite Therapist, may help you address the issues in a respectful, compassionate, and productive way. This can lead to deeper intimacy and better sex. Overall, your relationship will be better off for it!
Have fun exploring and remember - no shaming one another!
XO - Your Favorite Therapist - Eliza
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DISCLAIMER: THE RELATIONSHIP & SEXUAL WELLNESS CENTER blog is not intended to be a substitute for legal, ethical or medical consultation or for treatment and is strictly for educational and entertainment purposes. Nothing found on the website or email is a substitute for professional psychological, psychiatric or medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical or mental health condition.