To resolve these issues in therapy we need to work on the relationship dynamics in general, sex being a mirror of what is going on between the couple. But part of the problem can also be the narratives we believe or buy into about sex, e.g.,
- Sex should always be spontaneous
- Sex is only for love
- Both partners should orgasm, every time, preferably together (and she should have more than one)
- Male sexuality is simple, women are more complicated
- Women want intimacy and men just want to get laid
- Men always want it
- Women are much more monogamous than men.
Women, on the other hand, want to be the turn on. When I have worked with partners where the man has erectile problems, often the woman feels like there must be something wrong with her if he can’t do it. If she was more of a turn on, then there would be no problem. As New York relational therapist Esther Perel says, “The secret of female sexuality is how narcissistic it is”. So much of her life is about connecting with and caring for others, so for her to have good sex she needs to think of nobody but herself. For many women, it is a struggle to be that selfish and confident, but if they have an affair where they are free of their normal roles and responsibilities, suddenly they find themselves having great sex. With her lover she is interesting and wanted and she sees herself as desirable, and that’s a huge turn on.
All of this doesn’t mean that couples in a long-term relationship can’t have great sex. Quite the opposite. In therapy we explore and begin to understand the narratives that feel safe, but that constrain us, and then couples can be freed up to write a new story. Together.
If the subject matter in this article resonates with you, then counselling might be a good option to help you to move forward. I offer a free 20-minute consultation so we can explore how I might be able to help you.