All sorts of problems can drive a couple to go to a sex therapist, but professionals tend to see certain issues come up time and time again. So, I asked sex therapists what the most common sexual problems they encounter are and how to deal with them.
According to Dr. Fran Walfish, Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist, one problem underlying basically all of these issues is poor communication. "Each partner needs to feel safe and comfortable saying what feels good and what doesn’t, what they like and do not like, what they want and don’t want from their partner," she tells Bustle. In order to encourage better communication around sex, she suggests making time to take turns talking and listening with no interruptions. And though it may be difficult, it can also help for you to let each other know it's OK to express anger toward each other, knowing it won't drive the other person away. Use "I" statements to talk about your own feelings, and accept your partner's feelings unconditionally rather than judging their accuracy, because no emotion is right or wrong.
If you've got this down, you're already a step closer to solving couples' most common sex problems. Here are a few more and how therapists recommend solving them.
1. Lack Of Pleasure
Davondra Brown, M.Ed., tells Bustle that many of the people she counsels on their sex lives complain about lack of sensation. "Usually the problem is mental and not physiological," she says. "They are focusing on the outcome and trying to get to orgasm instead of focusing on the pleasure of the act." To counter this, she advises people to forget about the destination and enjoy the journey by tuning into what their bodies are feeling.
2. Fizzling Desire
Clinical psychologist Dr. Carla Marie Manly sees many couples who complain about lack of desire from one partner or both. Often, sexual disconnect comes from emotional disconnect, she tells Bustle. This can happen when couples get set in routines or when they have negative emotions toward each other due to unresolved fights or issues from their past. So, if your desire is fizzling, it might help to shake things up in your relationship or work through any emotional problems you're harboring.
3. Anxieties Around Porn
Many people approach psychologist Nicole Prause, Ph.D. about partners' porn habits when they're not actually unhealthy. There are many reasons people might masturbate that have nothing to do with lack of interest in their partner (they're too tired for sex, they just find it fun, etc.), she tells Bustle. This shouldn't be any cause for concern.
4. Mismatched Libidos
Astroglide's Resident Sexologist Dr. Jess encounters many couples who don't want the same amount of sex. Couples in this situation can either compromise on a middle ground, default to the preference of the person with lower desire and have the other masturbate more, or, if they want to, take some steps to increase the sex drive of the person who desires sex less. These steps might include increasing physical fitness, reducing stress, watching porn or reading erotic books to get turned on, or telling their partners what they'd like to do more of in bed.
5. One-Sided Sex
Dr. Jess also sees a lot of couples get used to one person initiating the sex, which can make that person feel undesired. To rectify this, the person who usually initiates can tell the other one that they'd like them to initiate more and explain how and why they'd like them to do this. "'I would love you to throw me down on the couch or wake me with a kiss' is going to be more positively received than 'You never initiate. I’m sick of doing all the work,'" she says.
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