“We haven’t had sex in months. This is not what I signed up for, when we got together five years ago.”
These words from a past client, ring in my head now and then, when I think about couples who are dissatisfied with their sex lives.
You can feel in this sentiment, the utter frustration he felt when it came to his unmet expectations.
Over those five years, his experience of their sex life changed, or more than likely, the conversation about sexual compatibility never occurred. This is often the case in new relationships when things are novel and exciting.
He wasn’t experiencing what was important to him, or in other words he and his partner didn’t share the same sex and intimacy values.
I asked him, “Have you and your partner ever explicitly discussed what’s important to each of you when it comes to sex and intimacy? What do you both value in your experience together?”
Have YOU ever talked with your partner about what’s important to you in your sexual and intimate life together?
When you know the answer to these questions, you can explore how to get your values met.
If your values differ (which many do), how do you accommodate those differences?
Talking about sex is one of the most difficult conversations a couple can have. I’d like to offer you a framework you can use to guide your exploration, and hopefully make it a little bit easier.
1 – Identify Your Sex and Intimacy Values
Below are just some of the values that could be part of your preferred experience of sex and intimacy. I’m sure you could add to it (feel free to add any additional values that are important to you).
Which ones stand out to you?
Maybe you want them all (I do 😉), but for this exercise, choose your top 5 and write them down.
Physical Affection – Cuddling, hugging, PDA, hand holding etc.
Presence (present moment attentiveness, listening with interest, )
Passion (letting go into desire, taking and being taken)
Sensuality (touching for pleasure, massage, sensation exploration)
Spontaneity (unplanned sexy time, initiating through surprise or opportunity)
Planned sex (setting a day and time, putting it on the schedule, prioritizing sex)
Playfulness ( humor, laughter, lightness, games, letting your inner child out to play)
Confirmation bias. We all have it. We experience it every day in the news, in our politics, in our workplace, and most directly in our relationships, where partners can suffer the consequences of confirmation bias on a daily basis. When it comes to our relationship it makes sense then that our brains are far more skilled at noticing what’s wrong with our partner, than what’s right.
Vulnerability is actually a gift that descends upon us when we stop pretending to have it all together and admit to our human flaws and fragility. It’s a gift we give to ourselves and our partner, because it shifts our state from one of closed-off superficiality, to one of feeling and deep sharing. When one partner in a couple opens the door to vulnerability, they create space for their partner to join them there, and it’s in that space of shared vulnerability where hearts connect and intimacy is experienced.
Sex is probably one of the hardest things to talk about with a partner. It’s easy to take things personally because sex is deeply personal. Confessing your desires and asking for what you want takes courage and trust that your partner is going to hold your feelings with care. If sex is difficult for you to talk about the best thing to do is to start talking, but do it in a way that keeps you both feeling heard and understood.
One of the most defining moments in my life was losing a brother when I was 14 years old. One day he was there, and the next day he was gone. Life's big lessons are irrefutable, and usually hold within them great wisdom. When you lose a family member, you never forget that impermanence is built into existence, and with every loss comes a second lesson which is equally important to understand. Here’s the confronting truth about life that’s hard to avoid, but easy to ignore. You’re going to lose everything and everyone you care about in life.