Desire Discrepancy – How Sex Therapy Can Help
Sex is a powerful way for people to bond, play, and experience intimacy with one another. But what happens when one partner in the relationship desires sex more or less often than the other(s)? This common occurrence can leave partners feeling alone, misunderstood, resentful, insecure, or hopeless. Wondering whether the relationship is doomed or if there is something wrong with them or their partner(s). Eager to find a solution but lacking the language and understanding to get there.
Almost every relationship will experience desire discrepancies at some point. The good news is that this is perfectly normal, expected, and manageable! Relationships counsellor and/or sex therapy can be an incredibly helpful way to address this issue.
What is a Sex Therapist?
A sex therapist is a certified mental health professional who helps people navigate sexual difficulties or dysfunction that are not a result of a physical issue. Sex therapists address underlying mental, emotional and relational issues that may be causing the sexual problems you are dealing with.
Common issues they help clients with are:
· Low desire
· Erectile dysfunction
· Anxiety related to sex
· Difficulty becoming aroused or reaching orgasm
· Sex after trauma
· Desire discrepancy
· Arousal non-concordance
· Sexual pain
· Exploring kinks & fetishes
· And more…
What You Can Expect in a Sex Therapy Session
If you and your partner have mismatched sex drives and are considering seeing a sex therapist, you no doubt have a lot of questions. What will it be like? Will you feel awkward and embarrassed? How much detail should you share?
The following are some things you can expect during a sex therapy session:
First... So many Questions!
In order for a trained therapist to help you with your problem, you and your partner(s) will need to be pretty open about your sex life. A good therapist will make you comfortable, ease into the conversation, and will never encourage you to share information that feels unsafe. However, your therapist can only help with the information they have, so be prepared to open up and honestly answer questions eventually.
They will likely start with an exploration of when sex has felt good in your relationship, what you enjoyed about sex at that time, when things started to change, what each partner understands as “the problem,” what sex looks like in your relationship, and how you have tried to resolve the issue. It is also common for sex therapists to take a sexual history of the partners involved. This might be done together or in individual sessions.
Seeing Your Doctor
Since a sex therapist is trained to tackle sexual issues from a mental, emotional, and relational angle, they may suggest you make an appointment with your doctors to have some bloodwork and other potential tests conducted. This is done to rule out any biological conditions that might be causing the issues, such as hormone imbalances.
Sometimes it can be beneficial to access complimentary therapies to assist with sexual issues. If you or a partner experiences significant anxiety during sex, pain with sex, or significant changes to anatomy or sensation post-partum, after surgical procedures, or after cancer, your sex therapist might encourage a referral to a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist, a Gynecologist, or a Urologist.
Seeking individual counselling might be encouraged for one or more partners throughout the process. Individual counselling can assist in processing trauma, repairing trust in the body, processing shame and guilt, exploring sexuality, kinks or fetishes, or navigating infidelity.
Therapy is more effective when the couple continues to do the work at home in-between sessions. For every 1 hour per week that you spend with your therapist, there are 167 hours outside of therapy where most of the change will happen. Your therapist will likely provide suggestions and instructions for at-home conversations or activities for partners to explore together or individually.
The idea of sex therapy can be intimidating, but an expert counsellor will make it feel like a gentle process that ultimately helps you and your partner(s) understand each other better and feel closer. If you’d like to find out more, please reach out to us on our website!
Nagoski, E. (2021). Come as you are: The surprising new science that will transform your sex life. Simon and Schuster Paperbacks.