Sexually Unsatisfied? It’s Time to Talk

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Does sex with your mate feel like a chore? Is your partner showing less interest? Are you feeling less intimate after making love? Not interested at all? Has sexual spontaneity or excitement gone missing from your relationship? Maybe it’s time to have a talk with your sweetie.

If there have been changes in your or your mate’s desire for sex, less than satisfying intimate moments, awkward sex … don’t beat yourself or your sweetie up about it … it happens to the best of us, the strongest relationships included. Low libido can happen at certain times throughout a relationship … in new relationships, established ones, with married couples – whether you’re pushing middle age and beyond or are a member of the millennial generation.

 

When to Bring Up the Subject

There’s not a right or wrong time to bring up the “S” topic, naturally. It’s more like identifying a feel for when it’s the right time. Use your judgment, your intuition, your understanding of your mate. You’ll discover the appropriate moment. Just try not to keep putting it off and let the problem fester.

Try not to blindside or make it seem like you’re being critical of a recent sexual session gone bad. For example, it might not be a good idea to launch into a discussion while you’re both lying in bed in the middle of lovemaking or just after a failed or unsatisfactory session. Find a neutral time and maybe a neutral location. You’ll know when.

Ease into a discussion. Maybe a related topic is a good segue. Maybe something s/he said triggers the right moment to broach the subject. One thing can lead to another and before you know it …

 

When Talking Is Difficult

If you’re not used to talking about sex, start with a general discussion. Maybe talk about a hot video you both watched. Ask your partner what s/he liked about it. Tell your partner what you liked about it.

Share some reading material on the subject; a book or online article to get the discussion rolling. Just be sensitive to your mate’s reaction to ideas found in outside sources. Share your discoveries, and assure your mate you’re looking to help the relationship and want to share your findings with him/her.

Your talk might take place over several sessions. You might have short generalized discussions over time. As your talks about sex become easier, more natural, steer the discussion to a more personal level. Begin expressing your own feelings and experiences.

Maybe talking in third person would make it easier to say what’s on your mind: “I like it when you stroke my hair.” Or try a hypothetically speaking approach: “If I were to do this, what would be your reaction?”

Another way to get the ball rolling is by writing down your thoughts and feelings and then sharing it with your mate. You could invite your mate to do the same. Then you could discuss how you each feel about what the other wrote.

 

Don’t Avoid It

Having difficulty talking about your sex life is one thing; avoiding it is another. If your partner doesn’t want to have the discussion, ask why. Is it a bad time? Do they need to take time to think through their thoughts first? Does it make them uncomfortable?

If your partner refuses to talk about it at all, sure, it does raise a red flag. But don’t panic and jump to conclusions. Their refusal doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re involved with the wrong person and need to end the relationship. Not to minimize the situation, view it as a temporary setback, a cog in the wheel of your relationship that can be fixed. Be optimistic. Be upbeat. Show you are confident that there is a solution.

Some possible reasons why your mate doesn’t want to talk about it: past history of abuse, depression, not feeling well, work stress, overloaded schedule, recent weight gain might make them self-consciousness about their body.

Just don’t sweep problems aside. Issues need to be addressed. Running away from talking about sexual problems doesn’t fix anything. The problem won’t go away on its own. Not facing it can even make it worse.

If your mate won’t budge – even after a fair amount of hints and coaxing – you might have to kick it up a notch. Put your mate on alert that bringing up sexual problems is deeply important to you or express how it makes you feel when they refuse to discuss it. Tell them you’re concerned there might be a serious rift in the relationship if they continue refusing to talk about it.

If your sweetie seems anxious about a discussion, if you feel you’re kicking up a hornet’s nest of emotions, you might suggest getting a therapist involved to help guide the discussion in productive and non-combative ways.

 

How to Have the Talk

Ok. Now that you’ve got a discussion rolling, learn to express what you want and don’t want in bed. It’s so important to communicate your sexual desires to your partner.

Be understanding, not critical. Don’t blame. Don’t push your sweetie into defense mode. Try not to criticize your mate’s performance or self-berate yourself. Keep your sense of humor and levity. Be loving and informal. Try to go for a mixture of seriousness and lightheartedness.

Ask questions. Have they enjoyed sex with other partners? If yes, how was sex with other partners different? If no, ask why. Is there something you enjoy that your mate doesn’t know about? Have you considered what you like and don’t like and shared it with them?

Satisfying sex doesn’t materialize overnight – at least not after you get past the initial love-struck stage. Ironing out the sex issues often takes time. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

 

Leaving Things on the Table

Talking about sex and ironing out the wrinkles is an ongoing process. New issues may come up as your relationship matures or enters new stages. Encourage and keep the door open to discussing your satisfaction and dissatisfaction about sex and intimacy.

A satisfying relationship is about communicating on all fronts. Issues don’t stay self-contained; they blend together. Your sexual pleasure or displeasure can affect other aspects of your relationship.

A sex life should be mutually joyful and eagerly anticipated. Both of you should be satisfied – whatever that means to each of you. If it’s not, don’t delay in talking about it. Don’t hold back when something doesn’t feel right. Sex is the glue that holds a great relationship together. You can work together to make it stick.

How to Make Your Interracial Relationship Work

 Beautiful multiethnic couple loving each other, family creation, happiness

The stars have aligned. You and your sweetie are in love. Aside from all the wonderful things you have in common, race isn’t one of them. So now what? How do you make this one wild card in the relationship work? If you think being blind to racial differences makes it all good, you may have some surprises coming … but they’re still within your control.

Rock solid relationships require hard work. Interracial relationships will probably kick that hard work up a notch. Getting involved with someone of a different race means you’re probably going to be confronted with a new set of traditions, beliefs, ways of perceiving the world and living in it; that of your mate.

Relationships don’t operate in a vacuum. You each have a set of friends and family. They may not be as accepting and open as you are with regard to racial differences. And, if you two enter into marriage, that warning goes double. As the saying goes, “You don’t just marry the individual; you marry their family.” There are the parents-in-law, siblings-in-law, their spouses and children, grandparents, step-parents, ex-spouses and so on.

 

The Survey Says …

Prevalence of interracial relationships is definitely on the rise. The number of interracial marriages has increased 5-fold since 1967. Today, approximately 17% of married couples are interracial. One out of 10 married couples are in interracial marriages.

What are the percentages of non-black adults who oppose a relative marrying a black person today? Society now is much more accepting of interracial marriage. Just a little more than 25 years ago, 63% of non-black adults opposed interracial marriage. Today, that number is down to 14%

But don’t let those numbers, as low as they might be, discourage you. Relationships are challenging regardless of racial differences. Approximately 41% of mixed race couples end up in divorce within the first 10 years of marriage. If that seems high, consider that approximately 31% of same-race couples end up in divorce after 10 years. A difference, but not much.

 

What You’re Up Against

Even in this day and age, racial bias exists. Let’s be realistic; People are going to judge you … maybe in ways you had not anticipated. Old-fashioned and prejudiced attitudes are probably one of the biggest stumbling blocks to overcome for interracial couples.

Racial bias may have developed from attitudes our parents held. These differences make some people uncomfortable, act and behave in ways that express bias or intolerance. Some people are quick to judge couples solely based on the color of their skin.

Historical and political tensions between cultural groups may come into play. You or your family might harbor anger over the way your culture has been treated by your mate’s culture.  Are you and your mate able to see why this history might bother either or both of you? Maybe you lack forgiveness; maybe they lack understanding or vice versa.

Everyday life may throw some curves. Racial bias may affect not only family and friendships but business transactions, your job, social functions, the children you may decide to bring into the world.

How will you handle tasteless remarks or jokes, and offensive assumptions? (“Do you have a thing for white women? Black men” or insert other race here). Eventually, you will run into some of that.

Even awkward but well-intentioned remarks can unexpectedly pop up (“You two are an inspiration. You complement each other well.”)

How will you deal with and help your children deal with attitudes about and treatment of them in public, in school, with classmates, employers?

 

Learning to Accept It or Express Yourself

Learning to accept others’ attitudes is key to having a harmonious marriage and social life. It might not be so easy at first, but if you can learn not to care about what others think, you’re ahead of the game. At least don’t sweat the small stuff.

If what someone said is offensive, if they looked at you funny, if they acted in such a way that you and your mate were bothered by it, what would you do? Have you considered responding to them about it? Go ahead. Get it off your chest. Maybe they need to know you are offended, that they stepped out of line.

What should you say to them? Be honest, be open, without blowing your cool. Express that you feel hurt by their words or actions. What can you expect in return? They may stop behaving that way. Or, they may disconnect from you and your partner completely. They may choose not to be a part of the gatherings that you attend. But maybe, just maybe, they’ll change their attitude or at least their behavior. Maybe they’ll surprise you.

If it’s your parents or theirs who are having trouble accepting you and your partner, be understanding but firm. Help them realize that the two of you got together because you love one another and share common interests, attitudes, values.

Look for ways to bring the family and friends together, to bring closeness. Maybe they can’t or won’t embrace your partner the way that you do – at least not right away – but in time you may notice a shift in a positive direction.

 

Building Connectedness

What can you and your mate do to grow the relationship?

·         Celebrate each other’s cultures. Accepting and becoming immersed in each other’s traditions is one of the ways you can show your commitment to each other. New languages, food, music, histories … Think of these as educational experiences and nurturing the bonds between you.

·         Have agreed-upon core traditions and values (attending church, cooking, work ethics, saving and spending money, child rearing, for examples).

·         Race may not enter you and your partner’s daily life very often, but when it does, look for positive ways that it can be a catalyst for helping you learn and grow together.

·         Connect with others. A relationship isn’t just about two people. Broaden your circle of friends and celebrate racial diversity. Consider gestures such as inviting a friend or relative to dinner or to an event that celebrates your loved one’s culture. Serve food from your mate’s native country or cultural upbringing. Invite your best buddy to a ethnic festival. Share a book or article with others that illuminate issues or everyday life of mixed-race couples.

 

Relationship Tips

·         Have realistic expectations of others. You can’t force people to automatically accept you or change their attitudes.

·         Don’t let negative attitudes poison your marriage.

·         Don’t get angry or defensive. Talk it through with them or walk away.

·         Understand where your spouse is coming from on key issues. Learn about their background and respect what’s important to them.

·         Search within for any of your own prejudices that might be lurking beneath the surface. Perhaps you have a certain perception about something. Consider how you were raised and how that has shaped your experiences with and attitudes about other races.

 

Healing Racial Traumas

We probably don’t need to be reminded that society has a long way to go towards healing from its racial traumas. As a couple, it’s not just having different cultural differences that can come between you, it’s how you choose to handle those differences. The amount of empathy you each feel for each others’ values, worldviews, ideas, feelings, language, and background, can bring you together or drive you apart.

Face It, You’re Addicted to Love

 Blue eye shadows. Calm sleepy young girl with blue eye shadows feeling unwell after a long party

“Your lights are on, but you're not home; Your mind is not your own; Your heart sweats, your body shakes; Another kiss is what it takes.” Singer-songwriter Robert Palmer articulately describes the physical and mental elements of love addiction in a song by the same name: Addicted to Love.

Does this describe you in your relationship? You meet that special person. You have trouble eating and sleeping and can’t stop thinking about them. You’re on an emotional high that, like physical substance addiction, feels so good when you’re on it and feels so bad when it isn’t available.

 

The Cycle of Addiction

As being addicted to a drug, you are drawn to the excitement of something new. You’re giving up your ability to think critically because as trite as it may sound, love is blind … to your lover’s faults, flawed behaviors. You’re using love as a “fix,” dizzy with the thought that your partner may be “the one” you’ve been searching for your whole life. All you want and believe you need is this person, who appears to satisfy your every need. That’s not love.

 

Then, as time goes by … weeks or months … dissatisfaction or disillusionment sets in. Maybe the blinders come off or you find yourself making unrealistic demands of your partner. Either way, you’re experiencing something similar to withdrawal symptoms. You feel let down. Eventually, you try to make the relationship work or you go looking elsewhere, pursue your next partner with the hope that you can experience that wonderful high again and the fantasy begins all over again.

 

Love Addiction Gone Bad

Fantasy is what love addiction really boils down to. You are preoccupied in a space that is not representative of the real world. You might find yourself thinking or acting in ways that are compulsive, unrealistic, and mentally exhausting. Some questions to ask yourself that might confirm a diagnosis:

·         Do you have a desperate need to be in constant contact with your lover? Do you check your phone obsessively waiting for a text, voicemail or email? Are you rattled if they don’t immediately respond and so you preoccupy yourself waiting for them to touch base?

·         Are you uneasy, fidgety whenever your lover isn’t around?

·         Do you feel paranoid? When you don’t hear from your lover after a period of time – hours perhaps, does your mind explore the reasons why?

·         Do you over-analyze conversations, assuming negative meanings?

·         Do you look for hidden messages that might mean signal they are leaving the relationship?

·         Do you need constant reassurances of their love?

·         Do you want or expect your partner to make you feel better about yourself, about events happening in your life?

 

Inspecting Your Addiction

As painful as it might be, a good way to start recovery is to look addiction right in the face. Admitting you have this problem is a good starting point. Inspect your attitudes and behavior. Are they positive, life-affirming, a growth experience? Fear of facing the beast may sting at first but the pain dissipates the more you inspect it. Facing the music is the first step toward recovery. More probing questions to ask yourself:

·         Are you substituting love for a need to be showered by another’s attention or to be cared for?

·         Do you have a hard time being alone?

·         Do you see your lover as the answer to all your troubles, the one person who can make everything ok, the one with magic power to make you feel whole and satisfied?

·         Are you losing yourself in your mate? Is your sense of self-esteem taking a hit?  

·         Are you talking or acting like your partner?

·         Do you mirror their behavior, take up the activities they like to do while giving up on your own personal interests, hobbies, activities, friends?

·         Are you allowing yourself to be manipulated by your partner or vice versa, your relationship has become destructive, toxic, addictive?

·         Do you look for ways to prevent your lover from leaving you?

·         Are you easily intimidated or manipulated by them or are you the one being intimidating or being manipulating?

·         When your partner spends time with others, are you resentful or jealous? If so, do you have an impulse to cope by being self-destructive: binge drinking, punishing them emotionally by getting angry, sulking?

·         Do you use sex as a manipulation tool or a weapon, withholding your display of affection?

·         Is it love addiction or sex addiction?  Do you know the difference?  (Hint: sex addiction is a preoccupation with sex for sex’s sake; Love is an emotional addiction).

 

Breaking Through the Illusion

If the above signs of love addiction were a test, would you have aced it? If so, now what? A good start is accepting that nobody but you can be the sole source of your happiness. No outside person can be the be all and end all of your life.  No one can be expected to serve that role. Your lover can come close and that’s wonderful if they do. But if you EXPECT it, you’re actually using them in a way you might abuse a drug.

Respect the boundaries that separate you from your partner. Without the self-determination to establish a solid sense of yourself, you are inhibiting your emotional development. Be honest with yourself. Respect yourself. Loving yourself before all others is at the heart of a healthy relationship. Take back control of your emotions.