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Sunday, March 6, 2016

Understanding Your Emotional Story to Deal With Low Sexual Desire

I've seen it in therapy over and over. A couple who really loves each other, but who struggles to sexually connect in their relationship. One partner has a low sexual drive, while the other one would desires to sexually connect. Both partners in the relationship identify each other as close friends, which makes the difference in sexual desire even more hurtful to both. Many of these couples don't know what to do or where to go with this problem.



There is an underbelly to a happy sex life that many couples overlook. Awareness of the body's emotional signals to connect. What does your body tell you about emotional connection prior, during, and after sex? Many couples are unaware of this undertone, and sadly end their relationships out of frustration and resentment, when they could've worked on this problem instead. You can't work on a problem if you don't even identify it.



When sexual relationships are going well, couples take undertone for granted. The sex feels good, exciting and new. You don't have to pay a lot of attention to emotions, other than those pleasurable ones that are the most enjoyable. These couples often assume that sex will just continue to be easy. So when they begin to sexually struggle, frustration, blame and resentment can take over. Misunderstood sexual signals are mistaken for rejection and even disgust.



As a couples stays together longer, excitement might not be enough to motivate both people to want to have sex. The complications of how each person handles emotions can play out in the couple's sexual relationship. One person's emotional comfort can seem as a threat to the other. Fear of expectations in one person can create a sexual freezing in the other. This can create feelings of resentment and pain, which can create even further pulling away in the other person. You see a pattern here?



People tend to be better at identifying what they think about emotion, rather than what their bodies tell them about it. Our bodies send us signals that help us determine whether or not to connect. When you approach someone or move away from them, the body gives sensory signals that say "touch," "move away," "avoid," or "get closer." These signals can motivate us or deactivate us. They can help us become aroused, but can also tell us to stay out of this space as well.



When there is an arousal mismatch, both individuals need to be able to identify what they're wanting, and their current emotional state. This is where so many couples grow apart. The lack of emotional understanding leads to misinterpretations, and unnecessary hurt. Emotional understanding is where the couple has the opportunity to learn about themselves and each other. This can enhance excite an mystery, which can transform into increased sexual desire. Instead, so many are tempted to focus on the goal of higher frequencies of sex. They create plans of "more sex" as the goal, and are puzzled when this doesn't play out as expected.



People have individual, emotional histories that create their emotional understanding of themselves and those who they get close to. This will play out in all romantic relationships. Couples who learn how their bodies experience emotions can better communicate them. They are more generous when their partner fails, is too pushy, or is struggling. They recognize that this is a process that is much deeper than just having more sex.



To connect, couples have to identify what they are feeling and why. They also have to identify what their bodies are saying about this. When they notice that they are feeling anxious or disconnected, they can take gentle steps towards reconnection and calmness. They can share their experiences with each other, and feel validated that the other person is understanding this.



So if you're in a relationship that seems to have a mismatch in sexual desire, step back from rushing to conclusions. Don't immediately fall into the trap of hopelessness. Instead, get curious about the emotions that you and your partner are experiencing. Be patient with yourself and with your partner. With time and patience, you'll further appreciate the mystery of your partner's story. This deep understanding will likely play out for more sexual connection as well.

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