Dr. Ethan Schwab

Seattle Couple, Family, and Sex Therapist

Tag: sex therapy

Getting it Up: Struggles with You or Your Partner(s)’ Erectile Function.

We talk about it all of the time at my office. What happens when your or your partner’s drive for penetrative sex is there, but you/he isn’t standing at full attention, ready to join the party? Psychogenic erectile dysfunction is tremendously common, yet immensely frustrating. There isn’t anything much worse than having the overwhelming desire to have sex, but not being able to “rise” to the occasion.Erectile Dysfunction Ruining Relationship

Many problems can get in the way (have a look at Performance and Loss of Erotic Focus below), as anxiety and stress can kill even the most determined “soldier.” Regardless, issues maintaining an erection during penetrative sex can leave you or your partner feeling lost, or wondering if you really are attracted to him or her, or vise versa. Often, this is luckily not the case (as many partners who stay together have great sexual attractions for one another).

So the question becomes, how do you get rid of the elephant in the room (seeing as how it’s not invited)? Introduce it. The best initial outcome for anyone in a sexual relationship where one or more partners has a loss of erectile function, is to create clear and open communication around the problem, goals, desires, and expectations. If you can get on the same page, managing the sexual dysfunction is far simpler. Sex were erectile functioning has been an issue can cause many interpersonal problems within the relationship leaving each partner feeling uncared for or even unloved or desired.

If you have found yourself in a situation like this, or have found that your partner(s) has struggles with erectile function, but still wants to have sex, don’t wait until communication and the relationship itself gets worse! Your sex life is not destined for failure. Couples and/or sex therapy can help!

Call Dr. Ethan Schwab today at (425) 295-2189 for a FREE initial consultation. Learn to be yourself, as authentically as possible.

“Not What I Signed Up For…?!”

Often these days, I find myself sitting in front of all sorts of different couples where a new passion or sexual/relationship preference has emerged from one member of the couple/partnership that was not present or divulged at the beginning of the relationship. Often these new sexual preferences, fantasies, and relationship dynamics leave the other partner scratching their head saying: “This is NOT what I signed up for!”Not What I Signed Up For

In many of these instances, one partner develops new sexual fantasies or preferences and feels a great deal of vitality or excitement wrapped up in these new thoughts or idea. This can often seem reinvigorating for the relationship (from that person’s perspective), or make you “hot” again for your partner.

Regardless of your partner’s new enthusiasms, their preferences may not be for you. These new interests may seem out of left field, or spawned by something he or she saw in a movie, or read in some steamy book. You may hear from friends or on the internet that anything out of the ordinary sexually in your relationship could be destructive or compromising. Or, alternatively that you need to meet your significant other where they are at and can’t or shouldn’t be “vanilla.”

Regardless, just as your partner is entitled to have their own sexual preferences, fantasies, kinks, hopes and dreams, so are you. Too often are we hyper critical of one partner’s experience or the other, as both experiences and realities are valid. Socially, we typically talk about sexuality as binary or totalitarian, where we function under the rule of one culturally acceptable sexual script. Remember, our experiences are broad and unique (often not paralleling societal norms), that is, there are many ways that are either right or wrong for us to be in our intimate relationships. Whether it is sexually liberal or conservative, no individual’s experience is invalid. Sexually exists on an individual as well as relational level, and in the context of your partnership, can be co-created in a preferable fashion with work and compromise.

It is difficult to be authentic, remember that. ”New” relationship or sexual desires or preferences may be a part of who someone is or was…their preferred narrative, not shared previously due to quilt, fear, or shame. Inauthenticity is everywhere…We compete with neighbors to have a more successful seeming life, compete with our appearances or our children’s accomplishments, forget about the lust we share with our partner, but aren’t true to ourselves. We’re told to be, but have incongruent adult experiences that teach us otherwise. Our true selves, beliefs, and preferences can become bottled up, and eventually overflow.

Coming to a sexual or romantic realization can be cathartic or powerful, but can seem terrifying from the outside, because it was not what we signed up for in the beginning of the relationship. Inevitably, while differing sexual preferences between partners may be incompatible, we can work toward understanding the purpose and nature of our partner’s sexual interests, and if possible, ultimately moving toward a consensual common ground where each partner is heard, understood, and validated.

If you find yourself and your partner struggling with reconciling sexual interests that were not disclosed at the beginning of your relationship, and conflict or unclear communication has ensured, couples and/or sex therapy can help!

Call Dr. Ethan Schwab today at (425) 295-2189 for a FREE initial consultation. Learn to communicate your boundaries, preferences, fantasies, and what is erotic in ways your partner understands and welcomes.

Fights That Go Around in Circles

Have you ever heard the phrase: “The definition of crazy is going around and around in circles, trying the same things over and over, but expecting different results?” Truth be told, we all have. We’re all guilty of getting stuck in problematic cycles with our partners expecting that if we try harder, yell louder, love them more, or keep explaining ourselves that things will change and get better.

When we aren’t heard or validated, are unable to share our primary emotions, or do not feel safe, we can get stuck. When disagreements are important enough or our anxieties are high enough, we will keep fighting and fighting to be heard. If nothing changes and you find yourself having the same arguments over and over, this becomes a whirlpool like process, pulling the couple further and further downward, until the relationship hits rock bottom or ends.Seattle Sex Therapy

Regardless of the content (problems) causing these patterns of interaction between you and your partner, whether they are financial, marital, sexual, parenting, religious/spiritual, a difference in core values, or disagreeing about how the dishwasher should be loaded, couples therapy can help. There are many strategies to help intervene and solve the core problem, getting you out of the cycle and back into a preferable place together.

Couples (or partners) therapy can be tremendous helpful in interrupting problematic cycles of interaction or recurring fights about the same issue. Integrating Narrative, Emotion Focused, and Gottman couples therapy techniques, I help couples slow down, clarify communication, create shared goals, and move toward a preferable outcome. In this process, couples/partners work toward fostering greater levels of affection and trust for one another, ultimately strengthening the security of the relationship and the attachment bond.

If you find yourself and your partner getting into fights that go around in circles, struggling with “the same old issues,” and communication is only becoming worse or more heated, couples therapy can help!

Call Dr. Ethan Schwab today at (425) 295-2189 for a FREE initial consultation. Learn to communicate your preferences, needs, practices, and what is important or necessary for your relationship in ways your partner understands and welcomes.

Understanding Kinky Partners

So, what if you find yourself in a situation with your new or long term partner where you come to the realization he or she has vastly different sexual interests than you. 50 Shades fans aside, what if you find yourself discussing your very own partner’s experience with the real thing (and you never knew before)? What if he/she enjoys BDSM, cuckolding, swinging, soft swapping…etc? You may be wondering what kinks are in the first place. For many people who are uninitiated or unfamiliar in these arenas of sexual practice, the thought of your once innocent seeming partner enjoying and regularly engaging in these activities is terrifying! On top of that…what if he/she wants you to participate too? What if it is a deal breaker?

By no means is having a kinky partner (when you aren’t) a death sentence to the relationship. In many ways, it can bring excitement and growth to the relationship. Sex Therapy At the very least, couples and partnerships in this scenario often learn to communicate far more openly about sexuality and their preferences, fantasies, and what brings them pleasure. More often than not, your kinky partner is enthralled by you, loves you, and is genuinely happy to be with you and vice versa. Just because preferences are different, doesn’t mean you aren’t enough for them. More often than not, I see couples in this circumstance where the non-kinky partner feels incompetent and that they are sexually inadequate in some way. I invite anyone in this position to consider their partner and how their interests may be in addition to you, rather than something inadequate about you.

Truth be told, even if your partner hopes you’ll participate in kinky sex, or if you are kinky hoping for your partner to participate, by no means is there only one possible outcome for the relationship. If you aren’t kinky and have no interest, that’s just fine. There isn’t anything wrong with that or you for that matter, and sexual play can be negotiated to encapsulate the interests of both partners. Granted, like all parts of a coupled relationship, compromise may need to occur. Inevitably, if you find yourself in this position, feeling intimidated and lost in what your sexual relationship will look like, fear not. Progress and fulfillment, with a little help, are very possible!

Many partners are left with the question: “What does all of this mean, and what is the purpose?”

If you are trying to answer this question, find new sexual meaning, or be better at understanding kinky partners, sex therapy can help! Call Dr. Ethan Schwab today at (425) 295-2189 for a FREE initial consultation. Learn to communicate your preferences, needs, practices, and what is erotic in ways your partner understands and welcomes.

Experiencing Different Levels of Sexual Desire?

What happens when you find yourself in a position with your partner(s) where he/she/they don’t have the same sexual intensity or drive as you? What do you do when you desire more frequent sex, or kinky sex, but your partner(s) doesn’t or is indifferent?Desire discrepancy.  Sex Therapy. If you’ve felt alone and isolated, you aren’t as abnormal and unique as you might think. Desire discrepancy is a common process between couples and partners when one party doesn’t possess the same drive as you. While physiological changes across the life span can impact anyone’s desire for sex (e.g., menopause, low testosterone…etc.), many life transitions can too…like becoming a parent (and being exhausted…all…of…the…time), or learning that what is or would be fulfilling sexually now is different than when you started dating or were first married.

I consistently see couples and partnerships where one partner has either a much higher drive for sex in general, or has the desire for a type of sex (often kinky sex) that the other(s) just aren’t into, or have never considered. Remember…variety is the spice of life, and despite differences in what is pleasurable between partners, it doesn’t mean that your relationship will or has to end. Regardless, it can be terrifying to hear that your partner(s) is unsatisfied with the frequency of sex or really wishes that you would be more domineering or sexually adventurous. Being in this position isn’t uncommon, and when you think about the scope of time you’ve been with your partner (especially if it’s been years), things can become stale, uninspiring, or no longer preferable.

If you have found yourself in this position, there are plenty of directions therapy can assist with. I have seen many couples who have renegotiated the nature of their sexual relationship, often to a better, more pleasurable, and more fulfilling position than it ever was at the beginning of the relationship. It is never too late to save, fix, or rediscover your sexual relationship, scripts, and chemistry with your partner!

Are You Struggling to Get on the Same Page as Your Partner Sexually?

Are you and your partner(s) struggling with a desire discrepancy? Are you trying to get on the same page or find common sexual ground? Sex therapy can help! Call Dr. Ethan Schwab today at (425) 295-2189 for a FREE initial consultation. Learn to communicate your hopes, needs, desires, and what is pleasurable in ways your partner understands and welcomes.

About Ethan

When you’re young (see: high school), everyone wants to know what your aspirations for the future are. Many of my friends had typical responses: “Doctor, lawyer, engineer…etc.” Many of them brought those career goals to fruition. Comically, when school counselors used to ask me similar questions, I always responded with a singular answer: “sex therapist!” Like many future therapists, I always was the person friends relied on for support (later in my career, like many future sex therapists, I was always the therapist that helped individuals actualize uniqueness and desires to have pleasure in life, as well as cherished the most taboo aspects of my clientele). Though when I was young, no one seemed to believe I would ever follow through with my aspirations, given the taboo nature of this field. Needless to say… they were wrong.

I began college with the hope and aspirations of any young person, attending University of Victoria in British Columbia. I studied psychology in hopes that it would somehow prepare me for future clinical practice. Along with half of my fellow undergraduate students, we all thought our current position in life was far more relevant than it was. Needless to say, far more training and schooling would be required to ever achieve my career goal. Despite minor setbacks here and there (which I would have to remind myself that every experiences from time to time), I finished school and moved on to graduate training in marriage and family therapy at Seattle Pacific University. From this point, my ideology was challenged as I finally learned the fundamental elements of successful marriage counseling.

Nearing the end of graduate school, I couldn’t help but feel the need for further education, as a master’s program is by no means comprehensive in its’ scope. Subsequently, since I’m a little stubborn, I took on doctoral studies in marriage and family therapy at Florida State University. Not only did I further my clinical training at the doctoral level, but I taught, studied, researched, and presented on many aspects of human sexuality.

Regardless, I still felt under prepared to practice as a sex therapist. As I had been in clinical practice for some time, I felt that specialized training around sex therapy (as very few clinicians possess this training, yet say they offer sex therapy) would benefit further practice. I completed my formal clinical education by attending a post-graduate program in sex therapy at the University of Michigan.

Given these experiences, I have a wide breath of clinical training in both relationship therapy as well as sex therapy. As a trained sex therapist, I am able to comprehensively treat common psychogenic sexual dysfunctions, and as a marriage and family therapist, I’m able to integrate, manage, and work with all aspects of the relationship that are impacted by any and all current discomforts.

Feel free to learn more about my background and experiences.

© 2017 Dr. Ethan Schwab

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