Often, couples and partnerships come into the office because of a desire discrepancy or an erotic conflict. As these differences in sexual interests or preferences can be distressing if unresolved, many clients come in initially and report that their sexual needs are not validated or valued to begin with by their partner(s).
This can be especially common when one person’s sexual needs or preferences are atypical and the other(s)’ are not. Often, leading to someone feeling as though their sexual experiences are less valuable or “normal.”
One of the most challenging issues I see with clients who are in romantic relationships is learning how to validate one another’s experiences and disagree…without feeling as though their character or identity are on trial. When sexual differences exists, this can be challenging. When validation does not happen, it can lead the un-validated party to feel less than, or broken, or that their sexual interests or sexual identity are dysfunctional.
As this is a common occurrence, there are many conflict resolution and communication tools in couple/partner therapy that can provide a structure for understanding the experiences of your partner(s) in a way that allows her/him/they to express their needs and ultimately leave feeling as though their identity is valued.
While this process can seem daunting, learning to validate the sexual interests of your partner(s) shows concern for their experience. Valuing the experience of the other can lead to further autonomy, differentiation, and a more secure attachment between romantic partners.
Do you feel you value and ultimately validate your partner(s)’ differing sexual interests and preferences?