Seattle Relationship and Sex Therapist

Tag: relationship therapy

Valuing and Validating Sexual Differences

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?

Are you or your partner(s) struggling with validating or valuing one another’s sexual experiences or practices? If you are trying to get on common ground 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 collaborate and create new opportunities to ensure sex stays a priority.

Defining Sexual Success in Relationships

Often, clients are referred into the office with an issue around sexual function (e.g., early ejaculation, delayed ejaculation, desire discrepancy, and low desire). When discussing client goals, individuals and partnerships will commonly identify a concrete outcome or level of performance they would like to be at or reach to be sexually healthy again.

Clinically, in many arenas of sexuality, normalcy or sexual function is defined by the individual, relationship, or partnership. Despite clients having the capacity to determine their own levels of sexual health and sexual success, social norms powerfully dictate what we “should be” or “should be doing.” Given the regularity of clients believing they should have one particular type of sexual success, I often encourage people in the office to consider what might be most preferable for them. Could there be alternative to what is socially normative that could be a better fit? If so, what could that look like? Why would an alternative be a more preferable form of sexuality or sexual function?

For example, in the case of desire discrepancy (the most common sex therapy presenting issue), could different types of desire or interest be a strength in the relationship? Do you need to have perfectly compatible sexual interests to have sexual success or health between partners? Can differences open furthered sexual dialog or exploration?

Ideally, choosing one’s own version and creating an alternative narrative around sexual success can be freeing and open the dialog to more preferable sexual interactions. Defining what sexual success looks like for yourself, and collaborating with your partner(s) to create meaningful and pleasurable outcomes can help reorient toward sexual health.

Are you or your partner(s) struggling with defining preferable sexual success? If you are trying to get on common ground 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 collaborate and create new opportunities to ensure a preferable definition of sexual success.

Establishing Clear and Collaborative Sexual Boundaries

Many clients at my office come in struggling with boundaries. Often, when something sexual is new and available, we can get a little carried away, over excited, or overzealous prior to establishing clear boundaries around sexual play with our partner(s). This has gotten many relationships into trouble. Erotic conflicts (sexual conflicts of interest) can leave partners feeling alienated, wondering if their sexual needs and wants will be met, or whether their personal boundaries will be respected.

When couples and partnerships come in hoping to bridge the gap between different sexual preferences, are looking to explore a new sexual avenue, or even open their relationship, creating a structure and expectations for individual and shared sexuality is paramount. It is not uncommon for many individuals to have differing sexual needs and desires. Clearly understanding the meaning behind these needs helps to clarify how the relationship can support each individual feeling authentic and alive (sexually), as well as establish what each partner is comfortable with and what they are not.

For instance, if you are newly interested in power play (someone being dominant, another being submissive), establishing the role of each participant, understanding the type and purpose of the play, attaining consent from your partner, and developing clear and collaborative boundaries that protect and ensure the limits of the experience for each person can help the relationship build safety. Without creating a structure and agreed upon set of expectations for sexual play, assumptions can get the better of people and ruin experiences, and at times, even create trauma.

If you find yourself in a new partnership, or in a situation were clear sexual boundaries have not been established, collaborating with your partner to develop limits where each of your needs can be met can help bring clarity to the relationship and lessen sexual pressures. While creating rules, boundaries, expectations, and new understandings of one another’s sexuality is tremendously useful, there are many times where partner preferences or sexual needs are beyond another’s limits. Relationship conflicts can arise. Stay tuned for a brief discussion of mismatched sexual preferences where your partner’s sexual needs are beyond your comfort zone, or are a deal breaker.

Are you and your partner(s) struggling with establishing clear and collaborative sexual boundaries? If you are 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 collaborate and create new opportunities to ensure sex stays a priority.

Scheduling Sex

Very few clients I see love the idea of having to schedule sex to ensure it has a place in their relationship. It certainly isn’t a glamorous idea…Not at face value. Regardless, many couples and partnerships struggle to find time or energy (whether physical or emotional) to engage in sex play by the end of a long work day. Most people (especially in Seattle) are busy these days. Work, errands, parenting responsibilities, friends, work, family, volunteer opportunities, finding time for fun, and work all can unintentionally take priority over physical intimacy. Everything else becomes a priority. Did I mention work?…

While it can be challenging, there is no reason to follow any social rule about how sex “should be” in a relationship. Few individuals, couples, and partnerships want to admit they feel too exhausted for any sex play. Scheduling a time for sex can provide an open forum for diverse sexual play. Additionally, it can provide a time during the week for novel sexual exploration, giving each partner a turn to bringing something new to the sexual buffet. Many people struggle with the notion of losing sexual spontaneity, and having another calendar item to schedule during the week.

Contrary to common concerns, having a predictable time where sexual play is guaranteed can keep sex on the mind when it might not otherwise be. Often, one planned time and space can help inspire additional spontaneous sex throughout the week. Additionally, creating an opportunity to rid the relationship of anxiety, stress, disappointment, or the feeling of failure around not having regular sex can create space for building further safety around initiating sex (especially if initiation has been infrequent or challenging).

Are you and your partner(s) struggling with low frequency? If you are 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 collaborate and create new opportunities to ensure sex stays a priority.

What if Your Partner has Low Sexual Desire?

Often, I have couples and partnerships come into my office reporting that all of a sudden (or, in many cases, slowly over time) one partner has lost their drive to engage in sexual play. While desire discrepancy is common, it can be unnerving, especially if bids for affection or sexual initiations on your part have been unsuccessful leaving everyone involved feeling potentially disconnected or humiliated.

In many instances, before a solution can be formulated or you understand the origin of the problem, anxiety gets a strangle hold over the relationship and communication breaks down. Constructive conflicts become quickly triggered fights, and often are not productive or go in circles where one partner expresses their need for sexual connection, and the other seems apathetic about sex or anhedonic (he/she/they do not seem to experience pleasure in life).

Prior to making progress in psychotherapy, physiological issues (e.g., hormone levels, other medical disorders…etc.) and co-occurring disorders (e.g., depressive episodes/mood disorders) should be ruled out or determined to be a part of the cause. Afterword, psychotherapy/sex therapy can commonly be helpful in discovering what is impacting the individual and rebuilding or discovering new or old arenas that provide pleasure in the relationship.

Cases of desire discrepancy are common, and require clear communication of boundaries, expectations and sexual (physical and emotional) preferences of all partners in the relationship to be overt and well negotiated. Rebuilding an open line of communication, with the addition on a number of intervention techniques (e.g., sensate touch, trying new sexual activities, discussing fantasies, attempting to stage a novel sexual scene…among many, many others) to be practiced at home can help reform pleasurable sexuality in the relationship.

Regardless, rigid or strong expectations can be crippling, leading the individual with low/no desire to feel incompetent and valueless, further continuing the potential cycle of initiation/shutdown/disinterest/resentment. Don’t let a lack of clear communication around desire destroy pleasure in your relationship.Low Desire Ramifications

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.

Identifying the Difference between Kinks and Fetishes

Often times in my office and in my classrooms, clients, students, and general practice therapists struggle to identify the difference between a kink and fetish. To begin, a kink is any type of atypical sexual play that you enjoy. This can be anything from BDSM (or some type of play using or manipulating power for pleasure purposes) to chastity. Alternatively, a fetish is a type of sex play that is required for sexual arousal or gratification. This typically focuses around excitement toward an object or body part that is not traditionally identified as sexual in nature. A commonly thought of example is a fetish pertaining to feet, where seeing, touching, or smelling a foot (of some particular variety) would be necessary for arousal. Fetishes are wide sweeping and can range from leather to exposing oneself sexually in public (exobitionism).kinks and fetishes

Most fetishes, when play is consensual, are completely legal and not pathological in any way (e.g., with the exception (in WA State) of Frotteurism, Bestiality, Voyeurism, Exobitionism, Hebephilia, Ephebophilia, and Pedophilia).

Many individuals, couples, partnerships, and play partnerships regularly enjoy both kink and fetish play. Working toward incorporating this play can be challenging if a partner is inexperienced, the play is new, or there is confusion around the impact of the play on the relationship.

If you are struggling through working on identifying, negotiating, or learning about a kink or fetish by yourself or with a partner, sex therapy can help.

For sex or relationship therapy, Call Dr. Ethan Schwab today at (425) 295-2189 for a FREE initial consultation.

A Little Quick on the Trigger (Struggling with Early Ejaculation)?!

A wildly common case in sex therapy practices is early ejaculation (formerly known as premature ejaculation). While the thought of orgasming with your partner too early during sexual play can seem embarrassing, shameful, or leaving you worrying about his or her enjoyment, know that you are not alone and are not a rarity.

While there is generally not one specific cause for all early ejaculation cases, psychological and physiological factors may be impacting performance. I always recommend to all men, that prior to beginning (or at the beginning of sex therapy) to visit your urologist (if you do not have one, either your primary care provider, or myself can make a recommendation) and rule out potential medical issues. Examples of physiological causes are: pelvic floor issues, hormonal imbalance, and inflammation of the prostate. When early ejaculation is psychological in nature, anxiety, relationship issues, pressure to perform, or even erectile dysfunction can be in play.early ejaculation premature ejaculation

If you worry about performance and subconsciously rush to complete sex, orgasm can happen quickly. Additionally, the expectations of your partner can have a great deal of impact on remaining mindful and present mentally during sexual experiences.

Given the range of potential reasons early ejaculation may occur, ruling out either biological or psychological issues in initially paramount. After, many interventions exist that are evidence-based and time proven to delay ejaculation.

The following are just two of a handful of strategies that are commonly prescribed by an AASECT certified sex therapist to aid in building control over ejaculatory response:

Edging: Masturbating up to just before orgasm and stopping prior to ejaculation, taking a break (letting the erection subside a little), and then starting masturbation again. This allows you predict when you are close to orgasm and being able to identify when you need to slow down or take a break prior to continuing masturbation (and inevitably sex). This also allows the opportunity to delay ejaculation as you become more familiar with sensations, ultimately desensitizing your experience with masturbation and sex. This can replicated during oral or penetrative sex by stopping penetration and taking a break or focusing on your partner.

Pause/Squeeze Technique: Masturbating up to just before orgasm (like above), but instead of stopping masturbating and taking a break prior to restarting, here you will grab and hold the shaft of the penis snugly (just below the head) just prior to ejaculation. This helps stop orgasm through dulling sensation. After, either masturbation or sexual play can continue…lengthening the sexual play.

If you have found yourself struggling with Early Ejaculation and want to work toward building strategies that will be effective for delaying ejaculation, sex therapy can help.

For sex or relationship therapy, Call Dr. Ethan Schwab today at (425) 295-2189 for a FREE initial consultation.

Struggling with Difficulty Achieving Orgasm?!

Male and female orgasmic disorder (formally anorgasmia (primary or secondary)) is a sexual dysfunction where an individual struggles to achieve orgasm or has lost the ability to achieve orgasm during sexual play (whether with a partner or during solo masturbation). Many individuals with these symptoms experience anxiety around initiating sex with a partner, and may feel guilty or shameful for not being “normal.” While statistically more common in females, a lack of ability to achieve orgasm/orgasm loss can be due to a number of things.
For instance, antidepressants (SSRI variety) may impact ability to orgasm. Additionally, general anxiety around sexuality, beliefs around sexuality and normal sexual practice, or a lack of sexual knowledge can impact ability to orgasm for the first time.

A significant number of individuals (both male and female) experience; a general inability to achieve orgasm or haven’t in life (with or without a partner), situational issues with orgasm (with or without a partner), or acquired issues with orgasm (where you were able to achieve orgasm at one point, but no longer possess the capacity to do so).Orgasm Issues

Differing interventions and treatment programs exist for each orgasmic issue outlined in the paragraph above, from medical intervention to psychological treatment. Quelling anxiety, potentially changing medications, familiarizing oneself with one’s anatomy, understanding what is sexually and physically stimulating through body touch and masturbation, generally understanding your body better, relationship counseling, and mindfulness-based stress reduction can all be effective strategies for helping achieve a preferable orgasm alone and with a partner.

Sex therapy and related interventions have been shown to be effective in helping treat male and female orgasm issues.

If you have found yourself struggling with difficulty achieving orgasm sex therapy can help.

For sex or relationship therapy, Call Dr. Ethan Schwab today at (425) 295-2189 for a FREE initial consultation.

Creating Opportunities for Quality Time

Seattle life is hectic, and at times hellish these days. We balance work, friends, hobbies, family, children, our intimate relationship(s) and our sexualities. We expect a lot from ourselves, and in turn (often) expect a lot from others. Often, by the end of each day though, we’re physically and emotionally exhausted.
Given the wide array of obligations we involve ourselves in, creating opportunities for quality time in romantic relationships becomes paramount. Unfortunately, and often unintentionally, we deprioritize our romantic partners as life piles up.

When I was young, I couldn’t stand the idea of “date night.” The notion of having had to plan time with my partner, rather than have everything happen spontaneously was a real bummer. Wow…I was ignorant. As time has gone on, and responsibilities have amassed, finding and creating opportunities for quality time helps keep intimate relationships at the forefront of life (and gives you something to look forward to with your partner on a regular basis).Date Night

With all of the couples and partnerships I see, regardless of presenting problem (whether a relationship or sexual issue), encouraging setting out time during the week to plan something to look forward to is always a high priority. Having a date night, or game night, or planning time for sex with your spouse(s) can be tremendously beneficial and creates an opportunity to reconnect, creates shared meaning, and a forum for building on the relationship. Regardless, many challenges exist. Start by finding a time to invest in the relationship intentionally.

An upcoming discussion of strategies to implement to ensure quality time to follow.

If you have found yourself struggling with an issue(s) around sexuality, or in your relationship, sex or relationship therapy can help.

For sex or relationship therapy, Call Dr. Ethan Schwab today at (425) 295-2189 for a FREE initial consultation. Learn to be yourself, as fulfilled and healthy as possible.

Choosing a Qualified Sex Therapist

In all states, with the exception of Florida, any mental health care provider can label him/herself as a “sex therapist.” Most individuals doing so possess little to no education in the field of human sexuality (especially with regard to issues impacting sexual functioning). Morals, values, and personal experiences impact and often lead the perception and judgement of these therapists, negatively impacting or harming the client(s).

Ensuring that the therapist has graduate training and licensure at either the masters or doctoral level in Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology, Social Work, or Licensed Professional Counseling is a good initial step in establishing a qualified general practitioner. If you are working on or struggling with a sex problem or dysfunction, confirming the therapist is a certified sex therapist is key. Knowing the practitioner has met the American Association for Sexuality Education, Counseling, and Therapy’s (AASECT) standards for training and supervision in advanced issues of sexuality guarantees a minimum level of competence. Training standards to become an AASECT certified sex therapist are rigorous.Broad sex therapy knowledge

Requirements are as follows to attain certification as a qualified sex therapist:

• Minimum clinical training in one of the above fields at the masters level
• A minimum of 300 clinical hours of treating sex concerns
• A minimum of 50 hours of sex therapy specific supervision
• A minimum of 90 hours of human sexuality education
• A minimum of 60 hours of specialty training in sex therapy
• A minimum of one, 10 hour sexual attitude reassessment seminar to assess and challenge therapist biases and assumptions

Click here to review the topics covered in AASECT Sex Therapy training.

Certified sex therapists possess the highest training standard and are held to a level of rigor general practitioners claiming expertise in sexuality do not. If possible, I always encourage clients to review the education, training, and experience of each therapist being interviewed prior to selecting a provider. Therapy, and especially sex therapy, are about fit. Ensure you invest time with a therapist that honors your preferences and can thoroughly help you and your partner(s) address your sexual concerns.

If you have found yourself researching sex therapy or sex therapists, ensure the provider you are choosing is not only a good fit for yourself and your relationship, but thoroughly trained in the presenting issue(s).

For sex or relationship therapy, Call Dr. Ethan Schwab today at (425) 295-2189 for a FREE initial consultation. Learn to be yourself, as fulfilled and healthy as possible.

Ending Relationships Well

When relationships end, (especially romantic or sexual ones) we often struggle to maintain friendships or create shared meaning with our former partner(s) or spouse while transitioning out of the relationship. We go our separate ways. We split assets. We fight. We scream. We show little dignity or compassion. We share the dog. We allow anger, disappointment, fear, and dissolution to fill us.

I see this happen regularly out in the world, but differently in my clinical practice. Clients who have chosen to end relationships during therapy, (due to infidelity, differing sexual preferences, different relationship desires, monogamy vs. non-monogamy, or just growing apart) find themselves in a place where there is an opportunity to end the relationship well. This process is not void of sorry, melancholy, or hardship, but couples/partner therapy can be an excellent way to reconcile differences and create a meaningful friendship or respectful transitions out of each other’s lives, after the romantic component of the relationship has ended.ending relationships well

Even in situations where one or all of the participants in the relationship feel badly hurt or slighted, there are many ways to find meaningful resolution without cutting the relationship completely off (unless this is most preferable for the individual(s), or necessary for safety or moving forward). This is not to say that you and your former spouse will be best friends, but that you can look back on the relationship and distinguish preferable relational qualities. Moving forward, these experiences can support future development and authenticity in subsequent intimate relationships.

Inevitably, in situations where relationships end under hurt and sorrow, finding loving kindness for someone can be a useful way to find resolution. Not desiring a future relationship of any sort with your former partner may be the best option, but having means to end the relationship preferably (with tact, dignity, and respect), wishing your partner well, can help all of those involved move forward in an authentic and meaningful way.

If you have found yourself struggling to end your relationship and want to create a meaningful transition with your partner full of forgiveness and heart, relationship therapy can help!

For sex or relationship therapy, Call Dr. Ethan Schwab today at (425) 295-2189 for a FREE initial consultation. Learn to be yourself, as fulfilled and healthy as possible.

Quick Update on Personal Lubricant and Sex Toys

We interrupt normal blogging topics to bring a quick, special bulletin on using personal lubricant with sex toys. It’s come to my attention that many individuals out on the sexual landscape do not understand key differences between types of personal lubricants and when each would be best employed. For the purposes of this discussion (for now), we will stick to just water and silicone-based (barring all natural lubricants…e.g., olive or coconut oil for another conversation).

Depending on personal preferences, silicone (glycerin and paraben free for vulvar health) lubricants are often the choice for many women and men due to their inherent advantages. Silicone lubricants do not fade away as quickly as water-based, and often last (during sex or sexual play) far longer than their water-based alternatives regularly available for purchase at local drug stores.personal lubricant

Regardless, if you enjoy the usage of silicone constructed sex toys for masturbation or play with a partner(s), ensure you use only water-based or organic options. If using silicone-based lubricant with (silicone) constructed toys, the silicone itself from each will inevitably fuse and ruin the material of your (often expensive) vibrators, dildos, plugs…etc. Be weary, to ensure you are selecting a compatible lubricant with these types of sexual play.

Stay tuned for a soon to come (in-depth) discussion of personal lubricants and their health and play advantages and disadvantages.

If you have found yourself researching new sex toys and aids, stay tuned for an in-depth discussion of physiological health and what to use.

For sex or relationship therapy, Call Dr. Ethan Schwab today at (425) 295-2189 for a FREE initial consultation. Learn to be yourself, as fulfilled and healthy as possible.

Struggling with Sexual Dysfunction

While life in Seattle is complicated enough today, adding sexual dysfunction in addition to managing your relationship can be tremendously challenging. Many clients I see have tried the kitchen sink to “fix” what’s wrong in their relationship or sex life, to no avail. Like the last post in this thread began to discuss, living an authentic life can be challenging, but always ideal.

Solving sexual problems can seem and become daunting when the solutions you’ve searched for in self-help guides or online forums don’t work. Often, clients come for sex or relationship therapy as their last resort, rather than an initial intervention, often understandably so. For instance, if you or your partner is suffering from Early Ejaculation (also known as Premature Ejaculation), you may go above and beyond to lengthen sexual experiences with one another by any means necessary in the privacy of your own home. I fully appreciate the societal stigma and shame associated with having to ask for professional help outside of the relationship in hopes of lasting longer before ejaculating (or for solving any other sexual dysfunction). No one wants to feel incompetent in their own body.dysfunction

The thought of going to therapy can seem emasculating, daunting, or plain overwhelming. Regardless, many sexual dysfunctions are commonly treatable through either psychotherapy (sex therapy) or with medical collaboration. If you’ve struggled, or your relationship has suffered at the hand or early ejaculation, performance anxiety, erectile dysfunction, painful sex, or the inability to orgasm, sex therapy could be helpful.

If you have found yourself at this point in life, where you not only have relationship or sexual problems, but want to approach life as your most authentic self, 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 fulfilled and healthy as possible.

Living an Authentic Life

Thinking back on all of the individuals, couples/partnerships, and families I’ve seen and worked with in the past decade, I’ve noticed a consistent trend. No matter the content of the case, what brings someone into my office, or their presenting problem, their goals always boil down to one thing: living an authentic life.

Regardless of what someone’s relationship or sexual preferences look like, in the end, they almost always want to be accepted and celebrated for being who they are, especially by those they love. This prospect can feel like fighting the tide. Social and cultural norms are often out of line with who we are or would prefer to be.

I tell clients regularly that they are the most “normal” people I know, and it’s true. The individuals that frequent my office are intentional and genuine people choosing their paths in the most preferable ways possible…being more authentic. It may seem rantish, soap-boxy or cliché, but being comfortable with who you are and celebrating your uniqueness rather than letting others convince you that you are odd, weird, or pathological (especially if there is no clinical pathology present) is a phenomenally masterful skill these days.Authentic

Plenty of situations get us down on ourselves, or we try to change who we are to make everyone around us comfortable. But, at the end of the day, finding community and partnerships where you can be genuine is paramount. Working toward solving the problems that bring you/your partner(s) to therapy happens best and most effectively if you have this type of dynamic present in your relationship, where those around you know you at your core…and love you for it.

—More on this topic to come—

If you have found yourself at this point in life, where you not only have relationship or sexual problems, but want to approach life as your most authentic self, 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.

Opening the Relationship or Changing the Format Unexpectedly

What happens when you find yourself in a position where your partner(s) wants to either open the relationship sexually or change the format from monogamy unexpectedly? What if he or she wants to share their heart and capacity for love with other partners in addition to their bed, in addition to you? For many people these partner realizations or needs can rock their world, leave them bewildered, or put them in a state of grieving or mourning the loss of what they believed their relationship to be. For others, it’s right up their alley.

If you’re either someone who prefers monogamy, or someone who prefers polyamory, or prefers a monogamous emotionally intimate relationship, but sexually open, hope is not lost if your partner(s) doesn’t feel the same. Different expectations don’t necessarily mean incompatibility. I commonly see many couples and partnerships where each member possesses differing expectations about the nature of the relationship based on individual needs, hopes, and desires for their romantic and sexual lives.

Ultimately, everyone I see desires to be authentic and genuine. Advocating for what would facilitate these qualities with your partner(s) or in your relationship can be challenging if the relationship structure you require (to feel alive) is not what the other(s) prefers (or believes to be correct/true).

Indecently, as discrepancies in structure, preference, and expectation can take place in many arenas of all relationships, creating a new narrative for the couple or partnership can be a successful and useful intervention for reshaping the future of what each person will share with the other. You do not need to become overwhelmed or consumed with the feeling of chaos if your partner(s) wants to change the relationship structure out of the blue.

While this can certainly be challenging, requiring a processing of the loss of prior hopes and expectations, it does not mean you and your partner(s) are doomed to divorce/relationship dissolution. Many people have found ways to co-create a new and novel story for themselves that is preferable (and often initially unexpected), that facilitates the hopes and authenticity of each member of the relationship.non-monogamy

Remember, no matter how devastating the disclosure in a relationship, there is always more than one way to skin a cat (and find a new or novel solution to the problem…if you have the desire to do so).

If you have found yourself in a situation like this, where you either need to change the structure of the relationship for it to continue or break up to meet needs and/or expectations, but still want to share and create a life together, don’t wait until communication and the relationship itself gets worse! 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.

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.

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