Dr. Ethan Schwab

Seattle Relationship and Sex Therapist

Tag: sexual boundaries

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.

© 2019 Dr. Ethan Schwab

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