I remember watching Cinderella as a young girl and dreaming about the day that I would find my own true love. After all, who wouldn’t want a prince to save them from the mundane tasks of everyday life? But it turns out that those Disney movies, and the relationship expectations they created for future relationships, held me back from establishing healthy relationships early on. I expected that relationships would be easy and that they would fulfill me. But to have a healthy relationship takes time and commitment. Below are the most common relationship expectations that hold us back from having a healthy relationship.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghFebruary 1, 2023 borderline personality disorder, expectations, fairytale romance, healthy relationships, jealousy, narcissistic personality disorder, sexual chemistry, soulmates0 comments
Love Should Be a Fairy Tale
In the beginning of a relationship, it’s common to mistake the feelings of excitement and attraction for someone as love. But love is not a fairy tale in which things “just work out.” Each relationship has hurdles to overcome which take communication, trust, and vulnerability.
With The Right Person, The Relationship Will Be Easy
All relationships take work! Even with the right partner, relationships can be difficult, and differences of opinion are sure to arise. It is important that we communicate with each other and try to understand each other’s point of view. Even with the right person, it takes communication, commitment, and understanding to make a relationship succeed.
My Partner Should Always Make Me Happy
It’s important to feel happiness in our relationships, however your happiness should not be dependent on your partner. Each person in a relationship is responsible for their own happiness. When we expect that someone else will make us happy, this often leads to disappointment.
Sex Is The Most Important Part of a Relationship
While sex is an important part of intimacy in a relationship, it is not the only part. Emotional intimacy is equally important in a relationship. It is important that we discuss physical and emotional expectations with our partners to ensure satisfaction in our relationship.
If Someone Loves You, They Won’t be Attracted to Anyone Else
Humans are biologically wired to find others attractive. This does not end because we enter a relationship with someone. Even when our partner finds someone else attractive, it does not change the way they feel for us.
Jealousy is a Sign of Love
It is common to feel jealousy in a relationship from time to time. But overwhelming feelings of jealousy and the extreme behaviors that can accompany it (i.e., overwhelming questions, invading privacy, and controlling behavior) are a sign of a partner’s insecurity about themselves.
Please note: Irrational jealousy is either pathological, meaning related to a perceptual, biological, or mental health related diagnosis such as borderline or narcissistic personality disorder. If you suspect that your partner has irrational and pathological jealousy, you should exercise caution as some people have even escalated to highly aggressive and dangerous level of anger over jealousy.
If you or a loved one is experiencing abuse, reach out to a therapist near you.
Love Conquers All
Love does not conquer all. There will always be differences of opinion and issues that arise, and assuming that love will fix these problems only leads to disappointment and resentment. To conquer all, a couple must have trust, respect, understanding, and healthy communication with each other.
Written by Rayeann Milne, Counseling Intern. If you’d like to schedule an appointment with Rayeann, please call us at 412-322-2129.
LePera, N. (2022, December 24). 7 Expectations that hold you back from a healthy relationship. News
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghNovember 2, 2022 sensate focus, sex therapist, sex therapy, sexual chemistry, sexual wellness, sexuality0 comments
Sexual intimacy plays an important role in our lives. The benefits of a healthy sex life have been linked to stress reduction, improved sleep, immune health, pain reduction, increased self-esteem, and increased closeness to a sexual partner; all-important aspects in living our happiest best lives! Sounds easy enough, have sex and be happy, right? Unfortunately for many, it is not that easy! Myths and misconceptions surrounding sexual intimacy have caused great personal and interpersonal suffering among us for hundreds of years; while stigma, shame, and socialization have created barriers to seeking professional guidance. This detrimental cycle can repeat itself causing conflict in relationships, increased stress, resentment, shame, mental health illness, and poor self-esteem in those who wish for sexual connection with others. Sex therapy can help.
What is Sex Therapy and How Can It Help?
But what is sex therapy and how can it help? Sex therapy provides a compassionate safe space to explore and address medical, psychological, personal, interpersonal, and systemic factors impacting sexual satisfaction. It is a type of talk therapy that helps individuals and/or couples move past physical and psychological challenges and develop fulfilling and pleasurable sexual relationships. Sex therapy addresses your beliefs, experiences, feelings, and concerns using evidence-based techniques in collaboration with the client to help you reach your goals and decrease stress. Some of the sexual concerns addressed in sex therapy include erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, delayed ejaculation, paraphilias, desire/interest/arousal concerns, and pelvic pain disorders. Sex and porn addiction are other concerns often addressed by sex therapists. Sexual preferences, kink, and poly communities and those with ‘non-traditional’ relationships can find a safe space to share with sex-positive, compassionate and accepting practitioners.
While disagreements about sex are common and normal phenomena, the following may indicate the need to seek professional help from a sex therapist:
- Escalating and recurring conflicts about sexual frequency or preferences.
- Feelings of not being a priority to your partner.
- Distress, or a decrease in the quality of your life and relationship due to your sexual concerns or dysfunction.
- If you are experiencing a lack of communication, arguments that seem to go in circles, and a loss of connection with your partner.
- Feelings of guilt and shame surrounding sexual preferences or activity.
- Performance anxiety.
Tips to decrease sexual anxiety:
- Make an appointment with your PCP to discuss possible physiological causes. Also, talk to your doctor about any medications you are currently taking and possible side effects that may impact sexual function.
- Be open with your partner. Having an open honest conversation with your partner can help decrease anxiety and increase support and connection.
- Learn to be intimate without sexual intercourse. Give and receive sensual massages, warm baths together, and cuddling without the expectation of intercourse can help reduce anxiety and build connection.
- Progressive muscle relaxation and mindful meditation can help relax the body and mind.
- A sex therapist can help you learn the differences between male and female sexual responses which can help greatly reduce anxiety.
- Most importantly, practice self-compassion. Don’t beat yourself up! NO ONE has the sexual prowess being pushed by the media and in porn, and these expectations are unrealistic!
Interested in Sex Therapy?
If you are interested in Sex Therapy, please fill out the form below or call us at 412-322-2129.
Written by: Autumn Walsh (she/her), MSW
Center for Women’s Health. (2021). Center for Women’s Health. OHSU. https://www.ohsu.edu/womens-health/benefits-healthy-sex-life#:~:text=Better%20immune%20system,Decreased%20depression%20and%20anxiety
Hertlein, K. M., Gambescia, N., & Weeks, G. R. (2020). Systemic sex therapy. Routledge.
Holland, K. (2018, June 27). Sex therapy: Couples, techniques, and what does a sex therapist do? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/sex-therapy#how-to-know-if-youneed-it
Stritof, S. (2022). How important is sex in a relationship? Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/why-should-you-have-sex-more-often-2300937#:~:text=Sex%20can%20have%20a%20variety,immunity%2C%20and%20better%20cardiac%20health.
No Sexual Chemistry in Your Relationship? Here are some ways that you can talk about it without them taking it personally.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJune 20, 2019 sexual chemistry, talking to your partner about sex0 comments
What can you do if you and your partner just don’t seem to have good sexual chemistry? Wondering it there are there ways to overcome it? How can you talk to them about it without them taking it personally? If you have ever wondered about the answers to these questions, we have you covered, read on!
Having a great sex life with a partner, assuming you both have already established an interest in each other takes awareness and intention if we are talking about a long term relationship. To enjoy ‘off the charts sexual chemistry’ really means that both you and your partner have compatible needs for sexual frequency, sexual style, that your anatomy is compatible and for many people having some degree of emotional connection also factors in to sexual chemistry. Having a great sex life doesn’t actually start in ‘the bedroom’, at least not when sex is coupled with a long-term relationship. Even if your relationship started with a lot of sexual energy, there is no promising that this will continue in years to come. ‘Habituation’, the tendency for our responses to any stimuli to become dulled or muted with greater frequency of exposure dictates that the same sexual positions and responses which were once wildly arousing will eventually become less arousing.
Good news, There are things that can be done to bring some of the arousal back! If on the other hand the relationship has always lacked sexual passion or chemistry, then think thoroughly by taking an internal assessment of whether the sexual component of the relationship is actually important to you. According to the Kinsey institute, we all have different sexual needs. There are many components to a healthy relationship, sexual intimacy is just one of them. If you are an extremely sexual person and can’t imagine life with less than 5 steamy sex sessions in a week, a relationship with poor sexual chemistry might not be a good fit for you. If you enjoy sex but are happy with ones a week or a few times per month, maybe it will be satisfying to maintain a long term relationship with less sexual chemistry as long as you have an intimate conversation with your partner about what is happening between the two of you. Without any sort of mutual understanding about the sexual relationship, it becomes likely that resentment will build over time and start to erode at the other parts the relationship which might otherwise be very nurturing and meaningful.
A great way to start a conversation about the sexual relationship is to; Ask your partner what they think of the sex you have been having! You could be surprised to learn that they too have been struggling with it, or perhaps they have a history or sexual aversion, sexual shame, or a sexual arousal disorder that prevents them from enjoying their full sexual potential. Ask them what turns them on the most and what you can do to make them sexually comfortable. You also might ask if they talked about sex in their family growing up or did they receive a lot of sexually shaming information about how taboo and bad it is to be sexually intimate. You will likely be able to tell if they suffer from sexual shame as the conversation about sex will be palpably difficult for them with stammering, blushing, and bouts of silence. After understanding more about their perceptions of sex and needs for sexual frequency and style of sexual intimacy, share a bit about your own thoughts, feelings, and needs. When we talk about our own needs, we always use constructive language that presents opportunities for understanding and if your partner takes that personally or becomes defensive, there might be something to further explore with a sex therapist or marriage counselor.