Occasionally, a client will present with issues relating to sex. Not gender identity, not sexuality, but sex. So often, this doesn’t come up right away – clients will go weeks or months before addressing that they have more or less interest in intimacy that the person or people they are sleeping with. Call it drive or libido, usually this comes up as an addendum – ‘oh, and we want different things in bed.’ Or in couples counseling, ‘how was I supposed to know that when you wear the pink nightgown, that means you want to – you never said that?!”

We’ve created this taboo space around desire, often making it so hard to talk about, that we either don’t, or make assumptions based on conversations we had when we first connected with someone – in some cases, years prior. We rationalize – ‘well, we had sex the last time we went out to dinner, let’s go out to dinner’. ‘She likes movies with Meg Ryan in them, let’s watch Joe Versus The Volcano – that’s a turn on, right?’

This kind of guessing would never be acceptable in any other situation, but it’s routine in most relationships and half the time, the first battle is knowing one’s own interests.

  • How often do I want to be intimate with my partner?

  • What does that involve?

  • What language do I use to communicate my interest?

  • What stressors do I have that keep me from wanting intimacy? (Trust, workload, privacy, body image issues, and fatigue are all common ones)

Once we understand our basics, we can ask the people we are intimate with

  • How often do you want to be intimate?

  • What does that involve?

  • How will you let me know what you want?

  • What roadblocks do you have that keep us from being intimate?

Whether you view sex as a need or a want, the shame that can accompany expressing those feelings is unnecessary. Experts suggest that we do regular maintenance on our homes and cars – why shouldn’t we inspect our relationships … say, every six months? Add it to the checklist: renew auto insurance, change the batteries in the smoke detectors, re-examine intimacy in my relationship(s).

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