We’ve all heard the typical story – new couples get together and have amazing, life-changing sex…at first. Then as the relationship progresses, sex becomes more complicated. One partner wants more, the other seems to lose interest. We call this desire discrepancy, and it is a pretty common problem to deal with in a relationship. And contrary to popular belief, it can happen for couples early in the relationship as well.
Many couples experience desire discrepancy and think that it is an issue with compatibility or that it is an indication that the relationship is in trouble. Although this may be true for some, desire discrepancy can be caused by many things. But the root of most reasons I hear from my clients as to why they experience this discrepancy is pressure. We tend to put a lot of pressure on sex…what it should be, how often we should have sex, what it should feel like, how we should be able to perform, and the list goes on and on.
The bottom line is pressure and the “shoulds” are the enemies of desire. Pressure means that we start to see sex as more of a checklist of what a legitimate sexual experience should be rather than being able to focus on the experience of enjoying your body and the body of your partner. This happens most commonly for couples when we think of sex as strictly intercourse or orgasm. When couples begin to expect these things from every sexual encounter, they end up chasing the checklist (intercourse or orgasm) and find themselves unable to be present in the moment with their partner.
Here are some other ways pressure shows up and how the internal dialogue sounds:
When I see couples with a desire discrepancy, I first normalize that what they are experiencing is not uncommon! The media, movies, TV, and books have distorted our view of “normal” in a sexual relationship. They have contributed to all of the pressure around sex and made couples believe that if they do not fit the unattainable “norm” they show on the screen, something is wrong with the individual or the relationship. Not true!
Second, I invite couples to consider what sex means to them. Let’s broaden the definition of what contributes to a satisfying sexual experience. It is not limited to intercourse and orgasm! There is so much more to sex that tends to get overlooked.
We look forward to diving into this issue more in our upcoming workshop, Sex With The Lights On, coming Thursday, October 15th, 2020 from 8-9:30.