We often hear “healthy communication is key”. But what happens when healthy communication still adds pressure?
Being sexually intimate with our partners can seem easy in the beginning stages, sometimes referred to
as the “honeymoon phase” but eventually the passion can die down, and maintaining a healthy sex life begins to require more communication and sometimes planning. For some couples, communicating our wants and needs regarding intimacy can create a sense of pressure.
Both men and women I see in therapy have expressed difficulty with:
- Fear of rejection
- Pressure to look/perform a certain way or up to a certain standard
- Demands from your partner to have sex more often
- Pressure to initiate
All the above can result in sexual avoidance, insecurity, and a decrease desire. So, what can we do when we know communicating our needs is necessary, but it still adds pressure to the relationship?
Here are some tips on intimacy:
1. Engage in non-sexual touch
- This means make an agreement with your partner to touch each other in loving and intimate ways with no expectation of sex. Even touch can add pressure to a relationship if this makes your partner believe you are trying to initiate sex with your touch. Engaging in non-sexual touch, allows couples the opportunity to enjoy the sensations and intimacy without feeling pressured.
2. Take a step back from making goals
- Agree with your partner that the only “goal” for intimacy is to be just that, intimate. To spend quality time together in ways that are comfortable and enjoyable for both people. Whatever happens, happens. Once each person begins to feel more relaxed, then if desired, goals can return to the bedroom.
3. Remember, loving communication
- When in the act, we must remember to communicate lovingly. Aggressively communicating what you like and don’t like or what you want and don’t want during sex, can intimidate your partner, or leave them feeling inadequate. Gently move hands, kindly explain what it is that you’d like to be happening differently and remember that your partner also has feelings.
4. Always be respectful of boundaries
- What you want may not be what your partner wants. Using coercion or trying to manipulate your partner into doing what you want during sex, is not only sure to add pressure to the relationship, but it also communicates that you do not care about your partner and that you are being self-centered. One of the most straight forward ways to keep pressure out of the bedroom is to make sure both people involved are comfortable and enjoying themselves
Maintaining a healthy sex-life is not always as easy as Romcoms make it out to be! That’s OK. Remember, love is patient, love is kind.
About Shelton Poulter, MSW:
Shelton is a Supervisee in Clinical Social Work and provides services at our Fredericksburg location. She graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a B.A. in Sociology. Shelton received her Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University. Throughout her time at VCU she has worked with elementary, middle school, and high school students in the Spotsylvania Public School system. To learn more about Shelton, visit here.