Gauging whether or not your sexual relationship is healthy can be tough. But, in general, several factors serve as canaries in the coalmine when something is awry and you find yourself avoiding sex with your partner. Find out how to determine the sexual health of your relationship as well as tips for making it healthier.
What Sexual Health Looks Like
Some factors of sexual health are easy to identify. First, if you can talk to your partner openly about sexual problems as they arise, that’s healthy. Long-term avoidance of sex or tuning out during sex is not. Issues within the relationship can affect sexual health, too. But there are other, deeper benchmarks to look for if your goal is long-term sexual satisfaction with your partner.
One red flag is if you have ongoing, unresolved sexual problems. Whether one of you has a sexual dysfunction that hasn’t been discussed, an affair happened, or the orgasm gap is ever-widening, these issues can create resentment when you don’t handle them as a team. The longer you go avoiding these sexual issues, the higher the stakes feel. When the stakes feel high, sex becomes an intimidating, nerve-wracking endeavor—and that’s no fun for anyone.
Those who look for examples of healthy sexuality in our culture may not find much that is helpful. When you see depictions of sexuality on TV shows or watch porn, you get a very skewed view of sexuality. Nearly everywhere you look, the women orgasm from one to two minutes of penetration, and the men have erections for hours. These scenes aren’t just unlikely, they’re not a reality for the vast majority of people. Coupled with a lack of sex education, men are often not equipped with the right information to help women orgasm. Sometimes, women will not speak up either, because they may feel like their body is broken. This scenario is primarily a heterosexual problem, as women in same-sex relationships are statistically more likely to have sexual partners who better understand their bodies.
Avoiding Sex Isn’t a Long-Term Solution
If you or your partner tend to avoid sex, it’s critical to find out why. Reflect on which specific feelings you are trying to avoid during sex. Then, talk about this with your partner until you’re on the same page. If you can remove the goal-oriented view of sex, the stakes will become lower, and you can slowly restart your sex life.
How to Make Your Sex Life Healthier
If you’re not mindful during sex, it means there’s a problem. If you rely on a fantasy or can’t focus on your partner, you have room to grow sexually. It can feel impossible, but cultivating mindfulness in your sex life can help you engage more both mentally and physically.
Even consistently trying new things can become a crutch, if you must find some new, unusual sexual act each time you engage with your partner. In these instances, you should try to find a connection with your partner that goes beyond the act of physical intimacy. The more connected and safe in your relationship that you both feel, the more space you can give each other as well. And sometimes, space is exactly what a relationship needs to break up the monotony and help you realize your partner isn’t your roommate. When you grow together, your relationship can feel new.
Where to Start When Focusing on Sexual Health
An excellent first step to getting back on track is making a plan together. Whether or not you’re ready to put sex back on the calendar, you could schedule a date to talk about how to start. Practicing touching each other without the expectation of orgasm can help lower the stakes while getting re-acquainted with your partner’s touch. It may take time, but the investment will be well worth the result of a healthy, long-term relationship.
If you would like more tips for couples that want to stay sexually engaged, reach out to a therapist who specializes in rebuilding sex lives today.
Bio: Dr. Nazanin Moali is a clinical psychologist and sex therapist in the Los Angeles area. She works with various individuals to understand and improve their sexuality. Dr. Moali conducts personal consultation sessions in her Torrance and Hermosa Beach offices, or via a secure, online video-counseling platform. Click here to download the 101 Ways to Keep Your Relationship Hot checklist. Download her new ebook, How to Increase Your Libido – For Women, here.