Hard times are inevitable in any relationship, and often these difficulties arise from issues in the bedroom. But if you feel like there have been more rough patches than good times, you may wonder if it’s time to end your relationship. Below are some tips to help you navigate through the aftermath when your partner reveals a new sexual interest that you’re not sure you’re into.
Dealing With Unexpected Sexual Info
When you’re in a long-term relationship, sometimes you learn something new about your partner sexually. Perhaps they have a fetish or kink they haven’t told you about. Learning this information can feel jarring, but it doesn’t have to signal the end of your relationship. In fact, it can lead to a deeper understanding of each other and more honest communication, but you both need to know how to be gentle with each other.
The person announcing the new interest needs to frame the idea in a way that doesn’t insult their partner. Their partner may be feeling defensive because they may assume they’re not enough for their partner sexually, and this is difficult news to hear. The partner who is listening should try to moderate their reaction and listen with an open mind, even if they decide in the end that this isn’t something they can live with. These conversations are often easier to have in the presence of a skilled therapist, who can act as a referee and help protect both parties’ feelings.
Finding Ways to Move Forward Together
If your partner has just realized that they’re bisexual or interested in polyamory or BDSM, you can deal with this revelation in a few different ways. First, it’s essential to determine if this is just a fantasy your partner has or if they want to experiment in real life. If they want to try it, it’s critical to do some self-reflection and decide whether you’re willing to try it with them. You could watch porn or read stories about their interest with them to gauge your interest before trying the idea.
Even if the activity made you uncomfortable at first, you might realize that feeling was due to insecurity in your relationship or ideas about sex that you were taught while growing up that you don’t hold anymore. If you don’t want to try it, you should decide if you would be okay with your partner experimenting with others to preserve the relationship. Those who are new to non-monogamy can watch my video below for an introduction to the lifestyle:
Opening your relationship up works well for some people, but for others, it’s simply not an option. It’s crucial to honor your values and be honest with yourself and your partner. But it’s also important to end the relationship with compassion if you can.
The Length of Time You’ve Been Unhappy Matters
Unfortunately, many people wait too long to see a therapist and use it as a last-ditch effort to heal over decades of resentment or to resolve a crisis. Yes, therapy can be a lifeline in these situations, but it’s much easier for your relationship to heal if you go before things become overwhelming. When you start feeling a level of disconnect that doesn’t go away or like you’re not on the same page anymore, that’s the ideal time to go. The longer you and your partner are in a relationship without having the skills to navigate it, the more time you have to do irreparable damage.
Even if therapy cannot save your relationship, it can help you learn skills to heal yourself and change your habits to help give your next relationship a better chance. Often, it is an investment in yourself whether your relationship ends or not.
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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 take the sex quiz for women.