When you and your partner have different expressions of love || By Rick Garcia, Certified Sex/Cannabis Coach, LMT
Now don’t let the title fool you, while there can be different ways to express love, we are looking at this with the lens of sex and sexuality. This blog is not exactly NSFW, but it kind of depends on where you work and if you want to read a blog about sex. You can decide for yourself if you want to continue reading, or if you want to leave this article until you’re ready.
Whether or not you enjoy reading about sex, you probably have experienced this topic at some point in your life. Have you ever gone on a date with someone, or found yourself in a long-term relationship with someone with whom you had the most amazing chemistry? Intellectually you challenge each other without triggering one another, you are that couple that people look at with envy. It’s a picture perfect relationship and we are proud to show it to our family, to our friends, even to social media. It’s almost like we created a perfect reflection of the relationship we want. However, when we get behind closed doors it might be a different story. That amazing chemistry you have with your partner is now gone due to having different sexual expressions. This might show up as one partner wanting the more romantic, lights on, let’s make love scenario, while the other wants a darker, more primal way of expression. It could also look like one partner wanting sex often, and the other partner only wanting sex occasionally. This is more commonly known as Sexual Desire Discrepancy (SSD). Does this mean that your relationship is doomed? I won’t keep you in suspense much longer, the answer is maybe.
Before we get into the factors of how we sway a maybe to a yes or no, we should first look at sexuality and the role that plays on a personal level. I could give you averages of how often people have sex, or how often people have sexual fantasies, but what would that actually do? It would create a comparison for you to live up to, and that starts a snowball effect. If you are having sex below the national average, does that make you inferior? If you’re having sex more than the national average does that make you unhealthy? As people who live in polite society we want to know that we are normal, we want to feel that we are normal. The sheer reality is that there is no normal, there is only what is appropriate and healthy for YOU. Your sexual expression might be having sex once a month, but it’s mind-blowing sex for both you and your partner. There might be another couple who has sex 5 times a week, but that sex might be lackluster. You should focus on the quality of the sex, not the quantity.
Now the quality aspect, that can be a little trickier. It’s said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and it doesn’t stop there. If all of us experience food the same way, then a menu would only have two options, if sex was meant to be had only one way then we wouldn’t have so many vast categories of fantasy and erotica.
Pleasure is a beautiful, natural and subjective experience. This experience is shaped by your hardwiring, the messages you received about pleasure and tons of other factors that are unique to you.
When I say pleasure I don’t just mean receiving, I also mean giving. Let’s go back to the above statement about one partner wanting to have a romantic encounter while the other one prefers their sexual encounters to be more primal. Neither partner is in the wrong, to be honest I commend both partners for having that understanding of their own personal sexual identity. But what happens when these identities will not seemingly function together? Several things could happen. As humans, we’d like to think it’s not us and we play the blame game. Spoiler alert; the blame game has no winners. Other times, we understand how much our partner means to us and we want to give empathy, so we put our own sexual expression and desires on hold to accommodate the other person. While I firmly believe this approach is beautiful and romantic, it often creates more problems than solutions. Suppressing our desire (or going past our comfort zone) to match someone else’s sexual rhythm creates a pressure cooker and over time the microaggressions will blow the lid right off.
People often think that a relationship consists of only two entities, Partner A and Partner B (unless you’re in an open/poly/ENM relationship). In actuality there are three entities in a relationship, Partner A, Partner B, and the Relationship itself. Who we are and how we approach our partner creates the Relationship entity. Remember, you and your partner chose each other because you appreciate who the person is. Not who they could be, not a romanticized idea in your head of who they should be, but who they actually are, this includes their sexual habits. If you and your partner can’t agree on the frequency of how often sex should happen, there are ways to make both parties happy. It might mean compromise, where you have sex only once a week, but there are tools to make that one night of sex amazing.
If one partner leans more towards kink and the other one leads more toward vanilla it might seem like a problem, but it’s actually not. We often think relationships have to have a perfect matching energy, and while that might be great for some people, it won’t give growth. When different energies are intentionally combined it can create a synergy, one that exists in the space of two separate entities. This space will give rise to growth and pleasure. Every sexual act, sexual desire, or sexual fantasy that you enjoy is just the tip of the iceberg, underneath the surface lies an emotion that is evoked with a desire or act. Understanding what you get out of that activity (or fantasy), gives a greater glimpse into yourself. Often, that emotional need can be replicated in other ways. Ways that both you and your partner can find pleasurable. Do you like to be tied up? Have you thought about what that scene gives you? Maybe it’s the feeling of the rope? Maybe it’s the safety you have with your partner that elevates the experience for you.
The above solutions can sway the maybe to a yes, but the solutions are also challenging, which can sway the answer to a no. Make no mistake, the solutions are work. Anything that is worth developing takes work.
It might be so complex that opening the relationship, poly and ethical non-monogamy are on the table, but if you want the relationship monogamous, then both partners will need to look inward and find a better understanding of why you like what you like, and then bring it back to your partner to find coexistence. Speaking with your partner about sex can leave both parties vulnerable (even if you talk about EVERYTHING else). If these vulnerable conversations are not done correctly neither partner will open up and the relationship as a whole suffers.
Trauma and stress can also play a huge part in sexual expression/frequency. Sex isn’t just procreating. It’s a space of erotic abandonment. To find this place, you have to feel safe to be free. Stress and trauma can make you want to go to this place, but they can also make you not feel safe, which can close you off.
No matter what circumstance is coming up for you; talking with someone can help you identify the cause of the sexual concern. If you are experiencing SSD, reach out to a sex coach or a sex therapist to get a better understanding of where the problem is, and then work together to create the ideal relationship where both you and your partner can flourish together. Sometimes, a couple will have to let the relationship go because of the differences. That isn’t always a bad thing. Going through this gives you a greater understanding of who you are and what you want your future relationship to look like.
I encourage anyone reading this post to reach out to me with any questions about sexual health. These posts are often made at the suggestion of clients. If you have a topic you would like to see explored you are welcome to reach out. www.cannabasedcoachingandwellness.com/ask-a-sex-coach
About the Author: Rick Garcia (he/him) is the owner of Cannabased Coaching & Wellness. Rick started his career in the healing arts as a licensed massage therapist in 2005. Looking for a shift he transitioned to HIV prevention and has worked in sexual health for 11 years. Realizing the gap in sexual health and sexual fulfillment Rick became a certified sex coach and sexologist so that he could help people explore their ideal sexual self while remaining as safe as possible. His sex coaching services are holistic and combine elements such as talk, somatic exercises, the MEBES model, cannabis and a variety of other modalities. When his wellness center opened he decided to have another arm available for massage therapy. To learn more about Rick’s services please visit www.cannabasedcoachingandwellness.com