Monday, October 18, 2010

When is a "Sexual Problem" Really a Problem

People inevitably compare their own sexual experiences with those they learn about in popular fiction or the media. As a result, many pick up distorted ideas about their own sexuality and about what constitutes a sexual problem.

Non Problems
Many people believe that a man should be able to achieve an erection and maintain it as long as he likes without ejaculating, that women should always have orgasms at least some of the time, or that neither a woman can be sexually satisfied without orgasm.

Other believe that touching, holding, and kissing should always be foreplay for intercourse, or that sexual aroused without orgasm is somehow physically or emotionally unhealthy. Such beliefs are mistaken and can themselves cause problems.

Each person needs to learn that he or she is the best judge of his or her own sexual experience. Simply touching, holding, and kissing, for example, may be quite satisfying and even exciting without any other sexual activity. Orgasm need not be the single good of sexual arousal, and it is perfectly normal for some people to dislike some sexual practice or methods of stimulation that other enjoy.

Real Problems
A couple may have a real problem, however, if both partners find lovemaking consistently unsatisfying, painful, or even distasteful. Similarly, if sex is being forced on one partner or used by one partner to exploit the other, the couple has a problem.

One person need not always dominate the experience, and while love-making may not be sensational every time, both people should desire sexual activity and get pleasure from it. Consistently with holding sex be a form of hostility or a sign of an unconscious power struggle in the relationship. Serious sexual problem also arise when one partner constantly makes the other feel inferior, unattractive, or unsexy.

When such problem persist, they can undermine a relationship. If the couple can't resolve them by talking to each other, a therapist may be able to help. The therapist may get to root of lingering unconscious difficulties that one or both partners may be having related to earlier experiences, or may see unnoticed problems in the current relationship.

Sexual love can be a celebration of a relationship, but only when the partners are truly in tune. Communicating their needs and expressing their affection for each other without the context of healthy relationship.

Source: Mary S. Calderone and Eric W. Johnson, The Family about Sexuality (New York:Harper & Row, 1981) pp. 166-171

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