Defiant Desire: Grappling With My Sexuality in Widowhood

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My wife is sick. Stage Four sick. I must hurry home and relieve her parents who have been caring for her since I left for work at 9 a.m. and for our three-year old son since his pre-school day ended at 2 p.m. It is 6:30 p.m., but I am not rushing through the front door.

Instead, I am lying on a massage table in the back room of our local nail salon, trying not to audibly cry as my masseuse works on the knot under my right shoulder blade. The knot is excruciating, but that is not why my tears soak the paper cover of the table. I do not know her name, but I do know that she always works on Tuesday nights and I know this as well— she does not tie back her thick dark hair. My wife had thick dark hair before the chemo.

I cannot define this desire; this deep longing for another woman’s hair to tickle my back. Is this a form of adultery? Of exploitation? To pay a thick-haired stranger to soothe me in this way? Do I take advantage of my wife’s parents? Do I neglect my son who is scared and sad and needs me to come home? Because I will be late. I will blame my boss or the subway or the rain before I cop to this 20-minute reprieve. I am ashamed. I am defiant. But I know what I need. Continue reading Defiant Desire: Grappling With My Sexuality in Widowhood

When Your Partner Just Doesn’t Want Sex

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When there is a tremendous disparity between partners’ sex drives, relationships can be difficult to manage. The low-libido partner may feel pushed and resentful, and the high-libido partner can feel abandoned, betrayed, rejected, and angry. While both individuals within this dynamic struggle, the higher-libido partner has unique challenges, and their perspective will be the focus of this post.

There are two types of couples I usually see who exhibit a significant disparity in sex drives:

  1. Couples who started out with roughly equivalent levels of desire, but after a few years of what I call “monotogamy” (monotonous monogamy), one partner — often but not always the female in heterosexual couples — experiences a drastic drop in sex drive
  2. Couples who had a pronounced difference in sexual desire from the beginning of the relationship, but the couple loved each other enough to either consciously (or subconsciously) dismiss or minimize the potentially destructive impact of this disparity

Continue reading When Your Partner Just Doesn’t Want Sex

Mental Health In Bed: Sex and Anxiety

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Has this ever happened to you? You’ve set the scene, the mood is right, you fall into bed with your partner and then the anxiety starts: What if I’m doing this wrong? What if I hurt them? What if I get hurt?

This is how sex in a past relationship always went for me. Everything would be right. I would tell myself I would stay calm this time, and then the anxiety crept in anyway, building like a crescendo until the only thing climaxing was my panic.

I could never get past the anxiety long enough to let go and fully be with the person I loved. I tensed up, clammed up, and in the end, neither of us had a satisfying experience. I didn’t know how to talk to my partner about the anxiety because I thought it was a problem I needed to fix alone — as opposed to something we could work on together. As a result, our love life fizzled and eventually went out. Continue reading Mental Health In Bed: Sex and Anxiety

Mental Health in Bed: Sex and Depression

man woman in bed depressed

To make life with depression even more depressing, the mental illness can seriously mess with your sex life. Unfortunately, depression can go hand in hand with sexual dysfunction, which can affect everything from your libido to your ability to orgasm. This can be rough on not only the person suffering, but also on the person’s partner, and can put a strain on relationships.

Just as not everyone feels comfortable opening up about their mental illness, not everyone feels comfortable opening up about their sex life. And they’re even less likely to open up about it if they have a problem and feel like they’re broken or not “normal.” Can you blame anyone for not divulging when the word “dysfunction” has such a negative denotation? Sadly, it’s pretty common for people with depression to have their sex life interrupted in one way or another. Continue reading Mental Health in Bed: Sex and Depression

Porn Addiction Therapy: What You Need to Know

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Seeking treatment for addiction to pornography is one of those uncomfortable topics people tend to avoid discussing. The issue is too big to ignore, though. More than 200,000 Americans are addicted to porn. The American Society of Addiction recognizes porn addiction as a legitimate health issue. Every day, mental health professionals use porn addiction therapy to help people relinquish their dependency and develop a healthy sexual mindset.

Porn addiction therapy often focuses on issues around shame, denial, loneliness, fear of intimacy, and sometimes social anxiety. It can shine a light on issues that “exist in the shadows,” said therapist L. Gordon Brewer, who has experience treating clients for sex and porn addiction. Brewer added that providing unconditional positive regard is especially important when helping people with addiction.

Therapists who treat clients for porn addiction commonly use cognitive behavioral therapy [CBT] to address the issues behind the addiction. This form of psychotherapy attempts to change the client’s beliefs by showing them how their thoughts are irrational or detrimental. They also help clients understand how their excessive consumption of pornography is preventing them from living a full life and having a healthy mindset about sex, relationships, and intimacy. Continue reading Porn Addiction Therapy: What You Need to Know

How Narcissists Act in Bed Might Surprise You

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In recent years, there has been a huge uptick in awareness about narcissism and Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Many people notice flagrant examples of narcissism, like a coworker who talks endlessly about herself or a date who says most women tell him he’s the most attractive guy they’ve met on Tinder. But sometimes narcissism can be less obvious, and its signs may be counterintuitive.

This is the case particularly in the bedroom. Here’s a list of some sexual characteristics of narcissists. Some might not surprise you, but others could challenge your preconceived notions of narcissism.

Unexpected Generosity

Narcissists may actually be very “generous.” You may envision a narcissist as a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am type of lover who is only out to have his or her own orgasm and then rolls over and goes to sleep. Some people fit this description.

Others are much the opposite, though. Many narcissists pride themselves on being expert lovers who can give a partner multiple orgasms and the best experience of their lives. The only downside to this is that narcissists might expect their partners to rhapsodize over their lovemaking skill, and may even prompt partners to discuss this in awkward detail. Even providing oral sex for a partner is still all about the narcissist’s own ego. Continue reading How Narcissists Act in Bed Might Surprise You

The Mental Health Issues People Living with HIV Deal With

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Being diagnosed with HIV is no longer the end of a life. For those with access to appropriate treatment, being HIV positive is the beginning of a life with different challenges.

As a psychotherapist, I have seen how these challenges affect the mental health of those who live with HIV. Using my experience, I outlined the mental health issues these people tend to deal with. By learning about them, you can — if you live with HIV — improve your mental health or more effectively support people who live with HIV. Continue reading The Mental Health Issues People Living with HIV Deal With

Infertility: Everything You Need to Know to Cope

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You think you have all the time in the world. When you’re ready to get pregnant it will just happen.

People don’t talk about the difficulty that can accompany pregnancy. They assume it will be easy because people rarely mention infertility. No one thinks of the possibility that it could take years to get pregnant. They don’t consider the thousands upon thousands of dollars they could spend trying to get pregnant. You might not consider the toll infertility could have on most if not all the relationships in your life.

If you’re struggling to cope with infertility, you are not alone. Continue reading Infertility: Everything You Need to Know to Cope

Has Your Sex Life Simmered Down? Here’s How to Reignite The Passion

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Sparks fly and bodies meld when you’re having great sex. But what happens when it cools and morphs into a routine?

Sexual intimacy presents an opportunity for great connectivity, self discovery, pleasure and vivacity. But it can also be a source of loss, pain, fear and vulnerability. The typical reaction to these sides of sex is to withdraw and create walls.

What if instead, you chose to open up to the barriers you are hitting, including your own self-doubt or shame, fear of loss, long-term doubts about the relationship, or the jealousy and comparisons with past partners? Introspection and perpetual striving for new ways to connect and explore your essence as a sexual being, and that of your partner, is the key to increased intimacy and better sex.

Here are a few key mechanisms to maximize healthy sexuality, intimacy, connection and passion in deliberate and fun ways. Continue reading Has Your Sex Life Simmered Down? Here’s How to Reignite The Passion