For this guest blog, we’re delighted to welcome psychotherapist Rachel Wright, MA, LMFT – recognized as one of the freshest voices on modern relationships and sex – to answer questions on sex, intimacy, relationships and dating from our Instagram community.
With a Master’s Degree in clinical psychology, Rachel has worked with thousands of humans worldwide, helping them “scream less and screw more”. Visit her website to check out her workshops, coaching, mentorship and more, and be sure to follow her on Instagram and Twitter.
Any tips for sitting in the discomfort of having a necessary difficult conversation with a partner?
It’s true— knowing we are in need of having a difficult conversation can feel pretty scary sometimes. But you know what? Difficult doesn’t have to mean *bad*. Often, these hard, challenging conversations can create more intimacy in relationship. It doesn’t mean it will be a smooth sailing conversation, but in the end, you may find that you feel closer to each other than ever before!
I also recognize that this might not be the case, depending on what you are talking about. So I’m going to give you a couple of helpful tips for having hard conversations that get your point across and feel gentle to your partner.
Tip 1: Use “I” statements instead of “you” statements.
“I feel hurt because _____.” Instead of… “You hurt me because _____.”
It creates more of a conversation starter instead of an interrogation— which is always the goal!
Tip 2: Offer up a next step, or a possible solution.
So often, we share what we’re thinking or how we’re feeling without any additional information on how we want to move forward.
“What I’d love to do is talk to you about why I am so hurt and hopefully move forward -- what do you think?”
My boyfriend feels emasculated when I use my vibrator during sex. How do I go about addressing this?
I would encourage you to approach your partner with a bit of curiosity and empathy and ask deeper questions about why he feels emasculated. Then, I’d encourage you to share with your boyfriend why you enjoy the vibrator and why it feels like a necessity to you.
Many vulva owners, especially during penetrative sex, need more intense clitoral stimulation to reach orgasm or to enjoy it the most! Reiterate to your partner that this is how your body works, and it’s not a reflection of his “performance.”
It’s no secret that society has taught penis owners that they are supposed to be “good” at sex by only using their bodies— which isn’t even possible because good sex comes from communication!
It’s not your partner’s fault that his ego is getting in the way of your pleasure (based on societal norms), but once you talk to him, it is now his responsibility to sort it out. It may be uncomfortable and feel vulnerable -- AND if you two support each other, there is so much room for growth!
One of your sex partner’s responsibilities is to help you experience the most pleasure by listening to your needs and desires. It can be so fun to teach our partners how to use toys on our bodies, and just because it isn’t one of their body parts doing the pleasuring doesn’t mean they aren’t still aiding in your pleasure.
Like Zoom fatigue, is "Tinder fatigue" a thing? How to cope?
Oh my goodness— absolutely! Dating in general, not to mention virtually, can be absolutely exhausting. It’s a strange balance between wanting to make connections and feeling entirely overwhelmed. Also, with online dating, you are experiencing large amounts of excitement and disappointment— often simultaneously. That in itself is exhausting!
If you’re someone who gets on multiple times a day, I would recommend minimizing your Tinder exposure. Try getting on once in the morning for a set amount of time and then again in the evening. This might limit your feelings of fatigue and help create more excitement since your time on the apps will be minimal!
When it comes to coping— just give yourself lots of grace (and breaks!). Take days off and away from the apps if you need to. Online dating is hard and exhausting— it’s okay to step away. And on days you feel like leaning into it and doing more? Go for it!
Advice for when your libido doesn’t match your partner’s? (How to deal with constant rejection?)
Firstly, I want to give you and your partner some homework to do together -- and then we’ll talk about dealing with rejection.
Often we confuse libido and types of desire.
Libido is our sex drive, and our desire type is how our sex drive gets activated.
Ask your partner what generally gets them in the mood— it could be massages, cooking dinner together, having deep conversations, feeling relaxed— the options are endless! Then share with your partner what gets you in the mood.
Sometimes we think that when we are in a relationship, we forget that our partners are individuals with their own needs, thoughts, wants, and struggles. All this can feed into our libidos and sex drives (in fact, most things in life affect our libidos).
Approaching our partners with curiosity is always so much better than approaching them like they may be doing something wrong or that we are disappointed in them.
When it comes to rejection, I want to remind you of one thing first. It’s very likely that your partner is not rejecting you but just isn’t in the mood for sex. Think of it like this— your partner asks if you want to go for a run with them, and you aren’t feeling it.
Your partner knows you aren’t rejecting them; you are rejecting the run— which is very different. Sex feels different because we’ve been taught that when our partners are ready, we should be ready (or vice versa).
But this just isn’t often the case! Our partners have their own feelings and struggles— which most likely don’t have anything to do with us (even if their actions affect us). It’s 100% okay to be disappointed that your partner doesn’t want to have sex with you— but maybe you can ask for other forms of intimacy instead.
A massage, affirmations, cuddles— sometimes it might not always look like what we originally wanted, but it doesn’t have to mean there isn’t a good alternative!
I want nonmonogamy (casual sex mostly) & my partner wants polyamory… Can that work?
It absolutely can work if you and your partner communicate openly, respect each other’s boundaries, and are comfortable with your arrangement. We weren’t taught to build our own relationship model for what works best for us (and our partners!). If this is the model that makes everyone happy— go for it!
I definitely recommend reading The Ethical Slut and PolySecure and if you want some community support - check out my donation-based bi-weekly ENM/Polyam Support Group. There are a lot of folks in there that have a mono/poly dynamic.
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