The United States is a funny place. We simultaneously glorify sexuality and shame it, especially for women. We have a belief system in place for how we are supposed to live our lives, and it includes assumptions about our sexual, relational selves:
Go to school. Graduate. Go to college. Sew your wild oats if you are a guy, look for a “good man” if you are a girl. Get a job. Meet a person of the opposite sex. Marry that person. Buy a house. Have children and dogs or cats. Put up a picket fence. Live happily ever after. The end.
The problem is that story isn’t the story for a whole lot of people. Some people don’t want children, or don’t want to get married. Others aren’t straight. Still others divorce, have illnesses, can’t work, or some other real-life thing happens that changes the story, and suddenly they feel like a failure because they didn’t meet that model. Not “Living the American Dream” can lead to disillusionment, fear, sadness and a great deal of anxiety.
Living in this culture can foster a whole host of related, complex issues:
- Discomfort with sexual desire, fantasy, or sexual behavior
- Fears about sexual connection, disease, pregnancy, fertility or sexual health
- Discomfort with one’s body
- Heteronormativity: the assumption that “straight” is the right way to be
- Difficulty with sexual or relational language
- Gendered issues: concerns connected to ways of being “female” or “male” that may or may not match how someone sees themselves
- Assumptions about monogamy or what “normal” relationships look like
If any of these concerns resonate with you, we may be a good therapy match. We can talk about what role your sexuality and sexual relationships play in your overall life. We can talk about sex, orgasms or kink. We can talk about polyamory, infertility, or infideltity. We can talk about sexting, webcams and porn. Therapy can be a safe space to talk about a wide range of sexual and relational issues that you may not feel safe addressing anywhere else. It can give you the framework and language to start having those conversations with yourself and the people you care about.