The United States is a funny place. Our dominant culture simultaneously glorifies sexuality and shames it. There is a paradigm in place for how we are supposed to live our lives, and it includes messaging about our sexual, relational selves:
Go to school. Graduate. “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 and “settle down”. Marry that person. Buy a house. Have children and dogs or cats. Put up a picket fence. Live happily ever after. The end.
The difficulty is that story isn’t the story for so many of us. Some people don’t want children or don’t desire marriage. Others aren’t straight or don’t live in binary gender paradigms. People divorce, have illnesses or injuries, can’t work, lose a partner, or some other real-life thing happens that changes the story, and suddenly they feel like a failure because they didn’t meet the model or didn’t want it in the first place. Not “Living the American Dream” can lead to disillusionment, fear, anger, sadness and a great deal of anxiety.
The pressure to conform is real, but you don’t have to have or want that dream to experience a fulfilling, remarkable life. Together we can talk about:
- 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
- Couples/Partnership(s) issues
- Gender norms: things about being a “man” or “woman” that don’t match your experience
- Gender issues: trans, non-binary or gender fluid identities
- Assumptions about monogamy or what “normal” relationships look like
- Kinks, fetishes, and power exchange relationships
If any of these topics 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 infidelity. We can talk about sexting, sex work and porn. Therapy can be a space to process a wide range of sexual and relational issues you may not feel safe talking about anywhere else. It can give you the framework and language to start having those conversations with yourself and the people you care about.