The number one question sex therapists get from clients, by far, is “Am I normal?” Read on to find out just how common other sexual issues really are.
Am I normal?
“The most common question I get is some variation on ‘am I normal?’” says Cyndi Darnell, a sex and relationship therapist based in New York City. “Sex is under-taught, so most of us gleaned what we know from well-meaning friends and pop culture. As a result, we’re left to fill in the blanks ourselves and can feel isolated. People feel afraid to ask for help or worse still, do not know who to ask!” Darnell wants to reassure you: Whether a person is wondering about their biology (e.g. the size, shape, placement, scent, etc. of body parts), their sexual abilities, or the kinds of activities they enjoy, “someone else out there has had the exact same feeling.” Sex therapist Megan Fleming, PhD wholeheartedly agrees and adds, “There is such a range of sexual interests and behaviors that no matter how ‘strange’ or uncommon, they are ‘normal’ as long as it’s consensual and pleasurable for both partners.”
How do I get my sex drive back?
“Low desire is often complex, but in the majority of cases, the low-desire partner is running on empty,” says Fleming. “For most women, and an increasing number of men, desire for sex isn’t as spontaneous as it might have been when they were younger, had fewer responsibilities, or were newly into a relationship.” The pathway back to feeling frisky is something called “responsive desire”: Even if sex is the last thing you want, nonsexual touches—him caressing your hair, you rubbing his back—may feel good to you. And that little bit of pleasure (aka “arousal) in the body can lead to desire in the mind. “The sexual response cycle isn’t linear as once was thought. Arousal can lead to desire and orgasm, you don’t always have to feel desire first.” Don’t miss these other natural libido boosters.
Is ‘sexting’ cheating?
Flirting outside of a committed relationship isn’t new, but these days there are so many more ways to do it! “Boundaries can be blurred when people communicate with friends or acquaintances on Kik, text, direct messages, Snapchat, and other platforms,” says Sara Stanizai, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Long Beach, California. Clients who discover a partner has been “sexting” are often most hurt by the secrecy and lies, she says. “I tell my clients in this situation that the flirter has to be open about the communication and what they’re getting from it. People who keep these kinds of secrets often feel immense shame about their needs and about the secrets. If they can share that part of themselves with their partners, they have an opportunity to become more open and connected, which can actually bring the two of you closer.”
Can you “fix” my partner?
According to Dori Gatter, PsyD, who has been a relationship expert and psychotherapist for 25 years, she’s heard many clients complain about mismatched libidos—often a male partner who wants more sex than his female partner. A handful of times, a guy has actually asked Dr. Gatter, “Can you fix her?” The fact is, it’s normal for individuals to have different levels of desire and needs for sex. And if one partner is feeling ignored or taken for granted, it’s natural for sex drive to tank, she says. “Women, in particular, have a need for things to feel fair and equal, and a need to feel seen, appreciated and validated. It is really quite simple to do this for a partner, and yet it is one of the hardest things I teach spouses to do in my office. When you learn how to do this, your partner feels closer and more connected and then they want to have more sex! It is simple but not easy.” Check out these 8 other common reasons for low sex drive.