Learn About Sexuality

The role of relationship therapists & counsellors

There are research findings that clearly indicate men’s stronger interest in sex. Yet even when therapists are faced with women who ask about a lack of sexual interest, they still do not offer this evidence. There is of course money to be made by insisting there is a condition that can be cured or a problem that can be solved through therapy.

We assume that there must always be an answer to everything, a solution. But some situations don’t have a solution. They are just way they are. Full stop. People find that hard to accept. So they keep asking ‘experts’ “How can I make a woman orgasm?” and “How can I orgasm from intercourse?”. People just can’t accept that no one knows the answer to these questions. Because there isn’t an answer that is acceptable. The answer is “You can’t”! But people can’t believe it. So people continue to pay for solutions or perhaps reassurance. This is because of all the fiction suggesting otherwise.

There is tremendous taboo associated with any hint of sexual inadequacy. So even people who advise on orgasm rarely admit to having difficulties themselves. But how can you advise on a problem you have never had?

A sex therapist cannot, any more than anyone else can, help a woman achieve orgasm. A woman can certainly find it helpful to understand how orgasm is achieved in general. She would also benefit from knowing how orgasm is achieved by men and by women. If we are capable of orgasm, then we discover it for ourselves. If a woman has not had an orgasm it means that she is not responsive enough and therefore that she is incapable of orgasm. This is quite normal and usual for most women.

Men don’t generally have problems with orgasm but with arousal. In fact, women’s problems are also with arousal it’s just that female arousal is little understood or acknowledged. A woman may realise that orgasm is missing from sex but she may not necessarily appreciate that she is also unaroused.

A man gets an erection (or not) so male arousal is very evident. Women do not experience arousal (during masturbation alone) as a distinct state of excitement (as men do) that leads inevitably to orgasm. Female arousal is a mental state that directly precedes orgasm and so is of short duration.

Therapists often assume that their work qualifies them as objective observers of the sexual habits of the general population. But a therapist’s clients are not selected for their ‘averageness’. They are volunteers who have sexual issues. Clients may be required to provide a sexual history but these accounts cannot be verified. Given women need to feel content with their relationship to be amenable to intercourse, couples counselling focuses on issues in the wider relationship.

Resentments build up over time. Men resent women not being more amenable to intercourse and not more tuned into the eroticism of sexual activity. Women resent men for expecting intercourse without any appreciation that a woman is not aroused by sex. Naturally there are also men with low sex drives and a woman can feel neglected or unloved.

One problem is that women are told that they should naturally feel sexual desire. They are told that they should automatically or biologically want or need intercourse just as much as a man does. This is incorrect. A woman does not have a sex drive. A couple needs to understand this. Telling a woman that she should naturally want sex and enjoy sex means that, when she doesn’t, the only conclusion is that she is abnormal or dysfunctional in some way. This causes embarrassment and silence. Since there is no apparent solution the couple is at a stalemate.

A couple also needs to understand that a man is not responsible for providing a woman’s sexual pleasure. It is impossible whatever he does. This is not his fault. It is not personal to him or to his lovemaking. Women are not aroused with a lover and they do not orgasm through intercourse as a man does. So a woman has to make conscious effort to engage in sexual activity of any kind (even when she is alone).

Two things need to happen. First a man has to work out what keeps a woman happy outside the bedroom. This involves non-sexual intimacy and caring behaviours, including sympathetic listening, support, taking an interest in her concerns, admiration, companionship, respect and affection.

Secondly a couple needs to plan their sexual pleasuring. They need to agree on one thing that he would like and one thing that she would like. They should plan a ‘sex session’ just once a month or so. Then they can also plan some quickies by changing the venue for intercourse from the bed to the shower or somewhere secluded outdoors, for example.

To us men, sex is sex. We want it, let’s do it, we’re done. For many women it isn’t always that simple. You need to be in tune with her emotionally if you want to make her more receptive sexually. (Stephan Labossiere 2012)

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