8 Sex Questions You Really Want Answered (By A Sex Therapist)
Despite living in a more woke society, there’s still a taboo surrounding relationships, with old-fashioned values suggesting that what happens at home stays at home, keeping your private life, well, just that – private. However, much like how you would consult a doctor for an ailment, a sex and relationship therapist can also offer resolve by providing psychotherapy to overcome difficulties with sexual functioning or relationship issues.
Dr Maha Nasrallah-Babenko, a licensed psychologist, psychosexual and relationship therapist, explains, “Working with a sex and relationship therapist can help people gain insight into the emotional, mental, and physical factors contributing to their issues and learn skills to help them overcome them.” We understand that talking about sex or discussing your partner’s annoying or strange habits can feel intimidating, so we decided to ask Dr Nasrallah-Babenkothe all the questions concerning you the most. Whatever the scenario, from stale relationships, to juggling a sex life while parenting and getting back in the dating game, we’ve got you covered.
How do I know if my sex life is normal? How often should I be doing it?
“There is no one measure of a ‘normal’ sexual frequency as this varies from one person to the next, and depends on which stage you are at in your life. Rather than think about what’s normal, think about how satisfied you are in your sexual life, especially regarding feeling pleasure, being relaxed, and being able to express your sensuality, playfulness, and eroticism. Often it is not the quantity of the sex as much as the quality of it that matters, as I suspect most people would prefer to have less frequent but more enjoyable sex as opposed to more frequent mechanical sex.”
I’m single and anxious about sleeping with someone after months of no intimacy – any advice?
“Feeling anxious about being intimate with a partner again is understandable. I encourage you to tune into what you need to feel relaxed and safe, and to honor your boundaries. Take things at a pace that works for you and build up the emotional intimacy and sexual touch gradually.”
I think I’m bad in bed, but how do I know?
“Worrying about your sexual performance is a common concern, though people's concept of what makes someone a good lover is not necessarily an accurate representation of what people truly enjoy. Being good in bed is not about knowing all the tricks on how to pleasure a man or a woman, or about having a strong erection or intense orgasm. Every person is different, so one of the ways to be a good lover is to communicate with your partner about what you both like and want. Being fully present, relaxed, and connected are also factors that contribute to having an enjoyable sexual experience. Lastly, being good at sex means being flexible and adapting to your partner's needs.”
How can I tell my partner what I want without making them feel inferior?
“Giving and receiving feedback is crucial for having a healthy and pleasurable sexual experience. When giving feedback use ‘I’ language, making requests as opposed to criticizing and giving instructions. Say things like, ‘I really love it when you… and ‘I would like to do more of that’ or ‘It felt really good when we...can we do this again?’ or ‘I feel excited about this idea, I would love for us to try it!’”
I’ve lost my orgasm. How can I get it back?
“Orgasmic difficulties can be a result of various factors such as insufficient sexual arousal, performance anxiety or mental distraction. Relational and emotional inhibitions such as trust issues, shame, or difficulty letting go can also affect stimulation. I suggest two things: firstly, reflect on the factors that may be playing a role in hindering your arousal, and work through that. Secondly, reconnect with your own body, exploring what types of touch and stimulation work for you. Another thing to keep in mind is the clitoris – it’s key to a woman's pleasure and orgasm, therefore it’s important to make sure you’re getting sufficient clitoral stimulation.”
We stopped having sex. How do we reintroduce it back into our relationship?
“It’s common for couples to have less sex throughout the years. One of the barriers to sex is having a limited definition of what ‘sex’ is. Many define sex purely as vaginal intercourse, but I would encourage people to expand their definitions of ‘sex’ and incorporate more sexual experiences outside of penetrative sex. I would suggest starting with less intimidating experiences such as more touch, affection, kissing, petting – without any pressure for it to lead to orgasm or penetrative sex.”
One of us cheated. How do we get past it?
“Infidelity can be a very painful thing for couples to go through, and I would encourage seeking professional help for support, learning to rebuild the trust and helping to process the anger and hurt. Often we think that people cheat just because they wanted sex, whereas in reality, people cheat for a myriad of reasons, some of which are that they wanted to feel wanted, desired, and alive again, and so it may be a symptom of deeper issues. For some people, their partner cheating is a hard boundary that determines the end of the relationship. For others, it’s a painful experience they are willing to try to overcome together. If you choose to try to get past it together, I would encourage you to use it as a learning opportunity – once you work through the anger and hurt – to reflect on what parts of your relationship you may need to change moving forward.”
I’m a busy parent. How can I fit sex into my life without it feeling like a schedule?
“It can be extremely difficult managing all aspects of your lives while maintaining an active sex life. That is why scheduling time together can be a great idea for some couples. Just like we prioritize going to the gym, or meetings, or taking our kids on playdates, we need to prioritize our relationship. I’m personally not a fan of scheduling sex, as I am cautious about people feeling pressured to have sex out of duty because it is expected. Instead, I’m a fan of couples committing to weekly quality time together where they create a relaxing, engaging, and playful environment to promote intimacy and touch, without the pressure of it having to lead to sex or orgasm.”