Talking to Your Therapist About Sex Can be Difficult, but Worth It
Talking to your therapist about sex can be difficult. Important, but difficult. Conversations with your partner are essential, and talking to close friends can also be helpful, but sometimes you need an outside, neutral party to give input, and also someone with psychological training. That’s where a therapist or other mental health professional can come in.
For me, I wanted to talk about a sensory overload I experienced while being intimate with my partner. I hadn’t seen him in weeks, and I just got really overwhelmed when he finally came home and we were able to be together. He comforted me in the moment, but I still wanted some additional advice, once I was outside of the moment. I figured my therapist would have insight into why the overwhelming feelings had happened, and ideas for what to do about it. But the idea of bringing up sex in session, and even having to say that word, was holding me back.
I ruminated about it for days leading up to the therapy session, even though I knew I wanted to talk about it. Then, when we met, I kept dodging around the topic, talking about the sensory overload but not the context in which it had happened. And my therapist, through no fault of her own, wasn’t getting it. Finally, after much avoidance, I explained more bluntly that the sensory overload had happened during sex.
I knew my therapist wouldn’t judge me or make a big deal of it, and she didn’t, but it was still terrifying. I felt embarrassed and ashamed, even though I had no real reason to feel this way. Sex is taboo, though. That’s just the way it is in our society. I had, of course, waited until the very end of the session to really explain what had happened, so there wasn’t much time to discuss, but still, I’m glad I was able to begin the conversation. It broke down a wall to make talking about sex easier in future sessions.
The therapist-client relationship is a weird one. A therapist is like a parent, but not, like a friend, but not. You can theoretically tell them anything, but there are also boundaries in place for what they tell you. You look to them as a sounding board for advice, but outside of that hour or so a week, there is little contact. It’s a relationship like no other, which makes it hard to define what is “allowed” to be talked about.
That’s the thing though: there aren’t rules about what you are allowed to tell your therapist. There may be topics that are harder to talk about or make you feel shy at first, but that is part of the role of a therapist. They are meant to be the person you can talk to about anything, unfiltered. I’m proud of myself for briefly bringing up the topic of sex while in session last week. That doesn’t mean going forward I will be able to talk freely and unfiltered, but it is a start.
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