Sexless relationships and the metaphor of the layered cake

Alysha Jeney, LMFT, discusses the lack of sex in relationships, the metaphor of the layered cake and what sexual positivity is like.

Lack of sex in relationships can range from trust issues to health-related dysfunctions. Sometimes circumstances like having a new baby or struggling with infertility can do it all. Or maybe you just don’t know what you like or are struggling to feel sexually secure. There are times, however, when the “reasons” for pauses are not so easy to identify and couples will often go into therapy looking for answers.

Imagine that a romantic relationship is like a layered cake. Each layer is built on top of each other and without any, the whole cake feels incomplete.

The answer to “Why don’t we have sex?” it can often involve an ingredient or ingredient that is missing somewhere in the layered cake. Here are the layers:

  • The first layer is the base, which is friendship. This could involve respect, kindness, fun, commonalities, trust, and appreciation.
  • The second layer is emotional connection this is more intimate than with a friendship. Perhaps this leads to emotional vulnerability, compassion, and understanding. It can include feeling seen, validated, and reassured by your partner.
  • The third layer is non-sexual physical intimacy. This can include flirtatious love strokes, long kisses, hugs, and general affection.
  • The top layer is sexual intimacy. This can include pre-games, erotic games and any type of sex game.

Sometimes couples nurture the layer that is easier for them. These same couples may also focus too much on lack of sex and not be sure why. As you can see, if you do not have a strong, respectful, and attractive friendship that allows you to feel emotionally secure and not sexually connected, it is a challenge to feel motivated to have sex. When couples can focus less on sex when they are experiencing calm and focus more on the other layers of the cake as a whole, sex often develops without much effort.

Whether you’re in a long-term relationship or just starting out, you know the sex changes; it evolves, it slows down, it gets hot, it gets cold. Sex has moments of passion, lust, spontaneity and even discouragement. Regardless of gender, color, age, sexual preferences, or history, we all have cycles in our sexual connection with ourselves and with each other from time to time.

If the layered cake is complete, be sure to pay attention to your attitudes about sex as well. Sexual positivity allows you to be open to new experiences without guilt, shame, or obligation. As you approach your sexual self and explore your inhibitions, you may discover a lack of confidence or insecurity that is something to look out for. Sex doesn’t have to look like it. It shouldn’t be labeled “good” or “bad,” it shouldn’t be done in a certain way or a certain number of times a week. Being positive about sex can inspire true desire and intimacy between you and your partner, no matter how long you are together.

One way to be positive about sex is to talk about sex. It sounds simple, but the more you talk about sex with your partner, friends, community, etc., the more you will feel free from any stress, assumptions, and / or pressures that you may be unconsciously undergoing. Talking about sex helps to open the barriers to any sexual taboo and helps to normalize them.

It’s also important to be aware of what sexual “baggage” you bring into the room. We all have luggage! And it doesn’t mean that something is wrong with you, but it does acknowledge that we sometimes have obstacles in our lives that keep us from growing. You may have had sexual trauma; a very strict and / or religious education on gender roles and sex in general; negative past sexual experiences; lack of confidence in yourself or your partner; negative body image; etc, etc. Find a sex therapist who can help you with this process.

* If you are looking for a fun way to try to revitalize your sex life, check out Alysha’s love request date box!

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