NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Saturday, October 1, 2022

The Fetishization of Lesbians and Bisexual Women is a Social Justice Issue

Fetishization is defined as the act of making someone an object of sexual desire based on some aspect of their identity.  With regard to lesbians and bisexual women in particular, fetishization means objectifying these women and seeing them as existing soley for the sexual pleasure of heterosexual men.  

The Fetishization of Lesbians and Bisexual Women is a Social Justice Issue

Mainstream Pornography Distorts Lesbian and Bisexual Relationships
With fetishization, there is no regard for actual lesbian and bisexual relationships with women--actual relationships as opposed to the distortions portrayed in mainstream pornography where these relationships exist only for the male gaze (see my article:  What is the Difference Between Ethical Pornography and Mainstream Porn?).

Acceptance or Fetishization of Lesbians and Bisexual Women?
Although many believe there is greater acceptance for lesbians and bisexual women these days, it's important to distinguish acceptance from fetishization.  

Instead of being accepted, these women are often objectified and viewed as being on display for the sexual enjoyment of heterosexual men. 

Acceptance or Fetishization of Lesbians and Bisexual Women?

Lesbians, in particular, are often seen as a sexual challenge by many men. These men fantasize about "converting" these women into heterosexuals.  

Alternatively, many men would like to believe that lesbians would find them so irresistible that they would make an "exception" to have sex with them. These men want to believe they would be special, above all other men, in the eyes of a lesbian.

In these instances, it's all about male sexual conquest or "scoring" with lesbians.  

Related to this is the distorted perception that if these women were to experience "a real dick," they would have a sexual awakening and convert to heterosexuality.

Bisexual Women as "Unicorns" to Be Sought Out by "Unicorn Hunters"
There is a particular type of fetishization of bisexual women among men who seek out bisexual women for threesomes.  

The term "unicorn" implies that bisexual women, who participate in these threesomes (female-male-female or FMF), are hard to find, and the men who try to find them are referred to as "unicorn hunters."

There is nothing wrong with bisexual women who willingly consent to be part of a threesome with a heterosexual couple.  There is no harm if no one is being manipulated or exploited among consenting adults.

The problem comes in when heterosexual men see all bisexual women as existing only for their sexual pleasure or when bisexual women are pressured into threesomes or denigrated for not participating in threesomes.  

Similarly, some men seek out bisexual women for their "bi-curious" girlfriend so these men can gawk at their girlfriend having sex with a woman.  

Once again, if everyone is enthusiastically consenting to these sexual activities and no one is being abused, there isn't a problem among consenting adults. 

The problem comes in when all bisexual women are viewed as existing only for this purpose and they're not seen as existing in their own right.

Some bisexual women are tricked, manipulated or misled into engaging in these sexual activities by the "unicorn hunter."  

Sometimes these men lead bisexual women to believe that sex will only be between the two of them (the man and the bisexual woman) but it's really a setup to get her to be part of a threesome.  

Even worse: When men use alcohol or drugs to sexually manipulate, abuse and exploit women.

Once again, to clarify: Manipulating bisexual women into threesomes is very different from being a consensual member of a polyamorous triad or throuple, which are relationships among three consenting adults (more about this in a future article).

The Objectification of Lesbians and Bisexual Women is a Social Justice Issue
Objectification means treating someone like an object who is devoid of their own subjectivity with regard to their thoughts, feelings and behavior.  This is a social justice issue for everyone.

Objectification of any woman means reducing her to an object or body part who exists for the sexual gratification of heterosexual men.  

Similarly, when lesbians and bisexual women are seen as hypersexualized beings, this perpetuates a dangerous stereotype.  This form of dehumanization can, and often does, lead to violence against women.  

The Need For a Major Overhaul of the Sex Education System in the US
There is an urgent need for a major overhaul of the sex education system in the United States.  

Where sex education exists at all the emphasis is usually on prevention of sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy.  

There is little to no education about sexual pleasure which is an important part of sex between consenting adults.

Similarly, there is little to no education about the harmful effects of objectifying women in mainstream pornography and other media.  This is an important issue because this is how many teens and young adults get information and form their views of sex in the absence of comprehensive sex education.

Abstinence-based sex education advises teens and young adults to wait until they're married to have sex.  However, with no guidance from sex education, how are these adults supposed to take the leap from thinking sex is wrong or sinful to having a healthy sexual relationship when they get married?  There needs to be comprehensive sex education to fill this void.

Raising Awareness of the Fetishization of Lesbians and Bisexual Women
Although more people--both women and men--are speaking out against the objectification of lesbians and bisexual women, their attempts are a mere drop in the ocean compared to the pervasive negative stereotypes in mainstream porn and other media.

Raising awareness starts with each individual reflecting on their own personal views and choices with regard to women--whether these women are their partners, sisters, nieces, granddaughters or strangers to them.  

In doing so, they can learn to respect women and also respect themselves.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT and Somatic Experiencing therapist.

I am a sex positive therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.

Sex Education: What is the Difference Between Ethical Pornography and Mainstream Porn?

Many young adults and teens use heteronormative mainstream pornography not just for sexual arousal but also as their main source of sex education.  This is unfortunate since mainstream porn perpetuates many falsehoods about sex. 

Ethical Pornography vs Mainstream Porn

Mainstream porn also creates unrealistic expectations about gender roles.  

In addition, the most watched videos are those that depict physical violence and discrimination on many levels.

Researchers have also discovered a connection between mainstream pornography and the violent sexual acts of sex offenders.

Mainstream pornography has many other problems, including:
  • The overall degradation and dehumanization of women and young girls
  • The portrayal of sex between heterosexual men and women from a misogynistic point of view
  • Rape, incest and pedophilia, including the sexualization of child abuse with men having sex with their underage daughters, granddaughters, stepdaughters, uncles with young nieces, and so on
Ethical Pornography vs Mainstream Porn 

  • The false portrayal of underage children as enjoying adult predatory behavior and sexual assault
  • The use of young girls and women who are being sex trafficked and used against their will to make porn
  • Not just a dramatization of rapes--but actual rapes of young girls and women
  • The fetishization of bisexual and lesbian women through a misogynistic male lens
  • The degradation of heterosexual women, including, among other things, male partners who humiliate them by ejaculating semen on their face and other parts of women's bodies (called the "money shot")
  • The misinformation of what sexually arouses heterosexual women by portraying women as being spontaneously turned on only by penis in vagina (PIV) sex as opposed to the type of sex that most women are actually more turned on by--oral sex.
What is Ethical Pornography?
Ethical pornography is also called feminist pornography or fair trade pornography.  

It differs from mainstream porn because of:
  • The portrayal of consensual sex among adults
  • The respectful portrayal of women as opposed to the degradation and dehumanization of mainstream porn
  • The portrayal of more realistic sexual pleasure experienced by women as opposed to sex based solely on misogynistic male fantasies
  • The portrayal of women as subjects of their own pleasure rather than objects of male pleasure
  • The portrayal of sex from various perspectives rather than just from the male point of view
  • Diversity in terms of race, age, body type, sexuality, ability and so on
  • The ethical treatment of performers who are respected and paid fairly
  • The creation of a safe environment for performers that includes informed consent in terms of production and distribution of films
  • The collection of fees from viewers to compensate performers fairly
Where to Watch Ethical Pornography
The following are just a few organizations that, as of the date of this article, provide ethical pornography for those who choose to watch it:
  • Bellesa: A porn company run by women and catering to women
  • Make Love Not Porn: Created by Cindy Gallop to show what real life sex looks like
  • Highlights consensual BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Dominance, Submission, Sadism, Masochism) and fetishes in order to destigmatize kink 
  • Dipsea: Audio porn of healthy sex

As compared to mainstream pornography, ethical porn provides a more realistic and sex positive portrayal of sexual activities.

If you want to watch pornography, find out if the platforms you patronize are ethical porn sites with sex positive messages.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT and Somatic Experiencing therapist.

I am a sex positive therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

Friday, September 30, 2022

Sexual Health: What is Arousal Non-Concordance?

Most people don't understand the concept of arousal non-concordance because they never learned about it in sex education class, so I want to clarify this concept in the current article because it's the source of many problems in relationships (see my article: Understanding Your Sexual Accelerators and Sexual Brakes).

What is Arousal Non-Concordance?

What is the Difference Between Arousal Concordance and Arousal Non-Concordance?
Arousal concordance means that emotional, physical and mental sexual arousal are in synch so a person feels emotionally, mentally and physically aroused at the same time.

Arousal non-concordance is a term often used in sex therapy to describe a common experience: A person is feeling physically but not mentally or emotionally turned on or feeling mentally and emotionally turned on but not reacting in the same way physically.  So one or more aspects are out of synch.

What is Arousal Non-Concordance?

For example, a woman could be mentally and emotionally turned on, but she doesn't experience vaginal lubrication, as described in the clinical vignette below. 

Or, she could experience vaginal lubrication, but she's not mentally or emotionally turned on and she's not interested in having sex.

Similarly, a man could experience arousal non-concordance when he has an erection, but he is not mentally or emotionally aroused and so on.

Physical Arousal is Not the Same as Consent
Since it's possible to experience physical arousal but not emotional or mental arousal, the only thing that counts with regard to sexual activity is verbal consent (see my article: What You Can Learn From the Kink Community About Consent).

Physical Arousal is Not the Same as Consent: No Means No

This is significant because men often assume that if a woman is physically aroused, it automatically means she wants to have sex.

There have been rape cases where the woman's physical arousal has been used against her in court to defend a rapist--even though the woman was clearly saying to him when he forced himself on her and she was trying to fight him off.  

No means no.

In addition, if there isn't clear verbal consent, consent should not be assumed.

A Clinical Vignette About Arousal Non-Concordance:
The following clinical vignette is a composite of many cases with all identifying information removed to protect confidentiality:

Mary and Bob
Mary and Bob were married for 23 years when they sought help in sex therapy because they were having sexual problems.

According to Bob, he felt discouraged about their sex life because, even though Mary would tell him that she was in the mood to have sex, he detected that she wasn't experiencing vaginal lubrication.

Bob said he believed Mary told him she felt sexually aroused just to appease him, which made him feel awful.  

He had a hard time believing she was turned on when she didn't get wet.  So, he stopped initiating sex and when Mary tried to initiate sex with him, he told her he wasn't in the mood because each time she didn't appear to be physically aroused, he felt he was being rejected.

When it was Mary's turn to speak, she told their sex therapist that she loved Bob very much, she still found him to be attractive and she was turned on by him.  She said she tried to explain to Bob that, since she was postmenopausal, she had difficulty getting wet the way she naturally did before menopause.  She wanted to use a lubricant, but Bob refused because he felt she was no longer sexually turned on by him.

After their sex therapist explained the concept of arousal non-concordance and that this was a common experience, Bob was surprised and he finally believed Mary.

Subsequently, he felt better about Mary using lubrication to make sexual intercourse easier.  From then on, with assistance from their sex therapist, their sex life improved and they were happier in their relationship.

Arousal concordance is easier for most people to understand because it's how they normally think sex should be--everything aligns physically, emotionally and mentally.

What is Arousal Non-Concordance?

Arousal non-concordance can occur for many reasons.  Some people desire sex mentally and emotionally before they get physically aroused.  But once they begin to have sex, they also get physically aroused.  This is true for most women (85%) and some men (25%) according to the latest sex research.

There can be many other reasons why the physical, emotional and mental arousal don't align.  For example, as in the vignette above, a woman might not lubricate naturally--even though she is emotionally and mentally aroused.  

Non-concordance can also occur for men, as mentioned above.

Communication is key.  Rather than rely on the physical signs of sexual arousal, ask your partner and be aware that if there is arousal non-concordance, you should rely on your partner's word rather than assume you know how your partner is feeling.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT and Somatic Experiencing therapist.

I am a sex positive therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.


Monday, September 26, 2022

Heterosexual Women Are Often Labeled as Having Low Sexual Desire When The Real Problem is Their Sexual Needs Aren't Being Met During Partnered Sex

There can be many reasons why a heterosexual woman might not be enjoying sex.  All too often these women are misdiagnosed as having low sexual desire when, in fact, the real problem is that their sex partner isn't meeting their sexual needs (see my articles: Closing the Orgasm Gap Between Women and Men - Part 1 and Part 2: How to Close the Orgasm Gap).

A Woman's Sexual Needs Aren't Being Met By Her Partner

The problem in these situations is often that the man either doesn't know what turns her on, she doesn't know how to talk to him about it or he's only focused on his own sexual satisfaction (see my article: Getting to Know Your Own and Your Partner's Sexual Turn-ons).

These problems often occur during casual sexual hookups where either the man's sexual pleasure is given priority or the two people just don't know each other well enough for the woman to have satisfying sex (see my articles: What is Good Sex? Part 1Part 2: Solace SexPart 3: Sealed Off Sex and Part 4: Synchrony Sex).

Generally speaking, the man won't have problems having an orgasm--even during a casual hookup because it's easier for a man to have an orgasm.

Every woman is going to be different, but most women don't orgasm from just PIV (penis in vagina) alone.  Most women need clitoral stimulation to reach an orgasm and this might not occur if the man isn't concerned about the woman's sexual satisfaction.

In many of these cases, when a woman doesn't enjoy PIV, both she and the man often believe there's something wrong with her.  But there's nothing wrong with a woman who doesn't enjoy sex that isn't satisfying for her.

What Are the Signs a Heterosexual Woman's Sexual Needs Aren't Being Met During Partnered Sex?
The following situations usually indicate a heterosexual woman's sexual needs aren't being met during partnered sex with a heterosexual man:
  • He expects her to perform oral sex (fellatio) on him, but he's either unwilling or doesn't know how to give her pleasure with oral sex (cunninlingus).  Since most women need clitoral stimulation to have an orgasm, this is a big problem.
  • He doesn't know where her clitoris is and he's not interested in finding out because it's not important to him.
  • He gets his "sex education" from watching porn and he doesn't realize that women in pornography are actors acting a role and not really being sexually satisfied.  He also believes that all women orgasm from PIV and he doesn't need to make much of an effort because he sees heterosexual women in porn having an orgasm quickly and without much effort from the man.
  • He thinks she should always be in the mood for sex without any effort on his part because that's what he's seen portrayed by the actors in porn (the female actors in porn are always ready to have sex because they're actors playing a part).

A Woman's Sexual Needs Aren't Being Met By Her Partner

  • He only cares about his own orgasm during sex.
  • He believes sex is over after he has an orgasm (even if she hasn't had an orgasm or hasn't even enjoyed sex).
  • He insists on having sex without a condom.  This is totally unacceptable because of the potential to get an STI (sexually transmitted infection).
  • He doesn't engage in cuddling or any type of affectionate behavior after he has an orgasm.
  • He becomes emotionally and/or physically distant after he has an orgasm.
  • He doesn't take care of his personal hygiene by showering before sex or "manscaping," but he expects her to take care of her personal hygiene for him.
  • He insists on certain sexual acts, kinks or fetishes he enjoys and he gets angry and resentful if she's not turned on by the same things.
  • He persists in asking for sexual acts she's made clear she doesn't like.
  • He makes negative and condescending remarks about her appearance (e.g., her weight, age, hair, makeup or lack of makeup, etc) and then he doesn't understand why she's not turned on or interested in having sex with him.
  • He gets impatient and angry if she has pain during PIV sex (e.g., dyspareunia, vaginismus, vulvodynia, post-menopausal pain) which can be due to many reasons, including but not limited to:
    • insufficient lubrication 
    • insufficient or no sexual arousal
    • medication
    • breastfeeding
    • urinary tract infection
    • other medical causes
  • He becomes offended and insecure when she wants to include sex toys during their sexual activities.
  • He blames her for his medical and/or psychological problems with erectile dysfunction or unreliable erection, and he refuses to get appropriate medical and/or psychological help to rectify his problem.
  • He becomes emotionally abusive by comparing her to other women he's known or threatening to see other women to belittle or pressure her to do what he wants sexually.

Heterosexual women are often labeled as having low sexual desire when the real problem is their sexual needs aren't being met during partnered sex.

Sometimes this occurs because the woman's male partner isn't sexually well informed or he doesn't know what turns on his partner.  

This problem is complicated by the fact that some women either don't know what they like or they feel too ashamed to talk about it (see my articles: Tips For Women on Sexual Self Discovery and How to Talk to Your Partner About Sex - Part 1 and Part 2).

Other times this occurs because the man is selfish and he's only focused on his pleasure.  This frequently occurs during hookups, which are often unsatisfying for heterosexual women.

If the man and the woman are in a relationship and they have been unable to work these issues out on their own, they could benefit from seeking help in sex therapy.

A Couple Attending Sex Therapy

If this problem is occurring during casual sex, the woman could benefit from being assertive about her sexual needs and not continuing to have sex with men who are only focused on their sexual satisfaction.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT and Somatic Experiencing therapist.

I am a sex-positive therapist who helps individual adults and couples.  One of my specialties is sex therapy.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.


Are Negative Thoughts Getting in the Way of Your Sexual Pleasure?

On a recent episode of the Sex and Psychology podcast called "Change Your Mind, Change Your Sex Life" the host, Dr. Justin Lehmiller and his guest, Dr. Kelly Casperson, a urologist, talked about how to get into the right mindset to have pleasurable sex (see my articles: Are You Distracted By Negative Thoughts About Yourself During Sex?Keeping the Sexual Spark Alive and Women's Sexual Self Discovery).

Negative Thoughts Can Keep You From Enjoying Sex

Distractions Keep You From Enjoying Sex
According to Dr. Lehmiller, people are accustomed to multitasking more than ever--like listening to a podcast while you're driving or cleaning the house.  

Similarly, some people multitask in their mind.  But multitasking in your head while you're engaging in sex gets in the way of your being fully present in the moment sexually.  It keeps you distracted and affects your ability to be present with a partner or during solo sex (see my articles: Reconnecting With Your Inner World Without Distractions).

Negative Thoughts That Can Rob You of Sexual Pleasure
Similarly, your negative thoughts could be robbing you of sexual pleasure.

Here are some common examples of negative thoughts that get in the way of sexual pleasure:
  • Having Frequent Thoughts About a Negative Body Image: If, instead of being focused on your pleasure, you're focused on negative thoughts about your body, you're not in the moment.  You're feeling bad about yourself and you might also be imagining your partner doesn't like how you look. Not only does this take you out of the present moment, it takes you into a negative mindset where you're feeling bad about yourself (see my article: Is a Negative Body Image Ruining Your Sex Life? and Are You Sabotaging Yourself With Negative Self Talk?)

Negative Thoughts About Body Image

  • Dismissing Your Own Pleasure Because You Believe Sexual Pleasure is Only For Your Partner and Not For You: Thinking of sexual pleasure as being for someone else and not for you keeps you stuck in a negative mindset before you even begin to have sex.  These thoughts can be hard to detect because they often operate just outside of your awareness.  While it's good to want to please a partner, your sexual enjoyment is also important. 
  • Distracting Thoughts About Other Things You Need to Do: If you're focused on things you need to do, your mind is somewhere else instead of being focused on sexual  pleasure.  These thoughts create stress which is the opposite of being relaxed enough to enjoy sex.  The reality is that whatever time you spend enjoying sexual pleasure probably won't make that much of a difference with whatever is on your to-do list.

Negative Thoughts About Your To-Do List

  • Worrying You Don't Have Time For Sex: This is related to distracting thoughts about other things you have to do.  It's a common negative thought that gets in the way for many people.  To put this in perspective, think about how much time you spend watching TV or on social media.  According to Dr. Lehmiller, sex research reveals that heterosexual couples spend 15 minutes (on average) and lesbian couples spend about 30 minutes each time they have sex, so in the scheme of things, sexual activity doesn't usually take that long (see my article: Accessing Sexual Energy).
  • Worrying About Not Getting Spontaneously Turned On: Everyone is different when it comes to sexual arousal. Some people can get turned on by just thinking about sex.  Other people, including most women, experience responsive desire, which means they need more time to get turned on--it doesn't happen for them spontaneously the way sex is portrayed in the movies. Whether you respond spontaneously or you're more responsive, it's all normal (see my article: Spontaneous Sexual Arousal and Responsive Sexual Arousal Are Both Normal).
  • Focusing on Sexual Performance:  This type of negative thinking is similar to worrying about not experiencing spontaneous desire.  The more you can let go of thoughts about performance and goal-oriented sex, the more you can relax and enjoy yourself.  Rather than worrying about having an orgasm, reframe the way you think about sex to focus on pleasure.  Enjoy the moment rather than focusing on a goal (see my article: What is Performative Sex?).

Focusing on Sexual Performance Instead of Pleasure

  • Worrying About Sexual Frequency:  A common negative thought involves sexual frequency--having enough sex or too much sex. Comparisons to other imaginary people who are "doing it right" becomes the focus. When you compare yourself to other people, you're taking yourself out of your own sexual experience. 

Feeling Guilty and Worrying About Sex
  • Feeling Guilty That Sex is "Bad" or Wrong: Whether these thoughts are coming from your family history, religion, culture or some other source, if you believe sex is wrong, you're probably going to have a hard time enjoying it.  Maybe you don't really believe this deep down anymore, but you could have old negative "tapes" going through your mind that don't allow you to enjoy sex.  These thoughts can intrude on your experience.  If they intrude to the point where they take you out of the experience, you could benefit from seeking help from a licensed mental health professional who has an expertise in this area.
The examples listed above are some of the most common negative thoughts that keep people from enjoying sex.  There are many more.

How to Overcome Negative Thoughts About Sex
The first step in making any change is usually to become aware of the problem because when the problem is outside your awareness, you can't change it. 

So, here are some suggestions about how to change a negative mindset to a more sex-positive mindset:
  • Take Time Before You Engage in Sex to Focus on Sexual Pleasure: Instead of relying completely on a partner to get you turned on, focus your thoughts on sexual pleasure.  This could mean taking a few minutes to watch a sexy movie, read an erotic story or listen to music to get you in the mood.  It doesn't have to be more than a few minutes--just enough time to help you to transition from whatever you were doing before to what you're about to experience sexually (see my articles: Sexual Pleasure and the Erotic Self - Part 1 and Part 2).
  • Write Down Your Thoughts About Sex: Thoughts can be fleeting.  Writing helps you to become aware of and capture your thoughts (see my article: What Are Your Core Erotic Themes?).  How do you really feel about sexual pleasure? Do you feel entitled to pleasure?  
Write Down Your Thoughts About Sex

  • Write About Your Sexual Fantasies: Most people have sexual fantasies and they aren't even aware of it.  They know they have erotic thoughts, but they don't think of them as fantasies.  Writing about sexual fantasies helps you to get into a positive mindset for sexual pleasure (see my articles: Exploring Sexual Fantasies Without Guilt or Shame and The 7 Core Sexual Fantasies).
  • Become More Sensually Aware: You can experience sensual pleasure in many ways when you engage your five senses, including what you see, hear, taste, feel (tactile), and smell:
    • Taking a bubble bath to relax and get back in touch with your body
    • Smoothing on your favorite lotion after you shower 
    • Enjoying certain scents that increase your sensual pleasure, like perfume or incense 
    • Savoring a delicious meal to increase your sensual awareness
    • Listening to music that relaxes you and puts you into a sensuous or sexual mood
    • Listening to an erotic audiobook
    • Watching a sexy movie
Becoming Sensually Aware

  • Use Affirmations to Help You to Change:  It's important to think of making this type of change as a process.  It's a journey.  It's not a one-and-done event. Taking small steps often helps more than trying to change everything at once. Affirmations can help you in the change process in terms of becoming aware of the change you want to make and actually making the change.  Dr. Casperson mentioned that it's important not to get caught up in toxic positivity where you're telling yourself you have already made the change.  Not only is this unhelpful--it's also disingenuous.  For instance, it's better to say something like, "I'm working on accepting my body" instead of "I love my body" when you're really struggling to accept your body image.
  • Become Aware of Your Sexual Motivation:  Dr. Lehmiller mentioned two different types of motivation when it comes to sexual pleasure: approach motivation and avoidance motivation.  An example of approach motivation is seeking love or pleasure, and an example of avoidance motivation is having sex solely to avoid your partner becoming resentful.  Approach motivation helps you to enjoy sex.  It can also give you a dopamine hit that is pleasurable.  Avoidance motivation takes you away from pleasure (see my article: Understanding Your Sexual Motivation).
  • Identify Your Sexual Accelerators and Brakes: For many people it's easier to identify the sexual brakes (e.g., worrying about unpaid bills, incomplete tasks, etc) instead of the turn-ons, which are the sexual accelerators.  If you know what turns you off, you can often just reverse it to come up with what turns you on.  For instance, if you know that being tense is a sexual turn-off, then you can think about a relaxing activity that might help you to get turned on (see my articles: Understanding Your Sexual Accelerators and Brakes - Part 1 and Part 2).
  • Breathe as a Way to Tune into the Sexual Mind-Body Connection: Focus on your pelvis area and image you can breathe in and out through your pelvis.  Not only can this help you to relax, but it can also make you more sexually aware mentally, physically and emotionally (see my article: Learning to Relax With Square Breathing).

Negative thoughts can come at any time--before, during and after sex.  It's a common experience for many people.  

You can overcome habitual negative thinking related to sex by taking steps to become aware of your thoughts and making an effort to change these patterns.

If you have been unable to change these patterns on your own, you could benefit from working with a licensed psychotherapist who has an expertise in sex therapy.

About Me
I am a New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT and Somatic Experiencing therapist.

I am a sex-positive therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

What Are the Benefits of Sexual Role Play?

Sexual role play can be a great way to spice up your sex life and introduce new sexual elements you and your partner(s) have never experienced before (see my articles: The Power of Novelty to Enhance Your Sex Life and The 7 Core Sexual Fantasies).

Sexual Role Play

What is Sexual Role Play?
First, before I discuss the other benefits, let's define the term "sexual role play."

Sexual role play is when two or more consenting adults act out roles while engaging in sexual activities.  

You can take on whatever persona you want and create whatever sexual scenario--as long as it's consensual among everyone involved.

You and your partner(s) can create a role play that is simple or elaborate depending on the sexual fantasy.

Some people use masks, costumes and other props to enhance the experience.  You can also use music and include backstories for each character.  

A common role play theme is to pretend to be strangers who meet at a bar, flirt and go home together to have passionate sex.

Examples of Sexual Role Play in Films and TV Programs
There are many examples of sexual role play in TV programs and movies.  

For example, a husband and wife role play BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Dominance, Sadism, Submission, Masochism) scenes in the TV program, Billions, where the wife plays the role of a dominatrix. The husband, who is a high powered attorney general in his everyday life, is the submissive who gets off on being whipped, stepped on and humiliated by his wife (see my article: What is Sexual Power Play?).

There's a wonderful scene in the movie, Wings of the Dove, which draws the viewer in immediately and is a typical sexual role play.  

Sexual Role Play

The film opens with a scene with two strangers on a train who making eye contact.  Then, without saying a word, they both mysteriously get off at the same train station--the implication being they're going home together to have hot sex--which they do.  

In the movie, 9 1/2 Weeks, an attractive, mysterious man and a woman meet at a street fair.  He initiates a sexual affair, which includes BDSM role play, where he is the dominant partner and she is the submissive.  The affair, which is sexy and exciting, lasts 9 1/2 weeks (see my article: A Cornerstone of Eroticism: Searching For Power).

What Are the Benefits of Sexual Role Play?
There are many benefits to sexual role play, including:
  • Role play can be fun, exciting and sexy.
  • Role play allows you to step outside your everyday reality so it frees you to be characters you might have fantasied about but who you don't see yourself as in your everyday life.
  • You and your partner(s) get to be adventurous when you explore sexual fantasies.
  • Role play offers an opportunity to introduce novelty into your sex life.

The Benefits of Sexual Role Play
  • When you take on the role of a character, it can remove some of the guilt and shame you might feel if you enacted these fantasies as yourself.
  • Role playing, which is agreed upon beforehand, can enhance trust.
  • Role playing allows you to be more assertive or submissive than you normally would be in your everyday life--if you're normally submissive, you can act out a role where you are assertive and if you're normally assertive, you can be submissive (see my article: Destigmatizing Sexual Fantasies of Power and Submission).
  • Sexual encounters can be more fulfilling and intimate with role play, so it often brings people closer together.

Tips For Starting a Conversation About Sexual Role Play
Start by communicating with your partner(s) with these helpful tips.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT and Somatic Experiencing therapist.

I am a sex positive therapist who works with individual adults and couples (see my article:  What Does Sex Positive Mean?).

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.