NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Sunday, September 11, 2022

Potential Pitfalls When You Talk to a Partner About Your Sexual Desires

This is the second part of a topic I began in a prior article, Tips on How to Start a Conversation With a Partner About Your Sexual Desires, and it will be focusing on the potential pitfalls to avoid when talking to a partner (see my articles: How to Talk to Your Partner About Sex - Part 1 and Part 2).

Talking to Your Partner About Your Sexual Desires

According to Dr. Justin Lehmiller, Kinsey sex researcher and social psychologist, in his book, Tell Me What You Want, there can be potential benefits to sharing your sexual desires with a partner.

Generally speaking, I believe the benefits usually outweigh the problems for most people.  However, it's also important to point out that there can be problems you should be aware of depending upon your personal history, your partner's history, the nature of your relationship and your particular circumstances.

Talking to Your Partner About Your Sexual Desires

Potential Pitfalls When You Talk to a Partner About Your Sexual Desires
Only you know your partner and the nature of your relationship, so the following list of potential pitfalls may or may not apply to your situation:
  • Know Your Partner First: Before you talk about your sexual desires, know your partner.  If you just started seeing someone, unless you met them on a dating site that is specifically for people who are into a particular sexual desire, like BDSM  or other sexual desires, it's generally not a good idea to have this conversation on your first date.  Take the time to get to know someone before you broach this topic.  If not, it could be TMI (too much information) and off putting for the person you've just started dating.

Talking to Your Partner About Your Sexual Desires

  • Be Discerning About What You Disclose to Your Partner: If you're already in a stable relationship and you know your partner tends to be sexually adventurous, you probably already have a sense of whether your partner will respond well to sexual desires you've never disclosed before.  But if you're in a relationship where you know your partner tends to be more sexually inexperienced, cautious or conservative, be discerning as to what you disclose.  
  • Don't Expect to Stabilize an Unstable Relationship By Disclosing Sexual Desires:  If you're in a shaky or chaotic relationship, there are more pressing issues you and your partner need to address first.  A relationship that is already unstable can be further destabilized by disclosing desires or fantasies that are not already part of your relationship.  Work on stabilizing your relationship first.
  • Be Aware Your Partner Might Feel Insecure After You Disclose Your Sexual Desires: Depending upon what you disclose and how your partner feels about it, be aware that talking about certain sexual desires might cause your partner to feel insecure, uneasy or scared.  This could occur because of a partner's early traumatic history, which might include sexual abuse, their experiences in prior relationships or shame about sex or body image issues.  So be empathetic and willing to talk about the emotional issues that might come up.
  • Be Aware Your Partner Might Have Other Negative Reactions: Along with knowing your partner and being discerning, you also want to be aware of a potentially negative reaction your partner might have to hearing sexual desires you never expressed before.  Depending upon what you share, you might be confronted with expressions of disgust, anger or shock.  Your partner might feel you're unhappy in the relationship. So, if you're generally satisfied with the relationship but you want to explore these desires, be aware your partner might need your reassurance.  In certain circumstances, people have used their partner's sexual desires to shame their partner, gossip or to make inappropriate posts on social media. There have also been child custody cases where someone tries to prove their partner is an unfit parent based on the partner's sexual desires.  Although this isn't a everyday occurrence, it's important to be aware of the possibility, especially if you're in an unstable relationship or you anticipate problems.
  • Be Aware of the Possible Negative Impact of Emotional Vulnerability After Disclosing Your Sexual Desires: This is especially true if your conversation with your partner doesn't go well.  Once you've disclosed your sexual desires or fantasies, even if you don't want to enact them in real life (you just want to talk about them), you can't take them back.  On the other hand, emotional vulnerability can be positive.  It's what often brings couples together (see my article: Emotional Vulnerability as a Pathway to Greater Intimacy in a Relationship).  But if it doesn't go well, be prepared to have more than one discussion to address the negative consequences of your own or your partner's emotionally vulnerability.
  • Be Aware Your Conversation Could Highlight a Need to Address Sexual Desire Discrepancy: Even though this issue is being listed as a potential pitfall, this is a common issue in relationships and it isn't necessarily a bad thing.  Sexual desire discrepancy doesn't automatically mean you and your partner are sexually incompatible or that your relationship is doomed.  It might seem daunting at first when you and your partner initially identify the problem, but it's only potentially negative if you and your partner ignore it, refuse to work or you're unable to work through the issue (for whatever reason).  Ignoring it can erode the relationship over time. On the other hand, addressing sexual desire discrepancy could lead to a positive outcome if you and your partner are open minded enough to work on this issue.  Many couples have successfully worked out sexual desire discrepancy with the result that their sex life and overall relationship is better than ever (see my article: What is Sexual Desire Discrepancy?).

You are the only one who knows your particular circumstances and whether it's a good idea to share your sexual desires with a partner.

Even though there are some potential pitfalls, depending upon your circumstances, having open discussions about your own and your partner's sexual desires can be fun and exciting.  

As I mentioned above, I believe the benefits usually outweigh the pitfalls for most people.

Not only can it spice up your sex life, but talking to your partner about your sexual desires can bring the two of you closer together.

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 individuals and couples (see my article: What 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.