Sexual issues: How to manage

Tools to have a satisfying sex life

Typical reaction to sexual problems

Most couple therapies will focus to a certain degree on giving the tools to react productively to a sexual difficulty. A lot of the times, the couple comes in with one of them being the "patient" and the other will be tagging along. Sometimes, the partners agree on those positions initially given and other times it is a point of conflict between them.

Who really has a problem?

Frequently the person who tags along during the therapy has strongly reacted to the problem by feeling culpable and blame themselves for it. For example, a man will have difficulty with his erection and the partner will think that they are either unattractive or incompetent in bed. This puts pressure on the partner to reassure their spouse's low self-esteem. Inevitably, this creates performance anxiety for the next sexual encounter which diminishes sexual arousal and pleasure, thus perpetuating a vicious cycle. 

The person who tags along can also have frustration towards the designated "patient". If one partner has lower sexual desire than the other, this builds up over time as their sexual needs are not met as they wish. Often, the initial reaction of blaming oneself turns towards the other when the situation doesn't change. Unfortunately, these negative reactions only hinder the issue further down more difficulties.

Co-constructing a sexual problem

When couples perceive sexual issues as sporadic and temporary in time, this can reduce the factors that maintain the problem in the first place.  A defeatist attitude or dramatizing the sexual difficulty generally increases the problem. The partners don't see each other as collaborating but combative.  One's behavior creates a bad reaction in the other, especially in emotionally fused couples.

For many people, sexuality is an aspect of their life where they are fragile and vulnerable. When there is a sexual issue that doesn't rub their ego the right way by feeling incompetent and less desirable; it generates a reaction that threatens the well-being of the relationship.

  • How do you feel when your partner isn't as sexually aroused as you want them to be?

  • How do you react when the other refuses your sexual advances?

  • Do you believe that sex should be natural and simple?

  • How do you perceive sexual issues in a relationship?

  • How important do you consider sexuality when evaluating the satisfaction of your relationship?

  • Do you consider yourself responsible for your partner's sexual pleasure?

  • Who is responsible for YOUR sexual pleasure during sex?

The answers that you give to the questions above strongly correlate with your reaction to sexual difficulties. People who take sexual problems as a personal attack or blame the other for the issue only fuel the problem. 

Productively managing sexual difficulties

  1. We try to understand OUR part of responsibility in the issue, without taking all the blame or devaluing ourselves.
  2. We ask questions to our partner about their perception and how they feel about the situation.
  3. We manage our emotions and reflect on what the other person tells us.
  4. We maintain an open and HONEST discussion about the issue.
  5. We collaborate together rather than attack each other in our insecurities and fears.
  6. We talk about it with lightness and humour by seeing it as an opportunity to make our relationship and sexuality better.
  7. We consult a health care professional such as a sexologist & psychotherapist when we aren't capable of dealing with the issue ourselves.

Learn more about the author

Francois Renaud M.A.
Sex therapist & psychotherapist in Downtown Montreal

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Increase sexual satisfaction

Sexual presence anxiety

Getting out of a sexual routine

We often talk about sexual performance when it comes to having good or bad sex. Many people desperately search to be sexually performing in bed so that they can get their ego's rubbed the right way. They want their partner's to notice how good they are and leave their mark. Others will find this dynamic to be unfulfilling and transition towards more of a sexual presence to avoid the sexual routine.

From performance to sexual presence...not so easy

When people realize the advantages of letting go of being performing sexually and becoming more present with their partner during sex, they inevitably find it natural to progress to the next step. Although, this task isn't as easy as one would want it to be. Our old tendencies are hard to push aside. We are educated at a young age to perform in sex and many aspects of our lives. We want to have results that are quantifiable such as a number of orgasms, a score between 1 and 10, the frequency of sexual relationships, the number of partners, the length of the penis, duration of sex, the amount of lubrification, the percentage of penis rigidity. 

How do you define your sexual satisfaction?

Sexual presence isn't clear cut

Sexual performance is based on techniques, sexual positions and quantifiable aspects of sex. Sexual presence is more fluid and organic. It feels completely different than the sex you've had so far. Each person experiences and feels sexual presence differently. It is not an esoteric kind of sex, but more of a new mindset. Although, some people find this kind of sexual experience through esoteric means. We must learn to manage that there are no manual or directions to becoming sexually present. This is the difficult part for most people as we are used to being told how to do things. It is more of a personal journey than something you must do in a certain way. It is changing our intentions when having sex.

This can make most people feel sexually incompetent when we try to have more sexually present sex. Who wants to feel that way at 30 or 40 or even 50 years old? It is actually quite similar to the first time we have sex and we have no idea what we are doing. We are stressed out and in unknown territory. Why would we want to have sex where we feel sexually inadequate?

Getting past our insecurities

Sexual presence brings us face to face with what we have wanted to avoid in sex for a long time, which is our vulnerability and our insecurities. We often talk about how sex must be comfortable and easy going to be satisfied. This isn't false, but we do have to feel some type of unease if we eventually want to grow and mature in our sex life and achieve a more fulfilling and joyful sex.

By confronting our insecurities that make us vulnerable with our partner's, we eventually succeed at getting past them. We learn to experience our sexuality in a different manner that changes our dynamic during sex. Once we get a taste of sexual presence, we realize how anxious and uneasy we were during sex when we were trying to perform. Most of the time, people that come to therapy never want to go back to that type of sex.

How do I become sexually present?

If you were paying attention, there is no way TO DO sexual presence but more of a way of BEING. There are things you can experiment with to start experiencing it. Such as looking your partner in the eyes for prolong periods of time while having sex. Really taking the time to enjoy touching and being touched rather than just trying to give each other orgasms. Putting your pleasure first and letting your partner handle their own. This allows for both partners to eliminate the stress of having to sexually please the other person, while still enjoying seeing the other person enjoy themselves during sex. 

Another obstacle with having sexual presence is that it creates and intense and profound connexion with our partner. This is where our difficulty with sexual presence anxiety comes into play. 

Sexual presence anxiety

The sexual intensity that we feel with sexual presence is for most difficult to tolerate at first, as we are not used to it. It takes a couple of tries before we are completely comfortable with being connected to this degree. It creates more attachment towards our partner which can be exhilarating, but also very scary. It is scary because the more a person becomes important to us, the more we have to lose when we inevitably end the relationship either because of major disagreements or one of the partner's death. It is, therefore, easier to just keep the emotional distance with our partner and focalise on sexual performance. 

Will you risk it?

Sexual performance is a natural step in sexuality that we all go through. We experience sex the first time with that in mind and it allows to build some form of sexual confidence. We have to keep in mind though that it has its limits and it will inevitably lead to sexual insatisfactions if we stay in this dynamic in the long run. It eventually loses its initial attraction and doesn't make sense after many years with a partner. Sexual presence is the next step in our sexuality that we often forget but will catch up with us often after sexual difficulties in our relationship and sex. 

It is now up to you to decide if you desire to explore this new option that is available. It is important to know that sexual presence requires working on one's self and our relationship. It will make you feel strong emotions that can be enjoyable or unpleasant about yourself and your spouse. We must acquire a certain dose of patience to fully enjoy sexual presence. Do not hesitate to consult a sexologist & psychotherapist if you need help achieving your new sex life. 

Learn more about the author

Francois Renaud M.A.
Sex therapist & psychotherapist in Downtown Montreal

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Sexual Performance Will Destroy Your Sexual Satisfaction

Break down the barriers that ruin sex

Technically boring

We all want to be sexually good in bed. We want to prove to our sexual partner's that we are good and to know that they want more sex with us. We perpetuate this idea in the media, with our friends and even in our families with jokes and quotes about sex. One of the worst insults is being told that we suck in bed...or wherever else you enjoy doing it. 

Sexual performance, though, brings its load of baggage as it creates sexual boredom through routine sex. Since we want to please others so much in sex, we won't really change our techniques that we know work. When something works in sex, we tend to use it abusively to the point where even if it doesn't work, we still go at it the same way. 

That, my friends, is when sex becomes too technical and mechanical which brings redundancy and platitudes. Sex becomes a chore that we must accomplish rather than a game between two sexual charged up people. We exchange orgasms where both partners masturbate into each other to find some semblance of sexual satisfaction. Do you recognize yourself?

Getting rid of orgasms

Orgasms are absolutely GREAT! (As Tony the tiger used to say). They are exhilarating and explosive in our bodies. But if we put it into perspective they last between 6 to 8 seconds in length, sometimes more but very infrequently. We have socially constructed orgasms as the epitome of sexuality and the last HOURRA before the end. To the point where it has become for many the only criteria to determine if sex was good or not. No orgasm, no fun, no sexual satisfaction!

If we consider that a sexual activity lasts between 5 to 20 minutes from the beginning to the end, including flirting and all of it. Is it really fair to judge your sexual satisfaction on merely 8 seconds of intense bodily sensations? The other 292 to 192 seconds must not have been that enjoyable if you answered yes to the last question. 

Fewer orgasms, more satisfaction

What if we changed the sexual paradigm of having the most orgasms possible to obtaining the most sexual pleasure. We would already be making sex better. A lot of people confuse the two as one and the same. That orgasm equals pleasure and vice versa. Which seems like a narrow-minded way of perceiving sex. Orgasms are just a bodily function of sex that demonstrates your physical capacity to stimulation. 

We put sometimes so much effort into getting or giving an orgasm that we don't even take notice at all the sexual pleasure that we can offer ourselves DURING sex. That is also why orgasms take so much importance in our relationships. It becomes the only point where we do have some semblance of fun during sex or masturbation.

Next time you have sex or masturbate, try to be conscience about what you are thinking and focusing on while you are doing it. 

  • Where are your thoughts going during sex with a partner or yourself?
  • What do you think about or focus on?
  • What emotions do you feel?
  • Where is your focus and what do you do with it?

  • What importance does your sexual pleasure take?
  • Are you connected to the various sensations of your body?
  • How do you react when your sexual arousal diminishes (less lubrification or loss of erection)?

  • What importance does you partner's pleasure take?
  • Are you sometimes too focused on theirs rather than yours?
  • Do you feel selfish if you do think of yours?
  • Is there's more important than yours? 

  • What happens and how do you feel if your partner doesn't get an orgasm?
  • Do you need to have penetration to consider that you had sex or for it to be considered complete?

We do not give orgasms to our partner...we give them to ourselves

We like to tell ourselves that we give orgasms to our partner. The more we do, the better we feel about ourselves. It validates that we are good sexual partners and we feel sexually competent as well as confident, but only temporarily. More often than not, we are looking to get our egos rubbed the right way during sex rather than our genitals. In reality, we do not give our partner's an orgasm, but we accompany them towards it. Although, that doesn't help our ego to see things that way, when we aren't the ones actually giving them. 

Like most people, women as much as men, we find ourselves in a sexual performance where we want to prove to ourselves that we are sexually capable. When everything works properly (reaching an orgasm), we are reassured and our sexual ego is flattered.  So most people will put much of their focus on reaching and giving orgasms to be reassured. When it becomes more difficult or even impossible as it often happens in a relationship, we start to doubt our sexual competency or blame the other for it when our own self-esteem isn't very strong.

So, rather than take pleasure during sex with our partner, we focus our attention on being performing. When that becomes too difficult, we start feeling incompetent sexually and it starts getting worse from there. We feel anxious and apprehend having sex rather than anticipate having pleasure. We fear failure and our anxiety grows to the point of creating sexual difficulties such as loss of erection, lack of lubrification, anorgasmia, pain during penetration, loss of libido, etc.)

Sometimes, we are still functional, but it doesn't mean our insecurities are not there. There are camouflaged by our "sexual success" (reaching orgasm). More often than not, people are very anxious during sex without even realizing it. 

Rub my ego and I will rub yours!

As I was saying earlier, we prefer our egos be rubbed than our genitals. Since we want our ego's to be rubbed, we want to rub our partner's ego as well. Therefore, not only do we have to deal with our own sexual insecurities, we also need to watch out for our sexual lover's insecurities. Issh! Doesn't sound like sex is that fun anymore now does it? Unfortunately, that is the case for most people. All this happens because we are in a paradigm of sexual performance

Signs you are in a sexual performance dynamic:

  • Have you ever thought that your sexual arousal took too much time and you were afraid that the other person would be bored?
  • Have you ever reassured your partner about their lack of erection or lubrification or lack of orgasm?
  • Have you ever read books, articles or watched videos on sexual techniques? What were the reasons for it?

  • Do you sometimes feel useless when receiving oral sex or feel that you need to offer it right after?
  • Do you feel that your partner doesn't really enjoy oral sex and they are just doing it to please you?
  • Have you ever done it for that reason?
  • Have you ever stopped oral sex because you were feeling guilty that it was taking too long and your partner was bored?

  • Do you desperately seek the G-spot or highly erogenous zones to increase sexual arousal as quickly as possible?
  • Do you continue having sex when you are physically uncomfortable with your fingers, mouth or during penetration to give or obtain an orgasm?
  • Are you preoccupied with the length or the frequency of your sexual relationships?
  • Is the number of sexual partners you've had ever been a concern or important to you?

  • Do you always do the same sexual positions to ensure that you can obtain or give an orgasm to your partner?
  • Do you fear ejaculating too quickly or lose your erection or not lubricate enough during sex?
  • Are entirely comfortable with your nudity in any sexual position, lighting or the face you do during sex?

Sex without sexual performance anxiety

Do you recognize yourself with the different subjects of this article? Would you like to move on to the next step in your sex life? Do you want more satisfying sex that doesn't necessarily involve just more orgasms?

  1.  Focus more on being sexually present with your partner and focus more on sexual pleasure rather than arousal
  2. Put aside your ego and have fun with your partner
  3. Take the time so savor all the different sensations during sex, and not just the last 8 seconds of orgasm
  4. Look your partner more often and longer in the eyes and take notice when you are touching or being touched
  5. Let your partner deal with their own sexual insecurities, without ignoring them, but knowing they are there. 


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Francois Renaud M.A.
Sex therapist & psychotherapist in Downtown Montreal

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Getting Beyond Communication Issues

How Mind-Mapping Makes Your Relationship and Sex Better

False communication issues

In another article, we discussed how couples create false communication issues so they could fight about that rather than the real issues in their relationship. We also discussed how we are able to do that with the different types of mind-mapping abilities that we have. We are now going to explain how we can use mind-mapping to resolves conflicts quicker and better as well as have better sex with your lover. 

Dealing with the real issues

Now that you realized that you can mind-map and that you and your partner both use it in your relationship. It is time to start being more honest with yourself and with them. This requires skills that are not thought in a class but are experienced by being in a relationship. When we fight with our partner we are naturally threatened on two fronts. Losing ourselves or losing each other. This dilemma is what perpetuates people to argue for days on end because they cannot tolerate either of those two options. 

  It is a push and pull dynamic of protecting our self and the relationship. We want to come on top and not be too damaged but also make sure that our partner still loves us afterward. Sometimes, we know what we are doing is wrong, we just don't want to allow our partner to use it against us. Which they most likely have done in the past. We want to keep the upper hand. 

How vulnerable can you be?

No one likes to be vulnerable and most perceive it as being weak. We also tend to culturally associate it with women, which could not be further away from the truth. All human beings feel vulnerability, and we all try to feel it as less as possible. Women nor men are more prone to it  or want it. We might encourage women to express their feelings more, but not their vulnerability. This is also an important difference most people mistake as being the same thing.

Vulnerability in the sense of being profoundly intimate with another person, requires a strong sense of who we are as a person (self-esteem in other words). It is our capacity to know who we are and being able to fully divulge that which we are proud of and that which we are not. It takes courage, not weakness to show our most inner "self". It also takes strength to be able to stand tall when the person you love the most uses your own vulnerability against you, which unfortunately happens too often.

Tolerating your partner's vulnerability

It is not just a question of being vulnerable, it also has to do with seeing your partner vulnerable (a.k.a. not what you want them to be). When people open up about who they are, it makes people uneasy and question themselves. It reflects your own vulnerability whether you wanted to or not. So when a partner brings things up that we were not ready or wanted to hear, we want them to backtrack. Mind-mapping abilities come into play at this point. When someone is vulnerable, our mind-mapping abilities are at full capacity. We are mind-mapping our partner and ourselves. We might want to mind-mask ourselves or implement a false belief into our partner to eject from the situation.

Calming yourself down

Vulnerability isn't fun to live through and we would rather be doing anything else at that moment. Learning to calm ourselves down during those moments is when you can truly connect with your partner. You see them and they see you and as much as it can bring people closer it can also push them away. We are overwhelmed by the intensity of the connexion we have and we want to stay in it as much as we want to push away. We are utterly naked in this confined space with each other and it makes us human and fragile yet strong all at the same time. 

Learning to tolerate the discomfort changes your "self" to a degree that communication skills will never achieve. You must mind-track yourself and your partner as well as avoid mind-masking. When you feel the emotions come up, try to let them be. Sometimes we will feel a knot in our stomach we want to suppress or we want to push down the tingling ball we feel in our throat. Through hardship comes a deep understanding of ourselves and accepting who we are and our partner for being themselves.

Moving from conflict towards intimacy

When we let mind-mapping be part of our relationship, we allow for connection with the other person and we fight differently and about different things. Being vulnerable in a conflict makes us desirable to our partner. If we can acknowledge that it took courage to do it, we can admire the resilience and strength it took.  It can even encourage the other to do the same. Mutual respect for self and our lover starts growing and this is what creates sexual desire in a relationship and meaningful sex. 

Best sex of your life

Mind-mapping sex makes the best kind of sex. You let yourself be completely connected with one another and you are not putting energy into hiding yourself by mind-masking. You are just letting yourself go completely and utterly to the moment with your partner. Nobody needs to hide and you are letting each other feel fully all the intensity and (sexual) emotions that come with having a sexual RELATIONSHIP. 

You are not just exchanging orgasms or masturbating into each other like most people do when having sexual activities. You are looking at each other in the eyes and you take the time to feel every inch of skin you are exploring at that moment. You want to be seen and to see the other as who you are at your core. There is nothing more liberating than mind-mapping sex!

More than just gooey emotions

Let's not mistake this only for lovey dovey sex, which can be absolutely great to have. The type of sex we are talking about is sexually charged up and passionate. It is not just an emotional connexion, but a sexual one. You can have this connexion in a one night stand if you want. It only requires that you let yourself be vulnerable with a complete stranger. Although, a more deep and profound connexion can be built upon in a long term relationship. It tends to give it more significance, therefore, allows it to be more intense in nature.


Learn more about the author

Francois Renaud M.A.
Sex therapist & psychotherapist in Downtown Montreal

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