WHEN THERE IS MORE THAN ONE MAN IN THE BEDROOM

Many gay couples come for counselling wanting to discuss having sex outside their relationship. Gay men need to negotiate this issue maturely, as having sex with others is a threat to relationship intimacy – but not talking about it is an even a bigger one.

Having a monogamous ideal is fine, but keeping it all in a “not for discussion box” is like trying to keep a lid on the nature as gay men. I am not advocating that couples seek sex outside their relationship. I am merely saying it should be discussed so there is no confusion or deceit.

Sometimes one partner wants to open up the relationship more than the other, who could be struggling with jealousy or fear of losing their partner. However more damage is done if lies and deception are in place. Nothing destroys a relationship more than secrets.

Finding out your partner has been fucking around behind your back when you thought you were in a monogamous relationship will cause huge emotional distress. Also, feeling like a fool for not knowing about it is psychologically damaging, especially when friends have known. With a well-structured sexual agreement in place and understood, this will not happen.

Surprisingly, most gay men deep down believe that other gay men will fuck around but this does not mean their partners can do it behind their backs. When couples come to see me with this issue, I firstly congratulate them for showing respect for their relationship. Gay men are more realistic and honest about this sensitive issue than straight men.

So when is the best time to sit down and negotiate an agreement? For beginning couples I suggest as soon as when they know they are in a committed relationship. You are either having a monogamous relationship or you are not. For long-term couples things change over time, with once a monogamous understanding being replaced by partners willing to open to entertain sex with others.

Once the shock of an open relationship has been dealt, there is now room to reinvent the terms of the sex relationship. It is time to negotiate what is acceptable and agreed to by each person to protect intimacy between the partners. Strict rules of when, how often and under what conditions. Also, the notion that intimacy for each other on so many levels has nothing to do with sex with strangers needs to be fully understood.

Typical Case Study

George and Sam* have been together for eight years and live together – but their sex life has diminished. George wants to open up what has been a monogamous relationship belief. Sam is not happy about this and found sex emails on George’s computer. He also suspects George is having sex when away on business. Sam wants to leave the relationship, as he is hurt and confused. In counselling, George admits he has been having sex while away for the last year and this secret has made him feel dirty and unworthy.

Maybe this is a wake up call and I ask if they see anything positive about it. George says he is relieved to have told Sam about being unfaithful, while Sam says he finally knows and can now plan to leave George. I point out the mind wants that to happen, but does Sam’s heart have a voice? He admits he loves George but does not know how to forgive him. Sam is jealous and scared of losing George, while George says he loves Sam but what can he do when he feels horny and Sam is not into it anymore. George also says it is just sex and he loves his life with Sam.

In the second session, we discuss intimacy and being intimate, and the difference with Sam understanding now that George will not leave him. I point out this is easy to say but they both need a sex agreement. The following session, they come with their own conditions about how often and where it will happen, not to see the person more than once, no texting, full protection, and even the possibility of a threesome if both fancy it.

Sam now feels better and admits his previous monogamous understanding was for the past. I insist they write down their agreement and both sign it. They agree to return for monthly sessions to make sure they are okay emotionally.

A six-month follow-up shows George has had sex three times while away on business and Sam once. They tried a threesome but it was a disaster. Overall, they now feel more connected as before Sam was feeling quite the opposite. We can now talk about ways to improve their own sex lives together, which requires both to get back in the boat.

What is interesting is that some couples, once they have opened up the relationship and try it, decide it is not all they thought it would be. The grass was not a green as they thought on the other side. They now enter a discussion on developing a closer relationship with each other, protecting their intimacy together.

A/ Not real names.

 

RELATIONSHIP LONELINESS AND SELF-REGULATION

It is easy to become lonely in relationships when it is perceived the other no longer sees, listens or validates. The odd thing is that when you dig a bit deeper you usually find both partners feel lonely. Learning simple skills can do wonders to eradicate loneliness in couple domestic life. Ask this question often; “How is our relationship going do you think?” This simple question gives the other permission to say what they have previously been scared to bring up in conversation or there has not been a time or place to do so. Asking this question also suggest you care and it is also not threatening.

Being single can also be tough and feelings of being alone easily experienced. In big cities particularly if you don’t keep ringing friends for a night out nothing eventuates. It can be a constant effort to organize to see people and you sometimes get the feeling if you dropped off your perch no one would notice you at the bottom of the cage for a while. It is easy to feel friendless and that no one cares. But they do and they are waiting for someone to call them as well.

Maybe it is time to stop feeling sorry for our selves. We know a big city can be a tough gig unless you are a performing seal at most social functions and if not social anxiety is common. Being patient, using self-regulation and taking risks in social interaction will make you far less anxious. Ask someone a question or introduce yourself will result in a positive libido (life force). If you find yourself withdrawing the life force goes into negative libido.

Couples create environments that bring about emotional loneliness and single people living in fast paced urban cities experience staying social difficult. Taking either of these scenarios personally means you are bashing yourself up needlessly with negative libido. (Life force)

Also what about having a deeper relationship with your self. Listen to some new music, grab new books, see a movie, go to yoga, join a gym, visit exhibitions, ask to get on mailing lists, etc. Watching television too much will make you feel lonely but reading a book will not. Making your self do this is called self-regulation.

Those of you with partners and are feeling lonely break down those barriers by learning simple skills to feel heard and validated. Don’t be a victim to loneliness. Adopt emotional self-regulation leading to changes in personal behaviour. Wriggle around in life a bit more and loneliness will gently disappear.

IS YOUR NEGATIVE SELF-TALK DOING YOUR HEAD IN?

Just how is your self-talk going? When you think about your life do you think negatively or positively? Do you worry about what others might be saying about you? Do you consider your family upbringing as not being the best and has this made you not the confident person you always wanted to be? Do you have a negative body image?

All self-talk matters affect the way you feel about yourself and your daily happiness. Can we do anything about this? The answer is yes, sir ee! There is no point in dismissing negative childhood experiences, stating them and acknowledging them is all part of the process to stop them doing harm today and right now. I love this old Indian saying – No family can put up a sign saying, “There is nothing to be bothered about in this house.” The truth is the majority of us come from dysfunctional families. There is no Brady Bunch. Opps showing my age!

I also heard a radio interview with an elderly woman the other day outlining 8 tips for a happy life. One of these was a gem, “What other people think about you in none of your business.” Isn’t that a relief? Not spending time worrying about what others think means we can just be ourselves accepting everything about ourselves. Good and bad.

Self-talk that leads to low self-esteem can be corrected. The brain has created a pathway where all that negative thinking rides up and down. It is time to put up a detour sign. Start writing down somewhere, maybe notes around the house or better still a diary, positive things about yourself. The more you do this the more the detour sign stays up and another highway is created in your brain called the, “I love Myself Highway”. We all fail to love ourselves enough.

If you do have a negative body image, write down where all that comes from. Write as many stories about that topic as possible. Who are you competing with? What would you like to change? What genetic considerations do you have to accept? How much should I be worrying about it? What things can I change if I wanted to?

Learning to love your self more is what we all need. Getting rid of negative self-talk is something you can achieve. It just takes practice.

SEX ADDICTION TREATMENT

SEX ADDICTION TREATMENT

Frank wanted his life back. He had been spending hours, sometimes almost all his weekends, in front of his computer, feeling compelled to look at pornographic websites. At our first appointment, he spoke about the importance of ‘getting it out in the open’ and his hope that this might help. Thinking about how things had changed or progressed since our first meeting Frank remembered the feeling of not being in control,

I was feeling very fatalistic, I was trapped in a hole. Every weekend I felt it was something that I had to do or was compelled to do and afterwards you feel so bad about yourself.

Recovering a Sense of Control

Something that comes up quite regularly in my work with people around pornography and sex ‘addiction’ is the idea of trying to ‘control’ the use of pornography. Many therapists and psychologists appear to be in favour of people trying to control themselves by putting boundaries into place around their porn use. However by all reports this just tends to flare up the ‘Addiction’. Frank and I worked together over webcam for a number of months. At our last appointment, I asked him about the benefit in us having this connection over time.

You can only tell a person things, but they have to go through it. I went over in my head what I wanted to say. And a few things you said that opened the blinds. For example, that I didn’t need boundaries when I was younger. I didn’t always have to do stuff like that.

Here Frank was referring to masturbation. During one appointment we had a conversation about the choices he made about masturbation when he was a younger man. There had been times Frank chose to masturbate and times that he decided not to. In other words, even as a teenager, Frank had been capable of making his own decisions about sexual expression. If you take a wild animal and put a cage around it, the first thing the animal will do is to try to break out of the cage. I don’t make people construct rules for their pornography use. This is something they have generally already tried before they come to see me and it has often not worked

Observing the ‘Porn Addiction’

I often encourage people to step back and just watch the ‘Addiction’ come and go without intervening. In doing so, I am inviting the people who work with me to become co-researchers in the problems in their lives. Of course many people start off by assuming the therapist will be an expert or source of all the answers or even an authority figure. This is how therapists are popularly portrayed but it isn’t generally such a helpful idea for a couple of reasons. Firstly, while there might be similarities of experience, everyone has a different story as to how they came to be using pornography and why they want to stop. And of course, if there was a manual or technique that worked for everyone, it would be sold at the newsagent!

When Frank started making his own observations about the ‘Addiction’ he began to notice times at which it was more likely to ‘take over’ and times at which it took a back seat. He was also in a position to reflect on how he wanted his life to be. He spoke to me about ‘missing out on a real life’, how the time looking at porn was time that he could be doing his sport training and what his family meant for him. He talked about wanting to get back to having respect for his body. This was something he had valued quite early in life but seemed to have slipped in recent years. At the same time, he started to get a new perspective on masturbation.

I don’t have to be scared that it is going to kill me.

Frank started talking about having used pornography as a kind of conditioning he had done to himself. He had got into a pattern around sex and was relying on that. And this gave us the idea that if he had been conditioned to using porn, perhaps it was just a case of re-conditioning himself, like a motor can be re-conditioned, or an athlete can condition himself. These were metaphors that came from the realms of mechanics and sport, both of which were interests for Frank.

As our webcam counselling appointments continued, Frank shared with me some of the discoveries he had made during his re-conditioning…

I’ve started talking to more people. The interaction with people, having a laugh and joking, it’s so much more…
I don’t see it as a major part of my life, or casting a shadow.

A Step by Step Journey Away from Using Porn

For adults, the experiences of life goes back a long way. But without assistance we don’t always easily recall those times in our lives where we had a sense of ourselves as capable or skilled or in control. Narrative Therapy conversations about pornography use or ‘sex addiction’ can help people recover the sense that they have some authority over their own lives again.

 

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Definition of Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is the use of psychological methods, particularly when based on regular personal interaction, to help a person change and overcome problems in desired ways. Psychotherapy aims to improve an individual’s well-being and mental health, to resolve or mitigate troublesome behaviors, beliefs, compulsions, thoughts, or emotions, and to improve relationships and social skills

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Marriage counselling, also called couples therapy, is a type of psychotherapy. Marriage counseling helps couples of all types recognize and resolve conflicts and improve their relationships. Through marriage counseling, you can make thoughtful decisions about rebuilding your relationship or going your separate ways.

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There are over a thousand different psychotherapy techniques, some being minor variations, while others are based on very different conceptions of psychology, ethics (how to live) or techniques. Most involve one-to-one sessions, between client and therapist.

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Anxiety is defined as nervousness, apprehension, and self-doubt that may or may not be associated with real-life stressors. Everyone experiences some level of anxiety periodically, but when feelings of dread and worry are unfocused, overwhelming, recurring, and not directly linked to stressful events, anxiety may leave a person severely impaired.

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