The Attacker, Defender, Pursuer or Withdrawer – which are you?
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The Attacker, Defender, Pursuer or Withdrawer – which are you?
When we are naked and aroused is when we are most vulnerable. So if you have nervous thoughts, it means you’re feeling vulnerable. Being intimate with someone can be kinda scary, especially if you’re dating a new boo or don’t have much sexual experience. Your partner is probably nervous too, so try to chill your nerves and focus on the parts of intimacy that you both enjoy!
If you’ve been with a new lover several times and you’re not getting into your groove and feeling more comfortable and confident, it might be a good idea to reflect on what’s really going on. Take note of how you feel before, during and after sex with this person and remember that you never have to do anything you don’t want to.
The most important thing to remember is that nervous thoughts are normal, and if all goes well, they should not persist.
In other words, if you were together four years, it’ll take you two years to fully recover. People don’t like to hear this, but Claudia Six, Ph.D., clinical sexologist and relationship coach, says it’s true. “You may lick your wounds for a bit, get back into online dating, go on dates and may even have sex with someone, but deep down you’ll be comparing them to the old love, for better or worse,” she says. “And on special occasions (birthday, special anniversaries, Valentine’s Day) you’ll be sad and pining a little…for half as long as the relationship lasted. Then you’ll be fine.”
According to Dr. Six, this one is so true. “Women tend to take the time to grieve, try to learn from the experience, spend some time with girlfriends and re-focusing on themselves, before getting into the next relationship, while men tend to bounce into the next relationship pretty quickly,” she says. “It’s not good or bad, it’s just a different way of moving on after a relationship ends.”
This one is an original by Dr. Six, borne of personal experience. And she claims it is never more true than when it pertains to big decisions, like getting married or having a child. “A man will be ready when he’s ready—until then, he’s not,” she says. “If you don’t want to wait that long, that’s certainly your call, but there’s no point in trying to speed him up.”
This popular French saying pertains to marriage, and translates to “put water in your wine.” “While it’s meant to allude that you put water in his wine to dilute it and decrease deleterious effects, it also means to compromise, make concessions and be reasonable, to avoid unpleasant consequences if one doesn’t,” says Dr. Six. “In other words, to tone down any aggressive feelings in order to achieve better results and more harmony.”
Talk about what sex represents for you (connection, release, a way to get to sleep, a spiritual event…). It’s ok if you have different answers – you’re different people.
Ask each other what you haven’t been saying, the stuff you’ve been afraid to tell your partner because you didn’t want to hurt their feelings. This is the time to be candid. Having difficult conversations actually has the most potential to boost intimacy and eroticism in a relationship.
Aside from the uncomfortable cramping, not to mention bloating, that comes along with menstruation, it’s no surprise if you and your partner are not interested in sex when Aunt Flo is in town. “Some folks aren’t put off by blood, but most women tend to feel inward and vulnerable during their period, preferring to curl up with a cozy blanket and a book, and aren’t in a big hurry to be penetrated,” says Claudia Six, Ph.D., sexologist and author of Erotic Integrity: How to Be True to Your Sexuality. “Plus there’s the clean-up!”
As Six puts it, resentment is not an aphrodisiac. “Resentment builds up and festers, creating distance,” she says. “It’s contradictory to be resentful of someone and want to get naked and physically close to them.” If you and your partner have been fighting more often than usual without ever feeling like you’re back on the same page, it might be worth it to consider couples counseling. Having a third party listening to your issues and unbiasedly providing suggestions might be just what you need to reconcile in and out of the bedroom.
While being ‘right’ in an argument might make you feel better in the heated moment, it won’t actually matter in a few weeks, months, or years. That’s why relationship experts warn against convincing your S.O. that he or she is wrong in a fight. “Every communication has the power to bring people closer to you or push them away, and when people are made wrong they have two choices: defend or retreat. Neither will bring them closer to you,” explains Claudia Six, Ph.D., a relationship coach. “You can convey your point or make a request without making them wrong.”
Dr. Six warns against using language starting with “you always” or “you never,” as all they do is add fuel to an already escalating fire. “This leads the other person to draw up their defense and maybe add a complaint of their own,” she says. “Rather than, ‘You always leave the toilet seat up! You’re so inconsiderate!’ try, ‘It would really help me out if you’d put the toilet seat down. Can you do that for me?'”
Initiating sex should be a two-way street, says Dr. Six. Being a passive victim and blaming your significant other for not being more romantic is the wrong move. “It could be a very long and miserable wait for both of you,” she explains. “If you make it happen, your lover will feel desired, and will then be much more likely to reciprocate, and confident that you’ll receive them. And everyone’s happy.”
If your gut reaction after a quarrel is to pour yourself a glass of wine or a shot of whiskey, you may want to rethink your priorities. “Numbing out because something isn’t working for you or you’re anxious is a cop out,” says Dr. Six. “Open your mouth to talk about what is troubling you instead of opening it to ingest an anesthetic.” Instead of avoiding the issues in your relationship, she recommends sitting down to talk. If you’re having trouble doing that, consider speaking to a couples counselor who can help you address the issues in your partnership.
Clinical Sexologist specializing in Sexual and Intimacy issues in Marin and the San Francisco Bay Area.
PhD Clinical Sexology
MA Counseling Psychology
Board Certified Clinical Sexologist
Serving clients in Marin, Napa, Sonoma, San Francisco, San Rafael, San Anselmo, Santa Rosa, Novato, Petaluma, Berkeley, Mill Valley, Sausalito, Ross, Corte Madera, and Larkspur.