Sex and intimacy naturally go together. But what about when they don’t? I’m a sex therapist and relationship therapist in Manhattan with 30+ years’ experience helping individuals and couples in NYC understand and solve intimacy problems. If you’re suffering from a sexual intimacy problem, childhood trauma, or trouble advocating for yourself in an intimate relationship, there’s never been a better time to get help. Contact me at Stephen Snyder MD to get started.
Many people can function quite well sexually — until they develop feelings for their partner. Then, mysteriously, sex can become a problem. They may lose interest, have trouble with sexual functioning, or feel they’re just “going through the motions.”
Sexual intimacy problems may manifest as low sexual desire, high sexual desire, or both — which can be quite confusing.
Let’s face it, sex is intimate — at least if you’re doing it right. That can feel risky — especially with someone you love.
Among people I’ve seen for sexual intimacy problems, some have had backgrounds of trauma, abuse, or neglect; many have lacked confidence advocating for their needs and feelings in an intimate relationship, and most have struggled with serious shame issues that made them feel wary of being fully known by a partner. Many have also struggled with addictions.
Many people with sexual intimacy problems are great at giving, but have trouble receiving. They may experience sex as a performance, and struggle with being “present.”
Intimacy problems that interfere with sexual happiness in a committed relationship aren’t usually a quick-fix. Help often comes through healing relationships — with a therapist, a true friend, a loving partner, a healing community, or (most often) with several of the above. Most people with sexual intimacy problems truly want help and are eager to have a chance to experience greater intimacy with the people they care about.
If you’re someone who struggles with intimacy, you can practice expressing your needs, even when your needs might conflict with your partner’s needs.
Many people who struggle with intimacy haven’t had much experience handling conflict in a calm, reasonable way. They tend to avoid conflict, which often means avoiding their partner.
Staying connected to someone even when you’re in conflict is an acquired skill. For more about this, see my article, “Dining and Differentiation,” or read chapters 11 through 18 of my book, Love Worth Making.
If you’re someone who struggles with sexual intimacy, you also might find it helpful to practice intimate communication, which as I’m always telling couples in my office involves “you, me, and a feeling.”
For example, the statement “You look so hot right now” is not intimate. It’s all about “you,” but there’s no “me” and no feeling. If instead you say, “I’m feeling really attracted to you right now,” that’s more intimate. It’s got “you, me, and a feeling.”
Many people with intimacy problems haven’t had much practice giving and receiving this kind of intimate communication. But it’s never too late to learn!