“Hello, Dr. Ren, I have a sexual problem that makes me very unhappy and could ruin my relationship.”
“I’m glad you called. Please tell me what is bothering you.”
“Well, that’s the thing. I’ve never spoken to anyone about this before. It’s hard to say it out loud.”
That’s how many of my phone calls begin. Many of us harbour sexual fantasies, desires and behaviours about which we feel shame and embarrassment but which we crave nonetheless.
Some believe their desires are so unacceptable that they do not tell even their lovers, believing without asking that they will be rebuffed because of their request.
Sometimes these cravings are quite harmless–like wanting anal sex or enjoying cross-dressing–and may be easily accommodated, but the fear of rejection overrides the risk. Some of my callers tell me they have been married for many years, coping with adequate sex and minimal sexual communication, longing to realize a fantasy and now regretting the fulfilling sex that might have been theirs. They want to know what they can do.
What happens next proceeds in a couple of ways. The first scenario sounds something like this:
Client: “I like to be spanked.”
Me: “How is that a problem for you?”
Client: “Are you kidding? My wife would never agree to do that!”
Me: “It’s a common sexual behaviour. Would you like some help learning to discuss this desire with your wife?”
Client: “Absolutely not. She would leave me.”
Me: “Have you ever broached this topic with her?”
Client: “No. I know her. She wouldn’t accept it.”
Me: “Okay. Then do you want to find ways to indulge in the fantasy of spanking that don’t jeopardize your marriage?”
Client: “Like what?”
Me: “Well, you could watch porn involving spanking, or spank yourself when you masturbate.”
Client: “I don’t like the idea of either of those things.”
Me: “If you don’t like things the way they are, but you don’t want change either, you are left with few choices. How would you like me to help you?”
Client: “I thought that’s what you were going to tell me! Listen, I’ll call back later, okay?”
You would think I wouldn’t hear from that caller again, but I often do, sometimes months later. Eventually the day comes when not taking a chance becomes more painful than risking a change. Let’s listen in on that call.
Client: “I called before. We talked about spanking. You told me it was a normal sexual activity, and I brought it up in conversation with my wife. Funny, but I had to do it a couple of times before I got her attention. It turned out it wasn’t such a big deal, but I didn’t tell her it was about me.”
Me: “Well done. It’s often the case that fear is worse than reality.”
Client: “I’d like to come in to see you now.”
Me: “Of course. What are you hoping to gain from our session?”
Client: “I’ve never talked about this before. I’ve been ashamed of this desire. Now maybe I have a chance to have the kind of sex I’ve always wanted. I want you to teach me how to present this to my wife in a way she can accept. That means I need to learn to accept it fully myself. I also want to learn how to communicate better about sex in general.”
Me: “You sound ready to learn those skills. You may be pleasantly surprised at how receptive your wife is to your willingness to be open and honest with her. This may be the start of the best phase of your lives together.”
The point is that if you want your life to change, you have to be willing to risk changing it. Change stresses, but so does living unhappily. It happens one step at a time, and each step brings you closer to your goal of sexual freedom and fulfillment.
If you are unhappy, consider doing something now to make it better. The answer may be only a phone call away.