Sexuality is something that many people have experienced as a taboo subject when they were growing up. The education that happens at school is very much around changes that occur in puberty and reproduction – who talks to young people about things like sexual attraction, sexual orientation, masturbation or sexual satisfaction?

This lack of dialogue can mean that couples can find it very difficult to discuss their sexual needs with each other. What can be even more difficult to talk about is sexual identity, particularly if it doesn’t fit neatly into a box with the label ‘heterosexual’ or ‘gay’.

Sexuality is not really a black and white issue. Often people will identify as heterosexual, but sometimes enjoy being intimate with a same sex partner. Some people see their sexuality as fluid rather than fixed, and may find that for them sexual attraction is more about the person than their gender.

When society upholds rigid views on both sexuality and gender, people can experience both pressure to conform to these norms as well as distress when their experience of their own sexual identity differs. People may feel a sense of shame, which makes open discussion with a partner difficult.

If you would like to talk more about sexuality with your partner, it can be helpful to do this with a relationship counsellor. Sometimes it is hard to know what to say, or what questions to ask or issues to raise with your partner. With a counsellor present to facilitate the discussion, perhaps it will feel more possible to let the difficult parts come to the surface. Relationship counsellors aim to provide a supportive and non-judgemental environment to allow couples to feel safe to talk about the things that really matter in the relationship.

Some people also find it helpful to have some individual therapy first, in order to explore issues relating to their sexuality that they may have never spoken to anyone about. This may help develop a sense of self confidence and understanding which will then support the next step of talking about it with their partner.

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