Table of contents:
- In a relationship, conflicts are inevitable. For example, you want to save more money for the future, and your partner wants to enjoy life "to the fullest" with you. It seems to you that your spouse is too strict with children, and he thinks that you are too soft. You think you are honestly doing your part of the household chores, but your partner feels that you are not doing enough. Or not what your spouse would like to instruct you
- 1. A threat to relationships
- 2. Threat to partner
- 3. Threat to yourself
Video: Why We Avoid Talking About Intimate Issues - Research, Relationships, Sex
In a relationship, conflicts are inevitable. For example, you want to save more money for the future, and your partner wants to enjoy life "to the fullest" with you. It seems to you that your spouse is too strict with children, and he thinks that you are too soft. You think you are honestly doing your part of the household chores, but your partner feels that you are not doing enough. Or not what your spouse would like to instruct you
Couples often quarrel over similar issues, and usually they manage to find a solution and agree. In any case, talking about the problems, partners begin to better understand what is important for each of them. But there are issues that many couples avoid discussing. These are differences in sexual preference.
Research shows that couples who openly discuss intimate issues are more satisfied with their relationships. But many people would rather come to terms with an unsatisfactory intimate life than openly talk about it with a partner.
Why are people afraid of talking about intimate issues?
Why do couples avoid discussing their sexual needs? Canadian psychologist Uzma Rehman and her colleagues explored this issue in their recent study of conflict communication in couples.
When in conflict, it is very difficult to communicate openly, as people usually tend to avoid negative emotions. During quarrels, partners grow irritated, and they can cause each other suffering. Just as, despite the pain, we postpone the visit to the dentist again and again, we also avoid discussing sensitive issues with a partner, thereby only aggravating the situation.
Problems not connected with intimate life sooner or later break out into the light. Arguments about them can improve relationships, especially if you manage to maintain a focus on the problems themselves and not slide into insults by pressing on each other's painful spots.
But even couples who are adept at resolving other types of conflict intelligently have difficulty when it comes to discussing sexual topics in relationships. Instead of telling each other about their preferences, partners rely on certain scenarios that spell out how an intimate act “should” take place. Despite their desire for variety, they continue to hide their fantasies. Unsurprisingly, sex becomes insipid after years of marriage.
Research has shown that couples avoid conflict because they perceive them as three types of threat:
1. A threat to relationships
People fear that the conflict will cause irreparable damage. In other words, they value their relationship even when they are dissatisfied with each other in some way. Therefore, they would rather rather remain silent than risk going into conflict that can help improve relationships, but can also destroy them.
2. Threat to partner
People fear that the conflict will hurt their partner's feelings. That is, they care about the well-being of a loved one, even if they are unhappy with the way their relationship is developing. They prefer to cope on their own, so as not to make their partner feel uncomfortable, even with the potential to improve the situation.
3. Threat to yourself
People fear that conflict will make them vulnerable. They worry that a loved one will not approve of their desires and make them feel ashamed if they tell too much about themselves. We need approval, and fear of losing a partner is the main reason for avoiding sensitive conversations.
In their study, Rehman and her colleagues asked people to imagine themselves in a conflict situation with a partner. The first scenario dealt with issues not related to sex, such as the division of household responsibilities. The second is discussing intimate issues, such as the frequency of intimacy. Then the participants completed a questionnaire to assess the subjective feelings of a threat to the relationship, partner and themselves.
On the one hand, the results showed that the perceived conflict senses were similar and that all three types of perceived threat were high. On the other hand, quarrels over sex topics resulted in higher self-threat ratings than conflicts over other reasons.
In short, this study found that most people avoid talking to their partners about sexual issues because they feel threatened in such conversations. Based on the responses from this and other studies, we can better understand the reasons why couples choose to remain silent about their intimate concerns.
- First, sex is seen as an uncomfortable topic of conversation, so we don't discuss it at all. Or we get rid of the awkwardness by turning sexual themes into jokes. Even in a serious relationship, we tend to view sex as something "forbidden" that is not customary to talk about.
- Secondly, many simply do not know the intimate anatomy - both their own and their partner. Although we have cultural scripts about what a sexual act should be, few people understand the breadth of possibilities of intimate life available to a person. Therefore, we have neither concepts that would fully reflect our needs for sex, nor words to communicate them to our partner.
Embarrassment and ignorance about sex makes us especially vulnerable when talking about our secret fantasies. We think our desires are strange, and we assume that our partner will perceive them the same way.
Moreover, needs seem to arise from the depths of our being, and it seems that we have no control over them. After all, if we decide to reveal our secret desires and face condemnation, we will feel rejection, since the partner does not accept us in our naturalness. Therefore, we prefer to keep pretending.
People who have the courage to discuss intimacy with their partners are generally happier in their relationships. It is challenging to get over your embarrassment about sex and find the right words to discuss such topics. Both sensible articles on the Internet and books can help. Couples family therapy is also very effective in resolving intimacy problems.
In a couple, conflicts are inevitable, the most difficult of them relate to intimate difficulties. By itself, this does not mean that the relationship is in trouble. On the contrary, if partners want to find mutual understanding in the course of discussions and solve the problem, the relationship will only get stronger in the end.