Discomfort with Sexual Behaviors

Society is both obsessed with sex and sexually restrictive. There are often mixed messages about what kinds of sex are permissible or considered healthy and with whom it is acceptable to have sex with. In addition, sex education is sorely lacking. Much of what is learned about sex is from watching porn, hearing stories from friends and personal first-hand experiences. It can be like watching car races as the way to learn how to drive.

This sets up a dynamic where there is little space for sexual diversity and to more thoroughly enjoy sexual pleasure in conscious and consensual ways. There are also different expectations placed on sex based on one’s gender, sexual orientation, and religion. This can lead to people feeling “out of control” with their sexual desires, fantasies and behaviors.

When someone is sexual in a way that contradicts their core values, religious beliefs, or is not in agreement with their commitment to a relationship, it can create intense discomfort, anxiety, and relationship difficulties. Learning where this comes from, reducing any unhelpful sexual shame, being in better alignment with core beliefs, improving communication with partner(s), readjusting beliefs if necessary, and making sure to have consent can be steps necessary to more thoroughly enjoy ones sexuality.

Some repeated problematic sexual behaviors can also be associated with mood disturbances, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, impulse-control disorder and personality disorders as a coping mechanism that ends up harming more than helping. Working with a Marriage and Family Therapist from a sex-positive perspective can help to understand these patterns and learn how to experience healthier sexuality.


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Bennett Portnoy, MA, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Bennett Portnoy, MA

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist 
Los Angeles, CA 90064

I have helped hundreds of couples recognize the hidden obstacles that cause pain in their relationship and learn the skills needed to deepen the quality of their relationship as well as resolve conflict. For over twenty five years I have been working with heterosexual and gay couples. I do not believe in a one -size- fits- all approach to therapy.


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