Who Is to Blame for Your Sexual Problems?

Couple on lake dockI treat couples, mainly coming in with sexual disorders, and much of the time I treat individuals also. In many cases, the person who comes in for the treatment is in a relationship, often times a long-term relationship. When a sexual malfunction pops up in a relationship or in the bedroom, it’s easy to point the finger and assume the problem or blame lies within the person who exhibits the symptoms. For example, with arousal issues, such as excessive dryness or painful intercourse in females or rapid ejaculation or early termination of erections in males (when medical or organic causes have been ruled out), it’s easy to simply send the person with the symptoms to individual therapy or to place all the blame on this individual in couples therapy.

Even in couples therapy, in many cases, it is generally laid out in such a way that the person who is the one with more physical symptoms is the one who takes the brunt of the blame in the relationship. In some cases the blame comes from the other person, who is pointing the finger, diagnosing the problems in the relationship, with a strong understanding of the possibilities to treat the problem. And in many cases, the individual with the symptoms agrees, “It’s all me, this is my fault,” and wants to take on all of the responsibility, leaving the other party completely unaccountable.

Yes, we all come with our specific baggage into the relationship, and sometimes those specific types of baggage exacerbate what is going on in the relationship. The opposite may also be true: the relationship may exacerbate our symptoms, and in many ways, it makes sense to send the individual who has the symptoms to therapy alone or for him or her to seek out therapy alone, owning the problem. But what often happens when one person goes to individual therapy to get “fixed” is that he or she immediately goes back to the environment, that is, the relationship, where the partner is still acting and behaving the same, on the same premise as before, without any understanding of the progress the individual who is in therapy is making or changes he or she desires to make, and the individual in treatment is then susceptible to the triggers that led to the previous pattern to begin with.

It is also common to come as a couple with the intention to mainly “fix” him or her, since the belief is that the symptom predates the relationship. A symptom may predate the relationship, but if it currently predominates the relationship, then it clearly is an issue that is best treated in the context of the relationship.

So, even if both are present in therapy, yet one is begging to take the responsibility or is being singled out as the main cause of the issues, this not only signifies an imbalance in the particular issue but may also help to explain why and how many other imbalances in the relationship begin. Sometimes it’s blame that puts one person down, and sometimes the person taking all of the responsibility takes away power from the other person. These are intricate power dynamics that happen in the relationship. The sexual aspect is just the most obvious symptom of a much bigger theme.

This is why I call sexual disorders the gateway symptom that will lead us to understand the dynamics in a relationship. It is rare that a psychological sexual issue is a stand-alone problem of one individual, even if it predates the relationship, for the simple reason that we repeat patterns in relationships, and we seek out partners that make it easier to continue those behavior patterns. We help each other perpetuate our baggage. We are creatures of habit. In order to change our behavior patterns, we need help from someone in our environment. We cannot do it alone.

For these reasons, I always prefer couples therapy in which both partners are available. It is very difficult for a relationship to change if only one partner is present. It takes two to tango, remember that saying? Well, it’s true.

Related articles:
Help! My Date Nights End with Erectile Dysfunction!
7 Steps for Talking Your Way to a Better Sex Life
If Only My Partner Would Change, Then Everything Would Be OK

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  • griffin

    March 23rd, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    In reality if you have sexual problems then who else is there to blame but you and your partner(s)? Either they are doing something that you don’t like or NOT doing something that you do like, and then it is up to you to speak your mind and get your voice heard!
    Now I know that there are some people who have been abused and that could have started all of their problems, but again, there is a time when you have to stand up and seek help for yourself because I think that we all are smart enough to know that no one is going to do this for you.

  • Kelli

    March 24th, 2012 at 4:54 AM

    For any of us who have ever experienced sexual problems there is typically not going to be a one word answer for who or what is to blame for your sexual problems. For most of us it is going to be this wild entanglement of past experiences and issues that we have dealtwith (or not in most cases) mover the years so that it has built up into this issues that feels like it can never be overcome. I think that most of us now know that it can be resolved, but we can’t go into therapy looking for this quick solution because it typically is going to take more than that. You have to have a caring partner and therapist who can help you manage this multi layer issue, someone who is willing to take you through it all one step at a time to look for all of the underlying issues that can be causing you harm. Each level is going to force you to go just a little deeper but you can’t treat the surface wounds until you can ultimately get to the real heart of the matter.

  • Phillip

    March 25th, 2012 at 5:26 AM

    Some times there is no one to blame, just something there that could be causing the issues.

    It might not have anything to do with your partner or spouse; there could very well be something physical going on behind the scenes contributing to sexual issues that you have.

  • Buzz

    March 25th, 2012 at 5:58 AM

    I thought “both” as soon as I read the title.Its often a result of both the partners behaving a particular way.

    And as you have described once one partner goes back,he or she is going into the same environment.If you wanna fix the problem then all parts of it(both partners) need help and fixing.

  • Traci R

    March 26th, 2012 at 4:22 AM

    You know that in all relationships that it is not the fault of one, but there is often one of the partners who is unwilling to accept any of the blame for any given situation, especially one of it happens to be sexual in nature. Who wants to be the one to admit that there is a problem and that they could be doing something to encourage that issue? The responsible thing to do though is for the couple to own up to the issue together and to try to work through it together. If it is affecting both of them, not just one doing the work is going to solve or resolve the problem.

  • shay

    March 27th, 2012 at 4:24 AM

    Don’t play the blame game. If they are your issues, own them. No on can change them but YOU

  • Moushumi Ghose

    March 31st, 2012 at 9:24 AM

    Thank you for all your comments. It seems as though everyone has got the right idea. It definitely takes two to tango. And when in a relationship, if you need help with some past sexual trauma, get your partner involved in therapy to help you with that corrective emotional experience.

  • Hugo

    July 23rd, 2012 at 12:34 AM

    If I were to grade my wife sexually from 1-10 she’ll be a 4… She never met her father and later at age 8 lost her mother due to cancer then left on the street on her own until I met her 21 years ago.
    I believe the little I know is that she was abuse several times sexually, phisically and mentally from the age of 6 to 19. This drove her at age of 19 to take the wrong path, if you know what i mean.
    Today she is 40 and I have helper alot to a point of become a nurse. She says that no one could ever understand her. Some time she blame me for her past without knowing that I am not the cause. I could spend hrs here and will never see the end of this. What should I do? One thing she got on her side is that I love her and I am strong with my feelings but I’m getting tired of being blame for everything.
    I mentioned her that she need help but she says that nobody will ever understand her.

  • Moushumi Ghose

    July 24th, 2012 at 6:22 PM

    Hugo, It sounds like you could benefit from some individual or couples counseling. Please email me directly.

  • EP

    July 14th, 2018 at 11:23 AM

    I was treated very shoddly by the British UCAR organisation. They are cold hearted people. I have autism which makes things even more diffecult. I shall never know love . I am resigned to it.

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