One of the key topics that I cover in my Common Issues in Partners’ Sex Therapy class is how to work with those relationships that are undergoing some sort of a transition. What I mean by  a “transition” in this case, especially when it comes to sex therapy, is some new item of information that is introduced into the relationship which also serves to destabilize that relationship.

What are some examples of this kind of destabilizing information? Here are some common ones– one partner introduces a desire for a specific kind of sex (or fetish) that is found to be repulsive or offensive to the other partner; one partner shares a desire to open up the relationship and explore some form on non-monogamy; or, and this was more common in the past, but still happens frequently enough, one partner shares information about his or her orientation or preferred gender that is at odds with the other partner’s prior knowledge or understanding. Regarding the last item, these types of relationships are called “mixed orientation” relationships. In the recent past, with a lessening of homophobia in general society, this kind of disclosing was likely to be of a man opening up to be homosexual. These days, my observation is that, while that still does happen, mixed orientation couples tend to be more of a hetero/bi dynamic. But I digress.

Let’s now talk about some specifics of how I work with relationships that find themselves in transition. The first and most important step (as is the case in any type of psychotherapy) is to create a safe space for both […]