Why You're Not Having Sex: Alone Time

sex therapist portland sex counselor desire and passion in relationship

This is part of a series of posts about sex and desire in long-term relationships.  CLICK HERE to read the full series.


It might seem counter-intuitive, but alone time is essential to maintaining desire in long-term relationships.  

But I don't mean just spending time alone, scrolling social media, or on a netflix binge.  The kind of alone time that fuels desire is all about you spending quality time with yourself, and when it's out of balance, sexual desire starts to drop fast.  

A-Sexual Passion & Exploration

This is far more important than most people ever give credit, but most of us table our personal passions for the grind of daily life to the detriment of our passionate selves.  

Think about it, when was the last time you devoted your full presence for an hour to something you truly love doing?  When was the last time you found flow?  When was the last time you dove into something and learned something interesting or new?

If you can't remember, or if it was a long time ago, you're going to want to devote some energy back in the realm of your personal passions.  Clear an hour this week to learn something new, try a different adventure, or return to a creative craft you've long retired.  

If you can't even imagine which passions you might consider, devote your hour to starting a personal bucket list now.  Make a list of anything you might want to try, and leave room that trying new things might open doors to passions- or at least will get you out having fun.  

And if you're in a partnership have a conversation about how you can support one another in cultivating personal passion.  For many folks having someone else maintain household responsibilities, or provide childcare while you adventure is vital to finding time for this practice.

Here are some examples of the personal passion adventures some of my clients have chosen:

  • intuitive dance
  • researching buddhism
  • collage
  • volunteering at the art museum
  • silent dance party
  • Thai cooking class
  • knitting
  • landscape design
  • cheesemaking
  • tarot readings
  • corset making
  • furniture design

The passion you choose to explore may not seem "sexy" per se, but you might be surprised how much committing energy to a-sexual passions can ignite the confidence, fascination, and arousal you're craving.

Enter your email below and I'll send you a handy guide to create your passion bucket list.

 

Self-Love 

The other area for quality solo time and passionate self-exploration is practicing literal self-love.  

Answer honestly: when was the last time you masturbated?  Many folks in long-term relationships fall out of practice with self-love (many more still never had a practice in the first place).

But because every human body is unique and we are growing and changing all the time, staying connected to your own body's desires, arousal patterns, likes and dislikes is so very important to communicating well about sex with a partner.  

Allow yourself space and time in the week to explore your body, try new toys, fantasies, and sensations along the way to help you stay connected to your sexual body's needs and desires.  Remember, there's no right or wrong way to masturbate, just trust your body and follow it's lead.  

Anytime you want help talking through all this, I'm here to help.  Just set up a consultation so we can chat!

READ THE REST OF THE SERIES:

  1. Biology

  2. Time Scarcity

  3. Lack of Self-Care

  4. Maintenance Sex - Break Free of Obligation

  5. Lack of Inspiration - Invest in Creativity, Wonder and Awe

  6. Assumption-Making - Get Curious and Explore

  7. Initiation Hesitation - Live Courageously and Circle Back

  8. Lacking Feedback - Highlights Reel

  9. Poor Consent Practices - Talk During

  10. Sex Negativity - Don't Yuck Their Yum

  11. Routine Boredom - Fantasy Sharing, Find Inspiration

  12. Necessary Repairs - Move Past Resentment with Apology and Personal Responsibility

  13. Desire Maintenance - Invest in Your Sexiness

  14. Alone Time


sex therapist polyamory counselor online sex therapy

Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

  • rediscover passion in long-term relationships
  • repair trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • move beyond jealousy, insecurity or codependency
  • resolve sexual dysfunction and disconnect
  • break unhealthy communication patterns 
  • open your relationship and practice polyamory with care

Call me for a free consultation to rethink your relationship.

 

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

Integrity-Check Your Relationship

polyamory therapist online couples therapy relationship coach

I had the sweetest pleasure today of talking with a group of students at PCC Southeast campus Queer Resource Center during their Sexual Assault Awareness Month programming.  

We spent a couple hours talking about healthy queer relationships, boundaries, and communication through stress.  

It was a lot of fun.  

Students asked great questions about long-term relationships, introverts/internal processors and extroverts/external processors, and issues for transgender folks in marriages.  We covered shame, self-worth, and most of all how to show someone you really love them. 

I mean it, I love talking about love.  Especially with young people.

I walked them through a tool that can be transformative at any stage in a relationship.  It's a simple but profound integrity check for your relationship.  

Integrity-checking is important because it brings back alignment between what we say we want and how we get there.  All too often distance grows between us when we start moving away from our core.

Most couples get out of alignment after they've been together a while.  With just a little self-awareness and personal accountability you can be back on track for better connection.   

This super simple tool will help you identify if you need an adjustment and action steps to bring you back to center.  

If you want to download the guide I gave them for your own relationship integrity-check add your contact info below and I'll send you a copy.  


Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you: rediscover passion in long-term relationships repair trust after infidelity or dishonesty move beyond jealousy, insecurity or codependency resolve sexual dysfunction and disconnect break unhealthy communication patterns  open your relationship and practice polyamory with care Call me for a free consultation to rethink your relationship.   Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

  • rediscover passion in long-term relationships
  • repair trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • move beyond jealousy, insecurity or codependency
  • resolve sexual dysfunction and disconnect
  • break unhealthy communication patterns 
  • open your relationship and practice polyamory with care

Call me for a free consultation to rethink your relationship.

 

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

Why You're Not Having Sex: Sex Negativity

sex therapist portland sex counselor desire and passion in relationship

This is part of a series of posts about sex and desire in long-term relationships.  CLICK HERE to read the full series.

Sex negativity gets in the way somewhere along the line in almost every long-term couple I see.  Sex-negativity is the opposite of sex-positivity, meaning at it's core sex-negativity is about passing judgment that some sexual activities are good, normal, healthy, or right, while others are bad, perverted, or wrong.  

It's not uncommon for sex-negativity to come from people who actually seem to enjoy sex or want it more often.  But the judgment comes across and shuts down opportunities to sexually connect - even in the most vanilla ways. 

And because judgment is both about your thoughts AND the way they're perceived by your partner it can create problems in surprising ways. 

How sex negativity shows up

Here are a couple examples:

Partner A: "You know what I think might be hot to try sometime?"

Partner B: "No, what?  Tell me."

Partner A: "I think it would be fun to maybe try ___(insert sex act here)___ sometime.  If you're into it."

Partner B:  If you answer any form of "yuck" or "that's weird" or "gross" or "never in your freaking life, I can't believe you would ever even ask me." You're giving a sex negative response.  

And if your partner perceives that as your response, the impact still is shaming- even if that wasn't the intention.  You might just say "that's not for me." but your tone could still sound condemning.  

Often sex-negativity shows up in the giggles or smiles we give when we're uncomfortable talking about sex.  They might not be about the content of our partner's fantasy at all but about our own difficulty communicating.  The impact still is the same.

Not just for kinky sex

Sex-negativity isn't necessarily about kinky sex either.  Most often it shows up in couples practicing the most vanilla (average or mainstream) sex.  It might be one partner asking to have afternoon sex, or someone wanting to try it in the shower, or try anal sex, or watching porn together.  

Judgment isn't sexy

Unless you're into certain kinds of power play (humiliation, or brat play or a few others) judgment from your partner just isn't sexy. In most sexy situations, even unintended (but perceived) judgment will kill the mood.

But most of us don't realize when we're passing sex-negative judgment so we might keep doing it for a long time without realizing the damage we're doing to our sexual relationship.  I'm going to outline the four main forums for sex-negativity here for you to be aware.

Fantasies and desire

Couples with thriving sexual lives share fantasies far more often.  But if judgment is present it's unlikely you'll talk about what you want, dream, of or get curious about sex out in the open. 

And if there's no room to dream- there's going to be even less room to try it.  Even if you never act on shared fantasies or desires, talking about them without judgment is essential to fostering healthy sexual connection.

Saying no and setting boundaries

Okay, so what if you really don't want to do the thing your partner brings up?  What if your partner brings up something that really offends you or makes you totally uncomfortable?

It's always okay to say no to sex or sexual activities that you're not into.  That fact doesn't change here.  But the way you say no matters.  And you can say no without passing judgment.

Here's an example:

Partner A: "I think it would be fun to maybe try ___(insert totally unusual I'm really uncomfortable with sex act here)___ sometime.  If you're into it."

Partner B: "Wow that sounds really hot for you.  I need time to think about that before trying it." OR

Partner B: "I am so glad you told me.  I need to learn a lot before I would feel ready to try that with you.  How can we learn more together?"  OR

Partner B: "I can see you are really excited about that.  I love when you tell me what you're thinking.  I think it's not for me right now, but let's figure out ways to get your needs met."

You can say no without judgment if you use care in your response. 

Offering feedback

Similar to saying no, sometimes you're not into the same thing your partner is- or you might not be into it all the time.  Most of the time you might just say "I don't like the way you ___(insert action here)___." without thinking about the impact.

But if you think about it, the feedback you give is likely perceived with judgment.  Even if that's not your intention.

Just saying what you don't like shuts down the energetic connection between you when talking about sex.  Instead, try focusing on what you're interested in, what you like, and what you're curious about.  "I'm not as into ______ but I would love to try ______." is going to take you further.

Other people's business

FinallyOne last place where sex-negative judgment can seep into your relationship isn't directly related to your sex life- but can have a huge impact there.  

Think about the way you pass judgment on other people's sex acts in conversation.  Maybe you watch Fifty Shades, or you hear a Savage Love Podcast and someone is doing something that makes you uncomfortable.  Do you snicker?  Do you turn to your partner and say something like "that's crazy"?

Imagine then if your partner has always been secretly curious about that same action.  By judging others you've shut down the possible conversation you and your partner might have about desire. Even if you would never try whatever the action is, talking about it brings you closer and judgment can make it really difficult to talk about anything.

Judgment can be really difficult to let go.  If you want help, give me a call, I'm happy to talk.  

READ THE REST OF THE SERIES:

  1. Biology

  2. Time Scarcity

  3. Lack of Self-Care

  4. Maintenance Sex - Break Free of Obligation

  5. Lack of Inspiration - Invest in Creativity, Wonder and Awe

  6. Assumption-Making - Get Curious and Explore

  7. Initiation Hesitation - Live Courageously and Circle Back

  8. Lacking Feedback - Highlights Reel

  9. Poor Consent Practices - Talk During

  10. Sex Negativity - Don't Yuck Their Yum

  11. Routine Boredom - Fantasy Sharing, Find Inspiration

  12. Necessary Repairs - Move Past Resentment with Apology and Personal Responsibility

  13. Desire Maintenance - Invest in Your Sexiness

  14. Alone Time

 


SEX COUNSELOR PORTLAND POLYAMORY COUNSELING ONLINE COUPLES THERAPY

Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

  • rediscover passion in long-term relationships
  • repair trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • move beyond jealousy, insecurity or codependency
  • resolve sexual dysfunction and disconnect
  • break unhealthy communication patterns 
  • open your relationship and practice polyamory with care

Call me for a free consultation to rethink your relationship.

 

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

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  1. Biology - See a Doctor
  2. Time Scarcity - Prioritize Sexual Connection
  3. Lack of Self-Care - Tune It Up
  4. Maintenance Sex - Break Free of Obligation
  5. Lack of Inspiration - Invest in Creativity, Wonder and Awe
  6. Assumption-Making - Get Curious and Explore
  7. Initiation Hesitation - Live Courageously and Circle Back
  8. Lacking Feedback - Highlights Reel
  9. Poor Consent Practices - Talk During 
  10. Sex-Negativity - Don't Yuck Anyone's Yum
  11. Routine Boredom - Fantasy Sharing, Find Inspiration
  12. Necessary Repairs - Move Past Resentment with Apology and Personal Responsibility
  13. Desire Maintenance - Invest in Your Sexiness
  14. Alone Time - Masturbate and Fantasize

Why You're Not Having Sex: Value Self-Care

sex therapist portland sex counselor desire and passion in relationship

This is part of a series of posts about sex and desire in long-term relationships.  CLICK HERE to read the full series.

 

Y'all, self-care literally is sexy.  It is nearly impossible to feel sexy (for most people) if you're not investing in real self-care on a regular basis. 

So many of the folks I see who are experiencing desire fatigue are FAR out of alignment with their self-care plan.  They put the needs of their partner, family, household, and/or job before their own needs and often are experiencing burnout in at least one of those areas.  

It's really hard to get hot if you're too busy thinking about the laundry, taking the dog to the vet, and submitting year-end-reports to go dancing or  have meaningful conversation.

I'm not talking about just taking some bubble baths here (though bubble baths are a great piece of the self-care puzzle for many).  I mean taking a step back and evaluating the actions that sustain your soul and creating a sustainable plan to keep your self-care in balance amid the stress of daily life.  

Here are some questions to ask to help you create a self-care plan.  You can also download a this guide in the Relationship Toolbox to walk you through creating and maintaining your own plan with ease (don't worry, it's free).

  1. When did I last take a full breath?  What helps me breathe easier?
  2. When in my regular life do I feel most powerful?  Most confident?  What do I wear, who is present, what prep work and support helps get me to that empowered space?
  3. When (in my life and in my average week) do I feel most connected to my body?  What helps me feel more love for my body?
  4. How do I most like to connect with others socially?  Who are the folks in my community who sustain me?  What would it take to connect with them this week?
  5. How can my partner support me in find better balance?  What does meaningful support look like in this relationship?

If you want more help sorting through sexual desire fatigue I have a couple openings for new clients and am happy to chat with you about reigniting sexual passion.  

READ THE REST OF THE SERIES:

  1. Biology

  2. Time Scarcity

  3. Lack of Self-Care

  4. Maintenance Sex - Break Free of Obligation

  5. Lack of Inspiration - Invest in Creativity, Wonder and Awe

  6. Assumption-Making - Get Curious and Explore

  7. Initiation Hesitation - Live Courageously and Circle Back

  8. Lacking Feedback - Highlights Reel

  9. Poor Consent Practices - Talk During

  10. Sex Negativity - Don't Yuck Their Yum

  11. Routine Boredom - Fantasy Sharing, Find Inspiration

  12. Necessary Repairs - Move Past Resentment with Apology and Personal Responsibility

  13. Desire Maintenance - Invest in Your Sexiness

  14. Alone Time


polyamory counselor portland open relationship counselor portland

Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

  • rediscover passion in long-term relationships
  • repair trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • move beyond jealousy, insecurity or codependency
  • resolve sexual dysfunction and disconnect
  • break unhealthy communication patterns 
  • open your relationship and practice polyamory with care

Call me for a free consultation to rethink your relationship.

 

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

Why You're Not Having Sex: Time Scarcity

poly therapist portland sex therapist | couples counseling for sexuality

This is part of a series of posts about sex and desire in long-term relationships.  CLICK HERE to read the full series.

Today I want to talk about one of the simplest ways to increase the sexual connection between you: clearing up time scarcity.  

Time scarcity is usually something we talk about at work.  You miss a deadline and find yourself procrastinating yet you always find yourself running out of time to really get things done. You just never can find the time to do the thing that's most important.  

Apply that theory at home and you'll hear one of the most common factors facing busy couples in their sex life.  Between laundry, errands, hobbies, friends, and work there's just no good time for sex.   

Time scarcity breeds sadness at lost opportunities.  It also fuels comparison and shame when we look at others who somehow have time to do the things we wish we were doing.

There are three key ways to shift the time scarcity mindset.  Try applying these in your own life:

1.  Check your beliefs

Most of the time this time scarcity is all in your head.  Reality-check your thoughts here.  Is it really completely true there 's no time for sex?  How long does sex usually take you and your partner?   

For most couples it takes 5-20 minutes to have satisfying sex- are you really sure there are no 20-minute sessions you can free up in the week?

2.  Shift to appreciation and gratitude

Sometimes when we're stuck in a mindset of lacking we completely miss the opportunities all around us.  We're so focused on what's not happening and our resulting disappointment, we miss all the space where it could happen.

Try spending a week shifting your mindset.  Every time sexual time-scarcity crosses your mind shift to appreciation for the times you do have affection, connection, understanding, and attraction between you.  Start noticing the opportunities that are already there in order to enhance them.

3.  Reprioritize your schedule

Most people have peak possibility times each week, in session we call these optimal arousal zones.  These are times and settings where we're more likely to be open to having sex.  

It's not unusual for you and your partner's arousal timelines not to be in sync.  Often one of you prefers mornings and another might prefer mid-afternoon.  One of you might realize you're most easily aroused when on a dance floor and another might be best in the mood after a sleep-in morning.

It's also not uncommon to have the daily routines and responsibilities of life interrupt your sexual peak schedule.  If you're a mid-afternoon person and you work a 9-5 job, it can be hard to find a time to connect with your partner that aligns with your arousal zone.

So what should you do?

First, talk to your partner.  Even if you think you already know when they're most likely in the mood, start a conversation and see what you can learn about the optimal time and setting for their arousal.  

Then look at your schedules and make a plan.  You might not want to plan for sex entirely, but plan to spend some quality time on a regular basis connecting with each other in the time and settings you've shared as optimal arousal zones.  See what you might learn if you actually set aside time for fully present connection in these windows.

Self-Check

If you're not willing to create time, shift your thought patterns, or reality-check your assumptions ask yourself why.   

How does keeping things as they are serve you?  

How could your partner support you in moving forward?

Or are you truly uninterested in spending your time building more sexual connection?

Is there something else blocking you from creating more sexual connection?  Use this guide to help sort out what's getting in your way.  

Or call me for a consultation, I'm happy to talk you through it.  

 

READ THE REST OF THE SERIES:

  1. Biology

  2. Time Scarcity

  3. Lack of Self-Care

  4. Maintenance Sex - Break Free of Obligation

  5. Lack of Inspiration - Invest in Creativity, Wonder and Awe

  6. Assumption-Making - Get Curious and Explore

  7. Initiation Hesitation - Live Courageously and Circle Back

  8. Lacking Feedback - Highlights Reel

  9. Poor Consent Practices - Talk During

  10. Sex Negativity - Don't Yuck Their Yum

  11. Routine Boredom - Fantasy Sharing, Find Inspiration

  12. Necessary Repairs - Move Past Resentment with Apology and Personal Responsibility

  13. Desire Maintenance - Invest in Your Sexiness

  14. Alone Time


sex counselor sex therapist portland sexuality counseling

Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

  • rediscover passion in long-term relationships
  • repair trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • move beyond jealousy, insecurity or codependency
  • resolve sexual dysfunction and disconnect
  • break unhealthy communication patterns 
  • open your relationship and practice polyamory with care

Call me for a free consultation to rethink your relationship.

 

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

Why You're Not Having Sex: Biology

poly therapist portland sex therapist | couples counseling for sexuality

This is part of a series of posts about sex and desire in long-term relationships.  CLICK HERE to read the full series.

Today I want to point out the first thing I talk with couples about when they bring up desire fatigue as a concern: biology.  

There are so many easy-to-resolve ways biology can be a part of the desire fatigue it's difficult to list them all, but here are a few examples:

  • Depression medications imbalance can lead to lower libido and emotional numbness- resulting in lower desire.
  • Heart problems can make the cardio workout of sexual activity and the blood flow required for arousal and erection a challenge and sometimes even an impossibility. 
  • Digestive issues can make people feel less sexually-inclined and can negatively impact mental health thus lowering libido.  
  • Pelvic pain is FAR more common than anyone seems to realize, and this kind of pain isn't often the kind folks seek out in pain play- it usually is a desire crusher.
  • Chronic pain can be a barrier to comfort and body-mind connection, and as a result can make the body-mind connection necessary to have sex a real challenge.
  • Fatigue and stress are far too often underestimated in our culture (they impact more of us than we realize) and can make it very difficult to have satisfying sexual connection with ourselves or others.

This is just a tiny snapshot of ways physical health impacts sexual health.  Before you start thinking "there's just something wrong with me" check with your naturopath, doctor, and acupuncturist.  

I know most people rarely talk about this aspect of their health when they see a provider- but it is a critical part of your well-being, and they often have possible solutions for you.  

If you haven't already, check with your medical provider to see if there's not some assistance they can give you to improve sexual function.

If you're not willing to talk to a medical provider ask yourself why not.  If you aren't sure how they will react you might want to seek out a different provider.  

If you feel nervous and want to talk through how to have talk with them, check out this tool I created to help guide you through your conversation.  

Or give me a call, I'm happy to talk you through any challenge.

As I said, this is just one of many possible shifts you could try to make sustainable change in your sex life.  Read on in the series for more:

READ THE REST OF THE SERIES:

  1. Biology

  2. Time Scarcity

  3. Lack of Self-Care

  4. Maintenance Sex - Break Free of Obligation

  5. Lack of Inspiration - Invest in Creativity, Wonder and Awe

  6. Assumption-Making - Get Curious and Explore

  7. Initiation Hesitation - Live Courageously and Circle Back

  8. Lacking Feedback - Highlights Reel

  9. Poor Consent Practices - Talk During

  10. Sex Negativity - Don't Yuck Their Yum

  11. Routine Boredom - Fantasy Sharing, Find Inspiration

  12. Necessary Repairs - Move Past Resentment with Apology and Personal Responsibility

  13. Desire Maintenance - Invest in Your Sexiness

  14. Alone Time


portland sex therapy, sex therapist portland oregon couples counseling polyamory

Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

  • rediscover passion in long-term relationships
  • repair trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • move beyond jealousy, insecurity or codependency
  • resolve sexual dysfunction and disconnect
  • break unhealthy communication patterns 
  • open your relationship and practice polyamory with care

Call me for a free consultation to rethink your relationship.

 

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

The 14 Reasons Why You're Not Having Sex

not having sex | sexual desire passionless marriage | open relationships therapist sex therapist polyamory counselor

Our culture tells us all the time that sex should just come naturally and easily at all times in a relationship and if it's not- BEWARE this means there's something very wrong with you or your relationship.  

I'm here to tell you that assumption is the core of the problem.  It is perfectly natural for your sex drive and your sexual preferences to flex and change from day to day- and hour to hour.  Think about it, you may not be in the mood while stuck in traffic but you could be just moments later in the day with the right setting, partner(s) and preparation.  

And it is not common for you and your partner to be on exactly the same wavelength in those fluctuations.  Typically one of you has a higher drive in general and the other will have a lower drive.  

This isn't a reflection of your desire-ablity or your relationship strength- it's just a natural baseline for each of you that's set at different frequencies. 

Most of the bad sex advice you'll read online centers on silly tricks you can try to spice things up in the bedroom or change your momentary desire (62 sex positions you should try etc etc).  Many of these tips can work temporarily and if they work for you enjoy them.  

Very few of these temporary solutions will shift things in a sustainable long-lasting way.  I'm going to walk you through the solutions I've seen work long-term in my practice helping couples stay connected with desire.  Click through to see which solutions might work best for you.    

 

READ THE SERIES:

  1. Biology

  2. Time Scarcity

  3. Lack of Self-Care

  4. Maintenance Sex - Break Free of Obligation

  5. Lack of Inspiration - Invest in Creativity, Wonder and Awe

  6. Assumption-Making - Get Curious and Explore

  7. Initiation Hesitation - Live Courageously and Circle Back

  8. Lacking Feedback - Highlights Reel

  9. Poor Consent Practices - Talk During

  10. Sex Negativity - Don't Yuck Their Yum

  11. Routine Boredom - Fantasy Sharing, Find Inspiration

  12. Necessary Repairs - Move Past Resentment with Apology and Personal Responsibility

  13. Desire Maintenance - Invest in Your Sexiness

  14. Alone Time


polyamory counselor sex therapist portland

Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

  • rediscover passion in long-term relationships
  • repair trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • move beyond jealousy, insecurity or codependency
  • resolve sexual dysfunction and disconnect
  • break unhealthy communication patterns 
  • open your relationship and practice polyamory with care

Call me for a free consultation to rethink your relationship.

 

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

Is it about polyamory or do you just want to leave?

polyamory counselor portland polyamory couples therapy

So your long-term monogamous partner just told you they want to open your relationship up.  Odds are you've wondered if they really want an open relationship, or if they're looking to leave you.  

This is one of the biggest fears people face when their partner brings up open relationships.  

It's a valid question, in ten years of working with couples opening up, about 30% ultimately decide they want to break up.  Lots of folks start dreaming of non-monogamy when what they're really dreaming about is escape or change.  

But that leaves nearly 70% of the couples I've seen who do want to stay together- and somehow add other people to the mix.  I want to emphasize that the majority of folks I see want to (and ultimately do) stay together.  

But how can you determine which group you fall into?  Here's what I look for when I work with newly open relationships.

Do you still have emotional energy to invest in this relationship?

All relationships require some emotional energy and maintenance work.  One of the simplest indicators of your interest to stay in a relationship is if you are willing to invest emotional energy in the relationship.  

If you're not willing to keep improving your current relationship and learning to love each other better this can be a pretty clear message you are ready to leave.

How will you continue to cultivate connection with your original partner?

The difference between typical dating and being in an open relationship is that there is a relationship in the picture.  If none of your dreams about life post-monogamy include your relationship this could be an indicator you want to leave.  

I'm not saying you have to include threesomes or shared partners in your vision of the future.  But if you can't think of tangible ways you will work to stay connected to your original partner it might be time to leave.

Are you still open to the input of your original partner?

There's been plenty of research on successful couples showing that accepting your partner's influence is critical in long-term happiness.  Here's what that actually means:

  • Do you care how your partner feels?  
  • Are you willing to talk with them about their emotions and experiences?
  • Will you take their input into your decision-making process?
  • Are you willing to really consider their perspective?  

Many of the couples I see in that 30% group want to pursue an "open relationship" where they each "do whatever they want" without talking.  It is extremely rare for that kind of open marriage to work out because it is not essentially an open relationship, it's likely dating or solo polyamory.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to date or practice solo-poly, but moving in that direction is usually in direct opposition to having an ongoing relationship.  Think about how much input and influence you really can be open to moving forward.  

Accepting influence from a partner is one of the cornerstones differentiating consensual non-monogamy from infidelity, dating, or solo-polyamory.

Why choose a relationship with this specific partner now?

This is the big one.  Every day you are in a relationship you choose to stay in it.  You have the power to chose to leave, to chose a single life, or to choose other partners- but for some reason you've chosen this partner right now.  

It's shocking how many times I ask this question and people can't identify a specific reason why they're staying with this person.  They tell me they're sure they love this person- but when I ask why they can't give me a reason. 

Or often the reason is outdated.  Maybe they used to love something about this partner and they're hoping that something will return.  Or they've changed over time but haven't updated their reasons to stay in this relationship with that personal growth.  

If you can't look at the person you're with and list clear and specific reasons you're choosing to commit to a relationship with them today, it's a good time to invest in some relationship work.  

Successful long-term couples work to stay curious about one another.  It's not easy, but staying invested in learning about your sweetie is another well-researched critical piece of relationship health.

Notice how interested you are in getting to know your partner again.  Are you curious about them?  Are you open to learning how they have changed in time?  There are lots of great ways to strengthen your partnership and reconnect (whether you decide to open things or not). - I help a lot of folks with this.  Call me if you want assistance.

A real lack of interest in getting to know your partner more might be an indicator you're moving in different directions.  

Next Steps

I hope these questions help you get some clarity about your interest in staying together.  I made a simple reflection guide to help you dive deeper into these questions.  

Download the relationship worksheet by clicking below.

If you want more personalized attention call me for a consultation.  I'm happy to talk with you about your relationship goals.


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Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

  • rediscover passion in long-term relationships
  • repair trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • move beyond jealousy, insecurity or codependency
  • resolve sexual dysfunction and disconnect
  • break unhealthy communication patterns 
  • open your relationship and practice polyamory with care

Call me for a free consultation to rethink your relationship.

 

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

You Asked, I Answered: What to Know About Working With Me

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I get asked a lot of great questions about my work.  Here's a short list of the most commonly asked questions about couples and relationship work with me.  

Read more of the most frequently asked questions by my clients here

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How is coaching different from counseling?

Yes, I have completed a masters in counseling, but the work I do is not based You’ve tried therapy and stuck to it… but it’s time to apply the skills learned. Counseling is important reflective healing work, but my clients come to me hoping to take action for change.  That's where coaching comes in.

Counseling (the "assessment and treatment of mental health disorders") is about asking why something is happening.  Coaching doesn't assess or treat these disorders- my clients are healthy.  Instead we ask what you want to do differently.  How do you want to change? 

You're pretty friendly, how is this different from a friendship?

Having friendly relationships with my clients is important to me, but this isn't a friendship per se.  Whenever we meet I'm working for you providing facilitated space, open-mindedness, years of experience and training, and deep professional care.  

What's different than friendship is:

  • I bring ten years of professional expertise and training helping people build healthy relationships
  • I don't have personal attachment to your story so I won't offer judgment and you don't have to question my motives
  • You don't have to take care of my feelings or needs- this is a one-way relationship
  • I won't hit on you, sleep with you, or date you- our boundaries remain clear no matter how intimate our conversation
  • I won't search you online or in social media, what you choose to bring to session is up to you
  • The things you say to me remain strictly confidential (see more on this below)

How long are sessions?

Couples sessions are 75-90 minutes long.  I ask you to reserve 90 minutes for our meeting each time we schedule.  Many of my clients arrive 15 minutes early to collect their thoughts before session- I highly recommend it.

Individual sessions are 50 minutes long.  Many of my clients arrive 15 minutes early to collect their thoughts before session- I highly recommend it.

How often will we meet?

Most of my clients meet me every other week.  This gives you time to check in with your partner, your other partners, and (if you're in couples work) your individual therapist or coach.  It also gives a little more time to try out the skills we're working on before we meet again. 

A small number of my clients meet me weekly.  These are typically clients healing from affairs and experiencing extreme emotions.  Sometimes clients meet me weekly during stressful experiences (loss, break-up, new partner etc) or when they are making time-sensitive decisions (should we stay together, move to China, abort this pregnancy etc).

There's also a small number of clients who I have worked with for a while who want to invest in pro-active relationship maintenance.  We've generally cleared up the initial concerns they brought to my office, but they want a container to hold their conflicts with care moving forward.  We typically meet every third week for this kind of preventative relationship care work. 

How long do you meet with people?

Most clients work with me 4-6 months.  Many clients choose to stay on for monthly relationship maintenance meetings to help keep their relationships healthy.  

I'm proud that over 50% of my clients return years after working together to start up again when new issues arise.  They enjoyed our work together, found it helpful, and want to work with someone who knows their back story.

Where is your office/Where will we meet?

All my initial screening free consultations happen on the phone.  

Once we've decided to work together we may meet on the phone or in my office in Northeast Portland, OR.  My office is in the Overlook/Arbor Lodge neighborhoods at the corner of N Denver and N Killingsworth.  You can take the Max or the bus easily and there is ample street parking.

How much does this work cost?

I recommend budgeting between $175 and $800 each month for this work (depending on the frequency and type of meetings).  I offer some reduced rate spaces for clients who make a lower income.   

Initial phone consultations are free.  First sessions for couples are $200 and first solo sessions are $175.  Ongoing couples sessions are $175 and solo sessions are $125.  Again, let me know if this is too much for your household budget, I may have reduced rate sessions available.

Do you offer sliding-scale or reduced fee sessions?

I do reserve a small number of spaces for reduced rate clients who make a lower income.  Some of my clients also meet with me less frequently to make this work fit in their budgets.  Let me know if you need help affording our work.

Do you bill insurance?

I would never share your personal information with a corporation- so no, I do not bill insurance.  Some of my clients have used Flex Spending Accounts and Health Savings Accounts to work with me successfully.

Will you see either of us individually if we also see you as a couple?

I will see you individually to work on issues related to the relationship.  But if you want additional support for other areas of your life, or very intense self-work I will likely refer you out.

How does confidentiality work?

Everything you say to me in session is kept confidential on my end forever.  There are only a few exceptions to this:

  • If you are abusing someone in your care, or your partner, or yourself I'll likely have to report your abuses
  • If you are planning to kill yourself or another person I will report your plans
  • If you contact me using the internet, social media, email, or a smart phone I have no control over the confidentiality of the information you share (but google, facebook, etc will) 
  • I am currently receiving supervision for both a Sex Counselor and a Master Coach credential and will talk with my supervisor about my client work- but I will remove identifying information in these conversations.

How do you maintain boundaries with a community so interconnected?

It's not uncommon for one of my clients to have some familiarity with others.  But your confidentiality is of utmost importance.  If there's something that feels uncomfortable we'll talk about it, but I won't be able to share information about any of my other clients, famous or not, past or present.  

Your information is safe with me.

I also don't discuss my own personal connections, interests, desires, or activities with clients.  If I show up at an event and a client is in attendance I will probably leave.  I do this to maintain a professional relationship, instead of beginning a personal one (that could complicate our work together). I'd rather maintain extra distance than harm our work.  

What if we stop working together?

Your confidentiality is respected even if we stop working together.  Once you become one of my clients you can always return to our work, so your information will wait in a secure vault if (until) you decide to return.


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Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

She can help you:

  • rediscover passion in long-term relationships
  • repair trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • move past jealousy, insecurity or codependent patterns
  • open your relationship or practice polyamory with care
  • resolve sexual dysfunction and disconnect
  • break unhealthy communication patterns in your relationship

Contact her for a free consultation to see if working with her is right for you.

Click here to download her free guides to strengthen your relationship (monogamous or not).

You Asked, I Answered: Questions About Polyamory

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I get asked a lot of great questions about my work- especially my work with polyamory and non-monogamy.  Here's a short list of the most commonly asked questions about open relationships.  

Read more of the most frequently asked questions by my clients here

poly questions | polyamory advice | nonmonogamy | open relationships

Do you believe polyamory or monogamy is healthier?

I don't think relationship health is determined by the number of partners involved- but I do believe it can be measured by the level of communication, empathy, trust, and connection experienced by partners.  

For some people open relationship structures are overwhelming.  And for others monogamy is stifling.  I don't think you always have to choose one or the other, but I want all my couples to be able to openly discuss these with kindness and ease.

How did you learn about open relationships?

I became interested in couples work when I was in graduate school studying couples counseling.  I was fortunate to study in a holistic program that emphasized non-traditional therapeutic styles.  I was also really lucky to intern at the Gottman Relationship Research Institute when I finished school and really learn about strengthening trust in relationships.  

I wrote my final research on non-monogamy in couples therapy and have only expanded my research and education since then.  I left the profession of mental health therapy in 2016 to focus on coaching this population.

Does non-monogamy really work?

Absolutely.  If you define "working" as being together a long time, I will tell you I've supported couples who are married or who have been together for 14, 17, 22, and over 40 years while practicing many forms of nonmonogamy.  

If you define "working" by being generally satisfied with your relationship, supporting one another's growth, feeling empathy and desire for your partner I will tell you I've supported couples who are married and/or who have been together for 4, 17, 22, and over 40 years while practicing many forms of nonmonogamy.

But to make non-monogamy work, you need to be willing to do some work.  That's where I can help you.

Do you work with monogamous couples?

Even for clients who choose monogamy, it can be important to know this is a specialty of mine. These clients love working with me because I apply the same open non-judgmental approach to my work with all couples.  

I love all kinds of love - monogamous love too!

What about affairs in polyamorous relationships?

Affairs happen in both monogamous and non-monogamous relationships.  I work with couples to rebuild trust and overcome jealousy every week in session.  I have helped hundreds of couples move forward after an affair.  (Read more about my work with infidelity here)

I can to help you build and repair trust no matter your relationship structure. Schedule a consultation to get started with me here. 

Are you poly/open/non-monogamous?

Yup.  But I won't give you a lot of information about my relationship structure beyond that because if we're going to work together I want to keep the focus on you.  


sex counselor in portland sex therapist | couples therapist portland sexuality counselor

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

She can help you:

  • rediscover passion in long-term relationships
  • repair trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • move past jealousy, insecurity or codependent patterns
  • open your relationship or practice polyamory with care
  • resolve sexual dysfunction and disconnect
  • break unhealthy communication patterns in your relationship

Contact her for a free consultation to see if working with her is right for you.

Click here to download her free guides to strengthen your relationship (monogamous or not).