lasting desire

20 Seconds & 20 Slides on Default Monogamy

Default Monogamy | Non-monogamy | Why Nonmonogamy is Better

I had the privilege of giving a talk at PechaKucha last month, it was Unity night and I guess I thought, "What a perfect night to bring non-monogamy to the conversation?" 

I was really nervous, as even in progressive Portland, Oregon mainstream audiences are a little skittish about non-monogamy.  Typically my work is met at dinner parties with bemused curiosity, blatant defensiveness, or awkward fetishization. 

I knew the audience would likely fit largely into the mainstream culture of default monogamy, and though my work focused on polyamory, open relationships and consensual non-monogamy, most of the work I do with couples is rethinking the cultural norms they've been taught about relationships.

Which mostly means, challenging deeply held patterns of default monogamy.  

So I decided to shift my talk's focus a little to how our culture of default monogamy is damaging relationships.  How if more monogamous couples held the bandwidth to acknowledge there is value in the emotional intimacy, inspiration, and curiosity brought out in relations with other people (even if it never becomes physical or sexual) they might be able to withstand the passing personal transformations that come with growing and changing over a lifetime.  

But if you know anything about PechaKucha, you know speakers are given a STRICT timeline and structure to follow.  Twenty seconds per slide and only twenty slides.  It sounded like a lot to me until I tried it.  Nothing has ever made me have to choose my words more carefully (right down to the syllable).  

Which meant I had to leave a lot out, but I'm really proud of what I was able to work in, and based on the conversations I had after the event, I certainly got people talking and thinking about evolving relationships in new ways.  

Watch the video below and let me know what you think on my facebook page.  I'd love to hear from you.  


Gina Senarighi | Polyamory Counselor | Nonmonogamy Therapist

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

  • reconnect with passion & desire in long-term partnerships
  • rebuild trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity 
  • manage intense emotions that arise in conflicts
  • resolve sexual dysfunction & disconnect
  • change communication & codependent patterns
  • open your relationship & practice polyamory with integrity

I lead couples retreats, host workshops, and see private clients online (and in Portland, OR).

Call me for a free consultation to rethink the way you do relationships.

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

A Month of Kindness for Your Relationship

So many incredible couples reach out to me to help them reconnect with each other.  While there are lots of ways to get there, starting on the path of reconnection can be easier than you think.

The biggest challenge is shifting your patterns to take tiny daily actions that move you towards more meaningful connection in the smallest of ways.  Most long-term couples need a reminder and a serious commitment to change in order to re-establish these smallest connections.  

So I created a little calendar to help you two commit to daily action.  Click the image to download a copy to give it a try this month.  

As always, if you'd like help nurturing the connection between you, I'm happy to support you. Give me a call. 

Seven Elements of Trust

Y'all know I'm a HUGE Brene' Brown fan.  Here's a helpful graphic for you all about identifying the elements of trust in your partnership.  If you want help building (or rebuilding) trust give me a call, I'm here for you!

Elements of Trust PDF Brene Brown Worksheet - Uncommon Love - 

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

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.  

Most couples struggle at one point or another with mismatched desire, desire fatigue, loss of passion or other difficulties maintaining sexual chemistry long-term.

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.  

You Asked, I Answered: About Being a Sex-Positive Provider

sex-positive therapist | sex therapist portland counselor for sexuality

I get asked a lot of great questions about my work.  Here's a short list of the most commonly asked questions about being a sex-positive provider supporting couples and individual clients in changing their relationships for the better.  

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

sex positive portland therapist for sexuality

What is a sex-positive provider?

One of the best questions I get from new clients is about my listing as a sex-positive professional, or a kink-aware provider.  

Not all my clients engage in sex-positive community, but for some of my clients it is especially important to know I have eight years of expertise in working with clients from BDSM, fetish, and other kink scenes.  

This is important because there are a lot of well-intended professionals who will tell you they are sex-positive, but just having a sex-positive philosophy isn't enough- if you work with me you have someone with the philosophy, the skills, and the knowledge.

What if we're new to BDSM, kink, and/or don't know where to begin?

I work with a lot of clients who are just beginning to get creative and explore their sexuality.  Some of them just finished reading Fifty Shades of Grey, and others have held secret fantasies for years and are just now opening up to their partner.  

I'll meet with you to help you determine an integrity-based path that supports your physical and emotional health as well as your desires.  I can also refer you to a wide range of specific organizations, clubs, groups, teachers, and events in the Portland area to help grow your learning and your community in a way that feels as safe as possible for you.

What if only one of us is kinky?

Many couples choose to work with me when one partner is interested in kink and the other is not.  Let me help you figure out a path that is right for both of you.  

It can be helpful to work with a knowledgeable and non-judgmental professional to discuss and negotiate new sexual territory.

Are you kinky?

I think most people have some creative desires but I won't share my own sexual desires or activities with you because the focus of our work is on you- not me.

Will you demonstrate X act with/on/for us?

I don't do any hands-on work with clients.  But I know plenty of knowledgable professionals who do and I'm happy to refer you.

Do you work with vanilla couples too?

Absolutely!  Even clients who follow more mainstream or traditional sexual and sensual practices often find comfort knowing 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- no matter how kinky.  

Do you coach sex-workers?

Yup.  If you want to know more about how I can support you in maintaining your work/life balance schedule a consultation so we can chat.


sex therapist portland couples therapy

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).

Ten Reasons to See a Couples Counselor

Ten Reasons to See a Couples Counselor | Uncommon Love Poly Counseling in Portland

Couples counseling helps couples reflect and take intentional action to create relationships filled with happiness, connection, and shared vision.  

There are many reasons couples decide to start working with me.  Here are ten of the most common.

Why See a Couples Counselor?

1.  Sweethearts considering marriage.

Pre-marital counseling and coaching is some of my favorite work.  You know you want to be together, now, the question is, HOW do you want to be together?  What kind of future do you want to build?  How will you navigate life changes with grace?  

Working with a couples therapist can help you get clear about the life you want to build as a committed couple.  While most therapists are trained as marriage therapists specific to monogamous more traditional couples.  Those of us who use couples therapist or relationship coach as a title are acknowledging marriage isn't the only kind of couple we see.

2.  Keeping the relationship fulfilling long term.  

You have probably heard me say it already, every relationship needs a tune up from time to time.  Keeping your relationship a priority amid the many responsibilities and obligations that come up can be difficult.  It's not uncommon to lose a little luster over time.  

Couples coaching can help provide time to re-assess how to sustainably keep the fire burning for a long long time.

3.  Getting back together after taking a break.

Little known fact: LOTS of couples break up and get back together.  When you are deciding to return to partnership it can be really helpful to work with a couples coach to both repair any gaps from your break, and work on forgiveness.  

You get to define what your relationship looks like- and no one combination works for every couple.  Your therapist will also help you determine how you want to move forward together and can help you tailor your agreements and communication skills to the relationship best suited for both of you.

4.  Thinking about becoming parents.

Parenting is an amazing journey, but it isn't for everyone and co-parenting doesn't come naturally.  Who do you want to be as a parent?  Is parenting something you both really want?  

When you and your partner are ready to start thinking about a family it can be a good idea to bring in a counselor as a facilitator to help guide you through the decision-making and planning processes.

5.  Starting a business with your life partner.  

So we know you and your partner have great ideas and can manage projects together well (that home remodel looks beautiful!) but are you ready to start a business together?  And if you are, how will you maintain your relationship strength as your business dreams come true?  

Contacting a couples counselor to help you as a consultant for your business partnership when it's also our romance partner.  This is especially important for non-monogamous couples, and polyamorous groups who want to share financial commitments to one another beyond the mainstream marital rights afforded legally married couples.

6.  Opening your relationship to non-monogamy.

Polyamory and open relationships are much more common than people think.  However, because we have strong cultural taboos around talking about open relationships, most couples are without support as they begin conversations about openness.  

Without support many couples struggle with unexpected triggers.  Working with a poly-affirming provider can help you get through those challenges with greater ease. 

Find an open-minded affirming provider using one of these lists.  You can find me there too!

7.  Adventuring in new sexual or sensual territory.

Dan Savage coined the phrase GGG meaning one should strive to be good in bed, giving "equal time and equal pleasure" to one's partner, and game "for anything—within reason."for things sexually and sensually.  For some people meeting this GGG standard is not easily done.  

Working with a relationship coach or couples counselor could help you and your partner explore new sensual connections and be even stronger together in the bedroom (and wherever else these adventures take you).  

Check these lists for a sex-positive (non-judgmental) provider near you.

8.  Repairing a relationship after an affair.  

An affair doesn't necessarily mean you have to end your relationship.  Many couples decide to stay together.  However, repairing from a violation of trust can require professional support.

Even open relationships have affairs- and having a therapist who understands the unique challenges non-monogamous folks face when repairing trust is critical to moving through the healing process.

Contact a relationship counselor or couples coach to help you rebuild connection and trust and decide if staying together is the best option for you.

9.  Re-imagining the relationship after things go blah.

Let's face it, relationships take work and it is not easy to razzle-dazzle your partner every day (nor is it a realistic expectation).  Work with a relationship coach or couples therapist to help reignite that spark and fascination that brought you together in the first place.

10.  Deciding to move in together.

Many people struggle with questions of balanceprivacy, space, and independence during these conversations.  It can be very helpful to have a neutral party's support and guidance as you transition to or from living together.

The bottom line is, if you are going to stay together for a long time, you are going to weather many changes to your life and relationship. Having knowledgeable professional support can very much help you move through growth more compassionately together.

Relationship counseling is like a vitamin boost for your relationship's health during times of stress and transition.  Give me a call for a free consultation to see if I can help you be stronger together.

*I closed my psychotherapy and couples counseling practice in 2016 to pursue coaching and consulting.  Contact me to learn more about this powerful change in my work.


Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a sex educator and relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationshipsjealousy, LGBTQ issues and infidelity.  

She can help you:

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).

Green Porno: An Awesome Sex-Positive Video Series

If you haven't had a chance yet, I highly recommend checking out my long-time favorite series, Green Porno.  

Isabella Rossellini and the team at Sundance started making videos about animal mating habits years ago, with a little whimsy and a lot of paper mache.  Isabella writes, acts, and directs this often hilarious and always sex-positive look at the wild variations in sexuality in the natural world.  

Here are a few of my favorites:

I love this edition of Noah's Ark because it highlights the many options of gender and coupling common in the animal kingdom- well beyond the heterosexual pairings we often are told make up sexuality.  

This is a cute rendition of sexual bondage and seduction in nature.  I love her quote "he is irresistible, he makes me shake with desire"

Changing gender and sharing partners in the Limpet world of sexuality.

Pain and domination in praying mantis sexual practices.  

And finally, the wide range of shared and solo-affection, gay, and lesbian sex had in the dolphin world.  

Check out more from this series on Sundance.

 


Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a polyamory consultant, sex educator and relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationshipsjealousy, LGBTQ issues and infidelity.  

She can help you:

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).

What is a Sex-Positive Therapist?

Sex Positive Definition

“The sex-positive movement is a social movement which promotes and embraces sexuality with few limits beyond an emphasis on safe sex and the importance of consent. Sex positivity is “an attitude towards human sexuality that regards all consensual sexual activities as fundamentally healthy and pleasurable, and encourages sexual pleasure and experimentation.

The sex-positive movement is a social and philosophical movement that advocates these attitudes. The sex-positive movement advocates sex education and safer sex as part of its campaign.” The movement generally makes no moral distinctions among types of sexual activities, regarding these choices as matters of personal preference.”  

– Definition from Wikipedia

Kink-Aware Definition

“[Providers who] have specific knowledge of kink concepts and lifestyles, have researched and educated themselves in these areas. May have some previous experienced providing professional services to individuals with these interests.”

Definition from the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom

My Work as a Sex Positive Therapist*

One of the best questions I get from new clients is about my listing as a sex-positive therapist, or a kink-aware provider.  Not all of my clients engage in non-traditional sexual activity, but for some of my clients it is especially important to know I have expertise in working with BDSM, fetish, and other kink communities.

I also work with a lot of clients who are just beginning to get creative and explore their sexuality.  Some of them just finished reading Fifty Shades of Grey, and others have held secret fantasies for years and are just now opening up to their partner.  Often it can be helpful to work with a professional to discuss and negotiate new sexual territory with a knowledgeable and non-judgmental professional.

Even for clients who follow more mainstream or traditional sexual and sensual practices, 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- no matter how kinky.  

Watch the video below to learn more!

*I closed my psychotherapy and couples counseling practice in 2016 to pursue coaching and consulting.  Contact me to learn more about this powerful change in my work.

 

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a polyamory consultant, sex educator and relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationshipsjealousy, LGBTQ issues and infidelity.  

She can help you:

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).