sex in relationships

Do We Really Need a Safe Word?

 safeword sue | what is a safeword | safewords in relationships

What is a safeword anyway?

A safeword is a word or phrase that can be used to communicate when a person is nearing or crossing a physical, emotional, or ethical boundary.

They can be a shortcut to creating consent and can make communicating easier in moments of intense emotion or pleasure.

Some safe words are used to stop a situation outright, while others can request reduced level of intensity. Often people use red (stop), yellow (slow down or pause), and green (keep going) as an example of these.

I've recommended asexual safewords to clients when engaging in vulnerable potentially emotionally triggering situations as well as intimate situations. They can be a shorthand or code for nearing emotional overwhelm or tender topics and can help couples slow down conflicts when they arise.

Safewords originate in BDSM community where safety and consent are critical to ethical respectful play. Many organized BDSM and play groups and spaces have standardized safewords that members agree to use to avoid confusion at large group events. 

If they're going to work for you, safewords have to be discussed before you enter an intimate situation with a new partner. You can ask if they have a safeword they like, or you can offer words that work well for you. They can be playful, or direct depending on the mood or scene you're creating with your partner. For some people safewords can be an important part of sexual role play.

Here are some of the words my clients have chosen:

Pause

Foul ball

Don't stop

Banana bread

Strike one

Stop

FUCK

Mr. Big

Grandma

Yes please


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

 open relationship counselor | open relationship coach | polyamory coach
  • open your relationship & practice polyamory with integrity
  • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity 
  • manage intense emotions that arise in conflicts
  • rebuild trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • shift stuck communication & codependent relationship patterns

I lead couples retreats, host workshops, and see private clients online and in Portland, Oregon. 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.  

Please Watch This Interview on Love, Marriage, & Monogamy

 love marriage and nonmonogamy | open relationship coach

Two of my favorite writers and relationship experts (Dan Savage and Esther Perel) have done a lot of shared interviews and I wanted to share the best of them with you.  

Here are a few things I love about this Q&A session:

In the very first couple minutes Dan outlines some of the most common reasons people cheat in relationships.  

Then Esther clarifies the difference between infidelity and non-monogamy.  

If you listen to nothing else, check in at minute 11:21.  Esther breaks down one of the most important issues in desire for long-term relationships.  She outlines the issue with being the "chosen one" for your partner and how it diminishes desire when we're together a long time.

When asked how she would re-design marriage (at 15:28). She posits that marriage isn't necessary in the same way as it once way.  This history of marriage and committed relationships is missing in most people's understanding of partnership. 

Later she dives into the critical balance between stability and novelty in long-term relationships (near 18:00).  "Too much novelty and not enough stability is chaos and too much stability without novelty becomes fossilized."  She says there is not enough fluidity in marriage- and I wholeheartedly agree.

Finally, early on in the interview Dan discusses the difference between default monogamy and intentional monogamy- the cornerstone of my work with couples considering opening their relationships.

Check out the full interview below and call me for a free consultation if you'd like to discuss these topics in your own partnership.


Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  I help people:

 love marriage and nonmonogamy | open relationship coach
  • reconnect with desire & passion in long-term relationships
  • rebuild trust after an affair or infidelity
  • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity 
  • manage powerful emotions that show up unexpectedly
  • shift codependent communication patterns
  • open relationships & practice polyamory with integrity

I lead couples retreats, host workshops, and coach 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.  

Listen to a Couples Session After Infidelity

 after infidelity | after an affair | online couples counseling | online marriage therapist 

Choosing to turn to a stranger in a time of pain is really a courageous act.  Often it's difficult to imagine what talking to a professional might feel like.  This recording is a really powerful session from my mentor, Esther Perel, helping a couple work on coming together after an affair.  

It's a pretty intense listen, but if you're curious about talking with a helping professional yourself, or if you're struggling to come together after infidelity this recording may be helpful to you.

Listen here: 


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

 after infidelity | after an affair | online couples counseling | online marriage therapist
  • 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.  

How to be a "GGG" Partner

 HOW TO BE GGG | GGG IN RELATIONSHIPS | SEX POSITIVE RELATIONSHIP

GGG is a term coined by sex-educator and author, Dan Savage.  Being good, giving, and game, is important to being sexually compatible with a partner. 

Think 'good in bed,' 'giving of equal time and equal pleasure,' and 'game for anything—within reason.  The same goes for having a conversation about sexual intimacy. 

Being GGG requires a few specific skills:

GGG means suspending judgment so your partner can be honest without worrying about shame. 

GGG means having a little humility and willingness to learn about new possibilities- even things you've never tried or consider. 

GGG also means being clear in your own boundaries and respecting your partner's boundaries. 

Before you can get there you really need to do a little self-reflection.  Check in with yourself using the following questions to be sure you are ready to engage as a GGG partner in this conversation.

Self-Reflection Questions:

How can you make meeting the sexual needs of your partner a high priority?  How and when do you put their sexual needs before your own?

How comfortable are you saying no to partner’s requests?  What can help you become comfortable saying no?

How comfortable are you hearing that your partner needs you to change what you’re doing in the middle of a sex act?  What can you do to become more comfortable?

Where can you get reliable information about sex if your partner brings up something you're not familiar with?

How can you keep your discomfort in check if your partner is being vulnerable asking for something new?

 

If you're having trouble figuring out how to be more open to your partner's sexual interests give me a call for a free consult.  I've walked hundreds of couples through sexual mismatch and miscommunication and I'd love to help you too.


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

 online polyamory counselor | online marriage therapy | open relationship coach
  • 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.  

What Couples Who Still Have Great Sex Do Differently

 sex after marriage | passion long-term relationships | desire fatigue

Yes, it's totally common to have desire fatigue set in when you've been together a long time. The more comfortable you get (which is a good thing) the more energy you need to put into keeping the passion alive.  

But where do you direct that energy? How do you actually shift things back in the direction of desire?

Couples who keep things sex long-term have a few key things to teach us. Overall there are five ways they focus energy in their sex lives that keeps the momentum flowing.  

Reminiscing

Couples who report long-term sexual satisfaction do one thing a lot of others miss. They share fond memories of previous sexual encounters with each other. That might sound like any of these:

  • "The way you kissed me last night was really hot."
  • "Remember the time we did it on the beach at your parent's condo? I'd love to re-live something sneaky like that again."
  • "I was just thinking about the first time you spanked me and it made me smile."

Reminiscing isn't the same as giving feedback or making requests. It's simply sharing fond memories of things that worked well for you.  It's food for thought.

    Highlights Reel

    Couples who still love making love often have a solid practice of sharing what I call a highlights reel after sexual contact. Shortly after they finish they share a few specific highlights that worked well for them.  

    These might include:

    • "Oh my god it was so hot when you pulled my hair."
    • "I couldn't tell what you were doing with your fingers this time... but something about the beat and the circles you were using really worked for me."
    • "I loved watching your face when you climaxed tonight. It's such an incredible turn on to know you're so comfortable with me."

    In addition to giving positive feedback to your partner, this helps them more confidently build a repertoire of acts to draw from in the future. If you clearly let them know a few favorites you there's less to be confused about.

    Play by Play

    Relationships with long-lasting passion talk more during sex than others. Period.

    Let go of the fantasy your partner can/should/will read your mind and intuit your desires. That just will not last the test of time as your bodies and desires grow and change. 

    This doesn't necessarily mean dirty talk or roleplay (though you can incorporate those) but it does mean positive feedback and positive re-directs in the heat of the moment. Even if you can only manage a few words, try talking during the act. Here are a couple phrases to try:

    • "Yes!  Keep going."
    • "Don't stop what you're doing with your mouth!"
    • "More pressure. Just like that!!"

    Not only are you giving feedback but this is a way of building your consent practices to make sure you're on the same page about what you're doing and what you want to do. The converse of this is to ask more often during sex:

    • "How is this position for you?"
    • "Do you want more of my hand inside you?"
    • "Can I go faster?"

    Getting clear on what's working and what you both want helps you stay on the same page.

    Shared Fantasy

    Finally, couples who report a satisfying long-term sexual connection share fantasies openly. This means they're both brave enough to be vulnerable and share their desires, AND their partner is compassionate and empathetic when hearing them. 

    Again, these are not requests, but ideas.  They might sound like this:

    • "I've always had this idea that dressing up in matching tuxedos and going commando would be really hot."
    • "Sometimes I daydream about eating chocolate off your body."
    • "I think you'd look hot tied to the bed."
    • "I don't know if I ever want to try this, but I have secretly loved gay porn so long, I sometimes imagine you with other men."

    These are not requests. Only statements about what is and might be hot. It's really important for the receiving partner not to fee pressure in the moment to figure out how to (or if) they could fulfill these desires. Only to honor them in the moment.  

    It's also really important these desires are received without judgment or laughter.  There's nothing wrong with having fantasies (in fact, they're very healthy).  Being able to share them openly with a partner increases trust and often desire between you.  Here are some options for responses:

    • "Wow.  I can tell you're super into that."
    • "I'm so glad you told me. Let's talk more about it after I have time to do a little research."
    • "Ooooh.  Let me think about how I could make something like that work for us."

    Maybe there's some part of these fantasies you'd be into.  SIt with them, honor them and be careful not to yuck your partner's yums.  Sharing openly is far more important than ever acting on all of the fantasies you hold.

    How to make these first four tips work for you:

    • keep it specific - "that time in Chicago was nice" gives a lot less information than "The time in Chicago was so hot because you came first."

    • keep it positive - focus on any little thing you liked or found hot

    Why they work so well:

    • you're practicing getting vulnerable with each other by sharing these intimate details

    • you're giving feedback about what works so you can possibly replicate at another time

    • you're fueling sexual chemistry by focusing on what works for you

    • you're improving both your sexual confidence by identifying strengths

    Finally: Investing in Personal Passion 

    Most long-term couples desire wanes because they stop investing in their personal passions, friendships, creative pursuits, and desires. Over time these fall away as we focus on building our shared life, home, and family with someone. 

    But when these are out of balance it is really difficult to feel sexy.  Think about when and where you feel confident and/or sexy.  Make a list of the factors that contribute to those sexy times.  Then commit with your partner to investing in those confdent and sexy individual pursuits. 

    Here's an example from one of my clients (offered with permission):

    Her: "I feel most confident when I'm on the dance floor with my girlfriends.  I like getting dressed up, having a fancy cocktail and getting swung around to salsa music. I love the confidence of proud lead dancers, the feeling of the beat, and the change of pace when I put that kind of energy into looking good.  I usually wear my good underwear, a cute dress, I do my hair... I don't do any of those things on a regular basis!"

    Him: "I feel most confident when I've been running regularly.  Like I feel better at work, at home- everywhere if I've gotten a few miles in each day.  I notice my head is held higher and I'm in a better mood. I'm not sure it's 'sexy' but I feel like I get more done and feel better so getting laid is a higher priority when I work out. I also feel really confident at work.  I like being in charge and feel great because I'm usually the only one in the room who knows my specialty.  I am kind of an expert on [this thing] and people come to me for advice."

    Think about the situations and factors that fuel your more passionate self and find a way to build those situations into your life on a more regular basis.  


     passion after marriage | sex coach portland relationship coach

    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.  

    Couples Who Learn Together Stay Together

     sex therapist open relationships therapist couples counseling for sexual difference desire and passion in marriage

    Relationships with room for learning and growth are more fulfilling over time.  

    The couples I see stay together keep learning alive in three key ways:

    Couples Who Learn on Their Own

    Staying connected to your own passions and interests is critical to the long-term success of your relationship.  Of course it's easy to set aside your independence early in a relationship when you're caught up in new relationship energy- but to stay together long-term each of your individual wellness needs to be fostered. 

    Get out and try something new, get creative, read a book- just for you.  It can significantly improve the health of your connection.  

    Couples Who Learn Together

    One of the great parts of starting a new relationship is all the excitement that comes from learning together.  Every date with a new person is about discovery and exploration.  And that newness is intoxicating. 

    Over time we stop discovering together- and that is some of why passion and excitement can wane.  Commit to learning together to keep discovery and fascination alive.  

    Challenge yourself:

    Many of my couples make a bucket list of things they want to learn - together and independently- from wine tasting, to tango, pottery to poker, they create a long list of possibilities to draw from.  Once the list is created (without editing) you can decide together which you want to commit to trying out now.

    Try something new together this weekend, learn together and watch your love grow. 


     couples therapy online couples counseling

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

    • reconnect with passion in your long-term relationship
    • repair trust after infidelity or dishonesty
    • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity 
    • resolve sexual dysfunction and disconnect
    • change unhealthy communication and codependent 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.  

    How to Predict Your Break Up

     sex therapist open relationships therapist couples counseling for sexual difference desire and passion in marriage

    What keeps couples together long-term?

    It is not uncommon to go through phases of connection and disconnection in relationship.  But some of us stay together, and others break up. 

    Some of the best training I have received to understand couples is studying the work of John Gottman. Gottman is based in Seattle and set out to see if you could measure relationship strength based on behaviors.  

    Strong couples do things differently

    Over time it became clear- strong couples do things differently.  In the video below John Gottman himself outlines one thing you can do today to improve your relationship.  

    There are a lot of things you can do to improve your relationship, but if you really want just one step, getting curious about getting to know your loved one is a great place to start.  

    When we think of the beginning romance phase of a relationship (when most of us are the most excited about our partners) we are often really invested in forming what Gottman calls a Love Map.  We do this by interviewing them and being fascinated by their answers.

    "You love broccoli?!?  I love broccoli too!!!"  We are meant to be together. 

    Over time we stop interviewing.  We assume old answers still hold true.  

    But the truth is, we all change in time and most of our answers do too.  When we stop asking we stop seeing our partner as a growing being.  We miss out on opportunities to get to know them more fully.  

    Challenge Yourself:

    I created a few tools I use all the time with the clients I support specifically to address this issue.  You can use them totally free in your own relationship _ I'm confident they'll help! 

    Add your email to get my regular messages and challenges to keep you connected with fascination, curiosity, and desire long-term.  


     couples therapy online couples counseling

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

    • reconnect with passion in your long-term relationship
    • repair trust after infidelity or dishonesty
    • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity 
    • resolve sexual dysfunction and disconnect
    • change unhealthy communication and codependent 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: Get Inspired

     sex therapist portland sex counselor desire and passion in relationship

    Couples who share fulfilling sex lives long-term talk about sex in three specific ways.  Today I'm outlining one of the three as a part of my series on desire fatigue in long-term relationships.  

    Read the rest of the series here.

    Have Sex Tonight

    Get the guide I created to have better sex in your relationship right away.  Enter your information below to access the guide (and a bunch of other great tools for successful relationships). 

    Name *
    Name

     portland polyamory counseling online sex therapy couples counseling

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

    • reconnect with passion in your long-term relationship
    • repair trust after infidelity or dishonesty
    • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity 
    • resolve sexual dysfunction and disconnect
    • change unhealthy communication and codependent 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: Make Some Repairs

     sex therapist portland sex counselor desire and passion in relationship

    Desire fatigue (diminishing passion over time) is SUPER common in long-term relationships, but it doesn't have to be.  

    I'm using this series to outline the simplest ways to overcome the most common reasons couples stop having sex. CLICK HERE to read the full series.


    In this video we'll talk about one of the most common things getting in the way of your sexual connection- repair work.  All too often couples grow distant or have trouble finding the spark because something went wrong and was left unresolved in the past.  Here's what to do about it:

    Enter your information below to get access to my full toolkit for Sexual Desire in Relationships.

    Name *
    Name
     
    1. READ THE REST OF THE SERIES:

    2. Biology

    3. Time Scarcity

    4. Lack of Self-Care

    5. Maintenance Sex 

    6. Lack of Inspiration

    7. Assumption-Making 

    8. Initiation Hesitation 

    9. Lacking Feedback

    10. Poor Consent Practices 

    11. Sex Negativity - Don't Yuck Their Yum

    12. Routine Boredom 

    13. Necessary Repairs

    14. Desire Maintenance

    15. Alone Time


     open relationship counseling online couples therapy for nonmonogamy

    Hi!  Thanks for reading!  

    Let me know if I can help you:

    • rekindle the magic and ignite passion in long-term relationships
    • repair trust after infidelity or dishonesty
    • move beyond codependency, insecurity and reactive jealousy
    • resolve sexual dysfunction and disconnect
    • change 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, certified relationship coach, and retired couples therapist specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

    She hosts retreats, workshops, and sees clients for consultation online and in Portland, Oregon. 

    Why You're Not Having Sex: Desire Maintenance

     sex therapist portland sex counselor desire and passion in relationship

    Desire fatigue (diminishing passion over time) is SUPER common in long-term relationships, but it doesn't have to be.  

    I'm using this series to outline the simplest ways to overcome the most common reasons couples stop having sex. CLICK HERE to read the full series.


    In this video we'll talk about desire maintenance- how to fuel the desire within you so you can keep it happening between you.  Watch here:

    Enter your information below to get access to my full toolkit for Sexual Desire in Relationships.

    Name *
    Name
     

    If you want to talk more about keeping desire alive in your relationship schedule a free call with me.  I'd love to hear from you.

    1. READ THE REST OF THE SERIES:

    2. Biology

    3. Time Scarcity

    4. Lack of Self-Care

    5. Maintenance Sex - Break Free of Obligation

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

    7. Assumption-Making - Get Curious and Explore

    8. Initiation Hesitation - Live Courageously and Circle Back

    9. Lacking Feedback - Highlights Reel

    10. Poor Consent Practices - Talk During

    11. Sex Negativity - Don't Yuck Their Yum

    12. Routine Boredom - Fantasy Sharing, Find Inspiration

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

    14. Desire Maintenance - Invest in Your Sexiness

    15. Alone Time


     POLYAMORY COUNSELING OPEN RELATIONSHIP 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.