Dr. Metz shares what he tells a couple when one partner wants to live out a fantasy and the other does not.
What is happening with that conflict is the, usually the reliance on fantasy for arousal. When the fantasy needs to be acted out or a person wants to do that then the issue often becomes what kinds of limits might there be to that arousal pattern or what kind of dependency for becoming sexually aroused performing, getting erections, lubricating for example. And so for a couple to talk about that, you know, how much is this a requirement gets into what we call paraphilias.
Paraphilias are restricted, limited styles if you will, or avenues or paths to become aroused. So we classify fetishes by their level of dependency on that particular action, not just fantasy but action.
So someone who has a foot fetish for example might imagine that but if they have to be holding on to their partner’s foot or they will not get aroused, you see the issue becomes not the fantasy and the acting out but what’s going on with the sexual performance arousal patterns and that usually, again, is helped by looking at arousal patterns. Is the focus on the partner? Is the focus on the foot, or is there a large or more reliable way of getting turned on?
That’s what we mean by the three styles of arousal, entrancement arousal, partner interaction and role enactment. So usually finding some flexible ways and ultimately that the couple works out how both of them can be comfortable with whatever they want to integrate into their sexuality.
But one of the issues there is that couples be careful that they don’t get into what I call emotional extortion where, “I cannot be happy and we cannot have a good sex life unless we do this,” or “I can’t be happy and have a good sex life with you if we don’t do that.” They have to find the way to resolve that in a way that works for both of them.
About Dr. Michael Metz, Ph.D.:
Dr. Michael Metz is a licensed psychologist, marital therapist, sex therapist, author, and frequent speaker. Dr. Metz specializes in working with couples and individuals at his private clinical practice in St. Paul, Minnesota and has helped thousands throughout his career.