3 Ways You Unknowingly Screw Up Your Love Life

Photo: fizkes / Shutterstock
couples sleeping

We grow up in a culture that throws layers of nonsense on top of our relationship with our sexuality.

We’re taught from a young age that this is what men are supposed to like. And this is what women are supposed to like. But if guys like something too much then they’re creepy, desperate, or freaks. And if women like certain things too much, or too little, then they’re labeled as easy, prudish, or any other number of hurtful names.

In this minefield of rules, nobody wins.

In fact, with all of these apparently black-and-white sexual norms to drown in, we tend to lose ourselves. Sex can seem increasingly scary with every year that passes.

Over time, we start to forget which of the messages we receive lead to healthy sexual relationships and which lead to dysfunctional, and even damaging, sexual relationships.

Over the past few years, I’ve noticed three major things that people/couples unknowingly do that wreak havoc on their relationship/sex lives.

Do these three things and you’re sure to alienate every sexual partner you’ll come in contact with.

Steer clear of these three things, and you’ll allow the space for love, trust, and intimacy to grow within the borders of your relationship.

I’ve seen these pop up, over and over again, in the sex lives of my clients.

Be mindful of avoiding these common traps, and your relationship will be better off for it.

RELATED: A Marriage Expert Explains How To Bring Actual Love Back To Your Relationship In 16 Sweet Steps

Here are 3 ways you unknowingly screw up your love life:

1. You use sex as a bargaining tool

Sex is a mutually beneficial act that supports the love, connection, and growth of the people involved in it.

So when one partner decides to use sex as a bargaining chip (as in, “If you do this nice thing for me then you get sex later…”) then the act becomes a commodity to be traded as opposed to an experience to be shared and enjoyed.

This is a no-win game.

Sex is not a bartering chip to be used against your partner.

If you don’t enjoy the sex that you and your partner have, then you either need to analyze your relationship with your own sexuality and get clear on what you desire, or you need to have an honest conversation with your partner about how your sexual needs can be met more effectively.

RELATED: 5 Things You Need To Do ASAP To Keep The Spark In Your Relationship Alive

2. You shame your partner’s desires

Another way that people are made to feel unsafe in their sexual relationship is by having their partner laugh at, put down, or overtly ridicule their sexual preferences or desires.

Sex is where we literally, spiritually, and metaphorically get naked in front of our partners. Letting our sexual preferences be known can be a scary concept for a lot of people. And it doesn’t help things when our requests get mocked.

Maybe you like having your hair pulled. Maybe you’ve been wanting to try some light bondage. Maybe you want your partner to explore some roleplaying.

Whatever you or your partner is wanting to explore, it’s up to the partner on the receiving end of the request to handle it with care and kindness. Receiving the request well doesn’t mean that you/they have to comply with the request… but there’s a huge gap between saying no and overtly or covertly insulting the person who makes their sexual preferences known.

Understanding that your partner trusts you enough to let you know what they would like (or like to try out) is a gift. It takes courage and vulnerability to express our sexual desires, and those gifts should be handled delicately.

RELATED: 3 Things Women Can Do To Spice Up Sex With Their Husbands

3. You make negative comments about your partner’s body and/or sexual performance

Similar to the previous point, but on a different subject, criticism rarely makes us feel sexy. In fact, feeling criticized is pretty much an anti-aphrodisiac.

If one partner makes negative comments about the other’s body and/or sexual performance, then it tends to lead to that person shutting down and feeling defensive.

Is your partner putting on weight and you don’t love it? Sit with why you don’t like it. Are you judging them as a projection of how unhappy you are with your body? Is your ego feeling anxious that people might judge you for having an overweight partner? Really sit with the reasons behind your feelings before you make any verbal comments.

There is a huge difference between making a negative comment about someone’s body to assuage your anxiety versus asking them about their health from a place of genuine love and concern.

Is your partner not lasting as long as you would like them to? There is an elephant-sized gap between making them feel like they failed you sexually and bringing it up in a way that invites a dialogue that can easily end in a mutually agreeable solution. Maybe you get to be the new hands-on helper that assists them in cultivating their sexual stamina (team sex project — woohoo!).

Bottom line: there is always a delicate way to bring up something sensitive that you can both benefit from and grow from.

If you think that your thoughts/words/actions might be hurtful to your partner then slow down, think for a while before you bring anything up, and then bring it up in a way that invites closeness as opposed to coming across as critical.

RELATED: 9 Key Rules For Fighting With Your Husband

Jordan Gray is a five-time #1 Amazon best-selling author, public speaker, and relationship coach with more than a decade of practice behind him. His work has been featured in The New York Times, BBC, Forbes, The Huffington Post, and more.

This article was originally published at Jordan Gray Consulting. Reprinted with permission from the author.