I’ve been with my partner for three years and our sex life has suddenly died. Is it normal and how long should I go before I start questioning it?
If sex has suddenly stopped, it could be that something is wrong or at least isn’t being talked about. The frequency of sex in relationships varies from couple to couple and some partners remain together even when the sexual side to their relationship is over. That’s all normal. But if you’re unhappy or concerned about the sex you aren’t or are having, why not talk about it? Don’t assume your partner will bring it up. Be proactive in your relationship and address anything that doesn’t feel right.

I have a fetish for semi-public sex. What does this mean and how can I indulge this without getting in too much trouble?
Human beings are a diverse species. We have different backgrounds and are turned on by different things. Some people enjoy the thrill that they might be seen or caught in the act of having sex. Enjoying sex in the presence of other people doesn’t necessarily mean there is anything wrong with you but obviously if you do something that breaks the law, there can be serious consequences. A worst case scenario is being charged as a sex offender. Have you considered going to a group or club that meets in a closed setting where you can enjoy your fetish? Sydney has a number of sex-on-premises venues where this is possible. There are also private associations that cater to fetishes.

I’m a CIS gay man who has started hooking up with a trans man. Does this make me less gay?
Is the label you put on yourself more important than the pleasure or love you are experiencing with your partner? There’s such an emphasis these days on defining ourselves, it makes me wonder whether we sometimes get trapped by the words that were meant to free us. If your gay identity is important to you, then hang on to it. If it doesn’t fit anymore, let it go and find something that fits better. You’re free to describe yourself however feels most comfortable. So make the most of your freedom and enjoy the time with your trans guy.

My partner is into weird fetishes that I find super offensive and upsetting. What can I do about it?
What is it that’s got you so offended and upset? And why are you hanging in there with this person? Are you fascinated by something you also find repulsive? You need to work out for yourself why these things your partner is doing have that effect on you. Is it because you are afraid or don’t understand them? Do these fetishes go against your values? Or do you think they are putting the relationship at risk? It’s important that we’re guided by our values because compromising them can leave us feeling conflicted. At the same time, new sexual experiences can challenge us to let go of beliefs that are not helpful. Talking with a therapist can be a first step in putting things in their place. And, once you have worked out why you are offended, you need to have a conversation with your partner to find a way forward.

My partner has started discussing opening up our relationship, but I don’t like the idea at all. I’m prone to jealousy and I’m not convinced. What can I do?
It sounds like you aren’t ready for this step your partner wants to take. And if the relationship isn’t secure enough to open up to sex with others it would be good idea to work on making it more secure before any decisions are made. Otherwise it can lead to one or both partners feeling betrayed. Open relationships can bring adventure, excitement and new experiences to couples. At the same time, they present greater risks and require negotiation. Practical matters like sexual health need consideration. Even if you decide you don’t want to open the relationship, maybe this is the time to open up about the jealousy get to the bottom of what it keeps returning. Talk with your partner or a professional about those feelings, as a first step.

Ash Rehn is an accredited mental health social worker and narrative sex therapist, who has worked with gay and bisexual men for the past 27 years. He specialises in porn and sex addiction as well as anxiety, depression and relationship issues within LGBTQI communities. For more information, visit his website at www.gaycounsellor.com.au or send him an email at [email protected]

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