Sexologist Eveline Stallaart: “A sex life is never ‘broken’”
What did you think about the documentary?
“It’s amazing that she is able to put herself in such a vulnerable position. I think she’s helping a lot of women by telling her story. Lize’s story is groundbreaking and shows that there’s nothing wrong with you if your sex life isn’t like clockwork. A great sex life might seem like the norm, but more often than not, it’s not the case.
‘Not feeling up to sex is definitely not a women’s malady’
Broken sex, does it have anything to do with age?
“The vast majority of clients who visit my practice for ‘broken sex’ are between the ages of twenty and forty. And, perhaps surprisingly, both men and women come for similar reasons. People often think that ‘not feeling like sex’ is a women’s thing, because women, supposedly, don’t get aroused as easily. This is absolutely not the case.”
What is the cause, then?
“It has everything to do with learned sexual behavior and past sexual experiences. How were you raised regarding sex? Were you told that sex is dangerous or dirty? I often see that sexuality isn’t developed properly during their childhood and as a result people didn’t really explore their preferences. Men often have a little less trouble discovering what they like than women. Due to their anatomy, men are often more confronted with their sex, for example, their penis hardening. The clitoris is more hidden, which makes it more difficult for a woman to explore the ins and outs.”
‘Sex as a way to satisfy the needs of your partner.’
Why is it so important to know your own preferences?
“When you know what your preferences and boundaries are, it's easier to communicate them to your partner. If you don’t know your preferences - or if you were taught that sex is a way to bind yourself to another person-, you’ll start to see sex as a job or a task. As a result, you aren’t working on your own sexuality, but sex is turned into a way to satisfy the needs of your partner. This way, sex gets a negative connotation.”
Are there more causes you can point out?
“Stress, fights with your partner, frustrations, less attraction, or drudgery can all be possible triggers. Your partner might also put too much pressure on you by constantly stating their needs or when they feel like doing it. All these things can make you feel like you’re falling short and you’ll start having sex for your partner instead of yourself.”
Want to know more tips on how to improve your sex life? Check out sex therapist Astrid Kremer’s video here.
When is someone’s sex ‘broken’?
“Sex is never ‘broken’. Sexuality can be on the back burner, however. It’s only a problem if either you or your partner aren’t satisfied, like with Lize and Tim. Lize doesn’t have a need for sex, but Tim does. Lize has had her sexual development too early and has taught herself that sex is a way to please others rather than yourself. She started seeing sex as a task, taking away her own pleasure. As a result, she couldn’t reach a climax anymore. If you don’t get a reward for the tasks you perform, you’ll eventually start avoiding the task altogether. This reaction is completely normal. This can negatively affect your partner and you end up in a downward spiral.”
How do you break a downward spiral?
“Try to discuss what is going wrong together. In many cases, a decline in sex is caused by a pattern that was established in the months/years before. See if it’s possible to work things out together, and if not, seek help from a professional. A sex therapist can help to adjust certain patterns, for example, through cognitive behavioral therapy. Visiting a sex therapist might seem like an incredibly big step to take, but many people have gone before you. It is important to realize that you are most definitely not the only person facing such issues. Far from it. You’ll see that sex can become something positive again.”
‘You don’t have sex with your head, but with your heart.’
The documentary speaks about chakra? Can you tell us more?
“There are many people who use tantra therapy to help their sex-life. There’s nothing wrong with this per se, because at its core, Tantra teaches you to surrender to the moment. This is something we say as sexologists as well. You don’t have sex with your head, but with your heart. The moment you focus on the touch, and whether you like the touch or not, you send signals to your brain which increase your sensitivity to those sexual stimuli. You’ll end up feeling aroused much faster than before. If you overthink rather than just feel, there’s no room for arousal and sex won’t be satisfying.”
‘Do you feel like your sex-life is broken and are you looking for a solution?' Sexologist Eveline Stallaart has listed some tips:
• Try to feel the moment during sex and surrender yourself completely
• Make time and space for sex. Start by taking a bath, for example, or grab a bite together with your partner to feel each other's moods.
• It takes two to tango, make sure you’re both enjoying your time together.
• Try to avoid seeing sex as a competition: coming is not necessarily winning. Take away the pressure to perform.
• Can’t seem to work it out together? Go see a sex therapist and take the time to ‘unravel’ your sex-life.
Do you find it difficult to talk about sex? Read our tips here.