You are currently viewing Episode 371: How To Talk About Disillusionment In Your Sexual Relationship

Episode 371: How To Talk About Disillusionment In Your Sexual Relationship

Disillusionment, despair, hopelessness. Many couples that find themselves in a sexless marriage experience these heavy emotions. These emotions can turn into depressed moods, overarching negative outlook on life and consistent feelings of failure. Assigning blame to your partner for either not wanting or wanting too much sex is often a strategy that is utilized to avoid this level of pain. Unfortunately, the blame continues to push partners away from each other and towards more disconnection. In this episode, Laurie and George create a safe space to allow individuals and couples to explore this pain,and shift away from blame and avoidance. Their role play will help you understand yourself and your partner better and is a great jumping off point to deepening the conversation around sexual discrepancies.

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Show Notes

Confronting avoidance and facing disillusionment
– Discuss the speaker’s avoidance of their issue and the discomfort that comes with addressing it.
– Talk about how avoidance only treats the symptoms and doesn’t address the underlying problem.
– Highlight the power of facing disillusionment and how it can lead to growth and change.
– Discuss the role of a therapist in helping individuals navigate disillusionment and connect with their own needs and desires.
 The importance of listening to emotions and feeling disillusionment
– Talk about how many people avoid their own pain and focus on problems and losses instead.
– Emphasize the importance of listening to and feeling the emotions associated with disillusionment.
– Discuss how disillusionment can be a call to action and a sign that something is missing.
– Mention the website and the “couple connection system” it offers.
– Highlight that the system helps improve communication and connection between couples and includes communication and conversation starters.
– Describe the unique features of the system, such as the physical mat that helps couples stay focused and grounded during exercises.
Passion, curiosity, and reigniting excitement in relationships
– Discuss how passion between two people in a relationship can be squashed over time.
– Talk about the role of curiosity and creating a safe environment to reignite passion and excitement.
– Mention George’s approach to taking things slow in their relationship and the speaker’s tendency as a sexual pursuer to rush things.
– Emphasize the importance of vulnerability and being seen in a relationship.
Exploring meaning and purpose in life
– Reflect on a recent experience working with a client who had a fear of death and a constant sense of inadequacy.
– Discuss the client’s coping mechanisms of distraction and numbing.
– Talk about how past trauma can affect one’s ability to form deep connections and express themselves.
– Highlight the importance of creativity and finding meaning and purpose in life.


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Joe Davis – Announcer [00:00:30]:

The following content is not suitable for children.

Laurie Watson [00:00:32]:

So, George, what do we do when we’re just disillusioned with our relationship, with the sex life that we wanted? And now we’re ending up with something different and something much, maybe much worse than what we ever thought we would end up with? And we don’t know where we’re going in the relationship or our sex life or how to fix it. And we just feel disillusioned, like, is this all there is? Welcome to Sportplay sex therapy. I’m Dr. Laurie Watson, your sex therapist.

George Faller [00:01:03]:

And I’m George Faller, your couple’s therapist.

Laurie Watson [00:01:06]:

We are here to talk about sex.

George Faller [00:01:08]:

Our mission is to help couples talk about sex in ways that incorporate their body, their mind, and their hearts.

Laurie Watson [00:01:16]:

And we have a little bit of fun doing it.

George Faller [00:01:17]:

Right, g. Listen and let’s change some relationships. That’s tough. Laurie right. We’re just sitting in that low energy. It’s like having a fever. You just kind of can’t grab those passions. You’ve lost the dreams. It’s kind of hopeless or discouraged, defeated. This is where life kind of sucks. We feel depressed and just kind of yeah, it’s a tough spot. And a lot of couples, especially in the sexual realm, find themselves here. They’ve had too many misses, too many fails, too many rejections. And before you know it, it’s just all those hopes that they started off with have been dashed. And they’re in this world of no color.

Laurie Watson [00:02:01]:

Yeah. When somebody comes in and they tell me that story, I suppose I believe that somehow or another, two people have kind of squished the passion that they might have had for each other at the beginning. And I believe that the passion we have for each other at the beginning is kind of much of our own making. We imagine that person being a particular way, and then when they’re different, we have a hard time finding in ourselves the desire to be curious about who they really are. And that happens sexually and that happens emotionally. And just walking life together, it can be difficult. I often think the path through is, how can we get curious again about who this other is that we are partnered with? Because my sense is people are deeply interesting. They are exciting on the inside, for whatever reasons. Maybe the little hurts that we’ve given each other in the relationship have kind of blocked that in the other person. But maybe if we can make it safe again, reopen our curiosity, we can see something in them and find something in us sexually too, that is exciting again.

George Faller [00:03:22]:

Yeah, I like that. I think we can offer our list of just a couple of different moves in this place as you listen to our podcast. We’re in a business and new moves constantly. That’s the goal. Something we can measure. I think a lot of people that I work with that are disillusioned. I think it’s a tough combination because they’re so focused on the other person and what the other person is not doing and the losses that they’re mourning, the loss of their dreams, but they’re kind of avoiding their own pain because they’re focusing on what the other person is not doing or what they’re not getting or what’s unfair. So it’s this almost obsessive kind of focus on the problems while there’s an avoidance of the self in that, the pain in that. Right. So how do we connect with that focus and honor that, but really to pull them towards the self, to actually listen to the disillusionment? Because to me, I think it’s the body’s way. And I always love the emotions because not only does it do they tell us the problem, but embedded in that is the solution. To me, disillusionment is it’s a call to action. It’s your body saying you’re not where you’re supposed to be. Right. Something is missing. Like, we need to listen to that feeling. We need to feel that feeling because it’s trying to motivate something. It’s trying to get us to go somewhere. But I think so many people out of disillusioned avoid the feeling. They won’t sit in the feeling. They’re focused in on everything else, on how life sucks and complaining and being negative and they won’t listen to the feeling that would actually be motivating.

Laurie Watson [00:05:02]:

So let’s just pretend it’s me. How would you get me to sit in the feeling and show me what that looks like?

George Faller [00:05:12]:

Well, I’m thinking of I was working with a client the other day. So you can be this client he had or she had, or they had this fear of death because of this fear. And he constantly felt like he wasn’t measuring up, he wasn’t doing what he was supposed to do in life. He wasn’t productive enough, he wasn’t performing enough. He was just like failing across the board. And his way of dealing with the failing is to just kind of distract himself, play video games, have a drink, find ways of just coping. Right? So there’s this massive avoidance of like, what do you think your body’s discouraged about? So in session, we will get him to kind of face the discouragement. Where do you feel out in your body? What do you think it’s trying to tell you? And he would describe it in his chest. It’s like this kind of pressure, this weight, this heaviness. And he would try to numb that feeling out. So trying to face it, it’s like that chest. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe because I’m afraid I’m going to die. I’m going to leave this world without accomplishing anything, without any meaning, without any purpose. All right, great. So listen to that. It’s a call for purpose. It’s a call for meaning. You’re supposed to be doing more with your life. There’s a part of you that knows it. And your way of trying to cope with this, distracting yourself, numbing yourself out, is just keeping you perpetually in this place.

Laurie Watson [00:06:49]:

Yeah, I’ve seen that too. Sometimes clients, they’re not actively suicidal, but they’re kind of passively suicidal. It’s like I don’t have any meaning or purpose. My life isn’t worth anything. Maybe people would be better off if I’m dead. And I feel the same sort of thing when I listen to them, is then what makes life rich? What makes life meaningful to you? And many times these are people who maybe because of past trauma in their earlier childhood, they don’t have the skills that they need to really connect deeply with their partner or with other people, or they haven’t had kind of the organization to express themselves in a purpose or creatively in some sort of artistic way. And I don’t necessarily mean art, but there’s many ways we are creative. Like raising children is a creative act. Gardening, I mean, there’s lots of ways we express creativity, giving ourselves to our neighbors, that’s an act that can be creative, but they don’t seem to find any meaning in that. So when this guy listens to you talk about this and he gets a hold of what is happening in his chest and how heavy it feels, then what happens?

George Faller [00:08:10]:

I think it’s starting to bring online the part of him that’s getting curious about what’s blocking his change. If his body is calling him to change, if it’s calling him towards life force and vitality and meaning and purpose because he’s blocked, his body is feeling the stuckness of that, the discouragement of that. So the work is about what’s blocking your growth, what’s blocking your health. So getting this guy to be curious by listening to the pain and feeling it instead of avoiding it allows him to get curious. If my body wants me to be somewhere else and it wants more meaning, what’s stopping me? So it’s that exploration then, of the block. For this guy, it was around the rejection to try and get messages that he’s failing. It’s easier to not try, not go on that job interview, not ask a girl out on a date, not put yourself in places where you’re going to get rejected. Right? But to me, the root of the problem, it’s the avoidance. That’s what the block is. I don’t want to get hurt, so I don’t put myself out there. But then my body gets stuck in this place where life has no purpose or meaning. How many people out there that we work with are stuck in this hole.

Laurie Watson [00:09:29]:

Yeah, but many things that you said there I find so helpful, that this is what I’ve always believed about low libido, is libido is a life force. It’s something that is innate in us as humans, even regardless of testosterone levels in hormonal input. I mean, certainly we’re prompted more physiologically if we have more testosterone, but it’s a life force. And so when people don’t have libido, I wonder what got in the way, what obscured it? What is blocking this important life force that makes them human, that makes life rich? So many times it is trauma or it’s a relational dynamic that has gotten in the way.

George Faller [00:10:14]:


Laurie Watson [00:10:15]:

And that, to me, is very helpful. It’s like, that’s why I’ve worked with libido for so long. It’s like I feel a lot of hope about helping people find that again.

George Faller [00:10:23]:

Well, that’s the critical shift. You’re getting them to approach something that they want to avoid. I have low libido. I don’t want to face that or feel what it feels like. So I just don’t deal with it, and I just don’t have sex, and I just avoid the heck out of it. So getting people to see the avoidance is just treating the symptoms. It’s trying to avoid the hurt that move towards confronting the hurt. That’s the pivotal move to face the disillusionment and say, all right, what is my body trying to say here? It’s giving me information that I’ve been avoiding. Once you see the call to action, it’s actually really healthy to feel disillusioned. You’re not where your body is supposed to be, and it’s saying, hey, do something. Get out of this place. Move. It’s a call to move. And yet if you’re avoiding, you can’t move. And you just stay perpetually stuck in this place. So I totally agree with you. It’s easier from someone on the outside, like a therapist, because we’re not being weighted down by the discouragement to kind of connect with it and say, all right, I get why you’re here, and let’s listen to it. Let’s lean in. When you get that person being curious about themselves and the meaning of their own body in the real time, that’s where the wisdom starts to emerge. That’s where they can start listening in a more open, empathetic way. Because the problem with disillusionment is the avoidance leads then to shame, and the shame leads to hiding and secrecy, and the hole just gets deeper and darker, and people get lost and they don’t feel like there’s a way out. And that’s the heart of disillusionment. It’s like, I have no hope. It’s the hopelessness that then turns into self contempt and shame, and it’s nasty. So it’s so counterintuitive to face that because you want to get away from it. But the power is actually in facing it.

Laurie Watson [00:12:15]:

And as we face it, hope can come through, I think primarily through connection, that we can connect with others, especially since we’re talking about the disillusionment of perhaps our sex life, how do we connect with our partner? And maybe we can come back after the break and talk about some strategies, like how do we face this depression and disillusionment in, let’s say, a marriage where we’re committed? And let’s just talk about some ways out of that.

George Faller [00:12:45]:

Sounds good.

Laurie Watson [00:12:51]:

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Laurie Watson [00:17:51]:

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George Faller [00:18:58]:

About that, or at least that’s what just to normalize. That right. 20% of couples are considered sexless. This is a huge problem. Both people are losing. Both people should be disillusioned. I’m pretty frustrated that I’ve been rejected so many times I’m just giving up. You feel really guilty about that and feel bad about yourself. And both of us in a stuck place, and no one’s helping either one of us.

Laurie Watson [00:19:24]:


George Faller [00:19:25]:

And every day when you have these needs and these longings and these wants and they go unmet, the body mistrusts more the partner because you’re not getting help. And then you have to protect yourself from that hurt, and before you know it, that distance takes over the relationship. I don’t care how much you love your partner, when you’re stuck in something like this for so long, you’re in trouble.

Laurie Watson [00:19:46]:

Yeah. And I think I know people argue that some people choose not to be sexual, but I’m telling you, if it’s not a sexual relationship, you’re in trouble. The relationship is in jeopardy. Yes.

George Faller [00:19:59]:

So how could we meet? Do you want to start with you or start with me? Just trying to kind of connect and get that person to start facing it, listening to it.

Laurie Watson [00:20:08]:

Probably the pursuer would open the conversation. Right. Because as a withdrawer, a sexual withdrawal, I would not want to bring it up. I don’t want to touch this with a ten foot pole because I’m already failing and you’re already angry with me, and I don’t want to go there.

George Faller [00:20:29]:

So my disillusionment would be it’s so easy to focus on you and you not wanting to have sex. Right. And that’s the compulsivity of the complaining and just wanting to be critical. It’s trying to motivate you. But that obviously hasn’t worked. So I got to the place of just giving up. I’m a burnt out pursuer who’s gotten discouraged. So I think as a therapist, I’d want you to start with that, with me, try to help me understand my own frustration and how it turns to criticism. And that was my push, that was my hope. But the real invitation is to look at the pain. What is it like to find yourself in this place where you’re not having sex? Because that’s the place I want to avoid.

Laurie Watson [00:21:12]:


George Faller [00:21:13]:

And even though I pursue with a lot of my words, I’m still avoiding this more vulnerable, tender place in me that wants sex and is not having it. Right. And that’s the place, I think, where you’d find my shame, where I start to feel not wanted, feel like I’m actually repulsive to you, that there’s something wrong with me, I’m not enough of a man for you, I don’t perform well enough. That’s kind of my fault, why? We’re not having sex. And that’s the place I want to avoid. But it’s in that place, I think if you could get me to go there, that I would start to that my body would be saying, this is not where I’m supposed to be. Because this is where the unmet needs are. This is where the part of me that wants something so healthy and beautiful, I want to make love to my wife. I want to be in relationship. I don’t want to be alone in this place where not only do you not want me, I don’t want me. And nobody’s ever coming, nobody’s ever helping. So if I don’t go here, I’m never going to get what I need. And what I need is we need to talk about this. We need to deal with this. I need your help in this place, but if I’m not going to listen to it, I can’t ever get the help.

Laurie Watson [00:22:29]:

Okay. We’re talking about having this conversation as a couple, not with a therapist.

George Faller [00:22:42]:

Yeah, we’re trying to get a therapist help to just try to start giving us direction of where we would need to go before we’d even go there. You got to get my body in to see the value of going into that place myself, to take my focus off of you and put it on myself. Because in that place of pain is where my body, the disillusionment is trying to motivate me to do something different, to get back into the game, to try a different move, to don’t give up on love or give up on sex. There’s the fight in that, that I’m not no longer doing that. My body is saying, you need to get back in the game, you need to do it smarter, you need to do it differently, but you need to get back the game.

Laurie Watson [00:23:20]:


George Faller [00:23:21]:

So I guess that’s what I would need to do to be able to talk about my hurt in a way that’s trying to protect you. It’s not your fault. It’s not my fault. We got here. We haven’t had sex in ten years. I know. Whenever we try to talk about it, the message you get, it’s your fault. I wind up feeling rejected, and both of us have basically given up. Right.

Laurie Watson [00:23:42]:

I end up feeling criticized.

George Faller [00:23:44]:

Right. So I want to protect you from feeling criticized. I know this is not your fault or my fault. This is just the dynamics we fell into. But I really want to do it differently because I know in not trying and giving up has actually made things worse for me. I kind of go to some really bad places, and I don’t want to talk about it because I don’t want you to feel bad. But I recognize and not talking about it is just making us feel further and further apart from each other. So I’m not really sure how to talk about it, but I just think we need to start trying to talk about this in a different way.

Laurie Watson [00:24:16]:

Okay, well, I don’t want you to feel bad, so I do want to talk about it. Maybe that’s a little stretch. I don’t really want to talk about it because I’m afraid we’re going to blow up. But I don’t want you to continue to feel bad. I feel a little hopeless about there’s no way out of this. You want something that I don’t seem to want. And I guess I’d like to know. When you say you go to a bad place, what does that mean?

George Faller [00:24:46]:

Yeah, I just start to feel like you don’t want me. I don’t like me either. It’s just I feel kind of ugly and just what’s the point? Again, I’m not blaming you for that.

Laurie Watson [00:25:02]:

I know, but what it ends up feeling like inside is you’re unwanted, you’re ugly, you’re unattractive. And yeah, that cannot feel good.

George Faller [00:25:15]:

And if we pause here, I mean, again, this is going to take time, but Laurie is trying to learn how to show up for right. At the end of the day, this part of me needs connection. It needs reassurance. It needs love, it needs acceptance. It needs to be wanted. Right. So we got to take some time, Laurie, for you to try to put words to what would be your disillusionment. How do we get you to face that part of you that is avoiding your low libido, who just doesn’t want to put yourself in a position of feeling guilty, so you just avoid this at all costs. How do we get you to start confronting that part of yourself to look at it?

Laurie Watson [00:25:53]:

So now we’re on the other side. You’re coming to me, I think where I end up that feels really bad. If I start to feel it is just that I have failed as a wife. I have failed as a sexual being in this world that everybody’s so excited about it. So I’m a big dunce or dip or something that I don’t get it. I also feel like just kind of dead inside. That something that I used to feel. Passion and energy and sexuality is just not there. And then the crazy thing for me is it’s not there inside me, in my body, and it keeps disrupting my relationship. I keep hurting my husband. So it’s like I feel bad, and I feel bad for hurting my husband, and both of those places suck.

George Faller [00:26:52]:

So if you would face that dead inside place, where do you feel that in your body? What do you think it’s saying to you?

Laurie Watson [00:27:00]:

It’s kind of in my lower back. And what does it say to me? God, I’m not sure. I don’t know. It just sort of hurts.

George Faller [00:27:14]:

But again, if we just pause because again, Laurie not knowing is exactly where we need to go. She’s not sure what this place is saying because she always avoids it. She don’t want to feel it. So to get her to stay in that place, to listen to her lower know, that place that feels dead, it’s communicating something that’s usually if we listen to where the life force is, where it’s saying, hey, you’re stuck here, you’re blocked here, we need to do something about it. There’s motivation. There’s a call for action in this place if we listen to it. But a lot of us have spent so much time avoiding it because it doesn’t work that it just is pretty bleak. So if you would take some time and find your words, what do you think the call of action is in that place inside of you, Laurie? That feels feels pretty stuck.

Laurie Watson [00:28:07]:

I mean, I do feel like us as a couple and me as a person, that I’m missing out on the party. And so I guess it’s like, how do I find party? How do I find the party? How do I enter the party? Again, it seems so long ago that I was at the party.

George Faller [00:28:29]:

That’s beautiful. Again. Look at that little sliver of hope. I’m missing out, right? There’s something inside of me that knows I’m missing out, that there’s more I could be having or should be having, and I’m not having it. We want to listen to the missing out. That’s the call for something different. If we avoid your lower back and the deadness, we never get that feeling of missing out, which is the start. It’s starting to redirect you back towards the light to get out of this darkness.

Laurie Watson [00:29:00]:

So if you were that’s good words, but maybe it’s more something we would say in therapy, what would you say if you were a partner? How would you go really slowly with me so that I didn’t feel pressure from you? Because it’s like, I need to be seen. Right. I need to be seen here without your disappointment at my not joining the party.

George Faller [00:29:27]:

No, I appreciate you talking about this dead place, and you’ve carried that for so long. It must be so hard. Right. Kind of like me, we never help each other in that place. We just kind of deal with it on our own. So I feel honored that you let me in, even though it’s a horrible place and we’re not really sure what to do with it. And as you said, it feels like you’re missing out on something. Kind of what I feel, too. There’s something that both of us are in the way we’re doing this or not doing this that we’re missing out on, and I appreciate you letting me know about that.

Laurie Watson [00:30:10]:

Okay. Thank you. I appreciate you saying that. And as I’m listening to George pretending to be a partner, it does feel good that he’s sort of going very slowly. And I know because I am a sexual pursuer, the temptation is always to rush to the next step. Okay, how do we get you to the party? What do we got to do? You’ve got to read books, listen to podcasts, go to a therapist, all the ideas. But I think the intimacy starts to develop right there. When I’m seen when I’m seen in my bad place, right. I feel more intimately connected. I don’t feel the argument coming. Obviously, that’s a better place of connection, a better launching pad than where we usually end. Up, which is in separate quarters. It’s like, okay, we’re together. We don’t know what to do about it. You’re not telling me to take the next step. And I imagine as a sexual pursuer, everything in this guy is wanting to push him to tell her, let’s get you to the party, girl, but just being careful and slow. And like we said, this is a mini moons conversation over months because if you’ve been sexless for a long time, you’re not going to get healed overnight. There’s so much that needs to be unpacked or even and when we say sexless, maybe it’s just low sex. Right. Once a month, that’s technically sexless.

George Faller [00:31:46]:

Well, that resistant, that urge when you said, yeah, we’re missing out. Yeah, we are missing out. Exactly. This is why we should be having sex. And let’s read that book. I mean, that energy that wants to jump in and just kind of recognizing the risk. But the main takeaway for me in this conversation is each person has to do their individual intrapsychic work that actually faces these places of pain that they avoid. If you listen to the disillusionment, it is actually going to tell you you’re not where you’re supposed to be. You are missing out. There’s nothing wrong with the body feeling bad because it’s missing out. We need to listen to the wisdom it’s giving us because it will call us towards new moves. It will call us towards change if we have the courage to face the information.

Laurie Watson [00:32:33]:

Yeah. Thank you. I love what you’re saying and I feel this with so many of my clients who are depressed, even disillusioned in their relationship, disillusioned with life and now depressed. It’s like that. Depression is a message that says something is blocking you. Please explore it, feel it. Let the message come through to you. Okay, thanks for listening, y’all.

George Faller [00:33:00]:

Face those dark places and it’ll get hotter. Quick shout out to Rebecca Jorgensen and her new exciting game to help couples.

Laurie Watson [00:33:10]:

You can find it on the couple connection system. But if you get to the website, you’re going to find this. This is really a cool thing that we want you to take advantage of because it’s very reasonably priced and it basically takes principles of attachment and how you connect, how you can communicate better. It gives you communication starters. Conversation starters. It is really a fun thing. We’re using it at our party this weekend for our therapists. We’re going to introduce it to them. It is also a physical thing because it has a mat that you kind of walk around and do these exercises with. The mat assists you to kind of stay focused with each other and grounded because you’re facing each other and you’re moving through this, which we all know. Right. Our bodies and our emotions are connected. So it’s beautiful, resource, good stuff.

George Faller [00:34:01]:

Highly recommend it. Check it out.

Laurie Watson [00:34:03]:

That’s couple connection system.

Joe Davis – Announcer [00:34:09]:

Call in your questions to the Foreplay Question voicemail dial eight three my foreplay that’s eight three three my. The number four play, and we’ll use the questions for our mailbag episodes. All content is for entertainment purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for therapy by a licensed clinician or as medical advice from a doctor. This podcast is copyrighted by Foreplay Media.

Laurie Watson [00:34:34]:

Hey, guys. I’m Natalie Pouche, and I’m the host of your new favorite podcast, humble and Hungry. It’s time to grab your cheese board and your favorite bottle of wine because we’re having a girls night, and we’re about to embark on a whole new journey. As we juggle motherhood and blindfully navigating through our 30s. We’re talking life, drama, dating, and everything in between. I recommend listening to Humble and Hungry on the iheart app on Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. It.