If you’ve ever played doubles in tennis, you know the intricacies of what it means to be on a two-person team. You practice strategy. You capitalize on your personal strengths. You communicate. You make adjustments when necessary. And you’ve got each other’s back.
But let’s say your tennis partner’s deficits become too much for you to overcompensate for and the whole team dynamic starts to break down? Playing may become more exhausting and stressful, with both of you feeling increasingly frustrated at the deterioration of your performance and the decline from how things used to be. You may fill with resentment, start dreading your practices, and start making excuses to avoid doing lunch after games. As time goes on, you may start to consider playing singles or explore finding a new partner. Or whether you even like tennis altogether.
When a couple is faced with sexual dysfunction in one (or both) of the partners, the team dynamic is put to a difficult test. Feelings of love may feel replaced by feelings of anger and frustration, and the blame-game may start to develop. There may be nostalgia for how things used to be and preoccupation with memories of when sex felt simpler. Non-sexual activities may stop feeling enjoyable. Sex becomes a dreaded activity; a painful artifact of what once was and what is missing. And just like tennis, you stop playing when the game is no longer fun.
Here at the Center, many of our patients come into treatment feeling like their sexual dysfunction has triggered a breakdown in the team dynamic with their partners. Feelings of guilt, isolation, inadequacy, and despair are common, especially when the relationship has been challenged by sexual dysfunction for a long time.
Since many of our patients come in feeling disconnected from their partners, our treatment approach targets not just the sexual dysfunction, but the relationship rupture as well, and aims to restore the teamwork in the relationship. For many, there is tremendous relief in hearing there is hope for their sexual dysfunction and that they don’t need to continue feeling sexually alienated from their partners. Through this multi-faceted process, couples are able to reconnect beyond the sexual sense and reinvigorate the partnership in ways that truly make them feel like a team again.
In tennis, ‘love’ means nothing. But in love, feeling like a ‘double’ means everything.