From Concern About Sex to Feelings of Guilt

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“Suzanne Gelb Image”

Dear Readers:


As an added resource, over the next few months I will supplement my answers with self-help materials. Supplemental reading for today’s answers can be found in my book “Welcome Home. A Book About Overcoming Addictions” (pp. 30-33 for Answer 1; pp. 34-37 for Answer 2). For more information visit my Web site at

”Pleasure – Why am I so Focused on the Future?”

Dear Dr. Gelb:

My husband and I have a good relationship and rewarding professional and social lives. The sex is good also, and he is caring, but I am so preoccupied with wanting to or thinking I must reach orgasm that I think I miss out on pleasure that is happening in the moment because I am so focused on this goal. How can I stop thinking ahead?

Pleasure Seeker

A: Dr. Gelb says . . .

Dear Seeker:

I am pleased to hear of a couple who are satisfied with their relationship, with one small concern. The anxiety about orgasm is something I believe that many experience and I appreciate your courage to be upfront about it. In my opinion, such fear is unfounded and gets in the way, as you say, of pleasure.

One way that people have minimized the anxiety is by remembering that mutual orgasm is not a necessity in a caring intimate relationship. What is important is being together and sharing intimately. Personal pleasure and possible orgasmic experience can be tenfold if one stops trying to have an orgasm and just follows the pleasurable feelings and let it happen. If that exercise does not offer success, there are other healthy methods available with which partners can pleasure each other. It is important to explore the possibilities that can support success and to eliminate expectations from the experience.

”Guilt – How do I Get Rid of it?”

Dear Dr. Gelb:

I heard Dr. Laura on the radio say that guilt motivates us to stay on track, but I have read other things like the book you mention sometimes “Yesterday’s Children,” by the two psychologists who say that guilt is unnatural and limits us. What I don’t understand is that when other people are wrong or make a mistake and I am involved, then I feel guilty even though it is not my fault. Why?

Not Guilty

A: Dr. Gelb says . . .

Dear Not Guilty:

I believe that the answer you seek is based on a simple concept. Many adults find themselves believing what they learned when they were children, even if that learning was destructive. For example, people who feel to blame as adults may, as children, have perceived that they were to blame for things even if they did nothing wrong. When something went wrong or someone was blamed, they invariably believed that it was definitely their fault. When these children mature into adults, it is not uncommon for them to be stuck, so to speak, with those attitudes of self-blame, erroneously believing that when something goes wrong, it is their fault.

It is important to free oneself of such guilt-laden attitudes, and I agree with “Yesterday’s Children” that guilt is unnatural and it is certainly not needed to keep society morally and spiritually clean.

”’Suzanne J. Gelb, Ph.D., J.D. authors this daily column, Dr. Gelb Says, which answers questions about daily living and behavior issues. Dr. Gelb is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Honolulu. She holds a Ph.D. in Psychology and a Ph.D. in Human Services. Dr. Gelb is also a published author of a book on Overcoming Addictions and a book on Relationships.”’

”’This column is intended for entertainment use only and is not intended for the purpose of psychological diagnosis, treatment or personalized advice. For more about the column’s purpose, see”’ “An Online Intro to Dr. Gelb Says”

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