Todd Baratz is a licensed personal and couples psychotherapist, podcast host, and writer who specializes in relationships and sex.
D’bunked strips down the myths surrounding gay sex, intimacy, relationships and love and is brought to you by The GLUE.
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Let’s start with the following…
Is there a “right” person out there for you? No.
Should you fulfil all your partner’s needs? No.
Should they fulfil all yours? No.
How bad is it if your partner finds someone on the street attractive? It’s normal.
What if they fantasize about someone on the street? It’s also normal.
Is it bad if your partner masturbates without you? No. Not at all encourage it.
Is it bad if your partner watches porn that departs from the sex you have? No. Let them have a variety of preferences.
Is it bad if your partner watches porn with people who look nothing like you? No. It has nothing to do with you.
Do traditional values of the gender binary drive the rules and structure of your relationship? If so, they’re definitely hurting you and your partner.
Side note: Some of these don’t apply to disabled folks who rely upon their partners for literal safety.
Now let’s expand…
The “one” or “right” person will heal all.
The idea that the “right” person will help solve all problems is unrealistic. There is no such thing as “the one” or the “right” person. Period. Life and our relationships are not Disney fairytales. Let it go. This is too much pressure for you, dating, and relationships. There is no type of love that will help you overcome sexual, emotional, or other practical incompatibilities.
“When you find the right person you’ll never be attracted to or fantasize about anyone else”. When exclusivity veers over to the realm of our thoughts you can be sure that it’s toxic. We cannot control our fantasies or observations of beauty in others. It’s totally normal to feel attraction to random people on the street or a celeb. It’s entirely unrealistic for exclusivity to reign over our internal fantasy world. It may hurt to hear that your partner fantasizes about someone else but if we attempt to control our partner’s mind we push them away. Instead, have open and honest conversations that honour the presence of a rich internal world. This actually deepens relationships.
Total life and need fulfilment in one person.
The idea that our relationships should fulfil every single need of our overall life satisfaction ranging from emotional and social to intellectual stimulation is unfair to everyone. Any relationship will buckle under this much pressure, it’s simply not possible. Instead, we have to form meaningful connections with a variety of people in our lives.
When we expect our partner to fulfil a role based on their gender identity we enact toxic scripts of the gender binary based around cis-heteronormative values that create true division and withholding. This includes everything from preventing them from having friends of the gender they’re attracted to household responsibilities, finances, or life decisions. Divert from these gendered rules and work towards developing mutuality, regardless of gender.
Shaming sexual histories, porn usage, masturbation, kinks, fetishes, and more.
Sexuality is about appetite and preferences. We would never shame our partner for the types of food they find delicious. Sex is no different. The expression of shame is a reflection of your own anxiety and lack of self-awareness. Focus on the internal contempt and fear implied in the outward expression of contempt.
All relationships have aspects and/or characteristics that could be considered toxic. Some of these values are even normalized. The goal isn’t to eliminate all challenges but to learn how to recognize and take responsibility of them.
Go through this list and have an open and honest conversation with your partner (and yourself). Make adjustments, negotiate, and collaborate as needed. Don’t demand and set rules. Learn to know the difference between a rule and unhealed trauma and/or fear.
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