Do You Have a “Fast-Food” Relationship?

We live in an age where we have grown accustomed to instant gratification. From instant coffee, to instant fast-food, to instant messaging we have become pros at pressing a button or two and having our every wish fulfilled. By the same token, we usually demonstrate loads of impatience with anything, any one or any process that takes longer than five minutes. So how does our propensity for the fast lane factor in our intimate relationships or even in our pursuit of such?

For those not yet in a settled or permanent relationship, viewing life through the lens of the instantaneous can yield a life-time of misery. In the first place, such an individual is likely to feel hard-pressed to make a relationship happen with speed. While looking for ‘the one” or seeking out a potential life-partner may be all well and good, a fast-food view of life could virtually cause us to make a wrong or hurried relationship choice. By the same token, those already in serious relationships or marriage could also be adversely affected if they adopt this “fast-food” approach when dealing with their relationship challenges.

But what exactly is this “fast-food” approach? Maybe we could understand it easily by simply examining the known qualities of fast-food. Everyone who has ever passed by one of those restaurants knows that today’s instant offerings thrive on external things like aroma and presentation. One glance at that large, brightly-lit menu board with its pictures of big, succulent burgers and of brown crispy-fried chicken, is usually enough to convince us that we need it; no matter what the health buffs say. In the same way, many of us can become carried away by the external packaging when making relationship choices, in spite of the fact that this practice has not served us well in the past. Everything we have learned about what we should avoid in toxic relationships can be placed on the back-burner, simply because we want a man and we want him now!

How many women have chosen to be with a guy simply because he fits the bill of her ideal guy which she has carried around in her head since childhood? He may be tall and handsome, in a well-paying job with all the right letters behind his name or he might have the sexy corvette and the mansion on the hill to boot. If, however, he’s also a jerk who does not know how to treat a woman, then in my books, we’re definitely making an inferior, “fast-food” decision. What about those girls who jump into bed with a guy because they presume (having looked at his large hands or feet) that his hardware is in tip-top condition. Major error; when a girl is genuinely looking for permanence and commitment, very often premature sexual involvement can cause interest to wane. This is especially so, when all that the said guy is interested in, is her body.

Finding your dream man, a guy with quality and depth, is unlikely to happen when you’re simply using an external gauge by which to measure his suitability. Of course presentation and packaging are important, I will not deny this, but character must supersede this and of course it takes time to know. No matter how good a guy looks, or how sexy he seems, simple things like how he treats his mother or his sisters can say a lot about how he is likely to treat you. If he has children from a previous relationship, how he cares for them and provides for their needs, also reveals a lot about his over all sense of responsibility.

Making the right relationship decision should also proceed from a place of emotional completeness or wholeness. Understanding what you are truly worth, and knowing that it does not take a man to make you complete, should help you to guard against settling. The last thing you want to do is be with just about anyone, simply because your biological clock is ticking or because all your girlfriends are getting married and you’ve grown tired of being the bridesmaid!

Not to be one-sided in my arguments, even those women in long-term relationships like marriage can be guilty of a “fast-food” relationship approach. This includes not dealing with critical relationship deal-breakers. If you’re married but are afraid to confront your spouse about important issues like infidelity, the setting of appropriate boundaries with other women, finance, greater involvement in housework, greater emotional support and the like, chances are you are doing your relationship a significant disservice. By sweeping critical areas of dissatisfaction under the carpet in order to preserve a semblance of happiness or in order to “keep the peace”, is to really exemplify a lack of relationship integrity.

A strong, well-balanced relationship should be characterized by honesty. This means a willingness to put all cards on the table with respect to both the relationship’s strengths and its weaknesses. Whether your spouse is a lousy lover, needs to practice good hygiene, needs to be more emotionally assertive or needs to help more around the house, there should be a willingness on your part to let him know how you really feel. These same principles of course also apply to men who may be dissatisfied with their partners.

While admittedly none of us is perfect, if we hide or deny relationship challenges out of “love” then this is really not love but fear and cowardice. Love that is perfect actually gets rid of fear and allows the truth to do its work in bringing about change. For those of us who really want a great love, know that it will take time, effort and a willingness to dig beneath the surface where necessary. A great relationship for the long-haul, is one that is groomed over time and like a young plant, takes watering, care, attention and nourishment; definitely not the stuff fast-food is made of.

 

 

When A Man Makes Love Like a Boy

I know this article will probably tick off some men. Sorry guys. But I also know that some women will immediately connect with the imagery. When it comes to sex, some men are definitely men and unfortunately other men seem destined to remain boys. What exactly do I mean? Not being a man myself of course I can only make this summation based on years of keen observation, the anecdotal stories of my girlfriends and through the self-incriminating utterances and actions of men themselves.

The popular R and B group of the 1980’s, Boys 2 Men, were not only endearing to us because of their wonderful harmonious blends. As fans we also fell in love with the concept of the group; with the fact that the group represented the antics and expressions of boys growing into manhood. Of course this was clever marketing designed to garner a huge female fan-base. What right-thinking woman can resist the spectacle of the smooth-talking boy-man?

But what does this have to do with love making you might legitimately ask? Everyone knows how much men love sex. Realistically, in terms of importance, it’s an activity right up there with breathing oxygen. Let’s face it girls, it’s just how they’ve been wired. That having been said, it is critical to note that while men will “grow up” in several areas of their lives (financially, educationally, and in terms of their independence) several of them, seem perennially stuck in boyhood-land, in the area of their sexuality.

I will expand on this by comparing several traits of the “sexual boy” and “the sexual man”. This is not to suggest that I am promoting that chronological boys should have sex but my terminology is simply a euphemism to describe an immature versus a mature way of viewing love, sex and relationships.

The Sexual Boy

  • Wants sex on demand and is either unaware of or is insensitive to issues like his woman’s cycle, hormone changes, illness or mood swings
  • Is focused on the sexual hardware; that is, size, shape, texture, look or feel of the vagina, butt and or breasts; will frequently obsess about them
  • Is impatient about having his sexual needs met so is likely to rush to a sexual climax whether or not his partner is sexually satisfied
  • Sex is likely to be a purely genital-focused activity
  • Sex is more about “doing it”; it’s a thing to be done and is severely depersonalized
  • Limited eye contact, limited vocalization of desire; there is a decided fear of intimacy and of being emotionally vulnerable during sex; eyes are therefore often closed and there is limited talking before, during or after sex
  • Will tend to hug and show affection only when interested in “getting it on”

The Sexual Man

  • Wants to enjoy lots of sex but is thoughtful and aware of his woman’s physical and emotional challenges; is patient and willing to wait it out
  • Appreciates all the hardware but is more focused on making love to his entire woman (her soul and essence) and not just her vagina; desires his woman fully and lets her know this
  • Is hard pressed to ensure that his wife is sexually fulfilled before he is because he recognizes that after he climaxes it’s virtually all over; balances fully giving into the moment and practicing self-restraint; remembers “with my body I thee worship!”
  • Is able to use the love-making act to celebrate his partner’s entire body; not just her genitals
  •  Whether sex is hot and passionate or slow and romantic the focus is the woman; not the performance
  • Is comfortable exposing his desire for his woman with words and actions, communicates during sex and is emotionally available even when the act is over (will not roll over and play dead)
  • Will show love and physical affection even when not feeling horny

Even though all women would love to dwell in relationship utopia with a “sexual man” instead of a “sexual boy”, chances are that many of us find ourselves saddled with the latter. Why is this you might ask?  Social norms continue to dictate that we raise boys to be uncomfortable with the expression of emotion because we are afraid of feminizing them. We are then forced to settle with the fallout from such a practice in our intimate relationships. As a result, as women, we continue to make sexual and emotional demands of our men that they have not been socialized to deliver on a normal day.

It is likely that the “sexual man” has had a really balanced up-bringing by wise parents who allowed him to engage all aspects of his personality. Even if this were not the case, through education, reflection and or counseling, he has learned to tap into his softer-gentler, nurturing side and has perfected the fine art of combining this with his raw, male sexiness. The result is a really desirable guy who knows how to bring both sexual and emotional pleasure to his intimate relationship.

What’s A Woman to Do?

For those women who have been married for years, it is probable that they have seen much more of the “sexual boy” in their beds than the “sexual man”. What’s a woman then to do in this scenario? Realistically there is no quick fix to deeply ingrained behavior patterns with which we have become comfortable or with which we define ourselves. One obvious characteristic of an exclusive relationship, should nonetheless be, the communication of dissatisfaction. There can be no hope for improvement in the relationship, if sex is allowed to continue unruffled; even if the male ego is a sacred cow. This calls for direct honesty on the part of the woman who is unhappy in bed. The following represents some of the response choices available to her.

  • Talk it Over: Using ‘I’ statements, instead of ‘You’ statements, ( eg; “I feel like . . .”  instead of “You never make me feel . . .” ) COMMUNICATE your dissatisfaction in a disarming, non-accusatory way; accusing your spouse will only encourage him to get on the defensive and may alienate him further or make matters worse.
  • Show and Tell: As much as is possible, MODEL the behavior you want to see in bed. While there is no guarantee that this will be reciprocated, at least there is a point of reference from which he can observe what it is you really need. So if you want sexy talk while you’re having a go at it; don’t be shy, show him how it’s done.
  • Practice makes Perfect: Although there is an ingrained knee-jerk response in us women to withhold sex when we are unhappy, this can be counter-productive. The more you PRACTISE the act of making your sex better, the more those natural love hormones are able to work at breaking down your partner’s emotional barriers.
  • Don’t Cast the First Stone: There is nothing worse than making a man feel that he is entirely at fault in a relationship (especially because he never is). Before a woman off-loads on her man, it would be good for her to PAUSE, SEARCH and REFLECT to see which behavior she may also need to adjust. Showing your own flaws and foibles is in fact an excellent way to secure empathy
  • Seek Wise Counsel: When all else fails, TRY PROFESSIONAL INTERVENTION. Of course many men hate attending a counselor but this can be navigated tactfully, especially when he realizes that you’re all about improving the sex. After all is said and done, if sex is as important to him as he lets on, then there should be no limit to what he is willing to try to make it even better.

 

How to Succeed When We Fail at Love

There’s a common relationship scenario with which many of you ladies are familiar I’m sure. Girl meets guy and she’s absolutely sure that this time he’s the one. In the early stages everything seems to be going fine. There is terrific physical attraction and chemistry; lots of deep staring into the eyes and long, passionate, exploratory kisses. There is also an inordinate amount of time spent together doing fun things and going on romantic dates. And of course there is the regular communication by telephone, cell phone, internet, it just does not matter; it seems that this couple can hardly get enough of each other.

After a couple of months of heated intensity, however, things start to peter off. Phone calls diminish in regularity. He seems inclined to spend more time with his boys or in pursuing personal interests like sports, gym-time or car-racing; basically anything that does not include you.  Of course if you’ve been having sex with him, this may be the only thing he seems reluctant to reduce.

Then the nagging begins. Statements like “we need to spend more time together”, “we need to communicate more often” or better yet a question like “where exactly is this relationship headed?” begin to dominate each waking moment of couple time. As much as you appear to be running in his direction with arms and expectations wide open, he seems intent on escaping at break-neck speed; in the opposite one.

Finally, in true retreat fashion, it becomes decidedly more difficult to keep tabs on your guy. The romantic escapades are few and far between and you begin to hear words from him somewhat like “we need to evaluate whether this relationship is what we really want” or worst yet, “we need to perhaps see other people”. Then you get that sickening feeling of disappointment and inevitability in the pit of your stomach. Another guy has done it to you; again. Just when you thought you had him nailed, this man managed to slip through your fingers like hot butter. Now all you are left holding are his promises and your aching heart. You vow with all the estrogen-laden venom you could muster, never to let another man do this to you again; ever.

For the number of ladies who’ve found yourself in this or any somewhat similar scenario, there are perhaps a few questions you should attempt to answer. Why do guys tend to disappear from around you after a couple of months? Why do you seemingly make poor relationship choices? How do you know when you’re really in love with someone versus being in love with love? Are you doomed for repeated relationship failure?

The Disappearing Act

There are a number of reasons why guys find a need to call it quits. Whether after a few months or a couple of years, some guys have perfected the art of securing their walking papers. In the movie Disappearing Acts, starring Wesley Snipes and Sanaa Lathan, the star, played by Snipes, finds a need to walk away after a brief co-habiting scenario. It appears that he felt pressured by his inability to contribute financially to the relationship; plus his woman had “hoity-toity” educated friends and he felt decidedly insecure. While the physical sparks were flying between them regularly, it became evident that good sex was not enough to sustain a relationship for the long haul. Sounds familiar?

Then there are the guys who tire of the girl who is just too eager to please sexually. I’ve known of situations where there appears to be an intense interest shown by a man. He is seemingly motivated to pull out every charm trick from the bag to win the apparent girl of his dreams. He may even confess to her that finally he’s met a girl who he can comfortably introduce to his mother. Before this sentence is completed the poor girl is hearing wedding bells and planning bridesmaids dresses. So what does she do? She gives him her juicy red apple. As if on cue, after a few licks, nibbles and bites, he tosses her apple in the bin in search of new fruit; so much for her premature wedding dream.

Of course some guys will walk because they simply don’t possess a decent bone in their bodies or an ounce of integrity. They want to “mess with your head” to get your sex because a woman, to such jerks, is nothing more than a conquest to be boasted about. To be fair, others will run out on you just because they have not a clue as to how to make a relationship work. They know that they are out of their depth when talking to a decent woman and prefer to disappear, than make a fool of themselves by falling too deeply in love. Such guys are afraid of deep intimacy and run from the vulnerability which is an inescapable part of a committed relationship.

So it’s not all about the girl when a guy disappears from off the scene. Very often, he has his own set of issues to resolve but is not man enough to admit this.

Repeat Offenses

But then some of us girls seem to be gluttons for punishment. We seem to have perfected the not so fine art of selecting the wrong guy from the proverbial line-ups of life. In other words, we excel at making poor relationship choices which are detrimental to our long-term peace of mind. Where ever there is a guy with a complex or a problem, our radars seem to find him with recurring accuracy. So this may mean a girl zeroing in repeatedly on the guy who does not want to commit, the guy who is still tied to his Mom’s apron strings, or worse yet to another woman, those without ambition or a sense of purpose, or at the most bitter end, those who thrive on physical and emotional abuse.

Amazingly, many a woman with a savior-complex believes that she has it within her creative powers to save, redeem and transform such bad-boys; but as women we need to get a grip of reality and realize that we are certainly not God. These guys actually don’t respond too keenly to cues about commitment and even if they do stay for a while, then it is often on their own terms and the relationship is never what a girl dreamt it could be. While people can change, it must be an act of their will and cannot be forced on them by another.

Through Rose-Tinted Lens

I admit that I am a die-hard romantic. I was schooled on romance novels. I cry at movies and at weddings. I love romance and I love love. But there is a fine line between being a soft-hearted romance buff and making uninformed choices because we are really in love with the idea of a romantic relationship. Women who are in love with love usually promise themselves a partner or a husband by a certain age or stage of their lives and mean to have it come what may. They are also often hooked on the “pleasant feelings” or emotional high of being “in love” and will go to great lengths to experience this repeatedly.

The fall-out to this propensity for viewing life through rose-tinted glasses, is that a man can be repainted to fit our mental or emotional script or we can re-frame a really poor relationship scenario because we can’t imagine giving it up. This is slightly different from the woman who tries to change the bad-boy; at least she is aware of his flaws but believes that her undying love has the power to transform. Women, who are in love with love, gloss over the truth that is staring them in the face. In other words these are women in denial so they choose to see what they want instead of what is really there. Such women in the grips of illusion are usually then devastated when they are forced to accept that their guy has either walked out for good or is not interested in taking the relationship to another level.

Because many men are experts at reading women, they will exploit to the hilt the woman whose heart is in their hands. This may mean playing along with what a woman wants or even languaging commitment until he has had his fill. The truth is that many men are turned off by desperation in women and at the first sign of it, will bail out with speed.

Will I Ever Be Happy?

No woman should live a life that is characterized by one relationship failure after the next. While the trend may be to look inward and blame the self, chances are that your relationships go awry because of multiple reasons. Some of these, as this article suggests, are grounded in flawed relationship habits but others may be hinged on the guy’s own glaring flaws, how each of you were socialized as well as your past experiences.

Keeping yourself happy in or out of love should perhaps begin with a clarification of your own relationship expectations, your values and a resolve not to “settle” for less, no matter how sweet the promise of loving may be. It must also be conditioned by a healthy dose of self-acceptance and self-love. Loving you, means that you are slow to make decisions which could put your emotional or physical well-being at risk. This should mean really taking your time to get to know a guy before bolting headlong into a relationship.

Celebrating who you are, all by yourself is also a critical factor in securing the love you want. I am not speaking here about vain self-absorption or narcissism but rather a healthy outlook of the self. This may mean journaling and reflecting upon your past relationship issues to make sure there are no more repeat mistakes. It should also include seeking counseling where necessary and splurging on yourself those things you really want instead of depending or waiting on a guy to give them to you. The confident woman who knows who she is and what she wants, is likely to be sexy and attractive to any man worth his salt.

Finally, it is absolutely necessary to believe that you deserve happiness whether you are in or out of a relationship. Being with a man should not define who you are. Ultimately, you must realize that you have it within your power to make the right choices, to secure the happiness you desire.

Sex With A Sexual Mis-Match?

I’ve been reading “Who Should You Have Sex With” by Dr. Mark Thompson and have not been terribly surprised by his very masculine take on sexual chemistry. After all, men tend to be very logical and precise in their view of reality. He believes that where sex is concerned, like should always match like. This view mirrors the notion espoused today, that great sex, the chandelier-swinging variety, occurs best in a context where a husband and wife are on the same sexual page.

The idea that a couple needs to be sexually compatible to enjoy a good roll in the hay is not ground-breaking science. And at surface level it seems to make perfect sense. This notion in fact mirrors how we pursue many of our other relationships. From school-days we tend to hang out with those who have similar interests to us. When we enter the world of work this practice tends to continue and we seem to find great comfort in existing in this safety-zone where our points of view and daily practices are not challenged because our close cohorts share them with us. When it comes to our romantic and sexual interests, we understandably apply the same principles. We apparently look for a sexual partner who seems to have similar tastes, values and sexual experiences, even when we are not aware of it.

While this may appear like the safe route, the reality is that sex and our sexuality does not occur in a vacuum. How we experience sex and what we expect of it are heavily influenced by how we were raised, and what we were told about sex. This does not however mean that our sexual style or preferences will remain unchanged.  Sex and our sexuality are not static. Our individual sexual tastes can take on a life of their own because they can reflect new sexual information and desires to which we have become exposed. How can a couple then ensure that their sex-life does not suffer because of marked differences in tastes and approach?

I think it is first necessary for a couple to begin on some common ground. Presuming that both parties at least like sex, then, all things being equal, no difference should be so insurmountable as to be the cause of divorce. Perhaps we should examine some of the critical areas where sexual differences could pose a bit of a problem. Because such differences can occur across sexes and are not limited to male or female, we will simply look at them as differences exhibited by Partner A and Partner B.

Partner A Partner B
-Prefers morning sex

-Likes long, slow, leisurely love-making sessions

-Is quite happy with the same-old, same-old

-Sees no need to be a sexual gymnast

-Likes to keep it quiet; mum’s the word, is embarrassed at the possibility of being heard

-Expects partner to know intuitively what to do

-Makes love with eyes tightly closed

-The sexual climax is the goal of love-making

– Enjoys sex, but can go for long periods without it

-Views sex as good and necessary, even if a bit over-rated

-Expects some good loving at night

-Prefers it hot, passionate and quick

-Likes to try the newest tricks

-Abhors the missionary position

-Likes to keep a running conversation going; lots of “ooohs” and “ahs” and perhaps even shouting

-Is not afraid to voice wants and desires

-Likes to see what’s actually going on

-The sexual climax is the goal as well as the fun involved in getting there

-Wants lots of sex, as in several times a week

-Sex is like oxygen; can’t imagine life without it

Although this list is by no means exhaustive, it provides a reasonable example of several of the popular differences which can affect a relationship. These sexual preferences actually reveal a particular sexual personality. Partner A, for example, seems to be far less sexually adventurous than Partner B. The sexual risk-taker (Partner B), or the one willing to experiment, is likely to be reflective of a particular general personality-type which actually spills over into the sex-life. The same might be true of the more conservative Partner A. He/she is likely to be less of a risk-taker and this again is reflected in how sex is negotiated.

Although these are commonly the areas examined when we think of sexual compatibility, are these differences insurmountable deal-breakers? Of course not! At least they shouldn’t be. One of the hallmarks of a successful relationship must be the issue of compromise or flexibility and what better way to test this than in the area of sex. If love is really about putting the needs of another before our own, then surface issues like preferred sexual positions, sexual-pace and the time-of-day for love-making should not be allowed to determine our “compatibility” as couples. The give-and-take of the relationship should take precedence over one individual’s preferred sexual-style. This means that both partner A and B must be willing to give in a little to the needs of the other. At the same time, a willingness to change, to grow and explore the unfamiliar, is a hallmark of individual maturity and should be a goal of both parties. It’s really all about how much the relationship is valued by both individuals.

That having been said, the reality of relationships is seldom as straightforward as we would like. Very often we find selfish, unmotivated, unwilling-to-change individuals who believe that “their way” is the only right way. This attitude is one of the real culprits which can truly foster a sense of “incompatibility” and undermine the success of a sexual relationship.  Coupled with this might be significant philosophical differences or differences in values which could affect how the sexual relationship pans out. These real deal-breakers which can affect sex would be issues like sexual exclusivity, boundary-setting with the opposite sex, honesty and openness, views on emotional intimacy and general relationship integrity. These are the real serious issues which need to be discussed and ironed out long before the marriage and the sex begins.

If we are looking keenly for a relationship which will bring us a level of satisfaction, then our radars must be up and running from the earliest stages. We should listen for and interpret all the cues which just might be reflective of the type of partner we are likely to have in our beds. These seven questions should guide this process.

–          Is my partner willing to listen to another point of view?

–          Is my partner ever willing to try new experiences?

–          Does my partner set clear boundaries with other women/men?

–          Can my partner be trusted?

–          Is my partner selfish or self-focussed?

–          Is my partner in the habit of expressing his/her needs?

–          Does my partner ever put my needs before his/her own?

If the relationship or marriage is already well on its way, then hopefully the responses to these questions will provide the scope for a fresh new dialogue between the couple who really want to make things work. Sexual compatibility is really not about similarity in technique or experience. It’s really about finding a common-ground and belief-system from which your couple-sexuality can be explored to the hilt.

 

 

 

A Woman’s Guide to Safe-Guarding Her Relationship

The following tips should help a woman to protect her relationship from the threat of the other woman, known in this article as “the Vulture”:

  • be weary of late-night telephone or cell phone calls to your husband from other women, especially those calls he keeps hidden
  • be suspicious of women who want to befriend your man but are not interested in being a friend of the couple or family
  • if your partner spends an inordinate amount of time on social networking sites like Facebook, observe whether this “habit” is open to you or if you are free to peruse his page at any time
  • as a couple, set parameters and boundaries in your relationship where other members of the opposite sex are concerned
  • have a common philosophy about the “best-friend” issue; (there is no way my husband should have another woman as his “best-friend” I don’t care how much of a childhood friend she is)!
  • be honest in your relationship about expectations, needs and disappointments; relationships become vulnerable to adultery when they are built on dishonesty and a lack of communication
  • strengthen the levels of intimacy in the relationship by spending quality time together
  • keep your man sexually happy and fulfilled without being his slave (a delicate balancing act I admit)
  • preserve a sense of sexual-mystery in the marriage relationship by keeping things fresh as much as possible (in spite of the pressures of the “rat-race” which we face as couples)
  • demand respect from your partner by not tolerating emotional or sexual infidelity in any form or fashion
  • listen to and trust your intuition; most of the time (if not all) that you are suspicious of another woman’s motives where your man is concerned, YOU ARE RIGHT!
  • act on your intuition; if your partner displays suspicious behaviour and there is any reason to doubt him, CONFRONT him
  • don’t be the naive woman because you want to be liked by all; know that Vultures don’t play; don’t befriend one, she is the ENEMY
  • if you decide to keep your husband even if he has fallen prey to a Vulture, make sure that he accepts responsibility for his actions and seeks help independently of you, through counseling, therapy or mentoring by a man who has his head screwed on right
  • if your relationship is to survive the attack of a Vulture, then you must learn to forgive; this is a process, not an event and should not be rushed; take time to examine the relationship, access its weaknesses, vulnerabilities and strengths and together plot a path to progress so that it never falls prey again to the wiles of the “other woman”