The Way To A Woman’s Heart

ImageFor those guys interested in a committed relationship, getting a woman to take you seriously may feel like a scientific experiment gone haywire. Women of class and substance (you know the kind you’d actually want to introduce to your mother) just aren’t easy these days. And any woman worth her salt will work this for all its worth. Many have grown tired of the players, the dating scenes, the games, the lies and the competition. Most are convinced that there’s hardly a decent guy left on the planet and have virtually reconciled themselves to another season of singleness, being unsure of how long that season will last this time around.

But perhaps you are a guy with some shred of decency somewhere or maybe having messed up your significant relationships in the past, you want to make a fresh start. You are a man reformed. So how exactly do you convince your lady of choice that you’re totally serious this time around? Admittedly, the ease of this feat will ride on a number of factors. For example; has your potential lady been seriously hurt by a guy in her past and did this hurt involve serious stuff like deception and infidelity? Maybe she has never had a good relationship with any significant male in her life; including her father, so for her all men are basically in the dog house. What about you? Are you a well-known player whose reputation precedes you? Or are you a flirtatious smooth talker who just sounds so good to be true that no woman in her right mind would even think of giving you the time of day? Whatever your case, chances are if you’re called male, and this woman has some steel in her, you’ve got your work cut out for you.

While I don’t advocate a formulaic approach to relationships, since we’re all unique, I do believe that there is some practical wisdom out there for you guys in a bit of a relationship pickle. From a lady like me committed to seeing great relationships emerge and thrive, maybe these few pointers might help:

  1. Try not to compare your new love interest with any woman you’ve had before; each of us is actually quite unique and need to be handled with individualized care and attention.  In practical ways,  this means finding out what your potential woman wants and needs in a relationship and letting her know that you’re prepared and ready to provide it.
  2. Don’t get on the defensive when it comes to things like deep and meaningful conversation. A woman will judge you by your ability to communicate and share about yourself and be warned, she expects honest exposure; even of your flaws and foibles. She may not want to be exactly surprised by hidden skeletons in your closet and besides, we love strength of character and vulnerability. Remember, your aim is to build trust.
  3. Embrace her entire family as much as possible, especially if she’s from a close-knit one or if she has children of her own. If you’re looking for a relationship for the long haul, a woman will be suitably impressed by the attention you pay to her Mom or her kids.
  4. Speak positively of women generally; including your own mother, siblings or even the mother of your children from a previous relationship or marriage. Yes, you may not always be on great speaking terms with an ex but dragging her name and your past stuff through the mud repeatedly, may make a lady wonder about your integrity and discretion. This may cause her to question whether or not she will be your next casualty.
  5. Let the lady know that you find her beautiful inside and out and be specific about why you find her attractive. The emphasis here is on being distinct in terms of what you really like about her. So never say things like, “I love big boobs” or “I prefer a woman with a big butt.” While this may be true, the last thing you want to communicate is that your lady of choice is just one lucky selectee from a long line of options in your proverbial male line-up. Yes, women do love to have their assets admired but “tasteful, tasteful” must be your emphasis. We ladies of substance don’t like to feel like we’ve been in the figurative meat-shop waiting to be butchered.
  6. Ensure this lady that you are prepared to forsake all others for her. I hear your panic but don’t get scared! This simply means that you must demonstrate a willingness to set appropriate boundaries with other women when it comes to your relationship. So don’t ogle other women when with her, get rid of your flirtatious ways and decide on a discrete way to manage any other close female friendships which you may have. I’m not in any way suggesting that you ditch meaningful, old friends but make sure to communicate to them what this lady means to you; that she is now your priority. Enlist their cooperation in allaying any fears or suspicions which she may have as you seek to build a foundation of openness and trust.
  7. We women know that sex is always on your mind but try to show the lady that she’s more to you than a living, breathing vagina. See her as a complete person which means not pressuring her for physical intimacy, not laying a guilt trip on her if she wants you to put a ring on it and learning to honour her spirit, even before thinking about the sexual package. Value her complete womanhood and be sure to communicate your willingness to commit at the highest level; especially if this is what she is looking for.

Follow these tips guys and you just might find yourself with that woman you want to spend the rest of your life with.

And They Lived Happily Ever After . . . Or Did They?

ImageWe all have our own expectations of what makes a great relationship. While there may be a few women holding to the position that marriage is not for them; for the vast majority of us, marriage still represents that ideal which is the pinnacle of commitment. Yes, any two people can decide to live together in a house but I guess a public promise of love, unswerving devotion and fidelity is as good as it will get for most of us.

For many, marriage is superior because it signals a willingness to be held legally accountable for how we feel about the one that we love. To top this off, we usually spend enough money and work enough romantic symbolism into our wedding ceremonies to last a lifetime; or so we think. Very often, we hope that these will be enough to sustain the ideal of what we think a great marriage relationship should be. But this is usually where our problem lies; our expectations don’t usually match our individual realities. This discrepancy can actually push us at least to a lifetime of disappointment or at worst, towards the divorce courts if we’re not careful.

While not shooting down the idea of having standards or marriage goals, many of our idealistic expectations represent our childish or immature beliefs about what our marriages should look like; all the time. Without necessarily articulating it, we expect that “true love” will always bring with it fulfillment and easy transitions. Because we’ve been sold on romance, ά la the fairy tale and Hollywood, we’re often not prepared for the grueling reality that marriage is indeed hard work laced with its fair share of the mundane. But this is where fantasy ends and commitment kicks in. Whether or not we are living happily every day, are we prepared to stick it out for the long haul? Because this is where the commitment we made at the altar is actually put into operation.

When the sex is fresh and new and regular, when our partner is still bending over backwards to please us and when he/she still looks really sexy and well-kept, commitment is not so much an issue. We’re usually enjoying our happiness on auto-pilot and can’t imagine another life; of course we imagine we’re really committed! When change comes to our marriage, however, as it invariably will, this is when we have to decide daily to live the commitment we promised.

Practically, this will involve re-framing how we see the changes which come, as well as revisiting how we respond to them. For example, our partner lets himself go physically and begins to take our unswerving attention for granted. How should we respond? The easy way out may be to ignore his sexual advances, fume inwardly even as we give in or worst yet, check out the new cute guy at the office.

While these responses may be very human, knee-jerk reactions for many of us, none of them speak of commitment. Firmly and clearly communicating to our husband what we need from him, is going to be critical at this point. In another popular example, a husband may enjoy his new wife’s sexual and emotional availability for a season. When baby enters the picture, however, he experiences a significant change as he seems to be no longer the centre of attention at home. He can choose to sulk, spend more time with the boys, have an affair to ensure his needs are met or he could ditch his self-centred attitude and pitch in to ensure his wife gets adequate rest.

Again, this is where our understanding of commitment should influence behavior. Commitment is not about settling for any old thing in marriage but involves our active efforts to make the relationship work, as opposed to kicking it to the curb at the first sign of trouble.

Since I’ve been married for quite some time, I’m convinced that “happily ever after” is an individual reality born out of how we choose to handle our unavoidable marital challenges. If we do want to stay married, learning how to operationalize commitment is not an option. The following eleven tips should help us to gain some perspective on the issue of living out our marriage commitment in practical ways:

  • Accept human imperfection in both yourself and your spouse and see it as a gateway for personal development and change
  • Choose loving confrontation when unhappy or dissatisfied with some aspect of your relationship; this means that talking about how you feel is always critical; decide from the outset that you will not choose easy escape routes like emotional detachment or affairs
  • Protect your relationship from negative external influences (friends, family, cohorts) who encourage you to bail out at the first sign of marital stress
  • Set realistic goals for your marriage and work together at making them happen
  • See love as a choice, not a feeling that is based purely on sexual chemistry or attractiveness
  • Choose significant moments like birthdays, anniversaries or any day for that matter, to relive the memories of how you met, got engaged or got married; keeping alive the magic of your early relationship is still significant to the health of your marriage but understand that while this may be a tool to enhance your commitment, it should not be the basis for it
  • Develop relationship loyalty by actively demonstrating that you and your spouse are on the same team; practice “having each others back” instead of competing
  • Never neglect your sexual relationship; keep this “one-flesh” reality of your relationship going to demonstrate how exclusive and set apart your relationship really is from all others; this means actively working to make your sex better
  • Strive to demonstrate a “higher-order” love that is unconditional  and loves “in spite of”
  • Never share your  marital challenges with someone you feel sexually attracted to; this represents the antithesis of commitment and loyalty
  • If you sense your relationship  is becoming unglued and you both seem unable to handle it on your own, choose a reputable counselor, coach, pastor or therapist to help you get your marriage back on track

Red Red Apples

Just when I thought we could no longer be surprised by sex research, a new study by the Kinsey Institute for Sex Gender and Reproduction yielded a set of unusual findings. Contrary to popular opinion, this new study found that men, who kiss and cuddle, are three times more happy than those who don’t. Imagine that. In other words, men who were more in touch with their kinder, gentler, “coochier” side were more likely to experience satisfaction in their long term relationships. These men who made it a practice of smooching with their wives or significant others, were in fact found to experience greater levels of sexual satisfaction than those who didn’t.

What does this tell us girls? It confirms what we’ve known instinctively since Adam was a lad; that sexual satisfaction is much more than the straight-forward thrusting of a penis in a vagina. There I’ve said it! It…

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What Your Kissing Style Says About You

Disclaimer: This article is not meant to be an endorsement of ‘’indiscriminate kissing” but simply reflects my take on what your kissing-style preferences may say about you. Read with a pinch of salt.

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Self-tests and inventories of different types have all been used to help us delve a bit more into our personality. From our communication habits, to our recreational preferences and even our conflict resolution style, these questions have been used to enable us to understand ourselves a bit better. But have you  ever wondered about the way you kiss?  And have you ever answered a “kissing inventory”? Yes, something as “everydayish” and ordinary as kissing, can tell us and others (if we’re paying attention) quite a bit about ourselves.  And what about the act of kissing; do we even enjoy it in the first place or do we view it as an intrusive, germ-spreading, unnecessary activity? For the purposes of our “lip-locking” analysis I’m going to advance five basic kissing styles and will attempt to explain my own take on what they reveal.

Slatherers

Slatherers tend to use lots of saliva, so these kisses invariably prove to be somewhat wet and slippery. The individual on the receiving end of this kiss may actually feel smothered and a bit overwhelmed by the slatherer’s enthusiasm.  While aesthetically this kissing style may leave a lot to be desired, in the real world, this individual in a relational context is actually big on piling on the love and affection. This style may reveal an openness to love and a willingness to be vulnerable. You see, slatherers aren’t into game-playing, image-presenting or pretense; they’re about as straight up as they come. They wear their hearts on their sleeve and tend to be loyal in their relationships and may actually prove to be excellent spouse material.

Professional Peckers

Professional Peckers (PP’s) thrive on being connoisseurs in the kissing fraternity and love to utilize lip pressure in their performance. They believe they have pretty much mastered the basics and therefore have kissing down to a science. As a consequence, they like to use their “kissing skills” to gauge the barometer of a relationship and believe that it will reveal things like sexual compatibility, chemistry, relationship longevity and the like. PPs, while very concerned about their expertise, are, however, much more into themselves, than into their kissing partner. They also never completely relinquish control or totally drop their guard. It’s all about them and how good they are at what they do. PPs tend to use kissing as more a means to an end, than as an expression of love or intimacy. So they kiss basically to determine what’s in it for them. In a more established relationship, however, their kisses are always self-serving and may become boring and predictable. This is especially so since the focus is always on making sure that they obey a somewhat long list of unspoken kissing rules.

Deep-Sea Divers

Now these kissers love to take the plunge; literally. They believe that kisses should be long, deep, penetrative, exploratory and almost capable of performing a tonsillectomy (just kidding). But I’m sure you get my drift. While such kissing smacks of deep intimacy and of sexual foreplay, it can also be used to reinforce dominance, control or outright seduction; especially if the head of the receiver is held with both hands while the kiss is being “administered”. If this kissing-style is utilized by both participants, it can degenerate, in a worst case scenario, to a competition or kissing match; you know to see who’s acing it the best. Not to be all negative, however, especially for you die-hard fans of this style, it can also reflect deep love, passion and commitment.

No-show Kissers

No-show Kissers understand the power of the kiss but because they believe it may reveal too much, try to avoid it like the plague. While this type may actually be a distinct minority, they do exist and actually don’t like to pucker up. Kissing for them is intrusive, time-consuming and not worth the trouble; especially since they love to focus on the fact that it carries germs. (I’ve actually met such a woman who didn’t kiss her husband because of such beliefs). No-showers believe that kissing is grossly over-rated and steer clear of it as much as possible.

Kissers and Tellers

For these, the kiss is never an end in itself but is simply a powerful back-up for what already has been said or will be expressed at some time in the future of the relationship. KATs actually have no preference for any one physical style but live in the kissing moment and allow each kiss’s magic to do its work. At the end of the day, KAT’s ensure that there’s congruence between what they do with their lips and what they say. They also love to focus on the kiss as an act of giving in the relationship.

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While some of you may not want to take me entirely seriously, there may actually be some grain of truth to my kissing analysis. The fact is that for most of us, there may be bits of all these traits, based on where we are as individuals, our past experiences, where we may be in a relationship and of course our “kissing occasion”. The underlying thread, however, is that kissing isn’t something we should take lightly. Just ask the prostitutes who will give up sex while refusing to kiss (remember the movie Pretty Woman?)

Though we may never admit it, some of us are intuitively aware that kissing is a physical intimacy which carries with it some weight and the power to expose who we really are. In a committed relationship like marriage, the absence of kissing can actually say a lot about the state of the relationship. While the novelty will admittedly wear off in the long term, its outright absence can be quite telling. All things being considered, no matter what we like or do when we kiss, lets ensure that our kiss tells the story our partner wants to hear.

 

What a Man Wants

Red Red Apples

I know that some of you, especially males, are going to think that it’s decidedly presumptuous of me to even think that I know what a man wants. But I’m no Johnny or Jane come lately. Having been married to the same man for over twenty-five years and the fact that I live in a house with four males, gives me the distinct advantage of getting up close and personal with this enigma called the male-species.

Men I believe have their own peculiar set of needs. While much time and energy is spent on deciphering how to make a woman happy and how to keep her satisfied, I think the brothers may have been somewhat hard done by. Because men try so hard to come across as happy go-lucky creatures who are not emotionally needy, we may have become convinced that all a guy needs is a full stomach and…

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5 Reasons Why You May Still Be Single

Okay I have heard it all; the moaning, groaning and complaining about why you haven’t yet found a man. Some of you have already written off the possibility of ever settling down in a serious relationship; much less marriage. You’ve basically given up the relationship ghost. Before you set your boat to sail off into the sunset of perpetual singleness, perhaps you need to closely examine a thing or two.  Do you even understand why you’re not presently in a relationship?  Perhaps an honest answering of the following may give some needed insight and perhaps empower you to move forward.

1.       Do you still have an impossible list?

When it comes to a relationship, I admit we must all have some sort of standards. We all have preferences when it comes to selecting a life partner. Sometimes, however, it is necessary that we examine the source and soundness of our expectations. Are we perhaps missing out on love because we have decided for instance to stay within the parameters of our own race, ethnicity or nationality? Must our guy really be six feet tall? And worst yet must he past the “heft test”? For the uninitiated, this is one of my girlfriends ways of finding out if a guy is endowed enough to meet her approval and involves more or less ‘accidentally’ bumping into his “you know what”.  What about things like salary, or his occupation? I know this is a ‘biggy’ especially with some professional women but should a man be wiped off your list simply because he doesn’t have a Harvard degree? What about more enduring traits like his ambition, dependability and integrity which are not contingent on where he went to school? While I am not suggesting that you throw all of your standards out the window, I believe that some of them are definitely worth re-evaluating as you look for love.

2.       Are you really interested in giving up some of your autonomy?

Some of you claim to want connection to someone but are fairly afraid of releasing your independence.  Yes you heard right. Lots of men claim to want independent women but what do they know about relationship success? I am convinced that some guys use this as a cover for not wanting a clingy or needy woman and I understand this. However, for a committed relationship or marriage to work, each individual must learn to share and live interdependently; not independently. This means having a willingness to unmask and be vulnerable with your partner as you benefit from each others strengths. It also speaks of sharing and mutual accountability. For a successful  woman who has grown accustomed to calling her own shots, this willingness to compromise in a relationship  may not be as easy as it appears and could actually work to keep her from totally committing to someone because she fears having to give up some of her autonomy. If you are like this, It may be necessary to re-frame this experience. Focus on what you stand to gain in a relationship, instead of what you think you are losing.

3.       Talk about someone loving you, do you even like yourself?

Yes, you want a great love who will affirm you, worship the very ground you walk on and in Rihanna’s words, make you feel like “you’re the only girl in the world”. Sounds good to go but is your self-esteem dependent on what someone thinks about you? Do you even like you? How comfortable are you in your own skin? What energy do you give off when you walk into a room? Are you so worried about your size or shape that your lack of self-assurance rubs a guy the wrong way? When a woman is confident and comfortable with herself and understands her intrinsic worth, then there is an undeniable sexiness that is very attractive and hopefully  the right  guy will notice.

4.       Are you “meetable”?

Did you ever consider what signals your body-language conveys? Is your demeanor one that invites conversation?  Are you approachable or do guys look at your scowl and bolt with speed in the opposite direction? Does your air of superiority relegate all guys to the category of “worthless minions” to which you wouldn’t give the time of day or does your forehead carry an invisible sign which says “approach at your own risk”? Does your Diva-stance make you appear shallow and a tad self-absorbed; you know as if your heavily applied make-up is hiding your true personality? If you are to capitalize on the several meeting-opportunities that do come your way, then take some effort to ensure that your attitude and body language convey approachability, interest and availability.

5.       Have you really let go of your past relationships?

It’s very difficult to move on to something new if you’re holding on for dear life to something old. If it is true that some guy in  your past  did you wrong, don’t give him any more power in your life by taking him into every other relationship you may have. The truth is, when you fail to forgive past hurts, you invariably short-change yourself out of your own happiness. Not only do you become bitter and resentful but it also becomes easy to tar each hopeful guy with the same brush and while some men are up to no good, each guy should at least be given a chance to prove himself. Expecting a new guy to treat you as your old flame did, will also erect unnecessary barriers between you and breeds mistrust even before you’ve had a chance to get started.

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If I’ve read some of you ladies correctly, I know that many of you assume that real love from a real-life prince charming will somehow surmount all the flaws, foibles and barriers which you have erected.   Many of you assume that real love from your true soul-mate will be so strong, that somehow, magically it will find you; no matter what you do.  While I do understand the seduction of such beliefs, unfortunately, they represent an immature approach to love and easily abdicate you of the responsibility to change you. While  this  advice  is not meant  to suggest that  there  is no happiness or satisfaction  outside  of  romance, if a great  love is what you want, then it makes sense to reflectively  examine whether or not YOU may not be your own greatest barrier. The best thing is that no matter what you discover, it’s never too late to change.

Are You Competing In Your Relationship?

One of the cardinal rules of marriage is to recognize that you and your spouse are on the same team; at least you should be. Yes, we live in a world that is rife with competition. From the time we enter school, or an athletics team or land our first dream job, we are competing to prove that we are better than everyone else. In all spheres of life, “winning” invariably brings us recognition. It validates our efforts and affirms our worth. Then we get married and everything changes. Suddenly we find ourselves in a partnership where competition can be a real enemy and where we have to re-school ourselves with regards to putting someone else’s needs before our own; namely those of our spouse.

So how do two high-achieving, driven, ambitious partners play out their marriage without hurting each other in the process? And is competition always as lethal as it sounds? I believe that even before we begin to think about marriage; like in the earliest stages of our committed relationship, we have to begin to envision ourselves as a team where we the parties, basically have each others back.

Depending on how we were raised and on our earliest life experiences, competing for attention and feelings of self-worth may be akin to breathing. Many of us in the human-services  field recognize a distinct difference between the child who in her formative years was lavished by the attention of one or two primary adults, versus the child who was forced to clamor for attention at day-care. One appears more settled and secure and seems to have less of a point to prove, while the other may have perfected the art of screaming for attention to ensure his primary needs were met.

Many of us Psychologists believe that this behavior follows us well into our adolescent and adult years. While of course this is one generalization, it brings home the point that apart from our own natural instinct for survival, social conditions often force us to focus on our own needs first and having them met. Yes, to some extent this may be all well and good but very often it can be at cross-purposes with the higher, more selfless ideals of marriage.

If we truly understand marriage to be a supportive partnership hinged on collaboration and NOT competition, then there are perhaps some critical areas which we may need to pay attention to. The truth is, we very well might not be able to guard against competitiveness in marriage unless we can first recognize it in ourselves. The following lists are designed to help you assess whether your relationship with your spouse is competitive or collaborative.

COMPETES COLLABORATES
  • You believe you are always right and have no qualms about saying “I told you so”
  • You are big on emphasizing the things you do better than your spouse
  • You boast a lot to friends and family about your achievements while neglecting to mention your partner’s
  • Even in recreational activities and games, if you don’t win, you tend to sulk or pout
  • You panic if your partner excels at something you tend to do well or feel mildly resentful at his/her accomplishments
  • In your relationship you carry an air of superiority

 

  • You cheer your partner on when he/she excels at something
  • You see your partner’s achievements as an extension of your own
  • You see your relationship as a team and you strive for mutual support
  • You boast to friends and family about your spouse’s achievements
  • You value  your partner’s opinion and often seek his/her advice, especially before making critical decisions
  • You believe that you and your partner complement each other in terms of strengths and weaknesses

While I don’t necessarily believe that all competitiveness is intrinsically evil, I definitely don’t believe that marriage or a committed relationship is the place for it. Competitiveness in our relationships can alienate our partner from us and can succeed in driving a wedge between us. This can leave our relationship vulnerable and open to more friendly and supportive external influences which could be lethal; if you get my drift.

In a relationship where we feel celebrated and supported, we are motivated to rise above our daily challenges. This in fact empowers us to be our best self and redounds to the benefit of the relationship. Support should however be mutual and not lopsided. If your partner is the one competing with you, then don’t tolerate this. Lovingly confront your partner, encouraging him/her to take personal responsibility for change.

If you find yourself to be overtly competitive with your spouse and find it particularly hard to shake the habit, then this may be worth some personal reflection or deeper exploration with the help of a counselor. If you are ambitious and competitive on the job, you may also need to drop this attitude once you reach home, recognizing that your marriage should not be a hostile war-zone. Taking the time to discover how you, as a couple, can be best together is a vital part of building a strong collaborative partnership where each of you “wins”.