“Living Red” The Talk-Show: Recovering From Infidelity

Our new lifestyle radio talk-show “Living Red” begins in earnest tonight by looking at the touchy subject of infidelity. But I’m getting ahead of myself here. What is “Living Red”?

“Living Red”, the campaign, is an initiative of Better Blends Relationship Institute and Red Red Apples. It seeks to encourage us to bring into the open those sensitive issues about relationships and sexuality which many of us still find difficult to discuss. At the same time, the campaign encourages a celebration of our relationships and our sexuality, through accessing the knowledge and skills which we need to make our relationships better.

Living Red, the talk-show by the same name, will help us to examine and confront critical issues which challenge our marriages, our relationships and our families. Red is a signature colour which suggests boldness and tenacity in the face of obstacles. Red is also the colour of love, so as we share on this show, we will expose our own vulnerabilities and needs. We know that this will move us towards becoming better women, men, husbands, wives, partners, mothers, fathers, siblings, friends.

We air each Monday and Thursday night at 11:00 PM (EST) on Blog Talk Radio.

So just follow the link below, by clicking on “Living Red” to hear our first episode.

The “Living Red” talk show: Recovering From Infidelity

Addicted to Sexual Chemistry?

I remember a while back hanging in a bar with a group of girl- friends for some after-work drinks. There I was approached by a fairly attractive guy who delivered kind of an original line. I wasn’t quite sure what to say when he said to me quite enthusiastically, “You’ve got one of the sexiest faces I’ve ever seen”. Young, inexperienced married woman that I was, I don’t think that I’d ever heard “sexy” and “face” in the same sentence, but I guess I understood intuitively what he meant; even though now it’s still hard to articulate. Something about the twinkle in my eye or maybe my body language communicated that I was confident and comfortable with my sexuality, and as any testosterone loaded male, he was quick to pick up on this and voiced his appreciation. At least I think (hope?) that’s all he meant.

Never having been one to be on the prowl in a bar or at a party looking to be “picked up” (yeah I found the love of my life really early and settled), I’ve nonetheless been one to keenly observe the workings of those sex hormones after the sun goes down and the alcohol begins to flow. Yes, there is definitely something to be said for muted lights, laughter, chinking glasses, soulful music, wine, beer and the week-end horniness that goes into so many of the bad sexual choices chalked up to “sexual chemistry”.

We’ve become so seduced by the multiplicity of chick-flicks which assault our senses that we need to pause long enough to distinguish reality from fantasy. Such shows rope us into the belief that we will one day find true-love unexpectedly in a bar, an elevator or in the vegetable aisle at the supermarket; once the “chemistry” is right! As such, we grow to associate the “idea” of love with butterflies in the pit of our stomach and the unexpected surge of good pleasure that infuses us when our eyes make four with a stranger or when, like in my example, a guy hands us an irresistible one-liner.

But is this sexual chemistry all that it’s cracked up to be and is it at all predictive of a deep abiding long-term relationship? When we become addicted to the chemical responses which are characteristic of early attraction, we begin to believe that this is what should constitute a good relationship. This has unfortunately influenced today’s social habit of falling in and out of love. Some of us may dismiss this discussion as irrelevant and think that such behaviour is only characteristic of giddy-headed adolescents. I’ve however witnessed first-hand my fair share of marital break-ups or of committed relationships which went awry simply because one partner got caught in the chemistry trap. In such a scenario what appeared to be a totally solid relationship, is suddenly abandoned because one partner has suddenly fallen “out of love” with his/her spouse, and “in love” with someone else.

What these individuals fail to realise is that they have really fallen “in love’ with their own chemical responses and are in danger of being in love with love. Dr. David Givens, author of Love Signals describes sexual chemistry as the basic engagement of the brain’s pleasure centre (so that guy who says he’s hooked on you, is actually hooked on how you make him feel). Other researchers in the field of sexual attraction have discovered that romantic relationships often progress in stages which are determined by our responses to particular hormones. So according to this theory, there is a physical, chemical, scientific reason for that can’t-get you-out-of-my-mind-kind-of-feeling, which features prominently during the initial stage of a romantic relationship.

Where we end up in trouble is where we find ourselves to be always in search of this chemical high and as a result, get caught up in either emotional or sexual infidelity. Even if this does not happen, we can grow to believe that there is something decidedly missing or wrong with our primary relationship, simply because the butterflies have died. Research carried out on a number of couples, actually found that so-called “love” or “passion” hormones were in fact at much higher levels in those in the early stages of a romance, than in those who were in a long-term relationship. Others have confirmed that the chemical high of a new love-interest only lasts for about two years.

Should this normal relationship flow then be the premise for us to allow our eyes to roam? Should it cause us to perceive that our relationship in its changed state is severely lacking? Of course there is much to be said for keeping love alive, working on keeping our marriages interesting, re-igniting passion and the like. No quarrels here with those ideas. Nonetheless, it is perhaps imperative, for our own peace of mind, that we accept that the change in chemical responses in a relationship need not signal the death of excitement nor a need to go back to what a couple initially had. The truth is, where long-term relationships are concerned, you can “never go home again”. In other words, your relationship will never be what it seemed at first; and perhaps you shouldn’t want it to be.

This is not to say that sexual chemistry is necessarily a bad thing. The way I see it, this initial intense attraction provides the basis for a good “couple memory” as it were. It allows the couple in question to share a memory of that intensity which propelled their relationship to a new level; and this is good. It creates a shared history upon which they can always reflect. Where the whole chemistry equation becomes problematic, is where we fail to recognise that as our relationship changes, so will our chemical responses to it. If a couple does not come to terms with this, or if one party’s expectations remain immature, then dissatisfaction will continue to characterize the relationship. This dissatisfaction is also responsible for many of the “accidental” affairs which occur. You know the kind where you sort of slipped and fell into another guy’s bed because you were searching for some needed sexual excitement.

This is why couples must actively work at constantly refining and redefining what they have together. There is much to be said for deep love and the attachment which is stimulated by the hormone Oxytocin. As couples continue to kiss, hug and connect sexually, they are in essence solidifying their relationship in new ways. The more active the sex-life, the more deep will be the connection. It may not be the heated rush of ripping off clothes as you did the first times you made love but as you grow to know your partner more, love-making becomes a more meaningful display of your commitment which is born out of knowledge and intimacy. This explains the pleasure which married couples often derive from cuddling together on mornings; there is a sense of intimacy and belonging that actually supersedes the heat of the early relationship. As expected, if you’ve been married for ten years, who you were as a lover at twenty-five, won’t be who you are as a lover at thirty-five; and hopefully your partner would have grown sexually with you.

For those in committed relationships, the next time you are tempted to go ‘what if . . . “ after some guy or girl, comes on to you, do the double-take. Reflect and recognize that every new relationship is likely to go through the same sequence. Besides, throwing away what you have built together, to recapture what you have lost, is usually not worth the pain. In two years time, you’re likely to be in the same position, no matter what the romance novels say. There is something then to be said for our need to redefine true love as a decision of commitment as opposed to it being the simple animal response to a chemical reaction. We humans can be a whole lot more than that.

So You’ve Been Cheated On; What’s Next?

In my experience as a counselor, I’ve come across a variety of cheaters and cheating styles. There are those who cheat with one-night stands where there is a one-off never-again-to-be-repeated episode (hopefully) of infidelity. There are those who have long-standing, deep emotional and sexual affairs, where very often the individual fancies himself/herself to be in-love with someone else. Then there are those no-sex affairs (ah-huh); those close friendships and soul-ties which can prove lethal to the marriage or primary relationship even when they remain only at the emotional level. There is also serial infidelity, as in, sex with a different person every time even when trying to maintain the semblance of a main relationship. Flirtatious infidelity, describes the behaviour of one partner which is inappropriate either through language, touching or looks, even when this never leads to sex; the problem here is that the affair is alive and well in the heart. Finally, there is cyber-sex or techno-sex; sex that is aided and abetted by the use of technology and or the internet.

If you’ve been cheated on, chances are you may not be interested in an intellectual or academic discussion of the thing. So much has already been said and analyzed as to why people cheat and many of us already understand that cheating occurs for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the cynics among us will say that as long as there are relationships, there will be cheating. As long as there are rules, boundaries or parameters for relationships, people will break and defy them; that’s just human nature. If this is at all true, how then does a victim of infidelity cope? How does such a person live with the reality of betrayal, especially since cheating is evidently here to stay?

Factors like relationship philosophy, personality, and even gender will to a large degree significantly influence the way we choose to respond. The following represents some of the options which victims may have at their disposal after an experience of infidelity. Please note that these do not refer to initial responses but to the ongoing or long-term way an individual chooses to handle being cheated on.

Going It Alone

Some decide that they want out of the relationship that has caused them so much pain. The hurt from the betrayal has lodged in such a deep place that a separation or divorce seems like the only viable option. For such an individual, infidelity has already sealed the deal on the question of loss. Since in their books their partner is already lost to them, walking away is just a formality.

Deciding to “go it alone” has the distinct advantage of giving individuals the option of starting over again in the future. It can also provide a vital space for clearing the head and soothing the emotions. The down-side can be seen when the decision is based on unresolved anger and bitterness.

While being alone is sometimes a good thing, it is seldom a permanent state. Failure to deal with the why and the how of the infidelity as well as failing to forgive can be lethal to the victim’s sense of self and can affect the “peace” of future relationships. At the same time, a decision to distance oneself from any romantic involvement and to take the time to reflect and regroup, can lead to an amazing experience of self-discovery, especially when victims grow to understand their own self-worth.

Infidelity in a pre-marital arrangement can and perhaps should halt or delay wedding plans. It provides a window of opportunity for the engaged couple to re-evaluate their choice of a life-partner before a serious covenant vow is made. Of course deciding to leave an already established marriage is serious business and should be well thought out from all angles before a separation or divorce is finalized.

Seeking Revenge

Deciding to do a “tit-for-tat” is perhaps one of the more common and understood responses to cheating. This can be a well thought out and premeditated response or it can occur almost inadvertently because the victim’s hurt causes him/her to more readily let their guard down with another. Those who themselves pursue an affair in response to being cheated on, have decided to maintain their primary relationship but seek to exact revenge for being hurt.

Such individuals are intensely angry and seek to salvage their own hurt by inflicting pain on the one who caused it to them. Some pursue an affair in an attempt to repair damaged self-esteem and to assure themselves that they are still desirable. While some will themselves keep their affair secret and allow it to function more as a psychological boost, others will deliberately engineer a discovery in order to inflict a similar wound on their partner.

More often than not, however, the satisfaction obtained from revenge is short lived, since it is built on a faulty notion that causing pain eases pain. The retention of anger and bitterness which motivates this behaviour means that the source of the first affair is never exposed and dealt with. Such a decision of revenge is likely therefore to be counter-productive and simply ensures that the cycle of pain and disappointment continues.

Staying Depressed

A decision to stay in a state of depression usually exposes a significant problem with low self-esteem. There are admittedly different types and levels of depression and this is not meant to trivialise the issue. It is obvious that an incident or incidents of cheating cuts at the core of a marriage or of an exclusive relationship. Because we look to others for love, acceptance and affirmation of our worth, we can misguidedly take on the opposite message when infidelity occurs. We can believe that we are undesirable and unlovable. Many women especially blame themselves when their spouses cheat and this can be debilitating to the psyche. Dwelling in self-pity encourages depression and a feeling of powerlessness. This can rob victims of the belief that they have the power to act on or change the challenging situation in which they find themselves. Victims find it easier instead to focus on their pain, to own it and to repeatedly re-live the details of the affair in their minds, until the effect is emotionally crippling. This response spells disaster for the future of the relationship.

Flying Free

In Tyler Perry’s “Diary of a Mad Black Woman”, the main character played by Kimberly Elise describes herself as being “mad as hell” after her husband turns her out of their house so that he can finally be with his other woman. Although she subsequently meets a very charming guy who turns out to be everything that her husband was not, she is unable to totally relax in this new love. Instead she discovers that she must process her anger, hurt and pain, articulate it to the one who hurt her and then choose to forgive. Her decision in fact “frees her” to love and live again.

Forgiveness is an act of ultimate self-empowerment. It reflects the choice to extend grace towards an individual who has done us wrong. This should not be interpreted as weakness or as an act of cowardice which condones what was done. Instead it reflects an inner resolve to be free from the hate, anger and bitterness which places the victim under the emotional power or control of their partner.

Forgiveness in fact places victims of infidelity in a psychological and spiritual space where they are better able to assess what happened to them and make the right choices. Forgiveness should never be rushed prematurely. Although it is an act of the will, it is a process and not an event. This means that it involves the articulation of anger and hurt and individuals must believe that they are “ready” to forgive, before they can actually attempt to do it.

Many individuals are unable to arrive at this place on their own but often need the intervention/assistance of a counselor, therapist, pastor or friend to help them through the process. Because women are socialized to articulate emotion, they tend to be more comfortable with the expression of anger and pain through sharing, crying and journaling. This often makes forgiveness an easier process for women than it appears to be for men. Men who have been cheated on are in fact more likely to hold on to anger and bitterness because they see expressing pain and hurt as a sign of weakness. This affects their ability to ever be free from the effects of the cheating and this baggage they take to subsequent relationships.

While forgiveness will not cause an automatic erasing of painful memories, it at least robs those memories of the power to control an individual’s pursuit of happiness or peace. If individuals are to survive infidelity and live to tell the tale, this means getting in touch with a well thought-out response which should be in their best interest. For those who choose to walk away, without forgiveness, all future relationships will suffer the effects of the infidelity. If both parties value the marriage and want to make it work again, then choosing the path of forgiveness is the better option.

When a Woman is a Vulture and Your Man the Prey

Usually, vultures have mastered the art of seduction.

We’ve all met this kind of woman I’m sure. We can sense her a mile away. She is a bird of prey and most likely, she’s preying on your man. Lest I be misunderstood, this article is not an attempt to absolve men of any of the guilt or responsibility which they must acknowledge when it comes to cheating. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Men are not babies. They know what they are doing when they decide to take that plunge and sleep with another woman. Be that as it may, it is critical to note that when men fail sexually in their relationships, they don’t do it alone. Their weakness is cheerfully egged on and facilitated by the women they make themselves vulnerable to.

This comes as no surprise because as long as there have been Sampsons, there have been Delilahs. For those not familiar with that story, Delilah was a woman (in Biblical times) who got the better of the man she targeted by playing the oldest trump-card in the world; sex. Even though she had somewhat of a Political agenda, basically she was a spy for the Philistine nation, she understood how to “work it” to get what she wanted. Centuries have passed and not much has changed. There are women who are experts at plotting and planning for men just to get what they want whether that be money, status, bling, more money or plain old sex.

Vultures have a particular way with men. It’s not just that they may be physically appealing (and very often they are) but they have an intimate knowledge of men. They understand what makes a man tick and are very good at breaking down a man’s defenses to their own advantage. Usually this intimate knowledge of men comes about as a result of their wide and varied experiences with several men. Make no bones about it, these women have been to the school of life and have studied men like an out-of-print textbook. What makes a woman a vulture therefore is not her innate sexiness, charisma, nor her ability to befriend, empathise with or “counsel” although these are all vulture strategies. Women are categorized as vultures because of their selfish agenda. Primarily Vultures care about numero uno. You see this woman is never what she appears to be at face value simply because she doesn’t have a genuine bone in her body. She wants what she wants, when she wants it and to hell with you if you try to get in her way!

If you live on this planet earth, chances are you will meet a vulture in your lifetime. She may be your husband’s or guy’s work colleague. She could be a neighbor, an old cherished friend of his or the girl he meets at a game or at the Gas Station. She might even be one of your girlfriends. The point is, if she fancies sinking her teeth (and other parts of her anatomy) into some fresh prey, then she could very well pose a problem.

Vultures are good at inventing excuses as to why a guy needs to spend time with them. It could seem as innocent as a request to have a tyre changed, the need to have something heavy lifted, or the need to have a shoulder to cry on. Whatever the case, Vultures know how to make a guy feel needed and wanted and they really don’t care if he’s married or in a committed relationship. In fact that seems to make him even more attractive to Vultures! That being said, don’t make the mistake of believing that every Vulture is a desperate single-woman, some are married but live their “other-woman” existence underground.

The woman who is categorized as a Vulture, like her name-sake, watches her victim from a distance. She studies him carefully, assesses his wants and weaknesses and then moves in for the kill. As a Vulture tries new ways to get close to your man, she is really gathering the information needed to guarantee his downfall with her. If he’s a man on the look out for some extra sex, then her job is made even easier.There is really no rocket-science to her having her wicked way with this guy. However, if her prey is a family man, a husband who loves his wife but maybe a bit bored or needy in some way, she understands that her tactics have to be a lot more studied and sly.

The Vulture will therefore seek to undermine a marriage by pointing out very underhandedly, all the ways a man’s wife has not been meeting his needs. If she’s smart she might not actually bring up the wife’s name but will find ways and means of presenting herself as a viable and better option. So a Vulture, unlike most wives, will always make herself sexually accessible. She never says no. She might even do those things that some wives would never, ever dream of doing in and out of bed. She is a connoisseur at being the “better other woman” and knows how to play her cards well.

The truth be told, some Vultures are hardly interested in marriage to the guy. Being tied to any one man may actually cramp her style since she may like to leave all of her options open to new and potentially more promising experiences. So why go after any man in the first place you might ask? It’s important that you understand that a Vulture thrives on power and on exercising it. (And contrary to what you might think, not every woman out there wants the husband and the white picket fence). She just wants to know that she can steal your man from right under your nose; so beware of the “best-friend” who ogles your husband when she thinks you’re not looking. It boosts her sexual ego to know that she is able to “get” your husband or guy literally from right under you because a Vulture really believes she is in some unspoken competition with every other woman out there.

If a woman is to guard her marriage against the permanent threat of the Vulture, then there are a few things she must take to heart:

  • be weary of late-night telephone or cell phone calls to your husband from other women, especially those 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 sexual 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
  • 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 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 counselling, therapy or mentorship by a man who has his head screwed on right
  • if your relationship is to survive the attack of a Vulture, then ultimately, 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”

The Secrets: Should We Tell All?

There is nothing like meeting a sexy guy for the first time and wanting to impress. For you unattached girls out there who are longing for someone to really call your own, meeting new guys can, however, get really technical; or so I have been told. It’s been said that the ratio of women to men is somewhat alarming; In other words, there seems to be a marked shortage of guys to match all the girls out there looking to settle down with one. For the woman who feels desperate, this often means that she thinks she needs to employ a few “relationship contortions” in order to nail the guy of her interest. In other words, she feels a need to plot, scheme and manipulate in order to “win” the competition for the most eligible bachelor. This often means packaging herself as the woman of every guy’s dreams, while beating all other girls into extinction.

As women, many of us have mastered the fine art of creating a great first impression. It just comes with the territory of being female and is something which we do almost instinctively. We definitely know how to dress to impress. At another level, the array of “enhancements” available for today’s woman means that when a guy meets a gal for the first time, he really must assess whether what he is seeing is what he will be hopefully getting (that is, if the relationship gets that far).

These “enhancements” run the gamut from false hair, to false nails, to false lashes, to coloured lens (changed eye colour), to false breasts and even padded hips. Yes, these are all fashion practices that many of us women have grown accustomed to using at some level, from time to time. As a lover of fashion and beauty trends myself, I do identify with that feminine need to creatively reinvent ourselves on occasion.Where it can get tricky, however, is when we allow our true selves to be masked into oblivion and this then spills over into our love lives.

Today’s practice of hiding or masking who we really are, may actually speak to deeper issues which can impact on our intimate relationship. The woman, who fears exposing what she perceives to be her physical flaws, may also be harbouring a deeper fear of being exposed in other areas of her life. This then leads us to the question of secrets. When a woman is bent on impressing and perhaps keeping a man for the long haul, should she spill it all? Should she expose all of her shortcomings, weaknesses and past relationship issues as her new relationship progresses or should some information remain off limits? Just as she seeks to hide her body’s imperfections, should she continue this trend by also concealing the things from her past (or present) which she thinks might make her appear less attractive to her new love interest, or should she expose all of her emotional and sexual stuff in a bid to “keep it real” in the relationship?

Women at different stages of their emotional development will no doubt answer these questions differently. A woman’s sense of self, inner confidence and her ability to balance strength with vulnerability, will to some degree, determine how she chooses to handle self-exposure when a new man comes along. This is also likely to be affected by things like her age and relationship experience.

The woman who is really on the look-out for a long term relationship with the possibility of marriage is likely to value openness and honesty. This is likely to be so because more often than not, this is what she also expects from her partner. With an acknowledged shortage of men, however, a woman may fear losing a romantic prospect if certain elements of her past are laid bare. While I am one who steadfastly promotes intimacy in relationships, I do not believe that it can be forced by indiscriminate exposure of everything, just for the sake of it.

Yes, we live in an age of reality shows where we have grown accustomed to being exposed to everyone’s business. The concept of privacy as we know it, will soon become a thing of the past. Even prime time television has jumped on the bandwagon with not only the portrayal of intimate sex scenes but even treks to the bathroom have now become standard television fare. So to some extent, we are accustomed to “baring it all”. This public trend of exposure, however, does not necessarily transfer to our romantic relationships where the stakes are high for disapproval and rejection.

What then are some of the major secrets a woman would perhaps seek to hide in her relationship? I’ve thought deeply about this and have arranged what I think would be some critical issues in order of their assumed importance:

  • The number of men she has slept with
  • Her participation in any sexual activities that would be considered risqué, for example, group sex or a ménage a trios
  • Her involvement in a lesbian affair
  • Her hatred of sex
  • Her love of sex
  • Her experience of sexual abuse
  • An experience of rape
  • Enormous, enormous debt
  • A deep connection to her ex
  • Past infidelity
  • An addiction to shopping
  • An addiction to illegal drugs
  • An addiction to prescription medication
  • Chronic depression
  • Her very large salary

This list is not exhaustive by any means but I think you get the idea. These issues admittedly are diverse and cannot all be lumped together. An issue of a sexual nature will tend to be treated with far more seriousness than an issue of over-spending.  A woman often knows from experience, that a man can be intimidated if she earns significantly more money than he does. If she appears to love sex too much, or had many partners, she may fear that he thinks her a slut. If her debt is really high, he may think she’s really on the look-out for a “Sugar Daddy” or that she lacks personal discipline and the list goes on. In spite of the diversity among these issues, each has the potential to break or harm a relationship if left unresolved.

The woman who has endured painful experiences from her childhood or from past relationships, may choose not to share if these issues are still painful to her. If she has experienced emotional healing, has extended forgiveness to those who hurt her or has decided to change some shame-based element of her lifestyle, then sharing her life-story may just be a matter of course. At the same time, if she feels close enough to her guy, she may seek comfort in sharing matters which for her still remain unresolved. Talking about her sense of shame over some past behaviour or delving into a past hurt, may actually be therapeutic and can serve to deepen the bond between her and her guy.

At another level, the woman in her twenties, who is still basically “finding herself”, may respond differently to the idea of total self-exposure, than the woman in her forties who possesses a lot more self-confidence and has experienced a bit of life. The younger woman is likely to panic and to be a lot more secretive in a bid to hold on to new relationship. Conversely, the older woman’s attitude might very well be one of, “been there, done that, take me as I am or go look elsewhere”.

This woman knows exactly what she wants in a man and is not so much sold on the idea of impressing others, as she is on the idea of self-acceptance and personal growth. In other words she may have learnt from her past mistakes and may simply want to re-write her life-script on her own terms. She may also feel no regret for some of her past actions and this is where the aligning of a couples’ value system becomes critical to the life of that relationship. If for example, one partner has cheated in the past, but is not remorseful, then this may hold implications for how much he/she values fidelity. If you plan to be a faithful spouse, then having a spouse with an identical belief system will be paramount.

Issues like substance abuse, addictions or chronic depression can also impact on the quality of the relationship. While none of us are perfect, the more emotionally healthy we are, the better the prospects for a long and healthy relationship. When significant elements are kept hidden, the danger is that they can rear their ugly heads at an inopportune time and can cause friction and emotional estrangement. If, for example, a divorcee has not severed emotional ties with her ex, this baggage can haunt her current relationship and she can easily project her anger towards her current partner or husband. Knowledge and understanding on her partner’s end can only be applied if he is made aware of her issue in the first place.

Am I suggesting then that a tell-all session is always vital to a good relationship? Not necessarily. I believe that a woman must assess the true status of her relationship and the maturity of her partner before she decides to divulge all. Even then, exposing her past is not an end in itself, nor should it be forced. It should also never occur in the early, uncertain phase of a relationship when commitment has not yet been voiced. In fact, premature exposure can actually destroy the prospects of a relationship even getting off the ground.

Don’t scare the guy away before he even has a chance to say hello. Be wise, weigh the situation and ensure that your end of the table is not the only one from which a detailed life-story is forthcoming; intimacy is after all, a two-way street.  There are no guarantees that it will all pan out as you like but true love is often worth the risk.

When a Woman is the Vulture and Your Man the Prey

We’ve all met this kind of woman I’m sure. We can sense her a mile away. She is a bird of prey and most likely, she’s preying on your man. Lest I be misunderstood, this article is not an attempt to absolve men of any of the guilt or responsibility which they must acknowledge when it comes to cheating. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Men are not babies. They know what they are doing when they decide to take that plunge and sleep with another woman. Be that as it may, it is critical to note that when men fail sexually in their relationships, they don’t do it alone. Their weakness is cheerfully egged on and facilitated by the women they make themselves vulnerable to.

This comes as no surprise because as long as there have been Sampsons, there have been Delilahs. For those not familiar with that story, Delilah was a woman (in Biblical times) who got the better of the man she targeted by playing the oldest trump-card in the world; sex. Even though she had somewhat of a Political agenda, basically she was a spy for the Philistine nation, she understood how to “work it” to get what she wanted. Centuries have passed and not much has changed. There are women who are experts at plotting and planning for men just to get what they want whether that be money, status, bling, more money or plain old sex.

Vultures have a particular way with men. It’s not just that they may be physically appealing (and very often they are) but they have an intimate knowledge of men. They understand what makes a man tick and are very good at breaking down a man’s defenses to their own advantage. Usually this intimate knowledge of men comes about as a result of their wide and varied experiences with several men. Make no bones about it, these women have been to the school of life and have studied men like an out-of-print textbook. What makes a woman a vulture therefore is not her innate sexiness, charisma, nor her ability to befriend, empathise with or “counsel” although these are all vulture strategies. Women are categorized as vultures because of their selfish agenda. Primarily Vultures care about numero uno. You see this woman is never what she appears to be at face value simply because she doesn’t have a genuine bone in her body. She wants what she wants, when she wants it and to hell with you if you try to get in her way!

If you live on this planet earth, chances are you will meet a vulture in your lifetime. She may be your husband’s or guy’s work colleague. She could be a neighbor, an old cherished friend of his or the girl he meets at a game or at the Gas Station. She might even be one of your girlfriends. The point is, if she fancies sinking her teeth (and other parts of her anatomy) into some fresh prey, then she could very well pose a problem.

Vultures are good at inventing excuses as to why a guy needs to spend time with them. It could seem as innocent as a request to have a tyre changed, the need to have something heavy lifted, or the need to have a shoulder to cry on. Whatever the case, Vultures know how to make a guy feel needed and wanted and they really don’t care if he’s married or in a committed relationship. In fact that seems to make him even more attractive to Vultures! That being said, don’t make the mistake of believing that every Vulture is a desperate single-woman, some are married but live their “other-woman” existence underground.

The woman who is categorized as a Vulture, like her name-sake, watches her victim from a distance. She studies him carefully, assesses his wants and weaknesses and then moves in for the kill. As a Vulture tries new ways to get close to your man, she is really gathering the information needed to guarantee his downfall with her. If he’s a man on the look out for some extra sex, then her job is made even easier.There is really no rocket-science to her having her wicked way with this guy. However, if her prey is a family man, a husband who loves his wife but maybe a bit bored or needy in some way, she understands that her tactics have to be a lot more studied and sly.

The Vulture will therefore seek to undermine a marriage by pointing out very underhandedly, all the ways a man’s wife has not been meeting his needs. If she’s smart she might not actually bring up the wife’s name but will find ways and means of presenting herself as a viable and better option. So a Vulture, unlike most wives, will always make herself sexually accessible. She never says no. She might even do those things that some wives would never, ever dream of doing in and out of bed. She is a connoisseur at being the “better other woman” and knows how to play her cards well.

The truth be told, some Vultures are hardly interested in marriage to the guy. Being tied to any one man may actually cramp her style since she may like to leave all of her options open to new and potentially more promising experiences. So why go after any man in the first place you might ask? It’s important that you understand that a Vulture thrives on power and on exercising it. (And contrary to what you might think, not every woman out there wants the husband and the white picket fence). She just wants to know that she can steal your man from right under your nose; so beware of the “best-friend” who ogles your husband when she thinks you’re not looking. It boosts her sexual ego to know that she is able to “get” your husband or guy literally from right under you because a Vulture really believes she is in some unspoken competition with every other woman out there.

 

If a woman is to guard her marriage against the permanent threat of the Vulture, then there are a few things she must take to heart:

  • be weary of late-night telephone or cell phone calls to your husband from other women, especially those 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 counselling, therapy or mentorship 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”