Tag Archives: intimacy

SEX! From Boredom to Best Practice




If you’ve been married for a while, chances are you’ve experienced some level of bedroom boredom. Like any often performed human activity, sex runs the risk of becoming routine and predictable. While we may choose from a variety of natural responses, if we really want to tackle this relationship challenge, it may mean stepping outside ourselves a bit and evaluating how we tend to respond. This is needed before we can craft our way forward to a what I will call sexual best practices.

The Auto-Pilot Response

This occurs where couples mostly have sex when either half-asleep or half-awake (just a matter of perspective). Sex occurs as a matter of course, pretty much like the necessary bodily function of going to the bathroom. There is absolutely no effort at creativity or ingenuity extended into the love-life. Sex is brief, functional, perfunctory and release-oriented;  pretty much along the lines of that well worn expression “wham-bam-thank-you-mam!” The missionary position becomes etched in stone and sometimes the wife can even do the grocery list during the act, if she can get her eyes opened wide enough.

The Sexless Response

Couples go sexless when the cares of life become so overwhelming that sex is no longer worth the time, work and effort. This couple begins to function almost along the lines of a brother and sister. There may or may not be a certain sense of warmth between them but life has become so centred on the activities of family (children and in-laws) that this couple has actually lost all sense of being a couple. In this response pattern, the practice of not having any sex (or as little as twice a year), is not necessarily a well-thought out or deliberate response. It usually occurs because one individual loses his/her desire and the other capitulates because he/she gives into a feeling of powerlessness in the situation.

The Nocturnal Headache Response

This response occurs when there is a simple lack of common sex, I mean common sense. One partner (usually the woman) gets locked into complaining of a nightly headache, while failing to realise that she’s having that headache precisely because she has not had some good sex in a while and perhaps needs that great orgasmic release. No seriously, the headache response reveals an escape-route mentality. Of course I am not denying that there may be times when illness may prevent partners from experiencing a good roll in the hay but that’s not the point here. Barring genuine illness, partners can become locked into various excuses as to why sex does not happen. “The kids will hear us”, “the dogs are barking”, “my mother lives next-door”, “there is a hole in the ceiling” all become viable reasons as to why sex should be circumnavigated. While this sex-avoidance behaviour may only be perpetuated by one individual, it becomes a significant road-block to sexual intimacy since it definitely takes two to tango.

The Roving Reporter Response

Perhaps this is the most lethal of responses to bedroom boredom. It occurs when one or both partners begin to look outside the relationship for the sexual excitement which they know is lacking. The partner or couple who gets locked into this response may not be necessarily interested in leaving the relationship. There may be a sense of security in knowing that they have built a life together. They perhaps share a mortgage, a car loan, kids, pets and the list goes on. What they don’t share however is an exciting sex life. When sexual boredom has set in and there is a lack of dialogue on the matter, the result could very well be a tendency to inspect the grass on the other side. This is a response that is grounded in laziness and a self-serving agenda. The energy, spontaneity and ingenuity that is often required to make an affair work, had it been applied to the marriage, would most likely have resulted in  a re-kindling of the sexual fires. The self-serving partner is however looking for a quick fix and working on a relationship can be time-consuming.

The “I Want to Have Great Sex With You” Response

There are couples who love to have great sex, and I mean with a capital L. There is however one condition. They only want to have that great sex with the person to whom they are committed. Sex for such individuals is not an end in itself. It’s not a case of “any sex will do”. They are not into trading vaginas and penises for their own personal aggrandizement. Do such couples experience boredom in the bedroom? Of course! Their boredom could be as palpable as the next guys. What distinguishes their response however is their level of commitment to the relationship and their intuitive understanding of the value of a good sex-life to the health of the relationship. Because they understand the basics of relational health, they are, therefore, willing to put in the extra work to alleviate the bedroom blues. They also understand that love is really about putting the needs of another individual before their own. This means that if each partner focuses on what to do to please the other sexually, then the result is likely to be one sexually fulfilled couple.

Regardless of the response mode you and your spouse may have found yourselves in when it comes to the bedroom blues, the following tips represent a starting point for your continued sexual renewal as a couple:

  • Schedule lovemaking sessions; especially when there are kids around. This ensures that sexual intimacy becomes as regular a part of your couple’s repertoire as taking a shower is to the individual.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of the quickie. Yes the long, drawn out, steamy, lovemaking sessions a la Hollywood and the romance novel may be well known to some of us, but a short, sweet sexual encounter may be better than none at all
  • Get deliberately creative. Using the powers of imagination from time to time can always add flavour to the love-life. This may involve using sexy lingerie, silk boxers and other little tricks like scented candles, fragrant oils, music, feathers, flavoured condoms, satin sheets, carefully positioned mirrors and you get my drift I’m sure.
  • Cultivate a ‘touchy-feely” relationship. Couples who understand how to be physically demonstrative to each other outside of the bedroom get to preserve a certain level of sexual tension which just goes kaboom when they come together.
  • Have a regular date-night. Spending time together regularly in other social settings helps an individual to see his/her partner in a different light. Taking the effort to dress up and go out together sends a powerful message that the individual is not being taken for granted.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. Couples who fail to share what they really feel about their love-life run the risk of harbouring anger and resentment which can contribute to further rifts in the relationship. It is important for couples to practice emotional intimacy if they expect to have great sexual intimacy. This comes only through honesty, openness and a shared vulnerability.
  • Have lots of sex. Scientific studies have proven that the more sex we have the more sex we want. So there is perhaps no greater way to jump-start a flagging sex life that with some attempt at a sexual marathon (of course not forever but just so you could get those hormones racing again). Couples could perhaps set themselves an attainable sexual goal as an experiment or a challenge; for example, sex everyday for five or seven straight days. According to researchers, this is guaranteed to straighten out those hormones and have them and other parts of of your anatomy in tip-top working condition.

12 Steps for Cementing Relationship Commitment

by Denise J Charles

shutterstock_116979841We’re always talking about commitment in marriage but do we even know what it should look like? Follow these 12 steps to strengthen your level of relationship commitment. 

  1. Accept human imperfection in both yourself and your spouse and see it as a gateway for personal development and change
  2. 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
  3. Protect your relationship from negative external influences (friends, family, cohorts) who encourage you to bail out at the first sign of marital stress
  4. Set realistic goals for your marriage and work together at making them happen
  5. See love as a choice, not a feeling that is based purely on sexual chemistry or attractiveness
  6. 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
  7. Develop relationship loyalty by actively demonstrating that you and your spouse are on the same team; practice “having each others back” instead of competing
  8. 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 which will in turn strengthen your levels of intimacy
  9. Strive to demonstrate a “higher-order” love that is unconditional and loves “in spite of”and which also includes the practice of forgiveness
  10. Deal with relationship issues in a timely manner, before they have the chance to fester into deep-rooted anger or bitterness
  11. Never share your  marital challenges with someone you feel sexually attracted to; this represents the antithesis of commitment and loyalty
  12. 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


The question of intimacy, will always be one which will determine the health and state of our significant relationships. But what is intimacy? What does it really look like in marriage and why is it so important? What hinders intimacy in marriage? Why do we run from it and how can we build and strengthen the capacity for intimacy in marriage?

Join me on Saturday April 25th, 10:00 am – 10:45 am AST for a  FREE WEBINAR EVENT : GET NAKED! Exploring Marital Intimacy

Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone by clicking on the link below. Space is limited, so please log in at least five minutes early, to secure your place.




Great RELATIONSHIP EDUCATION you don’t want to miss. Brought to you by Better Blends Relationship Institute and Red Red Apples.

When Sex Clouds The Issue

sex gets cloudyThere’s a belief going around in some circles about women and broken relationships. It’s commonly said that the only way for a woman to get over one man is to get underneath another one. There are some women who swear by this standard and will move quickly into another intimate relationship after their marriage or relationship fails. Whether or not you believe in using sex as a means of ridding yourself of a new man and cementing yourself with a new, there can be no question that sex can be relationship-defining.

While some proponents of casual sex will say that using sex to grease one’s ego, to make oneself feel good, or for recreational and relaxation purposes is no big deal, the research confirms otherwise. Sex has an inherent component which glues individuals together; regardless. In other words, we don’t just have sex and get away scot free; there are consequences to sexual joining, no matter our motivation.

The hormone Oxytocin plays a significant part in our sexual encounters. It fosters feelings of connection and belongingness when we hug, kiss, touch and orgasm with our partner. While this binding is an aspect of the built-in spirituality of sex, it does not need ideal relationship conditions to occur. There is nothing written in the fine-print of sex to suggest that sexual oneness or binding or connection, only occurs with marriage vows or when there is love in the relationship. It in fact occurs with all types of sexual encounters. This means that when we misuse sex to prove a point about our worth, value or desirability; when we seek out new sexual opportunities just for the fun of it, we may actually be doing more harm than good. We may be contributing to our own emotional confusion by connecting ourselves indiscriminately to someone else, while still being tied to a previous spouse or partner.

Premature sex can encourage a false sense of intimacy. Even when we think we’re simply being casual, the passion of sex can mess with our heads. It can mimic love through its intensity and this can cause us to gloss over the glaring flaws in the new individual we may be having sex with. The headiness of sex can also prevent us from facing our own neediness or low self-esteem. Sex alone can never be an adequate therapy for feelings of worthlessness. In fact, the individual who falls too quickly into sex after a break-up proves that she is unable to stand on her own two feet.

Because sex is what it is, it should never be used to test-drive a new man, particularly after a woman has been hurt. Sex too soon will cloud the issue of the pain and rejection a woman must deal with in her own heart; particularly if her previous relationship has been marred by infidelity or abuse. This type of replacement sex, especially if it’s ‘good’ will get the hormones going and will foster feelings of attachment. Such attachment, however, is premature and shallow and is hardly the foundation for a better relationship with someone new.

So what should we do in the face of a relationship’s demise?

Evaluate: Understanding why a relationship ended is a critical aspect of moving forward into emotional health. This involves knowing our relationship style in terms of whether we were too clingy, insecure, demanding or even the model partner who just got a raw deal. This is also a time for taking responsibility, if in any way we contributed to the breakdown of the relationship. This should allow us the capacity to change those aspects of ourselves which we may need to and is also critical for our personal growth.

Reconnect: Using the time when a marriage or relationship ends to reconnect with ourselves, to clarify our relationship values and to determine what is really important to us, should be far more important than indiscriminately jumping into another man’s bed.

 Treasure Transition: In the event that we are entirely the victim of a cheating or abusive partner, then our relationship transition period is a time to take fresh stock in determining what we will no longer tolerate from any man. It should also be a period of self-affirmation and even forgiveness. Taking bitterness and resentment forward will be harmful to any prospective relationship. This is why we need time to grieve what we had so that we can be healed of the effects of a painful relationship before moving on. Sex can cloud this issue and leave us exposed and vulnerable to further abuse.

While the desire for human connection and intimacy is understood, using sex as a short-cut to such is counterproductive. If at the time of a break-up, we forego this essential period of reflection, healing and growth, we could easily find ourselves smack dab in the middle of another bad relationship.

Denise J Charles is Director & Relationship Coach at Better Blends Relationship Institute e mail betterblends@gmail.com

Actions Speak Louder: How to Do and Not Just Talk Love

aa-couple-laughing-hugging-475As a previous connoisseur of the romance novel, I had their formula so much down pat, that I could have easily written my own. Back in those good old days when the Mills & Boon novel reigned supreme, what struck me about my favorite stories was that no matter how badly the main character of the novel treated his leading lady, all would change on his profession of love.

This popular formula saw men almost incapable of expressing their true feelings to the women they were so enamored by. So blissfully ignoring the heroine, being cruel to her or even flirting with other women, were the order of the day. Of course this all changed usually towards the last two or three pages of the story when said man mustered up the courage to declare his undying love and proposed marriage all in one fell swoop.

There springs a common anomaly of relationships; professing words of love while actually not quite living up to those words. In our romance-laden culture, talking love has become almost second nature for both men and women. We hear it so often in love-songs, that it sometimes seems like a master tactic for a guy to quickly get his way. For those of us in settled relationships where we already know that we’re in love, demonstrating love can almost be taken for granted. We may have grown so accustomed to saying it over the years, that the idea of doing something special to show it may seem a stretch. Even the busy nature of our everyday lives can overwhelm us to the extent that we fail to give our relationships the attention they deserve. But no matter how long we have been married, it’s important that we recognize that love is first an action word, which requires demonstration.

Whether male or female, each of us in a relationship needs to know how much we’re loved. The following 25 tips should give some great ideas for showing and not just telling that special someone just how we feel about them.

1. Cook your partner’s favorite meal and do a special decorative layout of such; this can be especially meaningful on a regular day when it’s totally unexpected

2. Do an at-home massage or spa treatment complete with scented candles and oils to create that setting which says that your loved one is truly special.

3. Send your partner to a classy spa for a full day of expert handling and relaxation.

4. Volunteer to babysit the kids so your wife can go shopping or simply hang out with the girls.

5. Pre-purchase tickets for your guys favorite game.

6. Buy your partner that special toy or gadget which you know they’ve had their eyes on for the past couple of months.

7. Arrange a special date at your spouse’s favorite restaurant.

8. Send flowers when there’s no special occasion.

9. Give your spouse the time to work on a special project or to pursue their passion by holding down the fort at home.

10. Take over a regular at-home chore for which your partner is primarily responsible.

11. Wash your partner’s car.

12. Surprise your spouse with a new book from their favorite author.

13. Write your lover a letter or e mail which itemizes why and how much they are loved.

14. Send a special love-song request via the local radio station.

15. Buy your lover a bottle of their favorite wine and make some time to share it with them.

16. Massage your partner’s neck, shoulders and or feet after a tired day at the office; especially without being asked.

17. Make a cup of coffee, hot chocolate or blend a favorite cocktail or health-drink for your spouse.

18. Plan a surprise romantic getaway weekend or trip for you and your partner.

19. Buy that sexy lingerie or those crotchless panties you long go see your woman in and do all kinds of hot things to her to let her know just how much of an effect she’s having on you.

20. Arrange babysitting if necessary or get away from home and plan to get it on with your partner with a night of steamy, uninhibited lovemaking.

21. Put on some sexy music and do an exciting dance and striptease for your man.

22. Initiate some novelty in the bedroom which you think your husband or wife would like to experience.

23. Plan a lovemaking session where all the focus is on giving to your lover all the best that you’ve got.

24. Write your own love song or poem and romance your partner with its words or music.

25. When you’ve messed up in the relationship or offended your spouse, don’t hesitate to say and to show how sorry you really are, especially when you believe that you are right.






Emotional Adultery

What happens in a relationship or a marriage when a “special friend” of either the husband or wife becomes too close? What about the best friend issue? Can or should I have a best friend of the opposite sex other than my partner? How close is too close when dealing with the opposite sex?

The next two episodes of “Better Life With DeniseJ” on Blog Talk Radio, will seek to unravel this issue of emotional infidelity. What exactly is emotional adultery or emotional infidelity? What drives this behaviour? How lethal is it? What are the warning signs that my spouse has an inappropriate attachment to someone? What boundaries can couples set up, to guard against it? If our relationship has been threatened by an inappropriate attachment, how can we make it better?

Follow the link to Blog Talk Radio to listen to Parts 1 & 2 of this podcast on the lifestyle radio show “Better Life With DeniseJ”.

Emotional Adultery Part 1: Podcast

Emotional Adultery Part 2: Podcast

Do You Have Sex With Your Eyes Closed?

Do we know why we close our eyes in bed?

For those of you in a sexual relationship, the way you have sex says a lot. Yes, sex is so intimate and revealing an activity that it has the power to uncover and expose us; literally. Having been in and around the Performing Arts for some years, we have always been told that dance is very revealing. It has the power to strip and expose the dancer so much that whatever a dancer is going through emotionally, is often revealed through his/her dance. The same is true about sex. The way we behave sexually, says quite a bit about our perceptions of sex, our attitude towards sex, our comfort with our own sexuality (or lack thereof) and our beliefs about sex itself.

So our title question “Do you have sex with your eyes closed?” is to be taken literally, at the same time that it is symbolic of our general comfort levels with the idea of sexuality. I often say during talks to married couples or to young people thinking of marriage in the future, that sex is extremely important in to a marriage relationship. We all hope to be married for a really long time I am sure. And yes while we will share bank accounts, a mortgage, car-payments and various life-goals and achievements, the reality is, that most of us will spend a fair amount of our married years having sex with our spouses. Even though this is so, most of us if we’re honest are still uncomfortable talking about our personal sexuality. Yes some of us have sex but we don’t even want to discuss it with the person we’re doing it with. As a consequence, many remain dissatisfied in the bedroom or experience serious sexual conflict that seems to have no recourse, simply because the act remains so deeply hidden an issue.

So what does “having sex with our eyes closed” reveal? It can actually suggest a range of responses dependent on how you see it.

  • It can mean that we’re decidedly uncomfortable with our own sexuality or with sexual expression.
  • It can indicate that we’re savouring the experience and prefer to shut everything else out to focus on our senses. (Remember closing your eyes to relish a really sweet fruit or a succulent cut of meat?)
  • It can suggest that we’re concentrating really hard on the “action” to ensure that it’s as enjoyable as the last Cosmo article said it would be.
  • It can intimate an innate embarrassment with our own sexual enjoyment and or with our bodies.
  • It can mean that we actually hate what we are doing with a capital H and are there in body only, while being absent in “spirit”. In other words, it can reveal that we are disconnected from our spouse and would really prefer to be somewhere else.

I believe that if we had to conduct an informal poll to investigate attitudes to sex and sexuality, that women would register the greatest levels of conflict or discomfort. Yes, women today are far more “liberated” and overtly sexual than they appeared in the past; I will agree to that. The very revealing styles of dress advocated by many women today and the ease with which sex is discussed among girlfriends, would seem to suggest that this is so. However, my experience also suggests that this is not always indicative of true liberty in the bedroom or of a woman’s ability to “let go” sexually. This is especially true of women raised in conservative homes or those raised on sexual “mis-information”. On the other hand, men who are normally socialized to embrace their sexuality, tend to have less of an issue with the problem of sexual-conflict or discomfort. Instead, this is how men are validated and defined.

Conversely, society often forces women to bear much of the blame for incidences of sexual impropriety which involve men. Because we women are often blamed for a man’s sexual downfall or for his lack of sexual discipline, many of us imbibe the idea that our very potent sexuality is an enemy. If a woman has suffered sexual abuse as a girl or was conflicted by her body’s own betrayal to her abuser, she may also internalize the idea that to be sexual is to be bad (Remember Rihanna’s “Good Girl Gone Bad?). It’s like we can’t be sexy and good all at once. This can encourage a woman to withdraw emotionally, even in a relationship like marriage, where her sexuality should be freely celebrated. Internal conflicts like embarrassment or a deep sense of shame or even body-consciousness, can also lead to attempts at “blocking out” the sexual experience.

Serious relationship conflict is felt in the sack.

Unresolved issues in a relationship could also lead to “sexual-eye-closure” which is really symptomatic of the deeper issue of sexual disconnection and withdrawal. Unsettled arguments, insults, prolonged emotional abuse, infidelity which goes unchecked or un-confessed, physical abuse, and financial neglect are among the many causes which could negatively impact the sexual connection between couples.  Be that as it may, many continue to treat sex like an instinctive behaviour which they are unable to do without, while refusing to deal with the deeper, underlying challenges of the relationship. This is counter-productive and spells danger for any marriage.

Whether we are single or married, our attitude to our sexuality is likely to be a product of a number of influences. Our socialization, our personality, religious persuasion/faith, personal beliefs, knowledge about sex and the context of our relationship, can all have an impact on how we “behave” sexually.  A fulfilling sexual relationship where we are free to be the uninhibited, sensual creatures we were meant to be will only be possible, when we can experience a sense of peace, with regards our sexual selves.

This means ensuring that our pursuit of sex, matches the ideals which we hold dear. For example, if we know that commitment, integrity and honesty in marriage are the ideals we strive towards, then we shouldn’t feel pressured to “give it up” just because everyone one else is. We should also not settle and give in to the guy who really is not worth the time of day, just because he claims that he can’t live without our “honey”. We also should definitely not practise self-abuse, by dutifully giving sex to a husband who we know is sleeping around, exposing us to STD’s, beating the living daylights out of us or disrespecting us by not dealing with the critical issues in the relationship. Sex might be great and all of that, but surely we are worth a lot more than a few moments of romping in the sack.

Serious emotional or spiritual challenges with sex may require deep counseling or therapy. We may need to open up and share with a trusted friend, who is grounded enough to give some valuable insight. Ultimately, making our sex-lives better, may also mean laying down the ground-rules for more honesty and openness in the marriage, by practicing greater levels of communication.

So next time you’re having sex and your eyes are closed, let’s hope it’s because you’re in a place where you are clearly savouring the delicious enjoyment of a truly, great sexual experience.

So Men Just Aren’t Sex Machines After All!

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 goes a lot deeper than the length and breadth of the penis, or the depth of the vagina for that matter; never mind what Cosmo says! Sexual satisfaction also definitely extends beyond the latest tricks or is more than those impossible gymnastics’ positions highlighted in the Kama Sutra.

If what we understand about this study is correct, then we can gather that intimacy means a lot more to men than they have traditionally let on. If you remember anything about the movie Pretty Woman, starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, then you would recall that the prostitute played by Roberts, had a distinct difficulty with kissing her clients. She admitted that it fostered attachments and created a sense of intimacy that she didn’t exactly want to encourage in her line of work. Both women and men recognize that there can be nothing more intimate than breathing each other’s oxygen. Maybe this explains why some men subconsciously decide to lay off the smooching after they have landed their catch; perhaps it’s a means of maintaining some level of control; you know, like protecting themselves against too much vulnerability. Unfortunately, however, holding out in the intimacy department actually leads to less relationship fulfillment.

Not that I’m suggesting that most men don’t like to kiss, but other studies have shown that the more stale a relationship gets, the less kissing there often is. As sex becomes routine, several couples admit to simply honing in on what they see as the important hardware for sex; mainly the genitals. With kids to get off to school, pets to feed and jobs to get up and go to, kissing can become relegated to the trash-heap of a relationship. Whether intimacy dies because there is a lack of deep kissing or whether it is that the death of intimacy means that we no longer want to kiss and cuddle, this study confirms that relationships which are satisfying do thrive on something more than just straight-up sex.

What was even more astounding was that this cuddly stuff was more predictive of male happiness than it was of female happiness in relationships. Hmmm. Now that was a stunner. We women have been conditioned into seeing ourselves as soft, mushy, emotional and in need of lots of non-sex affirmation; that is, hugging and the like. While I do believe that this is still very true, it is also true that as women grow older, they also become more in tuned with and comfortable about expressing their sexual needs. In other words, we become more sexually complex. A woman in her late thirties, forties or fifties is more assertive in requesting what she wants from her spouse, than a woman in her twenties, who’s more concerned about how she looks in bright light.

As confirmed by one sex expert, as we women grow older, we come into our own sexually. A woman’s sexual peak tends to take place after thirty five and really takes off when she hits her forties. Men on the other hand, tend to peak in their early twenties and keep up a lot I believe through social expectations and the consumption of Red Bull (just kidding). Not that I’m suggesting that men lose interest in sex, but there is a known difference in our sexual peak points. (I honestly believe that this see-saw effect is genetically engineered to allow us to get on with other aspects of our lives; imagine how the world just might stand still if men and women both peaked at the same time; nothing else would ever get done; balance is always good)

Of course being in love and being committed in a long term relationship, will affect a man’s libido to a great extent. Consequently, what this study also reveals is that men in stable relationships are very concerned with pleasing their partner sexually; it’s more about connection and less about competition. After all it takes a class act of a man to learn his woman’s body very well and know how to keep it humming as her sexual needs change. But these findings all fit together quite nicely. As men become more settled with one woman, their desire is to be more intimate with her and this is strengthened as they kiss and cuddle and allow that attachment hormone Oxytocin to do its work. Women, on the other hand, as their relationships lengthen, experience a greater yearning for hot, steamy sex with the one man to whom they are committed. And this is of course in keeping with a woman’s rise in sexual assertiveness. These male-female differences in need, are in fact complimentary and represent a wonderful dove-tailing of cuddly warmth and hot passion.

These findings to my mind are a great plus for the institution of marriage, which has wrongfully taken a beating and the blame for many a failed sex life. There is a lot then to be said for long term relationships and the commitment which allows couples to grow sexually together.

And it’s nice to know that it’s finally official; guys are a lot more than automatic sex machines.

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.



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.