Do You Fall In And Out Of Love?

romantic_couple_sunset-wallpaper-2048x1152The idea of “falling in love” as an all-consuming passion over which we seem to have little control is standard romantic fare. We meet someone with whom there is a strong physical and even emotional attraction. We may even get to the stage where we become mildly obsessed. We can’t seem to get this love interest out of our minds. We not only think about this lucky one constantly but when we see him/her we often get all warm and fuzzy inside and our body might do things which we didn’t exactly plan for. But each of us knows that these feelings do not last. Why then do we claim to have “fallen out of love?” Do we honestly expect to maintain these heady feelings for a lifetime and what are our relationship options when this intensity begins to fade?

Scientists explain that the chemical dopamine plays a big role in those initial intense feelings of attraction. It provides an intense pleasure-rush not dissimilar from what is experienced in other addictions. The danger comes when we literally get hooked on the butterflies or on the rush and high of initial sexual attraction. If these feelings also inform our expectations of what a relationship should be, then we can experience intense disappointment when the feelings wane or absolute confusion if we experience them with someone else.   How many times have we heard a friend claim to have “fallen out of love” with one individual and “in love” with a next? How then should we navigate our relationships when faced with the reality that these feelings have not lasted?

1. Change our relationship expectations: If we understand from the outset that the fall from the high of love is inevitable, then hopefully we won’t fall apart when it occurs. We often unrealistically expect that “true love” means sustaining our original emotion. Coming to terms with the reality, that change can be a vital sign of our maturing love, should enable us to redefine the fuel which drives our relationship.

2. Desire more than feelings: It’s regrettable that so much of the literature and even music which exists about love, is based on feeling. It is important to reframe love as more of a decision to commit which is of course buttressed by attraction. Essentially, this commitment is a choice to deprive ourselves of other choices. While those mushy feelings which drive attraction may be great, they’re obviously not enough to base a lifetime of commitment on. Attraction should, however, be viewed as an ongoing dynamic which must be worked at by both partners. At the same time, our love should come from a deeper place. Knowing what makes us attractive to our spouse and working on that constantly is, therefore, also critical.

3. Understand that love is an action: Verbalizing love is great. Many of us women particularly, love to be told “I love you”. Love should however be evidenced through active demonstrations of thoughtfulness. It should also be communicated in the love-style which our partner desires and not necessarily what we prefer. Our love-style simply means how our experiences, personality and gender converge to influence how we like to give or receive love. This will mean stepping outside our comfort zone to learn and do the things which our partner may appreciate but which may not necessarily be second nature to us. So if a woman needs to be romanced or a husband needs sex to feel wanted, then we should respectively oblige.

4. Add personal value to our relationship: Very often in relationship-land we tend to focus on ourselves; on our needs and on what is important to us. Seeing our relationship, however, as a place where we can give and add value means that we focus less on us and more on the greater good of the relationship. This will require us asking ourselves “How can I improve my relationship?” or “What can I change about myself to make this relationship better?” Moving out of self-preservation mode to focus on the value which we can add, also forces us to take responsibility for our own happiness.

5. Create memorable moments: Our daily experiences form the basis for our sense of life-fulfillment. When those experiences are positive and pleasurable, we feel a sense of peace and contentment. Creating positive memories means living each day of our relationship intentionally. This will encourage us to put more thought into our actions, to think before we speak and to evaluate our core motivations for doing things. This will also encourage us not to take those daily moments for granted. While living in the moment is good, planning for future moments means taking our relationship off automatic-pilot to work towards the lifetime of love we want.

If Vaginas Could Talk They Would Never Shut Up

No I haven’t gone off my rockers. But I am quite taken by the idea of the Vagina Monologues: a series of reflective, dramatised, “speeches” which more or less trace the experiences and psychology of the vagina. These monologues express and reveal every nuance of a woman’s sexuality from pain and abuse, to surprise and divine pleasure.

As women we have come to associate our vagina with a representation of our sexuality. How we feel about sex and sexuality is significantly borne out in our comfort level with our vagina. Do we talk about it, touch it (outside of bathing), expose it, cover it up, know what it looks like, or even care what it looks like? Are we even in tuned to what the physical changes in our vagina may tell us about our sexual health?

The vagina is located deep within the pubic area so understandably, it tends to hold its fair share of mystery. Luckily, it has an entrance with a carefully placed pleasure centre, the clitoris, so even though “hidden” from view to some degree, we tend not to forget where it is. The challenge with the vagina as I see it, is not so much its logistics or location. It is more so the fact that it is another mouth, another entrance. And like the mouth, which houses the natural voice, the vagina also speaks. We just need to listen because it is never silent.

When as females we cross the bridge from childhood to womanhood, the vagina cries in bold red; it bleeds and there is pain and discomfort involved (more often than not). What is the vagina saying to us then? Could it be hinting at the fact that womanhood is inescapably a time of pain and that our lives will never be the same? When we experience that other “rite of passage”, our first sexual experience, again there is bleeding, mild discomfort, sharp pain or all of the above. If we took the time to listen to our vagina then, what could it possibly be saying? What could it be alerting us to?

Perhaps it is suggesting that pleasure is often a two-edged sword. It is great while it lasts but it does not come without a price or a risk. That is why a sexual relationship is so ultra-vulnerable. When we trust someone enough to give them our vagina we are in essence giving ourselves and by that same token we open up ourselves to the possibilities of both pleasure and pain. This can come in the form of acceptance or rejection, health and well-being or disease, true intimacy or abuse and yet all can be accompanied by the physical pleasures of the sex-act; a definite and often confusing double-whammy.

If we are in tuned to what our vagina is saying, on a regular day it can alert us to our reproductive health or status. From it we can gauge when we are ovulating, when there is infection, when there is need for a shower and happily when there is sexual arousal. Even our partners can benefit from paying closer attention to our vagina. While it is by no means the only point of sexual arousal, it is where we usually experience the orgasm and so should definitely not be ignored. The vagina can most definitely smile and laugh when its been made happy. In fact, it can scream the house down in absolute ecstasy!

Then there is child-birth. The vagina is perhaps stretched to its greatest capacity as it becomes the tunnel or vehicle to bear life. I think that those of us who have experienced childbirth, would easily agree that then it is perhaps shouting (or screaming)  at its loudest. It is at childbirth that we can become more in tuned with ourselves. For me, pain became merely a means to an end, a necessary part of the life-process that wouldn’t conquer me because I experienced it, endured it and lived to tell the tale; all with my bouncing baby to boot.

Amazingly, the vagina can seem like both enemy and friend. It will perhaps continue to hold a series of contradictions which reflect the complexity of life. For those who think that I am perhaps making a mountain out of a molehill and that it is just a body part, think again. The vagina is both the entrance to life (at conception) and it is the exit of life (at birth). It plays a significant part in our identity as women and this is as it should be. Is it any wonder that those who experience vaginal mutilation through female circumcision feel so lost and bereft, as if a part of them was stolen?

I encourage you to embrace the complexity of the vagina and learn from it. It is important that we pass this knowledge to our daughters so that they will not pass theirs around like the latest gadget or toy for the boys to try out.

There is no doubt about it. Our vagina is definitely talking; it never “shuts up”.  Let’s  practise the fine art of listening to it daily and count ourselves privileged to have one.

Are You A Size Sexy?

 

Size Sexy

 

“Fat is not the Kryptonite of sex!” Rebecca Rosenblat, Sex Therapist.

Those of us who follow the adventures of Superman, understand the impact of Kryptonite on Clarke’s ability to be super and strong. But does “fat” have a similar impact on our sense of our sexual selves or on our partner’s ability to enjoy us? Unapologetically, I say it most certainly does; not, however, because of some intrinsic flaw in having a few pounds or curves. While “fat” may not actually affect our ability to be sexy, what we think about it often does.

While some men may have a well-known preference for thickness or for the prominence of certain assets, many of us women still go to great lengths to ensure that our body size matches those images which are usually fed to us via popular culture. As a result, our sexual confidence is affected. So does size really matter when it comes to our emotional and sexual health?  Honestly, I do believe that we should all strive to be our better selves. That often includes shedding some pounds, getting into an exercise regimen, becoming more toned, eating healthier meals and getting adequate rest. In an ideal world, this is where we would all love to be. Being our better self, however, also includes knowing who we are outside the definitions of media, family, friends or sexual partners.

Each human being is special and unique. As women, we need to feel comfortable with our own sense of style and with our expression of our sexuality. This is going to be very difficult to accomplish if we are constantly beating up ourselves because we don’t look like someone else’s version of sexiness. Yes, I’m entitled to feel great if I’ve accomplished a weight-loss target but should weight-loss define my happiness and sense of self? Of course there are women with metabolic, thyroid or other medical issues which may make weight-loss a challenge. But even for them, self-validation is important. While our bodies are our windows to the world, we are in many ways more than a body. There is personality, soul and spirit.

Losing weight to make you healthier or to feel more energized is actually great. Doing it to “fit in”, to appease or to keep your partner, is another thing altogether. If a woman needs to move from an eighteen, sixteen, or fourteen to a six, to feel that she has suddenly struck gold as an individual, it’s possible that her sense of validation is shallow and overtly dependent upon externals. Anything will shake the foundation of a woman who can only feel fabulous when her dress size conforms to common media stereotypes. And why do we even encourage the double-standard since our men are usually nowhere near perfect? This striving for an elusive perfection is what is damaging to our sexiness. It can also rob us of the body-confidence we need to really let go in the bedroom or where ever our sex is happening.

What attracts a man to a woman is not the number on her dress tag but her wonderful personality and sense of sexual self-confidence. This makes her riveting and unforgettable. No matter what size you are as a woman, it is important that you learn to engage your incredible sexual energy in positive ways. The following tips could provide that head-start:

  • Strip naked and look at yourself in a mirror. Decide what you like and affirm yourself; for example, “I love my butt”, or “I have great breasts”. If there are attributes that you would love to change, devise a realistic plan and timeline to make those changes a reality. If you’re totally happy with what you see, then more power to you.
  • Think about your core personality and of the things that you feel passionate about. Find ways to engage your passion and your dreams. When we are emotionally fulfilled because we are connected with our purpose, it shows up in our walk and our talk; instant sexiness!
  • Treat yourself to a “spa-day” even if done at home; a facial, manicure, pedicure, re-locking or perm can go a long way to boost how you feel about yourself. See these things, however, as enhancers and resist the temptation to be totally defined by them.
  • If you are in a committed relationship or marriage, discuss the concerns you may have about your body-image with your partner but “own” your body and the decisions that you make to improve it.
  • Do not accept emotional abuse from anyone on issues of weight-gain. Those who truly respect you will lovingly affirm you, despite what you look like. When advice is offered, it should be non-threatening, non-derisive and sensitively communicated.
  • Understand that sexiness is a state of mind. Learn to love yourself, warts and all, by affirming that you are fearfully and wonderfully made and by thinking positive, sexual thoughts. A woman who really loves herself is ready for some good loving.

Extra Large Condoms and Other Urban Legends

The following excerpt from a chapter of my latest book,  How To Have Mind Blowing  Sex Without Losing Your Brain! looks at the issue of sexual myths and zeroes in on the major myth of penis size. I thought it would be great to have my on-line readers celebrate my book’s first year in publication (August 2011).  For more great reading on sex,  follow the link here if you’re interested in purchasing the kindle version from Amazon. For paper-back editions e mail us: betterblends@gmail.com

Extra Large Condoms and Other Urban Legends: De-Bunking Popular Sexual Myths

Men are savage sexual beasts who are always ready to have a go at it and women love to say “no” when what they really mean is “yes” with a capital “Y”. If you’re like me, I’m sure you’ve had your fill of these and other sexual myths or misconceptions. How can we hope to enjoy the best sex ever, if our minds are filled with faulty ideas and ill-conceived notions about male and female sexuality? I contend that unless we get our “stinking-thinking” right, we have a challenge on our hands. I am not simply talking about our flawed ideas about the sex act itself or about the logistics of sex but at a deeper level, I’m thinking more about our ideas and attitudes towards our own sexuality.

For example, as a child growing up, there was a popular notion that women past a certain age didn’t enjoy sex but “gave it up” as in surrendered it for more worthy pursuits, usually described somewhat euphemistically as “serving the Lord”. So peri-menopausal or menopausal women regularly believed that subsuming their sexuality at this point in their lives, was a preferred behaviour. This was after all an integral part of the self-sacrifice which resulted in higher levels of spirituality; or so they thought. Conversely, notions about male sexuality emphasised an instantaneous readiness for sex that did not depend on knowledge, relationship or even polite conversation; and to boot, this insatiable hunger changed little with age! As a result, while women were being taught to subsume their sexuality at varying points in their lives, men were being taught to unleash theirs, regardless of the consequences.

I believe that there are many social cues relayed through casual conversations or learned through observation which continue to have an impact on the psychology of sex. Although space will not permit us to challenge each faulty notion which may exist, we will continue in this chapter by attempting to unravel some of the more popular misconceptions which can impact our sexual self-concept and by extension affect the way we navigate our sexual relationships.

MYTH 1: The size of the male penis is paramount for a woman’s pleasure.
FACT: There is a standing joke that there really is no need for extra-large condoms because such men who claim to need them, really only have extra-large egos. Whether you agree with this evaluation or not, there is no denying the fact that we live in a phallus-dominant society (that is, a society where everything important to man is built to resemble the penis). From the design of lipsticks, to pens, to gear-shifts and the obvious Obelisk in Washington, phallic symbols abound. This slew of everyday tools and implements designed by men, are thought to convey their ever-present obsession with their penis.

Let’s face it, men are not only seemingly defined by sex but they place great stock in the tool designed to do the job. I distinctly remember as a young girl growing up, noticing how many males would regularly cup or cradle their genitals when talking in social settings as if there was a constant need to affirm that it was still there. While some may think that this behaviour is ample proof of Freud’s “castration anxiety” theory; (the belief in an unconscious fear of penile-loss which develops during childhood and lasts a lifetime), I believe that it also confirms men’s tendency to externalise their sexuality.

The over-externalisation of sex involves a spiritual-emotional disengagement with the sex act by focusing primarily on the sex organ as the “tool” which does the job. In this paradigm of sex, it’s the penis doing the work and not necessarily the man per se. It is this type of thinking which has contributed to the obsession with penis-size. Not only do men believe that the size of their penis relates directly to their ability to give sexual pleasure but many women have themselves bought into this notion. Failure to reach a climax for these women, may therefore lead to the complaint that the “penis was too small”.

The fact remains, however, that the greatest sexual tool needed to enjoy great sex is the brain. How we feel about ourselves; our sexual self-concept, our ease and comfort with our sexuality and our thinking patterns with respect to sex, have a greater part to play in our enjoyment of the act than any old penis. It is a medical fact that the vagina is not a gaping hole to be filled or plugged; it is an expandable space. This simply means that it will normally adapt and adjust to the size of the penis which enters it. For women who have had children and who may experience some sense of “slackness” (actually overt stretching of the vaginal wall) this can be remedied by the regular exercising of the pelvic floor muscles (imagine stopping your urine flow) and by the selection of sexual positions which allow the female’s legs to be closed. For example, the couple can lie on their side, while the husband enters his wife’s vagina from the rear.

The overt reliance on the male penis as the source of all sexual pleasure has placed an undue sense of responsibility on men for the extent of female pleasure. Right thinking women, nonetheless, must own their sexuality and understand that the responsibility for their own pleasure first lies with their brains; their thinking of and attitudes towards sex. If you’re a man, a healthy, functional view of sexuality should also mean that you understand that women are far more concerned with how they are treated and valued in the context of a relationship, than they are with pure penis-size. The sexually whole woman wants to make love to her husband and lover, not just his penis.  

© Copyright  2011 Denise J Charles.

What Your Kissing Style Says About You

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

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

Slatherers

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

Professional Peckers

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

Deep-Sea Divers

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

No-show Kissers

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

Kissers and Tellers

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

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

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

 

Always Mother

A blog about sex and sexuality which is honoured to salute the  power of  mothers who have  in  many ways,  shaped our sexual identity. I remember and appreciate my Mom  giving me  “the talk” when I was just about  nine years old (a really brave move  back then). She didn’t  just dump  the then popular book “On Becoming a Woman”  at me, but took some  time to explain a few things;  in fact she explained many things. I was so well informed that  it was easy for  me  to share with my less knowledgeable  though older friends; maybe an early genesis to what I do now (smile). She embraced my trek into womanhood and taught me how to celebrate  it. Now as an adult daughter with my own children, I know that being mother is a “life-role” that never ages with time.

So enjoy this award winning  poem “ALWAYS MOTHER” which I wrote especially for her a few years back. I re-dedicate it to her today! It resonates with both males and females because even if we are not all mothers, we all have or have had a mother and usually, she has been our original teacher of unconditional love. And to all mothers who read my blog,  have a great day!

Always Mother

I sat

on her lap

digging little fingers

under square white nails.

There was no polish there,

no shiny “cutex”

like the glamour girls

of Mod-Squad fame.

 

She never sported a ‘fro

or carried

heavy-shadowed eyelids;

just a small dusting

of pink-powder

and a broach,

with millions of jewels like a peacock’s tail

preening with pride

on a partial safety-pin.

It was the only glamour

the church allowed then,

that and the dusky gold

of a simple wedding-band

barely glinting

on a knuckled hand,

that and the glory of being woman,

the glory of being mother.

 

She always smelt

like sweet-flour dumplings

and like the spice

sprinkled in my “cocoa-tea”;

there was comfort

in the corner of her pink neck

where no moles grew.

 

My mother is high brown

or so the teacher said

at my school;

it somehow made her

more important

more queenly;

that

and the fact that

she never worked.

In fact

I had thought

that all mothers

stayed at home

and cooked soup on Wednesdays

or steamed fish into neat rolls

for their little girls to eat

with cubes of white bread

and orange gravy.

 

My Mother didn’t cling

like a vice,

she let me slowly go

like an eagerly bouncing Easter kite

nearly touching clouds,

‘till I grew up,

down the aisle

with the white dress

she had also made,

leaning ever so slightly

on the arm of my reluctant father

and when

my first son

she held,

she sang

a song of sweet remembrance,

a song of

always Mother.

© Denise J Charles 2012: All rights reserved.

 

* cocoa-tea is a special warm beverage made from powdered cocoa with spice added, used in the Caribbean.

Are You Trapped In The Relationship Maze?

Are you trapped in a relationship maze?

Many women today, from various walks of life, are making the same complaint; they can’t find a decent guy to settle down with. Most of my single girlfriends voice the complaint, that there seems to be a shortage of good men. Not to be left out of the fray, many males by their defining behavior seem to believe that the girls should perhaps just learn to share. And therein lies the problem. One of the defining characteristics of the male has been his propensity to be fairly generous in his affections and this happens to be the one trait which most of us women find intolerable! We love generosity but not when it comes to intimacies like love and sex.

So what should a girl do? Should she settle? Relax her standards a bit? Get rid of that old, never to be fulfilled impossible list? Accept the “generosity” of her erstwhile male friend? Forget her idea of an exclusive relationship which will lead to marriage? Or should she just settle for spinsterhood? Certainly, critical questions requiring critical answers.

Like any other aspect of life, relationships and our perception of them have the power to define us. From which ever quarters we gather our information, most of us have a fair set of defined standards and I’m not here to suggest that we lay them down by the riverside. It is important that we know what we are looking for, especially in the area of a life-partner. However, having had a couple of conversations with men, I am not at all convinced that the good breed has become extinct. Somehow I believe that the lines of communication have become crossed between today’s men and women and the result has been a polarization of both species. We think we know what each others’ problems are, so we have perfected the art of accusation without pausing long enough to really listen to each other. As it stands, the guys with the really canine activity get all the attention and the really decent ones get branded with the same brush and could perhaps be overlooked time and time again.

In the war of the sexes the fight is not always fair.

Now I really believe that men and women appear to be at cross-purposes because we have easily become locked into exclusive communication styles designed to keep each other out. We have developed an adversarial “us versus them” mentality which deepens our mutual suspicions and keeps each other at arms’ length. But let’s face it, in the war of the sexes, the fight is not always fair. So then how is a girl to spot a decent guy in this crazy relationship maze we have created? More so, how can such a guy get through to a girl without having his tail whacked in a trap as it were? Have we perhaps become trapped in a complex maze of our own making, guaranteed to keep us apart?

The relationship maze speaks in fact to the walls which are built between men and women, as a consequence of our flawed perceptions and mindsets; walls of misunderstanding, distrust and generalization. If we are to surmount the relationship barriers which we have erected, we first have to recognize, understand and then hopefully circumvent them in our quest for true love. Here are a few examples to go by:

What Women Say What Men Think
  1. I’m confident, independent and capable of making my own decisions.
  2. All a man wants from a woman is sex.
  3. I’m not yet ready to take our relationship to the next level.
  4. My biological clock is ticking.
  5. I wish you would be more supportive.
  1. You don’t need a man because you have it all going on; so I’m not that important to you.
  2. You don’t plan to give up the apple without a fight.
  3. You think I just want to use you.
  4. You’re ready for a marriage proposal and I’m the lucky guy.
  5. You want me to agree with everything you say.
What Men Say What Women Think
  1. I want to spend more time with you.
  2. I can’t get you out of my mind.
  3. I want you to look out for my needs; I have feelings too.
  4. Maybe we can start an exercise routine together.
  5. I want to take care of you.
  1. You want another opportunity to jump my bones.
  2. You want to wear down my resolve with sweet, flattering words.
  3. I can’t stand a sniveling guy and I’m definitely not your mother.
  4. You think I need to lose weight.
  5. You want to control me with your money.

Of course these are just a few examples which are not exhaustive by any means and according to culture and socialization they may change. They however do bring home the point that what we hear/think, is often filtered by our past experiences, the stories we’ve been told by our friends, what we witnessed as children and even by the male-female script presented in the media. The problem with this super-script is when we allow it to become gospel and accept it as the defining parameter for all of our relationships.

There will always be men who are unscrupulous and women who are users. This tendency to look out for numero uno at all costs is just a part of human nature which is unlikely to change. If we hope, however, to find true love, then we have to be willing to give each man or woman we encounter the courtesy of a “clean slate”. So if you’re hoping to get yourself out of this maze, take some advice.

Try not to lump all male and female behavior into the same mold, no matter how tempting it is to do so. Yes we do share several traits but give your new interest the opportunity to shine. Allow a guy or a girl a chance to prove themselves. Keep the channels of communication open and don’t assume that this guy is exactly like your last. Resist the urge to channel your past pain into a new relationship prospect. This does not mean acting naively or putting aside our common sense or our intuition, but it means giving that individual a brief opportunity to prove us wrong. It means keeping hope alive and not being deliberately adversarial or negative in our expectations. Basically it means practicing grace and graciousness, while admitting our own foibles.

Navigating the relationship maze does not mean dropping our guard or lowering our expectations or standards but it does mean adopting a mature response to the exciting opportunity of meeting new people. More importantly, navigating that maze also means looking inward to ensure that we are perhaps somewhere close to the ideal, we are so steadfastly looking for in a mate.

Does Size Really Matter?

Some of you might be a bit disappointed because this is definitely NOT going to be another article about penis size. But let not your heart be troubled; do read on. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed for too long.

I recently did an interview with Sexuality and Relationship Therapist Rebecca Rosenblat, on her television talk-show Sex @ 11 With Rebecca, on Rogers TV, Toronto. Before I actually came on air, she was responding to an e mail and seeking to reassure one of her viewers, who had been grappling with a poor body image and an insensitive partner. Rebecca’s statement that “Fat is not the Kryptonite of sex!” immediately peaked my interest and actually inspired this article. For those of us who have been following the adventures of Superman over the years, we well understand the impact of Kryptonite on Clarke Kent’s ability to be super and strong. But does “fat” have a similar impact on our sexuality, our sense of our sexual selves, our body image or on our partner’s ability to enjoy our bodies? Now unapologetically I say it most certainly does! Not however because of some intrinsic flaw inherent in having a few pounds or curves. While “fat” in no way inhibits our ability to be sexy or to enjoy a good roll in the hay, what we think about it often does.

Ultimately sexiness is a state of mind.

We are inundated mercilessly with media images which seek to convince us that a truly sexy woman must be a size six or under. All the stars of the really great romantic comedies, of every romantic novel and of all the music videos we watch, have a particular body type. This says nothing about the magazine cover-girls and poster girls of Weight-Watchers®, like Jennifer Hudson. Suddenly Ms. Hudson is now “living the life” and “looking like a blast” according to the media-validation and hype which now comes her way on account of her moving from a size sixteen to a six. (We wonder what her fans really thought of her before). While I’m most definitely not knocking Ms. Hudson, weight-loss (could definitely shed me some pounds) or a healthy lifestyle, it is apparent that the media convinces most of us that thinner is sexier; and we believe the crap!

Now to the million dollar questions: Can a woman be “fat” and sexy? And does size really matter when it comes to our emotional and sexual health?  Honestly, I do believe that we should all strive to be our better selves. That often includes shedding some pounds, getting into an exercise regimen, eating more balanced and healthy meals and spending more time getting adequate rest and relaxation. In an ideal world; this is where we would all like to be. Being our better self (since there’s always room for improvement), however, also includes knowing who we are outside the definitions of media, family, friends or sexual partners. It is also true that today’s “fat” and “plus-sized” is yesterday’s voluptuous. (Studies actually show that the average woman is a fourteen and not a four).

Each human being is special and unique. As women, we need to feel comfortable with our own sense of style and with our expression of our sexuality. This is going to be very difficult to accomplish, however, if we are constantly beating ourselves up because we don’t look like someone else’s version of sexiness. Yes, I’m entitled to feel great if I’ve set myself a weight-loss target and then accomplished it. But should weight-loss define my happiness and sense of self? Of course there are loads of women with metabolic, thyroid or other medical issues which may make obesity and required weight-loss a challenge. But even for those women, it is important to find and validate the self. At the end of the day, while our bodies are our windows to the world, we are in many ways not just a body. There is personality; essence, mind, soul and spirit.

Losing weight to make YOU healthier or to feel more energized is actually great. Doing it to “fit in”, to please or to keep your partner, is another thing altogether. If a woman needs to move from an eighteen, sixteen, or fourteen to a six, to feel that she has suddenly struck gold as an individual, chances are, her sense of validation is flawed, shallow and dependent upon externals. Anything will shake the foundation of a woman who can only feel fabulous when her dress size conforms to the media stereotypes. Yes, every woman loves a great make-over. No woman can deny that we feel sexier in a new outfit, with a new hairdo or with a fresh manicure. We feel ready to take on the world and then some but if we can’t leave home without the make-up or the weave, then something is inherently wrong with our self-image. This is what is damaging to our sexiness.

There are many full-figured, voluptuous women, who have never been without a partner or who are happily married and sexually fulfilled. What attracts a man to a woman is not the number on her dress tag but her wonderful personality and sense of sexual self-confidence. This is what makes a woman riveting and unforgettable. The woman who turns heads as she enters a room exudes an aura which says “I know I look good and I really don’t care what you think!” No matter what size you are as a woman, learn to do you to the max, as you engage your incredible sexual energy in positive ways.

Here are seven helpful tips that will hopefully make this happen:

  • Strip naked and look at yourself in a mirror. Decide what you like and affirm yourself eg “I love my butt”, “I have great legs/breasts” etc. If there is stuff that you would love to change, devise a realistic plan and timeline to make that change a reality. If you’re totally happy with what you see, more power to you diva!
  • Do NOT beat up on yourself if your planned changes do not emerge as you would like them; know that you are great; regardless.
  • Think about your core personality and of the things that you feel passionate about. Find ways to engage your passion and your dreams. When we are emotionally fulfilled because we are connected with our purpose, it shows up in our walk and our talk; instant sexiness!
  • Treat yourself to a “spa-day”, even if done at home; a facial, manicure, pedicure, hair-conditions, re-braiding or perm can go a long way to boost how you feel about yourself. See these things, however, as enhancers of the real you and resist the temptation to be totally defined by them.
  • If you are in a committed relationship or marriage, discuss the concerns you may have about your body-image with your spouse but “own” your own body and the decisions that you make to improve it.
  • Do not accept emotional abuse from your spouse, family members or friends on issues of weight gain. Those who truly respect you will lovingly affirm you, despite what you look like.  When advice is offered or concern expressed, it should be non-threatening, non-derisive and sensitively communicated. Abuse that becomes defining or over-bearing in an intimate relationship or marriage, warrants the intervention of a Counselor, Pastor or Therapist. Do not tolerate this as normal.
  • Ultimately sexiness is a state of mind. Learn to love yourself, warts and all, by affirming that you are fearfully and wonderfully made and by thinking positive, sexual thoughts. A woman who loves herself is ready for some good loving and the terrific sex to follow.

A Woman’s Sex through the Ages: 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s . . .and Beyond

There is so much information out there written for us women about sex and our responses to it (present company included). To some degree when we’re addressed as women, we’re all lumped together in one fell swoop. We’re told about our G spots, our orgasmic potential, our vaginas, our ability to “ejaculate”, our biological clocks, our issues with menopause, our attempts to feel sexy, our issues with men and the list can and does go on. What often fails to happen in the self-help arena, however, is the distinguishing of us women.

Yes, we’re not all alike and while variables like race, ethnicity and socialization may separate us when it comes to sex; age is also a huge discriminator. So while we might tell women to do this or do that to maximise their sexual potential, the truth is that adulthood is not one generalised state of being. Like any other aspect of life, our sexual needs and priorities will change through the ages or decades of our lives. Of course the context within which we are having sex will also have some bearing on our experience of it. So, admittedly, the casual hooker-upper, the serial monogamist and the woman in a committed relationship like marriage, will all experience sex somewhat differently. Be that as it may, as women, we can still identify common emotional and even physical responses which define our sex through the ages.

The Roaring 20’s

I got married at nineteen. You could say I was reasonably well prepared emotionally and psychologically for some of what marriage entailed. But really and truly, although I was looking forward to loads of great sex, it wasn’t something I exactly thought about that deeply. What concerned me mostly in my twenties was the logistics of sex; the how, the when, the where; even though I was deeply in love with the man I was doing it with!

In our twenties, we’re still very much into carving out our sexual identity with respect to how we have and enjoy sex. Yet we have sex with very little thought to what we’re actually doing. It’s more like sex on automatic pilot; loads of sex drive, lot’s of gas in the garage and plenty mileage. And of course we want to experience the emotional connection and all the stuff the fairy tales and romantic comedies promise us. Yet we’re still fairly insecure, and worry about things like body image and how we will look in bright light. In spite of it all, sex in our twenties is usually a rip-roaring experience aided and abetted by lots of youthful sass.

The Thoughtful 30’s

Although none us likes to admit it, by the time we reach our mid-thirties, we are in essence fast approaching mid-life. Our kids are growing (or yet being born) and we’ve likely started a mortgage and our second car loan. Being consumed with a growing family, may cause sex to become routine or even boring. So who cares about light and dark at this stage? It’s sex for basic survival where our husband is lucky if we can manage it regularly with both eyes opened.

On the other hand, at this stage, sex is still fairly important in a committed relationship and we can become consumed with making it more meaningful or better. This may lead us to attend seminars (with our husbands kicking and screaming in tow), read books or even inspire us to try to match the national average or at least keep up with the Joneses. For those who were previously single, a decision to settle with one person can also make our sex life dynamite at this stage, as we grow in sexual confidence and deliberately try to find ways to keep things heated in the bedroom. In our thirties, sex involves a lot more thought than it perhaps did before. This can honestly lead to a desire for more experimentation; which can perhaps be squeezed in between the kids’ vaccine shots.

The Flaming 40’s

I am past forty; (chronologically forty-something, emotionally thirty-nine) and I have definitely gone into another sexual high-gear. I recently told some slightly embarrassed twenty-something year old friends of mine that I was having the best sex of my life. I totally got their averted glances because at twenty-something, I would never have said that either. And that’s the entire point of this article.

In her forties a woman is oozing with sexiness. There is a certain pep in her step. She knows what she’s about, she has greater self-confidence and this transfers to the bedroom where she’s not afraid to make her needs known. Some call it her sexual peak. Gone are the days of worrying about the toning of certain parts of her anatomy or about the way the light falls across her naked body. This sexually assertive woman is likely to be more vocal in bed, and even more assertive in initiating the act. She may even surprise her partner with a few tricks of her own. She’s doing the bedroom research and totally enjoying this new lease on her sexual life.

The fact that the kids have grown up, or are growing up and out of the house a lot more often, (on their own dates/away at college), means that there is a lot more free time for mummy and daddy to play. And I don’t mean hide and seek. This increased freedom and a woman’s desire to be at her best as she ages, has a wonderful spin-off effect and the result can be an increased sex-drive (and her husband is usually deliriously happy).

The Fulfilling 50’s

Having not yet reached the big five o, I can only imagine and of course take the cues from the fifty-somethings I either know, or have read about. At this stage, a woman can finally, legitimately say, “been there, done that, will do or never do again”. Hopefully where sex is concerned there is still quite a bit of doing left as her sex-drive can still be in full swing from the previous decade.

If what the developmental psychologists suggests is true, our fifties is a time of reflection and critical decision-making. We have lived long enough to know what we want and what we won’t put up with. Sex is no different. The woman at fifty and beyond who has taken care of herself, is still up to doing a full-scale romp in the hay but it’s on her own terms, since she has little to prove. Still assertive, she is also more caring, patient and willing to be inventive to keep the sex fresh; especially if her partner may not always be up to the times (if you get my drift).

Far from pausing from men (men-oh-pause), the absence of a bothersome menstrual cycle and the absence of a fear of pregnancy can actually do wonders to a previously flagging sex-drive. While depleted hormones may add to mood swings, vaginal dryness and the like, it is the quality of her relationship, her partner’s openness and her comfort with her own sexual identity, which will impact how she experiences sex at this stage.

Since times have definitely changed, and 50 is now considered the new 40, women in their 50’s appear to be sexier than ever. It is sexiness, however, born of inner confidence and groomed in spite of the harsh experiences of life. It is an assurance that says although a woman is worth a lot more than a vagina; she can still safely call it one of her best friends.

At the same time, since our attitudes to sex begin in the brain, how we engage our thinking about sex will continue to influence how we respond to it whether we are 60, 70 or beyond. Although time will age our bodies, it is the cumulative experiences of the ageless person on the inside, not just our sex, which should continue to affirm who we really are.