Category Archives: intimacy

Signs your dating an unstable person.

She/He has no history of long term or significant lasting relationships. Most emotionally healthy individuals have a dating history of at least a few relationships that demonstrate some stability or consistency.  When they describe why things didn’t work out there is a sense of balance for both parties. If the person your dating seems to carry immense hostility with ALL their  X’s or if they refer to themselves as always being the “victim” of  prior relationship failures, it’s a big red flag. This is a sign that there is no or little insight into their own prior mistakes or failures. They are quick to blame everyone else for circumstances not working in their favor.

Her/His job history is unstable. And it’s never their fault. You may hear things like: “They don’t like me”, or “I had a horrible boss”. If someone has personality problems they rarely own their mistakes and are quick to blame everyone else. Healthy individuals are able to see areas of themselves that need improvement and they accept responsibility for their part of a problem, and hopefully learn from the experience.

She/He fights or is often rude to authority figures, friends, co-workers, or service staff. Of course everyone experiences a bump in the road now and then with other people. Yet his or her life seem to be filled with excessive drama including frequent interpersonal conflicts that seem petty. Chances are this person has a lot of trouble getting along with people.  They may lack social skills and view others in extremes. More specifically, they will vacillate between highly regarding a person one minute then devaluing them the next. If the person your dating  is struggling to get along with lots of other people then eventually, they are going to have trouble getting along with you. 

She/He irresponsible with money or has excessive debt. Enough said.

She/He has few or poor boundaries. Going through your personal things, checking your phone, going through your wallet or purse, frequently creeping your social media and overly questioning you about pictures or people. Emotionally healthy individuals are respectful of you, your time and your belongings. Your allowed to go at your pace with how, when, how much and if you share. Healthy individuals have enough self esteem and clear perspective to know that kind of behavior is inappropriate. If you feel your personal space is being infringed upon don’t second guess yourself. It’s happening. 

 She/He becomes overly attached too quickly. Emotionally healthy individuals  will remain consistent with seeing their own friends and continue to attend activities even after you begin to date. Their life doesn’t stop. That’s not to say that you aren’t excited to spend time together, or that adjustments aren’t made, by you mutually; there’s a difference. When dating begins a grounded person will maintain a balance between living their own life, maintaining their own interests and activities and sharing time with you. It’s all about balance. If the urge to merge happens too fast it’s a red flag. Remember decisions made together is one thing, being held to an expectation when your not ready is another. 

Nothing takes the place of using your own instincts and following your gut. When you begin dating someone and there are things that bother you, listen. Usually break ups occur over things you probably noticed early on but choose to ignore. It is a lot easier to start a relationship then to get out of one. 

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5 Signs your relationship is in trouble.

  1. You find yourself feeling “indifferent” about things. It seems that the things that used to upset you, or that you put emotional energy thinking about has declined. If your the jealous type, maybe you find your much less concerned. Perhaps you aren’t as invested in “fighting” for the time you spent together before. Maybe it doesn’t matter if you spend more time alone or with other people then with your person. Did your birthday or anniversary go by and you didn’t get a card or a hug? This is the beginning of big problem. Feeling indifferent is not a good thing.
  2. Sex has gone down the drain.    Whether it be the frequency, the quality or maybe your overall interest. You just don’t find yourself caring about whether it happens or not. The looks you once gave one another, the flirtatious cute comments, maybe your attention to detail about how you look when you go to bed. 
  3. There is less “coupling”. You don’t do things together as a couple. Think of it like this: if you find you are spending more time alone or with friends then you do together, it’s a red flag. The time that you both carved out to go out to dinner alone, or go on a trip alone together (even a simple day trips), or spending time as a couple to enjoy one another’s company doesn’t happen often if at all. 
  4. Intimacy has become non existent. Don’t confuse intimacy with sex. Intimacy is emotional closeness and connectedness. Your discussions with one another rarely include words like ” I love you” or “I miss you”. There is a lack of emotional vulnerability and openess between you. A distance. When this happens over time; refer back to number one. You stop communicating with one another. Don’t confuse talking with communicating. Communication involves active listening, eye contact, being emotionally present (not folding clothes or staring at a phone while your interacting).
  5. You spend more time unhappy in the relationship then you do feeling happy. This doesn’t mean of course you should feel “happy” all the time. Life throws things at us that we have to manage. Our jobs, our families, money issues, issues with the kids, the washer & dryer on are the fritz. When I say happy, I mean do you feel a sense of being “emotionally fed” in your relationship. Are you receiving the emotional things you need? Are you getting something/anything positive from the relationship for you? Is there a sense of emotional reciprocity? It’s surprising when I ask this question to individuals who are part of a couple how often I receive a blank look. Do you feel loved? Do you feel valued & respected? Do you feel pretty or handsome to by him/her?  Do you feel understood?                     
  6. Do you find yourself frequently fantasizing about living a different life without your spouse? how much time? day dreaming one day or has it become the  secret place you go in your head to feel it’s possible? 

 Intimacy and emotional safety is the cornerstone of predicting longevity in any relationship. If you have intimacy that’s a good thing. if you don’t it may be time to get couples counseling to discuss why one or each of you is not feeling safe and why. This is how emotional and physical affairs happen. 

Marriage can be a precarious place for women in their 40’s…

When a married woman reaches 40, and often older, her life begins to change. The children she longed to have are growing older, her education has begun to pay off as she has developed her own career. She is earning her own money and is contributing to the household income, often significantly. She has developed a broad and strong support network of other women and co-workers who she trusts, and who provide her with emotional support in addition to social outlets. She has matured. She has developed a “net” for herself. She has reached a different place in her life, emotionally.

The decent, loving, stable, nice man she met 15 or 20 years ago, now her husband, is a good father and provider, and yet she discovers that she does not need him in the same ways that she once did.  So why are so many women at this life stage finding themselves questioning their own feelings and asking themselves “Am I crazy for thinking about leaving?” He doesn’t drink heavily, he’s loyal, he is smart, he loves me, he doesn’t run around at night, and we get along. Slowly, her life which use to feel very fullfiling suddenly feels vanilla. When she speaks to her family and friends about her feelings she hears “What is wrong with vanilla?” or “are you crazy? he’s such a good guy and father you should feel lucky! I think there something is wrong with YOU!” So, she tells herself that she just can’t leave. She can’t justify it. And she can’t hurt him. Her feelings are suddenly not as important as these things in the face of logic. She tells herself that she really has no good reason to leave. She just can’t get out. Marriage is a commitment and it has its ups and downs right? And besides things can’t always be exciting that’s unrealistic. There are dips in all relationships. So she waits, hoping things might feel better. She may ask her husband to go to counseling but he’s not really doing anything wrong. It’s her own emerging feelings that are driving her ambivalence. She says to herself “If I can only hang in there another few years until the kids are done with high school”. The safety, consistency, and love, she once felt, the children they have together  shouldn’t it all be enough? These things once gave her great joy. Yet SHE has changed inside. Her emotional needs have changed, she has grown, she finds herself feeling lonely in the marriage. These are some conditions that often create a dangerous and vulnerable environment and for an affair to be set in motion. Women having affairs isn’t talked about much in social media, but it happens quite frequently. Women simply aren’t as comfortable revealing or owning such behavior.

Many of the reasons that woman marry when they are younger are fulfilled by their 40’s. By that time they are much more comfortable in their own skin and more emotionally mature. Later in life they can  provide for themselves, and the emotional needs they had in their 20’s have been realized. They have also become more comfortable and secure with themselves and the world. Emotionally, they have a built a network of friends and support, financially, they have begun to make their own money, martial sex has become flat as the emotional connectedness has diminished. Conversations have become dry and routine. It is often described to me as an ” unexplained emptiness” never felt before. The desire remains to have a partner yet she doesn’t NEED to be with anyone. She is filled with guilt, angst and confusion.

Of course all relationships go through ups and downs. Especially those that span a decade or more. The stress of raising children, financial changes, job changes, experiencing loss through death, and tragedy that is just life. Couples therapy can significantly help with recapturing the intimacy and connectedness lost over time. It cannot however, change an individual’s  sense of who they have become or how they feel. If one person in the marriage is not “all in”, no matter how wonderful their husband or wife may be, it might be time to change direction. Feelings are feelings, needs change, what you have to offer now may not necessarily be enough 15 years from now for your spouse.  Women are emotionally dynamic and organic creatures. Sometimes it may be about the relationship. Sometimes though it may just be about us. 

Can you handle the truth?

Getting honest with yourself is hard.
Staying honest even harder. It’s so much easier to avoid, ignore, compartmentalize, and just turn our heads the other way. We can. We do. Doesn’t everyone? Well, eventually we pay for that detour. It hits us over the head one day and forces us to look at that old and familiar ugly mug of reality. What we have refused to acknowledge, what we minimized, sneaks back to visit us through the back door. Lying to ourselves can be so much more comfortable then honesty and vulnerability. Whether it be avoiding looking at something inside of ourselves or doing emotional reconnaissance on someone we love.
Is living in denial a bad thing if we are enjoying the ride? Or does acceptance of the obvious eventually give us a longer ride at the end?
Insight is cheap unless we are willing to do what’s hard.
Making honest choices based on truth. A comfort zone is a wonderful place, but nothing ever grows there.

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Toss the Mask..

Do you wear a mask? What do you not want others to know about you? This gets to the center of your fears and insecurities. Everyone, yes everyone has baggage. Things they struggle with or things that make them feel poorly about themselves. Some are better at hiding then others, some ignore it and their issues end up “leaking” out in other ways in their behavior or through an addiction. It takes a tremendous amount of emotional energy to hide parts of oneself. Especially the things that bring us shame. It keeps us isolated, afraid and often left to feel very alone. Our perceptions can become distorted about how we see others and ourselves. It really becomes a lot of work and makes life so much harder on us.
When we hide who we really are, it keeps others from truly loving us. It keeps us at a distance from others and that prevents us from having and developing closeness and intimacy. When you do something you feel was an error in judgement or a mistake acknowledge it, talk about it, be open about it, but don’t hide it. Own it.
You will feel “cleaner” emotionally, not only because you were honest with yourself but you addressed it and you took the step to share it with someone. Those who truly belong in your life and love you will see the mistake you made but more importantly they will see you, more then the mistake itself. Everyone has problems everyone makes mistakes, and everyone has things to work on its just part of being human. Acknowledging it and working on it separates the wheat from the chaff. Be who you are. Let people you care about see you.
Toss the mask, your worth it.

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Loves Imperfections

There is little perfection in love
For as much joy and happiness that fills us there is as much equal despair and disappointment. The magnetic pull that keeps us safe and warm equally drags us into a grief of cold loneliness.

The perfection of love is only marked by moments we have to cherish that infuse our hearts with memories and feelings that keep us moving forward with our hearts bursting. It is what drives us to keep going day after day.
Our education, our children and families, our cultures, our hard work in our jobs, all the sacrifices we make, the letting go of things we wanted, the compromises we make, the changes we want to make in ourselves.
And all the things we tell ourselves that keep us in a state of bliss or denial.
Nothing is anything without love.
Happiness is ephemeral.
Success is gratifying.
Wealth brings safety and freedom.

Without having love our existence is only grazing the surface of life.
It is the only thing there is that can fill the holes in our soul left by things we never had or never knew we missed.
It is the only thing that arrives and departs on its own accord.
Hard work doesn’t bring it to us
Money does not summon it’s call
Nothing is anything without it.
Love is fragile. Treat it and others you love as your best art. Put it in its best light, and hold it close.

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Sex..we all secretly want it.

Masters and Johnson once said

good sex begins while your clothes are still on

We cannot have a good sexual relationship with our significant other without having a good relationship. Of course, not all sexual roadblocks are a reflection of the relationship, some may be physical. That being said, intimacy, emotional closeness and being vulnerable are pivotal to every marriage. Self-disclosure, sharing personal information and feelings with your partner is essential to our ongoing bonding experience. Time moves forward and we grow and change as individuals. As we have new and different experiences, our personal views and feelings change. It is important for us to share current feelings and thoughts with our spouse to keep them in touch with our inner lives so they may share our inner life. In essence, this is intimacy. If we work on improving our connectedness with our partner, sexual intimacy will drastically improve; the quality of our relationship will improve and happiness as well as fulfillment will return. So many marriages lose this over time, and sex is generally the first indicator that the marriage is in trouble. Sex is a very important component of marriage.

We can create with our partner, whatever kind of sexual relationship we desire. But this requires TALKING WITH one another. There are so many marriages that neglect the elephant in the room.

I see couples that go several months and even years without having sex. Why is it that something so important and that feels so good can be so easily placed on the back burner for so long? I have heard many rationalizations:

We are too busy with the kids, we both work and are too tired, there is no time, one of us is not in the mood, women often say they are not happy with how they look or feel physically (I feel fat, I don’t like by body right now etc.) our timing is often off, kids are in the house, we have visitors, blah, blah, blah.

Of course there are always circumstances when these things are true. But if we allow ourselves to go too long without being with one another sexually it becomes like having to get your rugs cleaned.You know you have to do it, but you just keep putting it off because it starts to feel more like something you should do rather then something you want to do. Yet when we finally do have sex we say “ why don’t we do this more often?”

There are several things that you can do to bring sex off the back burner and into the open again:

  • The bedroom is for sleeping and sex. Nothing else, no electronics allowed  (Smartphones, tablets, TV, computers, PS3, etc.) Leave those things in the kitchen or in another area of the house before bed. How often do you find yourself along with your spouse while in bed looking at your phones, at Facebook, working on your laptop, reading emails, texting or playing a game? Stop it! Really look at each other, talk about your day, connect, touch one another, and remind yourself what it is about your partner that you love so much. And it’s ok to be affectionate WITHOUT having sex.
  • Don’t always wait to be in the mood. Sometimes just go for it and stop over thinking so much, and try not to be so serious.
  • Don’t go to bed angry. This is a tough one, and requires each of you to keep your side of the fence “clean” and not hanging on to things that may have upset you for weeks on end. An exercise I ask couples to do who struggle with taking the time to connect, is to take 15 minutes one day a week, to talk about how the week was, if there was anything that occurred that was hurtful, bothersome, or even positive and share it with one another. This cannot turn into a marathon discussion, or you will lose the goal just connecting. One at a time each of you talks and the other listens. Listening means listening, not defending or making excuses why you did what you did or said what you did. It means hearing your partner’s feelings and thoughts to try to understand how they feel. This simple exercise can dramatically purge things that weigh on you or your partner and not only free you up emotionally, but bring you closer.
  • Remember Romance. Even simple gestures such writing a love note, giving a random long hug, offering a backrub, scrolling a heart on the shower door or bathroom mirror with an ‘ I love you’, feels adoring to the receiver. The next time your partner gets in the shower he or she will see it and smile. How about a kiss to wake him/her up? Or a random text or email during the day that says “ I’m thinking of you” Flowers and small gifts for no special occasion are always a nice surprise but buying things isn’t always necessary to communicate your love.
  • Compliment or praise her/him more often (if you have children you can do this in front of the kids, this is especially powerful to the receiver) you’re a wonderful provider and hard worker, you’re a good father or husband, you’re a loving and special mother or wife, you’re a reliable partner and friend, you’re so talented at what you do for a living. We all need and want to hear these things from the person we love and cherish the most. It makes a difference and goes a long way.
  • Teach your spouse what you enjoy and what feels good to you sexually. Teach them about your body  When a couple comes in for issues surrounding lack of sexual activity, I ask with both partners in the session, if they know what each of them like sexually. Where do they like to be touched? Where do they not like to be touched? How do they like to be touched? The neck? The ear? The chest? The belly? etc. These are the areas where foreplay comes into action. Most of the time, believe it or not, the answer is, as he or she looks at their spouse sheepishly “ you know.. I don’t know”. Learn all you can about your partners body. Spend time touching one another asking questions, experimenting, discuss one another’s sexual fantasies, try different positions, TALK to one another. I can promise you there will be things you will learn and experience that will surprise you and this will open a new area of your relationship.
  • Look at each other. In supermarket psychology this has been called “soul gazing”. It is not staring it is looking. Look in your partner’s eyes, for a few moments in a quiet place. This is not an intellectual exercise it is an emotional one. What do you see? What color are his/her eyes, what sense do you get of them? How do you feel? Experience them. Many people who struggle with intimacy struggle with this exercise because it feels awkward or uncomfortable. They are looking for a specific “thing” instead of having the experience itself of connecting on a non-verbal,         non-sexual, level. Remember it is the inner experience you feel and the emotional experience     that occurs when you both really look into one another

Research is consistent with reporting that there is a link between feeling satisfied sexually in our relationship and overall quality of the relationship. I think we should all not only start talking about the elephant in the room but doing something to make ourselves and our marriages more of a priority. We make time to work out, we make time to get our nails done, we make time to watch football, we make time to go the salon, we make time to do things that are important to us.

Make your partner and your marriage a priority. When we don’t, we only drift away from one another   and there is way too much of that going on nowadays.