1
Feb


While the subject of infidelity has always been of interest, modern changes in technology and social arrangements have made the issue more complicated than ever.

One prominent change, of course, is that almost all environments in America are now mixed-gender: workplaces, shopping malls, gyms, cultural and social institutions.

In addition, technology has given us many new ways of communicating and connecting erotically with others, such as the telephone, VCR, computer, Internet and digital camera. Thus, questions such as “is it an affair?” and “is it infidelity?” are no longer easily answered.

For example, say you’re having phone sex with a paid stranger, or cyber sex with someone you just “met” online. Your mate walks in, sees this, and becomes hurt or angry, accusing you of infidelity. In the hundreds of stories I’ve heard like this, responses range from “it isn’t sex, so I wasn’t unfaithful” to “since it didn’t involve touching, don’t be upset.”

When couples bring such a dilemma to me, I never define whether one of them has been unfaithful. Such a judgment can only be made in the context of an agreement. Clearly, some couples have a contract in which even looking at a Victoria’s Secret catalog is a violation. Other relationships tolerate even erotic touching of others, as long as there is no emotional involvement. So the first — and scariest — question is how each partner interprets the couple’s fundamental agreement.

Couples in distress frequently ask me what kind of arrangement I think they should have: strictly monogamous, slightly open, technologically open (cyber-sex OK, neighbor-sex forbidden), etc. This is another question I rarely answer, although I encourage people to talk about what they really want, as opposed to what they’re willing to settle for.

Ultimately, the actual agreement couples reach is less important than the fact that both partners agree to it enthusiastically, and feel optimistic about keeping it. People who feel pushed into accepting a relationship that’s either more or less restrictive than they want often find themselves undermining the agreement, consciously or not.

Couples who have the courage to face their disagreements in this area eventually end up with a stronger relationship — whether with each other or with someone else.

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Category : Blog
18
Jan


Apologies are offered and accepted regularly in successful relationships. The question is, what are you —or your partner—apologizing for?

Meaningful apologies can have several different goals:

  • Acknowledging a partner’s pain
  • Acknowledging your role in that pain
  • Implying you’ll try hard to avoid doing the hurtful thing again
  • Requesting a resumption of warm feelings

Not every apology, however, is meaningful. When people say “I’m sorry,” and don’t know what they’re sorry for, the apology is a mere formality. It neither examines the present nor addresses the future. But people do it because they feel uncomfortable with a partner’s resentment or hurt, or they’re eager to resume friendly relations. An apology seems like the entry fee.

Similarly, people often say “I’m sorry,” but then explain why you’re wrong to be upset, or why they aren’t responsible for your pain. They make excuses: “I was really tired” or “things happen.” Such an apology acknowledges your discomfort, but does nothing to assure you that things will go differently next time. There isn’t much solace in this apology.

We should hesitate to accept such apologies. If the apologizer doesn’t know why you’re upset, and can’t give you confidence that he probably won’t do the same upsetting thing again in similar circumstances, why should you comfort the apologizer? By accepting an apology, you’re saying that he’s taken responsibility and you’re ready for reconciliation to begin. This removes the healthy pressure for him to examine what he’s done, the nature of the relationship and your respective needs.

On the other hand, some people take advantage of their status as the wronged party. They drag out the process of describing their wound: “If you don’t know, I’m not saying.” Sometimes they even deny they’re upset: “What’s the matter?” “Nothing.” These strategic moves are part of a power struggle, typically played by people who feel powerless.

Couples need terms of reconciliation, sanction and surrender for the myriad of conflicts, hurt feelings, passive hostilities and thoughtlessness that litter a relationship. People need to see these structures and routines as tools to make life smoother, not as things to use against each other.

Apologizing is an ongoing, normal activity in healthy relationships. Sometimes it’s an event, sometimes a process. Used in perspective, with an appropriate dose of humor, it can deepen intimacy.

Popularity: unranked [?]

Category : Blog
4
Jan


What is intimacy and why are some of us so uncomfortable with it?

No single definition of intimacy can satisfy everyone, but here’s one that works for many people: intimacy is the feeling of being known. It’s a feeling that someone else knows your true self, and the trust that there’s a joint commitment to maintaining your connection even when it’s difficult.

Intimacy takes many forms: verbal, physical, sexual, spiritual. A relationship is all the more powerful — and intimate — when it features more than one of these forms.

Unfortunately, people may focus on different aspects of intimacy. I often hear couples complain that one is only interested in sex while the other is only interested in talking.

Everyone needs intimacy. It is so stressful for people to feel isolated that they inevitably find ways of connecting with others — even if it’s only over whiskey with strangers in a bar.

Not everyone is aware that they need intimacy. Some people are so defended against their fear of dependence, exposure or loss, that they truly believe they need no one. Sadly, they are just fooling themselves.

When relationships are troubled by serious problems with sex, affection, nagging or chronic conflict, the cause is frequently a power struggle about intimacy.

What forms will it take? What are acceptable limits? What will people have to pay in order to get what they need? In healthy relationships, people discuss these questions in various ways, and they are flexible enough to accommodate each other’s needs.

In unhealthy relationships, people attack, criticize and blame each other for the mess they’re in, rather than seeing their mess as a joint creation.

People face a fundamental dilemma: we need intimacy, but we’re afraid of it. The way in which we handle this internal struggle defines our personality and relationship style.

Popularity: unranked [?]

Category : Blog
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