Are We All Romantic Idiots?

Are We All Romantic Idiots?

There is something deeply special, even magical about being in love. When we meet someone attractive and interesting, someone who catches our eye, we start to think about them more and more often, we begin to imagine scenarios where we’re together, we even start to obsess about them!…

We hope and pray that our feelings are returned, we imagine sweet future that awaits us in the arms of that one particular person. We beg fate for a sign that they feel the same, that we’re loved back.

The torture of uncertainty can move us quickly from beautiful images of mutual bliss to depths of despair of a broken heart.

 

What if we’re rejected? What if they don’t love us?

 

After all, how often do you meet someone as amazing as them? And having met them, how can you ever imagine spending your life with anybody else? It’s a torture to even suspect that you might need to carry on living without them…

To a perfectly reasonable, level-headed person, this emotional state can seem like insanity. Who in their right mind would ever want to suffer this way? Who would ever sign up for this kind of obsessive madness? This isn’t just about a temporary emotional turmoil. This state can last weeks, months or even years, restricting our ability to act as reasonable human beings. The in-love obsession can pull us away from our tasks, chores and daily routines, ruining our focus and limiting our sense of joy in life.

Yet, the amount of songs, books, poems, etc. devoted to romantic love is mind-boggling. Humans seem to have an uncontrollable need to express either the depth of their love towards someone special or the depth of their despair over a broken heart.

 

So, what should we make of this?…

 

Falling in love is a part of our human nature. What varies from person to person, is the strength of this obsession and how much it affects the rest of our lives. On one side of the spectrum, there are people who are profoundly romantic and can lose themselves deeply in this state – tormented, distracted and deeply melancholic until the uncertainty of their feelings is removed. This uncertainty is removed either by being loved back (in which case the romantic obsession can turn into a much calmer, safer version of love) or by loss of all hope. It’s also important to remember that here what will be important is the perception of the person being in love about reciprocity or about its lack. To an outsider, the case might seem clear but it needs to be the one in love who feels that the uncertainty is gone.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are people who do fall in love but whose romantic feelings do not affect other areas of their lives. To these individuals, someone madly, obsessively in love can seem like a crazy person, a maniac who lost all his senses and is spending his time longing after someone and sighing on end.

 

I recently posted this quote on social media, asking whether others agreed with it:

 

“A fleeting touch on the cheek from the one I adore, will be worth more than six hours in thirty-seven positions with someone I do not.”

 

I was expecting a mixed response, yet the comments were overwhelmingly positive – yes, we do prefer that fleeting touch!

Oh wow, in the world that represses eroticism, where most people I speak to would love to have more sex than they do now, even in that world we’d still choose romantic affection over sexual abundance…

 

Are we mad? Are we crazy? Or are we lying?…

 

I think not… I think that romantic love is mysterious and I think that it’s complex. I think that human beings have this incredibly special ability to love romantically which separates us from other species. And I also think that being in love is a state quite unlike anything else we ever experience.

It can send us to heights of ecstasy. It can make us plummet to depths of grief. It can drive us crazy. It can consume most of our thoughts and attention and be detrimental to almost everything else in our lives.

And despite all that, I truly believe that romantic love is deeply and incredibly beautiful. And that it enriches our lives, even if only temporarily. Besides, can you imagine our world without all the love songs and romantic movies?

Me neither!

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What If Sex Turns Bad

What If Sex Turns Bad

Some time ago I met a man who was a truly amazing lover. We were very compatible sexually and every time we were spending time together, things would get hot and steamy very quickly. He knew how to turn me on and how to send me to heights of pleasure. Orgasming with him was easy and I couldn’t get enough of his touch.

 

And then something changed.

 

One day he came to my place, we had dinner and a chat. Things soon moved to the bedroom and I was getting ready for another mind-blowing experience.

 

We started with some foreplay which aroused him visibly. He seemed in a rush to get inside me and we moved on to penetration a little too quickly for my liking. And within a few minutes he was finished and I was surprised, confused and frankly – disappointed.

 

Sexual education

 

In my work and in the content I publish online, I do my best to educate and inspire. I want to show what great sex really is and how to create it. I am very passionate about showing the world just how much is possible in the sexual realm and how to cultivate and explore our amazing erotic capabilities.

 

I talk about my own sexual experiences, I describe my self-pleasuring practices, my most intense orgasms, techniques that I found most helpful in the bedroom, etc. And I do it all not only to educate, but also in order to show that sex can be embraced as a normal, enjoyable and perfectly natural aspect of our lives. That we don’t need to feel embarrassed or ashamed when talking about it.

 

The real sex

 

However, I also want to make it clear that regardless of how hard you try, sex won’t always be amazing. At times it’ll be awkward, sometimes it’ll be boring, and on some occasions, you’ll struggle to come.

 

The truth is, nobody has only amazing sex – not even sex therapists! The less-than-perfect sexual moments happen to all of us, regardless of how much experience we have and how well we know our bodies, our preferences and the preferences of our partner.

 

Sex is always fantastic only in movies and never in real life. Real life experiences are different each time and there’s a variety of factors that need to be taken into account – how stressed we’ve been lately, how much we’ve been sleeping, how well we’ve been eating, how we feel about the partner in that particular moment and about our own selves.

 

When bad sex happens – and it will! – embrace it!

 

Learn from it, discuss it with your partner, have a laugh at it. Don’t take yourself too seriously in the bedroom, bad sex is not the end of the world!

 

Sometimes sex will be unexciting, sometimes uncomfortable and sometimes just plain bad. None of that means that you’re a bad lover, that the two of you are not compatible in the bedroom or that the spark is gone. It just means that you’re human and you’re having a perfectly natural, human experience.

 

Be open and honest with your partner and discuss your experience. Learn what went wrong and why. Turn that encounter into an opportunity to learn and expand as a lover. After all, it’s all part of our sexual learning curve!

 

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You Are Not Failing at Relationships

You Are Not Failing at Relationships

I grew up in a family with very strict catholic values – you didn’t have sex before marriage and once married, you were supposed to stay together till death do you part. This ideal was strengthened by Disney movies and kids’ stories that always ended with a vision of a blissful couple living happily ever after – in a perfect harmony of a loving, compatible relationship. And yes, my parents are still together.

 

I, on the other hand, could be at this stage qualified as a spinster by their standards.

 

According to a quick internet search, a spinster is “a sour woman who is unable to find a husband”. But somehow, I don’t feel that this definition fits me. Or the other millions of people who remain uncoupled in the modern day. Because you see, a lot has changed in a space of just one generation…

 

Of course, a lot of single people want to be in a relationship.

 

And meeting other singles is now easier than ever with abundance of social websites, apps, meetups and events. Yet, the numbers of single people in the US and the rest of the world keep growing at an unprecedented rate. So, what’s going on here? Are we getting worse at relationships? Are we failing? Or is it something else entirely?

 

I feel very fortunate that during my life the old traditional ideas of social and family expectations about my marital status have been shifting. Yes, my mum would love to attend my wedding but more than that, she wants to see me being happy. And over the years, I’ve been with different men, in relationships that lasted between a few weeks and many years. And every single one of these relationships ended.

 

This means, that more than once I found myself in tears, heart-broken and asking: what went wrong? Why did this have to happen? And even: how come I failed again?

 

These days, I no longer see the end of a relationship as a failure.

 

And I don’t expect my relationships to last forever either. I now recognize that the idea of an everlasting love and harmony is a beautiful ideal… and a very unrealistic one.

 

Let me explain…

 

Relationships are hard work. They seem amazing at first – we fall in love, we go through the honeymoon phase and we feel like we’re on top of the world. But things can start changing as quickly as within a few months. I recently asked in a Facebook post what was the longest time people were blissfully happy with a new partner, before doubts, conflict and questions started to arise. And a common response was 3-6 months.

 

So, what happens beyond that 3-6 months mark? Well, life happens! We stop trying so hard and we begin to see the real person in each other. We start recognizing that we’re two different individuals, that we both have wounding and traumas, that we see the world differently and that our life together will be much more of a challenge than we initially assumed.

 

Even further down the line we experience accumulated resentment, boredom, routine, taking each other for granted and even nastiness. Things also change in the bedroom – the mutual desire reduces, the libido shifts and nights of hot passion are often replaced by sexual frustration and feelings of rejection.

 

Fortunately, it’s not all bad.

 

People in long-term relationships usually experience a great deal of companionship, loving touch, mutual trust, warmth and emotional support from each other. As they go through life’s challenges together, they deepen their bond and enjoy levels of intimacy and connection impossible for young couples.

 

In more or less subtle ways, partners also trigger each other’s old wounding and mirror each other’s insecurities. It’s very common that people fall in love for that very reason – that their wounding and emotional needs match each other. Unfortunately, we don’t fall for the person who is the best possible partner for us. We fall in love with the person who we’re subconsciously drawn to because of our inner wounds that need healing.

 

And in this way, our partner provides an excellent opportunity for us to heal, process old stuff and grow together. And this is the part that seems most fascinating and significant to me.

 

As a sex therapist, I’ve spoken to many couples that struggled together, despite deep love they felt for each other. And I know that staying in a long-term relationship often means that at different times you’ll feel like you’re being dragged through the mud – metaphorically speaking.

 

And this process of being dragged through the mud holds gems in it – if you’re able to spot them. Because you see, when your partner is triggering you, annoying you and frustrating the hell out of you, they’re giving you an incredible opportunity to recognize your stuff so that you can deal with it. You chose them as a partner so that they can mirror back to you whatever is still unhealed, unprocessed or unloved inside of you. They can’t help doing that. They will do it every time, in every single relationship.

 

And that’s exactly what I’ve been experiencing with every single one of my partners.

 

Every single one of these men showed me a part of me that was hurting, rejected by me or hiding deep underneath feelings of guilt and shame. By simply being themselves, they kept showing me my blind spots and gave me opportunities to grow as a human being.

 

So now, looking back at my life, I see just how much I’ve grown, healed and processed in every single one of my relationships. Every single one was precious, every single one was different, and I feel a lot of gratitude and appreciation for how my romantic life has unfolded.

 

Each relationship is perfect – whether it lasts a week or 50 years.

 

One partner can trigger a small aspect of your personal development, while another one will keep challenging different parts of you for years.

 

So, whenever I meet a Someone Special again, I’ll know that I’ve attracted the perfect person to support me in growing into a better, healthier version of myself while I’ll be doing the same thing for them. And I also know that I’ll emerge from each new relationship as a fuller expression of my true nature.

 

So no, I don’t need my relationships to last forever. And I will never fail in any one of them. I will simply embrace each new one as an opportunity and I’ll enjoy every moment of it (even the messy ones full of conflict and anxiety). Because that’s what relationships are – a journey. And I’m ready to buckle up again!

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Practices for Maintaining Passion & Desire in Relationships

Practices for Maintaining Passion & Desire in Relationships

During my recent talk at Eros Festival in Sydney, I explored a topic that for most people comes with a lot of questions, confusion and mystery. I talked about maintaining passion and desire in relationships, and particularly in long-term relationships.

 

If you’ve been in romantic relationships that went way past the honeymoon period, you’ll most likely relate to the frustrating confusion that comes once the initial time of passion and hot sex is over. Because when we first get together, the desire for each other is strong, the arousal comes easily and we literally can’t keep our hands off of each other. But once that initial phase comes to an end, often so does the passion and so sexual struggles begin.

 

Please refer to my previous article where I talked in more length about a variety of specific reasons for this situation and for ways to deal with it.

 

And today I want to guide you through 3 very powerful exercises that I took the participants of the festival through. All 3 are meant to be performed with a partner but you can also pair up with a friend if you’re single. They will be much more powerful though when performed with your beloved so make sure to come back to them when you meet Your Special Someone!

 

 1/ Emotional healing

This is an extremely powerful exercise that brings many people to tears of love, appreciation and emotional release. Make sure to remain gentle, compassionate and kind during this practice both with yourself and with your partner!

 

Sit facing each other.

Partner 1 asks: “How have I hurt you?”

Partner 2 responds: “You’ve hurt me by… (leaving me alone at a party, not doing something you promised to do, being unkind with me on such occasions, etc.) It made me feel… (rejected, abandoned, hurt, sad, like you don’t care, like I don’t matter, etc.)”

Partner 1 performs the healing by stating with full conviction and honesty: “I’m sorry I hurt your feelings. I’m sorry I made you feel… (rejected, abandoned, hurt, sad, like I don’t care, like you don’t matter, etc.)”

Once the interaction feels complete, you can switch and now Partner 2 asks “How have I hurt you?” and performs the healing.

 

An important aspect of this exercise is that saying “I’m sorry I hurt your feelings” has nothing to do with blaming you or placing the guilt on you. You’re simply acknowledging that your partner got hurt and you’re expressing a regret or sadness about that.

 

If you’re performing this exercise with a friend, you can ask them: “How has your previous partner(s) hurt you?”. Once they respond, you can perform a ‘third-party’ healing by saying: “I’m sorry they hurt your feelings. I’m sorry they made you feel unseen, unloved or unworthy, etc.”

 

2/ Communicating your desires

This is an exercise that will help both of you communicate better what you want and desire in the bedroom. This kind of conversations tend to be awkward and difficult to have. So, if that’s the case, give this practice a go!

 

Bring two pens and two pieces of paper. Give one to your partner and ask them to write down all the different sensual/sexual activities they would like to do with you that you’re not currently experiencing together. Do the same on your piece of paper.

Once you’re both done, swap papers and circle on your partner’s list all the activities that you’d be willing to try. Once you’re both done, swap your lists again and discuss your results.

 

Last step: schedule all the circled activities into your calendar to make sure that they happen soon!

 

3/ Moment of truth

This is another powerful practice for creating more depth and more open, authentic connection in your relationship. The significance of this practice lies in the fact that we often choose to not disclose certain things to our partners. This might be about the way you feel about something they’ve done, about your doubts or questions you’re asking yourself about the relationship… Maybe it’s something you’re afraid to share because you fear their reaction or you’re worried you’ll hurt their feelings, etc.

 

Sit down facing your partner.

Partner 1 asks: “What have you not told me yet?”

Partner 2 responds: “I haven’t told you…”

If nothing comes to mind at first, make sure to dig deep! This kind of authentic and honest interaction will lead you both into a space of much more meaningful and connected bond and love. Remember that there’s no true intimacy without vulnerability!

 

Once this interaction feels complete, you can swap and now Partner 2 asks “What have you not told me yet?”.

 

Please comment below or send me a message to let me know how you went with these practices. They might be extremely challenging to both of you or easy-peasy. You might feel like you nailed them all or failed miserably. If the latter happens, remember to not judge yourself too harshly. The power of this kind of exercises lies in attempting them, in taking this powerful step towards fuller and more authentic connection and communication in your relationship. Because that kind of openness and courage takes you much closer towards sexual passion and bliss in the bedroom!

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Maintaining Passion & Desire in Relationships

Maintaining Passion & Desire in Relationships

Over the weekend I had an incredible pleasure and joy of being one of the presenters at the Eros Festival in Sydney. On Sunday morning, I guided a workshop on Maintaining Passion & Desire in Relationships. The talk was hugely popular and I received incredibly warm feedback for it. One of the participants told me that “It was the best talk I’ve ever attended!”.

 

Let me share with you the main nuts and bolts from my presentation…

 

Most people see being in a relationship as a safety net that provides love, companionship, family, emotional support and an endless supply of sex. The reality is quite different as most couples start struggling with arousal and mutual desire as early as after just 1 year of being together. The phenomenon of sexless marriages is on the rise and nobody seems to have answers to one central question: How do we maintain passion and desire in a committed relationship?

 

The reasons for our struggles in the bedroom are varied.

 

The most common ones include: kids, stress, fatigue, lack of time, sexual routine and boredom, body anxiety, health issues, inhibitions around our eroticism, sexual wounding and past trauma, feeling sexually rejected by the partner with lower libido, disconnection from our own sexuality and pleasure, sexual issues, adultery, trust issues and resentment…

 

This is far from being an exhaustive list but it can simply serve as a reminder of just how deep, complex and multi-layered our eroticism is. The problem is that we don’t usually have access to any quality education about our intimate lives and so we struggle to unpack these difficulties. This is also the reason why sexy tips and tricks from Cosmo don’t work: we can create a hot night at home but as long as the underlying issues remain, we’ll be quickly back to square one.

 

So what to do to create and cultivate an ongoing passionate, playful and delicious intimate connection in the relationship way past the honeymoon period? Here are some answers:

 

1/ Decision

It might not sound sexy but this one is an absolute must. Maintaining passion and desire in relationships is a DECISION. It’s a decision that we need to keep making every year, every month and every day of our relationship. People like the romantic idea of relying on spontaneity in the bedroom but the spontaneity only goes so far. There’s a lot at stake when it comes to our shared connection so we need to actively keep cultivating and nurturing it.

It’s like exercise – if you only work out when you feel like it, you might feel quite baffled when you find yourself out of shape after a while.

 

2/ Differentiation

This is a concept I learned about from David Schnarch, PhD. Differentiation means remaining an individual in a relationship, keeping your separate identity, remaining connected to your own needs, wants and desires.

People so often tend to give up their own selves in order to feel closer to a new partner. But this slowly kills the desire and passion between the two of you. Don’t be scared to remain yourself in a couple! Don’t be scared to admit that you’re different than your partner and that you enjoy different things! This kind of sense of self-identity is exactly what keeps the fire, sizzle and spark alive…

 

3/ Desire needs distance

This is what Esther Perel talks about often. Spending a lot of time together will feed and nurture your love but will weaken your passion. Give yourself a permission to keep exploring your own hobbies and interests. Go on a holiday separately once in a while. Spend time apart and enjoy your own pursuits and activities.

Coming together after a period of missing each other is an incredibly delicious aphrodisiac.

 

4/ There’s no safety in a relationship

We tend to take our partners for granted: they’ll be always there, right? We slowly stop making an effort for each other and we don’t show our best selves to them anymore. I see so many couples who are unkind to each other! And it breaks my heart.

Tony Robbins once said that if you treated your partner after years in a relationship the same way that you did in the beginning, you would have no relationship problems.

So see if you can look at your partner with new eyes, the way you did at the beginning of your connection. Recognize that they could potentially leave you and that taking them for granted doesn’t serve either of you. Find that amazing person in them that you fell in love with a long time ago. And start seducing them again…

 

5/ Communication

Loving, compassionate and honest communication is at the basis of a true, deep intimate connection. A lot of people resort to nagging and complaining in relationship and it drives people further and further away from each other.

So talk about your sex life, about your needs and desires. And then listen to each other with openness and patience. Understanding what you both need and want will lead to a much more satisfying and fulfilling connection in the bedroom.

 

6/ Vulnerability

A lot of people equate vulnerability with weakness and stay away from it. So I really want to clarify here that vulnerability couldn’t be further away from weakness! In fact, it takes an incredible strength and courage to be vulnerable in front of another human being. To be fully honest, open and authentic about our struggles, fears, pleasure, passion, desires and more takes real balls… and brings people so much closer together!

Explore sharing with each other vulnerably and openly. Allow your hearts to open fully. And watch your sex life improve!

 

7/ Masturbate

Masturbation isn’t only for single people. In fact, it’s an amazing tool of activating and nurturing your own sensual self. So when struggles in your relationship leave you feeling frustrated and empty, carve out some time to nurture yourself sexually.

It’s healthy, it’s natural and feels so good!

 

8/ Tantra

If you’re into tantric practices and rituals, bring more Tantra into your relationship! It’s an amazing tool to create more closeness, fun, connection and ecstasy into your bedroom.

And if you’re new to it, make sure to check out my Tantric Mastery for Men and Orgasmic Empowerment for Women online courses.

 

9/ Therapy

If you recognize any sexual trauma, wounding or hurt from your past, it’s very beneficial to seek out an experienced therapist who can help you move through these challenges.

Remember that unresolved issues from the past will keep spilling into your current connection with a partner until you address them.

 

10/ Play and have fun

Sex doesn’t have to be serious. So embrace your inner child and bring more laughter, fun and joy into your bedroom. Dance and strip for each other, have a pillow fight, play naked poker and do whatever else tickles your fancy.

Sex is meant to be enjoyed! Let’s have some fun with it.

 

Next week I’ll share with you specific practices that I took the participants of my talk through. So stay tuned!

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If She Loved Me, She Would Be Physically Attracted to Me

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I recently worked with a couple who was facing a very confronting issue. They both genuinely loved each other, yet she struggled to feel sexually attracted to him. He felt incredibly hurt and rejected by that. He assumed that:

 

if you love someone romantically, you should feel physically attracted to them.

 

She felt deeply confused and conflicted because she knew that her feelings for him were true. More than that, she described the depth of their connection as a “twin flame”, she saw him as her soulmate and hence she struggled to reconcile the feelings in her heart with the reaction of her body.

 

This situation is incredibly common and I have seen it countless times in my sessions, in one form or another. But it always comes down to this one grand assumption: If you love me, you should feel physically attracted to me.

 

But is that true?

 

It will really serve us all to unpack this statement and to look at all the different layers of our eroticism. Because when it comes to human emotions and arousal, things aren’t usually this simple.

 

1/ Sexual repression and shame

There are many different reasons why romantic love and physical attraction might not go together. And the most common one I encounter as a sex therapist, is sexual repression and shame that had been experienced earlier in life. These two are quite deadly for our sense of eroticism and arousal, and deeply affect our free sexual expression. A man or a woman who had been fed toxic, unhealthy ideas about their body, their pleasure and their genitals, will genuinely struggle to connect with or to activate their physical arousal. And it will have nothing to do with their partner and all to do with their own sense of self as a sexual being.

 

2/ Past resentment

Another common theme is the under-appreciated connection between past resentment and current arousal. Little hurts and disappointments that we’ve experienced because of our partner can add up and culminate in a subconscious refusal of intimacy with the partner. Also known as: “You want me to have sex with you after what you did???” syndrome. This one can be tricky because it can hide deep in our emotional body, away from the watchful eye of our logical brain. After all, it’s not ok to still feel hurt after all this time. So the body hides the grief, anger or resentment deep in the tissues to keep it away from the brain.

 

I have heard many clients insist that they don’t harbour resentment towards their beloved, only to be faced with uncomfortable truth upon closer inspection. It can be hard to look deep into your own heart and discover there something that you’re not proud of. But that’s the only way towards improvement.

 

3/ Too much togetherness

Third case is also quite common – a lot of couples I see have pretty much killed their physical attraction by overload of togetherness. And don’t get me wrong because I fully get it – it feels wonderful to spend plenty of time with the person you’re in love with. And it brings benefits too – deeper sense of closeness, companionship and emotional fulfilment. But the physical attraction will suffer.

 

You see, our sexual attraction to each other needs some separation, some missing each other and a deep sense of being your own person. Couples who don’t recognize that can love each other very deeply and will still struggle in the bedroom.

 

Of course, on top of these 3 cases, there are also plenty of other situations, scenarios and possibilities. And there’s nothing unusual, weird or uncommon about them. Almost all couples experience challenges with physical attraction at some point in their relationships. So if you feel like you might need help with untangling the beautifully complex aspects of your intimate connection, seek an experienced practitioner who can help. Overcoming this kind of struggles will work wonders in your relationship!

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