Romance Articles

Authentic Versus Romanticized Love, 1 of 3: What Love Is Not

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

images-846What is authentic love in a couple relationship, and how is it different from romanticized love?

For one, by nature’s design, authentic love is not supposed to be “easy” to realize. It is a challenging life experience in which nature stretches us out of our comfort zones, in this case, inviting two individuals to stay engaged, and be transformed, by a process that grows the individual capacity of each to love and be loved, to give and contribute to own and others growth and wellbeing,  bring the love and energy they aspire to realize. In contrast, if anything, romanticized love is easy.

Before looking more closely at the characteristics of authentic versus romanticized love, this post outlines what authentic love is not:


Pornography: Ways It Blocks Healthy Sexual Relations, 2 of 3

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

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A key block to healthy sexual relations, as discussed in Part 1, is that porn depicts sexual relations devoid of emotional intimacy as “the” norm.

Whereas intimacy is an emotional sense of safety and love, a felt state of mind and body that occurs when the love and safety chemical oxytocin is released into the blood stream, and that forms an essential foundation for healthy sexual relations, pornography makes sex about body parts and treats people as objects at the disposal of other object-persons.

Here are three more ways porn blocks healthy sexual relations in a couple relationship:

2. Reinforces the idea that, for men, sex equates to self-worth

Porn promotes the notion that, when it comes to a love relationship, nothing is more important than sex, and that’s all a man needs to feel like a man, thus, to feel loved. This comes with at least two underlying expectations, that a man’s sense of self-worth depends on his female partner to: (1) never say “No” to sex when he wants it, and (2) never ask him to do things “unmanly” things, more specifically, “the love stuff” that he’s learned to associate with what women and children “need” to feel loved. An ideal woman “should want” only what already pleases him, such as sex, and thus never bothers him with petty requests, which pose a “threat” to his feeling manly.

In other words, this mindset holds that a man cannot feel loved if he’s loved, or loves, the way a “woman loves” — as if there’s really such a thing — that he must avoid this “love stuff’ to prove masculinity. 

There are high costs for men (and women) when they buy into this idea to include, that: 

  • It sets up a double standard; and in a partnership, when one partner feels shortchanged, both lose — and any “wins” are mere illusions.

This double standard says that, because sex is what a man “needs” to feel “loved like a man, and a man depends on his partner to feel like a man, a “good” woman must put aside her feelings and needs for “closeness,” and the like, to focus on what he needs physically, mentally, and emotionally, and he depends on to …


Sexual Reintegration Therapy: Healing Solutions for Sex and Porn Addiction

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

Bercaw BookCouples dealing with the impact of a partner with sex and porn addiction, according to Drs. Bill and Ginger Bercaw, face considerably greater obstacles than those facing other addictions, such as substance abuse. Because of the trauma caused by repeated acts of betrayal, healing and rebuilding a relationship will require extensive efforts.

Authors of “The Couple’s Guide to Intimacy: How Sexual Reintegration Therapy Can Help Your Relationship Heal,” the Bercaws are psychologists who specialize in sex addiction and sex therapy. The treatment approach they have developed, “Sexual Reintegration Therapy,” is specifically designed to heal the wounds caused one partner having a sexual addiction. The approach can also effective, however, for couples seeking to heal from love addiction, infidelity and other addictive patterns, as well as to improve or develop a healthier sex life.

Partners must be willing to make a commitment for the long haul, and work hard on their own individual healing before they can work in a more focused way on healing their relationship, with no guarantees the relationship will survive. In the words of Drs Bercaw,

“In sex and porn addiction, not only does the addict’s brain become ‘hijacked’ by the repetitive stimulation and then the secretiveness of his acting out, the spouse or partner is also repetitively emotionally traumatized by betrayal, secrecy and lies. Long-term healing requires rebuilding the couple’s relational system from the ground up. The added challenge is that the very thing that has caused so much pain—sexual behavior—cannot be cut out of the couples like as substances such as alcohol can be. On the contrary, the couple will need to heal from the wounds that the sexual acting out has caused and then decide how they would like to cultivate a new way of relating sexually with each other.”

         The Bercaws view the biggest challenge facing partners in recovery as being open to learning how to reconnect and be emotionally and sexually intimate after the impact of the initial shock and anguish. This involves new ways of relating that allow both to be “emotionally intimate,” perhaps seeing the other for the first time. A healthy emotional connection is what absorbs …


5 Prerequisites to Unlock Your Communications — Re-Image Your Partner As Capable of Loving You, 5 of 5

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

1021326634_f207f0dd51Certain shifts in perception are essential to unlock your imagination to work for you in creating a healthy, vibrant love relationship. To summarize the first four:

  • The first shift (see Part 2) sees a commitment to individual healing, each participating fully in your own and one another’s healing processes, as an essential aspect of relationship building.

Your relationship will make you happy, to the extent you are each open to grow, to learn, to stretch your capacity to love, to understand, and that often means to protect and know how to do your part, as needed, to bring positive energy to your relationship. You cannot afford to wait until problems are solved, and so and so does such and such first before you feel happy, loving, loved. You must each cultivate the ability to do your part to enjoy each other, and disallow challenges along the way to drain positive sources of energy inside you. In other words, even as you seek to improve your relationship, your happiness must not depend on present circumstance. Happiness is not a goal, it’s the way to live to create more happiness and other positive emotions, such as gratitude, hope, belief, appreciation, determination, and so on. 

  • The second shift (see Part 2) has to do with how you view and relate to emotions overall, in particular, painful ones that trigger you.

You need to cultivate an openness to feel your emotions, and see them as information that is vital to your decision making. When you get comfortable with uncomfortable emotions, this ability more and more frees you from the pull of old comfort zones and stuck places, and allows you to transform your fears to assets. Your developing ability to embrace painful emotions, as potentially vital information, prevents your body from unnecessarily activating your survival response when you’re triggered (which cuts you off from core inner capacities, i.e., to deeply reflect, to see new options, etc., when you most need them). In effect, this ability to remain engaged and present, and eager to learn and understand, is about developing an intimate relationship with your self, your emotions, thoughts, body and mind, fully accepting all aspects of y-o-u. To the extent you get to know and love yourself, you grow your capacity to love another amazing — albeit also imperfect being


A Gift Guaranteed to Improve Your Love Life — and Brain? Make Your Relationship a Criticism-Free Zone

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

images-888Here’s a gift to add to your list of what to get him/her on that special day, which is guaranteed to boost your brain’s capacity to work for you, and at the same time improve your love relationship. There’s one condition, however: Both of you must give this gift wholeheartedly to one another to experience its life energizing effects.

What is this gift? It’s the gift of making your relationship a criticism-free zone. There’s perhaps nothing as corrosive to your physical health as well as your love relationship than criticism, at least certain types.

To clarify, expressing what you like or don’t like are not criticisms per se. It is healthy to make descriptive observations of a problem, explore what actions or habits work or do not work, make suggestions or requests for something you’d like to see happen or stop occurring, and the like, for example. All of these, potentially, are relationship building actions.

In contrast, criticisms are detrimental to your health and relationship specifically because they are attempts to resolve issues through the use of words that attack or judge or label a partner’s character in derogatory ways. What we’re talking about here are words or phrases, such as shame-, guilt- or fear-inducing statements, which are purposefully designed to get the other to change or stop a certain behavior — in other words, to give you the love you need, etc. They are also widespread because they consist of parenting practices most of us experienced as children.


The Latest on Healthy, Long-Lasting Relationships? Three Types of Responses to Bids for Connection, 2 of 2

Saturday, December 20th, 2014

Kindness0Advances in neuroscience inform us that our brains are social in nature, and that, as a species, we’re continually affecting one another’s mental and emotional states of mind and body. This is just one of the findings reported by cofounders of brain-based therapy, Drs. John Arden and Lloyd Linfor in the January/February 2010 publication of Psychotherapy Networker. “ In their words,

We write ‘brain’ as a singular, but in a real sense there’s no such thing as one, single brain—only brains and nervous systems in some sort of relationship to one another.

As discussed in Part 1, decades of research by Drs. John and Julie Gottman indicate that the longevity and happiness of a love relationship can be predicted with 97% accuracy, for couples in which both partners practiced habits of generosity and kindness toward the other. For the long haul, it takes two to tango.


The Latest on Healthy, Long-Lasting Relationships? Both Partners Cultivate Two Key Traits, 1 of 2

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

Kindness1It seems unfair. Of the many couples that get married each year, hoping to find lifelong companionship, lasting joy, friendship and fulfillment, only about 50% will stay married, and of those that do, the vast majority, about 70%, devolve into arrangements that are unsatisfying at best, and dysfunctional or even destructive at worst.

Cheer up, however. These trends are not necessarily bad news, at least not if you think of them as information regarding what works — and doesn’t — to create healthy, vibrant couple relationships! They speak to key elements that relationships need — must have — to stay alive and thrive; and they also point to unrealistic yet prevailing expectations that need to be identified, let go of and replaced. Why? Expectations are life shaping agents. If they form thoughts, beliefs and behaviors that limit the capacity of men and women to nourish and strengthen their love relationship, they are set ups for failure.


The Shadow Side of Falling In Love: The Power That Drives Addictions to Love, Sex and Romance

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

Forever-April-1__97671_zoomWhereas genuine love fosters a mutually empathic connection between two persons, one that nourishes the mental, physical and emotional growth and capacity for compassion and self-actualization of each, the neurochemistry of love relationships can morph into a dangerous mix of drugs more difficult to part with than alcohol, cocaine or heroine.

Notably, we use many of the same words to describe the personality shift observed in those (our self included) we experience to be “in love” and those with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, such as: impulsive, foolhardy, dependent, obsessive, compulsive, heedless, cavalier, negligent, reckless, irresponsible, and so on.

A meta-analysis study by researchers at Syracuse University revealed for example that the state of “falling in love” takes only about a fifth of a second to occur, and is potent enough to impair the higher thinking areas of the brain. Its potency lies in its ability to elicit the same euphoric feeling as cocaine.

In a word, the wiring of our sensory brain and body — when not modulated by our ability for conscious-mind awareness to influence decision making — can leave us susceptible to falling in love with the state of “falling in love” itself. It has to do with the power that certain sensory cravings have to switch off the frontal cortex (ability to consciously think and make optimal choices). This explains why an addiction can be such a controlling factor in a person’s life (and relationships).

Biologically, the human body is wired to gravitate toward what produces comfortable, feel-good sensations in us — and correspondingly to avoid what produces pain and discomfort. Conceivably, the highest purpose of this design feature is to prompt us to stay on track (to both survive and thrive). Ideally, our body reminds us, on the one hand, to avoid what is unhealthy, harmful or a threat to our survival, and on the other hand, to keep reaching to fulfill core drives to matter and live meaningful lives.

In the state of falling in love, these sensory signals consist of a potent mix of chemicals, which have the power to relegate our otherwise amazing human brain and body — a sophisticated communication system like no other — into a slave driver that steals our ability to make healthy choices (consider costs) with vehement and …


Pornography: Guaranteed to Block Healthy Sexual Relations, 1 of 3

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

images-160Based on decades of research, marketing strategists know what few consumers come to realize, and that is: (1) beliefs are the most powerful catalyst for shaping human behaviors — and (2) beliefs can be altered subconsciously, without consent or knowledge.

How does it work? By associating carefully crafted ideas that spark emotions of pleasure or fear (or both), accordingly, with preexisting human emotion-drives (hardwired value system), and repeating these ideas over and over.

Sociologically speaking, when it comes to shaping cultural values, this means mass media has been a formidable force, a top competitor for the hearts and minds of children and adults alike — once primarily socialized by family and in varying degree other key institutions such as education and church.

Arguably the game-changing mass media to ever enter the equation of what socializes and shapes men and women’s thoughts, beliefs and behaviors, truth be told, for the worse, has to be the porn industry.

The inside knowledge of how human beings learn and change per se can be beneficial.


Predictors of Infidelity: Why Do Partners Cheat?

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

images-492Though men and women’s sexual behaviors seem to blur on TV, movies and entertainment, researchers and professionals who treat couples indicate key differences persist.

In a recent study of predictors of infidelity in couple relationships, the findings overall indicated men and women overall seem to follow the stereotypes. The focus on sex, performance, variety and frequency tends to be driven by men, while the focus on emotional connection and nonsexual affection by women.

Drs. Mark, Janssen and Milhausen found no significant differences in rates of infidelity of men, with 23 percent for men and 19 percent for women, however, what predicted infidelity differed for men and women. Predictors for men in the study had more to do with personality traits, such as performance anxiety, a propensity for getting sexually excited by triggers, and so on, whereas relationship factors, such as emotional intimacy, partnership, feeling ignored, craving closeness or affection, etc., carried significantly more weight for women.

The reasons women cheat seem more related to unfulfilled expectations or failure, their own or partner’s, with regard to developing a deeper emotional connection. In contrast, author and sex addiction expert Robert Weiss states in an article on why men cheat that when it comes to sex, “men tend to be most aroused by a visual succession of body parts and sexual acts” where as women are “aroused by sexualized and romanticized emotional connections between people more than body parts.”


 

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