Sexual Honesty: You don’t have to fake it. – By Esther Perel

“When we first started dating, we partied and drank a lot. And when I drink, I don’t orgasm, so I got into the habit of faking it. We got married and I stopped pretending, but I never told him. And now, he can’t understand why I don’t orgasm in five minutes any more. He married this hot, young thing who was crazy for sex but essentially, I lied. I want a fulfilling sex life with my husband. How do I turn things around? Do I tell the truth?” — Sarah, 32 It’s old news that women lie about their pleasure (or lack-thereof). When sex was primarily a woman’s marital duty, and it was all for him, she often faked orgasm to get it over with. But what are we to make of the fact that so many women in our “liberated” Western society still feel compelled to play the same game? One would think that an increased level of sexual freedom is correlated to increased honesty. Not so. Now that her orgasm is an important affirmation of his sexual prowess, women have a new reason to keep pretending. Her pleasure is proof of his masculinity and how adept he is in bed. I see ‘faking orgasm’ as part of longstanding gender dynamics, traditional power structures, poor sexual education, and persistent myths and stereotypes about sexual performance. Chief among them, that reaching the finish line signals the deed is done. Orgasm is not just that moment of climax; it’s a full body pleasure, not just one event. Nobody is served when partners lie about their needs, preferences, and dislikes. The...
The Five Languages of Apology

The Five Languages of Apology

Has a loved one ever hurt you and though they apologized, you weren’t able to put the offense behind you? Something about their apology was missing the mark. In their book, “The Five Languages of Apology” Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas found that “what one person considers a sincere apology is not necessarily what another person may consider a sincere apology. In essence, they have different languages of apology.” Apologizing is fundamental to having healthy relationships. The five are as follows: a. Expressing Regret: “I am sorry” The offended person needs to hear the words I am sorry. Those words convey ownership; that you realize what you did has hurt them deeply. It acknowledges and identifies their pain and ownership of your behavior. “Without the expression of regret, they do not sense that the apology is adequate or sincere.” b. Accepting Responsibility: “I was wrong” Willingness to admit wrongdoing. Own it. Conveying that what you did was wrong, unkind or insensitive. Some people have a difficult time admitting they’re wrong. Saying I was wrong does not mean I am bad. It erroneously becomes tied to their self-worth instead of being linked with behavior. Everyone messes up from time to time. No one is perfect. As one comes to terms with their individual strengths and limitations without feeling ashamed, they will be better able to own the wrongdoing. c. Making Restitution: “What can I do to make it right?” A person whose primary language is making restitution requires that the offender express a willingness to do something to make up for the pain that was caused. (When you know what...
Talking With Loved Ones When Concerned About Suicide

Talking With Loved Ones When Concerned About Suicide

February is Suicide Awareness Month and I was concerned about the staggering statistics in the rise in attempts by teenagers and young adults. Coming of age for teenagers involves shifts and changes. This transition may exhibit the emotional tug of war in loud outbursts or quiet brooding, spending more and more time away from home and with friends, and even opting for solitude rather than joining us at the dinner table.  How do we watch for behaviors that stem away from characteristic adolescent moodiness and veer into more dangerous contemplations of suicide? By 2014, suicide was the tenth leading cause of death in America, and climbed up to number two for teenagers and young adults.  1 million estimated suicide attempts are made in America alone per year, and over 40,000 lead to actual deaths.  These staggering numbers can catalyze us to understanding the vastness of the issue in our culture and inspire us to be vessels of hope to those who don’t know how to handle thoughts of suicide. There are a few signs to look for.  90% of suicides are related to mental disorders, particularly depression and anxiety. Other risk factors include substance abuse disorders, prior suicide attempts, family history of suicide and family violence, and exposure to suicidal behaviors of others.  Listen for conversations that include comments of: Hurting themselves Having no reason to live Being a burden to others Watch for behavior changes, particularly related to: Increased use of alcohol or drugs Reckless behavior Withdrawing from usual activities Isolating from community Sleeping too much or too little Giving away prized possessions If you suspect a loved...
The Gift of Self-Compassion

The Gift of Self-Compassion

  Are you one of those individuals who has a big heart, is able to forgive others, and drops everything to help others – sometimes at the expense of taking care of your own needs?   Based on a study conducted at the University of Texas at Austin, self-compassion is strongly related to happiness, optimism, reflective wisdom, and personal initiative. If you find yourself continually berating yourself for not meeting your own harsh standards, you may be crippling yourself from actually being able to be happy. Whether it’s showing up late to a meeting, eating a few extra treats during the day, or losing patience with the kids, we’re overly critical and judgmental of ourselves when we believe we have disappointed a loved one or have failed. We jump to extreme conclusions – “I’m such an Idiot! I am never going to get this right!” – and blow often trivial mistakes out of proportion. Rather than being kind to ourselves so that we can do better next time, this dramatization only increases our anxiety and attachments to the problem. Self-compassion is extending compassion to one’s self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering. It encompasses three areas: * Being kind to the self amidst failure and perceived inadequacy * Realizing that failure is part of the human experience, and * Being mindfully aware of our emotions.   Consider treating yourself as you already treat others:   Be Nice to Yourself When You Fall. Different from having a positive self-esteem, practicing self-compassion means that you are kind towards your own perceived failures and inadequacies. In the same way...

Love is in the Air: The Science of Love

“In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” Alfred Lord Tennyson. Welcome Springtime! For native born San Diegan’s like myself, have you experienced a colder or rainier season here than what we just had? I’m happy to put winter behind and bring in the new – flowers, warm weather, flip flops, baseball and … Spring fever. Is it my imagination, or does spring fever really exist? Can love really be in the air? Helen Fischer, a neuroscientist, professor at Rutgers University and author of five books on the science of love says that love is a “motivation system”. It’s a drive which is part of the reward system of the brain. There are three key components of love, involving different but connected brain systems. Lust – (the sex drive or libido) driven by androgens and estrogens, the craving for sexual gratification Attraction – (early stage of intense romantic love) driven by high dopamine and norepinephrine levels and low serotonin, romantic or passionate love, characterized by euphoria when things are going well, terrible mood swings when they’re not, focused attention, obsessive thinking, and intense craving for the individual Attachment – (deep feelings of union with a long term partner) driven by the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin, the sense of calm, peace, and stability one feels with a long term partner.” (The above components of love are also associated with the three stages in relationships.) What does this have to do with Spring? Everything in nature seems to come alive with spring – flowers are in bloom, smells fill the air, the weather gets warmer, and...

Conflict: The Pathway to Intimacy (Part 2)

In part 1 of Conflict: The Pathway to Intimacy, we learned how to identify negative patterns in our relationship and what we can do have more awareness of this destructive cycle. We are reminded to take a time out to think and go within go get clarity on what is happening within you. This may include: Your Thoughts Your Feelings Your Perceptions What You Long For or Need This should help you and your partner become aware of the negative cycle you share during times of conflict. The next step after awareness is how to improve communication between you. Use 3 Effective Communication Skills Active Listening: When your partner is talking, it’s your time to listen. Even when s/he confronts, insults, or criticizes you, you need to listen. (You’ll get a turn later). Active Listening is not about you. Listening is not an admission of fault, nor is it an admission of agreement. It’s about trying to understand what your partner is saying. Real listening conveys the message that you value the speaker. You can be angry and still be able to listen. Active Listening Involves: Reflective back exactly what you heard the other say Paraphrasing in your own words what you heard Asking clarifying questions until you get it right   Effective Talking: Before you speak, stop and take inventory first. Ask yourself the following: What feelings am I experiencing? (anger, attacked, insulted, ashamed, abandoned) What is my perception of the offense? What is the goal I hope to achieve? (Cooperation, acceptance, understanding, reassurance of love, time together, respect) How would I like this problem/issue to be resolved?...