Lubing Up Your Relationship: 5 Steps For Better Communication

We’ve all been there–unexpected friction, dryness, and chafing, preventing us and our significant other from reaching completion. We can try to push through, hoping that mere effort will win the day. We can give up, hoping that the same problem won’t plague us on our next attempt. Or we can take action by applying a restorative balm and rescuing ourselves from discomfort and failure.

While the above could certainly refer to the physical act of lovemaking, it also applies to the less salacious aspects of a relationship as well.  Communication is the non-sexual lubricant that every romantic partnership needs to flourish.

Naturally, not all communication is created equal. Just like sticky drugstore lube is no match for a designer water-based brand, some communication will set your relationship back rather than helping you and your partner to grow and flourish together.

Here are some tips to keep your communication–and your relationship–silky smooth.

Keep Communication Smooth

In our hyper-connected world, sometimes it can be tough to make sure you’re making time for high-quality, in-person communication with your partner. If your communication has dwindled to a few pleasantries over breakfast, an occasional flurry of daytime texts, and a couple of exhausted attempts to chat before bed, it may be time to reconsider your approach. Set aside a special “date night” every week and pledge not to look at your phone—you’ll be surprised how much you still have to talk about! Alternatively, set up a short weekly “check-in” with your partner to make sure you’re communicating about household issues, personal growth and work goals, and see how that impacts the amount of communication you have with each other throughout the day. If time is an issue, look for activities you can do together to maximize your opportunity to chat—exercise, cook a meal, take a class.

young man in leather jacket is whispering something to his lover

Honesty Lubrication

Whether you’re discussing pop culture, division of household duties, or finances, it’s always a good idea to be truthful. This establishes a baseline of trust and accountability between partners, and in addition, eliminates potential sources for conflict before they arise. If you and your other half have different communication styles, acknowledge this openly, and figure out ways you can both feel heard, but still comfortable.

Glide into kindness

When you and your partner first started dating, it’s likely that you both let compliments fly fast and furious. However, it’s easy to forget how good it feels to give and receive compliments once the initial rush of a new relationship has worn off and both partners get caught up in the grind of daily life. A simple “hey, handsome” or comment about an attractive outfit can go a long way to injecting some fun back into the relationship, and praise for a job well-done, whether it’s mopping the floor or closing a deal at work, is always a boost.

Keep Language Smooth

What you may think of as a playful joke may come across to your partner as a thoughtless comment or worse, a harsh criticism. Keep an eye out for unexpected reactions and be proactive in asking whether or not you’ve said something to upset your partner. This is a two way street—if you’re on the receiving end of not-so-nice behavior, make sure your partner knows how you feel so you can work toward interactions that make everyone happy.

Couple beauty sexy lovers talk in bed isolated

Soothing the Rough Edges

All couples experience disagreements, arguments, and fights, but the couples who stay together approach these difficult times as opportunities for growth rather than a death knell for the relationship. If emotions are running high, don’t be afraid to ask for a temporary “cease fire” so everyone can calm down and think more rationally about how to solve the problem.  Find ways to balance negative feedback with positive and enter into any discussion willing to accept constructive criticism as well as dishing it out. If you can’t get on the same page as your partner on an important issue, consider seeking counseling—sometimes a neutral, third party can ease the way to a resolution.

When in doubt, just remind yourself: the couple that talks together stays together!

Unleash Your Sexual Goddess, Regain Your Confidence

There are many ways to connect to sexiness that don’t require sex!

Married women can rediscover their sexual confidence via their bodies and brains.

Let’s talk about sex and marriage—they do go together, don’t they? Not if you ask many of my clients. In fact, it seems like the number of marriages with little or no sex is increasing.

Sexless marriage is not a new phenomenon. In a 2005 Family Circle national survey, 21 percent of married women said their sex lives were boring and routine, 21 percent reported having no sex life at all, and almost 50 percent said they had no desire to have sex with their partner.

Where are all of the sexually confident women, and why have they disappeared? Many of my female clients considered themselves sexual goddesses in their single lives. What makes a woman go from a spirited, sexual single woman to a bored, frustrated married one? The Truth About Sexless Marriage

Top View Of Playful Young Couple Enjoying In Bed

Here’s the answer: These former sexual goddesses are sleeping next to the same partner night after night, wondering where their desire has gone and if it will ever return. Their partners are no longer pursuing them like they did when they were dating, and they feel ugly from childbirth and aging. After a while they decide that their unsatisfying sex life is normal, and is the price you pay for a stable relationship and strong family. Little by little their sexual lives become as dry and tasteless as an old piece of toast. Where’s the butter?
There are many reasons married women lose their sexual confidence. Let’s explore two of the main issues: the body and the mind.

beautiful plus size woman diving in pool

First, your body. It’s hard to feel beautiful with a postpartum body, complete with stretch marks, flabby tummies and a chest that has gone south. Add to that the fact that many women use food to medicate emotional pain while comparing themselves to air-brushed models, and it’s no wonder that married women feel inadequate.

Let me tell you something I’ve learned from working with hundreds of couples, and from hearing husbands talk frankly about their wives: Men do not care about your postpartum body. They DO care about your sexual expression.

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Is this Love or Convenience?

Have you ever run into someone you knew from school when you were in a different city? Even if you barely knew them before, you tend to act like you were best buds. That was what happened to me when I moved to a new city and unexpectedly ran into someone I had known from Montreal.

Antony had been a good friend of my sister’s, and also a friend of an old boyfriend. He had been married when I knew him last, and though we had socialized quite a bit I didn’t know him well. He was attractive and funny, and I liked him a lot.

Running into this old acquaintance when I felt lost and a little bit lonely, resulted in that acquaintance quickly morphing into my new best friend. Suddenly I had an ally, someone to say “…do you remember when…” and all too soon we were dating, and making plans for a mutual future.

Cheerful couple in a restaurant with glasses of red wine

Antony’s first marriage had been great, except for one thing, they couldn’t have kids. I don’t know all the details, but it eventually broke them up. He was a good Italian boy, and his Mama wanted grandbabies. I was listening to a ticking clock, and wanted to be a Mom.

I met his parents, they loved me, and soon, way too soon- we were engaged! When the fireworks stopped we realized that we didn’t really know each other. We had very little in common, and very different interests. I was a flower child, he was a rocker.

After six months we drifted apart, we saw each other a couple of times a week, but were finding excuses to be apart. He stopped buying me flowers every payday, and spent more time in his apartment than in mine.

How to Argue–From a Debate Professor

Couples argue. When two people share a life (and thus a lot of time) together, it’s unavoidable. Whereas you might feel totally comfortable telling a coworker or friend where to stick their unsolicited opinions, the stakes feel higher with a partner. You care about them. You want them to be happy. But sometimes… you just want them to see that you’re right and they’re wrong and to stop being so difficult. I hear you.

Arguing can be a good thing for a relationship if you do it right. Now, I’m not a psychologist, relationship expert, or professional mediator. What I am is a former internationally competitive debater and teacher of debate. Since this is a safe space and we’re all close, personal friends I’ll be honest: I love to argue. I love the pace and exchange and demand that I think on my feet. My partner — a truly wonderful and patient human — does not find this to be my best quality. I’m here to tell you that there are approaches to contentious moments in a relationship that ensure your voice is heard and can even strengthen your connection.

“The Pregame”

Many arguments are rooted not in the topic being argued, but the perception of what the argument says about one of the involved parties. The best way to mitigate this kind of dynamic is to make a habit of being supportive and constructive in common conversation with your partner. When they say something insightful, tell them you find it interesting. When you glean new information from a discussion, let them know you learned something. The goal isn’t a flattery-off, so don’t force these moments. Saying the little things you think in your brain as you talk with someone you care about can have a big impact when emotions run high. Even a simple “Huh. I hadn’t thought about that. Super interesting” can go a long way when you need it later on.

“The Mind Buck”

When it comes to a loved one, there is no such thing as “stuck” in a conversation. Weird Gene cornering you at the office at the holiday party is “stuck.” Changing the way you think about a situation has powerful implications for how your brain will allow you to process information. Often times we can feel an argument coming on, based on past experience. This generates stress, which does some pretty interesting stuff to brain chemistry and function. Most notably, stress can decrease activity in the parts of the brain that allow for higher level reasoning. If you feel like your critical thinking skills get worse as you get steamed, you might be right.

In this instance, you need to give your brain something else to focus on. Some people try a basic counting exercise, where counting backwards from twenty of fifty, (if you go from zero to Michael Bay in no time flat) de-escalates a situation. I found that a mantra, practiced in calm times but invoked prior to big debate rounds worked well for me. When it comes to fights with my partner, I’ve got a few choice mantras that relate to our connection that I cycle through. “My eyes sparkle when you laugh at my jokes,” reminds me of one of the best small shared moments we have. “You bring me coffee and smell my hair every morning,” is a more practically-focused meditation, and keeps our familial rituals at the forefront. “No matter what you say right now, you’ll still fart in the bed,” pulls double duty as a very true thing that makes me laugh but also something that keeps the situation in perspective. You might really want to, but don’t let your brain freak out or shut down.

“Listen, Breathe, Repeat”

The hardest but most effective rhetorical tool I’ve encountered. Even if the information being presented to you is incredibly objectionable, let the speaker run their course. Then, prior to your response, breathe deeply. Like, I’m talking diaphragm expanding, theatre warm up levels of deep breathing. Then, repeat what you’ve heard as best you can recall it. This does three things:

  • Let’s the other person feel heard;
  • Regulates your heartbeat, avoiding that “rage tremble” feeling we’ve all experienced;
  • Gives your mouth a second to catch up to your brain.

The kinds of people I used to debate against were not ones for brevity, so you’ll have to develop your own ways of remembering points you want to hit while they run out their words. I would pop a knuckle when I heard something I wanted to respond to, which was probably not great for my joints but effective in connecting a sensation to a statement I’d hear. I’d then try to pop the same knuckle and magically find that I was able to recall whatever point to which I’d wanted to respond.

“The Trump Card”

The bottom line is that for most people, anything is preferable to arguing. If your goal is to navigate the shortest distance between contention and drinking an IPA on the couch and laughing about your dumb tiff, nothing beats honesty. “I love you and want to enjoy our time together” tends to throw folks for a loop. That’s okay. So long as you stay levelheaded (see “The Mind Buck”) the relationship world is your oyster.

When It’s Okay Not to Have Sex

Have you ever asked for a sex break?

How do you tell a married couple to abstain from sex when there is no health or physical challenge in the way? It sounds suicidal and so wrong, right? After all, sex is a key aspect of the beauty of the union.

In fact, marriage is the only place that sex is legally and morally allowed without the familiar backlash of society. So what could make anyone counsel a married couple to abstain from sex? It sounds like a ridiculous suggestion.

There are times when married couples practice impromptu abstinence due to health or spiritual reasons. Not having regular sex in marriage could also be caused by long distance, that is, when your spouse is away from home for a long period of time. This type of waiting game has its resultant effect -good or bad- on marriage depending on the duration.

As bizarre and ridiculous it sounds, the practice of abstinence in marriage in this sex-crazed world is important. It is important that couples stay away from under-the-sheets for a period. The Bible has already given spiritual reasons for abstinence from sex but more than that, abstinence helps to build a deeper intimacy with your spouse.

There is so much emphasis on sex in marriage that couples have relegated other forms of intimacy to the background. Sex is seen as the ultimate way of having a lasting relationship but this concept is so wrong. While sex is important, it is not the bedrock of relationship. Too much concentration on sex could leave cracks in a marriage.

For example, some people cannot communicate with their partner unless sex is involved. When this becomes a ritual in marriage, then the value of sex is abused. Instead of a bonding, there is bondage. Sex becomes a manipulative tool in the marriage, a bargaining chip to get your spouse to do as you desire.

An extreme fall-out of too much sex in marriage is when your partner is addicted to porn and uses you as his tool of release.
If you find yourself in such scenarios, then you need to practice abstinence in your marriage. Abstinence comes with its advantages and disadvantages but if well informed, it yields the desirable results. Before you embark on this journey, it is important to know the following facts:

1: Abstinence is a mutual agreement: Couples who intend to use the abstinence therapy must be willing to do it. The decision should not be one-sided. Both parties have to talk about it and see it as a means to a healthy relationship. If one party is in disagreement, then it is no longer abstinence. There must be clear understanding by both parties on the necessity for such a practice in their relationship.

Tips for Couples to Achieve a Long-Lasting Intimate Relationship

“We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.” -~Sam Keen

Before I married my wonderful husband, I dated a lot of men. For most of my 20s (and even my early 30s) I had a perfect fairy-ideal of what romantic love was, probably because I was an actress and loved drama back then.

It took years for me to realize a relationship is not a romance movie.

At some point in our lives, we may believe that love should be like the kind of romance we see portrayed in films, television, and novels.

For some reason, I always thought my romantic relationships were less if I did not experience this kind of fairy-tale relationship. Maybe this is why I kept meeting frogs.

At times, I bought into the belief that if I had a relationship with the perfect prince, then all would be well in my life. I thought, Now, I will be safe forever.

In truth, I did marry a prince—but a prince who is also human, who has faults and issues just like every person, no matter how wonderful he is.

At some point I grew up and learned to let go of the crazy metaphor of romantic love in order to find true happiness. Yes, I was disappointed to realize that the knight riding through the night to save the damsel in distress is a fallacy. It’s a bummer.

But, let’s look at it in this light: We all saw Romeo and Juliet and Titanic. Why stories like these make our hearts sing is that the love is unrequited. Unavailability fuels the romantic expression.

This kind of romantic story can only work when there is an absence of the lover. Sometimes, they have to die in the end in order for their love to fit into this romantic view. Or, we eat handfuls of popcorn, waiting to see if they live happily ever after, and we rarely find out if they really do.

The romantic love fantasy is really a substitute for intimacy—real, connected, vulnerable intimacy.

So then, how do we make relationships work and stay happy?

We begin with the understanding of what pure love is, and then redefine and update the romantic fairytale into a healthier type of love.

Here are 10 ways to create true intimacy, find pure love, and be truly happy in your relationship:

1. Use relationships to teach you how to be whole within.

Relationships aren’t about having another person complete you, but coming to the relationship whole and sharing your life interdependently. By letting go of the romantic ideal of merging and becoming “one,” you learn as Rainer Maria Rilke says, to love the distances in relationship as much as the togetherness.

2. See your partner for who he or she really is.

The romantic tragedy occurs when you view the person you are in love with as a symbol of what they have come to represent, the idea of them. When you realize that more often than not you don’t really know your partner, you begin to discover who they are and how they change and evolve.

3. Be willing to learn from each other.

The key is to see the other as a mirror and learn from the reflection how you can be a better person. When you feel upset, rather than blame your partner and point fingers, remain awake to what has yet to be healed in yourself.

4. Get comfortable being alone.

In order to accept that love can’t rescue you from being alone, learn to spend time being with yourself. By feeling safe and secure to be on your own within the framework of relationship, you will feel more complete, happy, and whole.

5. Look closely at why a fight may begin.

Some couples create separateness by fighting and then making up over and over again. This allows you to continue the romantic trance, creating drama and avoiding real intimacy. If you become aware of what you fear about intimacy, you’ll have a better sense of why you’re fighting—and likely will fight far less.

6. Own who you are.

We generally grasp at romantic love because we’re yearning for something that is out of reach, something in another person that we don’t think we possess in ourselves. Unfortunately, when we finally get love, we discover that we didn’t get what we were looking for.

True love only exists by loving yourself first. You can only get from another person what you’re willing to give yourself.

7. Embrace ordinariness.

After the fairy-dust start of a relationship ends, we discover ordinariness, and we often do everything we can to avoid it. The trick is to see that ordinariness can become the real “juice” of intimacy. The day-to-day loveliness of sharing life with a partner can, and does, become extraordinary.

8. Expand your heart.

One thing that unites us is that we all long to be happy. This happiness usually includes the desire to be close to someone in a loving way. To create real intimacy, get in touch with the spaciousness of your heart and bring awareness to what is good within you.

It’s easier to recognize the good in your partner when you’re connected to the good in yourself.

9. Focus on giving love.

Genuine happiness is not about feeling good about ourselves because other people love us; it’s more about how well we have loved ourselves and others. The unintentional outcome of loving others more deeply is that we are loved more deeply.

10. Let go of expectations.

You may look to things such as romance and constant togetherness to fill a void in yourself. This will immediately cause suffering. If you unconsciously expect to receive love in certain ways to avoid giving that love to yourself, you put your sense of security in someone else.

Draw upon your own inner-resources to offer love, attention, and nurturance to yourself when you need it. Then you can let love come to you instead of putting expectations on what it needs to look like.

These are only a few ways to explore real intimacy. How do you create a loving connection in your relationship?

Curated by Erbe
Original Article

8 Sweet Things to Say to Your Man That Will Strengthen Your Bond

You love it when he says just the right thing at the right time, don’t you?

Boyfriends love to hear compliments, words of encouragement, and other sweet sayings too. So, don’t be shy – let your man know how much he means to you.

Sweet Things to Say to Him

At Behavior and Relationships, Monica Strobel, author of The Compliment Quotient, explains that, “To give a genuine compliment, couples must refocus their attention onto something positive. A compliment interrupts the patterns of common couples’ gripes and resentments.” She also explains that it’s a way to avoid taking each other for granted. Saying something sweet to your boyfriend will strengthen your bond by making you both feel uplifted.

Thank You

It’s simple, and it’s a common courtesy you’d pay anyone after they did you a favor, but sometimes couples tend to take each other for granted. Stop and thank him for fixing your computer or thank you for giving you a ride to work when your car was in the shop. Toni Coleman, psychotherapist and relationship coach, suggested changing up your routine. Instead of using an accusatory tone, ask him nicely to do something and then thank him.

You’re Talented

lovely couple

Some guys come across as confident enough to know that they’re good at what they do, but that doesn’t mean that they honestly feel that way on the inside. Give him a few words of affirmation; let him know that you think he’s a top-notch chef, drummer, or that he awes you with his understanding of politics or history. Be specific in your compliments. Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages, explains on his blog that words of affirmation–compliments–can have a tremendous effect on happiness. In his example, a husband is giving his wife a compliment on her writing skills, but it can work on a guy too, regarding any skill he’s practicing. If you’re boosting your boyfriend’s self-esteem and complimenting him on things he cares about, you’ll strengthen your bond.

You Make Me Smile

Telling him how he makes you smile, lets him know that he’s a good boyfriend, and he can cheer you up no matter what. It means he knows the sweetest things to say to you as well, and probably has a great sense of humor. This statement is several compliments wrapped up into one.

You Are a Fabulous Kisser

Men take pride in the ability to sweep a woman off her feet. Stroke his ego by complimenting him on his kissing skills, and he’ll want to practice with you even more.

You Make Me Feel Safe

Most guys like to protect their ladies and make them feel safe and secure. Let him know he’s doing a good job. Playing up the masculine and feminine differences in your relationship help keep your bond strong, as Lana Holstein, MD, director of sexuality and vitality programs for couples at Miraval Resort said in the Cosmopolitan article. This ties into the kissing compliment as well. Saying sexy things to your guy is one of the sweetest things you can do. Holstein recommends that you, “Save the gab sessions for when you hang out with your girlfriends and your sexy energy for connecting with your guy.”

I Love Your Family

It’s important for you to like the people in his life. There could be tension, hurt feelings, and plenty of awkward moments if you actively dislike the people who are close to him. Let him know that you love him and those he’s surrounded himself with.

You’re Handsome

Men don’t always seem as openly concerned with their appearance as women, but most of them do still care. Compliment his looks and you’re sure to see that smile you love. If you want to take it further, you can compliment him on his eyes, the way he smiles, his biceps, or anything else you really love about the way he looks.

You Are Strong

Men love it when a woman comments on their physical strength. John DeVore at says this is a question your guy won’t mind hearing.

Fill in the Blank

Each guy is different and has his own unique qualities to offer, so try to fill in the blanks and see what you can come up with:

  • I really appreciate it when you ___________________.
  • It means a lot to me when you ___________________.
  • Thank you so much for ___________________.
  • You make me happy because ___________________.
  • You really helped me when you ___________________.

Say Sweet Things at the Right Time

You won’t want to compliment his kissing skills in front of his mother, but he might appreciate it if you compliment him on his strength in front of other people. Use your instincts to know when your guy would most like to hear your compliments–some are better for when you’re alone while others can be advertised.

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Original Article

How to Look for the Right Partner Right Now

Remember that a relationship consists of two people. Both you and your partner should have equal say and should never be afraid to express how you feel.

Nice eyes? A great smile? A quirky sense of humor? There are a lot of different things that might make you attracted to someone. But having a healthy relationship with your partner is about more than attraction; it requires respect, trust and open communication. Whether you’re looking for a relationship or are already in one, make sure you and your partner agree on what makes a relationship healthy. It’s not always easy, but you can build a healthy relationship. Look for someone who:

  • Treats you with respect.
  • Doesn’t make fun of things you like or want to do.
  • Never puts you down.
  • Doesn’t get angry if you spend time with your friends or family.
  • Listens to your ideas and compromise sometimes.
  • Isn’t excessively negative.
  • Shares some of your interests such as movies, sports, reading, dancing or music.
  • Isn’t afraid to share their thoughts and feelings.
  • Is comfortable around your friends and family.
  • Is proud of your accomplishments and successes.
  • Respects your boundaries and does not abuse technology.
  • Doesn’t require you to “check in” or need to know where you are all the time.
  • Is caring and honest.
  • Doesn’t pressure you to do things that you don’t want to do.
  • Doesn’t constantly accuse you of cheating or being unfaithful.
  • Encourages you to do well in school or at work.
  • Doesn’t threaten you or make you feel scared.
  • Understands the importance of healthy relationships.

Remember that a relationship consists of two people. Both you and your partner should have equal say and should never be afraid to express how you feel. It’s not just about speaking up for yourself — you should also listen and seriously consider what your partner says.

Every relationship has arguments and disagreements sometimes — this is normal. How you choose to deal with your disagreements is what really counts. Both people should work hard to communicate effectively.

Curated by Erbe
Original Article

How to Change Your Context for Love in 2016

Here are just three things you can do that will have an immediate impact on the quality and depth of your relationship…

2016 – a brand new year filled with hope and possibilities. And, resolutions resulting in a rather pronounced uptick in gym memberships, healthy diets, exercise goals and so on. But what about the most important relationship in your life, the one you share with your significant other? It is so interesting that at the beginning of each new year we tend to focus so much on our health and looks, yet you rarely hear about couples resolving to have an even deeper, more fulfilling relationship. I suspect it’s because most don’t know exactly what to “do” to achieve those clearly desirable results.

Well, unlike the exercise and dieting regimes you have to stick to for quite some time before seeing any effects, here are just three things you can do that will have an *immediate* positive impact on the quality and depth of your relationship – sans the sweat and kale…

#1: Change Your Context

How many times have you heard the expression: “She broke my heart!” or something similar? As if the heart can actually be “broken” –think about that for a moment. This is simply a context or belief system that only serves to put fear of abandonment and rejection into the best of relationships. And when you avoid a fear, you are much more likely to experience its manifestation and all the drama that comes with it.

The great thing about contexts is that *none* of them are true. They are merely a lens in which we see our world.

For 2016 consider another, much more empowering context where it is our ego that is fearful of being hurt or broken. And our Heart, as our true essence, can never be hurt or broken, is never needy and loves unconditionally. Within this context your only concern is a trashed ego, rather than the complete decimation of your very soul.

The great thing about contexts is that *none* of them are true. They are merely a lens in which we see our world. However, some contexts are inherently much more empowering than others. Not too long ago I had a 30-something female friend ask me for relationship advice and the conversation went something like this:

HER: “I’m afraid to tell my boyfriend how I really feel about him. What should I do?”

ME: “What are you afraid might happen?”

HER: “What if he doesn’t feel the same way?”

ME: “What would happen if he didn’t?”

HER: “I’m afraid it might break my heart.”

ME: “If your boyfriend doesn’t feel the same way, what would end up being hurt and devastated – your Heart… or your ego?”

HER: “Huh?”

ME: “What if the true essence of who you are, your Heart, cannot be hurt or broken? What if it is your ego that experiences all the pain and suffering? Within this context, the worst that could happen is that he trashes your ego, but he cannot, in any way, hurt your Heart? The next time you experience hurt or pain in your relationship imagine your Heart watching it serenely from a distance as a slow-motion train wreck that mangles your ego. If you did that, how would you feel?”

HER: “That does take away much of the fear.” she responded.

The next day she called me to say that shift in context made all the difference in the world as she was now able to be vulnerable with him without the fear of devastating pain.

Remember, a context is simply a world view –one that can be adopted *instantly* if you choose. And in so doing with an empowering one, remove much of the fear of loss and drama from your relationship.

#2: Communicate Authentically

Not too long ago I was interviewed on the radio by a female host who happened to be a relationship coach. While waiting to go live we chatted for a bit where she shared how she just entered into a new relationship and started to experience regular orgasms with her new love –something she rarely, if ever had with her previous relationships.

Once we were on the air for a while I decided to turn the interview tables around. So I asked her the following question: “What would happen if you shared with your partner what you really wanted from him in the bedroom?”

And this is where it got interesting. The initial dead-air was palpable as she struggled with her own visceral reaction to that possibility. She then blurted out: “Oh my God! That put me right back into the ‘cave’ with the ‘kids’ thinking he would be so hurt or angry that he may leave us!” Talk about genetic imprinting. Essentially, she was terrified of abandonment if she risked really sharing what worked for her sexually speaking.

And, she’s not along. A British University study shows that about 87% of women vocalize (i.e. “moan”) during intercourse primarily to: a) hurry their man up so he just gets it over with sooner rather than later, and b) to boost his self-esteem.

The problem is that when either party is not being fully authentic in expressing their feelings and desires it will inevitably lead to diminished fulfillment or even breakup.

Ladies, men aren’t mind readers. And when they get hard, their brain stops functioning as all the blood goes to their penis. From their perspective (thanks to porn), hard pounding is what you want and any false encouragement from you will not help matters.

Ladies, men aren’t mind readers. And when they get hard, their brain stops functioning as all the blood goes to their penis.

So for this new year resolve to be authentic with your man about what really works for you (and if necessary, what doesn’t). Of course this goes for men too, however I find that if a man pleases his woman in the way she wants, that becomes his ultimate sensual reward.

Now here’s a tip on how to position this to your man so he doesn’t feel like a loser in bed. You might consider saying something like this (you may want to include subtle batting of eyelashes, a purr in your voice and a smile that melts his heart):

“Sweetheart, I cannot begin to tell you how much I love you and our lovemaking. And I’ve been thinking, how would you like to explore some other ways of pleasing each other that may take us to whole new places?”

Trust me on this one, his eyes will glaze over and his tongue will be hanging out like a happy puppy dog before you even finish the last word. Then be ready to gently coach him so you both experience new heights of pleasure and fulfillment that neither of you ever thought possible.

#3: Insist on Presence Over Performance

Put a sign on your bedroom door that says “Presence”. For 2016 resolve to remove the word “performance” from your lexicon and replace it with “Presence”. Presence is simply being in the moment with full attention, no distractions, goals or agendas. Presence automatically creates a space where you both can fully flourish and share a profoundly deep, fulfilling experience with each other without the stress of trying to “perform”. Both men and women experience sexual performance anxiety, insisting on Presence instantly eliminates it for both.

Establishing Presence in the bedroom is really not that hard and here’s what my partner and I do almost every time we make love. First, you schedule a time when there will be *no* distractions whatsoever for at least an hour or so. You might want to start out by taking a shower together and gently scrubbing each other down (I recommend ladies receive first), but avoid overt sexual contact. Then you might consider giving each other a massage in the areas each of you indicate will relieve most of the stress of the day – again, avoid overt sexual stimulation.

Once you are both fully “warmed up” (especially important for the woman), the man starts to please his woman in the way she wants while holding off his own sexual release. Remember, there are no goals or agendas here –so even if she doesn’t (or chooses not to) experience a climax, respect that and take great pleasure in giving to her selflessly. Then, she will be likely ready to enthusiastically reciprocate in the way you want.

This kind of Presence-based lovemaking can last literally for hours and leave you both more energized when done than when you started.

Instant Rewards

The problem with most resolutions is that they typically take a great deal of effort and time before you realize any noticeable benefits –which is the primary reason why so many give up after only a month or two.

Not so with the ones I shared above. Each one by itself will provide an immediate positive shift in your relationship experience which only reinforces the habit. Do all three and 2016 will be the year that your relationship transformed into one beyond your most cherished dreams.

And that makes for a very Happy New Year…

Curated by Erbe
Original Article

Communication and the Science of How We Bond

My mentor Professor Garth Fletcher has a new book out, co-written with three of the other smartest minds in relationships research. It’s called The Science of Intimate Relationships, and is an essential read for budding relationships experts.

As a preview of what’s in the book, I sat down with Garth to ask him six big questions about relationships science.

Alice: How big a deal is good communication in relationships?

Professor Fletcher: A very big deal indeed. That said, unpacking the nature of “good” communication is a major scientific challenge. What do you do, for example, if your partner, yet again, treats the floor as a closet or fails to pick up the bath mat. One popular model – the honest communication model – suggests that you should openly express your negative feelings, otherwise the problem will continue to simmer and corrode the relationship. Conversely, the equally popular good management model posits that regularly expressing your negative feelings and thoughts has corrosive effects on the relationship and you should perhaps stifle your negative feelings and learn to live with the problem, or drop some diplomatic hints.

After a lot of research, the general answer emerging – too messy and complex to sell many self-help books – is that the worst thing to do is to adopt one approach as an automatic default option. Instead the best communicators flexibly and intelligently alter their strategies depending on the context, the nature of the problem, their partner’s peccadilloes, and so forth.

For example, research by Nickola Overall at Auckland University suggests that being honest and direct (without indulging in character assignation) is effective in getting your partner to change his or her ways, whereas adopting a soft approach (dropping diplomatic hints about the bathmat) is likely to leave your partner blithely unaware of the problem or dismiss its importance.

Alice: Just how different are men and women when it comes to relationships?

Professor Fletcher: Arguments about sex differences often involve debates about evolutionary psychology. First, a tremendous amount of evidence has shown that men and women are different in some basic ways in relationships. Take three examples.

1. Men are more interested in casual sex than women.

2. Men are less focused on status and resources in selecting mates than women, and

3. Women are more expert and motivated relationship managers than men.

All these sex differences (found around the world) can be explained as a function of the differing levels of investment the sexes contribute to bearing and raising children (a theory developed by Robert Trivers in 1972 – termed parental investment theory – based on sexual selection theory proposed by Darwin).

However, two major caveats apply. First, I am talking about mean differences between the sexes; it turns out that the differences with each sex are almost always considerably greater than the differences between sexes.

Second, the behavior and attitudes of both men and women (and the magnitude of the associated sex differences) can change substantially as a function of the culture and the context. I will give two examples.

(a) When the number of men in a culture substantially exceeds the number of women, men become keener on long-term commitment.

(b) In speed dating studies, women are generally choosier than men – a lot choosier! However, women who are less attractive are less choosy (they decide to make further contact more often), especially when there are more attractive women in their speed-dating group.

Alice: Do we know what causes relationships to break-up?

Professor Fletcher: The short answer is yes.

For both dating and marital relationships, a bunch of socio-demographic factors are linked to higher levels of dissolution (e.g., low income, low religiosity, unemployment), some personality factors (e.g., being neurotic, attachment avoidance), and a slew of factors linked to the nature of the relationship (e.g.,infidelity, violence, poor communication, negative attitudes to the partner, poor support).

If you enter a relationship with a deck already stacked for or against you, is the fate of your relationship already sealed? No.

Relationship interaction and communication have large effects over and above what individuals bring with them into a relationship. The figure bandied round the zeitgeist for the odds of marriages ending in divorce is 50%. Actually, the only countries that even approach this figure are Belgium and the USA, and the divorce rate in the US seems to have been coming down lately.

In other western countries like New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and the UK, the divorce rate is closer to 35%. I am constantly struck by the high proportion of marriages that go the course in modern, western settings, given the relatively recent introduction of no-fault legislation, the more relaxed norms concerning divorce, and the increasing economic independence of women. Humans are truly a pair-bonding species.

Alice: Attachment theory and ideas developed by John Bowlby have had a huge impact on relationship therapy and our understanding of romantic relationships. But do our childhood experiences really determine what happens in our adult relationships? 

Professor Fletcher: Bowlby has had a huge impact on the field for sure, and it shows no signs of dissipating.  I think one major reason is that Bowlby developed his theory by trolling though the scientific literature across many fields including computer science, ethology, evolutionary biology, and developmental psychology.

He was able to combine this with his own clinical experience to nail down some of the crucial features of the attachment system, with the help of Mary Ainsworth, (a student of Bowlby’s) who developed the famous lab-strange situation. In this set-up infants were left by their mothers briefly (in one condition with a stranger present) and their behavior was observed both in this situation and when their mother returned.

The big bang of adult attachment work was provided by Cindy Hazan and Phil Shaver in 1987, who reported that the percentages of people reporting being secure (56%)  avoidant (25%) or anxious (19%) in their romantic relationships were similar those reported by Ainsworth in her observations of infants in the lab strange situation. Well over 1500 studies on adult attachment have been reported since 1987, so I won’t attempt a review here. However, let me give two bottom-line conclusions.

First, attachment styles formed in the first 2 years of life continue to have a life-long impact. Second, attachment styles are relatively stable, but are also exquisitely sensitive to relationship experiences. As a child or as an adult, relationship experiences (good or bad) can slowly shift people from secure to insecure attachment styles, and vice versa.

Alice: There is a lot of controversy about the role of evolution in the way romance and relationships work. What is your take on this?”

Professor Fletcher: Well, the controversy is probably played up in the media, but it is true that some if not many psychologists remain skeptical about the value of an evolutionary approach to intimate relationships. However, humans are the products of evolution, and the fulcrum of Darwinian evolution is sexual reproduction. Thus, it is hardly surprising that there is a tight connection between human nature and human mating and family life.

There is considerable evidence, for example, that romantic love between adults is an evolved device for producing the kind of powerful commitment required for parents to stay together for many years, thus facilitating the enormous investment required for the care, provisioning, teaching, and protection of offspring across the relatively stretched childhood and adolescence of modern humans. However, as I said before, an evolutionary approach only goes so far.

The powerful roles of culture and the interpersonal context also need to be taken into account. But these forces do not operate in some either/or fashion. Humans have evolved as cultural animals, born to be shaped and to learn from our cultural heritage. Moreover, the fact that culture and context bend behavior around does not negate the power of our evolutionary heritage. Indeed, there is considerable evidence that evolution builds in behavioral flexibility to many species, probably reaching its zenith in modern humans.

Alice: Where is the scientific study of romantic relationships going?

Professor Fletcher: The scientific study of romance and love really got going from about 1980 onwards. Evolutionary psychologists picked up from where Darwin left off, and started investigating mate selection in humans. Social and clinical psychologists started to intensely study interaction in intimate relationships, and adapted John Bowlby’s influential work on childhood attachment to study adult attachment in romantic relationships. Anthropologists increasingly began studying love, mating, and family life around the world. Neuroscientists began using brain imaging to study love and the brain. And, the study of human sexuality started to go well beyond Alfred Kinsey’s landmark studies in the 1950’s.

The problem is that scientists in these disciplines in the past pretty much worked in independent silos, publishing in their specialist journals and talking to one another at their own conferences. Fortunately this is now changing, with interdisciplinary work across scientific fields becoming more common. Our recent textbook (The Science of Intimate Relationships (link is external)) exemplifies this trend, by integrating research and theories across scientific domains. One bottom line emerging from this book is that adopting an interdisciplinary approach to understanding how intimate relationships work provides a wonderfully unique window into our understanding of human nature.

Curated by Erbe
Original Article

Have a Sex Talk During Sex. Could You Do It?

Getting comfortable with communicating about sex may translate to benefits in the bedroom — especially if the lines of communication are open during the act.

New research finds that comfort with sexual communication is directly linked to sexual satisfaction. People who are more comfortable talking about sex are also more likely to do so while having sex, the researchers found. Nonetheless, that difference doesn’t fully explain why the sexually chatty are happier with their erotic lives.

“Even if you just have a little bit of anxiety about the communication, that affects whether you’re communicating or not, but it also directly affected their satisfaction,” said study researcher Elizabeth Babin, an expert on health communication at Cleveland State University in Ohio.

The anxiety “might be kind of taking them out of the moment and therefore reducing the overall satisfaction they experience during their encounters,” Babin told LiveScience.

Talking about sex

How people talk about sex is an important topic for public health researchers. After all, people who are uncomfortable asking their partners to wear a condom may be at higher risk of having unprotected sex and exposing themselves to sexually transmitted infections. Communication is also key to having enjoyable sexual encounters, Babin said.

But little research has delved into what keeps people from talking about their likes and dislikes while in bed, she said.

“In order to increase communication quality, we need to figure out why people are communicating and why they’re not communicating,” Babin said.

To do so, Babin recruited 207 people, 88 from undergraduate classes and 119 from online sites, to complete surveys about their apprehension about sexual communication, their sexual satisfaction and the amount of non-verbal and verbal communication they felt they enacted during sex. For example, participants were asked how much they agreed with statements such as, “I feel nervous when I think about talking with my partner about the sexual aspects of our relationship,” and “I feel anxious when I think about telling my partner what I dislike during sex.”

The participants, whose average age was 29, also responded to questions about their sexual self-esteem, such as how good a partner they felt they were and how confident they were in their sexual skills.

Communication without words

The surveys revealed that apprehension in talking about sex can spoil one’s sexual enjoyment, with that anxiety linked both to less communication in bed and less satisfaction overall. Unsurprisingly, less sexual communication apprehension and higher sexual self-esteem were both associated with more communication during sex.

Communication during sex, in turn, was linked to more sexual satisfaction. Nonverbal communication was more closely linked to satisfaction than verbal communication, Babin reported online in August in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. Nonverbal cues may seem safer, Babin said.

“It could be perceived as being less threatening, so it might be easier to moan or to move in a certain way to communicate that I’m enjoying the sexual encounter than to say, ‘Hey, this feels really good, I like that,'” Babin said. “That might seem too direct for some people.”

Babin next plans to research couples to get both sides of the story and to find out how couples’ communication styles mesh with their sexual satisfaction. The end goal, she said, is to give therapists and sex educators tools to help them teach people how to talk about sex more openly with their partners.

Sexual communication “is a skill,” Babin said. “And we’re not all well-trained in that skill.”

Curated by Erbe
Original Article

Doing Relationships Right Based on Watching My Parents Do It All Wrong

I learned that when you remained calm, you could actually have an intelligent conversation and come to an agreement without ever raising your voice. It was groundbreaking.

When I was 5 years old, my dad was using hard drugs and my mom was cheating on him. I don’t know who earned the title of chicken and who of egg, or which came first, but the end result was the same. I grew up in a pretty dysfunctional household where everyone was walking on eggshells. It was clearly an environment ill-suited to the healthy development of young kids.

Thankfully, I was too young to remember a lot of it or I blocked it out. Relatives tell me that I didn’t talk for months at a time as a kid (something that’s hard to believe, since my verbosity has more than made up for it since).

My parents eventually had a reckoning, pledged to clean up their act, and decided to try to save their marriage. While they did, in fact, stay together — and as far as I know, got sober and honest — they continued to fight like cats and dogs. The water under the bridge was at constant high tide, sloshing with resentment and distrust. And my brother and I were the innocent fish caught in the fury. I remember having to put on my headphones and blast Gloria Estefan cassette tapes on my boom box just to stay sane and drown out my parents’ constant bickering.

Growing up, there was not a night that went by in my house without raised voices, tear-stained cheeks, and all-around bad feelings. In fact, after more than three decades of nearly constant battling, it’s almost a miracle that my parents are still together. I say “almost,” because it’s possible it would have been better for everyone if they had split.

I know my story isn’t unique. In fact, I personally don’t know anyone who had a “normal” household growing up. Regardless, like many of my peers who survived dysfunctional childhoods, I made a conscious decision the moment I set foot into the adult world at age 18 that I wasn’t going to make the same mistakes my parents made. Of course, like many others, I also went on to make a lot of the same mistakes my parents made. I watched the patterns of dysfunction play out in my dating life throughout my late teens and early 20s, as I picked partners who familiarly reeked of high drama. I set myself up for failure without even realizing I had a choice in the matter.

When I reached my mid-20s and narrowly squeezed out of yet another relationship earmarked by substance abuse and infidelity, I finally caught my breath long enough to realize that I could take control of the situation and shape my own future. I think a part of me knew I had to get these bad experiences under my belt before I could clear the cobwebs enough to realize functionality and happiness were my actual desires for long-term commitment.

Then, I met my now-wife.


From day one, my wife has been a true beacon of normalcy. My love and respect for her was so pure that I knew I had no choice but to get in line and become the partner I was meant to be. Before this relationship, every time tension arose, my default was to erupt in a pile of stinky dysfunction filled with finger-pointing and epithets. But with my wife, I completely changed my conflict patterns and started doing something amazing, instead.

I stopped and allowed myself time to process.

I thought about what I witnessed time and again with my parents and realized I had been acting as if I were them or somehow still under their spell. I told myself that I was my own person. I could rise above this and choose to be the adult in the relationship that I had never observed, but knew in my heart I had always wanted.

So, I did the exact opposite of what I saw my parents do.

I pretended that instead of winning an argument (whatever “winning” means, because there’s really no such thing), my goal was to preserve the sanctity of peace and love between me and this woman I respected the hell out of. I learned that when you remained calm, you could actually have an intelligent conversation and come to an agreement without ever raising your voice. It was groundbreaking.

Every time we resolved a dispute using actual listening and polite words, I felt like I had won the lottery. I could sense myself drifting further and further away from the paradigm that was my parents and the way I thought things had to be.

Over the seven years my wife and I have been together, we’ve raised our voices fewer times than I can count on my hand. That doesn’t mean we’ve repressed issues of importance or ignored problems. It doesn’t mean we’re saints who never face the same problems as every other couple. It just means we make a conscious effort to uphold compassion and respect as our pillars. The rest sort of melts away as less important and we’re able to just talk.

Am I mad at my parents for creating a hostile environment? No. Quite the opposite, actually. I’m grateful my parents showed me exactly what not to do so I could grow up to create the home I had only dreamt of under the drowned sound of yelling and the thump of Gloria Estefan blasting in my ears.

Curated by Erbe
Original Article

Fixing Competitive Attitude in Your Relationship

Good communication is the foundation of a strong marriage. Many marriages could be saved if spouses improved the ways they communicate with each other.

It’s often the simplest bad habits that get couples into trouble. Once a marriage gets on a rough track, negativity grows. Problems escalate as both spouses repeat their mistakes again and again. Take a look at the following communication mistakes and learn how they can be resolved.

1. Yelling at your spouse.

When you feel angry, you probably start raising your voice. Anger creates tension. As tension builds, you look for a way to release or express it. Yelling at your spouse becomes a quick and easy option, although it often causes more trouble than relief.

It may feel good to unleash your tension on your spouse when they upset you, but the sense of satisfaction is often short-lived. Whatever you say in your angry state is likely to add fuel to the fire.

Yelling unleashes lots of strong, negative emotion. No matter what you are trying to communicate at that point, the emotion is going to take center stage. That’s what captures the listener’s attention most. Unfortunately, your spoken message will be diminished or even misunderstood, because you set up your partner to be defensive and frustrated rather than responsive and understanding.

It’s not that you can’t express some strong emotion when you speak – you’re not a robot, after all. But yelling goes well beyond the line. It sets the stage for an exchange of heated emotions rather than clearly communicated words. Even if your emotion is the message you need to share, a purely emotional exchange can easily transform into an exhausting, destructive habit. At some point, emotions need to be communicated in a way that allows you to move past them, not fuel them.

Let Your Words Speak Volumes To Your Spouse

When you can keep your emotion in check, your message can really shine through. This doesn’t mean you should try to shove your emotions out of the way. They may be a very important part of your situation. But remember – the whole point of communicating is to be clearly understood. To do that, your channel of communication must go two ways. Excessive emotion interferes with that. Take a little time alone to help you ride the wave of feelings and let them settle on their own.

Another option is to take a quick exercise break before you continue the conversation. Exercise is a terrific stress reducer and it can easily distract you from your intense feelings. It’s pretty tough to focus on your troubles when you are nearly out of breath … You may also find it helpful to write out the things you want to say so you take care to deliver your message more clearly.

It’s OK to take your time talking about something that makes you really emotional. You’ll get through the problem more easily if you can keep your spouse on your side instead of pushing them away.

2. Having a Competitive Attitude.

Some competition is OK, but anything that isn’t mutual and playful could build a wall.

Competition is all around us. Football games on TV, soccer games at the high school, getting ahead at work, Christmas displays in the neighborhood — you name it and someone will try to win it. You may have to stay ahead of the game in some areas of your life, but your marriage is not one of them. When one person is always the winner, both spouses lose.

Maybe a little competition between the two of you at the racquetball court is OK. And perhaps you can rib each other with your basketball tournament predictions. But that’s about it. Anything that isn’t mutual and playful could build a wall between you.

If you find yourself building a “case” in the back of your mind with supporting bullet points for every disagreement, you may win the argument nearly every time. However, you may do more to exhaust and demoralize your spouse than anything else.

Think about Why You Need To Win

A person with emotional insecurities may overcompensate by trying to look superior to his or her spouse. When they stay on top, they feel stronger and more confident. They may have trouble being vulnerable, even with their spouse. To do so would expose their insecurities. This would clash with their belief that they are successful.

Does this sound like you? Does your spouse tire of your victory dance and your need to always have the upper hand? Maybe they just want you to come back to earth a little. They are probably far happier to be around you when you show some imperfections. You may not be used to your spouse showing tenderness toward you. If you married a great person, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. You don’t have to win to feel satisfied.

3. Making Marriage about Me Instead of We.

Have you ever stopped to listen to the chatter going on in your mind? Most likely, it’s focused on you — what you look like, how you just messed something up, what you have on your schedule later, what you are looking forward to, etc.

Naturally, this chatter is somewhat biased because it’s from your perspective. But how about the chatter that relates to your spouse? Is it all about how much fun you will have later, what you expect from your husband or wife, and what kind of mood you are in?

Take Your Spouse’s Viewpoint and Make Their Day Better

Generosity and considerate behaviors can go a long way toward nurturing a great marriage. Instead of wondering if they’ll ever load the dishwasher right, do something you know your spouse will appreciate. Be forewarned: they may not throw you a ticker-tape parade because you did it. Don’t get caught up in the “what’s in it for me” trap again.

If you continue a pattern of being more generous and thoughtful toward your spouse, they’ll eventually say or do something as a response. They might hold their comments back at first because they don’t know if this trend will stick. They may be waiting to see if this generosity is a gimmick or a set of new, positive habits. When they see that you are genuine and consistent with your efforts over time, your message will be clear. Let those selfish thoughts pass by and keep doing loving things for your spouse.

Here’s another secret about making an effort like this: Feelings follow actions. In other words, you may not feel loving at first when you do these generous acts. If they don’t say anything at first, you may really wonder why you are bothering at all. Keep going anyway. The more you act with generosity, the more you’ll naturally feel generous and loving toward your spouse.

Change Marriage Communication Mistakes by Changing Habits

It takes some practice to change old marriage communication mistakes. It’s amazing how the energy between spouses can change so much with just a few changes. When you understand how it all fits together, you can make real progress in your relationship right away.

Curated by Erbe
Original Article

Intentional Dialogue for Hot Button Topics With Your Partner

john wineland

This simple intentional dialogue practice will literally change your life and all of your relationships if you practice and master it. In this short demo, Guru Jagat and I demonstrate the practice give some tips as how to best use it moving forward, including a 40 days challenge!


Defining Cheating. What Is It to You?

I found myself getting anxious about a certain app that my partner uses, and spent weeks torturing myself.

Before cell phones, cheating was a series of deliberate actions: secretly flirting (in person), arranging times and places to meet (also in person), and then physically ‘doing the deed’ – definitely in person. But now, in the age of smartphones, is there such a thing as “modern monogamy?”

Back in the day, catching your spouse cheating was a dramatic and devastating event, because it all happened IRL. There were physical and emotional risks involved with cheating, which is why it was – and is – a serious heartbreaker.

Cheating used to have a relatively standard definition, for the majority of traditionally monogamous couples. It’s not so simple, nowadays. Now that Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and various texting apps have become so ingrained in our social lives…what is cheating, really? And what do we do if our partner defines it differently than we do?

At its most basic, cheating involves stepping outside the boundaries of your relationship. For many of us, sexual contact with another person is a definite no-no. But what about sending/receiving sexy photos on Snapchat? Or a romantically emotional affair with a close friend, via text messages? If your boyfriend is following a bunch of flirty, bikini-clad girls on Instagram, could that be considered cheating?

It depends. What is okay for one couple may not be okay for another. Relationships are a ‘choose your own adventure’ story – just don’t wait until the line is crossed to tell your partner where it is.

Because you are reading this article, perhaps you’ve been questioning whether you’ve cheated or been cheated on. The past cannot be changed, but taking a few simple steps can save you a lot of worry in the future. There are a million articles about cheating – how to catch it, how to do it, how to avoid it. Before you go into the ‘how-to,’ it’s probably best to establish the ‘what is.’

Problem: You’re uncomfortable and unsure about the boundaries of your relationship.

Solution: Ask your partner what cheating means for them. It’s that simple.

It can be hard to establish boundaries, especially at the beginning of a relationship. Most of us don’t want to come off as too serious, until we have to. But why wait until something goes wrong? It might not be sexy to talk about boundaries, but it can protect you from a lot of seriously un-sexy situations down the road.

If we find ourselves worried about our partner’s fidelity, it’s tempting to stifle our feelings because we don’t want to appear ‘needy’ or ‘paranoid.’ Unfortunately, suppressing our feelings can result in them manifesting down the line – jealousy, resentment, and insecurity will inevitably hurt you more than your partner. Trust goes both ways, but so does fear. You probably know when your partner is upset about something, even when they’re holding it in. Wouldn’t you rather know what’s the matter, before it gets out of hand?

In order to avoid breaking your partner’s trust (or vice versa), it’s important to establish boundaries early on. And it’s not just about your partner – ask yourself, what does cheating mean, for you? Define it for yourself, and then sit down with your loved one and ask them what they think. Remember – it’s a discussion, not an interrogation. Their definition may be different than yours, and the more you talk about it, the easier it will be to meet in the middle.

This conversation is not meant to “trap” them or force them to adopt your point of view. Talking about your worries (and allowing your loved one to voice theirs) is about loving. The goal is to reinforce mutual trust. Using “I” statements and reminding your partner how much you trust them can make all the difference.

Without trust, there is no love. And that can be difficult when there is no communication. Maybe your partner is just as worried as you are. Talking about boundaries can actually be a very freeing experience for both of you.

I recently had this conversation with my partner, and I am so glad I did. I found myself getting anxious about a certain app that my partner uses, and spent weeks torturing myself with negative self-talk and paranoid imaginings. I didn’t want to come off as jealous, so I did nothing. As a result, I caused my partner a lot of undue worry because I was acting so strangely. When I finally sat down with him to talk about the app, I was overwhelmed by how validating it was.

For me, cheating means purposely breaking a partner’s trust. Now that my spouse and I have consciously established what this means for us, I am even more confident that I don’t have to worry about it.

Being honest about your feelings is infinitely safer than acting on assumptions. Your partner most likely has their own set of rules based on their background. It may be completely different than yours, and that doesn’t have to be a deal breaker.

So what is “cheating,” for you? How have cell phones and social media changed the way you view monogamy? Share your thoughts in the comments, below. The more we learn about ourselves, the more we learn about each other.