3 Dating Deal-Breakers: How to Know if He or She is the One

Bad Relationship Signs in Oprah.com has an article titled “Dating Deal Breakers: 8 signs We All Overlook.” The author, psychologist Terri Orbuch, wrote a book called “5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage From Good to Great.” While I don’t agree with all her eight signs as being deal-breakers, I do agree with one.

2015-09-28-1443402645-1352840-imgres3-thumbIn my over 30 years working as a marriage and family therapist with couples, I have found that if couples don’t listen to each other, and really hear what their partner is saying, it is a prelude for disaster.

Many men will hear a woman complain about some problem she’s having, perhaps at work, and rather than showing empathy for how she’s feeling about it, they just want to quickly come up with a solution to fix it. While well-meaning, this is not helpful and not a good pattern to start off with in a relationship. If a guy is doing this on the first few dates, it’s probably not going to get better.

Continue reading here via The Huffington Post

3 Ways to Put the Fun Back Into Your Sex Life — One May Surprise You!

(Sampled from my official Huffington Post blog)

Sex is about a lot of things, sometimes different things to different people. Despite many years of working with couples of all ages, races, and personality types, I am still amazed by how much the meaning of sex can vary from person to person.

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That being said, most people seem to want some similar outcomes from their sexual relationships. Jordan Gray, a relationship coach, says that all people want to feel loved and to feel safe. He believes a war is being waged against women’s self-esteem, sexuality and safety from a very young age. I would agree with him.

Because women have so many dis-empowering messages being sent regarding their sexuality, they need to have a safe space where they feel they can trust their partners.

While I believe that men also need to trust, because they are generally the aggressors in our society they feel less of a need for safety.

Mr. Gray also feels women need to feel seen, to know that you hear them and are aware of their emotional states. Men need to understand that this doesn’t mean they are asking to have you fix their problem, but just to understand their feelings. Of course, women want to feel sexually desired. Men want this as well…..

Click HERE to read the full blog post –

He Said, She Said…What’s More Important, Being Right or Being Happy?

All of us like to be right.  It seems to be a built-in instinct in humans, this strong need for affirmation of our rightness.  With couples in relationships, it often takes the form of discussions that dissolve into arguments starting … Continue reading

To Talk Dirt or Not to Talk Dirt, That is the Question…

To Talk Dirt or Not to Talk Dirt, That is the Question –

There’s an article in the current issue of Cosmo about how it seems that once you are in a serious relationship, it’s not ok to talk to your girlfriends about your SO if you have bad things to say.  The writer mentions that when in her twenties, she would gladly listen to friends complain about their current boyfriends, and she would quickly suggest they “dump the guy”.  But now that she’s been in love herself, she has a different viewpoint. She thinks that a girlfriend can help you sort things out when they’re not going well, but that they often don’t want to.  

I both agree and disagree with this.  Yes, friends can be a blessing when you really need someone to talk to, just to have them listen while you try and sort things through.  But all too frequently, friends chime in with their advice, which can be useful sometimes but can also often be wrong.  While they certainly have your best interests at heart, their advice is colored by their own experiences, and they may not be the same as yours at all.

imgres-1Also, because you love your friends and trust them, you may end up taking their advice and doing something that you end up regretting.  If you decide to end a relationship, you should be the one making the decision, not your friend.

More importantly, women often will complain to a girlfriend and not say anything to their partner about what’s bothering them.  The problem with this is it creates distance between you and doesn’t allow for your partner to make any changes.  It’s like that old saying that so many women have used about not wanting flowers from their man if they have to tell him they want them.  Of course, it’s obvious that if you don’t tell him, how is he supposed to know that that’s what you want?

In the situation with things you don’t like about him, or a specific problem you have with something he’s doing or not doing, the same thing applies.  Maybe he does know that you’re unhappy about whatever it is, but maybe he doesn’t.  If you complain to your girlfriend you may get it off your chest, and feel better at that moment, but this doesn’t fix the problem.  

The most important thing two people can develop to help have a solid, positive, and long-lasting relationship is good, open, honest communication.  Obviously it’s easier to just bitch and complain to sympathetic friends than to have to confront your partner and work through something difficult.  It’s only through that kind of work together that you grow as a couple and move closer to each other.  

This is doubly true in the bedroom, where any leftovers from earlier hurts or anger will work their way between the sheets.  By not talking about these together, they become a barrier and close you off from each other.  That makes for really bad sex.

So while letting off steam with a friend about a problem with your man is ok sometimes, be sure to starts by tackling the issue head on with your guy.  When you’ve cleared the air, you’ll both be feeling much more affectionate, and the bedroom will look much more appealing.

Do You Feel Eyes On You?

It’s a lovely spring evening.  You and your Significant Other have been out for a relaxing dinner, and now you’re back home sipping a glass of wine on the couch.  Your affectionate cat Fluffy is rubbing against your legs (or your adorable dog Buster is lying on your feet) while your man starts to lavish you with luscious kisses.  As the kissing gets more heated, you move to the bedroom, and clothes begin to come off.  

You’re in bed and really into it now and actual sex starts.  It’s good but for some reason you feel distracted.  Your mind is not completely focused on the sex act – but you don’t really know why.   Afterward you curl up together but somehow feel slightly dissatisfied.  You wonder if you’re having some sort of sexual issue as a couple and what you should do to fix it.Frisky

If you were to come to me as a therapist, one of the first things I’d check on is whether Fluffy or Buster came into the bedroom with you.  Even if your pet stayed off the bed (which they often don’t) if they are in the room during sex it can definitely impact your experience.  This is especially true for women who tend to be a bit more aware of their surroundings and let their minds wander to other issues if things present themselves (like crying children or fire engines howling outside).

Why does this matter?  Because our pets are part of our family.  You wouldn’t want your five year old to stand in the doorway and watch you having sex.  You wouldn’t want your mother or father there either.  Strange though it may seem, your pets fall into the same category.  The difference is that you may not think about it – it’s more of a sub-conscious thing, which is why couples often don’t realize that this is what is lessening their sexual enjoyment.  

When I have discussed this with dozens of couples, what surfaces is that one (or sometimes both) partners feel a little embarrassed, not completely at ease, and not totally in the moment which always makes for the best sex.  Even if you’re into voyeurism and like to be watched, you don’t want your family members in that position.  So if you have a pet, put them on the other side of the door and close it.  

You may be surprised at how uninhibited you become!

Older Women, Younger Men: A Short-Term Trend or a New Definition of Relationship?

In this post, I’d like to explore a few different aspects of relationships between older women and younger men.

For many people, the first thing they think of is the term cougar.  Courteney Cox brought this term into the mainstream with the title of her TV show, Cougar Town.  As a relationship specialist, I was very interested in seeing this show when it first began, but I’m sad to say I was very disappointed.  Rather than tackle any real issues of substance that these kinds of couples face, the show was just another superficial comedy.

In a New York Times article by Sarah Kershaw back in 2009, she wrote about “Rethinking the Older Woman-Younger Man Relationship”.   “The term cougar raises hackles among women who say the image of a wild animal, however sleek and beautiful, prowling for victims – or an army of Mrs. Robinsons on the march for men young enough to be their sons – is demeaning.”  Demi Moore who was married to fellow actor Ashton Kutcher for many years, was often described as a cougar, but so have sex-starved women slinking through bars for young men to satisfy nothing but physical needs.

Director Sam Taylor and Actor Aaron Johnson have a 23 year age gap in their relationship

Director Sam Taylor and Actor Aaron Johnson have a 23 year age gap in their relationship

Ms. Kershaw gives us many more details about cougars, from the Urban Dictionary definition to what sociologists are saying.

I believe that the time has come for all of us to recognize the value in these kinds of relationships.  Older women have lots of life experience, are often more financially secure and have achieved many of their professional goals.  They don’t need a man to take care of them; they can take care of themselves.  Younger men appreciate and respect that, and also often feel that these women can teach them much about life.  The older women appreciate the enthusiasm and spontaneity of younger men, who often pull them along to try new things and take risks they might otherwise not take.  They also are usually less competitive with women than equal or older age men tend to be.  This is from my experience as a therapist working with these kinds of couples.

In her web site EmpowHER, Pink Wrangler states that a young man, Michael, 28, when questioned about why he was attracted to older women said, ” women in their twenties are a) quite boring, b) quite unintelligent, c) only wanting to settle down into some kind of marriage situation, and d) really not bringing much to the table.”  She then asked him the top three things that appealed to him about older women.  His response -“Sexually, they know specifically what they want.  That helps a younger cub that is not necessarily inexperienced but may lack direction and confidence in terms of how to please a woman.  A younger woman in her twenties probably doesn’t know herself or what she likes so she wouldn’t be able to communicate it”.

These kinds of relationships can work – they just may take more effort than many traditional relationships.  Also, the men and women need to understand what they are likely to have to deal with.  Friends, family and society may make things difficult, trying to make them feel guilty or wrong for caring about someone when there is a large age difference. 

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Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon

Many celebrities have made these relationships work.  Check out Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon, 11-year age difference, or Robin Wright and X-Men actor Ben Foster, 14-year difference.  There’s Tina Turner and Erwin Bach, 16 year difference, Hugh Jackman and Deborah-Lee Furness, 13 years apart.  There are many more, including lots of briefer relationships that Hollywood’s A-list actresses such as Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Anniston have had. They claim that the relationships broke up for reasons other than the age difference.

Based on the couples I have worked with as well as lots of new data, I believe that the older woman – younger man is going to become a much more common and accepted kind of serious and committed relationship and is here to stay.

Saturday Sex Tip

I had someone ask me recently if I thought that all sex was about was techniques and tricks.  My answer …absolutely not!  I believe that really great sex happens the same way most really great things happen – with lots … Continue reading