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When are values relationship deal breakers?

Susan in Married at First Sight doesn’t know why she was matched with Sean. Susan likes to volunteer to save bears in Asia. Sean wears a belt buckle he won at the rodeo.

One key detail has been missing from the reality tv series about what tore them apart-Sean’s love of the rodeo-in particular calf roping. You can read more about the cruel practice in this article about the reality tv couple here.

“I don’t understand how someone could use animals for entertainment like that. I’m never going to accept that cowboy image.”

I have a lot of clients that spoke to me at length about this TV reality show during its airing and how the topics coming up were similar to things in their own life.

Despite my misgivings I could see how the program did bring up issues that were important to couples or dating singles -although I was concerned with how it was all handled.

I can see how the concept  fires up the imagination but the lack of ethics of the show and the strange references to “science” and decisions and actions of the “experts” were umm… certainly interesting and worrying to me as a relationship counsellor and clinical sex therapist.

Isn’t it interesting how things are edited to give a sanitised view of things in reality tv?

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Value Systems as Deal Breakers

Anyway let’s get right into the meat of the issue this article brings up. Susan has compassion for animals and fights to save them. Sean loves rodeos and “calf roping” and other areas where animals are used for entertainment. Hmm.

As Susan says, that was the deal breaker for her. Despite these reasons for her choosing to break up with him never being shown on the TV program, the clashing value systems were the reason she didn’t continue the relationship.

You can have many differing interests to your partner and that’s fine and healthy, however opposing value systems can be more challenging.  Value systems are the foundation to who we are, why we do what we do, our boundaries, how we react to things and who we choose to spend time with.

Value systems don’t have to be exactly the same in a couple but they do need to match up or at least slightly overlap somehow.

If someone is psuhing up against our values you can feel uncomfortable and pained.

Have you ever been with someone with completely opposing value systems? What happened?

Differing value systems are a big point of conflict for couples and good communication can see things through.

However if the value system is that jarringly different even the best communication skills can’t necessarily see it through.

I wrote about a couple where one of them was an animal rights activist vegan and the other was a hunter and a fisher for fun not food in a feature for Ciao earlier this year and their various struggles.

In sessions where I see couples that are struggling with very different value systems and all the strain that goes along with that they can feel stuck. To help them move forward I get them to fill out a common values assessment.

Values can include everything from wanting children or not, religious beliefs, how you see animals and how your diet relates to that, political beliefs, environmental beliefs, moral responsibilities, loyalty, commitment, education, family, caring about others, security, self direction, seeking pleasure, avoiding harm to others, personal success in life, understanding self and others, independence in thought and action, stability of self, belongingness in groups..

Value systems are important to look at and often couples can rush so quickly through the dating process and get so physically hooked on each other so early on they neglect to look at these things until much later.

If it’s not in the deal breaker arena couples can learn to live with differing values -I’ve had a couple where one was a hardcore atheist and the other was deeply spiritual. This caused conflict but it wasn’t a deal breaker for them and was more a matter of practically negotiating their different issues and respecting and accepting their differing views. On the days she went to her spiritual circle he went to hang out with his aetheist friends.

Exploring what their value systems meant to each of them and how that influenced their different behaviours and reactions shed a lot of light onto various everyday conflicts and resentments that were occuring.
I think a lot of reality tv can be appalling in its moral bankruptcy, more exploitative than a social experiment and manipulatively constructed but I’m glad this topic was brought to light.

What did you think?

What are your core values? If you’re single how important is it to be with someone who has the same core values as you?

If you’re in a relationship how similar are your core values and what problems do the differences cause? Please let me know in the comments below and don’t hesitate to book a session with me via skype or in person if you and your partner are stuck on issues relating to your vaules. 

Www.creativesexpression.com

How to deepen the connection in your relationship

I have so many clients that tell me about how their partner doesn’t touch them much. They speak about how they always sit far from them, on their phone or playing games and it’s like they’re a remote island.

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If you are in a relationship how much time do you spend in close physical contact?
Do you wish you had more touch or less touch?
I don’t necessarily mean just sexual contact but any touch whatsoever.
A lot of us are touch starved in our tech saturated world.
We all need touch! It’s how our brains are wired.

Studies of baby monkeys show that the desire to touch and be touched is stronger than the desire for food.

Research shows that human babies and children need touch and physical comfort and these needs don’t disappear when we grow up into adulthood.

We need touch to truly thrive; it is fundamental to our health, communication and bonding.

  In fact children and babies who don’t experience much touch growing up can be more violent, have weakened immune systems.
 and a host of other problems.

If you don’t spend much time hugging or touching there’s a chance that your hippocampus in your brain might be smaller- the smaller this organ is the harder it is for your brain to regulate your stress response.

So, hugging and touching your partner is good for you, your relationship and your brain!


 

Physical touch also helps reduce stress. 


I’m talking about everything from sex to giving a kissing, massage, holding hands, cuddling, hugging, stroking, tickling and lots more..

These examples are medicine for your body and your relationship. This kind of touch helps to preventatively maintain your health and healing ailments you may have according to the latest research.

Join my inner circle here if you’d like to learn how to deepen your connection with your lover through a daily touching ritual. You’ll notice the difference within a few days or a week.  Just fill out your name and email address in the pop up.

If Male Superheroes had their costumes designed like Female Superheros..

If male super heroes had their costumes designed like female superheroes, this is what the Batsuit would look like..

 

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While we are on the topic check out the comics below by Boston artist, Anna, a.k.a. Fernacular.  

Her drawings highlight what men’s superhero costumes would look like if they were designed in the same way as women’s superhero costumes.

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Anna’s goals were;
1) Make it so the first thing you think of when you look at them is sex, whether you want to or not.

2) Make it so that any male human who looks at this feels really uncomfortable.

3) Make it funny.

 

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And this hilarious meme below really highlights how impractical, skimpy, overly sexualised and reflective of the sexual double standard that female superhero costumes really are.

Male superheros wear costumes made of protective armour for when they’re fighting life and death battles. Female superheros are presented in skimpy clothing with skin exposed in battle as objects for the sexual gratification of male viewers.

I guess what these images all point out is how women are consistently represented in a sexualized way, while male characters aren’t nowhere near to the same degree.

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In the 1970’s Ms Marvel was created as a female version of Captain Marvel. She’s a fully fledged, decorated Air Captain who fights baddies in deep space and she was drawn with her tummy and legs exposed in a sexy outfit. Captain Marvel was covered up head to toe.
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“There’s a difference between a woman taking control of her own sexuality and choosing to wear something revealing, and a male-created character who is put in an outfit to titillate readers (also assumed to be male)…  Any practical warrior woman knows that it’s impossible to fight in a strapless corset that restricts your movement, while your breasts threaten to fall out at any moment.”

Eleanor Tremeer

 

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How to invigorate your relationship with role-playing..

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Imagine you’re being interviewed for a job as a personal assistant in a big office. Now pretend your lover is the boss. They close the door. They walk very close to you as they walk back to their chair. You feel giddy. You suddenly want to do anything to please them; whatever it takes.

They need you to work back very long hours under their strict eye. You must relinquish control and do everything they say. His or her eyes trail down your body. You will have to do a lot more than just filing… You feel your heart rate increase and your face flush with excitement.

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Sexy role play helps to liven up sex, heighten intimacy, increase confidence and drop our inhibitions.

Role-play goes straight to the biggest sexual organ in our body: our brain. Our mind needs to be both stimulated and silenced for great sex.

As a side note, this is why Viagra fails so many couples. Viagra only increases blood flow to the genitals, and sex is much more than engorged genitalia. A hubby demanding sex because he has an instant Viagra erection doesn’t solve any relationship problems. Viagra doesn’t stimulate our minds.

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Getting in the mood for great sex starts with connection, seduction, anticipation, wanting, flirting, teasing, communication, atmosphere, fun, foreplay, imagination and intimacy.

Role-play fantasy scenarios invigorate our imagination and lead to very creative lovemaking where we can play out another aspect of ourselves. Clothes can stay on. It starts with just words…

Once clothes eventually come off you can be so aroused that your body image worries fade away. Roleplaying can lead to a greater build up of sexual tension and desire and help you break out of the formulaic ‘you do this, then I do this’ kind of sex. Boring and uninspired sex can stagnate a relationship.

Try this role-play with your partner. Who wants to play boss and who wants to play secretary? Notice who gravitates to each role and don’t be afraid to swap. What is it about this fantasy or one of your own that appeals to you? Does the idea of being in control and being the boss or being the dutiful, willing and eager junior turn you on?

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You could set up a desk and dress in office clothes and re-enact it at home. Perhaps you could arrange to meet in a crowded cafe for the ‘interview’. You both have to stay in character the whole time. A public area means you can’t touch each other until you get home, thus increasing the sexual anticipation.

Don’t worry about whether your role-play is PC. It’s playtime for adults! As children we played pretend games and unfortunately we lose touch with that make believe world as we grow up. Don’t let that fertile land of imagination go!

Remember to stay consensual, be respectful and debrief afterwards. A couple that plays together stays together.

Some like it Rough

adult-bdsm-678x380How does the kinky brain work? Ciao’s resident sex therapist, Cat O Dowd, caught up with professional dominatrix Kalyss Mercury, who is studying the neuroscience of kink at the University of Oslo.

Mistress Kalyss Mercury is exploring how specific BDSM activities (like spanking or humiliation) benefits people, especially the psychological benefits. She also takes her academic work into the bedroom, working full time as a professional dominatrix.

Mercury is particularly fascinated by new research showing that kinksters are actually more emotionally stable than the average person. They are, “less sensitive to rejection, less neurotic and expressed higher scores for wellbeing. … kinksters tend to have completed higher levels of education and earn higher wages than the general population.”

Mercury maintains BDSM practices are not abusive – just like some people love rough sports, some people love rough sex.

Just like rugby, BDSM has many rules and agreements that have to be recognised before ‘entering the fray’. The main rule is consent.

“BDSM relationships can be complex and challenging and there are many rules for interaction. You can enjoy the ride while still enjoying the limits,” Mercury explains.

Kyliss Mercury’s current research explores the connection between pain, guilt and reward. Which I might just let her explain…

“For example, have you noticed how when we feel guilty, we tend to find ways to “punish” ourselves? The spin class after the guilt of eating that chocolate bar? Or feeling like you don’t deserve to party because you had a fight with your best friend,” she said.

“The classic example of self-flagellating monks is actually not far from reality. My research is based on a set of studies which found people willingly withstand pain for up to twice as long as they usually would when they are primed to feel guilty. On top of that, they showed guilt levels went down dramatically after the pain stimulation. So pain actually had a “remedial” effect.

“The main question I want to answer with my study is whether this type of healing effect is stronger for self-described masochists than for non-masochists. If my hypothesis is confirmed, that would mean masochism may not be such a paradox after all.”

Mercury believes that submission can be just as freeing, or more so, than having complete control in a sexual situation.

“In the dungeon, my clients can temporarily forget their burdens and become someone else,” Mercury explained, “someone who doesn’t need to decide, someone who can just surrender and let it all go. This is what I offer my clients: Freedom from choice, with a side of kink and fetish.”

Mercury told me that her favourite way of preparing clients is asking them to leave their worldly concerns behind.

“Today you are just a puppy dog. All you have to worry about is following Mistress’ orders!”

Mistress Kalyss Mercury is currently collating research on the views of kinksters and non-kinksters on BDSM. You can participate in her online questionnaire at: http://www.facebook.com/kinkyscience

Relationship mistakes according to a behavioral economist…

You’re dooming your relationship if you’re fantasising about outside options.

Relationships get better when you invest in them wholeheartedly. (And I’m not talking about the second you’ve met someone! I definitely suggest slowly does it! Get to know someone slowly… In this blog I’m talking about long term relationships.. )

“When we are in a relationship but continuously with one foot out and continuously thinking about how the outside world is more tempting and more interesting and so on, it’s actually not a good recipe for investing in a relationship. It’s not a zero-sum game–it gets better when you invest in it.”
Dan Ariely

I see this a lot. Couples where they are together. Sort of. Yet one or both of them has a foot outside of the relationship.  They think the grass is greener on the other side. The problems they are experiencing in their relationship that could be worked out in some of our sessions with dedication and work are used in their mind as an excuse to get out and find someone else where it will be “easier.” Then a year down the line the same problems come up again. With a different person. Because they never learnt how to overcome them and kept running from them.
Or perhaps they spend a lot of time on facebook or tindr looking at all the other options open to them when they’re with someone else.

Some people can be hooked on that first initial honeymoon phase of a relationship. You know the phase where your body and mind are buzzing with feel good hormones. This can be really addictive for some people especially people afraid of intimacy. They can just go from one person to the other in short lived relationships that never go longer than two years because as soon as they start seeing their partner warts and all they want out!

Watch the video and let me know what you think. Don’t beat yourself up if you think you might be doing this. Awareness is the first step to getting focussed and grateful for what you have now.

How a Video Game about tampons is destigmatising menstruation…

 “Something most women get for a majority of their lives is embarrassing, crude and shameful..”   What if there was no menstrual taboo in our society?

Two young women from New York met at a summer coding camp. They were 16 and 17 years of age. Sophie Houser and Andy Gonzalez wanted to imagine what that world would look like if there was no menstrual taboo.

They got together and created a video game called, Tampon Run. Instead of getting a gun and shooting bullets you get tampons and throw them at enemies who are threatening to take them off you.

These kick arse women learnt to code and speak about how intimidating it was to learn in such a male dominated industry. They found the the experience empowering and exciting. So they want to encourage girls how to code, make a better less sexist tech industry and destigmatise menstruation! BOOM!!

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