What Should Love Feel Like?

At least once a week, a client asks, “I know that love isn’t all butterflies and fireworks, but what should it feel like? Since I’ve never seen a healthy relationship and I’ve never been in one, I have no idea what it should be like.”

I usually balk at the word “should”, but I know what they’re getting at. They want me to offer some kind of template or description of a healthy relationship so that they know if they’re on the right track. How sad it is that most people are bereft of this model! How tragic, really, that because our culture doesn’t offer these templates we’re left groping around in the dark, grasping at some idea of “healthy” and most often left feeling like we must be doing something wrong or that our relationship is wrong in some way. As Alain do Botton writes in The Course of Click here to continue reading...

Every Moment of Sex

We live in culture that bombards us daily with images and messages that promote negative and unhealthy sexuality. We receive unsolicited emails that contain explicit attempts to lure us into making contact with random strangers. We see images splashed across magazine covers that wouldn’t have been legal forty years ago. We see sexualized youth prancing across stages and boardwalks. Sexuality is quickly devolving from its position as a private part of life to one that is increasingly public, uncontained, and objectified.

The images and messages speak to the belief that underlies most sex anxiety: that we’re inadequate in some way. They also play into what is becoming a highly sex-addicted culture where young people, raised on pornography, are being wired to expect the instant arousal that occurs from watching these images. We’re being inundated with a belief that sexuality can and should be separated from love and relationships, which is … Click here to continue reading...

Sex Anxiety

We talk about social anxiety. We talk about relationship anxiety. We talk about transition anxiety. Now it’s time to talk about sex anxiety: not only how anxiety in general or relationship anxiety in particular kills libido but how much anxiety we carry about sex itself. The conversation, as always, begins with talking about fear itself and a discussion on the direct effect that fear has on our bodies’ ability to open or shut down.

One of the first things women learn when they’re preparing for childbirth is the effect that fear has on the birthing process. Put simply, when we’re in a fear state, our bodies contract, which is why women are encouraged to give birth in the location where they feel safest and are then taught techniques for how to open through the fear that arises during labor. In order to give birth, we have to open in every … Click here to continue reading...

Sacred Sexuality

We live in a microwave culture, which means we expect everything to happen and arrive quickly. We expect our food to arrive within minutes of ordering it. We expect our communication to arrive within seconds of sending it. We expect our things to arrive within days of purchasing them. Gone are the days when we would wait for days or weeks for a letter to arrive, or walk to the local library and covet the treasured time we could spend with dearly beloved books. Gone are the days when we witnessed firsthand the process by which the bread that sits on our table began as grains of wheat, then grew into feathery fields, then was harvested, pounded into flour, and baked into a fresh, golden loaf. With all of the gains in speed and efficiency that technology offers, something in the realm of slow soul-time is lost. We are forgetting … Click here to continue reading...

The One Essential Question that Lives Inside Relationship Anxiety

One of the most challenging elements of relationship anxiety to understand is that, if you’re in a healthy, loving relationship with no red flags, the anxiety is projection. This means that the parade of intrusive thoughts that tortures the anxious mind and sensitive soul are actually pointing to areas inside of you that are crying out for your attention. This is such a reversal of our literal, read-everything-at-face-value culture that it can take a while for the shift of mindset to sink in.

There are many areas that need our attention: old pain from early abandonments, loss of loved ones, faulty beliefs that form as a result of being the child of a narcissist or suffering from bullying or teasing, unrealistic expectations about love and relationships that we absorb from the mainstream culture, fissures of psyche that were created because we didn’t receive the guidance, tending, and rituals necessary to … Click here to continue reading...