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...

Mentors and Guides

We’re not meant to travel life’s pathways alone. In other times and other places, a culture’s members are guided through life’s transitions and trials by the elders who have already traveled that terrain. Girls are ushered through the tangle of adolescence in the fold of older aunts and mothers; boys step into their manhood in the company of other men. New mothers walk next door and hand over a crying baby to a trusted aunt while the mother cries from overwhelm and exhaustion in the arms of a sister. Men can pass a day outdoors with other men, finding comfort and solace in the silence.

These days, separated and isolated as we are, we must find mentors and guides in other ways. We rely heavily on friendship. We call family members. We read books and receive the wisdom of teachers we’ll never meet. We seek the guidance of a therapist … Click here to continue reading...

Turned On By Kindness

“I love him but I don’t desire him” is a statement I often hear from clients and course members.

Our culture teaches us to be turned on by mystery. Desire and longing are so intimately linked that it’s often when a relationship becomes solid and real that the desire withers. This can happen on the first date if you sense immediately that the person is available and wants you, or it can happen several months into the relationship. The shift often happens when the burning, desire-inducing question of “Do you really love me?” is answered. Heather Havrilesky nails it in this article:

I’m an advice columnist, so sometimes people ask me about how they can “keep the romance alive” in their marriages. This stumps me a little because, by “romance,” I know they mean the traditional version, the one that depends on living inside a giant, suspenseful question mark. … Click here to continue reading...

When You're Not Attracted To Your Partner ----- Part 2

Physical attraction is not a firm foundation on which to build a relationship, for the simple reason that it is never constant. It sets in motion a cycle of expectation and disillusionment that can go on and on. The person who lives in a world of fantasy will often blame the other for letting him down. Perhaps, for example, Juliet expects Romeo to come to her balcony every morning and launch into, “It is the east, and you are the sun . . . .” Three days after the honeymoon, she feels crushed when she is greeted at breakfast with nothing more romantic than, “Where’s the toast?” Many relationships sputter because of just such inflated expectations, which demand of life something that it simply cannot give. We should not feel that close relationships are beyond our reach, but they are demanding. Through experience, we come to realize that in Click here to continue reading...