How to ask for more affection, intimacy and sex…and…how not to.

Click on the picture below to watch the short video:

It’s very frustrating and disheartening when affection and intimacy are lacking in a relationship. How do you talk to your partner about your desire for more romance and physical affection and intimacy without putting him or her on the defensive?

First, let’s look at how you do not want to approach your partner about your desire for more affection and intimacy in your relationship. Here are some approaches to avoid:

1. Avoid being accusatory.

2. Avoid complaining. Whining and complaining push the other person away.

3. Avoid being defeatist. Expecting the worst is weak and unattractive.

4. Avoid being self-deprecating. Insecurity and self-criticism are unappealing and a turn-off.

5. Avoid negative attacks. Attacking your partner will cause him or her to become hostile, not warm and loving.

6. Avoid the biological needs argument. If you want to increase the desire and sexual intimacy in your relationship, don’t treat your partner as an object to be used to satisfy your needs.

There are several components that are important to expressing your desire for more physical affection and intimacy.

1. Build the foundation. Don’t start at the finish line. Start at the beginning as though you are dating or courting. Build a foundation of respect, fun and romance.

2. Appreciate the positive. Appreciation and subtle flirtation throughout the day allow desire to develop.

3. Ask for feedback and listen. Find out what’s going on in your partner’s mind. Find out why he or she has lost desire for you and don’t become defensive or hostile.

4. Express your desires in a positive way. For example, “I’d like to be in a relationship that’s affectionate, romantic, fun, and where we can express our love physically.” “I’d like to be in a relationship where both partners enjoy sex.”

5. Ask for ideas and input. Find out what he or she would like to see in the relationship.

Remember that tone of voice and demeanor are more important than the words you use. Convey self-respect and self-empowerment as well as compassion and love for your partner.

If there has been a history of controlling behavior or contempt, then lack of desire will be more entrenched and counseling may be necessary.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen


Read “Sustaining Desire: ‘It doesn’t matter. Let’s just watch TV.’”

Watch “Seven Keys To A Fantastic Relationship.”

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“She told me not to call her anymore, but I can’t stop thinking about her.”

"Silent Night" by Mimi Stuart © Live the Life you Desire

“Silent Night” by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

You have to resist the temptation to dial her number. If she’s told you not to call her anymore, calling her is the last thing you should do for three reasons:

1. Disrespect worsens relationships. Ignoring her clear desires is disrespectful. Any potential future relationship based on disrespect is not going to be based on a good foundation. Respect her wishes, or she will push you away even more and end up really disliking you.

2. One-sided relationships are dissatisfying. There has to be some reciprocity in a relationship. No matter how much you like another person, if he or she does not reciprocate to some degree, then the person is not available either to you or perhaps to anyone for a relationship. It is frustrating and disheartening to say the least to try to be in a relationship without mutual engagement.

3. Obsession worsens your life. If you continue to engage in efforts to interact and communicate with someone who is not interested, your obsessive thoughts gain potency and prevent you from moving on in your life with other activities and relationships. The reverse is also true. Not moving on in your life will make your obsession worse. In some cases, love may not fade. Yet the obsessive character of not being able to stop thinking about someone will diminish if you stop trying to interact with that person.

Perhaps after a long period of time, say a year, you could reach out again to see if things have changed, if you objectively think that’s a possibility. If you do so, again take her response at face value, making sure you respect it, and make efforts to move forward in your life.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen

Read “I think I am a pursuer. My girlfriend initiated a breakup. I want to salvage this relationship. What can I do?”

Read “I’ve texted you five times in the last hour! Where have you been?”

Read “You sound like a broken record repeating stories about your psycho ex!”

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How To Ask Your Partner For Help

Click on the picture below to watch the short video:

Attacking someone is not a good way to motivate someone to help you. Instead, make a specific positive request, and show them that you’d appreciate the help.

Also when you look at your life, most of the moments of a given day could be viewed as ordinary moments of work and doing chores like cleaning, cooking, and raking the leaves. If you decide to make the most of those ordinary moments instead of dreading them and slogging through them, you will change your life. By bringing a positive attitude to work and chores, you will bring enjoyment and vitality to all those all the ordinary moments and to your relationships.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen

Healthy Relationships and
Effective Communication

Watch “Effective Communication and getting what you want.”

Read “Breaking Patterns through Dramatic Practice: ‘I have good intentions, but…’”

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Ten reasons not to spread rumors

"Perception" by Mimi Stuart © Live the Life you Desire

“Perception” by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

Telling provocative stories about other people will get you attention. Yet spreading unverified information will cause harm to you in ways that may not be immediately evident.

There are ten harmful effects to people who spread rumors and perpetrate malicious gossip:

1. You prove you are not trustworthy. When people hear you speculating about other people or spreading rumors, they know that you are likely to talk about them behind their back as well.

2. You appeal to busybodies. You will be fostering relationships with an uninspiring group of people. Individuals who listen to rumor mongering do not have a lot going on in their lives and will not be interesting themselves.

3. You hurt others. Spreading rumors damages other people’s reputation without being based on substantiated fact. You can destroy people’s self-confidence, their careers, and even their lives.

4. You feel dirty. The attention may feel good while listeners are gripped by your salacious story, but soon thereafter it won’t feel good when you realize you’ve damaged someone’s reputation.

5. You waste time focusing on hearsay. The time spent talking about others could have been used to do something more productive or inspiring.

6. You lose your credibility. When you exaggerate or spread unverified gossip, people will stop believing what you say.

7. You feel pressure to satisfy a never-ending thirst for more rumor-mongering. You will need to come up with more stories to pique the jaded or prurient interest of your listeners, which further pressures you to exaggerate or spread hearsay.

8. You push interesting people away. People with productive or interesting lives are generally repelled by rumor mongers, and will start avoiding you once they figure out your MO.

9. You lose sight of your own interests. The attention you’re getting is not in response to your more positive talents, skills and efforts, but the salacious gossip you mete out. What you focus on in life is what develops. So your more positive qualities diminish into the background.

10. You demean yourself. You degrade yourself by showing a lack of integrity when you choose to spread unverified information.


It’s natural to be curious about other people’s lives, to spread factual or verifiable news about others, and to discuss human behavior to gain insight into our own lives and the lives of others. Yet spreading rumors, which are not verified facts, generally diminishes your life and the lives of those around you.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen

Watch “How to distinguish harmless gossip from malicious gossip.”

Read “Gossip: ‘What else did you hear?’”

Watch “How to respond to malicious gossip.”

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How to Respond to Rudeness:
“I TOLD you to get it for me!!!”

Rudeness tends to gradually get worse if you simply let it slide, causing relationships to deteriorate. But resentment and over-reaction make things worse as well. So how should you respond to rudeness?

When someone is rude to you, whether it is your partner, boyfriend, girlfriend, child, or acquaintance, it’s best not to do respond to the person’s demand. First, let them know that you don’t appreciate his or her rude attitude. The trick is not becoming hostile yourself.

A simple “excuse me?” with a questioning tone of voice often will be enough for them to apologize or rephrase with a more neutral tone of voice.

Sometimes you may have to actually say, “That tone of voice really doesn’t work for me,” or “please don’t yell at me,” or “I don’t appreciate being yelled at,” or “it’s not helpful to sound angry.” Again, the key is to remain calm, and in some circumstances, you may even be able to retain a sense of humor, which is often the most effective way to get things on the right track.

If we let rudeness slide, our relationships will deteriorate over time, allowing disrespect and contempt to take over. It’s very important, however, not to put the other person on the defensive. Thus, stay calm, maintain your dignity, and retain a sense of humor if appropriate.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen

Watch “Dealing with Angry People.”

Read “Criticism and Contempt.”

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Adult with an abusive parent: “I have gotten to the point now that I cannot even handle a phone call from my 80-year old father.”

"Forlorn Heart" by Mimi Stuart ©

“Forlorn Heart” by Mimi Stuart ©

I have gotten to the point now that I cannot even handle a phone call from my 80 year old father. I keep telling myself I’m being silly but every time I have any contact it upsets me so much I get very anxious and can’t sleep. Ever since I can remember he has always criticized me and upset me. As a child he would single me out and rage at me and hit me. I wondered “why me?”

Now his health is deteriorating but he plays mind games where he sounds like he’s dying on the phone. My sister gets angry when I try to say that he was less than perfect. Other people who haven’t seen this side of him think I’m hard and uncaring and he plays on this. I feel very guilty writing this down as I keep thinking maybe I’m being too dramatic.


Dear Anne,

In essence, your father was abusive and he is continuing in that vein by trying to draw you in using guilt as a hook. You need to set a boundary, not only with him but with the others in your life as well.

Vicious cycle of abuse

Being raised with constant criticism and hostility often leads a person to grow up doubting his or her own value and need to be respected. That is why it is so hard to leave an abuser. Raised in an atmosphere of abuse, you wonder whether you deserve the mistreatment or whether you are simply “sensitive” and over-reacting if you cut the perpetrator out of your life. That self-doubt makes you a target for further abuse—by your father, your sister, other people, and even yourself.

Your father continues to be manipulative, selfish, demanding and demeaning, and does not consider what is best for you. Unfortunately, when you have such a parent, it is more difficult to learn to value your own health and wellbeing. Now is the time to do so.

Misplaced guilt

The root of your guilty feelings appears to have little to do with what is best for your emotional and physical welfare. You probably learned to be accommodating as a way to handle the abuse targeted at you. Standing up for yourself probably would have incurred increased hostility. So you learned to become compliant as a defense against further abuse. You may also be subconsciously still seeking the love, acceptance, and protection you did not receive in your childhood.

It is this misplaced guilt and a subconscious desire for parental love that is hurting you now. I think it’s time to set aside your guilt and listen to your inner voice that wants to protect you. You must not allow that inner voice to be drowned out by the voices of your father, your sister and others who have not witnessed your very personal abuse at the hands of your father.

Setting boundaries guilt-free

It is clear from what you say that you need to set boundaries in your life. Where you set those boundaries is up to you. Just don’t let guilt be your guide.

You may want to avoid all contact with your father. Or you may want to send an occasional card. Or you could make a phone call and be direct: “Don’t suggest my taking care of you. As a young girl, I felt scared and anxious around you because you criticized me, shouted at me and hit me. As a result, I can’t be with you. I am simply not available.”

Whether you ever talk to your father again, have limited contact, or confront him openly, the most important step for you is to own the fact that you will not subject yourself to any more abuse from him or from others. You do not need the approval or understanding of your sister or others. Ironically, not until you stop hoping that those who disagree will support you, will they probably stop giving you hard time, and with time they may come to respect you for it.

If your sister or others ask you why you don’t visit your father, simply say, “My experience with him was very different from yours,” and leave it at that. Avoid arguing about the facts and getting into the weeds. Do not let them put you on the defensive.

Eventually, you may learn to understand that your father was incapable of being loving and that his abuse was an unconscious response to his own failures, fears and complexes – not yours. You may even forgive him.Yet understanding and forgiveness do not entail subjecting yourself to further abuse.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “Rebuilding your Life: ‘How do I silence their abusive voices in my head, stop being hard on myself and start living?’”

Read “Abusive emails from an ex: ‘I keep defending myself against never-ending false, accusatory emails from my ex-husband, because I want to stay on good terms.’”

Read “Ending an Abusive Relationship: ‘I feel guilty leaving my abusive partner, because I have compassion for him.’”

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