Category Archives: Intimacy

“Is planning in advance an unreasonable expectation?”

"Tiffanys" by Mimi Stuart ©

“Tiffanys” by Mimi Stuart ©

“I never expected to come first even on a weekly basis, but it was tiring to NEVER be a priority in my boyfriend’s life. I was very understanding about the demands on his time, but I was getting frustrated that he refused to plan ahead. Apparently asking for that was too demanding and he ended our two year relationship over it. I know I was the pursuer and I did make myself too available to him.”

Is planning ahead unreasonable?

It is very reasonable to expect an intimate partner to plan ahead for you! But, he did not plan ahead because he did not have too. You were always available. You focused too much on accommodating him, and thereby narrowed your own life and became less desirable.

Avoid being a doormat

My advice to you is to start living your life fully. Rather than asking him to plan ahead, simply make your own plans. I would plan out each week a week in advance, and be busy with people or activities or just plan on staying home to chill and read or do something you enjoy doing alone. When you have other interests and a life beyond him, you will be more interesting and desirable. If he really wants to see you, he’ll have to make you a priority and plan ahead.

If he does call, you can be friendly. Let him know that you’re busy, because you will be busy. Do NOT drop everything to see him, even if you’re dying to see him. For instance, “I’d love to see you tomorrow, but I have plans with a friend,” or “Tonight I’m staying home and relaxing, but it sounds great for another night.” Only be available if he plans ahead of time.

Note that in a mutual, reciprocal relationship, it’s fine to drop everything to see the other person sometimes.

Is being unavailable a game?

Haivng a busier life and being unavailable is not game-playing. It only feels like a game because you don’t feel like behaving this way. You need to use your reason and avoid acting only according to your feelings. Your desire to be with him was so strong that your other interests were pushed aside, which caused you to put too much emphasis on him and the relationship. The result was self-sabotaging.

You will be honoring yourself by requiring some notice. You will be doing him a favor as well. He will appreciate you more and have the opportunity to look forward to being with you, as there will be time for him to anticipate seeing you. Right now, you are the only one doing the anticipating, waiting, and yearning.

How to change your behavior

We learn to behave differently by playing a new part, whether we want to become more responsible, more fun, or more desirable. Through practice — by copying people we find particularly good at those behaviors — the new behavior will become more natural.

In part, desire is generated by anticipation, which requires distance and separation. Pursuing your own interests, other activities, and friendships will distract you, bring you joy, and will make you more desirable. And if your life is more full and well-rounded, all the better!

by Dr. Alison Poulsen


“I have been the Pursuer of my boyfriend. What is the best way to demonstrate the beauty of connection to a typical Distancer?”

"Rocket Man" by Mimi Stuart ©

“Rocket Man” by Mimi Stuart ©

The best way to approach your boyfriend as a Distancer so that he recognizes the beauty of the connection is to enjoy your time together without overwhelming or pressuring him for even greater connection. A Distancer prefers to keep physical or emotional distance because unconsciously he fears that he will be manipulated or obligated to give up his autonomy.

Distancers dislike setting boundaries

Strangely enough, Distancers are typically uncomfortable setting boundaries in a clear but compassionate way with people they feel close to. One way this inability to set boundaries develops is that the Distancer’s parent punished him or her with anger or cold withdrawal when the child did not want to accommodate and go along with the parent. Setting boundaries, therefore, became dangerous for the Distancer because of the risk of incurring a hostile reaction from someone he or she depended on for survival. Thus, the Distancer learned to protect him- or herself by staying emotionally distant and no longer needing to set boundaries in an intimate or personal situation.

Avoid pressure and manipulation

Thus, Distancers are particularly uncomfortable with people who are prone to want something from them, for example, people who are needy, controlling, or manipulative. Thus, it is important to avoid manipulating or pressuring your boyfriend into doing things he may not want to do, such as spending more time with you or opening up and talking more. So when he says or hints that he prefers to stay home instead of being with you, respond with easy kindness and without causing him to feel manipulated or guilty, “Too bad. I’ll miss you. Have a great evening.” Tone of voice is key—it should render no feelings of guilt. Over time, he may feel that it is not as threatening to resist accommodating you as it was for him as a child.

If the Distancer opens up and expresses emotion or something personal, be careful not to criticize or analyze him and don’t grill him for more information. It’s better to just listen, and then say something like, “I appreciate you’re telling me that.” Or “Is there anything I can do to help?” And then allow the subject to be changed if he starts to feel uncomfortable.

In these ways, the Distancer will learn over time that the earlier hazards of intrusion and control no longer threaten him. As a result, he will probably open up a bit more (especially if he is younger.) But don’t expect a big change. He will likely remain somewhat on his guard.

Focus on yourself

Part of the beauty of a relationship is learning from the person you are drawn to. Focus on why you are attracted to a Distancer and in what ways you could learn to become more like him. He probably has fine qualities typical of a Distancer, such as having discretion and being autonomous, that might benefit you. Learn to resist the desire for more connection, and simply appreciate the connection you do have as well as the time you spend apart or with others.

If he is significantly closed off and spends inordinate time alone, you can talk to him about your needs. Try to be specific, and make sure you do not manipulate him as that is sure to backfire. Ask him how he sees the ideal balance of separateness and togetherness in your relationship. If his desire for connection is very different from yours, be prepared for disappointment and perhaps for moving on from this relationship, because people only change when they themselves are motivated to do so.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen

Intimacy vs. Agreement
“I better not disagree with his point of view, or he’ll get upset.”

“Fire ‘n Ice”—Mark Wood & Laura Kaye by Mimi Stuart ©

“Fire ‘n Ice”—Mark Wood & Laura Kaye by Mimi Stuart ©

Guessing game: The cycle of fusion

People often think they want more agreement in order to gain a feeling of intimacy. They often mistake intimacy with a feeling of closeness or “being one with their partner.” So in their quest for intimacy, they anticipate what their partner’s beliefs are in order avoid saying something incompatible or controversial. If they foresee disapproval, they screen themselves and limit their expression to what’s tried and true between them. Or they pressure their partner into agreeing with their own position.

Unfortunately, this kind of self-screening and manipulation starts the cycle of emotional fusion (co-dependence), which curtails growth and intimacy within a relationship. Fear of disapproval leads to one or both partners striving to be in complete agreement with the other and avoid rocking the boat. As a result, the relationship becomes tedious and lackluster.

How intimacy develops

Intimacy develops when people get to know each other more deeply. When two people conceal who they are and what they think in order to get along, they do not get to know one another well. Intimacy develops when two people are able to express who they are more fully, and when they are able to change and grow while within a relationship, even though this does not always lead to a feeling of oneness. Passion requires friction, albeit not hostile friction.

Tolerating the anxiety of intimacy

To be able to express who you are, what you feel, and what you believe requires being able to handle rejection, which often triggers anxiety. Thus, by developing a better tolerance for anxiety, you enhance your ability to deepen the intimacy in your relationship.

Of course there is a limit as to what you should express to others. You don’t need to share every thought and feeling, because you don’t want to become a bore. Moreover, there is a point where consideration and discretion count more than blunt honesty and openness.

Get comfortable with discomfort

When it comes to more significant thoughts and feelings, we need to learn to express ourselves despite the other person’s potentially-negative response. If we learn to handle discomfort, we no longer need to feign agreement, laugh at a poor joke, or dumb down our conversation to avoid upsetting another person. Our relationships can then be based on stimulating thoughts, growth, and authenticity, rather than sham consensus.

Respectful communication

Intimate relationships develop best when we express our honest opinions respectfully, and most importantly, when we really listen to another person’s message without shutting him or her down. This means not being reactive — sarcastic, angry, or cold — when someone has an opinion that we disagree with. When we “correct” or attack people aggressively for their ideas, we’re not encouraging them to be open and honest with us.

Respectful communication is different from acceptance and approval. Good communication does not necessarily make the other person feel his or her opinions are endorsed. Yet he or she will feel understood and respected.

“I understand what you’re saying. I see it a little differently though.”

“I’m interested to hear why you see it that way.”

“Interesting. I have a different perspective.”

Intimacy develops when we learn to listen with equanimity and to reveal ourselves, our opinions, and our feelings respectfully. Only by truly getting to know one another, do we develop meaningful, intimate relationships.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen

The type of person to avoid falling in love with or becoming dependent on

"Volcano" by Mimi Stuart

“Height of Ecstacy” Mount Everest by Mimi Stuart

“Alison,
I met a spectacular woman a few months ago. But then began her impulsivity, changeable moods and rage outbursts against me. She seems highly functioning but doesn’t have self-control. Why am I attracted to people who are like that?”


The excitement of impulsivity

Impulsive people respond to their feelings without giving them much thought. They often express and respond to their emotions fervently and without fear of consequences. They tend to lack a filter or inner critic, which can result in their being exuberant, spontaneous and sometimes hotheaded.

Spontaneity and exuberance can be exciting and appealing. When two people are first attracted to each other, there are a lot of positive emotions, and someone who expresses desire and excitement impetuously can be quite seductive and exhilarating to be with.

The fantasy in new relationships

When two people first become captivated with one another whether as friends or potential lovers, there is always a bit of projection going on. They don’t really know each other, so they fill in the blanks by projecting their hopes and fantasies onto the other person.

Yet no one can really fulfill the expectations of another person. Eventually, reality sets in and will conflict with some of the fantasies each has about the other. When they find out that their expectations are inaccurate, they may be disappointed and even blame the other person for failing to fulfill their fantasy. Disappointment and blame can trigger further negative emotions and behavior in both people.

People who lack impulse control tend to follow their emotions, while ignoring reason based on observations of experience. They allow themselves to get carried away by their projections when they are infatuated with someone. They also experience disappointment in an exaggerated way without tempering their negative emotions with rational thought and restraint. When they express their negative emotions without a filter, they may become volatile, hostile and explosive.

How to avoid getting hurt by volatile people

It helps to develop your own self-control and avoid falling for someone too quickly. The word “falling” is appropriate here. It implies letting go of reason and caution while giving up any grounding in reality. This “letting go” or “falling” into your fantasy feels thrilling and intoxicating, but when you finally hit the ground, it can hurt.

So it helps to take your time before getting deeply involved with someone you’re attracted to. Take your time to get to know their true nature, qualities and character. By avoiding becoming emotionally enmeshed too quickly, i.e., by calling or seeing them everyday, you can retain some objectivity.

While it’s fine to enjoy people who are impulsive and exciting, know that such qualities can lead to moodiness, controlling behavior, dependency, manipulation, volatility and rage. Thus, make sure you remain independent and grounded on your own terms when engaging with impulsive people. Also try to avoid being controlling, possessive, overly impulsive, dependent, or manipulative yourself. None of these qualities bode well in the pursuit of a long-term relationship.

You can still enjoy the excitement of being captivated by or infatuated with a new person. But keep your eyes open and reason intact to be able to stay connected to reality.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen

Guest Author Sam Vaknin: “He Wants Me To Have sex with Other Men. What’s Wrong with Him?”

"Tiffanys" by Mimi Stuart ©

“Tiffanys” by Mimi Stuart ©

GUEST AUTHOR SAM VAKNIN writes:

The Lifestyle involves sexual acts performed by more than two participants whether in the same space, or separately. It is also known as “swinging”, “wife-, or spouse-swapping”, “wife-, or spouse-sharing”, “group sex” and, where multiple people interact with a single person, “gangbanging”. Swinging can be soft (engaging in sexual activity with one’s own intimate partner, but in the presence of others), or hard (having sex not with one’s spouse or mate.) Threesomes (mostly male-female-male or MFM) are the most common configuration.

The psychological background to such unusual pursuits is not clear and has never been studied in depth. Still, thousands of online chats between active and wannabe adherents and fans in various forums reveal 10 psychodynamic strands:

1. Latent and overt bisexuality and homosexuality: both men and women (but especially women) adopt swinging as a way to sample same-sex experiences in a tolerant, at times anonymous, and permissive environment;

2. The Slut-Madonna Complex: to be sexually attracted to their spouses, some men need to “debase” and “humiliate” them by witnessing their “sluttish” conduct with others. These men find it difficult to have regular, intimate sex with women to whom they are emotionally attached and whose probity is beyond doubt. Sex is “dirty” and demeaning, so it should be mechanical, the preserve of whorish and promiscuous partners;

3. Voyeurism and exhibitionism are both rampant in and satisfied by swinging. Oftentimes, those who partake in the Lifestyle document their exploits on video and share photos and saucy verbal descriptions. Amateur porn and public sex (“dogging”) are fixtures of swinging;

4. Vicarious gratification. “Cuckolds” are (typically male) swingers who masturbate to the sight of their partner having sex with another, usually without actually joining the fray. They derive gratification from and are sexually aroused by the evident pleasure experienced by their significant other: her vocalizations, body language, body fluids, enraptured movements, and orgasm and abandon;

5. Masochism is a prime motive for a minority of swingers. They relish in their own agony as they watch their spouse hooking up with others: envy, pain, anxiety, a sense of humiliation, an overpowering feeling of worthlessness and inadequacy, sinfulness, debauchery, depravity, and decadence all conspire to thrill the masochist and delight him;

6. Swinging is also a form of legitimized cheating. It spices up the stale sex lives of the players and neutralized the emotional and financial risks and threats associated with furtive extramarital escapades. Many swingers adopt the Lifestyle in order to alleviate boredom, counter routine, realise sexual fantasies, learn new techniques, feel desirable and attractive once more, and cope with discrepancies in sex drive. They insist: “swinging saved my marriage”;

7. Some swingers use the Lifestyle to “display” or “exhibit” their partners, casting them as desired and desirable trophies, or status symbols. Others present may sexually “sample the wife” but never own her, a form of restricted access which causes her suitors much envy and frustration. “I am the one who ends up going home with her” – these swingers brag, thus reaffirming their own irresistibility and attractiveness;

8. The Lifestyle is a rollercoaster of serial relationships, mostly with strangers. It is, therefore, thrilling, risky, and exciting and provokes anxiety, romantic jealousy, and guilt (for having dragged the partner into the Lifestyle, or for not having restrained her). There is also a recurrent fear of losing the partner owing to a growing emotional or sexual bond with one of her casual “F-buddies” or “friends with benefits”. Swinging results in an adrenaline rush, a high, and in addictive periods of calm after these self-inflicted psychosexual storms;

9. Swinging calls for the objectification of sexual partners. Many swingers prefer to remain anonymous in settings like Lifestyle retreats or group sex and orgies. They are thus reduced to genitalia and erogenous zones enmeshed in auto-erotic and narcissistic acts of masturbatory gratification with other people’s bodies as mere props. Women reported experiencing a new sense of empowerment and mastery as they can finally dictate the terms and conditions of sexual encounters, pick and choose partners, and realize hitherto suppressed sexual fantasies. Other practitioners actually prefer to swing only with close friends, using sex as a form of intimacy-enhancing recreation;

10. Nudity has a pronounced aesthetic dimension and when multiple naked bodies intertwine, the combination can amount to a work of art, a flesh-and-blood throbbing sculpture. Many swingers find sex to be the most supreme form of artistic experience, an interconnectedness that enhances empathy and communication and provides extreme sensual pleasure. It is also great fun: the ultimate in entertainment, where novelty and familiarity merge to yield a unique journey with each new entrant.

————————————–

by Guest Author Sam Vaknin, the author of Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain – How the West Lost the East, as well as many other books and ebooks about topics in psychology, relationships, philosophy, economics, international affairs, and award-winning short fiction.

He is the Editor-in-Chief of Global Politician and served as a columnist for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, eBookWeb, and Bellaonline, and as a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent. He was the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101.

Visit Sam’s Web site.

“My boyfriend won’t schedule ahead. So I get all anxious wondering when I’ll see him next.”

"Jump"—Marylin by Mimi Stuart © Live the Life you Desire

“Jump”—Marylin by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

You have given your boyfriend too much power in the relationship. By anxiously waiting to accommodate his desires and his schedule, you give him the power to determine when he gets to see you. It is time to stop that. Not only is this bad for your own wellbeing, it makes the relationship unbalanced, nonreciprocal, and unsustainable.

Many people in a non-committed relationship will wait until the last minute to make plans because they have the expectation that something better might come along. If you continue to be totally available at his whim and convenience, he will lose desire and respect for you.

Eliminate anxious questioning and nagging, which are worse than ineffective. If you feel like you’re being kept waiting by someone who doesn’t like to plan ahead, you should definitely make other plans — lots of other plans. In fact, fill up your schedule, despite the fact that you would prefer to be with him over going to the gym, going to a movie with a friend, or catching up on reading. What you’d actually prefer is that he’d want to be with you badly enough that he would be able to commit ahead of time.

Allow him to become the one who wonders when he will get to see you next. Eventually he will discover that you are not available unless he plans ahead. He’ll learn this through your specific actions and his own surprise and disappointment when you are already booked up. Uncertainty and respect fan the flames of desire.

If he cannot take the time to schedule time with you then you will know that he really is only interested in you as a default date. It would be better to find this out sooner rather than later and move forward with your dignity and self respect intact.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen

Read “Is ‘playing hard to get’ just a game?”

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

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