Peter H Brown Clinical Psychologist

Psychology News & Resources

Infatuation: Can You Trust The Emotional Rush Of New Love?

imagesSOURCE CREDIT: The Deceptive Power of Love’s First Moments: Published on July 13, 2012 by Susan Heitler, Ph.D. in Resolution, Not Conflict at Psychology Today

Infatuation stimulates fantasies of permanent bonding.

New love is the ultimate turn on. In the first moments and days of love, the neuro-chemicals that create feelings of happiness all explode out the starter gate.  But does an explosion of happiness chemicals that triggers the thought “I want this person to be in my life forever!” necessarily mean that you and your new love would in fact make good chemistry together forever?Before you make a mad dash to the altar, better read on.

Why do decisions to marry that are made in the early exciting stage of love, the stage of infatuation, so often turn out to be a big mistake?

I recently read an exceptionally clear explanation.

Early romantic experiences leave a lasting imprint on who we are—and who we fall for.

Chana Levitan is the author of a particularly helpful ‘Is this the right one for me to marry?’ book.  I Only Want To Get Married Once explains that infatuation is “ the spark at the beginning” that suddenly ignites with a new person or in a situation that has newly switched from businesslike or friendship to romantic and sexualized. Because that spark, that sparkling, delightfully sexually intense feeling when you first fall in love, feels so good, you are likely to want the feeling to last forever.

Alas, it won’t.

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Levitan explains that no matter how good the match, the strong sexualized draw of infatuation, even in the best of marriages, is only a temporary phenomenon associated with newness and insecurity.

Levitan quotes the research of psychologist Dorothy Tennov who found that the duration of infatuation typically lasts at most “between approximately 18 months and three years.” Circumstances like a long-distance relationship or chronic relationship insecurity may articfically extend the tingling phenomenon, at the cost of delaying the shift either into a departure from the relationship or into commitment to a mature and reliable love partnership.

Infatuation also poses a second trap. It’s easy to confuse loving the feeling of infatuation with the totally separate issue of how loving you are likely to feel toward that person after the infatuation has worn off. 

Love is blind while you are in the intital infatuation stage.  After that, clarity about reality tends to emerge. Continuing to love someone is likely to depend on how suitable that person is as a partner in the project of living.

Fortunately, it’s possible to look ahead even when you are feeling swept off your feet.  Your capacity for longer range vision can help you evaluate if the person you love so intensely today is likely to become a burden or an asset over time.  Does your current infatuation seem to be with someone who will turn into a stranger from a strange land or someone with whom openness, intimacy and a shared life style would be possible? Would that person be a supportive partner or a controlling tyrant?

Levitan offers a handy list of five signs suggest that an infatuation is not to be trusted. Here goes her Five Signs list:

  1. The infatuation is the whole relationship. There’s nothing else there. No shared vision or values of the life pathways you both want. Minimal shared interests. Not much to talk about after the initial getting-to-know-you conversations.
  2. You’re so caught up in the chemistry of initial attraction that you can’t, or don’t want to, see who the person really is.
  3. You’re infatuated and at the same time know that the person is bad for you.
  4. You’re moving toward marriage but find yourself thinking about someone you’ve dated in the past, or looking at others you might date in the future.
  5. You know at some level that you are wasting your time enjoying being infatuated with someone whom you wouldn’t want to marry.
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Is infatuation a reliable guide?

So are all initial strong feelings untrustworthy?  Absolutely not. Strong feelings alone do not a good match make, but strong feelings plus good sense can enable couples to make a marriage choice early on that leads to a relationship that proves to be long-lasting and ever-loving. I knew the man I married for less than two months, and was thoroughly infatuated, when we decided to wed. Now, forty years, four children and ten grandchildren later I’m still thrilled with my choice of mates.Who to marry is the single most important decision a person makes in their life. It’s especially important, as Levitan puts it so nicely in the title of her book, “I Only Want to Get Married Once.”  So pick thoughtfully. And once you’ve picked, make sure to learn the communication skills for marriage success!

Susan Heitler, PhD is a clinical psychologist in Denver who specializes in helping couples to build strong and loving partnerships. Her book The Power of Two is the basis for the fun interactive online marriage education program PowerOfTwoMarriage.com.

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September 16, 2013 Posted by | Books, Identity, Intimate Relationshps, Marriage, Resilience, Sex & Sexuality | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The “Science” Of Physical Attractiveness: Now You Can Participate In The Research Online

Scientists in Australia and Hong Kong have conducted a comprehensive study to discover how different body measurements correspond with ratings of female attractiveness.

The study, published in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology, found that across cultural divides young, tall and long armed women were considered the most attractive.

You can participate in the ongoing research at www.bodylab.biz The current research online involves the rating of male and /or female body shape and male facial attractiveness.

Physical attractiveness is an important determining factor for evolutionary, social and economic success,” said lead author Robert Brooks from the University of New South Wales. “The dimensions of someone’s body can tell observers if that person is suitable as a potential mate, a long term partner or perhaps the threat they pose as a sexual competitor.”

Traditional studies of attractiveness have been bound to the Darwinian idea of natural selection, which argues that an individual will always choose the best possible mate that circumstances will allow. Such studies have focused on torso, waist, bust and hip measurements. In this study the team measured the attractiveness of scans of 96 bodies of Chinese women who were either students or volunteers, aged between 20-49 years of age.

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Videos of the models were shown to a sample of 92 Australian adults, 40 men and 52 women, aged between 18 to 58 years of age, and mostly of European descent. They then compared the attractiveness ratings given by the Australian group to the ratings from a group in Hong Kong to avoid cultural bias.

Both sample groups were asked to rate the models’ attractiveness on a 7 point scale; on average the raters took just 5.35 seconds to rate each model. The team then explored the statistical results, focusing on age, body weight and a range of length and girth measurements.

The results showed that there was a strong level of agreement between the 4 groups of Australian men and women, and Hong Kong men and women, with scans of younger, taller and lighter women being rated as more attractive. Women with narrow waists, especially relative to their height, were also considered much more attractive.

The study also revealed that BMI (Body mass index) and HWR (Hip to waist ratio) were both strong predictors of attractiveness. Scans of taller women who had longer arms were also rated highly, however leg size did not contribute significantly to the ratings.

“Our results showed consistent attractiveness ratings by men and women and by Hong Kong Chinese and Australian raters, suggesting considerable cross cultural consistency,” concluded Brooks. “In part this may be due to shared media experiences. Nonetheless when models are stripped of their most obvious racial and cultural features, the features that make bodies attractive tend to be shared by men and women across cultural divides.”

Brooks and his colleagues have taken their studies of the complexities of male and female attractiveness online at www.bodylab.biz.

Source: Wiley Blackwell

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October 4, 2010 Posted by | Cognition, Intimate Relationshps, Marriage, research, Sex & Sexuality, Social Psychology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“My Kid Wouldn’t Go There”: Teens & Teen Sexuality

It can be difficult for parents of teenagers to come to terms with the fact their kids may have sex, particularly given widespread concerns about the consequences of teen sexual activity. In fact, a new study from North Carolina State University shows that many parents think that their children aren’t interested in sex – but that everyone else’s kids are.

“Parents I interviewed had a very hard time thinking about their own teen children as sexually desiring subjects,” says Dr. Sinikka Elliott, an assistant professor of sociology at NC State and author of the study. In other words, parents find it difficult to think that their teenagers want to have sex.

“At the same time,” Elliott says, “parents view their teens’ peers as highly sexual, even sexually predatory.” By taking this stance, the parents shift the responsibility for potential sexual activity to others – attributing any such behavior to peer pressure, coercion or even entrapment.

For example, Elliott says, parents of teenage boys were often concerned that their sons may be lured into sexual situations by teenage girls who, the parents felt, may use sex in an effort to solidify a relationship. The parents of teenage girls, meanwhile, expressed fears that their daughters would be taken advantage of by sexually driven teenage boys.

These beliefs contribute to stereotypes of sexual behavior that aren’t helpful to parents or kids.

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“By using sexual stereotypes to absolve their children of responsibility for sexual activity, the parents effectively reinforce those same stereotypes,” Elliott says.

Parents’ use of these stereotypes also paints teen heterosexual relationships in an unflattering, adversarial light, Elliott says and notes the irony of this: “Although parents assume their kids are heterosexual, they don’t make heterosexual relationships sound very appealing.”

A paper describing the study is published in the May issue of Symbolic Interaction. Elliott is also the author of the forthcoming book, Not My Kid: Parents and Teen Sexuality, which will by published by New York University Press.

Source: ScienceDaily (May 3, 2010)

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May 5, 2010 Posted by | Adolescence, Books, Child Behavior, Girls, Identity, Intimate Relationshps, Parenting, Sex & Sexuality | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Too Sexy Too Soon! PART ll – Are Sexual Images Now An Inescapable Part Of Children’s Lives?

See Part I of this Post HERE

A billboard for a brothel on a school route

Source: AAP

THE professional body for Australia’s psychiatrists says the self-regulation of advertising and other media industries has failed to protect children from an onslaught of sexualised content.

Today’s generation of kids faced the “widespread use of sexual images to sell anything from margarine to fashion”, Professor Newman, the president of The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, said.

She said risque images were now an “inescapable” part of a child’s environment and pointed to billboard and TV advertising, magazines and music videos and even the posters in department stores.

Prof Newman is calling for a new regime of restrictions to protect children from both targeted and inadvertent exposure to sexualised media content.

She said more Australian research was needed to gauge its effect, though the anecdotal evidence was troubling.

The exposure appeared to push typically teenage and adult concerns about body image, “sexiness” and of being a “worthwhile individual” well into a child’s first years of life.

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“I’ve seen four-year-olds and pre-schoolers who want to diet … going on intermittent food refusal,” she said.

Introducing sexualised themes to children could be overt, Prof Newman said, such as the move by a British retailer to sell a child’s pole dancing kit or “tween” magazines that offer advice to girls on how to be more attractive to the opposite sex.

But in many cases it was inadvertent.

“If you go into a 7-Eleven, at child’s eye-view will be Ralph magazine next to cartoons,” she said.

“The child might be attracted to the cartoons but what they are bombarded with are all these really quite unusual women with breast implants.

“It is sending a message that this is sexual attraction, this is what gets you on the front of a magazine.”

Prof Newman said it was natural for children to be inquisitive about bodies, and eventually about sex, though these matters should be discussed within a family at a developmentally appropriate time.

“They don’t need to know about adult sexual themes, and that’s the concern,” she said.

Prof Newman will speak on the issue at the Australian Conference on Children and the Media, in Sydney on Friday.

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April 21, 2010 Posted by | Adolescence, Books, Bullying, Child Behavior, Eating Disorder, Girls, Identity, Parenting, research, Sex & Sexuality, Social Psychology, Spirituality | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Teen Myths Busted: New Science Reveals That Common Assumptions Are Wrong

A new book, The Teen Years Explained: A Guide to Healthy Adolescent Development, dispels many common myths about adolescence with the latest scientific findings on the physical, emotional, cognitive, sexual and spiritual development of teens. [Book is available for download through the Center of Adolescent Health website at Johns Hopkins Center for Adolescent Health (CURRENTLY FREE).] Authors Clea McNeely and Jayne Blanchard from the Center for Adolescent Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, provide useful tips and strategies for real-life situations and experiences from bullying, to nutrition and sexuality.

Created in partnership with an alliance of youth-serving professionals, The Teen Years Explained is science-based and accessible. The practical and colorful guide to healthy adolescent development is an essential resource for parents and all people who work with young people.

“Whether you have five minutes or five hours, you will find something useful in the guide,” said McNeely. “We want both adults and young people to understand the changes – what is happening and why – so everyone can enjoy this second decade of life.”

Popular Myths about Teenagers:

Myth: Teens are bigger risk-takers and thrill-seekers than adults. Fact: Teens perceive more risk than adults do in certain areas, such as the chance of getting into an accident if they drive with a drunk driver.

Myth: Young people only listen to their friends. Fact: Young people report that their parents or a caring adult are their greatest influence – especially when it comes to sexual behavior.

Myth: Adolescents live to push your buttons. Fact: Adolescents may view conflict as a way of expressing themselves, while adults take arguments personally.

Myth: When you’re a teenager, you can eat whatever you want and burn it off. Fact: Obesity rates have tripled for adolescents since 1980.

Myth: Teens don’t need sleep. Fact: Teens need as much sleep or more than they got as children – 9 to 10 hours is optimum.

Three years in the making, the guide came about initially at the request of two of the Center’s partners, the Maryland Mentoring Partnership and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, who felt there was a need in the community for an easily navigated and engaging look at adolescent development.

“Add The Teen Years Explained to the ‘must-read’ list,” said Karen Pittman, director of the Forum for Youth Investment. “In plain English, the book explains the science behind adolescent development and challenges and empowers adults to invest more attention and more time to young people.”

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The Teen Years Explained: A Guide to Healthy Adolescent Development will be available for purchase on April 10 through Amazon.com. Electronic copies will also be available for download through the Center of Adolescent Health website atJohns Hopkins Center for Adolescent Health (CURRENTLY FREE).

The Center for Adolescent Health is a Prevention Research Center at the Bloomberg School of Public Health funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that is committed to assisting urban youth in becoming healthy and productive adults. Together with community partners, the Center conducts research to identify the needs and strengths of young people, and evaluates and assists programs to promote their health and well-being. The Center’s mission is to work in partnership with youth, people who work with youth, public policymakers and program administrators to help urban adolescents develop healthy adult lifestyles.

Source:
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

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April 13, 2010 Posted by | Adolescence, Books, Child Behavior, Girls, Health Psychology, Internet, Intimate Relationshps, research, Resilience, Sex & Sexuality | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Intimacy & Desire: David Schnarch On Sex After Marriage

Dr David Schnarch

I have just found this video which includes a rare interview with Dr David Schnarch, author of “Passionate Marriage”, “Resurrecting Sex” & his latest book released in October 2009 “Intimacy & Desire”. Anyone who knows me well knows I am an advocate of Schnarch’s personal development approach to improving intimate relationships. For more information on my personal experiences with Schnarch and his unique contributions to this field read  THIS POST.

Here are  Schnarch’s online self evaluation surveys and statistics for  the health of your sexual relationship and personal intimacy style. If you’re having issues (like 70% of couples in committed relationships) and have tried and failed to spark things up again, please watch this interview, read one of Schnarch’s books and check out his website for online resources. It will be worth your time and money.

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April 3, 2010 Posted by | Books, Intimate Relationshps, Marriage, Resources, Sex & Sexuality, video | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Tired Woman’s Guide to Passionate Sex: Research Shows 6 Step Program To Be Effective

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com

According to the Journal of Sexual Medicine, people who engage in regular sexual activity gain several health benefits, such as longer lives, healthier hearts, lower blood pressure, and lower risk of breast cancer. However, approximately 33 percent of women may not receive these benefits due to low sexual desire. Also, the marriages of women with low sexual desire may also be at risk, given a recent statistic that 25 percent of divorce is due to sexual dissatisfaction.

Some doctors are prescribing testosterone patches for women with low sexual desire. However, research shows that testosterone patches might increase the risk of breast cancer when used for just a year. Researchers are currently testing a new drug, flibanserin, which was developed as an antidepressant and affects neurotransmitters in the brain, to treat women with low sexual desire. However, experts are concerned about the side effects of this possible treatment. Now, a University of Missouri researcher has found evidence that a low-cost, risk-free psychological treatment is effective and may be a better alternative to drugs that have adverse side effects.

“Low sexual desire is the number one problem women bring to sex therapists,” said Laurie Mintz, associate professor of educational, school and counseling psychology in the MU College of Education. “Drugs to treat low sexual desire may take the focus away from the most common culprits of diminished desire in women, including lack of information on how our own bodies work, body image issues, relationship issues and a stressful lifestyle. Indeed, research demonstrates that relationship issues are far more important in predicting women’s sexual desire than are hormone levels. Before women seek medical treatments, they should consider psychological treatment.”

Mintz has authored a book, A Tired Woman’s Guide to Passionate Sex: Reclaim Your Desire and Reignite Your Relationship , based on this premise. In her book, Mintz suggests a six-step psycho-educational and cognitive-behavioral treatment approach that she based on scientific literature and more than 20 years of clinical knowledge. The treatment plan includes chapters about one’s thoughts about sex, how to talk with your partner, the importance of spending time together, ways to touch each other in both erotic and non-erotic ways, how to make time for sex and different ways to make sexual activity exciting and thus, increase women’s sexual desire.

In a study demonstrating the effectiveness of her treatment, Mintz recruited married women between the ages of 28 to 65, who said they were uninterested in sexual activity. All the women were employed and a majority had children. All participants completed an online survey that measured sexual desire and sexual functioning. Then half of the participants were selected randomly to read her book and perform the exercises outlined in her book. After six weeks, they were emailed the same survey again. The control group did not read the book. Mintz found that the intervention group who read the book made significant gains in sexual desire and sexual functioning, compared to the control group who did not read the book. On average, women who read the book increased their level of sexual desire by almost 30 percent.

“This finding is especially exciting because low sexual desire among women has been not only the most common, but the least successfully treated of all the sexual problems brought to therapists” Mintz said. “Also, although other books have been written on the topic, this is the first to be tested for its effectiveness. In addition, unlike medical treatments such as testosterone, there are certainly no known negative medical side effects associated with the treatment strategies in my book.”

Mintz will present her findings at the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) annual conference.

Source:

Laurie Mintz, A Tired Woman’s Guide to Passionate Sex: Reclaim Your Desire and Reignite Your Relationship

University of Missouri-Columbia

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March 12, 2010 Posted by | Health Psychology, Intimate Relationshps, Marriage, Positive Psychology, Sex & Sexuality, stress | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Love the One You’re With: The Pitfalls of Seeking a “Soul Mate”

Has the quest for that one perfect partner, the never-ending search for the ideal done us more harm than good? There is growing evidence that an idealistic search for love can hinder the enjoyment and fulfilment of what you already have. The following is excerpted from Polly Schulman’s article at  Psychology Today (http://psychologytoday.com ).

The divorce rate has stayed constant at nearly 50 percent for the last two decades. The ease with which we enter and dissolve unions makes marriage seem like a prime-time spectator sport, whether it’s Britney Spears in Vegas or bimbos chasing after the Bachelor.

Long live the new marriage! We once prized the institution for the practical pairing of a cash-producing father and a home-building mother. Now we want it all—a partner who reflects our taste and status, who sees us for who we are, who loves us for all the “right” reasons, who helps us become the person we want to be. We’ve done away with a rigid social order, adopting instead an even more onerous obligation: the mandate to find a perfect match. Anything short of this ideal prompts us to ask: Is this all there is? Am I as happy as I should be? Could there be somebody out there who’s better for me? As often as not, we answer yes to that last question and fall victim to our own great expectations.

That somebody is, of course, our soul mate, the man or woman who will counter our weaknesses, amplify our strengths and provide the unflagging support and respect that is the essence of a contemporary relationship. The reality is that few marriages or partnerships consistently live up to this ideal. The result is a commitment limbo, in which we care deeply for our partner but keep one stealthy foot out the door of our hearts. In so doing, we subject the relationship to constant review: Would I be happier, smarter, a better person with someone else? It’s a painful modern quandary. “Nothing has produced more unhappiness than the concept of the soul mate,” says Atlanta psychiatrist Frank Pittman [....

... ] Many of us either dodge the decision to commit or commit without fully relinquishing the right to keep looking—opting for an arrangement psychotherapist Terrence Real terms “stable ambiguity.” “You park on the border of the relationship, so you’re in it but not of it,” he says. There are a million ways to do that: You can be in a relationship but not be sure it’s really the right one, have an eye open for a better deal or something on the side, choose someone impossible or far away.

Yet commitment and marriage offer real physical and financial rewards. Touting the benefits of marriage may sound like conservative policy rhetoric, but nonpartisan sociological research backs it up: Committed partners have it all over singles, at least on average. Married people are more financially stable, according to Linda Waite, a sociologist at the University of Chicago and a coauthor of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially Both married men and married women have more assets on average than singles; for women, the differential is huge.

The benefits go beyond the piggy bank. Married people, particularly men, tend to live longer than people who aren’t married. Couples also live better: When people expect to stay together, says Waite, they pool their resources, increasing their individual standard of living. They also pool their expertise—in cooking, say, or financial management. In general, women improve men’s health by putting a stop to stupid bachelor tricks and bugging their husbands to exercise and eat their vegetables. Plus, people who aren’t comparing their partners to someone else in bed have less trouble performing and are more emotionally satisfied with sex. The relationship doesn’t have to be wonderful for life to get better, says Waite: The statistics hold true for mediocre marriages as well as for passionate ones.

The pragmatic benefits of partnership used to be foremost in our minds. The idea of marriage as a vehicle for self-fulfillment and happiness is relatively new, says Paul Amato, professor of sociology, demography and family studies at Penn State University. Surveys of high school and college students 50 or 60 years ago found that most wanted to get married in order to have children or own a home. Now, most report that they plan to get married for love. This increased emphasis on emotional fulfillment within marriage leaves couples ill-prepared for the realities they will probably face.

Because the early phase of a relationship is marked by excitement and idealization, “many romantic, passionate couples expect to have that excitement forever,” says Barry McCarthy, a clinical psychologist and coauthor—with his wife, Emily McCarthy—of  Getting It Right the First Time: Creating a Healthy Marriage. Longing for the charged energy of the early days, people look elsewhere or split up.

Flagging passion is often interpreted as the death knell of a relationship. You begin to wonder whether you’re really right for each other after all. You’re comfortable together, but you don’t really connect the way you used to. Wouldn’t it be more honest—and braver—to just admit that it’s not working and call it off? “People are made to feel that remaining in a marriage that doesn’t make you blissfully happy is an act of existential cowardice,” says Joshua Coleman, a San Francisco psychologist.

Coleman says that the constant cultural pressure to have it all—a great sex life, a wonderful family—has made people ashamed of their less-than-perfect relationships and question whether such unions are worth hanging on to. Feelings of dissatisfaction or disappointment are natural, but they can seem intolerable when standards are sky-high. “It’s a recent historical event that people expect to get so much from individual partners,” says Coleman, author of  The Marriage Makeover: Finding Happiness in Imperfect Harmony in which he advises couples in lackluster marriages to stick it out—especially if they have kids. “There’s an enormous amount of pressure on marriages to live up to an unrealistic ideal.” [...

...] In fact, argue psychologists and marital advocates, there’s no such thing as true compatibility. “Marriage is a disagreement machine,” says Diane Sollee, founder of the Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education. “All couples disagree about all the same things. We have a highly romanticized notion that if we were with the right person, we wouldn’t fight.” Discord springs eternal over money, kids, sex and leisure time, but psychologist John Gottman has shown that long-term, happily married couples disagree about these things just as much as couples who divorce.

“There is a mythology of ‘the wrong person,’” agrees Pittman. “All marriages are incompatible. All marriages are between people from different families, people who have a different view of things. The magic is to develop binocular vision, to see life through your partner’s eyes as well as through your own.”

The realization that we’re not going to get everything we want from a partner is not just sobering, it’s downright miserable. But it is also a necessary step in building a mature relationship, according to Real, who has written about the subject in How Can I Get Through to You? Closing the Intimacy Gap Between Men and Women
. “The paradox of intimacy is that our ability to stay close rests on our ability to tolerate solitude inside a relationship,” he says. “A central aspect of grown-up love is grief. All of us long for—and think we deserve—perfection.” We can hardly be blamed for striving for bliss and self-fulfillment in our romantic lives—our inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness is guaranteed in the first blueprint of [..modern]  society.

This same respect for our own needs spurred the divorce-law reforms of the 1960s and 1970s. During that era, “The culture shifted to emphasize individual satisfaction, and marriage was part of that,” explains Paul Amato, who has followed more than 2,000 families for 20 years in a long-term study of marriage and divorce. Amato says that this shift did some good by freeing people from abusive and intolerable marriages. But it had an unintended side effect: encouraging people to abandon relationships that may be worth salvaging. In a society hell-bent on individual achievement and autonomy, working on a difficult relationship may get short shrift, says psychiatrist Peter Kramer, author of  Should You Leave?

“So much of what we learn has to do with the self, the ego, rather than giving over the self to things like a relationship,” Kramer says. In our competitive world, we’re rewarded for our individual achievements rather than for how we help others. We value independence over cooperation, and sacrifices for values like loyalty and continuity seem foolish. “I think we get the divorce rate that we deserve as a culture.”

The steadfast focus on our own potential may turn a partner into an accessory in the quest for self-actualization, says Maggie Robbins, a therapist in New York City. “We think that this person should reflect the beauty and perfection that is the inner me—or, more often, that this person should compensate for the yuckiness and mess that is the inner me,” says Robbins. “This is what makes you tell your wife, ‘Lose some weight—you’re making me look bad,’ not ‘Lose some weight, you’re at risk for diabetes.’” [...

...]  The urge to find a soul mate is not fueled just by notions of romantic manifest destiny. Trends in the workforce and in the media create a sense of limitless romantic possibility. According to Scott South, a demographer at SUNY-Albany, proximity to potential partners has a powerful effect on relationships. South and his colleagues found higher divorce rates among people living in communities or working in professions where they encounter lots of potential partners—people who match them in age, race and education level. “These results hold true not just for unhappy marriages but also for happy ones,” says South.

The temptations aren’t always living, breathing people. According to research by psychologists Sara Gutierres and Douglas Kenrick, both of Arizona State University, we find reasonably attractive people less appealing when we’ve just seen a hunk or a hottie—and we’re bombarded daily by images of gorgeous models and actors. When we watch Lord of the Rings, Viggo Mortensen’s kingly mien and Liv Tyler’s elfin charm can make our husbands and wives look all too schlumpy.

Kramer sees a similar pull in the narratives that surround us. “The number of stories that tell us about other lives we could lead—in magazine articles, television shows, books—has increased enormously. We have an enormous reservoir of possibilities,” says Kramer.

And these possibilities can drive us to despair. Too many choices have been shown to stymie consumers, and an array of alternative mates is no exception. In an era when marriages were difficult to dissolve, couples rated their marriages as more satisfying than do today’s couples, for whom divorce is a clear option, according to the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.

While we expect marriage to be “happily ever after,” the truth is that for most people, neither marriage nor divorce seem to have a decisive impact on happiness. Although Waite’s research shows that married people are happier than their single counterparts, other studies have found that after a couple years of marriage, people are just about as happy (or unhappy) as they were before settling down. And assuming that marriage will automatically provide contentment is itself a surefire recipe for misery.

“Marriage is not supposed to make you happy. It is supposed to make you married,” says Pittman. “When you are all the way in your marriage, you are free to do useful things, become a better person.” A committed relationship allows you to drop pretenses and seductions, expose your weaknesses, be yourself—and know that you will be loved, warts and all. “A real relationship is the collision of my humanity and yours, in all its joy and limitations,” says Real. “How partners handle that collision is what determines the quality of their relationship.”

Such a down-to-earth view of marriage is hardly romantic, but that doesn’t mean it’s not profound: An authentic relationship with another person, says Pittman, is “one of the first steps toward connecting with the human condition—which is necessary if you’re going to become fulfilled as a human being.” If we accept these humble terms, the quest for a soul mate might just be a noble pursuit after all.

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source: PsychologyToday.com

March 3, 2010 Posted by | Intimate Relationshps, Marriage, Resources, Sex & Sexuality | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Sex: Is that all that men want?…NOPE!

A study from the Kinsey Institute strongly challenges the myth that men value sex more highly than other things. The findings relating to what men value and how they rate their sense of masculinity are robust across age, nationality and erectile function. Diana KirschnerPhD.  has summarised the findings on the Psychology Today site (http://psychologytoday.com ) as follows:

View The Original Research Paper HERE (Free PDF -internal link)

“(The) data … came out of an eight country random survey of 27,839 men ages 20-752. Using a questionnaire called the Men’s Attitudes to Life Events and Sexuality(MALES), the authors found men’s attitudes towards two key areas, masculinity and quality of life, differed markedly from the cultural stereotypes of guys as shallow creatures who are driven primarily by lust.

In the masculinity section of the study and across all countries, being seen as a “man of honor” was the single highest ideal for men, far more important than “being physically attractive,” “having success with women,” or “having an active sex life.” Together with “being in control of your own life” these two attributes accounted for about 60% of the responses. These findings held across all nationalities and across all age groups.

In the MALES section called Quality of Life, men were asked to rate the following seven

• Being in good health
• Satisfying sex life
• Harmonious family life
• Good relationship with partner/wife
• Enjoying life to the fullest
• Satisfying
• Having a nice home

Again, the findings were quite surprising. The top three answers were: “being in good health”; “a harmonious family life”; and “good relationship with partner/wife.” “A satisfying sex life” was last, tied with “a nice home.” While there was definitely variability in the top answersdepending on country, “a satisfying sex life” always came last. Even more astonishing were the findings in regard to age and marital/partner status. Younger men, age 20-39 still rated the same three goals as most important. When comparing single vs. married men, the only difference was that singles rated “enjoying live to the fullest” in second placealong with “a harmonious family life”-while “a good relationship with their partner” was ranked fourth. Again “a satisfying sex life” was rated last.

Amazingly enough men who had erectile dysfunction (ED) as well as those who did not, still rated “a satisfying sex life” the same way-dead last. Understandably, men with ED reported having a less satisfying sexual life than those without ED.”

View The Original Research Paper HERE (Free PDF -internal link)

Here’s the abstract:

Sex God: Exploring the Endless Connections Between Sexuality and Spirituality

Introduction. The Men’s Attitudes to Life Events and Sexuality (MALES) study assessed the prevalence   of erectile dysfunction, and examined men’s attitudes and behavior in relation to this dysfunction.

Aim. To report on the attitudes of men, with and without self-reported erectile dysfunction, concerning masculine identity and quality of life.

Methods. The MALES Phase I study included 27,839 randomly selected men (aged 20–75 years) from eight countries (United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Mexico, and Brazil) who responded to a standardized computer-assisted telephone interview.Main Outcome Measure. Perceptions of masculinity and quality of life in men with and without erectile dysfunction.

Results. Men’s perceptions of masculinity differed substantially from stereotypes in the literature. Men reported that being seen as honorable, self-reliant, and respected by friends were important determinants of self-perceived masculinity. In contrast, factors stereotypically associated with masculinity, such as being physically attractive,sexually active, and successful with women, were deemed to be less important to men’s sense of masculinity. These findings appeared consistently across all nationalities and all age groups studied. For quality of life, factors that men deemed of significant importance included good health, harmonious family life, and a good relationship with their wife/partner. Such factors had significantly greater importance to quality of life than concerns such as having a good job, having a nice home, living life to the full, or having a satisfying sex life. Of note, rankings of constructs of masculinity and quality of life did not meaningfully differ in men with or without erectile dysfunction, and men with erectile dysfunction who did or did not seek treatment for their sexual dysfunction.

Conclusions. The present findings highlight the significance of partnered relationships and interpersonal factors in the management of erectile dysfunction, and empirically challenge a number of widely held stereotypes concerning men, masculinity, sex, and quality of life.

Sand MS, Fisher W, Rosen R, Heiman J, and Eardley I. Erectile dysfunction and constructs of masculinity and quality of life in the multinational Men’s Attitudes to Life Events and Sexuality (MALES) study. J Sex Med 2008;5:583–594.Key Words. Erectile Dysfunction; Quality of Life; Masculinity; Gender Identity

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March 2, 2010 Posted by | Health Psychology, Sex & Sexuality, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Faking Orgasm: Women AND Men do it! WHY?

Chances are that if you’ve been in a relationship, and you’re a woman, you’ve probably faked an orgasm. But did you know that men fake them too?

The research that brings us this important sexual discovery was conducted at the University of Kansas on 180 male and 101 female college students. The students completed an anonymous survey about their sexual habits.

Not surprisingly, some of the college students were still virgins — 15 percent of men and 32 percent of women surveyed had not yet had intercourse.

Of the students who had had sex, nearly 30 percent of men reported faking an orgasm, compared to 67 percent of women. Some of the participants admitted they also faked orgasm not only during regular sex, but during oral sex, manual stimulation and phone sex as well. The 67 percent number is comparable to past research, that has reported a similar percentage among women.

So why do we do it? Why fake an orgasm during intimacy, a time when you’d think we be putting our social masks aside

The researchers asked these college students that question, and the most frequently reported reasons were:

* Orgasm was unlikely. — Sometimes it’s just not going to happen, and although this seems to be a more common issue amongst women, it can also happen with men. Especially if alcohol is involved.41S1BZZ2V9L

* They wanted sex to end. — Closely linked to an orgasm is unlikely, sometimes a partner will want to keep having sex until their partner finishes. A fake orgasm brings sex to an end quickly.

* They wanted to avoid negative consequences. — Most people don’t want to hurt another person’s feelings, and that’s no more the case than with our romantic partner. A fake orgasm avoids the negative consequences of having another person feel badly that they didn’t perform “well enough” to bring the other person to climax.

* They wanted to please their partner. — Faking an orgasm shows that you care about your partner’s feelings of performance and self-esteem. Or so said the people who filled out the survey.

Why would an orgasm be unlikely or why would one want sex to end more quickly? Well, sometimes we’re not always in the same place sexually as our partner. So we agree to sex because we feel guilty or to put an end to the nagging. Or perhaps we agreed to have sex to help relieve stress, only to find it didn’t quite help in the way we had hoped. An orgasm is unlikely if your partner is stressed, not turned on, feels tired, or is put off by you or the relationship in some way. A faked orgasm during such times helps end the sex more quickly, without making your partner feel bad.

The researchers found that the responses suggested a sexual “script” that most of us follow, or would like to follow. Boy meets girl, girl takes boy to bed, girl has an orgasm before the boy. And the boy is response for the girl’s orgasm (although not as much, vice-a-versa). Faking an orgasm is a predictable response to this set of expectations, to ensure the “script” goes as smoothly as possible.

Reference:

Muehlenhard CL. & Shippee SK. (2009). Men’s and Women’s Reports of Pretending Orgasm. J Sex Res, 5, 1-16.

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Text by Dr. John Grohol  CEO and founder of Psych Central.
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September 18, 2009 Posted by | Health Psychology, Intimate Relationshps, Marriage, Sex & Sexuality, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

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