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  • feedwordpress 17:00:39 on 2017/04/28 Permalink
    Tags: Advice, , , , , , , Mind Body Green,   

    How To Introduce Role Play and Fantasy Into Your Relationship 

    Go Back to Basics

    First and foremost: role-play and fantasy do not have to include elaborate costumes, props and rehearsed scenarios. Forget shopping online for hours to find the perfect replica of an 18th-century Victorian maid’s outfit with elaborate silk ruffles and free yourself from the shackles of whips and chains (although, by all means, use them later if you want). The definition of fantasy is simply anything that intensifies the sexual experience. The weather, the time of day, the location or the pacing are some simple elements that may enhance the sexual experience between you and your partner. So let go of any expectations about elaborate role-play that may intimidate you or stymie you from beginning.

    Start from a Place of Reassurance

    Talking about sex can be tricky – especially when you’ve never done it before. Frequently, there is the fear that if we speak our desires aloud, our partner will shame us or they will feel like they have failed to satisfy us in the past. Insecurity and vulnerabilities swirl around our sexual selves. Start by reassuring your partner that you enjoy what you do have. Ask them if they’re comfortable talking about fantasy. Start slowly, ease into these conversations. Here are some suggestions to open the dialogue:

    “You know what, we’ve never talked about this and I’m really nervous…”

    “I’ve been doing this course, please don’t make fun of me – I would love to talk to you about it.”

    “Are you open to talking about what turns you on?”

    “I’m really curious about what you like…”

    Alternately, write a note. Or speak on the phone – which allows an intimate distance. Of course, the earlier you open up this dialogue in a relationship, the easier it is but nevertheless, start from today, because that is where you are now.

    Talk More and Try More…

    The door is now open to dialogue and for you to share your fantasies. Conversation about fantasy is about play, curiosity, transcending the limits of reality and moving beyond your usual boundaries. You can test out fantasies through talking (“Is there something you’ve always wanted to try?”) but you can also test through action. We act, we see and we wait for a response, then we try again. For instance if you start kissing your partner on the couch, but they are pulling you towards the bedroom, they are showing you what they are comfortable with – this can also raise an opportunity to express your desire to have sex in the living room. Through a combination of action and words, allow yourself to be playful and open. Get past shame by trying: knock on the door and say, “Hello, room service is here.” As children well know, you need a playmate to play. If you are shamed or rejected when you start to play a game, you retreat into yourself. So willingness is key. But so is the ability to try again if the door is not opened the first time.

    Bring in a Third… No, not that Kind of Third

    I often suggest to couples that they use a third item – a transitional object – such as a book, a movie or an overheard conversation to allow for fantasy and play to enter their sexual experiences. Reading to each other, for instance, can be a way to create desire.

    The book Behind Closed Doors offers fantasies from women and men’s point-of- view that can be read aloud. The lens of a movie or book allows for you to ask questions like: “Is that something you’d be interested in trying?” or “Does that turn you on?”

    Do it Yourself

    In the sanctuary of your erotic mind, you can be anything or anybody you want. So as well as cultivating mutual experiences, you can step into a different body or role inside your own mind – you are free to fantasize when you’re with your partner. You can imagine you are taller, younger, skinnier, more powerful, less powerful and on it goes. You can go beyond the limits of your own conscience, body type or abilities, particularly when you have a partner you feel safe with.

    How do you incorporate fantasy and how does that impact your relationships with yourself and your partner? 

    If you found this post helpful and crave a deeper dive into your erotic self, take a look at my new course on MindBodyGreen, The Essential Guide to Sparking Your Erotic Intelligence — over two hours of guidance to help you connect to your desires and improve sexual communication.

    The post How To Introduce Role Play and Fantasy Into Your Relationship appeared first on Esther Perel.

     
  • feedwordpress 22:34:52 on 2017/03/21 Permalink
    Tags: Advice, Anger, Bickering, , Chronic Criticism, , , Happiness, , , ,   

    Video: Stop Bickering. It’s Killing Your Relationship 

    “We bicker all the time, she’s so critical of me and I don’t feel like I am doing anything right. What should I do?” – Anthony, Boston

    The artist Louise Bourgeois once described her tumultuous experience as a child at the dining table listening to her parents fight in this way: “To escape the bickering, I started modeling the soft bread with my fingers…. this was really my first sculpture.” And while conflict may have lead to great art for this artist, in most cases, it can be the constantly replaying soundtrack of a distressed relationship.

    Anthony’s question is powerful because it is so common.

    I think of bickering as low intensity chronic warfare. Ongoing criticism can lead to the demise of the relationship. And if we criticize as a way of asking to be loved, well then we will often produce precisely the opposite effect of what we seek: to be loved and to feel good about ourselves. If we spend much of our time feeling lousy, unloved, devalued, inadequate and inept, we are on the wrong side of the tracks. So what can we do to reset this negative pattern?

    Pay Attention to What’s Working

    When I went to school in Belgium, the teacher would mark our mistakes in red pen. Our mistakes were highlighted; our achievements rarely noted. When our relationship is in distress, we tend to overlook the good and overemphasize the bad.

    To counter this, try keeping a daily list of everything that your partner does that is positive, everything that you appreciate, everything that you can be thankful for. Do this for ten days in a row.

    Each note can be as simple as: “Made me a cup of tea” or “Locked door on way out”. Instead of elevating the annoying, elevate the minute details of your partner’s generosity and thoughtfulness.

    Focus on what is working. Pay attention.

    The ratio of appreciation is crucial to a good relationship. Take the log one step further and make a big deal every time the other person does something positive.

    This will kick you out of a defeating cycle of negativity. And will motivate your partner towards acts of kindness.

    Let Yourself Be Vulnerable

    What’s important to understand about criticism is that it sits on top of a mountain of disappointments of unmet needs and unfulfilled longings.

    Every criticism often holds a veiled wish. When your partner says to you, “You’re never around”, what they may actually mean is “I’m lonely, I miss you when you’re not here.”

    When Anthony’s partner tells him he never brings her along when he goes hiking, what she is also trying to tell him is “I wish we would go hiking together”.

    I recommend that Anthony and his partner both say what they want and not what the other did not do.  

    Often I suggest this to couples and they complain, “But I already did exactly that and I got nothing”. Try again.

    It is tempting to launch into anger instead of experiencing the vulnerability of putting yourself out there, asking for something and waiting for the possibility that you won’t get it.

    For many, anger is easier to express than hurt. Anger can feel like a confidence booster and an analgesic. Yet the more we communicate through anger, the more anger we get in return, creating a negative cycle of escalations.

    Reflect & Take Responsibility

    If you have ever done any breathing exercises, or yoga classes, you may have noticed that there is a space at the end of each inhale and exhale. A moment to pause. Similarly, economists and psychologists often encourage this moment of pause before making a large purchase.

    Instead of shifting into instantaneous blame, take a moment to shift from reaction to reflection.

    Why are you angry? What do you want? Instead of going for the jugular. Take responsibility for what you feel and state it.

    When couples come to therapy and they are in escalating cycles – things change when each person begins to take responsibility. This is true for both Anthony and his partner.  

    How do you experience chronic criticism in your relationship? I would love to hear your personal stories – feel free to leave a comment below. And next week we will take relationship conflict one step further and explore how confirmation bias can affect our partnerships.

    The post Video: Stop Bickering. It’s Killing Your Relationship appeared first on Esther Perel.

     
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