How Do You Know When It’s Real love?

shutterstock_253194109Love is considered one of the essential emotions to human life. But it is so complex, so elusive that many times when we are with someone, we cannot tell whether we are genuinely in love or not. Many are told by their parents that they will just know when they are in love, and given no further instruction. Due to this lack of understanding just what love is, we often find that we are bouncing around from one relationship to the next. It seems our love lives are nothing more than trial and error, and sometimes it can feel very much more the latter than the former. Psychologists will tell you that one of the chief things adults want to discuss in therapy is whether they are in bona fide love, or just lusting after someone, or in love with the idea of being in love. So how do you know when it is real love? That is a thorny question. Let’s follow what psychology has to say about the matter. As far as we can tell, love is something that happens to us. We fall into it. It is not something you convince yourself of. Instead, it is an uplifting experience. And you want more than anything to be around the person making you feel this way.

When the object of our affection returns our love, we feel absolutely sublime. In their presence we are blissful, our senses are heightened and we feel more creative and energized than ever before. If one’s love is not returned, longing and anguish are all that we experience. We want them to reciprocate our feelings. We want their approval. And we want to touch and be touched by them. There is an intensity of feeling and desire. For many this is the beginning stages of love. But falling in love and being in love are different. Falling in love is considered the honeymoon phase. But being in love is a continuum. Love changes as a relationship moves into a more long-term arrangement, and we have to change with it. After this initial stage is over, couples generally have to wrestle with differences, and love becomes a deeper and more profound experience, less based on intensity and more on a deep bond. Some people mistake love for power or the need to control. Here, the person is insecure. They intensely need control in their life. They woo another and feel longing. But that longing is for controlling situations and their partner, rather than for being with them, or for who that partner is. They fall in love with having the other person and being able to control their behavior, and not the person themselves, for who they are.

Some people think that the expression of jealousy underlies love. Jealousy comes from feelings of insecurity. So you can be totally in love and secure, and so not jealous, or not in love, insecure, and jealous. Some people feel that taking care of another is love. It makes them feel important and is wrapped up in their self-worth. This is a desire to rescue another, not love. It comes from the idea that love is done by one who has a certain kind of superiority, the forever mother, the saint, hero, or the knight in shining armor. Then there are those who enter into a relationship thinking it is love, when really they are looking for security. These intense feelings come from the sense of joy being in the company of another. Here a person focuses on the fear of being alone, desperation, and the need for another. This is translated into love in their mind, but is not authentic. There are those who mistake a beautiful face, popularity, or an eye-popping physique for love. This person lacks self-esteem. But they quickly learn that other aspects of the person which they would tolerate if they were in love, quickly begin to drive them insane. This person uses their own relationship to fill the empty places within themselves. The last is love versus a fantasy. Here the person projects their image of the perfect mate onto the person they have chosen as their partner. But when they begin to see through the cracks, love fades. Of course, the emotion itself is not enough for a relationship to make it. There has to be trust, good communication, and a willingness to work together, compromise, and so on. But it helps if you take some time to figure out exactly what you like about this person, how they make you feel, and why it is you are attracted to them. If you are in love with aspects of who they are, chances are it is the real deal. If you are more interested in what they are providing for you whether financial, emotional, reputation-wise or what-have-you, chances are you are not experiencing authentic love. If you love them for who they really are, real love is indeed your own.

For more pick up a copy of, Real Love: The Truth About Finding Unconditional Love & Fulfilling Relationships by: Greg Baer.

 

Why Readers Make the Best Lovers According to Science

 

There is something about cracking open a new book that makes one filled with hope. With equal measure finishing a great book can leave a hollow feeling. Those who know this struggle well revel in the act of what is called, “deep reading”. Psychologists note that reading is the second most transformative act one can take part in. The first is writing. But today due to the internet, tablets, smart phones, and e-readers people are more or less skimming, and not really delving in deep like they used to. That’s a shame. For if true readers are a dying breed so lessens a great segment of the dating pool which makes preferable mates. According to two studies those avid readers are smarter and more compassionate, two vastly appealing features for a significant other. Both these studies were Canadian. One took place in 2006 the other in 2009. Each study was a collaboration between Keith Oatley, a professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto, along with York University’s Raymond Mar, a psychologist. Oatley and Mar were able to prove that fiction readers showed more empathy—knowing exactly how another feels and being moved to compassion. These readers were also better able to hold beliefs, ideas, and interests that were not their own, something called “theory of mind.” If you have ever been in a multicultural relationship, you know just how important these are.

Today, psychologists say those who have trouble with empathy should read fiction. The idea is that if you can see the world from behind someone else’s eyes, you can better identify with him or her and through the experience people in general. One of the most important relationship tools you can have is how to relate to one another. Theory of mind is considered a natural part of the human experience. But it takes the right kind of social interaction in life to bring it out and help one to develop it. Anyone who has ever been with a selfish lover or even a narcissist knows how important theory of mind is. If you are considering having children with someone, know that just having books in the home increases the child’s word count and cognitive abilities from a younger age. They are also better adjusted socially. A study Mar conducted in 2010 found that children who read more had a better developed theory of mind and could relate to people more. So that would go for not just your love interest but should you wish to have children, your potential offspring as well.

Someone who is a reader should have a better vocabulary. Few relationship skills are more necessary than communication. A person who can communicate exactly what they mean clearly, and perhaps in different ways so you can grasp it should their first attempt not strike you, is the type you wish to keep around. Chemistry and rapport are certainly important. But what we often forget is that relationship and problem-solving skills are necessary too. We don’t often screen a potential love interest for these. Many times we just lead from the heart. So when you go into someone’s apartment for the first time, be cognizant of whether or not they have a bookshelf and check out what is on it. If you are out with someone special, ask them about their reading habits. What was the last book they read? What was a book that changed their life? Their answer may mean the difference between you sticking around or rushing out the door. For more on finding the perfect mate read,Become Your Own Matchmaker: 8 Easy Steps for Attracting Your Perfect Mate by Patti Stanger and Lisa Johnson Mandell.

Men Have a Hard Time Understanding Women’s Emotions

Men Have a Hard Time Understanding Women’s Emotions

When a relationship is not going well, it is many times the woman who is dissatisfied. Ask any divorce lawyer or just look at the statistics and you will see the majority of divorces are filed by women. In these cases, they usually complain that their man does not care about them, or does not care about their emotional needs. But the problem is oftentimes not that he does not care, but that he does not understand what it is she wants. Men and women communicate differently. Men are very direct. Women come at issues from different angles. Men are problem-solvers. For women, the needs vary. Sometimes they need emotional validation or support, and at other times just some understanding. A gal does not necessarily want her guy to solve her problem, but just to listen. Women can usually read each other’s emotions quite easily, and they come to one another’s aide in sympathy and kind words without even being asked. But a man who can pick up on her general mood, may not notice all the nuances within it. Understand that communication is a skill in which we all learn. We are not limited by our gender. In fact, each partner should try earnestly to consider how the other person communicates, and tune in to their frequency.

This may mean that a man learns to not only hear but really listen to his girlfriend or wife. He should not be so quick to offer logical suggestions and advice. Instead, he should listen carefully, tell her in his own words how he understands the situation, and validates her feelings. Consider the difficulty of the problem and her capability of handling it, before offering advice. If you believe she is able to handle this one, keep the advice to yourself, or only extend it if she asks. For women if she has certain emotional needs her man is not getting, she needs to tell him directly, and learn to be more direct about her thoughts and feelings. Sometimes women have an attitude such like, “He should just know” Or “If he really loved me he would know.” But the majority of men communicate directly. So he has no hope in knowing. It also cuts out a woman’s responsibility to communicate her feelings to her man, in a way he can understand. But it too shows her anxiety surrounding these feelings. No matter how much alike you look at the onset, there are wide gulfs between any two individuals. If they are to stay together these chasms need crossing. Any worthwhile relationship is built on good communication. It is not a miracle simply arrived upon but the result of long, patient conversations and hard work.

For some women crying is a way of venting. It makes certain men uncomfortable however. And women may feel ashamed afterward. But really they just want support from their partner, not for him to pull away. Men are taught never to cry in our society. Ladies, if you cry just let him know that this is emotional venting. Guys, hold her and be there for her and you will make the relationship stronger. Lastly, fellas if a woman wants to talk about an emotional problem you two are having, do not get defensive and start yelling at her. You should not just apologize and clam up either. Both may put stress on the relationship, rather than relieve it, and the first choice definitely will. Instead, listen to her and re-explain in your own words. When she feels you get it, show her that you care, validate her, and work together to find a solution. Lastly, men sometimes have a hard time communicating their emotions. Ladies, be patient. Guys, find a way to tell her how you feel, so she understands you better. Communication is not easy. But get it right and your relationship will be so much closer, and you will end up cherishing every moment together.

For more on what to do when the real work in a relationship begins pick up a copy of, Post-Romantic Stress Disorder: What to Do When the Honeymoon Is Overby John Bradshaw and Joe Barrett.

Should You Let Your Lover Visit a Dominatrix?

Should You Let Your Lover Visit a Dominatrix?

We often think of sexuality as a solid set of likes, desires, and characteristics. But as we grow and develop, our interests might change or deepen. Especially today with so much access to sexual material on the internet, and a looser attitude toward sexuality in general, people feel free to explore experiences and fetishes they may not have otherwise communicated. But this puts the monogamous relationship in a particular bind. Sometimes two people get together with very different thresholds of what is acceptable in the bedroom and what is not. What makes it doubly difficult is that many people do not find this out until later on, after the nuance of what the BDSM community calls “vanilla sex” has worn off. Usually one person gets comfortable with the repertoire, while the other gets bored with it. Another thing that sometimes happens is one person gets interested in a particular fetish, or certain aspect of BDSM, or finally feels comfortable enough to share their other-than-straight-sex interest. At this point, the vanilla loving partner gets freaked out. They may go through a point of insecurity, wondering if they are enough for the kinkier partner, which one hopes they are assured that they are. But then things come to a point where, each person has to ask, what do you do with this fetish or fascination if the other partner is disinterested, or unwilling to fulfill it? Should you let your partner visit a dominatrix for instance?

First of all, take a step back for a minute and realize that for your partner to divulge this to you, your relationship must have good communication. That speaks to a strong bond and a deep well of trust. These are not things to be taken lightly. Often the emotional paradigm and the sexual one are not at the same level. We may be getting all that we need and more in terms of emotional needs, but a preoccupation or overwhelming desire is waiting in the wings. This is a solid relationship. But the fetish if ignored is not going to go away. Instead, it will fester underneath the surface. You do not want to put your lover in a position where they may feel desire to cheat. Reconsider their fetish. Is it really something you do not wish to take part in? Perhaps you can have a playtime for the kinky one, and straight sex for the vanilla partner. If you are totally against taking part, consider allowing them to see a professional. There is no actual sexual interaction between the dominatrix and her client. It is really about focusing on the fetish itself, and fulfilling that desire. It may even make the relationship happier.

Do not think after years of marriage that you have your partner all figured out. Sexuality is a constantly evolving thing. It is one of the aspects after all, that keeps sex interesting. What the practice of tantra but also of BDSM teaches us is curiosity and compassion. Instead of acting out of fear or judgment, push these thoughts aside. Instead, move forward with curiosity. What is it about this act or fetish that they find so appealing? Where does it stem from? Through sexuality we can learn a lot about our partner’s psychology and our own. Supplant judgment with curiosity. Support your partner in their explorations. Set boundaries that both of you are comfortable with. Allow yourself the freedom to explore some fantasies and kinks of your own, and tell your partner about them. Make plans to have them fulfilled. Being open, honest, flexible, practice superb communication, and be responsive to our partner’s needs. This is what being in a long-term relationship is all about. Do not allow them to go if you have misgivings. Talk it out, until you both feel comfortable. You may even want to meet the dominatrix in the flesh. Whatever the situation, remember to make your relationship your own. Don’t try to fit into some preconceived mold of what you think it should be. Instead, make your relationship a place where both of you can be happy and yourselves.

For those who have changed their mind, and want to give it a shot read Dominatrix 101: The Good Girl’s Quick Guide to Dominating Her Man by Rebecca Lawson.

Marry for the Right Reasons

Marry for the Right Reasons

Lots of girls fantasize about their wedding day where she will look gorgeous, and take the princely man of her dreams as his lawfully wedded wife. It is a spectacular event mimicking the fairy tales of childhood. The wedding industry perpetuates this myth and is rewarded handsomely for doing so. Whether it is a deeply fulfilling, edifying experience or not after the honeymoon is over, and moving forward into life depends upon a lot of things. If it is a marriage of two well developed, sound, and self-actualized equals, the marriage while still needing lots of work, and tender, loving care, but will be by and large a happy one. Trouble is lots of women and men too marry for the wrong reasons. This is where things get into trouble. Because whatever one person’s problems are, instead of being muted by the marriage, it is amplified by it. Each person’s problems affect the other, and is reflected back on one another, affecting the relationship as a whole. Marriage unfortunately is never a solution to problems. It only makes them worse. It is like those people who to try and solve the problems of a relationship by having a child, never thinking that the extra stresses that child brings could only make things worse. So make sure you marry for the right reasons, and avoid a painful divorce. Here are some reasons not to get married.

Some people marry to escape a bad situation at home. They have abusive or neglectful parents. Perhaps their closest family members ignore or criticize them. Though flight may be a solution, throwing one’s self into a marriage will only compound your issues. In this scenario their selection process may not be so well honed. They are thinking of the situation they are escaping, instead of carefully vetting their partner to see if this person is who they want to spend the rest of their life with. Some people get married because it just seems like the next logical step. Maybe they were high school sweethearts, and have a long history together. Their parents get along. They have a good group of friends, and everyone seems to be expecting them to tie the knot. But when we enter our twenties, we start to mature quite a bit. Those who marry so young often feel cheated, like they missed out on some great experiences in life. The two may also grow apart. Sometimes these relationships last. But usually, each person ends up going in their own separate direction. If you are young, wait and if it is right, go for it. But even with older people, if you do not in your heart feel that marriage is right, and are doing it just because it is expected, you may not give the marriage your all. Your partner will feel it, and so will you. And this will taint the relationship.

You should never get married to fix your soon-to-be spouse. If one person’s says he or she cannot live without the other, will even kill themselves if the other leaves, marriage is only going to make this situation worse. You cannot fix anyone and you cannot save anyone. The only person who can truly save someone is themselves. They have to come to the realization that their path is wrong and they need help. Unless you are a certified psychologist, though you may be savvy with people, begin to realize that this is beyond your scope. When we get married, we more or less take on the emotional baggage and psychological trauma the other has faced, and this is reciprocal. This situation is draining when one has serious issues to address. The saver spends all their time on the savee, who becomes a suck on their energy, and their life. No one in this situation can develop as a person, and the martyr gets stunted as a result. Both people will end up resenting one another and the marriage implodes.

Lastly, do not get married just to have company and avoid being alone. These are the folks that always had someone. But later in life when the demands of career, perhaps children, and a lack of meeting someone new put them through a dry spell. They fear going home to an empty apartment, and the approach of the weekend fills them with dread. But this is roulette. This person is likely to marry the first lover who shows any interest. They may be compatible. Or they may end up being toxic to one another. When one has issues with abandonment, familial issues, obsessive guilt, or moves from outward expectation instead of inward motivation, a marriage is shaky from the beginning. Become someone who is comfortable in their own skin, and find a partner you love but are also compatible with, and your marriage, while it will have its ups and downs, will be a happy one built to last. Otherwise there is painful litigation, the splitting up of assets, child custody battles, and a lot of emotional turmoil to look forward to. Understand that the person you choose to marry can uplift you to the firmament, or send you crashing down into the abyss. Choose wisely.

For more pick up a copy of, Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married by Gary D Chapman.