Silence is a Relationship Killer

silent

Silence is a Relationship Killer

Sometimes when something is wrong in a relationship one or both people will practice bouts of prolonged silence. This isn’t a moment of reflection or a collecting of thoughts. This is a wall put up. It speaks to an absence of emotional and verbal intimacy. The truth is, prolonged silences propagated by a strong emotion is a relationship killer. It speaks to an intense feeling just below the surface. Bottling feelings up inside does not relieve them. They tend to build like steam building inside a furnace. Sooner or later it’s going to explode. And the results will be ugly.

It’s better to communicate directly. Take some time to sort out your thoughts. Ask your partner for a particular time when you are calmer to discuss the issue. Talking about the issue with your partner will actually make you feel better, not cause you to act out. Another problem with silence is that it is a form of control or coercion. We usually think about loud, yelling people as controlling and coercive. But silence does the job just as thoroughly. It can even be seen as a form of bullying. Even though they aren’t being physically hurt you are controlling them through your silence. Instead of talking to them, explaining to them and persuading them of your point of view, in a respectful manner, you are asking for obedience and apologies merely by clamming up.

Sometimes silence is used for a particular offense. The aggrieved party then plays a film out in their head with them as the lead role and their lover doing and saying everything they want to make it right. They wait for their beloved to say and do these very things. And when the lover has no idea what they want, they get very agitated. This isn’t fair. No one is a mind reader. And if you respect the person you are going out with, you need to open up and talk about what is troubling you. At other times silence can be a punishment. But the problem is that instead of making the relationship stronger it actually starts to tear it down. There is no avenue of communication. Anger, sadness and depression can set in in one or both parties.

The relationship can’t move forward until the silence is broken, either by one party opening up or the other apologizing, or kowtowing and promising to make it up. The first situation is desirable as it will get the problem solved, though it may have hurt the relationship, showing one person that the other is very high maintenance and doesn’t have good communication skills. In the second one, one party is dominating the other. Sooner or later the dominated party will feel that they are being abused and seek greener pastures. Neither speaks well to the relationship. So speak up. Communicate. And if you are with someone that uses silence against you, evaluate if you want to stay with them at all. For more advice read, Why Can’t You Read My Mind?-Overcoming the 9 Toxic Thought Patterns that Get In the Way of a Loving Relationship by Jeffrey Bernstein, Ph.D. and Susan Magee.

How Men Nonverbally Dominate

couple-sitting

How Men Nonverbally Dominate

A power dynamic is how power exists in a relationship. Does one partner have more power than the other? Does one have all the power? Or do they share power? Power dynamics shape love. They either allow a place for it to grow and develop or they choke it. The power dynamic that is the healthiest and aids relationships is when both partners share in the power equally. You can see a power dynamic at work by examining who interrupts the other, who talks over the other, who makes final decisions, who punishes, who generally wins fights and so on. Men and women utilize and respond to verbal and nonverbal cues in different ways.

Of course either sex can be domineering in a relationship. However, men are the ones who traditionally dominate heterosexual relationships. Men control women either consciously or subconsciously using certain verbal and nonverbal cues. For instance, personal space tends to be different in each sex. Men have a bubble of personal space around them. Others penetrate this to cause discomfort, get closer or create arousal. Women have smaller personal space bubbles. And men tend to invade a woman’s personal space more often in the hope of persuading or controlling her.

In terms of posture, men tend to use more open, expansive forms. Therefore they need more space. This taking up of space is deciphered as dominance. Women are more constricted because they tend to take up less space. If you notice how men and women cross their legs, it displays clearly this phenomenon. Men tend to cross their legs with one ankle on top of their knee or thigh, taking up lots of space. Women however cross their legs at the knee taking up far less space. Expansive positions communicate dominance. Constricted positions tell of submission. The latest research shows that incorporating more expansive body language increases one’s confidence and self-esteem. If you notice the mode of dress, a man’s dress portrays power, a woman’s submissiveness. Women have to cross their legs in skirts, ergo communicating submissiveness outright. Women also carry things in a handbag or purse, which also communicates submission while men carry things in their pockets.

Touch is another way men subconsciously dominate women. Research shows that men who aren’t romantically involved touch women more often as a way of dominating them. This is true of dominant personalities too. They tend to touch in order to dominate; someone that puts their hand on your arm to make sure you are paying attention to their point, for example. Men who care about taking part in a blissful, well-adjusted long term relationship should be aware of what nonverbal cues they are sending their female counterparts, and make sure not to dominate, but to allow her an equal share of the power. To learn more about dominance in relationships read, Intimacy and Power: The Dynamics of Personal Relationships in Modern Society by Derek Layder.

Science Says BDSM Is Good For You

blindfold

Science Says BDSM Is Good For You

Practitioners of Bondage, Domination, Sadism and Masochism (BDSM) or Sadism and Masochism (S&M) were once underground movements kept in the shadows, and portrayed in the media as perverts or deviants. Fast forward past the Sexual Revolution, and we get the popularity of 50 Shades of Grey. Now with the oncoming movie premier, it seems that everyone is talking about BDSM and many couples are interested in trying it out.

Of course there are those who follow the lifestyle and many others who like to engage in the occasional kinky escapade. A lot of misconceptions swirl around the practice such as that it is all about pain. In fact, actual physical pain usually has very little to do with it. Ironically psychologists say there are a lot of positive psychological benefits for those who practice BDSM. Statistics show that Americans are more interested in kinky sex than other nations are. 36% of adults in one Durex survey said that they engaged in using blindfolds, a bondage tool or masks during sex. In other countries around the world, that number was 20%. Experts believe the practice of BDSM can help couples communicate, stay in tune with one another, know each other from different sides and help build their bond.

Couples can come to understand one another better through the personas they play or the masks they wear. Also, by being comfortable enough to share your fetish or particular kink and being accepted for who you are, you and your lover build a deep and fulfilling bond able to weather the most intrepid storms. Scientists believe that dopamine and serotonin, the neurotransmitters that help people relax and attain a sense of wellbeing, are released due to the pleasure that can be found in the practice of BDSM. Certainly, it isn’t for everyone. Not just anyone can feel comfortable enough to express themselves this way. Nor is it everyone’s forte. But many do enjoy it and also feel guilty about it. Certainly, in the wake of the sexual revolution we shouldn’t feel guilty. In fact, finding acceptance and a partner who is willing to indulge our fantasies, just as we are willing to indulge theirs can be a great and satisfying adventure and helps build a loving bond. Vasopressin is also released through fulfilling sex, whether the couple is engaged in “vanilla sex” or BDSM.

BDSM helps couples communicate according to Dr. Jeffrey Sumber, a Chicago psychotherapist. Couples who are going to engage in blindfolding, spanking, whipping or handcuffing better have their communication down. But more enhanced communication means the couple is better able to navigate flare ups, flesh out underlying issues and come to agreements. Intimacy can also be deepened not only by revealing one’s true nature but because taking part in such practices involves an element of risk, hence the excitement it conjures. But that also means one must implicitly trust one’s partner to feel comfortable enough to take part.

A study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior in 2009 found that those who take part in BDSM scored higher in feelings of closeness with their partner. This closeness and trust can also inhibit infidelity. Other studies have found that it promotes wellbeing, calms stress and anxiety and allows for better mental health. Be sure to read up on it should you and your lover be interested in trying it out. There are rules and best practices to follow to make sure no one gets hurt. Everyone has something that turns them on. And BDSM is just one way for couples to engage in transformative sex. For this and other ways to do so read, Partners in Passion: A Guide to Great Sex, Emotional Intimacy, and Long-term Love by Mark A. Michaels & Patricia Johnson.

50 Shades of Your Relationship

SPANKING

50 Shades of Your Relationship

At one time bondage, domination, sadism and masochism (BDSM) was considered abhorrent, frightening, freakish or extreme. But today, in the wake of the Sexual Revolution and the advent of the erotic novel 50 Shades of Grey, many people are more interested and open to the lifestyle. What’s more, it may have benefits such as rekindling the spark in your relationship, getting you out of a sexless marriage and even improving on communication—something all couples struggle with from time to time. The New York Times and other newspapers have run articles about BDSM, Cosmopolitan has been giving kinkier advice and Harvard University now teaches a class on S&M, all in preparation for the 50 Shades of Grey movie that just hit theaters.

So how common are these types of activities? Researchers say somewhere between 2-62% of couples practice BDSM. This is kinky sex we are talking about. There isn’t a clear picture exactly. People are most likely apprehensive about opening up about it. One 2008 Australian poll found that 2.2% of men and 1.3% of women said they engaged in S&M within the last month. But a study that just came out asking 1,500 American men and women about their fantasies, found that 53.3% of men and 64.6% of women had dreamt of being dominated sexually. Meanwhile 59.6% of men and 46.7% of women fanaticized about dominating someone else.

So is it normal or sick to engage in such behavior? Those who participate in BDSM are surprisingly well-adjusted according to a 2006 study. Here researchers tested those in the kink community for psychological disorders. They found that BDSM practitioners had lower levels of PTSD, anxiety, depression, borderline pathology, psychological masochism and paranoia. They were found just as prone to obsessive-compulsive disorder, narcissism and dissociation as their “vanilla sex” counterparts. Those who enjoyed BDSM had positive personality traits, according to a 2013 study. They were more conscientious, extraverted, open to new experiences and had a higher sense of wellbeing. Kink lovers were also less sensitive to rejection and were less neurotic than the straight laced. There was one negative. Those who engaged in BDSM were found less agreeable than their non-practicing counterparts. Certainly, normal healthy people engage in BDSM with no short-term or permanent damage. In fact, it can be an enjoyable, zesty enterprise if you are open to it. One of the central themes is non-judgment which many people find freeing. Others say it gets you out of your head, which leaves worries and cares behind, relaxing you. There has even been talk about parallels between BDSM and tantric sexual practices.

So what do BDSM practitioners actually do? Effects are more psychological than physical. One person is generally the dominant character or the “top” and the other plays the submissive role or the “bottom.” This can fit the person’s natural assertive or submissive nature, or express their latent desire to be assertive or submissive. There is also the rare switch, the person who can play both roles. Practitioners take part in elaborate role plays which include elements that both parties are interested in. Bondage can include tying someone up with rope, chains or handcuffs. Sadism can include whipping, caning, spanking, using nipple clamps and much more. Humiliation is also a part of it, things such as name calling, blindfolding and gagging. Couples have to be very comfortable with one another and communicate well to engage in this kind of play. They should also have a safety word which if either one utters, stops play immediately. This is when one party feels uncomfortable and the level of play is getting close to crossing their boundaries. Be sure to study up and learn more before engaging. Bondage rope for instance should be tied loosely as not to cut off circulation. And believe it or not, there is a proper way to spank someone. If you are interested in learning more, check out the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF), look for community organizations in your area, or pick up a copy of Jay Wiseman’s SM 101: A Realistic Introduction.

How to be a Little Sexier to the Ladies

Couple laughing

How to be a Little Sexier to the Ladies

Whether you are always given the “I see you as just a friend” talk, you’re going through a dry spell or you just want to keep your game nice and sharp, there are simple, easy, practical ways to become more of a ladies man without putting a huge dent in your wallet or sacrificing your true identity. Here are a few suggestions that, while they may not make you irresistible to women, will give you a little bump in the hot department. Here’s how to be a little sexier to the ladies. A study out of Penn State University in Harrisburg found that men who sounded more confident were more attractive. According to the study’s co-author from Albright College, Susan Hughes, PhD, in the days of our Stone Age ancestors women were attracted to the one who could protect and provide for her and their offspring.

Study co-author Melissa Harrison PhD said, “Women are born with a finite number of eggs, thus limited reproductive opportunities.” Personality traits such as intelligence and confidence were highly prized then as they are now by women. That’s great, but how do you use this knowledge to your advantage? Speak a little bit louder and higher than you normally do says Hughes. Other studies have shown that the number one quality women find attractive is a sense of humor. Work on your jokes, timing and delivery. A quick witty statement put in the right place may make her look at you the right way. It was found that women equate humor and wittiness with intelligence, although in the medical, neurological sense they aren’t the same. They don’t inhabit the same part of the brain.

Take a look at your wardrobe. How many red clothes do you have? If you want to be sexier, wear a red shirt says a University of Rochester study from 2010. Standing against a red backdrop works, too. This color signals sexual excitement universally in all humans. Eroticism and passion are often fanned by the color red in imagery. There’s the red light district. It’s even the color of Valentine’s Day. To shave or not to shave, that is the question. Don’t shave. In fact, grow some heavy stubble. At least that’s what an Australian study found in 2012. Men with heavy stubble were found more attractive than those with a five o’clock shadow or were clean shaven. Researchers believe it’s because men with hairier faces are thought to be good fathers and are more masculine.

Smile when you meet her, when you are working a room, but not in photos. Women prefer a dark, brooding profile picture according to a Canadian study. Men who smiled in photos were thought to be less masculine. They were less dominant and more feminine. German and British researchers found that in real life, slow down your smile. A slow smile was associated with being flirty, trustworthy and authentic. Tilting your head forward can intensify this technique’s effect, the same research states. For more tips on how to successfully navigate the difficult waters of the feminine sex read, 10 Mistakes Men Make With Women & How To Avoid Them (The Wing Girl Method) by Marni Kinrys.