Should you stay in a Relationship that is Just Comfortable?

too comfortable

Should you stay in a Relationship that is Just Comfortable?

Many of us have been there. You love someone but you aren’t in love with them. The relationship is very comfortable. There may be places where you don’t see eye-to-eye. But by and large, you have fun together, run a good household or just enjoy each other’s company. The person is perhaps a good choice for a mate. They are stable and kind. But that euphoric, weak-in-the-knees feeling has left the building. So should you stay in a relationship that is just comfortable but doesn’t give you fireworks or butterflies? There are really two schools of thought on this. The first is a very practical view. That is, stay with your partner. The reason, there are relationships and even marriages who do have that spark. Also, the candle that burns twice as bright often lasts half as long. Then a terrible breakup occurs and you are left all alone. The other scenario is one waits around forever. Instead of having the loving experiences available, one waits alone for a proposition which may never come. Why not, as the song says, love the one you’re with?

Sometimes these relationships that are comfortable used to have novelty. Kids, careers and a pileup of years have made them too comfortable. Here experts say the spark can be rekindled. One way to do so is to share novel experiences together. Travel to exotic lands, take part in exciting activities like sky diving and bungee jumping, learn a new skill together such as cooking or swing dancing or interact through a new sport such as karate or kayaking. These can reignite the spark. Another way is through reminiscing. Some relationship experts say merely having a date night can do it. This will inject some romance—you know interacting as a couple again instead of the person who takes care of a list of household duties. Then there are those who use their sexual interests to jumpstart their relationship. They may start to talk about and fulfill each person’s deep seeded fantasies, the ones they never spoke to another soul about. Some couples explore tantric sex or BDSM together to reignite that spark.

But then there is another school of thought, held by the fiercely independent who are not afraid of making it on their own. This type is perfectly happy by themselves. They won’t accept anything less than earth shattering love. If they work at it and can’t get it from their relationship then they end it, sooner or later. If the person they are dating doesn’t provide this feeling than they’d rather not be dating them. This type is generally focused on an important passion, mission, artistic pursuit, their children or career. They say if you really aren’t in love then you are just going through the motions, or else settling for a paltry mediocrity. Which interpretation is the right one? That all depends on the kind of person you are. If you are fiercely independent why not go for the love that will fill the space in your heart? See if you can reignite it with your current lover before you do something drastic. But if they cannot fulfill you why stay with them? Those who are a bit more practical and believe their relationship suits their needs should instead try and find ways to rekindle the flames. For more on this read the book, Keeping the Love You Find by Harville Hendrix.

Can an Open Marriage ever really Work?

POLYAMORY

Can an Open Marriage ever really Work?

People come in all shapes and sizes. They have different wants and needs. Anthropologists say what was traditionally supplied us by a whole village such as warmth, guidance, financial sustenance, understanding, passionate love and eminent friendship we now seek solely in our spouse or significant other. But that’s a huge burden to carry. Due to the high divorce rate, the need for sexual novelty, the desire to try the same gender or emotional needs that their spouse can’t supply sometimes pivots them in the direction of an open marriage. It’s often when the needs of one person cannot be met by the other. It’s no one’s fault. Instead, it’s usually just a mismatch. For others, it’s a need to explore further with love, a mindset that requires free will, strong confidence, good communication and a non-jealous personality. Surely, there are dysfunctional open marriages as there are dysfunctional closed ones. But can an open marriage ever really work? Experts say there are such that can work but it takes the right kind of couple and the proper mindset. Open and honest communication is the most important aspect. An open marriage doesn’t mean a person can have sex with whomever, whenever. Instead, a certain set of pre-agreed upon rules are made and adhered to, with each mate’s preferences in mind.

According to psychologist Deborah Anapol an expert on polyamory— practicing intimacy with more than one partner, though many couples who in an open marriage struggle with jealousy from time to time, very few say they regret being able to share intimacy outside the confines of their relationship. There are many alternative romantic and sexual couplings going around nowadays. People are getting married later on in life due to the time it takes to get a proper education and work your way up. The new generation prefers lots of choice and not getting tied down. In the wake of the sexual revolution and the explosion of dating and hookup apps, people have freedoms and opportunities they’ve never had before in the history of humankind. That and the elevated divorce rate has non-traditional people looking for new ways to have their needs met, explore their sexuality and enjoy their life with others.

Still, the reason for entering into such a relationship is important. One party should not be pressuring the other into entering into such an agreement. Another party should not be going along with it when they really don’t like the idea, just for the sake of saving the relationship. Instead, this is something that both parties have to be sincerely interested in. For some couples, it’s a way for a person who has a large sexual appetite for instance to have his or her needs met without disenfranchising their partner. For others, it’s a way to express their freedom. They believe the human heart has the capacity to love more than one person and in more than one way. They feel that commitment and fidelity are not synonymous. Besides intermittent jealousy, the potential for a stream of uncomfortable conversations and lots of chances to be tempted to lie to your partner, cause many to steer clear of the idea. Others fear the chance that no matter what rules are in place their spouse could run off with another. Really it’s all about how you feel about one another and your relationship. If it’s a way to renew the marriage or explore new dimensions of love and freedom, go for it. If it’s to placate someone or a last ditch effort to save the marriage, you may be setting yourselves up for a terrible fall. For more pick up a copy of the book, The Seven Natural Laws of Love, Polyamory in the 21st Century by Deborah Taj Anapol, Ph.D.

Ethical Non-monogamy or Polyamory

POLYAMORY

Ethical Non-monogamy or Polyamory

With so many options today and many professionals independent and not interested in settling down, people are looking for new romantic options that fit their modern day attitudes and lifestyle. Though it isn’t a significant part of the population yet, ethical non-monogamy, also known as polyamory, is a growing trend. So what is polyamory? It comes from the Greek meaning many loves. There is no hard and fast definition. The practice is having more than one loving or sexual relationship at a time, which all parties involved knowledgeable and consenting. No one should be pressured into entering into this kind of relationship. It should be an arrangement all parties are interested in. Another definition less often used, it could also mean a couple taking part in non-monogamous activities such as swinging. Many believe that the human heart is too wild and free to be tamed by a certain social construct. Outside of such expectations, no one can really say who they will love or how many they have the capacity to love, be it one or twenty. Though we have familial love and friendship, polyamory refers specifically to having romantic relationships that include intercourse. The point is to grow strong relationships, enjoy the powerful feelings and the act and have deep, profound intimacy in all of them. Everyone involved has to be consenting. These need to be open-minded individualists. But they also need to be good communicators.

It isn’t a competition. No one should be keeping score. Instead, it’s about making an emotional connection with others and not dictating to the heart who and how. Some believe that we have the capacity to love many others without constraints. They say this is a way to escape serial monogamy. In monogamous relationships there is the problem of the relationship going sour. Another problem is cheating, lying and hurt feelings. Here, those things are eliminated. Of course, there can be jealousy. But it’s how that jealousy is managed that counts. Really jealous people should steer clear of this sort of arrangement. There are all kinds of poly relationships. What most people are looking for is the freedom to love how they wish without hurting others, and the ability to determine what kind of arrangement works for them. How long does such a relationship last? Just like all relationships, it depends on the people that are in it and how they relate to each other. Some last for years while others only for a short while. Each person in any type of relationship brings baggage and pre-conceived notions. Communication is really what it all comes down to. You don’t have to be bisexual to be poly. Some couples are looking for an extra to form a triad. Some triads are open, others closed.

For those who live together, arrangements such as everyone having the same bedroom and bed, to each person having their own separate bedroom, to certain people maintaining a schedule where they sleep in a certain bed on a certain night are all well-known arrangements in poly communities. If it’s a closed triad, it’s important that each member relate to the other, and spend time with each other so no one feels left out. Each person’s relationship has to be strengthened. Sometimes a schedule is formed so each member can have quality time with each other. Some people practice polyfidelity or polyfi meaning their triad is closed. But others are more open. There is also a unique term called compersion in the poly community. This is when someone you love is being loved well and taken care of by another, and it brings you great joy. Certainly there is no test of whether or not you are poly. Most are of a very open-minded, progressive mindset and nonreligious and so not tethered to monogamy as such. Many are intellectuals and professionals. To learn more of whether or not polyamory or ethical non-monogamy is right for you read, More Than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert.

Free yourself from Post-Divorce Negativity

Leave-Negativity

Free yourself from Post-Divorce Negativity

Few events in life can fill you with so many negative emotions such as sadness, a sense of loss, despair, depression, anxiety and hatred like a bitter divorce. Even conscious uncoupling can be deeply unsettling. The first thing to realize is that it is all inside your own head. You may feel a torrent of emotions. But you decide exactly what to do with them, how to manage them and ultimately whether you come out a stronger, more developed, self-actualized person at the end who has experienced a kind of personal growth from this experience, or if you miss that chance due to retaining bitterness. If you are hurling all of this hatred and anger at your spouse, you’ll soon realize it’s like swallowing poison to murder someone; it hurts you terribly, but the impact on them is limited. Instead, an outlook of yourself both as patient and doctor is sufficient. You have these emotions and now it’s time to see how to best tend to them so that you get the best outcome. Your spouse as well may be casting vitriol at you every chance they get. You can’t control what happened or how they feel. Nor can you control their behavior. What you can control is your reaction to it, and how much you will let it bother you. There are some simple beliefs you can adopt to help shed your negativity and also protect yourself against your ex’s. Here’s how to free yourself from post-divorce negativity.

Realize that whatever your spouse says about you is their problem, not yours. Be sure to clear your name. And if they are using the children to spy or as a weapon, make sure to nip that situation in the bud. The children should never be put in the middle. They will suffer for it. But other than that, they will say what they will. You choose how you react to it. Their speech is all about them, not about you. What’s more, other people will be watching how you react. Will you be classy all the way, or sink to their level? In the end others judge them for their behavior, and they’ll sink themselves. Instead of seeing divorce as an end, which it invariably is, see it as a new beginning. You have freedom to be who you want to be, and discover a whole new you. Your life won’t be perfect after divorce, but it is still pretty good and it can be even be better. Make a dream board. Write in a diary. Make a bucket list. Go back to school. Get some more training or try and climb the ladder at work. Invest in a hobby. Take a trip with a friend. There are so many things you can do and so many directions you can take your life in now that your ex isn’t weighing you down. There will be good days and bad. If you need to cry it out, do it. It’s a healing process and think of it as such. But don’t wallow in grief. Know when it’s time to pick yourself up and get going again.

Realize that every experience you have in life is another lesson that makes you wiser and therefore a better person in the end. It may not feel like it now but this could be a completely transformative experience for you. Not everything in life is meant to endure. Change can be very scary and it can be hard to say goodbye. Just keep things moving. Make the necessary steps, no matter how small or staggering. Sooner or later you will make it to where you are supposed to be. Sometimes it feels satisfying to take part in divorce drama with your ex. But sooner or later you will understand that it weighs you down far more than it lifts you up. After a divorce you may feel like damaged goods. But the truth is people are judging you far less than you think. Understand that your life and your happiness is ultimately based on your own thinking and no one elses. You can make the world a better place and you can make your life all you want it to be. It’s all up to you. For more, pick up a copy of the book, The Rediscovery of Me: Reinventing Life after Divorce by Dr. Marcia Brevard Wynn and Earl Sewell.

Liberate yourself from “Good Girl Syndrome”

Sad girl sits at table

Liberate yourself from “Good Girl Syndrome”

Many women at all different ages had it inculcated into them as children and teens to be “good girls.” This generally means being polite, having nice manners which are good but also being a perfectionist, bending over backwards to help others and suppressing aspects of one’s own unique personality for a façade deemed socially acceptable. Lots of women in the baby boomer generation tried to mold themselves into good girls and ended up divorced.

Today, many young women, supposedly liberated via the feminist movements of every historical age, most notably in the 1970’s, still try to fit a cookie-cutter mold of the perfect woman. Polls have shown that women today are actually less satisfied than they were in the 70’s. The reason? It’s harder for women to juggle family and career responsibilities. They also, like everyone else nowadays but perhaps more so, have little to any time to themselves. Many older women particularly of the baby boomer generation have regrets of trying to fit the “good girl” mold. Trying to please everyone makes you end up not pleasing anyone. Lots of women in this age group feel it took them years, even decades to pull free from this stereotype.

Lots of women for instance seek parental approval. But what they have in their hearts may be very different from what it is that their parents want. Changing out of a people-pleaser is hard, but living a lie even harder. It’s true that age plays a factor as well. All a teen wants is to be socially accepted. In our twenties we seek to find our adult identity. This may last into the thirties when we are trying to find our adult selves and build our adult life. But as we grow older we start to care far less about what others think about us or how we are perceived. Women especially shed the insecurities they had as younger versions of themselves. They start to form opinions about what things are really like and who they really want to be. This of course can shove up against the “good girl” persona.

In their love lives they may pursue someone whom their friends or family approves of but who they themselves don’t feel a strong connection with. This is a big mistake a lot of women make, and it ends up in a loveless marriage or a courtroom. When you reach a certain age it can feel very liberating that you aren’t obligated to please anyone but yourself. It’s important to love yourself and stick up for yourself, though in an appropriate manner. Be secure, firm but polite. Be direct but allow whoever it is to say their piece. It’s important to be true to yourself. If you ignore it, it will not go away. But if you listen and speak with that little voice inside you, you will never know such freedom and joy. For more advice read, Overcoming the Good Little Girl Syndrome: How to Stop Being a People-Pleaser by Linda Ellis Eastman.