How to Let Go of Toxic Friends

Everyone has had a toxic friend, but not everyone has learned how to let them go. I found out how to handle this process the hard way, and want to share my experience with you.

Here is the letter I was forced to write after a 10 year friendship turned toxic. If you like it, use it as a rubric for the tough letters you may have to write.

 

Dear Zach,

Our friendship has suffered from neglect. After so many attempts at connection, and just as many let downs, I had to let it go.

I love you man and I think about you most every day, but my friends have to be people who I can grow with; who can challenge me to be a better man; and who I can do the same for. I don’t think I can help you become a better man right now because our goals and lifestyles are so much different. And you haven’t been helping me.

I don’t like to say these things, but it’s the truth. 

I think you are a good guy with a lot of potential, but to be my best I have to surround myself with people who are intent on being their best; in their jobs; in their relationships; in their hobbies; and in their spiritual life. Our friendship has not lately supplied this growth that I need.

Personal growth should never under any circumstances be sacrificed to maintain a friendship. And when I realized that friendships are designed to help us achieve our potential, I knew that I had to make some tough choices. I love you, we have so much history together, and it’s a huge comfort just to know you are alive. But when it comes to friendship…our relationship no longer qualifies. And when I clung to it, I hurt myself.

It seemed like I was always waiting around for you to show up. And when I was waiting, I wasn’t actively being a good friend to other people. But when I made the decision to move forward, all of my desire to be a great friend was put to good use. I’m part of an awesome community now where my time and talents are needed, I’ve made some tight bonds, and I’m happy.  It doesn’t mean that I’ve been best friends with these people for ten years, but it does mean that I can grow with them. And that’s what I need. I need to be able to grow with people because that’s what we’re here to do; that’s what friends are for.

I feel like you’ve used the effort we’ve put in over the last ten years as a savings account. And the past couple years, it’s been all withdrawals. That doesn’t work for me, because I want to be rich in friendship. I don’t want to rely on anything except for my ability to give and to grow in the present and into the future.

We’re at a zero balance right now, and this friendship isn’t an account that I can keep under present terms. My life is focused on growing as a husband, as a role model, as a difference maker, as a peace maker, and as a friend to those I can sharpen and be sharpened by. This focus is not a passing phase, and it is one of the reasons why we’ve drifted apart in the past several years. But I can’t regret my growth as a man, even if it has cost me one of my greatest securities in life: your relationship.

I love you, I will miss you often, and it will continue to be a pain not to have you in my life. But it is a growing pain that I must endure in order to be my best- for my friends, for my family, for my future wife, and for my community.

I hope you understand.

Sincerely,

Dan

 

Your friends are the greatest influences on your perspective and behavior, so keep good company. The lesson from letting go of toxic friendships is this: Choose wisely. Investigate the character of your acquaintances before you call them friends. Acquaintances are people you know, and friends are people who grow.

Above all, be the kindest, gentlest, most courageous, boldest, most generous, most honest, and most unconditionally loving friend you can be. Then you’ll attract the kind of friends you won’t have to write this letter to.

 

Confessions of a Recovering Narcissist

Step into this scene:

You walk into a crowded party, and you see a sea of faces–most of them beaming smiles. But instead of a surge of curiosity, you feel an overwhelming sense of pressure. Then you imagine, “Are they thinking about me? Am I pretty enough? Are they looking at someone more beautiful than me? How can I appear more desirable? Please look at me. You don’t want to look at me? Well you’re ugly.”

Now you know what it’s like to think like a narcissist. It’s really sad, and that person used to be me.

Balanced human would be thinking along the lines of, “She’s beautiful–he looks fun–I want to get to know this person. Hope my hair doesn’t mess up.” But then again, most people don’t have an enormous hole where their self worth should be. Narcissists do.

The Making of a Narcissist

Narcissists (N) are usually talented and attractive people who skipped over one small detail in their formation: that life is about serving others. The satisfaction of knowing that our actions create value for others is what fills us up with self worth. Those who give freely have the most to give. Narcissists, on the other hand, feel the need to constantly take.

They thought their self worth would be a product of what others gave to them. As a reformed N, I grew up thinking that what I had to offer wasn’t good enough. So when I was called handsome or intelligent, I clung to those thoughts as life preservers. And I did everything to preserve that image.

I pursued sexual relationships to feel validated. Instead of finding my worth and joy in the things I gave to others, I was entirely dependent on the praise of my natural endowments. I was powerless–jumping from one relationship to the next, sucking up as much pleasure as I could, and bailing when things got rocky. And I exited each relationship with less of me than I had to begin–and less sanity.

The cycle drove me nuts. After my third live-in relationship, I seriously considered whether life was worth living. That’s when I knew I needed a serious change.

The Unmaking of a Narcissist

I’d heard from famous speakers like Zig Ziglar that happiness lies in the giving. “You’ll get what you want if you just help enough other people get what they want,” he said. I was lucky enough to’ve been exposed to Zig’s messages when I was at rock bottom, living with my parents, jobless, and broken. Otherwise, I don’t know if I would’ve made it.

As it was, I took Zig’s messages to heart. A complete 180 was my only option, so I started helping others through the written word. But in order to stick with the whole “living for others” bit, I had to unlearn the selfish habits that had made me behave like a narcissist.

It started with giving up porn. 

Porn had always been my biggest crutch. Whenever I was bored, anxious, nervous, or unsure, I turned to porn. The dopamine release was like crack, which distracted me from any uncomfortable feelings I had. But there was one hitch.

In all of that self-pleasure, I never actually learned a thing about myself–and I sure as hell didn’t think about making life better for others. It had to go.

Casual relationships were the next thing to go.

My friends and family had described me as a hopeless romantic because I never was happy out of love. As long as I was in a relationship, I didn’t have to shoulder the responsibility of fulfilling myself–I didn’t have to think about how I was making life better for others. If I was giving my girlfriend wild sex, and if the relationship was entertaining, I could lose myself till it ended, which it always did. And when it did, I focused on getting back into another one so that I didn’t have to be lonely–so that I could lose myself. Giving wasn’t part of the equation, so I had to let the casual relationships go.

Being dependent was the last thing I had to give up. 

Your life heads in the direction of your thoughts. When my habitual thoughts were about others serving me–like my Mom and Dad cooking, cleaning, and providing shelter for me–it was impossible to break out of my selfish patterns. But as I cured myself of narcissism, as I helped others through my writing, and as I grew my profession, I started thinking more about providing for myself. And then one day, I made the leap.

I had to think about myself to survive. I worked hard and I improved as a writer so that I could eat, but the motivation wasn’t just me. I wanted to eat so that I could write, and I wanted to write so that I could help others improve their lives. The better I got at providing for myself, the more valuable my messages became. And after one full year of living solo, I’d left narcissism in mirror.

Here are 3 key habits that helped me change:

Journaling was instrumental in my transformation. I didn’t notice my thought patterns until I wrote them down day after day. When I started journaling, I could finally see those selfish thoughts and behaviors, plain as day. Then I’d plan to replace the old thoughts and habits with better ones.

Planning out each day was another important step. If I didn’t plan on being a better me after my journaling sessions, I wouldn’t have gotten very far. So I made concrete actions steps that would make me a more confident, generous, selfless, and useful person, day after day. For instance: through journaling, I’d notice that I felt hopelessly dependent on other’s opinions of me when I spent too much time on Facebook. Next day, I’d plan to not use Facebook at all, opting for a self improvement activity like reading or writing.

Affirmations were the third critical step in unlearning my narcissistic tendencies. People who describe themselves as narcissists have an unedited mind that keeps spewing selfish and disempowering thoughts. Ick. When you hear a lie once, it’s just a lie. But when it’s repeated over and over and over and over, you’ll believe just about anything–no matter how insane it is. A prime example is the German people who believed that Jews were “unterhumans.” Closer to home, it’s a narcissistic person who believes he isn’t worth dirt.

When I began affirmations, I thought I was repeating lies. “I am beautiful, I am worthy, I am generous, I am capable, I am independent…” Bullshit, I thought. But as I stuck with the habit, I started believing in them. Then I started acting like I believed them. And then I was them. I realized I’d actually been those good things all along…it’s just that my mind was so programmed with junk that I couldn’t see the truth before.

Conclusion

In reality, there is no such thing as a narcissist. We’re all just people. And since we were created by God, we are all good–even those who behave narcissistically, like I did. If you find yourself in a relationship with someone who behaves narcissistically, even if that person is you, it’s best to go solo, and to focus on thinking and behaving like the intelligent and inspiring person you were born to be. Affirmations, journaling, and daily planners helped me make the change. So did giving up porn, casual relationships, and being dependent.

Need help? Sign up for my narcissist reform coaching classes.

 

 

 

 

Is Your Relationship Too Serious?

 

“Serious” is a seriously boring word we use to describe deeper commitment in relationships. But why should serious be the defining characteristic of mature love? In my research of what goes into lasting relationships, I’ve discovered play to be a hugely important and overlooked aspect of resilient love.

 

The experts weigh in

Life without play is a grinding, mechanical existence organized around doing the things necessary for survival. Play is the stick that stirs the drink. It is the basis of all art, games, books, sports, movies, fashion, fun, and wonder—in short, (play is) the basis of what we think of as civilization. Play is the vital essence of life.” – Dr. Stuart Brown, author of ‘Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul’.

We need playful bonds for secure attachments to explore the world with, and to express our true selves. Babies coo and scrunch their faces in response to their parents, and that play is how they connect intimately while learning about the world around them. As we develop, our styles of play become more individualized and complex to suit our relationship and learning needs.

Ideally we would be encouraged to blossom through our unique play (and maybe even make a career of it), but the modern world has become too adult-ish for that. Play is now deemed as childish, stupid, or unnecessary to being a grown up. Is it any wonder we get burnt out in our careers and relationships?

 

The importance of play in love

The honeymoon phase of our relationships is saturated with play. Whether it’s goosing your partner in the grocery store isle, teasing each other in bed, or camping out in the wilderness, play is a clear priority for new love.

The playfulness of romance is nature’s way of saying, “This is how love is supposed to be; this is your blueprint. Now go and build great things.” But oftentimes we use the built in playfulness of new love to escape the responsibility of making fun part of our lifestyles. In a play deficient world, it’s too common for people to remain unaware of this. And when we are unaware, we look to relationships instead of play to bring back personal joy. We become conditional lovers.

The rut of modern romance

I think relationships dissolve not because people change, but because they refuse to be changed by love, which is inherently adventurous. We are inspired to explore, to discover and to create when we fall in love, but it’s up to us to build on that foundation by prioritizing play and committing to remarkable lives. This is hard to do in a cookie cutter, factory sealed, cut and paste kind of world.

After the initial sweep of chemicals in romance, we tend to fall back into the rote routines of “normal life”. But life itself is a miracle, so the business as usual approach to committed love is a death sentence for relationships. If we want seriously happy relationships, we have to bring the spark back to our personal lives through play.

You’ll often hear people describe themselves as boring outside of a relationship. When we get attached to the fun we have with our lover, we start to get serious. We think, “I can’t let this go. I don’t want to go back to boring old me.” And when we look to relationships to bring out the fun in ourselves, it detracts from the unconditional essence of lasting love.

Play, it seems, is a long-forgotten lifeline to our most important relationships.

 

Solutions

So we are left with a couple options. The singles among us can either wait for the next love to bring back a sense of playfulness (only to burn out later), or they can make play a priority right now.

Dr. Brown advises people to retrace their play history

  • What were the activities that you totally lose yourself in as a kid?
  • What kind of play made you feel most like you?
  • What is the one thing that you childhood would’ve been incomplete without?
  • When did you let your favorite play go, and why?
  • What could you do to get it back?

A partner can accentuate your joy, but they can’t force you to commit to a joyful and playful lifestyle. So rediscover your special kind of play that makes life electric. If you get that common kink worked out before you enter a relationship, you’ll be able to love your partner more unconditionally for a lifetime.

For those who are already have a partner, you get to decide each morning what words will describe your relationship: Serious, or playful? Boring, or adventurous? The fun of new romance may long be spent, but you can rekindle a playfully incandescent love with a plan.

1-Retrace both your and your partners play history to discover your missing elements of joy

2-Find our your play personality. And

3- Have both partners commit to their unique forms of play on a weekly basis. Then allow your playful energy to spill over into and recharge your relationship.

 

 Pre-conclusion and pro tips

It doesn’t matter if you and your spouse’s style of play are compatible or not. If you can pursue your unique play together, all the better, but if you don’t ensure your own meaningful play time, you’ll find it hard to express your true self joyfully in a relationship. So reclaim your play, reclaim your joy, and reclaim your relationship.

Pro-tip #1: playing grab ass with your partner is a tried-and-true method of bringing lightheartedness back to a relationship. As a bonus, it leads to playful sex.

Pro-tip #2: Monopoly destroys marriages. Don’t even think about it. If you’re locked inside, opt for uno or stratego.

Pro-tip #3: Get moving with your partner. Whether it’s walking, running, or tossing a frisbee, your body remembers what your brain forgets: life is fun.

 

Real Conclusion

If play seems too simple a fix for a serious relationship, consider how well your car would run without fuel or oil. Play is that important. But don’t worry if your relationship has gotten too serious; it doesn’t mean the relationship is deficient. You and your partner might just be running low on personal joy. And since joy is a function of playfulness, you can reclaim it through committing to your own special style of play. Then you can bring playfulness back into your relationship and build on the initial ecstasy of a honeymoon romance.

Life is good

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New Relationship Consulting Services

I’m Daniel Dowling, a relationship consultant based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. If you’ve read my articles, you know what I’m about: Mature love, resilient love, strong families, and continual growth in relationships. Sound like something you need in your life? It’s harder than you think.

Please, don’t contact me if you aren’t willing to dramatically alter your idea of dating and relationships. Bad relationships repeat because of bad plans and misconceptions, not bad luck.

Relationships are designed to challenge us to grow for a lifetime; they are tools for world peace and healthy families. If you want to be comfortable in a relationship, my services aren’t for you.

But if you want to sacrifice to achieve a constantly renewing level of growth and commitment, call me. I’ll help you explore a richer relationship with yourself and the ones you love. Because I offer a full refund for my services, I only work with fully committed and capable clients.

 

My Services

Think about your most inspiring and life-changing moments; did they happen in an office? Not likely. They probably happened while you were engaged in the world, having fun, and doing what you loved.

So with me, there are no stupid offices or paperwork. We’ll be going out to lunch or dinner and talking about the important things in a relaxed, fun setting. Whatever your favorite way to relax and enjoy yourself, whether it’s rock climbing, a spa-trip, hiking, shopping, or sightseeing, that is how we will spend our time together. I want access to the real you, so my relationship consult will be in an environment you love while doing the things you enjoy.

Since no two people have the same strengths and weaknesses, why should you go through a cookie cutter program? Because you aren’t like any other person, I’m offering a completely unique experience to help you develop a customized holistic plan and take control of your life and relationships.

(My home base of Albuquerque/Santa Fe is a worldwide travel destination for outdoors activities of all kinds, art, food, and culture. We have world class hot springs, hiking, climbing, and spa resorts. I prefer to do consultations in this little slice of paradise, but am open to flying to you for an additional fee.)

My Method: Fun, Discovery, and Growth

I’ve found that we humans are most capable of growing while discovering, and most primed for discovery while having fun. Necessarily, my consultations cannot be confined to an office. Do you like roller coasters more than anything? We’ll meet at Six Flags. Are you happiest paddle boarding and relaxing at the ocean? Then get out your favorite towel and flip flops.

I have life-changing relationship advice that is best served while having fun and discovering more about your surroundings and inner world.

Some of our talking points will be:

  • your past relationships, your expectations for future relationships, and the person you want to be for your partner
  • your needs in a relationship and as an individual
  • what you actually want from a relationship
  • how to satisfy your need to grow as a person alone and in a relationship
  • common habits that automatically limit your relationship potential
  • new habits that will build up your future relationships
  • we’ll go over your “perfect partner” to see the traits you need to build to allow room for that person
  • how to start a life-changing journal practice
  • we’ll talk about your relationship history from a no-bullshit perspective.
  • we’ll look at the mistakes that could threaten your next relationship and plan for something much, much better.

At the end of our time together, you will come away with:

  • A holistic goal that factors in your desired quality of life, the difference you want to make in other’s lives, the resources and habits you need to thrive, and action steps to achieve your relationship goals
  • Insights into a completely different way of approaching relationships and dating
  • Insights into fundamental and overlooked human needs
  • A deep understanding of what love is in a relationship and how to build it
  • A firm understanding of the differences between love and lust, and how lust destroys relationships
  • A new standard of dating that will prevent toxic partners from entering your life
  • A new perspective on the importance of building virtue before and during a relationship
  • Practices that will help you grow with you current spouse or find your future spouse
  • A daily journal with advice on making the most of a journaling practice
  • A complementary copy of my book, “Freeing Your Other Half”
  • And an inspiring, fun, relaxed, memorable, and enjoyable experience that will change your life and relationships. Guaranteed*

All of this is delivered in the context of a relaxed getaway centered on Fun, Discovery, and Growth. Does it sound right for you?

 

My consulting services are provided on a daily basis:

$600/half day (5 hours)

$1000/whole day (8 hours)

$2000/weekend (two whole days)

Contact me by phone at (405) 254-7911 or at daniel@dowlingwriter.com

(I’ll need to plan with you two weeks in advance to organize accommodations, activities and meals.*Couples rates vary)

*Because I am fully confident in my services, I offer a full refund to dissatisfied clients

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Experience and Influences

I pursued my career because I became tired of failing miserably in relationships. After I completely overhauled my conceptions, thoughts, and habits, I was asked to share my discoveries with others. I discovered a life worth living, and a deep satisfaction in helping others through my profession.

I’ve written for LifeHack.org, The Good Men Project, CheatSheet.com, Mind Body Green, Urban Dating, Waking Times, and Activist Post. I’ve been featured as a guest on the Flourish With Failure Podcast, Jeff Berwick’s Anarchast, and The Breakup Coach Podcast. I’ve also authored two books on relationships- ‘Freeing Your Other Half’, and “Creating Business Relationships that Pay What You’re Worth”.

I’ve studied under Allan Savory, founder of Holistic Management International and Savory International, in the field of holistic decision making and goal planning. William Ury, founder of the Harvard Program on Negotiation, has helped me to successfully coach couples on the art of conflict negotiation. I’ve also learned about the subtle and profound differences of men and women through Dr. John Gray.

 

Birth Control or Self Control: Your Choice

 

The character of a person’s life is formed from a series of choices. No one life has ever been fully dictated by their environment; at least, not one who is capable of choosing. And of all the decisions we make, every one falls into one of two categories:

1) Self control

2) External control

The most successful people in history have opted for self-control. If you can control your response to any given situation, there is no need for anyone or anything else to control you. If the purpose of life is to be free, as it is presumed, and freedom is attained through responsibility, then self-control is the only means to achieve a purposeful life, or a successful relationship.

The least successful people rely on external control for whatever they get. Instead of creating their fate through well thought out decisions, the least successful are completely at the whim of those who hope to control them. The concept of freedom for these types is freedom from responsibility, which is self-defeating, because freedom is the state of total responsibility. The harder people cling to external control, the less freedom they have and the more freedom they want. Sound familiar? It describes about 95% of relationships today.

 

Virtue, Vice, and Human Nature

Self control relies on invisible traits inside of you, known as virtue, while external control relies on outside pressure. Self-controllers have to build measures of wisdom, integrity, reliability, courage, persistence, faith, and so forth to respond positively to life as it unfolds. Externally controlled people insist that virtue is not required to live freely, and so count on outside factors to provide freedom. But always, for the external, there remains a fallacy; that freedom can be found outside of responsibility and virtue.

Freedom is self-directed, and enslavement is externally directed. Many people claim to be free because they choose their lifestyle, but if a person chooses to be controlled by an external source, that is the freedom to be a slave. The irony is that more people than not claim to be free though their vices. Vices are the opposite of virtue. Whereas virtue begets freedom, vice breeds restriction. Both virtue and vice come through free will, but virtue’s decision is to be free, and vice’s is to be controlled. Virtue is the master of need, while vice is the slave of desire.

Human beings have needs just the same as any other creature in nature. And when needs are met, any given creature can be assured a reasonable level of health, satisfaction, security, and happiness. Look at the birds, butterflies, bears and bees. These animals mostly lack provisions for a day in advance, yet they all have a quality of life that remains unfathomable to humans. We, on the other hand, have all the food and shelter in the world, in our culture at least, yet we pine for the quality of life that the simplest animals maintain. Even without knowing where their next meal is coming from, animals have what they need. Even with knowing where our next year of meals will come from, we humans seem to lack what we need. If peace is a condition of satisfied needs, humans can be considered the neediest animals on the planet. But with a creature so incredibly capable, how is it that we find ourselves in constant want?

For other animals who aren’t so highly socialized, to rely on external sources, apart from the earliest stages of life, is a death sentence. But because of how socially complex and industrialized we have become, we can exist for a lifetime relying on external sources. Even though we have providers for food and health and communication, and every physical need, we remain highly dysfunctional as groups and individuals. When needs are met, people and groups function. When needs go unmet, there is dysfunction. Whereas animals who eschew self control die, humans subject themselves to abject misery. Nowhere is this more evident than our relationships.

Our relationships are so dysfunctional that most marriages end up in divorce or decay. Is that because we are not designed for monogamy, or is it because we are in need of some missing elements? Do we falter in marriage because of a genetic handicap, or is it because we allow ourselves to be controlled by external forces?

 

 How Birth Control Defeats Self Control

Relationships are the most important arenas of decision making because they are where new life comes from. When we rule ourselves by virtue and for the benefit of our families and communities, relationships are a lifelong source of intimacy and healing love. When we succumb to the illusion of freedom found in vice, like lust, gluttony, etc., relationships become an entirely different thing. Instead of being free together through virtue, most partners end up as the proverbial “ball and chain” to one another’s want for vice. One aspect of our relationships that starves us of meaning and purpose is the way we approach sexuality and new life.

If you live in 21st century America, you might think birth is a no brainer; we aim to control and prevent new life, which appears to serve some purpose. Externally. But with a thing so powerful (and precious) as new life, how we respond to it makes a difference. How we respond to our sexuality is the greatest indicator of how we will fare in relationships. People who respond to new life by controlling their actions build virtue, which supports new life and satisfies the needs of a relationship. These people are free. But this is not the common practice today.

More often than not, people seek external control of their sexuality by birth control. It seems a perfectly normal and rational thing to do, but only inasmuch as one denies our nature. The tacit statement in taking birth control is, “I cannot control my self. I need technology to do that for me.” Whereas the couple who strives for virtue and self control grow closer through sex, externally controlled couples are ripped asunder. Birth controllers pretend they no longer have to respond to life because they have outsmarted God, or nature. But life is the defining aspect of nature, and so to cheat it is to also cheat our selves.

Since a large part of our nature is the unseen world of virtue, life plays an integral role in shaping virtue, thereby satisfying the needs of a human. Think of all the dependability, courage, responsibility, discipline, faith, perseverance and commitment it takes to lovingly raise a family. The common purpose of family life, and the common challenges in family, are extraordinary in how they satisfy our needs as humans; how they bring us together; and how we grow together through them. But when the needs of humans are supposed to be entirely physical, when our invisible nature is ignored, birth control seems like a no-brainer. If sex is good, then unlimited sex without consequence should be even better, so it is thought. Birth control allows for free sex, right? But “free” is a word that describes the state of satisfied needs, in order to live naturally, as most creatures do. In this sense, the sex we have through birth control is totally restrictive to our relationships and the development of virtue.

 

The Importance of Your Sexual Freedom

So many people have fallen for the simplest and most enduring fallacy that freedom can be gained through external control, and that is why we are completely restricted in relationships today. How can a person love freely if they decide to withhold their power to create new life? Is not the potential to create human life the greatest power we possess? And if that power is reserved in the act of sex, how can a person pretend to love freely?

Birth control mocks the beautiful gift of free, total, faithful and fruitful sex in marriage. Its convenience is alluring, but mark these words: birth control will be the death of your relationship. It opposes virtue in all aspects. It turns the celebration of life that is sex into a fearful and faithless mockery. Whereas free and faithful sex between marriage partners brings each one closer to the other until death, incomplete sex picks couples apart until they have nothing left to give each other.

Think of sex like a pitcher, and love as water. The incompleteness of sex allows love and virtue to drain out, slowly but surely, until there is no use in a couple coming to a well together again. If love cannot be retained and generated, there is nothing that can keep a couple together. Love in totality is what keeps couples together, and when aspects of love are withheld in any way, vitality escapes the relationship through cracks and chips.

The difference between self-controllers and birth controllers is that the former responds to life; the latter attempts to manipulate life. Couples who practice self-control pay attention to the natural rhythms of life and respond to it by building virtue. During the week of fertility, a self-controlling couple practices discipline, commitment, and sacrificial love by refraining from sex. Considering that this week of fertility is the greatest period of arousal and mutual attraction, expressing love in other ways is a challenge that brings couples together in creative ways, which test their character.

In choosing self-control, couples are brought together to communicate about their long-term goals, their needs, and their plans. Ideally there would be health enough and resources to provide for a new baby at any time, but during periods of illness or financial instability, bringing in a new life may not be the best for a family. Self-control acknowledges that life is sacred, and through the week of sexual sacrifice, a couple is brought closer together in their mutual purpose of happiness, prosperity, solvency and stability. They are brought together through sacrificial love, and virtue. Their attraction and respect for one another is renewed, and their common goals, wants and needs are brought to the table each month. Self-controllers don’t abuse the power of sex, and moreover, that power is revered and honored in each other.

No such benefits present themselves to birth controllers. Instead of responding to the natural rhythms of life, as humanity has done since time immemorial, birth controllers reject the gift of life and all the virtue that comes from responding to it. They indulge in the pleasure of sex regardless of their needs, or life itself. Birth controllers do not see life as any benefit outside of their wants, and if life does not fit in with what they want, they will suppress it regardless of what good life brings.

Birth controllers decide that they don’t have room in life for life, and so they agree to manipulate their nature instead of controlling their actions. But our nature is designed specifically for us, just the same as any other creature. And the more we know of our nature, the more of our needs we can satisfy, and the more functional we can be as individuals, couples, and groups. To deny the most significant part of our nature, the part that creates new life, is to reject the possibility of being happy and whole like creatures in nature.

 

Conclusion

Whereas self-controllers grow in respect, reverence, appreciation, admiration, intimacy, faith, and sacrificial love, birth controllers become enslaved by vice to their demise. If you want a happy and whole relationship, think heavily on your nature as a human being; reflect on your deepest needs; question what has become normal; and ask what you are really capable of. Chances are, it’s a whole lot more than you imagine.

All You Need Is Lust (Lust Is All You Need)

 

Love and lust are oppositional words; one cannot exist in the other. You can’t have a little bit of lust in your love, and you can’t have a little bit of love in your lust. The two words maintain a polarity that cannot be equalized. Whereas love is internal, lust is external. Whereas love is the past and future wrapped up in the present, lust is the present at the expense of the future, and in ignorance of the past. Whereas love is total, lust is incomplete. Where love gives, lust takes away. Whereas love is unselfish, lust asks, “what can you do for me?” Love is holistic and lust is partial—there ought be no confusion.

For how diametric these concepts are, most individuals do not recognize a difference. There is some modern emulsifier that suspends particles of love and lust in the same solution, and we perceive them as one. Take any song on the radio that speaks of love and replace each “love” with lust. Then notice how much more sense the song makes. People don’t notice that the concept of love is incongruent with most songs because they lack a guiding definition. I like the line from the famous Beatles song, “Love is all you need”, and though it is true, what good is that information if you don’t know what love actually is, and what it does?

People spend their entire lives searching for love because everyone knows that without it, life would have no meaning. But in the race to not be left out in love, few bother to define their goal, and few reach it. That may seem like a bold claim, but look at the totality of our lives: we can no longer expect to last with our spouses or our families. The places where love should be most prevalent are the same places we are running from, or refusing responsibility for. If more than a few people reached their goal of love, our future would be much brighter; people could expect to last with their spouses and have the security of loving families throughout their lives. But that is not the case today. The wedding vows have been tacitly altered to accommodate lust, not love. Instead of till death do us part, we think, “Till like do us not.” But we call it love because we don’t have a definition for love.

Your relationships and your actions could be lust disguised as love, but you’d never know until you defined love. Or until your life falls to pieces, whichever comes first. As it stands, everything that relates to romance is labeled under the umbrella of love. People who have sex with each other are known as “lovers”. Couples who have affection for each other are said to be “in love”. And because everyone knows that love is the most important thing in the world, we walk blithely in and out of romance, leaving a trail of destruction.

 

The things we do for love…But would love ask us to forsake future happiness for pleasure in the moment? Would love ever suggest we ignore history to enjoy the present? If love is past, present and future in totality, then love could not stamp its name on modern romance; that would be a disgrace. If love is free, total, faithful, and fruitful, then love would be humiliated to be associated with the conditions, the incompleteness, the faithlessness, and the damage that hallmarks modern romance. But love cannot be degraded by ignorance because it is what it is regardless of what people call it. We, however, are completely vulnerable to ignorance, and we have been degraded. If we think poison is food and eat the “food”, we will die. If we think lust is love, it will erode our future and destroy our relationships no matter how much we believe in it. Lust has and is continuing to erode our future. What will you do about it?

When you take a look at our prospects in relationships, and the end result of most relationships today, it is clear that our version of “love” is incomplete. The most important and sacred thing in the world is frivolously spattered throughout our music, literature, movies, and pop culture to the point where the word “love” has been emptied of it’s original content and replaced with lust.

It is a common phenomenon throughout history that if a lie is repeated often enough, it is presumed to be true. Jews, Indians, blacks, Irish, Asians, and unborn children were/are all known to be less than human through this phenomenon. The world was indeed flat by this logic. The moon may have been made of cheese by this principle. And so too has lust become love. When something is said often enough, people lose their propensity to question it, and they lose their freedom.

 

Freedom is the state of total responsibility for one’s actions, which is bought by eternal vigilance, endless questioning, and the courage to act in accordance with conscience. Every other animal on earth gets to live free because they don’t pretend their responsibilities are any less than what they are, as the human species does. It just happens that our responsibilities, and privileges, are many times greater than any other animal. Our freedom has been restricted in all avenues, but most conspicuously in relationships. Instead of loving in total responsibility and freedom, we have to pay for our lust with the future; with our families; with our happiness. But the future has a funny way of becoming our reality, so it is not just the future we trade for lust, it is also the present.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? How about twenty? How about when you are 75? Will you be alone in a nursing home racked with regret, or will you be just as faithful about the future as you are now? Will you look back and say, “I’m so glad I chose a different way”, or will you use “human nature” to justify your misery? Will the fruits, faithfulness, completeness and freedom of love be the standard of your life, or will it be something less? No matter where you are at now, your future will be illuminated if you define love and make it your primary reason for being.

If you are interested in being happy, loving your life, and embracing the future, love needs your attention. It needs your examination. It needs your vigilance and your questions. Love needs you because it wants to be expressed through your life and your relationships. Love wants nothing more than to experience the richness of humanity in love. Your love is important, but it will not be present unless you define it and make it accordingly. If you want love to heal your life and bring security to your relationships, then define love in a holistic way that you can judge your actions with. If you want love, do not be deceived by lust for another moment.

 

Each person must come to the meaning of love on their own, otherwise it is empty. To assist, here is a guidelineLove– any action or thing that honors, respects, and enhances life. Catholics describe love as being Free, Total, Faithful, and Fruitful; this mnemonic is a great rubric to measure your actions by.

 

 

 

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So You Want To Be In A Relationship?

Daniel Dowling has identified the reasons why relationships are so hard, and has an approach that will help you overcome the challenges. *Warning: this article makes casual relationships less appealing–read at your own inconvenience

The thing that pulls us into relationships is the same thing that repels us from them. We want to be reminded of how unique and awesome we are, and there is no better mirror to reflect the person we want to be seen as than a lover who knows nothing of our faults. So we feel alive in the first stages of a relationship, we feel fun and we feel free. But the mirror that our partners hold to us has no partiality, and as it reflects our good, so too will it reflect what ill we hold.

This is why entering relationships without a commitment to personal growth and edification is harmful to our wellbeing. It’s harder to remind yourself of the good things in yourself, but ultimately that is what stays with you. If you can make a habit out of seeing the best in yourself and affirming your worth by improving your actions, then there will be no one to pull the rug out from underneath you, as so commonly happens in ordinary relationships.

Doubly hard is reminding yourself of the undesirable traits that you would part with to live freer and love better. But, if you are unwilling to search that out for yourself, no one else can have any hope of showing you. And so those who are not intent on self-sacrifice and personal growth cannot grow in a relationship; though it will be easier to see their flawed actions mirrored by their partner, they won’t recognize the flaws as their own to change.

Bored people make for boring partners

Most people are bored with themselves and want to be reminded of why they are awesome, so relationships are an easy choice. But the mirror of our partners is not selective and it will reflect the good along with the bad. If you have a hard time looking for the good in yourself, you’ll also have a hard time looking for things you can change in order to grow.

If you aren’t trained in seeking out the error of your ways, then when someone reflects your truth, you will not recognize the faults as your own and you will be likely to blame your partner. “He/she just…changed.” Is a common excuse at the end of a relationship, but it isn’t accurate. When we enter relationships without a habit and routine of self-effacement, we will not tolerate any of the negative truth we see in the mirrors of our partners and we will not take ownership. So the faults and flaws of our own behavior will be falsely projected onto the people we relied on to see the best in ourselves. And when that happens, we don’t feel safe in their presence any more, so we become invulnerable and send signals that say, “I can’t grow with you.”

Those signals directly impact the behavior of your partner, and they will either withdraw to escape the pain or assail you with “neediness” and nagging, depending on how emotionally responsive they are. And if you are involved in this self-destructive relationship-seeking mode, chances are your partner will be too. So this corrosive cycle will be playing out from both sides of the partnership and to the same end—splitsville.
It may seem like a cruel twist of fate, but this force of nature in relationships is actually to our highest benefit. If our partners didn’t mirror the flaws that we carry, there would be no way to grow within a relationship. Since the point of living is to learn and grow, it would be cruel if relationships didn’t play out this way for non-growth minded people; there would be absolutely no incentive to change, to humble yourself, and to grow.

Relationships are hard so that we can grow through them

The fact of mirroring is why romantic relationships are not for casual purposes; relationships are designed specifically for growth. In the context of truth seeking and edification, relationships are the ultimate tool to know and appreciate yourself and others better. But arriving at a point where relationships are appropriate for your growth requires a fully developed and growth-based relationship with yourself first.

If you aren’t acknowledging the flaws that you carry and the errors you make by yourself, there is no hope for you in a romantic relationship. If you don’t know yourself intimately, have your own back and encourage your greatest growth, no one can grow with you. If you aren’t disciplined in reminding yourself how special and amazing you are, you’ll give yourself away to someone who hasn’t earned the privilege of caring for your deepest parts, and you will be let down. If you haven’t taken the responsibility of knowing yourself deeply and growing with yourself every day, then you haven’t earned the privilege or capability of growing with another person.

A person’s history in relationships is the ultimate indicator of their personal commitment to themselves. Those who haven’t committed to their highest growth will be putty in the hands of most anyone who will affirm their value; I myself was among that crowd for most of my life. Without self-discipline and sacrifice to grow before the relationship, the relationship will implode. Those who have committed to responsibility and edification will find incredible growth through a relationship, but not without great sacrifice.

The strength and fruitfulness of a relationship is directly related to the sacrifice that goes into it. If you look for a relationship to affirm what you want to see in yourself, you’ll lack the necessary sacrificial component that enables a relationship to flourish. If relationships are used as an escape from the responsibility to see and bring out the best within yourself, then they will crumble, but only for your benefit. A life without growth is no life at all. So, if you’ve had “bad luck” in relationships, be glad that you are still capable of growing. If you could stay in a relationship without your partner mirroring the flaws you carry, you would rot and become nothing of consequence. But the fact that you have crashed and burned in relationships is the ultimate sign that you are destined for something far greater IF you take up the responsibility to make sacrifices and to grow yourself.

The purpose of life is to grow; we are here to learn and to create. But you wouldn’t automatically think that by observing the peculiar behaviors of our species. It seems we have been possessed by the wrong-headed idea that the magical elixir of growth is in the next woman’s vagina, or will come out of that guy’s penis…And so we continue the vain exploration of comfort in other people’s bodies, but outside the context of self sacrifice and edification, we never find it. Then, when everything has topped down on us, as privileges are wont to do without the balance of responsibility, we blame God or our nature for ensuring that we grow, one way or another.

Those who seek personal growth through self-sacrifice and responsibility are masters of themselves; they cannot be lured in by passing pleasures that will ultimately defeat them; they will succeed in relationships beyond measure. Those who lack the discipline of self-sacrifice and sexual responsibility will hand their fate to the inexperienced hands of someone who desires nothing more than they; comfort. But greatness is neither sought nor found in the confines of comfort, and so it is that most relationships dissolve for a lack of growth.

Every living thing grows, and if it refuses to grow then it dies. Your relationships are living things that require growth just as any other, and their primary source of fuel is commitment, humility, vulnerability, courage, responsibility, discipline, respect, faith, wisdom, patience and sacrifice. If you can cultivate those traits in yourself before a relationship, then they can be enhanced by a relationship, and the profitability of your virtue will go to feed the growth of your relationship.

As relationships grow, so too does responsibility, and along with responsibility comes privilege. If you continue a relationship based on the principle of growth, you will be awarded dividends for as long as you commit to sacrifice, discipline, and adventure. There is no limit to the growth in a relationship save for your adventurousness, your imagination, your willingness to sacrifice, and your will to grow. That is to say, there are plenty of limits to your relationship, but none beyond your control; none external.

Traits you can develop before your next relationship

If the idea of hard work, responsibility, sacrifice, unlimited sexual satisfaction, discipline, unlimited growth, and lasting love appeal to you, then you can probably make an excellent relationship with enough commitment. If those ideas don’t appeal to you, or if it seems to hard, then you have two choices:

1- step outside of your comfort zone, embrace the fact that life is not easy, and fight like hell for the things you believe in (hopefully you believe in love). Or
2- accept that you will never be capable effecting joy, security, and fulfillment in your life.

It seems a clear-cut choice, but most people never orient themselves to a position where such a stark choice presents itself. We’ve all been mislead to think that romantic love is anything other than what we make of it, and so sexual irresponsibility has become intertwined the fabric of our culture. If you’ve bought this lie, then join the club! How could anyone be expected to automatically choose the hard and worthy road of sacrifice and responsibility when we’ve been conditioned to the contrary literally from birth?

If you are even remotely interested in a growth based relationship and sexual responsibility, you will be one of the very, very few because that road is narrow and difficult. The toughness of the road is what leads to the fitness that is required for the worthy things in life, like a committed relationship and solvent family. If you believe that there is a better way to approach romance, most people will laugh at you, call you a “shamer”, or ridicule you. They do this because your unlimited ideas threaten their concept of comfort and “good living.” But those who laugh will never know the freedom that you can achieve. They’ll never come close to a relationship that grows in intimacy and value because they haven’t prepared for it; because they do not think it is possible; because they are afraid to acknowledge the faults they carry and grow.

But don’t let other people concern you. If you want something better in a relationship, you have every right. If you didn’t want something better, if you didn’t want to grow, your humanity would be lessened because growth is our nature.

The following is a list of traits and habits that will prevent you from making the sacrifices to attain a growth-based relationship:

Casual relationships

  • Casual sex
  • Pornography
  • Lack of personal goals
  • An unmotivated and underachieving circle of friends
  • An aversion to responsibility
  • An aversion to sacrifice
  • A desire for an easy life
  • A sense of entitlement
  • A lack of challenges
  • A diminished spirit of adventure
  • A fear of trying new things
  • A fear of commitment
  • Pridefulness; a sense of infallibility

And most of all: a belief that absolute truth does not exist.

 

The following is a list of traits that will prepare you for unlimited growth and success in your relationships:

  • A desire to be challenged
  • A willingness to accept fault
  • A willingness to improve on faults
  • A ferocious desire to learn and to improve
  • A willingness to make sacrifices for the things you love.
  • A willingness to endure suffering in order to create the life you want to live.
  • A habit of constantly improving your actions
  • A habit of questioning what is considered normal
  • An eagerness to help others through your passions.
  • A habit of breaking your comfort zone to experience new things
  • A respect for life

And most of all: a burning desire to seek and obtain truth.

Without acknowledging absolute truth, there is no higher standard for which to conform one’s self to, and no impetus to improve. Without acknowledging absolute truth, one commits the fallacy of asserting a truth in denying the concept of truth.

Truth is what brings all people who desire truth together in order to live to a higher standard. Truth is what enables growth because it is infinite, and it can only be accessed through sacrifice. If your relationships have dissolved leaving you with less and you maintain that truth does not exist, please reconsider your stance if you desire a better way.

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Emotional Connection: How to Rekindle Your Sex Life

Emotional Connection: How to Rekindle Your Sex Life

 

 

What is the one thing we want and need most in relationships? If you said sex…you’re wrong.

 

According to Ph.D Sue Johnson, inventor of Emotionally Focused therapy, secure couples only attribute 15-20% of their happiness to pleasing sex. So for happy relationships, sex is a small but important part of a tasty and satisfying pie. But for those in unhappy relationships, a full 50-70% of their misery is attributed to sexual dissatisfaction. Where is the disconnect?

 

Since sex is important to feeling close, unsatisfied partners come to the faulty assumption that sex is the culprit. If they had more or better sex, then the relationship would also be better, so they reason. But what comes first- the relationship, or sex?

 

Recent studies have shown that people who have the highest sexual satisfaction and the most sex are married couples. This statistic defeats the commonly held notion that intimacy for couples must decrease with time, and that novel sexual encounters are the most satisfying.

 

 

The importance of emotional connection

 

In the context of a committed relationship, it is not novelty that determines satisfaction, but emotional connection.

 

The deeper you are able to connect with your partner emotionally, the more dynamic your sexual experience will be. The greater your emotional connection is with your partner, the more in tune you will be with their physical and sexual needs as well.  Emotional connection requires the most sensitivity of any of our needs, so it is the most important connection to practice.

 

Emotional connection often fades in couples because it requires so much attention, and our lifestyles leave little room for it. Through our hectic work schedules and lives, we barely have enough time for our thoughts, let alone the feelings of our partners.

 

When we lose sensitivity to the emotional needs of our partners and ourselves, we tend to shut down physically and sexually also. Since emotions are the least known connection and the hardest to observe, we tend to place too much importance on sexuality and physicality in our problems.

 

For many people, decreased emotional connection is the root cause of their sexual problems. Sexual dissatisfaction is the canary in the coalmine, so to speak, and never a cause of relationship problems itself.

 

If you want to experience a deeper and richer sex life, try to re-establish a meaningful emotional connection with your partner.

 

 

What are emotions?

 

Because male culture has been so quick to dismiss feelings, many of us have entered into relationships with an emotional handicap that prevents deeper intimacy.

 

Because of an emotional disconnect, many women lose hope in themselves and their partners when all they need is an emotional breakthrough.

 

Males have come to take pride in how unaffected they are, and how they can overcome their emotions. Not crying has been viewed as a masculine trait, and not speaking about feelings has become standard for guys. But we all have emotions, even the toughest and hardest among us, and the more we repress them, the less able we are to connect with our partners and ourselves.

 

Emotion stems from the Latin root emovere, which means to move through or out. Emotions are what move you. Repressing emotions inhibits the flow of connection through you and out to other people.

 

If you are in tune with your feelings, you can choose the direction you are moved for a positive effect. If you have lost touch with your feelings, you can fall into negative patterns of ignoring your needs and reacting harshly.

 

 

Ignoring emotions and responding negatively

 

 

Take this example for instance. A man’s wife turns away from him as he attempts to kiss her before heading to work. Without sensitivity to his needs and feelings, he may experience anger and attack his partner or shut down completely to protect himself from hurt. That would be a negative response to feeling hurt, or scared that he would lose connection with his spouse.

 

Needing to be connected to your loved one is what drives the majority of feelings in a relationship, so it’s important to observe our feelings and see what needs they lead to. Rarely if ever is that need to attack someone or make them feel bad for what they do.

 

 

Connecting to emotions and responding positively

 

 

A man who is in touch with his emotions is a man who realizes their importance. Without sharing our emotions vulnerably in a relationship, there can be no meaningful connection. Each time you reveal your emotions and the needs behind them, you invite your partner to connect and to grow with you.

 

So for the man in our example, the emotionally attuned response would look something more like this:

 

“Honey, I feel hurt when you turn away from my kiss because I need to feel connected to you.”

 

Or,

 

“Babe, I feel hopeless when you turn away from my kiss because your kisses help me feel close to you. What are your needs right now?”

 

Instead of perceiving him as a pushy and aggressive guy, the wife will see his soft emotions and his desire to connect with her.

 

There are any numbers of positive emotional responses, but they all share commonalities. Positive emotional connections are centered around feelings, needs and requests. They let your partner know what is going inside of you and why, and it also gives insight into what they can do to increase connection with you.

 

 

The importance of empathy and vulnerability

 

 

It’s easier to respond positively to your emotions when you empathize with your partner. Empathizing is looking for the interests, needs and feelings behind your partner’s actions to understand them better.

 

For a man who looks to his wife with empathy, he will not automatically assume she is a bad guy for not going along with his bid for affection. A man who practices empathy will look deeper into the needs and feelings of his partner to see her as a human with needs.

 

In the first example, the man turns away from his own needs and feelings in order to protect himself. He has judged her as someone who hurts him. But in doing that, he is ignoring the needs of his partner as well and preventing a meaningful emotional connection; he is invulnerable.

 

Paradoxically, invulnerability is what hurts us the most, but it is always an attempt to protect our needs. So when your partner is showing invulnerability, know that they are hurting and needing to be close with you.

 

The man in the second example looks to his wife with empathy while being vulnerable about his feelings and needs. In doing so, he opens the door for greater connection and intimacy with his wife.  His emotions “move through” him and towards his wife for a deep connection.

 

Maybe she was preoccupied with thoughts of her sick mother. Maybe she hadn’t healed from an emotional wound he didn’t even know had occurred. If you don’t stop to express your feelings and needs, you’ll never understand more about your partner’s.

 

The invulnerable man’s response will lead to more distance and lowered expectations for connection, which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Think about how hard it would be to make a warm sexual connection when a relationship is defined by cycles of disconnect.

 

The vulnerable man displays emotional attentiveness and a desire to grow and understand. Not surprisingly, that man will be the one to get his needs met and to understand the feelings and needs behind his partners actions. Would it surprise you if the second couple went on the have a deeply passionate lovemaking session not long after their connection? Or for their love-making to grow in meaning and satisfaction with each emotional connection?

 

 

 

Having sex is making love when you are fully connected emotionally with your partner. That connection provides security and another dimension in which to explore and appreciate each other freely and creatively.

 

When couples make a habit of being sensitive to their emotional needs, they develop an appreciation and respect for each other than can only occur through growing together; through work.

 

Imagine the security you can have with a partner when you can ride emotional waves together and have faith in each other’s ability to be more connected after the ride is over. It’s exhilarating and happy, and it’s a far cry from the emotional repression that keeps us from giving our deepest selves in sexual encounters.

 

The difference lies in the work couples put towards connecting.

 

Thomas Alva Edison is quoted as saying, “It’s good hard work that does it”, and that applies to relationships too. Connecting emotionally is work in that it requires effort, but it can be the most rewarding work of your life if you make it a practice. Since emotional connection is the most important part of a relationship, it is worth working for.

 

 

 

Back to Sex

 

 

In a secure relationship, excitement comes not from trying to resurrect the novel moments of infatuated passion, but from the risk involved in staying open in the moment-to-moment, here-and-now experience of physical and emotional connection. With this openness comes the sense that lovemaking is always a new adventure.”  Sue Johnson

 

Sex is a living and breathing thing that you create with your partner, and it requires good food to perform well and serve it’s purpose.  The emotional connections and exchanges you make with your partner end up being the food for this sexy beast.

 

The inputs required for the sexy beast are: vulnerability, emotional exchanges and connection with your spouse, security, confidence, playfulness, and hope. If you can create those inputs in your day-to-day life with your spouse, you’ll have done all you need to experience the highest levels of sexual satisfaction imaginable.

 

But after you’ve done the work to create sexual fuel, you’ll realize that the connection you make in the process is infinitely more important than the act of sex itself. With that revelation comes a new sense of sexual freedom because the pressure that once defined sex is now gone.

 

 

If you want to experience mind-blowing sex and intimate connection with your spouse, here are 5 things you can practice:

 

 

1-Empathize with your partner

 

Seeing your wife as a vulnerable person who is responding from emotions created by needs, she will be warm to your eyes no matter what words or tone of voices she uses. If you can see that she only wants to connect with you, as you do with her, then you create an even foundation for an emotional connection.

 

 

2-Express your feelings and needs, then request what you need.

 

If you don’t take the time to examine the feelings behind your reactions, you can’t possibly know what your needs are. And if you don’t know what your needs are, you will never get what you want. So connect with your emotions and see the needs that create them.

 

Once you know how you feel and what you need, you can guide your partner closer to you through vulnerability. When we don’t know our feelings and needs, we become scared and that is when we attack. When that happens, we create cycles that diminish connection and interrupt our sex lives.

 

So express yourself in ways that draw attention to your feelings and needs without criticizing or attacking your partner. Invite connection through your emotions.

 

“I feel ____ when this happens because I need ____ with you. Can you talk about how you are feeling?”  Attacking someone is a superficial way to show our feelings that exacerbate the tension we feel.

 

 

3- Practice forgiveness

 

Becoming acquainted with your feelings and needs will give you the opportunity to see how your partner has hurt you and how you have hurt them. Because our primary need in relationship is to be connected, the biggest wounds we harbor are those where we have felt abandoned, cut-off, and unimportant to our partners.

 

Being able to empathize with those hurts and understand the feelings and needs behind them will help you to heal old wounds and create a new level of vulnerability and intimacy with your partner.

 

When your partner opens up and expresses the wounds, let them know how you understand the way your actions made them feel; empathize. Once they know you are connected to their needs, forgiveness happens. When you forgive each other, you build a new level of trust and security that invites intimacy.

 

 

4- Practice non-sexual touching

 

Physical connection (touching) is another primary need in relationships. Touching is another way to show that we are cared for, and it opens the door for emotional connection.

Think of the last hug where you felt truly connected with another person. You can’t beat that feeling because the unspoken message is this: I’m here for you and I care.

 

If you’ve noticed a decline in sexual satisfaction, practice being present to your partner with hugs, handholding, foot rubs, making deep eye-contact, massages and other affectionate touches throughout the day. Get playful, wrestle, play grab-ass, and be spontaneous with your touch.

 

Practice “Push Hands” together. Push hands is part of the internal martial arts known as Tai Chi, where sensitivity and receptivity is built.  In push hands you focus on channeling energy to and from your partner in perfect harmony, and it can be highly erotic if you want it to be.

 

5- Take a break from sex

 

Dr. Sue Johnson recommends a 2-3 week sexual fast for couples who want to increase intimacy and connection. If sexual pressure is a cause of decreased connection, then making a mutual agreement to abstain from sex will release the pressure and invite connection.

 

If you choose a similar strategy, focus on spending time together and getting to know more about the ways you each like to be touched. You’ll be surprised at what you learn, and when you resume having sex, you’ll have heightened sensitivity to your partner’s physical and emotional needs.

 

 

6- Take a break from porn*

 

*Bonus tip! I like to surprise my audience.

 

Since sexual satisfaction and emotional connection are intrinsic, it’s important to practice emotional connection in all walks of life.

 

Pornography conditions men to view woman as separate from emotions, feelings and inner truth (and vise-versa). Porn use has been linked to erectile dysfunction, and has been proven to alter a man’s perception in ways that make his partner seem less attractive. This occurs through overstimulation of the senses and under-stimulation of innermost needs.

 

I don’t know about you guys, but I would never want to do anything that compromises the beauty I see in my wife. Women need to feel cherished to open up emotionally and share the gift of intimacy with their partners. Of all the couples and wives I’ve spoken with, every one of them felt hurt or betrayed by a husband’s porn usage.

 

 

 

If you want to experience a more profound emotional connection and more erotic sexual life with your partner, quit porn. When you feel the urge to watch it, try writing love letters to your spouse (or future spouse). Talk about how important their connection is with you and what you’re doing to relate better with him or her.

 

Pick up a book. Scientific studies have proven that reading literary fiction increases empathy*.

 

*http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24091705

 

Your ability to relate with your partner is contingent on you being able to relate with him or her on deeper emotional levels. Watching porn works against that goal and inhibits your ability to establish deep and meaningful emotional connection.

 

 

 

Conclusion

 

If you practice emotional bonding with your partner, you will increase every aspect of your relationship to include your sex life. Do you have any tips for building strong emotional and sexual connections? Please share them in the comment section below.

 

 

 

I Was Addicted to Porn

My Addiction to Pornography

Porn picture

My Addiction to Pornography

( Click to visit the page on Mind Body Green)

I’m 25 and I used to have a severe addiction to porn. I grew up in an Orthodox Catholic household where private parts weren’t even mentioned, let alone discussed. It wasn’t until my late teens that I stopped feeling like a criminal for saying words like “penis” or “vagina.”

The only thing I ever heard about sex was, “Don’t do it!” Sex simply was never discussed in my house, so I didn’t know the first thing about it. I discovered what sex was while reading Michael Crichton’s novel, ‘Jurassic World’ in the third grade, and even then it was talking about alligators. So, instead of developing a healthy sexual identity, I was taught to fear the very thing that drives our existence.

Rather than learning about responsible sexuality from the adults in my life, my first ideas about sex came from a horn-ball teenage cousin named Nick during a family vacation. He told me about how much fun porn was, how good it felt, and what I should do when I watched it. I was 12 years old, curious, and couldn’t wait to see more about the woman in my cousin’s magazines.

After that vacation I began a life of covert obsession with internet pornography. I started looking forward to my family leaving so that I could be alone on the computer. I came to care more about getting off to porn than playing with my friends or even reading, which was my first love. The feeling of pornography was so significant that I couldn’t imagine it not being important.

Within the first year I was devoting 5 hours a week to getting high off of porn. And when I didn’t have access to porn, I would focus my imagination on recreating the images in the movies. The eager and curious boy I was became less concerned about play and more about playboy. After my Dad found my porn stash, he quipped to my Mom, ” Is Dan preparing to be a gynecologist?”

After years of watching porn obsessively, my perception of women began to shift. I stopped caring about their innermost as my focus gravitated to their cup size and willingness to engage sexually. If a girl thought too much of herself to fool around with me, I didn’t have time for her. I thought if the women in the movies did everything I ever wanted them to without having to ask twice, what was the point of wasting time with real girls?

My subconscious thoughts began eating away my future. Every time I engaged in porn I was reinforcing thoughts like, “Take! Take! Look at the outside! She’s here to please you!”, which didn’t prepare me to respect women and to contribute. I didn’t realize that all of the energy I was putting into porn and casual sex was energy that I could have been investing in my future. I wasn’t even aware that I had a future because I was so focused on getting sexual fixes.

Needless to say, I didn’t have good relationships with women. I went from one relationship to the next, wondering why none of them had meaning.  When I watched porn I had unlimited access to the most beautiful women you could imagine, but I trained myself to become bored with their beauty in a matter of minutes. Not shockingly that same behavior manifested in real life, but instead of throwing away pixels, I threw away women with futures and feelings.

I had beautiful girlfriends that I would cheat on because I was too bored and afraid to commit to deeper meaning, but I played like I practiced. It wasn’t pretty, but I was okay with it because it was normal for male culture. One frightening aspect is that because of habituating myself to pornography, I battled erectile dysfunction at the tender age of 17, which is becoming increasingly common as males become trained with porn.

Because I hadn’t learned how to channel sexual desire into my dream life, I continued to dump that energy into outlets like porn and casual sex. Instead of learning more about the innermost parts of myself and the people I was with, I completely focused on the external. I let all thoughts of growing as a person and building a career fade while I was content to float between dead end jobs and relationships. As long as I could keep the pleasure flowing, nothing really mattered to me.

By the time I was 21, and after another major relationship had crashed and burned, I decided to stop doing everything that was holding me back; I couldn’t take the pain I was experiencing any longer. I quit porn cold turkey after a decade of daily use when I learned that many of the actresses are graduates from child sex slavery. I even quit casual sex because I didn’t want a child until I could be a dad I’d be proud of.

I observed that when I had sex without commitment, honesty, faith and trust, (which was every time) my relationships dissolved for a lack of intimacy. If sex was where my future children were to come from, I wanted to make sure I associated it with qualities that supported my children’s need for security, happiness and love.

But even though I quit my unhealthy habits, I hadn’t filled my life with positivity from the inside. Because I still hadn’t taken control of my thoughts, I hadn’t yet learned how to channel my sexual desire. Think about how boring it would be to go to a party and meet someone who described himself by who he wasn’t and what he didn’t do. Well, that joker was me!

When I quit porn and casual sex without healthy outlets for sexual desire, my energy stagnated. I lost my health, and even had trouble controlling my thoughts about sex. Instead of being open and vulnerable to sexuality, I had come to despise it for the pain I experienced, so, I repressed it. At that point I didn’t know that sexual desire could be the inspiration for my greatest achievements, so I did what a lot of people do and labeled it a bad guy. My mistake.

After so many months of repression, I realize that we humans wouldn’t be alive without sex, and that sex was in fact a good thing. (Novel idea, huh?) Then I started to take full responsibility for how I responded to my sexual desire. By coming across a Zig Ziglar motivational cd, I learned about how our lives are mostly controlled by thoughts we don’t know we have. After only a few weeks of practicing affirmations and meditation, I became conscious of the limiting beliefs that had kept me from achieving my best. When I learned to control my thoughts I became empowered to channel my energy wherever I desired, like my personal development, my career, and my future. Instead of looking for the right woman, I focused on being the right man.

For the first time in my life I began to make plans for the life I actually wanted.  I knew that empty relationships hadn’t brought me happiness, so I focused on creating a fulfilled and happy me to give towards a lasting relationship. That was the beginning of my plan, and from there I discovered so many secrets about relationships and intimacy that I couldn’t keep them for myself, so I began a writing career.

I endeavored to learn everything about my inner world so I could share deep intimacy with my future wife. I began a daily journal where I recorded my thoughts and feelings, and how my actions were contributing to my goals. When I established daily journaling, all of the patterns and habits that had evaded my awareness became as clear as the writing in front of me. Through consistent journaling I opened myself up to the most rapid growth I had ever known.

When I would see a pretty girl, I would think about how lucky I was to have the beautiful wife I had yet to meet. Instead of objectifying women, I was inspired to create value that would help her future husband get to know her innermost parts. Instead of thinking about what I couldn’t do with all of these gorgeous women, I thought about what I could do to bring out the man I wanted to give to my wife. I was so busy with the adventure of my life that I didn’t have a moment to think of what I wasn’t doing, like porn or casual sex. (** I kept valuable parts of my experiences in observing woman because men honestly don’t know that there is a respectful way to look at them)

I began writing articles and books on self-improvement. I achieved the highest level of fitness I ever had by stretching myself with new sports like rock climbing and beach volleyball. When I payed attention to my inner world, I discovered so many hopes, dreams and interests that I never knew I had. My whole life changed. After three years into my transformation I even built a coaching career to help others thrive in their relationships.

Suddenly my life had meaning. Everything I did had a purpose because my actions were connected to my dreams. Rather than hurting myself and others by blindly searching for pleasure, my holistic plans transformed the way I lived. I became a giver, and I took pride in the new ability I had to help others. I don’t take a single day for granted because having value to give is not easy; I had to struggle hard to make a man I was happy to share.

When I learned how to respond positively to my sexual desire, I began the adventure of a lifetime and haven’t regretted a day since. If you’ve struggled with sexual desire and have felt hopeless in relationships, think about how you can give back to the community through your talents and passions. Think about the type of person you’d like to be and the relationship you’d like to have. Take charge of your thoughts and put your desire towards the life of your dreams. Affirmations and daily journaling have been so invaluable to me that I recommend them to anybody.

What are some of the ways you have achieved personal fulfillment? How have you improved your relationships? I’m always learning, so I’d love to hear about your experience too– join the discussion in the comments section!