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Thread: The Long Term Relationship, Intimacy Issue

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    Default The Long Term Relationship, Intimacy Issue

    Hello,

    I've come here in hopes I can find an answer to the small issue I am currently facing in my relationship.

    I have been in a relationship with my girlfriend for 4 years - it's amazing. We are totally in this for the long haul and couldn't imagine being with anyone else. The only issue is, intimacy. I have what seems to be a much higher sex drive than my partner. However - when i say I have a higher sex drive - I mean we make love maybe once every 2 weeks or longer, and frankly I'd like it to be a bit more frequent, and not the one ALWAYS initiating.. my girlfriend isn't very forth coming with initiating any sort of intimacy and therefore, I always have to "ask".

    I truly do not understand it, while I know we are absolutely in love and there is no doubt in my mind of her commitment to me. I just don't understand why our sex life has pretty much sizzled out (on her side). I've asked her, and she simply says she doesn't know - and that she is pretty much tired a lot from work and what not. I thought i could deal and continue on, but I'm finding it difficult to accept the fact that when i'm in the mood, I pretty much just suffer in hopes to not bother her.

    Any advice? Do I settle and cope with reality, is it healthy that the sex drive has sizzled?

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    Default

    Hi,

    As a quick note, I thought I would say that sometimes it's best to be less interested to encourage more interest! Strange though it seems, we often give what we want and in that way hope to have it reciprocated. Try giving her affection but not initiating sex, if that is what she is doing. It may encourage her to initiate sex with you.

    Good luck.

    All the best,

    Annita
    "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." Buddha

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    Post Article on Intimacy & psychological impact of the self

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/artic...-relationships

    This is a summary of this article as it is very loooong and most people may find it cumbersome to read:

    Confusion. Hurt. Silence. Missed opportunity. It is one of the ironies of modern life that many couples today are living together as complete strangers. Or worse, in great unhappiness. The data on divorce lead us to conclude that intimate relationships have been failing apart for the last 20 years or so. The truth is that couples have never learned reliably how to sustain pleasure in intimate relationships. The difference is it never mattered so much before.

    Our culture provides for meeting all other needs, especially the need for autonomy, but not for intimacy. Within this framework, couples today must provide for each other more of the emotional needs that a larger community used to furnish.

    Compounding the wide-scale deprivation of intimacy we actually experience, our cultural talent for commercialization has separated out sex from intimacy. In fact, intimacy involves both emotional and physical closeness and openness. But we wind up confusing the two and end up feeling betrayed or used when, as often happens, we fail to satisfy our need for closeness in sex.

    Intimacy, I have come to believe, is not just a psychological fad, a rallying cry of contemporary couples. It is based on a deep biological need.

    It is only in the last 20 years that we recognize that infants need to be held and touched. We know that they cannot grow--they literally fail to thrive--unless they experience physical and emotional closeness with another human being. What we often don't realize is that that need for connection never goes away. It goes on throughout life. And in its absence, symptoms develop--from angry acting out, to depression, addiction, and illness. In fact, researchers are just at the very beginning of understanding the relationship of widespread depression among women to problems in their marriages.

    I have come to recognize that most of what goes wrong in a relationship stems from hurt feelings. The disappointment couples experience is based on misunderstanding and misperception. We choose a partner hoping for a source of affection, love, and support, and, more than ever, a best friend. Finding such a partner is a wonderful and ecstatic experience--the stage of illusion in relationships, it has been called.

    To use this conceit, there then sets in the state of disillusion. We somehow don't get all that we had hoped for. He didn't do it just right. She didn't welcome you home; she was too busy with something else; maybe she didn't even look up. But we don't have the skills to work out the disappointments that occur. The disappointments big and little then determine the future course of the relationship.

    If first there is illusion, and then disillusion, what follows is confusion. There is a great deal of unhappiness as each partner struggles to get the relationship to be what each of them needs or wants it to be. One partner will be telling the other what to do. One may be placating in the expectation that he or she will eventually be rewarded by the other. Each partner uses his or her own familiar personal communication style.

    Over the disappointment, the partners erect defences against each other. They become guarded with each other. They stop confiding in each other. They wall off parts of themselves and withdraw emotionally from the relationship, often into other activities--or other relationships. They can't talk without blaming, so they stop listening. They maybe afraid that the relationship will never change but may not even know what they are afraid of There is so much chaos that there is usually despair and depression. One partner may actually leave. Both may decide to stay with it but can't function. They live together in an emotional divorce.

    Love is a feeling. Marriage, on the other hand, is a contract--an invisible contract. Both partners bring to it expectations about what they want and don't want, what they're willing to give and not willing to give. Most often, those are out of awareness. Most marriage partners don't even know they expected something until they realize that they're not getting it.

    The past is very much present in all relationships. All expectations in relationships are conditioned by our previous experience. It may simply be the nature of learning, but things that happen in the present are assimilated by means of what has happened in the past. This is especially true of our emotions: every time we have an experience in the present we also are experiencing it in the past. Emotional memory exists outside of time. It is obvious that two partners are conditioned by two different pasts. But inside the relationship it is less obvious. And that leads to all kinds of misunderstanding, disagreement, disappointment, and anger that things are not going exactly as expected.

    The upshot is statements like "I can't understand women," "who knows what a woman wants," and "you can never please a man." All of the classic complaints reflect hidden expectations that have never surfaced to the point where they could be discussed, examined, kept, or discarded.

    To add insult to injury, when one partner is upset, the other often compounds it unintentionally. When, for example, a woman is unhappy, men often feel they are expected to charge out and fix something. But what she really wants is for her partner to put his arms around her and hold her, to soothe her, to say simply, "I'm sorry you feel bad." It is a simple and basic longing. But instead of moving toward her, he moves away. And if when you are upset you don't get what you want from the person you are closest to, then you are not going to feel loved. Men, too, I hasten to say, have the same basic need. But they erect defences against it for fear it will return them to a state of helplessness such as they experienced as children.

    At the heart of intimacy, then, is empathy, understanding, and compassion; these are the humanizing feelings. It is bad enough that they are in short supply among distressed couples.

    An understanding of intimacy has its own logic. But it runs counter to conventional wisdom and most brands of psychology. They hold that to understand the nature of, and to improve, relationships, the proper place to start is the self. The thinking is that you need to understand yourself before you can confide in a partner. But I have found just the opposite to be true.

    But a man or a woman exploring their personal history experiences some powerful feelings that, in the absence of a partner to talk to, may make one feel worse rather than better. So the very first step a couple must take to rebuild intimacy is to learn to express their own thoughts and feelings and carefully listen to each other. A partner who knows how to listen to you can then be on hand when you open up your past.

    All of us bring to our intimate relationships certain expectations that we have of no one else. On the positive side they usually involve undivided attention--words and gestures of love and caring, loyalty, constancy, sex, companionship, agreement, encouragement, friendship, fidelity, honesty, trust, respect, and acceptance. We are all too alert to the possibility that we will instead find their exact opposites.

    If we are not aware of our own expectations (and how they are affected by our history), there is no hope of expressing them to a partner so that he or she has a shot at meeting them. More often than not, we engage instead in mind reading.

    Mind reading is often related to a past disappointing relationship experience. We tend to expect what we previously had the opportunity to learn; we make assumptions based on our history. And when in personal history there are people or situations that were the source of heartache, resentment, or anxiety, then any action by a partner in the present that is similar in some way often serves as a reminder--and triggers an intense emotional reaction. I call this "emotional allergy." As with other forms of prior sensitization, the result tends to be an explosive reaction--withdrawal, counterattack--and it is typically incomprehensible to a current partner.

    If I had to summarize how to change the hidden expectations that work to distort a relationship, I would boil it all down to a few basic rules:

    1 If you expect a partner to understand what you need, then you have to tell him or her. That of course means you have to figure out for yourself what you really need.

    2 You cannot expect your partner to be sensitive and understand exactly how you feel about something unless you're able to communicate to him or her how you feel in the first place.

    3 If you don't understand or like what your partner is doing, ask about it and why he or she is doing it. And vice versa. Explore. Talk. Don't assume.

    Confiding is much more than being able to reveal yourself to another. It is knowing with absolute certainty that what you think and feel is being heard and understood by your partner. Instead, we tend to be passive listeners, picking up only those messages that have a direct bearing on ourselves, rather than listening for how things are for our partner.

    Listening with empathy is a learned skill. It has two crucial ingredients: undivided attention and feeling what your partner feels. Never assume that you know something unless it is clearly stated by your partner. And you need to understand fully what your partner's thoughts and feelings mean to him or her. Instead of focusing on the effects of your partner's words on you, pay attention instead to your partner's emotions, facial expression, and levels of tension. The single biggest barrier to such empathic listening is our self-interest and self-protective mechanisms. We anticipate and fill in the blanks. One of the simple truths of relationships is that often enough, all we need to do to resolve a problem is to listen to our partner--not just passively listen but truly hear what is in the mind and in the heart.

    Most people tend to react to stress with one or more of four communication styles:

    o PLACATING. The placater is ingratiating, eager to please, apologetic, and a "yes" man or woman. The placater says things like "whatever you want" or "never mind about me, it's okay." It's a case of peace at any price. The price, for the placater is worthlessness. Because the placater has difficulty expressing anger and holds so many feelings inside, he or she tends toward depression and, as studies show, may be prone to illness. Placaters need to know it is okay to express anger.

    o BLAMING. The blamer is a fault-finder who criticizes relentlessly and speaks in generalizations: "You never do anything right." "You're just like your mother/father." Inside, the blamer feels unworthy or unlovable, angry at the anticipation he or she will not be getting what is wanted. Given a problem, the best defence is a good offence. The blamer is unable to deal with or express pain or fear. Blamers need to be able to speak on their own behalf without indicting others in the process.

    o COMPUTING. The computer is super reasonable, calm and collected, never admits mistakes, and expects people to conform and perform. The computer says things like, "Upset? I'm not upset. Why do you say I'm upset?" Afraid of emotion, he or she prefers facts and statistics. "I don't reveal my emotions and I'm not interested in anyone else's." Computers need someone to ask how they feel about specific things.

    o DISTRACTING. The distractor resorts to irrelevancies under stress, avoids direct eye contact and direct answers. Quick to change the subject, he or she will say, "What problem? Let's have Sam and Bridget over." Confronting the problem might lead to a fight, which could be dangerous. Distractors need to know that they are safe, not helpless, that problems can be solved and conflicts resolved.

    Each style is a unique response to pain, anger, or fear, which keeps us from understanding each other. Knowing that, the next time you find yourself resorting to blame, you can conclude there is something painful or scary bothering you and try to figure out what it is. If it's your partner who is blaming, you can conclude he or she is possibly not intending to be aggressive or mean but probably afraid of some development. What's needed is to find a way to make it safe to talk about the worry; find out what is bothering him or her.

    After partners have been heard and understood, they may need to work on forgiveness. Of course, some things are unforgivable, and each partner has to decide if that line has been crossed and the relationship is worth continuing. If it is, there has to be a recognition that you can't change the past. No relationship can recover from past disappointments and mature unless both partners can find a way to let go of grudges. This is one of the most important relationship skills couples can develop.

    Every couple needs to trace the source of behaviours and attitudes, many of which turn out to have been handed down through their families of origin. Much unhappiness in relationships can be traced to the fact that one partner learned as a family rule never to express anger, or even perhaps happiness. Many people grow up learning to subjugate their own needs and feelings to those of others. Still the feelings influence present relationships, and until they can be brought into awareness and spoken, it is very difficult to improve current relationships.

    Once a couple has done this and discovers where their beliefs come from, they can review them together and decide which legacies they want to keep, which they'd rather discard. They each work out their personal history so they do not punish the one who's here now.
    Last edited by Tiggerinlondon; 01-14-2014 at 02:22 PM. Reason: Title needed
    "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." Buddha

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