Romance

Articles about love, attraction, romance and relationships

Couples Troubles

Many couples enjoy the change of pace that summer brings. Vacations, musical festivals, cottage getaways with family and lots of outdoor BBQs are occasions to enjoy life and create happy memories. But these can also be times when relationship troubles are camouflaged, then dealt with later.

Is this you? Sad but true, a time to away, meant to grow as a couple, can also be a time of deepening relationship distress. Couples Therapy is an effective way of overcoming a communications impasse.

A recent report on BBC.com states that people between the age of 16 and 44 are having less sex than ever before. Is there something about life today? Are there new ways to hide problems?

Some modern indications of unhealthy couples behaviors include:blog-fighting-loving

  • Excessive smartphone/tablet use/social sites
    • Often in the presence of their partners
  • Excessive organized family activities
    • E.g. not enough free time for individual interests
  • Excessive amounts of time viewing adult web sites (Pornography)

These are ways to fill time and maintain distance when unspoken issues lie beneath a superficial calm. Couples unconsciously collude to maintain the status quo of parallel lives – like railroad tracks going in the same direction but never intersecting.

The issues below are still the ones most often involved in couples’ communication breakdowns:

  • Money
  • Sex
  • Parenting
  • In-laws

These issues are caused and often complicated by values that you and your partner may not always share. Values are personal perceptions about the right way to live your life.  For example, you may believe that it’s better to enjoy life while you have the freedom and resources to do so. Your partner may argue that it’s more important to save money for a nest egg as the priority. Issues become more entrenched when they conceal emotional issues such as insecurities about money or phobias that lead to recurring impasses of communication.

Despite the summer distractions, if you and your partner are stuck in a communication breakdown, it is a good idea to consult a psychologist trained in couples therapy to help you accomplish your goals together.

 

Dr Eva Fisher is a registered psychologist trained in Ottawa, Canada with training in couples and family issues.

Online dating facts and fictions 2015

In the 2012 Quebec film Roméo Eleven, a shy young man with cerebral palsy and a slight limp poses as a successful businessman in an evolving romance with an online girlfriend.  In real life, he is a part-time bus boy at his father’s restaurant.  Online he tells his girlfriend that important business trips and client requests prevent him from meeting her in person.

Romeo is the young man’s alter ego, his idealized version of himself.  In his fantasy life, he is the ultimate cool dude, with clothes and an attitude to match.  In contrast, his real life family treat him with the solicitousness that is reserved for the infirm, the aged and those deemed by society as “defective”.

Romeo’s story is a poignant depiction of the role of fantasy in online romance, where you can pretend to be your ideal self with little risk of exposure.  Online romances hold the promise of being admired as the person you wish to be, envied for the money and power you wish you had, if only nature and fate had been more kind.

Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies

Most people don’t lie to the same degree as Romeo on their online dating profiles, but sneaking in some fibs to look more appealing to potential partners is common.  OKCupid.com, a very popular dating site, looked at data from about 1.5 million people to figure out which lies are most common.

In its findings the average person is about two inches shorter and 20 per cent poorer than they claim to be. Other ways people tend to deceive—putting up old pictures and women apparently claim to be bisexual more than they actually are. Other typical lies have to do with age, weight, marital status and employment.

People lie about these things, not necessarily to trick people, but sometimes to get through a search filter so they can have an opportunity to meet a wider range of people. The chart below shows how many messages a man gets, depending on his age and “reported” income. It shows men, especially older men, receive more messages if they report earning more money.

datingstats

Does online dating work?

Besides all the misrepresentations, online dating sites are among the most popular ways to meet a partner. In fact, statistically it is more likely to meet someone online than in more traditional locations such as bars, work or school.

At the University of Chicago, psychologists researched marriages from 2005- 2012 to see the correlation between online dating and happy marriages. They found that people who met online did tend to be slightly happier and more satisfied than their counterparts and were less likely to divorce. As a side note, the study was funded by the dating site eHarmony, but they claim is completely independent.

Dan Slater, who wrote a book called Love in the Time of Algorithms, asks an important question about how the technological revolution is affecting our love lives. One of the main questions: why should we settle for who we’ve got, when mouse clicks away there are thousands of people who we may be more compatible? He finds that although online sites usually produce first-time dates where two people hit it off, it is extremely difficult to predict long-term compatibility.

Online dating may have some flaws, but it’s still a go-to place to meet people in a tech-savvy culture.

Just beware of the sand traps before you leap in, and don’t disregard the warning signs when things don’t add up. If you keep meeting people who lie or exploit you, it would be a good idea re-assess.

Meeting  with a psychologist who has experience in these areas could be helpful.

Dr. Eva Fisher is an Ottawa psychologist who has been providing psychotherapy for a variety of issues for over 20 years. Follow her on Twitter @drevafisherFacebook or Instagram @dr_evafisher. Blog writing assisted by freelance journalist Alyssa McMurtry.

Written by Dr. Eva Fisher C Psych All rights reserved. Copyright protected.

Sexual Arousal and Desire

Sexual arousal and desire in long-term relationships are always hot topics.  Everyone has different needs, wants, likes, annoyances and patterns which can be fragile and hard to talk about or even understand. Individuals in couples have to deal with not only their own complicated sexuality, but also with that of their partners and synchronizing the two.

Sex is something which is incredibly important to many relationships, however, the more fundamental aspect is desiring and being desired.

What happens when you are strongly attracted to someone, fall in love and decide to move in together?

You have great sex, you talk and laugh together, and you’re happy doing anything together. You have a feeling of being complete, that you complement each other perfectly. When you’re apart, you long to be together and when you are together again, you do all kinds of things you never thought you’d ever do.   You experience yourself differently – like trying new foods, new activities and new ways of behaving.

In his book, The Erotic Mind, Dr. Jack Morin describes the building blocks of eroticism. These include longings when you’re apart, excitement and taking risks, new discoveries, and idealizing your lover.

Falling into the familiar

Over time, though, your closeness settles into familiar routines. The realities of everyday life like taking out the trash, laundry or child-care can’t be ignored.  Where there once was an illusion of closeness, the reality that was always there appears –that you are separate but together, with different ideas, habits, and ways of seeing the world.

Routine can be good but isn’t necessarily the sexiest thing and, as Lori Gottlieb wrote in a recent New York Times article, “marriage is hardly known for being an aphrodisiac.”

The article touches on how more equal marriages may even lead a less sex-filled marriage because new power roles in relationships, while quite positive in logical, daily-life, don’t work for some people in the bedroom.

Although it is somewhat paradoxical, Esther Perel a couples therapist who wrote a book called “Mating in Captivity,” said, “most of us get turned on at night by the very things that we’ll demonstrate against during the day.”

And where eroticism, if not diminished, has disappeared.

This predictable path always comes as a surprise to the couples who come to my office for help with lost sexual desire. The partner most upset by this outcome – usually the one with the higher desire – may have realized that they are powerless to make their partner want to have sex, while the lower desire partner complains that the higher desire partner only wants them for sex.

A recent study reported in The APA Monitor, found that couples where one partner has “avoidance-motivated goals”  such as a woman accepting her boyfriend’s desire for sex  to avoid conflict or disappointing him, or a tired man responds with sex because he feels guilty refusing, tend to have lower sexual and relationship satisfaction.  Surprisingly, both the reluctant partner and the initiating partner reported sexual dissatisfaction in these encounters.

Wanting sex, and wanting a person, can create vastly different experiences when it comes to sexual arousal and desire.  Both partners feel different when they feel personally wanted – for who they are – and not just for sex.

Let’s go back to Dr. Morin’s cornerstones of eroticism.

They all encompass the single idea – the feeling that you are with the most wonderful, special person who also makes you feel special and unique. Great sex is the bonus that goes with these feelings – you want to be with that person, and and when you’re having sex together, both of you feel it.

Looking to self-help books that suggest sexual toys, costumes, lingerie, date nights, won’t resolve the gridlock between couples who want to feel wanted.

Sexual arousal and desire problems are primarily feelings of wanting and feeling wanted.

If you are having problems with sexual arousal and desire, speak to a psychologist with training in this area. Your couple is worth it.


Patients in this story are a fictional composite of people who have sought help for this issue. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.

Dr. Eva Fisher is an Ottawa psychologist who has been providing psychotherapy for a variety of issues for over 20 years. Follow her on Twitter @drevafisherFacebook or Instagram @dr_evafisher. Blog writing assisted by freelance journalist Alyssa McMurtry.

Written by Dr. Eva Fisher C Psych
All rights reserved. Copyright protected.

Infidelity in a long distance relationship

In long-distance relationships there is an illusion of closeness, partly because of the small amounts of physical time together. Many long-distance couples consider themselves to be a perfect couple in an imperfect situation. Yet, as we know, there is no such thing as a perfect couple and when the pair reunites and reality clashes with dreams, problems can arise with surprising force.

Laura and Cal had been together for four years, although they were only physically together for less than one of those years if you counted the actual days together.

Laura, a lawyer with a prominent position in a government department, could not relocate when Cal completed his studies and got a job as a professor at a university several hundred kilometers away.

Their relationship survived by alternating weekends together, daily texts, Skype, and long telephone calls at night in place of physical time together.
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Dating as a Gay

The struggle with sexual identity involves discovering who you are, what you want and learning how or if you could fit into a couple. Regardless of age when you’re ready for dating it is a way of coming out to yourself about what you truly need.

The average coming out for gay teens is now 16 years old, but by that age many straight teenagers have already rolled through a relationship or two with training wheels on.

When the openly gay community grew up in the 1970s, dating was something straight people did, gay men had sex instead. Today, more and more LGBTQ community members are actively seeking partners, according to veteran dating coach for gay men, Jim Sullivan. (more…)

Loving and leaving

With the holidays approaching, many couples are asking whether they should break off their dead-end relationship now, or stay together through the holidays and end it afterwards.

“December is break-up bonanza, at least according to a Facebook survey by David McCandles and Lee Byron, designers who tracked the words “break-up” and “broken up” across 10,000 status updates,” writes Zosia Bielski in a Globe and Mail article titled The Christmas Breakup: Dropping the mistletoe bomb. “[They] discovered that splits spike dramatically two weeks before Christmas.”

(more…)

Single under the mistletoe

Many single people dread the holidays and fear spending time alone during this emotionally charged season.  At family gatherings, they are often asked about their love life.  They feel they have to provide reasons or excuses about why they are still single. They feel that being single doesn’t measure up to societal expectations and they feel empty and forsaken.

(more…)

Food and sex: pleasure and anxiety

The session was well into the second hour, and Jen once again brought up how hurt she’d felt when her husband Dan insisted she’d put too much spice in the pasta sauce.

Dan was angry that she had forgotten that spicy food gave him indigestion.  He accused her of being inconsiderate. She in turn felt rejected by his criticism of her cooking and this made her anxious.

(more…)

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