Are You and Your Partner PDA Compatible?

Who doesn’t love a little public display of affection? Well, apparently a lot of people. And, according to some relationship experts, most people hold pretty strong preferences — whether they be for or against PDA. As a self-proclaimed touchy-feely kinda gal myself, it came as quite a shock to me when I first learned that some people really disliked being touched, especially in public.

Touching, hugging, cuddling, and kissing are all forms of PDA. While some cultures embrace these actions in public (Italy quickly comes to mind), others strongly shun these displays anywhere except behind closed doors. And, even though cultural norms tend to dictate overall comfort levels with PDA, recent research indicates that a person’s comfort level is strongly linked to the amount of displays of affection witnessed in their own childhood home. According to psychiatrist Dr. Chloe Carmichael, “In some families, it’s very normal to see. In others, it’s not… If you came from a family where your parents divorced and didn’t re-partner, PDA could be foreign to you.”¹

Keeping in mind that opposites tend to attract, it shouldn’t be surprising that someone with emotionally giving tendencies ends up partnering with someone who is more emotionally reserved. Such was the case with my own spice and me. Early in our relationship it caused friction. When he refused to hold my hand in public, I took it as a slight, a sign that he wasn’t committed to me and our relationship. He wasn’t.

The good news, for me anyway, is that PDA compatibility tends to change as relationships progress. In most healthy, growing relationships, even people who are normally averse to public displays of affection become more comfortable with small gestures — such as holding hands or the occasional kiss on the cheek. PDA was so important to me that I vividly recall the first time my spice (at the time still just my boyfriend) put his arm around my shoulder at a party. For me, it was akin to him announcing out loud to every person in that room that he was actually committed to me and our relationship. My later query confirmed that he was.

Of course, being the introvert of our relationship, he’s still not big on outwardly public displays of our love, but he is much more comfortable with more “private” PDA. For instance, at home is very affectionate — enough so that it causes our kidlens to roll their eyes and offer a mock-groan. But in public, I’ve learned not to take it personally if he just squeezes my hand in response to my offered kiss.

Regardless of your comfort level of PDA, it is a good idea to check in with your SO about their feelings toward the subject. Communicate your own level of comfort and be open to theirs. Of all of the components of a relationship, PDA seems extremely low on the deal breaker list. From puckering up, to hand holding, to even an occasional wink and a smile, there seems to be a lot of room for a congenial compromise.

 

¹”An Expert Explains Why You Either Love Or Hate PDA With Your SO” Sheena Sharma, Elite Daily

Further reading: “How Nailing your P.D.A. Style Can Make Your Relationship Better
Walker James Loetscher, The Date Report

 

MYTH: Passion Always Fades

We hear it all the time. Passion fades with age. Marriage is the death knell of passion. Old married couples always get stuck in sexless ruts. Old people lose interest in sex.

These stereotypes are not only completely overstated, but they can actually be dangerous to the self-concepts of our aging population. Unfortunately, talking openly about sex in the United States is still fairly frowned upon and discussing sex among seniors is particularly taboo. Apparently no one wants to talk about grandma and grandpa being frisky, happy sexual beings. Fortunately as Baby Boomers become the largest part of our population, the topic is becoming more accepted — but the discussion is largely clinical and disparaging (i.e., erectile dysfunction, decrease in hormones, etc.). And, that’s too bad.

Especially considering the fact that, according to research from The University of Manchester and NatCen Social Research¹, “Older people are continuing to enjoy active sex lives well into their seventies and eighties.” And, the American Association of Retired Persons², the nation’s leading organization for people age fifty and older, maintains “Despite the changes that aging invariably brings, couples open to erotic alternatives will discover that they can still attain sexual satisfaction together.”

Older people are continuing to enjoy active sex lives well into their seventies and eighties.

Medical science has long since proven that maintaining healthy sex lives is a great way to maintain physical and emotional health. Although our aging bodies may present new challenges to sexuality, when we use our God-given wit and wisdom we can come up with some pretty ingenious ways to make sex really good … sometimes even greater than the awkward fumblings of our youth. The key is keeping in tune with your body’s changing needs and experimenting with inventive ways to circumvent any challenges. Of course, as with any healthy sexual relationship, maintaining honest, open communication is crucial.

Though my spice and I aren’t seniors yet, we’ve been married for nearly twenty-five years and live with the challenge of my chronic arthritis. Throughout our marriage, we’ve truly discovered what it means to “become one flesh” in it’s deepest meaning. In our experience, as couples learn more and more about each other’s bodies and what makes them tick, making love becomes even more and more intimate — something we hardly thought possible ten years ago. We are looking forward to continuing our “frisky business” for decades to come. And, I hope you are too!

 

¹ “Love and intimacy in later life: study reveals active sex lives of over-70s” University of Manchester

² “Great Sex Without Intercourse” by Michael Castleman, AARP

Fixing a Marriage Does Not Necessarily Fix the Sex

I once knew a woman who had been going with her husband to marriage counseling for about a year when she admitted to me how disappointed she was that, while she and her husband were rarely arguing anymore, she didn’t feel like they were really connecting physically and emotionally. After all of the take-home assignments and communication exercises they’d been given, she and her husband were getting along more smoothly and working together towards their family goals. She said that her husband seemed happier and even their children seemed happier, but she was still sadly discontent. “What’s wrong with me?” she wanted to know.

When her mother-in-law applauded their “success” at counseling and commented about how lucky her daughter-in-law must feel to have such a great husband who was willing to “go the extra mile” for her, she said it took every ounce of her strength not to burst into tears. She wanted to correct her mother-in-law with, “Your son is a great roommate but I need a husband.” She felt like a fraud. I asked if she’d talked to the therapist about the intimacy disconnect she was still feeling and she held up her hands as if to stop me and said, “Believe me, I’ve tried. The only answer I keep getting is ‘the physical will follow.'”  But, it wasn’t. And she was miserable, blaming herself for being so unhappy despite the progress they’d made. I asked if they’d considered seeing a sex therapist and she laughed, “We don’t need a therapist for sex. We already know how to have sex.”

I’d like to be able to share a happy ending of this story, but the truth is, there wasn’t one. About a year later I heard from the woman again. She confided, “maybe we didn’t know how to have sex after all.”  She told me that her husband ended up moving in with another woman before their divorce was even final. I told her that his actions spoke more strongly of his character than of her, but she was adamant that their sex life — or lack of one — was the final curtain of the divorce. “He couldn’t get past seeing me as a mom,” she insisted. “And neither one of us could be really happy with a sexless marriage.”

 

 

Life is Messy

Life is messy. We all know it. It is inconsistent and contradictory. It can be smooth sailing one minute and topsy turvy the next. The only constant we can rely on in this world is change. Change often brings conflict and stress. That is why it is so important that when two unique souls come together in a relationship they set boundaries and expectations and have a clear vision for their relationship together as a team. Having cohesive boundaries and explicit expectations within any familial relationship are paramount to maintaining the mental and emotional health of each of its members. It is the only way that they will be able to weather the storms life throws their way.

My spice and I are such firm believers in the messiness of life that we chose it as our family motto, vita est nuntius (“Life is messy”). We didn’t chose this motto from a stance of fear or as a warning, per se; rather we proclaim life’s messiness as a rallying cry for our family to be always prepared. To know that we are always and forever on the same team. We want to live fully, facing Life head on; and we want our children to be brave when facing the messiness of living full and daring lives. Perhaps this decision to see our family as a team, as a unit, a clan (we are Clan Allen, after all), stemmed from my spice’s military experience as a Marine. He knows firsthand the importance of the semper fidelis.

When my children were young, I would tell them every time they left our home that they were entering the “mission field” as a reminder that they would face challenges to their faith, their beliefs, and their world as they new it — certainly not to instill fear, but to nurture their emotional and mental foundation, knowing that home, The Home Clan Allen Builds, is always their fortress of refuge and strength. Home is always the one place they can come to be loved and embraced fully for who they are.

Three of Clan Allen’s explicit expectations are that: (1) we are a team and stand together protecting our family from anyone or anything that might break up our unity, (2) we are to live to the best of our ability, and with God’s merciful help, Ephesians 4:31-32: “Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,” [which I’ll admit is often much easier quoted than done!]; and (3) only one of us gets to be “crazy” at a time. Again I’ll admit, this is easier said than done — especially when we had three teenagers in the home at the same time. Alas…

Of course it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Clan Allen. In our messy lives together, we’ve often had to remind one another, and especially our children, that Hey, we are on the same team here. Of course because life is messy, many boundaries have been crossed and expectations haven’t always been met, but having them in place has been the cornerstone of our family’s sanity. What boundaries and expectations have you and your partner, your teammate in Life, set for your familial relationships?

 

 

3 Things Every Man Should Know About Sex With His Woman

Three-fourths of men reach consistent orgasms during penetrative sex. Care to guess how many women do? Less than one-third. That means two out of three women are being denied the pleasure of sexual release during vaginal penetration. Do you know which third your woman is in? And, do you know why?

Because men and women are wired differently, men (fairly or not) can achieve arousal and release much more easily than women. For some men it only takes two minutes of arousal before he’s ready to go. But women? Some studies have shown that foreplay for a woman takes up to 72 hours. What the…? That’s right. Most women, despite the crap Cosmo has to say, need to feel safe and desired to be aroused. Very few women are sated by the “wham-bam” techniques of “modern-day” sex.

In all of my research from the most established professionals when it comes to happy, healthy sexual relationships between men and women, the number one thing I’ve learned is that men are terribly misinformed (by magazine articles, by songs, movies, television commercials, well meaning friends, and locker room talk) when it comes to pleasing their woman. Here are just three of the most surprising things I’ve learned that men need to know.

 

1. You Should Touch Her Without Expecting Sex.

Hopefully this is not a novel idea to you, but you’d be surprised to learn just how many women stop kissing and touching their spouses because they’re actually afraid they’re sending the wrong signals to their men. When a woman offers a kiss on the lips or tap on her man’s butt, she’s likely offering a playful gesture of love, but men may wrongly see it as an actual invitation to the bedroom. So, over time, women who are fretful of having to say “no” to sex, prefer to keep their playful gestures to a minimum. Which is pretty sad considering the fact that playful, romantic gesture can really keep intimacy alive; not to mention they can just make both partners’ day a little brighter. But, the truth is, all of those touches will add up. They will make her feel loved, wanted, and special. They may even keep the spark of intimacy between the two of you robust, increasing your libido and hers … and you may be pleasantly surprised by her offer of an actual invitation to the bedroom.

2. Compliment Her.

Don’t google this subject. Seriously. In today’s current social politics of male-female relationships, you’re likely to read that complimenting a woman will sound “creepy.” Not so. Of course, I’m not referring to random women — I mean your woman– the same woman who is bombarded with body-shaming messages all day every day by the society in which she resides. Trust me on this one, she’s probably harder on herself than you could ever be. Everything she encounters tells her she should dress better, be thinner, blonder, prettier, and have bigger breasts. She can hardly live up to her own expectations of beauty, conformity, and success, much less the world’s. You should be her safe place where she can be honored for just being herself. Nothing is quite as arousing for a woman as feeling secure with the man she loves. If she feels admired and emotionally supported by you, she will want to take refuge in your arms; and more likely, in your bed. And, speaking of bed…

3. Get “Clitorit.” Find out where her clitoris is and learn how to treat it.

Forget everything you think you know about having sex with a woman because “I banged her so hard…” will very rarely please a woman. In fact, very few women are able to climax through vaginal penetration alone. A woman’s orgasm is always clitoral. To be fair, it’s no wonder men are so misinformed. It wasn’t until the 1990s that science actually learned the full anatomy of the clitoris. What? That’s right. The 20th century. Turns out that her “love button” isn’t really a button at all. It’s just the tip of the iceberg for female arousal. For more amazing facts about the clitoris and how to treat it, I recommend the seminal offering (pun intended) on oral sex written by Ian Kerner, entitled She Comes First: The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pleasuring a Woman.  You can get to it by visiting my research section. It will knock your socks off and curl her toes.

 

7 Free Romantic Gestures for your Lover

Romancing your lover doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, just from the heart, to make its mark. Remember, it’s the little things that matter the most. Check out some of my favorite gestures below for some simple and sweet romantic gestures to get your own creative juices flowing.

  • Draw a heart in their favorite shade of your lipstick on the bathroom mirror as a promise of things to come. Don’t wear lipstick? Use a dry erase marker.
  • When you are not together, call just to let them know you’re thinking of them.
  • Send a sexy text. Try using only emojis for even more fun.
  • Undress your lover at bedtime. The slower the better!
  • Kiss every part of your lover’s body. Save your favorite area for last.
  • Put your hand on their knee while they’re driving.
  • Compliment your lover unexpectedly. A simple “You’re so sexy when you do that” can really make their day.

Hope for the Holidays

The holiday season can be a time for crazy extremes for many women. Everything around us telling us that we should be full of excitement and good cheer, but in truth we may be feeling very anxious and stressed. Let’s face it, party planning, gift hunting, and wrangling family politics aren’t always exciting ventures! You may be grieving the loss of a loved one and coping with the pain of facing your holidays without them. It can difficult to manage our expectations when everyone in holiday commercials looks like they just stepped out of the Hallmark channel.

We need to be mindful about keeping our priorities and expectations in check if we want to keep our sanity relatively stable. I recommend giving yourself a Mind, Body, Spirit check as often as possible.

MIND

Do your utmost to keep any positive thoughts in action. Rather than focusing on what you don’t have or don’t have time to do, remind yourself of what you are grateful for in life and what you have already accomplished on your holiday to-do list. Celebrate every small victory. Whether you identify as being Christian, Jewish, pagan or anything else, keeping your mind focused on what is true, honorable, lovely … and anything worthy of praise is sound advice for every mind.

BODY

This one seems a no-brainer, but is sometimes it is easier said than done. Moderation at all times, but especially during the holidays, is key for a healthy, happy body. For me it means lightening up on sugary sweets … and alcohol. Again, easier said than done; especially if all you wanna do is race home from a long hard day of wrestling with bustling holiday crowds and reward yourself a hot toddy or four! Keep your body moving because it can actually keep your energy levels up. Oh, and a little vigorous sex can be a really fun way to do this, by the way. But self-care and being kind to yourself means treating your body with the respect it deserves.

SPIRIT

This is a sacred time of year. Stay connected (or re-connect) with your Divine. Nourish and enrich your spirit, planting and watering the seeds that you want to reap in the New Year. If your goal is to practice love, patience, kindness, and gentleness with those around you, you must get in the habit of practicing love, patience, kindness, and gentleness with You first.

Remember, there is hope for the holidays. My holiday wish for you, girlfriends, is for a peaceful and gracefully contented time with those whom you love during this sacred season.

He Said Whaaat?

       Did you know “communication stress” can be one of the biggest sources of stress in relationships?

Communication. How do we communicate? Even the experts cannot agree on how many different communications styles actually exist, so how is the average Jane supposed to know how to communicate effectively? We all like to think we’re saying exactly what we mean, but when you have different styles of communication in one dialogue, things can get really confusing. Miscommunication can accelerate a discussion into an argument in only seconds. And, the reason communication is so important in a relationship is because miscommunication can lead to conflict, misunderstandings, stress, and worse.

One thing all linguistic and communication experts can agree on is that communication styles exist along a continuum. The ease or difficulty of expressing yourself and understanding you partner lies in determining how far you and your partner are from one another along the line of opposing communication extremes. And, while there can be many influences on communication styles (such as age, culture, status, geography, and even more) gender differences play a crucial role in communication.

9e825bf6d43415b703a57bafa4eb7abd

Scientific research has shown the men and women actually use different parts of their brain while listening which can lead to what is called conversational disconnect. I’m sure my spice would love to be able to blame our breakdowns in communication on science rather than indifference! Instead, communication is a lot more complex. Verbal, non-verbal, aggressive, passive-aggressive, assertive, manipulative, and passive communications with direct vs. indirect styles … it’s a wonder that any person can ever understand what anyone else is actually saying.

Three Perceptual Positions

 

     Have you ever listened to a couple having a conversation, and realized that neither of them are actually talking about the same thing?

Three very important things I’ve learned in life concerning communication in general are:

  1. People don’t usually listen to us in order to understand what we are saying; instead, they listen in order to respond to what we are saying.
  2. Even when people are listening to really hear us, they hear us from their own perspective, not our perspective.
  3. In any given conflict, the Truth of that situation tends to lie somewhere in the middle.

So, ladies, if you’re in a relationship with a man, this stuff is really worth investigating. The more we are aware of all the differences, the more successful we will be in communicating to get our message out in a clear and understandable manner; plus, it may help keep us from coming to wrong conclusions while listening to our partners speak. In the midst of a discussion, few couples want to stop and say, “Hey, why don’t we analyze what we’re actually trying to say here before this gets outta hand?”. It’s especially difficult  to do during a discussion or debate that is already ramping up.

One of my favorite sources on male and female differences in communication style is You Just Don’t Understand, written by the esteemed linguistic expert Deborah Tannen. I was introduced to her while at Texas Tech University and I’ve since become a something of a fan-girl.  You’re welcome to check out my resource page, on which I assure you, you’ll find her work.

 

Secure Your Own Mask First

In the event of a decompression, an oxygen mask will automatically appear in front of you. … If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask first, and then assist the other person. 

Ever wonder why we are asked to secure our own oxygen masks before assisting our children or companions? Of course, it makes perfect sense that if you only have 10-12 seconds of diminishing clarity before you pass out, you need to get oxygen and quickly. Clear logic dictates we must get oxygen into our own lungs; otherwise, we won’t be mentally alert and capable of properly caring for anyone who is vulnerable around us.

So why is this drill is repeated over and over on every single flight? Because oxygen is so important that it will lead to death if we are deprived of it for only a short time. And of course, a parent’s instinctual and immediate response is to save the life of their child first and foremost. In fact, almost any natural caregivers’ initial response is to assist those around them first … always intending to care for their own needs later; but the sad truth is that “later” never comes. That is why we need to be repeatedly reminded — especially in moments of crisis, when logic is most easily swept behind.

[T]he sad truth is that “later” never comes. 

That is why I’m using this tired metaphor to remind you, dear reader, of the real and imperative need for self-care. It is so crucial to a woman’s ability to be healthy and truly, clearly present for everything most important to her whether it be work, friends in need, family, her children, or anyone whom she holds dear.

Extreme self-care is an underpinning tenet for most life coaches and we impart that essential truth to our clientele. So please believe me when I tell you that you need singular “me” time to soothe and nurture You. I get it; you’re busy. And, if you’re a mom, your even busier. But there are always two or three Times in any relationship outside of self. There is a “Me” Time, a “We” Time, and if you have children or other dependents, there’s a “Family” Time. Absolutely each type of Time must be nurtured to maintain healthy relationships.

I get it; you’re busy.

The good news is that “Me” Time doesn’t have to be a vacation with Me, Myself, and I to the Riviera. It can be as simple as waking ten minutes before everyone else to sip a cup of coffee and pray or meditate for the day ahead. Or taking a warm twenty minute candle-lit bath before you fall into bed for the night. Just as long as you get your time alone, to yourself, will help; and no, locking the door when you have to pee doesn’t really count.

In this wonderful and wacky world, we cannot always expect friendly skies. Right now is a good time to remind yourself that you must get your own “oxygen mask on” first. Today is a great day to start preparing yourself for any turbulence ahead by getting in the habit of taking your oxygen.

***

Just FYI, here’s an interesting video highlighting the sciencey reason we cannot live, or even function properly, without oxygen. Not graphic. A bit disconcerting, but good to know.

 

Who Took My “Perfect Relationships” Book?

Seriously, where the heck is it? Wait, I didn’t get one? Oh, that’s right; there is no such thing.

Human beings are relational creatures. As John Donne wisely pointed out almost four hundred years ago, “no man is an island entire of itself.” People need people. It’s as simple as that (or as complicated, as the case may be). That’s not to say that everyone needs to be in a “coupled” or romantic relationship, but every single human needs social interaction, meaning every human being needs Relationship. That’s just science. Still, sometimes, it is easier said than done.

Some of us are what could be described as “born people people.” These are the people who seem to be naturals at making strong, positive connections with others, sometimes in a seemingly short amount of time. You’ve probably met a few. You may even be one yourself; and, that’s great! But none of us are born “perfect” people people. There’s no such being. We humans are messy bunch. Even people who are usually good at connecting with other people can struggle connecting with some personalities, especially with people who don’t particularly want to connect.

We humans are messy bunch.

Even good Connectors can struggle in their personal relationships. Every human relationship is unique because every person involved in a relationship brings their own past disappointments and future expectations into the mix. Solid relationships require connection. Good connection requires honesty and trust, which by the way take time and effort to build. And, connecting calls for good communication. How can two people communicate effectively if they don’t even speak the same language? You’ve likely heard of the premise behind the communication gap between male and female genders (detailed in John Gray’s Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus). Add that to the fact that everyone has their own love language (profiled in Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages). It stands to reason that communication within a romantic relationship can be quite a challenge. Oh, and rewarding relationships require a lot of give and take. Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it?

It stands to reason that communication within a romantic relationship can be quite a challenge.

The good news is that there are an almost dizzying array of books and resources out there that can help us learn to communicate and to compromise and learn to both give trust and gain it. But no one book or resource can give us a “perfect relationship” recipe. I share this not to discourage or dissuade you from working on your relationships. I share this only to highlight two very important things: (1) if a book promises you all the answers, it’s not true, and (2), relationships are a protracted, not perfect, but absolutely worthy journey.

Photo by pixabay from Pexels.