What are Your Sexual Fantasies?

Sexual Desire. Sexual Response. Sexual Fantasies.

Ladies, when it comes to sex we are comp. lic. ca. ted.

Mucho. Much. Like, V E R Y.

We do have sexual fantasies, and we do fantasize about bondage. But much to the fella’s disappointment, we don’t frequently daydream about the dominatrix I’ll-whip-your-head-back-and-forth-with-my-whip type of bondage.

Girlfs, our sexual fantasies are almost always about emotional bonding.

Yep.

We gals are more likely to become emotionally–not necessarily physically–aroused by our sex fantasies. Almost always, the content of our sexual fantasies emphasize

  • Tenderness
  • Familiar partners, settings, and feelings
  • Thoughts of intimacy
  • Emotions
  • Passive love-making
  • Non-sexual and sexual touch….slow, slow, slow, slow, slow lingering touches….to every part of your body. EVery part. Of. Your. Body.
  • Ourselves as the recipients of any fantasized sexual behaviors.

And of course, guys’ fantasies are totally opposite! This is why it’s

Oh

So

Very

Crucial

to discuss your sexual fantasies with your partner!

And rape, or being overpowered by a man/forced by a man to have sex, is also a very frequent sexual fantasy of women.

For quite a few years, researchers have studied this type of sexual fantasy in women, and they’ve determine that gals may engage in these fantasies because it allows them to rehearse in their minds how they might escape a similar, real-life situation. [Fellas--be warned! NEVER engage in this type of fantasy with your gal until you both agree to it!]

So ladies, what are your sexual fantasies? Before you jot them down, be sure to take the sexual fantasy quiz first!

And as always, be sure to share your results with your partner, because in doing so you’re helping to create your matchless relational culture!

Photo Credit: flickr.com

Intimacy Phobia: What is Your Score?

“Our fear of intimacy…inspires ingenious ways of avoiding it.”

Intimacy requires that we unmask ourselves and become vulnerable and risk rejection. Because of this, many people fear intimacy.

Do you find that you’re afraid to establish and maintain close relationships with other people, or that you put up walls or barriers that prevent people from getting too emotionally close to you?

Have you ever found yourself having many friendships–but avoiding one close personal relationship with someone?

Do you ever become over involved in work or use work as an excuse not to hang out with others? Have you ever thought to yourself, “Wow, it’s been ________ days and other than work/class, I haven’t really had any contact with anyone.” ?

If you answered yes to more than two of these questions, you may have a fear of intimacy.

But what exactly is it that people are afraid of? Fear of intimacy comes in many forms and can manifest itself in any of the following ways:

  • Fear of failure: What if this relationship doesn’t work out?
  • Fear of being vulnerable: Is it worth subjecting myself to hurt and emotional pain?
  • Fear of rejection: I’ve been rejected before, I can’t go through that again.
  • Fear of being smothered in the relationship: What if I lose my identity?
  • Fear of sex? What if he/she disapproves of my body?
  • Fear of losing someone we love: What happens if I fall in love and he/she breaks up with me?
  • Fear of abandonment: What if he/she leaves me alone?
  • Fear of being “found out”: He/she will find out who I really am and won’t love me anymore. No one can possibly love me because of all of my flaws

Are you afraid to be intimately close with another person? Take the intimacy phobia quiz here to find out your intimacy score. Be sure to save your results and to share them with your partner!

© Kelly J. Welch, Family Life Now (2/e). Boston: Pearson Education

Photo Credit: e v e n (flickr.com)

There’s More to Sex than Stripping and Lingerie

<Picking up from where we left off, the head-hunter and the lingerie>

About a week later, my husband and I went to dinner with a couple of good friends. We were planning a scuba diving trip together with them, and at some point the topic turned to what they should pack.

Me (to the gal): Well, according to [guy on my front porch], you better not bring any T-shirts to sleep in. Come to find out, we’ve been doing it wrong for nearly 30 years. We’re supposed to be doing a striptease and lap dance for our husbands every night.

The gal and her husband (almost in unison): Every night?

Me and Dave (almost in unison): Every night!

The guy (a pastor): How do they get anything else done?!

The gal: No wonder he works from home!

<side-splitting laughter, waiters wondering if they should cut us off, but realize we’re not drinking>

The gal: I guess that leaves you out, babe, because we can’t afford lingerie!

The guy: It just ends up on the floor anyway, I’ll save you the trouble……I’ll just go home and cut strategically placed holes in your T-shirts!

<Fast forward about 48 hours, Dave and I get a call from Pastor Guy, telling us his wife has been rushed to the hospital and she’s in emergency surgery. The doctors believe it is advanced ovarian cancer.>

In the hospital, we’re all at her bedside when the surgeon comes in to deliver the news that she did not have ovarian cancer, but instead that she had a very serious abdominal infection, from which she would recover.

There were shouts of joy and lots of tears!  Her husband, exhausted from no sleep and worry, slumped into the chair and put his face in his hands. My husband went over to him, knelt beside him, and put his arm around his shoulders.

“It’s gonna be okay, we’re here for whatever you need. You guys just take it easy and let us take care of everything.”

The pastor looked up, tears in his eyes, and said, “It’s not that, Dave. It’s not that.” He put his face back into his hands, trying to gain his composure.

The pastor’s shoulders began to shake. Dave looked at me, totally confused as to what to do next. I just shrugged my shoulders in an I-don’t-know kind of way and used hand signals to gesture “hug him tighter.”

But just at the moment, the pastor let out the most hilarious belly laugh you’ve ever heard! With tears streaming down his face, laughing uncontrollably he said to his wife,

“Honey, it just dawned on me that I almost cut holes in your T-shirt the other night as a joke!  The T-shirt you wore as they rushed you to the hospital!!  Can you imagine the doctors’ and nurses’ faces?!? Can you imagine what I would have had to explain if you had nipple holes cut out in your T-shirt?!?”

We love these two to pieces. Like us, they’ve been through a lot in their 30+ year marriage. And like us, they saw the humor—and the potential dangers—in teaching young couples that stripping’s where it’s at.

I’d like to say that I was shocked at my friend saying that his wife gave him a strip tease and a lap dance every night. I’d like to say that I was shocked that they were teaching couples in their church that THAT’S what great sex and a great marriage is all about.

To be fair to them, I’m not in their marriages, so I don’t know if that every-night-no-matter-what kind of sex works for them or not.

But I have a hunch they’re setting themselves—and everyone they’re teaching—up for huge disappointment. And maybe failure.

That’s what happens when sex is reduced to an act (or lots of acts), instead of understanding how it’s intricately tied into your love map.

Photo Credit: nostalgicphotosandprints (flickr.com)

Buh-Bye Body Image Worries, Hullo Orgasms!

When you become preoccupied with the appearance of your body outside of the bedroom, these worries and concerns ultimately end up in the bedroom.

Because for women sexual arousal and response require attention and focus, when you focus on how your body looks—rather than what you’re experiencing and feeling—you are less able to let your guard down and fully enjoy sexual pleasure and sexually pleasing your partner.

For a great relationship—and great sex—redefine what sex is all about!

Replace each of these with something positive
about YOURself.


  • Get real! Sexy is as sexy does! You define what body type is sexy and appealing to your partner, not media images! Your partner probably wouldn’t be in bed (or on the kitchen table) with you in the first place if he or she didn’t see something about you that was appealing.
  • Let it happen! You can’t force great sex, especially if you’re overly concerned about how you look during the act. Just let sex happen. Focus on what feels good and all the different sensations going on in your body.
  • Let go! Hang on to your partner, but get rid of all of those inhibitions by giving yourself to ENJOY SEX. When you truly let go, it’s tough to think about what your thighs must look like in a particular position (trust me, your partner isn’t looking, either).
  • Connect, communicate, and trust! When you focus on emotionally connecting and communicating during sex, you feel safe and secure—and you’ll realize that the shape of your body has nothing to do with these other feelings.
  • Be adventurous! Explore, explore, explore! Come up for air, and explore some more! This attitude shifts the focus to each other’s bodies, and in doing so, you begin to see how FUN sex really can be…and that it’s not all about looks.
How healthy is your body image? Find out here! Be sure to email me your results, or come back here and share them!
Source:  See Family Life Now (Welch, 2010), pg. 218. 

Photo Credit: Flickr.com

Are You Capable of Intimacy? Take Your Intimacy Quiz!

Although intimacy is thought to be an inborn, innate drive and that all of us need intimacy in order to survive, some people are just better at giving and receiving intimacy than others are.

This is because, just as with your love map, your intimacy map develops as a result of your relational life experiences. In other words, who you are as a relational, intimate person is the result of every relationship you’ve ever had in your life—from your parents, to your friends in grade school, to your high school peers and buddies, to your college friends, to every positive and negative hook up or sexual relationship you’ve ever had.

Your intimacy map has been created over time. This is why intimacy doesn’t always come easily to everyone—and why it’s essential that your love partner knows as much about your relational background as you are comfortable sharing.

In fact, most of the time establishing and maintaining a close personal relationship with another person requires a lot of hard work. With this in mind, it’s important to remember that if you find yourself having to work at your relationship, it doesn’t necessarily mean that something is wrong or that you’ve chosen the wrong partner.

If you desire someone to openly, honestly, and completely share with you, you have to be willing to be open and honest about your needs and desires. This is the only way the seeds of intimacy will have a chance to flourish and thrive!

Do you get it?

Hectic lifestyles support and promote hectic relationships!

In the drive for “the car, the condo, and our version of success,” we are what Brad Pitt calls a society of desperate and lonely people. He refers to this feeling of meaninglessness as a sense of weakness, an inability, an incapacity.

An incapacity for what? Relating? Belonging? Emotionally bonding? Human connection?

As you take that step that brings you to reveal, share, and disclose your innermost personal thoughts and feelings, as you lower the barriers and allow someone to really know you, you begin the process of intimacy.

Are you capable of giving and receiving intimacy?  Take the quiz hereto find out how emotionally intimate you are. Is your relationship intimacy solid, or do you have some trouble spots?

© Kelly J. Welch, Family Life Now (2/e). Boston: Pearson Education.

Photo Credit: Hamed Masoumi (flickr.com)

When You Say Intimacy, I Think of…..Create Your Intimacy Pie

What does it mean to have an “intimate” relationship? And what do you think the one factor is that seems to deepen your intimacy experiences with your partner more than anything else? Can you pinpoint intimacy components in your relationship? Do you know if your intimacy map is similar to your love partner’s?

Because intimacy is so vital to the health and longevity of relationships, researchers have been studying what “intimacy” is for years. Of course, everyone’s definitions of intimacy are different, because just like your love map and sex script, your intimacy map is built over time…as your experiences change, so does your meaning of intimacy.

Are you ready to build your intimacy map? Put the Snuggie on, crank up your Pandora, and settle in…this is a lengthy one, but oh so very well worth the effort you put into it!

Think of 10 things that you would consider vital to developing and maintaining intimacy with your lover.

I’ll help get you started, here’s what researchers have identified as key components of intimacy. You can choose from these, you can tweek them, you can add more:

  • Self-disclosure: The voluntary sharing of something personal or private.
  • Humor: Helps to keep things in perspective, and in doing so, brings couples closer together.
  • Affection: Expressing and showing feelings of love and tenderness.
  • Sex: Being able to communicate sexual needs, wants, and desires, fulfilling the partner’s sexual needs, wants, and desires.
  • Cohesion: Each partner’s sense of the level of commitment in the relationship.
  • Trust: The level of confidence, belief, faith, and hope held for the lover partner.
  • Compatibility: The sense of comfort each partner feels when they are together; how well the couple relates to each other, how well they work together, how well they play together.
  • Conflict resolution: How couples manage inevitable conflicts and differences of opinion.
  • Spirituality: Shared religious beliefs are known to intensify intimacy between partners.
  • Respect: The level of value and admiration for each other; how well each partner shows consideration of the other.
  • Personal validation: The reinforcement that the partner is worthy of love, devotion, and affection.
  • Emotional (nonverbal) communication: The ability of each partner to “decode” their lover’s nonverbal/emotional cues; as intimacy deepens, couples become more skilled at this.
  • Love: Feelings of connectedness, being bonded to one another, an intense emotional connection.
  • Friendship: Liking each other, hanging out with each other.
  • Desirability: Longing to be in the presence of the other in times of absence.
  • Intellectual: Connecting on intellectual levels.
  • Jealousy: Envious, perhaps resentful, when someone or something takes the attention of your lover away from you.
  • Identity: Being able to maintain separate, unique identities; to not lose individuality in the identity of the couple.
  • Expressiveness: Freely allowing the partner to share and disclose their most personal thoughts and feelings.

Now the tough part!  Click hereto build your intimacy map! If you need instructions, go to ** at the bottom of this page.

Each partner should create an intimacy chart. Be sure to share your charts with each other!

Why is all of this so important? Why is it so important to share your results with your partner?

Because if ANY component from your intimacy map is missing in your relationship, your satisfaction as a couple will be greatly diminished!

On the other hand, if you work to discover—from the very beginning of your relationship—what factors of intimacy are important to one another and how you each experience intimacy in different ways, then you have removed tremendous barriers to achieving a great relationship!

**INSTRUCTIONS:

1.Click on “pie”

2.Click on “data” (upper right hand corner marked by red arrow)

3.Title your graph (I titled mine “My Intimacy Map”)

4.Select the number of pie slices—how many components comprise “intimacy” to you? (I have 10 in my chart)

5.Label each pie slice (“Trust,” “Respect,” etc)

6.Assign a value for each (how important is each one to you? For example, is “Trust” 20% of your intimacy map? 30%? You determine the value for each component.)

7.Click on “preview” (upper right hand tab)

8.Click on “print” (upper right hand tab)

© Kelly J. Welch, Family Life Now (2 ed). Boston: Pearson Publishing

Photo Credit: “Intimacies” by Ferran (flickr.com)

Wine Wednesday for the Ladies: Sexual Desire & Response

Earlier I talked about sexual response and I mentioned that the problem for most couples is that men and women differ as to how long they reach and remain in the various response stages.

These differences almost always cause huge problemsin a couple’s sex life…and sadly, most sex problems almost always spill over into each and every other aspect of a couple’s relationship.

Sure, a lot of us can fake it make it without knowing everything there is to know about sex, and maybe we can even have enjoyable sexual lives.

But I’m a firm believer in knowledge + practice [infinity] + patience [to infinity and beyond] = fantastic sex lives [and relationships]. Understanding how and why your body works the way it does, and how and why your partner’s body works the way it does, greatly [as in Oh. Em. Gee.] enhances your sexual pleasure.

I’m also a firm believer in ignoring it + hoping it gets better + trying to figure it out on your own = frustration and less-than-satisfying sex lives [and relationships] and faking it (a lot more than you are now).

So, pull up a chair pour a glass of wine, gals, and let’s get real about what turns you on–and why.

Sister Sexual Desire & Response

When it comes to sex, gals,

1.You will almost always have a lower sex drive than your man: He has testosterone. You don’t. BUT—if you find that you just need a little more help, your doctor can prescribe a bit of testosterone. In fact, many peri- and postmenopausal women are prescribed testosterone today. And gals….they keep coming back for more.

2.You emphasize the interpersonal aspects of your relationship—not the physical or the sexual: You tend to care about love, intimacy, and relationship satisfaction. Once these are fulfilled, you can more easily give of yourself sexually and physically.

3.You tend to have sex to enhance the commitment to the relationship: Both yours and his.

4.You tend to have sex to express your love: In fact, new research suggests that your orgasms are enhanced if you hear your partner say “I love you,” just before, during, or immediately after your orgasm.

While almost every sexologist since the 1st century has claimed that guys and gals the world over have sex because they’re programmed to do it, because it’s an innate need, one contemporary sexologist says uh-uh, nope, no way, not so fast.

New research in college-age women and middle age women shows that sex for women is highly contextual. In other words, we do it for increased emotional closeness, increasing our own well-being or self-image, to feel wanted or loved, to feel attractive….not because it’s an inborn drive, and not necessarily because we want to experience physical pleasure.

And get this—this researcher also claims that we gals have sex for personal satisfaction…not for orgasmic release.

All of this 21st century research might help to explain why today’s sexologists and sex therapists think that desire should be added as a distinct phase of sexual response for women (Masters and Johnson ignored this as a part of overall sexual response in women).

So, a truer picture of a woman’s sexual response pattern might look something like this:

(Emotional intimacy + sexual stimuli + relationship satisfaction + a clean house + locked doors + children soundly asleep + paid bills + secure love + secure commitment + not feeling fat + sweet nothings + estrogen = SEXUAL DESIRE = Seeking out and being receptive to sexual stimuli) + (sexual stimuli + emotional satisfaction + physical satisfaction = SEXUAL AROUSAL) + (time + time + time + time) = ORGASM.

Yeah, we’re that complicated, ladies.

And get this—we gals experience high sexual desire and interest when we first enter a new relationship, or if we’ve been away from our love interest for awhile.

BUT…

…this sexual hunger for frequent sex appears to decrease the longer we’re in our relationships. Girlfs, our sexual appetites are replaced by a desire for increased emotional closeness and intimacy!

What does all this mean??

New sex research sure seems to indicate that your sexual desire isn’t inborn, gals—your sexual desire is TRIGGERED by feelings of love and intimacy and closeness and appreciation and relationship satisfaction.

Just as your love will transition from a 24×7-do-me-baby-do-me to a calmer, more stable type of love, so too does your sexual appetite transition to a sexual desire that is triggered by your love for your partner and the security you feel when you’re with that person.

And that, girlfriends, is a realistic expectation for your relationship. When you feel the sexual desire waning, when you feel that something is “different” about your love–it just may very well be an indicator that your relationship is actually becoming STRONGER…it’s not getting worse!

How does this information compare to what you may have read in popular magazines such as Cosmo, or what you may have learned in a sex class?


Photo Credit: Jeff Cusher (glass of wine, flickr.com); Curtis Gregory Perry (trigger, flickr.com)

Everybody’s Searchin’ for Intimacy

We are relational creatures—we need to be with other people. Even Aristotle once observed that people who don’t want to be emotionally connected to others are either “a beast or a god.”

Yep–everybody’s searchin’ for intimacy. Everybody’s hurtin’ for intimacy.

 

The word intimacy comes from the Latin word intimus, which means inner or internal, to come from within a person. In my field of family studies, we use the term to refer to an emotional closeness, mutual trust, and comfortable levels of self-disclosure shared between love partners.

And intimacy doesn’t just benefit you as a couple and your relationship. Unlike any other aspect of a love and/or sexual relationship, intimacy meets your crucial individual psychological needs…it actually promotes your own well-being and psychological health.

Through frequent, intimate communication in which your talks include personal sharing, listening, and understanding, your individual psychological needs are met by way of your relationship with your partner! As you self-disclose and share, and as your partner responds positively to your disclosures, your emotional bond to each other is strengthened and deepened—and so is your love for one another.

Developing intimacy is a process, and because it’s a process it means that it will change over time—not might, not maybe, not probably, not possibly.

Intimacy. Will. Change. Over. Time.

<Insert Realistic Relationship Expectation Here>

The intimacy you have today will not—should not (!!!)—be the same 5 years from now or 10 or 20 years from now. Just as your love matures and changes over time, so will your intimacy levels.

As you get to know your partner better, you begin to self-disclose your thoughts and feelingsThis leads to greater sharing of personal vulnerabilities and fears and hopes and dreams and wishesWhich even further deepens your levels of trustWhich gives you the freedom to share even more and moreWhich ultimately creates your own unique, private relational culture.

And that, my friends, is what divorce/affair proofs your relationship!

Oh, creating and maintaining this intimacy culture is tough work, there’s no doubt about that! This is why, when kids come on the scene—and  we’re so busy tending to their needs and driving them over half of hell’s acre to get them where they need to be—most relationships experience a huge dip in relationship satisfaction.

But your relationship doesn’t have to be “average.” You don’t have to experience that nose-dive, OMG-are-we-ever-going-to-pull-out-of-this unhappiness.

It takes work, though. Are you ready to commit to what it takes?

Start by filling out this intimacy inventory. Each partner fills this out on his/her own time…once this is done, get together (away from LIFE!!) in a quiet setting and discuss your answers with each other.

Save your responses, because over the next several weeks we’re going to build on this information and then begin to weave it into what you already know about marriage scripts, love maps, and sex scripts!

And…there’s a surprise twist at the end. You don’t want to miss it!

Photo Credit: “Affection” by Colby Cash (flickr.com)

Couple Challenge: Your Intimacy Needs

All forms of intimacy develop over time, and keeping that intimacy once it’s developed requires nurturing attention to the relationship. Print this off and fill in your answers to the questions, have your partner do the same.
Get together in a quiet setting and talk about your answers together.
When we are emotionally close, I feel _____________________________.
I would describe our intellectual closeness as ___________________________.
As far as intimacy in our relationship is concerned, I am most satisfied when ________________________________________________________.
I am least comfortable about our relationship when ______________
_______________________________________________________.
When you express your emotions and feelings, it makes me __________
______________________________________________________________.
When you express physical closeness, it makes me _______________
____________________________________________________________.
Spiritual closeness is ______________________________________________.
When I experience intimacy with you, I feel ____________________________.
When I am with you, my individuality is _________________________________.
Some people resist intimacy. This makes me think _____________________
__________________________________________________________________.
When I reveal my innermost thoughts, feelings, emotions, and fears to you, I expect __________________________________________________.
When you reveal your innermost thoughts, feelings, emotions, and fears to me, it makes me __________________________________________________.
Intimately relating with you might carry a risk of rejection. The possibility of being rejected by you makes me feel ________________________________.
In general, I am trusting of others. This makes me ______________________.
In general, I am not trusting of others. This makes me ____________________.
If I were to sum up the role of intimacy in my life, I would say it is
__________________________________________.
© Kelly J. Welch, Family Life Now (2nd ed). Boston: Pearson Education.

Photo Credit: Mag3737 (flickr.com)

Cover of the Rolling Stone: Intimacy

Brad Pitt: I know all these things are supposed to seem important to us—the car, the condo, our version of success—but if that’s the case, why is the general feeling out there reflecting more impotence and isolation and desperation and loneliness?

If you ask me, I say toss all this—we gotta find something else. Because all I know is that at this point in time, we are heading for a dead-end, a numbing of the soul, a complete atrophy of the [human] being. And I don’t want that.

Rolling Stone: So if we’re heading toward this kind of…dead-end in society what do you think should happen?

Brad Pitt: Hey man, I don’t have those answers yet. [My] emphasis now is on success and personal gain. I’m sitting in [success and wealth], and I’m telling you, that’s not it. I’m the guy who’s got everything. I know.

But I’m telling you, once you’ve got everything, then you’re just left with yourself. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it doesn’t help you sleep any better, and you don’t wake up any better because of it.