The Slang of Sex

Research shows that men and women use different terms to describe their sexual anatomies and to describe different aspects of the sexual experiences and relationships.

Men, for instance, tend to use power sexual slang, or “dirty” and aggressive words when describing sex (such as “f___ing”) and/or their partner’s bodies. Women not only discuss sex less frequently than men do, but they also tend to use cute sexual slang, or euphemisms when they talk about sex (such as “making love”), and/or  describe body parts (such as using the term “va-ja-jay.”).

Given these differences, it’s important for couples to develop a common sexual vocabulary that is unique and personal to them, especially to find idioms for genitalia, sexual rituals, and routines. By cocreating and jointly sharing these expressions, couples create a unique relational culture within their sexual relationships.

In your relationship, has your sexual communication been subverted because you do not use the same sexual slang as your partner does? In your sexual communication, do you and your partner share the same meanings? What would you like to change about your sexual communication?

Photo Credit: auzigog (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)

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)

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)

Sexual Response: In 5…4…3…2…1…

In the 1960s and 1970s, sexologists Masters and Johnson outlined their revolutionary Four Phases of Human Sexual Response.

Through their research (don’t ask…it involved a lot of not-so-fun electronic devices, like a penile strain gauge and the photoplethysmograph, placed into a lot of different body cavities), they discovered that sex—whether it’s masturbation, oral sex, anal sex, sex with a toy, or penis-in-vagina sex—causes a chain reaction of sorts.

(Or, as my husband says, “the launch sequence has been initiated!”)

[Read more...]

He Said She Said

Okay, so by this point you get it. You get that love is different things to different people. You get that love is different things to the same couple at different times.

You get that your definition of love is under constant construction, and that your love map (and your partner’s) changes over time. You get that early in a relationship, because of passionate love, couples are eager to care for one another and they’re highly motivated to satisfy each other’s emotional needs, to nurture one another’s love needs.

You get that, as you self-disclose, intimacy levels deepen in the relationship, to the point where you and your partner become mutually dependent and reliant on each other for the fulfillment of your intimacy and love needs. You get that when your love needs are met, you feel happy and content.

But guess what? There’s one more puzzle piece we need to put into place in order to complete the picture: Men and women don’t prioritize love needs in the same ways.

Big.

Huge.

Important.

 

She Said: Women’s top five emotional needs are affection, conversation, family commitment [check out the Sexuality tab fellas, and see why this leads to a super-charged sex life], support/help around the house [see previous bracketed note], and honesty/openness.

He Said: Men’s top five emotional needs are admiration/respect [check out the Relationships tab gals, and see how this leads to deeper intimacy], sexual fulfillment, physical attraction [don’t rush out for a boob job just yet, gals], recreational companionship, and honesty.

What do you think about this stuff? Is this similar to your experiences?

Is it realistic to expect that your partner can meet all of your needs?



Photo Credit: daedrius (flickr.com)

The Kiss Still Works

I stand by the bed where a young woman lies, her face postoperative, her mouth twisted in palsy, clownish. A tiny twig of the facial nerve, the one to the muscles of her mouth, has been severed. She will be thus from now on.

The surgeon had followed with religious fervor the curve of her flesh; I promise you that.

Nevertheless, to remove the tumor in her cheek, I had to cut the little nerve.

Her young husband is in the room. He stands on the opposite side of the bed and together they seem to dwell in the evening lamplight, isolated from me, private.

Who are they, I ask myself, he and this wry mouth I have made, who gaze at and touch each other so generously, greedily?

The young woman asks, “Will my mouth always be like this?”

“Yes,” I say, “it will. It’s because the nerve was cut.”

She nods and is silent. But the young man smiles. “I like it,” he says. “It’s kind of cute.”

Unmindful, he bends to kiss her crooked mouth and I am so close I can see how he twists his own lips to accommodate to hers, to show her that their kiss still works.

What is it that strikes you most about this story?


Source: Selzer, 1978.
Photo Credit: Bob.Fornal (flickr.com)

Lovin’, Touchin’, and Squeezin’: What’s Your Sexual IQ Score?

Touching him. Touching her. Licking. Biting. Tickling. Sighing. Cuddling. Fighting. Hesitating. Giving out. Giving in.

Fighting it. Faking it. Wanting it.

What is sex?

Just like love, no two people have the same idea of what “sex” is because your sexuality is continuously under construction.

And, just like your love map, every experience—from how and what your parents taught you about sex, to boyfriends and girlfriends, to hook ups, to sexual experimentations, to looking at porn mags or flicks, to lovers, to friends, to sex ed—you create an internalized sexual rule book.

You create your sexual script, or your sexual IQ. Your script literally directs every aspect of your sex life, every belief and attitude you have about sex:

  • It tells you who you can have sex with (Same-sex or opposite sex? Older than you, much older than you? Younger than you, much younger than you?)
  • It tells you how to have sex (Oral? Anal? Missionary position only?)
  • It directs how often you have sex (Six times a week? A month? A year?)
  • It determines where you have sex (Just the bedroom? In an elevator? Somewhere you can possibly be caught or seen?)
  • It tells you when you can have sex (Before marriage? Before college? Only in the mornings? Only at night?)
  • It directs why you have sex (Love? Lust? Anger? Fun? Play? Boredom? Jealousy? Revenge?)

When it comes to sex, most of us know what goes where—and why.

But sex is so. much. more. than knowing that Tab A almost always fits into Tab B.

So.

Much.

More.

So, over the next few weeks I’m going to give you the best go-down low-down sex information that’s out there…not pop-culture information. But the truth. Can you handle it?

I can promise you this: If you stick with this, your sex life—and your relationship—will be incredibly energized and invigorated. And you might even learn a new position or two.

So, let’s get started. The first thing you and your partner need to do is determine your sexual IQ score. Take the quiz here.

Be sure to come back and report your scores so I know what your base level was before you took on this truth challenge!

 

Photo Credit: EssG (flickr.com)

What’s Your Love Triangle Score?

Do you want a marriage that lasts? Do you want to live [almost] happily ever after? Then consummate love (not to be confused with consommé soup!) is what you want to strive for!

Consummate love is thought to be the most complete form of love, the love that’s associated with “perfect couples.”  Consummate means to develop something or to bring something to the point of perfection.

A perfect marriage? For real?  Yep.

Psychologist Robert Sternberg developed his Triangle Theory of Love, which conceptualizes eight different types of love relationships. Sternberg says that love isn’t a fixed experience—it’s a process that undergoes change over time, and it’s made up of three main things:

1.Intimacy:Feelings of closeness and connectedness deepen as we self-disclose—the more we disclose about private aspects of our lives, the deeper the trust becomes (and, the deeper the trust, the more we disclose). This trust, in turn, builds respect, affection, warmth, and the spiritual bond between couples. Intimacy takes time—and nurturing—to build, but it’s a prominent feature of love that lasts.

2.Passion: This refers to the physical attraction and romantic feelings that draw us to someone. Passion is the initial driving force in relationships. But it peaks quickly, and over time, reduces to a stable level (otherwise, we couldn’t get anything else accomplished!). At the same time, though, intimacy levels rise.

[PUSH THE PAUSE BUTTON:When passion begins to fade, it’s a good sign that the love is transitioning to a calmer love—to consummate love, a love that lasts! You are not falling out of love! The relationship is not over! Do not bail out! Stick it out, talk, and watch what happens next!]

3.Commitment: Simply put: Commitment is the decision to love someone else and to maintain the love over time. Loving another person is a conscious act of will—it is a deliberate choice. It’s putting forth your best effort in a relationship. No matter what.

I’ll be the first one to tell you that developing consummate love is tough. And maintaining it is even tougher.

That’s why I’m determined to write this blog, to help you get to that kind of love that no one can compete with! That kind of love that is so crazy hot Goliath himself couldn’t take you out of it. That kind of love you see in others and say to yourself (or out loud), I want that!

Stop in later and I’ll show you how all of this stuff about love ties together. In the meantime, time for another pop quiz!  Go here to see what kind of triangle of love you have. (When it asks for forename, it’s asking for your partner’s first name. It took me a second to figure that out. J).

 

 

Photo Credit: B Rosen (flickr.com)