Why “Spice Up Your Sex Life” is Terrible Advice

Why “Spice Up Your Sex Life” is Terrible Advice

Why “Spice Up Your Sex Life” is Terrible Advice

 

Hi everyone! I’m Jenny Hale and you’re watching my truth bomb series short videos on relationships and the things you get told that just aren’t true. Why that’s a problem, and where does the truth really lie?

Today I’d like to address a particular piece of advice that floats around all over the place and that’s in the situation where you’re in a long-term relationship and your sexual desire levels aren’t matched, over time one of both of you has become less interested in sex, you’re not having as much sex as you want to.

This advice is “look you know, this is normal. People get bored, so just spice it up a little bit. Just spice up your sex life.”

Today’s truth bomb is – this is really bad advice.

That’s not to say that it’s a bad idea to explore some fantasies, do some kinky things, not at all. But it’s not going to solve the problem which is leading to the lack of sexual desire.

Why would it be a bad idea to take this advice – spice up your sex life?

Number one, it’s because when someone sexual desire goes down the reason for that is never boredom. I’m going to go right out there and say never. It’s never boredom.

So if it’s not boredom, what is it?

Usually in most cases there’s an underlying emotional mismatch between the people, some kind of tension, some kind of emotional conflict which has not been resolved, and that gets in the way of sexual desire.

Now, in the early stages of a relationship and when you’re young, especially if you’re in a male body and you’ve got testosterone going on, all kinds of horrible stuff can happen, and the other person can treat you really badly, but you still have desire.

In the initial stages with new relationship energy, falling in love, testosterone drive, you still have sex even though you’re mad at them. Yeah, you have a big argument, it’s not resolved but, you have makeup sex anyway because they look hot and you’re turned on and why not?

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Over time, when you’ve been in the relationship longer, and that early “in love” phase is gone, and as you get older your testosterone levels go down.

It comes down pretty rapidly so by the time you’re in your 30s if you’re resenting someone, if you do have an unresolved issue with someone, if you feel like they don’t get you, they don’t care, they’re not showing up for you, they’re in their own world or something, you’re much less likely to want to have sex with that person, emotionally.

Unless you really get down in there and resolve the underlying emotional conflicts they will eventually surface again and in a much more virulent form because there’s several more years of resentment built up. Some of the things you might have done during that time to “spice things up” might even feed the resentment, because one partner might be doing these things just to satisfy the other partner, not because they themselves actually wanted to do them.

So you have to be super careful when you go into this spicing up to make sure that both of you are genuinely wanting whatever it is that you do, and genuinely enjoying whatever it is that you do, because otherwise you just feed the underlying resentment and you make the whole situation worse.

At the end of the day the way that you’re going to be able to keep your sex life interesting and passionate and dynamic ongoingly is not any kind of simple technique or trick like spicing it up with sex toys or opening the relationship or anything like that.

It has to do with really getting good at navigating the emotional relationship, resolving conflicts, expressing concerns and resentments, setting boundaries, being a fully rounded human being in relationship with another fully rounded human being. That’s when you’ll get the kind of passion that can last for a lifetime.

After Separation

After Separation

The end of a long-term relationship is never easy. Immediately after separation, there are both practical and emotional challenges to navigate. No matter how clear it is that you need to part ways, separation is always a deep emotional process. Sometimes we have completed several stages of the grieving process before the official moment of separation, and sometimes events take us by surprise. Either way, the grieving process is unavoidable.

grief after separation

All of us grieve, even for the most painful and dysfunctional relationships. We may be grieving the relationship we thought we had, or the relationship we deserved and didn’t get. We might grieve the relationship we hoped for, rather than a relationship we actually experienced, but we grieve, just the same.

It can be tempting to bypass grief and jump right into a new relationship. The intoxicating chemicals of being “in love” make us forget about our previous partner. The new person has none of the infuriating issues that the previous partner had. There are many risks in this approach, which we explore in our “Real or Rebound?” series, available in the members area.

Some people avoid a rebound relationship by diving into a busy whirl of dating and casual sex. Sexual exploration is very healthy after ending a long-term relationship, but compulsive or addictive behaviour is not so healthy. You might be at risk of sex or love addiction if you find yourself seeking sex or love as an escape from unpleasant emotions, or if you can’t imagine life without it.

The more you can allow the grieving process to move through you, fully and cleanly, the faster you will be ready to embark on your next genuine, deep relationship.

Stages of Grief After Separation

Denial – when it doesn’t seem real

Anger – at anything and everything

Guilt/Bargaining – going over everything obsessively, trying to figure out what you could have done differently in your mind

Sadness – this may be associated with remembering good things that have been lost, or hopes which never manifested, or it may have no particular object

Acceptance – starting to appreciate the new life which is taking shape

Check out this post on grief for more guidance.

Rebuilding Confidence After Separation or Divorce

We don’t like to think about what comes next. “Getting back out there” can be a daunting prospect. Dating was stressful, painful, and exhausting enough when we were teenagers. The idea of putting ourselves through that again, with everything else we have to deal with …

Confidence often takes a beating as a relationship breaks down. Whatever the circumstances of the break-up, we tend to focus on the ways in which we have personally failed. If our ex was abusive or irrational, we can also become focused on the reasons not to trust anyone else ever again.

Crisis – Both Danger and Opportunity

changing after separation

Times of big life changes can be a blessing in disguise. When everything is up in the air, when we are changing living arrangements, working arrangements, childcare arrangements, and everything else – these are the times when it is easiest to also change ourselves.

Should you choose to, you can make this separation a “watershed moment” in your life. Looking back in a few years’ time, you could pinpoint this time as the turning point. This could be the moment when you stopped being a victim of circumstances and truly claimed your life as your own.

What will it take?

Taking back your life begins with knowing who you really are. Once you are connected with your authentic self, you have all the guidance and personal power you need to make the right changes.

Over the years, I have watched hundreds of people take back their lives. Some move swiftly and dramatically, while others make subtle adjustments that are barely visible to outsiders. All of them report feeling more freedom, power, and fulfilment.

Don’t Worry, You Can’t “Emasculate” A Man

Don’t Worry, You Can’t “Emasculate” A Man

Don’t Worry, You Can’t “Emasculate” A Man

 

Hi everyone! I’m Jenny Hale and this is one of my truth bomb series of short videos about relationships. In this series I’m looking at things which are commonly said that are actually rubbish, why they’re rubbish, and what the truth is.

Today what I’d like to address is this widespread myth that it’s somehow possible for a woman to “emasculate” a man. Now, this idea comes from a number of different places. It’s mentioned in Allison Armstrong’s books. It’s mentioned in various Neo-Tantra circles. Again, like all of these things, if you pick it apart you can find a nugget, but the wrapper that it’s in is so harmful that I really need to address this one.

So number one, if you’re a man, you’re a man, period. There is nothing that can happen in your life that makes you suddenly not a man. You are a man. You always will be a man. You always were a man  – even if you are born in a female body, even if people teased you and called you gay or whatever.

If you’re a man, you’re a man. That’s it.

So where does this weird ass idea come from that there is something that a woman might be able to do to “emasculate” a man, to make a man not a man?

Where this comes from, it’s because we are in a culture which is damaging to men. When a woman does something that resonates with the way our culture damages men it makes a man feel less of a man. Not because of anything inside his human being, but because that’s what our culture has told him.

If you just step back and think about it you’ll be able to identify all of these horrible, horrible messages that we give little boys and men about what it is to be a man.

A man is always strong and confident. If you’re confused, if you have to ask for help well then you’re a pussy, which means you’re not a man.

It’s the culture which is constantly emasculating men. It’s not individual women who are emasculating men.

If we didn’t live in a culture that told men but being confused was unmanly, then when his woman said “you’re confused, you’ve made a mistake,” he would be “okay I’m a man that made a mistake”.

But no, no, it’s not manly to admit that you made a mistake. You have to always be confident. You have to always be right.

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You can see that this idea about what how a man should be is just incredibly damaging. It’s damaging to men. It’s damaging to relationships, and therefore damaging to women, all the men who are in relationships with men for that matter. It’s damaging to children. It’s damaging to everybody.

So what’s the nugget of truth in this?

Because there is one, and it’s this.

It doesn’t actually matter whether you’re in a male body or a female body. If you put someone down, if you criticize them consistently, if you refuse to trust that they are a competent adult and they can do what they are good at, you will make them feel really small.

This is true of women as much as it is of men. If you constantly nag a woman she’s also going to feel completely inadequate.

So the take-home is – be awesome to one another.

Build one another up. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a male body or a female body. Be kind. If you have feedback to give someone make sure that they’re in a good space, it’s a good time, that you’ve phrased it in a completely neutral way. You’ve given them the information. You’re trusting them to do what they need to do with the information.

If you need to draw a boundary for yourself, you do that without blame or accusation. You say look, for example, if you’re not willing to get directions before we leave and know the route then I’m going to drive myself. Or whatever it is.

You take care of yourself, and whatever you need to take care of yourself, so that you don’t need to change your partner’s behavior in any way. Give them the feedback and let them make the choice.

So this is a truth which applies that whether you’re in a male body or a female body, whether your partner is in a male body or a female body. It also applies to your relationships with children, to your relationships with work peers.

It’s a natural human phenomenon. If you put shit on somebody they will feel like shit. So just don’t. That’s it.

Grief

Grief

Grief is a normal part of human psychology. You wouldn’t know that from watching how grieving people are treated, though. There is a growing trend to consider grief a pathology, and to treat it as though it was a mental illness, or a personal weakness.

Had a death in the family? You might get a day off work to go to the funeral. They might even let you take sick leave for a few days, or a week. Beyond that, though, you are expected to show up and be productive, as though nothing happened. 

Anything else that might cause grief – the end of a relationship, death of a pet, loss of a home, and so on – you don’t even get one day off work to process your grief. (Of course, there are caring and empathetic employers out there, who don’t follow these norms, but we are looking at the culture overall, on average.) 

Friends aren’t much better, often. They bring casseroles for the first few days, come to the funeral and say the right things, and then they expect you to get on with life as normal within a week or two. If it’s the end of a relationship, or the loss of a home, they might even start immediately with bypassing comments like “look on the bright side, now you can find something better …” 

When it comes to grief, we are expected to manage it in our own time, and mostly on our own. 

Remember that there is no statute of limitations on grief. You are entitled to grieve in your own way, in your time, for as long as you need. 

What is grief? 

grief

Grief is a set of emotional responses which happens whenever we are required to let go of a future we have invested emotional energy into. The more emotional energy we have invested in a future, the stronger the emotions of grief will be as we reshape our emotional landscape to erase that future. 

We invest emotional energy into a future by imagining it, making plans, or just unconsciously expecting it to happen. As an extreme example, we might hate and fear an abusive parent, and be planning to escape from home as soon as possible. At the same time, we unconsciously expect that parent to be there every morning when we wake up. If that parent dies, we might be relieved that the abuse is over, but we will still experience grief because of our deep, unconscious expectation that our parents will be around forever. 

The emotions which arise when we are grieving can be confusing, because they can appear contradictory. 

It is important to remember that the emotions of grief are markers for our process of letting go of a future, and they don’t need to match up to anything real that is happening how, or that happened in the past. The emotions of grief are “free floating” – they don’t need a particular object. In fact, the grieving process goes faster when we actively prevent the free-floating emotions from latching on to any person or event. 

Stages of Grief

 

While grief is described as having “stages”, we don’t pass neatly from one stage to the next. We switch around between 2-4 stages at any point in time. The proportions change over time. The early stages are a bigger percentage at first, and the later stages come to be the biggest proportion as time passes.

Denial

The denial phase comes first, and generally passes within a few days. In this phase, we simply forget that the loss has happened. We repeatedly remember, with the same force of shock as when we first heard the news.

The denial phase can be extended indefinitely if the loss isn’t due to death. We can remain in denial about a relationship break-up for much longer than a few days. While we hold the belief that our lost future may still happen, we maintain that future as an object in our emotional landscape, and the grieving process slows down. It may even stall completely.

anger

Anger

Free-floating anger is a significant element of the early stages of grief. When someone has died, particularly if they did nothing to cause their own death, it can be disturbing to find ourselves being angry at them for dying. This is completely normal, and it will pass.

When a relationship has ended, it is easy to attach the anger to our ex, and make lists in our mind of the ways in which they wronged us. While this is a seductive process, it is not a healthy way to grieve. The anger will move through much faster if it remains free-floating, without any particular object. In truth, we are angry that our anticipated future has been taken from us, and it really doesn’t matter how that future was taken.

Guilt/Bargaining

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross described the grieving process which takes place when a person is told they have a terminal illness. She described a stage she called “bargaining”, where people construct “deals with God”. If I become vegan, my cancer will go away. If I forgive all my enemies, I will be cured.

When someone has died, we can’t bargain with God in quite the same way. This stage manifests as obsessively going over the past in our mind, over and over. On some level, we are hoping that we can find a way to make it turn out differently. Of course, we can’t.

However, if we happen to find something specific we did, or didn’t do, we can attach this emotion to that memory. Again, as with anger, it is much more healthy to allow the guilt/bargaining energy to remain free-floating. Punishing ourselves emotionally for doing or not doing something gives us the illusion of having control over the loss. These illusions are temporarily comforting, but they keep us trapped in unresolved grief.

denial

Sadness

When we think of grief, it is the sadness we most easily understand. The sadness can last for a long time. It will appear from moments in the early stages, amongst the more intense denial, anger and guilt. As time goes by, if we don’t attach the more intense emotions to anything, sadness will become the dominant emotion.

Sadness can manifest “out of nowhere”, when we have been moving through acceptance for quite some time. This is normal. Reminders such as birthdays, holidays, and objects with personal significance can trigger sadness, even decades later.

Acceptance

Acceptance is the emotion which manifests when we have reclaimed enough emotional energy from the lost future to start creating something new.

Even after we have felt acceptance, we will still cycle back through the other stages. Over time, we will spend a greater and greater proportion of our time in acceptance.

Grieving a Relationship

When we have ended a relationship, we will be required to carry on living as normal while we grieve. We may be pressured to throw out mementos, start dating again, or make other radical changes.

It is very important to give yourself time and permission to grieve fully before starting to move forward. In the chaotic emotions of grief, we may not make the best decisions for our long-term future.

That’s not to say you should be a hermit for a year or two. By all means have a rich social life, including dating and romance if it feels right for you. Just be prepared to excuse yourself if you find yourself doing things that aren’t yet comfortable for you.

Often, in the course of a relationship or a break-up, we lose touch with our true self. Some people are completely out of touch with their true self from childhood, and rely on partners to give them direction and certainty. Others have a good connection to their true self, but find it is disrupted by stress, conflict, too many compromises, or betrayals.

true self

What next?

Whatever else happens after the end of a relationship, it is essential that you re-establish your connection with your true self. This is your “inner wisdom”, the guide which will help you navigate the next stage of your life. The relationship or the break-up may have disrupted that connection, and you will need it for the next stage of your journey.

If you are someone who has always struggled to “find yourself” or to “go within”, times of grief are a golden opportunity. When everything is thrown into chaos, you have an opportunity to rewire your brain in new ways. Rather than going back to coping strategies from earlier in life, you can find your core – your inner strength – and create a new life which suits you much better than anything you have experienced in the past.

Yes, You Should Go To Bed Angry

Yes, You Should Go To Bed Angry

Yes, You Should Go To Bed Angry

 

Hey everyone! This is Jenny Hale, and this is my truth bomb series, a series of short videos about advice that’s given in relationships which is sadly misplaced, and where the truth really lies.

Today I’d like to address the old chestnut of “never go to bed angry”.

There is a good intention to this. If you get in the habit of not resolving arguments and just going to sleep, and then waking up the next morning and both of you have to rush off and do things, and you feel better anyway because you’ve had some sleep, you won’t ever really actually resolve an argument.

So there is some some truth in the idea that you need to work conflicts through and to actually resolve them.

However, I have worked with a number of clients over the years of working as a as a coach and relationship counsellor who have an incredibly unhealthy pattern of “never go to bed angry”.

Something happens, one of them gets triggered, they’re really upset. The other one’s trying to manage that. At some point, they get upset themselves. Both people are upset, they’re saying things to each other, nobody’s listening, and this goes on until 3 or 4 a.m.

And then they’re exhausted. They get a couple of hours sleep, they rush off to work, they can’t function, they come home that night, they still haven’t resolved anything, but they can’t go to bed angry, so they do the whole thing over again.

This is not good.

In order to be able to resolve conflicts you need to be rested. You need to be sleeping. Some arguments, some conflicts are quite complex. They have many layers to them, and it takes some time to pick them apart.

It may be the case that one or both of you has some childhood issue triggered. Something’s happening that’s reminding you of something that was very upsetting from your childhood and you don’t even realize. You think that it’s your partner wiping their hands on the dish towel that’s making you so upset. You don’t realize that you had 15 years of your little brother destroying all your belongings and that that frustration and rage is the thing that’s really driving you.

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So you might have your own individual stuff. Or, your partner might legitimately be doing things which are actually inconsiderate and you might be going “Oh, this is me, I just need to soothe myself. I just need to work on myself. I need to be more patient and more tolerant”, when in fact what needs to happen is you need to set some boundaries and you need to actually make some agreements about how things are happening in the real world.

So there are always these two pieces in any kind of conflict. There’s what’s actually happening in the world right now, and then there’s both people’s past and how that might be being triggered, how that might be coming through.

Until you separate those you’ve got no hope of resolving the conflict. You need to be clear on what is actually happening here and now and needs to be changed, and what is being triggered and needs to be taking care of internally.

So it’s a good principle in general that you always work your way through to the very end of a conflict and actually resolve it, but that might not be something that you can do in one evening. And it might not be something that the two of you can do alone, because if you’re both triggered into your childhood stuff it’s very difficult to see what is the present.

You might need to get a third person to mediate the conversation to really understand what’s happening.

There aren’t many third people available at 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. to come and do that, so in that case it’s better to actually just go to sleep, wake up the next day having had some rest, and then see if you can find somebody to help the two of you to work through and figure out what’s going on.

This has been the truth bomb series. This was the “never go to bed angry” episode and I hope to see you around in future episodes!