Maintenance sex is better than no sex.

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Hoang Loc/Pexels

There is tremendous pressure to have electrifying, earth-shattering sex at every encounter. The failure to experience this can leave both partners feeling like failures.

Men want to satisfy their partners and feel the need to provide their partner with multiple orgasms or their job isn’t done. Women feel pressure to look and perform “sexy” along some unrealistic scale of sexiness. Both have fallen victim to the effects of media-generated porn which warps the sense of sex and intimacy.

All this pressure creates unrealistic sexual expectations, because in every committed, long-term relationship…

Mediocre sex is inevitable.

Sooner or late in every…

When the winner is the biggest loser.

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Florian Schmetz/Unsplash

As with any article regarding a persecutor-victim dynamic, I want to emphasize that I do not condone any form of verbal, emotional, or sexual violence.

As a therapist, I often see couples engage in an unconscious dynamic — a “competition” as to who suffers more in the relationship. Whenever one partner shares their pain, the other immediately declares that they are suffering more.

I choose to see this rivalry as part of the victim triangle dynamic. It’s a dynamic where partners constantly fluctuate between the roles of a victim, persecutor, and savior.

Sometimes, one partner agrees to constantly lose the…

Your relationship is too precious. For every “mis-take,” give it a do-over.

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Image by Bokskapet/Pixabay

We all make mistakes in our relationships.

Ruptures are inevitable.

John and Julie Gottman found in their research two main patterns separating the “masters” from “disasters” of relationship:

  • Happy couples maintain a minimum of 5:1 ration between positive interactions (lets call them Yeses) and negative interactions (Nos).
  • Relationship masters, have a similar quantity of arguments as unhappy couples but they are better at offering and accepting repair attempts. A repair attempt is “any statement or action — silly or otherwise — that prevents negativity from escalating out of control.” (Gottman & Silver, 1999).

While the idea is simple, the execution…

Daring to experience the dark will increase your light.

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Tessa Rampersad/Unsplash

One of the goals of living a fulfilled, actualized life is the ability to feel.

Feelings are what makes us “human” and differentiate us from objects such as a chair or table. Feelings are what gives us meaning and “meat” to our life.

In the clinic, I aim to help clients feel feelings openly without falling to two extremes: detachment on one side and emotional flooding on the other.

Emotional range

When I work in the clinic with clients I like to use a metaphor of an emotional range from 1 to 10. Imagine all the human emotions are on…

By calling yourself out, you will find progress and vitality.

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Dustin Tramel/Unsplash

You want to be free to do and be whatever you want in your life.

This type of freedom could be called Negative Freedom, being free from constraints. Being single offers ample relational negative liberty.

Being in a committed, intimate relationship holds the possibility of Positive Freedom due to the moral, financial, sexual, logistical, and familial limitations. Positive freedom is acting according to the values, rules, and limitations you have taken upon yourself. Living within your positive freedom helps you develop character, congruence, and confidence.

So how can you leverage the positive freedom of your relationship in order to grow…

Are you a Turtle or a Thunderstorm?

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Geraldine Dukes/Pixabay

Life is full of conflict. Not everything will happen our way. Every single relationship is doomed sooner or later to hit a “T” junction where you can’t just ‘agree to disagree,’ and you must face the storm.

People are different. That’s why human relationships are always sloppy, full of inevitable misunderstandings, conflicts, and communication failures, which is why many relationship experts think in terms of “conflict management “ rather than “conflict resolution.” It Is not necessarily about solving the (insolvable) conflicts; it is about remaining open and flexible within those heated areas.

Why does conflict get such a bad reputation?

Most of us grew up with a core…

Stop blaming your partner, and take full ownership of your faults.

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Image by truthseeker08 in Pixabay

We are all human and therefore not perfect. Yet we deny our humanity by denying our faults. We do this through defensiveness, denial, projection, anger, and other emotions and behaviors.

Most of us have a core belief that people won’t love us if they know our shadow-that is, those parts, self-states, feelings, and behaviors that we perceive as negative (greed, anger, lust, vulnerability, despair, aggression, and so on). Our brain is hardwired to protect us and if we have a core belief that we are not worthy, then best not to show our full self, including our shadow. …

Think systemically.

Image by Shiva Smyth in Pexels
Image by Shiva Smyth in Pexels
Shiva Smyth/Pexels

We live in an individualistic society where each person is special and feels able to change the world. But the truth is that we are all part of a bigger system. This wider system includes our partner, our siblings, our family, our community, our society, our country, and ultimately, our species.

One of the most effective ways I have found to help people change their relationship is through systemic therapy.

The systemic approach

Very broadly, the systemic approach sees individuals as fundamentally interdependent parts of a larger system. Systems are always synergistic and larger than the individuals who make them…

Explicitly uncomfortable is better than implicitly vague.

Image by cottonbro/Pexels
Image by cottonbro/Pexels
Image by cottonbro/Pexels

We communicate in ways that are multi-faceted, complex, politically correct, and often intended to conform to an “offense free” society. This might work well when engaging in philosophical, political, or academic discourses, but when it comes to intimate relationships, such ambiguity can be a disaster. During Coronavirus lockdown, ambiguous communication is even more problematic because of already high levels of anxiety, frustration, and fear.

What is ambiguous communication?

Communication that is multi-dimensional and overly-complex often functions as a smokescreen and defense mechanism in intimate situations. Simple or one-dimensional communication is clear enough that a 6-year-old can understand it.

Double messaging…

After the Coronavirus, this mind state is the 2nd most dangerous thing for your relationship.

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We’ve all been there. One moment you are fine, but then someone or something triggers you. You “lose your mind” and can’t control yourself. You are “flooded”. You find yourself yelling at your partner, giving disproportionate punishment to your kids, slamming doors, threatening to quit your job, and spiralling downwards.

Several minutes or hours later, you calm down and realize, with regret, the damage that you have done.

During the coronavirus epidemic lockdown, anxiety, uncertainty, and conflicts are especially increased in relationships. These conditions make emotional “flooding” more common and harder to control than in other, more normal times.


Assael Romanelli, Ph.D.

Couple and family therapist. International trainer and speaker. Improviser and multi-potentialite.

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