Can it JUST be sex?

I could include a sensationalist picture with this post, but I want to try and be a little serious.  For many people it is any incredibly life change situation.  So maybe we need to look at how different people might see the whole thing.

Stepping off at one extreme are swingers and those in the cuckold lifestyles.  For them sex with someone other than their partner can be an expression of trust and love.  Most people that read this won’t believe that, or consider it warped and twisted.  It may not appeal to you, but is it wrong if they are genuinely happy doing it?

So, how can it just be sex for other people?  Surely and affair is everything else.  I believe the root is in confusing the things we enjoy with expressions of love.  In many areas of life that might be tolerable, but we have a very different perspective on sex.  We believe it is very special and should be held to current lover.  Yet, it is strange how we don’t feel that when we are outside a ‘secure’ relationship.

The real test is when it boils down to an affair.  In some case I believe it is truly about the sex, and just the sex.  It may mean nothing more than liking beer or going to a concert.  The complication probably comes because in most cases they like the other person.  Then that leads to confusing liking and loving.

And that is where the whole thing can get messy.  Maybe it starts as “just sex” and then evolves into a form of love.  It’s where the affair can differ from swingers.  The swingers are in relationship that may not involve either of them placing great emphasis on touch as key part of their love communication, which allows them to not prioritise the physical intimacy above their own sense of love.  For people setting off on the affair often love is missing and although the affair might start by filling a sexual void because they like sex and the main relationship no longer has it.  But if you like the person you’re having sex with then the danger is the whole story expands to include speaking your language of love.

Having walked in a circle, the short answer to the question is yes.  However, life isn’t that easy and sometimes it is something more.  An issue I’ll come back to in another post.

Minority Rules – the statistics

minority-reportI read an newspaper article this week (sorry, a bit old school there, I know) that stated with a smug air that 25% of over 50’s were not having sex and they couldn’t be happier.  Now this just left me perplexed at so many levels.

Firstly, when did 25% become the majority?  That was certainly the feel of it.  There was a feel that this 25% were the defining group and everyone else should follow in their footsteps.

It conveyed the impression that if you’re over 50 then you should be happy (or be happier) not having sex.  When did any age become a pre-defining element of whether or not you’re sexually active?  Have we become so youth obsessed that 50 seems really old?  [NOTE: You should check the demographics; the old ‘uns are an increasing percentage of the population.]

And the real question was, are the ones that are “happy not having sex” also with other people that are “happy not having sex” or is there an element of peer pressure (I don’t have sex to keep them happy)?  I’ve said it before and if both people are happy not having sex, then great.  But if one of you does then you need to come to an agreement about this.  That applies no matter what your age, and don’t assume just because you’re older that the other person wants less.

In truth, I think it was just poor journalism that snatched for a sensational headline.  Well, it worked on me…

50 Shades of Grey Thinking

50 Shades of GreyOkay, I’m only part way through the first book and I’ve watched the movie. Now that my credentials are out of the way I’ll get on with my opinion. Let me tell you, as it has been several days since I’ve seen the movie this is a a lot less rabid than I first intended! If you want to save the effort of reading my musings skip to the end [##link] and answer the last two questions; that might make you want to come back and read the whole thing.

In short, I would not want to be Christian Grey. Nor would all the men I know. If it is what women want then it is no wonder we have an exploding divorce rate in the western world.

I’ve read a very detailed description of how Christian Grey is simply an abuser; and that was written by a former abuse victim. I suggest you read all the comments at the base of that blog as well because it might save me defending my opinion.

If that one does not disturb you then you should perhaps you should look at this one. For those of you that don’t leap to follow the links let me save you some unease and tell you that it is a description of how the books are really about a child abuser. It does not make comfortable reading.

Now that I have sent you careening of in one direction let me pull you in another. I just don’t think E.L. James is that clever. I don’t think that was what she set out to write, but somewhere someone should have pulled it up and provided some editorial input. Sadly dollar signs popped into everyone’s eyes and morality was sold out. What was meant to be a story of a strong man ended up being the story of a child abuser.

What do I think she was trying to write? She was trying to write something about the “Alpha Male” and shot so far wide of the mark that it is so terrify that it makes me cry. Not because Christian Grey is some intimidating character but rather that he is a horrible misrepresentation of what strong men are and is more a psychopath than role model.

Is E.L. James a million miles wide of the mark? Well, no. The urges and compulsions that Christian Grey feels are not uncommon; especially for a dominant ‘alpha’ type person. Where’s the difference? Real men can show some emotional connection to the person they are dealing with. Without a shadow of doubt ‘alpha’ people are at the very least borderline sociopaths, but what they are not is psychopathic.

I could continue to rant about the fatally flawed characters, Anastasia Steele is a feeble weak willed object. I use “object” deliberately. She seems almost devoid of the ability to make strong unwavering resolutions, and ultimately comes to “accept” Christian Grey as he is. [I my amend my stance when I get to the end of book 3, but don’t expect that to be too soon; I have much better literature to be reading.] The fact she cannot deny her love is mumbo jumbo; go back and read the abuse blog.

I’ve already bashed on the book more than intended and what I want to look at is what I think E.L. James meant to write when she penned the “50 Shades of Grey” trilogy. There I think is the secret of what might be called the “apologists” see in the books, rather than the crass reality of what is. I will, however, leave the other blogs to deal with the confusion of when you can’t see the difference.

I think E.L. James’ intentions were to write a book where the woman could surrender control of her responsibility, and accountability, for sex and her sexual satisfaction. She wanted to combine the freedom from guilt for wanting to have sex with the punishment for wanting sex. Hence, the dominant man and the mock BDSM.

Now women, mostly middle aged, have discovered that really they quite like sex and want to be removed from the responsibility of making it happen. It gives them freedom from the responsibility of day to day life, and absence from the pressure of the mundane.

Hang on a minute. Married men, okay most men, having been suggesting that more sex would be good for the relationship. However, the liberal, feminist ideal is the right to say, “no” has resulted in the right to with hold sexual intimacy as a de facto state of women’s power in a relationship.

So the tone is that women want a return to the 1920’s where they served the demands of their husbands. Or is it only acceptable because he is a billionaire? Time to make a choice ladies; are you sexually liberated or do you plan to keep using sex as a form of control?

I feel I could write a book at how disappointed I am at the success of this book. Disappointed that many women I know even like this. Disappointed that women do not see it as pornography. [Please note; I have a deep understanding of pornography and like many drugs see it with mixed blessings; only worst will get you when you don’t realise you’re taking it.]

My real disappointment is that it has taken such an atrocious piece of literature to save so many marriages. (Well that’s E.L. James claim.) And maybe that disappointment is as much jealousy as anything else. I had hoped even a few people might read this blog and realise that they can choose to include sex in their relationship in a positive way, rather than settle for some simple porn to tell them to abdicate responsibility.

When it comes down to it you only have to ask yourself two questions to know if 50 Shades of Grey is a “good thing”:

1 – Would I want my son to behave like Christian Grey?

2 – Would I want my daughter to be dating a man that behaved like Christian Grey?

Your answer to those questions should be compared with your friends.

Headlines, Blogging and Deception

newspaper headlineThe thing I enjoy most about blogging is a kind of perverse satisfaction in thinking I’m playing some journalist at their own deceptive headline game.  You know, the shock controversy headline that leads to something far more bland and banal. Without a small touch of irony that resonates with our personal relationships.  We want that big brash headline.  Everything from the mega-wedding, the rich, good-looking, suave, etc., etc. partner. Just like a short attention span TV ad. The twist is that we tend to be deceiving ourselves rather than anyone else.  We want those headlines to convince us that “We are Worth It”.  Where does that leave us when there is all the normal stuff that makes up the stuff under the headlines? When we are young, we can often just find more headlines to fill out life with over and over.  Look at Facebook and Twitter and how people (and I don’t just mean celebrities) have turned what they’re having for lunch into a headline.  It is a mad adrenaline junky habit that is one of the deadly sins (rather than a deadly unsin ) What do we do when life is less about headlines and more about getting on with things?  Times like when you have kids; more about Mum & Dad’s taxi than Mum & Dad Set the World Alight.  Or when it is more about the pension, or caring for elderly relatives? Modern, and by that I mean the last 50 years, we have seemed to moved to dumping the other person (or people) in our lives.  It’s easy and lazy and firmly reinforces our own sense of headline grabbing celebrity. Why have we moved to this need for affirmation from everybody else, when we seem to have so little self-worth?  Are we incapable of loving ourselves?  What is our great need to have a bigger and better, or more interesting life than everyone else?  It is an odd dichotomy I play with in trying to stay anonymous with this blog. Perhaps the problem is we should look a little closer to home for our validation.  And perhaps the fist step in that is validating our partner.  That might even me buying roses or chocolates, going out for dinner or even having sex when we might not feel most like it. That karmic bank balance doesn’t earn interest if all you do is make withdrawals.  When you put in a deposit in the Love Triangle  you’ll find that rewards come, not always straight-away, but they come back with interest.

The UN Fights to Eradicate Sexual Poverty

sexy celebritiesThe United Nations has at some time defined relative poverty as, anyone living on less than half the median income. The UN also has definitions of absolute poverty, which will gloss over here, as the thrust is not about life threatening poverty.

Taking this definition and applying it to other areas of our life we can make a strong case in some relationships for the UN to intervene. Now from the title, and those that follow this blog, you can guess this has something to do with sex.

In many relationships one side or the other feels short changed in the sex department. Using the definition of poverty above we can come to a reasoned basis for how often we should be having sex, as a minimum; unless by mutual agreement (No Sex Please, We’re British). To do that we need to find some numbers and do the hard sums!

The average couple has sex 98 times a year according to a recent survey (which I can’t find the reference to, although a Durex one claimed 127 times per year). Firstly, averages are not medians (see this). So we need to make an assumption about what the median might be. To keep our sums easy lets call it 52 times a year, which means half the people have sex more than 52 times a year and the other half less. Based on that, if you are having sex less than 26 times a year you are living in “sex poverty”.

Can we see the UN intervening to eradicate this “sex poverty”? Who would they appoint as ambassadors? We can only live in hope that the UN finally steps up to the mark in this world crisis.

Love Maps / Genograms

Sample-Genogram-Full-Size (Small) Genograms are very much what they seem; a recent family tree.  From a marriage guidance perspective the interest is in finding not just the obvious biological family tree, but as a Love Map to find where you learned to experience love and how it might have been expressed, or withheld.  In the extremes it is looking for patterns that are repeating themselves, such as violent fathers leading to the choice of a violent husband, or vice versa.

A parents’ relationship is the single strongest reference point we have to how to behave ourselves when we enter adult relationships.  With that we can bring the good and the bad [see the post “This is the verse”] and it may not be clear which is which until you see how they interact with a partner’s.  They can help us to see the wood for the trees in our own past.

The TV program Criminal Minds  is fond of using Love Maps to create personality profiles of serial killers.  This may be the extreme example of their use although it does demonstrate the baggage we bring from our formative years to our adult life.  Unfortunately, what that program doesn’t show you is that they can highlight the “good things” you’ve carried in to adulthood and your relationships.

They are nothing frightening and provide the opportunity to fill in some gaps that can help a good counselor start to frame together hidden drivers in your psyche.  A solid house is built on good foundations and this can be a way to find the hidden flaws in our own.

You’ll struggle to build a house in the dark!

Sample Genogram Copyright of GenoPro (http://www.genopro.com/)

Bricks and Mortar

bricks and  mortarA now famous book once declared, Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus (available at Amazon).  This book still holds pride of place on my bookshelf, as much of what it says holds a ring of truth, as I see it.  In fact, it inspires some other posts (1 Action = 1 Point, unpublished).

A key point that Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus picks up on is the not unsurprising fact that men and women are different.  Just to avoid the usual criticism of sexual stereotypes I’ll point you to another post that digs in to that in more detail (It’s All in the Mind, unpublished).

Vive le difference”, as the French say.  But what difference?  Here I’m looking at the difference of what women and men focus on in constructing a relationship.  In the end we believe the filter of the Love Triangle is fundamental to the peculiar dyadic relationship we form called marriage (or cohabitation).

Research has looked at people’s motives for entering a relationship [Perceived Benefits].  The findings starkly support the Love Triangle proposition.  A number of reasons were examined (see table below), where men and women scored the benefits they felt a relationship brings.

Of the twelve potential benefits only five showed no real difference between the sexes; and those were the benefits both sexes considered of least importance. Also of interest is that of the remaining seven the ranking was the same, with two notable exceptions. What is of interest is the emphasis the sexes put on the benefits.

Women focus on the bricks, the very building blocks of relationships. Their greater emphasis on companionship, feeling loved and intimacy suggests they are look for greater emotional interaction.  This supports the cultural idea that women are looking for romance.

What is somewhat frightening is the emphasis women put on their self-esteem through the relationship.  It is a great contradiction that you should gain your self-respect from your relationship with someone else.  It gives an insight in to why women chase the “bad boy” / alpha male; perhaps a cunning reproductive program running in their brain.  But where does that leave the relationship when they wake up one day and find they don’t have an alpha male, but a good father to the children [unpublished]?

While women emphasise the bricks that build a relationship men tend to focus on the mortar, things that hold relationships together.  The table shows that men prioritised sexual gratification even over companionship.  What is perhaps telling is how the two sexes viewed the cost of being in a relationship [unpublished]

These results only serve to reinforce the love triangle notion that men place a strong reliance on the physical side of a relationship to measure love.  Women, meanwhile consider sex only on par with a general feeling of security.  I think the selected benefits didn’t accurately reflect Maslow’s Hierarchy with security being a derived benefit from the relationship.

This shows yet more evidence that when women no longer feel the need sex within a relationship [unpublished] then they have failed to understand men and placed themselves in a position of “moral superiority”; which as  Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus says is a social / cultural phenomena that devalues men.

There is ground to be recovered for men in this “post feminist” era; before the children of all these beta men grow up in to a Darwinian nightmare, where men are cash cows and sperm donors and their emotional well being is trivialised.  Stop and look at how divorce favors women and state support for single mothers; not so hard to imagine!

The table shows the results from a survey of people about the benefits of entering a relationship.  The original article puts a numerical figure in the statistical difference column, but here a small yes means there is probably a difference and a big YES means the chance of that difference is less than one-tenth of 1 percent that we got a group of people that don’t represent the rest of us.

Perceived Benefit

% of Total Sample

% of Females

% of Males

Statistical Difference

(between male & female)

Companionship or Affiliation

60

66

54

yes

Sexual Gratification

46

26

65

YES

Feeling Loved or Loving Another

43

47

39

yes

Intimacy(Include mutual understanding, trust, and sharing)

42

47

36

yes

Expertise in Relationships

40

43

36

yes

Self-Growth and Self-Understanding

37

40

34

maybe

More Positive Self-Esteem (include higher self-respect and self-confidence)

32

49

14

YES

Exclusivity

32

31

32

no

Feeling Secure

28

27

29

no

Social Support from Partner’s Friends or Relatives

22

23

21

no

Feeling of Happiness or Elation

16

14

18

no

Learning About Other Sex

12

12

12

no

Reproduced from Southampton University

My car is broken – let’s talk

girl with broken down car

Imagine this; you are travelling down the road when your car breakdowns. You have no idea what is wrong, or if you’re lucky you might, like a flat tyre. Either way you can’t fix it. So, you call an auto-mechanic to come and fix it. There is a subtle air of tension as you wait for them to arrive.

Now imagine this scene playing out: The truck pulls up behind your broken down car. A person that exudes an air of confidence and competence steps out of the vehicle. An air of relief descends over you. This person then starts to ask you about the problem, your sense of assurance grows as you feel they are diagnosing the problem. Soon they are asking questions that seem less relevant to your breakdown, like where you live and even start telling you about what they had for lunch. After half an hour the car has barely been touched, great you have a better understanding of the mechanics and the fundamental physics behind what has broken, but you are no closer to getting on your way…

It is hardly stretching your imagination to believe that all but the most patient of people would by now be ready to shout and making great protestations about the lack of progress being made to helping you get on your way. What has been lost is that this sense of frustration is what men feel when they attend marriage counselling. It is another sweeping generalisation about the sexes, but there is research to support it.

Relate (##www##) published a report, reproduced in most national UK paper, that states when women go to counselling they want to talk about the troubles within the relationship and men want to fix the relationship; with the subtext of getting more sex! The failure to fix things can lead to frustration for men, however, I can hardly sense that any women would be pleased with the mechanic in our story.

Yes, it is another one where both people (sexes!) are right and one cannot come without the other. You need to talk to find out what needs fixing. The difference is more that women seem to think that the talking is a solution in itself, whereas men want to see a roadmap to a solution. This may stem from the Love Triangle and the Perceived Benefits of a Relationship. The question is how to balance the two.

Couselling tends to focus on the more Freudian approach and this finds favour with women because it involves a lot of talking. The thinking seems to be to allow new habits, or old ones to be rekindled, by the couple involved. This gives the slow self-discovery organic growth to the relationship and this is a closer reflection of the evolution of a typical new relationship.

One school of psychology occasionally tapped in to is that of Cognitive Behaviour Theory (CBT). This approach appeals more to men, as the focus is to agree to an action and let it set the new behavioural norm. It is about making the desired reality a conscious decision and by repeating the acts over and over again the subconscious brain adapts to the new norm.

CBT can be very attractive for the stereotypical male. What it does ignore is the need to resolve underlying issues that the subconscious mind will push to the fore. It is these issues that the talking can reveal and permit a deep rooted repair to be made, rather than a quick fix. These can be found using tools like the genogram (or Love Map).

As great as it can be to decide to have more sex, there is a need to keep talking before and after. Talking during is an optional extra!!

What LayShrink is about

This blog is a personal view of what is happening to marriage in the 21st century based on first and second hand experience; primarily from a man’s perspective.

Taken out of context much of this blog may appear to be misogynistic or outdated.  The intent is far from that.  The late 20th century asked men to review their relationship with women across every aspect of society; in the guise of feminism.  On the whole every man born in the second half of the 20th century or later has made that step.  This blog is asking women to do the same thing with men; we just don’t have a name for it yet.

Feminism had unintended consequences, especially at the individual level found in the basic dyadic relationship, usually encapsulated as marriage.  This blog is one man asking women, feminists or not, if they now carry a twisted ideology that is not about cooperation but about domination and revenge on man’s historical wrongs.  That question is focused on whether or not that ideology is undermining our (yes men and women are in them together) closest relationship.

Read on and hopefully some of this will make you angry; then you’ll know that something needs to change.

The LayShrink