Friday, March 25, 2011

Which Came First. . .

So this is an obvious departure from some of the themes we have explored together thus far, but a worthy one, nonetheless. Let's talk about sex.

Sexual health is an important part of one's overall wellbeing. It directly correlates with emotional health as well as physical health.

Now don't freak out. This blog isn't about to turn X rated. Rather, I want us to explore together the ideas of sexuality and intimacy in a very curious, honest, and respectful way. I invite your participation and feedback, as always!

The first thought I want to explore with you is "which comes first?" In a romantic partnership, do we start with sexual attraction or do we start with intimacy (aka trust, love, closeness, etc.)? Some camps say that you can't create physical or sexual attraction, that either it's there or it's not, that it's kind of an intuitive thing, and that if it's not present between two people, there is nothing you can do to change that and the relationship is pretty much doomed to failure before it starts. (If that's not a run on sentence, I don't know what is.)

Others say that sexual and physical attraction can be cultivated over time as respect and trust grows between two people. We hear this line of thinking a lot in as it relates to long term, committed relationships like marriage. We often hear how much work it is to keep a long term relationship "alive." Perhaps what is commonly referred to as "work' is the act of creating and cultivating the emotional closeness that naturally lends towards sexual desire and attraction.

Clearly sexual attraction and intimacy don't always go hand in hand. We can certainly have one without the other. But when we have both, as in the case of a romantic relationship, which comes first? Do we start with sexual attraction and cultivate intimacy? Or do we start with intimacy and cultivate sexual attraction? Can both happen? Does this changes based on the stage of the relationship?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Thursday, March 17, 2011


The topic of forgiveness came up today in my work with one of my clients. This topic seems to surface alot in my work, and always carries with it a great deal of emotionality.

All of the world's major religions are rampant with messages, some subtle and others more overt, about forgiveness. The Christian religion teaches that we are "sinners," and that we must ask for God in Jesus to forgive us of our sins in order to be "saved" and to go to heaven. Christians pray the Lord's Prayer: "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." In the Jewish faith, much time is spent on the Day of Atonement and during Yom Kippur, asking for the forgiveness of those they have wronged and praying for God to forgive them their wrongs. Muslims are taught that their God is "all-forgiving," and spend time daily asking God for forgiveness. Buddhists practice release of suffering and thoughts of wrong-doing through meditation, and focus on the giving of compassion and loving kindness to others. In the Hindu faith, the god Krishna states that forgiveness is "one of the characteristics of one born for a divine state," and contrasts the virture or forgiveness with anger and pride.

For those who identify by their alignment with one of these religions, and for those who do not, it is undeniable that the pressure to forgive is a strong one in our culture. How does that pressure impact you?

Does that pressure make you more or less inclined to forgive?
Is there a part of you that feels guilty when you haven't forgiven, or like you are somehow "bad" because you have not forgiven?
Is there a part of you that resists the mandates to forgive because they feel controlling?
Is there part of you that feels like, if you forgive, you are saying that what someone did to you is okay?
Do you believe that if you forgive someone, you are no longer entitled to feel the effects of their actions?

What messages are you carrying about forgiveness? I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

In loving kindness!