The Generous Husband

When considering the greatest acts of love imaginable this is not likely to be on your list. You might think of someone escaping a war-torn country to be with his love, or some woman defying her entire culture to share her life with the man she truly loves, or maybe you’d think of some couple who meets during a disaster and goes on to have a wonderful family. But you won’t think of this.

We think of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia as diseases that impact much older people but by her late 40’s Karen was already showing signs that something was wrong, and soon she couldn’t even set a proper dinner table let alone run her life safely and effectively. By 50 they were making plans to get her into a home where she would be safe and well looked after.

Maybe the doctors and nurses were more prepared for it due to their experience. These brain diseases can attack various regions and often they’ll attack the ones involving our social comprehension. So people will become rude without meaning to, or they’ll say inappropriate things, or sometimes they’ll even do them. And sometimes, they’ll behave in ways that are far more complicated.

The home called. They had caught Bob’s wife in bed with another man. It was clearly sexual. A meeting was called. They trick is, the people involved were young enough that it was difficult to control their every move. More of these instances seemed inevitable. What did Bob and his daughter want to do?

What a thing to be asked. Do? What would someone do in such a situation? Both Bob and his daughter wanted some professional guidance but there is no guidance for a wife becoming extremely uninhibited and sexualised. No one else could consent on her behalf, and yet obviously no one knew if she was capable of consent if she needed it. And worst of all for Bob, his wife didn’t remember Bob or his daughter, and instead she thought she was married to the man she was sleeping with. Who imagines dealing with that at 50? Or is it worse for Bob’s daughter at half his age?

This can seem like an impossible situation unless you’re Bob and you’re in it. But Bob found a way through it. I’m sure it’s not easy, but it’s a route he can have faith in. Because Bob’s basically been told that this love and sexuality is an aspect of his wife’s disease. Even if they move her to another home, it isn’t likely to change. So Bob asked the only intelligent, loving question left. “Is she happy when she’s with him?”

I’m confident it was a very difficult answer to give him because it was overwhelmingly affirmative. Yes, she and the stranger she met in hospital appear to love each other very much and both seem happiest and healthiest when they’re together. Bob’s wife is happier and more alive if she is allowed to experience her love with another man.

Can you imagine the position Bob is in? Can you imagine that you’ve planned your retirement and just as you’re getting close to the point where you hit what you thought would be the easiest period of your lives together, instead you’re not only entirely forgotten about, but moreover you must actually approve of, and even in strange ways pay for, your spouse to have a powerful romantic and sexual relationship with someone else? Wow.

This is the height of love because what has Bob done? He’s put his wife’s needs before his own. He volunteers to suffer so that his wife may have peace and happiness. That’s as generous a love as we can have. Bob wants his wife to be happy, even if that means she’s happiest with someone else.

If Bob can do all this, then I’m sure the rest of us can do better than we’re doing. So let’s all take Bob as an example and, for the rest of this week, do your best to put the needs of your partner ahead of yourself. And while I do feel for Bob, I’m also happy that his spiritual courage has lead him to experience the greatest form of love that anyone can partake in. Because as daunting as it may be, we should all be more like Bob.

peace. s

PS You can follow the link above to hear Bob tell his own story.

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.

Leaving a Cheater

They had moved their lives and their family halfway around the world together. They were a team. They had been married for 15 years. Most people thought they had a great marriage and he did too. And then he found out his wife had been lying to him. There was a boyfriend. Heather didn’t mean for him to find out but it came out in something she said. She didn’t notice that she had accidentally given something away. And Nigel didn’t say anything for the first while. He used that time to gather information.

777 Relax and Succeed - Sometimes good things fall apartAnd gather it he did. Once he started looking he noticed that the clues were all over the place. Unfortunately, as jealous people prove–you can develop quite a list of clues that turn out to be false if you’re looking for them. So even 90% of his clues weren’t actually clues at all, but he did find a half-dozen actual things.

So Nigel would think about those six real things plus the 5o or so he imagined and he could tell himself story after painful story–which he did. Over and over, and he was more and more hurt, and that made him angrier and angrier. And while his anger was masked it still came out pretty clearly if you weren’t Nigel. Heather certainly noticed. He was eating away at her. He was criticising her body. He wanted her to feel insecure. If she was going to be naked with someone else he wanted her to waste it being worried.

He thought about moving back to Britain but he couldn’t do that to the kids. As angry as he was he wasn’t crazy–this was about his relationship with her, not hers and the kids. That was a separate issue and he knew full well he wanted her guidance and influence in the kids lives and that they loved her. But this hurt and hurt people hurt people. So they both suffered.

777 Relax and Succeed - Love is what we are born withHe never did define what he was waiting for, but eventually those silent resentments built up and Nigel exploded in a totally uncharacteristic way. He stormed around, threw things, called a rental company and was loading a truck all in the same day. It was extremely dramatic. And when he was gone he was totally gone.

The kids were obviously completely broken up about the breakup and it made perfect sense that at their age and the way they would be able to understand things–it would almost inevitably lead to them blaming their mother, which in turn meant them choosing to live with their father. In another city.

So there he is. Away from someone that up until a short time ago he loved. She was also his main support even though he’d barely noticed that part. Not that she had noticed that he was doing likewise for her either. Now it’s two years later, the kids have mostly forgiven their mom and they’re better for it. And he’s realized he had been somewhat inattentive to his wife prior to her affair which ended anyway. Now she’s single and he’s still alone too–too scared to get hurt like that again. And he’s still trying to find a way to forgive her so he can do what he calls moving on. That’s how he described it to the ancient Chinese guy who taught his Tai Chi class.

777 Relax and Succeed - Forgiveness is not something we do for other people“I am sorry. I do not understand.” The accent was Chinese but this guy went to a British-style English upper class school in Hong Kong. The serenity about him was undeniable. “What do you mean by overcoming? And moving on?”

“You know, that moment where how you feel about something–about someone–changes…? Then you can forgive the person because you see what happened differently so you can move on.”

The Tai Chi teacher seemed confused and it was obvious. “I see.”

“I just have to wait until I can see this–thing–in this certain way and then I can get back to living my life.”

The old man laughed. “1980. John Lennon. Double Fantasy. Beautiful Boy. The song is four minutes twelve seconds. ‘Life is just what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

777 Relax and Succeed - Too many people go through life“That’s my problem, I can’t make any plans until I put this behind me.”

“Then you have plans to put that behind you, and until you succeed at your plan you refuse to move forward.”

“Not refuse. Can’t.”

“Mr. Nigel. You are a very good student. You learn Tai Chi well but you are very mechanical. Your motions are individual. You must learn to flow.”

“I’m not sure I….” 

The old man just looked at him for a good long while. “I’ve have been alive a very long time Mr. Nigel. My own life does not include the moment you have told me about. And I know if I never needed such a moment, and most of the people I know never needed one, then neither do you.”

“But then what do I do?”

777 Relax and Succeed - We are not held back“If there is nothing left to do with your past then you are free to make a plan and begin taking the steps of your future.”

Nigel slumped. He felt weak. The old man put his hand on Nigel’s back. “But how do I get over what happened and feel better?”

“You leave it in the past. You don’t bring old opponents into today’s battles. You fill your mind with other things. I remember when I met you you told me about an old car you wanted to restore?”

“I haven’t felt good enough to do it.”

“You have not felt good because you’ve been thinking about the worst events of your life. May I suggest you may have been happier working on the car. Our life is our own responsibility Mr. Nigel. No one gives us a good life. We each must fight our own opponents and win our own battles. But between the battles is the time for living.”

777 Relax and Succeed - Life is too shortAnd Nigel got it. He really did. He’d misunderstood. He was waiting for a lightning bolt of insight. A stroke of wisdom that allowed him to understand. Understand what happened. But the stroke of insight wasn’t about the events from years ago. Of course that would always be what it was. The insight was that he misunderstood literally how to live. He was trying to figure out how to have it always be okay and instead he realized he was just supposed to respond wisely to it not being okay.

And from that day forward Nigel responded to feeling badly by doing more of the things he enjoyed. He was not only a lot happier, but it resulted in more women finding him attractive and him eventually finding a new partner that easily kept his mind off his problems–and on top of that, on weekends they got to drive around Nigel’s sunflower yellow 1948 Ford Coupe.

Now go build your life’s a hot rod. 😉

peace. s

Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.

2014’s Blog of the Year!

588 Relax and Succeed - No suffering befalls the man*

Last year you to chose Fly Like an Eagle as Blog of the Year. It’s uplifting and inspiring—it’s a story about some birds. But this year I give you guys six months to ask questions, and now all of a sudden this year’s winner is about sex! 🙂 I’m kidding. Sex is part of life. There’s no reason it shouldn’t win. The taboo approach to serious conversations about sex mean that any frank discussion of the subject is usually welcome. This post has basically been read every day steadily since the very first day it was posted. And even if you’re not into the specific things it discusses, you still might find it opens your mind a bit regarding whatever it is you are interested in. It’s not dirty, but it’s about sex and it has a video, so I don’t see its popularity waning anytime soon. So without further ado I am pleased to present my readers with your choice for 2014’s Blog of the Year!

CLICK BELOW TO READ:

2014’s Blog of the Year!

peace. s

Life Phases

In 1969 Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote the book, On Death and Dying in which she defined the five stages of death. She was careful to point out that it was not necessarily a comprehensive list, or that it would apply to absolutely everyone, but she was—like I am—more interested in what makes us the same than the few factors that make us different.

560 Relax and Succeed - Denial anger bargaining depression acceptanceKubler-Ross eventually noticed that these stages applied to any powerful personal loss from a job to a relationship, and for each of us the process is much the same. Can you see how, despite the fact that you can feel alone and different and insecure, that you are ultimately just like all of us? That the experiences we traverse throughout our lifetimes have—internally to our consciousness—all been very much the same? When we recognize this fact, empathy rises. We don’t see another person’s situation from our perspective, we’re able to see it from theirs.

Of course there are similarities like this all over the place. That’s all my accident allowed me to notice—was that there was patterns in human behaviour and interaction. Humans can all seem quite messy and illogical when we view it from our ego’s perspective, but if you can detach the ego and look at it all long enough and carefully enough, it always makes logical sense. We’re all just following patterns of behaviour that are the logical results of what’s happening just like plants try to find light and water.

We all want to achieve a conscious sense of belonging and to achieve it we first must develop a sense of being lost separate, and only then can we learn to consciously return to the state of oneness that we all experienced as infants. And even if we never reach that ultimate realization through awareness and meditation, we will still achieve it shortly before death at which time you return to being what you were before you were born.

560 Relax and Succeed - It feels good to be lostTo help make the point clearly, I’ll give you another example. I’ll often have people come to me after their divorce because they’re concerned about their own behaviour, which feels erratic, variously cloying and closed off, and especially the ladies will be concerned about their sex lives. The reason this is a pattern in my practice is because it’s a pattern for all of you. Whether you got left or did the leaving, you’re either shocked at where you are or you just feel you’re away. Away from the bad marriage. But only in those cases where someone left their partner for another partner does the person know for sure that they will be accepted into another relationship. The rest of people suddenly realize that they now have to do the same things they did in high school and university—namely be attractive enough in a variety of ways to appeal to someone that you would actually find appealing.

This all leads to a period of longing. A desire to have your desirability affirmed. A need to be held, to be told we’re beautiful, to feel like we could be accepted again. How this translates is usually pretty slutty. A lot of guilt disappears when someone finds out that having one sexual partner for 25 years and then 15 in one year is actually quite normal—it’s just most people don’t talk about these things in public. At least not about all of them, because you will get pretty needy at times and your radar for partners will start to sweep a lot wider to find someone. And it’s understandable that people would not want to be judged for a “weak moment.”

After slutting around a bit, another phase kicks in that involves reality. There are financial implications to being alone and this is when people usually start to realize that, even if it was them that left, their problems are not over because their marriage is done. They still have bills, and those are even worse as one person. Likewise with child care. And now you have to fit dating and all the stuff your partner used to do for you into your schedule. Life can feel pretty overwhelming at this point, which is usually when I get a call.

560 Relax and Succeed - Do not feel lonelyAgain, this is a phase, so eventually you figure out how to be alone and that’s when people usually start entertaining truly healthy relationships that build on the knowledge they gleaned from their previous relationships. I know I’ve been increasingly better at how to find a good match for me as I’ve matured and, while I wasn’t a super terrible husband, there is no doubt that every girl after my divorce got the treatment my ex-wife actually deserved had I recognized those elements of a marriage back then.

Life is phases. A lot of what I do is contextualize my clients experiences relative to being human. They find real comfort in my acceptance of where they are as perfectly fine, no matter where that is. My job doesn’t care where you start. We all go the same direction using the same awareness, so it’s really a matter of downloading your ideas about what you think is happening and instead making you aware enough that you can see what is truly happening so that you can respond to that instead of an illusion.

You are not alone. The feelings you are feeling have been felt by billions and billions of other people and probably most animals too. Don’t lament these phases any more than you would lament the sad or scary scenes in a good movie. They are all a part of a great story—yours. So live it fully and deeply and with the least amount of second-guessing possible.

Now go have yourself a wonderful day.

peace. s

Parenting vs Exampling

It is extremely common for parents to come to me with what they feel are problem children. They talk about behavioral issues, worrisome friends, disrespect, aloofness, bad grades, or casual sex etc. Certainly there’s almost always at least a few kids in my roster who genuinely need some serious help from me, but I’m happy to report that most don’t need much. In fact, in most cases the kid barely needs me at all. Because the issue actually isn’t with the kid. And it’s not with the parents either. But it is with the parenting.

549 Relax and Succeed - The kids who need the most loveAgain: this isn’t to say the parents are bad. Their dedication isn’t an issue, and all of them are intelligent, successful people in whatever life path they pursued. They bring their kids to me because they love them and want them to do well. They’ve invested time and money and effort and endured all kinds of things before they meet me. And always, the kid in front of me is—despite their issues—impressive in all sorts of ways. So the parents have overwhelmingly succeeded, despite a few lingering concerns. In the end, the problem is really very simple: it’s just that most people don’t parent as consciously as they believe they do, so once I help them become more conscious they certainly don’t need any advice from me.

Parents will believe they’re putting a lot into their parenting by giving a lot of thought to their kid’s development and their “issues.” And they are putting a lot in, in a way. But it’s largely wasted energy because their parenting is choosing and inflating those issues unconsciously as a reflective or reciprocal resp0nse to the parenting they got. So if you feel like your life would have gone better if you paid more attention in school and your parents never pushed you in school, then you will be more urgent about trying to get your children to do well in class. But it’s also logical that if you did well in school and that brought rewards, then you will also urge your child to do really well so they can have those rewards too. Yet at the same time, it makes sense that a kid who is 549 Relax and Succeed - Make the ordinary come alivepushed too hard could crater and drop out from the pressure, even though they’re smart. The point is, you’ll act a lot like your parents, or a lot like the opposite of your parents, and you’ll do this in super subtle ways that you will find largely invisible, except for a few key issues (“Oh my God, I sound like my Mother!!”)

So most parenting is based in fear, and on the act of trying to prevent bad things from happening, and the parents choose the bad things they’re most afraid of based on their own lives and the parenting they got. If your mother’s sister died from drowning then you can bet that you’ll be taught to be extra wary when you’re near water. Or if your dad was never home because he was always working, you will have unconsciously learned to leave work exactly on time for the rest of your life, because you want to get home to your kids. Those are the kinds of motivations that create unconscious parenting.

Can you see how that’s like a crazy chain of misinformation and misunderstanding? You don’t need to manage a kid’s life like you’re their agent. There’s little need to focus on individual areas of a child if they feel fully actualized by parents who are parenting under the automatic assumption that their kid will be a successful human being. Not in an egotistical, materialistic 549 Relax and Succeed - The best security blanketway, but rather they will be confident enough to do as well as they should at whatever they try. So some things they’ll be built for, other things not so much, but they’ll feel secure doing either. We’re all crappy at some things, so if a parent’s focused on their child’s weak points, the child will soon have no self esteem and that is the worst blow of all.

If you really want to have an effect, the most effective form of parenting is exampling. If you and your spouse yell at each other, then you have no business telling your kid not to yell. That’s ridiculous. So they have to live to a higher standard than you? No wonder they’re sassy; you’re a hypocrite. And if you’re constantly focused on their bad classes and wanting them to do great in every subject, then again—they’re doomed. No one is good at everything. 80% of the world believes they are bad a math. For God’s sake, let them be a human. They’re allowed not to be good at things and so are you. Everyone gets that by birth.

School and sports have become like the stock market. They drive people insane. The book publishing industry was historically a 4-6% profit business. But then big international media companies bought all the publishers and because they were publicly traded, they wanted the same 15% a year that all their other businesses are whipped into providing—as though 6% is a failure. But of course, the desire of the market to make 15% does not change the state of the world any more than the existence of schools and classes means that kids should be good at 549 Relax and Succeed - The educational systemevery subject that gets invented. It doesn’t matter if you want 15% or A’s, sometimes 6% and C’s are all that’s available. And it seems cruel to whip a zebra because it’s not a horse.

Most people are much, much smarter than they give themselves credit for. But they limit themselves with narratives that they’re stupid or incapable. And those scripts come from responding to the demands of parents. You don’t want to push a kid into a subject, you want them to be inspired toward it. And for the few things they’ll suck at, you can use those as life lessons about how everyone has things they struggle at and that’s okay.

So the best thing you can do is, if you want your kids to focus, focus yourself. If you want them to speak respectfully, then speak respectfully yourself. If you want them to be kind to others, then be kind to others 549 Relax and Succeed - Behind every great kidyourself. If you want them to get their stuff done, get your stuff done. And if you want them to care about something, don’t demand it. Care about it yourself. Because you don’t build a kid. You nurture one, and they’ll grow toward the light.

Forget talk-parenting. Forget lessons. Take some responsibility for their behaviour. Example what you want to see. Show it to them and they’ll amaze you.

I normally would have stopped at the previous paragraph but I want to take a moment to stress that the example above is common. A lot of my current and past clients read the blog regularly and it’s remarkable to me how often they all constantly believe a blog is about them specifically. It shows how much we’re all the same. These are always amalgamations and re-creations of many experiences. So if you’re insecure about you’re parenting, this truly isn’t about any individual, it’s about you the human being. And I do hope it helps de-stress you so that you and your child can more fully enjoy each other’s company. Because I’m confident you’re doing a better job than you think you are.

with love, s

Sex Fact vs. Sex Fantasy

This one’s a bit mature in its themes, so please be warned that it does get very explicit at times. And I mean very explicit. Because lots of you are living explicit lives, so there’s no point in pretending that’s not happening to be polite. We’re here to help people stay mentally and emotionally and spiritually healthy. So I’m not going to worry about offending anyone. So let’s be clearthis post will be very sexually graphic in nature. It began after a woman came to me with what her and I both believe is 472 Relax and Succeed - Nemesisma common problem that goes unaddressed because it’s linked to sex. She urged me to blog about the change she made, as well as the reasons why she would encourage everyone else to change in a similar fashion.

We’ll call her Stella. Stella felt guilty about the way she masturbated. I don’t mean the physical part—she sat in front of huge wall-mounted mirror with her back to her bed and a vibrator between her legs. I mean the mental part. Stella is quite an attractive woman, mid 30’s, and she carries herself with a certain sexual confidence that seems to exude from her when she interacts with men or women. She was comfortable with her body and she very much enjoyed sex. It was often kinky, with her and her multiple partners dressing up and role playing etc. She actually loved that part of her life. But afterwards there would be tremendous guilt.

She would ask herself questions like, what kind of woman has sex with four men at once? Or she would judge herself with internal dialogues like you’re sick! What are you doing in bed with women, talking about those terrible things?! The “terrible things” were that Stella liked dressing like a Japanese school girl and she liked being faux-raped by four or more men. She wasn’t careless about this. She screened the men carefully and eventually developed a steady group where everyone knew their role. Her problem was that in her fantasy a faux-child was being sexually assaulted—something that Stella very obviously would not in any way shape or form support in real life. In reality it might incite her to deadly violence. So the fact that she had these fantasies—and that these men wanted to participate in them—often left her feeling like everyone involved was sick in the head. The guilt about it was the worst part of her life for a decade. And then she came to me.

472 Relax and Succeed - Life shrinks or expandsYou’re very likely to have heard the term Thought Police, from the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. They punish thought-criminals who commit crimes in their thoughts. This is kind of like getting worked up about an angry construction worker who imagines air-hammering his boss’s head to a post. He might think it every other day. But to suggest that he would actually do such a thing is nothing short of ridiculous. If someone’s suggesting there’s no gap between what people think and what they actually do then they’ve given no time whatsoever to truly think about the subject.

Stella is actually quite a prim and proper woman in her daily life. In fact, that’s why she expresses herself more extremely in her sexual life. She’s quite a stickler for rules, and she always does just the right thing. She exercises regularly, eats well, follows rules and she knows where she’s going in life. So I explained to her that her sexual excitement can be coming from the intersection of those two identities. That the arousal isn’t based in the fantasy about her being an underage girl having sex with multiple men, it’s that Stella wouldn’t imagine herself doing anything like that precisely because that is such a bad thing and it goes so much against who she is as a person. The fact that those thoughts seem so foreign—and that they basically impact her daily self at 90 degrees—is actually the basis for her arousal. Yes, of course sometimes she is also physically acting out the fantasy, but the point is the part in her head. It’s not that she’s having sex with four men, it’s that she’s not the kind of girl who would have sex with four men.

Stella came to understand that her arousal comes from things in principle rather than specific things. So her interest in being overwhelmed has to do with the fact that she is a busy, working single mother who has big responsibilities both at home and at her office. So she’s the one making things happen. She’s busy, responsible, and in control. So she achieves an intersection within herself by playing the entirely helpless, passive and vulnerable victim, which intersects at 90 degrees with her remarkable capabilities as both an employee and a mother. It’s like a holiday from being herself.

472 Relax and Succeed - It isn't always enough to be forgivenOnce Stella could see her fantasies as having been constructed by her imagination precisely because of the reasons she was worried about, she had a better understanding of where her sexual interests were coming from and she felt less bad or kinky and more just like a person who knows what they want in a world where most people don’t even try to get that.

Of course there are countless male versions of fantasies that could be similarly dismissed as well, but they too will expose some logic. For instance, cuckolded men are often very confident, successful men who like other men to leave semen on the bodies of their wives or girlfriends because it provides hard physical proof that the woman has been violated by someone other than him, which places him in a position that is appealing precisely because it leaves him experiencing something new: helplessness. That is what triggers his arousal, not the semen. And it goes on and on.

There zillions of fantasies and I’ve heard all kinds from all kinds of people, but they all made sense. So in terms of Stella’s concerns, it’s comforting that it’s like the old axiom about being crazy; if you’ll even consider that you might be, then you aren’t. Same with these people. Their kinky fantasies are ultimately rooted in the fact that they are warm-hearted, capable people with strong ethics and they enjoy pretending they’re not like that every now and then. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Enjoy your fantasies. Maybe just masturbate to them. Maybe act them out. Always do so safely and use wisdom so no one gets hurt in any ways they don’t want to. Respect others, use safe-words and make sure everyone’s having a good time. And then don’t think guilty thoughts. Because some people like devoting an entire weekend to football and junk food. Some people like devoting an entire weekend to playing video games or canning peaches, or mountain climbing. So it’s also okay to devote an entire weekend to having orgasms if that’s what you really want to do.

Have fun.

peace. s

Married Sex

I’m not sure if you will want to blog about this so I’ll completely understand if I don’t see this question posted but I really would like an answer to this question and so far no one has come up with anything very appealing. My husband is really terrible in bed. He completely sucks. Pretty much every time we do it he acts like we both had some amazing time but when we’re doing it he barely even seems to recognize the fact that I’m there with anything other than my body and even then only parts of that! I’m 38 years old and I’m terrified I’m going to die without ever having another orgasm with a man. I’ve tried dressing up, role playing, I’ve asked him questions, I’ve really done everything I can think of. Please tell me you can help me. I really want that orgasm.

signed,
Horny

Dear Horny,

Allow me to apologize for my gender. This is an extremely common issue and I’ve been hired more than a few times to explain to a husband or boyfriend that their wife or girlfriend really isn’t kidding—they really are bad in bed. But try not to take his behaviour too personally. The average man can be very nurturing but in general they would be less-so than the average woman. As a result, when infant parenting gets to be its toughest it will most-often be the female who steps in to resolve things. This ability comes largely from another ability343 Relax and Succeed - You should be kissed and often—which is a deeper sense of empathy.

What makes a sexual partner good in a mature relationship is their ability to connect. Can they read the signals you naturally give off? Or are they even paying attention? Because in most cases most men simply won’t sexually evolve much past adolescence. When we’re young we’re flooded with hormones. We’re entirely focused on actually rubbing our throbbing members against anything reasonable. And we’re so focused on what we’re experiencing that there’s never even a thought that maybe the girl would like to feel like that too.

Hey, I’m a very metro-sexual, open, sensitive artist who loves to touch, but even I started like that in puberty. And that felt like an uncontrollable explosion in my loins. I was suddenly interested in every woman who walked by. Like Portnoy in Philip Roth famous book, I remember suddenly realizing that every single woman who walked past me had a vagina. And at that point, with that early teen mindset, I wanted to be with as many of those vaginas as p0ssible. It seemed like the world’s greatest buffet. But of course it isn’t. Because 99.9% of those girls wouldn’t let just any guy near their vagina.

So we learn slowly. Experience by experience. But based on some casual research it seems that the vast majority of men reserve their focus for the hunting part, not the eating part. They’re great at strategizing how to get the girl into bed, but there is no discussion or thought put into what to do once they’re there 343 Relax and Succeed - Sometimes people don't want to hear the truthexcept for whatever his favourite positions or things-to-do are. The men generally won’t even inquire as to what might be desired or even needed by the woman. Like 98% of people, they’re too insecure to ask. Like most egos doing most things, they think they should know the answer not learn the answer.

Guys. Seriously. Come on. Yeah, your wife maybe had some kids and doesn’t look like an impossibly airbrushed teen pop star, but even the pop star can’t look Like that. And your wife certainly isn’t someone you should use to get off while you think of the pop star—it’s not like you’re Brad Pitt either. But you see her vagina like a target and home in. But she has a mind too. And it feels good when you lightly touch her legs, or face. Or brush her hair. She’s a living breathing human being with all sorts of sensitive naughty bits that like to be touched just as much as yours do. Try having sex thinking about her instead of you.

Let’s face it, most of you haven’t even considered the idea that your wife fakes every orgasm just to get you to stop. Men often cheat out of desire, women more often out of desperation. How would you as a guy feel if I told you you would never in your lifetime have another orgasm with a woman? For most of you that would be removing something significant from your life. Okay, well if that’s true, then adding it to hers will be just as important. It will have an extremely positive effect. But for that to happen you have to get out of your childish, selfish bubble and actually interact with your partner. Ask questions. Pay attention to the answers. Because to choose to do nothing is to do choose to do something. And there is always a consequence to every choice. So choose your consequences wisely.

343 Relax and Succeed - A good traveler has no fixed plansObviously you’re not my clients and I don’t know enough to provide any truly personalized guidance, but when it comes to helping you, I can say the one thing that men seem to universally respond to is competition. I did a piece earlier this month on the swinging lifestyle. Those women tend to not have this problem because the men are fully aware that they are in a competitive environment. They see their wives being satisfied by someone else and it spurs them into action (not literally—the spurs I mean). So I’m not in favour of threats or ultimatums but your partner should, in some form or other, raise their awareness that “married” is a title not a state of being. You still have your vagina.

If you have been faking it tell him that. Let him sit with it a bit and then see if he’ll participate in a discussion regarding how things might improve for both of you. Don’t blame. Don’t dwell in the past. Build a bright future by making choices appropriate to who you are now. But don’t think that just because someone’s a certain age that they’ll have ever really thought about how to make sex satisfying for their partner. Because most only know what works for them. But their sex will improve if yours improves. So don’t blame, argue or complain. Instead try clarity, sincerity and connection. Because that’s where the connections are formed that turn good sex into great sex.

peace. s

The Swinging Lifestyle

Winner: 2014’s Blog of the Year!

AHH! I feel dirty. My husband and I are experimenting with the swinging lifestyle and we have put an ad on a website. On the one hand I feel excited and on the other  and I feel ashamed and guilty. My husband and I have talked about it as something  that would add to our marriage but my sister says and we’re just breaking up in a round-about way.  Is she right? Are we crazy to be doing this?

signed,
Guilty Pleasures

Dear Guilty,

Did you feel awkward sending this question in? Because you shouldn’t. Because you’re hardly alone. It’s one of the most common questions I get submitted to the blog or approached about in my practice. And the only reason I had delayed my response was because I wanted to find the right angle. I had to find the material as a writer. Because it can be a challenging subject.

326 Relax and Succeed - Society be yourselfPeople want to be good and acceptable. So they do as they’re taught and told. And like some strange game of dress-up and act-out, we perform as the others do. Our culture is formed by our beliefs about which performances we’re supposed to engage in. And people take those thoughts very, very seriously. And as with your sister, this conversation challenges some long-held beliefs.

Most people don’t mind so much when you poke at controversial subjects. But they’ll sure get angry when you poke at fundamental ones. You can’t disrupt their bedrock. There’s certain ideas that they have heard repeated so many times that they have zero separation between the idea they were taught and how the natural world actually works. But whether they want to notice what’s really going on or not, the simple fact is that you can be taught that you shouldn’t cheat on your husband but that won’t stop your nature from noticing and being aroused by muscular workmen etc. Words are not things. Husband is an idea, not an actual state of being. You can feel being horny with no story at all, but you can’t feel being married without telling yourself a story about being married.

325 Relax and Succeed - Stop living for other peopleOkay, so there’s nothing unnatural, bad or wrong about being aware of what’s going on around you. And no sensation you experience through that process can be wrong. No feeling is right or wrong. It’s just a direction-finder. You steer using your feelings. Trust them more. Or is your life going so amazingly perfect that you don’t want to try something new?

Don’t judge what you get enthusiastic about and don’t judge others for their tastes either. I can’t tell a masochist that he shouldn’t enjoy pain. That’s like me telling him his shoes don’t fit. The style of shoe may not be for me, but that doesn’t mean someone else shouldn’t wear them if it brings enjoyment into their life. Same for you and your sister. Your feelings are both right for yourselves but not for each other.

Surely there are some monogamous couples out there who would find it nearly impossible to cheat on each other for very natural reasons having little to do with society’s rules. And yet others would feel the tug of desire almost every minute of the day. And they will feel that whether they tried to bind themselves together with words or not. That is simply who they are.

325 Relax and Succeed - The opinion which other people haveSome people like music way more than others. Others like to read way more than others. Some like sports way more than others. And some like sex way more than others. None of these preferences are wrong. They are simply expressions of our individuality. You can’t tell someone they’re wrong for liking mustard or blue or football or sex.

Now I want to be clear: my examples above were about natural desire. I am not pitching swinging as a solution for a cheating issue. I’m just communicating that our sexual interests and desires exist before language and custom and societal norms. These things–like hunger or thirst or taste–exist on our most fundamental level. So you being interested in swinging is neither good nor bad. It’s not a definition of you it’s an expression of you.

All of this can absolutely positively be done in a loving, relationship-enhancing way. Not by everyone. But by more people than you’d think. Again, I get asked about this a lot and you would be surprised at the variance between the askers. Next time you’re at the supermarket just look around. Those people—roughly speaking—that’s who’s asking these questions. Young, old, every religion, job, race, background—they’re all people just like you.

326 Relax and Succeed - Normal is an illusionThe main reason you’re questioning an unrequested feeling even though it arose naturally within you is because you’ve been taught that people should mate for life. And yet there’s a lot of biological truths that challenge the likelihood of that. The simple fact is we’re not really constructed very well for monogamy. And yet our egos create ideas like sluts or cheaters or dirty people, when really people just mean that these people are freely realizing an aspect of themselves that many people find challenging because the behaviour exists outside the boundaries of what they were taught is correct. But let’s take away that veil of social mores—those quiet rules we’re all supposed to follow. What if we existed outside of those rules? What if there were no lines to colour between? What would you do then? Who would you be?

Imagine a tribe of pretty average people but they live like 10,000 years ago. Just like in our societies some people on average will be more aggressive about sex, and on average some will be less aggressive about getting it (and yes, I know there are many, many exceptions). But let us say that just like many big cities, this tribe has a lot of people who aren’t getting as much of the kind of sex they want. So there’s lots of horny people, but they may not be married to each other.

325 Relax and Succeed - Listen to what you knowSo say we have three horny women and eight horny men—that won’t be a problem in the tribe like it is for us. Because they’ll follow their nature. If they genuinely want to have sex then they will because they won’t be stopped by word-ideas like slut or wrong or bad. They just have nature without all of the second-guessing. So your issue isn’t that you’re dirty. It’s that we’ve been so far removed from our nature that sometimes when we encounter our true selves it actually feels foreign.

There’s a lot to think about when swinging and maybe I’ll address that in another blog using someone else’s question. But no,you’re not crazy or non-spiritual if you have physical desires that it feels joyful to pursue. If those feelings arose naturally within you and you’re following them then that just means you’re freer of ego than most people dare to be.

Many of my friends and clients have heard me make this “society is not necessarily healthy or accurate” talk when relieving their fears. When it comes to swinging, my descriptions are fairly consistent because I’ve found some excellent examples in real life. That said, over the last bit I’ve had two friends and two clients both send me a link to the same video and each of them felt that in that video, Christopher Ryan is essentially suggesting exactly the same idea I did with them. So rather than bore you with more of my words, I’m going to pass you over to Mr. Ryan for his version of this description. With any luck it should help you feel less pressure from the thought-barriers of society and feel more freedom regarding your own natural state of being. Enjoy.

Stigmatizing Sex

peace. s

Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.

Sex and the Single Lady

I’m shocked at how shallow men really are. I don’t mean to be egotistical but I have always been considered far above average in the looks department. But now that I am over 40
I have noticed that men just get what they want and leave. Are there any mature
single men left out there or am I doomed to stay single?

signed,
Doomed

Dear Uncertain,

If it makes you feel any better, I too am single and I certainly don’t feel “doomed” so you have that option open to you as well. I quite like my life. But on behalf of my entire gender you have my apologies for any poor behaviour you’ve endured as a result of a minority of men’s myopic interest in sex. It is fine for sex to be important—even very important—in a relationship, but it can never be the entire basis for one.

298 Relax and Succeed - The beginning of love is to let those we loveWithout knowing more about your situation I can’t say whether or not this may have been a factor but I can speak to a trend I’ve definitely noticed in my work. People may not like these facts, but if you remove the difficulties generated by child-rearing, I overwhelmingly see two basic situations in the struggling relationships I work with: the first is grossly inattentive men, and the second is blindly selfish women.

By 40 even the most jaded guy’s-guy will have done at least some introspection on the fundamental questions surrounding our existence. The few that haven’t will seem remarkably immature and undeveloped, but even for those that have—that still doesn’t mean they’ve also built the communication skills necessary to convey those personal discoveries and the resulting values. So it’s not that there isn’t depth there, it’s that there is no language to describe it. This can make many men very challenging to communicate deeply with.

Men are taught to become masters of their own destiny, so because they are busy advancing their own cause, in many cases they have greater challenges in becoming attuned to the needs of others around them. This is why it’s considered ridiculous for a man to have sex and not orgasm, whereas it’s all too common for women (and that’s largely because the guy really doesn’t even have her satisfaction on his radar). Most men never even consider the fact that their wives might be faking their orgasms every single time.

Again, removing powerful forces like addictions or violence, when men get left in midlife it will very often be because they are failing to connect with what’s going on around them. They fail to notice some of the more mundane but troublesome aspects of running a household. It’s common for men to come to me after being left and they are deeply embarrassed about the fact that their wives had quite pointedly described all of the things that they needed to see changed and yet it’s common for the men 298 Relax and Succeed - A sure sign of a man's strengthnot to have addressed any of those things. They will not have helped more with the kids or around the house, they will not have made even the slightest earnest effort to even try to control their tempers or temperaments. In short they weren’t very present within their relationships and that lead to challenges. That said, the ladies have their own version of these challenges and you may be running into that too.

Whereas men tend to be lacking in introspection and general awareness of needs outside their own, the ladies will also often inadvertently be just as selfish. But rather than being unaware of their selfishness, they will justify theirs with volumes of thought. Of course this thought is all self-talk inside her own head so of course it does tend to be overwhelmingly self-supporting and congratulatory. The net result is that a lot of women leave fairly good marriages because they have expectations of a strange kind of perfection.

Through their ruminations about men and love, many women will have imagined their ultimate relationship for some time. They will have imagined it for so long that it will become a hardened plan. They will have essentially pre-built their own version of a “good relationship” in their head. They will know how the couple should act in public, roughly what they should wear, and maybe what level of job the husband should achieve and how the kids should behave etc.. I’ve heard these get remarkably detailed. And they would be great if the man (and the kids) weren’t individuals themselves. Because in the case of the husband, just by being himself he will step outside of her script. Because it does not match her imagination it will be viewed as him being “wrong.” His personal choices will be viewed as being unsupportive of “the relationship” rather than as examples of him merely expressing who he really is. This leaves very little room for the natural growth or the desires of the man. As men age and the allure of sex appeal begins to fade, the desire for peaceful relations begins to increase.

So how this plays out is that middle-aged women are looking for complete, well-rounded, emotionally intelligent men, and the men are looking for women who smile easily and who need very little to be happy. On one side there’s a desire for a man who’s ambitious about nurturing his relationship, and on the other there’s a desire for a woman who’s easygoing about conducting her relationship.

If you’re considerably above average in the looks department then you’ve likely had men extending you kindnesses that a lot of women would never see. But as those men age many will have faced years of complaints about not meeting the expectations of their 298 Relax and Succeed - For beautiful eyes look for the goodpartner’s scripts. So far from seeking beauty or sex appeal, they begin to seek carefree happiness. They want more calmness and less wrongness.

Only you know your own situation. But when you’re on these dates, pay attention to when you find the men disengaging. It may in fact be when they’ve achieved their “goal” and gotten their sex. Or it might be when you start making demands, or if you start describing your definition of a “good” or “proper” relationship. Because at this stage in life, whatever you do will get compared to the rest of his life. And men mostly do one of three things together. They play a game or sport where they’re focused on the moment they’re in and what they’re doing; they discuss subjects that fascinate or entertain them; or they make fun of things or each other and they laugh. These are all very fun activities, so when that’s what’s waiting for them it becomes difficult to hold their attention with expectations and demands.

If you’re having to deal with guys who are just plain bad at commitment, or who are only seeing you as a sex object, then at least they’ll make a more dedicated man stand out by comparison. And if you find they’re disengaging when you apply any restrictions on their adult freedom, then it may have less to do with them rejecting you and more about them respecting their own freedom as an individual. Either way, as long as you’re enjoying your life I’m fine with you being attached or single. In fact, when you’re okay with either scenario is likely when the highest quality men would find you most attractive.

In the end a relationship never really is a commitment. It’s always a choice. And it doesn’t get made on a wedding day. It needs to happen every single day. So if we’re looking to have good relationships, we need to encourage good choices. If we’re generally consistent, open, loving people, then healthy people will find it easy to choose to spend time with us.

I’m certain there are many avenues to good fortune in your life, so keep your eyes peeled. I wish you every good fortune in finding a way to share your heart more often. And I hope you always remember to be kind to yourself in the process.

peace. s

Ferrett Steinmetz: Dear Daughter

188 Relax and Succeed - If you love a flower
Thanks to a friend I recently stumbled on to a blog entry that demonstrated unusually high levels of character. Most people claim to have principles, but those will quickly evaporate if there is any social pressure applied. Our sense of belonging is so strong that our ego will often make enormous sacrifices to try to fit in—including being hypocritical about our principles.

If someone really believes in equality then they accept that their children will need to; suffer to grow; and they deserve to have the same shot at life that their parents did. Maybe an even better one if we all continue to develop our compassion through developing our consciousness as this father has. This is very simply an honest, loving presentation of how open and empathetic true love is and I invite you to enjoy this excellent piece of writing:

There’s a piece of twaddle going around FetLife called 10 Rules For Dating My Daughter, which is packed with “funny” threats like this:

“Rule Four: I’m sure you’ve been told that in today’s world, sex without utilising some kind of ‘barrier method’ can kill you. Let me elaborate: when it comes to sex, I am the barrier, and I will kill you.”

All of which boil down to the tedious, “Boys are threatening louts, sex is awful when other people do it, and my daughter is a plastic doll whose destiny I control.”

188 Relax and Succeed - You must love

Look, I love sex. It’s fun. And because I love my daughter, I want her to have all of the same delights in life that I do, and hopefully more. I don’t want to hear about the fine details because, heck, I don’t want those visuals any more than my daughter wants mine. But in the abstract, darling, go out and play.

Because consensual sex isn’t something that men take from you; it’s something you give. It doesn’t lessen you to give someone else pleasure. It doesn’t degrade you to have some of your own. And anyone who implies otherwise is a man who probably thinks very poorly of women underneath the surface.

Yes, all these boys and girls and genderqueers may break your heart, and that in turn will break mine. I’ve held you, sobbing, after your boyfriend cheated on you, and it tore me in two. But you know what would tear me in two even more? To see you in a glass cage, experiencing nothing but cold emptiness at your fingers, as Dear Old Dad ensured that you got to experience nothing until he decided what you should like.

188 Relax and Succeed - Do all things

You’re not me. Nor are you an extension of my will. And so you need to make your own damn mistakes, to learn how to pick yourself up when you fall, to learn where the bandages are and to bind up your own cuts. I’ll help. I’ll be your consigliere when I can, the advisor, the person you come to when all seems lost. But I think there’s value in getting lost. I think there’s a strength that only comes from fumbling your own way out of the darkness.

You’re your own person, and some of the things you’re going to love will strike me as insane, ugly, or unenjoyable. This is how large and wonderful the world is! Imagine if everyone loved the same thing; we’d all be battling for the same ten people. The miracle is how easily someone’s cast-offs become someone else’s beloved treasure.

And I would be a sad, sad little man if I manipulated you into becoming a cookie-cutter clone of my desires. Love the music I hate, watch the movies I loathe, become a strong woman who knows where her bliss is and knows just what to do to get it.

Now, you’re going to get bruised by life, and sometimes bruised consensually. But I won’t tell you sex is bad, or that you’re bad for wanting it, or that other people are bad from wanting it from you if you’re willing to give it. I refuse to perpetuate, even through the plausible deniability of humor, the idea that the people my daughter is attracted to are my enemy.

I’m not the guard who locks you in the tower. Ideally, I am my daughter’s safe space, a garden to return to when the world has proved a little too cruel, a place where she can recuperate and reflect upon past mistakes and know that here, there is someone who loves her wholeheartedly and will hug her until the tears dry.

That’s what I want for you, sweetie. A bold life filled with big mistakes and bigger triumphs.

Now get out there and find all the things you fucking love, and vice versa.

Ferrett Steinmetz
http://www.theferrett.com

True love looks and feels like freedom. Share as much of it as you can.

peace and love. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.