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:About Last Night

Q: Josh is a great guy, but he’s too involved in fixing other people’s problems. I often spend hours of the weekend on my own while he helps someone move a bed, walks a sick friend’s dog, battles with the council for a neighbour, and so on. He does try to fix problems for me as well, but I think he should focus on us as a couple, and spend more of his time and energy helping me to deal with my anxiety and insecurity. Surely that’s how a couple should operate?

A: Not really. In fact both of you could be displaying symptoms of what Mark Manson, author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F…, calls ‘‘entitlement’’, something that many of us suffer from in Western society.

Psychologists in the 1960s observed that people performed better when they felt good about themselves. By the ‘70s, self-esteem practices were being taught to parents, and the education system had introduced feel-good strategies like grade inflation, participation awards, and meaningless trophies so that everyone could feel like a winner. We were all encouraged to believe that we are special and extraordinary. No one was prepared to be mediocre or ordinary.

But Manson believes that feeling good about yourself means nothing unless it is with good reason. Otherwise, you become entitled and delusional. ‘‘Adversity and failure are actually useful, and even necessary for developing strong-minded and successful adults … a true and accurate measurement of self worth is how you feel about your negative aspects.’’

Entitled people need to feel good about themselves all the time. As a result, they are always thinking about themselves, in pursuit of that high. The result is selfishness and narcissism.

An entitled person believes that good things happen to them because they are amazing, and bad things mean they are being victimised. Some people flip between both, depending on their mood, but Manson says that both are manifestations of innate selfishness.

He encourages people to understand the difference between blame and responsibility. Another person might be to blame for stealing your car park, or telling lies about you, but you are responsible for your reaction to any situation.

When it comes to relationships, these patterns of thinking can become toxic. Manson says: ‘‘Unhealthy love is based on two people trying to escape their problems through their emotions for each other … healthy love is based on two people acknowledging and addressing their own problems, with each other’s support.’’

It is healthy for there to be clear boundaries between people and their values, with each person taking responsibility for their own values and problems and not taking responsibility for the other’s values and problems.

In toxic relationships there can be a rescuer, who takes responsibility for the other’s problems, and/or a victim who expects their partner to take responsibility for how they feel. One lights fires to get attention and feel special, the other puts out fires for the same reason.

In a healthy relationship each person owns their own issues, and encourages their partner to do the same, while offering loving support. Neither feels an obligation either way. They act because they care. They seek their own solutions. In this way each person, and the relationship, will grow stronger and deeper. In your situation, you would be wise to get professional help to tackle your anxiety and insecurity. Meanwhile, Josh might do well to ask himself if his focus on saving others is a way to avoid tackling his own problems.

Email your questions to abtlastnight@gmail.com

About Last Night : Fake it till you make it – how to survive a relationship break-up 2-9-18

Q: Paul and I have been together for two years. We’ve broken up a few times, but always get back together. Now he’s met someone else, and wants to break up for good. I know it’s for the best, but it hurts so much. I keep thinking about being close to him, and can’t believe I’ll never experience that again. I keep checking out his Facebook page, calling him just to hear his voicemail message, and generally tormenting myself. Help!

A: When any intimate relationship ends it is painful. When that connection is broken it feels like a door has closed and it is difficult to accept that you will never inhabit that space again. To escape this painful reality, many couples go into a make up/break up cycle. Each reunion is a buzz on one level, but eventually, you need to let go, so that you can find new love.

The end of a relationship is like little death, and we go through all the stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The difference is that you can also keep exhuming the corpse and sending yourself back to step one.

There is a biochemical reason for this pain. When activity is monitored, we see areas of the brain associated with addiction light up. This can cause obsessive preoccupation with the lover, desperation, guilt, and physical pain.

Processing grief takes time. A fresh wound hurts, until a scab forms to protect it.

Relationship therapist Sheri Meyers believes it is important to take a holistic approach to this process, one that addresses the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual aspects of being.

It is tempting to self-medicate your pain away with alcohol, drugs, or comfort eating, but doing this for too long will only make you feel worse. Instead, Meyers suggests meditation or yoga, or simply being quiet for a while.

Apart from the occasional break out, she recommends that you make a point of eating well and showing self-love by looking after yourself, and nurturing, rather than abusing, your body.

Get plenty of sleep. This can be hard when your brain is churning with painful thoughts, but alcohol or chemically induced sleep is not quality sleep, so practise allowing thoughts and scenarios to come and go without engaging with them.

Exercise is great for lifting your mood, so resist the urge to retreat under the doona. Go for a walk, go to the gym, play a sport, go out dancing, and release those endorphins.

Be kind to yourself, and allow yourself to cry, feel angry, or sad. Trying to suppress your feelings is not helpful, and will either prolong the pain, or create other bad feelings such as guilt or self-loathing.

Try to have fun. Accept invitations, go to a day spa, take the kids to the beach, catch a movie … You might not feel like it at first, but fake it till you make it. Do not isolate yourself. Rather, surround yourself with people who love you. Whether it be your bestie, your family, or a club you belong to, it will do you good to be surrounded by smiles, hugs, and affection.

Your biggest challenge is to escape from your obsessive thoughts. Meyers offers a strategy to help you with this.

“The best way to do it is to say, ‘Stop!’. If the thoughts won’t stop, then say, ‘No! Stop now!‘. If they persist, then continue, ‘Enough! No more! Stop!

“Saying ‘Stop!‘ interrupts the obsessive thought process and breaks the cycle of pain. Immediately, redirect your thoughts away to something good that is happening in your life.”

She also suggests taking “60-second vacations”. Like any addiction, when a craving hits, do something else for one minute. Usually, that pang will pass while you are distracted.

Finally, heal your spirit. Meyers says the best tools for this are gratitude, and service to others. You have been in a place where you have been dwelling on what is bad in your life. Write a list of everything for which you are grateful to get some perspective, and turning your thoughts to the needs of others stops you focusing on yourself.

Email: abtlastnight@gmail.com

About Last Night: Build your resilience to help when you feel like giving up 16-9-18

Q: We’re thinking about starting a family. My partner worries, can’t cope when things don’t go to plan, and overreacts to minor situations. I’m not sure how we are going to go with the stress of a baby.

A: New parenthood is challenging for the most confident couple, and can expose fatal flaws in a relationship. In preparation you both need to build resilience. Some think this means being tough, or hard, and have little patience with sensitive, emotional reactions.

The dictionary offers two definitions of resilience: 1. the power or ability to return to the original form or position after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity; and 2. ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.

So, being resilient involves becoming more like memory foam than like a rock.

Bad things, many of them unfair, happen to even the wealthiest people. Some emerge from dreadful circumstances, and go on to have full, rich lives. Others cannot cope with the smallest setback, or frustration. However, anyone can learn to build resilience if they are willing to work at it. In her article “Building Resilience” (psychcentral.com), British psychologist and counsellor Jane Collingwood explains how. She says that the secret lies in how you think about problems.

“It’s a way of behaving and thinking that anyone can learn. Essentially, it involves an openness to finding your way through a situation and the determination not to see yourself as a victim … try to manage your emotions by reacting to setbacks with grace, humour, strength and optimism.”

When a problem arises, take some time to think it through, and find the best solution, then make yourself take one step towards solving it.

Turn to others for support. “Simply describing the situation to someone else can help by putting your feelings into words and making it a logical sequence. You may even come up with new solutions as you are describing it.”

Try to keep things in perspective. Remind yourself of all that is good in your life. Take a break to do something fun. Try to see the funny side of things. Imagine yourself, having pulled through with grace and courage, telling this as an anecdote one day. Then, when it is over, look back on what you learned, and what good has come of it.

“This ability to look back on tough times and see how you survived, rather than focusing on how you suffered, is a crucial factor in developing resilience.”

Even close relationships can fail when confronted with a major trauma such as a house fire, or the death of a child. We need to build resilience in the good times.

“Resilient relationships not only survive struggle and adversity, they grow stronger.”

To achieve this, keep the channels of emotional communication open so that it feels natural to share feelings under pressure.

“Look for solutions rather than complaining, or blaming. Find a positive step to take even if you feel like giving up. Don’t let a bad response crush you, just keep on trying while listening to your judgment.”

Take responsibility for your emotional reactions, Collingwood says. “Shouting or being aggressive because you’re feeling stressed won’t improve the situation. Resilient relationships are those in which both partners make an effort to stay calm under pressure.”

Take an approach to life whereby you seek out new experiences and keep a wide group of friends. Withdrawing, and isolating yourself will not protect you, but it will make you less able to deal with problems.

Practise expressing love and appreciation in actions, as well as words. When times get tough a kind act can make all the difference.

“Success and happiness largely are determined by how we choose to respond to events,” Collingwood says. “Life is a hard teacher; it sends the test first and the lesson afterward. So whenever possible, learn from other people’s mistakes and observe the ways they overcome them. Having developed the skills of resilience you will be able to transform hardship into challenge and opportunity, and be an inspiration to others.”

Email: abtlastnight@gmail.com

About Last Night: Is it possible to reclaim passion and desire? 09-09-18

A: This is my most frequently asked question. Almost all couples find that desire flags over time. The honeymoon ends, and responsibilities, work pressures, money worries, and tiredness, combine to burst the romantic bubble. To understand why this happens I suggest that you read Dr Ester Perel’s groundbreaking book, Mating in Captivity.

This process can be reversed, but both of you need to be willing to address this together in order to enjoy a fulfilling relationship in the long term.

I do not believe that the answer lies in “spicing things up”, or reigniting a flame. That implies that the answer is to be found outside of the relationship.

The commercial sex industry offers to sell you “spice” and “sauce” in the form of pornography, sex toys, fluffy handcuffs, chocolate body sauce , and lingerie. These can all be a lot of fun, but buying props will not facilitate real change, or help you to connect in your intimate life.

Sexual pleasure and fulfillment are both possible, and desirable, but genuine sexual satisfaction does not come from titillation alone, but instead, nourishes the whole person.

The brain is the most powerful erogenous zone, and the heart transforms copulation into love-making.

Sex-positive educator and facilitator, Roger Butler, is passionate about helping people access their authentic sexual selves, and to achieve true sexual satisfaction. Almost five years ago he founded Curious Creatures as a vehicle to further these aims. (curiouscreatures.biz).

To quote their mission statement, Curious Creatures “believe in sexual empowerment, self-development, community, consent, and communication”.

They pursue these aims by running workshops, producing a podcast, hosting events, speaking publicly, and writing about topics close to their hearts.

Butler says that the downturn in your intimacy can be reversed, but there is no quick fix. “To do so takes some level of time and investment … you’re going to need to talk about things, and set aside some academic learning time to relearn each other’s (and your own) bodies.”

His workshop, Fun Little Sex Games, is designed specifically, to support people in long-term relationships who are seeking to reinvigorate their sex life.

Butler asks, “Why fumble around with intimate contact and hope for the best, when you could be having exactly what you want, at precisely the level you want it?”

This four-hour workshop presents half-a-dozen deceptively simple practices to add some structure and assist with the process. “You can either view your situation as the end of your sex-life, or as an opportunity for new forms of intimacy to become a part of things. This might include sex as you know it, but it may also include some new and untraditional ways of connecting intimately with your partner, too.”

The workshop teaches how to recognise what you want, understand your boundaries, communicate all of this to a partner, get better at dropping fully into “giving” or “receiving” mode, and embed consent and negotiation into your sex-life “in a way that reflects your brand of sexy”.

The first step is for you and Julie to talk. Talking about sex can be difficult, so you need to be brave. Speak your truth; respectfully listen to Julie’s truth; and see if you share common ground. If you are both committed to doing whatever it takes to have the best relationship possible, you can then decide how to proceed.

Would you enjoy doing a workshop together? Are their issues getting in the way that need to be resolved? Do you think that it would be helpful to begin by getting some professional relationship counselling or sex therapy?

Only the two of you can know what will work best for you, but whatever path you choose, know that it is possible to reclaim passion and desire. For many couples, doing this work results in them enjoying the best sex of their lives.

Email: abtlastnight@gmail.com

Happy World Sexual Health day 04-09-2018

Our thanks to Jodie Dunne for the tip,

Happy world Sexual Health Day, women’s health week, gynaecological cancer awareness month. A big month for women’s health awareness.

THE HISTORY BEHIND WORLD SEXUAL HEALTH DAY

In 2010, the World Association for Sexual Health (WAS) called all their organisations to celebrate, on each September 4th, World Sexual Health Day in an effort to promote a greater social awareness on sexual health across the globe. The first World Sexual Health Day was celebrated with the slogan “Let’s talk about it!” to start breaking fears and taboos surrounding sexuality.

World Sexual Health Day has been celebrated in 35 countries with a wide range of activities from Round Tables of Discussion to Conferences and Art Exhibitions. Country organizers have taken WSHD activities to schools, media, hospitals, libraries, universities, public squares, art halls, theatre groups, etc. WAS wants to ensure that sexual health issues are discussed everywhere! Past topics of World Sexual Health Day are:

  • 2017 “Love, bonding and intimacy, a possibility for all”
  • 2016 “Sexual Health: Eliminating the Myths”
  • 2015 “Sexual Health for a fairer society”
  • 2014 “Sexual health: The well-being of sexuality”
  • 2013 “To achieve sexual health, picture yourself owning your sexual rights!”
  • 2012 “In a diverse world, sexual health for all!”
  • 2011 “Youth’s sexual health: Shared rights and responsibilities.”
  • 2010 “Let’s talk about it!”

The three words that could keep your relationship alive 26-08-18

Q: My partner and I have a great life, and a terrific family, but it feels like something’s missing. We both rush around with work, kids’ activities, and our own clubs and hobbies. We rarely fight, but we also rarely connect as a couple. Sometimes it seems like we live parallel lives, and I’m not sure what we would do if we were left alone for any length of time. How can we revive our relationship?

A: When a couple falls in love they are inseparable. They cannot keep their hands off each other, talk late into the night, pine when apart and often close out the wider world. This intense period of being in love is called “limerance”, and it is not sustainable. It is the buzz people chase when they indulge in serial monogamy, but familiarity and the practical realities of daily life inevitably burst the bubble.

This is exacerbated when children come along. The baby takes first priority, followed by the need to build material security for the family. Life is less glamorous, with candlelit dinners and walks on the beach being replaced by sleepless nights, dirty nappies, and money worries.

The danger is that the couple rapidly lose touch. Little resentments about things like the division of labour, or leaving the top off the toothpaste, can start to fester. One or both partners can lose their libido, loving touch becomes increasingly infrequent, and the couple cease to be lovers, and become colleagues, their relationship, an obligation. Left unaddressed, this can mark the death of any romantic connection, dissatisfaction, and unhappiness. Ultimately, they are left with nothing to look forward to once the children leave home.

Dr Mark Holder, of the University of British Columbia, is head of a research team studying happiness. He outlines some their findings in a TedTalk, “The Three Words That Can Change Your Life”. (youtube.com/watch?v=UDXtFbSmBAg)

He is critical of what he sees as a negative bias in contemporary psychology practice, using a quote from the father of psychotherapy, Dr Sigmund Freud, to illustrate his criticism: “Much has been gained if we take your hysterical misery and turn it into common unhappiness.”

He says that modern psychology focuses on “deficit, disease, and dysfunction … on working out what is wrong with you, and how to fix it”. His dictionary of psychology has, he notes, 18 definitions of depression, but not one of happiness.

Holder advocates a new school of thought known as “Positive Psychology”, which aims to “work out what is right with you, and how to promote it”.

The truth is that, globally, happiness is common, not unhappiness. His research team has discovered a common denominator among people who are happy – they have strong, high-quality relationships. Children with friends are happier, even when those friends are imaginary. People struggling to cope with the effects of an acquired brain injury were happier if they had good relationships. On the other hand, psychopaths, who cannot relate to the feelings of others, are not happy.

Significantly, “when it comes to long-term, romantic relationships, it has been found that the best predictor of happiness is the happiness of one’s partner”.

There is only one way to find out how happy your partner is, and that is to ask them, and, more importantly, to listen to their answer. Holder explains that listening is not just about taking in information. Listening is an act of love that validates the speaker. Therefore, the three words that could change your life are: “Tell me more.”

This lets your partner know that their story matters to you. Reinforce this by following up with the words: “What happened next?”

It is powerfully therapeutic to feel truly heard, knowing that your partner is not itching to say their piece; will not interrupt, be dismissive, offer solutions, or be judgmental.

Begin by talking to your partner, and see if you can agree, as a matter of priority, to take some quality time for yourselves, no matter how busy you are. This is a great example to give to your children, reinforcing, as it does, that your relationship matters.

Email: abtlastnight@gmail.com

About Last Night: Should I leave my wife? 19-08-18

Q: I’m a respectable professional in my 50s who has lived in a loveless marriage for the past 20 or so years, since our children were born. I’m no saint, but have tried to be a loving partner and carer. Last year, I met a man (34) who opened my eyes to the possibility of love. While Linda and I still have sex occasionally, it’s Tom’s body I desire. Should I call it quits on the marriage or continue to live a lie?

A: It is very common for a couple who have been together for decades to lose their passionate spark, and that often begins when babies arrive. It is also common to be physically attracted to a much younger lover.

In your case, you have found a same-sex attraction, about which you are comfortable. What is unclear is whether you have always known you were attracted to men, or if this is a new realisation. Did you marry Linda for love, or to be socially conventional?

I spoke to Melbourne sex therapist, Dr Christopher Fox about your situation (sexlifetherapy.com.au). He also thought that while you are comfortable in your attraction to Tom and desire to be with him, your question about living a lie, is not clear.

Perhaps it is not clear for you either. If you are feeling confused and uncertain about the whole situation, Dr Fox suggests you break the issue down into smaller pieces.

“In essence I see three issues which can be addressed: the current relationship; the relationship with Tom; and negotiating disclosure about oneself to others.

“People can choose to remain in a relationship which may not fulfil every need. The questions I think you may need to consider are, ‘What do you get from your current relationship?’ and, ‘What will you get from not being in a relationship with your wife?'”

It might be that you are considering leaving an established lifestyle in pursuit of a love that is not really on offer. Talk to Tom about what he is looking for with you. If he does not want to go deeper with you, do you still feel the time has come to start a new life? The intensity of your feelings for Tom could be the lure of forbidden fruit, or the greener grass over the fence.

It is the third question that you really need to address. Dr Fox emphasises that he is not suggesting you apply labels, such as “gay” or “bisexual”. Rather, he is inviting you to be clear about who you are, and to communicate your truth to Linda and Tom. Have you talked to Linda about your dissatisfaction, or your same sex attraction? Does she know about Tom? Do you know if she is happy? Perhaps she would like to be free to find a partner who does want her.

Similarly, what does Tom know about your marriage, your desire to move closer to him, emotionally, or the fact that you might plan to leave your relationship?

Each of these issues can be addressed independently, says Dr Fox, although the issues are inter-dependent. “I would urge you to consider where you are in your relationship journey and how you wish to manage this as a first port of call.”

Any decisions you make need to be informed decisions, and the only way to be fully informed is to speak, and hear, the truth. If you decide to proceed on the basis of lies and deception, or unrealistic delusions, there is probably not going to be a good outcome. Truth telling can be frightening, but you might be surprised by what eventuates when everyone’s cards are on the table.

Dr Fox acknowledges that it can be extremely difficult to think clearly at a time like this. “The multiple questions can become anxiety-provoking and it may seem clear-cut some days and confusing the next.”

As this decision has huge repercussions for you, Linda, your family, as well as for Tom, it could be useful to seek professional counselling. Any bridge burning needs to be thought about very carefully.

Email: abtlastnight@gmail.com

About Last Night: How to feel good about receiving compliments 12-08-18

Q: Recently divorced, I’m new to the dating scene and feel awkward. I met a woman around my age, and we got on well – up to a point. Although slim, she kept describing herself as “Rubenesque”. When I said I thought she was pretty she said, “Are you willing to put that in writing?”, and seemed incapable of taking a compliment. In fact, she actively pointed out physical flaws. Eventually, it was too much like hard work, and I moved away.

A: Many people find it difficult to accept compliments, appreciation and gratitude graciously. In Australia, Tall Poppy Syndrome makes us fear seeming full of ourselves, and self-effacement and self-deprecation are considered signs of humility. This can keep others at arm’s length, and make social conversations more like an obstacle course.

An inability to take positive comments not only feeds our own insecurities, it is also crushing, embarrassing, and off-putting to the person trying to connect with us, or can come across as fishing for compliments.

Moving away might reinforce her low self-esteem, but you cannot help someone if they are trapped in a pattern that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If you recognise yourself in this, make some changes, as it will get in the way of making intimate connections.

Family therapist, Dr John Amodeo, offers help in an article entitled “Practical Tips for Metabolising a Compliment: the art of receiving appreciation”. He says, “Sadly, compliments may be contaminated and neutralised by considerations that are fear-based or shame-driven: Will they think I have a supersized ego? Do I deserve these kind words?'”

We need appreciation and acknowledgment in order to thrive. If we are incapable of receiving simple affirmations, our deep need for appreciation can be expressed in other ways, such as the search for power, money, or status, but these do not nourish us.

Here are Amodeo’s tips for overcoming this self-sabotaging behaviour. Firstly, when you receive a compliment, take a breath. “We often stay in our head when someone sends a whiff of appreciation our way … we deflect, minimise, or sidetrack to avoid the awkwardness of receiving it. Taking a conscious breath can open a pathway out of our head and into our body — helping to calm distracting fears and considerations. Being in our body, we’re better positioned to metabolise a compliment and let it seep into our bones and tissues.

“A key to receiving a compliment is to not over-think it. Don’t make it complicated by wondering what they really mean by it, or if they have some hidden agenda. These are fruitless inquiries. Take it at face value, and allow yourself to enjoy or even relish it … feeling appreciated is one thing that can build trust and connection.”

Be aware of your body. “Being in the moment includes staying in your body and out of your head. Notice how you feel inside receiving someone’s gratitude. Is it a warm, glowing feeling? Or is it unpleasant, perhaps because you’re not accustomed to being appreciated? Does your stomach feel tight or your chest constricted? Maybe you notice shame or shyness about letting yourself indulge in feeling good for a moment. Let it all be there; be gentle with whatever you’re noticing.”

On the other hand, “If it’s a pleasant feeling, see if you can let it course through you without wondering if you can trust it or feeling obligated to reciprocate. A simple ‘thank you’ can be followed by a pause, allowing yourself time to let it in.”

Enjoy the feeling. “Allowing a compliment to seep into our body can help heal some of the unworthiness we carry. Life is less isolating and more enjoyable when we give and receive simple compliments … notice when someone values and appreciates us … We’re social creatures who develop our sense of self from being valued.”

Practise appreciating yourself, and others. We can be quick to make a complaint, but fail to give thanks.

“Valuing and appreciating ourselves is vital,” Amodeo says. “Especially when it’s not forthcoming from others … If you’re feeling deprived of compliments, you may want to experiment with being more generous in expressing appreciation.”

About Last Night: I feel like a freak show 5-08-18

Q: I suffer from the problem most men want to have, but it isn’t an advantage. It seems I’m bigger than most (in length and girth) and it’s ended more than a few relationships, with discomfort for her, and dissatisfaction for both. Now in my 40s, I feel like a freak show who’ll never be more than a big dick, but never happy. I know sex isn’t everything but I feel I’m never going to find anyone who fits.

A: Penis size is one of the main themes in male sexual self-image, and this anxiety lies behind a lot of bawdy humour in popular culture. When celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain died recently, one commentator eulogised him for having “big dick energy”. This sparked a social media frenzy of defining just what that is. Apparently it has nothing to do with genitalia, and both men and women can possess it. I find it dated, and lame, to be generating new penis-related colloquialisms, but it seems to equate to “ballsy” or feisty.

Like large breasts, big penises are the stuff of sniggering innuendo, and macho bragging, making it difficult to have a serious conversation about the reality, which is often less erotic, and more problematic. Massive breasts often cause embarrassment, physical discomfort and restricted movement, and a large penis can restrict a man’s sex life.

A big penis can be long, wide, or, as in your case, both. With a long penis the man has to control his thrusting to avoid hitting the cervix and causing pain. A thick penis can rub the skin, causing soreness.

There is no physiological reason why the vagina cannot accommodate a large penis especially if the woman is in her 20s and 30s, when she is most elastic.

As gynaecologist Dr Lauren Streicher, author of Sex Rx: Hormones, Health, and Your Best Sex Eversays: “In general, most vaginas are able to fit all shapes and sizes of penises. Given appropriate arousal and lubrication, most vaginas can expand to fit whatever size penis.”

The trouble is that not all women know, or believe this, and apprehension will prevent many from even trying. Those who do can find it difficult to relax, and if there is some discomfort, they are unwilling to persevere.

Streicher continues, “Sometimes, it can seem like a penis is too big for a woman’s vagina. And if that’s the case, the important thing is that you need to figure out why it’s happening –because it can be solved.”

Two factors can contribute to any discomfort. “If a woman is not aroused, it’s very possible that a penis may not go in, or if it does, it could hurt or bleed or cause tearing. To fix this problem, be sure [she is] lubricated enough before [penetration, and] engage in some serious foreplay before the main act, or use lubricant to get things going. Always use plenty of personal lubricant, and take things slowly, so that the woman can relax into experiencing desire. When a woman is properly aroused she not only gets wet, her vagina lengthens, making it possible to go deeper.

“Another possibility is that certain medications could be making her vagina a little dehydrated, and she may not even realise it. Many low-dose birth control pills cause vaginal dryness, as well as antihistamines and even cancer treatments, like radiation.”

A woman’s natural lubrication can decline with the hormonal changes around menopause. The vagina walls can thin, and the vagina can shrink as well, so time, and lubricants are even more essential as a woman ages.

Reassuringly, Streicher concludes: “This is a solvable situation. I have not once seen a patient who hasn’t been able to successfully have intercourse after taking the proper steps to fix the problem.”

However, while this is positive news for couples that are having difficulties, it does not address the problem of how to get into an intimate relationship with new partners when they are reluctant to even try to have penetrative sex. You would probably benefit from seeing a professional sex therapist in order to get support, learn useful strategies, and address your current fears and insecurities so that you can engage in a relaxed, confident, and positive way with the women you encounter.

Email: abtlastnight@gmail.com

You would probably benefit from seeing a professional sex therapist in order to get support.

About Last Night; Can we work despite differences 29-07-18

Q: Gale and I are talking about moving in together, but although I love her, I’m not sure. She’s heavily into personal development, selfhelp books, and going to workshops. She believes in the power of positive thinking to make the world a better place, and can get a bit intense. I’m more laid back. I go with the flow and try not to over-think things. When she gets too full on my response is more likely to be to slip off to the pub. Can it work?

A: What you describe is a common phenomenon of our times – the determination to be positive, no matter what. It is also touchingly human.

Throughout history, idealists have believed they had the recipe to create Utopia. The founders of religions, the thinkers of the Age of Reason, political revolutionaries, hippie counter-culture drop-outs, and other, single-minded ideologues, all had the best of intentions. Unfortunately, it was up to flawed human beings to apply their ideals and, inevitably, they inadvertently had dystopian outcomes.

People like Gale believe that, by living in this moment, with a positive approach, it is possible to find happiness, and to become a better person. If we could all do this, the world might become a better place. The risk is that, in the pursuit of happiness and perfection, we can become sanctimonious, and a pain in the neck.

‘‘Super-blogger’’ Mark Manson, examines this in the best seller The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F—: A Counter Intuitive Approach to Living a Good Life.

The second chapter, ‘‘Life is a Problem’’, is based on the Buddhist premise that ‘‘pain and loss are inevitable, and we should let go of trying to eliminate them.’’

Manson believes that pain and suffering are biological necessities. They are a signal that something needs to change. A burn teaches you not to touch fire. The entire process of evolution is based on problem solving, the fittest problem solvers survive.

Emotional suffering serves a similar purpose. Manson says that our emotions are also signals that there is something that needs to change. Instead of allowing yourself to be ruled by your feelings, allow them to direct you to the site of your next problem-solving exercise.

The trouble with the word ‘‘problem’’ is that it has negative implications. We are actually problem-solving animals. Chess, Suduko, Candy Crush and cryptic crosswords are all problems that we enjoy solving.

Manson cites the example of the beggar and the billionaire. Both of them have financial problems to solve, but the billionaire’s are good problems.

Happiness is not a destination, like successfully completing a complex Lego set. It is ‘‘an activity, a process’’, and the aim is not to eliminate all problems, it is to find problems you enjoy solving. Manson says that unhappiness is the result of denying that you have any problems, avoiding problems, or being a victim who either

blames problems on others, or thinks they are incapable of solving them.

We may seek relief from emotional pain in numbing highs, through the use of alcohol, drugs, or in extreme activities. Yet another escape mechanism is to charge up on righteous anger and moral superiority. Many workshops, festivals and rituals can also provide a consoling high. Ultimately, however, escapism is not escape, and problems can worsen, or multiply.

So, if happiness comes from solving problems, you and Gale are faced with a challenge. Do you think that you can enjoy a lifelong game of problem solving as a couple? Are you willing to do less escaping to the pub, and more talking to Gale about how you feel? Is she willing to lighten up a little? Only the two of you can decide if this challenge is worth tackling.

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