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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.

Email your questions to abtlastnight@gmail.com

About Last Night; How can you mix disrespect and love 15-07-18

A: In the dozen years that I’ve been writing this column, the most angry letters I received were about this subject, so I am aware that feelings run high when it comes to housework.

Many families struggle with the division of labour at home, but it can be exacerbated if the female partner ‘‘owns’’ the housework, as though disorder is a reflection on her moral rectitude. Ed seems to have mastered the art of passive aggression, avoiding conflict by zoning out, and doing chores badly to avoid being asked again. In a busy household it can end up seeming easier to do everything, but that is unsustainable, and only entrenches the problem.

Step back, and lower your standards for a while, even if that is difficult. Consequences are better teachers than critical words. If Ed does a job poorly, do not do it again. Do not wash clothes that are not in the laundry basket. When he runs out of clean socks, tough luck. Even better, have two baskets, and let him do his own laundry.

Whenever Ed trails snack wrappers, coffee mugs, phone cables and toenails, gather them all up to clear space, but pile them on his side of the bed. If the dishes are not cleaned well, serve his dinner on the dirtiest plate.

Similarly, leave him to organise his own doctor’s appointments, car services, dental checks, and suchlike. Meanwhile, focus solely on what is necessary for you and the children. Ed must take responsibility for his own stuff.

He seems to be competent at work, and great with the children. Does he have other areas that he might prefer to take on – maintaining electrical and computer systems, gardening, heavy lifting? Perhaps he could take the children out so that you can clean in peace, or you can relinquish all responsibility for the car.

You say that you need a certain level of cleanliness, but, actually, you only want it. Research suggests that we are too clean, exposing ourselves to toxic chemical cleaners, while failing to challenge our immune systems. It is unlikely that anyone will sicken and die if you let things slip for a while. Often, housework is only appreciated when it is not done.

If Ed is feeling unwell due to anxiety, this is not your responsibility. The onus is on him to seek treatment, not to rely on you to remove his stress. Similarly, deal with your

own anxiety. It is not helpful to wait for Ed to change to alleviate your stress.

This situation is going to come to a head when you return to work. Dwelling on what Ed should do, or ought to remember, is actually going to stress you out, without changing anything. If your aim is to restore order, calm and personal wellbeing, it might be better to hire a cleaner. You might object on principle, but it is more important to be happy than to be right. If money gets tight, that is a consequence Ed can fix.

Your children need to see you taking care of, and respecting, yourself. Ed’s example might be poor, but so is being a doormat.

Email your questions to abtlastnight@gmail.com

About Last Night: Prejudice in the workplace 22-07-18

Q: I’ve been promoted to manage a team that includes a couple of older men. They comment on how good I look in a skirt, but deliberately ignore my directions. When I sought advice from my male superiors it was laughed off, and dismissed as “how blokes behave”. I’m becoming impatient and argumentative, even with good men, and blow up at my husband for honest mistakes. I want to be healthily assertive and progressive but end up hating men. Which is petty and juvenile. I don’t want to be an angry feminist, but do want to effect real change for women.

A: It is incredible that this kind of behaviour persists in our workplaces. The pace of change in male culture is positively glacial, and I can understand your frustration. Apart from your personal discomfort, this makes no sense, in business terms. Why would a company pay someone a manager’s salary, and then not support him or her so that they can manage, and why pay those being managed if they are not doing their job? It is irrational, and counter productive, but so is all prejudice.

Our prejudices are deeply entrenched, but are not necessarily conscious. Misogyny is particularly crazy. Women make up more than half of the population, but often find themselves experiencing the same injustice as people of colour, the disabled, the aged, refugees, and sexual minorities. Most right-minded people do not condone prejudice and injustice, and witnessing it can cause outrage.

The trouble is that outrage alone goes nowhere. In fact, tabloid journalism thrives on confecting outrage in the community, but rarely supports meaningful activism. Outrage on its own gives us an emotional rush, and we can revel in the opportunity to express righteous anger, but real change happens when people keep working for justice after the emotion has died down.

Indulging our knee-jerk prejudices leads to tribalism, to gross oversimplifications and generalisations, and to an “us” and “them” division that is dehumanising. Once we make a person the “other”, it becomes easier to treat them badly. This makes authentic change almost impossible. We need to treat one another as individuals, with unique circumstances.

You are only human, so do not berate yourself for being overwhelmed by negative emotions. You need to own and acknowledge your rage before you can move forward. However, you are right in wishing to get past your emotional responses. Extreme emotional reactions can stem from insecurity. Do you truly believe, in your heart, that you are competent, equal, and deserving of respect? You need to love and respect yourself to reach a position of strength, and of implacable resolve and confidence. As someone once said, you do not get hurt and offended if a monkey at the zoo throws its excrement at you, because you realise it is only a monkey.

We often take out our upset on our family and friends, especially if we are insecure. They are safe targets to whom we can vent, trusting that they will forgive us. This is only true up to a point, however. Unrelentingly unjust attacks can eventually become tiresome, and impact negatively on your relationships.

Powerful public figures who have wrought real change, such as Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi, and Bob Brown, are usually characterised by a quiet strength. They are determined and willing to face any challenge, but do not rant and rave and whip up hysteria. As a result, they effectively bring about change.

Not all of us can be this brave, nor are we all cut out to be martyrs, but they can serve as an example of how best to pursue your aims. Cultivate a deep conviction in your position that is immovable. Try to behave with quiet confidence in the rightness of your position. Then, when a situation arises where action is needed, such as at work, you will be more effective, and more likely to command respect.

Engaging in personal feuds and vendettas weakens your position, so act with quiet and courteous determination.

Email: abtlastnight@gmail.com

About last night: Get past your fear by talking about sex and having a massage 08-07-18

Q: I would love Tess to reciprocate foreplay with me, but it seems she only wants to receive, not give. After 15 years of me actively showing her attention and pre-intercourse play, is it now too late for me to seek some pleasuring from her? I know it’s not about having to be always 50-50, but it’s been a long time since she focused on my body and I don’t know how to raise it with her. I’ve never strayed from our bed, although I wonder if I’m missing out?

A: At the heart of your issue lies the telling phrase, “it’s been a long time since she focused on my body and I don’t know how to raise it with her”. No matter how long a couple have been together, or how much they love each other, it is often excruciatingly difficult to talk about sex.

Our sexuality is linked to many powerful emotions. It can be embarrassing. There is fear involved – fear of rejection, of hurting someone’s feelings, of saying something that haunts the relationship, or, worse, ends it. Get past fear, and talk to Tess.

Right now, you are making up stories that trigger your emotions, but may not be true. Is it true that Tess never reciprocates? Can you know for sure that she only wants to receive, not give? Is she knowingly being unfair, or causing you to miss out? Is your best option for getting more sexual attention infidelity?

Byron Katie invites us to challenge the stories that cause us to suffer. She teaches strategies to escape our unhelpful thoughts in her powerful audiobook, Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life. That is a big claim, but I have personally experienced to benefits of doing ”the work”.

Even the most loving long-term couple can find their lovemaking becoming formulaic, predictable, and a little repetitive. Also, in times past, men were expected to pursue the woman, and to initiate sex. It still does not come naturally for many women to be proactive, or to take control. Tess might be oblivious to your frustration. Is it reasonable to be resentful if Tess is unaware you have a problem?

Tell her how you feel, but avoid sounding critical, self-pitying, or as though you are giving an ultimatum. Nothing blocks the ear, and the heart, better than defensiveness, or perceived injustice.

Find a time when you two are getting on well, but are not in bed, and say something like, “I love you and our lovemaking. I would really enjoy it if I could lie back and have you caress my body. Is that something you would be willing to try?”

Only when you listen to her response will you learn the truth of the situation.

Because many women are not used to doing the seducing, Tess might have no real idea what to do, and might feel inadequate, or foolish. That is where massage can be useful. Massage does not have to be sexual, but it can be a great way to explore, and get to know your lover’s body, and the kind of touch they enjoy.

Consider getting an inexpensive massage table. Trying to massage someone on a bed can be awkward, and uncomfortable. Also, when your partner lies on that table they are surrendering to your touch, which can be empowering.

Use a good quality massage oil, as this makes touch far more sensual. If you dislike feeling oily, or are worried about mess, use pure maize cornflour It can easily be shaken out or vacuumed.

Rubbing someone all over, or caressing their genitals, might seem to be a no-brainer, but an online search under ”learn sensual massage” will bring up numerous sites offering tips on how to achieve even more subtle, pleasurable, and erotic results. For example, who knew the sensual possibilities of the front of the neck, the lower back, behind the knees, or that dip on your ankle? Check out, ”9 Tips for Giving Your Partner the Hottest Massage Ever” (cosmopolitan.com/sex-love/advice/g2152/how-to-give-sensual-massage/).

Do not allow your imaginings to spoil your relationship. Instead, talk, clear the air, negotiate, and move into a better future.