I met my new girlfriend through an Internet dating service, and we started to sleep together a couple of months ago. I have noticed that her ad is still posted, and I think she may still be meeting men from the site. Sex with her is amazing, and I don’t want to risk losing her, but I’m wondering how to tell her that I want this to be an exclusive relationship — and that I want her to remove her ad from the site.
Your hesitancy and fear of losing your girlfriend make me wonder what agreements have passed between the two of you regarding the nature of your relationship. Has the subject of dating others ever come up? Do you schedule dates or is it assumed you will be together several times a week? If you spend a lot of time together with little or no time left to spend with others, it could be that the two of you are on the same page and are in an exclusive relationship already. If you believe this is the case, a simple approach to your question would be to say, “I’m ready to make this relationship exclusive and not see other people — what about you?” A calm, direct approach that sticks to the facts is usually best. You can make this a short conversation then move on, or you can make it more formal by bringing a flower, card, or small gift to signify the occasion. The best-case scenario is that she has been waiting for a commitment, and when you voice your preference she’ll follow through with saying goodbye to dating others, as well as the dating service. If she says she’s not ready to be exclusive, you might ask if she thinks that is a possibility for the immediate future. If she doesn’t respond positively, and doesn’t remove her ad from the website, I think you can assume she is dating others, looking for others to date, and possibly being sexual with others also. If nothing else, it’s important for you to get more information from her, or at least a reading on her level of sexual exclusivity. In today’s dating world, this is just common courtesy.
I have been married for 15 years, and we stopped having regular sex years ago. I recently started an affair with a man I met through work, and I’m surprised to find I’m getting along better with my husband these days. Is it possible that an affair could actually improve my marriage?
The infatuation period in the beginning of a love relationship — whether it is an affair or otherwise — is marked by a predictable sense of optimism. You wake up in the morning feeling cheerful, regardless of the amount of sleep you’ve had. You feel more vital and alive. You get energized by your daydreams and fantasies, perhaps lose weight and take on a rosy glow. People may remark that you seem happier, and indeed you feel happy. During this stage, jokes are funnier, mundane activities can be interesting, a boring job can seem exciting, and being unfaithful can feel like a boon to your marriage. This stage can last for a quite some time, but at some point the high will wear off and reality will reappear. Along with reality comes the awareness that you are breaking the commitment of your marriage and guilt will result. The most common response to this guilt is to look for fault in your partner to justify your actions. Once you begin looking for shortcomings, you’ll find them. Confirmational bias guarantees you’ll always find what you’re looking for. In your question, you mentioned that you and your spouse stopped having regular sex years ago. I wonder if this could be your way of justifying the undeniably delicious deceit of your affair — while overwhelming evidence shows it can destroy marriages. I highly recommend a book for you: Not Just Friends by Dr. Shirley Glass. I believe you’ll find some answers in it.
Now that I’m single again, I’d like to experience a variety of lovers. I’m pretty clear on the benefits, but I’m wondering if there could be any pitfalls — physical or emotional — to taking multiple lovers.
There are pitfalls to having a variety of lovers. Research is clear about the physical risks; there are far more sexually transmitted diseases and health threats than we previously believed. In addition, there are also serious emotional risks. Oxytocin, the hormone that creates arousal and triggers orgasm, is a bonding chemical. (Oxytocin is released when a mother breastfeeds her baby and it promotes bonding: she feels closer to the baby and gets pleasure from the contact.) This means there is no such thing as casual sex. When you have sex with someone, you bond with him/her. The bonding affects women more than men, but the effect is there for each. With bonding comes expectations. So my advice is to proceed with caution: your health and happiness are at risk.
I recently discovered that my partner has cheated on me several times. I’m wondering if it’s possible to re-establish trust, and if so, how?
There are five steps to take to re-establish trust in a relationship.
- Step one: no contact. The unfaithful partner has zero contact with the lover. This means no e-mail, no phone conversations, no re-reading letters, no “just being friends.” No contact, period. The end.
- Step two: information. There needs to be a time of giving information. The betrayed partner has to know the facts, and the facts have to make sense.
- Step three: empathy. The unfaithful partner has to understand what it was like for the betrayed partner. Not only understand, but feel remorse, guilt, and discomfort about the fact that he/she did take energy from the relationship and give it to another person, which caused pain for the partner.
- Step four: prove it. A period of testing will occur. This is a time when the unfaithful partner needs to be highly accountable for his/her time, attention, and actions.
- Step five: letting go. The betrayed partner needs to let go of the past and focus on the present and future.
Most couples need professional help to get through these stages. It also takes time, and the clock doesn’t start running until step one is complete. People often ask how long this takes. The best answer is that it takes as long as it takes, but a ballpark might look like this: the first month is hell, the first ninety days are usually full of outbursts — many times unexpected. After six months, if you have worked through the steps, you should be having more good days than bad and the road to recovery gets better from here.
During my first marriage, our sex life went from great to nothing. Now I’m engaged to a wonderful man, and I’m wondering how we can keep the passion alive after we get married. Do you have any suggestions?
My first suggestion is to understand that sex has more to do with hormones than relationship harmony. Simplistically speaking, testosterone and its chemical cousins determine how strong your sex drive will be after the first year of the relationship. High-testosterone people (high-T) walk around with a sex-ready body and become increasingly uncomfortable (read irritable and cranky) when they go without sex. Moderate-T people require stimulation for arousal, but do think about sex fairly often. Low-T people don’t think about sex much because they have little or no sexual urgency.
What confuses people is that for a short time in the beginning of a relationship, low-T people look, act, and feel like high-T people. Infatuation prompts the release of neurotransmitters that increase sexual energy. But infatuation doesn’t last very long, and after this stage, the low-T person goes back to normal and then has to work at making sex a priority. This means that unless you and your partner are both high-T (and this is not usually the case), you need to make a decision about how important sex is to your relationship and make a commitment to do what it takes to make it happen. Find out what you each need from one another to create sexual satisfaction and give it to one another generously.