“When your lover is a liar, you and he have a lot in common, you're both lying to you!” ― Susan Forward, When Your Lover Is a Liar: Healing the Wounds of Deception and Betrayal I was recently approached by a friend in a dilemma. Her husband is a serial cheater. Throughout their long marriage he used his business trips as an opportunity to get some on the side. He never admitted it and she never asked, but she knows. With their children grown up and with the sort of introspection that arrives with middle age, she is now contemplating changing the status quo and confronting the cheater. What was a silent, even convenient, at times, pact is no longer acceptable to her. My friend is an accomplished professional, financially independent, and has maintained her looks as she approaches 50. I asked her if she was prepared to leave him. “Absolutely not! I just want him to stop cheating” she said emphatically. Here is the deal: Men cheat. Men cheat more than women, it’s a fact. Richer, older men cheat more. Having kids makes no difference to the rate of cheating. And the main reason men cheat? Dissatisfaction with their sex lives. Nothing makes this more evidently clear than this priceless scene from Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall”: In split screen Diane Keaton’s character is talking to her shrink, while Woody Allen’s is speaking to his. Psychiatrists: How often do you sleep together? Him: [lamenting] Hardly ever. Maybe three times a week. Her: [annoyed] Constantly. I’d say three times a week. According to research conducted at the Kinsey Institute in Indiana, people under 30 have sex 112 times a year on average (over twice a week), but that frequency declines to 86 times a year among 30-39 year-olds, 69 times annually for those aged 40-49, and roughly 52 times yearly for couples in their fifties and beyond. A separate survey from the Institute of Family Studies clearly demonstrates that as the frequency of sex in the marriage goes down men have more affairs and women have less. In yet another survey, 40 percent of the men who had extra marital affairs were in search of novelty while a close 38 percent wanted more satisfying sex from a lover. I asked my friend if she was willing to have sex 3 times per week in a novel way. She was not so sure about that. My friend is lucky in her misfortune, even if she does not see it that way. The biggest problem with cheating on a spouse is not necessarily the sex itself, but rather the betrayal of trust it causes. This painful breaking of trust in many cases proves too much to get past and more often than not, it results in divorce. In her case, it looks like her husband is looking for a sexual outlet without the expectation of continuity and over the years she has allowed it to happen safe in the knowledge that he will return to her. She had implicitly agree, to let sleeping dogs lie but now she wants to wake them up. My initial reaction was that she, of all women has the background to move on with her life. Being financially independent and with her children gone she could leave the cheater and seek a more fulfilling relationship. But clearly this was not at all what she is after. She wants to reform the cheater. After giving her question some more thought, I advised her to talk to him about it. The essential element of her situation is that her marriage has worked for years . She chose to ignore his indiscretions while he implicitly agreed to return to her after his short “business trips”. They both trusted in this agreement. That said, things have changed and even if she stays quiet, her husband may decide to give up the pretence of keeping his affairs secret. At the same time, she is clearly re-examining her decision to ignore his indiscretions. With their kids gone their relationship has to stand on its own strength. Can it survive on its own right without the distraction of a house full of children? What is the new basis of their lives together? Once the cat is out of the bag, she cannot control how he will respond or what steps he will choose to take, but, clearing the air with a cool head is sensible. After hearing each other out they may decide that the current arrangement should continue unchanged, or, they may go their separate ways. There is even a chance that their relationship and sex life will emerged improved and revitalised once they understand their individual needs and how to fulfil them. “The only people that can't handle the truth are those that suffer so much anxiety that they will live in denial, in order to prevent their illusion from being destroyed and feeling more anxiety.” ― Shannon L. Alder
You, him and your expectations. Most of us construct our prototype of the perfect partner from a novel, a movie or even a mysterious passing stranger. Then we let our imagination run wild and we ascribe all sorts of wonderful qualities and abilities to our dream partner. They are kind, considerate, loving, strong, sexy, mysterious, powerful, rich etc etc “You see what you expect to see, Severus.” ― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows As a teenager, not unlike other girls my age, I read a lot of romance novels. The “tall dark stranger on a white horse” type of books. Stories where the main hero is always mysterious, and his character is never fully revealed by the author. He does not say much, and he is of course gorgeous, powerful and successful. He spends money on the heroine, and occasionally gropes her, but he never admits the extent of his feelings until the very end. Instead he mostly ignores her unless he is briefly kissing her passionately before he ignores her once more. There is always a rival who is prettier, richer and more popular than the heroine, but he never goes for her. Instead he goes for the younger, poorer, badly dressed, shy and inexperienced one. The summer that I turned 18, I met this perfectly ordinary man. Ordinary, that is, in every way except one. There was something about him that matched my prototype. He said nothing. No, he was not mute, but he might as well have been. He was also sort of dark and tall. What happened next is interesting. I imagined that he actually had all the other qualities that I was looking for as well. Turns out that he was quiet because he had little to say. But I did not see that. I matched him to my prototype which equated few words with a powerful, deep thinker with a mysterious bend. He even appeared a little tortured waiting for me to fully understand him and save him. Higher and higher he went on the pedestal. I fell head over heels in love. Then he kissed me passionately against the wall by the restaurant dumpsters. I could think of nothing but him. I wrote pages upon pages about him and our love in my diary. I was ready to marry him, spend the rest of my life as his devoted wife, bear his children. Him and I, in a windswept mansion by the sea. A week passed in this dream state. We would sit quietly on the beach where I would imagine the dark, deep, intelligent and beautiful thoughts that must be occupying his incredible brain. Then, one evening as we sat quietly on the beach saying nothing, he looked deep into my eyes and said what he had been clearly pondering for a week: "Wow, there's so much we don't know about the universe. Like where do the stars go during the day. Are they still there? If not, where do they go?". At that instant, the terrible truth dawned on me. The man was an idiot. In the years that followed I adjusted my prototype from what I learned. If he says nothing, he either has nothing to say or he is cripplingly shy. The richer, prettier, better dressed girl will probably win, and he will almost always want to split the bill for two coffees. None of the guys will come on a white horse. Here is what I discovered. When it comes to relationships you will meet and kiss frogs. The trick is to minimise the number of frogs you kiss and to not get discouraged when they don’t turn into princes who ride white horses. “You are one of the rare people who can separate your observation from your preconception. You see what is, where most people see what they expect.” ― John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“A man's vanity is more fragile that you might think. It's easy for us to mistake shyness for coldness, and silence for indifference.” ― Lisa Kleypas, Devil in Winter He may be anywhere, the university library, the local coffee shop, sitting at the desk next to you or even your next door neighbour. You see him almost everyday. Every opportunity he gets he says something to you. Unfortunately, it never progresses past the “We just got in fresh muffins”. Yet, you know that he likes you, it is obvious to you and everyone else, yet try as you may to get him to progress to the next level, he always ends up retreating behind his book or whatever prop is available nearby. You my dear, got yourself a SHYMAN. It is easy to walk away and give up when faced with a Shyman, but if you do, you could be giving up on Abraham Lincoln, Steven Spielberg, Johnny Carson or even Mark Zuckerberg who was described Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg as , “shy and introverted and he often does not seem very warm to people who don’t know him, but he is warm. He may be quiet, but he really cares about the people who work here.” There are great advantages to having a Shyman, if only you can get him to open up and ask you out; even if it is only for coffee. For starters, your Shyman will care about your feelings and will deeply listen to you. He understands and values emotion without being a doormat and chances are you will only need to tell him once your favourite book, place or how you take your coffee and he will always remember. He will probably be one of the few men you’ll meet who will not keep remind you how f***ing great he is. He loves praise, don’t we all, but he is not a bragger! He will put you first, listen to your problems and give you fabulous advice and he's just so charming! Shyman will express himself through actions so expect breakfast in bed, flowers and random love notes. He's never NOT adorable. You are a lucky girl. So how do you get Shyman to talk to you? Try to find out what makes him comfortable and stir the conversation to that topic. For instance, he may be shy in school but not so shy when he is talking about his favourite hobby. Most times shy guys tend to be more lively in certain environments than others. Use this to your advantage. Shyman may risk smiling at you. He normally does not do that because he is too embarrassed. Pay close attention to his smiles. You may have a guy who is incredibly interested in you. If he goes one step further and offers to help you then you are on to a sure thing. Did he offer to reach that high shelf or held open the door for you? These are all good signs. You may be getting mixed signals from your Shyman. It is maddening, but don’t get discouraged. One day he musters up the courage to ask you about your favourite book and the next day he is looking at his shoes as you walk by all decked out in your specially picked outfit. All it means is that he is terribly nervous, and he does not know what to say. Cute, eh? Pay close attention to his friends. If they are unusually sarcastic and tease him mercilessly when you are around, they know something you don’t. He has a crush on you!!! Shyman hates socialising, if you find him to be unusually chatty and accepting invitations to social events he would normally avoid, it is a clue. If he is willing to go through the pain of being around strangers and making small talk, he is really falling for you. So, we determined that he is a good catch and that he likes you BUT, and this is a big but, he never asks you out. You and Shyman have become really good friends but things seem to have stopped there. He is probably too afraid of rejection to take it to the next level and he is hoping you will make the first move. In the case of blushing Shyman, this is exactly what you should do. Here are some strategies that will get your relationship out of the friendzone. When you see him, smile, make eye contact and hold it a couple of seconds longer that you would with a friend. Try to make physical contact whether it is by pushing back a stray hair, fixing his collar or taking a pen out of his hand. Touching appeals to a primal instinct that he will not misinterpret. If appropriate, tease him gently and squeeze in a wink if you can. This is undercover flirting at its finest. Flirting that is daring enough for him to become confident but not so daring where he feels like he was ambushed. No guy likes that no matter how shy. If he does not respond immediately, give him a few days and try again ideally after you put a couple of drinks in him. If this fails as well then you misjudged the signs and Shyman is not shy, unfortunately he is just not into you. “Like shyness, cowardice cannot swim in alcohol.” ― Mokokoma Mokhonoana
I heard this over the weekend and I can’t get it out of my mind. Nostalgia is a biggie, but is what has passed really better than what is coming or do we have a mechanism that beautifies what is shrouded in the fog of the past? Let’s take a common scenario of breaking up with someone you love. It may be a friend, a lover, a husband or even a relative. I can authoritatively speak about every one of these as I had them all. When I was in the middle of it, I was distraught and without a doubt was intently looking at the past and thinking that it was better back when it was worse. Worse, you ask? What’s good about that? Here is my take on that. When we create human bonds we feel invincible and strong. So much so in fact that we bask in its warmth, in what we have, idolize it and overlook its faults. We have invested time, emotions, money to create the bonds that bind. I cannot hide that my marriage, for example, was sexless. But I overlooked (the worse) and glowed in the security that my relationship offered, a shield against the cruel world and anything it may present me with. I have made this mistake again and again as I am sure you have too. We want to ascribe much more importance and depth to our relationships because we identify our worth by the uniqueness of our human bonds. Silly little people we are… Time and again, this premise has been proven not just a little wrong, but totally faulty. People come together because of utility or chemistry, but almost always stay together because of compatibility and utility. When the interests diverge, the relationship goes walkies. What it leaves behind is the winter of discontent and disappointment. A numb feeling of stupidity for having been misguided once again, even though human nature has been completely transparent. We cry out for connection, not with some unseen higher power or “higher self”, as friend of mine has invented, but connection with other human beings around us. “We are stronger together”; I forgot who said that, but we want it to be true. It can be a “together” of two or more, but when we have it, however flawed, we try to preserve it. We overlook its faults and look back at the warmth it embraced us with longing of the feeling that we, ourselves manufactured and bathed in its light. It was better back when it was worse. Really? Unmasking the real person hiding behind our made up heroes is painful, there is no denying this. But it is important that we get to the bottom of the true being we have put on a pedestal and take away the magical powers we have given them. It is also important to cut any such relationship to size to avoid getting hurt. Those closest to us will often hurt us, disappoint us and take advantage of our loyalty and love. I am not being negative when I say this. I can see you waiving your arms and professing that your relationships are deep and eternal. Hear me out because I am speaking the truth. If you are doubting me, talk to the thousands of women who are abandoned by their husbands for a newer model. Talk to the business associates who have been trampled by their partners for the sake of taking a larger share of the profit. Talk to the friends who have found how short are the lengths that their friends will go to help them out. It happens all the time and to everyone and we are always surprised. When it happens to you, you have two choices. You can turn into a miserable, disappointed person carrying the banner that it was better when it was worse or you can and accept that what was, and what is coming, will be as good or as bad as you let it. I counsel women through breakups from long term relationships and marriages. Marriages that have been bad and unfaithful for years, yet these women cry and pull their hair out wailing, “it was better back then when it was worse”. A way of thinking that blinds them and ruins what’s coming. And there is always something equally good coming. Can they see it? No! Because it was better back then when it was worse and it is precisely this attitude that prevents any forward steps away from self-flagellation and despair. People of the world unite to realise that we are alone. The single relationship that offers unconditional and deep love is the one with our parents. Once they are gone, that’s it! Everything else is self-serving utility wrapped up in romantic love or deep friendship that when it is tested can disappear in a flash. We are alone and we die alone. Live with it. The author of this article is is a wonderful relationship and is resolutely looking towards the future. She has not bitterness towards the past.
Every morning that you open your eyes and you are healthy is a gift and should be treated like that. Of course, I did not know it until I got a call from my niece in the middle of the night. My precious and only sister had a massive brain aneurysm and was in hospital in Athens about to be operated in a bid to save her life. I rushed to her bedside but she never regained consciousness and died a month later, without being able to say goodbye. She was only 49 years old. During that month, I had a lot of time to ponder life and how unfair it can be. Her non existence made me feel small, vulnerable and insignificant. Coming face to face with the inevitable and irreversible, suddenly and brutally muddled my core belief. The belief that I will live for ever. This is not as silly as it sounds, and I bet you and almost everyone else has the exact same belief. Protest all you want, I can prove it! Unless you think that you are going to live for ever, why are you still going to a job your hate every day? Since 2000, Gallup has polled millions of employees from nearly 200 countries about their level of job “satisfaction.” Overall, Gallup found that only 15% of workers feel a sense of “passion” for and “deep connection” to their work. 62% of workers are unhappy but not drastically so and 23% pretty much hate their jobs. Considering that an average life is 725,000 hours (82 years) then a person with a long career will spend half of this time at work and 45% of it eating, sleeping and taking care of life admin. Want more proof? 30% of people languish in unhappy marriages. Think about it. They spend the best years of their lives with someone who makes them unhappy. Here is another interesting graph. Almost 90% of people have a passion for art, sport and music. Less than 2% choose a career that follows their passion. Is it just the money, or do they think that there will be time to pursue their passion “later”? The sudden death of my sister made me look at my life completely differently. Striving, striving, striving every day, a slave to making more money and being financially secure. When was I going to spend that money? My thinking never got that far. I was so busy that I outsourced to babysitters and childminders as much of my children’s early years as possible and I had zero patience with any underachievers which included my husband and a good number of my friends. “It will all come together later”, I used to think. Later, later, later…. As I inexorably marched towards the one and only destination that we all reach eventually, I blindly put off simple pleasures and current happiness for some unspecified date in the future. Now I am very clear that there may not be a later. That life is short in the best of circumstances and can be extremely short in the worst. Assigning any kind of severity, thought or time to what kind of doorknobs you will buy vs spending that time to sit on the grass on a sunny day and take in the beauty that surrounds you, is nothing short of criminal. We all have heard the old adage “make every day count”, but have we digested what it means? Clearly not, or we would see brightness and colour all around us from those who were following it closely. For many of us the pursuit of happiness is not only in the future, but it is also deeply misguided. Equating future happiness with financial success can lead to a seriously unhappy existence. Taking it one step further and raising the financial success bar far above what is needed for a wonderful life is plain stupid. Many of us do that without realising it. As we chase these superfluous goals the trap closes and a good life escapes our grasp. I have a good friend who is a very successful executive. She rose through the ranks, married her childhood love, had a wonderful son who is now financially independent and bought the house of her dreams in the country. All this by her early 50s. We see each other once a year because she is so busy. She leaves her beautiful, mortgage free home every morning at 5am, in the dark, and travels to a job she has grown to hate. She battles relentlessly with the younger generation of executives who want her job and returns home late at night exhausted. She does not hide her unhappiness every time we meet and promises to quit after that year’s annual bonus, “later”… Later… I owe my sister a favour because she opened my eyes to the truth in a very shocking, yet effective way. Later is a mirage, today is what counts and I try to remember this several times a day. My life has been transformed as a result, and I hope that when the end comes it will be a natural close to a circle rather than a nasty and unexpected surprise.
It is a beautiful sunny morning you have just finished a hard run and you are leaning against a tree trying to catch your breath. An incredibly fit, good looking guy walks by and you feel your heart racing and your gut fills with fluttering butterflies. Is it love, is it sexual desire or is it a psychological fart? We presume we understand and are in control of our emotions, when it comes to sex and attraction, but is this really true? Back to our good looking guy in the park… Did you know that you’re more likely to develop an attraction to him because you are physiological aroused from your run? Your brain can mistaken your increased heartbeat and arousal as an emotional response to the man you just locked eyes with. You are finding him inexplicably attractive and it may even be love at first sight…. Now, should you be wearing red, and he may find you equally attractive. Heterosexual men tend to find women wearing red clothing more attractive because women’s bodies naturally become red/pink during sexual arousal. Also, women subconsciously prefer to wear red when they are more fertile. If you are worried about flirting techniques to get his attention, stop. Evolution has taken care of this skill. Believe it or not, women from the most diverse places on earth flirt identically. Next time you are interested in someone, pay attention to your moves. First you will smile, lift your eyebrows in a swift motion and you will open your eyes wide to gaze at him. Quickly you will drop your eyelids, tilt your head down and sideways and look away. Often you may cover your face with your hands and giggle. This sequence is so pervasive and distinctive that scientists believe that it is innate. It is the human mating ritual. Slightly less brazen than that of the female chimp’s, which involves putting her swollen bottom right up to the male face, but same idea. And the easiest way to develop feelings of love and affection towards a person you have never met? Scientific American reports that long periods of eye contact can connect you to someone and even ignite feelings of love inside you for that person you have never previously met. How long do you need to stare into their eyes for this to work? Two minutes will do. Still think you are in charge? One study found that women preferred the scent of symmetrical men more during the time of ovulation than at other points in menstrual cycle. Another study found that women preferred more masculine faces during the time of ovulation and more feminine faces at other points in their menstrual cycle. And my personal favourite: a study found that women gave lower attractiveness ratings to pictures of other women around the time of ovulation than at other points in their menstrual cycle. So, your best friend hates your new haircut? Give her a week to finish ovulating and she may change her mind. So, if one morning you wake up next to your prince, you take one good look at him and then wonder what it was that you saw in him, now you have your answer. You were probably flooded with the “feel-good hormone” Dopamine which is associated with feelings of euphoria, bliss, motivation, and concentration or any of its three sisters Serotonin, Oxytocin, and Endorphins. The love you felt may have come from a good meal, a gift you were given or a great exercise session, all of which stimulate one or more of the four neurotransmitters. · Dopamine motivates you to take action and gives you a pleasurable feeling once you achieve whatever it is you achieved. · Serotonin makes you feel important and gives you the ‘cosiness’. To raise it naturally think about your achievements and the things you’re proud of. Re-living those moments will produce serotonin even though these achievements happened in the past. Sun exposure also boosts serotonin. · Endorphins are a bit different. They are released when you’re in pain and/or stress. Exercise, spicy food, sniffing vanilla and laughing also increases them naturally. · Oxytocin is the ‘cuddle hormone’. It’s responsible for the feeling of intimacy. Hugs and orgasms make it flow. So don’t look into the eyes of your tennis coach for two minutes or more, particularly when you are out of breath and your heart is pumping, your perfume is vanilla based, you had spicy curry for lunch and the sun is shining. If you do, your biology will take over, you will become irresistible to the wrong guy, and who knows what this will do to your tennis game. At the same time, if you want a guy to fall in love with you, look into his eyes while trying to determine his exact eye colour (for two minutes or more), challenge him to running race on a sunny day, let him win, praise his achievement and finally give him a spicy taco followed by a vanilla ice cream. He won’t know what hit him!
“It can take years to mold a dream. It takes only a fraction of a second for it to be shattered.” ― Mary E. Pearson, The Kiss of Deception A close friend was recently betrayed by his soulmate. Most of us, mere mortals, in his shoes, would have been angry, resentful possibly inconsolable and certainly very sad. He had a different approach which quite frankly shook me to the core. He was forgiving and understanding, still loving, but not in a possessive “how could she do this to me approach”. This is the sort of high ground that it quite hard to reach, especially in the early days post a breakup. Yet, it was clear to me that he was sincere in his forgiveness and also in his philosophical way of moving forward. When I questioned how he could be so mature about it, he said simply: “A heart is a wild creature, and this is why we keep it in a cage”. I found this to be not only incredibly poetic but also a bit of an eye opener. What makes our heart look the other way and betray our best intentions, and when it does, can we or should we contain it? When my ex walked out of our marriage of 22 years, I was certainly not forgiving or mature about it. To say I was spitting nails would be an understatement. I fantasized about taking his and hers hearts and running them down with a monster truck and stayed up at night plotting revenge. Interestingly enough, it was not love that was riling me. I had a new partner who was making my heart skip a beat. My life was better, I was happier I am sure he was too. Should he have stayed? Which brings me to another interesting point. If love is a pure feeling, the sort of feeling that we only want the very best for our partner, why do we resent them if they decide to be with someone else? Should we not be happy for them? Does love presuppose reciprocity? My friend was happy for his ex-girlfriend, even though he was sad about the outcome of the relationship. His love for her, was clearly superior to my love for my ex cheating rat husband. Was it not? In the final analysis, when you fall in love with someone else you have two choices. Go for it, or stay in the relationship out of loyalty. There are reasons that make the latter more likely such as kids, friendship and compatibility. But as my friend said, the heart is a wild creature, so most of us will find it hard to tame. Assuming your heart has run away in pastures new, how can you minimise the pain to the one you are leaving behind? · Give them the gift of dignity Being left for someone else is bad enough. Being lied to for months is cruel and much, much worse. If you are falling for someone new, be honest, totally honest and end your relationship maturely and with dignity. · Don't torture them unnecessarily Hinting that you are unhappy and thinking of ending the relationship for the first time as you are walking out the door or going to work, will leave your partner in a state of intense agitation for hours. Be gentle and raise the subject when there is plenty of time to talk, face to face and in private. · They should not find out through a friend or relative Your partner should be the first to know your intentions, not your relatives, friends or colleagues. Letting someone else do your dirty work is disgraceful, spineless and disrespectful. · Don’t punish them because you feel trapped in the relationship It is not your partner’s fault that you have fallen in love with someone else and want out. Treating them badly will not make them leave you. Be kind and mature and let them know as soon as possible. · Don’t chicken out mid discussion and breakup sex should be completely off the table Postponing the decision, saying that you will think about it or giving in to your partner’s pleas to reconsider when your mind is made up will only prolong their misery and fuel your resentment. My feelings during my breakup were very well summarised by Cyrano de Bergerac’s quote: “Perish the universe, provided I have my revenge!”. Had my loyalty not been trampled in the most undeserving way during my breakup, I like to think that I would have been a much better behaved person. I may have even mustered a small fraction of my friend’s equanimity and philosophical acceptance. The truly scary thing about undiscovered lies is that they have a greater capacity to diminish us than exposed ones. They erode our strength, our self-esteem, our very foundation. —Cheryl Hughes
“Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn't it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up.” ― Neil Gaiman, The Kindly Ones 17% of people 18-44 have engaged in some sort of sexual activity outside their relationship with the permission of their partners (YouGov survey 2016). How is it possible that this sexual revolution has been taking place under my nose without me noticing it? From this same group 34% stated that they would not mind (depending on the situation) if their partner hooked up with someone else while they were together. This is revolutionary and if it is a trend and not a fad it will have far reaching consequences to the way we live our lives, structure our families and interact with one another. So, while lots of people seem to think that they'd be happier if they opened their relationship in some way, would that actually be the case in reality? Not necessarily. Most people cannot make an accurate prediction of how they’d feel in an open relationship. It is true that some personalities would be happier with consensual polygamy but what about their partners? Would they be equally happy to share, or would they be agreeing because they have no choice? Here is another graph from the same survey indicating that 19% have cheated on their partners. This number scarcely varies across age groups. So, are open relationships and other similar arrangements just a way to put a new label on what used to be called cheating and thus legitimize it? It is fair to say that for an open relationship to be happy both partners would have to be it to be exceptionally mature and very secure emotionally. But what if one partner is not and has different boundaries? What if that partner submits to a situation that they find stressful and extremely hurtful because they are afraid that they will lose the one they love? And what about jealousy? This is not unusual in most relationships, but in an open one either partner is willingly putting themselves in a position to become jealous or to be in the receiving end of it. Few relationships are strong enough to weather that kind of storm. Sex is the most intimate thing people can share and knowing that the person you love is sharing this experience with someone else can be heart wrenching. There is an active forum on Reddit where people go to discuss the aftermath of open relationships and the unexpected feelings that these relationships triggered in many of the cases. A good number of people agreed to such arrangements out of fear of being perceived as prudish and old-fashioned. Others were curious and many agreed because they were insecure in their relationships. Once however sex outside the relationship became a reality clear patterns emerged. An interesting one was the one upmanship on the number of sexual encounters each partner could muster. There was unexpected jealousy, rekindling of dormant sexual drive and often the result was the death of the relationship. Imagine if you will the realities of what this type of relationship entails. The man (or woman), you love is getting dressed for a date (not with you) and walks out the door to meet someone else, while you stay behind, imagining the date, minute by minute and pretending to yourself and to your loved one, that it is completely OK. The main argument from those who advocate open relationships is the brutal honesty that comes with such an arrangement. Even if it was true and both parties are indeed honest about their feelings and they have also succeeded in avoiding feelings of jealousy, inadequacy and insecurity, I question the purpose of the “brutal honesty”. Even in the closest and most loving relationships there are things each partner would rather keep to themselves. It is natural and helps avoid the bumps and bruises that would come with unbridled honesty. Does your partner really need to know how many people you slept with before you met him or that you don’t really like one of their family members? So is the “brutal honesty” of an open relationship the unfathomable selfishness of one or both partners in a race to see how deeply they can hurt each other while pretending that they don’t bleed?. Or is it a modern solution to the age old problem of the sex life of monogamous couples going caput during long term marriages and relationships? Are open relationship a way to keep love alive or a way to irrevocably kill it? “We drove to the hotel and said goodbye. How hypocritical to go upstairs with a man you don't want to fuck, leave the one you do sitting there alone, and then, in a state of great excitement, fuck the one you don't want to fuck while pretending he's the one you do. That's called fidelity. That's called monogamy. That's called civilization and its discontents.” ― Erica Jong, Fear of Flying
I met my first husband when I was 23. He was the tall, gorgeous man at the bar, and I was chugging a bottle of Moët in my black graduation robe. He swept me off my feet and we got married 3 months later. At 30, he did not have a steady office job, but he was glamorously occupied as a ski instructor and white water rafting guide. Nonchalantly, he let me know that his painting and decorating business had gone bankrupt a few months ago, but he was going back to university to earn a business degree. A month into the marriage I found out that the only asset he possessed was his beat up Mazda truck, and even that was mostly owned by the bank. But we were in love and these little details did not seem to matter much. I had a good job and savings and he had been admitted to the business course and given a generous student loan. To give us a financial clean slate I lent him the money to pay off some of his debt. Things started to sour, when I found out that he had used the cash to get a new wardrobe and a nice watch to match his new look while the debt had remained not only unpaid, but also in arrears. Oh, how much he loved me and at the same time, how incapable was he in managing even the simplest of financial arrangements or resisting anything he wanted to buy. My man had big plans! He was going to make millions doing this and that and any financial difficulties he had at present were small and insignificant and not to be talked about. He was always busy, scheming some kind of get rich quick scheme or brilliant investment, meanwhile the bills were piling up, unpaid on the kitchen table. We carried on, but our love didn’t. Our relationship quickly became that of me being a stern and critical finance manager and him a petulant child, always wanting to spend every penny we had in the bank. For me at 23, it was an interesting experience. Even though, by all objective measures, he was still gorgeous, and every girl ogled everywhere we went, I did not see him as good-looking any more. His looks had somehow faded because they reflected his weak personality. Because I was young and determined to make it work, the marriage lasted 5 years, but it was a marriage only in name. Despite my mum’s best efforts to change my mind, I finally divorced when I realised that I did not want to spend the rest of my life controlling his spending and trying to prevent us from going bankrupt plus, as much as we had remained good friends throughout, our sex life was as dead as a doornail. My first marriage taught me a lot of life lessons, that’s for sure, but the big one was that financial compatibility is right up there with love and sex when it comes to a successful relationship. According to a CNBC report, 35 percent of respondents said that finances is a major source of conflict in their relationship. In 47% of the cases there was an imbalance in spending habits with one partner being a saver and the other a spender. Another study of 4,500 couples conducted by Kansas State University found that arguments about money was by far the top predictor of divorce with financial incompatibility being one of the three leading causes of divorce. Given these statistics, it seems quite important that your mate should have a similar approach to money management and budgeting as you. A marriage is like a small business, and like any business, the partners need to agree on how to manage it. They may both want to live high on the hog, borrowing and spending, or they may both enjoy squirrelling for the future. I’ve known happy couples doing either but mix a spender with a saver and it all goes wrong. You don't need to be financial twins with your partner as long as the way you manage your finances is within range of each other. If your relationship is getting serious, don’t make money a taboo subject. It is a critical aspect of harmonious and happy long term relationship.
I recently wrote an article suggesting that it can be detrimental to a marriage or relationship if women give up on their appearance or regular sex. I was unprepared for the storm that followed and the comments I received, including this one: “if my husband expects me to look good when I am at home, I will serve him divorce papers with his dinner. I was quite puzzled by the militant, almost uniform responses, bar a few lone voices who agreed that appearance and sex were quite important in a relationship. I recently watched “The Children Act” where Emma Thompson is playing a very busy judge, so absorbed in her work that she hasn’t had sex with her husband in 11 months. In the movie, he tells her that even though he loves her very much he wants to have an affair. She blows her top off and changes the locks yet, refuses to do the much simpler thing of giving him the affection he is seeking. Under the circumstances should he be allowed an affair? I am pretty sure that the marriage vows do not specify the obligation to provide regular sex, even though they do talk about “for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health”. Is it because regular sex, post kids, is too much to ask? And do men have any rights once they say, “I do?” To avoid another backlash, let me clarify that the same questions apply to men in a similar situation. Should either side stay in the relationship if the sex dries up and one of the partners ends up looking like a slob? To make matters more extreme, should they tolerate a partner that stops washing? And what if they get a chronic debilitating illness? Is this different? What if they are addicted to gambling and they put the family in debt? And, what if there is no love? Are small children enough of a reason for such a marriage to survive? When does the obligation to stay married end? Many women who have gone through an unwanted divorce seem to take the Christian view, which says that the answer is never, but does this work in an egocentric society where we spend money and time naval gazing and meditating ourselves silly in the now? At what point does society, or the sisterhood agree that he (or she) has the right to leave and what would be the obligations for severing a lifelong contract?