Monday, December 19, 2011

Here come the swingers: The ideological fallacy of “open” relationships

“I would love to have an open marriage,” sighs a 40-something friend over her fourth glass of wine, “I love my husband, but I know his every touch, move. Whatever you do, it becomes boring.” She goes on to expound at drunken length on societal double-standards, her need for “sensual experiences,” and fabulous gay couples who have it all. “They’re both at the same party and making out with different people. And they totally love each other. That’s amazing, isn’t it?”

The 32-year old sitting next to me concurs with due gusto. It’s not just gay folks — she knows at least two married couples with equally “beautiful” relationships. The world is changing, and she with it. She’s already made up her mind. Marriage is fine, but monogamy is totally out. “I can’t even imagine what it would be like having sex with just one person all my life,” she declares, wrinkling her pretty nose in horror.

I’m thinking: how did this happen? I moved from San Francisco to Bangalore, and I’m still the stodgiest person in the room! Married 15 years and not one affair to show for it. And this despite having no overarching moral objection to infidelity, as such. Many of my dearest friends in the United States have led – and in some cases, still lead — the most colourful lives. And more power to them.

Yet there is something about our new-found obsession with infidelity that makes me uneasy.

Everywhere I turn these days, there’s someone touting the virtues of sexual variety. “Extra-marital affairs are oh so common,” declares my sunday newspaper:

Says socialite Sonu Wassan, “To bring back the spark in the marriage, an affair can act as a catalyst.” Adds Arjun Sawhney, who runs a PR firm, “Humans are not monogamous, so if you feel it’s fine and your partner is okay with it, go for it. Variety is the spice of life.”

The message is no different in an Outlook magazine article that celebrates “a subculture.. which is dancing an unconventional dance to the conventional song of marriage.” Here are middle-class housewives in open marriages, swinger parties with “grope walls” and its organiser who celebrates a new kind of upward mobility:

The internet has broken barriers. Earlier, swinging, like other non-conformist sexual activities, was confined to the rich and fashionable circles. The internet has brought this opportunity to the urban middle class. My parties mostly include married, middle-aged, committed couples who are looking for ways to make their marriage more interesting.

Also clear is the author’s view that these unconventional “pioneers” are to be celebrated. There’s no mention of monogamy of the happy kind. The contrast is instead offered by the “large number of low-conflict, melancholic marriages” of people ranging from their late 30s to the early 50s.” These are the losers who “either felt more comfortable existing within the rules of melancholy marriages/relationships or with breaking them completely through affairs and divorce, than by revising their mindset towards relationships.”

The tone slips from describing – without judgement – alternative sexual lifestyles to prescribing them as a healthy alternative to either monogamy or divorce (or infidelity that leads to divorce). In the guise of sexual liberation, we’re back to judging people’s choices. According to this new ideological polarity, you are either a bed-hopping hero “on the frontlines” or a scared little mouse hiding behind convention.

The argument is also oddly familiar. It reminds me of a conversation about a fellow classmate’s divorce: he fell in love, left spouse, and then remarried.

“What’s wrong with him, yaar? I also have my fun, and that’s okay. He’s a man. But I take care of responsibilities. I’d never do that to my kids,” pronounced my old and very Punjabi male friend, with self-righteous disapproval.

In many ways, the fuss over open relationships is just old wine in a more progressive bottle. Or as another friend wryly put it, “It’s still about finding a way to have your cake and eat it too.” Except this time around, the women get to play as well.

Every fantasy of the “open” relationship assumes — like my school friend — we can bind desire with rules, parameters, and boundaries till it becomes safe. The aim is still to save that all-important marriage from the perils of sexual desire. If we can’t erase the damn thing, let’s just domesticate it instead.

Its advocates offer only the most comforting examples, as in author Holly Hill who blithely declares, “If [my husband] went to the pub, spotted a girl and wanted to go back to hers for a quickie, I’d be like, ‘Go for it, darling!’”

Her logic is alluring: “Because when you have occasional lovers outside of your relationship, you don’t take your partner for granted. In fact, it often helps reinforce why you love your partner in the first place.”

Except what if it doesn’t? What if that roll in the hay leads to infatuation, even love? Soon enough, you’re having dutiful sex with the spouse (surely extra reassurance is required when you’re bonking girls in pubs) – while fantasising you’re with someone else. Hmm, why does that sound familiar?

I’ve heard it over again, from cheating middle-aged husbands, nubile college girls, bored housewives, thirty-something San Francisco hipsters. Monogamy is unnatural, unsustainable, unworkable etc. But so are open relationships in the long run. Sooner or later, one person will get jealous, fall in love, or change his/her mind. That’s life. The minute you institute an open-door policy in your marital bed, everything is up for grabs. The risks are different but no less grave than old-fashioned monogamy.

I’m all for sexual diversity and tolerance. Let a million sexual lifestyles bloom. But whether you choose to swing, cheat or stay faithful, there are no win-win solutions for the travails of modern love. Monogamy may soon be just one choice on the matrimonial menu. But you still have to choose.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Better Sex Life by Closer Love and Sex Relationships in Married Life

Sex life becomes routine and boredom after some time. Most of the married couples suffer from this problem majorly, as their relations grow older. The affection and closeness in some of the cases keeps going and so is the case with love and sex relationships.

In most of the cases husband and wife cannot get enough time for each other that abstains them in enjoying better sex life. Absence of sex life is a common problem that exists in their married life and disturbs their closeness and affectionate relationships.

With the increasing stressful and busy life, it is nowadays becoming very hard to come up with better sex life. But believe it or not giving some time for each other will automatically enhance your relationships and you can lead much pleasing life all together. You will easily find more time for love and sex as you really want it to have.

Communicating with each other, giving much time to each other, listening to what your partner has to say, etc. can bring out fantastic changes in your married life as well as sex life.

Have friend ship with each other for enhanced love and sex relationships

Living as close friends is perfect for married couples. Todays women and men can brilliantly enhance their love and sex relationships when you treat each other just like friends. Have friend ship with each other so that you can enjoy most of the time with your partner.

If marriage life is to be lived well and smoothly, then be friends and not just partners. The things we always do for our friends should also be done for our partners. Be as wheels of a vehicle and you can run your married life vehicle quite smoothly without having any disturbances and tensions involved in it.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Five tips for getting over a break-up

Breaking up is hard to do: Pamela Allardice shares five ideas for getting through the dark times and finding a way forward.

1. Let it out

Disappointment and anger will fester if you keep them cooped up. Go for a run, chop wood, learn boxing, scream, or kick a cardboard box to pieces. These emotions can also be used to the good. Get busy and clean house, scrubbing, sweeping, polishing and tossing trash. Physical activity eases mental anguish and you'll find satisfaction in a job well done.

2. Allow yourself to grieve

Mourning is a natural reaction to loss, and the more intense the relationship was, the more you'll grieve. When we give our heart to another person, we trust them with the essence of who we are. When this connection is broken we feel as though we have not only lost the other person, but that we have lost a chunk of ourselves. Grieving presents in several forms: you may feel numb; you may brood and continually go over what went wrong; and you will undoubtedly feel just plain miserable. You can't go around this mountain of sad feelings — you have to go through them. Yes, it will hurt like hell. But it will make you strong.

3. Find closure

In order to make room for the next stage of your life, this relationship needs to become part of your past, not your present. A formal 'closing ceremony' may help. It doesn't have to be complicated. Set aside an hour where you can sit undisturbed. Have paper and a pen handy. Head one sheet of paper with "What I will miss about this relationship …". Head the second, "Things I won't miss …"; the third, "What I’ve learned about myself during this time …" and the last, "What I want from a future partner is …". Be honest. By opening up, you will gain a greater understanding of yourself and be able to accept the loss.

4. Find forgiveness

When you've been dumped, this is the toughest call of all. It's also necessary, because otherwise you'll find it hard to move past your hurt, and may unconsciously see yourself as a victim. Before you list your ex's faults and swear that you'll see him in hell first, understand that forgiveness doesn't mean that what he did to you was acceptable. It means you don't want to be angry with him any more; it's not worth it. Continuing to hate them will make you cynical and bitter. Deciding to forgive and let go means you take back control and focus on a positive future — yours.

5 Move on

Ultimately, the most important thing you will learn from breaking up is to have faith in yourself. By working through the pain, you will come to understand that you are resilient and courageous enough to cope with change and challenges. Tape these words from French philosopher Jean de la Fontaine to your mirror: "I bend but I do not break."

Relationship conflict does not change throughout marriage says study

How much do you fight with your spouse? Do you fight like cats and dogs or are your arguments limited to a few small tiffs? Either way, a new study has found that the current level of conflict probably won't change throughout the relationship and heavily impacts on overall happiness.

The US study found that this was good news for the 16 percent of couples who report little conflict or even the 60 percent who have only moderate levels of conflict.

However, the study was not so good for the 22 percent of couples who say they fight and argue with each other a lot.

Lead author of the study and assistant professor of human development and family science at Ohio State University, Claire Kamp Dush said the results showed there wasn't a lot of difference in conflict over time.

"There was a very slight decrease in the amount of conflict reported in the final years of the study, which was slightly larger for the high-conflict couples. Still, the differences over time were small," she said.

Data was collected by surveying almost 1000 married people under 55 years old for more than 20 years between 1980 and 2000.

Throughout the study marital conflict was measured by how often respondents said they disagreed with their spouse — never, rarely, sometimes, often or very often — and, based on these results, the couples were placed into high-, middle- and low-conflict marriages categories.

Dush said those in low-conflict marriages were more likely than others to say they shared decision-making with their spouses.

"That's interesting because you might think that making decisions jointly would create more opportunities for conflict, but that's not what we found," she said.

"It may be that if both spouses have a say in decision making, they are more satisfied with their relationship and are less likely to fight."

Those in the low-conflict group were also found to believe in traditional, life-long marriage.

"People who believe marriage should last forever may also believe that fighting is just not worth it. They may be more likely to just let disagreements go," Dush said.

The results of the study were then used to identify how overall conflict was related to overall marital happiness.

The marriages surveyed were set into classifications of volatile, validator, hostile and avoider.

About 54 percent of couples fell into the lower conflict validator category and had lower low levels of divorce, high and middle levels of happiness and no more than middle levels of conflict.

"The validator marriages are often seen as positive because couples are engaged with each other and are happy. We found that in these marriages, each partner shared in decision making and in housework," Dush said.

The other low-conflict couples, around six percent, were in the avoider marriages. These couples had more traditional marriages in which husbands were not involved in housework and the participants believed in life-long marriage.

"These couples believed in traditional gender roles and may have avoided conflict because of their beliefs in life-long marriage. These couples were also unlikely to divorce," Dush said.

On the other hand, about 20 percent of those surveyed were in volatile marriages — high conflict and high or middle levels of happiness. The remaining participants were in hostile marriages, which were the most likely to divorce.

Although couples in both validator and avoider marriages tended to have lower levels of conflict, Dush believes that validator marriages may be the healthiest for couples.

"Avoiding conflict could lead couples to avoid other types of engagement with their spouse," she said.

"A healthy marriage needs to have both spouses engaged and invested in the relationship."

What bothers men and women most about cheating?

When it comes to infidelity what aspect of cheating bothers men and women the most? A new study has revealed that while men focus on whether their partner had sex with someone else, woman focus on whether their partner was in love with someone else.

New research based on the US TV show Cheaters, which catches unfaithful spouses in the act, suggests that its findings could shed light on how our psychology evolved, Live Science reported.

While scientists have long suggested that men and woman tend to act differently to adultery, with men caring more about sexual infidelity and woman caring more about emotional infidelity, the explanation surrounding this is based on evolution.

Researcher Barry Kuhle, who is an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, says men want children that they know are their own, while women want a partner to care for them, not their rivals.

Until now past studies of gender reactions to jealousy have been measured on a memory or an imagination basis with participants asked about past experiences or how they would react is their partner was unfaithful.

Cheaters however, captures real-time reactions, and Kuhle believes this study of this kind being one of the only ways to observe actual jealous behaviour. On the show investigators uncover evidence of infidelity, and the producers record jealousy-fuelled interrogations of cheaters by victims.

Kuhle and his colleagues have analysed 51 episodes of Cheaters with 75 cases of victims interrogating cheaters — 45 female victims and 30 male victims. And their findings show that men usually asked more about sex and women asked more about emotion.

"The emotion of jealousy shows clear evidence of evolution's fingerprints," Kuhle said.

"Natural selection has designed men to be acutely sensitive to being cuckolded and women to losing their partner's time, attention and resources. Our skulls house a Stone Age mind in a modern-day world."

The study found that male victims asked questions about sex about 57 percent of the time, while female victims, only asked about sex 29 percent of the time. On the other hand, female victims asked about emotion with questions such as "Do you love her?" in 71 percent of cases, compared with just 43 percent for male victims.

"Actual jealous behaviour from men and women who have actually been cheated on conforms to evolutionary psychological expectations and dovetails perfectly with research done previously that asked people to anticipate how they would behave in these circumstances," Kuhle said.

When questioned about the realness of the Cheaters episodes, after concerns regarding this work were raised Kuhle argued it is unlikely that most of the show's 400 to 450 love triangles were staged. He said that "it would be unethical and impractical to design a true experiment in which researchers hired confederates to sleep with participants' partners and then observed the participants' upset at and interrogations of their partners."

Kuhle said it was important to keep in mind that not every couple would necessarily conform to these findings.

"Every man and every woman did not conform to this pattern," he said.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Sex Tips: The Quickest Way to Drive Him Wild Is...

If you’d really like to shake things up in the bedroom, we’ve got a super simple sex tip for you. This one requires no special moves or bedroom savvy. In fact, it’s something you’re probably already pretty skilled at. Let your boyfriend watch you masturbate. He’ll go nuts. It’s a great way for you to show him what makes you feel good. You could use a vibrator or just your hand. You could even ask him to rub your shoulders, massage your breasts or make out with you while you’re pleasing yourself. And if things get really hot, ask him to lend a helping hand downstairs.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Post-Sex Etiquette for the Modern Lover

If You've Just Gotten Lucky...

A good cuddle after a vigorous mating ritual is what separates us from the animals. To suggest that you have personal space issues or are sensitive to over-stimulation after you’ve had your orifices intimately explored is downright rude. A minimum of fifteen minutes of quality embracing/back tickling/hair tousling is in order, no matter how tired or full of remorse you are. If you’re on the other side of the fence and could happily cuddle all night, you should never expect or demand that the snuggling last for longer than an hour.

If the hook-up takes place after dark, it’s only polite for the cuddling to automatically progress into the sleepover phase. Don’t stress about the implications — there are none. Sharing unconsciousness is not necessarily a symbol of commitment or love, it’s simply a nice thing to do. It’s the hot monkey lovin’ that has the messy implications.

If You’re the Host...

If the sun has already set, you may ask your date to vacate the premises only in case of emergencies: your parents are visiting early the next morning, you suffer from a sleep apnea disorder, your house is on fire. Other than that, if it’s midnight and you’re spooning naked in bed, you should suggest, during the cuddling, that your guest stay the night.

If you have reservations about this person sleeping over before you have sex, then may we suggest keeping your pants on? Because after the sex, you have no option.

As for the next morning, we think it’s a nice touch to offer your guest coffee, at the very least. Or, if the cupboards are bare, suggest heading out for brunch — unless, of course, it’s mutually obvious that you’d both rather be elsewhere... and quickly.

If You’re the Guest...

If you have an early wake-up call, you’re allergic to your date's cat, or you think you may have left the stove on, you may politely excuse yourself, though you should explain yourself and also demonstrate regret over your departure. If you’d like to stay over but your host doesn’t extend a formal invitation, we think it’s okay to assume the invite is implicit.

Come morning, however, you shouldn’t outstay your welcome. In the first weeks of a relationship, leave as soon as the crossword has been completed — assuming, of course, that you can get through it together in an hour or two. (If not, have you considered sudoku?)