Coupling Connection - Dr. Jenn Oikle
Coupling Connection - Dr. Jenn Oikle

Welcome to RelationSmarts!

A Dating, Mating and Relating E-Newsletter

May 3, 2006

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Coupling Connetion - Passion Perks
Coupling Connetion - Reading List
Coupling Connetion - Book Reviews

Every other week, we'll be delivering smart and fresh relating tips. We know you are busy, so let these quick ideas inspire you to create your ideal relationship! Each edition will include helpful information in these three categories:

  • Dating – tips on finding and keeping the perfect partner
  • Mating – take the Passion Perks challenge and perk up your love life!
  • Relating – tips on making your connection Extraordinary

We'll also be including news of note for singles and couples, from Coupling Connection and all around the US, keeping you abreast of relationship happenings you may find useful.

RelationTip: Remember, information is only good if you USE it. Research shows that if you don't use a new piece of information within two weeks, you won't ever use it! So if you want an extraordinary relationship, try something new today!


Dating: Sex- Now or Later?

If you read men’s magazines like GQ or women’s magazines like Cosmo, you’d get the idea that a lot of people have sex on the first date. What’s more, they’d have you believe that you are positively square if you haven’t done it by the third date. Although I think these magazines exaggerate the truth, I know that it is awfully tempting for people to become sexually involved quickly. And many people do it without much thought. After all, sex feels good and it’s hard to resist the urge in the moment. But having sex very early in a budding romance is probably not a smart idea, for all sorts of reasons which I know you are already familiar with so I won’t belabor them. But learning to judge the right time for you to have sex is a critical dating skill. So let’s look more closely at this topic.

Since you are reading this newsletter, I am going to assume that you are someone who’s goal is to find a serious, committed relationship in the shortest amount of time, with as little emotional anguish as possible. So we are going to focus exclusively on that situation.

Let’s face it. Sex complicates things. And many people have a very difficult time separating sex and emotion, especially women. So, once you have sex, it usually ups the ante, changing things like your expectations and your vulnerability to rejection. It blurs your thinking, making it more difficult to make a rational decision based on the facts. And when you are looking to find the right partner for you, this is not the state you want to be in.

So, if you are truly serious about finding your ONE, here are some guidelines:

1. DO NOT rush into becoming physically intimate.
2. Wait until you decide this is definitely someone that you think has long term potential (umm, and you can’t decide that until you’ve had more than 4 dates!!).
3. Only proceed with a sexual involvement AFTER you have a conversation and decide to focus on one another exclusively. 99% of people cannot handle the negative emotional effects of being sexually involved with someone is who still seeing other people.
4. Wait until you are 100% comfortable with this person and can trust them.
5. Ask yourself honestly, “If we had sex today, and I never saw this person again, how would I feel?” If you are worried that they may not call again or there is any chance that this person is about to abruptly disappear from your life, this is not the time to have sex.

Of course, when to have sex is an intensely personal decision, and it should be based largely on your values and beliefs about what sex means to you and who it should be shared with. It should also be based on a very realistic assessment of what type of emotional connection you need to feel most comfortable with having sex. A lot of people think that having casual sex will be ok, because it feels good in the moment. But many have regrets later, when their heart is on a see-saw because the other person is not treating them well and the relationship is not going as planned.

So, if you are serious about finding a healthy, happy relationship that lasts, I encourage you to consider adopting this belief: Sex is a gift of yourself that you are only willing to give to others who are worthy of receiving that gift. Because while sex is good, sex can only be great between two people who care deeply about one another and are committed to each other’s well being.

And you must ask yourself if the risks of becoming sexually involved are worth it, in the absence of this loving commitment. Maybe they are for you, and that’s ok. Casual sex works for some people. But there are lots of people who think they can pull off casual sex, only to discover that they cannot. If you’ve made this discovery once, by all means, honor and respect yourself and don’t put yourself in this position again. And if you know you are weak of will in the moment, plan ahead and avoid the type of close, intimate situations that will be hard to say no to!!

Action Step: Have a general plan about when sex is right for you- and STICK TO IT!! To develop this plan, take these two steps.
1. Consider your past sexual involvements. Think about what time frame you became physically intimate, what this did to the relationship, and the predominant emotions you experienced. What do your experiences tell you about when the right time is for you?
2. Now consider your beliefs and values about sex. Have they changed as you gotten older- say from “get all the sex you can” to “sex should be meaningful”? Has your behavior changed with them? Is there a way of thinking about sex that would be more beneficial to you now- say from “sex is fun” to “sex is a gift”?

Relation Strategy: Feeling like you really want to have sex with your latest potential partner? My general recommendation is to wait a little while longer. It’s hard to screw things up by giving it a little more time. But boy, can things blow up fast if you move too quickly.

Relation Tip: I know it’s hard to wait. But when you do, the build-up is much more intense, making your first time both more meaningful and pleasurable. Who wouldn't want that?

**Is going slow hard for you? Is it hard to know when sex is right for you? Learn tools to help at the upcoming FREE group call on the How To Avoid Marrying a Jerk(ette) Program. Rescheduled for Wed May 17th, 7pm Eastern, 5pm Mountain. Email for more info and to register. **

Mating: Sex-pectations

Expectations play a pivotal role in every area of our lives. All of us have expectations that are conscious (that we are aware of) and unconscious (that operate without our awareness). Both types of expectations can wreck havoc on our relationships, especially if they remain uncommunicated. And unfortunately, due to their personal and private nature, many of our sexual expectations have gone unexamined and largely, have not been discussed with our partner.

Because attitudes and beliefs about sex form our expectations, it's important to spend some time looking more closely at them. Our beliefs and values about sex were ingrained during our childhood, from the messages we received from family. After that, the media and society, as well as our friends and our previous romantic experiences affect our attitudes. If all of these experiences were positive, we'd probably not have any problems, but many of the sexual attitudes or beliefs we acquire are negative, shaming, or no longer helpful.

To discover what expectations may be holding your sex life back, it's important to discuss this topic with your partner.

Some evening when you are both relaxed, sit down together and discuss the following topics:

1. What messages did your family send about sex? What information did they provide, if any? Was sex seen as a positive part of life to be enjoyed or a shameful thing to be ignored? The attitudes we heard as children often automatically become a part of us and frequently have to be unlearned, if they were not positive.

2. Spend some time talking about how your body image has affected your sexuality throughout your life. When you are not comfortable with your body, it often has a negative impact on your sexual enjoyment. Body image often changes so discuss how these changes have affected your sex life, from teen years to pregnancy, gaining weight, or simply getting older.

3. What messages did your friends send about sex? How about as a teen, and how about now? The attitudes and behaviors of our friends often serve as a comparison point and can affect how we feel about our sex life.

4. What affect did the media have on your sexuality, both growing up and now? We live in an intensely sexual media culture, with mostly unrealistic images of lithe bodies and unbelievably pleasureable sexual encounters. Constant viewing of such images can lead to feelings of inadequacy, in terms of how you look, how much sex you are having, and how good your sex life is.

5. What have been your positive and negative sexual experiences in previous relationships? For example, a negative and critical partner may leave you sexually insecure. Or a demanding and stingy partner may make you resentful and unwilling to participate freely. Maybe you've felt sexually "used" in the past so it's difficult to trust. Or perhaps you had positive experiences which helped you feel comfortable and secure. How do these experiences carry over into your sex life now?

6. What are your general attitudes about sex? Is it something for all to enjoy or something meaningful to be shared only between committed partners? What are the "duties" of each partner in a sexual relationship, if any?

7. Lastly, consider what your hidden expectations might be about your current sexual relationship. Do you expect your partner to read your mind? Have you been hurt by something that has happened and need to discuss it? What does it mean if someone says "no"? Is it ok for only one partner to climax? etc. Consider what is different about your sex life now from when the relationship began. What would you most need to really increase your enjoyment?

Passion Perks Challenge: Discuss the above topics and see where your attitudes, beliefs, and expectations may be holding your sex life back. Decide which old beliefs and habits no longer serve you best and substitute new attitudes or behaviors. Together, devise a plan to overcome any obstacles you've discovered.

RelationTip: Taking the time to have this type of conversation and getting to know each other more deeply is bound to increase your sense of connection and intimacy- which is the best aphrodisiac!


Relating: Super Glue Your Relationship Commitment Tool 1: Devalue Attractive Alternatives

After you make a big decision (like buying a car, a house, or choosing a mate), one of two things can happen. Let’s take that car purchase. You’ll either start looking around and noticing all sorts of other cool cars and second guess your decision. This is commonly known as buyer’s remorse or the grass is always greener phenomenon. Or you’ll protect your decision by devaluing attractive alternatives, a concept you are probably much less familiar with. In this case, when you see a fancy BMW, rather than focus on it’s positive attributes, you’ll say to yourself, “Boy that’d be nice, but I bet the insurance on that pretty thing is outrageous, and I know the repair costs are monstrous, and besides, they are SO yuppie. Nah, my new Honda Accord is perfect for me.”

Well the same thing happens in relationships. Although buyer’s remorse doesn't usually settle in right away, like it does with a car or a fancy home entertainment system. In fact, devaluing of attractive alternatives usually happens naturally in the beginning of relationships. But once the new glow fades, the grass is greener mentality threatens to eclipse your commitment over and over, in cycles throughout a relationship. And this is natural. Once you’ve committed to something, it means you’ll have to take the good with the bad. And when the bad is right under your nose, it’s human nature to start considering alternatives that appear more attractive. But, here’s the kicker with relationships- engaging in grass is greener thinking is a serious slippery slope that can easily lead to increased unhappiness, if not the demise of your relationship.

You see, it’s one thing if you start ogling that BMW with all the neat gadgets, you may feel some displeasure at your plain little Honda sitting in the driveway. But when you start building up in your mind all the reasons why being with your young, hot secretary would be better than the wife you’ve grown bored with. Well, that’s playing with fire- a fire that can burn up your love in no time, leaving only ashes.

So- here’s a secret. While devaluing of attractive alternatives happens naturally (automatically, without thought) when couples are happily committed to one another, you always have the option to use it as a conscious, intentional tool to protect your relationship.

Let’s see how that would work.
You’ve been together a few years or ten. You barely remember the butterflies you used to feel, and quite frankly, you’re in one of those lower spots where you’ve become disenchanted with your partner. You’re weary of them leaving dirty laundry around the house, you wish they would help out more with chores, and you can’t remember the last time they did something sweet and romantic for you. Then, a new attractive co-worker joins your office. You find yourself daydreaming about what it would be like to be with them. You figure it’s harmless. You project all sorts of great qualities onto them: they would be smart, witty and charming. Or even worse, you start having lunch together sometimes, and you actually experience some of these positive traits first hand. Either way, you compare your partner with this mostly imagined person and find them lacking, growing a discontent which may lead you down the slippery slope to involvement with someone else.

But, you always have a choice. You can go with Grass is Always Greener thinking which might look something like this: Gosh, I bet they would help with dinner, pick up the dry cleaning, even give the kids a bath without being asked. They would look at me like I was the most attractive person in the world, making me feel special, more alive. And I’d bet they are the most generous lover imaginable!

Or you can realize that most of these thoughts are just idealized projections of what you wish were true and purposely chose to protect your relationship with Devaluing Attractive Alternatives thinking which might look something like this: Gee, my new co-worker sure is attractive, but you know what? I bet they are really high maintenance. I bet they have lots of annoying habits, like coming home late or overspending. Sure, there might be a spark of chemistry between us, but I know that won’t last. In fact, I bet they would be a selfish lover, etc.

You get the idea. In fact, this type of thinking can be boiled down to an easy to remember, pithy little phrase that a friend of mine has coined: “Somewhere, someone is sick and tired of their crap!” Remember this, and you can’t go wrong. The important point is that the second type of thinking does not add to your unhappiness with your partner, it actually protects your commitment to the relationship. And while the example we used is a rather obvious one, the grass is greener phenomenon can happen in more subtle, yet equally insidious ways. So it’s important to pay attention to how YOU think about attractive alternatives. Because your thinking will either strengthen or weaken your love.

Action Step: Begin to notice your thought patterns. Are you a Grass is Always Greener person or do you regularly devalue attractive alternatives. The next time you are tempted to make the grass larger than life, consciously chose to devalue the attractive alternative. It may take practice to become aware of when you are doing this and even more practice to become adept at having more pro-relationship thoughts. But doing this can improve your happiness, save your love, and help it regain it’s bloom.

Relation Tip: If you notice Grass is Greener thinking, don’t get too down on yourself. You can actually use it to improve your relationship! When you begin thinking that something is better than what you have, it’s an important clue to what’s missing in your life. Talk to your partner and see what you can do together to bring that quality back to your relationship.


NEWS: For Singles

Relation Fact: Infatuation by definition means to “cause to be foolish,” “deprive of sound judgment” and to inspire with an “extravagant love or admiration.” It’s interesting how something that sounds a bit negative (being foolish or deprived of our sanity) can feel so good.

Dating Strategy: But let's not forget that infatuation can make you a fool. This is where love is blind comes from. Vow not to become blind, but to assess love with both your heart AND your head!


*FREE* Virtual Group Call Rescheduled

Wed May 17th, 5pm Mountain Time, 7pm Eastern

How To Avoid Dating and Marrying a Jerk:

An Introduction to Selecting Your Perfect Partner

Haven't yet had an opportunity to learn about this program? Now is the perfect opportunity to get an introduction to the most important principles- free! Email for more info and bridge line phone number.


*NEW* Singles Workshop and E-course!

Sensational Singles:

How to Maximize Your Happiness and Create the Life That You Desire

Learn to empower yourself to create the happiness you deserve! In this course, you'll learn the benefits of happiness, the nine choices you can make to live a more joyful, satisfied life, and three tools to help you get there.

Dates for Singles University course to be announced soon. Email for course outline or for info on E-course.


NEXT WEEK! One time Workshop Opportunity

Mile Hi Church YES Group Friday Night Enrichment Series.

May 12, 7-9:30pm. Lakewood, CO
Attraction Traps: Reclaiming Your Love Life from the Patterns of the Past

This is an excellent opportunity to learn everything you need to know to break out of your habits of the past, at a reduced cost from the normal workshop! Cost for members of the YES Group $10, non-members $15
Tickets will be sold at the door.

Note: This is the same seminar as "They Are Just Not That Into You."


New Spring Workshop Dates at Singles University

Thur May 25, 6:30-9 How to Avoid Dating and Marrying a Jerk(ette)

See website for more info or Enroll at Singles University.


Sick of being single and ready to get started on your path to the perfect partner?

Take advantage of two exciting opportunities.

Relationship Readiness Inventory

For a limited time, Inventories are half off! Clarify the characteristics of your perfect partner and learn how to get out of your relationship ruts. A powerful step toward an extraordinary relationship. Cost: $40.

*NEW* E-course: They Are Just Not That Into You

Now offered as an Email Course! You get six weekly lessons emailed to you to read at your leisure, including a weekly homework assignment that will help you gain personal insight and apply the information to your own situation. Once completed, you email each assignment back for personalized feedback. Cost: $45.

See the website for more information on either of these opportunities or email if you are interested!

News For Couples

Relation Strategy: Remember the Blame Game that we spoke about a few issues back. Well, Emerson Eggerichs, author of Love and Respect, a best-selling Christian book on marriage has some advice about it. The central theme of his book is that couples have to stop the "crazy cycle", which is this: Feeling unloved, the woman reacts in ways that feel disrespectful to him. Without respect, he reacts in ways that feel unloving to her. Sometimes a simple statement can end a fight or stalemate, Eggerichs suggests that the woman might say something along the lines of, "What you're doing right now feels unloving. Did I come across as disrespectful? I'm sorry, I didn't intend to." The man might say, "That felt disrespectful. Did I come across as unloving?"

See how these types of statements give your partner the benefit of the doubt because you offer to take responsibility? This can immediately diffuse an argument and is a very loving way to interact.


*NEW* Couples Workshop

Hot Monogamy

It can be tough to keep the love alive over time, especially with busy schedules, work and financial stress, and children! But with the right attitudes and skills, everyone can keep the passion burning. Come learn how to deepen your connection, increase your intimate passion, and protect your commitment from infidelity. Leave with tools to revitalize your love. Email for more info.


* Have you tried a tip or tool from the Relation Smarts E-newsletter? We want to hear about it!? Let us know what your experience was like. Did it improve your connection? Or no? Email us! *

Do you have a topic, idea, question, or concern you'd like to have addressed in an upcoming newsletter? Email us!

Know someone who could use a little RelationSmarts? Feel free to forward the newsletter to family and friends!

May your relationships bring you the happiness you deserve,

Jennifer Oikle, Ph.D.

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