The Role of Physical Attraction in Your Relationship Reply

Can you get it if you’ve never had it?

By Stephen J. Betchen, Psychology Today

The concept of attraction has been defined in many ways by many different experts in the field of relationships. Some look to biology to explain why we are attracted. Others believe we unconsciously replicate our attraction to our opposite sex-parent. Some believe we’re attracted to those with the same level of emotional maturity or differentiation of self. And still others believe that our unconscious, internalized conflicts choose our partners. These are plausible theories that have been supported by research and clinical experience. And all are deterministic. The biological theory offers that our nature chooses our partners for us (e.g., hormones in love); the latter two psychological explanations contend that partner choice is rooted and shaped in early youth, in relation to our parents. Relationship therapists usually abide by the theory that they were initially trained in. It’s no surprise that it’s impossible to get a unanimous agreement between them on attraction. Nevertheless, the question that seems to create the biggest debate, even bringing experts from different orientations together against those who share their theories seems to be: Can a partner who’s never been physically attracted to his/her mate grow this attraction with time? This question has produced some very interesting, and sometimes heated debates at professional organizations.

I have to admit that I err on the side of the naysayers. In nearly 35 years of practicing couple’s therapy I’ve never seen a partner “get it” when they “never had it” to begin with. I’ve seen a few who “had some” and “grew more.” Even those who were attracted to non-physical aspects of their partners (such as intellect) couldn’t seem to grow a physical attraction. In this sense, you either have it from the beginning or…

Let me be clear, I’m not saying that a lack of physical attraction will necessarily mean the demise of a marriage. Many people live together without physical attraction and/or little to no sexual relations. Other things outweigh physical attraction to these people such as companionship and security. Some find their mates interesting and stimulating. But to many, this type of relationship may be a so-called “house-of-cards.” Consider the following examples:

Janie, a very attractive woman in her middle forties came for couple’s therapy with her husband Tim. Janie lost the desire to have sex with Tim but couldn’t give a good reason. Tim seemed very much in love with his wife. He also kept himself in great shape and was a good provider. Even Janie sang his praises. Sensing something was awry, I separated the couple only to find out that Janie was having an affair. She told me: “Tim is a great guy who treats me like a queen. But as nice and handsome as he is, I’m just not attracted to him.” When I asked Janie the magic question: “Have you ever been physically attracted to Tim?” “No, not really,” she answered. “I needed to get out of my house because my parents were both terrible alcoholics and Tim promised to take care of me—the rest is history.”

Wendy and her husband Larry presented for couple’s therapy…. The Role of Physical Attraction in Your Relationship

The Power of a Single Clarifying Question Reply

By Chris Simmons

As the name implies, a clarifying question is a follow-on inquiry that seeks to expand upon a previously discussed topic. Often, this approach strings together these questions in a continuously narrow focus to move the discussion closer to the truth. However, in certain scenarios, you can get to the truth with a single question.

Known as a “conditional” clarifying question, the only requirement is that your counterpart has already agreed with you on a subject. This technique is intended to determine whether their agreement was sincere or simply a polite brush-off.

Multiple examples come to mind:

Your freshman daughter is back for her first weekend at home since starting college. Like any parent, you ask “So, is college everything you hoped it would be?” She answers with “Yeah, its pretty good.”

As you prepare to go out on the town, you ask your roommate “Does this outfit look okay?” She answers “Yes, it looks fine.”

At work, you pitch a colleague on the concept for a new computer app. After summation, you ask: “So what did you think?” and she replies “I like it – it’s great!”

Having received conditional agreement on your original question, the key to success with this tactic is to immediately ask a precise follow-up question that requires critical thinking on their part. For example, in scenario #1, a good follow-up would be “What would it take for you to be really excited about college?” In the second scenario, you might ask “What one thing could I do to really jazz up this outfit?” Likewise, in the workplace situation, you could follow with “What would you suggest I do to improve the concept?” In every situation, you intentionally asked for a form of soft criticism. And since you asked so directly, a person tends to offer a sincere and objective critique.

Where most people fail in this approach is not immediately soliciting feedback. Instead, they let their emotions get in the way, which kills any chance of honest feedback. Returning to the college scenario, let’s assume you follow your daughter’s response of college is “fine” with comments like “Oh, I am so relieved. I was so worried you might be homesick, have roommate problems, not like the school’s vibe, or whatever.” Your emotional outburst has effectively negated any hope of honest feedback. Knowing that you are emotionally invested, your daughter is unlikely to say anything that would hurt your feelings. You’d see similar avoidance by your roommate and work colleague.

For a conditional clarifying question to work, you absolutely must keep your emotions under control and ask a focused follow-up. If you receive the soft criticism/recommendation, their original agreement was sincere. However, if they respond by saying no improvements are needed, you’ve received a polite brush off. Let it go and move on.

Myth Busted: Looking Left or Right Doesn’t Indicate If You’re Lying Reply

We’ve all heard the claim: Watching a person’s eyes as they speak can help us figure out if they’re lying or telling the truth. Supposedly, if a right-handed person looks to the right, they are unwittingly revealing activity in the right hemisphere—the creative half of their brain—indicating they’re manufacturing a lie. On the other hand, eyes pointed to the left suggest activity in the rational, left hemisphere, showing that the speaker is telling the truth.

This idea has become so entrenched in conventional wisdom that it’s reportedly been used to train police conducting interrogations and can be found all over the web. But a new study by researchers in the United Kingdom and Canada, published yesterday in the journal PLoS ONE, indicates that there’s absolutely no evidence for it at all. ”It’s madness,” says Richard Wiseman, the lead author of the study. “You might as well just toss a coin, and if it comes up heads, you’re going up against a liar.”

Wiseman, who holds a Professorship in the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, frequently speaks on the psychology of lying and illusion, and says that running into this myth over and over again finally convinced him to test it scientifically. “Whenever I talk about lying publicly, this thing about eye movements always comes up,” he says. “It doesn’t at all match with the psychological literature, so I thought it’d be good to put it to the test.”

The first-ever study looking specifically into the myth yielded clear-cut results. In the first phase of the experiment, half of the participants were instructed to lie, saying that they had put a cell phone into a desk drawer when they had actually pocketed it in their bag. The other half were asked to put the phone in the drawer and then tell the truth. The interview was videotaped and the participants’ eye directions analyzed—and both groups showed virtually the exact same amount of looking left and right.

The second half of the experiment examined real-life lying. “We looked at tapes of high-level non-sanctioned lies—people at press conferences who were appealing for a missing relative,” says Wiseman. For half of the press conferences, the relatives speaking were later convicted for the crime, based on DNA, security camera footage or other evidence, indicating they were lying. Again, when compared to those telling the truth, they looked to the right or left no more frequently.

According to Wiseman, the myth seems to have originated in the literature of neuro-linguistic programming, or NLP, a self-help philosophy created in the 1970s and 80s. “Originally, they wrote about reconstructed memories versus generated memories—the difference between imagination and an event that actually happened,” he says. “Over the years, that somehow evolved into lying versus genuine memories.”

As the belief spread, it became accepted and incorporated into training manuals without ever being rigorously tested. “Interviewers in a lot of organizations are told to look for certain patterns of eye movements when someone talks about their past, and if they emerge, then that’s a reason to think the candidate is not telling the truth,” Wiseman says.

Although this myth has been debunked, there are some ways to analyze an interviewee’s behavior to get hints on whether they’re lying–but the methods are far more complicated that simply tracking the direction a person is looking. ”There are some actual cues that might indicate lying—such as being static or talking less or dropping in terms of emotionality,” says Wiseman, “but I don’t think there’s any reason to keep holding onto this idea about eye movement.”

Editor’s Note: While I respect the Smithsonian’s opinion, I do not fully accept its conclusion. Having been part of thousands of interrogations/interviews, I have witnessed countless instances in which the guilty party always looked to their right (my left) when lying. That said, eye movement is just one of many possible indicators of deception. The most important rule is to have a baseline of the person’s behavior/mannerisms when you know they are being honest. Using this as your starting point, detecting anomalies — almost always a sign of deception — becomes a relatively easy and highly reliable pathway to finding the truth.

Are You Carrying Emotional Baggage from One Relationship to Another? Reply

The past has no power to stop you from being present now. Only your grievance about the past can do that. What is grievance? The baggage of old thought and emotion.  ~Lao Tzu

Are you carrying emotional baggage from one relationship to another? Just like schlepping an overstuffed Samsonite, it will cost you, make your journey more difficult, and could prevent you from making a successful connection!

Relationships are a bit of a dance, and in order to remain light on our feet, we need to shed the dead weight of the issues that continue to plague us. The tango is a dance in which two people either move together in the same direction or in opposition to each other. Perhaps this is why the phrase ‘it takes two to tango’ is so often used when referring to relationships.

While it does take two to make or break a relationship, we need to hold ourselves accountable for our responsibility as it relates to its success, or its collapse. As we all know, to keep a long-term relationship moving forward takes much effort. If it ends, and we don’t look deeply into our actions or inactions that played a role in the demise, then we are simply setting ourselves up for another relationship with an expiration date.

Be honest with yourself.

Do you have trouble communicating?

If so, then ask yourself: Is it easier to get divorced than it is to make the effort to listen to her, to show her attention so she feels you ‘get’ her and that she is a priority?

Are you emotionally unavailable?

If so, then ask yourself: Would you rather be alone than experience an emotionally strong connection because it’s built on vulnerability?

Are you a workaholic?

If so, then ask yourself: Would you rather end the relationship than work a little less so you have enough energy to provide him with the intimacy he requires to feel connected?

Do you make excuses (you call them reasons) for not being where you want to be in your life?

If so, then ask yourself: Would you rather stay single than step up and do what it takes to improve your lifestyle?

I’ve heard people say, “I’d have to change who I am, and I’m not willing to do that.”

I ask, is changing your behavior the same as changing who you are? Is making an effort to show you care, changing your personality? Granted, if you enjoy working on cars, you won’t be happy in a three-piece suit… but that’s not the same as being willing to learn the tools that will help you change and grow. These tools could very well prevent you from going to the pit for a tire change every few laps around the track!

We will keep getting the same results if we keep doing the same things! (Yes, also known as insanity). Hard as we try to ignore them, the lessons we are supposed to learn in this life will continue to boomerang right back in our face until we come face to face with them. This applies to many areas of our lives including our work, weight, familial or intimate relationships.

Our issues will follow us from relationship to relationship and will not go away until you tackle them head on!

Some possible demons to consider:

How to “Weed Out” The Roots of Jealousy Reply

By Chris Simmons

Academics continued to debate whether jealousy is triggered by low self-esteem or low self-worth. I believe it’s a distinction without a difference.

Jealousy is – at its core – an identity issue. Let’s assume your spouse or significant other is friendly, attractive, charismatic, self-confident, and a gifted athlete. However, he is very sensitive to money issues, as he plays professional lacrosse — a sport where the salaries and financial rewards are poor. Now imagine the two of you are at a friend’s party. Since he is a rich entrepreneur, the affluence of the host or fellow party-goers  could trigger a jealous bout.

In your beloved’s mind, his identity is tied, in part, to his ability to earn a good income. Despite his other blessings, he is insecure about this facet of his identity. This feeling may be further complicated by the human tendency to “mirror image” – that is, he may take his focus on the need for a good income and superimpose that belief on you. In doing so, this further fuels jealous feelings.

All identity issues are rooted in our emotions. As such, his negative feelings are best counteracted by de-emphasizing the importance of his current income. Don’t go “off message” by complimenting him on his athleticism, appearance, etc. – those aren’t the jealousy triggers. Instead, you could simply reassure him that it’s more important to you that you both pursue your passions rather than sell out for a well-paying but soul-killing job. Remind him that together you share a nice income and incredible jobs. Life could not be any better.

Regardless of whether the root cause of the jealousy is low self-esteem, little self-worth, or envy, tread lightly on their emotions. Be empathetic rather than sympathetic and most importantly; be absolutely sincere in diminishing the perceived importance of the “jealousy trigger.”  If they doubt your message, you could inadvertently leave them worse off than when you started.

Violence Against Women — It’s a Men’s Issue 2

Jackson Katz, Phd, is an anti-sexist activist and expert on violence, media and masculinities. An author, filmmaker, educator and social theorist, Katz has worked in gender violence prevention work with diverse groups of men and boys in sports culture and the military, and has pioneered work in critical media literacy. Katz is the creator and co-founder of the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) program, which advocates the ‘bystander approach’ to sexual and domestic violence prevention.

Caring or Controlling? The Truth Behind Handshakes Reply

A limp handshake is widely seen as a sign of insecurity, just as a firm handclasp is assumed to express confidence. But there are numerous other types of handshakes, all with very distinct meanings. These include:

  1. The Palm-Down:  In this scenario, an individual either offers his hand with the palm facing down or initiates a handshake normally before twisting his hand so he is on top. This is an aggressive gesture is intended to convey that they will be in control of the forthcoming discussion/negotiation.
  2. The Glove:  The meaning behind clasping someone’s hand with both of your hands varies significantly based on the connection between the two individuals. If the two parties already had an existing relationship, “The Glove,” done sincerely, is an expression of kindness or sympathy. However, if no prior connection existed, this gesture is a power play masquerading as empathy.
  3.  The Double Glove:  In this forceful response to “The Glove,”  the original victim uses his free hand to envelop the offending party’s outside hand. It is a very clear message that you are one to be reckoned with.
  4.  The Catch-And-Release:  A quick grasp and release is a dismissive gesture. This individual has no interest in you or your needs. Protect yourself by allowing this person to say what he/she feels they must say, thank them for their input, and then excuse yourself to attend to an unspecified urgent matter.
  5. The Arm Grab: This is a more refined form of “The Glove” wherein one party takes their free hand and touches or takes hold of the other person’s forearm, elbow, bicep, or shoulder. In an existing relationship – especially paternal ones — this can be a very genuine display of compassion and support. However, this gesture is often “hijacked” by unconnected others so they may appear caring and sincere when they are actually conveying their control over the other party. The higher they place their free hand on your arm, the more aggressive and controlling the intent. Additionally, politicians further distort this gesture by using the “bicep/shoulder grab” as a blocking gesture to ensure they are not caught in an unexpected or embarrassing hug.