What is Your Attachment Style: Anxious, Avoidant, or Secure?

Learn more about attachment-style theory to discover more about how you and your partner relate and react when you are in relationship.

When we look for a partner, there’s a whole host of factors that play into the process. Our relationship and personal histories, for one — including romantic, familial, and even workplace — have a huge impact on our love lives.

Considering our diverse and varied experiences and the unique connection formed by two people, every relationship is completely different. Still, research shows that when it comes down to how we form and behave in relationships, pretty much everyone falls into one of three categories: anxious, avoidant, or secure. It’s called the attachment theory, and according to astudy published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, about 20 percent of people are anxious and roughly 25 percent fall into the avoidant camp, while the rest of the population are considered secure.

Anxious  People who have an anxious attachment style crave intimacy and closeness. They love being coupled, but they consider relationships fragile and are sensitive to even minor shifts in a partner’s mood and the subtle nuances of relationships. A little thing, such as a partner neglecting to call, leaves them feeling vulnerable and insecure. Anxious-attachment-style people generally have a harder time telling love interests what they want because they don’t want to rock the boat or create conflict. Instead, they’re more likely to mope, withdraw, or even lash out: They ignore the calls they so anxiously await or flirt with others to make their mates jealous. This method of reacting doesn’t bode well for creating communicative, stable relationships.

Avoidant  The behavior of avoidant types can often be difficult to predict. Deep down they do crave intimacy, but they often think this connection will rob them of their prized independence. People in this category may feel uncomfortable or suffocated if they sense love interests getting too close. Often this leads them to pull away.

Although avoidants may seem like prime candidates for eternal singlehood, they do want to form deep romantic connections. However, to protect themselves from potential heartbreak, they repress those feelings and create distance between themselves and their partners. For example, avoidants may feel annoyed or even angry if their partners seem “needy,” and they opt to keep them at arm’s length. Or they may get overly annoyed and focused on the “small stuff,”like how they don’t wipe down the sink or crack their gum. They may use these perceived flaws to temper their romantic feelings.

Secure  People who fall into the secure category are reliable, relationship oriented, and do a very good job at communicating what they want as well as responding to their partners’ needs. When disagreements crop up, secure people tend to stay calm and are ready to talk things out. They are comfortable with intimacy: So instead of shying away from conflict resolution, they are willing to address relationship problems and thus work to grow closer and deepen their bonds with others.

Let’s face it, not all of us have a secure attachment style. But if you don’t fall into this category, don’t fret. Based on our changing life experiences and deepening self-awareness (and often therapy ), you can shift your attachment style. It’s not rigid or immobile. Our relationship patterns constantly evolve and change.

 

Source: Dr. Laura Berman

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A good kiss can make all your nerve endings tingle or may open the door to lasting love. We often use a kiss to gauge the potential for a bed mate, or a life mate.

 

 What’s in a Kiss?
It’s a way of testing the waters, sampling the goods — before you commit.

It all starts with a kiss. Whether long and sensual or short and sweet, a kiss is the ultimate form of sensual expression.  If done right, a kiss can light the flames of passion; if done wrong, it can bring a delicious infatuation to a less-than-rousing end. A kiss is the doorway to what comes next.

Many women will tell you that a kiss is the ultimate deal-breaker. A good kiss is both a matter of personal style and what feels right for the moment. But what is it about a smooch that can send you to the stars or smack you right back down to earth?
A kiss puts you in close proximity with a partner’s skin and scent. Skin is the delivery site for pheromones — the undetectable chemicals of attraction that work through our sense of smell. The kiss delivers us to the most primal parts of our minds, which may be why there is so much potential for satisfaction and disappointment.

For many, kissing is one of few sexual acts they’ve engaged in with a wide range of people. Again, since a kiss can make or break an attraction, it is often the case that we end up kissing far more people than we bed. It’s the supreme technique of sampling the goods with little emotional or physical investment.
So just how much experience are most of us getting? A nationwide survey conducted by Close-Up toothpaste got up close and personal with 2,200 men and women to shed some light on our modern kissing habits. It seems that men and women are definitely getting their practice in: The average woman kisses 17.5 men before she settles down and the average man kisses 24 prospects before he locks lips forever. Women report their first kiss at age 14, while men get a bit of a slower start between the ages of 16 and 18.

Speaking of close-up, the French kiss is listed as most men and women’s favorite; however, don’t thank the French for introducing it to us. The term actually entered the English language in 1923, in honor of the très   passionate country. I suspect the French kiss was around long before anything — or anyone — French.

The study also considered geographic differences in kissing trends. Evidently the best place to live if you are an active kisser is in the Northwest, where people exchange more kisses per day (5.5) than anywhere else in the country.  The Northeasterners are the most confident in their kissing abilities.  Wondering about the Midwest?  It seems they’re the most honest in relationships.  They’re more likely than any other region to confess to a partner after making out with someone else — not to mention that they’re late bloomers. Compared to the rest of the nation, the first kiss of a Midwesterner comes somewhere between 16 and 18 years old, about five years later than the smoochers in Hawaii.  So if you want a good kiss-filled vacation, you know where to go — but don’t forget to brush your teeth!

A Kiss Can Be Bliss…………

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Female sexuality is mysterious, so it’s no wonder that men struggle to understand a woman’s sexual responses.

The female body is complicated and mysterious, and this is especially true when it comes to sex and orgasm. Many women don’t understand their anatomy or sexual response, so it’s no surprise that men are even more baffled about what makes a woman tick sexually. And, thanks to myths and urban legends, misinformation only further complicates a man’s understanding of the female body.

Here are the top-ten female-orgasm myths that many men still believe:

Intercourse Should Always Lead to Orgasm

Intercourse alone usually does not lead to orgasm. Only 30% of women reach orgasm from intercourse alone. The rest need added clitoral stimulation to achieve pleasure.

All Positions Are Created Equal

Not so! There are some positions that make female orgasm much more likely, such as woman-on-top, as it gives her the added clitoral stimulation she needs to reach orgasm.

Women Can Easily Reach Orgasm

Pornography and Hollywood movies make the female orgasm seem effortless and straightforward. However, the truth is that most women need up to 20 minutes to become aroused and orgasmic, which is why foreplay is so important.

Vibrators Are a Replacement for a Man

Sex aids can help to greatly improve your partner’s sexual experience as well as your own. However, vibrators are not a replacement for a man, and they cannot help your partner achieve the same feelings of intimacy and pleasure.

Women Don’t Like Quickies

While most men can reach orgasm faster than a woman can, this doesn’t mean that quickies aren’t fun or that they cannot serve a purpose in your relationship. If you don’t have time for foreplay or a full-on sex session, a quickie can keep you bonded and close for the time being.

Condoms Complicate Sex and Delay Orgasms

Recent advancements in condom manufacturing have make condoms thinner and less noticeable than ever before.

You Can Always Tell if a Woman Is Faking

Not always! Some women deserve an Oscar for their acting performances; however, it’s important to remember that faking orgasm cheats both of you. Ask your partner if she likes what you are doing or if she needs a different touch to reach orgasm.

Women Like Only Soft, Gentle Sex

Sometimes they do, but sometimes they also want sex that is more animalistic and wild. Explore that side of your partner’s fantasies by asking her what she wants and taking the lead.

Women Can Easily Achieve Multiple Orgasms

Unlike a man, a woman doesn’t need a refractory period before she can be orgasmic again. However, it’s not always easy to achieve one orgasm, let alone many! Hence, while some women are multi-orgasmic, not every woman knows how to harness that power. Practice makes perfect!

The Goal of Sex Is to Have an Orgasm

Don’t think of orgasm as the destination. Sex should be about the journey and being in the moment. Stay attuned to your partner’s body and the sensations of closeness and passion, and let your orgasm and hers happen when they happen. Remember, there is no “right” time or way to achieve orgasm. Every individual and every orgasm is unique.

 

Source: Dr. Laura Berman

The Top 10 Female Orgasm Myths…That Men Still Believe

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The parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems are two parts of the autonomic nervous system that keep us in balance and help power our sex lives.

Sexuality is a multifaceted interplay of the body and the mind. While it’s no secret that everything from hormones to happiness can affect our arousal, the vital function of the nervous system is often overlooked.

Understanding the Autonomic Nervous System  The body is equipped with a special branch of the nervous system called the autonomic nervous system, which is vital for the health and well-being of the human body as it maintains a state of balance. The autonomic nervous system is divided into two separate systems: the parasympathetic nervous system and the sympathetic nervous system.

The sympathetic nervous system mediates sexual arousal, reaction to emergencies, and vigilance by increasing your heart rate, boosting your blood pressure, and speeding up your breathing. It’s responsible for the classic “fight-or-flight” response, which is mediated by two main chemical messengers, epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine.

The parasympathetic nervous system, in contrast, primarily counters the sympathetic one by mediating the body’s calming and relaxing functions. Eat a big meal, take a nap, meditate, and the parasympathetic is kicking in, slowing down your heart rate, breathing, and so on.

How the Parasympathetic and Sympathetic Nervous Systems Work (or Don’t Work) Together  The parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems usually function in opposition to one another, creating a balance within the human body. For example, when the heart receives neural stimulation from the parasympathetic nervous system, the heart slows down. On the flip side, when the heart receives neural stimulation from the neurons of the sympathetic nervous system, the heart will speed up.

Problems occur when the autonomic nervous system is out of balance. For example, overstimulation of the sympathetic nervous system can lead to such problems as anxiety, hypertension, and digestive disturbances. Overstimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system can result in low blood pressure and fatigue..

How Sexual Function and Dysfunction Are Tied to the Autonomic Nervous System  Like the rest of the body’s functions, for both women and men, sexual response is affected by both the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems, and proper sexual function requires an impressive amount of choreography between these two branches of the autonomic nervous system. During arousal, blood flow to the pelvis and genitals increases when the blood vessels relax, and this results in an erection for men and increased blood to the prostate. In women, it creates lubrication and engorgement of the clitoris and other spongy tissue.

When they work in conjunction, these two systems work great, yet mental and emotional factors that are involved in our sexual responses send other signals to our brains. For example, during times of stress, the male becomes too anxious to establish enough parasympathetic input to the penis to get an erection in the first place. The result is stress-induced impotence.

In another scenario, a man can manage to get an erection but then becomes anxious about something, and things rapidly shift from calm, vegetative parasympathetic to adrenaline-surge sympathetic. Things have gone too fast, and he suffers from either loss of erection or premature ejaculation (or both).

Women can experience painful intercourse, lack of desire, and a number of other side effects from an imbalance of the two systems. While it’s difficult in the heat of the moment to think about the science behind your sexual response, it’s always important to remember that there are a number of factors affecting your sexuality.

 

Source: Dr. Laura Berman

What Are the Parasympathetic and Sympathetic Nervous Systems?

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Pheromones are subconscious and silent sex cues that can help you feel attracted to someone, or send you running.

 

Pheromones are mysterious chemical signals that are released into the air by humans and animals alike. They are used to send subconscious messages and have been linked to everything from ovulation cycles to physical attraction. Some perfumes and colognes containing pheromones are marketed to people who are looking to attract the opposite sex.

However, while the science of pheromones is still relatively new, it seems that there is no way to exactly duplicate your own personal pheromones. They are as much a part of your genetic makeup as your hair color or your skin tone. In fact, researchers have recently discovered an olfactory nerve that they believe is the route through which pheromones are processed. Cranial nerve zero, as it is called, bypasses the olfactory area of the brain where scents are normally processed. Instead, it is linked straight to the area of the brain that processes sexual cues and creates attraction. Turns out, nerve zero isn’t a typical scent sensor; instead, it seems to be used to interpret sexual cues from potential mates.

But what are these sexual cues, and what exactly is nerve zero looking for? For one thing, we are more likely to be attracted to people whose scent is dissimilar to our own. Family members often share similar chemicals, so our attraction to differing chemical makeup suggests that sexual cues evolved to protect close family members from procreating together. On the other hand, pregnant women have been shown to be more drawn to people with similar chemical makeup, which might be due to the fact that during this crucial time, women are more apt to seek out family members than potential mates.

Furthermore, couples who have high levels of chemicals in common are more likely to encounter fertility issues, miscarriage, and infidelity. The more dissimilar your chemical makeup is from your partner’s, the better chance you will have of successfully procreating and staying together.

So how can you create the scent that will keep you and your partner in the land of happily ever after? Unfortunately, you can’t. Perfumes and colognes can’t fool nerve zero — the scents that humans and animals are attracted to are intangible and instinctive. Even the most expensive designer perfume can’t fool Mother Nature. When it comes to sexual attraction, nature’s nerve zero knows best.

However, if you are taking a hormonal contraceptive, you might be bucking an evolutionary tide. Women who are on the pill are more likely to be attracted to men with similar chemical makeup — most likely because their bodies are fooling them into believing they are pregnant, and so much like actual pregnant women, their nerve zero leads them to kin, not mates. So if you were on the pill when you met your mate, you might possibly experience a diminishing attraction when you cease taking it.

Only time will tell what role nerve zero plays in future sex research, but one thing is for sure: love is in the air!

Source: Dr. Laura Berman

Pheromones Give Off Sexual Cues

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Some psychologists believe that our attraction to our partners is tied to early experiences and crushes from our childhood.

 

Psychologist John Money coined the term “love map” to describe one’s blueprint for the perfect mate, both sexually and otherwise. It is the unconscious outline in your mind of what love should look like. Your love map is mostly the result of early childhood preferences and experiences. Much of it was imprinted before you knew what to make of it — a delicious smell, a beautiful hair color, a great sense of humor. It is a map of what is significant to you sensually, based on what resonated with you as a child.

Your love map is pretty fluid until about age seven and then solidifies in its most fundamental form. However, love maps can be redrawn throughout your developmental years as a result of big events or relationships in your life. Your first love might set a pattern of attraction, either because it went so well or so wrong. Or your parents’ divorce and your dad’s subsequent emotional departure might cause you to seek out unavailable men.

Understanding your love map can help you have better relationships. When you and your partner fit together like two pieces of a puzzle, it’s for a variety of reasons — both good and bad. The upside of being with someone who fits the outline of our love map is that we get to experience that frenzied, euphoric lust that sparks between two people who have a unique chemistry. The downside is that we may be drawn to someone who resurrects conflicts, big or small, from our childhood. It’s why we’re able to fall madly in love, only to find ourselves in a relationship tangle that seems impossible to manage.

Since our love maps are outlined before we even reach adulthood, they are generally based on watching the model of our parents’ relationship or from childhood crushes and societal structures. If you grew up with parents who exhibited a healthy and loving relationship, you will likely draw certain positive subconscious (and conscious) conclusions about what a relationship should look like. You will also gain very personal ideas about how men and women should treat each other, including how sexual attraction should manifest in a relationship.

Of course, few people have a perfectly idyllic childhood, but this doesn’t mean that your love map is doomed from thestart. Even if your parents didn’t have an amicable marriage, you might have gained valuable insights and a clear idea of what you want and need from a partner. Perhaps your love map might lead you to choose partners who challenge you or partners who make you look deeply at yourself and become the best you can be.

To make sure that you are following a healthy love map, it’s important to first examine what qualities attract you to someone and why. Identify the major factors that have influenced your love map, learn what you need and expect in a relationship, and commit yourself to finding a relationship that meets your expectations and needs in a healthy way. Like the old saying goes, those who don’t understand history are doomed to repeat it… especially when it is your history!

 

Source: Dr. Laura Berman

What Is Your Map to Perfect Love?

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Although men and women both experience increased blood flow to the genitals when aroused, the process of getting to orgasm is different.

 

When men and women become aroused, our bodies change in perceptible and imperceptible ways to prepare for intercourse. As we become aroused, our bodies go into the “excitement” phase. Your breath will become shorter and faster and your heart rate will increase. If you continue being aroused, you will move into the “plateau” phase.

In this stage, the vagina will swell and become lubricated, while a man’s penis will become engorged with blood. The woman’s cervix will actually rise slightly, in preparation for penetration.

The next stage is the “climax” phase, when intense feelings of pleasure begin and you lose voluntary muscle control. You and your partner will experience genital muscle contractions and a sense of euphoria.

Finally, you move to the “resolution” phase. Your breathing and heart rate return to normal and blood flows away from the genital region, returning both of your genitals to their pre-sex state.

Although the male and female bodies respond to sex similarly (through increased blood flow to the genitals, etc.), our minds might be prepped differently for intercourse.

According to urban legend, men think about sex every three minutes. Men don’t necessarily have thoughts about the sexual act this often, but they are having thoughts of a sexual quality. For instance, they may see a woman walk down the street and wonder what her breasts look like without a bra or what another looks like naked. When it comes to sex, men are generally like sprinters, easily stimulated and ready to run the lap as fast as their legs can pump. Once the lap is completed, they must rest before they can perform again. Women, on the other hand, are like marathoners — it takes us a while to get warmed up, but once we get going, we can last for hours and hours!

While some men can become orgasmic in less a few a minutes, women can take up to 20 minutes to reach their arousal peak. You can manage this difference in arousal sequence by being more hands-on when it comes to achieving your own needs in the bedroom. For instance, if you know that you only have time for a quickie before the kids come home from school, choose a position in which you can help yourself along through clitoral stimulation.

Most importantly, ladies, remember that an orgasm is an orgasm is an orgasm! No matter how or when you have an orgasm (after intercourse, before intercourse, manually, orally, etc.), just embrace the pleasure and the bond it creates! Don’t worry about whether it is expertly choreographed, as sex rarely occurs so smoothly. And, if it did, it wouldn’t be very interesting, now would it?

 

Source: Dr. Laura Berman

 

Orgasms for Everyone: How Men and Women Become Aroused

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When it comes to sexual desire, people often wrongly assume that all men are ready for action anytime.

 

Not all men are created equal — in the bedroom anyway.

Many people wrongly believe that all men are easily aroused, easily pleased, and of course, easily finished. So much of our media exposure and Hollywood mythology about male sexuality portrays guys as horndogs whose main focus is having sex — and lots of it — and moving on. Male sexual desire is rarely as straightforward and simplistic as the media make it out to be. While it might be true that certain men can become aroused and satisfied quickly, there is much more to male sexual desire than that.

Famed sex researchers Masters and Johnson created a model of the sexual-desire process in the 1960s. According to their research, humans experience sexual desire within these four stages:

 

  1. Excitement phase — in which a person’s desire is peaked, either through stimulation, fantasy, or a combination of the two
  2. Plateau phase — in which desire increases but orgasm is not quite reached
  3. Orgasm
  4. Resolution phase — post-orgasm stage

 

They later discovered another stage that occurs only in men, called the refractory period. It’s the stage after orgasm, a cooling-off period men need before they are able to become erect again — as opposed to women, who are capable of multiple orgasms. However, this is not the only difference between the genders. Researchers now argue that while women can climb up and down the sexual-desire stages (from excitement to plateau to orgasm to excitement again), men have a more linear sexual experience. In other words, once they become aroused, they seek satisfaction immediately.

While it might be true that men and women perceive men’s sexual process this way, the truth is that it is completely possible for a man to slow down his desire and experience a more sensual and fulfilling side of sex. In fact, when dealing with male sexual dysfunction issues such as early ejaculationthe most helpful treatment is for a man to learn how to draw out his sexual response and get in touch with discovering his point of no return. Using a scale from 1 to 4, a man usually will climb from 1 to 2 to 3 to 4, but he could train himself to climb up and down the sexual desire scale from 1 to 2 and back again; this will lengthen his intercourse sessions and make his orgasms that much more intense and pleasurable.

Other people argue that male sexual desire also differs from female sexual desire in that their excitement stage often requires direct and visual stimulation. While a woman might be easily aroused from a racy story or a naughty fantasy, men might require more physical or clear stimulation, such as an X-rated movie or oral pleasure from their partner. Perhaps this is because men are simply used to receiving this stimulation, while women are used to internalizing their desires and utilizing fantasy in the bedroom. Or perhaps men are just hardwired to seek out the attributes they find desirable. Whatever the case, differing sexual-desire models among the sexes can lead to some complications in the bedroom. For instance, while the man can be satisfied with direct stimulation or the sight of his partner in the buff, she might need something more, such as foreplay, romance, or perhaps even a bit of fantasy. Understanding the differences between the male and female sexual experiences can help couples to navigate these issues and create the most satisfying sexual interactions possible.

 

Source: Dr. Laura Berman

Understanding Male Sexual Desire

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Our eyes often lead us to pursue our passions, love, and desires.

 

From “love at first sight” to “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” our language is filled with expressions that capture sight’s crucial role in our romantic lives.

A person’s appearance often inspires romantic interest in the first place. A certain someone catches our eye and we’re off! The brain gets all wound up and the heart goes aflutter. The pursuit of love, or at the very least sex, is ignited by the delicious sense of sight. We write a love letter, buy new lingerie, and sensually undress, all in worship of the wonders of sight.

There are far subtler ways that sight bewitches and beguiles. Eye contact is a primary communicator of interest or a lack thereof. When we fancy someone, we usually look and look away before maintaining eye contact for just slightly longer than normal.

When you see someone you like, make a point to linger just a little once you make eye contact, if only for a few seconds. And it’s not just for seducing new love interests. Send your current partner a strong message by looking deeply into his eyes while across the dinner table or at a crowded party with your friends. Think intimate thoughts and he’ll feel the burn of your gaze.

Look into the Heart of the Soul  A tantric technique known as soul-gazing is used to transmit sexual energy and healing. Give it a try! Sit comfortably facing your partner and gaze into each other’s eyes. Focus on the left eye, above the heart. You can place a hand over each other’s heart to synchronize your breathing too. You’ll find the eyes make a straight line to the heart.

Guys Lead With Their Eyes  When it comes to sexuality, men are known to be more visual beings than women. Evolutionary theory has it that physical appearance was the best way for prehistoric man to size up a fertile mate. The markers of such fertility still ring true today:healthy skin, bright eyes, symmetrical features, even childbearing hips. We haven’t strayed too far from the caveman ideal.

However, sight is the supreme sex sense for women too, but in another way. Our own body-image drives our experience as sexual beings. A woman’s body-image is formed early in life. How we are perceived by others, be they parents, peers, or other important people in our lives, plays a powerful role in our image of ourselves. At puberty, our looks become meaningful in a way we may not have been aware of earlier. It is both powerful and destructive.

As women, we are so vulnerable to sight that it drives our sexual feelings, as well as how we feel about ourselves. We prepare our bodies and faces for visual inspection by shaving our legs, choosing the right outfit, and doing our hair and makeup. It’s a self-esteem thing that drives our sexual confidence inside the bedroom and out.

The good news is that most women come into a sense of their own as they get older. It’s true — and somewhat ironic — that women report feeling more confident in their appearance at middle age than they did when they were younger and more “conventionally attractive.” It’s as if we discover a confidence we never knew existed. We finally see our own beauty, as others have seen it in us for years.

 

Source: Dr. Laura Berman

Our Eyes Can Shape the Way We Feel