One Woman’s Perspective on her Sex Addiction and Recovery

The  following is an interview with a woman who self-identified as being in  recovery from a sex addiction.  She is in her 40’s, professional, and  married with children.  She asked to remain anonymous for the sake of  her privacy; she used the pseudonym “Nora.”  I asked her about her  addiction and about being a woman and sex addict.  I began by asking her  to describe her sexual addiction:

Dr. S: How would you describe your sex addiction?

Nora: At this point in my recovery, many previous problematic  behaviors have dropped away, leaving only the core of my addiction –  which started in early childhoodmasturbation with disturbing fantasy.   So in describing my sex addiction, I would say that I have been able  to let go of all my problem behaviors without great difficulty but  struggled to achieve abstinence with masturbation with those  fantasies.  I am currently sober and have been for some time, one day at  a time.   My addiction started in early childhood, and later was  obscured by the acting-out I was doing with men.  But it was all deeply  influenced by the control and rage-based fantasy world which started in  my childhood.

// Dr. S:  How did you know it was an addiction?

Nora: I was unable to stop my behaviors on my own.  I would  make promises to myself to stop having one-night stands, unprotected sex  and falling in desperation (love) with unavailable men.  I would be in  one desperate relationship, and cheat on that person, intrigue with  other men, or cheat on him in my fantasies, and go from one bad  situation to the next – from my teens until my late 20’s.  I started  therapy because I was terribly unhappy, and early-on in treatment my  therapist told me to go to Al Anon because I had a family history and  relationship history being with others who struggled with alcohol and  drugs.  I began understanding I was a co-dependent but I wasn’t able to  yet accept my own sex and sex and love addiction issues.

Dr. S.: What made you accept that you were powerless over it/that it was an addiction?

Nora: Accepting my powerlessness has come in stages in my sex  addiction recovery.  About a year or so into individual therapy my  therapist, who had already told me to go to Al Anon, next told me I  needed to go to SAA [Sex Addicts Anonymous].  I was angry and refused.   I am surprised that somehow I didn’t quit therapy.  But later I was a  bit more open because I could see my inability to stop acting-out  sexually and with love addiction.  I hit bottom.  Prior to my bottom, I  was sure I had met the love of my life: a seminary student who was  moving out of the country in a week.  I was certain I would be able to  convince him to stay and be with me!  When he left and I never heard  from him again I came crashing down.  I remember looking around and  seeing natural beauty, and happy people, and I was miserable.  I  remember thinking that I had to quit these behaviors and get a grip.  I  went into to therapy deeply humbled and told my therapist I was going to  go to SAA meetings.

Dr. S.: What made you feel like you needed recovery?  What did you do for recovery?

Nora: I went to SAA.  Unfortunately I didn’t continue to go to  Al Anon.  I didn’t understand at the time the struggle I had with  co-dependency was as serious as my sex addiction problem.  I was still  confused and thought that now that I was in SAA that would take care of  everything.  Of course it didn’t and later I realized a lot of my  inability to get completely sober in SAA was because I wasn’t working on  my co-dependency.  After a while I returned to Al Anon and remain in  both programs now.  I am not in AA but I understand from AA friends who  also go to Al Anon they consider themselves “double winners”.  I hope  that is true for me as well.

Dr. S.: What have you come to understand are the origins of your sex addiction?

Nora: I believe that its origin was in my early childhood.  I  was raised by two parents both with significant mental illness.  My  mother had a severe anxiety disorder and my father struggled with  depression and rage.  There was a tremendous amount of tension, rage,  and fear present at all times in my family.  My father had been a war  veteran and it was only later in his life that I suspected he likely had  PTSD.  He was also a high functioning alcoholic.  He was terribly  violent and for some strange reason, I took on the role of standing up  to him and often bearing the brunt of his violence while no one in the  family stepped-in or defended me from it.  So I was an extremely angry,  fearful, and anxious kid.  I think my anger saved me but it became  eroticized and the root of my sex addiction.  I had all this anger  directed at wanting to save my mother and defeat my father.   I was  never going to let a man or anyone have power over me and I was never  going to let anyone’s anxiety intrude on me – at least that was my power  fantasy, which of course isn’t – and wasn’t – reality.  I wanted to  have power over men and women.  And in my mixed up thinking thought I  could do that sexually.  Unfortunately my concern about power was not  just with men but in all areas of my life and these issues kept me from  being close and intimate with family, friends, and my partner.  At its  root, I was terrified of intimacy.  My “savior” anger has probably at  the same time turned out to be my worst enemy.  It remains a central  part of my recovery work today.

Dr. S.: What made your recovery different as a woman than  it would be for a man?  Why do you think more women don’t get help for  their sex addiction?

Nora: I think that some of the differences have been that  there are far more men in [SAA] meetings than women.  There have been  more women who identify with the “love addiction” side of things and  sometimes I feel they don’t recognize that “love addiction” is often  eroticized fantasy of power and that has to do with sex as well.  I  sometimes feel isolated and alone, and that there still is as much  social stigma about women being sex addicts as there has been  historically about women being open about having sex.  “It’s just not  done.”  I see all the statistics that show women are becoming addicted  to internet porn in larger and larger numbers, but I am not seeing these  women in my meetings.  It makes me sad.  I have seen a tremendous  increase in attendance in the conference call, women-only meetings but  perhaps that still suggests we women are afraid to go to face to face  meetings?  I am glad for the support of the conference call meetings.

Dr. S.: Have you had any relapses?  How do you think about relapse?

Nora: If you are referring to my inner-circle, or bottom-line  behaviors, I have had no slips in areas such as sex outside of my  relationship, affairs, and intrigue.  But I have had slips with  masturbation and fantasy.  Sometimes I understand the slips and  sometimes I have to work to get it.  I have done a fair amount of  therapy and work the 12-steps and understand that I have to practice my  program, one day at a time.  I don’t believe I can promise never to have  a relapse, and that is not about having one foot out the door or making  excuses.  But I think with regards to my core sex addiction, if I stop  taking care of myself and/or stop working my program, I can find myself  in trouble.  Sometimes I feel I am in my addiction even though I am not  acting-out.  This is when I have lost my grip on the “here and now,” and  I confuse where I am powerless and where I have power.  If I think I  can deal with my addiction or stress by myself, then I am in trouble.  I  know I am powerless over addiction, so one day at a time makes me more  responsible to do everything I can do to stay honest and work the steps  and choose to bear the hard stuff that I used to act-out over.

Interests and Behaviors in Sexuality

Sexuality ContinuesSexuality between consenting adults is a natural and healthy experience and expression of sexual involvement.  It is important to view sexuality positively; respecting and accepting  diverse values and beliefs.  Individuals, communities, and society reap great benefits when  attitudes of tolerance and acceptance of sexual preference is openly discussed.  Internal and external peace are exuberant and social connection harmonizes.

Attractions, desires, fantasies, and life choices vary from person to person and understanding the fluidity of the life cycle and personal choices can unite us.

Sexual preference transforms in various forms such as heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, fluid, and queer.  There are also several types of sexual activity and classifications; for instance sexual intercourse, oral sex, mutual masturbation, S&M, bondage, and tantric.    These identities are valid and completely normal.  It is just as typical to be attracted to both genders, engage in heterosexual and homosexual activity as it is to be attracted to just one gender.  It’s a matter of genetics, personality, personal choice, and can even change over time.  It is fluid and evolves as we change throughout our lifetime.  It is an individual predilection and genetic make-up that cannot be affected by the influence of others.

Sexual identity naturally changes as our drive and desire transforms as much as humans logically change over time.  It is dependent on our psyche, life experiences, self exploration, belief systems and personal acceptance.  What attracts us and arouses us is extremely variable. At various stages in one’s life, a person may identify as heterosexual, only to get to a point later in life where they can acknowledge that they are also attracted to members of their own gender. At that point, they may decide to identify as bisexual.

Similarly, someone who has identified as gay might discover that they are attracted to someone of another sex, and their self-identification may change because of their experience. It is common and not strange or uncanny to change sexual identity.  Sexual attraction is a personal endeavor and cannot be converted or influenced by anyone else.  Biology, physiology, and psychology components make it difficult to change an individual’s sexuality.  Gay or lesbian sexual orientations cannot be transformed to heterosexual and vice versa.

Sexual studies have proven that people’s sexual attractions and sexual identification cannot be changed by peer or societal pressure. It is an assumption that everyone is born heterosexual, and that it takes an experience with someone who is already gay, lesbian or bisexual to “convert” a person to being gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Many gay, lesbian, and bisexuals are aware that they have non-heterosexual attractions from the age of three with no adaptation or sexual experiences necessary.

Bisexuality is having the ability to find people of more than one sex attractive.  It’s the capability of being attracted sexually and/or romantically to members of more than one sex. You don’t need to have had sex with someone of the opposite sex to be a heterosexual, or to have had sex with someone of the same sex to know you are a homosexual – you just know what you like and what you find attractive. If you know that you find people of more than one sex to be eye-catching and sexy, you may call yourself bisexual, whether or not you ever have sex with partners of more than one sex.  It’s all a matter what we accept about ourselves and our willingness to express it within our community or to society. Bisexuality is also varied in terms of attractiveness.  Some people find themselves equally attracted to men and women, but many bisexuals find that they are more attracted to people of their own sex, or more attracted to people of another sex. It’s a matter of identifying what group or particular community; straight/heterosexual or queer/homosexual you can relate to most.   The attraction to one or more genders is proportioned differently for each person and can change with time as well. A person may be attracted to one sex forty percent of the time, and members of another sex sixty percent of the time when they are sixteen and then change at the age of thirty-five to seventy-five percent and twenty-five percent.   Bisexuality is not an excuse or a prerogative to have sex with whomever and whatever you want at any given opportunity.  Bisexuals are not sex fiends and just as normal in their sexual frequency as homosexuals, heterosexuals and other Trans identity.

Bisexuals may even be celibate.   Bisexuals in conjunction with any other kind sexual identity have a variety of kinds of relationships over the course of their lives; from one-night-stands to long-term, committed relationships, and they are just as likely to be responsible, loving, faithful partners as anyone else.   Bisexuality doesn’t mean you must have a male and a female partner to feel fulfilled. While some feel best in unconventional relationships where they have more than one partner of whatever sex or gender; it’s not a requirement for being bisexual.  Bisexuals have the same feelings and emotions as all humans.  Persons who consider themselves bisexual bond, fall in love, and have committed relationships.  And like everyone else, bisexuals are capable of being fulfilled or unfulfilled in their relationships dependent on the health of the relationship. Being bisexual doesn’t mean you are hiding the fact you really are gay or lesbian.  It’s still as difficult to pass or identify yourself as gay, bisexual or transgender in our society.  Heterosexuality is falsely accepted as the norm.

People of bisexual nature are not the same as individuals who consider themselves straight.  It may be confusing at times to see a person romantically involved with a person of the same sex and then a few months or years later romantically involved with a person of the opposite sex.   There shouldn’t be an automatic assumption that same-sex partners are gay and a bisexual person with an opposite-sex partner is straight.  A bisexual person doesn’t change their identity from gay or lesbian to heterosexual, they are bisexual consistently.

Having sex with a person of the same sex, doesn’t mean you are gay or bisexual.   The way you choose to identify yourself is up to you. The only person who can determine personal labels is you.

Be realistic and truthful about what that may mean for you in terms of knowing how to have safer sex with someone of the same sex as you.  Bisexuality is not the determent to spreading STI/HIV/AIDS because people of such orientation have sex with homosexuals and heterosexuals.   Sexual preference is not the culprit; unprotected sex with infected partners and passing it to an uninfected partner is the origin of the problem.  It is the responsibility of each person to be honest, conscientious and make healthy sexual choices.

Love, Jealousy, Rejection and Control

Love is an expression of our emotions, feelings and affection toward someone. When it comes to a spouse, love can bring to life our full potential and creativity. When love proceeds with abuse, it can be debilitating and demeaning. Love is a choice followed by action. Our personal values, beliefs and actions determine what is real love versus fantasy and abusive “love.”

Love is not ownership. Humans are not pieces of property, objects, nor possessions. When mates consider lovers “theirs”, it leads to abusive, imprisoning and damaging behavior.

In moderation, jealousy can be healthy. Suspicion can signal we feel threatened. Feelings can be useful to alert us that we need to investigate and evaluate the particular situation at greater length. Healthy love involves asking questions and honestly sharing concerns and fears with our loved one.

Jealousy becomes destructive when assumptions overrun any reality or truths. Envy overrun goals of connection and real intimacy. Jealousy usually comes from hurt, neglect, or sense of abandonment. When we react to those feelings with jealousy and don’t address core issues, pain continues to spiral downward.

Further investigation into understanding our jealousy may reveal personal insecurity, unworthiness, fears, unhappiness, and false beliefs projected on our partner. The solution begins when we become aware of our reactions and instead response mindfully. Confront jealousy by labeling and noticing feelings and thoughts and then nurture those feelings of hurt with self-care and finding the facts.

First gain personal power and gain control of your emotions by acknowledging them. Refrain from reactive, abusive behavior.

Second, shift the focus and examine other perspectives. As we look at the situation from the other person’s point of view, we give ourselves time to access the condition from several outlooks.

Next identify core beliefs that are creating the reaction and determine any truths and falsehoods. Remember insecurity and low self-esteem can create false images.

Call a friend, talk to a therapist, or contact a neutral, unbiased person to aid in awareness and broaden perspectives. Communication with uninvolved friends, family, or professional can help us validate reality, confront inadequacies and develop control. Finally, we can consciously choose the most logical approach for the most effective and kind response.

If it comes to fail, our jealousy is warranted, and we feel rejected, it hurts. Rejection stings and it burns a lot. However, it is no excuse to cause harm or react with vengeful words. It is an opportune time to practice self-love and nurture. Most times rejection is not personal even though it may feel that way.

When we are enmeshed rejection feels like abandonment, primarily when we abandon our truth and feelings. When we deny our thoughts and feelings, we usually then say hurtful things. We may blame our partner and portray the image that their decisions control us. However, we are responsible for our actions, our feelings, and our choices. Sometimes it is difficult to bear personal responsibility but turmoil only succeeds. Many people falsely assume that “she makes me happy” or that he “needs” her to be happy. Enmeshment presents this falsehood and limitless boundaries.

Our most intimate relationships often, trigger childhood memories of abandonment, hurt, or abuse. Enmeshment and no individuation position our lover on a pedestal to control how we feel about ourselves.

It takes time to build self-esteem, self-love, and acceptance to be entirely independent. We no longer need someone else to show us our value and worth. We know that we matter and treat ourselves respectfully and create healthy boundaries and tolerances of weakness and strengths. We mature into an independent, loving, kind and accepting adult. We can regulate our emotions by reaching out to a friend and taking care of ourselves with kindness.

Jealousy can be useful and with awareness we can use this natural feeling to our advantage by practicing self-care, reaching out, and exploring alternatives. We can choose to be happy independently regardless of how someone else behaves. Don’t let jealousy enter unhealthy false beliefs, and controlling behaviors enacted through fears and hurts.

If we feel jealousy or rejected, it is a good time to reflect upon ourselves, analyze and access the events. Evaluate from different perspectives, outlooks and points of view. It can be painful emotionally but also a time for growth and maturity.

We all make choices for many reasons. They may be due to a means of survival; to learn, to grow, to experiment. Whatever the reason, it is not a time to judge or demean.

We all make mistakes, and different choices than what we think are best, regardless it is not a time to judge. Our best solution is to look within and control the one thing we can; ourselves. We are all independent. Our happiness and emotions are independent of anyone else. We choose how we respond and not react. Choose with awareness and calmness. Remember, no one makes us do anything. Accept responsibility for our actions, emotions and behavior. There are always consequences when emotions such as jealousy, anger, and envy act outward or inward negatively. Focus on the positive and have the courage to ask for help when feelings reach adverse outcomes with drugs, alcohol, overeating, workaholism, gambling, and abusive relationships.

Mother-Daughter Relationships

While searching the internet on mother-daughter relationships I was drawn to an article on, “Mother-Daughter Envy: Truth or Fable?” by Dr. Terri Apter.  The article mentions viewpoints throughout history from Helene Deutsche to Rebecca Walker and her perspective on the “Electra Syndrome” and Dr. Phyliss Chesler.

Helene Deutche obtained her doctorate in psychological medicine in a time when women rarely were granted to chance to achieve higher education.  In 1925 she wrote the first book by a psychoanalyst on women’s psychology; “The Psychology of Women’s Sexual Functions”.

The book and her work were influenced by her studies with Freud and her personal conflicts with her mother.  She felt problems are caused in women from a variance between narcissism and a mother’s love.

Like Freud, her theoretical model for female development presumes women must compensate for their lack of a penis; penis envy.  She emphasizes feminine masochism, passivity and gives a biological basis to these qualities.  Her theories seem to put the stamp of inevitability on self-denigrating female behavior and thus to justify women’s oppression throughout history.

Next in the article, Rebecca Walker’s perspective on the Electra Syndrome is explained.  The Electra Syndrome is a Freudian concept that a girl, like a boy is originally attached to the mother, however during the psychosexual developmental stage she discovers she lacks a penis and becomes libidinally attached to her father.  She imagines being impregnated by him while she becomes hostile toward her mother.  According to the theory, penis envy leads to resentment toward her mother, who is believed to have “castrated” her.” The hostility towards the mother is then later revoked for fear of losing the mother’s love, and the mother becomes internalized.

Dr. Phyliss Chesler argues double standards still exist in mental health and illness and women are often burdened with labels of gender, race, class, or sexual preference.  She is an activist for women’s rights, equality and studies women, culture and their affects upon society.

The article expresses unique viewpoints on mother-daughter envy and it brought forth memories of my own experiences with my mother.  As a child, I felt as if I could never satisfy or please my mother.  There was a constant struggle to receive love from her.

I was also jealous of the attention and dedication given to the men in her life.  She catered toward their needs, foregoing her own desires, identity and I felt like an afterthought.  She easily became angry with me; perhaps through her own lack of central identification and self-love.  Whatever the reason, I became the source where she relinquished her frustrations.   She reacted with demeaning words, uncontrollably slapping me in a circular motion, hitting me with her shoe or even throwing the drink from my hand in my face.

As I became a teenager, I grew beyond my years.  I looked like I was eighteen when I was thirteen.  I was tall and slender with full, voluptuous breasts.

My mother aimed to protect me even though I felt berated for the way I dressed.  A daughter’s public exposure and repudiation of her mother is still prominent even in these modern times.

I dressed like any other teenage girl, but well-endowed features made it appear as if I was initially dressing scantily.   As we walked down the street, drivers periodically drove by yelling cat calls.  My mother shamed me into thinking their behavior is demeaning and men yell at any woman who dresses like a slut.  She said, “It isn’t any indication that you are attractive; they look at you as a piece of meat.”  I felt I had done something wrong when in fact I was innocent.  I was naïve but I wasn’t initially going out of my way seeking attention by men.  Her reaction made me think I was the one at fault and I behaved badly.

I didn’t see it at the time but as I look back, she was envious.  She disguised the envy with displays of protectiveness, tenderness and love.  She had a strange competitiveness that led her to undermine me as almost every turn.   She feared my sexuality as she was resentful of my own pleasure, admiration and fun.  She certainly had concerns about sex and sexuality.  She conveyed the message “You are a strong, young woman but you are unaware of your vulnerability.”  It was a combination of maternal protectiveness yet jealousy of my youth and her traditional, old-fashioned values to deny and suppress female desire.   She was a big advocate not to have sex outside marriage even though she lost her virginity outside her first marriage at the age of nineteen.  She was a hypocrite in her preaching and value system.  Her actions did not follow her teachings.  As I matured, I looked at things in a more realistic manner and tried to understand what was right for me.

She did encourage masturbation and exploration of your body.  It went against her traditional value system, but a good lessoned I have learned as I explored my own sexuality as an adult.  Self-exploration brings awareness and an ability to communicate what you like when you are finally in bed with someone whom you care about.  You are then able to share your desires openly, confidently and sensually.

The article offered different perspectives on the relationships between a mother and daughter.  The dynamics can sway between a mother’s good intentions, personal regret, lack of personal identification and oblivion to her own emotional input to her daughter’s well-being.   Mothers may envy their daughters’ youth, sexuality, ambition, and freedom.

On the other hand, a daughter may feel negative emotions of envy, criticism and shame toward her mother and/ or her accomplishments.  It is difficult when conflict or condemning viewpoints exist between traditional and liberal values or variances of both.

Regardless both are detrimental to the relationship.  The mother- daughter relationship is critical and influential in both women’s lives.  It reflects and measures self-love, self-worth, acceptance and tolerance of others and respect and open mind for unique perspectives.  Their relationship is extremely impactful throughout their lifetime and affects adult relationships, intimacy and connection.  The ability to let go and forgive each other and establish your own self-worth can create the kind of relationship warranted beyond their own.

Mindfulness Mediation

Sometimes it takes hardship to get to know yourself in a real way, and within a coherent framework.  I got lost in a relationship but now I am stronger, more self assured, and have improved insight.

I am proud of my new found knowledge about myself through mindfulness mediation and writing.  I have a gift now to share to other women; helping them to achieve more healthier relationships, self-respect, confidence and boundaries.

With mindfulness meditation, you can re-wiring your brain.  You can literally change and grow neural connections which support finding and creating better relationships. It is possible for your brain to become more like those who grew up knowing how to love and be loved in healthy, sustainable ways.

We are all not so fortunate to grow up with healthy, attuned attachments. Childhood attachment is the emotional bond that typically forms between infant and caregiver, usually a parent.  It stimulates brain growth, affects personality development and a lifelong ability to form stable relationships. Neuroscientists now believe that attachment is such a primal need that there are networks of neurons in the brain dedicated to it, and the process of forming lasting bonds is powered in part by the hormone oxytocin.

Even though we may not have had childhood attachment, we can re-wire our brains for better relationships.  Mindfulness mediation can help with the nine essential characteristics for healthy relationships.

1. Better management of your body’s reactions; stress and anger management.

2. Emotional resiliency; regulating your emotions and restoring an unpleasant mood back to baseline with ease and efficiency.

3. Better, more adaptable, agreeable communication.

Mindfulness meditation helps you to be a more attuned communicator and it can be contagious to loved one as well. Good communication entails listening and understanding without distortion, and responding in a way contingent upon your partners needs instead of your own inner filters and desires.

4. Response flexibility.

Mindfulness meditation improves response flexibility and creates an emotional regulator where space and time allow careful thought for a more positive mindful, conscious response instead of just crying whenever receiving criticism or blaming others and yelling when you feel ashamed.

5. Improved empathy.

Mindfulness meditation improves the ability to identify with and understand somebody else’s feelings or difficulties but without losing your awareness of your own state of mind.  It’s the ability to separate a desire to support and feel affinity with but still remaining constant in your state of mind; without their solemn mood affecting yours.

6. Improved insight (self-knowing).

Mediation practice improves self awareness within a logically and aesthetically consistent credible and harmonious whole.  Mediating and writing regularly allows us to practice our ability to notice what our brain is thinking.  An increased knowledge and capacity to tell the difference between momentary and ever-changing events, and who we really are is achieved.

7. Better modulation of fear.

Mindfulness mediation allows you to soothe your feelings and be more comfortable when you’re afraid.  You are able to regulate things which once scared you (He’s going to leave me; I’m not enough for her).  It’s important in relationships to have ready access to being able to calm yourself when you’re anxious, so that your reactions and interactions aren’t overrun by your fight-flight-freeze response.  Once you are not as reactive to emotional fear, you change your entire experience of being in an adult-to-adult relationship.

8. Enhanced intuition.

There’s actually increasing neurochemical and cellular evidence of a second brain in our viscera; internal abdominal and intestinal organs. Our viscera, and the rest of our body – our muscles, eyes, ears, skin, and so on – are telling us something. If we pay attention to the messages our body is telling us, the mindfulness practice enhances the ability to be attuned to yourself, and what you unconsciously know – what we can refer to as “intuition.”  Becoming emotionally aware and act rationally and logically in conjunction with our body enhances your ability to be in conscious relationships with yourself and with others.

9. Increased morality.

Evidence shows that when people learn to meditate and practice regularly, their perceptions of their place in the world begins to shift – something corroborated by family members. They become more broadly compassionate, more likely to act on their highest principles, and demonstrate greater interest in the social good – what can very reasonably seen as living with higher morals. It’s like having a healthier relationship with your whole community, not just the people closest to you.

Try mediating for twenty minutes and open your mind to your thoughts, feelings and emotions.  Pay attention what is consistent and what fades.  Learn about who you are and the goals you want to achieve. Spend another twenty minutes and write down what you have learned.  Keep a journal and awaken yourself to a whole new awareness and brighter self.

Building Blocks for a Successful Relationship from Meeting to Marriage

I came up with an eight step system for individuals looking for a long and lasting relationship.  After much personal experience, observation and research, I have discovered these steps provide a greater chance for a lifelong partner versus just a one night stand.  These steps are not ingrained in stone and there are certainly rare and wonderful cases where a one night stand can turn into a successful marriage.  However to increase your chances, I have determined these steps provide the proper criteria and mind set for marriage.

Building Blocks for a Successful Relationship from Meeting to Marriage

First Three to Six Months

1.  Meet

  • Encounter at work, school, gym, grocery store, running/ walking club, art/ writing class, workshop, or any personal interest group.

2.  Establish a Friendship

  • Treat each other as buddies.  No pressure for sex and truly get to know the person without expectations for the future or external demands.  In this type of relationship, you are permitted to be yourself and learn each other’s character, values and beliefs.

3.  Set Boundaries and Stand-up for your principles and viewpoint

  • Be willing to end the relationship if they aren’t met.   You may be surprised how the relationship turns for the better after someone takes a stance if there is something special brewing between the two of you.

Six to Nine Months

4.  Continue to build boundaries; working on polite yet assertive communication.

5.  Respect

  • Respect naturally forms if there is admiration and deference toward each other.  Appreciate signs of mutual respect such as thoughtfulness, consideration, politeness and respect of privacy.  Small considerate actions mean the most.

Nine Months to a Year

6.  Love is revealed

  • Revel in your love, tender affection and romantic desires and longing for each other.

Year to Two Years

7.  Persevere the relationship

  • Steadily persist in consistent thoughtful actions toward each other despite problems or difficulties if they exist.

8.  Marriage

  • Make a 100% Commitment.  Be willing to work and give the relationship hundred percent; through thick and thin; the good and the bad times. During difficult times, look for the positives and enjoy your spouse more each day. You may be pleasantly surprised how your spouse responds; naturally reacting nicer.  An amazing transformation will eventually occur, illuminating happier times together.
  • There is a remarkable difference between a commitment of 99% and 100%. At 100%, you are seeing your problems all the way through to their solutions. At 99% we can still find a way to take the path of least resistance…and usually do.


loveWhat is love and how do we know if we feel it for someone else?  I finally broke down and said “I love you too” to my partner, but felt unsure.  Do I really love him?  As I walked today I thought about love and how it is formed with images in your head of tiny experiences and visions in your head.  The more often, frequent, consistency of happy images and visions that remain in your mind formulate a lasting likeness and eventually love prevails.  Or it can be a train wreck and hits you on top of the head unknowingly as the case between music man and I.

Love is a feeling of intense attraction that can be one of the most amazing in the entire world. It starts with lust, attraction and then a commitment.  The emotions associated with love are blissful, and there are times when they can really hurt. In the end, love is something most of us, if not all of us, will encounter. While there are many different ways to define love and there are many different ways to love someone (or even yourself), here is a general guide to loving from WikiHow.


  1. Say it. When you say the words, “I love you” with conviction, meaning and action.  They should carry with them the desire to show someone that you love them, not what you simply want to feel. When you say it, make sure you really mean it and are willing to do anything for that special person.
  2. Empathize. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Rather than impose your own expectations or attempt to control them, to understand how they feel, where they come from, and who they are. Realize how they could also love you back just as well.
  3. Love unconditionally. If you cannot love another person without attaching stipulations, then it is not love at all, but deep-seated opportunism (one who makes the most of an advantage, often unmindful of others). If your interest is not in the other person as such, but rather in how that person can enhance your experience of life, then it is not unconditional. If you have no intention of improving that person’s life, or allowing that person to be themselves and accepting them as they are, and not who you want them to be, then you are not striving to love them unconditionally.
  4. Expect nothing in return. That doesn’t mean you should allow someone to mistreat or undervalue you. It means that giving love does not guarantee receiving love.  Try loving just for the sake of love. Realize that someone may have a different way of showing his or her love for you; do not expect to be loved back in exactly the same way.
  5. Realize it can be lost. If you realize that you can lose the one you love, then you have a greater appreciation of what you have.  Think of how lucky you are to have someone to love. Don’t make an idol of the person you love. This will place them under undue pressure and will likely result in you losing them.
  6. Never stop loving. Even if you have been hurt before you should not stop giving love.