Posts Tagged: love

This is Risky Business: How to Improve Intimacy Part II

Do you ever find yourself feeling alone even when you’re surrounded by people? Do you feel like you’re doing life by yourself, even though you’re married? Even couples who have been together a long time, might still complain that they just don’t feel that close. The missing ingredient is INTIMACY. If you are single or married, understanding what INTIMACY is and why everyone needs it, will help you with all of your relationships.

Even though Sexual Intimacy gets a lot of air time, there are actually several different types of intimacy that contribute to relationship happiness. Today, in Part 2, we will talk about the different types of intimacy and what you can do TODAY to improve your intimacy with yourself, with God and the important people in your life.

Intimacy is Risky Business

Many people are initially afraid of getting close to people because of fear of judgment or rejection. People use various tactics to keep people at a distance, like being “too busy” or being “too different” but these are excuses to avoid the scary risk of getting close. Here are some different types of intimacy with their inherent level of risk.


Types of Intimacy

Intellectual Intimacy is feeling bonded over intellectual ideas, work or creativity. It occurs when people work closely together on a project researching ideas, solutions and presentations. You may share intellectual intimacy with your partner, co-workers, co-creators, research team, or political party group. LOW RISK

Recreation Intimacy is experienced by those who engage in physical and mutually enjoyed activities. People who hike, knit, ski, or play tennis together connect with one another through interests and physical activities. LOW RISK

Spiritual Intimacy is best explained by the sharing of same or similar faith or belief system. In Christianity, scripture describes spiritual intimacy a binding together of all believers through the Holy Spirit’s truth, power, and unifying force of love. Activities like prayer, bible reading, meditation, acts of service enhance the shared belief system and bring an assurance of mutual acceptance. MEDIUM RISK

Sexual Intimacy is fully experienced between married couples in the presence of safety, trust, love and commitment. It involves the physical act and responses of sexual partners leading to feelings of love, warmth, closeness and attachment. HIGH RISK

Emotional Intimacy is the bonding through shared feelings. You may feel emotionally connected to any person that shares fears, hopes, weaknesses or jubilation. Emotional Intimacy is also experienced when you feel heard, validated or comforted through pain. HIGH RISK

 You and Intimacy

You may find that you share different types of intimacy with different types of people. You may connect closely with a person at work over intellectual concepts, but share no recreation intimacy at all. Close friends overlap on many intimacy levels. Couples who report being happy and loving will usually share all the Intimacy Types at some capacity. They find each other intellectually stimulating, spiritually aligned, with compatible interests and activities and sexually attracted and active.

In my work with couples, I’ve found that Emotional Intimacy is the hardest to achieve in marriages because each partner is often responsible for causing emotional pain to the other. If emotional intimacy is off, then sexual intimacy is often negatively affected as well. For the last 4 years, I’ve been working on a book that peels away the obstacles couples face that inhibit healthy emotional intimacy.

Recently, I’ve blogged a lot about the physical and psychological abuse that is present within couples relationship, and how to get help to stop this destructive pattern. I call these the USER and ABSUER relationships. Couples in destructive relationships often have a high level of emotional reactions and intensity, but lack true emotional intimacy.


For the next few weeks, I will be focusing more on what I call LOSER relationships. No, I’m not talking about the “couch potato” husband or the “Soap Opera and bon bons” wife. I’m talking about the couples that LOSE OUT on true intimacy with one another. The three big obstacles to Emotional Intimacy are Fear Issues, Control Issues, and Trust Issues. We will walk through all three of this in the coming weeks in order to help you improve your intimacy in your relationships. Check out this resource if you want to go more in depth. This book will take you step by step into getting the love you want, and avoiding the rest.

Click here for more information on how to have healthy relationships.



Don’t Read This if You’re Going to Feel Guilty

Psychologists who study human behavior know that motivation is best understood on a continuum. On one side of the continuum is pleasure and on the other side is pain. At a primitive level, humans are motivated to avoid pain and achieve pleasure.

 I believe we do some things (maybe a lot of things) out of a sense of guilt. I hear people say, “Well, I’ll feel bad if I don’t do _____________,” or “If I tell him the truth, his feelings will be hurt…. And then I’ll feel so bad,” or “I better do ___________ because they’d think I was a ____________ if I didn’t.” They think that if that doing something to avoid guilt, they will be avoiding the pain. But the pain is just delayed. It always catches up.

When Sweet and Sassy were in elementary school, the pressure to be a volunteer was mounting. Holiday Party sign ups were the worst. The other moms (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!) brought Easter watermelons carved into flowers, and Halloween cheese balls that looked like brains with crackers that looked like spiders, and Coconut sprinkled snowmen that were too cute to eat. I brought wrapped cheese sticks in a Safeway bag. Boom! I figured the real reason I was there was to make the other moms feel good about themselves.

Anyway, one of the main reasons I even went to these parties so I wouldn’t feel guilty for missing it.

This is more my style...

This is more my style…

I’m here to admit that I will still do things in order to avoid the guilt that would accompany NOT doing them. But I’m fully aware what’s motivating me, and that is sometimes half the battle.

Being aware of the WHY you are doing something gives you more power the next time of whether you do it at all. Once you call it what it is, you have power over it.

Remember Adam in the garden of Eden? He was in charge of naming the animals, and then he was given dominion over every living thing he named. Same thing here. When you and I can name our Motivation- THE WHY- we can have dominion over it. Here are some “For Examples:”

  • I yell at my kids because I feel out of control
  • I drink  at night because I’m stressed/depressed.
  • I don’t exercise because I feel I’m too far gone.
  • I have difficulty setting a boundary with someone because I don’t want them to be mad or disappointed in me.
  • I do __________________  so others will think I’m a good person.
  • I Read this blog so Michelle won’t think nobody reads her blog. (I put that in there for giggles.)

If you’re doing something in order to avoid pain or to achieve pleasure, or simply not to feel “bad,” then call it what it is and sit with that for a minute. Then determine if you’d like to keep on doing it. 

If you read this blog because you’ll feel guilty if you don’t, or disloyal, or whatever, then STOP reading it RIGHT AWAY! That goes for anything that you’re doing out of guilt. Doing things out of guilt steals our life-blood like a leech on a plump fanny. But if you read this blog because you feel inspired and connectivity and energy- and because it brings you pleasure, then keep on.

“This lady keeps feeding me, so I keep coming back!”

When we do things out of love and passion instead of guilt and obligation, God’s in it. His love makes more love. His blessing makes more blessing. But doing things out of guilt and fear breads more guilt and fear. Like rats in London. Like rabbits in a garden. Like rampant baby vampires that want to suck you dry of anything good.

How about you? How have you stopped guilt motivated activities? What do you do instead with your time and energy? I’d love to hear from you.

Cheers to the Guilt-Free Freedom Fighters, the Mavens of Motivation, the Princess of Passion and the Sojourners of Love!

When Someone Does You Wrong

Good morning to all the Super Bowl Winners, Football Haters, Valentine’s Day Protesters and Googly-Eyed-Love-Birds! Today we will be talking about What To Do When Someone Does You Wrong.

Like the guy who lead you on and then didn’t respond when you asked him out.

Like the guy you were dating for years expecting a proposal that never came.

Like the person who anonymously logged a complaint against you without coming to you first.

Like the person who cheated on you and wants to take the kids on vacation with the person they cheated with.

Like the boss that implied you’d be the next one promoted right before you were laid off.

You know what it feels like to get hurt, rejected, left behind and lied to. You know what it feels like to be the “first to say sorry,” and the “last to know.” These things hurt. People hurt people, and when you’re in the middle of feeling abandoned or hijacked, you start to lose your confidence.

You wonder, “What did I do to deserve this,” and “What could I have done differently to avoid this,” and “what was he thinking,” and “How could she?” These are questions that leave us feeling powerless. They do us NO GOOD. In the middle of our pain, we analyze our short comings and their intentions to death. 

The brain loves resolution. It’s a constant problem solver. Think of the brain like a master puzzler, working tirelessly until all the pieces fit to make a complete picture. The brain won’t stop working until the puzzle makes sense. That’s why it wakes you up in the middle of the night, and interrupts your work day with memories, and stops you mid-sentence with its obsessions. It craves resolution. And when you don’t have answers to WHY THE BAD THING HAPPENED, it just keeps puzzling. Enter stage right- SELF DOUBT, SHAME, and FEAR. 

Self doubt, shame and fear all too gladly will answer your brain’s puzzling questions with, “You were such a fool to believe him,” and “You should have known better,” and “You’re doomed to be alone forever,” and “This is how it always turns out,” and “There must be something wrong with you.”


Exit SELF DOUBT, SHAME, and FEAR. Their parts have been cut. There’s a new sheriff in town! and it’s called Love.

Love says, “You’re going to be ok,” and “You’ve done hard things before,  you can do hard things again,” and “You’re never alone,” and “Though they hurt you, they do not define you,” and “You are not a victim, you are an Over Comer.”

One way to get LOVE mobilized in your life is to let love speak.

Come on, just let it come out.

Love advocates for justice. Love tells the truth. Love casts out all fear. Love redeems what is lost. Answer your brain’s puzzling with some solid answers. I find it is helpful to write these things down in a journal, address them to the person who hurt you, or shout them in a closet. It’s inadvisable to speak your mind to the person who directly hurt you, unless you have very specific conditions (we can talk about this in another blog.) It’s more important to express yourself FOR YOURSELF. It’s not really for the other person as much as it is for you. 

One of my friends went out on his boat in the middle of a quiet lake and shouted unfiltered thoughts and feelings until they were released. Your Love statements may sound something like this,

I didn’t deserve that treatment.

Your betrayal has nothing to do with me.

Your anger (choices, abuse, addiction) is not my fault.

I am for cherishing, for nurturing and for respecting.

I will not take on your judgment any more.

How sad that you missed the opportunity to really know me.

How sad that you gave up the chance to work together.

I am loved.

You may need to practice these statements until you get a sense of relief. Your brain will tell you when it’s puzzled is solved. If it’s not solved with exercises like these, then, talk to your counselor about it- there may be some unresolved trauma that got stuck.

Each of us have to navigate through rejection, betrayal, loss and grief. Sharing these experiences together with God’s help, makes us stronger and more resilient. You got this!

How to Be Your Own Best Friend: Especially When Loneliness is Knocking

Hello to the Best People on Earth. I’m so happy you joined me today to talk about intimacy with The Self. For the last three weeks, we’ve been discussing how to nurture intimacy in your relationships. Intimacy is often intimidating because it requires risk, self- disclosure and willingness to feel vulnerable. Humans don’t naturally like these things. Intimacy takes courage.

But what about intimacy with yourself? What if you’re alone in your house. No one is calling. No one is texting. It’s Friday night and loneliness settles over you like a dark fog? Or what if the discord in your family relationships is so thick that even though you’re in a house full of people, you still feel shut out?

Loneliness is a depression trigger. If loneliness starts to settle in to your every day life, depression might be hot on its tail, leaving sad and sleepless nights in its wake. Loneliness speaks. It says things like, “What’s wrong with you? Everyone else has someone but you,” and “Other happy families are going places and doing things together, and “You missed the boat. Your chance at relationship happiness is over.”

Loneliness needs a muzzle, don’t you think? These kind of thoughts are no bueno because they are grossly exaggerated, they lack evidence, and they are just unproductive. 

Here are some ways to cultivate intimacy with yourself, thereby muzzling the criticism of loneliness.

  • Don’t Abandon Yourself. Just because you are alone, doesn’t mean you have to be lonely. You are not BY YOURSELF, as much as you are WITH YOURSELF. Re-frame the way you see alone-ness. Frame it positively instead of negatively. View your alone time as an opportunity not afforded to all, to meditate, to dig deeper, to think through, to curiously research, to formulate ideas and put them into practice- to mine the gold of your own soul. 
  • Do What You Want: Alone time gives you the opportunity to explore, experiment, practice and create what you really want to do. Find out what you like and get really good at it. practice it, work at it, master it. 
  • Take a Risk: the fact is, you need other people, and other people need you. Invest yourself in a group of people who care about you. I believe that the best groups are structured groups. I learned a few years ago, that unless I structured my time to see my friends, I would never see them. I joined the groups they lead, the classes they taught and the teams they were on. Yes, I went to PTA meetings I didn’t want to go to, and I cycled through SPIN class I cursed myself for trying, and I looked idiotic at Zumba- but, heck I was with my friends! Which was the whole point. Take a risk, and find a structured environment that nurtures friendship. Invest your time and heart into these environments and they will pay you back in big ways.

My brother and sister were 10 and 12 years older than me. By the age of 7, I was raised as an only child with two working parents. I spent a lot of time alone and there are still times, though surrounded by loving Mr. Dashing, Sweet and Sassy and the neediest dog on earth, my past gets triggered. My one constant from childhood till now, is my faith in Christ. I often feel God’s presence in the sunset, a favorite poem or the humming bird that visits the porch. 

Intimacy with the Self is a life long goal and can be practiced when we feel most alone. 

Why Sex Appeal is Not a Sure Indicator for Love

“I never felt the way I felt with him.”

“The passion was so intense between us.”

“I knew from the beginning that he was wrong for me, but something about him just pulled me in deeper.”

“When it was good, it was like fireworks.”

These are classic words from someone struggling to love or leave a User, Narcissist or Scally Wag. Most often, you will intuitively know if a partner is going to be good for you or not. You can tell by the person’s patterns of behaviors, past relationships, job history or lack thereof, if the person is going to be a decent catch.  But sometimes people still fall for “bad eggs” even when they know the person is not healthy for them.


For example, if he has children, how often does he see them? If she has gobs of credit card debt, is it from Nordstrom? If he boasts about being a Christian, does he go to and give to his church regularly? If you just met, is she pressuring you for a commitment? If he says he respects you, do you feel pressured to go faster than you want to go? Is she critical and judgmental, talking about others behind their backs? Is he a real jerk to other people, but overly nice to you? Does she expect you to buy her things that are out of your budget? These are examples of character flaws that should alert you to keep watch.

Most people will be alerted to these warning signs, and will take precautions to find a better catch. But others will ignore them, make excuses for them, and pretend they are not a big deal just to keep the relationship. Why?


Why do some people ignore the red flags warning them against toxic relationships with Users, Narcissists and Scally Wags?

One reason, among many, is sex appeal. You may be unexplainably attracted to a User. The intense eye contact, the light touch of his hand, or her flirtatious smile sends your body over the top. Your body responds to his/her overtures with explosive excitement. The sexual attraction you feel may be unparalleled to anything else you’ve ever experienced. This keeps you hooked. It’s hard to deny or resist the attraction because it seems to have a pull all its own.

The issue of sex appeal points to a larger and deeper issue of Soul Holes. Each of us carry around wounded parts of ourselves called Soul Holes. These are original wounds from long ago when our personality, values and character were being formed. If we didn’t get what we needed in childhood, we grow into adulthood with holes that beg to be filled. Those desires can get sexualized in development and become sexual stimulus, attraction and drive.

Often this sexual intensity is a sign that your Soul Hole is talking. The vulnerable part of yourself is unreasonably and unconsciously drawn to the type of person that never could or would fill your Soul Hole as a child. Sometimes people may even recognize a User first not by anything the User does or doesn’t do, but by the sexual feelings that arise in themselves. Pretty cool alert system, right?


If you had a father who was either absent or emotionally unavailable because of work, addiction, abandonment or mental illness, your inner little girl longs to be seen, valued, and cherished. Since you didn’t receive those important gifts from a father to a daughter, you carry these Soul Holes into adult hood. The trouble starts when you unconsciously look for the same distant, addicted or depressed personality to fill those original holes. Users, Narcissists and Scally Wags smell your vulnerability like a wolf waiting to attack.

If you had a mother who verbally shamed you, put you down, or compared you to other children, you learned early on that you were not good enough. Without intervention, you’ll unconsciously try to get a rejecting type person to finally accept you. You’ll overlook glaring character flaws, pathological behaviors and toxic love in order to have that “crazy in love” feeling from the same type of person who originally rejected you. You’ll think, “Maybe this time, I’ll finally feel good enough.” But Users are incapable of doing anything else but using you.

The following are some ways to help you deal with the sometimes uncontainable feelings you may have for the User, Narcissist or Scally Wag in your life.


  • Be Aware: Pay attention to how you feel, and how your body responds to certain types of people. Your sexual feelings and attraction are just impulses in the body and brain. Sexual feelings do not care about your values or morals. They are just feelings that every human has. You have the power to do with them what is best for you in the long run.
  • Be Strong: Your sexual desires can inform you but do not have to rule you. Your body gives you signals that you can learn to read. Once you master reading your body’s signs, you gain in strength and are able to use those signals for your benefit.
  • Be Smart: Once you recognize you’ve got a thing for Users, you are 10 times further along than you were before. You are armed with information. You are now able to say to yourself, “Hey, I’m totally turned on by that guy. In the past I’ve been turned on to Users, Narcissists, and Bad Boys. My body is telling me that it feels good to flirt with them. But I’m so smart now, I can tell my body that being used doesn’t feel good in the long run. Peace Out!”
  • Be Cool: Hey, having sexual feelings isn’t the beginning or the end of the world. Don’t judge yourself about them. Don’t shame yourself for having them, even if they are misdirected. Your body is like every other body- it has involuntary responses that are normal and human. Sexual feelings are a good thing that tell you you’re body is working.
  • Be Alert: Wise people know themselves well enough to recognize when they are acting out of their Soul Holes. Attraction born out of insecurity, competition, celebrity worship, or imbalance of power never turns out well. Wisdom tells us that though we are free to do all things, not all things are good for us. Wise people stay alert to the desires, impulses and temptations that could pull us down farther than we ever intended to go.

Though simple, this advice is not always easy to carry out. Find some trustworthy people to support you along the way. Forgive yourself for not being perfect, and let God be strong where you are weak.

My “Relationship Savvy” blog gives you tips, advice, and flippin’ fantastic feel-goods to help with your most difficult relationship challenges.

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