Ask Angelo

ang053105
Angelo Pezzote
MA, LMFT, NCC
 Sex Revitalized!
 plus 5 Keys To Boost Your Happiness

 


Dear Angelo,

How can I be happier?

Signed, Sad

Dear Sad,

You're not alone. Overall, the FDA estimates that sales of antidepressant drugs in the United States increased from 14 million prescriptions in 1992 to 157 million in 2002. That's an 11 fold increase. GLBT persons are probably even higher since we suffer from so much social discrimination. Yet incomes overall have increased significantly for the same period. So why aren't we happier? There seems to be a genetic influence on our happiness day to day. Research shows that even the lucky one's that win the lottery eventually return to their same baseline mood before they won. Well, if it's not material wealth that makes us happy then maybe it is something else - fame, youthful looks, no stress? Is there no hope? Relax. There is hope. While we all seem to have a preset point for happiness, there are things we can do to boost our happiness level.

First, count your blessings. This means giving thanks each day for what you do have rather than focusing on what you don't have. Practice abundance not lack and limitation. Second, forgive. Forgiveness is freeing. Mend relationships where you can. Have understanding and compassion for yourself and others. Let it go - what can you learn from the experience? But forgiveness need not mean condoning or forgetting. Third, be good to yourself. Affirm your strengths. Act according to your conscious. These help nurture self esteem. Be good to others too. Practice anonymous acts of kindness for others - give. When you're down give more. Volunteering is a great way to be of service and get outside of yourself. Fourth, don't compare yourself to others more fortunate than you. Take special care not to compare one aspect of yourself to someone else's super strength. Look at the whole picture of the person. For example, everyone wants Stephen Hawking's mind but no one wants his disease. We do not want to be him. We just want a part of him. This type of selective comparison is mental torture and does nothing but make you feel bad. Do not do this to yourself. Instead, try comparing yourself to those less fortunate or not at all. Finally, live in the moments of life. Don't get lost in the past or future. Interrupt over-thinking by distracting.


Dear Angelo,

I have been in a committed, monogamous relationship for 10 years. I truly love him and am sure he feels as strongly about me. The problem is no sex. None. We have gone to counseling, I have begged, not begged. Gotten buffed, gotten fat. To be honest I now go weeks without thinking of sex at all. My partner is simply not interested. I definitely don't want sex enough to go outside the relationship. It's him I want to be sexual with. WE used to be sexual dynamos, no fantasy was off limits. For the last 5 years once or twice a year is doing pretty good. I don't know if I want to be in a sexless marriage. He is 51 and I am 57. Any advice?

Signed, Starving

Dear Starving,

Thank you for the trust you are placing in me. It shines forth in your question how committed you are to keeping the passion active between you and your partner. Romance in a relationship normally ebbs and flows over time. Lust for a partner naturally decreases over the life of a relationship and as each person ages. Take comfort that this is not unusual. While it is hard, try not to personalize it. There is something you can do to try and keep romance alive. Let's spice things up a bit.

There is cutting-edge scientific research by anthropologist, Helen Fisher, that shows that the best way to reignite romance with your partner and keep it burning is through novelty. The key is to keep doing new things together and having new experiences with each other. This increases a pleasure chemical in our brain called dopamine which plays a huge role in the good feelings of romantic love and drives up lusty testosterone levels. So get the creative juices flowing and surprise your partner with spontaneous, caring, fun things to do and keep your romance red hot! The movie True Lies tells such a revival story of a dead marriage.

Dr. Hendrix in Getting The Love You Want has a strategy called re-romanticizing. The idea is to awaken loving feelings by doing loving things. The exercise has you and your partner write down a list of things your partner can do to please you. Make sure they are positive, caring, spontaneous, fun new things. Keep it fresh. Each day you grant a number of these gifts to each other with no strings. Do them no matter how you feel towards each other. That may seem fake, but do it anyway. Do not compete and keep score. It is not one for one. Each of you is to just focus on the giving part. The idea is that by nurturing and providing love and safety in new ways, the couple can recreate the feelings of romantic love once again out of the ashes. Each partner refreshes their mind's ability to interpret their partner as sustaining.

This helps the couple take off some of the armor that they may have unknowingly put on over time to guard against each other. As partners fail to consistently meet our needs, and even the best do, the unconscious thinks that they are withholding them from us on purpose. "He knows just what I need and he's not doing it," we imagine. We mistakenly expect our partner to know just what we want, when we want it and how to give it to us, just like our caretakers did when we were infants. We long to feel completely taken care of again. So we regress to whine and throw tantrums to get what we want. When that fails too, we prepare to protect ourselves by fighting or withdrawing from our partner. This is not sexy behavior. So let's take off the training wheels and start the re-romanticizing exercise by telling our partner exactly how they can nurture us as we stay open to receiving it. Continue talking together.

 


ang053105
Angelo Pezzote, MA, LMFT (MFC41291)

The Gay Man's Therapist
For Today's Gay Man
 
Would you appreciate a safe, supportive environment to talk about personal concerns? Get useful tools from a specialist who understands.
 
Manhattan, NY Office Tel: (917) 673-5003. LA Tel: (310) 475-8880. Telephone Coaching Also Available Worldwide. Visit www.askangelo.com.
 

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