Date Your Mate and Keep the Romance Great

Posted on 26. Jan, 2011 by in Guest Posts: Relationships

Bruce Cadle,  1-26-11 §          Soon after my wife Valerie and I got married I noticed something that was not good. We stopped dating. We dated every weekend prior to getting married. But once we got married—maybe since we saw each other daily—we stopped.  I don’t think it was intentional. It just happened.

The reason I noticed wasn’t because my calendar was clear on weekend nights. I noticed because it seemed like our romance was different … dwindling.  Things weren’t bad, rather, they seemed slightly strained, dry, forced.

Valerie still remembers the day I came to her and said I want a date night—a time for us to focus special romantic attention on each other. We didn’t have much money, so going out to dinner once a week was out of the question. We decided to have a nice romantic dinner by candlelight at home.

It was great! We relaxed, talked, laughed, just like we did while dating before marriage. That simple decision to start having a consistent date night made a huge difference in our relationship. As our communications deepened, our hearts connected and our romance revved up.

We’ve been married 35 years now, and date night is still our favorite night of the week. Years ago I decided I should cook on date nights to give Valerie a night off. I started developing my own recipes and gradually increased my cooking skills. I started taking elegant dishes and simplifying them so I could prepare a multi-course dinner without stressing out.

Even though our kids are grown and our finances have improved over the years, we still prefer having date night at home. We can take our time and relax. Sometimes we talk for hours over a leisurely meal.

We make date night a priority in our schedules and say no to anything else that arises on Friday nights.  We look forward to date night all week long just like we did before we got married.

A couple of years ago I started posting our date night menus on Facebook every Friday afternoon. I got lots of requests for recipes and began sharing them so that other couples could learn how to have fun, fancy, and easy date nights at home. Someone who enjoyed my recipes suggested that I should do a date night TV show. Their suggestion led to me being a finalist in the 2010 Food Network/Youtube Next Food Network Star competition.

Second only to the enjoyment that I get from our weekly date night’s is the enjoyment I get from helping other couples establish a weekly date night too!

If would like to learn how to have your own date night, visit my website or connect with me on Facebook,

Bruce Cadle is the author of Party For Two – Fun, Fancy & Easy Romantic Recipes from The Date Night Chef.  Available on

From ‘Where The Boys Are’ to ‘What’s Wrong With The Boys?’

Posted on 26. Dec, 2010 by in Guest Posts: Relationships

By Dr. Karen Gail Lewis          Some of us remember the movie Where The Boys Are. Or, maybe, just the popular theme song from it. The hook was that – back in the 60s and 70s – the girls wanted to be where the boys were.

Times have changed. Today, “the girls” want “the boys” to be where they are – emotionally. This isn’t an idle desire. Let’s look at how this change happened, as there is a lesson in it for all of us.

The women’s movement starting in the ‘70s led to considerable changes in women’s expectations for themselves – both professionally and personally. Women gathered together for support, in Conscious Raising groups in the early years, to make these changes.

Now, at the same time, men started their own movement. However, without the strength of the mutual support groups, after a spurt of a excitement, it lost steam. Check bookstore shelves and you’ll see women’s self-help books far out-number those for men. Women care about self-awareness and self-improvement. There are far fewer books for men. Talk with sales people and you’ll see that women buy most of the men’s books – hoping men will read them.

I have a funny story about this. Years ago in one of my men’s therapy groups, the members were talking about a new relationship book. Lonnie proudly said, “Tanya bought it for me; I keep it on my night stand – unread, but it’s there!”

Art smiled, “When Nance gave it to me, I put it under my pillow. I hope to absorb it while sleeping.” Everyone laughed – except it wasn’t really funny.

The problem here is that men mouth acceptance of women’s financial and emotional independence without understanding what these changes mean for them. Women are in an entirely different position.

Since women don’t need men to support them financially, and it’s no longer shameful to be single, women are freer to make choices based on what’s best for them. They want a man to carry his share of making the relationship work. They want a man to participate in balancing each of their needs. They want a man to share his feelings, to be empathic, and to show interest in their life, not just talk about himself.

Sarah, a mid-30 year old pediatrician, complains about the man she has been dating for 6 months, “I work real hard at making this work with Brendon. He doesn’t seem to appreciate my efforts – and he sure as hell doesn’t make any effort for me. If I can’t get him to respond more to me, then I don’t want to be with him. Yet, I’ve dated enough to know there aren’t that many men out there I even want to consider being with. I feel stuck – either put up with less than I want or be alone.”

This smacks too closely to the old message that women have been nursed on: Don’t be so fussy.  Don’t be so choosy.

Marilyn, on the other hand, takes a different perspective. She just turned 40. “In my 20s and 30s, I did all the things I was suppose to do – the on-lines, the blind dates, the bars; I joined groups hoping to meet men with mutual interests. Oh, I got dates, alright. But, I always came home horribly depressed. I don’t know why it took me so long to see how I was making myself miserable. So, yeah, I’ll probably remain single, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be an ‘old maid.’ It means I won’t be abusing myself and my self-esteem with men who aren’t worthy of being with me.”

Women really don’t have many choices. In fact, in my research for With or Without A Man: Single Women Taking Control of Their Lives, I learned when asked if women were single by choice that about 50% said yes and 50% said no. The curious aspect, though, were the comments – which were identical: Both groups said they didn’t like their choices.

What annoys women about today’s men?  Men haven’t grown in ways that make them ready for a healthy mutual relationship. So, rather than ask, “Where are the men?” the more accurate question for a woman to ask is, “Why aren’t men working as hard as women to make themselves emotionally ready for a good relationship?” 

I have found that men’s relationship problems focus on either one of two things: a) men simply accept that their needs won’t get met and they feel unappreciated, or b) they leave – without a discussion. Too often, they do not look at their part in why a relationship is not going well. They don’t look for patterns from prior relationships to see what they can learn about themselves. Self-awareness is not a strong suit for too many men. 

In my office, I seldom have men seek counseling because they are in a bad relationship or have had a string of them. They come when the woman they love drags them or threatens to leave if they won’t get therapy. Or, they come after she has already left and they are broken hearted.

This is not to say that all women do a great job at relationships. But, at least women talk about what they are doing, should have done, or could have done to make a relationship better.

For the most part, the biggest problem for women is not their self-reflection but their self-blame. Even though they know the man is not doing his part to sort out their troubles, they fall back on thinking, “It’s my fault.” By blaming themselves, though, they don’t have to face the reality that they alone can’t make a relationship go well. They need the man’s participation.

In one group of single women, Elaine shared a new insight I now call the Fix-It Solution. She said, “If the problem lies within you, you may view it as a personal failure, but at least you can tell yourself you have a chance to fix the problem. If it’s the man’s problem, there is nothing you can do about it. It’s out of your control.”  Anna Beth counters, “Well, frankly, I’d rather think it’s my problem. Then I can do something about it.”

That is the dilemma for women – accept you can’t change a man or take the blame on yourself.

Women – Here are two ways to avoid the Fix-It Solution.

  1. Do your own personal growth work; understand your part in why relationships don’t work. Read self-help books, go to therapy, and talk with friends. See patterns from prior relationship and avoid repeating them.
  2.  Learn the specific gender differences that may be contributing to your dissatisfaction. Learn them, and then … QTIP: Quit Taking It Personally.

 Men – Here are some suggestions to avoid hearing “What’s wrong with men?”  

  1. Women like to be asked about themselves – and then have you listen when they respond, and then have you ask more about what they’ve just told you. This is to say that women like to have a back and forth conversation, not a question and answer session.
  2. The best aphrodisiac for women is talking about your feelings. 
  3. When there is tension, as happens in all relationships, don’t ignore it and don’t disappear. There really is no such thing as avoiding conflict. There is only putting off dealing with it – when it’ll be much worse. 
  4. Don’t just hold a book on relationships or put it under your pillow. Read it, and then most importantly, apply what you read.

 Finally, for both men and women, learn to deal with tension and conflict in healthy, appropriate ways – ways that lead to resolution, with each of you feeling better about yourself and each other. It can and has to be done to have a satisfying relationship.

A good relationship takes work – with continual tweaking. So, whether it’s Low Stress Romance, by Dr. Billy Kidd, or my own Why Don’t You Understand? Gender Relationship Dictionary, or the myriad of books on dealing with conflict, as the old ad said, “Just do it!” Then, feature yourself in the new movie, Here’s Where the Men Are!

Dr. Karen Gail Lewis has been a marriage and family therapist for 39 years. She has authored numerous books and articles on relationships – for married couples, singles, and adult siblings. She also runs Unique Retreats For Women. She has offices in Washington, DC and Cincinnati, plus she offers phone consultations.

Women Love Strong Men

Posted on 26. Dec, 2010 by in Guest Posts: Relationships

By Elliott Katz          What’s happened to modern men? Why are women so frustrated with them? Why is it that when a man takes a woman out on a date he can’t even decide where to go for a cup of coffee? What is going on with men that causes women initiate most divorces?

Today’s man often thinks he’s being sensitive and non-controlling by letting a woman take the lead and make the decisions. He thinks he’s pleasing her. He doesn’t realize that to the woman, he is shirking his responsibility to show leadership and make decisions, and depriving her and their children of the leader and guide they expect from a man.  

Single women have told me that when they marry a man they are trusting him with their lives and that they cannot trust their lives to a man who won’t show leadership and make decisions. One divorced woman said that if her husband of 38 years had understood these basic but crucial truths, her marriage would not have disintegrated.

Why do so many men not know that women want strong men?

Many men today grew up without strong male role models. They came from divorced families or their fathers worked long hours. At school most of their teachers were women and on television they saw men portrayed as incapable buffoons.

Here are Key Traits of Being a Strong Man:

Show leadership
When a man sees a situation that needs to be dealt with, he should step forward and handle it. People admire those who step forward to handle difficult situations – and don’t wait for others to solve the problem.

Make decisions
To avoid accusations of being controlling, a lot of men have gone to the other extreme – they leave most decisions to the woman. A man needs to make his share of decisions and take responsibility for the outcome. One of the meanings of the word “manly” is being decisive.

Take responsibility
Take responsibility for improving the situation. Don’t blame others. There is little sympathy for a man who blames a woman – even when he thinks she pushed him into it. People will say, “You’re the man. Why did you let it go on?” 

Here are Tips for Women on Encouraging Men to Take the Lead:

Let him decide

If he asks you to make a decision, say: “You decide.” Then don’t say anything else.

Ask him to handle it

Ask him to take charge of handling a problem, but don’t tell him what to do. If he asks, say: “If you’re not sure, do research. That’s what I do.” Avoid contradicting him unless what he wants to do is damaging.

Encourage him

Tell him he made a good decision and how you appreciate when he takes charge and handles a problem. If he made a mistake, tell him what you learned from it.

Elliott Katz is the author of  Being the Strong Man a Woman Wants, which is being translated into 21 languages in Europe, Asia and Latin America. When he discusses these ideas with women, they often ask how can they get their husbands, boyfriends and sons to read the book. One woman said she would tell her husband—read it and she’s waiting for him in the bedroom in her negligee.

Do you recognize the need for men to be strong in your relationships? Please share your thoughts

I’m Successful – So Where’s My Man?

Posted on 23. Dec, 2010 by in Guest Posts: Relationships

By Randy Gilchrist, Psy.D.          As a licensed clinical psychologist and marriage and family therapist, I’ve noticed a trend in my therapy office that goes like this:

A woman, between 25 and 40, comes in for help. She has done well in college and has a successful career. She generally keeps herself in shape and has a lot to offer the world. She has friends, ties with her family, and interesting hobbies. She seems to have everything going for her except one thing: She would like to have a man in her life—but she keeps running out of luck when it comes to meaningful and exciting relationships.

Either no one is asking her out, or she does the asking and pursuing, but has little success. This has led many women to ask me things like, “Where have all of the men gone?” and “What’s wrong with men today?” or “What’s wrong with me?”

The women I see show signs of confusion, frustration, and even depression. They ask, “How could a woman be successful in every way today except with men? Are men just insecure and intimidated today by a successful woman—especially if she earns more money? Or, have many men just lost interest in women? What is it with men today?” There are a number of possible answers to these questions and I don’t pretend to have all of them. However, I do have a few ideas that may be of help.

In today’s post-feminist world, there isn’t anywhere for a woman to go to learn about men’s wants, needs, and feelings. What she gets from TV and movies doesn’t work in the real world, and what she learned growing up is often out-dated. As a consequence, many women have become focused on defining and demanding that their needs be met. So they sometimes do not know how to switch focus in order to understand the emotional needs of the men in their lives.

I believe that this helps to explain the most common complaint I hear from men. It involves the attitudes some women exude. The story I hear goes something like this: “She has this attitude that `I make my own money, and I look good and act sexy, so that’s basically the end of my job in the relationship. Now, it’s your job to cater to my many wants, feelings, and needs with patience, giving, supportive listening, and romance.’”

Granted, it’s only a small minority of women who have this one-directional entitlement approach. But it only takes a few experiences with it for a young man to adopt relationship expectations that are limited to sex and “whatever.”

Another complaint I hear from men today is they simply want a woman to be happy and in a good mood most of the time. But they say that is tough to find. In addition, there are still a lot of traditional men out there who want to feel important to a woman, believe that they are needed, and that they are their woman’s hero.

I know, modern women often don’t want to role play this traditional stuff. But all it really takes is a smile, a thank you, and the showing of appreciation and admiration of the efforts he puts into the relationship. The secret here is that this makes a guy feel like a hero, that he has actually accomplished something. It’s not that he’s simple-minded, but that’s the way his reward system works.

However, if the man can’t ever seem to do things right or good enough in a woman’s eyes, he’ll feel inadequate, incompetent, and think that he’s doing a bad job in the relationship. If this is the case, he’s not going to feel wanted or needed and is going to be put off.

Yes, I’m a psychotherapist, so I know there are two sides to this story. But I think it’s important to hear what men are saying. Lots of today’s men are not experiencing enough positive feelings in their relationships for them to get serious about it.

So if a woman really wants a man in her life, it helps if she focuses on the few things he needs most. If he’s a good, solid guy who treats you well, fulfilling these few needs should be pretty simple. Give a him your good mood and compliments, and he’ll give you the world. Conversely, expect the world but give little, and few men will be interested in sticking around.

On the positive side, it’s important to remember that happy, healthy relationships with decent men still do occur. When you apply this formula—pick well, nurture well—you’ll be in good shape. Remember, men approach relationships like a job: If you let him know he’s doing well with some perks and praise, he’ll want to keep up the good work.

By the way, do you need a solid reference book on what makes for a good relationship? I suggest anything from the world-renown relationship and marriage expert, John Gottman. A good example of his work is The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work.

Take care, and happy hunting!

Dr. Randy Gilchrist is a licensed clinical psychologist and marriage and family therapist in Roseville, CA. He is also the creator of The Weight Loss Mindset™ audio hypnosis program.

The Relationship Bill of Rights and Responsibilities*

Posted on 17. Dec, 2010 by in Billy's Blog

In order to have a successful relationship, we, as partners, both agree that we each have certain rights, as well as responsibilities, to uphold in our partnership. In accepting that reality, we affirm, to the best of our abilities, that:

 • We will each accept responsibility for our own actions.

 • We will assume that our partners tried the best they knew how when something goes wrong.

 • If things don’t go our way, we won’t blame each other.

 • We will accept the fact that stuff happens and that things in life don’t always go the way we wanted them to go.

 • We will always attempt to find a common solution to our problems.

 • When we cannot find a common solution to our problems, we will seek outside help.

 • We will not sacrifice for each other, but rather, we will find a solution to our relationship issues that benefits both of us.

 • We will never attack each other’s character or motivations.

 • We will treat each other with common dignity even when we are angry.

 • We will share our thoughts and feelings and will take time to discuss what really matters to us without withholding any of the essentials.

 • We will check in with each other to see if either one of us is harboring fears that we have not yet articulated.

 • We will look to the future and try to imagine how things will be when we have worked through our relationship problems and the real world issues that we are facing.

 • We will work toward our shared vision of the future rather than harboring resentments about what happened in the past.

 • We will not worry about our relationship, but rather, we will let our relationship lead us to discover new aspects of our selves and the world.

• In doing these things, we will treat each other as family and friends.

• If things are improving in our relationships, we will celebrate.

 • If things are not improving in our relationship, we will seek help from a psychologist or another relationship professional.

 • We will be optimistic about our relationship and see it as a win/win situation regardless of what happens and what the future brings our way.

 These guidelines can give us direction in the future, and we can turn to them to affirm our relationship at any time. We understand that our relationship is a work in progress and that some of these rights and responsibilities will take time to actualize.


 The Relationship Bill of Rights and Responsibilities is based on a study of high-functioning couples. Highlighted here are the things they do to make their relationships exciting and meaningful.

 If you want to work toward learning how to do these things, let me show you how. Get my book, Low Stress Romance. It will simplify your journey. If you need help, Talk To Me about it. 


 *The Relationship Bill of Rights and Responsibilities. Copyright 2009 Dr. Billy Lee Kidd. From the book Low Stress Romance. Copy for personal use only. For commercial use, contact Romantic Relationship Institute, LLC.

Why Love at First Sight is Still the Hottest Game in Town

Posted on 14. Dec, 2010 by in Billy's Blog

Romeo and Juliet fell in love at first sight. Then they bet everything on love, so much that it killed them. You’d think we’d have learned something from that example in the last 400 years. But betting it all on love is still the hottest game in town. Did you ever wonder why? Well …

Here’s the scientific short take on love at first sight:

 • Gambling on Love is in Our Blood – Literally. Love at first sight is kind of like seeing someone who strikes you as sexy. That releases sex hormones. When your in-love button gets pressed, it causes a blast of a special type of serotonin to circulate in your blood stream and into your brain. That can cause you to think obsessively about one person—so much that you think he or she is the One. Psychologically, it’s a little like having an obsessive-compulsive disorder focused on one person.

 • Obsessive Thinking Creates a Great Escape. When you’re crazy about someone, your mind blots out the rest of the world. Stress hormones jack you up while neurological growth hormones protect your brain from damage. This acts as a buffer against the everyday stress you’ve been facing. It also allows you to imagine changing your entire world—maybe even escaping a life situation where you feel trapped. That happens because crazy love is not simply a feeling. Rather, it motivates you to achieve a new goal—getting together with a particular person. So why not make a high-stakes bet on love? Well … because it’s going to end.

 • Love At First Sight Always Ends. After the in-love serotonin starts circulating, you and your lover have 30 months—usually less—to get your act together. That’s because the elevated serotonin levels return to normal as your brain chemistry rebalances. That’s when the honeymoon is over. Or—if you are a good gambler—you move into the second stage of being in love.

 • Crazy Love Can Evolve into Reward Love. If you and your partner have your act together, you’ll stop obsessing on each other and establish a life together. When you are with each other, you’ll feel rewarded, rather than angry, revengeful, and jealous. To achieve that goal requires that you have a balanced relationship. This happens if you engage the other four feelings of love in a functional fashion. Those other love feelings are: feel-good sex, feeling like friends, feeling like family, and feeling like helping each other to achieve your life goals.

 • Winning at the Game of Love. Marketers and screenwriters intuitively know how people turn love-at-first-sight romances into successful relationships. That is why they show couples who are crazy in love having great sex or acting like best friends. Or, they show partners having deep family-like feelings for each other and creating emotional ties that bind. They also show love-at-first-sight couples helping each other. What the media ignores–as it cuts to the chase–is the fact that some of these feelings take time to develop.

 • Moving Beyond Instant Intimacy. What you can learn from the popular media is to start thinking early about having great sex. Also, you can learn to share your thoughts honestly on almost anything the way friends do. And why not take a hint from the movies and try to feel like a family and to help each other? It all makes sense, doesn’t it?

 OK. That’s the scientific short take on love at first sight. Some people become a little leery of it at about 26 years old. They have “loved and lost” a few times—the serotonin faded away and left them feeling empty. And now, they want something more. That’s great! Scientists have shown us what that “want more” feeling really is. It’s the need for you and your partner to have good sex, treat each other equitably like friends, feel like family, and to help each other.

 What does this mean for you? If you want a great relationship you have to:

  • work at achieving your sexual potential by discussing your sexual needs with your partner
  • actualize your ability to be a good friend by being honest, friendly, and thoughtful
  • discover what good family feelings really are by letting go and not thinking of your painful memories
  • learn to help the one you love simply because you enjoy it

 Do you want to talk to me personally about love, relationships, and reinventing yourself? Let me hear your thoughts. It’s confidential. Go to Billy Kidd Dot Com Feedback. If you want to read more about how love works, see my book, LOW STRESS ROMANCE. It’s now available in a Kindle electronic format.

Does He Love You? – Use the Love Code and Figure It Out

Posted on 03. Nov, 2010 by in Relationships

With the Love Code, you can analyze any romantic relationship. Let’s look at a real-life story and see how it works:

 Jack and Teri had been crazy in love for about 6 months. Jack catered to Teri in such a way that she was impressed by his gallant actions. But after she moved in with him, he began walking out of the room when she tried to discuss their relationship. All she really wanted was to take the relationship another step deeper. But when she talked to Jack about being best friends, he laughed.

 “We’re not adolescents, anymore,” Jack said. “Real men protect their ladies. And they bring home their paychecks, and they take ‘em out and rock all night, or stay home and rock in the bedroom. They don’t sit around and chatter about their feelings the way girlfriends do.”

 OK. Is Jack really in love with Teri? How does his behavior hold up when we look at it through the lens of the Love Code. Here’s the basics of the code so you can decide for yourself:

 • He Thinks About Her and Feels Rewarded to be with Her. Most of what he thinks is cool stuff because it feels good just to be around her.

 • He Gets Turned On by Her. They not only explore each other’s bodies, but they also go out and explore the world together. This makes their sexual relationship even more intense.

 • He’s Her Friend. He doesn’t keep score or remind her of her failings. He listens to what’s on her mind and helps her contrast that with what she did in similar situations.

 • He Regards Her as Part of His Family. So he trusts her. And he’s OK with talking about the problems he’s facing. It calms him down.

 • He Wants to Help Her when She Needs It. He asks what’s going on when he sees that she looks stressed out. That’s because he cares about her and her future, as well as her goals.

 That’s the Love Code. Let’s look at how to use it so you can answer the question: Does Jack love Teri?

 • Does Jack think about Teri? Yes, but he thinks if he loves her he owns her. And there are times that he doesn’t feel rewarded to be around her unless he thinks he is in charge. That’s a macho control trip, and it’s a dysfunctional way to be in love.

 • Does she turn him on? She did, but he wouldn’t let her get close to him emotionally. So they never explored the full dimensions of their sexuality together.

 • Is Jack her friend?  No. He simply cannot imagine being friends and lovers, too.

 • Does Teri feel like family to Jack? Yes, in a dysfunctional sense. He tried to get her to go along with his dysfunctional-family orientation–where feelings and secrets are never shared. But after she moved in with him, she just couldn’t handle it.

 • Does he help her when she really needs it? No. He helps when he thinks that it will help him get in control of their relationship or when it makes him feel cool. It isn’t about her.

 So, does Jack love Teri?

 Yes, he did love her, but it was in a very dysfunctional fashion. He felt like he owned something, and that give him the right to do things his way. His love wasn’t about developing a sense of personal relationship with her. Meanwhile, Teri had fun for a while with all his chivalrous actions—the flowers, opening doors, and taking charge of things. But in the long run, she couldn’t handle that kind of love. So she moved on to find a man who’d be her friend and her lover, too.

 What’s the lesson here?

 The lesson is that one person’s definition of love might be completely different from another’s. You can use the Love Code to figure out where you differ and where you’re in sync with your partner. Next time you’re feeling confused about your relationship or a potential one, look at the first list of questions that we asked about Jack. Then, see where that leads you.

 – Dr. Billy Lee Kidd

For more on information about the Love Code, see my book Low Stress Romance.

How Love Works – The Love Code

Posted on 19. Oct, 2010 by in Billy's Blog

When I broke the love code, I saw that our feelings of love arise from five different biological systems. These five systems work together to create all the different feelings of love.  Any, all, or none of these love systems can respond to a partner or potential partner. This is why we can love each other in so many ways. Let’s look at how the five love systems work:

The In Love System. The in-love system is what causes you to think about one person–so much so you might think he or she is The One. Being crazy in love like this fades away, however, when your hormones rebalance, generally within thirty months. At that time, you move into the second stage of being in love. That is where you feel rewarded when you are together. If you do not have a functional relationship, you won’t move into this second stage. Instead, you will get the feeling that the “honeymoon is over” or that you are “in bed with a stranger.”

The Sexual System. Scientists realized years ago, of course, that the male erectile system is driven by testosterone. But more recently it was shown that testosterone also regulates women’s potential to become physically aroused about sex. What’s more, it was demonstrated that vigorous exercise raises men’s and women’s physical desire to have sex. Cuddling does the same thing for both men and women. The emotional desire to have sex, however, is different than the feeling of sexual physical arousal. Sexual emotional desire increases when you get out and explore the world. This is why exercising and going on vacation beats sitting around arguing about your sex life.

The Friendship System. The friendship system sets the general tone of how people treat their lovers and how they handle relationship conflict. When partners are friends, they are able to resolve conflict in an equitable fashion through a mutual decision-making process. That eliminates the competition and the winner-take-all arguments that are so common in dysfunctional relationships.

The Bonding System. The bonding relationship system is similar to the friendship system. But it reaches much deeper into the soul and creates the ties that bind people together. Those ties are what generate a family feeling. Unfortunately, people who have dysfunctional relationships try to bond with people they really don’t know. This is what sets the stage for having a cling/clung relationship, or one of mere convenience.

The Helping System. When the helping system engages, you want to help your lover achieve his or her goals. But some people only help in order to try to get control over their partner. Sensing this, their partner simply does less and expects more. As a result, the helper will slave away until he or she ends up resenting his or her partner. People in functional relationships have an intuitive understanding of this. So they do not give unsolicited advice and do not act like martyrs. They also know when to ask if their partner really wants some help and when to stay out of the way.

Now, let’s look at an example of how this works. Let’s imagine that you fell madly in love with someone you just met. And let’s say that you thought about this person all the time and wanted to be with him or her seemingly forever. These feelings arise, of course, from your in-love system. Yet, let’s say, you don’t know your partner well enough to be friends, nor have you had time to bond to your partner so he or she feels like family. But you may want to help your partner achieve his or her goals.

Now, let’s imagine that one day you wake up and you’re feeling like the honeymoon is over. You don’t think about your partner the way you used to, and you don’t feel rewarded when you see him or her. This would mean, of course, that you are no longer in love with your partner. Your in-love system has rebalanced without advancing to the second stage of being in love. But you may still want to help your partner–even though you’ve decided to move on. With what you know, now, you do not have to settle for saying “I love you, but I’m not in love with you.” Instead, you can say that the in-love, go-crazy magic about the relationship has ended. But you still feel a little like helping out.

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.- Dr. Billy Kidd