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All Night Long: Is Tantric Sex Right for You?

By | dating, Food for thought, Just for Fun, relationships

No matter how good your sex life is, you might wonder if it can get even better. The answer to that question is likely yes—and tantric sex can help you get there. This ancient spiritual and sexual practice is all about sensuality, intimacy, physical connection and awareness, and a deepening of pleasure. Even if you regularly have enjoyable sex, there are invariably ways to heighten pleasure, new things to discover, and levels of connection with yourself and your partner that you never dreamed of. This is the goal of practicing tantric sex. But is it for real? And can anyone do it?

The good news is that the promise of tantric sex is accessible and available to all who wish to explore it—and that includes you. Trying tantric sex can sound intimidating, but once you try it, you’ll likely be hooked. Even better, tantric sex techniques can be practiced alone and with a partner. So, if you’re single or your significant other isn’t excited about pursuing tantric sexuality or you just want to explore a bit before sharing tantric sex with your special someone, you can try this sexual practice on your own. 

So, don’t wait. In this comprehensive guide, learn what tantric sex is, what it is not, how to practice it, and tips for beginners. Then, have fun practicing the exciting, fulfilling spiritual and sensual art called tantric sex.

Sex is a journey. It’s about the destination, sure, but also the adventure along the way that gets you there. Essentially, orgasms and straight-up sexual intercourse are great, obviously, but there is so much more to discover. This is where tantric sex comes in.

What is Tantric Sex? 

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Tantric sex, which is also called spiritual yoga, is an ancient Eastern spiritual practice with roots in Hindu and Buddhist traditions. Instructions for this sensual art were recorded in sacred texts known as the Tantras as far back as the sixth century. Tantric sex books are famous for including drawings of a seemingly limitless array of sexual positions, but this approach to sexual intimacy is about so much more.

Tantra literally means woven together. And the true emphasis is just that—achieving heightened sexual pleasure and intimacy with your partner. Devotees of tantric sex often enjoy hours of enhanced sensuality, but also deepen their physical and spiritual awareness and relationship at the same time. 

Myths About Tantric Sex

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It’s helpful to dispel some myths about tantric sex. First off, tantric sex is not just about having amazing orgasms, although you very likely will. Instead, it’s about slowing down, getting in the moment, and fully experiencing the sensual and spiritual dynamic of each tantric sex session. 

In fact, orgasms aren’t the goal, just a potential by-product of spiritual yoga. Often people aim to go to the edge of orgasm and then back off in order to prolong sex and continue enjoying the experience.

Another myth about tantric sexuality is that you need to be a super flexible or athletic yogi or spiritual guru in order to engage in this erotic practice. Not true. All bodies, all minds, and all couples can explore tantric sex. Sure, some super bendy, toned bodies can get into complex or physically challenging tantric sex poses that most of us can’t even imagine attempting, but acrobatics and lasting all night aren’t essential—or even necessarily desired.

The Benefits of Enjoying Tantric Sex With Your Partner

Young Beautiful Man With A Woman Sleeping In The Bed. View From Above.
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While the wow of the sexual part of a tantric sex practice is what gets most of the attention and allure, spiritual yoga is about so much more. Tantric techniques help you harness your sexual chemistry and develop a deeper connection to your partner and to yourself. This practice helps you use your sexual energy to explore pleasure as well as intimacy, sensuality, your bodies (yours and your partner’s), and your spirituality.

Essentially, enjoying tantric sex with your partner helps bring you closer as a couple as it improves your sex life—and it teaches you about yourself and each other, too. You can both discover more about your true desires, your physical bodies, your hearts, and your spirits. You’ll enhance your physical control and ability to experience (and surrender) to your feelings as you explore the depths, edges, limits, power, and beauty of your bodies, hearts, minds, and orgasms. 

Sounds amazing, right? Here’s how to get started.

How to Start Exploring Tantric Sexuality With Exercises

Young Couple Lying On Bed
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Like yoga, tantric sex is a practice that you can access whether you’re a beginner or more advanced. And you can continually learn from and deepen your experience and ability. There is always more to discover, a greater connection to find with yourself and your partner, and heightened levels of intimacy, spiritual awareness, and pleasure to achieve.

So, grab your partner’s hand (or your own) and begin exploring tantric sex. A new chapter in your erotic and spiritual life starts now. While tantric sex can be experienced in many different ways, if you’re a beginner it’s ideal to start with the basics. As you develop your practice, it may lead you to more complex tantric sex exercises, poses, and techniques. 

To begin, you’ll want to choose a private, comfortable space where you and your partner feel safe, relaxed, and uninhibited. You may want to set the tone with soft lighting and romantic music (but ideally something that won’t be distracting). Be sure to set aside an hour or more as tantric sex is intended to be a slow, meditative unfolding. You don’t want to feel rushed. Now, it’s time to begin exploring. There are a number of ways to enter into tantric sexuality, but the keys are going slow, following what feels good, focusing on sensation and your partner, and letting go of preconceptions or any kind of agenda or end result. Your job is simply to feel and connect, to give and receive. And move your bodies in ways (and positions) that feel good.

You can begin clothed or naked. Tune into your breath and that of your partner. There’s no right or wrong way to touch but aim to disrupt your normal sex routine by trying something different, something less hurried, less geared toward orgasm or sexual intercourse. Instead, try sitting opposite each other and simply looking in your partner’s eyes. Then, slowly begin to touch each other’s bodies. Or give each other massages or pick body parts to focus on and touch each other simultaneously—or take turns. Sit on each other’s laps or get into any other position that allows you to experiment with touch, motion, breath, and connection.

Tantric sex is meditative, which essentially means to be in the present moment. So, banish thoughts of what you’ll be doing later or worries you have about this or that. Banish any judgment of what you like or don’t or how your body looks or feels. Instead, think about what your body wants and feels. Notice how different touches make you feel and be responsive to your partner’s reactions, too.

Experiment with using synchronized breathing as you look at each other and/or touch each other’s bodies. Use a variety of touches, such as long, slow strokes, gentle taps, squeezes, or holds, varying the pressure, speed, and motions you use. Aim to start away from the sex organs. Touch the whole body before slowly making your way to the genital areas. You can incorporate kissing, oral sex, and/or sexual intercourse whenever you like. However, again, keep things moving slowly with a focus on being mindful and present, which can heighten your pleasure and connection to your partner. Aim to continue eye contact and rhythmic breathing as much as possible. Your session ends when you both feel ready to stop, which might be after 30 minutes or after a few hours. It’s all up to you and what feels right.

Tips for Beginners

It can help to talk with your tantric sex partner ahead of time about what you’d like to explore together. Discuss your acceptance of each other’s bodies and desires, as well as the assurance that saying no to anything that doesn’t feel good is just as welcomed as saying yes to something new. 

To get your ideas flowing (and maybe help you get in the mood), consider reading sex quotes or sex poems together and/or listening to music you find sexy. And talk about your desires, past sexual encounters, feelings for each other, and what you hope doing tantric sex together may bring to your relationship.

Remember, you may feel awkward at first as you begin exploring spiritual yoga. Know that with practice, you will enhance your tantric sex skills as well as your awareness of your sexual energy and spirituality. 

Let yourself laugh, play, and take pleasure. Aim to let go of any negative feelings and/or share them with your partner. Take the opportunity to dive into honesty and exploration together and with yourself. Relish in the sensations your body is capable of and in the loving embrace of your lover.

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https://www.goalcast.com/tantric-sex-explained/

These Dating Apps May Be Destroying Your Mental Health

By | dating, Food for thought, mental health, self

According to a recent study, dating apps may be as bad for emotional and mental wellbeing as they are good at helping people find a date. Per MDPI, people who make extensive use of dating apps like Tinder, Grindr, Bumble, OkCupid, and others are often prone to hypersexual behavior and to depression.

And both of those tendencies can not only be bad for one’s mental health, but can ironically make a person a less eligible romantic partner, as well. Let’s define our terms, and then talk about why heavy users of dating apps may be at greater risk for certain mental health issues.

What Is Hypersexuality?

close up of couple kissing with passion
(Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash)

It’s no laughing matter, that’s for sure. And it’s not a tendency to act a bit more promiscuous than the other members of your social circle. Hypersexuality is a disorder that, left unchecked, can have myriad serious consequences in a person’s life. According to the Mayo Clinic: “Compulsive sexual behavior is sometimes called hypersexuality, hypersexuality disorder or sexual addiction. It’s an excessive preoccupation with sexual fantasies, urges or behaviors that is difficult to control, causes you distress, or negatively affects your health, job, relationships or other parts of your life.”

Note the three operative words in there: fantasies, urges, and behaviors. In other words, you don’t have to be actually engaging in sex acts with multiple partners – far and away the most risky and damaging type of hypersexual behavior – to be afflicted by compulsive sexual behavior. Spending hours looking at pornography is very well within the purview of the disorder, as is spending hours each week swiping through dating apps.

The danger is that the latter two can lead to the former, and that hypersexual behavior in all its forms can damage existing relationships (with friends and family as well as with romantic partners) as well as making it harder to form a new meaningful relationship with a potential significant other.

If you find yourself struggling as a result of persistent and pervasive sexual thoughts and urges or if you often engage in risky sexual behavior – especially behaviors enabled by connections you make via dating apps – then you should seek the help of a mental health professional. Remember, these professionals will keep what you share confidential; they are there to help, not to judge.

Common Signs of Depression

man covers face sitting on couch
(Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash)

Depression is much more familiar to most people than is hypersexuality, and while the immediate deleterious effects of depression may not be as tangible as, say, an un wanted pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease, it too can be a serious mental disorder that merits treatment. If you are concerned you may be dealing with depression, first do a self-check for the most common symptoms.

The common symptoms of depression include feelings of sadness without a specific cause and emptiness when, objectively, you have plenty for which to feel grateful. Depression often manifests itself in the form of chronic fatigue and lethargy, yet also with sleep disturbance. A drop in appetite and an inability to concentrate are also common symptoms of depression, per the National Institute of Mental Health.

In severe cases, depression manifests itself in the form of ideation of self-harm or even suicide, and can lead to that worst outcome in the worst cases. If you feel you are in danger of any sort of self-harm, you can now simply call 988 for immediate assistance. And even if you are not in imminent danger of self-harm, if you are worried you are dealing with depression, seek help – things can and will get better with treatment. Just be sure to tell your mental health support person or team about your dating app use.

An Issue of Correlation, Not Causation

woman looking at phone
(Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash)

To be clear, using dating apps is not going to suddenly bring a case of hypersexuality disorder down upon you nor is it going to render you suddenly depressed. Many people make perfectly responsible, productive use of these platforms – indeed, dating app are the seed of countless relationships that have blossomed into marriage, family, and years and years spent in shared happiness.

However, people already more prone to compulsive sexual behavior and/or to depression may see these issues exacerbated by their use of dating apps. Like anything – and especially when it comes to things like social media platforms, a form of which dating apps are – it’s dangerously easy to begin using these apps too much and in a compulsive manner, developing a sense of addiction to the platforms themselves as well as to the potential for sexual liaison they promise. (Or simply to the fantasy of it, at any rate.)

If you are someone who is already prone to over use of pornography, if you are often consumed by sexual thoughts, fantasies, and urges, and/or if you have a history of risky sexual behavior, then you need to approach the use of dating apps with extreme caution. They won’t cause you to tip into hypersexual behavior, of course, but if you are already near that line, they may provide you the gateway to trouble.

Alternatives to Dating Apps

young people meet at cooking class
(Photo by Edgar Castrejon on Unsplash)

Yes, it can be hard to find a date these days if you eschew online dating, but it can be done – and after all, it worked for centuries, right? The easiest way to meet people without using dating apps is to rely on your network of friends, family, and colleagues. If you make it known you are actively hoping to meet someone special, anyone eligible that every one of those people in your network knows becomes a potential date.

You can also try things the classic way of going to coffee shops or bars and looking for singles there. But a better way to meet a good match is to engage in activities you most enjoy yourself that also offer the chance to meet someone new. If you love cycling, join a group of bikers or a spin class, e.g. If you love cooking, take a cooking class. If you love poetry, go to an open mike. By putting yourself out there via an activity or in an environment you already know you like, you make it more likely you’ll find someone with whom you match, no swiping right required.

KEEP READING:

What Do Happy People Have That You Don’t? The Answer Might Surprise You

https://www.goalcast.com/dating-app-hypersexuality-depression%ef%bf%bc/

Boost Your Shot at Intimacy with This Weird – and Sometimes Uncomfortable – Eye Trick

By | dating, Food for thought, relationships

“The eyes are the windows to the soul.” This observation attributed to French Poet Guillaume de Salluste Du Bartas sums up the power of prolonged eye contact for building intimacy within a romantic relationship. 

You may have noticed that staring into the eyes of your significant other feels good. But as it turns out, eye gazing has a host of benefits that can help you and your partner feel connected and create a stronger sense of intimacy.

RELATED: How to Maintain a Long Distance Relationship

Let’s take a look at the benefits of eye gazing – what it is, how it can impact your relationship and how to use it to strengthen your bond with your partner.

What Is Eye Gazing? And What Are Its Benefits?

couple looks into each other eyes summertime outdoors
(Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash)

To an outside observer, eye gazing can look like a prolonged staring contest. But the practice of eye gazing is more than just maintaining eye contact. Unlike staring, eye gazing focuses on holding a softer gaze with your partner, having two sets of eyes meet and truly look into one another. 

Breathing exercises can be paired with eye gazing as well. Depending on each partner’s preference, sitting face to face and closing your eyes first, taking a few deep breaths and then opening your eyes to meet your partner’s eyes can be an effective starting point. 

Eye gazing offers plenty of benefits for couples looking to forge a deeper connection when done regularly. Here are a few ways that eye gazing helps build intimacy and improve connection.

Eye gazing builds trust

When a person avoids eye contact, they’re naturally perceived as hiding something or being dishonest. Maintaining eye contact does the opposite – studies have shown that a person who keeps eye contact is considered more trustworthy. Applying this finding to a relationship, continuous eye contact with a partner can make couples more likely to trust one another. 

Eye gazing helps you perceive your partner’s emotions

Being able to pick up on when your partner’s emotions without them having verbally tell you how they’re feeling builds intimacy by making your partner feel understood. While other indicators like body language can help with this, one study found that most people analyze a person’s eyes to get clued into how someone is feeling. 

Eye gazing improves connection

Gazing into someone’s eyes helps foster a deeper bond and connection between partners. 

RELATED: How Slowness Improves Your Quality of Life

In a world with constant distractions thanks to technology, having someone give you their undivided attention through eye gazing makes a person feel important. Eye gazing can make you feel extremely connected. One study found that those who participated in eye gazing with their partner felt as if they’d become so bonded that they were one entity. 

Eye gazing creates intimacy and attraction

Many classic studies have shown that prolonged eye gazing generates shared feelings of love and connection. One of the most known cases dates back to 1989, when researchers paired strangers up and had them gaze into each other’s eyes for two minutes. Participants reported feelings of love and connection. This could be due to evidence that shows prolonged eye contact releases oxytocin, the feel-good hormone in our brains that creates attachment and bonding. 

How to Practice Eye Gazing

young man making eye contact
(Photo by Lucas Sankey on Unsplash)

Practicing eye gazing with your partner for the first time can be an awkward, even uncomfortable, experience. Keeping prolonged eye contact with another person leaves you open and vulnerable, which may not yield the positive feelings you’d hoped on your first few tries. Here are a few tips for getting started, along with ways to make you and your partner feel more comfortable.

Eliminate distractions

Turn off the TV, silence your phones and put them out of eye range, along with tablets and computers. Eye gazing is best practiced in a comfortable area of your home where distractions are limited. 

Get comfortable

Find a comfortable space in your home where you and your partner can sit facing one another for a prolonged period of time. You can decide to hold each other’s hands or sit with your legs touching one another if you prefer. 

Close your eyes

Closing your eyes and breathing in tandem with your partner before you start eye gazing helps ground the experience and set a clear starting time for this exercise.

RELATED: What Does Depression Feel Like? Common Symptoms And My Personal Story

Try closing your eyes, taking three deep breaths in and out together, then slowly opening your eyes to meet your partner’s gaze. 

Continue deep breathing

Taking deep breaths in and out while eye gazing can help center you and your partner during the experience. Inhale and exhale a few deep breaths at the start of the exercise with your eyes open, then continue breathing regularly for the duration. 

Hold the gaze

You may find yourself wanting to look away and take a break – which is perfectly normal. Even if you look away, try your best to return to meet your partner’s gaze. 

Look at both eyes

As you move through the exercise, you may want to look into one of your partner’s eyes, then the other, to get a closer look – especially if this is a new experience for one or both of you.

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Do your best to keep each eye focused on the eye directly across from your partner, as darting eyes can be distracting for the person you are eye gazing with. 

Aim for 3-5 minutes of eye gazing

Some couples may find it helpful to set a timer during this exercise – others may find it distracting. However, if you and your partner prefer to time things out, aim for around three to five minutes of eye gazing each time for best results. 

End with a few deep breaths

Taking two or three deep breaths at the close of the eye gazing exercise helps keep things from ending too abruptly. Breathe in and out together, and try to time your breathing to your partner’s once you’ve finished eye gazing. 

Summary

two women make eye contact lying down
(Photo by Bence Halmosi on Unsplash)

Eye gazing can be a powerful tool to connect two people when performed regularly and with intention. It helps strengthen relationships and increase feelings of connection and closeness. If you or your partner struggle when first trying eye gazing, try not to take it too personally, as this can be an intensely intimate practice to engage with.

As with learning anything new, mastering the art of eye gazing can take practice. You may find that you and your partner need to adjust the method or even take a break during it. With time and practice, eye gazing will come easier for the both of you and be something you each look forward to doing together. 

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https://www.goalcast.com/eye-gazing/

Why Handling Reactivity Is Essential For Healthy Romance

By | dating, Food for thought, relationships

Healthy romantic relationships take effort. There’s the balance of independence and intimacy, expressing and meeting needs in each other, knowing what expectations are healthy or unrealistic, and finding a way to grow together and navigate life. The process is like gardening; the effort to nurture the soil, plant the seeds of togetherness, and give the environment what it needs, allows for beauty to flourish.

Romance, more than any other relationship, has the potential to surface deep wounds, during the exploration of deeper and deeper intimacy. As wounds surface, so do painful emotions. As painful emotions surface, self-protection mechanisms can become activated in reaction, from the desire to flee, blame your partner for difficulty, or write off the relationship as dysfunctional for not matching an image of perfection.

Relationships that go the distance involve two people who work with these emotions, and their reactions, skillfully. If reactivity is out of control, things spiral, get messy and descend into immature or harmful behavior. Ideally, there should be low tolerance for this type of drama or chaos. That doesn’t mean giving up at the first sign of reactivity, but being intentional with how you handle reactivity.

In my experience, the space, forgiveness, and willingness to work together through this learning process is love in action. Here, we’ll explore the role of reactivity, and why handling it is essential for healthy romance. Before diving in, I want to thank Sanya, my partner, for all the lessons we’re co-learning. This article wouldn’t be possible without her.

What Is Reactivity?

couple chatting
(Photo by Alexander Popov on Unsplash)

In We, Jungian analyst Robert Johnson describes the intricate dynamic of romance through the lens of depth psychology. In particular, he explores how projecting an image of perfect love onto a romantic partner destines the relationship to suffer. Not only is it unfair to the person in front of us, but it blinds us to the nourishment of true love, that is free from unrealistic expectations.

Johnson notes that, typically, most romantic relationships are “less than friends,” not “more than friends.” The paradox at the heart of romance is that, very often, we show the person we love our most hidden shadow qualities, and through vulnerability and the exposure of emotional wounds, resort to behaviors we wouldn’t with friends. Johnson notes how most people are more patient, forgiving, kinder, more tolerant, and yes, less reactive in friendships.

When we open our hearts to deep levels of intimacy with a partner, we unconsciously give them power. They become the person we are risking with our heart and their behavior has the potential to cause immense amounts of joy or suffering. In some way, this ups the ante, making us more sensitive to their words and actions, or lack of words or actions.

RELATED: How To Handle Emotional Cheating In A Relationship

That requires the commitment to being aware of such sensitivity. Reactivity is impulsive. It’s quick, often centered in trauma or fear, and leads to coping behaviors to regain balance. Without self-awareness, reactivity becomes passive aggression, name-calling, mind games, blame, or even worlds of assumption about the person’s motivations. All of which cloud the reality of what’s happening or create more pain and suffering.

couple in strife
(Photo by Ayo Ogunseinde on Unsplash)

When you’re reactive, you’re at the mercy of emotions. You jump to conclusions and don’t take time to pause, slow down, and consider things with more maturity. Many relationships are in a reactive space the majority of the time. To return to the gardening metaphor, reactivity acts like weeds in the soil. Those weeds have to be seen and removed.

Emotions Are Welcome, Reactivity Isn’t

Romance is an emotional exercise. You can’t cultivate intimacy without confronting your inner world. That includes love, joy, and gratitude, but also the pain, heartbreak, fear, and other wounds that have accumulated over a lifetime. Trying to cultivate intimacy without welcoming emotions is impossible. The willingness to be vulnerable, and share those emotions, is essential to growing closer together.

The opposite, suppressing emotions and pretending everything is okay, leads to levels of resentment that you want to avoid, a garden full of weeds. The challenge of romance is to develop the skill of sharing your emotional life, whilst taking full responsibility for it. The word response-ibility is relevant. Responding, not reacting, is a skill. And that starts with owning your emotions.

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Owning your emotions means having the awareness of what you’re feeling, what caused the feeling, how you’re relating to that feeling and any other thoughts or desires that come from there. Most importantly, it includes the awareness of what reactions surface — the insult, the slamming of the door, the witty comeback. Not being reactive doesn’t mean not having those reactions surface in your mind. It means giving yourself enough space to see them and choosing not to act them out.

Protecting Your Loved One From Your Shadow

shadow
(Photo by Isai Ramos on Unsplash)

Another way of looking at this is that when choosing a romantic partner, part of the duty of care is to do all you can to protect them from your shadow. Loving someone isn’t enough — culture has normalized unhealthy or even abusive relationships, based on concepts around “the one” and love being some form of dependency. You have to walk the walk, and that means doing the hard miles of protecting your partner from all the mechanisms you have that can cause harm.

If you want to be right and win arguments, practice letting things go and focus on reconciliation, not winning. When you feel hurt you become tempted to make hurtful comments to get revenge, bite your tongue, calm down, and wait before talking. If you create emotional distance when things get tough, leaving your partner to feel abandoned, do the work to be able to communicate through feelings of withdrawal, so your partner is informed.

RELATED: 7 Deep Questions Every Woman Must Ask Her Romantic Partner – And What The Answers Mean

This is a process of humility, a spiritual practice in itself. It’s also highly creative and empowered. You might see yourself as compassionate or highly evolved, but the proof is in how you respond when your loved one does something that upsets you. Do you tear them apart? Or feel the pain, communicate as best you can whilst taking responsibility, and use it as an opportunity to choose differently?

Mistakes Happen, That’s Okay

As mentioned, there has to be space to mess up. Unless your parents are a hybrid of Mother Teresa and Eckhart Tolle, most of us internalize unhealthy dynamics to various degrees. Humanity-wide communication and emotional awareness is severely lacking in maturity. In fact, reactivity seems to run the world. So, working to overcome this is an act of conscious rebellion to create healthier models of relating; not only for your relationship, but for future generations.

When you become reactive, aim to recover as quickly as you can. Don’t hold onto a storyline that justifies your behavior. Be firm with yourself and set high standards. Keep the focus on you and your behavior. Apologise, from the depths of your heart, when you mess up, and listen to your partner mindfully when they communicate why what you did hurt them, and what you can do to resolve it.

RELATED: 5 Ways to Know You’ve Found the Right Partner — and 5 Things to Do If You Haven’t

Always try your best to avoid being reactive. Don’t tolerate it. But when it happens, forgive yourself and move on. Expect the same standards for your partner, too. This is a two-way path. If one person is doing all the work to be less reactive, and the other person is making little effort, then there have to be questions around the purpose for relating in a certain way.

young woman mirror
(Photo by Elisa Ph. on Unsplash)

Safety and Intimacy

Deep intimacy is scary. There’s no way to get there without courage, because it takes courage to be vulnerable enough to open your heart to that degree. Feeling so much for another living, breathing human makes us sensitive; to loss, abandonment, rejection, and betrayal. Those are human emotions, and they’re normal. The challenge is to be with them, accept their presence, and do your best to walk the walk.

All of this is to say that deep intimacy requires a level of safety. If both people or one person in a relationship is highly reactive, leading to a sense of walking on eggshells, or that you’re one comment away from an argument, it’s difficult to relax enough to open the heart. All of us have inner protectors that will do what they can to avoid unnecessary pain. You can’t be in inner protector mode and open-hearted at the same time.

RELATED: What Is Emotional Blackmail? How to Spot It and How to Handle It

Safety is created when there is trust, a mutual dedication to respect, and the commitment to avoiding behaviors that can cause unnecessary pain. It comes from healthy boundaries and respectful communication, along with two people who are taking responsibility for how they’re feeling.

The Purpose of Values

This practice is supported by shared values. If an agreement is in place to cultivate specific values, they act as guides when understanding what behavior is tolerable, and what isn’t. They also act as points of acknowledgment or celebration when new behaviors are achieved — thanking someone when you see them choose not to be reactive, and instead respond maturely, is incredibly powerful and encouraging.

coffee conversation
(Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash)

Values such as respect, integrity, and honor all play a role in avoiding reactivity, because reactivity violates these values. Name-calling isn’t respectful. Deliberately avoiding a loved one is acting without integrity. Failing to apologize for doing something wrong isn’t acting with honor. Instead, being committed to upholding values makes the process more fulfilling and rewarding, a nourishing soul primed for growth.

In Conclusion

There’s a risk of misconceptions when describing a practice like this. For clarity, there are a few things this practice isn’t: the suppression of emotions, passivity, avoiding expressing needs, the avoidance of conflict, or a concept. It should offer the opposite: space for emotions to be expressed intelligently, with self-awareness. An active desire to problem-solve, or be resourceful, rather than slip into reactive habits. A way to practice communicating needs, or resolving conflict, with respect. And, more than anything, a deep embodiment of love, not simply an idea or fantasy.

Choosing someone to share your heart, emotions, time, and energy with is no small thing. It’s an honor and a privilege and deserves to be treated that way. Yes, we all slip up now and again. But the desire to become less reactive, meet your partner’s needs, and do your best to transcend pain and reactivity, to be more compassionate, considerate, and caring, is the most poignant expression of love, the true meaning of more than friends.

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https://www.goalcast.com/why-handling-reactivity-is-essential-for-healthy-romance/

Loyal Young Man Steps In With Best Response Girlfriend After Bully Makes Comment on Her Weight

By | dating, Food for thought, inspiring, kindness, relationships, stories, uplifting news, upliftitng

One of the stereotypes about being young is being easily influenced. Often, teens join in on bullying and succumb to peer pressure when tested in front of their peers. This was not the case for one young man. 

Prom night

As a teen, so many hopes and dreams are pinned on prom night, which is said to be one of the best nights of high school! This was the case for Tre Booker and his girlfriend Madison, who both felt gorgeous and put together in coordinating outfits. Madison looked stunning in a sparkly pink dress, while Tre looked smart in a suit complete with a pink bowtie and corsage to match his love. Feeling proud of their amazing prom looks, the two posted their prom photos online.

Trolls come out

While many friends of the pair had positive things to say, not everyone was so friendly. Madison, shocked and saddened, responded to the anonymous user:

That’s when Tre jumped into the mix, tweeting:

The sweet interaction between the two led them to go viral. Many people applauded Tre and complimented Madison on how beautiful she looked in her sparkling dress.

A beautiful pair

As Madison and Tre’s experience illustrates, there will always be haters who want to rain on your parade. Just like this young couple, the best response to those people is to lift each other up, complement each other, and recognize what makes us special. Ignore the naysayers, and hopefully one day they will go away.

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Lead with positive words. You never know who might need to hear them.

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Pre-K Sweethearts Get a Second Chance at Love When They Unknowingly Find Each Other on Dating App

By | dating, Food for thought, love stories, marriage, stories, uplifting news

When Amy Giberson and Justin Pounders were in pre-kindergarten in St. Petersburg, Florida, they’d play tag and build blocks together. They say that a “shy” romance developed when they were 3 years old, but they attended different schools growing up and drifted apart.

Then 30 years later, the two matched on an online dating site.

Fate had other plans

Justin said he felt an instant connection to Amy when he first saw her profile on the dating site.

“I saw her photo and for whatever reason, was instantly drawn to her,” he told People in a 2015 story. “She just had this great energy, you could tell. I can’t explain it, but I knew I had to get to know this girl.”

The couple went on their first date to a restaurant and sparks flew.

“Of course, at that point, we still didn’t know we had been pre-K sweethearts, but when we met up and we hugged, it was like I had known him my whole life,” Giberson said.

“When I first saw him, I felt that I was staring at the man I was going to marry.”

Amy Giberson

They didn’t realize they knew each other

A year into dating, Justin joked that he had a crush on a girl in preschool named Amy.

Then, Amy joked back, “Well, it’s not me, so I don’t want to hear about her!”

But it wasn’t a joke. The two had actually been in the same pre-kindergarten class and their parents dug up the photos to prove it.

“Justin’s mom found a photo of the two of us together and I just started crying, I was ecstatic,” Amy told People. “I was the Amy he had liked all those years ago! It was definitely meant to be.”

A dream love story

Shortly after the improbable modern love story came out online, the couple appeared on The View and Justin recruited kids at their former pre-school to pop the question for him.

In unison, the toddlers said, “Amy, will you marry me?”

She said yes, of course.

“I truly feel it was fate!” Amy told People in a 2016 story. “Our hearts met at the age of 3 and we had our own journeys to go through for 30 years, but ultimately our hearts were meant to love each other.

“Everyone wants a dream love story, and somehow it happened to us!”

Amy Giberson

Grateful for her love story, Giberson had a message for others looking for their match.

“Always keep your heart open to love, because you never know when you’ll find it,” she said.

Love will find a way

Sometimes even the best romances don’t work out because their lives are on different trajectories. And that’s what nearly happened in this story. But incredibly, they found each other again, proving that love will always find a way if it’s meant to be.

More uplifting stories:

True love always finds a way

“Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” – Emily Brontë

https://www.goalcast.com/childhood-sweethearts-reunite-after-30-years-dating-app/

Antonio Banderas Didn’t Give Up On Love Despite Being In A Disastrous First Marriage

By | antonio banderas, dating, Food for thought, heartbreak, marriage, Motivation

Antonio Banderas is universally endeared as a charming, romantic Latin Lover, but in reality, he has been unlucky in love more often than not. 

In his forty years as an actor, he’s been married and divorced twice, with both of his marriages ending on drastically different outcomes. Everyone’s well-acquainted with his love for Melanie Griffith — their marital union lasted for nearly twenty years and produced a daughter, actress Stella del Carmen Banderas — but not many are aware of Antonio’s personal life prior to his move to the United States, namely, his ill-advised wedding with Ana Leza. 

The way their marriage panned out isn’t just a cautionary tale for anyone acting on their impulses and pinning their hopes on a whirlwind romance; it’s a lesson in not giving up on your heart, come hell or high water. Against all odds, Antonio’s failures don’t dissuade him from searching for The One; he continues to persevere in his quest to find love, even if it culminates in a great deal of pain, distrust, and heartbreak. 

Here’s what we can take away from Antonio Banderas’ journey with love:

Antonio had to pay a hefty fine for his first marriage with Ana Leza

In a Vanity Fair interview, Antonio opened up about his brash decision to marry Ana and why their relationship couldn’t go the distance. She was a fellow actress and his English tutor, who essentially instructed him on how he could develop his craft in mainstream cinema. “She helped me translate the script for ‘Los Reyes del Mambo,’ … it gave me a lot of confidence,” said Antonio, giving her her due credit for helping him establish a sustainable career in Hollywood. 

The Zorro lead said he wouldn’t have the acclaim he does today without Ana’s continuous support and direction. “Without her I would not have gotten the role,” he said. Ana backed up his statement by saying it was “imperative” to accompany him to the United States. He didn’t speak a word of English, so it felt natural to have Ana be this perpetual plus-one. They tied the knot in 1986 after just six months of dating. 

Antonio Banderas with Ana Leza

What the judge wants to know is how much are you going to pay your partner. They grab you by one foot, they shake you and, when [they get every last dollar], they leave you. That’s what they did with me

Antonio Banderas to Vanity Fair España

It wasn’t until Antonio came across Melanie Griffith on the set of Too Much that he realized he needed to break it off with Ana. He maintains he didn’t carry out an illicit affair with Melanie; instead, he waited to separate from Ana to pursue a serious partnership with Melanie. “It was very, very fast and very compulsive, but at the same time, we were tied at the time,” said Antonio, of how his infatuation for Melanie transformed into genuine love over the years. 

Unfortunately, the divorce with Ana wasn’t as seamless as he had been hoping. To put it simply, it was a nasty, expensive divorce battle in which the court ordered Antonio to pay alimony payments of 12,000 euros per month, awarded his €3.4 million home to Ana, and granted her lifetime rights of  50% of all the films he acted in over the duration of their marriage. Antonio bemoaned the process, calling it a “business” through and through. He doesn’t think he should’ve been mandated to fork over so many assets; in his view, the whole system is a scheme to bleed an actor dry. 

Yet he never stopped believing in the power of love

Though his marriage to Ana was, in many ways, doomed to collapse at some point or the other, it didn’t put a damper on his beautiful love story with Melanie Griffith. The two fell madly in love when they first met, and with their respective marriages declining, they couldn’t help but give in to the passion brewing between them. At the time, their getting together precipitated quite the controversy — Antonio was described as “abandoning” his wife of ten years for a sexy, on-set fling. 

However, in an interview published in 1995, the Spanish actor has no qualms about following his heart and exploring the love he felt powerfully for his co-star. “You just know there is something inside you that is stronger than yourself,” he told The Morning Call. Love is an abstract concept that will consume your focus without your permission and embolden you to make strange, the most unexpected, choices in life. Likewise, when he encountered Melanie, he couldn’t think straight. He had to make up his mind. 

Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas

Love is a very abstract feeling. I cannot even describe love. Who can describe love? It’s like describing life. You just know there is something inside you that is stronger than yourself. And you can’t stop it.

Antonio Banderas on The Morning Call

In an Entertainment Weekly interview published the same year, Antonio changed his stance a tiny bit and claimed his separation with Ana had “no connection” with his budding romance with Melanie. It’s futile to speculate whether or not Melanie’s arrival directly resulted in the breakdown of Antonio’s marriage since the situation transpired over twenty-five years ago. Additionally, as lovely as their partnership had been, Antonio and Melanie didn’t last, either. They announced their divorce in June 2014, noting they wanted to go their separate ways “in a loving and friendly manner.” Their parting of ways has been more than amicable: Antonio called Melanie his “best friend” and asserted he “will love her until the day I die.” Just because a marriage ended doesn’t mean it has to be ugly or heartless. People can still maintain their friendship, acknowledge their love, and preserve some level of togetherness. 

On the other hand, the act of divorce itself doesn’t have to signify failure or inadequacy. Sometimes, like Antonio, you act on a whim and do what you think is best for your future, unaware of any ramifications. He and Ana weren’t meant to be, but he never lost his ability to love and be loved in return. He welcomed his desire for Melanie with arms wide open and embraced the changes in his life. 

Keep your heart and your mind open

Today, Antonio may be a twice-divorced actor in his sixties in Hollywood, yet he doesn’t let an arbitrary label determine his success with love. He’s happily partnered up with Dutch investment banker Nicole Kimpel, who’s helping him recover from a heart attack he suffered four years ago. He’s a walking testament to the resilience of love and how it can strengthen a person from the inside out. 

Divorce can be a life-shattering phenomenon that can send individuals down a dark path full of insecurities, doubts, and disillusionment. But if you maintain a semblance of positivity and optimism, you will be able to crawl your way out. It’s about keeping your heart and mind open to possibilities, even if they don’t turn out as you hope or end up breaking your heart. If you don’t let love in, you’ll never know what it feels like. 

More inspiring stories:

https://www.goalcast.com/antonio-banderas-didnt-give-up-on-love-despite-a-being-in-a-disastrous-first-marriage/

Aaliyah’s Tragic Love Story With Damon Dash Will Teach You To Take Chances

By | aaliyah, dating, Food for thought, heartbreak, Inspiring Celebrities, Motivation, stories

Aaliyah’s been gone twenty years, but the footprint she’s left behind is unmistakable. 

The Princess of R&B, along with eight others, tragically passed away in an airplane crash over the Bahamas on August 25, 2001. It’s the kind of death that’s capable of decimating and devastating an entire culture, where no one recovers from the sudden loss of potential; where no one can process how a universally beloved figure, with countless media appearances to her name, can just cease to exist in a matter of few minutes. 

There’s something eerily personal about a celebrity’s passing. They might be dead, but their artistry still shines through, their work is still available to be cherished and adapted and celebrated an infinite number of times over. Similarly, Aaliyah’s death continues to draw out heartfelt tributes and nostalgic reactions, revealing bit by bit the woman who lived beneath the glamor and the chaos. 

To give an example: on the occasion of Aaliyah’s 20th death anniversary, her boyfriend at the time, Damon Dash, opened up about their unique love story, and in doing so, unearthed yet another magical piece about the artist. 

Aaliyah’s boyfriend opens up about their relationship

Damon Dash, a media tycoon, entrepreneur, film producer, and co-founder of Roc-A-Fella with Jay-Z and Kareem Burke, had been dating Aaliyah for about a year before she was killed in the airline accident.They met at a basketball game in the summer of 2000 before being introduced by their mutual accountant, Barry Klarberg.Though they took a liking to each other nearly immediately, they intended to maintain a friendship and nothing else. 

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Damon delves into their beginnings as a couple and excavates a side of Aaliyah many might not recall. At first, he and Aaliyah bonded over a book, Gary Zukav’s The Seat of the Soul, which they started reading together. The intellectual, thought-provoking conversions that emerged, as a result, solidified their connection for good. “From then on, we were sort of inseparable,” he told the outlet. Soon enough, sparks began to fly, and they decided they would give their budding romance a serious chance.

Our intention at first wasn’t even to be in love. We were just really good friends and we fell for real. It was almost an accident. 

Damon Dash on Entertainment Tonight

Damon couldn’t be more thankful about how they were able to forge an intimate and memorable relationship away from the prying eyes of the public. The 50-year-old also revealed they wanted to marry each other at one point but didn’t want to make the grave mistake of rushing down the aisle. That’s why they agreed upon a plan: they would cohabit for six months straight, “see if we can tolerate being around each other with no distractions,” and if they still loved each other at the end of the period, they would make it official. 

Unfortunately, the plan never came to fruition, and they weren’t able to tie the knot. 

He says she taught him how to love

Twenty years on, Damon has a number of regrets about his time with Aaliyah, one of which was that he didn’t get to make enough memories with her. They were both busy, ambitious people mired in a series of projects, so they didn’t have a lot of time to give to each other. She would be shooting a film in Australia, and he would be occupied with “companies to run” — their schedules kept clashing every step of the way. Nevertheless, Damon said, “We would have such a good time when we saw each other, it just always felt fresh.”

Of course, the moments they shared were irrevocably special, and he’ll always be in awe of the woman who changed his life. But, at the end of the day, when the love of your life is gone, nothing is enough, and you are left longing for their warm company every second. Aaliyah taught Damon how to love, how to live every day with passion, interest, and unending appreciation. Had it not been for her, he wouldn’t know how to acknowledge or recognize love in himself or others. 

I didn’t know what being in love was. I didn’t even understand what that feeling is and I was able to really achieve that with her. Now I know what it feels like, so I was able to identify it when it happened again. 

Damon Dash on Entertainment Tonight

As a tribute to Aaliyah or a result of her impact on him, he makes sure to spend every waking moment with people he genuinely loves. “I would only be around people I love,” he said. He doesn’t care to surround himself with people who don’t treasure him. He’s also begun to take account of his own feelings to the point it’s become the sole “currency” in how he navigates through this world. 

Damon also takes pleasure in the fact that he was the one who dated her until the very end. If someone else had been in his position, he would have been seething in envy, so he allows himself to feel grateful for the part he played in her life, and vice versa. “It’s almost amazing to me that I was the guy who was with Aaliyah. Like, I am almost a fan of myself,” he said. It’s ultimately an unfortunate situation, but this part does enable him to reflect on the past with a fresh perspective. 

Grief is a transformative process at its essence, so every person will come to grips with reality at their own pace, in their own time. For Damon, it comforts him to picture Aaliyah as an angel, someone watching over her loved ones in fierce protection and dedication. “They’re signs to me, it means she’s talking to me,” he said. 

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Dare to take chances and fall in love

Nobody really knows what will occur in the future, but if you want to keep the regrets as minimal as possible, don’t be afraid to take chances. There are a hundred ways you could get hurt, but at least you can tell yourself you showed up, you fell in love, and you risked your heart. There’s no bigger failure than not trying at all, so if you decide to take a chance, you’re opening yourself up to a world of possibilities. You never know if the person you share a profound connection with disappears the following day, so all you can do is give your everything, live in the moment, and follow your heart. 

More inspiring stories:

https://www.goalcast.com/aaliyahs-death-tragic-love-story-damon-dash/

Gay Man’s Gut Feeling Saves Woman From Potentially Sketchy Date

By | dating, Food for thought, helping others, stories, strangers doing good, toxic relationships, uplifting news

Strangers looking out for strangers.

A guardian angel

Earlier this month, Twitter user @Hadia__S was out on a coffee date when a gay man sitting behind her passed her a note.

In a now-viral post, the woman shared a photo of the note, which was given to her while her date was in the bathroom.

“I had coffee with a guy yesterday. When he went to the bathroom, the gay guy sitting behind me passed me this note,” she wrote.

“Too many red flags. Run. Be safe girl.”

She saw red flags, too

The woman went on that the date was indeed filled with red flags. One bad sign was “not seeing eye to eye” on the situation when rapper Da Baby expressed homophobic views to a live audience. Another was the date’s admiration for Kevin Samuels, who has been called a “pseudo-love guru” who “exploits the vulnerability of Black women.”

“Ok, I’ll share more..while trying to remain as vague as possible. But we did not see eye to eye on the Da Baby situation and he’s a Kevin Samuels fan. I had to look him up and was immediately taken aback lmao,” she wrote.

“I recognized the red flags, but I wasn’t in danger, so I stayed, because of course I had to debate him. I’m sure my guardian angel was exhausted and was like “BITCH, LEAVE!””

Thankful that someone was watching her back

The Twitter user added that despite seeing the red flags herself, she appreciated the note from the stranger and it gave her a good laugh.

She also addressed questions in the comments asking whether there’d be a second date — the answer was no.

“There were a few other GLARING red flags that I won’t mention, but don’t worry, I would have recognized them with or without the note. But the note was greatly appreciated and added some laughs to my night. There won’t be a second date,” she wrote.

Listen to gay men

In the comments, user @endlessblissx pointed out how gay men are always looking out for women.

“Did you listen? cause if anyone knows men better, it’s GAY MEN.”

Others shared that men who date men are excellent authorities on the subject and should be listened to.

“I’m just saying if a man who dates men, tells me to run tuh I’m hitting the JETS,” wrote @misseverywhereg

“Men who date men know men.. you might wanna listen girl, ijs,” wrote @thatdamnbrook

Look out for each other

When we’re meeting someone for the first time, especially on a date, it can be tough to glean who they truly are. Sometimes, we miss telltale signs that show the person might not be as great as they seem.

Figuring these red flags out early on can save us a lot of anguish down the line, but it’s not always easy to recognize them. That’s why if we see red flags anywhere, whether it’s a stranger or a friend, it’s a kind thing to gently let them know. We all have to look out for each other in this complex world.

More uplifting news:

https://www.goalcast.com/2021/08/27/gay-man-slips-woman-date-note-red-flags/

Woman Asked Out On A Date By Childhood Bully Has Best Response

By | apologizing, bullying, dating, Food for thought, stories, uplifting news

Years of bullying about her looks led Louisa Manning to an eating disorder. But eight years later, she finally got her revenge on one of the worst bullies and earned a long-overdue apology.

They called her ‘manbeast’

For three long and painful years, cruel students at Louisa Manning’s school called her a “manbeast.” They bullied the then 12-year-old for her weight and body hair (the mean nickname was a play on her last name).

As a result, Manning stumbled into an eating disorder that lasted several years where she’d eat little more than an apple a day.

Bully does a 180

Fast forward eight years and Manning had grown into her body. She’d shed the weight and tamed the body hair.

While studying at Oxford University in England something absolutely wild happened: one of the worst perpetrators of the bullying at school asked her out on a date.

Now 22, Manning told Buzzfeed News that this particular boy had bullied her for “being ugly.”

“I was pretty pissed off he asked me out, to be honest,” she said. “It really made me angry that now I’m attractive, he instantly wants to jump into bed with me.”

But instead of telling the guy to bugger off, she accepted the date.

My gut instinct was to say no. but then I realiZed what a brilliant opportunity it was, and after bouncing ideas off a friend for a few hours, we came up with an idea.

Louisa Manning

A ghosting we can all get behind

Manning’s bright idea was to meet the guy for dinner at a restaurant and not show up.

But more than subjecting the guy to the annoyance of ghosting, she had a waitress at the restaurant leave the guy a photo of Manning when she was 12 and a handwritten note.

The note read:

“Hey [name obscured],

So sorry I can’t join you tonight.

Remember year 8, when I was fat and you made fun of my weight? No? I do – I spent the following three years eating less than an apple a day. So I’ve decided to skip dinner.

Remember the monobrow you mocked? The hairy legs you were disgusted by? Remember how every day for three years, you and your friends called me Manbeast? No perhaps you don’t – or you wouldn’t have seen how I look eight years later and deemed me f*ckable enough to treat me like a human being.

I thought I’d send you this as a reminder. Next time you think of me, picture that girl in this photo, because she’s the one who just stood you up.

Louisa.”

Long-overdue apology

Manning posted all of this to Facebook, though the posts have since been taken down. She also posted an apology from the guy that’s worth hearing out.

“I’m so shocked, I actually got an apology,” she said. “It’s 10 years too late and really if he’d intended to apologize he should have done so when I bumped into him last weekend rather than asking me out for dinner first, but it’s still an apology and it’s still amazing I got one.”

It’s never too late to say sorry

Kids can be so mean, can’t they? Manning was simply growing up and was relentlessly bullied for her looks. In the end, she turned out great (Oxford!!), but those years of frustration and an eating disorder are ones she cannot get back.

This is a reminder not only to be kind to others whatever your age, but also that a heartfelt apology, even if years have passed, is better than not apologizing at all.

More uplifting news:

https://www.goalcast.com/2021/07/07/louisa-manning-woman-asked-out-date-childhood-bully-revenge/