It has been 2 weeks since I blogged and in that time I have turned another year older. I celebrated by spending sometime with a soul sister who was also having a birthday and being surprised by my partner and friends at dinner.
It got me thinking about the relationships we have with our friends, some of them are fleeting, some are for several years and some are for a lifetime. Some fill a particular need, the friend we laugh with, be silly with, cry with, turn to for support or a quick kick when we have done something not in our best interests. The ones we see nearly every day, maybe a regular weekly or monthly catch up, or the ones who are also as busy as us and we see every few months or a couple of times a year and those we do not see for many years but when we do its just like old times and we have not been apart. There are the ones that cross our minds and we realise we have not thought about them or seen them in a while and we do not miss them (maybe its had its day), and then the ones that we miss dearly but cannot often catch up with. Maybe we remember and mourn the times when we spent a lot of time together in the past, wishing we could rekindle the once bright flame of that friendship, does it just need fanning again, is there still a spark and all we need is to reconnect?
As I looked at the faces that were there over dinner, I saw people I had known for many years, some for a while, some were new friends, and others I hold dear in my heart were not there, were they busy, did they not know about the evening or were they over the friendship and had they already moved on while I was still holding on to something that was now one sided?
Our friendships often echo the way we do other relationships in our lives, we cherish some, nurture some, hold on too tight to some or forget some.
I know that personally, I will work at a relationship with family, friends and lovers even after they have stopped trying or being interested, I will let people let me down once, maybe twice, but three times and I am done. Every year I look at the people in my life and assess how the relationship is going, have we both worked at the relationship, reached out to each other, supported each other, even touched base be it ever so briefly or am I holding on after the due date and is it time to let it go?
Letting go can be tough, we may mourn what was, but life is always full of new people and new and exciting possibilities. People will come and go, experiences will be had and lessons will be learnt. Whether it is for a reason, a season or a lifetime, friends, lovers, soulmates or twin flames, the only enduring relationship we will have throughout our lives is the one we have with ourselves.
Cherish the people who come into your life, remember them fondly for what you have shared, be it an easy and delightful lesson or a difficult one, let them go when the time is right, be open to welcoming new people in and know that through it all you will always have YOU.
Nuture your relationship with SELF, relish who you have become, be excited about who you are yet to be and LOVE YOU.
With Valentines Day fast approaching many people's thoughts turn to love. In the weeks preceding we are bombarded with images of loving couples and the gifts we should shower on each other. It can be a hard time for those who are single and a time when those in unconventional relationships (poly/open) or relationships that are not recognised (same sex) can feel left out or judged by others.
I have recently been reading a lot about Romantic and Companionate love as the terms used instead of the terms that I have been using, limerence and love. They seem to be very similar but just a change in language....so what does it all mean? Lust and limerence are what often draw us to a person and keep us going back, we are drawn to a person for a variety of reasons, if it is visual and physical then it is often lust, if it is emotional and psychological it is limerence.
Limerence or Romantic Love are the feelings that look and feel like love, we think about the person all the time, we like lots of things about them, we feel good in their presence, it is hot, passionate and exciting, but it is not deep, long lasting, Companionate love....not yet. Limerence releases different chemicals in the brain than the oxytocin we release when we feel love, we keep coming back to this person, we share a lot about ourselves and in the process we develop intimacy, or we do not and we move on looking for the next hit of lust or limerence.
Once this intimacy develops, this knowing of another person on many levels, the sharing of our inner most thoughts and feelings then we create the space for Companionate love to grow. This is a more stable, comfortable, long lasting feeling.
These feelings can develop over a varied level of time, often due to the amount of time spent together and the level of intimacy achieved, 3-12 months for Romantic love, with Companionate love setting in about 12-24 months, often referred to as the Honeymoon period.
It is not to say that Romantic love does not also occur in relationships that have developed into Companionate love, the tenderness, passion, longing and other emotions can continue for many people, over time they may come in waves and if a relationship seems to be stale or in a rut, re-enlivening the romantic love can make a relationship feel fresh again.
SO what does this have to do with Valentines Day? This time of year is when many people engage in romantic gestures, they invigorate the romantic love in their lives, but why leave it until one day a year.
It can be Valentines day, any day, we can explore our languages of love and those of our partner, whether they be Words of Affirmation, Touch, Gifts, Acts of Service, or Quality Time, speaking each others languages on a regular basis helps us to give and receive love in a language we understand.
This week saw me have my second day on placement, my first was last week with a local sex therapist and this week was in a local relationships counselling service. It was interesting to see the response from people when I explain what my studies are about....sex. A raised eye brow, an intake of breath..."Is that a thing?"...."WOW, that sounds interesting"...."We must chat later".
Most people are surprised that is it a specific area of study, but fascinated about what it may contain. The never ending interest in sex, the taboo topic we rarely discuss, the practice most of us engage in and the images we are bombarded with by the media, often given a more severe census rating than violence.
It has also been the week of the Explore More Summit that I registered for, 3 lectures a day online for 12 days from some of the leading speakers in the field, from around the world. I have downloaded the work books but due to time restraints (videos are only accessible for 24 hours from release, which is midnight), have not watched any of the video lectures, so I purchased the package to have access to all of them after the summit. But it got me thinking, the difference between those of us who work in this field (sexuality education, sexual health, sex therapy or research) compared to those who don't. The fascination about what we do and the sex positive environment in which we work, I ponder on the messages that we are given about sex and how that often informs the work people do, when they often don't even realise it. Most therapists would like to think that they are non judgmental and open to new ideas, but when it comes to the topic of sex, those old values, and sometimes myths and stereotypes come to the fore.
Looking at the comments of those involved in the summit has given me renewed hope for the future, a community of like minded people, who celebrate sex and support people to explore, play, have fun and reach their Sensual Potential......they are my tribe.
Richelle has had a passion for sexuality and sexual health since 2001. She has worked in the field since 2006, providing sexuality education in schools, and adult education in the topics of diverse sexualities and gender identities, LGBT health issues, sexual health and LGBT relationships.
This is a space for me to share with you my journey as a Sexologist, the things I learn and the people I meet and what I think and feel along the way.