The LoveLife Blog: guidance on mindful, bodyful, soulful loving!

#320: How to Say No Without It Feeling Like Rejection

Jacqueline Hellyer - Sunday, May 30, 2021

Be polite!

I’m not talking here about persistent unwanted advances at a party or bar, in those cases you may well need to be less than polite. I’m talking about how you say no to your partner’s sexual invitation.

With so many couples I work with, often one has been the ‘initiator’ and they can find it hard when they get rejected a lot. Often to the point of giving up initiating altogether. It can feel really rejecting when your partner says no a lot.

Now I want to stress that of course you have the right to say ‘no’. No-one should ever do anything sexually that they don’t want to do. What I’m focussing on here is how you say ‘no’.

For a start, think of the offer as a positive thing. Your partner finds you desirable and wants to share a pleasurable connecting experience with you. This is a good thing (just ask all the people who I work with whose partners don’t find them desirable, that’s really horrible).

So just as if your partner was offering you a slice of cake, or suggesting a date at the movies, take it as a positive offer. And just as if you didn’t feel like a slice of cake or going to the... read more

#319: The Benefits of a Great Love Life Part 3: Sexual Transformation

Jacqueline Hellyer - Sunday, May 16, 2021

The erotic connectivity between an individual and their consort offers methods by which the transcendent or transpersonal dimensions of being-in-the-world may be cultivated.” Barratt

This is the last of a three-part series outlining the results of my research into the benefits of a great love life. The previous two articles covered personal and relational transformation and now we’ll look at sexual transformation.

The participants in the study definitely found personal and relational transformation through their sexual relating. But what is this sexual relating? Originally, I recruited the six couples who participated in my research by asking for couples who resonated with the description of ‘optimal sexuality’ defined by other researchers (Kleinplatz and Menard) and their eight criteria of: being present, extraordinary communication, intense emotional connection, erotic intimacy, interpersonal risk-taking, authenticity, vulnerability, and transcendence. All the participants related strongly to those eight themes, and also highlighted some more – ones which are less to do with their experience of the sex act, more on how the couples engage with their sexuality. Let's at look at some of them:

Safety is sexy. 

The participants have an extraordinary ability to accept the other, to listen and hear, even when the subject is challenging. By being able to discuss their desires and fears they create a... read more

#318: The Benefits of a Great Love Life Part 2: Relational Transformation

Jacqueline Hellyer - Sunday, May 02, 2021

Intimate relationship…is such a provocative and powerful meeting place, where the psychological and the spiritual come together in a particularly potent way.”
John Welwood

This is the second of a three part series of blog articles looking at the results of my research into the benefits of a great love life. The last article looked at how it can transform people individually and this one looks at how it can transform couples relationally.

As I pointed out in the last article, the six couples I did the deep dive with had all done personal and relational development work, as well as sexual, so I can’t say that the sexual focus on its own led to the relationship growth, yet all the couples said that they felt it definitely contributed. They reported:

  • Their relationship feels fresh and not tired
  • There is lightness and playfulness in relationship
  • Comfort without boredom
  • Small moments of bliss throughout life
  • Great trust and emotional support of each other
  • Extraordinary communication: open, hide nothing, no judgement,
  • Don't 'fight', can discuss difficult subjects
  • Read each other, in sync
  • Separateness and great togetherness – differentiated not fused
  • Positive impact on others
  • Heightened awareness of each other
  • Feel connected when apart
  • Focus on their sexuality
  • Lots of touch
  • Intimacy is easy, flows
  • Feeling that sex is integral to relational growth
Let’s look at some of these themes:


The... read more

#317: The Benefits of a Great Love Life Part 1: Personal Transformation

Jacqueline Hellyer - Sunday, April 18, 2021

When you love your beloved not merely as an unconscious strategy of ego but as an expression of the Eros of existence, outrageous love is awakened inside you, and your entire experience of life changes…. You begin to live the erotic life in every dimension of your non-sexual life. As you re-eroticise your life, you are personally transformed.”

(Gafni & Kincaid, 2017)

How is having a high-level love life transformative? I know from my years of work in this field that it is, so as the research component of my recent Masters of Science in Consciousness, Spirituality and Transpersonal Psychology I investigated this question. With six couples who volunteered to share their great love lives with me, I did a deep dive into how they found they had transformed – personally, relationally and sexually.

This article covers the personal transformation side and the next two articles will cover each of the relational and sexual.

From the interviews and discussions with these couples it was clear that they had grown and transformed and that the focus on sexuality had been a significant part of that growth, but they had all done personal and relational development work as well, which no doubt contributed. Nonetheless, they felt that... read more

#316: Take Your Partner Off A Sexual Pedestal

Jacqueline Hellyer - Saturday, April 03, 2021

I often see clients who have put their partner on a sexual pedestal. They believe their partner has their sexual act together, and somehow they have to meet their partner’s sexual level. I see this whether in long-term relationships or in casual encounters.

It’s this belief that you are sexual inadequate and your partner is sexually competent, and you set the sexual bar at the other’s supposed level of sexuality.

This approach is destined to fail.

  • For a start, no-one is perfectly sexually proficient, we’re all fallible human beings who are never perfect or totally competent in any area of life.
  • Secondly, sexuality is an ever-fluctuating thing, it’s never a static constant ‘level’.
  • And most importantly, quality sex is never about meeting another person’s sexual needs/wants/expectations, it’s about two people co-creating a unique experience of pleasure and connection based on their own desires moment-by-moment.

I do see this a lot more in women than in men (including same sex attracted women). No doubt it comes from all those millenia of patriarchy where a women’s sexual role was solely to satisfy the husband. At least back then the demands weren’t so high, just lie back and think of England while he does his business inside you, and pop out a couple of heirs along the way. These... read more

#315: Finesse Your Expertise on Each Other

Jacqueline Hellyer - Saturday, March 20, 2021

What makes a great relationship is being experts on each other.

You are different, always were, always will be. So, what makes you great as a couple is the ability to know, accept, appreciate, and work with the differences.

The similarities, the good stuff, that’s easy. No-one ever comes to me seeking help on how good things are!

Now, you might think you know your partner, but do you really? More likely your concept of your partner is a mix of how they were when you met (a time when you probably did pay a lot of attention) and your interpretation of who they are based on who you are…

Never assume you know your partner. You don’t. Keep paying attention and being curious. Keep discovering each other. You are endlessly fascinating. The more you each understand yourself and the other, the better you will understand your dynamic and be able to continuously co-create a secure, engaged relationship (or jointly and amicably agree to end it if it’s done its time).

Don’t make the other wrong. They are just different. The way you are, the way you see the world is not ‘right’, it’s just familiar, so it feels ‘normal’. But there is no ‘normal, we’re all individuals with individual histories and life experiences which... read more

#314: A Lingering Sense of Each Other

Jacqueline Hellyer - Saturday, March 06, 2021

Consider sex an energy rather than a behaviour. Just as we can sense love, and feel the energy of love with our hearts, the energy of sex is the same. With sex though, the energy comes from our pelvis, our sexual centre. 

But it’s not the ‘horny’ sense of sexual arousal, with an energy that wants to leave the body. That’s part of sex, sure. But the true sexual energy is a vital, life-giving force that rises upwards in the body, keeping us young and enlivened. When you let the sexual energy rise in this way, and combine it with your love energy, it becomes a beautiful potent energy that you can share with your partner all throughout your life. It connects you, nourishing your relationship and keeping an erotic flow going between you. This can be cultivated in myriad small ways of looks, smiles, acts of sweetness, through to longer friendly, intimate and sexual encounters. You feel it when you are together and also when you are apart.

After attending one of my couples retreats, one man described this as though their connection was “a frequency that had shifted from AM to FM”.

More recently, a male client described it as ”a lingering sense of each other”, which I think... read more

#313: How Do You Know When You're Having Good Sex?

Jacqueline Hellyer - Saturday, February 20, 2021

How do you know when you’re having good sex? When there are no negative feelings and emotions associated with it. That is, when it comes from, feels like and results in positive states.

There are so many negative emotions associated with sex – shame, guilt, fear, obligation, disgust, entitlement, boredom, as well as negative physical sensations of pain and discomfort. None of these make for good sex. So, ask yourself:

What’s driving you? 

If you feel obliged to do it to keep your partner happy, it’s not good sex.

If you feel an expectation that you should have sex, it’s not good sex.

If you feel entitled to sex regardless of where your partner’s at, it’s not good sex.

How does it feel when you’re doing it?

If it’s painful or uncomfortable, it’s not good sex.

If it’s boring, it’s not good sex.

If you wish it would end, it’s not good sex.

If you feel you have to hit certain KPIs, it’s not good sex.

If you’re doing what your partner wants not what you want, it’s not good sex

If you were enjoying it, but now you’re not and you don’t stop, it’s not good sex.

How does it feel afterwards?

If you feel shame, it’s not good sex.

If you feel disgust, it’s not good sex.

If you feel relief it’s over (and... read more

#312: Conflict is Inevitable So Learn to Prevent, Manage and Repair

Jacqueline Hellyer - Saturday, February 06, 2021

A ‘perfect’ relationship is not one that has no conflict. It’s not that you are so ‘perfectly aligned’ that you never differ. That’s actually a sign that you are either seriously emotionally avoidant and not sharing your true feelings, or that there is a major power differential in the relationship where one always defers to the other.

Of course there is going to be difference – you are different people with different feelings and ideas and wants and needs. You always have and you lways will. From the myriad of small things throughout the day – what you’re having for dinner, who’s picking up the kids from school, through to major life issues like parenting styles, where you live, how you deal with aging parents, and of course sexual issues– you will inevitably differ on many issues.

Does that mean you have to fight and have a fractious relationship? Not at all. But it does mean that you have to develop your relationship skills so that you handle difference well.

I describe this in three ways: how you prevent conflict, how you manage it when it occurs, and how you repair quickly if it goes bad.

Prevent Conflict

As I said, difference is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean it has to turn into conflict. A... read more

#311: The Bridgerton Effect

Jacqueline Hellyer - Saturday, January 23, 2021

The Netflix series Bridgerton has been hugely popular. This Regency-era romance series has had audiences rivetted by both the slow burn courting as well as the quality sex scenes.

I've been interviewed twice by journalists on the show – one on the romance side, which you can read here, and one on the sex side, which you can read here.

I was more than happy to do the interviews, because even though I found the storyline itself pretty light and trite (spoiler alert – she gets her man!), there are some good takeaways from the show.

Firstly, and traditionally, there is great inspiration in the way the couples court. It is slow and subtle, yet builds up an incredible erotic charge. As I’m quoted saying in the first article:

"Even if it's just a nice kiss on the cheek – you can still do that in an erotic way. I think Bridgerton showed us just how erotic the bare minimum can be, especially when these days people think they have to be naked and doing all sorts of crazy things on the first date. Energetic frisson is incredibly powerful and something we’ve really lost lately. It's the building of anticipation and sexual chemistry without doing anything overt."

Secondly, and more... read more

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