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What is love?


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What is love?

The Power of Love
Loving relationships can literally be a matter of life and death: Having a supportive relationship is more predictive of warding off mortality than quitting smoking or exercising, while a toxic relationship is more damaging than no relationship at all. But love is always reciprocal, and can only survive if both partners are willing to be open and honest with each other, express gratitude, share their thoughts and feelings, and ask for support rather than trying to go it alone. Individuals often believe they are sparing their partner by keeping their troubles from them, but people can be deeply hurt when they discover that the person they love most has not confided in them or sought out their support.

What is love?
Romantic love could be seen as an evolutionary adaptation—a force that increases the chance of passing one’s genes on to future generations. It has also been described as a force that enables partners to stay together over the long term. Some identify it as a blind force that brings people together, even without strong romantic feelings, through what’s known as the “mere repeated exposure” affect. And others, citing different definitions and approaches to love at different times and in different cultures, describe it as merely a socio-cultural construct.

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Does love require passion?
Love has been defined by some as having three elements—intimacy, commitment, and passion. But many couples worry that their passion is declining over the years, making their connection less secure. Research, however, finds that a decrease in passion is less of a problem than a couple’s belief that once it decreases it can’t be restored; partners who understand that it waxes and wanes are more likely to rekindle it, and stay together.


Do men or women usually say “I love you” first?

Talking About S*x
Even couples that are generally successful at addressing other issues get stuck when it comes to talking about s*x. Many people assume that great s*x should not require conversation, but that often leads to years of stale or unsatisfying encounters. Research finds that people avoid talking about uncomfortable topics because they imagine that what they say might threaten a relationship, especially if it is about s*xual fantasies or interest in “unconventional” s*x; that expressing concern about their s*x life will hurt their partner’s feelings; or because they’re reluctant to reveal too much about themselves for fear of feeling shame or being shamed. But research also shows that partners willing to discuss intimacy with each other are generally happier with their relationships because they discover that their s*xual concerns are usually not, after all, a sign that their relationship is in trouble.

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How can partners negotiate “unconventional” s*x?
It’s easier when partners understand that in actuality, most types of “unconventional” s*x are pretty common. Surveys find that most couples have in fact engaged in what would generally be considered kinky s*x play, or at least had fantasies about it. Couples who understand this, and worry less about violating norms, are more able to talk about their desires, and more likely to maintain satisfying connections.

Should I tell my partner about my s*xual fantasies?
Many people imagine that their fantasies may be extreme or improper, or that they’d be unwelcome by their partner. Often, that’s not the case. Most people report having more fantasies about their current partner than about anyone else; men’s and women’s fantasies are broadly similar; and, in general, couples that acted on a fantasy reported that it went well (with the exception of threesomes).

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 Is sexting good for a relationship?

Is BDSM good or bad for a long-term relationship?

Facing S*xual Challenges
There is no universal prescription for a healthy s*x life. There are happy couples that have s*x multiple times a week, and satisfied couples that hardly ever have s*x. But many couples do encounter serious conflicts around their s*x lives, often having to do with discrepancy in desire. When one partner—and it’s not always a man—has a much higher s*x drive than the other, it can threaten a relationship, with one person feeling pressure to have more s*x, and the other feeling rejected. Bringing such concerns out into the open can help assuage hurt feelings, and meeting with a couples therapist may help partners find common ground.

What can you do when a partner becomes sexually coercive?
Few people in otherwise happy long-term relationships would characterize s*xual begging or pressure from their partner as sexual assault. But sexual coercion and unwanted intimacy—even if it’s not physically aggressive—is a serious concern that partners should address before it becomes normalized and seek to reestablish healthy boundaries and ground rules.

How do women with high s*x drives manage relationships?
The common stereotype is that men have higher s*x drives than women and maintain a higher s*x drive as they age. But that is not always the case, and many women have a much stronger libido than their male partners. Women with high s*x drives may find increased satisfaction through greater mental presence during s*x and more open communication with their partners about their desires and fantasies.


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