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Oct 07 2013

What Can You Learn From Feeding Your Dog That Translates Into Having A Great Sex Life?



Foreplay begins with longing, a mental state. Before the first touch, even before eye contact, there is longing.

This is not a new idea. The Song of Songs is maybe 2500 years old and when you read it, you sense that the lovers really get off on thinking about “next time.” Eroticism is much about longing.

For example, there’s the story of Rabbi Shefa Gold and Rachmiel O’Regan, one of the couples in our book, Rabbis In Love. (See Rabbi Shefa wrote “In the Fever of Love,” her translation of the Song of Songs, after they got together. That probably says something about how their relationship unfolded. In their interview they talk about how, when they first met Shefa was so busy she couldn’t schedule a second meeting for three months, but when they ran into each other by accident only a month or so later they hugged with such intensity that their companions said, “Who was that!?” “It was like being in the Star Trek beam,” said Rachmiel. Their unconscious minds were already in the longing. (Her website is One of the themes of their story is “Do not awaken love until it is ripe.”

The ancient text says that the longing is part of the fun. Contemporary neuroscience agrees. When ancient wisdom literature and modern science come to the same conclusions, there is a good chance that they are both onto something. What they are on to has something to do with cocaine.    Send article as PDF   

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Aug 29 2013

Partners who are very different understand something important about what makes a relationship work.

Published by under Knowing Relationships BLOG


Partners who are very different

By Philip Alan Belove, Ed.D. All rights reserved

For the past three years Marilyn Bronstein and I have been interviewing couples that have been together a long time and who have relationships they are very pleased with. (It’s been very interesting and very different from talking to troubled couples. The book will be available in October. We’re very pleased. More news about it on the sidebar.)With some of the couples in our research, the partners came from very different backgrounds – different languages, different cultures. To some extent we all have to deal with how we differ from our partner. This is the source of most of the challenges in a marriage, and the greater the differences, the greater the challenges. The people we spoke had to find positive ways to think about their differences. They have figured out something important for the rest of us. They have insights to share. First I want to share some examples of what we heard.

She:    It’s a beautiful dance that we get to do because our differences are actually not opposite. They mirror each other.

He:    There are so many Yin and Yang things about us.

This is the essence of emotional intelligence, this sense of how the two sides fit together, I am calling it “A Feeling for the Relationship,” as in “an intuition about the relationship.I saw it in those couples.    Send article as PDF   

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Oct 13 2011

The Road to Hell and (Sometimes) Back.




By Philip Alan Belove, Ed.D.  All rights reserved
You need to know this, you really do. I see couples all the time who love each other, and yet they do things to each other that hurt each other and tear their relationship apart. And yet, all the while, every step along the way, they feel that they are doing the right thing, and the only sensible thing. The road to hell really is paved with good intentions.

Somehow, if you can step back from what you are doing and see how it works, why your actions are so tempting and justified and why they are also destructive, you can send things in a different direction. This is useful knowledge.

It’s about how people try to make their relationship better and end up only making it worse. It’s about what you can do instead, how you can protect yourself, your partner, and the relationship, as well as protect your honor and your heart. Useful knowledge I think. I’ve explained to so many people that I finally decided to write it out.

It’s my upgrade of an extremely useful tool originally developed by Dr. Rudolph Dreikurs.

Feelings are Information.

“How do you feel about that?” is the same as saying, “What is your emotional relationship to that?”

Not everyone can put that stuff into words. Baby’s establish very complex relationships with the people around them long before they can talk. Dogs establish very complex emotional relationships and never can name them.    Send article as PDF   

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Jun 24 2011

Affairs That Initiate a Midlife Crisis: What’s Going On, Why They Work and Why, Eventually, They Usually Don’t Work.    Send article as PDF   

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Apr 26 2011

How to Read Someone’s Intentions Like a Pro.

In almost every counseling and coaching session I end up teaching this particular tool, so I’ve decided to write down the mini-lecture. It’s the sort of thing that took me years to finally learn and appreciate. So rather than repeat it as many times as I needed it repeated to me, I’m going to write it out. Please read and re-read. Please pass it along. As far as I’m concerned, it’s gold.

“The dangerous man is the one who has only one idea, because then he’ll fight and die for it. The way real science goes is that you come up with lots of ideas, and most of them will be wrong.”  Francis Crick.

If you’ve settled into a relationship, really settled, you know your partner’s quirks and you know how your partner is unique and different from you. But if you haven’t settled in, sooner or later you are going to be challenged by something your partner does that doesn’t make sense to you and which, often, you won’t like.

It’s important to remember this: You don’t know this person intimately. Not yet. The only people you know intimately are people you’ve had previous enduring relationships with, and maybe not even them. You are still learning.

What mental habits do you need in order to help you understand this new person’s intentions?

Here’s the golden rule: Always have three guesses about what’s really going on. And then watch how things unfold to see which of your guesses is best.    Send article as PDF   

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Mar 09 2011

“Is there something wrong with me for wanting what I want?”

Sometimes people want too much in a romance and just as often they don’t want enough.

It helps if you know what you want and what you are willing to do to get it. Often dating at midlife teaches you this.  At the same time, if you’ve had a string of unsatisfactory relationships, which is not unusual in dating at midlife, you will be a bit unsure about what you can reasonably expect.
A little pessimism is forgivable, especially if you’ve been burned in the past, but still, it is better to know what you want and to be able to say so clearly, at least to yourself.

In the last 20 years psychological research has systematically investigated the psychology of successful romantic relationships…and rediscovered what many folks simply knew all along. But still, there are a lot of opinions out there and it’s good to know what some folks have found out with rigorous thinking.

A good relationship contains three main elements – technically they are called “behavioral systems.” The term means that our brains are set up to create three different, somewhat independent kinds of relationship conditions. Relationships that live and flourish tend to contain all three.    Send article as PDF   

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Mar 08 2011

Love, collaboration, co-creation, lessons from soccer and music, and personal creativity in an intimate relationship

Last night at the cinefamily theatre, ( we were treated to a live presentation of a tv pilot by Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant. What struck me most was their chemistry, how they overlapped each other when they spoke and egged each other. Thomas was dominant, clearly and Ben supported but it seemed to work both ways that the result was brilliant and insightful comedy.

I thought of those studies of pre-school kids where the dominant one in a group always had on particularly loyal and, in a sense, dominant follower and it was the axis between them that organized the rest of the group.

In the map of the good romantic relationship, we see partners do this for each other. This is one sense of secure base, the one who is present and actively following and appreciating and responding to what has been said and done.

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Oct 20 2010

Creating the Wise Conversation: Rules for the Searching and Fearless Conversation (SFC): The Heart of Relationship Hygiene

By Philip Belove, Ed.D.

In a New Yorker cartoon by Leo Cullum, the elephant is on the psychoanalyst’s couch and saying with a pained expression, “I’m right there in the room, and no one even acknowledges me.”

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Oct 02 2010

Hatred, Emotional Baggage, the Book of Jonah, and the Lessons of Yom Kippur in Dealing with an Ex.

Sometimes intimate relationships fail because the partners grow to hate each other’s company. “Hate.”  It’s a strong word.

Hatred is wild and strange.  I’ve counseled people who are dealing with an ex who is intoxicated by hatred.  Such people are willing to use children, the legal system, and vandalism to make a former partner’s life miserable. They do it in a gleeful frenzy. They are scary because they feed off their hatred and there’s no stopping them except by going to war against them and defeating them thoroughly.  Most of us don’t like going to war.

For most of us hatred is  uncomfortable.  For most of us, when we are angry we are angry about a principle, a value, something that seems bigger than the issue at hand.  But when anger shifts to hatred it’s because we’ve made the issue personal. Often people who like to hate are also proud of the fact that their values are so personally held.

Because hatred is a personal matter and because the pain associated with it is often so close to the surface, most folks shift from hatred to disgust.  Disgust is the way we put distance between our self and the thing we hate.  In disgust we don’t have to resolve the hatred. We can simply go past it and seek the more comfortable state of denial.  We resolve to simply never see, speak or think about the person we “used to” hate.  We do this for our protection, and sometimes for their protection. We cut them off.    Send article as PDF   

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Aug 17 2010

Physical attraction?

It’s not the only factor in choosing a mate. Probably you could sort all the reasons why you would want a relationship with someone into three categories.

First, there is just the animal connection. Every creature on earth, bugs, fish, birds, marsupials and mammals comes in two sexes. The animal connection is important and it is deep. But it’s not all.

We are also social animals and we live in tribes and families and communities and cultures, all with intricate demands which we honor. Any mating of two people has to answer to social realities.

And finally, we are spiritual animals. We each believe that our individual lives do matter and we care about how we use this gift of our life.

So in the great scheme of things, as important as physical chemistry is, it is not the whole taco. Even so, it is not to be ignored. Here is a quiz to help you think about some of the aspect of physical chemistry. All the answers are based on psychological research. Answer each question, true or false.

1. Physical Chemistry (PC) develops over time.
False. Relationships can develop over time. Social and spiritual considerations can outweigh matters of physical chemistry. But PC is immediate. It is an animal response. It is connected to immediate sense perception, and it is based on mechanisms which evolved over the million years when humans were just another kind of wild animal.    Send article as PDF   

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