#02: Hollywood gets it wrong.

The sentence “This isn’t how it happens in the movies” has been uttered by many a person after the first nine months or so in a new relationship. Like some stereotypes, Hollywood’s portrayal of the bloom of first love, passion, and overcoming odds and adversity has some basis in real life—that’s one of the reasons we may relate to certain characters and situations. We imagine, based on our experience perhaps, things really could be this way, so we suspend disbelief and are drawn into the action. And, if we’re lucky, maybe for an hour, or a day, or a month or two—they are. But the nuts and bolts of working through the hard stuff in a relationship are rarely fully fleshed out on the silver screen. Hollywood’s portrayal of romance has a potent, influential effect on what we feel a relationship should really be with another person, and is capable of diverting our attention from what it actually is. Strange that Hollywood dictates reality for so many, since we ourselves are in fact the real people, and the ones onscreen are the fantasies or caricatures of us…

#03: Beware of the person of your dreams

Each of us has outlined in our mind some image of the “dream” partner. This idealized image is likely formed from a blend of conscious needs and unconscious desires. There are aspects of a partner that draw us to that person in full awareness: “I find her very physically attractive… He is clearly intelligent… I like the way he takes care of me…” All of these are wonderful qualities you should identify in a partner. The other aspect of what attracts us to the dream partner is his role in completing for us some unfinished or unresolved relationship from our past. The partner may resemble a mother, or brother, or a former lover in some strange way. One often asks, “How could I have chosen someone who seemed so different from my father at first and then ended up so much like him years later”…

#07: Mediocre sex can become great sex with patience and determination.

I find that there are few couples who are truly happy when they have a less than satisfactory sex life. In most cases, a disappointing sex life will lead to other problems in the relationship. Conversely, problems in the relationship will lead to problems in bed. Sex is fundamentally about communication, physical and mental, and is the most explicit act of love two partners can share with one another. Some couples naturally have great sexual chemistry and communication, like two dancers meant to tango with each other. However, even the most compatible partners need time to familiarize themselves with each other’s rhythms. Most couples do not automatically know what the other will and won’t like, and that’s O.K. Fortunately, we can get to know the needs and desires of our mate through communication, experimentation, and practice…