Dr. Brenda Schaeffer is the author of several books, including the best-selling, Is it Love or is it Addiction?: The book that changed the way we think about relationships and intimacy. Dr. Schaeffer is a licensed psychologist, a certified addiction specialist, and holds a doctorate in Spiritual Psychology. She has extensive training and experience in a number of psychologies, including (but not limited to) child development, sexual addiction, and trauma. She has had further training in hypnosis, developmental psychology, transactional analysis, gestalt, existential and transpersonal psychology. Brenda has appeared on a variety of national television and radio shows in the U.S. and Canada and has been featured in numerous magazines. Brenda is the founder of Healthy Relationships, her private practice in the Minneapolis area where she conducts therapy, training and workshops
Tina Schermer Sellers is the author of the book, Sex, God, and the Conservative Church: Erasing Shame from Sexual Intimacy. She is a nationally known speaker on religious sexual shame. She has a PhD in clinical sexology and is an associate professor of sexuality and director of medical family therapy in the Department of Psychology, Family and Community at Seattle Pacific University, in Seattle, Washington. Tina serves on the board of The American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, and is a Co-Creator of She Is Called – a Leadership Collective for Women. She is also the founder and Medical Director of the Northwest Institute on Intimacy.
Dr. Gary Salyer is the author of the new book Safe to Love Again: How to Release the Pain of Past Relationships and Create the Love You Deserve. For the last decade, Dr. Salyer has been in private practice offering clients heart-centered transformation so they can re-write the rules for love in their brains and step into the most loving version of themselves. He is the creator of the Safe to Love Again™ Workshop and the Extraordinary Couples™ Retreat. Dr. Salyer offers a unique blend of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), the “Family Systems” approach and Attachment Theory, the science of intimate relationships.
Christian Pankhurst is the author of the book, Insights To Intimacy: Why Relationships Fail & How To Make Them Work. Christian is a world-leading authority on heart-centered communication and heart-intelligent relationships. He is the creator of the Heart IQ™ Method, a coaching framework that specializes in group dynamics and intimacy development. Christian is the founder of the Heart IQ Academy, an online and live event professional training organization that offers a one-of- a-kind education by combining professional coach training along with embodied application of the Heart IQ principles. The Heart IQ Academy has certified over 300 practitioners in over twenty-five countries.
Christian Pankhurst is the author of the new book, Insights To Intimacy: Why Relationships Fail & How To Make Them Work. Christian is an authority on heart-centered communication and heart-intelligent relationships. He is the creator of the Heart IQ™ Method, a coaching framework that specializes in group dynamics and intimacy development. This methodology utilizes “circle work” to accelerate personal and group awakening. Christian is the founder of the Heart IQ Academy, an online and live event professional training organization that offers a one-of-a-kind education by combining professional coach training along with embodied application of the Heart IQ principles.
Karen is a leading voice for the empowerment of men, and an awakened masculinity. She is the author of Open Her: Activate 7 Masculine Powers to Arouse Your Woman’s Love & Desire. Karen Brody’s professional background includes a MA in Counseling Psychology and BA in Journalism, alongside a lifetime of personal growth work.
Valentine’s Day 2012 … and if I still bought into the premise of it, it could make me feel depressed. In fact, our annual celebration of romantic love brings up longing for most people. This feeling of lack makes good lyrics for love songs by restimulating our bottomless craving for happily-ever-after romantic fantasies. A lot of suffering is also caused by this longing for a perfect love.
Constant craving for the fulfillment of a dream is desire gone wild and, just like the 2nd noble truth of Buddhism predicts, the result is suffering, psychological suffering—feeding feelings of loneliness, jealousy, failure, inadequacy and insecurity.
The idea that there is one special person out there who is your perfect match is what I call “the soulmate trap.” From an energetic point of view, it is quite an uncertain proposition—this idea that the only way to achieve intimacy is to find someone to fall in love with who falls in love with you at the same time. What are the odds of that? (Hint: They get worse as you get older.) Putting all your eggs in this magical basket is enough to make anyone feel insecure!
But we are too brainwashed with our culture’s romantic ideology, like a narcissistic obsession that causes more suffering than it’s worth (while goosing the sale of greeting cards and candy).
Everybody wants intimacy—to be seen and accepted and appreciated for who you are. Intimacy is closeness. The only politically correct pathway to intimacy in western culture—the one that is non-stop promoted in magazines, books, movies, TV and online—starts out with the magical feeling of falling in love, aka romantic infatuation. From there (if you are old enough) it goes to sex, and then—if you are lucky … that is very, very lucky—it gets to trust and emotional intimacy.
We take it for granted that this highly stimulating, romantic fantasy-based approach is the only true pathway to intimacy. It’s culturally incorrect to even question this (wanna be called a “killjoy”?), but it hasn’t actually been this way for that long. The pathway to intimacy that begins with choosing on the basis of infatuation started only about 200 years ago (although because of Hollywood and media it is spreading worldwide like wildfire). Before that, the path to intimacy, even in the western world, began with an arrangement—i.e., an arranged marriage. This didn’t always work to produce intimacy either, but having lived in India for a year, I suspect the odds are higher for partnerships that start with an arrangement that takes into account real compatibility and other practical considerations.
For a lot of us who are getting older (and who are still going to live a long time) and not looking to start a new family, traditional forms of marriage—arranged or otherwise—may not make sense. But marriage is only one type of ‘arrangement’ in an open-minded modern culture. Perhaps two people who are sufficiently attracted to each other—and who are not demanding all-or-nothing “love-at-first-sight”—settling into a mutually beneficial arrangement designed to help or support each other in different ways, is an approach worth moving toward, a friends-with-chemistry sort of thing. Real love does not have to spring full-blown at first sight; in fact, fantasies are always relatively short-lived projections. The heart is happy to grow a love, if given the chance to “settle” into it.
One chapter in Ken Keyes’ excellent book Conscious Person’s Guide to Relationships is entitled “Falling in love is not a good basis for involvement.” Hmmm … maybe the arrangement approach works better. To be sure, there would need to be the spice of romance (aka “chemistry), but romance is the spice, not the main course. Obsessing on the romantic aspect is like gorging on sugar cookies before dinner. The main course, the real nourishment, is trust and intimacy. It doesn’t really matter how you get there. Wanna start with dessert? Most kids do, but as our parents used to tell us, be careful not ruin your appetite for healthy nutrition, and you will suffer less from romantic indigestion (aka serious disillusionment). So, get together with a friend and give him or her a hug and a kiss!
Arielle Ford discusses her book, The Soulmate Secret: Manifest the Love of Your Life with the Law of Attraction. She has mastered the art of making things happen. A nationally recognized publicist and marketing expert, producer, author and consultant she has catapulted many authors and celebrities to stardom and enormously facilitated the rapid growth of the self-help and human potential movement in the US.
Dr. John Demartini talks about using awareness and our hierarchy of values in order to manage better relationships, especially intimate relationships, as explained in his book, The Heart of Love.
Mark Epstein discusses his book, Open to Desire: Embracing a Lust for Life. He is a psychiatrist in private practice in New York City. Mark lectures frequently about the value of Buddhist meditation in psychotherapy. His previous books include Thoughts Without a Thinker, Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart, and Going on Being. He is a contributing editor to “Tricycle: The Buddhist Review” and has written many articles for “Yoga Journal” and “O: The Oprah Magazine.”