How often have you met someone who seemed perfectly lovely but left you walking away thinking ‘They seemed very nice but, I’m not sure, there’s something I can’t quite put my finger on’?
And how often do you ignore that feeling?
I can think of at least four occasions where I felt like that, ignored the feeling and it cost me dear. Twice it happened to me in business and in relationships I ignored that niggling doubt because so many other people were happy to associate with the individuals involved, so I carried on and just hoped that the feeling would go away, thinking ‘it’s just me’. The feeling didn’t go away and unfortunately, years afterwards I was proven right each time. I write about the impact of ignoring my gut instinct and suppressing my authentic self in my books (available here).
I’ve learned the hard way that when you get that niggling doubt about someone, no matter how lovely they may appear, it is usually because they are not acting with integrity or they are not being their authentic selves. It could be said that they are hiding behind a mask.
Many of us wear masks in our daily life, we’re not the same person in work as we are at home and vice versa. I’m not advocating that we should all go around wearing our heart on our sleeves and spewing forth all of our innermost thoughts or secrets to everyone we meet, unless of course you choose to do that and are entirely comfortable with doing so. Most people are not and that’s perfectly fine.
The term ‘authenticity’ has been bandied around personal development and coaching circles for a long time and it is no longer as effective as it once was. Many people now believe that if someone has to tell you they are being authentic, then the likelihood is, they are not. Just as many people start a sentence with “no offence” when they’re about to say something offensive, when someone tells you they are authentic it is often because they are trying to convince themselves that it is true.
I could delve into all sorts of psychology and Neuro-Linguistic Programming constructs to discuss this further but that isn’t the purpose of this article.
It is human nature to present ourselves slightly differently in different environments. We wouldn’t turn up at the office in the same mindset as when we’re relaxing at home on a weekend. That doesn’t mean we are being inauthentic it just shows that we are aware of the ‘rules of engagement’ in those different settings.
However, what happens if you’re not being authentic in a relationship? What happens if you’re not allowed to be your true self in a relationship? What happens when you find yourself wearing a mask more often than not?
Suppressing your authenticity, or having to suppress your authenticity, for any length of time is detrimental to your mental health. It leads to frustration, resentment and anger and in the worst instances can lead to depression and significant other mental health problems. Hiding your real self behind a mask for a prolonged period of time is also exhausting.
In the work I’ve done with survivors of domestic abuse, very often they have lived in an environment where their real authentic self has been suppressed for a significant length of time and it can take many months or years for them to rediscover their authentic self but when they do, the transformation is incredible.
They report feeling much happier and more content than they have for a long while, they have a confidence and inner strength that makes them seem taller. With further work they go on to develop strong, healthy relationships where their authentic self is not only loved and cherished but allowed to flourish.
You don’t have to be a victim of domestic abuse to suppress your authenticity. There can be many, many reasons for believing no-one wants to know your authentic self.
Whomever and whatever your authentic self truly is, embrace it, enjoy it and bring it to the fore. The right partner will love you in all your authentic quirkiness and recognise that it’s what makes you, you. This applies to all relationships, not just survivors of domestic abuse.
If you need help to rediscover your authentic self why not book a no obligation discovery call with me to see if I can help you? You can book a call here: https://www.notarehearsal.co.uk/apply
I look forward to speaking with you.
You would think by now that I would stop being surprised by the conversations I have. Let’s face it, I’m a Sexpert.
A lot of my conversations revolve around relationships and sex, and quite often they can be pretty explicit. I have no problem with that, sometimes the only way to describe something is to describe it as it is and that often means using language that my clients are comfortable with to save them worrying about any sensitivities I may have.
Sex is sex, it can be beautiful and glorious, romantic and perfect, and equally it can be downright dirty and disgusting, depending upon your particular proclivities.
None of that surprises me.
What does surprise me, however, is the number of clients I work with, and women I speak to, who don’t ask for what they want in the bedroom.
These are women just like you and me.
You ask for what you want in a bar or restaurant, or even when you go shopping. You know what you want to drink or eat, you know what brand you want to buy and you even make a choice over how much you’re prepared to pay for something.
If you’re in business, you ask for the sale and ask for payment. At the top of your career you’ve asked for promotions and pay rises.
Even in a burger chain you ask for your burger, your way.
So why do so many women avoid asking for what they want in the bedroom or in a relationship?
The answers I hear most often are;
“It seems wrong to ask for what I want.”
“ It’s embarrassing to ask for what I want.”
“Women aren’t meant to ask for what they want.”
The over-riding theme is ‘nice girls don’t ask for what they want in the bedroom’.
And I understand that, for so long women have lived under the constraints of a patriarchal society dictating what is and isn’t acceptable and reigning shame on any woman who dared to suggest that she had rights no only in the voting booth but in the bedroom too.
We don’t even have to look to history for examples of this shame. Any woman deemed to be selling herself, leading someone on or just making her sexual desire known is labelled anything from a common whore to a slut or slag, whilst men are allowed to sow their wild oats and enjoy the adulation whilst boasting about their conquests in the bar or club. Men aren’t judged for literally buying sex but women are judged for selling sex.
But this is a weary argument and one that I don’t intend to resurrect right now.
In my opinion, women have a right to ask for what they want, just as men do and the sex industry is nothing more than a service industry with entrepreneurial women using what they own to fulfil a market need. That is the very premise of business. And is another debate for another time.
But therein lies the answer to my question. Women don’t ask for what they want in the bedroom because they have been conditioned to believe it is shameful, dirty and degrading to do so. Yet the quickest and easiest way to get exactly what you want and alleviate feelings of dissatisfaction, un-fulfilment and frustration is to ask for it.
After all, you wouldn’t put up with the wrong meal or wrong coffee every single time you ordered it, you’d ask for it to be changed and served just as you like it.
Asking for what you want in the bedroom or in a relationship is no different. The words and terminology change but all you’re actually asking is for the provider to fulfil a need, just as food fulfils hunger and water satiates thirst.
How do you or your partner know if boundaries have been crossed?
A lot is said about the importance of boundaries. We live our lives within the boundaries of the law, we understand the societal expectations of how we should behave in public spaces, we raise our children with boundaries around bed time and how far they’re allowed to venture on their own. In school we have rules and regulations and likewise in the workplace. So why do so many of us forget about the importance of boundaries within our relationships?
Without putting boundaries in place, we set ourselves and our partner up to fail.
Imagine trying to play a game without knowing the rules? How could you possibly know if you were doing the right thing? How would you know who won?
In entering a relationship and not having a mutual understanding of each other’s boundaries, you are setting the relationship up for failure. That failure may not manifest in a break-up or divorce, but it will manifest some other way. Resentment builds, the couple drifts apart, resentment builds even further, you find fault with each other and start to despise each other, wondering what on earth you even saw in each other in the first place. One or both partners may start to look elsewhere for fulfilment, not just sexual fulfilment but emotional attachments, someone that understands them.
Yes, that classic line ‘my wife doesn’t understand me’ isn’t a cheesy pick-up line used by men just looking for a bit on the side, it’s a plea for attachment and fulfilment that is missing from the relationship and is equally applicable to women as it is men and to heterosexual and same-sex couples.
So, what are your boundaries? If your partner isn’t aware of your boundaries it is unfair to expect them to know when they have crossed them. It’s equally unfair to expect your partner to understand why you are so angry with them when they cross your boundaries, if you haven’t told them what your boundaries are.
Just as we live surrounded by the boundaries of law, rules and regulations with very clear consequences of what happens when those boundaries are crossed, so we need to create those boundaries within our relationships. Think about those little things that really wind you up and start to put boundaries in place to rectify them. It could be something as simple as asking your partner to put their dirty laundry in the laundry basket rather than leaving it in a pile on the floor or it could be that you have an open relationship but the boundaries have been crossed.
Whatever your boundaries, share them with your partner. When you both know and abide by the same rules of engagement can you have a truly equal relationship.
Book a call with me if you’re struggling with having a conversation around boundaries or if you need help to work through boundaries that have been crossed.
Book a call before you end up in the divorce courts. Let’s work out what’s not working in your relationship and why and create an action plan to get it back on track.
I know that’s quite a forward question to be asking, particularly if we haven’t yet met or spoken but it’s something I’m interested to know. How kinky are you in your relationship?
A general definition of the term ‘kinky’ refers to anything that is quirky, a bit different, offbeat but more usually this refers to sexual acts or practices that are seen as weird or odd. For example, many would consider a foot fetish to be kinky but to others that is perfectly normal. Many people believed E L James’ “Fifty Shades of Grey” Trilogy promoted kinky sex but many others found it just too tame and ‘vanilla’.
From my point of view kink is a perfectly acceptable part of any consensual relationship and kinks are as wide and varied as us humans. As long as both parties are comfortable with the kink then that’s absolutely fine.
However, when I ask the question ‘How Kinky are you in your relationship?’ I’m not actually talking about sexual kinks here. When I’m coaching I use the acronym KINKY to identify areas to work on when establishing or re-establishing a robust, healthy relationship. Here’s what the acronym stands for;
Kindness – how kind are you to your partner?
Interested & Interesting – how interested are you in your partner and how interesting are you?
Nurturing – how do you nurture your partner and your relationship?
Keen – how keen are you in your relationship?
Yourself – how much of yourself do you bring to your relationship?
These may seem really simple questions at first glance but delve a little deeper into the world of kinky and you’ll be surprised at what comes up – every pun intended!.
Over the coming weeks I will be exploring each of these questions further and elaborating upon them and the impact they have but, in the meantime, I ask again, How Kinky are you in your relationship?
To explore this further book a free Sexpert Scrutiny call with me.
For those of us of a certain age 9½ weeks brings to mind a certain film starring Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke.
For those of us old enough to remember the furore surrounding the release of the film, and that iconic scene when Mickey Rourke fed Kim Basinger food from the fridge in a manner that sated sexual hunger more than physical hunger, it will have created a desire for adult relationships that are far from the reality of the lived experience of many of us.
Raised on a diet of Disney princesses, fairy tales and happy ever afters and growing up as Thatcher’s children when we were told we could have it all, we left home bright-eyed and bushy-tailed expecting to be the CEO by the time we were 25, have a man as both our equal and our provider and look fabulously fit and perfectly groomed all at the same time.
We also expected our sex lives to be sizzling hot. Our parents had after all lived through the swinging 60’s and the 70’s years of free love. In the 80’s and 90’s we were going to be performing sexual acrobatics, experimenting with all sorts of toys, bondage and aphrodisiacs whilst wearing lingerie that only has one purpose (to be removed) and now, thanks to 9½ weeks we were going to be getting really down and dirty with food too.
How many of us have had one or more foods consumed from our bodies? How many of us have experienced the thrill of an ice cube being traced over our nipples and between our breasts? How many of us have been seductively fed food from the fridge without worrying about the mess it was making on our clothes or the floor? After that, how many of us have had searingly hot sex that left us breathless, sweaty and aching just a little bit in all the right places?
Then our 40’s and 50’s hit us with the speed of an Intercity 125, and a couple of children later, we’ve climbed that corporate ladder, we’re financially secure, we’ve got the house and the car and the only thrill of excitement remotely near what 9½ weeks promised us comes after a period of teasing anticipation when we finally seal the deal, get the client and sign the contract.
We return home, hoping to prolong the excitement, high on the endorphins coursing through our veins and knowing that RIGHT NOW we could be having the most incredible mind-blowing sex, a la Basinger and Rourke only to find our partner slumped in front of the TV in a scene akin to The Simpsons, mug of tea or a beer or wine close at hand, wondering ‘what’s for dinner?’ and ‘where are the kids?’
We roll our eyes, take a sharp intake of breath and burst the bubble, filing away our fantasies and desires for another day wishing they would understand. The harsh truth is, they do and they’re feeling the same about you!
Then we make dinner, load the dishwasher properly, sort out the tangled mess of clothes and dirty underwear in the laundry basket, pour a glass of wine, and before we know it the bottle is empty, the TV is mindlessly churning out the latest detective series and you and your partner have barely spoken all evening. The kids have finished their homework and put themselves to bed and now it’s midnight.
The opportunity for lust-fuelled sex with the one we promised to love and honour, ‘til death do us part’ has passed and we fall into bed, ready to repeat it all again the next day, and the next and the next, like some sort of Groundhog day, a film not known for fuelling wild sexual fantasies.
But it doesn’t have to be like this, it is possible to have a seriously sensual, loving and orgasmic relationship with your partner, regardless how long it’s been since those days were the norm and it’s possible to get that back, in as little as 9½ weeks.
So, what have you done in the past 9½ weeks? What are the next 9½ weeks going to look like, feel like, sound like or taste like?
If you’d like to get your best relationship ever in the next 9½ weeks book a call with me here and let’s find your sexy.
Many of us are often told we look like or resemble famous people. Over the years I’ve been told I look like Sigourney Weaver, a young Helen Mirren and Tori Amos (that’s definitely the hair colour!) at the time I recall feeling embarrassed by the likenesses. Who was I to be likened to such amazing glamorous and talented women?
It took a very long time for me to accept compliments without telling the compliment-giver that they were mad, wrong or blind!
As I’ve got older I’ve learned that my difficulty in accepting compliments stemmed from the poor relationship I had with myself.
How many of us treat ourselves in ways we would never treat friends, family or loved ones? The negative self-talk; “you’re so stupid” “you’re so ugly, no-one will ever want you” “you’re so fat” “no-one’s going to want to listen to what you have to say” and so it goes on.
And as we get older that negative self-talk batters our confidence and self-esteem and we end up in relationships that just reinforce our messaging.
A healthy and robust relationship starts with the relationship with have with ourselves. Only when we recognise our own self-worth can we let others know what is and isn’t acceptable to us in intimate relationships.
More often than not, relationship problems start long before there’s a problem in the actual relationship and I work with many clients to help them create a strong, healthy and robust relationship with themselves so they can create strong, healthy and robust relationships with others. Learning to take a compliment is often one of the things we cover.
How do you handle compliments? How do you feel when someone tells you that you remind them of someone famous?
Nowadays I love the fact that I remind people of Signourney, Tori or Helen. Strong, successful, talented women who look gorgeous too. Thank you, I’ll take that!
I’ve always had mixed feelings about International Women’s Day. Whilst I love that it’s a celebration of women and all we have achieved, I also recognise that it’s a time to reflect on what still needs to be done to create true equality.
And it’s this reflection that bothers me. I see so many women who appear to be blinkered to what I believe true equality to be – everyone having the chance to pursue the same opportunities regardless of age, gender, religion, race but at the same time acknowledging that we aren’t all equally capable of the same thing due to limits in our physiology, psychology and genetic make-up. To me, true equality is about celebrating the individual as they are, with all their strengths and weaknesses and enabling them to do whatever it is they wish to do whilst recognising their limitations.
Yes, there is a lot still to do to ensure equal rights and equal pay and I’m all for that but not at the expense of men and that is very much the tip of the iceberg.
I see too many champions of women’s rights creating forums for man-hating and that’s where the problem lies.
I’m a huge advocate in raising awareness of domestic violence and too many of the online communities I have entered are little more than platforms to belittle men. Yes, it is a fact that more women than men are the victims of domestic abuse but this doesn’t mean all men are abusers.
The instances of men being victims of domestic abuse are increasing. Some of the stories I have heard are awful and make me feel ashamed to be a woman.
So celebrating International Women’s Day has a bitter taste for me.
I’m also an advocate of supporting women who are or have been sex workers. Because the sex industry isn’t going away, it is first and foremost, a service industry and the majority of its workers are there through choice.
In my opinion, true equality will be created when we have developed a culture that respects the individual and his or her right to be who or what they please.
Do I have an issue with women who choose to flaunt their naked bodies in order to gain wealth and fame? NO – it’s their choice.
Do I have an issue with women who work in the sex industry because they choose to? NO – it’s their choice.
I do however, have a massive issue with other women who decide that these women need saving because they are being exploited by men. They don’t and they aren’t.
The women that need help are those who are forced into the sex industry as a result of abuse, those who are threatened with all sorts of horrors if they don’t pose for the camera, if they don’t ‘put on that red light, if they don’t put out but ironically, campaigning to help these women in the seedier side of the sex industry isn’t as sexy or headline grabbing as a scantily clad woman only too happy to flaunt her assets for the camera.
These women, forced to do things that no-one should have to do without consent, that need to be helped and celebrated on International Women’s Day. Help them to understand they can change their lives, help them to understand that there is no shame in having gone through what they’ve gone through, help them to understand that it’s not their fault. But also let them celebrate the fact that they’re still here, they’re alive and they can get through this.
It’s time that we as smart, intelligent women of the world who have the means and ability to create change start to make change where it matters rather than trying to create headlines and jump on the bandwagon that the sexualisation of women is a bad thing. The sex industry isn’t going away, it’s nothing more than a service industry with an incredible business model – I know, I’ve worked in it and I’ve researched it extensively.
Change needs to start taking place in our homes and our schools, where we learn to challenge unacceptable language and behaviour and respect that we all have equal status despite our very real physical differences.
Only when we can create equality in the home, which then extends outward into our society will we be able to say we are truly equal. When we as women allow our men to be men, our sons and daughters to follow their own path regardless of whether they like blue or pink, football or dolls, regardless of whether they prefer girls or boys, regardless of their gender or sexuality without worrying about what the neighbours will say, only then will we be truly equal.
And then I’ll feel happy about properly celebrating International Women’s Day, knowing that as a society we can all truly celebrate the fact that we are all equal and have access to the same opportunities should we CHOOSE to take them and that we don’t judge those who make different choices tot hose we would make for ourselves.
Whatever your opinion of International Women’s Day, I applaud it. Without an opinion we would not be able to bring about change.
To all of the incredible women I know, and those I don’t, who are getting on with their lives in spite of or despite appalling adversity, I salute you. And to all the men I know who support those women – thank you.
Happy International Women’s Day
Don’t you just love books? Try as I might I can’t quite get as attached to my kindle as I do to books. I love the convenience of my kindle for travelling but nothing beats the smell and feel of books, old or new.
World Book Day always excites me. It evokes memories of books long since destined to the great library in the sky, books that sit on my bookshelf unread since the first time but too valuable to pass on, books that have helped me through some tough times, books that have educated me about subjects I’m passionate in, books that create wanderlust, that make my mouth water, that help me escape.
I’ve often said that I can live very easily without a TV but I can’t live without books and that’s true. In fact, I remember moving to London to take a job 20+ year ago and my parents buying me a small portable TV. I knew no-one and they were worried that I’d feel lonely so bought me the TV to keep me company. I switched it on once a week to watch BBC Question Time in bed! These days, I watch so little that I don’t have a subscription service to any of the satellite channels or Netflix and yet again, it gets switched on only a couple of times a week, usually to find a family film to watch sometime over the weekend.
But I can’t live without books. It was heart-breaking when I downsized a number of years ago and had no choice but to reduce the number of boxes of books I was taking with me. The decision over which books should stay and which should be donated to charity took much longer than packing down the entire house!!
We now have two full book-cases in the house but that’s nowhere near enough for me. My dream is to have a house large enough that I can have a study where one wall is completely full of books. A girlfriend of mine has an entire reading room of which I’m inordinately envious but I know that if that was my room no-one would ever see me in any other part of the house and I’d never get any work done.
I get completely immersed in books and it’s the only time I’m totally able to block out everything else around me. I can remember as a teenager being told off by my father on numerous occasions because I hadn’t heard the call in to tea or to get ready to go out because I was curled up somewhere with my nose in a book, in my head I was a million miles away from the sofa or the garden or wherever it was I was reading. I even used to sit and read in a tree outside our house, two of the branches were very old and thick and the exact size for the 13/14 year old me to lay back in and read for hours on end. Nowadays, the fact that those branches were directly over a very busy main road would undoubtedly mean children would be banned from enjoying them! Yes, I had to climb about 15ft up the tree with a book tucked under my arm, held between my teeth or shoved into the back pocket of my jeans in order to sit on the branches.
But I digress, are you a bookworm or do you prefer TV?
I also have a confession to make; if I walk into a house where there’s no bookcase, I get ever so slightly disappointed and sad. I worry about how the occupants have coped without having books as a focal point of their lives. To me a house with books is a home, a house without books is just a cold empty shell.
And now, even my own published books adorn our bookcase. I don’t think I ever expected that to happen.
Do you have a bookcase or do you prefer to keep everything electronic?
It’s National Strawberry Day in the US and as I was looking for numerous images to create a happy little meme I couldn’t help but notice the number of pictures that showed a woman seductively popping a very ripe strawberry into her perfectly painted mouth.
You don’t need me to tell you that everywhere you look are images of women oozing sex. Boobs and bums are flashed at us at every opportunity, in the traditional media, on social media, in advertising. Let’s face it, Sex Sells.
It’s always been a fascination to me that men who exude sexual energy are lauded for their masculinity whilst women exuding the same energy are belittled and objectified. I’m not about to rehash the age-old debate about us being in a patriarchal society and ‘nice’ women don’t do things like that.
Quite frankly, I’m sick of it.
But why is it that women are so scared of sexual energy? What do we think it’s going to do to us? Suddenly turn us into raging nymphomaniacs overnight so we become someone you wouldn’t want to have a long-term relationship with but happy to have as a ‘booty call’?
I personally feel it’s time to rewrite that debate and harness the feminine power within us all when we embrace our sexual energy and engage it to improve our lives, our wellbeing and society at large.
In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs Sex (or reproduction) is one of the absolute basic physiological needs of humans.
Why, therefore, do we spend so much time as a society encouraging sexualisation on a wider scale but refuse to talk about it in ‘polite society’?
It’s about time we accepted that ALL human beings, regardless of gender, have sexual needs, desires and energy, and embracing and engaging this in a positive manner across society can only result in positive outcomes.
As long as w e keep it hidden, taboo and something sleazy then it will continue to effect society in a harmful, dark and dangerous manner.
Sex is good, sexual energy is powerful. Power, used in positive ways, is something that can do as much good to society as a bowl of perfectly ripe and juicy strawberries can do to the mind and body of the individual savouring them.
On Safer Internet Day I’d like to share a story with you.
Having come out of a psychologically abusive relationship I had taken what I believed to be significant and sensible precautions to protect myself, both online and offline.
There had been a time where all of my social media profiles were hacked and pornographic images with my head super-imposed were uploaded to replace the profile photos I had. That resulted in a police caution for the perpetrator who denied any involvement in the incident. However, the images were removed less than an hour after the police visited his home so both I and the police remain convinced we had the right man. That wasn’t my ex but someone else I had been briefly involved with.
You see, it’s quite common for the survivor of an abusive relationship to end up in another. Their self-confidence, self-believe and self-worth have been ground down so much that they struggle to see any warning signs. Indeed, at the start of a new relationship, an abuser will be on their ‘best behaviour’ anyway so the warning signs are few and far between.
Some years after the incident outlined above, I had moved to a different town, was in a caring, healthy relationship and had started a new job. I felt safe, secure and able to breathe once more. So I received a shock when a letter was sent to my place of work for my attention. I couldn’t understand why or how the letter had been sent to my workplace instead of my home. A quick telephone call to the company who had sent the letter soon cleared that up, ‘we were given your work contact details by your ex-husband’.
I knew I hadn’t given him my work details. He had my home address, he needed that as we have a child together but I purposefully hadn’t passed on my work details because I needed to feel safe there.
I started an investigation because I wouldn’t be able to sleep properly without knowing where the ‘leak’ was. It transpired that my workplace had added my name to the staff list they had on the website without my knowledge or my consent.
My ex had set up a Google alert on my name so that he could track whatever I was doing and as soon as my name had appeared on my employers’ website, he found me.
My name remained on their website as by then it was too late, but my sense of safety and security was gone. Every time the office phone rang I would check the caller ID to ensure it wasn’t his number, every time an email or letter arrived from that company or someone with a similar name I would feel my blood pressure rise and my heart rate increase.
To someone who has never been in an abusive relationship, this would seem like a dramatic over-reaction to an innocent action. But to those of us who know only too well how an abuser can insidiously enter your psyche, this is a gross violation of our safety.
Not everyone wants to tell their employer that they are in or have been in an abusive relationship but employers should gain consent from employees if they wish to use their details on their website or anywhere where their safety could be compromised.
On safer internet day, please be aware of the dangers that aren’t quite so obvious and #staysafe.