Celeste & Danielle Offer Sex and Relationship Coaching for a Passionate, Connected and Fulfilling Life

If a relationship lasts long enough, it is inevitable that you will eventually experience The Gap – and the gap gets in the way of so much of happiness. But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Before we take a look at all the problems the gap causes and what the heck we can do about it, we must first define it.

The gap, friends, is that pesky difference between who you first imagined your partner was and the person who is actually sitting in front of you. The gap happens for sooooooo many reasons. To read more about all of the reasons and how you can help couples, click here.

  1. Romantic Projection – you are told so many stories about what love is supposed to be, that it colors the way that you look at a potential partner. In order for them to meet the romantic fantasy of being a perfect match, you only see the parts of them that fit into that picture, or, if you are quite good at magical thinking, you manage to see those parts even when they aren’t there at all!
  2. Marketing – at the beginning, your partner was putting their best foot forward. Because humans are social creatures who know what people usually want in a partner and a potential partner can also read all the signals you put out about what you like and don’t like, when you met they emphasized the things about themselves that fit into this image. In other words, they tried very hard to be what they thought you wanted them to be so that you would like them. Marketing can include hiding the parts of themselves they think you won’t like, slightly exaggerating traits you seem to like about them, or just straight up lying to win your favor.
  3. Circumstance – whenever, however and wherever you met, the activities you were engaging in or they way you were living your life made you seem like you were more compatible than you really are. For example, you met in school where you had so much in common because…you were both going to school!!! Now, you are out in the real world and it turns out that your interests, or how you like to spend your time, or how often you have energy to have sex have completely changed.

We are sure now that you are thinking about it, you can come up with some of the problems the gap causes. It can cause you to think that you were tricked or that your partner used to love you, but doesn’t love you anymore. It can cause you to go on a partner improvement spree, where you try to get your partner to be all the ways that you thought they were. It can cause you to feel like you made a wrong choice and, if you just keep looking, you will find the person that meets all of these needs.

We’d like to offer a different approach  – we’d like you to Mind the Gap, by which we mean, keep in mind that the Gap will be there in every relationship. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wholeheartedly enjoy the beginning where everything feels perfect -being so doped up on hormones and projections that your feet don’t touch the ground is one of the funnest parts of the whole adventure. We suggest you enjoy the shit out of it! At the same time, remember that the Gap will show up eventually and, while we wholeheartedly support you allowing yourself to feel all the feelings, and have all the tantrums (for more on how to have a good, connected tantrum with your partner check out our book Making Love Real) you need to have, we also encourage you to not make the Gap mean that your partner doesn’t love you or that you just haven’t found “the one” or that you can get back to how you (never really) were if you just try hard enough.

Yes, we want you to be Mindful of the Gap, to watch the insidious way that the difference between who you thought your partner was and who they actually are can get between the two of you. Instead of twisting it into some horrible tragedy, we want you to learn how to step over it be accepting the person who is actually sitting across from you and experience real love.

Last week we discussed the damaging myth “If your partner really loved you, you would never have to ask for what you want“. One of the reasons that many people still operate under this damaging assumption is that they believe that if they have to ask, it doesn’t count. We want to take a moment to examine the expectations this sets up in relationships and how harmful they can be to creating fulfilling connections that have the flexibility to change over time.

Expecting your partner to know what you want without ever asking is tantamount to thinking they are a master detective who can deduce all of your wants and needs by tracking subtle clues. While you may feel your clues are far from subtle, you may be surprised how differently each person processes information. If you pass a flower shop and quietly mutter “tulips are my favorite flower” you may be shocked that your partner did not rush to said flower shop as soon as they could in order to fill your house with your favorite stems. You may feel that you beat them over the head with your obvious expectation for flowers on date night, but all you actually stated was a preference for a certain flower.

In the bedroom, this detective works gets even more complicated and unrealistic. You may try and give subtle physical cues to nudge your lover towards a certain action, but without actually communicating your sexual desires and dislikes they may constantly disappoint. This goes both ways, of course. Even if you think you are the most intuitive lover in the world, you will be surprised how much you can learn by putting your ego aside and simply asking. Our clients are often extremely scared to give and receive feedback, but once they give and receive what they want sexually, it matters less and less how they got there.

People frequently assume their partners actually know what they want and simply refuses to give it to them which leads to long term resentment that lasts much longer than any awkwardness or ego bruising from an honest conversation. Instead of thinking that asking for what you want somehow makes it less special or not count, consider that it actually counts twice—once because your partner listened and once because they cared enough to try to give you what you wanted. In our practice we often hear people say, “Well, I did ask, and they didn’t do it” or “I asked, and they did it for a week and then stopped.” Learning new habits takes time. This often means that not only do you have to ask for what you want many times, but you also have to allow your partner to practice, give gentle and loving feedback, and try again. In our upcoming book “Making Love Real-The Intelligent Couple’s Guide to Lasting Intimacy and Passion” we offer many tools for moving beyond damaging myths and towards passionate connection.

Even if you are dating a professional psychic, they will not be able to predict all of your sexual and emotional needs, especially as they shift and change over time. The idea that “If they loved me, they would know what I want” is one of the most harmful romantic myths actively circulating. It is fed by the unfounded belief that, if you have truly found “the one,” they will know exactly what you want all the time without your having to tell them is one of the most toxic ideas we hold on to.

While we discussed this damaging myth in an earlier post on teaching people how to love you, we believe it bears repeating here. As we said, your needs are different than your partners and they change throughout your life. You might think it is a good idea to show your sweetheart you love them by offering what to you feels like love instead of by asking what they want. You might also wait around patiently, then impatiently, then angrily and resentfully, wishing your partner would give you what you want without your having to ask.

No in-depth dating profile or matching algorithm can take the place of actually telling your partner what turns you on and makes you feel loved. At the beginning of a relationship many people are actively looking for the good in their partner which helps them feel like all of the pieces are miraculously falling into place, and their desires are being met, with ease and minimal processing. Even if you feel you have found your soulmate, they do not possess a crystal (or Magic 8) ball that can give them all of the answers.

To receive the kind of love you want and to give your partner the kind of love they want, you must kindly teach your partner how to love you and learn how to love them. While there are many wonderful people out there with whom you can have a great relationship, not one of them will know what you need all the time, or even enough of the time, without you having to communicate. Our clients are often surprised that these conversations can end up being sexy and exciting and can quickly transition to mind-blowing erotic experiences. We are not saying it is easy to rid yourself of these myths, but we can not stress enough the importance of showing up to your relationship ready to teach and learn.

In our upcoming book Making Love Real: The Intelligent Couple’s Guide to Lasting Intimacy and Passion we discuss, at length, all of the damaging myths that tend to get in the way of our ability to create and sustain the relationships we want. In this series we are giving away many of our methods for combating these myths and finding ways to create the lasting, hot, and fulfilling relationships many of us desire.

We once worked with a couple who had been together for forty years and came to us desperate to reignite their spark. When we started engaging them in a dialogue about their favorite sexual acts Courtney volunteered, “One of my favorite things is having my toes sucked.” Her husband’s eyes widened. “We’ve been together for forty years. Why have you never told me that you like your toes sucked?” Courtney just shook her head and looked down. “I don’t know. I guess I was just too embarrassed to ask.”

Courtney is not alone in her desire for some toe-lovin or in her fears that talking about what she wants will be embarrassing. Most of us were brought up in cultures that approach sex with shame and repression. We lack a roadmap for how to discuss what we want. In families, sex is rarely discussed and when it is, these dialogues are marked by embarrassment and fear. In most schools, sex education focuses on the mechanics of biological procreation, STIs, and pregnancy prevention; students are generally taught nothing about pleasure. Many religious institutions look at sex as sinful and preach abstinence until marriage. After a childhood and adolescence in which you were taught to think of sex as sinful, dirty, and dangerous, you are supposed to magically fall in love and know exactly what to do sexually. You are expected to share the same desires, tastes, and expectations around sex without ever having to talk with your partner, or anyone else, about erotic pleasure or intimacy .

In the animal world there is no sexual shame or repression. We have all heard about the Bonobo monkeys who brilliantly solve most of their social problems with some form of pleasurable sexual stimulation. Sex is an integrated part of day-to-day life, and primates learn how to have sex from watching their counterparts have sex, an opportunity few of us have outside of staged pornography. Because of our highly developed frontal cortex, desire is much more complex for humans than it is for animals. Our sexual desires are also shaped by our social environment. Monkeys don’t need sexy lingerie, flowers, or blindfolds to get turned on. The idea that sex will just happen naturally between any two people, with all of their uniquely shaped sexual needs, is unrealistic and damaging.

Rather than expecting to go “animal style” we suggest making use of that frontal cortex and the gift of speech in order to learn what your partner wants and communicate what you desire. This means shedding the belief you should “just know.” In our upcoming book, Making Love Real: The Intelligent Couples Guide to Lasting Intimacy and Passion, we walk through all of the steps to communicating your sexual needs and getting them met. Whether you have been together for 3 months or 30 years, if you have not talked openly about sex and taught your partner what you like, your sex life will likely be much less fulfilling than it could be.

Today, take the time to tell your partner one thing you would love for them to do that you haven’t told them yet or haven’t asked for in a long time, then lay back and enjoy…