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Five Top Skills Proven to Entice Your Mate to Love and Respect You

  1. Partners use a ‘soft start-up’ when bringing up an issue.

A ‘soft startup’ refers to how partners communicate verbally and nonverbally, when they bring up issues, share a frustration, or express their dissatisfaction. In contrast to a ‘harsh startup,” a soft startup takes an approach that is firm yet tactful and gentle. It allows partners to express any dislikes or upsets without attacking the other’s character.

They do not sugarcoat or beat around the bush, yet avoid talking down, or making disapproving or judgmental comments, like the plague. Here are examples of a ‘soft’ and ‘harsh” startup:

Soft startup: “I’m really upset that you forget our anniversary.”

Harsh startup: “How can you be so insensitive to not even get me a card?”

  1. Partners accept one another’s influence.

In addition to delivering complaints tactfully, partners have the ability to respond to their partner’s requests or upsets without getting defensive, such as with angry outbursts or refusals to address issues.

A top predictor of marital success, according to Dr. Gottman’s research, is the husband’s willingness to accept influence, which makes sense since, culturally speaking, men are raised to not accept influence of their partners, as a sign of “masculinity.”

The facts speak for themselves, however. A husband’s willingness to accept influence alone predicts marital success 80% of the time.

  1. Partners know how to make “repairs” by offering assurance following an upset.

Even after a “failed” argument, where defensiveness and reactivity surfaced, partners in successful relationships know how to make effective repairs by offering assurance. Assurance serves to refresh partners emotional and mental energies, and instills them and their relationship with powerful emotions of hope and belief in one another. In effect, it works much like a refresh button on the computer. An example of giving an assurance that effectively repairs:

Effective repair: “We got worked up on this, and I said things I didn’t mean. I’m sorry. I’d like to start over fresh. I know we can do better. And I’m willing to work harder on this. Would you be willing to work together?”

  1. Partners honor their own and their partner’s dreams and aspirations.

Successful partners are genuinely supportive of one another’s dreams and aspirations. Human beings are wired with inner emotional drives to love and be valued in relation to the other. A conflict naturally ensues as to how these inner strivings “should” be met.

When resolved in healthy ways, conflict is nature’s plan to help you strengthen intimacy, as it affords an opportunity to help you get to know and understand yourself and your partner more deeply.

When partners resist one another’s requests for change, it is often because one or both do not feel recognized or valued as individuals in the relationship. A wife who refuses to be on time, for example, may find it impossible to stop this behavior, in part, because this may be the safest way to subconsciously express her anger. Successful partners feel valued and are not dependent on the other to make them feel valued. Their shared vision and personal goals helps them look beneath the circumstances, identify the unfulfilled expectations, and move past challenging situations more quickly and easily.

  1. Partners observe a ratio of 5 to 1 positive to negative actions.

Last but not least, another key to lasting couple relationships has to do with what happens in the span of time partners are not in conflict.

Interestingly, research shows that successful partners do have conflicts; however, they do something distressed partners do not. In the interim, they regularly interact in positive ways, for example, they show appreciation, express acceptance, plan fun outings together, share affection, flirt, and so on.

Research by Dr. Gottman has identified a formula. Successful partners seem to adhere to a ratio of five to one positive to negative interactions. The degree of positivity that partners engage in between arguments seems to act like an emotional bank account to draw on in times of conflict.

Ultimately, a lot of this is the Golden Rule. Treat your partner as an equal part of your partnership together and support them in ways that you in turn would like to be supported. These are good reminders.

Also, the title of this article is terrible. Blech.



How To Respect Sex Workers

Most women have strong feelings about the sex industry, be they for or against. (And many, of course, remain undecided.) When dealing with such an emotionally volatile topic, it’s easy to inadvertently silence or even insult sex workers themselves. (As a participant in sex worker activism for the past four years, I’ve seen that in action and on the page.) There’s a way to debate commercial sex while respecting the industry’s laborers. Here are some suggestions:

1) Don’t diminish or mock sex workers’ agency. When discussing a person coerced or forced into sex work, a sensitive recognition of the violation they’ve suffered is definitely in order. However, it’s important to let individuals themselves make this distinction, rather than automatically assigning them a label that indicates lack of agency. For instance, referring to all sex workers as “prostituted” or “used” can be violating in and of itself if the person identifies their work as a free choice.

Similarly, language implying that sex workers are defiled or disgusting will quickly alienate them—for instance, calling porn an “institution that systematically uses the bodies of subordinate groups as sheer sexual objects at best, and open toilets at worst,” as this Ms. blog comment does. Even abused workers don’t want the public analogizing them to waste receptacles.

There’s a way to recognize the indignities wrought upon another human being without furthering those indignities. For example, insisting that every paid act of sex is rape, regardless of how the person being paid labels it, implies that her failure to label it rape is a personal failure. No sex worker deserves to be demonized for asserting the nature of her own experiences.

2) Don’t assume your problems with the sex industry are the industry’s only problems. Some of the most time-honored criticisms of the sex industry—it solidifies patriarchy or commodifies female sexuality—are significant considerations. But they may not be top concerns among sex workers themselves, who are usually more interested in avoiding harassment or abuse at the hands of law enforcement, finding the safest possible workplace and earning a livelihood. As sex worker and artist Sadie Lune has said, “Stop punishing me just because you may not be able to imagine being me.”

3) Use language with care. Some escorts might refer to themselves as “whores” or call their friends “hookers,” but sex workers don’t trust someone outside the industry employs those words. “Sex worker” was conceived as a judgment-neutral term and is usually a safe bet if you’re unsure of what phrase would be most respectful. Some anti-industry pundits object to it on the grounds that it “legitimizes” prostitution, stripping or performing in porn. But it’s important not to use your complaints about the industry as personal attacks on everyone within it. The workers in question are “legitimate” human beings, and any framework that doesn’t recognize that needs reconfiguring.

4) Educate yourself. If you’re going to be vocal about a matter that affects countless people around the globe, inform yourself about it. Visit the websites and blogs of sex workers, activists and allies, not just here in the U.S. but abroad as well. (Sex-workers movements are active in India, Argentina, Taiwan and Sweden, to name only a few. Some resources are linked below.) Take into account the direct voices of sex workers and not just of theorists or politicians. If you see a statistic cited, check the source and examine the ways in which data was gathered. Be critical and compassionate in equal measures. Even if you take issue with the type of work they do, you’ll be sure not to trample on a sex worker’s dignity in the process.



I hope they do.

I hope they do.



Stories You Tell Yourself About Your Life

The way you talk about yourself is very powerful. Whether or not you are conscious of it, the way you tell stories of your life frames how people see you, and how you see yourself.

The link is to an article intended to help professionals deal with being fired, but this excerpt is truly profound.

Prior to the past five years or so, I had a very different life story. The main characters, the plot, the overall theme of my life when I described it to both myself and the people around me. I was invested in that identity, created by the story I had given myself, and perpetuated by the telling of that story to others.

At some point along the way, I decided to let go of certain roles, forgive certain things without apologies, and re-distribute the focus of my story until it was about the woman I am now, and it wasn’t until I changed the telling of my story that I became someone different… the confident, competent, stable person I am today. My weight loss in the past year wouldn’t have been possible for the person I was inside different storyline.

So, what about you? What is the story you tell yourself (and others) about who you are? What are the stories that everyone knows about you, and are those the stories you want people to think of when they see you? Are you a victim? Are you a hero? Are you a child or an adult? Are you the main character or a passive bystander in your own life story?

Make sure you’re telling the story you want to be telling, not the story that gives you short-lived comfort at the expense of both your own self image and the respect you deserve from others.