When it comes to sex, we are, in theory, living in wildly liberated times. So you would think it would be easy owning up to certain kinds of sexual desires. But it's very tricky to talk about many of the things that turn us on.
We’re particularly down on people we call ‘defensive’. They blame others for what’s their own fault. They hear reasonable criticism as cruel attack. They deny they have a problem when they clearly do.
The English psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott developed the idea of a Transitional Object. He wanted to draw attention to the very important work done by children’s much-loved teddy bears.
Anyone we could marry would, of course, be a little wrong for us. It is wise to be appropriately pessimistic here. Nevertheless, one encounters some couples of such primal, grinding mismatch.
The things that get us sexually excited can often sound rather improbable. On the face of it, Wellington boots, a heavy knit fisherman’s jumper or a car park seem unconnected to erotic satisfaction.
You are queuing to go through to Departures; one of the guards at security has lovely, almost turquoise eyes. You are intrigued by the way they're frisking the occasional passenger.
One of the ideals of modern relationships is that both parties will be ‘good communicators’. ‘Communication’ is held to lie at the heart of a thriving partnership.
It is one of the seven virtues in Christianity. It used to have a central place in Roman ethics and Judaism as well. Today, we remain deeply impressed by the idea of charity, but often from a distance.
It used to be when you’d hit certain financial and social milestones: when you had a home to your name, a set of qualifications on the mantelpiece and a few cows and a parcel of land in your possession.
There are - when you start adding incidents up - rather a lot of things about you that your partner seems keen to change. They notice how you put off ringing your mother.
You are introduced to someone at a conference. They look nice and you have a brief chat about the theme of the keynote speaker. But already you have reached an overwhelming conclusion.
You try to set aside a special evening every now and then. That would have been absurd in the old days, you were alone so much of the time, but now there’s a need to schedule it in the diary way ahead of time.
You and your partner are waiting, and waiting, at the airport carousel for your luggage. Other people are wheeling their bags away. Soon, you are the only ones left standing by the now empty conveyor belt.