The sex and love of the silver screen has little to do with what any of us experience in real life and that's not a bad thing.
Bogie and Bacall, Bruce Willis and Cybill Sheppard, Richard Gere and Julia Roberts: pure romance. The kind of romance in which everyone looks good, knows what to do, says the right thing and great sex just happens without planning or communication.
|Don't load too many romantic expectations on special occasions such as anniversaries or birthdays.
|Tell your mate a few small things that would make you happy.
|Don't compare your mate to movie stars, sports figures, etc.
Although TV and movies are full of romance, real life has very little of it. So if we expect our life or our relationship to be like TV or films, we're going to be disappointed.
Does that mean you shouldn't have expectations? Does it mean you have no right to get what you want? No. It means your expectations need to be realistic, and should be developed with your partner. There's plenty of satisfaction out there if what you want is reasonable, and if your partner has agreed to meet your needs.
Let's contrast the romantic with the realistic. In a classically romantic situation:
* Your partner is never tired or sick.
* Your partner is always in the mood for sex when you are.
* Your partner's body doesn't change with age.
* Your partner always knows what you want and gives it to you.
* Your partner looks, sounds and acts like a "real man" or "real woman." And you do, too.
Real life, though, is another story, not worse, just different. Realistically, here's as good as it gets:
- You can plan time together.
- Your partner lets you know when s/he's tired or sick.
- Your partner will take you seriously if you say, "this is really important to me."
- Your partner will learn what you like sexually.
- Once in a great while, your partner will surprise you with something nice.
Almost no one wants to see movies about realistic relationships. They're not dramatic or dreamy, and they don't take us away from our own cares. They're not good cinema. But they can be good real life.
If you're fortunate, real life has occasional moments of magic. Go ahead and savor them. But don't hold onto them too tightly. Most importantly, don't expect too many of them. Your disappointment will just get in the way of real life.
Marty Klein, Ph.D., is a licensed marriage counselor and sex therapist in Palo Alto, Calif. He has written for national magazines and appeared on many TV shows, including Donahue, Sally Jessy Raphael and Jenny Jones. You can read more about his books, tapes and appearances on his Web site, www.SexEd.org