He Never Kisses Me Anymore
The last time I kissed passionately was last night. It wasn't the little sweet peck on the lips or quick kiss, it was a "real" kiss. The kind of kiss that's so passionate and loving that it made me feel like the most desirable person alive. One of the best parts about this kiss was that I was one the initiated it. Kissing passionately takes two and if both people in the relationship stop initiating the passionate kiss, it eventually goes away. When it's gone, it's sometimes hard to bring back.
Dr. Pepper Schwartz, Dr. Jim Witte, and myself conducted the largest study ever done on relationships (surveyed over 100,000 people around the world) and the data we uncovered on passionate kissing was fascinating. When we asked couples in the United States if they kissed passionately, they were quick to say yes, 70 percent said, "Of course we do!" But, when we asked how often they kissed, that was a different story.
We found it's very normal to rarely or even never kiss passionately. Our data tells us that 56 percent of men and women said they rarely or never kiss passionately. This is distressing since kissing is a way for people to enhance feelings of love and connectedness and having sex without it, has the risk of one or both partners feeling like they are just doing the mechanics of sex rather than creating a deeper passion and love. When we looked at how years in relationship might play a part in initiating the kiss, it definitely played a strong role. Only 21 percent said the rarely kiss or never kiss passionately in the first year of the relationship, compared to 61 percent at the 10 year mark! At 21 years or more it soars to 67 percent.
The Normal Bar study makes it clear that extremely happy relationship (not just happy, but extremely happy) men and women were much more likely to kiss passionately, but just about everyone else said they wanted more passion in their relationship. The majority (58 percent) of people who are extremely happy share a passionate kiss several times a week. And while passionate kissing isn't a requirement for sex, it seems to be a core component of pleasurable sex. Among people who love having sex with their partners, 85 percent kiss passionately on a regular basis. Among men and women who do not enjoy sex, 86 percent of them rarely or never kiss passionately!
So it seems like a no brainer, one easy solution to bringing the passion back in is to bring the passionate kiss back in as a normal part of intimacy. This one relatively easy addition to your lives together could add an incredible amount of pleasure and, even more important, help you feel much more deeply in love. Why not start tonight?
50 Shades of Grey: Fantasies Transforming Into a Couple's Reality
It's no longer a secret: Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson will be Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele in Universal's adaptation to 50 Shades of Grey. According to web sources, 50 Shades of Grey is the biggest selling book of all time! (Except the Bible, of course.)
This means that a worldwide cultural revolution has taken place -- and, of course, as authors of the New York Times best seller The Normal Bar: The Surprising Secrets of Happy Couples, we wanted to survey the impact.
In our latest survey, we found some intriguing evidence of social change caused by 50 Shades. First of all, the response is overwhelming positive from readers. Only 2.5 percent women and 6.4 percent men said that the 50 Shades of Grey book(s) had a negative impact to their relationship. Negative impact included everything from, "reading the book made me want more out of relationship and I don't know what to do" to "my partner didn't like the idea that I was even reading it."
Of course, those could be seen as positive outcomes too: we think it is good for people to examine their sexual and emotional lives and if something is unsatisfying or if there is tension between partners, communicating about those differences should be a positive experience, because it offers the possibility of greater understanding and mutually acceptable change.
We wondered if some couples began a dialogue because they realized that a part of their sexual psyche was unfulfilled. So we asked, "Did reading the book make you more interested in kinkier sex?" The answer was dramatically in favor of an edgier sex life! Sixty-seven percent of women and 59 percent of men said yes, bring on the kinkier sex! If the book had this kind of impact, we can only imagine what the movie will bring.
Our study showed us interesting insights into what a large number of men and women would like if they had the nerve to suggest it to their partner. People have an active inner life that has a much wider range of fantasy that they keep to themselves. For example, they add a lot of variety to their sex lives, but it's mostly hidden in their thoughts about what they might like to do with their partner, and what they might like to do with friends, and, even strangers. We found that 61 percent of women and 90 percent of men sexually fantasize about people they meet. Makes you think twice when you meet somebody and what might be going through their head.
Since just looking at somebody can trigger sexual thoughts, we wonder what kind of impact watching this movie, or for that matter, any sexy movie, can have on a relationship? We know there is a demand for steamy sex scenes in feature films -- and the expectations for the 50 Shades movie might be off the charts. The question is: Will people be able to handle the cinematic images of what Jamie is going to do to (and with) Dakota or are we only truly comfortable with our private fantasies? And more to our overall point: if we are turned on watching bondage and domination, are we going to experiment with it ourselves? Remember, most romantic stories are a lot softer sell. For example, when we asked people what was the last movie they saw with a most sensual love scene that they could remember, When Harry Met Sally and Ghost were two of the top movies mentioned. We are either way overdue for some more quality movies with sexier scenes -- or this is going to be going to be hard for a lot of women to look at! We are betting on women going in droves (maybe with friends as well as partners) to see and discuss the movie. But whether or not serious bondage and maybe even some intense spanking is going to be a world wide hit, remains to be seen.
But back to that larger question: can this, or any, movie truly impact a couple's relationship? We have some data to indicate it the impact could be more than you might think. Maybe When Harry Met Sally or Ghost didn't change people's lives, but other movies certainly did, and not always in a positive direction. We surveyed thousands of people and asked them, "Have you ever watched a sex scene in a movie or TV program that made you feel bad about your relationship's sex life?" Forty-three percent of men and 39 percent of women said yes, they did. A third of them also said they thought about breaking up after they watched the movie. When we dig deeper into our data we can see why they might feel this way.
We believe our data speaks volumes about the serious need for more sexual variety in relationships. The couples in our massive international study clearly tell us that they want more passion in their relationship. In the American sample, 94 percent men and 78 percent women said they were hungry for more intensity, variety and passion. So, if there is a huge amount of unmet desire, we can ask, how did we get this way, and what can we do about it? Why should our passion be evidenced by buying books like 50 Shades as opposed to spending more time in bed, doing more things? Why are playing sexy movies in our head, and having lavish private desires, but not executing at least some of these fantasies?
We think it's because we are too embarrassed to share our thoughts and desires, and too brainwashed about "propriety" to fully open up even to our dearest and most trusted partner. Weird, huh? But obviously true. Still, here comes 50 Shades of Grey, and this may give partners the permission to have frank discussions about sex and share their edgier thoughts. Our guess, even our hope, is that the movie allows partners to be able to honestly share fantasies and desires and let at least some of those infuse their sexual and emotional lives. This doesn't mean everyone has to tie each other up: but it does mean that partners should know what is going on in each other's fantasies -- and maybe enrich their shared sexual life with a few new and exciting acts. Stay tuned for the world post-50 Shades of Grey: The Movie!
Are Gay Couples the Same As Straight Couples?
"Normal" is a loaded word, we know. For the sake of this article, we're keeping the concept real simple - "normal" is what you're willing to accept and the regular pattern you stick with on an ongoing basis. "Normal" is the rules you create and regularly follow. For those who don't think there is a normal, think again.
Let's take a look at what's normal in a couple's relationship. We can all agree that love, affection, trust, sexual attraction and intimacy, and good communication are all "normal" goals in a couple's relationship. That was borne out by The Normal Bar Project, the most extensive study ever conducted on relationships. We surveyed nearly 100,000 people worldwide, asking 1,300 questions that explored every aspect of couplehood. The result was a much clearer vision of the various "norms" in relationships, and more important, what's normal in happy relationships.
When we originally embarked on this survey, we wanted to be able to dissect not only what was normal in different peer groups, but which patterns worked best to keep couples fulfilled. We sliced and diced the data along many different criteria, including age, years in relationship, kids or no kids, and ethnicity. When we drilled down into the results we expected to have enough that was different among one of our sub-groups, gay and lesbian couples, to justify a book in itself.
Surprisingly, we soon discovered that there weren't enough differences to write about! Other than that gay and lesbian partners are of the same sex - and that among male couples in particular there are a few variations in monogamy - same-sex relationships looked pretty much like the opposite-sex version. The only other data that really stood out was that gay and lesbian couples normally communicate better than heterosexual couples.
Perhaps we shouldn't have been so surprised. Ask any perceptive therapist and they'll tell you that we all go through the same ups and downs. We did notice, though, that the extremely happy couples in our study - whether hetero- or homosexual - put a lot of time into each other, lavishing affection and romance. Sometimes, many of us wonder whether all the romantic effort is worth it. The more cynical among us may suspect we're being manipulated by the "affection industry" (which has us ritually running out for flowers, candy, and sentimental cards) and that all that perspiration doesn't add up to much. But the data suggests otherwise.
In this, and indeed nearly every other way, gay and lesbian couples behave just as straight couples do.
Five surprising facts about what's "normal" in a happy couple's relationship
Curious about what very happy, even extremely happy people confess when asked intimate questions about their relationship? We have it!
The Normal Bar is the most in depth extensive study ever done on relationships; currently over 90,000 people have participated in the study. With millions of answers to every question you could imagine, the authors of The Normal Bar book, Chrisanna Northrup, Dr. Pepper Schwartz, and Dr. Jim Witte have all the answers.
Here are five fascinating findings on what happens behind doors-among even very happy and extremely happy couples!
The Normal Bar's Couples Book Club
The Normal Bar is launching its first couple's book club! We are giving away 20 books, to 20 couples in the month of March. We'll be bringing these 20 couples together via the internet, and other couples into the club to share ideas and spark up interesting conversation from The Normal Bar book.
Here's how it works...
- Send in your most romantic moment captured on video or photo, then describe this moment in 140 characters or less. If you don't have the moment captured in a photo or video, you can also just provide a written account of the moment.
- Please send your photo or video, and/or your written memory of the moment to our Twitter page @thenormalbar or to our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/TheNormalBar). If you don't have Facebook or Twitter, you can email your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If you don't have a romantic moment caught on video or in a photo, create one! You have two weeks to get creative and capture that romantic moment with your partner. It could be a romantic moment that your partner created for you, or you for them.
- Submissions for photos, videos or a written account of the romantic memory begins March 12th and ends on March 26th.
- The top 20 photos, videos or written accounts with the most positive comments, retweets, shares, etc. WINS! (If you email us a photo, video, or written account, we will post it to our twitter or facebook page for you.) 20 signed books will be sent to those winning couples by the end of March to launch The Normal Bar's first couple's book club.
- We'll have a page dedicated to our couple's book club on The Normal Bar website, for club members to discuss and share ideas. After the first 20 couples are chosen, we will open the club up to everyone else who owns The Normal Bar book!
Please be sure you also check out our Inside Look page.
We have thousands of people's responses from our survey describing their most romantic memory and their ideal romantic date. We give you an inside look as to what the men had to say!
Please feel free to add in your own romantic memory or ideal romantic date, or add a comment to someone else's post.
My husband is much happier since I met Christian Grey
The Normal Bar's survey results on how reading 50 Shades of Grey has impacted relationships
How much more satisfying are couples’ sex lives after reading 50 Shades of Grey? We were curious, so we decided to conduct our own survey to find out.
It wasn’t too surprising to see our results confirming that most 50 Shades fans have decided to take a page from Ana and Christian’s playbook and turn up the heat and pleasure in their own relationship.
If they were in for a penny, they were in for a pound—which is to say, the majority of readers read all three books. They tended to prefer the first book (we agree) but the material - both the love story and the sexcapades - was hot enough to persuade 85% to stick around for the complete trilogy.
So what more did we find out? Too much for one blog -- but stick around for the next couple of blogs and we’ll share with you more of the surprising, and sexy, findings.
First and foremost, 52% of readers (men and women) believe the book has had a positive impact on the relationship they’re in. How so? Let’s break out the answers this way:
|One:||It gave them ideas and helped turn a vanilla sex life into coconut cream pie.|
|Two:||It made a hot sex life hotter.|
|Three:||It opened up communication.|
Here’s what some people had to say about turning a vanilla sex life into coconut pie...
"It changed the flavor or our sex life."
"We've been married 25 years... and now sex is better since when we first met."
"After 7 years of marriage sex seems so much more exciting and intimate. Like when we first got together."
"It has brought back the spice, heat, verbal foreplay and fun in our marriage. My husband loves it."
"I want to try different things now. It was plain vanilla, but now I know I really like the kinky f**kery (as they say in fifty shades) and I want to try new things"
"There has been no in depth discussions between us, but because we both read and enjoyed the books our sex life has mirrored some of the scenes and just sort of evolved to a slightly different level."
"My partner was a bit scared at first by my requests, but after we started relaxing, we both enjoyed it. Vanilla will never again be enough."
As for making an already hot sex life hotter, some readers started out pretty adventurous but turned up the dial even further. Here are their responses:
"The book made me feel more powerful in a secure sense of the word. More adventurous too."
"My husband & I had already experimented with things that are safe, and not considered hard core so to speak. But reading the books has peaked my curiosity to try more."
"My husband and I have been together 28 years and were still enjoying an active sex life before 50 Shades of Grey, but the books have certainly spiced it up. By the way, he also read and enjoyed the books."
"Reading the books…just made our already kinky side a little more intense."
And finally when it came to opening up communication, we learned from readers' responses that, whether or not a couple tried any new bedroom moves, a lot achieved greater intimacy because they were now talking about their previously private thoughts and, what they liked (or didn't). Here’s what they had to say on that topic:
"I am more vocal about my needs & desires."
"It enabled me to talk about sex and what I liked"
"The book produced more fun in bed and talking about all that stuff a lot more with my man"
"I am now, more open with fantasies"
"The impact of the book was... mostly more communication and a steamier and more frequent sex life."
"Very informative. Brought out discussion of subject that sometime were difficult to talk about with you sex partner"
"The books made it ok to talk about these things, and really opened up my mind in the bedroom. I realized it doesn't have to be boring, even after 8 years of marriage! Totally turned me on, which my husband loved..."
Bottom line: Anna and Christian have obviously made a lot of beds warmer, more exciting, and - best of all - more intimate.
Into the Grey
Introducing our 50 Shades of Grey Survey
The Normal Bar is a deep dive into what relationships look like now, not just in the United States but across the world. We ‘re far from the only ones interested in what’s going on in marriages and committed relationships, however we live in a media-saturated culture and much of the increase in coverage concerns itself with relationships. Subjects that were formerly taboo are now fair game and insider information about celebrity marriages, reports of spousal misconduct or infidelity, and dating foibles and flaws wash over us in a steady stream.
All of this explosive detail about who did what - and to whom - makes us curious about whether the media’s version of what is “normal” matches reality, and whether our decision making may, in fact, be based on false premises. It’s not just reality shows and movies that explore every aspect of dating, mating, cheating or uncoupling. Bestselling books do too, and none has had greater impact recently than The New York Times bestselling trilogy 50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James. According to CNN, since March 2012 50 Shades of Grey has sold 20 million copies sold in the United States and 31 million worldwide.
What are people finding between the covers of Fifty Shades? Certainly, this is not your mother’s potboiler! Featured in the book are explicit scenes of bondage and discipline where one partner assumes a dominant role, and the other a submissive one. Readers learn about the relationship between receiving or giving pain and arousal (at least, in the imagination of E.L. James). And all of this is wrapped in a love story between a handsome, ridiculously wealthy, charismatic, mildly sadistic man and a beautiful, smart, sexually naļve - even virginal - young woman who becomes emotionally and sexually fascinated with him, and ultimately transforms his need to control her into love and adoration. Of course. there are other details - but this is the heart of it.
Yes, Fifty Shades is in some ways an old fashioned love story of a woman’s love reforming a sexual scoundrel, but the details are very different from most stories of romance hitting the bestseller list. It seems like every book club in America and abroad is reading and discussing the sexual shenanigans of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele. So we wondered, Is this changing anything in the bedroom or in women’s and men’s fantasies? Is it opening up new sexual terrain, creating new satisfactions or dissatisfactions, or is it merely a moment in time for a titillating read - and that’s the end of it?
To find out, we offer our own set of questions based on the sexual themes on display in the book. We hope you’ll take a look at them and let us know if you practiced any of these behaviors or contemplated any of these thoughts before you read - or heard about - Fifty Shades. In essence, what we want to know is if the book or its notoriety has changed you in any way.
Thanks for being part of The Normal Bar research!