I will never forget the moment when a therapist – a good one – demonstrated for me something so simple, yet so profound, about relationships. This was about eighteen years ago, and it is as true now as it was then.

We were talking about my pain from a lack of emotional connection with my boyfriend at the time.

She said, “In Relationships, there is this[she touched her forehead], and this[touching her heart], and this [placing her hand over the area of her crotch].”

So simple. Yet so profound. Many of the best things are.

I was in a relationship in which I had intellectual connection and sexual connection, but was in a lot of emotional pain from feeling deprived of heart connection. I hadn’t seen it that clearly until my therapist made those simple gestures.

There’s something very powerful about images, in addition to words, that pierce us right where it counts and wake us up to clarity.Visual input happens so quickly, it can bypass the busy, conscious mind of opinions and get right into the core emotion, the body’s truth.

In that instant, there was no denying that something very basic and very important was missing from my relationship. I saw it, felt it, and couldn’t turn away from it.

That moment changed my life. I then tried relationship therapy with my boyfriend to see about creating more heart connection, but after nine months with no change, I ended the relationship. It was the right thing. I was dying inside.

The work I did with that therapist was pivotal in my life. I had seen numerous counselors over the course of many years, never to really feel satisfied or pierced in a way I was craving in the work. I needed to be pierced by truth, by my own truth, by the beauty of the human journey.

When I finally got my soul pierced in therapy, by this simple moment, the time was ripe in my life.I opened up with readiness to take on a profession. At age thirty-two, I entered graduate schoolto become a therapist immediately after ending my work with that very good one.

Over the years, I have used the same gestures with clients, friends, and myself to pinpoint the health of energy flow in these areas of relationship.

I call the areas:

Intellectual Connection
Heart Connection
and Genital Connection

I like the term “Genital” over “Sexual” because it allows for a very distinct kind of connection to be identified and it focuses on the body.

“Sexual” connection often involves intellectual and heart connection, which is wonderful when it happens, but this makes the label “sexual”more murky and blended. Genital is genital – do your genitals respond? That is the question to ask for our purposes here.

The Genital Connection, in our world, is sadly yet widely neglected, conflicted, or problematic in some way.An analysis of the state of sexual health and vitality in modern day humans is beyond the scope of this blog post, but saying something about it is not.

As a relationship therapist for sixteen years, a close friend to women with whom I have detailed discussions of intimate matters, and a life-long student of the human condition, I know that many people suffer from less-than-fulfilling sexual lives.

Some of the problem is embedded in a person’s own sexual history, unhealed past psychological and sexual wounds, and lack of grounding in a good sexual relationship with themselves, the foundation of healthy sexuality.

Certainly, some aspects of the problem are often embedded in unhealthy relationship dynamics.

And sometimes it’s a mismatch. People marry someone they are not sexually attracted to. It happens. They hope it’ll all work out, get better, or that other aspects of the relationship will somehow make up for the lack of genital interest.

It either works out or it doesn’t.

Genitals do not exist in a vacuum. Meaning, one’s actual, physiological sexual response in a relationship has many facets and factors. It is very valuable, however, to take an honest look at the direct question, “Do your genitals like your partner?”

When answering this question, some unwelcome visitors may show up, such as confrontation with one’s own sexual shut down, blocks, or unhealed issues. This is a gift – if one chooses to take the opportunity to bring some healing energy to this area.

Here are some questions to help you ascertain the energy flow in these three areas of your relationship. If you explore them with honesty with yourself, you will gain some clarity.

Intellectual Connection–

• Do you like to talk, explore topics in conversation, discuss events in the world, people, music, art, culture, food, film, literature, travel, etc., etc., etc. Is there enough etc. for you?
• Do you make each other laugh? Do you enjoy laughing together? Do you find similar things funny?
• Do you feel stimulated mentally, intellectually, socially, by your partner? And them by you?
• Do you like to socialize together? Do you talk and laugh together with other people?
• Do you read? Does your partner? Do you discuss and share from what you read?
• Do you feel stimulated mentally? Do you respect your partner’s mind? Do you enjoy your partner’s mind?
• How much does any of this matter to you?

Heart Connection –

• Do you feel a warm, soft, tender feeling toward your partner? When they hold you? Look at you? Smile at you? When you hold them? Look at them? Smile at them?
• Is there a warm, soft, tender feeling that flows between you? When do you feel it? How is it expressed? How is it opened up to? Acknowledged? Enjoyed?
• Do you hold hands? Walk arm in arm? Are there spontaneous displays of affection?
• Do you make eye contact often? Do the two of you rest into it and allow it to linger? Do you give each other “love looks?”
• Do you give and receive tender kisses and embraces? Do you stop and just hold each other? Do you only give quick pecks and brusque hugs?
• Does the thought of your partner make you smile? When you speak of your partner to others, do you feel good?
• Do you say “I love you” and other loving things?
• Are expressions and displays of affection done in front of the children? Friends? Family?
• How much does any of this matter to you?

Genital Connection –

• Do you experience a sexual response with your partner?
• Do you get aroused genitally from kissing, touching, seeing, or thinking about them? (erect for males, lubricated for females, plus any and all other stimulated sensations and responses in the genital region)
• Do you like the look, feel, smell, and taste of your partner’s genitals?
• Do you fantasize about or enjoy imagining your partner in a sexual way?
• Do you enjoy looking at your partner’s body?
• How much does any of this matter to you?

I offer these words to you to bring a light of consciousness to what you may be experiencing in relationship. Often, we have a vague sense of discontent or being “off” in some way, but we don’t have the words to pinpoint it. The three areas can help with that.

If you uncover an uncomfortable or even painful truth while you consider these areas of relationship, try to stay centered in a calm, self-loving disposition. Pain is growth trying to happen. Being willing to have more truth in your life is brave, and yes, challenging.

I still use these areas in my life today, to identify places that need attention and growth in my relationship. They are reliable meters of imbalance, which is bound to happen in all relationships over time.

Should you choose to reach out for professional guidance with your relationship, I do much of my work by phone and skype.

Thank you for reading, and I wish you Intellectual, Heart, and Genital Connection, maybe even all with the same person.

Amy Jay