Sunday, November 19, 2006

Interview with a ‘sexpert’

Last week I interviewed a couples therapist named Esther Perel for my book. She has her own book out, called “Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic & the Domestic”. It’s a really interesting, and somewhat controversial book.

She goes against some of the popular advice therapists usually give to couples having problems in the bedroom. Instead of encouraging them to communicate more and share all of their feelings, she tells them to spend more time apart! She thinks that in modern, Western society, romantic partners put too much pressure on each other to be their family, their best friend and their lover rolled into one. In order for the sex to stay hot, she claims, you need a bit of mystery in your relationship.

It was a bit hard for me to relate to a lot of what was in her book, because my relationship is only a year old and we don’t have kids getting in the way of things. But I think any couple who are starting to find that they’re better friends than they are lovers these days would find her book interesting. So far it’s only available in North America and Germany, but there’s a British release coming out that will also go to Australia and New Zealand.

Here are some controversial bits of her book that I found really interesting:

- If you have cheated on your partner and he/she doesn’t know, it may not be ‘the right thing to do’ to tell the truth. Sometimes the relationship will recover better if you just deal with the guilt yourself and don’t burden your partner with your confession.

- Couples who trust each other completely can lose the spark in their relationship. If you think there’s always a chance that your partner could be tempted away from you, you’ll be more attracted to him/her.

- You shouldn’t feel guilty if you think about someone other than your partner while you’re having sex. Pretending your partner is someone else can make sex more erotic.

- A lot of women have what they consider to be ‘rape’ fantasies and feel really conflicted about them. But on closer examination, these women are never physically hurt in the fantasies. They’re really more about submission than actual rape, and they don’t mean that the woman actually wants to be raped on some level.

What does any of this have to do with camping? Well, I asked her about the effects of getting out of the bedroom to help spice up your love life. It turns out she’s a big fan of the outdoors herself. She thinks having the sun on your face and the wind in your hair is an erotic experience in itself. I couldn’t agree more!

She also talked about how sexy it can be to see your partner in control of his or her environment. Catching a fish, lighting a campfire, or climbing a rockface – if your lover is impressing you it’s a big turn-on. This is especially true if he/she’s doing something you know you can’t do yourself.

She stressed the way nature’s unpredictability can take us beyond our comfort zone. That can also get us to think outside the box when it comes to sex. She says it’s all about using your imagination.

Anyway, you’ll get the whole story when the book comes out. But in the mean time, I wanted to share a bit of what I learned from this interesting woman. If you want to find out more about her (or her book) she has a website:

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The International Brotherhood (and Sisterhood) of Campers

Last weekend we went on a camping trip with a very international group of acquaintances. In total there were one Canadian (me), one Australian, one New Zealander, two Germans, two South Africans, and two French.

It struck me that camping and hiking are the sort of activities that cross international and cultural borders. They are something you can bring with you no matter where life takes you. You can immediately find people who share some of your joys and values all over the world.

In fact, one of the first things I did after moving to New Zealand was join a ‘Tramping Club’. (In New Zealand backpacking is called tramping.) I figured it was the best way for me to meet people in my new home who shared a common interest with me. Since I wasn’t working yet, there were very few ways for me to meet people, and this was a great solution. I wasn’t the only one who thought so. There are people from all over the world in the club. So many people are drawn to New Zealand because of its reputation for outdoor adventure, that it’s no surprise to find new Kiwis congregating in a club that organises those adventures.

I doubt very much that G and I would have found each other if it weren’t for our common interest in camping. It was what brought us together in the first place. I was looking for someone to camp with, and if it turned into a romance so much the better! He was looking for someone who shared his passion for the outdoors. The fact that we were from very different places and very different experiences growing up didn’t really matter too much. All three couples who were on our camping trip last weekend are mixed nationalities. G and I are South African/Canadian, B and C are French and South African, M and N are Kiwi and Australian.

One of my favourite things about camping is the fact that it crosses so many divisions. Whether they are nationalities, generations or races. We’re all the same when we hit the wilderness – all humble visitors.

International symposium on river crossing:

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

My "Inept" Article

Hi all. The November/December issue of "InTravel" online magazine is now available for your reading pleasure. It features an article by ME, called "Attack of the Killer Seals". You can enjoy it at your leisure through this link.

It's a story from my first visit to New Zealand's South Island. Have I learned anything since then? Not really!