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Taking responsibility and accepting consequences for your actions without being defensive or blaming your partner. A difficult task indeed, but when used appropriately, can instantly diffuse conflict.


Attachment refers to the emotional bond between individuals in close relationships. Your ways of relating to those you are closest to, your attachment figures, is influenced by your expectations of yourself and others in relationships based on what you learned about relationships in childhood. Attachment theory is about how you relate to others when you are distressed. The three main attachment styles are secure, anxious, and avoidant. Anxious attachment is defined by worry about the stability of relationships and availability of others which can lead to patterns of clingyness and other behaviors that seek to gain the attention of attachment figures. Avoidant attachment is defined by the expectation that attachment figures are unavailable, leading to patterns of avoidance and self-sufficiency. Individuals with secure attachment are low on anxiety and avoidance, appropriately seek attachment figures, and maintain confidence in their ability to self-regulate when distressed. Attachment styles are on a spectrum and may change with certain people or certain situations. What's your attachment style? Take this quiz to find out... 


When you are your partner deeply understand each other and lovingly can communicate that to one another. Real intimacy exists when you can be curious about and respect your partner's inner world. Active listening and empathy helps foster attunement. Once attunement is reached, couples typically feel secure and safe in their relationship.


A person who is not attracted to either gender. It is typical that asexual individuals will have romantic relationships, but will not engage in sexual activity.





Stands for Bondage and Discipline, Sadism and Masochism. Refers to sex with a dominant and submissive person that is acted out erotically. Also, generally refers to the kink and fetish communities.


Placing responsibility for your behavior and feelings onto another person or external event and insisting that others agree with you. This unloads our own feelings such as guilt, shame, or anger and projects it onto something outside of us. This video explains why we blame others and how it can destroy our relationships. 


Role of a person receiving sensation during sex.


Relational boundaries help distinguish your identity from your partners. Boundaries are on a continuum between enmeshed (too loose) or disengaged (too rigid). Healthy boundaries have a balance between having separate lives while still being intimate and receptive to your partner.


Sexually attracted to both men and women. Bisexuals may end up in romantic relationships that are gay/lesbian or straight (see Heteroromantic Bisexual). Learn more about bisexual identity.


Someone who is both bisexual and polyamorous.





When your birth sex matches your gender identity (e.g. born with female sex organs and identifies as a female)


When one or both partners compulsively sacrifice their own needs, values, preferences, other relationships, and even identity to avoid rejection by the other. Some people call this condition a relationship addiction because while it provides relief from emotional pain in the moment, it prolongs and amplifies hurt and impairment in the long run. Recognizing how codependence negatively affects your life is the first step to recovery.


Saying yes to sex and all activities involved with other persons. While consent does not always have to be verbal, verbal agreement to different sexual activities can help you and your partner(s) respect each other boundaries.


Conveying an expression of disrespect, superiority, and disgust manifested through sarcasm, mockery, eye rolling, belittling, etc. These tactics are meant to make your partner feel worthless. Research has found it to be the #1 predictor of breakups and divorce. Fostering fondness and admiration is the best antidote to contempt.


Managing a situation or person in order maintain predictibility and ensure a particular outcome. A strategy that is often used to defend against feelings of helplessness and shame. Rather than demanding something from your partner, try making a request.


An attack on your partner that can be right to the core of their being, making the person feel assaulted, hurt, and often defensive. Rather than blame your partner, use I - statements to express how you're feeling and what you need (see I-statements).


Oral sex performed on a female's genitalia. Can be used as foreplay before penetration or as the core of sexual activity, resulting in an orgasm. Like other forms of sexual activity, cunnilingus can be a risk for contracting a sexual transmitted infection. To become a pro, we recommend the book "She Comes First" by Ian Kerner.




A thought, behavior, or feeling used to avoid painful experiences. Everyone uses and needs defenses, but when they are used in excess or prevent us from processing important feelings, they can be impairing.

Domestic Partnership

Relationship between two people who live together but are not married. States like New York have a legal designation for domestic partnerships, making it possible for these unmarried couples to share health insurance benefits.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) 

In an open relationship some couples choose DADT where partners do not inform one another when they engage in sex or relationships outside of the primary relationship. DADT works for some open relationships but can also have pitfalls since it limits open and honest communication, an essential ingredient to the success of open relationships.




The experience of understanding someone else's feelings from their perspective. It involves both allowing the other person to feel hurt and tapping into our own painful feelings in order to relate to them. This beautifully animated video shows us the power of empathy to help support those we love and how it is very different than sympathy.


When a person consciously or unconsciously acts in a way that reinforces and possibly encourages their partner's negative behavior. Not only can this hurt the other person but it also and prevents them from taking responsibility or accountability for themselves.


When partners don't have clear boundaries that separate them from one another. An enmeshed partner doesn't see the difference between their own needs and the needs of their partner. It's as if one person's identity is infused with the other.

Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

Difficulty developing or maintaining an erection during sex. The likelihood of ED increases with age, with mild to moderate erectile dysfunction rates increasing by 10% with each decade of life (e.g. 40% at age 40, 50% at age 50). Causes range from medical conditions to drugs, to low self esteem or anxiety. Viagra is the most well known medication to treat ED.


Female sex hormone that regulates the female reproductive system. Low levels of estrogen can negatively impact a woman's sex drive and leads to vaginal dryness.



Oral sex performed on a male's genitalia. Can be used as foreplay or the core of sexual activity resulting in orgasm. Can put both people involved at risk for a sexually transmitted disease. Also known as a blow job, head, or dome.

Female Orgasm

A climax of sexual excitement. For women this sexual climax can center on the clitoris or G-spot located within the vagina. A little FYI for pleasing your woman - It takes 10 - 20 minutes of foreplay before sex for most women to reach orgasm. Watch fun facts here.


Intense sexual desire fixated on a particular body part, sensation, or object that is typically outside of the social norms and not inherently sexy.


Sexual activities before intercourse. Foreplay tips for men. Foreplay tips for women.

Four Horseman of the Apocolypse

A metaphor used by researcher John Gottman to describe the four communication styles that can predict the end of a relationship with a 90% accuracy: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. For more on how to change these communication styles watch here.






The Gräfenberg spot, named after gynecologist Ernst Gräfenberg, is thought to be located 2-3 inches within the upper vaginal wall. One theory is that it is simply the back end of the clitoris. One thing is certain - without a clitoris, female orgasm is not possible. No research has proven the existence of the G-Spot, but we hope it's real.


When men and women are sexually and romantically attracted to the same sex. Often used to describe homosexual males.


A form of emotional abuse that involves manipulation techniques that cause a partner to question his or her own sanity and reality. This can be done through lying, denial, trivializing, and distorting repeatedly until the parner questions their own memory and perceptions. Victims of gaslighting are often more likely to stay with their abuser than other forms of abuse, such as physical or sexual. 


A felt sense of being male or female, tied to cultural and social norms but not necessarily a person's physical sex.

Gender Fluid

Not identifying with one specific gender and may feel more male or female depending on the day or context.

Gender Queer

Does not identify with a gender or identifies as both male and female.


"Good, Giving, Game" - an acronym coined by sex advice guru Dan Savage to describe what it takes to be good in bed. The man himself describes the popular acronym in this short video clip.




Someone who primarily identifies as straight, but will sometimes find members of the same sex attractive and might engage in homosexual behaviors.

Heteroromantic Bisexual

Sexually attracted to both sexes. Romantically attracted to the opposite sex.


Someone attracted to the opposite sex.


Someone attracted to others of the same sex. The American Psychological Association answers some general questions on same sex relationships, coming out, and other important topics.




When a partner is unfaithful to the monogamy agreement made in a relationship. Many people consider cheating a deal breaker in the relationship. Esther Perel's ted talk offers a fresh perspective on infidelity.


Born with sex organs that are neither male or female.

I - Statements

Style of communicating that focuses on the thoughts and feelings of the speaker rather than their partner. It's a shift from blame and accusation to taking responsibility for your own reactions. A skill that is frequently taught in couples therapy because it helps partners get out of their vicious cycles of blame and allows partners to listen and speak to one another without jumping to defensiveness and false assumptions about their partner.





A complicated mix of many emotions including fear of abandonment, shame, rage, and humiliation. Jealousy can range from healthy moderation to all consuming, causing some people to behave in irrational ways (jealousy is the leading cause of spousal homicide). It is typically triggered when a person experiences a perceived threat to a valued relationship by a third party. Healthy self-esteem helps reduce feelings of jealousy.





Unconventional sexual preferences (but really what's normal?)





Women who are sexually and romantically attracted to women.



Male Orgasm

Climax of sexual excitement including ejaculation.


Sexual stimulation of your own genitals for pleasure.

Monogamy (closed relationship)

Someone who has one sexual and romantic partner. Typically results in marriage.

Mutual Masturbation

Non-penetrative sex when two partners touch each other for pleasure and/or orgasm.





Non-monogamy (open relationship)

A romantic relationship in which both parties agree that they can engage in agreed upon sexual or romantic activities with other people. Curious to open up your dyad or looking to strengthen your multiple romantic relationships? "Opening Up: A Guide To Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships" by Tristan Taormino is crucial read.






The “cuddle” hormone, released by the pituitary gland when people cuddle, snuggle, or bond socially.




Someone who loves anyone and everyone regardless of sex, gender identification, sexual orientation, or relationship orientation.


Someone who is attracted to other people regardless of their sex or gender.


Traditionally one male having multiple wives. But can also refer to any person having multiple spouses of any gender.


Someone who is sexually non-monogamous and not romantically intimate.


A defense whereby someone denies their own feelings, impulses, or other qualities in themselves because they find it unacceptable and attributes it to someone else (e.g. when someone says "she hates me" when in actuality, the underlying sentiment is "I hate her").


Partner in the relationship who tries to manage conflict by approach and repetition. They are the partner who typically raises concerns and issues in the relationship, rather than avoid problems. Pursuers tend to feel hurt, unwanted, desperate, and deprived in the relationship. A burnt out pursuer has given up reaching for their partner because they feel it is useless.



A self-identifying umbrella term used by non-heterosexuals to describe themselves and their community.





Getting back on track and into connection with your partner. It involves both partners voluntarily processing past wounds in the relationship in order to re-establish good feelings and trust.


A misattuned or disrupted connection with another person. Research has found that we spend 1/3 of our relationships in connection, 1/3 or our relationships as a rupture, and 1/3 of our time repairing the missed connection. It's all about being a good enough partner and the rest is repair.




Someone who primarily attracted to intelligence over any other feature. Typically, this is regardless of sex or gender.


Sexual contact that involves penetration. Also, connotates gender based on genitalia.


Sending or receiving sexually explicit material via text.

Shared Meaning

Collaboratively creating an inner life with your partner that provides meaning and purpose within the relationship. This can be done through rituals of connection, mutual worldviews, dreams and goals, or defining a sense of the family that you have become. Shared meaning has been shown to provide a foundation and glue for long term relationships.


Someone who is attracted to people who do not adhere to the traditional gender binary (non cisgender).


A person who is polyamorous, but is not committed to any relationship (aka no strings attached).


A person who likes to engage in sexual relations outside of their committed relationship.


Tuning out, shutting down, and becoming emotionally unresponsive to their partner. While this can avoid a fight in the relationship, it also dissociates from their partner, leaving both partners feeling disconnected.


Romantically and sexually attracted to the opposite sex.


Pity or sorrow for someone else's misfortune or pain. Very different than empathy, in that sympathy does require a person to imagine themselves in the other's shoes.




Tantric sex

Ancient Hindu practice of slow sex and heightened mindfulness intended to increase sexual pleasure.

Taoist Sexual Practices

Ancient Chinese sexual practices intended to increase sexual pleasure. Similar to tantric sexual techniques involving mindfulness and connection with your partner to make sex a spiritual experience. An alternative to other sensational methods of sex, this practice will surely improve your sex life. We recommend the book "Taoist Sexual Meditation: Connecting Love, Energy, and Spirit" by Bruce Frantzis.


Male sex hormone also present in women at lower levels. Plays a significant role in sex drive.


Role of a person giving sensation during sex.


Sense of gender identity does not match birth sex.





The person who comes into an already existing couple either for a threesome or to enter a triad in a polyamorous relationship. Also a term used for an ideal catch, someone so perfect that he/she is perceived as divine.





A word that originally referred to as non-kink oriented sex and is sometimes judgmentally used to describe boring or conventional sex. Also an ice cream flavor.


The courage to be your authentic self. Vulnerability requires uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. While you protect yourself against pain and disappointment by defensive self-sufficiency, it is often at the cost of intimacy and connection. Vulnerability is at the core of all emotions because it takes courage to feel them. This powerful TED talk on vulnerability by Brené Brown is a must watch





Partners in the relationship who try to manage problems by escape and avoidance strategies. When issues are raised in the relationship, withdrawers tend to feel anxious and uncomfortable. Withdrawers tend to feel rejected, inadequate, judged, and alone. While withdrawers can look like they are not feeling anything, studies show that physiologically that are just as distressed if not more than their pursuing counterparts.





An archaic film rating used for the most explicit "adult" films. Now, anyone can watch porn from their computers or smartphones. During every second of every day, roughly 30,000 viewers are watching porn. Viewing porn is a healthy way to exercise sexuality, but when watched excessively it can interfere in a relationship and with an individual's daily functioning.




A way of communicating that conveys blame or accusation. It places judgement on a person's behavior, thought, or feeling, and tells them what he or she should or shouldn't do (e.g. "you never wash the dishes," "you don't care about me"). Such statements are very common in relationships, however, typically escalate conflict and defensiveness, eventually eroding a relationship.




Ziegarnik Effect

Named after Bluma Ziegarnick, a Lithuanian psychologist, who discovered that people remembered incomplete or interrupted tasks better than completed tasks. This effect has also been applied to relationships when an argument or conflict goes unaddressed in the relationship, the emotional scar and pain is remembered far longer than when it is resolved and processed.