Sex & Sociability

Question and commentary on connections, both sexual and social

S.O.F.T.T.O.U.C.H

Here's a handy approach to life's problems, social and sexual.

Sex and Sociability are my areas of expertise, areas which can include a multiplicity of problems. Where to begin when faced with any or many? Let me give you my own handy-dandy approach to sorting out dilemmas of every nature. It's called The Soft Touch Method - S.O.F.T. T.O.U.C.H.

S stands for Self Knowledge - figuring out who you are and honestly looking at your own wants and needs. This is a lifelong process, but when facing any particular problem it’s always good to clarify your goal.

0 is for Options. A peculiarity of the way most people's minds work is that the greater the perceived pressure to make some very important decision, the fewer options for solution we are able to see. Stress narrows our vision of the world. In times like this we tend to view solutions as look or leap, do or die. Very few situations are so distinctly black and white, either/or. Take the time to educate yourself. Seek out input, information, ideas on any given problem area.

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F is for Facts. Make sure you have all of them which bear on the problem at hand.

T is for Techniques. A choice may be closed to you if you don't know how to implement it. For example, some people have given up on the idea of negotiating with a partner about sex. It sounds too scary or difficult or impossible, which leaves them with the option of taking only what's offered, or doing without. If you learn new communication techniques, you broaden your options.

T is for Trouble. Any of these steps may give you trouble in trying to master them. Again, learning is a lifelong process. But in facing a specific dilemma and using these steps to come to some conclusion, any inroads you can make in any area of self knowledge and communication will be to your advantage now and in the future.

0 is Owning your own feelings. If you are of several minds about an issue, acknowledge that conflict or confusion. Allow that indecision to just be as you sort through this process. It's perfectly usual to want neither this nor that, both this and that. Having your cake and eating it is occasionally possible. If it's not in this case, it's okay to want the impossible. Acknowledging that what you most desire really is impossible, whatever concessions you do decide to make when you bow to the inevitable may seem like an acceptable compromise.

U is You. The solution you arrive at in any given challenge is what you think and what you feel is best at this time and under these particular circumstances. It may not be the same conclusion your mother would come to, or even your best friend or one you might have reached at another time. But this is your life and as an adult, you must make important decisions on how your life is to be conducted.

C stands for Communication, with yourself first (that self knowledge first step) and then with another or others.

H. Underlying all of the SOFTOUCH method is Honesty. Without this fundamental, again with yourself first, all the rest will lead you into directions you discover too late you may not want to have traveled.

Isadora AlmanM.F.T., is a Board-certified sex, marriage, and family therapist, lecturer, author, and syndicated advice columnist of "Ask Isadora."

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