How Adoption Shaped My Intimate Relationships

Adoption in Korea

The older I get, the more I realise that we all have individual issues that affect our ability to meaningfully connect with others.  For me, however, I find that the emotional issues that are tied to my adoption and growing up in a regional area where I didn’t fit in are the most prominent.

Before we begin, let me shed some light on my background. I was conceived and born in Seoul, South Korea, during a short relationship that had ended by the time my birth mother realised that she was pregnant. The reality of this situation was in the mid 1980’s, as it still is today, unacceptable to have a child out of wedlock, especially if that child was a girl. So, my birth mother did the only thing that she could do and put me up for adoption.

I was one of the lucky babies to be adopted from birth. My adopted family came to collect me from my foster parents when I was 4 months old, so they are the only family that I have ever known. I had an amazing childhood, growing up on the NSW Mid North Coast right on the beach. Having the freedom to safely ride my bike on the streets, head down to the beach for a swim and walk to a friend’s place or the park.

It wasn’t until my sisters were born (biological children conceived through IVF) and certain (extended) family members now treated me differently because my parents now had their ‘own’ children and I started to realise that I was different. After the initial shock (at the age of 2 ½ – 3) it just became the new normal, that is until we were all in primary school and people were in disbelief that my sisters and I were siblings.

That was when I started really thinking about my background and the circumstances behind my adoption. With this came the questions and the feelings of shame and guilt that seem to be synonymous with adoption.

It seemed to overtake my thoughts and seeded (what I realise now are) irrational thoughts such as:

“If my mother didn’t want me, no one ever will”

“I’m only worth as much as someone wants to pay for me”

“If my mother loved me so much and she walked away, that’s what everyone else will do”

… Irrational, I know.

As an Asian in a family full of model-like Danish blondes, I was constantly reminded that I really didn’t fit in and the taunting from my peers and older kids about not being the same and that my mother just threw me away, shaped the way that I viewed myself. Ingraining that belief that I would never be loved unless I looked a certain way, that was if anyone wanted me in the first place.

From what I have read of other international adoptee’s blogs and articles, it seems that I am not alone in my feelings of not quite belonging. Feeling like you need try twice as hard as anyone else to fit in.

Despite the affection given to me by my family throughout my life, I have always found it difficult to express and verbalise love. Being that one person who awkwardly hugs someone and then quickly pulls away, or the girlfriend that says, “me too” when their partner says, “I love you”.

I was also the person who leaves when it starts to get tough. The person who just shuts down and doesn’t know how to tell their partner what the issues are in case they decide to leave first. The idea of being abandoned again, to me was more confronting and stressful than just taking on all the emotional baggage and just walking away.

That feeling of worthlessness, I have now learnt, was the driving factor behind why I stayed in all 3 of my long-term relationships well past their use by date and why having friends with benefits worked better for me. Allowing me to keep people at arm’s-length emotionally. I feel as though it somehow helped to keep my fragile self-worth intact.

The types of people I was attracted to

It was also something that I had discussed at length with my councillor when I was younger, and up until recently, I didn’t understand how my adoption really did affect the type of people I formed relationships with.

Quote about self discovery
Image: Self discovery

But since the end of my last relationship, I have been on a life changing journey of self-discovery. I have realised that my ‘type’ seemed to be emotionally insecure men that had never really (emotionally) made it past puberty or their early 20’s. I somehow thought that by mothering these men, they would never want to leave me because they didn’t have the capacity to be on their own. Not really a healthy reason to start or continue a relationship. What I have come to understand is that these men, because of their inability to think for themselves or accept responsibility for their actions or how their words and actions effected the relationship.

How I am overcoming my emotional insecurity

For me, the turning point that took me from seeking acceptance from others in a relationship to being accepting of my own flaws and being worthy of having someone want me despite those flaws, was when I met a man that I had an immediate emotional connection with. He was the first person that I didn’t feel the need to try to impress with how much of myself I was willing to give up or hide. It has been such a liberating experience.

That connection has also allowed me to further explore my sexuality. It’s amazing how feeling safe and not judged allows me to pull down my walls that I have built and hand over the control of my emotions that I have held on to, that kept me locked in my little emotional bubble. It has also shown me that I don’t need to just settle for anyone that will pay attention to me, that I am worth more than that. The process has helped me understand what impacts my sexuality too.

Author: Mia is a consultant from Oh Zone Adult Lifestyle Centres

Jennifer works marketing at Adultsmart an online sex toy shop. She has a non-judgemental approach to sex, sex toys and sexuality. Her favorite saying is if it feels good and right and is not illegal then why not!

Finding Crazy Mad Love After Pain

Lustful lips

It wasn’t supposed to happen that way. You just got out of what can only be described as hell and now you are back in your last relationship, and you swore you would never fall for it again. So many years you spent clinging to hope that things would change. You had suffered enough hurt to last a lifetime that you vowed you would never allow any man the chance to put you through it again.

You tell yourself you’re going to stay single for the rest of your life, and you completely resign to the fact. You even begin to relish singledom and all its perks. Nobody to answer to, freedom at your fingertips and all the time in the world to be left to your own devices.

Broken and passionate relationship
Image: Passionate lust

Isn’t it funny how in a fleeting second this can all change?

It was never supposed to happen that way, yet somehow it did. It happened so fast you think back and you almost forget how your life was before you met them.

That feeling of the first time when you lay eyes on him, the adrenaline running through your veins that travels from your breasts all the way down to your vagina. You lock eyes for the first time and in that very moment you just know how wild and animalistic the sex is going to be. You can nearly visualise it.

You walk up to approach him right then it’s as if time has frozen and everything around you stands still, everything except for him of course. He’s standing there almost half expectant. Like he knew you were coming up to him. Like he would almost bet money on it. You’re so drawn to him, both of you are so drawn to each other. It’s almost magnetic and you couldn’t stop yourself even if you tried.

So you don’t, you run with it, you allow your urges and hedonistic desires to completely overrule any rationality you thought you had. Because when you’re with him there is no one else who exists and the intensity of your intimacy only solidifies that.

See it’s not just sex, it’s a feeling he gives you that can only be compared to a euphoric drug. The things he does to your body biting, licking, kissing, touching, caressing and worshipping every inch of you. When you’re on top of him you feel on top of the world. You don’t just fuck, you make love.

This is a feeling you don’t want to give up, you would fight for it until you have nothing left. And while you still don’t understand how someone can come into your life under such unexpected circumstances and make you feel all the things you do in such a short amount of time you begin to accept it and even embrace it. You start to welcome the newfound happiness and wear it with pride. You haven’t done that for a long time, so long that you almost forgot the feeling of what it’s like to have so much love from someone with so little damage in return. To have someone who loves you for not just your beauty but all your flaws too. He pays attention to the details that matter to you the most, the real things not just the superficial. You no longer are alone and neither is he because there isn’t a single thing in the world that could break that magnetic force you two have.

Over time that pain you held onto from before begins to wash away. Those scars you wore from all the previous battles of your former lover they start to fade and that fear of having your heart broken all over again gradually disappears. While nothing about love is easy, everything you feel about him is and you never have to question a single thing and neither does he. Just like how both your bodies come together in perfect mould, so do your minds. At times you are both almost in sync with each other.

You’ve had so many others try win your heart failing to succeed in the process, and while you may never be able to understand or comprehend how you can fall so deeply in love with someone so fast, everything in your life at present has shown you now that it was always supposed to happen that way.

Author: Channelle is a consultant from Oh Zone Adult Lifestyle Centres

Jennifer works marketing at Adultsmart an online sex toy shop. She has a non-judgemental approach to sex, sex toys and sexuality. Her favorite saying is if it feels good and right and is not illegal then why not!

Dr. Stacy, My Husband Won’t Speak About Our Intimacy Issues!

Sexless marriage

This month Adultsmart’s clinical sexologist and certified sex coach Dr. Stacy Friedman has answered three questions which were anonymously sent in to askasexologist@gmail.com. Be sure to read them, who knows she may have answered one of yours!

Question

My relationship with my husband has gone cold.  There is little intimacy and our bedroom is all but dead.  Our kids are now older and our discussions regularly turn into arguments.  I have seen a counselor but when I suggested he see one or we see one together he says we don’t need too.  How do I get him to see that things are not that good and we need help?

Dr. Stacy Friedmans Answer

I am sorry to hear things are not so good on the home front and it’s unfortunate that you don’t seem to have a partner that understands the urgency of the situation.  I try to tell people that if you have a partner asking for help or to get help, it is usually a dire situation that can go downhill fast if not taken care of. If your partner isn’t willing to do anything for the marriage and you have expressed concern and desire to seek help, there isn’t much you can do other than work on personal growth and start weighing your options of what you want for your future, to stay and do nothing or go.  I would ask him why he doesn’t feel that you need to see a counselor, what scares him about going, what does he think is going to happen if  you go as well as what could be the worst and best scenario if he did decide to go.  If he still says he doesn’t want to go then try to have a conversation with him and ask him if he is happy with the way the relationship is and if he says no, see what his suggestions are to work on things.  Maybe if he sees you are open to listening to him, he will make some suggestions that could be helpful.

What about getting away together for a weekend where it is just the two of you and you have an opportunity to connect and talk?  Are you having any intimacy or sex?  If not, ask him if he wants to improve that, see if he thinks that could be better.  If so, you need to try to work on things together to make it happen.  There are many people that don’t believe in therapy or counseling and for some people it doesn’t work because many times they have waited too long and there is no turning back. Sometimes it makes a huge impact and saves a marriage but also, people may be afraid that by going to therapy they may eventually have to make a decision on their future and it is scary so people would rather just ignore and not go.  Find out what his fears are and then find out what his future goals are and if he wants you to be a part of it, he needs to tend to your fears and goals to make the marriage work.

Question

I come from a large immediate and extended family but to my knowledge not one of them is LGBTQIA+ nor do any of them hang out or have friends that are gay or queer.  I am 21 and know in myself that I am homosexual but have not come out.  It is like a big, dirty secret that hangs over my head as I feel that my family will not accept me if I do come out.  A couple of times I have gone out by myself to some gay bar I know about but as soon as anyone approached me I felt revulsion about the whole gay thing and rushed home. It is overwhelming and sometimes I feel incredibly sad and frustrated. What should I do?

Coming out as gay
Image: Coming out

Dr. Stacy Friedman’s Answer

It is a completely normal to feel confusion, frustration and potential revulsion because it is something that is still taboo in society and can make you question who you are and what you believe.  Since you aren’t accepting of yourself, you see the disgust that others may see in your own eyes but that isn’t reality.  Loving someone for who they are is a beautiful thing once accepting that within yourself. In order to be comfortable coming out to others, you need to first be comfortable in yourself and the understanding that you are perfect the way you are and that there is nothing wrong with being gay.  You are attracted to whom you are attracted to and that is nothing that you can change.

What makes you think they wouldn’t be accepting of you?  Do they not believe in the LGBTQIA+ population? Have they said things offensive? Are you close to at least one of your parents that you can have a talk with? What about another trusted adult or maybe a therapist near you that can help? I do Skype calls for people that aren’t local and I would be happy to help you get the confidence you need to be who you are, as that is one of my specialties so let me know if you want to make an appointment.  In the meantime, surround yourself with others that are gay, support groups, maybe a local place that has resources.  That way you aren’t in an environment where it may be more “sexual” such as a club so you can get to the point of acceptance and self-love and then be able to move forward.  You need to have support and you shouldn’t have to lie to get it so maybe slowly breach the subject to your family by bringing up someone else in the media to gage what they think about the LGBTQIA+ population and go from there.  I am here of you wanted to make an appointment for extra support.  You shouldn’t have to go through this alone.

Would you like free professional advice from a Clinical Sexologist & Certified Sex Coach? Dr. Stacy Friedman may answer your question for FREE in a featured article on Adultsmart’s Blog! If you would like to send in a question please email askasexologist@gmail.com.

5 Things To Let Go Before Entering A Relationship

Personal issues that sabotage relationships

There are many unhealthy habits that people cling on to in an effort to protect themselves from sadness and pain. Some of these habits and negative thought processes have been formed as a natural response to hurtful actions, behaviours and experiences from relationships that have previously ended. This type of emotional baggage may be sabotaging any chance of building meaningful and long lasting relationships.

Many people live their lives without confronting their emotional baggage with detriment to their personal health and well-being. Without addressing and letting go of these feelings, mistrust, ill judgement and hurt can be carried through from relationship to relationship not allowing one to fully give themselves to their partner or to themselves.

Finding the will-power to cease and desist, can be incredibly difficult as change unfortunately rarely happens within a day or two. This can be seen when people attempt to quit smoking or stop having that glass of wine before dinner. People often fall into the temptation and end up kicking themselves quietly asking themselves why they made the promise and secondly, why they were we not strong enough to keep it. What has actually happened is that people have set themselves an unrealistic expectation as changing negative thinking patterns can take months and years to successfully implement.

Everyone deserves the opportunity of a fresh start this is why breaking old habits is important. Letting go of emotional baggage will give each new relationship the chance to flourish into a romantic endeavour that may be the one that lasts the distance. Here are five negative habits that are often caused by emotional baggage:

Psychological Projection

When a person has participated in a negative action or have done mistrust worthy deeds they are more likely to suspect that others will do so too. The fact that the person had deemed it ok to do to others and identified the worst in themselves will mean they are more likely to consider that others will find this action acceptable for them to do. This will lead to them making false assumptions and even accuse their partner of doing things that they would normally never consider. These false accusations may be done defensively or negatively but either way they will cause their partner to question why. People must ditch projecting as it will lead to no good.  A partner will not tolerate psychological projection for an extended period of time and nor should they.

Comparing A Current Partner To An Ex

Never compare a current partner with an ex. Whether the comparison is in a positive or negative light it should not be said! An ex may have been abusive but this is not something that a current partner will want to deal with – especially if he or she treats you right. On the flip-side your memory may have created a diamond and you can see no wrong in your ex, and subconsciously you are still stinging over the break-up.  No new partner will want to compete with your ‘perfect partner’ nor will they want to pick up the pieces from your ‘abusive relationship’.

The remedy here is so simple.   Judge your new partner by how they treat you and the way you treat them.  It is a two-way street – love each other for each other, not because of some tainted memory or what Mr and Mrs Jones appear like down the road.

Fear Of Commitment

One of the most common forms of emotional baggage carried through into a new relationship is the fear of commitment.  If you are not prepared to commit to a relationship you are giving it no chance of success.  Stay single if you are not ready to commit – it is a cruel, cruel thing to lead your new partner on when there is no intention of falling in love.

Open up your heart, if your heart is damaged from previous relationships see a therapist BEFORE you enter a new relationship.  It is the only way that you may find your soul-mate and live the proverbial ‘happily ever after’.

Nelson mandela quote
Image: Fear of commitment

Holding On To Secrets

In life there are secrets that should be kept and secrets that must be released.  If a secret is a method of holding back dealing with painful past events or hiding something that will impact on your new partner like health issues, issues about faith, criminality etc then these should be shared in the appropriate forum.  It is better to share them at the beginning of a relationship and allow your partner to understand and accept than later be confronted with a demon that will not allow them to fully trust you ever again.  As the saying goes ‘let the truth set you free’.

If you do not open that chest of secrets you will tend to put more and more into it as time goes on. Many times keeping secrets will lead to you telling lies and that is not the foundation that you would wish to build a long-term relationship on.

The Fear Of Being Cheated On

Unfortunately, most of us have either been cheated by or cheated on someone.  Being cheated on can be one of the most debilitating things that will affect your future relationships.  How do you trust your new partner when you put all your faith and trust in a person who previously crushed your heart and soul by being with someone behind your back?  It is not just about the physical factor but that they shared time together, talked as a couple whilst you waited for them patiently and lovingly at home.  How can you open your heart and trust your new partner fully without having some guard up?  When they are out at the office party will they betray you too?

Keep your suspicions in check!  The ex was an ass, but there is no reason to believe that your new partner is and should they not be given the benefit of the doubt?  If you are having trouble keeping your paranoia in check see a therapist to deal with these trust issues.

The different forms of emotional baggage that people hold are boundless and can be caused by a part of your upbringing, being bullied at school, church restrictions and more.  If you are preparing to enter a new relationship it is time to let go of these hindrances and accept your partner with open arms for who they are.  This, and only this, will allow you to take it to the next level.

Working on these issues and problems will help empower people to build stable loving and sexual relationships.

Rick is the owner of the Adultsmart, an online sex toy shop that stocks over 13,000 products. He has been involved in the adult lifestyle industry for more than 25 years. Rick is an active sex blogger who provides a wealth of information and experience. He is an advocate of equality for gender and sexuality.

The Man And Woman Within Us All

Man wrestling woman

I don’t believe that any other two words in the English language could be more open to interpretation and misunderstanding than masculine and feminine. Most people think masculine means male and feminine female, with this true to some degree however it goes a lot deeper than this in the world of Tantra.

When I initially came to know these words, I thought that masculine had to do with only men and feminine only women. To me there was no crossing over, there was only one or the other depending on what gender you were. Since entering the world of Tantra and conscious sexuality, I have learnt that every individual is made up of the qualities of both masculine and feminine, with both prevalent to certain degrees at particular times throughout one’s life.

Masculine vs feminine features
Image: Men Vs Women

In Tantra, masculine and feminine are known as the two polarities that make up the whole. Think of yin and yang, positive and negative magnetic poles or light and dark, they exist together however each represents different qualities of an individual. When we have an understanding of these qualities within ourselves, we can strive to being a whole and complete person in this world, rather than seeking outside ourselves for something that can be found within.

Yin and yang symbol
Image: Yin and yang symbol

You see, many people who are not aware that they have everything they need within can spend their whole lives looking for others to fill them up. Some call this co-dependence, others may refer to it as love addiction. Either way, these people have not awoken to the reality that they are all they’ll ever need. Many people may go through their whole lives living in this pattern, never entering into their full power as a human being.

The Analogy Of The Pole And The Pole Dancer

One of my favourite analogies describing masculine and feminine involves the pole and the pole dancer. The pole represents the masculine and the dancer represents the feminine. In order for the dancer to feel safe and supported, the pole must be solid, firmly in place and supportive of the weight and movement of the pole dancer. This is necessary in order for her to flourish and express herself in her dance. If the pole is unstable or shaky, the dancer will feel she cannot let go and dance to her full potential.

Stripper on a pole
Image: Pole Dancer

What Is The Mature Masculine?

The mature masculine found within each individual is the point of safety and solidity that is required to go through life feeling supported. Those who have developed their masculine are great at holding space for themselves and others in times of need (e.g. during emotional crisis or turbulent times) and are present to the here and now, with no expectations or pressure on themselves or others to be anything other than what they are. The mature masculine feels like the solid rock and is necessary to have ourselves so that we don’t excessively project our needs onto our fathers, partners or other men in our life.

Many women are not familiar with the fact that they have all the masculine qualities within to make them feel safe and supported. Some women (myself included once upon a time) have what I like to refer to as the “knight in shining armour complex.” They go around looking for a man who is going to be their saviour and make everything better. Little do they know that they can be all of that for themselves and then can enter into a relationship with a man from a whole and complete place.

What Is The Mature Feminine?

The qualities of the mature feminine include intuition, playfulness, emotionally expressive, vulnerable, grounded, love and compassion. When men and women are in their feminine, they are expressive with their creativity so often the most exquisite art comes from people who allow their feminine within to be free. Like I explained with the pole/pole dancer analogy, the feminine expresses herself the greatest when the masculine is supporting her. Men most definitely have an inner feminine and sadly are often shamed for their emotions from an early age therefore suppress this part of themselves. This can lead to a whole range of issues including stagnation with creativity, blocked emotions leading to physical and psychological issues and seeking a woman outside of themselves for what they truly yearn from within.

Human Energy Systems Diagram
Image: Human Energy Systems

The Masculine And Feminine Dynamics In A Relationship

In a relationship between two people, the qualities of the masculine and feminine naturally fluctuate between the two. Sometimes the man, who may be predominantly in his masculine within the relationship, goes through an emotionally turbulent time, meaning that he is living in his feminine. This may mean that the woman who is predominantly in her feminine enters into her masculine in order to hold space and support her partner. It is great for women to experience what it is like to be the more masculine partner and vice versa.

In August, I will be assisting the International School of Temple Arts Level 1 training in Sydney, Australia where the qualities of masculine and feminine will be explored in greater depth. This is a life changing opportunity to really step into your power and become the whole and complete person you always have been but may have forgotten.

International School Of Arts (ISTA)
Image: International School Of Arts

*Throughout this article, I speak from a heteronormative and cisgender perspective, this being for simplicity with wording. Each person no matter what gender or what sexual identity they identify with have an inner masculine and feminine within.

Author: Stephanie Curtis, Sexologist

Meet the newest member to our team of experts. Stephanie Curtis is a sexologist with a huge capacity to care. Involved in spirituality and tantra her articles are professional, articulate and interesting. Enjoy Steph’s writings at the adultsmart sexual wellness and health blog.