Gottman Love and Sexuality Glossary

GOTTMAN LOVE AND SEXUALITY GLOSSARY

The Gottman Institute

“PC culture” is just the words we use now to talk about other people. It’s literally just updated terminology.

– Cameron Esposito

The world of love and its accompanying vocabulary is expanding. The days of “one-size fits all” or even “one-size fits most” orientation labels are a thing of the past. To help us look to the future, however, it is often helpful to draw from what we know. 

In this case, we’re looking to etymology and a linguistic element called the “combining form.” Here is our guide on combining forms used to express different types of love and relationships, and how you may see them used.

Gottman Love and Sexuality Glossary Prefixes
Gottman Love and Sexuality Glossary Suffixes


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Terms you may be familiar with

Monogamous = one + marriage
Colloquially we understand “monogamy” to mean being in one committed relationship at a time, not necessarily marriage. But, as we’ll dig into later, our terminology could use some expanding, as not everyone is choosing to engage with the institution of marriage.

Homosexual = same + sexuality/sex partner
This is typically used to describe those who prefer same-sex partners. As we expand our definitions, we may come to find that this refers mainly to who a person is sexually attracted to, but that doesn’t necessarily indicate who that person is romantically attracted to.

Heterosexual = other + sexuality/sex partner
This is used to refer to people who are mostly (or strictly) attracted to people of the opposite sex.

Bisexual = two + sexuality/sex partner
If we hold our definition strictly to its Latin roots, bisexuality refers to one who is attracted to two, and only two, genders. With our ever-evolving understanding of gender expression, this term is potentially limiting and its definition adheres to a now-outmoded, binary construct of gender. Colloquially, bisexual refers to someone who is sexually attracted to both men and women, and the term pansexual or omnisexual offers a more broad perspective (men, women, and gender non-conforming/non-binary individuals).

A note about pansexuality and/or omnisexuality
It’s important to note here that when someone identifies as pansexual, it means they can be attracted to someone anywhere along the gender identity spectrum. It does not mean, however, that they are attracted to everyone and everything. Every person is unique and has their own proclivities, turn-ons, and traits that attract them to another person. Just as a heterosexual woman is not sexually attracted to ALL men, an omnisexual person is not sexually attracted to ALL people. 

Let’s explore other combinations!

Polyamory vs polygamy
Polyamory and polygamy are not the same thing. Polyamory means many or more than one love/emotional connection, usually simultaneously. Polygamy refers to plural marriage and is colloquially tied to certain factions of the Mormon faith. Just as many Mormons are not polygamous, to equate polyamory with polygamy would be a miscategorization. 

Often, polygamists we see represented on television (Big LoveSister WivesMy Five Wives) are practicing polygyny (-gyny from the Greek gynos or Ancient Greek gunḗ, meaning woman), the state or practice of having multiple wedded wives at the same time. A woman with multiple husbands at the same time would be practicing polyandry (-andry from the Greek andros, meaning man). To continue playing with combining forms, a person with just two wedded partners simultaneously is practicing bigamy. 

Equating the two is, however, understandable, as polyamory is usually referred to as “ethical non-monogamy” (unethical non-monogamy is cheating). We know from our combining forms that -gamy means marriage, so it would be logical to see the opposite of monogamy (one marriage) as polygamy (more than one marriage). But as the ways we look at marriage (and the reasons we get married) change, it makes sense to expand our definitions and terminology for love relationships, and move outside binary thinking. Polyamory is not actually in opposition to monogamy, just different.

This misconception may be due to the fact that culturally, our understanding of the terms monogamy and even polygamy precede our awareness/understanding/acknowledgment at large of polyamory.

Not-Necessarily-Straight A’s
A- is a fun combining form because it’s basically just saying “no thank you” to whatever follows it. For example, someone who identifies as Agamous is choosing not to have marriage, as a concept, in their lives. An individual can identify as heteroromantic (romantically attracted to or gets “crushes” on people of the opposite sex), but asexual (not interested in sexual activity with anyone, thank you). 

Everything on a spectrum
A note of caution: labels are most helpful in self-exploration, or to further your understanding of someone who already uses them. Labels are less helpful when they’re being used to define or confine someone without their permission. If the introductory combining forms featured here feel too limiting, specific, or two-dimensional for you, you may want to check out the “More Complicated Attraction Layer Cake.”

The best part about exploring an expanded world of love and relationship definitions (aside from being able to hold your own at a cocktail party) is the empowering feeling that can come from finding something that more accurately describes how you feel. 

In Anne of Green Gables, Anne hates when people point out her “red” hair, calling it her “lifelong sorrow.” But later, when a neighbor tells Anne her hair has become “a real handsome auburn,” her outlook changes. A more specific word makes all the difference.

Editor’s Note: We have decided to limit this introductory exploration to the areas that best speak to the work we do: love and relationships.

A Letter to My Younger Self on My Wedding Day

A LETTER TO MY YOUNGER SELF ON MY WEDDING DAY

Shantel Patu

Dear younger self, 

I’m writing to explain what marriage really means because I remember all too well your fairytale ideology that marriage is about a beautiful wedding, then fast forward to your happily ever after

With that said, I’m not writing as a warning. I’m writing more as an opportunity—merely think of me as your sponsor – because you’re definitely a hopeless romantic. 

Your dreams of a man riding in on a white horse, or a knight in shining armor, are figments of an animated imagination and I just want to take some time to talk to you about what’s real.

I want to let you in on a secret, if you will. A moment in time, to give you a gift, the gift of a second chance. 

You are still so young, at only 22 years old. And here you already have a small beautiful child, own your home, and you have a wonderful man who hasn’t quite discovered how great either of you are just yet. You should feel proud and accomplished. I know when I look back I’m definitely proud of you. 

Nevertheless, I specifically want to talk about fear. You see, although you survived a lot of abuse and neglect, you’re traumatized. Your traumas have caused significant damage and created a space for constant anxieties to thrive. Anxieties like your fear of being a victim, a fear of someone thinking they can take you away, and other fears, like your fear of intimacy, of getting in trouble or making mistakes, of not knowing enough information or being looked at as incompetent. And mainly, your fear of simply not being good enough to be loved.

I know you. Probably better than anyone really knows you. I know how hard you try to be perfect. I know how hard you work to be accepted. How much you feel you don’t and can’t possibly fit in anywhere, with anyone. And I know you think that if you achieve genuine happiness it means that you have reached the end of your life. But you don’t have to be afraid. I’ve begun to discover that you can be accepted and you are more than lovable. 

As I write this, I realize now that you are just starting out on the first path of many that will lead you on a journey into a life that brims with love and hardship, joy and sadness, peace and war, as well as abundance and strife. Your life will be wrought with moments of destitution and incredible successes. And I wouldn’t have you change any of it (except please buy Amazon stock and change your Sam’s Club membership to Costco, trust me, Sam’s Club will fail us). You will learn so much from the experiences that living this life will teach you. 

I would also encourage you, as your sponsor, to ditch your unhealthy addictions earlier.  You should see life through the eyes of someone who chooses to actually live. Find life in every breath. Leave behind the acts of fear that cause you to bury yourself and hide away all that is great in you. 

Now, about the young man you have chosen. He is going to be amazing. You were right to be attracted to his high levels of intelligence, and his cautious, careful approach to tasks. And that great sense of humor. You will laugh every day of your life. He will hold you close when you feel lost and afraid. He will trust your guidance and seek your counsel. He will treasure you. 

But it will take some time. You will both have to learn to grow up and embrace the art of communication. You will find an amazing woman, Julie Gottman, who will introduce you to techniques that will enable you to overcome so many marital obstacles. You’ll learn principles about communicating and methods for dealing with conflict that you’ll even align with your body of work. Trust me, these tools will prove invaluable. 

Your marriage will become a beacon of hope for couples around the world. But it will take time. Time that can be shortened if you heed many words and remember this letter, starting today, your wedding day. You can be so much more if you start by shedding the heavy, unsightly cloak of fear. 

Your story needs to be heard through the ears of faith and not through fear. Fear prematurely ends stories. It changes the narrative and demands surrender. It turns heroes into cowards and strength into weakness. It both clouds and casts judgment. It slowly takes away the essence of who you really are. It highlights scarcity and inflates the balloon of false pride. You are not what you’ve been through. Your truth and destiny lie in the places you will go and the people whose lives you will touch. So continue to go far and shine bright. Dream often. And fear not.

In this letter, I want you to recognize that you are going to have a beautiful family, a legacy of serving others, and a connection to your husband that’s absolutely unbreakable. But your life will really begin when you can begin to see yourself as a whole. Know that life is not just about what you know or have learned, it’s about how well you learn how to live. Do it fearlessly, for there is life in every breath.

So with that said, here are a few things I’ve learned about love and life over the last 23 years of marriage. 

Never stop dreaming together
Talk openly about your goals for the future, and always support your husband’s dreams. Be curious, creative, and explore your entrepreneurial spirit. 

Take better care of your health
Eat better and get into a fitness program or routine. Stop complaining and taking your amazing body for granted. Spend less time worrying about how you wish you looked and spend more time loving yourself. 

Spend less time yelling
You can be heard the loudest in moments of silence.

Enjoy spending time with yourself
I didn’t discover this until I was in my forties. I missed all that time just enjoying who I was and dreaming about who I’d be.

Keep your childlike twinkle in your eye
It will serve you well and keep you and others laughing. You are funny—stay that way. 

Spend more time in the moment with your children
They really do grow up fast. Parenting isn’t a race, it’s a journey. It doesn’t end when they’re 18. It will challenge you in different ways, but you’ll never get their little inquisitive minds back, so enjoy it while you can. 

Always spend time talking to your husband
It gives you both so much life. Have patience for teachable moments and keep laughing, it really is medicine for the heart.

Keep making space for passion and intimacy
Keep being intriguing and spontaneous. These moments keep you both connected.

Challenge yourself often
Don’t sit in the same place, be different, choose different. Regular is your enemy. 

Trust the process
Everything good and bad happens for a reason, even when you don’t understand why. Keep believing and trusting in the process. There’s always another side and a way to go through. 

Please take these words with you, always. And, I love you. 

Revealed! Big Reasons Nigerian Men Cheat, Many Women Are Guilty Of No. 4

REVEALED! BIG REASONS NIGERIAN MEN CHEAT, MANY WOMEN ARE GUILTY OF NO. 4

Victoria Chukwuani

A lot of women usually wonder why men cheat in spite of the effort they put into the relationship to make it work. Truth is, there’s no better way to keep a man than having to build a good relationship with him. The question is, how does one go about building the right relationship with her partner? The best way to go about it, is to first,  look at reasons why a man would contemplate infidelity in the first place. Having a clue, for this reason, would give a better perspective on possible solutions to apply.

1. Never let him forget you exist

We all know adulthood can be exhausting, most times with so many responsibilities and bills to take care of. Most women get so busy they don’t make time for their men and family. In spite of how busy both of you get, a quick text to him saying “I love you,” or “I miss you” or “I have a special surprise for you when you get home!” won’t be a bad idea. You get to rekindle the spark in your relationship with these little pins of love. Using your love for him to push out guilty thoughts out of his mind, just in case he thinks about flirting.

2. Spark up your sex life

Image result for Playful black lovers

If you are feeling a little jaded with your intimate routine (even if you blame him), then he is most likely tired as well. Spark up the bond by being the person to initiate copulation more often, and then take control of the play. There are numerous things you can do to spark things up that would leave no room for some other woman. Try any of the stuff he liked when both of you were first dating.

3. Do things with him, and for him

Image result for Do things with him, and for him.

I know this is no news but some guys live for their lovers, and some guys just put up with them. Be the type of lady men would live for. It won’t make you “unliberated.” It will seemingly make him your willing ”cabana” boy, doing everything he can to satisfy you. Cook sumptuous meals he enjoys. I know this is particularly hard for most female folks but if you can, try watch the football match with him. This would rekindle the bond both of you feel for each other and won’t give other women the chance to wreck your relationship.

4.  Nagging

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When you nag, you inadvertently chase your man to another woman. To prevent any loopholes do not nag or argue provocatively. Verbally assaulting a man can throw the man into a messy emotional turmoil with nowhere to fall back to. Unlike women who have alternative options during their lows, like girlfriends and moms, your man is likely to fall into the hands of another woman who might just smooth things up and make him feel good.

What are your thoughts on this? Kindly leave a comment and don’t forget to share.

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