Since this is the Love and Sex issue, we can think of no better local to talk to than Dr. Anne Ridley. A psychotherapist, a sexologist and the the owner of erotic boutique Modern Aphrodite (1708 Lena St., 989-9880), Ridley is just about the most knowledgable person on love and sex we could find. So breathe deep, feel your feelings and prepare for helpful information from a real-life love expert.
Why do you think humans are so hell-bent on quantifying and qualifying love?
Really, we should be doing this all the time—it's not something that, unfortunately, a lot of people pay attention to. The time we spend may be at work or at the gym, so our relationship often falls to the back burner. There's a lot of expectation, there's a lot left unsaid, meaning we have the expectaion our partner does XYZ, thinking they know what we want. A good way to ensure a good experience is to ask for what you want.
So do you think of Valentine's Day as a good thing or more of a stressor?
I would say it's twofold; Valentine's Day gets a bad rap, generally speaking, and it's a stressor for a lot of people who already have relationship issues. I hear a lot of, 'How do I get in the mood?' or 'How do I fake it when I'm not already there?' And that's the issue. What is it about your relationship that has to be adressed that is making you feel that way? Oftentimes, the female will want the male to be romantic, more doting, and this is a day when it encourages those people who aren't naturally inclined. But I think it's great, because it gives them permission to do so. I look at what's going on that's deeper than the gift you were gonna give. What our partners really want is our presence. They want to feel wanted, and people get so caught up in the gifts or the dinner reservation. The pressure for it to be perfect is challenging, and it does bring up what's not working.
Any advice for the lovesick or lovelorn?
Oftentimes I see people and couples speak different love languages. They want to recieve love and give love in different ways. But what I like about a day like Valentine's Day is that it makes you grateful. It's a day where you can show gratitude to the person you're in a relationship with. I've been in relationships, I've been single, I've been divorced—I get it. It can amplify the feeling of not being in a relationship, but relationships can even mean a friend, and humans need touch. I think that whatever you feel your relationship is lacking is what you should be giving. The easiest way to do that is to model; if I'm wanting to feel more emotional or to be shared with more, instead of shaming or criticizing, I'm going to do that myself.