Great Sex Secrets

10 Things You Thought Were Abnormal in Relationships—But Really Aren’t

Posted on: January 23, 2011

Diagram of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

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By Pepper Schwartz, PhD

We are all obsessed with being “normal”—in fact, it’s quite, er, “normal.” In my book a behavior is normal as long as it won’t make you sick, isn’t sadistic, or get you arrested. It doesn’t have to be “average”—just within a range of human behavior that doesn’t doom all living things—including yourself. So, it’s “normal,” for example, to lose your temper. It’s not normal to torch your neighborhood (even though the thought may have entered your mind occasionally.)

What’s normal in a relationship? It’s more varied than you might think. Here’s a list of common relationship issues and behaviors that some experts will tell you are abnormal, but I believe are perfectly normal.

1. Long silences. Over time there is less that you have to say—you know your partner’s response!

2. The need for space. Only puppies want to be on top of each other—and they get tired of it too.

3. Thinking about something else during sex. Is there anyone who hasn’t, at least once, remembered they left the car windows open when the rain, and sex, started at the same time?

4. Thinking about the one “who got away.” Almost everyone has had a fantasy lover—either a real one that didn’t work out—or a movie star or some famous person who you dream about. There is that “What if…” thought that comes now and then.

5. Wanting to run away. Hey, life is sometimes just hellish or boring—or both. Or you feel underappreciated and over-worked. Sometimes you just want to chuck it all.

6. Being seriously annoyed at a partner’s habit(s). You are lucky if it’s just one habit. Most people have at least one thing about their partner they really can’t stand. For example: snoring, hygiene, sloppiness, or foot in mouth problems.

7. Giving out bad vibes to a friend of your partner who you wish would go away. Most good friendships are made, not inherited. There is usually at least one friend of your partner you hope will disappear.

8. Faking more sexual arousal than you are experiencing. Sometimes the mojo isn’t working; but you don’t want to hurt your partner’s feelings. Good partners tend to be kind about this sort of thing—angry partners telegraph that, on the whole, they’d rather be quilting.

9. Not taking care of yourself. Everyone knows it’s important to stay fit and attractive, but it’s just so much work.

10. Lying. Maybe there are some long-term couples that have never told a lie to each other about anything—yes, conscious omissions count—but I wouldn’t make a money bet on that.

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