Grace Ballard, MA, LPC, CST | AASECT Certified Sex Therapist | Colorado, Denver, Boulder

Play and Creativity Keep Passion Alive

Cultivating Novelty
The Key to Keeping Passion Alive in Relationships
 
In the realm of relationships, novelty is a powerful aphrodisiac, says Esther Perel. It’s the spark that ignites passion, the fuel that keeps the flames burning bright even in the face of routine and familiarity. As someone who has always sought new experiences, I’ve come to appreciate the profound impact that novelty has on the dynamics of love and intimacy.
From relishing the pursuit of new foods to thriving in crowds of strangers, my love for novelty extends across my

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As a White Therapist

As a white therapist, I have been contemplating how I collude in silence about race.
 
I recently attended a talk given by Dr. Anton Hart at The Center for Modern Psychoanalytic Studies, and he said something that blew my mind.
 
“All dialogue involves loss.”
 
We are born curious. But we can’t bear to stay curious; we want to predict. Curiosity is a persistent threat to the continuity of self because we could discover something new.
 
To stay open and take in dialogue, we have to be willing

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Being a Safe Haven and Secure Base

Being a Safe Haven and Secure Base
With Multiple Partners
 
Once you know that you want to be in an attachment-based relationship, figuring out how to do this is the next step.  Partners being a safe base and secure haven for each other is essential to being polysecure.  Jessica Fern writes more about this in her book, Polysecure. 
 
Safe Haven
 
A safe haven is a person we can turn to and know that they care about our safety, will respond to our distress, help us co-regulate, and are

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How to Keep It Casual

What if I want to keep this relationship “casual?”
 
We may decide we don’t want a more committed or attachment-based relationship.  How can we engage in ways that feel ethical yet also manage the level of escalation?
 
From Getting It: A Guide to Hot, Healthy Hookups and Shame-free Sex:
 
“Many people think one-night stands when they hear ‘casual sex.’ It’s the one-and-done style of hooking up. They tend to be many folks’ default unless the sex or the connection is particularly special. However, lots of people like the

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Jealousy & The 8-Armed Octopus

Jealousy
 
I think of jealousy as a blanket term that points to many different feelings.  When we dig down into what we’re really experiencing, we see that it’s not just simple “jealousy” but rather a mix of hopes, fears, and unmet needs that are getting expressed.  Once we understand what we really want, then we can make effective requests or coping strategies. 
 
Reid Mihalko and Dr. Beth talk about the 8-Armed Octopus of Jealousy.  The arms are:
 

Loneliness
Need to feel special
Fairness/equity
Loss/fear of abandonment 
Rejection

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Consensual Nonmonogamy: An online discussion group

Mainstream awareness about consensual nonmonogamy (CNM) has come a long way since I first read The Ethical Slut a couple decades ago.  Books like Polysecure have further developed what secure attachment can look like with more than one partner.
However, the heteronormative ideal of the monogamous couple has remained the dominant vision for love and romantic relationship.  I truly don’t believe that any particular model of relationship is superior.  But I do find that in straying from dominant models, we are tasked with forging our own path.  We have to figure

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Abortion is Healthcare

Years before my own abortion, I grew up escorting patients into the only clinic in my state, while protestors hurled insults and plastic fetuses at them.  The protestors carried enormous signs depicting grotesque (and inaccurate) images, and used them to physically block the entrance to the clinic.  The medical providers received bomb threats, and sometimes violence erupted outside on the sidewalk.  
I loved creating a physical barrier around patients as they made their way into the front doors.  Sometimes they cried and covered their faces, other times they looked straight

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The Love of Your Life May Not Be a Person

Today’s post comes from Imi Lo at eggshelltherapy.com.  Imi works with emotionally intense and highly sensitive people, and is the author of several books, including Emotional Sensitivity and Intensity, and The Gift of Intensity.  She also hosts a great podcast.
 
I was so struck by this essay that I had to share it.  Imi articulates this concept of loving a place or hobby or life mission as deeply if not more so than the love we celebrate for people.  I feel this frequently.  If you’ve struggled to explain your desire

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How to Fail

How to Fail
 
My MMA coach, LA Jennings, asked if I would speak to a group of fighters about mentally preparing for competition.  For 8 weeks leading up to their fight, they enter “fight camp,” in which diet is monitored, training intensifies, and the roller coaster of hope and fear begins.  So on a Sunday afternoon in LA and Mike’s home, after the hungry athletes housed all of her fight-camp-approved snacks, we settled into the living room for a chat.
 
With competition looming just a few weeks ahead, I

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