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Emily Straubel

Emily is a sex and dating crusader. She founded The Red Lipstick Project as a place to talk openly about dating and sex and to connect with other intelligent women who want to find relationships that are as passionate and ambitious as they are. Emily also works with these women as a certified Holistic Health Coach to focus on their health and mindfulness as they go through breakups, job changes and other transitions to feel and look amazing in their own unique bodies. To share your story or experiences with dating in Portland email her at

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The Sex Files with Emily Straubel
Posted: December 29, 2014

Are you working too hard at your relationship?

Difficult Relationship | Red Lipstick Project photo

Mainers are known for their work ethic. When I moved to California, I got a six-figure job solely based on the fact that I was from Maine and grew up on a potato farm. My work ethic made me a shining star in Los Angeles, where the typical workday starts around noon or…whenever. Mainers take pride in this ability to work hard. We know that it will pay off with the stability, contentment and high quality of life that has always been promised to us.

But this dedication to hard work doesn’t always translate well into our relationships. Because we are comfortable working long hours and take pleasure out of a job well done, we can get caught in relationships that are more work than they are really worth.

Don’t get me wrong, relationships take effort, and a great relationship takes emotional and sexual intelligence that is only a result of tons of self work and great collaboration. The difference lies in the intention behind the work and the measurable progress.

Relationships should be hard work, but they shouldn’t be difficult.

A difficult relationship means constant bickering and an obsession with things being fair. The preoccupation with working at the relationship doesn’t allow you to ever enjoy it. Let me ask you this:

Why are you really staying together? (dedication or desperation)

If you are staying in the relationship because what you feel is really love and you are both dedicated to staying together for the long haul, awesome. If you are staying in the relationship and “working hard” because you are worried you won’t find someone better, get the hell out. Now. You know intuitively whether it is dedication or desperation.

When are your best moments?

Arguments can bring couples together. It can mean that you are negotiating communication styles and finding common ground in your logistical life. But when your only moments of love and closeness are in the days after a major fight, that’s a problem. You risk becoming addicted to the highs of post-fight intimacy and breakup sex. That feeling of a “job well done” is more satisfying than the person you are with.

Do you enjoying being together even when things aren’t perfect?

A great relationship isn’t in a rush. Consider this moment: You and your partner are about to walk into a party when your partner does something that really bothers you or hurts your feeling. You should be able to table the conversation until you the time is appropriate to talk. If you are in a difficult relationship, you will find yourself fighting in the car and ruining the evening, because winning is more important than the relationship itself. When you are able to enjoy each other’s company despite having a potential issue to work out, that is a great relationship.

Do you fight about the same thing over and over again?

You love working through a problem, but some problems in a relationship don’t have a solution. If you are having the same conversations over and over and never reaching a long-term resolution, you are working yourself into a hole. You aren’t a good match. No matter how much you “talk it out,” you never feel like you get any closer to a solution. If you feel like you are just spinning your wheels, you are probably in a difficult relationship. Get out.

Do they ick your wow?

Maybe you’re into exploring something in the bedroom, but when you bring it up your partner laughs at you. If they “ick your wow” or dismiss the thing that turns you on or makes you unhappy, no amount of relationship talks will ever make you agree. Maybe it’s not your sex life, but whether you want kids, or whether you want to live in the city versus a farm in Maine. Your lifestyles are completely incompatible. It has nothing to do with compromising for love, or having another conversation to find common ground, you are different people and will easily find someone who values what you values, or wants to do what you want to do in bed. Go find that person.

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