Swoon Podcast: Don't You Want Me Baby?

swoon-podcast-1

Are you ready for a life and relationship that makes you swoon?

Every Monday, join Julie Jeske and Gina Senarighi, sex therapists, pleasure specialists, and relationship coaches, as they break down what everyone needs to know about sex, relationships, intimacy, love and desire.

Whether you want fresh and honest information about sex and relationships or tools to create more fulfilling intimacy and pleasure, this podcast is going to help you connect meaningfully with yourself and your lovers.


This week: Desire Mismatch in Couples

Join Julie Jeske and Gina Senarighi, two Portland, Oregon-based sexperts in a conversation about the most common sexual issue couples face: mismatched sexual desire.

Learn why couples face different levels of desire and take home a tool to help you connect, even when it’s not easy.

This episode covers:

  • The most common issue folks come to couples counseling to discuss: mismatched desire.

  • How common is it to have a different libido from your partner?

  • How desire fluctuates and changes over time and in different contexts.

  • How to navigate the brakes and gas pedals with your lover to have a more fulfilling sex life.

  • How to be more turned on by life and lit up from the inside.

  • Two excellent resources to learn more about relationships with unequal desires.

  • One tool to connect with your partner even if you have different desires.


Memorable quotes in the podcast

Julie on the way it feels to have mismatched desires in a relationship:

“This comes up in all kinds of ways, and typically somebody feels bad about where their level of desire is. Sometimes it’s the person who wants to try a bunch of things, they might feel shame around it- ‘Why can’t I just accept what I already have?’ and sometimes if someone is experiencing a lower level of desire in terms of frequency or wanting any sex in general they feel bad like there’s something wrong with them.”

 

Gina on the impact of mismatched desire in relationships:

“Either we take it personally, either the low or higher desire partner or both take it personally, ‘I’m broken’ or there’s something ‘broken’ about us or our relationship because our whole cultural narrative about shared desire tells us over and over that if your relationship is healthy you should intuitively read your partner wants without speaking out loud and naturally flow into a bedroom and want the exact things and the exact same time, climax together and desire it again at the same frequency on a regular basis. 

And if not, our whole culture tells us there’s something wrong with your relationship. But the truth is mismatched desire is actually much more the norm.“

“The quality of your relationship can’t be judged on the levels of desire you share.“

 

On the goals of sex therapy for couples with mismatched desire:

“ 'Sex is easy. Sex is natural. It should be spontaneous. I don’t want to talk about it, that ruins the vibe.' There are all these ideas in our brains about what we think it’s supposed to be and then we try to measure our actual experience to a fantasy and then we feel horrible.”

“Sex is easy, sex is natural is the goal of every couple who comes into couples work. The truth is it doesn’t align all that often for folks BUT it can be easier, we can make talking about it feel much more natural. And as much as we’re saying it’s very very common to have it not line up with your partner every time, there are lots of things we can do to make it feel easier and more natural with your partner.”

 

Resources Shared in This Episode

Emily Nagoski, TED Talk: The Keys to a Happier, Healthier Sex Life

Emily Nagoski, Come As You Are (Book, Kindle, and Audiobook)


This Episode’s Action Step

Create a Desire Diary


Track the things you desire. Not only strong or big desire, also hints of desire or the moments when you feel a little piqued interest or craving.
Track the moments when you feel sexy and confident or embodied.
What do you notice?
Do you see any patterns?
Be curious about your desire.


Every Monday, join Julie Jeske and Gina Senarighi, sex therapists, pleasure specialists, and relationship coaches, as they break down what everyone needs to know about sex, relationships, intimacy, love and desire. 

Join us and leave your review on any of your favorite podcast channels:

Weekly Conversation Starters for Deeper Connection

Couples who stay curious about each other, engaged in learning about their partners, open to growing together fare better long-term. 

They're able to adapt to changes and navigate bumps in the road with resilience.  And they maintain passion and intimacy by fueling a sense of discovery and space for fascination, mystery, and surprise.

Every week I send out questions to deepen your partnership to help you foster and nourish the intimacy you share with those most important to you.  You can sign up to receive those messages right here.

And you can read some of my previous conversation starter posts here.

I hope these help you connect in meaningful ways with someone you love. 

Warmly, Gina

questions for couples |date night conversation | conversation starters

Here are a few questions to ask your sweetie this week:

  1. What is the most important lesson your family taught you?

  2. What is your first childhood memory?

  3. What kinds of mischief did you get into as a child?

  4. How did you get into trouble as a kid?

  5. What did you dream about as a child?

  6. How are you similar to your childhood self now?

  7. If you could send a message back in time to your childhood self what would you say?

questions for couples |date night conversation | conversation starters

Quick tips for these questions:

  1. Be present. Set aside some fully-present distraction-free time to ask and respond to these with someone you love. Put down your phone, walk away from any screens, and give your partner your full presence.

  2. Stay open to possibility. Even if you think you know your partner's responses listen to them without assumption so they have room to surprise you.  

  3. Show up. Offer responses in complete sentences and challenge yourself to elaborate.  This isn't about being brief- it's about growing more intimate connection.  Add specifics and details to offer more of yourself to your partner.

  4. Really engage. Ask your partner follow up questions. Part of this process is about engaging with your partner in meaningful ways. Asking more follow up questions will show you care and broaden the conversation.

  5. Connect with others. Collect all the questions and take them on a date night, dinner party, road trips, and campfires to inspire more meaningful conversation with your community.  

What is Conscious Uncoupling?

Some of the people who begin this process of discernment realize they want to end part of their relationship and still stay in loving compassionate partnership or friendship at the same time.

There’s not a lot of support in our culture for more creative relationship transformations, but that is often what folks are seeking when we talk about conscious uncoupling.

Conscious Uncoupling Expertise from the Source

Watch this Wanderlust talk by Katherine Woodward Thomas, author of the book Conscious Uncoupling about what this means if you think that may be a path forward for you.

Here are the basics of Conscious Uncoupling:

  • It is natural to want to stay in connection with past lovers. Historically we stayed in lifelong connections with interconnections rather than end relationships without any further contact.

  • It is possible to have a loving happy post-divorce (or break up) family if all partners are committed to that vision.

  • With clear intention, self regulation and support you can share generous care for your partner- even if your relationship evolves more into friendship than romantic partnership.

Weekly Conversation Starters for Deeper Connection

Couples who stay curious about each other, engaged in learning about their partners, open to growing together fare better long-term. 

They're able to adapt to changes and navigate bumps in the road with resilience.  And they maintain passion and intimacy by fueling a sense of discovery and space for fascination, mystery, and surprise.

Every week I send out questions to deepen your partnership to help you foster and nourish the intimacy you share with those most important to you.  You can sign up to receive those messages right here.

And you can read some of my previous conversation starter posts here.

I hope these help you connect in meaningful ways with someone you love. 

Warmly, Gina

questions for couples |date night conversation | conversation starters

Here are a few questions to ask your sweetie this week:

  1. How do you know when I'm really listening to you?

  2. When do you feel most understood in our relationship?

  3. What could I do to communicate more clearly in this relationship?

  4. Where do you draw the line between effective communication and nagging?

  5. What is the most effective way to bring problems to your attention?

questions for couples |date night conversation | conversation starters

Quick tips for these questions:

  1. Be present. Set aside some fully-present distraction-free time to ask and respond to these with someone you love. Put down your phone, walk away from any screens, and give your partner your full presence.

  2. Stay open to possibility. Even if you think you know your partner's responses listen to them without assumption so they have room to surprise you.  

  3. Show up. Offer responses in complete sentences and challenge yourself to elaborate.  This isn't about being brief- it's about growing more intimate connection.  Add specifics and details to offer more of yourself to your partner.

  4. Really engage. Ask your partner follow up questions. Part of this process is about engaging with your partner in meaningful ways. Asking more follow up questions will show you care and broaden the conversation.

  5. Connect with others. Collect all the questions and take them on a date night, dinner party, road trips, and campfires to inspire more meaningful conversation with your community.  

Weekly Conversation Starters for Deeper Connection

Couples who stay curious about each other, engaged in learning about their partners, open to growing together fare better long-term. 

They're able to adapt to changes and navigate bumps in the road with resilience.  And they maintain passion and intimacy by fueling a sense of discovery and space for fascination, mystery, and surprise.

Every week I send out questions to deepen your partnership to help you foster and nourish the intimacy you share with those most important to you.  You can sign up to receive those messages right here.

And you can read some of my previous conversation starter posts here.

I hope these help you connect in meaningful ways with someone you love. 

Warmly, Gina

questions for couples |date night conversation | conversation starters

Here are a few questions to ask your sweetie this week:

  1. What does equality in a relationship mean to you?

  2. Who is the more dominant one in our relationship? 

  3. How do those roles impact us individually? 

  4. How does that power balance/imbalance it work for us?  

  5. How could we shift it to work even better for us individually and together?

questions for couples |date night conversation | conversation starters

Quick tips for these questions:

  1. Be present. Set aside some fully-present distraction-free time to ask and respond to these with someone you love. Put down your phone, walk away from any screens, and give your partner your full presence.

  2. Stay open to possibility. Even if you think you know your partner's responses listen to them without assumption so they have room to surprise you.  

  3. Show up. Offer responses in complete sentences and challenge yourself to elaborate.  This isn't about being brief- it's about growing more intimate connection.  Add specifics and details to offer more of yourself to your partner.

  4. Really engage. Ask your partner follow up questions. Part of this process is about engaging with your partner in meaningful ways. Asking more follow up questions will show you care and broaden the conversation.

  5. Connect with others. Collect all the questions and take them on a date night, dinner party, road trips, and campfires to inspire more meaningful conversation with your community.  

Weekly Conversation Starters for Deeper Connection

Couples who stay curious about each other, engaged in learning about their partners, open to growing together fare better long-term. 

They're able to adapt to changes and navigate bumps in the road with resilience.  And they maintain passion and intimacy by fueling a sense of discovery and space for fascination, mystery, and surprise.

Every week I send out questions to deepen your partnership to help you foster and nourish the intimacy you share with those most important to you.  You can sign up to receive those messages right here.

And you can read some of my previous conversation starter posts here.

I hope these help you connect in meaningful ways with someone you love. 

Warmly, Gina

questions for couples |date night conversation | conversation starters

Here are a few questions to ask your sweetie this week:

  1. What does privacy mean to you in relationships?

  2. What information is off limits to share with other people?

  3. What parts of our past are most important to share with each other? 

  4. What pieces of our individual history are off limits to discussion?

  5. Who should know about the arguments we have?

  6. What other information or communication boundaries are important to you in this relationship?

questions for couples |date night conversation | conversation starters

Quick tips for these questions:

  1. Be present. Set aside some fully-present distraction-free time to ask and respond to these with someone you love. Put down your phone, walk away from any screens, and give your partner your full presence.

  2. Stay open to possibility. Even if you think you know your partner's responses listen to them without assumption so they have room to surprise you.  

  3. Show up. Offer responses in complete sentences and challenge yourself to elaborate.  This isn't about being brief- it's about growing more intimate connection.  Add specifics and details to offer more of yourself to your partner.

  4. Really engage. Ask your partner follow up questions. Part of this process is about engaging with your partner in meaningful ways. Asking more follow up questions will show you care and broaden the conversation.

  5. Connect with others. Collect all the questions and take them on a date night, dinner party, road trips, and campfires to inspire more meaningful conversation with your community.  

February Recommended Relationship Resources

I’ve started keeping track of the resources, tools, podcasts, and videos I assign clients every week in session with the hope they might be excellent tools for all of you as well. I’ll be posting my favorites every month this year so you can find them with ease.

Read more recommendations here.

If you have suggestions or recommendations for this list please send them to me- I always welcome more. Email them to gina@ginasenarighi.com Thank you!

LISTEN IN: FAVORITE RELATIONSHIP PODCASTS

CONVERSATION WITH PIA MELLODY, FROM CONVERSATION WITH ALANIS MORISSETTE

Recently a client clued me into the work of Pia Mellody. She said Pia’s work had given her a new lense to look at love addiction and codependent patterns in her relationship. As I began searching for information on Pia I came across this lovely interview she did on Alanis Morissette’s podcast. Their conversation gives a generous overview of Pia’s work and philosophy on dependency in relationships and with substances.

Her stance is that codependent patterns really are more based in childhood relationship trauma where we learn maladaptive patterns of relating. She says our childhood relationship trauma leaves us with immature relationship patterns as adults. Her main principles are:

  • All of us as children are worthy of love and care. All children are valuable.

  • Our stories about are partners are often untrue and sometimes have little to do with them- only us.

  • Most of us have poor modeling around creating healthy internal and external boundaries.

  • Our dreams and fantasies are deeply held because most of us learn them very early in life.

Her perspective may resonate with many of you just as it has with my client. You can read more about her work here.


THE GOOD LIFE PROJECT, STAN TATKIN LOVE, DANGER, AND CONFLICT.

Stan Tatkin founded a model of couples therapy called the Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy (PACT). This model is designed to help people really get to the root of the tension and conflict in their partnership. It’s designed to help couples clearly and directly focus on their stuck points and learn to regulate their responses and ultimately change them.

This interview gives a lot of his background telling the story of how he developed the model. I think it’s useful for people considering working with a provider with PACT training to know more about this model, AND it also gives such a rich look at the neurobiology of conflict and bonding I think it could offer really valuable insight for people who are feeling really stuck in heated conflicts.

Check it out here:






WATCH THIS: FANTASTIC VIDEOS ON THE HUMAN CONDITION

TED TALK: HOW CHILDHOOD TRAUMA AFFECTS HEALTH ACROSS A LIFETIME, NADINE BURKE HARRIS

Trauma is inescapable, we’ve all survived something. But for some folks with more chronic or intense situations- especially early life trauma- is can have powerful impact on our physical health long-term. I’ve shared this video with many clients over the last couple years to share medical perspective on the health impacts of childhood trauma.



Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

Gina Senarighi Relationship Coach
  • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity 

  • manage intense emotions that arise in conflicts

  • rebuild trust after infidelity or dishonesty

  • shift stuck communication & codependent relationship patterns

    I lead couples retreats, host workshops, and see private clients online, in Portland, Oregon (and soon in Chicago, Illinois and Madison, Wisconsin). 

Call me for a free consultation to rethink the way you do relationships.

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in healthy communication, passionate relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

Weekly Conversation Starters for Deeper Connection

Couples who stay curious about each other, engaged in learning about their partners, open to growing together fare better long-term. 

They're able to adapt to changes and navigate bumps in the road with resilience.  And they maintain passion and intimacy by fueling a sense of discovery and space for fascination, mystery, and surprise.

Every week I send out questions to deepen your partnership to help you foster and nourish the intimacy you share with those most important to you.  You can sign up to receive those messages right here.

And you can read some of my previous conversation starter posts here.

I hope these help you connect in meaningful ways with someone you love. 

Warmly, Gina

questions for couples |date night conversation | conversation starters

Here are a few questions to ask your sweetie this week:

  1. What are your favorite forms of a-sexual physical affection?

  2. How important is cuddling or snuggling in our relationship?

  3. When are you in the best headspace for physical affection?

  4. What gets in the way of us being more affectionate?

  5. How do you feel about public displays of affection?

  6. How can I ask for more affection when I need it?

questions for couples |date night conversation | conversation starters

Quick tips for these questions:

  1. Be present. Set aside some fully-present distraction-free time to ask and respond to these with someone you love. Put down your phone, walk away from any screens, and give your partner your full presence.

  2. Stay open to possibility. Even if you think you know your partner's responses listen to them without assumption so they have room to surprise you.  

  3. Show up. Offer responses in complete sentences and challenge yourself to elaborate.  This isn't about being brief- it's about growing more intimate connection.  Add specifics and details to offer more of yourself to your partner.

  4. Really engage. Ask your partner follow up questions. Part of this process is about engaging with your partner in meaningful ways. Asking more follow up questions will show you care and broaden the conversation.

  5. Connect with others. Collect all the questions and take them on a date night, dinner party, road trips, and campfires to inspire more meaningful conversation with your community.  

Weekly Conversation Starters for Deeper Connection

Couples who stay curious about each other, engaged in learning about their partners, open to growing together fare better long-term. 

They're able to adapt to changes and navigate bumps in the road with resilience.  And they maintain passion and intimacy by fueling a sense of discovery and space for fascination, mystery, and surprise.

Every week I send out questions to deepen your partnership to help you foster and nourish the intimacy you share with those most important to you.  You can sign up to receive those messages right here.

And you can read some of my previous conversation starter posts here.

I hope these help you connect in meaningful ways with someone you love. 

Warmly, Gina

questions for couples |date night conversation | conversation starters

Here are a few questions to ask your sweetie this week:

  1. How will you tell me when you need space?

  2. What do you need more of from me today?

  3. What constitutes quality time in our relationship?

  4. What are your favorite forms of physical affection?

  5. When do you feel most secure in our relationship?

  6. How should I call you out if I feel you're being disrespectful or rude?

  7. How can I encourage you in building strong friendships outside this relationship?

questions for couples |date night conversation | conversation starters

Quick tips for these questions:

  1. Be present. Set aside some fully-present distraction-free time to ask and respond to these with someone you love. Put down your phone, walk away from any screens, and give your partner your full presence.

  2. Stay open to possibility. Even if you think you know your partner's responses listen to them without assumption so they have room to surprise you.  

  3. Show up. Offer responses in complete sentences and challenge yourself to elaborate.  This isn't about being brief- it's about growing more intimate connection.  Add specifics and details to offer more of yourself to your partner.

  4. Really engage. Ask your partner follow up questions. Part of this process is about engaging with your partner in meaningful ways. Asking more follow up questions will show you care and broaden the conversation.

  5. Connect with others. Collect all the questions and take them on a date night, dinner party, road trips, and campfires to inspire more meaningful conversation with your community.  

Weekly Conversation Starters for Deeper Connection

Couples who stay curious about each other, engaged in learning about their partners, open to growing together fare better long-term. 

They're able to adapt to changes and navigate bumps in the road with resilience.  And they maintain passion and intimacy by fueling a sense of discovery and space for fascination, mystery, and surprise.

Every week I send out questions to deepen your partnership to help you foster and nourish the intimacy you share with those most important to you.  You can sign up to receive those messages right here.

And you can read some of my previous conversation starter posts here.

I hope these help you connect in meaningful ways with someone you love. 

Warmly, Gina

questions for couples |date night conversation | conversation starters

Here are a few questions to ask your sweetie this week:

  1. What books did you read as a child?

  2. What were your favorite movies growing up?

  3. When were you happiest as a child?

  4. What did you do during summer breaks from school?

  5. Who did you admire when you were young?

  6. What were your favorite foods as a child?

  7. Who mentored you when you were young? 

  8. Who were your childhood heroes?

questions for couples |date night conversation | conversation starters

Quick tips for these questions:

  1. Be present. Set aside some fully-present distraction-free time to ask and respond to these with someone you love. Put down your phone, walk away from any screens, and give your partner your full presence.

  2. Stay open to possibility. Even if you think you know your partner's responses listen to them without assumption so they have room to surprise you.  

  3. Show up. Offer responses in complete sentences and challenge yourself to elaborate.  This isn't about being brief- it's about growing more intimate connection.  Add specifics and details to offer more of yourself to your partner.

  4. Really engage. Ask your partner follow up questions. Part of this process is about engaging with your partner in meaningful ways. Asking more follow up questions will show you care and broaden the conversation.

  5. Connect with others. Collect all the questions and take them on a date night, dinner party, road trips, and campfires to inspire more meaningful conversation with your community.  

Weekly Conversation Starters for Deeper Connection

Couples who stay curious about each other, engaged in learning about their partners, open to growing together fare better long-term. 

They're able to adapt to changes and navigate bumps in the road with resilience.  And they maintain passion and intimacy by fueling a sense of discovery and space for fascination, mystery, and surprise.

Every week I send out questions to deepen your partnership to help you foster and nourish the intimacy you share with those most important to you.  You can sign up to receive those messages right here.

And you can read some of my previous conversation starter posts here.

I hope these help you connect in meaningful ways with someone you love. 

Warmly, Gina

questions for couples |date night conversation | conversation starters

Here are a few questions to ask your sweetie this week:

  1. What were your passions as a child?

  2. What did you learn about passion and purpose from your parents?

  3. How are your childhood passions still alive today?

  4. What are your current professional passions?

  5. How would you like to expand your professional or personal passions in the coming year?

  6. How can I support you in exploring your passions?

questions for couples |date night conversation | conversation starters

Quick tips for these questions:

  1. Be present. Set aside some fully-present distraction-free time to ask and respond to these with someone you love. Put down your phone, walk away from any screens, and give your partner your full presence.

  2. Stay open to possibility. Even if you think you know your partner's responses listen to them without assumption so they have room to surprise you.  

  3. Show up. Offer responses in complete sentences and challenge yourself to elaborate.  This isn't about being brief- it's about growing more intimate connection.  Add specifics and details to offer more of yourself to your partner.

  4. Really engage. Ask your partner follow up questions. Part of this process is about engaging with your partner in meaningful ways. Asking more follow up questions will show you care and broaden the conversation.

  5. Connect with others. Collect all the questions and take them on a date night, dinner party, road trips, and campfires to inspire more meaningful conversation with your community.  

My Recommended Relationship Resources This Month

I’ve started keeping track of the resources, tools, podcasts, and videos I assign clients every week in session with the hope they might be excellent tools for all of you as well. I’ll be posting my favorites every month this year so you can find them with ease.

Read more recommendations here.

If you have suggestions or recommendations for this list please send them to me- I always welcome more. Email them to gina@ginasenarighi.com Thank you!

LISTEN IN: FAVORITE RELATIONSHIP PODCASTS

APOLOGETICAL FROM RADIOLAB

Radiolab does an outstanding job covering all sorts of curious topics. This week they cover apologies and ownership when we’ve hurt someone. While it’s not exactly about romantic relationships, this episode gives an excellent overview of the bigger ethical picture when owning mistakes and making apologies.

IN THE NO: PART 1, ALSO FROM RADIOLAB

Also from Radiolab, a three-part series on the complications of consent in relationships. It’s not just as simple as yes or no, and because sexual assault rarely happens with strangers, the relationships involved are far more complex too.

In the first episode Kaitlin Prest revisits a complicated consent situation with her closest friend- even reenacting the moment it happened. Be warned, listening to the reenactment could be trigggering.

IN THE NO: PART 2, FROM RADIOLAB

In the second episode they dive deeper into the meaning of consent and how we learn about it in our culture. It’s a great conversation starter for couples who want more meaningful communication and stronger boundaries.

IN THE NO: PART 3, FROM RADIOLAB

In the final episode our hosts visit multiple locations where consent trainings are taking place to better understand what we ALL need to be talking about. I especially liked the visit they take to the BDSM play space to learn about boundaries and consent from the community who has been practicing a little more tenderly than mainstream relationships. Check it out:


WATCH IT: VIDEOS FOR HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS


THE ANATOMY OF TRUST, BRENE BROWN

I know I’ve posted about this talk before, but I’ve referred a few folks to it just this week and it just keeps resonating with my clients. In this talk Brene outlines the foundational elements required to build trust in relationships. Instead of thinking about trust as an all or nothing, this talk outlines the tiny ways trust is build or broken in the smallest moments.

Watch the video and as she covers each area, ask yourself how you’ve increased trust in your partnership. I promise you’ll learn ways you can strengthen your relationship.


MAKE FRIENDS: SUPPORT GROUPS & COMMUNITY EVENTS

REFUGE RECOVERY, PORTLAND MEETINGS

I’ve had a few clients recently who were looking for support to end or at least minimize their substance use. In the cases so far this year, these clients love the support of a group format, but the AA model just didn’t resonate with them. Refuge Recovery provides an alternative group format and community support without the dogma from AA. If you’re interested in support for your recovery they might be a good place to start.


READ UP: GREAT BOOKS ON RELATIONSHIPS


I could fill a few pages with great relationship book recommendations, so I’m going to do my best to narrow it to one each month. If you want my full relationship reading recommendations list click here.

THE STATE OF AFFAIRS BY ESTHER PEREL

One book I’ve recommended many times this month is Esther Perel’s most recent book, the State of Affairs. Let me list a few reasons why.

For people experiencing affairs:

  1. This book normalizes the fact that affairs happen- in our culture and all over the world. Y’all, affairs are VERY common.

  2. It also gives lots of helpful insight as to the reasons why people have affairs. And believe me, there are a lot of reasons.

  3. The book gives you lots of examples of other couples who have experienced infidelity to help you get perspective on how they got through it.

  4. And it can help you see a path forward to healing when I know it can be so hard to see possibilities moving forward.

Even for folks who haven’t experienced infidelity it can help you have informed conversations about monogamous relationships, and how you want to handle it when one of you has a crush on someone else. Couples who can navigate those conversations last longer and are better equipped to affair-proof their partnerships.


Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

Gina Senarighi Relationship Coach
  • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity 

  • manage intense emotions that arise in conflicts

  • rebuild trust after infidelity or dishonesty

  • shift stuck communication & codependent relationship patterns

    I lead couples retreats, host workshops, and see private clients online, in Portland, Oregon (and soon in Chicago, Illinois and Madison, Wisconsin). 

Call me for a free consultation to rethink the way you do relationships.

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in healthy communication, passionate relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

Weekly Conversation Starters for Deeper Connection

Couples who stay curious about each other, engaged in learning about their partners, open to growing together fare better long-term. 

They're able to adapt to changes and navigate bumps in the road with resilience.  And they maintain passion and intimacy by fueling a sense of discovery and space for fascination, mystery, and surprise.

Every week I send out questions to deepen your partnership to help you foster and nourish the intimacy you share with those most important to you.  You can sign up to receive those messages right here.

And you can read some of my previous conversation starter posts here.

I hope these help you connect in meaningful ways with someone you love. 

Warmly, Gina

questions for couples |date night conversation | conversation starters

Here are a few questions to ask your sweetie this week:

  1. What does it mean to you to be a "good communicator"?

  2. Where did you learn how to communicate effectively?

  3. Who were your communication role models growing up?

  4. What does meaningful support look like to you when you are trying to share something challenging?

  5. What helps you feel safer to communicate in our relationship?

questions for couples |date night conversation | conversation starters

Quick tips for these questions:

  1. Be present. Set aside some fully-present distraction-free time to ask and respond to these with someone you love. Put down your phone, walk away from any screens, and give your partner your full presence.

  2. Stay open to possibility. Even if you think you know your partner's responses listen to them without assumption so they have room to surprise you.  

  3. Show up. Offer responses in complete sentences and challenge yourself to elaborate.  This isn't about being brief- it's about growing more intimate connection.  Add specifics and details to offer more of yourself to your partner.

  4. Really engage. Ask your partner follow up questions. Part of this process is about engaging with your partner in meaningful ways. Asking more follow up questions will show you care and broaden the conversation.

  5. Connect with others. Collect all the questions and take them on a date night, dinner party, road trips, and campfires to inspire more meaningful conversation with your community.  

Questions to Ask When Deciding to Break Up

Making the decision to break up isn't easy. Most of you reading this have good reasons to both stay and go. For the most part, people felt super ambivalent about their relationships even if the decision seems pretty obvious. Most people have baseline dealbreakers that often go out the window when they meet someone and feel a strong chemical reaction.

Over time we start wondering if compromising those standards and some of our independence was really worth it.

Others start feeling stuck in unresolved conflict and unaddressed resentments that block our ability to deeply connect.

It’s hard to end a relationship for many reasons. If nothing else, there’s no way to end a relationship without facing the reality of loss and grief. But sometimes loss and grief are what you both need to build fuller, more enriching lives apart.

Questions to Ask When Deciding If You Should Break Up

Breaking up is obviously never easy. However, these 18 questions are designed to help you find some clarity if you're having difficulty deciding what to do:

  1. Have I been feeling unsafe, intimidated or threatened in this relationship?

  2. Have I been criticized, degraded or disrespected on a consistent basis?

  3. Have I been regularly interrogated about who I talk to, where I go, how much money I spend and related issues?

  4. Have I been walking on eggshells because I’m fearful or uncomfortable speaking my mind in this relationship?

  5. Does my partner always blame me or others for their problems or things that go wrong?

  6. Is my partner excessively possessive, calling or texting constantly, visiting expectantly to check up on me?

  7. Does my partner make me feel inadequate?

  8. How is this ending going to improve my life? The other person’s life?

  9. Does my partner keep their word or promises? Do I?

  10. Does my partner take responsibility for their actions? Do I?

  11. Is my partner willing to see things from my perspective? Will I see theirs?

  12. Does this person make me happy or would I be happier by myself?

  13. Have I asked for my needs to be met directly and respectfully?

  14. Am I expecting my partner to be the only one who changes - am I willing to make serious changes in order to make this work?

  15. Have we adequately tried to resolve conflicts and stuck points? Are we willing to hire help if needed?

  16. Do we have the same values and goals for the future?

  17. Am I ready to walk-away or am I going to end it and get back together?

  18. Can I handle being single and finding other supports for my grief through this break up?

At the end of the day, no one can decide what you should do about your relationship but you. But if you really take the time to think it over, you'll make the right decision for you.

If you want help sorting through this decision please give me a call for a consultation. I’ve supported hundreds of great folks as they decide to stay or go and I’d be happy to help you.


Gina Senarighi Madison Couples Counselor

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in healthy communication, passionate relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

She co-hosts the Swoon podcast and coaches clients online all over the world and leads retreats in the Pacific Northwest and Midwest United states.

When she’s not working she’s tending her urban garden, traveling with her partner, raising her toddler, listening to podcasts or walking her little dog, Frida in Madison, Wisconsin.

Weekly Conversation Starters for Deeper Connection

Couples who stay curious about each other, engaged in learning about their partners, open to growing together fare better long-term. 

They're able to adapt to changes and navigate bumps in the road with resilience.  And they maintain passion and intimacy by fueling a sense of discovery and space for fascination, mystery, and surprise.

Every week I send out questions to deepen your partnership to help you foster and nourish the intimacy you share with those most important to you.  You can sign up to receive those messages right here.

And you can read some of my previous conversation starter posts here.

I hope these help you connect in meaningful ways with someone you love. 

Warmly, Gina

questions for couples |date night conversation | conversation starters

Here are a few questions to ask your sweetie this week:

  1. What kind of teenager were you?

  2. What did you like about being a teenager?

  3. What was hardest about your teenage years?

  4. How are you still like your teenage self?

  5. What did you learn about communication as a teen?

  6. How is your adult life different than you imagined it would be as a teen?

questions for couples |date night conversation | conversation starters

Quick tips for these questions:

  1. Be present. Set aside some fully-present distraction-free time to ask and respond to these with someone you love. Put down your phone, walk away from any screens, and give your partner your full presence.

  2. Stay open to possibility. Even if you think you know your partner's responses listen to them without assumption so they have room to surprise you.  

  3. Show up. Offer responses in complete sentences and challenge yourself to elaborate.  This isn't about being brief- it's about growing more intimate connection.  Add specifics and details to offer more of yourself to your partner.

  4. Really engage. Ask your partner follow up questions. Part of this process is about engaging with your partner in meaningful ways. Asking more follow up questions will show you care and broaden the conversation.

  5. Connect with others. Collect all the questions and take them on a date night, dinner party, road trips, and campfires to inspire more meaningful conversation with your community.