When terror struck on September 11, it destroyed more than the World Trade Center, a wing of the Pentagon and an airplane bound for the White House. It changed life as we knew it just hours before. That day husbands, wives, mothers, lovers and friends all experienced a chilling wakeup call. Our sense of innocence was replaced with an exhaustingly constant state of anxious vulnerability -- something that can make or break a sexual relationship.
It was just days after the terrorist attacks when I was scheduled to be interviewed by a popular women's magazine. It was one of those typical "10 ways to seduce your new lover in bed" articles, and as the Sex Coach at iVillage, I was being asked for a quote. Frankly, I was distracted and found it hard to concentrate. My heart was somewhere else -- thinking about the lives that were lost, fearing future attacks and contemplating the changes that would need to be made in my own life. What happened on that phone interview, however, was an awareness of how the September 11 events were affecting sexuality and intimate relationships around the country.
The freelance reporter did her usual check-in, followed by a series of questions. I answered the best I could, and between standard guidance for better seduction skills, we kept coming back to our perceptions and interpretations of life since the attacks. What struck most was when she told me how many of her friends and contacts in the New York area were making major relationship changes. Reactions ran strong, fierce and abrupt. They were either breaking up with lovers altogether or getting married as soon as they could. That's how trauma affects relationships.
How has your relationship been affected? We polled iVillage women and 64 percent of you said that you are feeling clingy toward your partners. You want increased intimacy, and you need to feel more connected than ever. But does your partner feel the same? The following are four basic reactions that people have in times of trauma. You might be suprised at the amount of insight each one brings -- regardless of your reaction to the attacks. Take a look: