The National Weekly chats with Jamaican love experts Dr. Karen Carpenter and Michael Anthony Cuffe, fresh from their recent relationship workshop in Pembroke Pines, about what it takes to find and keep love (and a healthy sex life).
What’s the biggest relationship mistake people make?
KC: I think we both agree that the biggest mistake is choosing the wrong partner, because they don’t have the tools for choosing the right one. Instead people use all kinds of hocus pocus, superstition and grandma’s tales. And that’s not a great formula for a long term relationship.
MAC: There is no such thing as a bad relationship. We make bad choices.
What advice would you give couples looking to renew their romantic life?
MAC: Karen spoke about a shopping list (of needs) in the talk. And I also spoke about self-acceptance as knowing what you want in a relationship. If you have those things, then you’re in good stead.
KC: A lot of people talk about communication. But I actually find it off-putting when someone says “what I need is more communication.” More communication alone is not going to get you a better relationship, because you don’t know what’s causing the blockage. The best thing you can do is deal with your relationship like a grown-up. Stop playing games.
MC: We often mistake manipulation for love, each trying to see who can out maneuverer the other.
What advice would you give singles looking for love?
KC: Make a shopping list. You’ve got to begin with knowing what you want and making sure it’s realistic. Then you have to be the person you want. A lot of us want someone to fill the gaps in us. But if you want someone with integrity you have to act with integrity. You attract what you are.
Do men and women want different things from relationships?
KC: Not necessarily. We find that men and women are looking for different things not because they’re male or female, but because they have different personalities. So you can find a women who’s looking for the same things a man is looking for, but they’re not usually walking through my door together. So sometimes they need to go look for someone else.
Do Caribbean people approach romance differently than Americans?
MAC: That’s a hard one. There are some things that are culture specific, but I think what we’re all looking for is love. We want is a partner who can provide the basics for a healthy relationship. They’re looking for somebody who would allow them to be visible to each other.
KC: Culture plays less of a factor than what individuals’ definitions are of love. What are your expectations? Use your shopping list to build a mission statement for your love. Say, “I’m looking for the man or woman who is mine by divine right, who is…” and remind yourself that this is my template.
Clinical Sexologist Dr. Karen Carpenter is the author of the popular relationship guide, “Love & Sex” and Michael Anthony Cuffe is a veteran journalist and motivational speaker. Both are co-founders of the “Love & Sex” workshop series.