Romance in a Time of Diabetes

| Jan 29, 2008

Romance is different than sex. Sex is an "act" that you "perform," and, as such, it can be thwarted by worries about failure and performance, especially in people with diabetes-related complications. Romance is another thing entirely.

It's sensuous, heavy with perfume, intertwined with the appetites of all the senses, warm and intimate, relaxed and loving. When diabetes enters your bedroom, romance sometimes retreats. But romance is easy to rekindle, and the warmth that it brings to your relationship can lead to sexual heat as well.

Valentine's Day is the one day on which we pay tribute to romance. So in honor of that day, we are bringing you a primer on creating romantic emotions. First of all, you should know that just thinking about sensual encounters prompts a slow warm-up of sensual feelings. Anticipation, teasing your mind, is key. So it's important to do things ahead of time that'll turn your thoughts to intimacy and keep them there, free of interference from your everyday worries and responsibilities.

That's why a romantic dinner is such a good idea. Eating is a very sensual act in itself, but you have to take the time to really enter into the whole act. And it can't be "everyday." Romance is killed by predictability and routine. Romance requires adventure and the unexpected, no matter how small. In fact, the unusual is such an integral part of romance that it actually activates a special "romance" part of the brain; anyone you see in unusual circumstances tends to look more attractive to you. Slightly dangerous circumstances work even better, which is why hot-air balloon rides (and extramarital affairs) are such popular romantic activities.

If you haven't time for a balloon ride, just make your dinner different. Have champagne in a crystal flute, and buy some finger foods that are diabetes-friendly. Eating with your fingers is sexy and unusual. Use lots of candles: everybody looks better by candlelight, and the ambience they create is romance personified. Use foods that used to be thought of as aphrodisiac.

The placebo effect is a powerful thing, and avocados and oysters, figs and asparagus, and raspberries and strawberries were all thought to have sensual effects in more romantic days of yore. And don't forget a little dark chocolate, of course: as it melts deliciously in your mouth, just concentrate on your feelings as you taste it.

Think about dressing up for dinner. Again, it brings that frisson of the unexpected that's so crucial to romance. When you're dressed up, you are not your everyday self. To the primitive part of your partner's brain, you might even be a completely different person, especially if you smell different than usual.

And there's nothing like that adventurous thought to bring anticipation and excitement to an evening. So put on a new perfume. If your partner is a man, find something that smells like pumpkin pie, lavender, or vanilla: those scents have proven to be the most stimulating in studies. If your partner is a woman, try licorice, cucumber, baby powder, or lavender and pumpkin pie. But stay away from men's cologne, cherry scents, and barbeque, which didn't work very well to stimulate women.

All the senses come together to kindle romance. You've covered taste and smell and sight, so bring your auditory memory into the game by playing romantic music. It focuses your mind on thoughts of romance, and it holds at bay the craziness of the everyday that can sink those thoughts. Now all that's left is touch.

Touch can be a touchy issue because it shaves pretty close to the worries about performance that sometimes haunt people with diabetes. So you'll want to use romantic touch. Romantic touch is, remember the watchword, not the everyday version. And its core is anticipation. Anticipation that is frustrated and blocked works especially well, so your romantic touching is meant to stimulate your senses, but stop short of sex.

Use special soft materials: a feather, a silken scarf, or a piece of velvety fur. Then lavish them on sensitive body areas that are usually ignored in hasty encounters, like your partner's feet, eyelids, and fingers. Or give your partner a massage with essential oils. Spend as long as you like in the half-light of the candles, but don't go any farther. After all, it's romance that you are nurturing now, and romance never wants to know the end of the story.

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Categories: Dating, Diabetes, Diabetes, Food, Type 1 Issues

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Jan 29, 2008

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