Episode 8: Melanie Nayer: Intimacy and Relationship Trends: Review of Bestselling Relationship Books and Popular Relationship Websites

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In this podcast Chip interviews Melanie Nayer, trend reporter, columnist for the Boston Globe and publisher for LifeTips.com. Listen in to the interview as they discuss intimacy and relationships, how to find the right relationship book for you, relationship and communication, and heightening intimacy through non-verbal communication.


Intimacy and Relationship Trends: Review of Bestselling Relationship Books and Popular Relationship Websites with Melanie Nayer

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Chip August: Welcome to Sex, Love and Intimacy. I am your host, Chip August. Today, on the show, we are going to be talking about communication and relationship --  getting some good advice about where to get some good advice.

Our guest today is Melanie Nayer. Melanie is a columnist for the Boston Globe in their “Side Tick” section, is an editor and publisher for LifeTips.com; and she has been a trend reporter for more than ten years now. I am really pleased to have her here. I think our listeners are interested in learning more about where they can learn more about relationship and love.

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Melanie Nayer: I think it is such an interesting point, is that the best way to engage intimacy is by not talking at all.

Chip August: Wow.

Melanie Nayer: And I think that is such an amazing -- if you really think about it -- concept, because you are forcing body language.

Chip August: Are they helping in your personal relationships?

Melanie Nayer: That is a great question. As you know, I am not married. I am single, I am in my 30s. I constantly read all these things about relationships and marriages and sex and intimacy.

Chip August: Oh, you are in the early 30s. You want me to fix you up? I know a lot of people. No, no, we will talk about that later!

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Chip August: So, welcome, Melanie.

Melanie Nayer: Thank you, Chip. Great to be here.

Chip August: Great to have you here. I was looking at some of your websites, and some of your materials; and quite as described, you kind of spend your time noticing what's happening out there in the world of relationships and some of the publishers and authors, and things like that. Is that what you do?

Melanie Nayer: That is a good part of my day, yes. [laughs] We want to make sure that the information that we are giving to LifeTips readers, and all sorts of readers of the Boston Globe -- and those are two very different audiences -- are really getting the best information when it comes to relationships. So one of the things that I do is watch very closely the book bestselling list. I listen to a lot of the trend reports that go on, even if it's blogs, what is going on in the talk shows during the day. Those are very central pieces of information to take back.

These people are obviously big names and they are touring, and they happen to be saying things people are listening to them. So we like to make sure that we stay on top of things like that. A lot of people have a new book, so it is important that we stay on top of the trend, especially in relationships that other users and readers want to know about. It is not the same thing over and over again. Because, as you well know, a relationship is something that is not a pattern; it is constantly changing.

Chip August: Not only is a relationship is changing, but it seems the literature about relationship is changing all the time.

Melanie Nayer: I think so, I think so.

Chip August: So tell me. I go into my local Borders, or my local Barnes and Nobles, I look in the relationship section, and, "Oh, my God, there is a mind boggling array of books out there." What do you think of a -- what's the thing I should be pulling down from that shelf and looking at?

Melanie Nayer: You know, it is a really interesting question. Because the relationship section, as you say, is massive. There is so much there. I think a lot of it is based on your own individuality and your uniqueness and the relationship at your end. But what I am seeing a lot of is, we have grown past this stage of very intense verbal communication. The old psych. one-o-one, “When you do this, I feel that,” type of conversation that you have with your spouse, when you are in the middle of a conflict, or sitting down for counseling sessions, and so on and so forth.

Now the trend is more about you, yourself, and why you are upset with what's just happened, and how you, alone, can control that with your own, sort of, look inside yourself and seeing what I am doing wrong and what I need to change, instead of how my partner can change. It is a very intimate conversation that you have with yourself, that then translates over to your partner. And you try to get them to really engage in that unspoken intimacy, if you will.

Chip August: Who are the big proponents of this?

Melanie Nayer: What I have found, first of all is, Susan Page is one author. Her book is, "Why Talking Is Not Enough.” She brings in the spiritual side of the relationship as well. Which is very interesting, not so much in terms of spiritual being, very religious obviously, but more from how intimacy and loving actions, kind of create a different bond that's above verbal communication.

Her website, susanpage.com, offers a lot of information about, why people work so hard to communicate, and why, in some cases you feel worse after all that verbal communication. How intimacy and spirituality can play a part in really leveraging your feelings, and how you and yourself can work through the conflict, and the intimate details of things. She talks a lot about why talking fails, which I think is a very interesting aspect. Because as you well know, everybody says the best thing in a relationship is communication.

So here we are looking at a relationship problem solving book that talks about why talking doesn't always work. I think that there is a really important aspect to look at. You say, if talking doesn't work, what does work? The overall, sort of trend, that Susan Page talks about, as well as the other authors -- that we will now get into, Dr Robin Smith, I am sure everybody must be familiar with, from the Oprah Show, and experts from the Luminary website -- the intimacy component that couples are not sharing.


Chip August: So, if I get this right, her premise is, often people learn the format of these communications, because they are not really coming from a place of intimacy inside them, no real intimacy occurs.

Melanie Nayer: Exactly. And I think that is a very interesting... Like I said earlier, you are past the, "You do this, I feel that," stage. There is so much more to a relationship than that. Intimacy is a very important thing that has been very taboo to talk about for a long time.

Chip August: You mentioned luminary. What was that?

Melanie Nayer: Luminary is a great, great site. It is one of my favorite places to go for personal help. The authors on this site -- this is a website all about authors. And all of these authors are hand selected by the luminaries group, who then talk about all aspects of your personality, including intimacy, relationships, natural healing herbs, yoga and exercise, everything that you do in your daily life, to help create that excellent relationship, whether it is with your husband, your kid, your boyfriend, or girlfriend, your grandparents, your parents...

Chip August: It is very compatible with what we do over here at Personal Life Media?

Melanie Nayer: Yes. I think you and your listeners will find it to be an incredibly interesting site. A lot of their authors are frequent guests on Readers and Kelly, The Oprah Show, Dr Phil -- those kind of daily talk shows, as well as national events and conference floors.

Chip August: OK. So, Luminaries is one. You mentioned, Susan Page, I think you said.

Melanie Nayer: Susan Page is the other one. She is the spiritual one we discussed. Her book, "Why Talking Is Not Enough - Loving Actions That Will Transform Your Marriage.” The other one is Dr Robin Smith. Robin Smith is a motivational speaker. Many people know her -- if they are TV watchers -- as Dr Robin on the Oprah Show. Her latest book, "Lies At The Altar - The Truth About Great Marriages," is currently out now. I actually had the privilege of hearing her speak live, when she was in Boston a few months ago, and I interviewed her for my column.

She is just such an inspirational woman. She is really fascinating. She comes from a divorce, did the marriage, but a lot of her friends are married. She has a radio show too, on Oprah and Friends. But her whole point is looking within yourself to find the true passion that you want to see in somebody else. And it is a fascinating concept.

And that is what a lot of these books are starting to talk about. As we said earlier that, this is less about placing blame on the other person and more about looking inside yourself, and deciding, what do I want, and what can I do for me. Instead of, what you can do for me.

Chip August: And is the trend right now to be talking to younger people, who are first embarking on their first relationship, or is this really for people who have been through several relationships, failed -- who are they talking about?

Melanie Nayer: What I feel, it is really about people who have been in relationships already. It is unfortunate that divorce keeps rising, you have seen. Younger people are getting married much later in life, which is not necessarily a bad thing, I think I want to point out. But I also feel like a lot of people are also going through relationships second, third, fourth time around. You know, they are hard work. It really is. You know this and your readers know this. It is really hard work to maintain a relationship. But these books are so geared toward that second, third, fourth time around relationship, that it makes a lot of sense because it really gets these people to look inside themselves.

Chip August: No... Actually we need to take a short break. Take a break and a little support to our sponsors. My guest is Melanie Nayer. She is an expert on trends in communications and relationships. I got a lot more questions to ask Melanie. So stick around, we will be right back.

[radio break]

Chip August: We are back. You are listening to Sex, Love and Intimacy. I am Chip August. My guest today is Melanie Nayer. She is an expert on trends in relationships. Welcome back, Melanie.

How do you decide what is the trend versus what's just a book you like?

Melanie Nayer: You know, that is a great question. For me from a professional standpoint, I look at the book list, the bestselling list, because it is what other people are buying that make it successful. So as the book starts climbing the charts, and they are on the bestseller list for weeks at a time, that is very important from an analyst's perspective, for somebody who wants to know where this information comes from.

Is it a trend or is it just that we like Oprah, so we are going to buy her book. But the more that you see these books come out on the bestsellers list, and the longer they are there, and then the more you start seeing the names of these authors around; whether it is through talk shows, through syndication, through conferences, even speaking engagements all around the nation. That is a trend. Because it really means that people are -- they gather, they want to hear from this person. That makes them a trend. Obviously they had a quart and people are demanding more.

Chip August: It seems to me -- I am not a trends researcher, but -- it seems to me that a big overall trend, is kind of an attack on traditional psychotherapy and traditional talk therapy; that has been going on for ten years now, where authors, more and more, are contesting traditional models, that you just go to a counselor, you talk about your problems and that's how they get better. What you are talking about seems like it has grown out of that.

Melanie Nayer: Yes. And I think so too. And I think it is important to point out here, too, Chip, that this is not for everybody. Just like we said earlier, everybody is individual and unique in their way, and they are comfortable dealing with intimacy and relationship problems in their own way; whether that is the standard, tried and true counselor/therapist, one-on-one sessions or couple counseling, or whether it is through self-help and healing guides, like these new books that we are seeing.

Chip August: Are there any fun things out there or are there things less about problems or more about, “Wow, this will spice up life and make your marriage more fun?”

Melanie Nayer: You know what's fun, is that in a lot of these books, there are a lot of intimacy suggestions. And I think sex is still a very taboo subject.

Chip August: Oh, yeah.

Melanie Nayer: And it is not especially when you are talking to older generation of people in relationships, if you will. These are not catered to young kids. These are catered to people who we discussed, in their second or third relationships. We are talking about what is still a very taboo subject for a lot of these men and women.

So in a lot of these books now, it talks a lot about intimacy and how to really approach your partner with intimacy. The one thing that I think is great, the one thing that a lot of these authors are saying -- which I go back to in my column too -- and I think it is such an interesting point too, is that, the best way to engage intimacy is through not talking at all.

Chip August: Wow!

Melanie Nayer: I think it is such an amazing -- if you really thing about it -- it is amazing because you are forcing body language.

Chip August: So, there are books that are basically counseling couples who get into trouble, to just shut up.

Melanie Nayer: [laughs] I wouldn't say that.

Chip August: Oh, OK.

Melanie Nayer: I wouldn't say that. But I think, it is important to, like Susan Page, “Why Talking Is Not Enough,” or Aly Delmar, who is a luminary author. Her book, "Self-Nurture -- Learning To Care For Yourself As Effectively As you Care For Everyone Else." She talks a lot about what's inside you and how to relate that without speaking to your partner. And they get to very interesting aspects.

One of the books that we didn't talk about yet, is by Barbara Grant, "How To Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It." Her whole book is how to heighten your intimacy without verbal communication. And I think it is really interesting to read some of these and learn a little bit about, what makes an intimate situation, intimate, and how that essentially improves your relationship in your marriage.

Chip August: This is all so fascinating, because it is all so counter...

Melanie Nayer: It is exactly opposite of what we have been taught.

Chip August: Exactly.

Melanie Nayer: And again, I want to point out, it is not for everybody. And people should be aware about that. It is certainly something that I think -- you are the expert, so you tell me -- but I think from a relationship standpoint, everything is trial and error. And working together and building that relationship is really what brings the two people in a relationship together. Trying new things, whether it is non-verbal, or verbal, it is very interesting way to really take it to another level.

Chip August: It is all fascinating. When I am not doing talk shows, I lead personal group workshops for a living. And I have done it for 17 years now. What I have learned over the years, is that everything and its opposite is true. Pretty much, if the rule is, you need more communication, then the opposite is also true. So the rule is maybe communication is getting in the way. So the rule is getting more time together, then the opposite is also true. Probably you also need more time apart. Too often, we think that there is a one size fits all answer. I think, what you are seeing in these books is, there isn't

Melanie Nayer: I don't think there is. That's what I am seeing too. It is so diverse. There are a lot of options. available to people, and I think a lot of them were not really spoken of ten years ago.

Chip August: I completely agree. I did an interview with Marty Klein, sex therapist, who has written a book called, "America's War on Sex."

Melanie Nayer: Yes.

Chip August: He speaks of a mount of repression, sexual repression we grow up and, all of us. We don't talk about sex, really -- this is groundbreaking stuff, I get it.

Melanie Nayer: It is fun.

Chip August: Tell me, what other trend am I missing? What are we missing here?

Melanie Nayer: You know, I really don't know. I really think that's the big one, Chip. I really think it is the intimacy, it's that non-verbal communication.

Chip August: So you gave me like three books on it. Are there others?

Melanie Nayer: Oh, I am sure there are. I wanted to give you my top three. Top four, actually. I also wanted to point out, we did Robin Smith, “Lies At The Altar - The Truth About Great Marriages," Aly Delmar, author of "Self-Nurture -- Learning To Care For Yourself As Effectively As you Care For Everyone Else," Susan Page, the author of "Why Talking Is Not Enough," and also Barbara Grant, author of "How To Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It".

Obviously, there are plenty of other books out there. These are the ones that I like the best, because they touch upon the taboo aspect, a little bit more than the traditional book might. Do you know what is interesting, these are all written by women.

Chip August: Yeah, I noticed that.

Melanie Nayer: I am sure that there are some out there that are written by men. They are as inquisitive and interesting and informative as these ones. These are the ones that I think are important to bring to the table, because they really touch upon the taboo aspect; and talk a little bit, as we said, about the foundation of the counseling, talking-it-through sessions, and just bringing it to a whole other level.

Chip August: This is really terrific. I am really loving picking your brains. We will just take a short a break and sell some support for our sponsors. I am talking to Melanie Nayer. You are listening to Sex, Love and Intimacy, and we will be right back.

[radio break]

Chip August: Welcome back. You are listening to Sex, Love and Intimacy. I am your host Chip August. We are talking to Melanie Nayer, a trend reporter for more than ten years here. We are talking about trends in couple communication and in the literature about couples.

I am just curious. You are making a living, looking at all these books about relationships, about communication, about how relationships grow -- are they helping you in your personal relationships?

Melanie Nayer: That's a great question. As you know, I am not married. I am single, I am in my 30s. I constantly read all these things about relationships, about marriages, about sex and intimacy. I find them very interesting, from a single person's perspective. I actually do learn a lot, because it gives me a little bit of an insight into what people go through after 10/20 years together. You have to really step back and look at yourself and say, "Gosh, is that really what I want?” Or, “Am I ready for this type of conflict? Am I ready for this type of communication?”

What I also like is that I am learning a lot about myself, through these books, too. And I think that, that's something that, whether you are single or in a relationship, it is important to point out, that a lot of these books really make you look inside yourself, and make you ask, “What do I want out of a relationship?”

And then, “Where is the person who is going to really complement those things?” And it probably is that person sitting across me at the breakfast table. Just a matter of getting on the same page with it.

Chip August: Well, I have to say, I have done a lot of different trainings and things, and contra to one of the things they say is that, relationship is a past half enlightenment. Something about having all of your personality mirrored back at you day after day after day. It definitely grows you up and teaches you something about yourself.

Oh, you are in the early 30s. You want me to fix you up? I know a lot of people. No, no, we will talk about that later!

I am curious, how could I find these books, and other books like them. Where do I go look for them?

Melanie Nayer: One of the best, best places that people can find books -- I know it is vast, I know it is huge, but hear me out -- go to amazon.com, type in any of the books that we talked about today, and in that same page that will bring up the books, there is going to be a little section that says, “Readers also liked these books.” They are going to list five or six other books, that fall within the same realm of vision and personality and ideas and beliefs that the other authors did. And take a look at the -- read the experts, read the customer reviews. Do a search for that author, and you will find a lot of information about the author...

Chip August: Yes, I agree. Amazon is a great place for books. I also want to let our listeners know there will be a transcript of this show, and on the transcript we will list all of the books we have mentioned. And on each book, if you just click on that book, there will be link for purchasing that book. It will save you a little trouble there if you just go to PersonalLifeMedia.com, and look at the transcript of the show. That is a great way to get all of the things that Melanie has been talking about.

Melanie Nayer: One of the things we didn't touch upon, which is, you got to point out now as you are reading books. This is about relationship and intimacy -- talking about, as we said, very taboo and often difficult things, you want to connect with that author. You want to really believe in that author and what they are telling you. So if you find any of the books I mentioned today are not for you, there is probably five or six other books in that same category, And you are going to like an author in there, that is just as great as one of the ones that I just talked about.

But take some time and really review it. Go to the New York Times bestseller list. Take a look, see what's on there for the non-fiction stuff. The self-help sections are great for stuff like that. If there is a blog that you like... If you see a therapist, ask for their recommendation. But I think, going to Amazon, people are going to be really surprised with what they can find.

Chip August: Yeah, I always encourage people to read the customer review.

Melanie Nayer: Absolutely.

Chip August: The customer is going to say something a little different than the book publisher is going to say about the book.

Melanie Nayer: Absolutely. Forget, I mean, this is for I am a book publisher, you know. But forget about what the publisher says, because they are there to market the book.

Chip August: Well, you have been a fascinating guest, definitely have expanded my book list, increase the pile here, by my bed. I will learn a little bit more about this stuff. I really appreciate you coming on the show.

Melanie Nayer: Well, anytime, I really enjoyed this.

Chip August: We are just wrapping up here. So, one last question and then we will...

Melanie Nayer: Sure.

Chip August: ...call it a day here. I am just wondering, you read these things, you are looking at the trends, you read the books, you begin to practice to all these stuff, you have an idea what the next trend is. Are you like already having an inkling of, like, I see a movement towards this...?

Melanie Nayer: You know, I wish I did. I have no idea. Because you know what -- and this is one of the things that I love about my job everyday -- there is something new to look at every single day. The best thing about trends is that they peak, and they come back down and they peak again. I don't think that this is going to go away altogether. I don't think that this intimacy communication that we are talking about is ever going to really die down. Just as the therapist one-on-one sessions never really go away; they are just building on it. So I will be interested to see what the next building blocks all of this is.

Chip August: I think we all will. Thank you so much.

Melanie Nayer: Thank you so much for having me. I look forward to talking to you soon.

Chip August: Absolutely. Let's talk again in a year and hear what the next set of trends are.

Melanie Nayer: You got it.

Chip August: Thank you so much. And thank you all for listening. This is Chip August. You are listening to Sex, Love and Intimacy.

If you have comments for me, or you would just like to send me a little email, you can reach me at [email protected] All one word, personallifemedia.com. I have a blog. Please feel free to listen to my blog. I have a sponsor, frogd.com, f-r-o-g-d.com. They make accessories for iPods and they have given me a whole goody bag worth of stuff to give away.

So if you will go on to my blog, and send me an idea for a new show, or a show for us to do on this, or an idea for a new blog, I would be happy to send you an accessory. For the text and transcript of this show or any other shows on the Personal Life Media networks, visit our website at PersonalLifeMedia.com, that's all one word, PersonalLifeMedia.com. This is Chip August. Thanks for listening.

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