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Your Call: I Finally Escaped a 13-Year Toxic Marriage. Now What?

April 14, 2014

8 Comments

We get a lot of questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to respond to a reader. Make your call on the letter below by leaving your thoughts in the comments section. 

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Dear Em & Lo,

I am 30 years old and a single mother of 4. I just got out of a very toxic relationship of 13 years. I got married when I was 18 to a man eleven years my senior — yes, I was young and dumb. But I also grew up in poverty (my parents got sponsored to the United States just before I was born) and when I was growing up I was not educated enough to understand what a good man is.

Long story short, I accepted so many wrong things and allowed so much wrong doings in my last relationship that I almost want to become anti-social, and just do everything at home, no matter if it’s school, work, or even shopping. During my 13 years of marriage, I became oppressed and stopped everything that kept me happy and devoted my life to this man.

Now that I finally got out of the relationship, I am ready to live again, I am back in school, socializing, just engaging with society — I feel like I’m 18 again and doing everything that I stopped doing when I got married. I don’t know if this is a good or bad thing, but it really feels like I am catching up with everything I missed out on.

I’m afraid to fall in love with the wrong person and be abused in every way. I’m afraid of being alone as well — I think that’s why I stayed in the relationship for so long. Taking and dealing with all this really FUCKED me up.

I need so much help! How can I move forward?

– The Not So Gay Divorcee

What do you think N.S.G.D. should do? Leave your suggestions for her in the comments section below. 

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Is “I Love You, But…” Always a Dealbreaker?

April 9, 2014

3 Comments

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Dear Em & Lo,

What do I do when a guy says he loves me, but he won’t commit to being my boyfriend? Does he really love me?

– Miss Interpreted

Dear M.I.,

Here’s your short answer: Run away! No, he doesn’t really love you!

Here’s your long answer: Run away! Run away! Run away! Run away! Run away! Run away! Run away! Run away! Run away! Run away! No, he doesn’t really love you! No, he doesn’t really love you! No, he doesn’t really love you! No, he doesn’t really love you! No, he doesn’t really love you! No, he doesn’t really love you! No, he doesn’t really love you! No, he doesn’t really love you! No, he doesn’t really love you! No, he doesn’t really love you!

Okay, seriously, we can think of maybe a handful of reasons why somebody may really actually honestly love you but be unable to commit to being your boyfriend:

1. He’s already taken. In which case, like, we said: Run away!

2. He loves you like a sister. In which case: Run away! Because you’ll never get out of the sister zone.

3. He’s gay and loves you like a beard. (Er, do we even need to say it?)

4. He’s in the C.I.A.

5. He’s in jail.

More likely, however, that he just wants to screw your brains out, and he thinks that the sex will be better — or at least, more available to him — if he tells you he loves you. Love is complicated, sure, but it’s not that complicated.

Love ya!

Em & Lo

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Your Call: How Can I Get Her to Let Me In?

April 7, 2014

2 Comments

photo via Flickr

We get a lot of questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to respond to a reader. Make your call on the letter below by leaving your deep thoughts in the comments section. 

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I have been dating this gal for about 18 months now and recently she said we were getting too familiar. She was widowed seven years ago and when she feels she is falling for me, then she closes up and drives me away. She wants to be friends but does not want to go out and do things friends do. We play cards twice a week but she barely talks to me (though she does chat with others). Any suggestions as to how to get things on the right track again?

– The Outsider

What do you think T.O. should do? Leave your suggestions in the comments section below. 

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Your Call: What’s the Difference Between Make-Up & Photoshop?

March 24, 2014

2 Comments

photo via Flickr

We get a lot of questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to respond to a reader. Make your call on the letter below by leaving your deep thoughts in the comments section. 

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*PRIVATE* Advice Service!

 

Hi,

I just read the question and response about the lady who felt bad because her husband had slightly photo-shopped photos he had taken of her nude body.  I thought your response was absolutely excellent.

However, this made me think a bit about photo-shopping in general, which is used, bluntly speaking, to present a version of the woman that is somewhat removed from the reality.

So, how different is this from women using make-up and other beauty treatments?  In my mind, make-up is merely ‘old-style low tech’ photo-shopping.

When a woman uses mascara, eye-liner, blush, and all the other things that guys like me can’t identify on a bet, they are altering their true image.  Yet, very few women will go out in public without doing this.

I’m not suggesting this is wrong, or a bad thing.  It is just the way things are.  And a bad or extreme photo-shopped image is terrible, just like overdone, or poorly applied make-up.

What do you think?

Steve

What do you think about Steve’s point? Leave your deep thoughts in the comments section below. Ours is this video:

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When Do I Tell a New Partner I Want an Open Relationship?

March 18, 2014

4 Comments

We get a lot of advice questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to advise a reader. You can leave your advice in the comments section below. 

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Dear Em & Lo,

I’m a single guy and I’m fairly active on the dating scene. When I eventually get into a long-term relationship, I’d like it to be an open relationship, but I don’t know when and how to bring this up with new partners. I don’t want to scare a woman off by mentioning it too soon, but I don’t want to be accused of leading her on, either. When’s the right time to mention that long-term monogamy isn’t really my thing?

– Free Willy

What’s your advice for Free Willy? Leave your suggestions in the comments section below.

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Dear Em & Lo: My Husband Photoshopped My Nude Photos

March 12, 2014

2 Comments

photo by cogdogblog

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Dear Em & Lo,

While on our honeymoon, we took advantage of a rainy day to stay lazily in our beautiful hotel room all day. We crossed a boundary we hadn’t crossed before: nude photography! We’d been playing with the idea for a while, but I was a bit hesitant because I’m overweight and don’t always like how I look in pictures, and it felt like a huge step. After the wedding though, I was feeling like a million dollars and told my husband I was ready to go ahead. We made that big legal commitment, I was ready for the emotional commitment of nudes as well.

It was an incredibly sexy to be in front of my husband’s lens, he checked in often with me to see if I was still comfortable, we talked ideas through before going ahead. I felt very safe and in control. We also agreed I could veto any photo I didn’t like, and it would be immediately erased. We ended up with a set of pictures we both liked, and my husband was going to do some post-production in photoshop, to fix lighting problems and get rid of power outlets etc.

In most pictures, that is exactly what he did, but I recently found out that in some pictures, he also slightly photoshopped my body: he made my upper arms and thighs a bit slimmer, smoothed out my love handles, minimized cellulite on my bum. It’s not extreme: I don’t suddenly look like a supermodel or anything. It’s just a slightly glamorized version of me, but I still can’t help feeling hurt and confused. Yes, the pictures look a bit nicer, but I was very happy with how I looked in the originals.

I know my husband adores me, but I suddenly feel like I have to compete with a digital version of myself and I’m afraid I won’t live up to the challenge. I am working on losing weight (have been for a while) but weight loss isn’t like photoshop: you can’t target offending points and trim those and keep other spots as they are. I think I’ll still have slightly flabby arms when I’m slimmer and I might just lose the fat in the wrong places…

How do I get my self-confidence back? How do we get past this?

Thanks for your advice,
Digitally Altered

Dear D.A.,

Oh, man. Serious honeymoon period buzz kill. We are so sorry that something that started off so wonderfully — hot monogamy! breaking taboos together! loving your naked body! — ended up hurting you so much.

Your husband sounds like one of the Good Ones. He made you feel sexy in front of his lens, he made you feel comfortable, he made you feel safe, and he made you feel in control. That’s the million-dollar combination — no wonder you felt like a million bucks! And then he went and fucked it all up with a little Photoshop. But given that he’s one of the Good Ones — we’re going to go out on a limb here and assume that he is — we’re convinced his intentions were good.

He wasn’t trying to make you feel bad about yourself — he thought he was doing something nice for you. And he wasn’t trying to make you look the way he wishes you looked — he was trying to make you look the way he thinks you wishes you looked. Stupid fucking women’s magazines/celebrity anorexics/looming billboard advertisements. They are a hundred times more to blame than your husband is. Remember, he took the original pictures. He asked you to get naked. He married you. He’s turned on by you. That way you felt under his lens? That’s more real than anything else. Unless you catch him jerking off to your digitally altered picture every night instead of ever jumping your bones, we’re pretty sure he prefers the real, live, fleshy you.

If it makes you feel better, you’re in good company. Every single actress — even the underfed, underweight, seriously malnourished ones — get Photoshopped on magazine covers. Even the mutantly, impossibly gorgeous ones. Even the ones who make public statements about women’s body image and how fucked up Photoshop is (hi Kate Winslet) — even they get Photoshopped. Which doesn’t make it okay, it’s just a reminder of how insidious this is. Be glad that you don’t have a job that requires you to starve yourself, shun all carbs, and then, after all that, STILL get Photoshopped on magazine covers. Be grateful for ice cream and french fries and sexy curves and bones that don’t break under the weight of making love.

We know it seems like your digitally altered image is a figment of your husband’s imagination, someone he wishes you could be, and someone you now feel like you’re in competition with. (Em sometimes looks back at her high school yearbook photo and is astounded at the golden, glowing girl she sees there. And then she remembers how the studio photoshopped out her raging acne — and she is touched by how brightly and optimistically that girl smiled despite the acne.) But people are constantly presenting glamorized versions of themselves — online personal ads, for example. Or the way we are at happy hour drinks with co-workers. Or the images and status updates we choose to post to Facebook/Twitter/Instagram et al. Or the way we look on a date night. The great thing about marriage is that you get it all — you get to live with each other’s glamorized selves, AND you get to live with the real selves. Your husband isn’t choosing between the two, or favoring one over the other — he wants it all.

By the way, in a slight defense of your husband: Nude photos are tough. The wrong angle or the wrong lighting can be disastrous, even for Angelina Jolie (okay, maybe for everyone EXCEPT her). This is why we often recommend people use Polaroids (or Polaroid-style filters) and candlelight and even an artsy blurred approach. There’s nothing wrong with giving yourself a little artistic license in the nude-photo department.

But. There’s nothing wrong with cellulite, either, and we hope your husband realizes this. Have you told him how hurt you were by his amateur Photoshopping? You should. Be kind and gentle, but tell him. Tell him how much you loved the original photos, and how much it meant to you that he took them. Chances are, he had no idea his actions would upset you so. You’re still in the honeymoon period, after all! The way you get past this is to be honest with each other, to listen to each other, and to be kind to each other. Also, to lust after each other!

As to how you can regain your confidence: Be patient. Accept your husband’s compliments. Initiate sex. Work out* (for the psychological boost as much as anything — it will fill you with energy and confidence). Be more patient. Take more pictures of each other (we highly recommend photo filters!). Make a saucy video together. Google celebrities who have been Photoshopped. (Okay, we realize that isn’t so high-minded or mindful, but sometimes it helps.) Take up yoga. Write in a gratitude journal each day, focusing on your sex life — focus on what you love about your marriage, your husband, your body. Have more sex. Enjoy ice cream and french fries.

Smooches,

Em & Lo

* Sure, weight loss alone isn’t like Photoshop in terms of targeting the spots that bother you — that’s what exercise is for! (Combined with portion control.) And everyone has time for a 7-Minute Workout each day.

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Dear Em & Lo: I Got My Period During Sex and Am Mortified

March 5, 2014

5 Comments


photo by greenchartreuse

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Dear Em & Lo,

I recently hooked up with a guy from work, but unfortunately things did not end up well. While we were having sex I got my period and it was brutal. I was so embarrassed that I didn’t want to finish. He was generally nice about the whole situation but things just haven’t been that same. I quit responding to his texts and now things more awkward than ever. I have to go back to work but I don’t know how to act. How should I handle this unfortunate situation?

– Red

Dear Red,

You yourself turned a little spill into a scene from “Carrie.” He was nice about it, it sounds like he would have been happy to keep going, and he continued to text you. But you? You freaked out, stopped responding to him, and have probably been acting all weird at the office. All unnecessarily!

Look, you have nothing to be embarrassed about. Accidents happen. You cannot set your watch by your period — sometimes it shows up a little early, sometimes a little late. If you were at his place, you could feel a little bit bad about staining his sheets and could have apologized for that. But it’s nothing a good soak in a bucket of ice water can’t fix (plus, he should probably be washing his sheets more often than he does, anyway). And if you were at your place, then don’t sweat it!

The natural and normal occurrence of menstruation is nothing to be ashamed of or grossed out by. You’re having sex: you’re already dealing with mucous membranes and bodily fluids and semen! And do tell us exactly how semen is so much better/less gross than menstrual blood…? Oh, that’s right, you can’t, because it’s not. They’re either both gross or they’re both no biggie. As a sexual creature who has to live with her reproductive system for the rest of her life, we suggest you embrace the latter perspective.

Actually, we insist on it. Because you are responsible for helping teach guys this lesson, too. While your coworker sounds like a cool, accepting, well-adjusted guy, your overreaction only served to suggest to him that there is something gross and unnatural and shameful about women’s real bodies.

Unfortunately, the way you handled the situation was way worse (i.e. more off-putting) than the situation itself. You could have set the tone by admitting embarrassment but ultimately laughing it off and moving on together. But instead you freaked out and your freakout may have driven him away. The best you can do is work hard on getting rid of this guilt and shame, accepting your body — and sex — as inherently imperfect, and not taking it all so seriously. Then maybe someday you’ll be able to laugh about it with your coworker.

Your bloody valentines,

Em & Lo

 

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Your Call: Why Are Younger Guys Suddenly Hitting On Me?

March 3, 2014

2 Comments

We get a lot of advice questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to advise a reader. You can leave your advice in the comments section below. 

Submit Your Own Question to EMandLO.comTry Our New
*PRIVATE* Advice Service!

 

Dear Em & Lo,

Ever since I’ve turned 35, I’ve been getting a LOT of attention from guys 25 and under. Should I be flattered because, as I’ve been told, I “give off confident sexy older woman vibes”? Or horrified that an older woman is just something on their “to do” list? What is the real appeal of an older woman?

– Accidental Cougar

What do you have to say to Accidental Cougar? Is this attention personal, or just a matter of guys wanting to check off a box? And what is the age-old appeal of an older woman?

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Dear Em & Lo: My “Friend” Tried to Get Frisky with Me

February 27, 2014

0 Comments

photo via Flickr

Every week or so we answer queries from you, dear readers, about your love lives. You can submit your own question — anonymously! — via our contact form here.

Dear Em & Lo

I believed that I had met a wonderful man who became a friend. About a year ago, he was going through a very bad breakup with his girlfriend. We saw each other off and on as friends. He mentioned to me that he was getting “those needs met” by other women, and to be honest, I really did not care — that was his personal business. Granted, we were very attracted to each other, and we were affectionate towards each other — holding each other, kissing each other, and flirting. I expressed to him that I have boundaries that I will not cross.

Just recently we got together to hang out and have dinner. I told him that it was my treat because he had paid for the last two times. The dinner went great, and he took me home and in my driveway he leaned over and started to kiss me. It was fine until he started to get “Roman hands and Russian fingers.” I had to stop him, I told him that I could not just give my body like that (and in all places in my driveway!!). I said that my heart and my body are one, and besides, we did not have a close friendship, it was a distant one.

I thought he was single — he had not mentioned that he was in a relationship. It turned out that he was, and needless to say, I was madder than the left corner of hell! When I called him on it, he said that none of my business, and I “should not be jealous.” Well excuse me, it is my business, especially when he was trying to get to the “holy of holies.”

I realize that there are some women that “get down like that,” but I’m not one of them, and I told him this before. I liked him, and I wanted to give him space to deal with his breakup so we kept in touch with each other. I really did not expect this. It’s now been five months since I’ve seen him. I admit that I’m sad, because in time maybe we could have had something, but not now because I can’t trust him. Whatever he is doing to these other women, I know he will do to me. Why is it so hard for a good women to find a good man? And what is the deal with men??

– Crossed Boundaries

Dear C.B.,

What is the deal with men? What is the deal with women, more like it. Actually, what is the deal with people, period.

Newsflash: If you hold each other and kiss and flirt, you are not just friends.

Question: How could he know that your heart and body were one if you held him and flirted with him when you were barely friends, let alone dating?

Newsflash: Your boundaries are confusing to us, so they’re probably confusing to him, too.

Question: What were you waiting for with regards to this guy, exactly? For him to date a few other women before he noticed you were still there? For him to grow up? For him to get desperate? And if you were waiting, why were you making out with him?

Here’s the thing: If you want to meet a good man, then hang out with a good man. If you want a man to respect your boundaries, then choose boundaries that make sense, and convey them clearly. If you’re going to have fuzzy, confusing boundaries, then you need to pay extra special attention with regards to conveying them clearly. Also, if you want to be just friends with a man, then don’t kiss him or snuggle him or hold him — that’s just confusing to all parties involved. And if you want to date him, then make sure he knows this.

In short, vagueness leads to more vagueness. Fuzziness leads to more fuzziness… which may or may not involve Roman hands and Russian fingers in the driveway. If you want clarity and simplicity and goodness, then set those standards yourself, and kick anyone to the curb who doesn’t play by your rules.

Crossed women,

Em & Lo

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Your Call: Do Bigger Penises Lead to Different Orgasms for Women?

February 18, 2014

6 Comments


photo via Flickr

We get a lot of advice questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to advise a reader. Make your call on the letter below by leaving your advice in the comments section.

Dear Em & Lo,

Are the G-Spot orgasm and vaginal orgasm the same thing?

Assuming they’re different: I have an average penis size of 6 inches in lenth and 5 inches girth — am I able to give a woman a G-Spot or vaginal orgasm?

I have read about women saying only above average penises (8 inches mentioned the most) can reach certain spots in the vagina to produce these orgasms. I wouldn’t say I am insecure about myself or my size, but I would just like to know if this is true.

And let’s face it: Even if it is true, there isn’t much I can do to get to 8 inches anyway is there! I would just concentrate on trying to please through the clitoris instead.

– Average Joe

What advice or insight do you have to share with Average Joe about G-spot vs. vaginal orgasms and penis size? Leave your comments in the feedback section below.

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