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10 Ways Blizzards Are Good for Your Love Life

January 26, 2015

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photo via Flickr

It’s Snowmegeddon! Batten down the hatches! Get the gas for the generators! Scratch the eyes out of the mom at the grocery store grabbing the last of the organic milk! And then take a deep breath, relax, and look at the beautiful snow from another perspective: namely, from a place of love. Here are 10 blizzard-inspired behaviors that can have a potentially positive effect on your romantic relationship:

  1. Cozying up by the fire: If you’ve got a fireplace, there’s no better time to build a fire. And what’s more romantic than a roaring, crackling fire? A thousand cheesy movie love scenes can’t be wrong. Bear skin rug optional; bare skin…ideal.
  2. Nipping whiskey to warm up: It’ll bring a flush to your cheeks, reminiscent of the rosie cheeks you get in, shall we say, other ways. And a little loosening of inhibitions — in moderation, of course — might inspire those “other ways.”
  3. Snuggling under the blankets to share body heat: According to one health site, to avoid hypothermia “remove your clothing and lie next to the person, making skin-to-skin contact. Then cover both bodies with a blanket.” Hey, that’s official medical advice, people!
  4. Winter montages: Building a snowman together, having a snowball fight, drinking hot chocolate, looking adorable in matching woolen hats — it’s like your life is suddenly a rom-com montage! How can you not feel the love?
  5. Power outages mean mood-enhancing candlelight: As with a roaring fire, “natural” light = instant romance, mainly for its flattering affects on your appearance: almost all bodily flaws are forgiven by firelight. Power outages may mean no TV, too — in which case, you’ll just have to make your own entertainment. Hmmm, we wonder how you could do that?
  6. Eskimo kisses: Touching skin that you don’t normally touch can be novel. New nerves are awakened. Use the eskimo kiss to inspire other kinds of untraditional and unexpected touching, if you know what we mean.
  7. Long, hot baths: With nowhere to go when you’re snowed in, there’s no need to rush through a quick shower. Draw a hot bath, add some bubbles or aromatic oils, bring in some candles (even if there’s no power outage), and invite your partner to join.
  8. Post-shovelling massages: Yes, digging out is not only a drag, it can be dangerous: sore muscles, thrown-out backs, even heart attacks. But if you do any heavy lifting and make it back inside safe and sound, you are definitely within your rights to pull the pity card and request a rub down. And it’s almost a scientific fact that 78% of back massages end in sex.
  9. Cancelled work = instant mini staycation: (Please note: for the kid-free only.) With the world basically shut down and all responsibilities temporarily put on hold, you can sleep in, watch movies in bed, and have sex in the middle of the day just like you do on vacation. And the sex is always better on vacation.
  10. Stockholm-Syndrome-Lite. Forced to essentially be each other’s captives for an indeterminate amount of time, you just might fall in love all over again (if you don’t kill each other first).

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10 Journal Prompts to Help You Get Over a Breakup

January 20, 2015

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photo via flickr

Two recent articles in the New York Times (here and here) discussed the benefits of writing things down to help you move on from a difficult situation. An aversion to exercise, for example, or trouble fitting in at a new job, or — the situation we hear about most often at EMandLO.com — inability to get over a breakup. The latter is the one we will discuss here.

You may call it writing in a diary, or “journaling” (assuming that word doesn’t make you feel funny inside!), but researchers call it “expressive writing.” And there is actually a lot of scientific research showing the benefits of expressive writing — studies have shown it can improve mood disorders, boost memory, increase happiness,  improve general health, change behavior, and even reduce symptoms among cancer patients. Holy shit! If expressive writing can punch cancer in the face, just imagine what it can do to your asshole ex.

The idea, according to the NYT, is “based on the idea that we all have a personal narrative that shapes our view of the world and ourselves. But sometimes our inner voice doesn’t get it completely right. Some researchers believe that by writing and then editing our own stories, we can change our perceptions of ourselves and identify obstacles that stand in the way.”

But how the hell do you edit your narrative and change the story? Below are ten prompts that you can follow to do exactly that. Buy yourself a notebook (or do it on your laptop if you prefer, but we like the old-school nature of using a pen). Each day, or every other day, follow one of the prompts below. When you get to the end of the list of prompts, take a few days to read over what you wrote in response to each prompt. Then, start over with prompt number one, and go through to number ten again. When you’ve completed all ten prompts a second time, take a few days to read and compare your two different sets of responses. Repeat, and repeat, as necessary.

Here’s the thing: It may not seem as if you are moving forward, in real time. But journaling in this way is kind of like time-lapse photography — in a month or two or three, you’ll be able to step back, look at the big picture, and see how you really are moving on. And the more distance you have from your ex, the more honest, and more helpful-slash-healing, your responses are likely to be.

Without further ado, here are our ten prompts. Respond in a hundred words, or five hundred, or a thousand, whatever feels right*:

1. Describe what your ex looks like, including at least one physical defect (come on, even supermodels have at least one body part that is less than perfect, even if it’s just an oddly shaped pinkie toe).

2. What do you miss about your ex?

3. What don’t you miss about your ex?

4. Why did you two break up?

5. In what ways were you a better person around your ex?

6. In what ways did your ex make you a worse person?

7. What are you looking for in your next partner?

8. When did you first realize you guys were headed toward a break-up?

9. What was sex like with your ex?

10. What did you do today?

* Warning: According to the NYT, too much journaling might not be right for everyone: If your problem is that you tend to ruminate too much on your feelings after a breakup, then you should limit yourself to a certain word count each day (say, 500 words), and limit yourself to journal entries only every three days.

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4 Ways to Make Your Marriage Last in the 21st Century

January 15, 2015

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by Gwendolyn Bond-Upson for YourTango | photo via flickr

Did you know that the rate of infidelity in American marriages has not increased in 20 years, even though attitudes toward adultery have loosened in the past 40? More facts, in addition to tips for success are included in the University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project’s annual report “The State of Our Unions: Marriage in America 2009.” You can click through the project’s welcome page to read the 116 page report—or just get the abbreviated version here.

Our friends at The Huffington Post have thoughtfully pared the report’s findings down to a few key points as an entry point into more advanced-level marital strategy.

1. Marriage is as much an economic, as an emotional partnership.

This is one area the recession of 2009 has helped families strengthen their bonds. Mutual belt-tightening and simple lifestyle shifts, such as more cooking and eating together at home have united families in both financial agreement and increased communication and quality time. 4 Ways To Avoid Fighting About Money

2. Switch traditional financial responsibilities.

Generally women tend to make the everyday purchasing decisions in a household and men the long-term investment choices. UVA professor Richard T. Wilcox suggests flipping the responsibilities. Women tend to enjoy shopping more and therefore spend more, getting an emotional as well as practical pay-off out of the experience. A man will typically have more spending discipline when it comes to household shopping. But as far as investing goes men are more likely to be overconfident and risky whereas a woman will seek outside advise from a professional, making more informed and prudent financial choices ultimately. 5 Ways To Improve A Marriage That’s Already Strong

3. Accumulating “stuff” does not a happy relationship make.

Getting on the same page with your family budget is a good first step toward harmony, but if you are still harboring materialistic feelings that a “thing” like a car or house or gold-plated toilet are going to make you feel more whole you will undermine the satisfaction you can get from your loved one. Now, don’t get us wrong: it’s still a hoot to watch audience members blowing their tops on Oprah’s annual “Favorite Things” episode! 10 Items Of His We’d Like To Toss

4. Define your own roles.

The idea of the man as sole or even main breadwinner has been going the way of the Dodo for decades. Now with a major increase in male unemployment and more women continuing to work post-childbirth, it is time to redefine our ideas of success and contribution in a working relationship. Men can be caregivers, women can be breadwinners and that can shift over the years as well. You get to chose how you feel about each other’s contributions so why not set them and agree that they are all valued? For A Month, I Did Everything My Wife Said

Time spent together communicating, compromising and just hanging out are a sure way to increase the return on your marriage. Lucky for us the economy is giving us just the slightest nudge to force these practices in to action! How The Recession Forever Changed Relationships

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This article originally appeared on YourTango



36 Questions to Ask a Date Instead of Playing Mind Games

January 13, 2015

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photo via flickr

Dating is so mired in game-playing and pickup moves these days that it’s amazing anyone ever ends up finding lasting love. So we’re huge fans of any approach that manages to cut through all that B.S.

For example, many years ago — before we each found lasting love, against those game-playing odds — Lo conducted a sort of social-romantic experiment: When a friend introduced her to a guy who seemed very nice and whom she was instantly attracted to, she asked him if he’d like to be her boyfriend. Standard protocol would have had her flirt with him and wait for him to buy her a drink and then pretend to be just a little bit interested and he would do the same and so on until maybe they’d manage to “hang out” a few times and perhaps, eventually, stumble into a real relationship. Instead, she asked him if he’d like to cut through all the crap and immediately go steady, kind of like kids do in grade school, before they learn how to save face. He astonishingly agreed. The hand-holding in public was immediate, as was the soul bearing. The relationship lasted only a month or two, but it was healthy and full of honest communication, and when they parted ways, it was as friends.

Em accidentally conducted a similar experiment a decade ago: After Em had two great dates with a guy, the two of us (Em & Lo) had to fly to England for nearly a month, on a book tour for the U.K. edition of our first book, The Big Bang. Em and the guy weren’t in touch during that time — the relationship seemed too new to support long-distance communication — but when she returned, they had a third date. Except it didn’t feel like a third date… it felt more like they’d already been dating a month. So they naturally, mutually, without really discussing anything, just skipped all the are-we-really-into-each-other nonsense of those first unsteady weeks. She was able to leap-frog her bad habit of being attracted to guys who just weren’t into her, and he was able to leap-frog the male version of this. And, reader, she married him.

We found a third example of this kind of “speed mating” in the Modern Love column of the Times this past week: “To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This.” The gist of the piece: During a first date with a guy she’d kind of known for a while, the author had one of those flirty-theoretical conversations about whether it was possible to fall in love with anyone. (It’s the kind of conversation that’s possible to have on a first date, because you’re basically strangers, but then you can’t really talk about that stuff again until you’re in a very serious relationship.)

The author, Mandy Len Catron, recalled a scientific study she’d once read about, wherein a researcher put two complete strangers in a lab, had them ask each other a series of increasingly intimate questions — thirty-six, in all — and then had them stare into each other’s eyes for four minutes. One of the couples in the study ended up marrying (yes, the researcher scored an invite!).

Mandy and her date decided to replicate the experiment, except in a bar. They found the list of questions online and passed an iPhone back and forth between them (who said smart phones are killing romance?!), starting with questions like, “Would you like to be famous? In what way?” And “When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?” Then they progressed to more intimate questions, such as “Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common,” and, of course, “How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?” Finally, they relocated to a nearby bridge and held eye contact for four excruciating minutes.  Reader, they fell in love.

Of course, this experiment isn’t going to work with any random stranger you pluck out of your morning commute. But on a first date, where chemistry and at least a little mutual interest has already been established, we like it a lot more than all of that crappy, heartbreaking game-playing. Plus, it’s a great way to weed out selfish, one-track-minded pickup artists before you get in too deep. As the author says:

But what I like about this study is how it assumes that love is an action. It assumes that what matters to my partner matters to me because we have at least three things in common, because we have close relationships with our mothers, and because he let me look at him. … The study [gave] us a way into a relationship that feels deliberate.

If you want to try it yourself, here are all thirty-six of Dr. Arthur Aron’s questions. You should take it in turns, each answering all thirty-six questions.

1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?

3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?

4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?

5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?

6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?

7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?

8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.

9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?

11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.

12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?

13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?

14. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?

15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?

16. What do you value most in a friendship?

17. What is your most treasured memory?

18. What is your most terrible memory?

19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?

20. What does friendship mean to you?

21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?

22. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.

23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?

24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?

25. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling … “

26. Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share … “

27. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.

28. Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.

29. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.

30. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?

31. Tell your partner something that you like about them already.

32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?

33. If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?

34. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?

35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?

36. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.

Finally, don’t forget to stare into each other’s eyes for four full, SILENT minutes — no cheating! — to seal the deal. (Set a timer on your iPhone, as the author of the piece did.) After that, feel free to seal the deal with a kiss.

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How to Organize Your Ex Out of Your Life

January 6, 2015

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The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

The two of us basically share a brain when it comes to this blog, and we are one hundred percent united on all the important issues in life, love, and dating: safe sex, orgasms for everyone, the superiority of flat-front pants, etc. But every now and then we have to resort to the first-person singular for a post — not necessarily because we disagree, but because one of us has a particular interest that the other just doesn’t quite get. Which is why today’s installment, about the joy of tidying up, comes from Em. Lo can certainly appreciate a tidy, well-organized house, but for her, there’s no joy in this process. Em, on the other hand…

For people like me — i.e. people who relish the idea of spending an entire weekend organizing their house — the arrival of Marie Kondo’s new book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, was kind of like hearing about a brand new religion… one that promises eternal life and free ice cream. The book, which is a massive bestseller in Kondo’s native Japan (where she’s a bona fide celebrity) as well as throughout Europe, and is fast becoming one in the U.S., takes an approach to home organization that is both drastic and zen. Also, kind of quirky. (How often have you thanked your socks for the hard work they do?!)

The basic gist of the KonMari Method is this: If you try to organize everything you currently own, you will fail, time and time again. Instead, you have to purge and then organize. And when purging, you should get rid of any object in your house that fails to “spark joy.” Oh yeah, and you’re supposed to thank these objects for the service they provided you before finding them a new home, too! (The Salvation Army, a friend, the trash, whatever.) The moment I heard about this philosophy, I knew I had my resolution for 2015: Purge my house of all items that fail to bring me joy.  All sweaters that itch, all spoons that are both too big and too small, all paperwork, all superfluous kitchen equipment.

This is probably too drastic for most people, but while contemplating my year of purging ahead (with, yes, glee), it occurred to me that Kondo’s approach would be an excellent way to move on from an ex. She has an evangelical fervor when she talks about the benefits of the KonMari Method. Her clients, she claims, experience life-changing benefits from a de-cluttered, well-organized house: They start businesses, they divorce neglectful spouses, they lose weight, they reconnect with partners, they get promotions. As Kondo writes, “When you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order, too. As a result, you can see quite clearly what you need in life and what you don’t, and what you should and shouldn’t do. … Not only will you never be messy again, but you’ll also get a new start on life.” Which sounds like an excellent post-breakup remedy to me.

So if you’re stuck in a post-breakup rut and finding yourself unable to move on, start with The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Go through your clothes, your books, your makeup, your apocalyptic stock of Q-tips, your photographs, your tchotchkes, your office supplies, your kitchen equipment. “Joy” may be a strong emotion to apply to these objects when you’re in a depressive funk, so here’s a better way of thinking about it in your state of mind: Discard anything that makes you feel even worse. Especially anything that reminds you of your ex. And for those items that remind you of your ex, go ahead and get quirky, Kondo-style: Thank these objects for how they served you during your relationship, and then let them go. Optional soundtrack: Idina Menzel belting out “Let It Go.” (According to this Times writer, Lucinda Williams or George Jones may also work.) Hint: Kondo says you can’t simply assess objects as a group, i.e. “All my clothes/books/tools bring me joy.” No, you have to assess each item individually. This slow, methodical process will be therapeutic in and of itself, you’ll find.

Once you have reduced the contents of your home to only those objects that don’t depress you further, organize the shit out of them. Learn to fold a shirt using the KonMari method. Don’t stack anything in drawers: Every item in a drawer should be visible when you open it. Hang clothes by color. Don’t force books onto a shelf, damaging their spines; purge until there is open space on your shelves. This way, you are open to new acquisitions that will bring you joy.

And yes, that’s a metaphor for your love life.

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What Romance Novels Taught Me About Love (and Lust)

December 18, 2014

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by Aly Walanksy for YourTango | photo via WeHeartIt

Some people criticize the romance drama, but there are things you can learn from it.

Boys get their first taste of sexy times through Internet porn and nudie magazines—but ladies, we have erotica. Or, as the publishers like to call them, romance novels.

Now, I’m not knocking romance novels. In fact, my adolescent dream (tells you a lot about me) was to grow up and be a romance novelist. As early as junior high, I’d go to the library to “study”—and find myself in the Harlequin corner, looking for the latest enticing bodice ripper.

Not to say I had a dirty mind. I didn’t. I don’t. I don’t think, at least. But  much like my fascination with soap operas, romance novels opened my eyes into a world of fantasy, and romance. And obviously, sex.

For the uninitiated, most romance novels are fairly formulaic.  Every book has a central love story, which will undergo some sort of major conflict and be resolved by the final chapter in a way that is simultaneously sexually and emotionally satisfying.

While the overwhelming theme of romance novels is romance—as per genre classification, obviously—any worthwhile one is going to have a whole lot of sex. And chances are, it’ll be pretty darn explicit.

1. The old-fashioned notion of romance.
When I was growing up, romance novels were fairly traditional in their mindset. Yes, there was explicit sex—but it was never graphic. (i.e. He would thrust into her welcoming warmth with his turgid length, but never would any body parts be called BY ITS NAME), and there were certain old-school conventions that were never avoided.

Generally, while the man may possibly have more than one partner throughout the course of the book, the woman would only be with this one male protagonist, and usually, after they declared their love for each other in some big climactic way. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) Ultimately, by the end of the book, they got married—or at the very least were engaged. Because, obviously. That’s totally what always happens, right?

This isn’t reality, but it was the reality of what publishers portrayed 15 years ago. As time went on, the new normal set in. But my mind was shaped by this bizarre erotic fairy tale view of romance and never quite escaped it.

2. Porn vs. Erotica is determined by presence of “feelings”.
I think the logic in the romance novels was that the development of the emotional relationship between the hero and heroine of the story made the sex an erotic portrayal of their feelings and not the porn it sort of was anyway. So what do we learn from this, ladies? Romanticize your torrid encounters. The better the sex, the more destined you are for a meaningful connection.

Movies, TV, romance novels—all have long subscribed to the notion that we are very susceptible to the seductive nature of the characters we fantasize about. And it’s true. My greatest fictional TV loves include Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s Angel and The Tudors‘ King Henry VIII. They are powerful, controlling men with absolutely possessive seductive qualities. It doesn’t go away. And it’s a version of this man that I’m attracted to in real life.

3. The forever love of fantasy.
I’ve always also been very into historical romances, or those set in the supernatural realm. Those that involve queens and kings and vampires and ladies, all involved in deeply sexy (err…romantic!) situations. For these, we’re obviously suspending our sense of reality. But we’re also bringing our own reality into the fantasy. We may not fantasize about a vampire falling in love with us one day (at least I don’t, personally)— but those characteristics of the hero in that novel, it’s going to follow you into your dreams, and your alone-time fantasies for some time to come. And that’s great— maybe even some role-play ideas will come out of it!

4. Romance novels could be female porn.
But not in that way—obviously, we know men react to the visual while women react to the emotional. Erotica plays into this. Have women (and men, I bet!) gotten off to these novels? Absolutely. But I think it’s also about bringing the ideas of the fantasy into their own romantic reality. And that’s a whole other story. And maybe not a good one. If your mind is shaped by the fantastical sexual non-reality— can real life ever live up to it?

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This article originally appeared on YourTango.com



How to Write a Love Letter Like Georgia O’Keeffe

December 12, 2014

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“Blue Flower,” 1918

We’re not surprised in the slightest to discover that Georgia A-Flower-Is-Never-Just-a-Flower O’Keeffe was quite the steamy letter writer. Her love letters to the (ahem, married-at-the-time) photographer and modern art promoter Alfred Stieglitz were published as part of an exhibit at the Whitney Museum of American Art  a few years back. The two married eventually, and Stieglitz cheated on O’Keeffe eventually, too, so we guess karma already did all the judging for us. Which is not to say that you shouldn’t learn from (and take notes on) the passion conveyed in the following letter — it’s good stuff. We would just argue that, though more challenging, the same kind of intensity can be found in loving relationships that don’t have stakes-raising, taboo-tingling adultery at their core. We would also argue for better grammar and punctuation.

From New York

13 June 1918
You will be here in a few minutes I guess but I have to get up and write you – its necessary – I must – I’ve been lying here listening for you in the dark – my face feels so hot Aching for you way down to my finger ends – an actual physical ache –
As I came up the street into the sunset after supper – I wondered – can I stand it – the terrible fineness and beauty of the intensity of you – I do not know – may yet have to run away – it seems almost too much –
…
And lying here – wanting you with such an all ache – not just wanting – loving – feeling – all the parts of my body touched and kissed – conscious of you
A volcano is nothing to it
No words I know say the hotness – consumingness of it
Still I some way feel I can be quiet when you come can control myself
Feeling it grow though—I seem to feel that the moment will come when I cant control myself when I’ll be blind and mad
…
The woman you are making seems to have gone far beyond me – Almost out of sight

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Four Things You Need to Know About Casual, Anonymous, Tinder-esque Sex

December 12, 2014

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by Aaron Kaplan for YourTango  |  photo via Flickr

Just as people were becoming more cautious about casual sexual encounters like anonymous sex and one-night stands, Tinder blew up on the “dating” scene, and people stopped being quite as cautious about risky rendezvous.

No one is saying you have to be a total prude when dating these days. Just because you’re being careful doesn’t mean that you have to take a vow of celibacy. You just have to use some common sense. For instance …

1. Skip the drugs and booze. These include such things as drug and/or alcohol filled parties where you don’t know a lot of people. While raves are usually attended largely by teenage and college-aged kids, there are many adults that like to pretend that they’re still teenagers. A lot of drugs are mood enhancers and act as aphrodisiacs. When you’re high and horny, you’re not going to be thinking about such things as condoms.

2. Wrap it up. Pregnancy isn’t the only thing you have to worry about when it comes to casual sex. There’s also the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD). These run the gamut, from minor tempororary discomfort (like crabs) to infections that never go away (herpes). Some are even deadly, like human papillomavirus (HPV). Your random romp in the sack is the equivalent of playing Russian roulette.

3. Know thy partner. Anonymous hookups can be exciting and even fun, but it can also be one of the more risky behaviors anyone can engage in. You have no clue about the person you’re having sex with, and a lot of the encounters don’t even involve condoms. Worst-case scenario: Your hookup is a rapist or a a serial killer.

3. Bottom line: If you decide that your type of sex simply has to be kinky and risky, use some sort of protection against exchanging bodily fluids, even though it may not be 100 percent effective at protecting you against an STD, it’s better than nothing. And always make sure someone knows where you’re going. You certainly don’t want to become a victim of something simply because you wanted a little excitement.

This article originally appeared on YourTango: “The Tinder Factor: The REAL Risks Of Risque Rendezvous”

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9 No-Duh Sex Moves Men Should Brush Up On

December 5, 2014

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by Eden Strong for YourTango  |  photo via WeHeartIt

Your sex life might be good but aren’t there always a few things that could make it, well, better? Quick answer: YES. How do I know? Over a glass of wine (or several), I flat out asked my friends if their sex life was everything they wanted it to be. I was surprised to hear their answers weren’t about what their partners were doing, they were about the things that they weren’tdoing.

While they unanimously agreed that their sex was swell, they also all agreed they just wanted a little more of these eight things. Listen up, gents!

1. Whisper in our ears.
When we’re getting our sexy on, we obviously want to feel sexy and when you whisper in our ear how sexy we are, it really gets us going. Tell us why you enjoy being with us and I guarantee we’ll reciprocate your efforts.

2. Tell us why you think we’re beautiful.

Every girl wants to feel beautiful, duh. But it’s not just enough to tell us that we are beautiful; us emotionally complicated creatures want assurance as to why you believe this to be true. Yes, we love that you think we have a “sexy ass” and “amazing tits,” but while you’re under those sheets, we’d also like to be reminded of our beautiful smile and our amazing eyes. Every lady wants to be beautiful from head to toe, not just boobs to ass. We want to be the women of your dreams, not just the women of your fantasies.

3. Ask us what we like … and really mean it.

Every single girl I know has been with at least one guy who was going at it while saying things like, “You like that? Oh yeah baby, you like that!” Um, if you’re telling us that we like it, chances are you didn’t even bother to ask us. So ask! And when you ask us, we want you to really ask us. Don’t make the act of asking a rhetorical ego booster that makes you feel like you’re “doing us right.” Ask if we like what you’re doing because you really want to do us right, not because you’re assuring yourself that you are. Trust us, ladies want to be having just as much fun as you would like to think we are having, but we don’t all like the same things so do yourself a favor and find out what gets us going.

4. More foreplay!

Most men I know can go from 0 to 60 in half a second but it takes women a lot longer. Sure, a quickie is nice every once in a while, but why rush it? We want and need foreplay to get us ready for the grand finale. We know you’re excited but give us a little time to get there as well. Not to mention that not only does foreplay feel hella good, but knowing that you’re focused on making our entire body tingle will make us want to return the favor.

5. We want less control. I mean more. I mean …

This one was a split pole when I questioned my friends. Half wanted their men to take charge and rough it up a bit. “He’s so respectful of me that he’s almost afraid of using any force in the bedroom but what I really want is for him to grab me and take control,” said one of my friends. I’m obviously not suggesting turning up the roughness to full volume  without your woman’s consent but you’d be surprised how many of us enjoy playing a more passive role in the bedroom and want nothing more than for you to run the show. That’s one opinion. The other other half of my friends said they wanted their man to back off a bit and let them take the reins. “I feel like as a woman I have a lot less control in the real world than a man does and there’s nothing hotter than switching that up and being the one in charge in the bedroom,” another friend said. So for this one men, please refer to #3 and find out which side of this opinion your lady leans to.

6. Make sure we both finish.

This seems SO obvious, except apparently it isn’t. If you’re going to cum and then flop down beside us before we finish, we didn’t really need to be there because they make blow-up dolls for that. This sex thing, it takes (at least) two people so make sure both of those people reap the rewards of their participation.

7. Change it up.

We’re women, which means you’ll never completely understand us because we constantly change our minds! One day we want romance and the next, we want something else. So basically, in order for you to give us what we want, you’re going to have to constantly change what you give us. We love rose petals on the bed and candles around the tub because we love romance but we also love the thrill of being whisked away for semi-public sex. Not only will the change-up in sex excite us, but it’ll let us know that you’re interested in keeping things fresh.

8. Bring in reinforcements.

As much as we like your man parts, sometimes they just don’t quite hit the spot for us. In those cases, we want you to grab a few extra batteries and a buzzing little toy to help us get to where we need to be. As frustrating as it might be for you to not be able to finish us off with nothing more than your manhood, it’s even more frustrating for us to be left unsatisfied. Just because we need a little more, doesn’t mean you weren’t enough; it just means you’re man enough todo what it takes to please your lady. Trust us, we applaud you for your efforts.

9. Read our body language.

While we may want it rougher in some areas, there are a few areas – namely the clitoris and the nipples – where we’d  like it gentler. Unfortunately, a lot of you dudes get so caught up in the moment that you fail to decipher our “ooo’s” and “ah’s” from our “ah’s!” and “ouch’s!” As my friends agree, we want you to be in tune with our cues so that you know when to lighten it up a little bit. Good sex starts with good communication, so be a great partner and listen to what our body is telling you, especially if our body is flinching, fidgeting, or jumping. Ouch!

This article originally appeared on YourTango

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4 Ways to Tell a Guy You’ve Been Faking

November 25, 2014

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Are you a liar, liar, whose pants, unfortunately, are not on fire at all? If you’ve been faking orgasms with your boyfriend or husband, you need to fess up — after all, the only way to get orgasms is to be honest about what does and doesn’t work for you. You know all this, right? But you just can’t figure out how to tell the truth after all this time. If this sounds like you, then you have four choices:

1. Tell him you’ve been faking.

Explain that you only lied because you were scared and insecure (or embarrassed, or shy, or whatever your reasons) and you’re telling the truth now because he means so much to you and you feel he deserves the truth. Apologize profusely. Make him feel really special, like he’s the only guy who’s ever earned your trust enough to be told the truth, like he’s the only one you’ve ever met who’s man enough to handle the truth. (Do not tell him that other guys have been able to make you climax during intercourse, even if that’s the truth.) Explain to him that the majority of women (like 70%!) don’t climax from intercourse alone — it’s just the way our bodies are built. Then show him exactly how you do climax. And make sure he knows you’d love nothing more than to figure out various ways to get you off together, whether during intercourse or not.

2. Keep on faking and living a lie.

As the years go on, the fights and the sex will both get worse until just the way he holds his fork will annoy the shit out of you and you’ll end up taking it out on him by sleeping with his best friend and then later when you get really mad at him you’ll scream, “I hate you! I’ve always faked with you! But you know who I don’t fake with? Your best friend!”

3. Dump him and find a new man to start over with, this time being honest from the start.

Hey, we never said these were four easy options!

4. Ease into the truth.

For the record, we don’t recommend this approach: when it comes to fessing up about faking, we think option #1 — the band-aid approach — works best. But if you’re feeling really wussy, we guess this approach is better than faking for the rest of your life (#2) or dumping a guy (or even a husband!) you really like (#3).

Start by increasing clitoral stimulation during intercourse — and there are plenty of ways to do it. Encourage him to use his hand on you, or use your hand on yourself. Or bring a little vibrator into the bedroom, or get him to wear one of those vibrating love rings or finger vibes. Or try out positions that are high on full-body contact, like the famous coital alignment technique. Gush effusively about how amazing the sex is when you do these things together for a little Pavlovian conditioning.

Next, encourage him to spend time using his hands on you or going down on you before intercourse — no reason why you can’t have your orgasm before the intercourse starts. And for the record, climaxing during oral sex is climaxing during sex. Same with getting off on handwork. They’re just different varieties of sex, and there’s no shame in favoring one over another. Also, you may well find that intercourse feels even better — perhaps even orgasmic — after you’ve climaxed once. For more tips on how to make sex better for you, check out the advice we gave a while back to a woman who couldn’t orgasm with her boyfriend.

Assuming that at least some of these tips work, eventually you’ll get to a point where some of the stuff you do together makes you climax — and some of the stuff doesn’t. Eventually you might actually be able to tell him, in all honesty, that he made “the earth move like no other.” And if the gods are smiling on you, you might even be able to phase out the faking without your guy catching on.

But assuming your guy is actually paying attention to you in bed — and if he’s not, then that’s your problem right there! — we’re guessing you’re still going to have to fess up. At this point, however, the truth won’t hurt so much — because it’s not like you’re telling him that you’re a big fat faker and nothing he does has ever made you climax. No, you’ll be telling him that you’re a medium-sized faker and some of the stuff he does works better than other stuff. Gentler on a guy’s ego, we have to assume.

That all said, however, we still think that just sitting down with your man — outside the bedroom — and telling him the truth is the way to go, not only because honesty is the best policy, but because guys need to learn that intercourse isn’t the be-all-end-all for a lot of women.

We’ve talked to numerous women who’ve had this conversation with their guys, and the most common reaction is that the guy takes it as a challenge: He wants to jump into bed right then and there and not come up for air until the faker in question has climaxed for reals. Hey, maybe your boyfriend or husband is that kind of guy. And if he’s not? Well, he wasn’t really a keeper after all, was he? The truth hurts, but a life of faking hurts way more.

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