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Why Marriage Vows Should Include Sex

April 15, 2015

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photo via flickr

Traditional marriage vows cover better… and worse; sickness… and health; riches…. and poverty; forsaking all others… but not its opposite. What is the opposite of forsaking all others, anyway? Well, if forsaking all others is about the absence of sex (with other people), then its opposite, in our opinion, is the presence of sex (with your spouse).

We got to thinking about the presence of sex in marriage after reading these quotes on YourTango, from couples who have been married for twenty-five-plus years, on how often they currently have sex. The answer: Some of them, multiple times a week, others, not in many, many years.

Of course, sex is as much a symptom as it is a cause. Bad marriages usually lead to bad or no sex. Only if you’re lucky will you still be having makeup sex after you fight… twenty-five years into your marriage. And decades of resentment isn’t exactly conducive to post-date-night sex. Also, simply having sex a few times a week is no guarantee that you’ll still be happy after twenty-five years of marriage. (Especially if only one of you really wants it.) And who’s to say that a virtually sexless marriage doesn’t work for some happy couples?

Whatever the case, it’s a lot harder to resent each other when you’re having sex that’s satisfying to both partners as often or as little as you’d both like. There’s a world of difference between sex a few times every week or month after twenty-five years… and no sex at all. There’s a world of difference between sex that satisfies one partner but rarely the other. Wouldn’t you like to know what your spouse hopes for? Wouldn’t you like to know what your partner would think if those hopes were dashed? And wouldn’t you like your partner to know your own hopes?

There are no guarantees, of course. Penises malfunction, menopause strikes, bodies change, libidos wane, childbirth fucks everything up, etc. So we’re not suggesting that marriage vows contain any sort of binding commitment to, say, sex every week for the rest of your married life. Besides, we think Aunt Mabel would probably have a heart attack right then and there if she heard this: “In sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer, for reciprocal oral sex and extended sensual massage, for sixty-nines and twenty minutes of foreplay…”

What you should vow, instead, is to do everything in your power to make sure your partner is happy in the bedroom, whatever “in the bedroom” means to them. Note: This kind of vow only works if both of you vow the same thing. That means compromising. But you both have to compromise. Think of it this way: If one of you wants sex every night and the other one wants it, well, never, then having sex every night obviously isn’t a compromise. But in the same vein, if one of you wants sex every night and the other one wants it, well, never, then never having sex isn’t a compromise either, is it?

Unlike traditional marriage vows, a sex vow isn’t one-size-fits-all. Maybe your own personal compromise involves porn… or maybe it involves an open marriage. Maybe you’re willing to discuss a don’t-ask-don’t-tell arrangement, or happy ending massages in Vegas. Are you open to kink? Roleplaying? Talking through fantasies together? Maybe just the possibility of getting a new sex toy to try together every year on your anniversary. Whatever it is, we think it’s probably a good idea to discuss what you’re each open to before you get into a rut. And once you’ve had the conversation, then all you need to promise is to try to be a good custodian of your partner’s desires…whatever that turns out to mean…within reason, of course (e.g. if you got married with the expectation of a straight monogamous relationship, but five years down the line your partner wants to experiment with bisexual orgies, then you are not automatically obligated to sign them up for the nearest swingers convention).

But if you’re dedicated to being open-minded and communicative in your future marriage, then you might consider coming up with a code word for this sex commitment, inserting it into your vows somewhere, and actually saying it out loud as part of your wedding ceremony. That way Aunt Mabel still makes it to the reception.

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5 Good Reasons Not to Fake Your Orgasm

April 9, 2015

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by Amanda Chatel for YourTango

You’re really not as good at it as you may think you are.

It has long been one of those discussions that comes up both in and out of the bedroom: are you faking it or not? Faking an orgasm, that is. Sadly there are actually those out there who end up faking it quite a bit.

Whether it’s to please their partner, convince themselves they’re enjoying it, or they want to speed up the whole process, because sometimes you just don’t have the time, faking it happens pretty often. You may think that your fake orgasms are so great that they’re worthy of an Academy Award but, and I’m sorry to tell you, you’re really not as good at it as you may think you are.

But then again not everyone can pull off the Katz’s Deli scene with Meg Ryan’s famous faux orgasm in When Harry Met Sally.

According to research by Erin Fallis, a Ph.D. student at the University of Waterloo in Canada, your partner is far more “in the know” than you realize when it comes to your sexual satisfaction. As Fallis explains, “We found that, on average, both men and women have fairly accurate and unbiased perceptions of their partners’ sexual satisfaction.”

So there. It doesn’t matter what you might be trying to convey with your moans or even your words, if your partner knows you well enough and can read your emotions, then you’re secret is out.

We asked both men and women what lessons, if any, they had learned from faking it.

Lesson 1: When You’re Caught Lying, It’s Awkward.
“It was a casual thing I had going on with a guy that I never orgasmed with,” says Edie, who claims she usually doesn’t fake it. “But then one night I felt really bad for him and proceeded to moan as if I was having the greatest orgasm of my life.

Afterward he asked me if I had come, and I said yes. He rolled over, looked at me and said, ‘You’re such a liar. Do you really think I could fall for that charade?’ I only saw him once more after that … where I didn’t orgasm and I didn’t fake it.”

Lesson 2: When You’re The One Being Lied To, It’s Even More Awkward.
As Aaron realized, it’s pretty “lame,” to use his word, to be on the other side of that lie.

“Sorry, but I just don’t like lying, especially when I can tell. I called out one girl on her lie, but she just kept denying it over and over until we got into a huge argument about it. It was really pathetic. I know how the female vagina works! Being honest is far sexier.”

Lesson 3: Slightly Faking An Orgasm Can Actually Be Appreciated.
Although Chandra doesn’t believe in faking a full orgasm, as she calls it, she doesn’t mind throwing her partner a bone in the noise department. “Once I acted more into it to help my partner out. It worked. I can’t say he was exactly upset when I told him.

If anything, he thanked me, then helped me reach my climax. Faking it just keeps people from being honest and having a good sex life.”

Lesson 4 Faking It With A One-Stand Is OK.
While Caitlyn agrees that faking it with your partners is just setting up your sex life to be a bummer by reinforcing “the behavior that’s causing you not to get off,” when it comes to a one-night stand things change a bit.

“I’ve only ever faked it with someone I never intended to sleep with again. Why waste time on communication if it’s a hit and run situation? Besides, I’ve found that one-night stands don’t really care anyway.”

Lesson 5: People Are Actually More Concerned With Their Partner’s Pleasure Than Their Own, So Lying Gets Both Parties Nowhere.
Natalie, who’s been in a serious relationship for the past few years, just can’t wrap her brain around why someone would fake it. “I’ve learned that people care more about their partner’s pleasure than their own, so why lie?

Sorry, but if you fake it, you’re just an idiot.

I have never understood this about other women and it makes me really angry that such a concept even exists. I’ve just never even tempted to, and straight-up don’t understand the psychology of it. It seems to be a self-hating psychology, and I’m not comfortable with that.

Just tell him you didn’t—and that can be okay! Because you’re a woman and it’s harder! Duh.” She also continued, “I’m totally convinced that the faking people probably hate their partner. Why would you do that to someone you love? In my experience, they want to know if you’re satisfied or not.”

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6 Tips for How to Date Without Drinking (Plus Tips for Drinkers Dating Teetotalers)

April 2, 2015

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by Laura Barcella for YourTango  |  photo via flickr

Single and sober? Stay healthy with advice and tips on dating without alcohol.

You don’t want to know the ludicrous number of possible love connections I’ve squashed by getting sloshed on a first or second date. The things that have come out of my mouth—both figuratively and literally—on nights out with strangers make me want to crawl into the cozy cocoon of my bed and stay there.

So it’s probably—no, definitely—smart that in 2006 I decided to give up drinking. I’d had enough embarrassing nights out; I’d woken up beside more than my fair share of unattractive strangers, and was, in turn, more than ready to bid farewell to the drunken rants, crying jags and battles with lovers, friends, cab drivers, cashiers and waiters. I also thrilled at the notion of never having another hangover. (Seriously, my hangovers were baaaaaad.)

I’m not sure whether I classified as an alcoholic. I didn’t have to drink every day, though most days I did. Sometimes alcohol helped me relax and have fun. Sometimes it turned me into a yelling, crying beast. And there was no way to tell, when I was tossing back a vodka soda, which me would emerge that night.

But when I said goodbye to alcohol and its commensurate drama, I didn’t intend to bid farewell to dating. I saw my romantic future shimmering atop a cotton candy cloud of contentment and stability. Once I was sober and ready, Mr. Right would surely be waiting for me, albeit at the local coffee shop instead of the next bar stool.

It sucked to discover that alcohol-free dating was still, well, dating: an ouchy dance of anticipation, expectations and artifice. And for those of us who don’t drink, dating can be even more of a mixed bag. Why? Because in case you missed the memo, most Americans are all about alcohol. We meet for happy hour at 5 p.m., dine with wine at 7 p.m., meet lovers at a bar later on, and make every excuse to have another round. And we don’t always do it gracefully—about 18 million Americans have alcohol problems, but only 1.5 million have been treated for them. Yes, it’s depressing; almost makes you want to hit the bottle. Just kidding.

So here are some tips to help you navigate the wild world of dating without drinking. If nothing else, you’ll remember the sex afterward—and, hopefully, actually like the people you wake up with the next morning.

1. Find folks worth dating.

You’re sober, stable and on the prowl. Problem is, you have no clue where to meet potential love connections now that pub-crawling isn’t an option. Where to find cuties who are cool with your new lifestyle? Try asking supportive friends whether they know any awesome, eligible bachelor/ettes who aren’t big drinkers. Like attracts like. You can also try the ever-evolving world of sober online dating: not only can you search for non-drinkers on all the usual dating sites, there are also sober-only services like soberseek.com, sobersocial.com, recoveringmates.com, and soberkiss.com. If a date has difficulty grasping the fact that you don’t drink, drop him and move on. There are too many options out there to waste time with someone who won’t support your attempts to live your happiest life.

2. Coffee, coffee, coffee

You’ve been flirting online with Mr. SexyPants via SnookFinder.com for a week when he asks if you’d like to meet up. You say yes. He asks where. You freeze, cough, check your work email, Google your high school sweetheart again and put away the computer. Now take a deep breath and break that laptop back out. When someone who doesn’t know you’re alcohol-free asks where you’d like to go on a first date, it’s best to suggest a quiet spot where alcohol isn’t readily available. Meeting for coffee or tea is a great first date option; there’s no lengthy dinner service to endure, so if s/he doesn’t float your boat, you’re free to bail post-latte.

What if Mr. HotBuns doesn’t request your input about where to meet and instead asks, point-blank, “Want to meet for drinks on Thursday?” Now is the time to tell him you don’t drink. Offer these three words: “I don’t drink,” followed by something you will do, i.e. “I don’t drink, but I’d love to meet you for coffee on Thursday.” Or, if you’re cool with watching him imbibe, say that—”Sure, although I don’t drink, but I don’t mind watching you while I sip a Diet Coke.” No need to explain further.

3. The dinner option

If you choose to meet McHottie for dinner, you’ll probably have to handle the Weird Wine Hurdle. This occurs when the waiter asks whether you have any questions about the wine list, you say “no,” your date orders a glass of something and then either the waiter or Yummy asks whether you’d like a glass too. What now?

My friend Kelly, a 33-year-old makeup artist and recovering alcoholic, suggests keeping it simple: “No, thank you—water [or whatever I'm drinking] is fine.” Then, quick-like and before your date has time to notice, ask a question to steer the conversation to something more interesting than alcohol.

If you find that sipping on something other than water helps distract from first date awkwardness, nurse a Shirley Temple, Diet Coke or ginger ale. You’ll feel like less of an oddball, and your probably date won’t notice s/he’s the only one getting buzzed. If s/he does notice—or if you feel uncomfortable with your date drinking around you—you have every right to cut the date short and walk away. One of the healthiest things you can do for yourself as a dry dater is learn how to leave when you’re in an awkward situation. Remember, you don’t have to stay anywhere, or with anyone, that makes you feel anxious. Your mental health comes first.

4. If s/he asks why you don’t drink, be coy.

Unless you want to pop open a can of inappropriate, be evasive when your date asks why you don’t drink.

My friend Michelle, a 29-year-old recovering alcoholic, tells guys she dates that she’s a “reformed party girl” or an “ex-bad girl.” She doesn’t explain further, and they usually don’t ask. If they do, she just says “long story” and changes the subject.

Kelly tells dates that she’s “allergic to alcohol” (an idea that’s common among recovering alcoholics, because drinking makes them sick). Remember, it’s just a date—you have the right to reveal personal details about yourself as slowly as you want.

5. Relax already.

For me, the hardest part of dating sans drinking is the lack of lubrication to calm my nerves. It sounds corny, but taking some long, deep breaths before a date both centers you and settles the ever-spinning “what if?” thought loop. Inhale the essence of serenity, confidence and sex appeal; exhale the anxiety.

6. Learn subtle flirting techniques. 

It’s harder to feel uninhibited when you’re not tipsy, so get used to the idea of subtle, grade-school style flirting techniques, like frequently patting your prey on the knee or arm, maintaining steady eye contact, and smiling and laughing at his or her better jokes.

You might feel too shy to bust a move without the help of vodka’s loosening properties, but if you let your interest and intentions be known subtly, your date should get the hint.

If the chemistry is kicking and you feel like you’ll explode if s/he doesn’t touch you, take the initiative and invite Boytoy upstairs for tea or hot cocoa at the end of the date. Remember, “come upstairs” is pretty clear in any language—drunk or not.

The Other Side Of The Table: You’re A Drinker Who’s Dating Someone Sober

What if you’re not a recovering alcoholic, but you’re dating someone who is? Generally speaking, sober folks want support and encouragement. You don’t have to abstain from drinking all the time, but refraining from imbibing around them is always appreciated. “I try to date women who don’t find it weird that I’m sober,” says Craig, who’s been clean for three years. “The worst thing a woman can do is get wasted around me, or try to push me to have some. I need someone who really supports my recovery.”

Jeannette, a sober alcoholic who hasn’t has a drink in 10 months, agrees. “I don’t necessarily feel tempted if I’m someplace where people are drinking, but it’s just not that fun to be around a guy who’s throwing them back.

Don’t question your date’s decision not to drink. Respect her sobriety, don’t push her, and—if you want to make a really good impression—don’t drink in her presence. If, heaven forbid, your partner relapses, the best thing to do is give her time and space to get her proverbial sh*t together. Don’t disappear on her—your support is necessary in times like these—but give her leeway to work through her feelings.

More from YourTango:

10 Dating Tips I REALLY Wish I’d Followed While I Was Single

How To Flirt With A Guy: 7 Powerful Tips

10 Heartbreaking Truths Single People Never Talk About



6 Fun Ways to Seduce Your Husband

April 2, 2015

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photo via Flickr

Let’s face it: seducing straight guys ain’t that hard. A little cleavage and some footsie is pretty much all it takes. The challenge comes after 10 years of marriage, when a lot of the mystery is gone and Internet porn never has a headache. What follows are six classic approaches to seduction that you can make your own, even when you know your fella’s a sure thing.

  1. The Detective: It’s the quintessential seduction technique: Show up at the door (the front or the bedroom) or pick him up somewhere (work or the airport) in a trench coat, heels and not much else. It’s a bold move that takes nerve and confidence. But before you bust it out, just be sure you’ve got a backup outfit handy in case of emergencies. And don’t feel obligated to wear the traditional lace garter-belt ensemble underneath. An oversized “Go Mets!” T-shirt, especially if he’s a fan, might work just as well. What’s sexier than a sense of humor?
  2. The Anais Nin: In an email, text or–get this–a handwritten lust note (yes, they still make nice pens), tell him what you want to do to him right now in great graphic detail, preferably sent to him when he’s in the middle of an important business meeting. This also works whispered in his ear in the middle of a crowded party, a movie theater, or a restaurant.
  3. The Centerfold: No need to have bleach blonde hair, fake boobs or access to an airbrush. A softly lit digital pic taken from a flattering angle will do the trick. Send him one on your camera phone, leave one in his briefcase, or slip one under his pillow, etc. When you take it yourself, you can art direct so as to leave something (including your identity) to the imagination. Note: Only for the man you really, really trust…Not recommended for marriages on the rocks.
  4. The Julie McCoy: Plan a guy date: take note of his likes (e.g. microbrews), hobbies (e.g. fly fishing), and interests (e.g. politics) and then plan a surprise date around them. For example, pack a picnic with a six pack of his favorite ale and have him teach you how to fish while you debate the merits of the electoral college system. From then on, he’ll be happy (okay, willing) to go shopping with you and hold your purse.
  5. The Mrs. Robinson: You take erotic control: make the first move, tell him what you’re going to do to him, have him lie back while you call the shots (you can even tie him up so he complies), you undress him, then yourself (or not)…guaranteed he’ll be putty in your hands (again, unless he’s one of those aforementioned meatheads).
  6. The Pretty Woman: Creating the illusion of variety can help spice things up. Like Julia Roberts, don a blonde bobbed wig and some thigh-high boots (or whatever outfit or Halloween costume makes you look and feel like a new person) and have fun with a little light role-playing: “Hey there, stranger…”

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10 Questions to Ask Each Other Before Getting Married

March 24, 2015

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We’re not talking here about the kinds of questions everyone should ask each other before deciding to get married — things that could be actual deal-breakers, like, Do you want kids? And, Are you a member of the Republican party? No, these ten questions are things you should ask each other in order to have a more harmonious, fulfilling marriage together. The answers to these questions shouldn’t be deal-breakers — but knowing the answers to these questions should help make you a better spouse.

We don’t expect you to do exactly as your partner would like after asking and answering these questions — after all, their preferences might be completely unreasonable! (Ahem, porn, ahem.) But it is helpful, at least, to know what their preferences are, so you can be sensitive to them.

(Oh, and: All this advice could also refer to people are deciding simply to co-habitate ’til death do them part. For the purposes of this article, “marriage” is simply short-hand for “forever love.”)

1. Where do you draw the line between intimacy and T.M.I.?

Are you okay with me peeing in front of you? Should I close the door before pooping? What about hair removal? Should I knock if the bathroom door is closed? Do we have an open-fart policy? Would you prefer I didn’t read your email and text messages? Etc.

2.

a. What are your feelings on masturbation?

I will probably want to masturbate at some point during our marriage. Possibly fairly often. Where and how would you prefer I did this? And are you okay knowing that I do this, or would you prefer a don’t-ask-don’t-approach to self-love?

b. What’s your position on porn/erotica?

Will we be watching/reading it together? Can or should we watch/read it alone? Do you have any restrictions on the kind  you’d prefer I consumed (or how often, or where, etc)? Do you think restrictions are reasonable to begin with? Would you like me to always let you know when I’m going to enjoy it? Or would you prefer that I never discuss porn with you and pretend it doesn’t exist?

3. How much or little can we let ourselves go?

FYI, it’s much easier to discuss this topic before either of you adds on fifty pounds. Does your partner expect to be found attractive through thick and thin…waistlines? You may always love your partner, no matter how they look — that’s easy to promise. But attraction is a different beast. Sure, there are some things people can’t control (disease-repeated weight gain, genetic hair loss, etc.), but we all have a certain amount of control over the way we look. Do you expect your partner to take pains to fight the aging process, or do you expect that with age (and marriage) comes some amount of inevitable, understandable, and therefore forgivable deterioration? Where along this spectrum do you two lie, and if it’s worlds apart, can you meet somewhere in the middle?

4. Will we air our dirty laundry?

Do you mind if I tell my friends when we have a fight? Do you mind if I tell them when we have really good sex? What about if we have really bad sex? Can I talk about your crazy family?

5. Do you want me to tell you if you’re having a bad hair (etc.) day?

Yes, it is a spousal responsibility to let each other know if one of you has a piece of toilet paper stuck to their shoe, spinach in their teeth, or their fly down. But what about the other stuff in life? Do you want me to be honest when you try on an outfit for me? Do you want me to honest when you ask if your hair is thinning? Do you want me to tell you if you’re being too loud at a party? Do you want me to tell you if that anecdote you’ve been bringing out at every single social gathering is really not that funny? Etc.

6. How do you feel about ladies’/guys’ nights out?

How often will we be seeing our friends without each other? Are there any activities you would be bummed about if I did them without you? (And, related: Which TV shows can I go ahead and watch some episodes of without you while you’re gone?)

7. How do you feel about my exes?

Are we staying in touch with our exes? Just Facebook? Just email? Phone? What about in-person get-togethers? Groups only, or is one-on-one acceptable? Day-time meetings only, or are late-night drinks get-togethers kosher? Etc.

8. Will we talk about our fantasies?

Can we tell each other when we find someone else attractive? Can we share sexual fantasies? Do you expect me to share all my fantasies? What if I don’t want to share any of them? Is there anything you will never want to do in bed? Is there anything you’ve always wanted to do in bed?

9. How do you feel about adultery?

Of course we’re promising to never cheat or lie or kiss or sleep with someone else. But let’s face it: some people cheat.  You may be 100% sure you’ll never cheat on your partner, and vice versa, but still — it’s good to talk about this stuff anyway. Do you believe that lifelong monogamy is realistic for humans? Is cheating immediate grounds for divorce? If it’s just a drunken one-night stand with a complete stranger, would you rather not know, if I promise never to do it again? Okay, probably not, but what if it’s just a drunken kiss and nothing more? Do you mind if I text-flirt with someone, so long as we never do anything? What about e-flirting with complete strangers? Could an open relationship ever be even a remote possibility?

10. Do either of us have minimum amounts of sex we expect?

Rarely are two people’s libidos perfectly matched. But someone who requires sex every other day may have a hard time living happily ever after with someone who could take or leave it once every other month. How much sex do we expect? Are there certain acts each of us feels we need to be satisfied? (Oral sex, for example.) And when we hit a rut — and we will hit a rut – will we just ignore it and assume our sex life will bounce back eventually, that it will come and go in waves over the years? Or do we think that a rut is the beginning of the end? And if so, should we pick a codeword to say to each other when it’s reached that point? Will we consider sex manuals? Sex therapy? Couples therapy? Opening our relationship? Divorce? Or will a rut not be that big a deal to us, considering all the other things we’ve got going on in our lives?

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6 Questions to Ask Yourself BEFORE Confessing Your Love to Your BFF

March 20, 2015

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We all know how it goes. Sometimes, we want the things we can’t have.

It’s hard when you think you’re fine being just friends with someone, but once they change their Facebook status to “In a relationship”, you realize you’re not as happy for them as you should be. Falling in love is sometimes messy—amazingly messy.

It’s especially so when you fall for a close friend who is in the dark about the feelings you’ve been harboring. Maybe, until recently, you were too. So, what do you do?

It seems simple enough to just blurt out, “Oh hey, I’m in love with you,” but it’s not. It’s risky to say something (as well as not to) and there are consequences. Before rushing in to anything, here are 6 questions you should ask yourself before dropping the L bomb.

1. Will your friendship survive?

If the foundation of the friendship is solid it won’t crumble, and you should go ahead and confess. If this person is truly your friend, they’ll understand. It’ll be awkward for a few days, and even if you come to find the attraction isn’t mutual, you’ll find you can still be friends. The best-case scenario? The feeling is mutual.

The worst-case?

It’s not. If you don’t think your friendship will bounce back or aren’t sure you can handle the rejection, then you should probably keep your mouth shut for the time being. Distance yourself a little to cope. Who knows, maybe you’ll meet their doppelganger on the subway.

2. What do you hope to gain?

By telling your friend, do you hope they’ll dump their significant other, or that it will help you never to wonder ‘what if’? If it’s the former and they break up for you, are you sure you want to be responsible for breaking someone else’s heart?

If your friend is truly the right one for you, hopefully they’ll realize their current squeeze doesn’t stack up and break up on their own—or once they gets the signals they’ve been waiting for from you. If you think ‘what if’ could lead to forever, it might be wise to suss out if your friend’s considered it, too, before laying your feelings on the line.

3. Are you sure you’re not just jealous?

We all know how it goes. Sometimes, we want the things we can’t have. Often they’re material like that Marc Jacobs bag you’ve been eyeing or a fancy new apartment you’ll never afford waiting tables at a burger joint. Whatever it is, it’s unobtainable and that’s what makes it attractive. This goes for people, too.

It’s natural to be jealous of a close friend’s new companion; the good news is that it subsides. Take a minute and evaluate your feelings. See where things go. If you find that it’s jealousy, then hold off on acting on it. We promise it will get better.

4. Is there a real attraction?

Misinterpreting signals is very common. Often we fall in love based on what we think is going on when, in reality, we could be wrong. Don’t mistake what the Frisky calls “false flirting” for falling in love.

5. How serious is this other relationship?

It’s tricky when there is a third party. It depends how far along the relationship is, whether it’s a week or 9 months. The more serious it is, the harder it will be on your friend. They might feel you’re being unfair and, although not intentionally, you’re pressuring them to choose. You not only have to do what’s best for you, but for everyone else involved, as well.

6. Do you honestly think your friend will be a great lover AND friend at the same time?

You might be saying, “Of course they will! Why else would I be in love with them?” Sorry but friend and boy/girlfriend etiquette don’t fall on the same page. Looking back on past conversations, maybe you notice that you were always the one to initiate them.

Or there were a few times you planned to catch a movie, but your friend canceled on you when something better came up. The things that blow over in a friendship aren’t the same things that blow over in a relationship. Make sure that this is who you want, the good and the bad, before saying “I love you.”

Readers, have you fallen in love with a friend? Tell us how you handled it.

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10 Easy Ways to Be More Romantic

March 20, 2015

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photo via Flickr

Romance is contagious. So the best way to get your guy or gal to be more romantic is to be more romantic with them first. Here are 10 not-too-arduous ways to do just that.

1. Wax nostalgic. Ninety-eight percent of romance is remembering not to take each other for granted. So tap into long-lost crush feelings by regularly thinking back to those first exhilarating moments that made you fall in love: the first time you met, your first date, your first kiss, your first time naked together, the first time you had teary, face-holding, we-adore-each-other sex. Remember how lucky you thought you’d be if you ended up together for the long haul — especially during those moments when the way he chews is starting to annoy you.

2. Don’t overshare. There’s a fine line between intimacy and TMI. We’re not so prudish as to suggest you should never pee in front of one another, but is it so much to ask that you keep your #2′s private? And when it comes to eliminating errant nose, chin, and nipple hairs, it might be a good idea to lock the bathroom door. Ask that he do the same for you. Just think of it as quality alone time to pamper yourselves.

3. Go on dates. Someone told us recently that it’s pathetically suburban to call it a “date night.” We say, save “hip” for your wardrobe and music library and embrace the cheese in your relationship. There’s a reason dinner-and-a-movie is a decades-long tradition — it works! Besides, if you don’t call it a date night, how is your guy supposed to know that you want him to change out of his old college sweatshirt and act all date-like? Subtle hints don’t work; calling it a date night does. If you really can’t stand to say those two words, then help clue him in with a new tie for the occasion — or just ask him to wear a certain shirt that you love.

4. Exchange just-because gifts or treats. Don’t wait for the officially designated romantic holidays —anniversaries, birthdays, and Valentine’s Day — to give your partner a thoughtful present. Surprising him with something out of the blue shows that he’s on your mind, that you don’t take him for granted, and that you care all of the other non-holiday days of the year, too. If you’re broke, just bring him breakfast in bed with his favorite section of the newspaper on a random Sunday (and yes, “favorite section of the newspaper” may also be a euphemism for “fantastic oral sex”). Remember to reassure him that he didn’t somehow forget a major anniversary, otherwise his mind will be racing all day.

5. Engage in random PDA. Not to the point where you elicit pleas to “get a room,” but just enough to increase your daily physical contact and prove to the world (or even just your cat) that you’re in love. Hold hands whenever possible. Give a peck on the lips here and a hug there. And don’t forget the occasional furtive pat on the bum. Studies have shown that even a 20-second hug raises oxytocin levels — and oxytocin is the Hallmark card of the hormone world.

6. Write love notes. No need to pen long, flowery love letters or corny poetry (though the romantic potential of a sweet and funny love haiku cannot be overestimated). Just write the occasional “thinking of you” email, put a surprise “miss you already” Post-It in his business trip suitcase, or draw a heart around your initials on the steamed bathroom mirror.

7. Brag about your partner in public. We understand the inclination to get together with your girlfriends and bitch about the annoying things your partner does (hey, we all do it). But it’s nice to occasionally embrace the positive and speak glowingly about your fella’s home improvement skills/parental instincts/bedroom acumen. Sure, you might annoy your friends who don’t want to hear about how good you have it, but you’ll feel even better about going home to your awesome relationship. Oh, and brag about him to friends when he’s listening, too. Whether it’s a new promotion or just something witty he said last night, we guarantee he’ll swoon.

8. Compliment your partner. Speaking of his self-esteem: We all like to feel needed and desired, but guys especially. So lay the compliments on thick at home, too. Just because it’s been established in your relationship that he can cook (and you can’t), doesn’t mean you can forgo the lavish praises of his famous homemade lasagna. And just because he doesn’t spend as long as you do in front of the mirror doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to hear how attractive you find him — especially if he’s experimenting with a new facial hairstyle.

9. Skydive together. Studies have shown that participating in adrenaline-revving activities together will help keep that spark lit. Bungie-jumping, whitewater rafting, streaking down Main Street in your home town — there’s nothing like near-death experiences to bring a couple closer together.

10. Take a basket-weaving class together. Joint activities don’t all have to be thrilling — studies have also shown that just the novelty is enough to make two people feel closer. If basket-weaving isn’t your bag, join forces for a yoga class, a comedy show, a walking tour, a cooking class, cha-cha lessons, a movie script… hell, even just a double-date with the new couple in town (and no, that one wasn’t a euphemism).



5 Ideas for a Grownup Games Night with Your Partner

March 18, 2015

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photo via flickr

Who says games nights are just for bored kids and drunken singles hoping for a threeway? There’s no reason why committed monogamists shouldn’t have some fun, too. Here are five D.I.Y. ideas for playing together… it’s like foreplay, except with dice!

 

1. Spin the Sex Manual 

>Grab a couple pairs of dice, toss them at the same time, whatever number you get total, go to that page in a sex manual and try out whatever’s on that page. Our two latest books work particularly well for this: SEX: How to Do Everything and, for the really adventurous, 150 Shades of Play: A Beginner’s Guide to Kink. This will take the element of control away from the two of you, so neither of you needs to feel coy or embarrassed about making new suggestions.
 

2. Sexy Simon Says

Take it in turns being “Simon.” When it’s your turn, tell your partner things you’d like them to do to you — or to themselves. “Simon says kiss my neck”; “Simon says take off your pants“; etc; The first person to mess up — i.e. moving without hearing “Simon Says” first — has to massage their partner for 15 minutes. (Or whatever “punishment” you decide on… perhaps you favor something a little more Christian Grey!)

This game is awesome for the same reason teachers favor it with little kids: because it forces you to really LISTEN to your partner! Plus, being forced to call out commands really quickly will encourage you to blurt out things you might normally be a bit embarrassed to ask for. In “Simon Says,” you’re MEANT be bossy!

 

3. Guess the Sensation

One partner is blindfolded and the other partner gathers a selection of potentially sensual items: ice cubes, a feather duster, a clean hairbrush, hand cream, a massage candle (for warm wax). The blindfolded person lies down naked and has to guess what item their partner is using on them. Then switch places! This will teach you to pay attention to bodily sensations, which is a great way to shut out the outside world and really focus on sexual pleasure.
 

 

4. Hand Over the Remote 

And no, we’re not talking about the remote control for your television. Invest in a small, discreet, high quality remote-controlled vibrator (we like LELO’s Lyla 2). Then hit the town with one of you secretly wearing the strategically placed toy and your partner tucking the wireless control in their pocket. That way you can get some sensual kicks anytime, anywhere — you being at your partner’s mercy is all part of the fun!

 

5. Sexy Task Box

This is a game that can begin one evening and last all year long. Each person in the couple writes down on a little piece of paper 5, 10, or 15 things they’d like to try (this could be as simple as, “kiss with tongue for 5 full minutes with no expectation of sex,” or more daring, like, “let me tie you up and blindfold you”). Fold them up, throw them in a hat or box, and then set up a schedule — every day for a month, or once a week for an indefinite amount of time, or whatever you’re comfortable with. Then on your allotted days, take turns pulling out a slip of paper in the morning with the understanding that you’ll have to complete the sex task before you go to sleep that night.

This will encourage you to try new things, help you fulfill each other’s fantasies, and get you thinking about sex all day long, i.e. extended foreplay! Here are the ground rules: both people must approach things with an open mind, there can be no derisive laughing at anyone’s suggestions, and both parties have full veto power over anything they’re truly uncomfortable with.

 

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Why You Should Ditch Tinder and Give Out Your Number Instead

March 17, 2015

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photo via flickr

We’re normally pretty skeptical of the click-baity headlines in Men’s Health magazine. 4 Week Fat Shredder! 12 Scientific Ways to Look Smarter! How Listening to Your Mom Can Make You Fat! But we really loved the recent article by David Amsden, called “Give Her Your Number.” (Amsden is the author of the novel Important Things That Don’t Matter, which we also liked.) The article feels real, and it’s missing all that “negging” bullshit propagated by self-titled “pickup artists.”

Here’s the idea in a nutshell: The author was failing miserably at modern dating techniques like Tinder. Despite this, he had become completely reliant on such technology. This is his first thought upon seeing a beautiful woman walk into the bar:

Straight-up hitting on women seems uncouth to me. Thanks to the ultimate wingman (my smartphone), I prefer a lazier, no-risk way to reach out. I’ll scroll through Tinder, hoping that now that we’ve seen each other, we might also right-swipe to bypass some small talk. Or take a little trip through Instagram to see if she geo-tagged a selfie that I could comment on. (Think that’s weird? Go tweet about it, pal.)

So he decides to go cold turkey from all the seduction technology and adopt an old-school approach instead:

Pulling a pen and notepad out of my back pocket, I jot down my number and head on over.

“Hey, I’m David,” I say as I hand her the slip of paper. “You’re compelling. Call me.”

… I made a pact with myself: Whenever I noticed an attractive woman, I would simply stop and give her my number. Then I’d be standing in front of her and could make another game-time decision: Head for the exit, or see if she wants me to stick around.

To Amsden’s complete and utter surprise, this actually works. Like, really well. Even some women who initially balk at his bold approach often end up texting him a day or two later. In fact, more than half call or text eventually. And here’s why: with Tinder, Match, OKCupid, et al, there’s very little opportunity for face-to-face rejection. You’re not putting yourself out there for potential humiliation. So when someone is bold enough to put themselves in this position — and to do so in a casual, no-pressure way, without any negging — it’s both endearing, and, yes, attractive.

Note that he hands out his number, by the way — he never asks for hers. The ball’s in her court. He’s not collecting digits to make himself feel more manly, he’s simply putting himself out there. It means he’ll be the one sitting there waiting for the phone to ring.

Here’s another reason why it work: It takes a lot of balls (or labes) to do something like this, and as everyone knows, people like balls (or labes). Even if you’re faking this confidence so hard that your asshole actually aches (from all the stress-induced clenching), the person you’re approaching will respond to it.

Remember, though, that those online sites — not to mention skeevy pickup artists — get one thing very right about dating: it’s a numbers game. And we’re not talking about phone numbers. We mean the number of people you approach or scroll past or even go on a first date with. So if you’re going to pull an Amsden, you can’t just do it once. Do it like your sex life depends on it, and maybe you’ll get lucky, too.

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A Professional Escort’s 10 Rules for a Threeway That Won’t Backfire

March 12, 2015

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by Miss Jolene Dubois for YourTango

I’m a professional prostitute. Personally, I’ve had at least 15 to 20 threesomes with different couples as well as my own boyfriends, plus one drunken gang-bang.

In short, I’m quite experienced with the more popular version of threesomes (two girls, one guy), which gives me ample expertise on sharing with you, the reader, the 10 major rules you MUST abide by if you’re going to have a successful threesome:

1. If your partner is pressuring you (either aggressively or passive-aggressively) to have a threesome, don’t feel obligated out of fear they’ll leave you.

To draw a comparison, it’s unlikely I’ll ever be able to have anal sex with a partner; I’ve tried several times and was practically doubled over in pain. If your unwillingness to try a threesome (or anal or whatever) is a deal-breaker, they don’t deserve you and should be kicked to the curb anyway for disrespecting your boundaries.

2. Agree on boundaries beforehand. 

Is the other woman allowed to give him oral? If so, is she obligated to use a condom or dental dam? Is he allowed to penetrate her? How much lesbo action is the man looking for? There’s a spectrum from just kissing and rubbing to girl-on-girl oral and double-ended dildos. If you’re the third person, be sure to establish boundaries before starting (I usually consult the woman).

3. Set realistic expecations. 

Just how much are you two comfortable doing with this other person? Is one of you getting the short end of the stick? Is your partner expecting too much out of it because they’re getting carried away with the fantasy? If it’s your first time, acknowledge that cold feet could occur (a glass of wine might help break the ice).

Usually, the couples I’ve seen discuss ahead of time whether it’s going to be “all about him” (let’s say as a birthday present) or “all about her” (she’s bi and he wants to let her play with that side of herself without cheating). Of course, it’s not always about one person or the other, either, in which case both people get something equal out of the experience.

4. Consider the emotional and physical ramifications.

Threesomes are a great way to spice it up and enjoy sexual acts with someone outside your partnership without cheating. However, what if one or both of you gets jealous? What if one of you ends up seeing the third person again but alone and in secret? This happens all the time. (Trust me, I know.) And it’s usually the man who gets a bit addicted and wants to do 1-on-1s on the side.

5. Make sure the third person has some idea of the tone because they aren’t as familiar with your sexual preferences.

Are you going for soft and sensual? Rough and tumble? Amateur porn crazy? The other person deserves to know, especially if you want to play rough, role-play or have a dominant/submissive tone of degradation.

When a couple I saw as clients were talking dirty to each other, they’d say, “You like watching me f*ck this whore?” It hurt my feelings to the point I almost hit the time-out button, but I let it go, assuming it was heat of the moment dirty talk meant more to turn themselves on rather than degrade me.

(Plus, I am a whore! I just command respect and won’t see — or re-see — clients if they are genuinely disrespectful.)

6. If you suspect your partner is secretly bi or gay, this could be a good litmus test.

Just think about how you will handle it if this truth comes out.

7. If you are the man, make DAMN sure you attend to your woman during the threesome.

Don’t over-emphasize and overly-focus on the other person. Always remind your lady via eye contact, verbal validations and physical actions that she’s your #1 and this isn’t going to threaten your relationship.

If she’s comfortable and turned on enough to watch you bang someone else or focus on the third person more, you will likely know this going in; if not, assume she’s your primary focus. Same goes for gender reversal.

8. Have a dignified and realistic parting of ways.

Don’t do the fake “let’s do this again!” bad first date cop-out. Try and end on a high note, but also be fair and realistic to each another in a way that all parties feel respected.

If the chemistry is good, definitely entertain the thought of doing it again, and if the chemistry is off (or you want to uphold your boundary as a couple not looking for someone getting clingy), it might be best to make clear it was a one time only episode.

9. Don’t get too addicted and carried away once you’ve popped your threesome cherry for the first time as a couple. 

Discuss as a couple how often you want to have threesomes and whether you want the same person to join or whether you want to mix it up. Establish rules about whether each of you are allowed to see the third party on your own and, if so, whether the boundary is a friendly coffee (fully clothed) or some sexual activity within agreed upon boundaries.

10. Practice safe sex.

This should be a no-brainer, but even if the third in your threesome is a trusted friend, either use condoms and other protection or agree to get rapid testing prior to the encounter to rule out all STDs. Never assume someone’s clean. Many people selfishly claim to be STD-free to avoid condom use and other precautions that can diminish the pleasure level.

More from YourTango:

Is It Wrong NOT To Tell My Boyfriend That I’m A Prostitute?

10 Harsh Truths Your Husband’s Prostitute Wants You To Know

How Does An Affair Start?