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8 Easy Ways to Tell If It’s Love… Or Lust

February 26, 2015

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by Caithlin Pena for YourTango  | photo via Flickr

Love, lust: it’s easy to confuse the two, especially in the early stages of a relationship. Both emotions make you feel a kind of bliss that you’ve never experienced before – which is wonderful and joyous and something to celebrate – but make sure you know the difference between the two. Need a little help? Here’s a few clues:

1. When you’re in lust, you dress to the NINES. Maybe even the TENS. Obviously, there’s no harm in trying to look good for your significant other, especially when you’re first courting each other. But we all know dressing (and looking) like you’re going to Fashion Week each time you step out for a date takes a sh*t-ton of effort, not to mention money!

When you’re in love, you might forget to wear pants. Are you wearing a shirt? Check. Shoes? Check. Pants? Oops! On those exciting Friday nights where you end up pacing the aisles of Costco to stock up on frozen pizzas and Lucky Charms cereal, comfort = love.

2. When you’re in lust, you look past their foolishness. Things are so hot & heavy, it’s easy to look past minor “annoyances” (that laugh, that money problem, that MOTHER) that may turn into larger issues down the road.

When you’re in love, you point out their mistakes. You love them, which is why you want them to be a better person. And if they love you, they’ll accept the (constructive) criticism and try to be a better person not just for you but for themselves, too.

3. When you’re in lust, you say what they want to hear. You constantly aim to please. When they ask you a question, you’re more apt to reply with a “safe” answer, even though it might not fully express how you feel. (You figure you’ll get to that later, right?)

When you’re in love, you keep it real. You don’t agree with everything they’re saying and you clearly state that. Having different views and opinions from your significant other doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not a good match; it just means that SHOCKER: You’re different people. And that’s okay. Healthy debate is good and normal and helpful at seeing things from another perspective.

4. When you’re in lust, the person you’re with is a Greek God/Goddess. Or rather, try this analogy: a perfectly-shaped cookie with no dents or chipped corners. But hate to break-it-to-you: even perfect-looking cookies have burnt sides (even if they’re not visible at first).

When you’re in love, they’re more like a Greek God/Goddess statue missing it’s arm. Perfectly imperfect, just like you! Pretending to be anything other than that is exhausting and oh: A LIE.

5. When you’re in lust, you don’t really know them. Sure, you know their favorite color is blue and their favorite food is macaroni and cheese. But that’s surface level-stuff. You haven’t dug down deep – and girl, that tunnel is LONG.

When you’re in love, you know small insignificant details. Their favorite color is blue because when they were little, it was their mother’s favorite color to dress them up in. Their favorite food is mac & cheese because it’s the comfort food their Grandma always made them when they went to visit. These small, seemingly insignificant details are intimate parts of their past and who they is. And you know all these little, beautiful factoids because you took the time to really get to know them – and better even, you still want to know more.

6. When you’re in lust, you don’t feel comfortable talking to them about your problems. Talking about your problem can help ease stress and tension. But you prefer to talk about them with someone you trust. And let’s face it, you’re just not at that ride-or-die stage yet.

When you’re in love, you’ll talk to them about, well, basically everything. You know you love someone when you can trust them with the most minor (and major!) issues you’re having, not matter how weird/trivial/embarrassing they are. You know that they’ll listen without judgement. That’s love.

7. When you’re in lust, silence is awkward. Which is either filled with rambling or make-out sessions. No objection to make-out sessions, of course, but the fact that you both find the silence awkward is a sign of discomfort.

When you’re in love, silence is welcomed.  When you run out of conversation topics, you don’t feel like you need to fill the silence with something else. You just let the silence sit comfortably. The void is welcome.

8. When you’re in lust, the future is unknown. Yes, you’re enjoying every moment you have with them right now. You love their attention, the dates, and the feeling of pure bliss. But when you look at the long run, you have absolutely no idea what the next few months (or years!) will hold. It’s a little scary.

When you’re in love, you welcome thoughts of the futureWhether you marry or not is up to you both, but can you see yourself sitting side-by-side on matching rickety rocking chairs? Does the idea of that give you something to look forward to? Do you picture bad vacations, fights over trivial things, and (gasp!) babies and can’t imagine anyone else taking this journey with you? Then, you’re totally and utterly in love.

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The Best (and Worst) Quotes from the 2015 Oscars

February 23, 2015

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Speeches about equal pay for women and gay rights…equal opportunity objectification (thanks, Neil!)…straight men being sensitive and highly emotional about their mothers…more jokes about balls than boobs…anyone would think it was 2015 out there! Here are our favorite quotes from the Oscars last night:

“I tried to commit suicide at 16, and now I’m standing here. I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she doesn’t fit in anywhere. You do. Stay weird. Stay different, and then when it’s your turn and you are standing on this stage please pass the same message along.” — Graham Moore, accepting the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Imitation Game

“If I may, call your mom. If you’re lucky enough to have parents or two alive on this planet…Don’t text, don’t email. Call them on the phone tell them you love them. Talk to them for as long as they want to hear you. Thank you, mom and dad.” — J.K. Simmons, accepting the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for Whiplash

“To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s civil rights. It is our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.” — Patricia Arquette, accepting the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for Boyhood (to enthusiastic cheers from Meryl and J.Lo. who basically stormed the stage in her support, see photo above)

“Benedict Cumberbatch: It’s not only the most awesome name in show business. It’s also the sound you get when you ask John Travolta to pronounce ‘Ben Affleck.’” — host Neil Patrick Harris

“They are four women. Plus — in accordance with California state law — Meryl Streep.” — Jared Leto introducing the best supporting actress nominees

“Our next film is amazing. I’m blown away right now myself. [tearing up] Our next nominee for best picture reveals how the visionary father of modern computing Alan Turing helps defeat the Nazis only to have his own greatness stripped away from him for his sexual orientation.” — Terrence Howard, introducing The Imitation Game (as he began to get choked up, most people assumed he was going to introduce Selma)

“Good luck charms work … tonight I am wearing the real Michael Keaton’s tightie-whities. They are tight and smell like balls.” — Alejandro González Iñárritu, accepting the Oscar for Best Director for Birdman

“I read an article that said that winning an Oscar could lead to living five years longer. If that’s true, I’d like to thank the Academy because my husband is younger than me.” — Julianne Moore, accepting the Best Actress Oscar for Still Alice (and for the record, he’s not just younger than her, he’s nine years younger!)

“Who gave this son of a bitch his green card? Birdman!” — Sean Penn, presenting the Best Picture Oscar to Birdman

“We don’t stand here alone, it’s possible through the great organisations that support us. The disclosures that Edward Snowden revealed aren’t only a threat to privacy but to democracy, when the most important decisions made affect all of us. Thank you to Edward Snowden.” — Laura Poitras, accepting the Best Documentary Oscar for Citizenfour

“Welcome to the 87th Oscars. Tonight we honor Hollywood’s best and whitest — sorry, brightest.” — host Neil Patrick Harris, in one of the rare funny jokes of the night

“Our next presenter is not only the star of the record breaker for biggest February premiere ever, Fifty Shades of Grey, she’s also the reason you had to explain to your grandmother what a spanking bench is.” – host Neil Patrick Harris, introducing Dakota Johnson

And, finally, the very worst quote of the night happened backstage:

“Fear is the condom of life. It doesn’t allow you to enjoy things.” — Oscar-winning Birdman director Alejandro González Iñárritu

Seriously, dude? It’s one thing to make fun of the ball-sweating properties of tight-whities. That’s funny, and also, it makes us think of balls during a night when it’s mostly golden globes on display. But don’t go giving condoms a bad name!

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Top 10 Signs You’re Reading Bad Erotica

February 20, 2015

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Years ago, we popped our sex-writing cherries at Nerve.com, the online magazine about sex that featured impressive original fiction by the likes of Jay McInerney and Rick Moody. As young, naïve, and underpaid Internet employees, one of our duties included trudging through the slush pile—that four-foot-high stack of unsolicited submissions by amateur writers who thought they grasped what Nerve’s “literary smut” was all about.  Alas, they did not. Long before the excessive adverbs of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” we got second-hand embarrassment from poorly written erotica trying so desperately to be compelling lit via Nerve. So we soon developed a battery of criteria to quickly identify the runts. Never again would we struggle for long through prose so cheesy it came with crackers (except if we were having a bad day and needed a good chuckle). Now, neither will you:

  1. The text is sprinkled with “creative” euphemisms for the penis, in particular those that call up manly pursuits such as cars, the great outdoors, or weaponry: lust log, love muscle, rod of steel, love gun, etc. Bonus negative points if the adjectives “engorged,” “pulsing,” “throbbing,” or “glistening” appear before such synonyms.
  2. Meanwhile, the word “pussy” is used exclusively and without restraint.
  3. She’s running her fingers through his waist-length locks.
  4. He has a 13-inch penis (and it’s not Sci-fi erotica).
  5. It’s Sci-fi erotica.
  6. “Come” is spelled with a “u” and no “e.”
  7. You note excessive use of fire imagery, as in: “The candles flickered and the fireplace roared as he stoked the flames of her burning desire with his fireman’s pole until she was so hot and bothered, the fire alarm rang and the sprinklers busted a nut all over their smoldering lust.”
  8. It reminds you to make an appointment with your urologist/gynecologist.
  9. It contains at least one metaphor or simile that tries a little too hard, such as: “His hands roamed like blind rattlesnakes searching for shelter in a dark, moist cave,” or “Her love juice was the finest wine he had ever tasted, the ambrosia of the gods, the center of a Cadbury’s Creme Egg.”
  10. She has an orgasm just from giving a blowjob.

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How to Spank Like Christian Grey

February 13, 2015

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The following is an excerpt from the “S” section of our A-Z book, 150 Shades of Play: A Beginner’s Guide to Kink. Every bolded word below indicates an entry in our encyclopedia of sorts. The book is on sale now!

Spanking is hand-to-tush contact, which many consider more intimate and less scary than any other type of flagellation. It’s Christian Grey’s calling card. Spanking is definitely safer for newbies, since you have much more control over (and better aim with) your own hand. Spanking can be a seasoning (a few spanks during a particularly passionate bout of intercourse to add some kinky flavor), an appetizer (spanking as foreplay before more orgasm-focused activities, like the first vaginal balls scene in Fifty Shades of Grey), or it can be a meal in and of itself (a session in which the spanking is the goal — the main course, if you will — that takes half an hour to serve and enjoy).

If you’re hungry for more than just a sprinkle of seasoning, then follow the rules of any first-time flagellation: Have the spankee lie across your lap, kneel on a bed, stretch out stomach-down, or bend over something they can put their full weight on for comfort; start slowly and build up intensity gradually with your bottom’s permission, varying your pressure and strokes; and contain your spanking to the lower, fleshier halves of each cheek and the backs of the upper thighs (even if you’re just having a spanking snack during sex, this area should be your target) — avoid the lower back, tailbone, and back of the knees at all costs.

Specific considerations for spanking include the following:

  1. Remove all bracelets and rings.
  2. Start with a butt massage.
  3. Follow each blow with a short massage, too, to spread out the pain and keep things nice ‘n’ warm (at least during your first few sessions together).
  4. A woman might like particular attention paid at the intersection of ass crack and crease, with the vibrations reverberating throughout the vulva, but definitely steer clear of the guy’s family jewels.
  5. Remember that, because of your close proximity to your partner, spanking is especially great for pleasantly diddling their lemonade area while whacking the steps of their fudge factory ‘round the corner.

A.k.a. fanny dusting. See also floggerspaddlesslappers, and arnica cream.

150 Shades of Grey: A Beginner’s Guide to Kink is on sale now in paperback and e-book form!

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How to Hardware (Un)Like Christian Grey

February 11, 2015

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The following is an excerpt from the “H” section of our A-Z book, 150 Shades of Play: A Beginner’s Guide to Kink. Every bolded word below indicates an entry in our encyclopedia of sorts. The book is on sale now in both paperback and Kindle form!

A hardware store is a one-stop shopping center for all your BDSM needs. Who needs specialty sex shops when you can find everything at your friendly neighborhood True Value at half the cost? Even Christian I-Fly-My-Own-Helicopter Grey does it, and he could afford freakin’ diamond-encrusted BDSM gear if he wanted. (And how convenient if your potential sub just happens to work at the hardware store — oh, the foreplay possibilities!)

Of course, you’ve got to have a bit of a D.I.Y.-streak, but if you’re willing to put in the extra elbow grease (or should we say Crisco?), you can completely decorate your dungeon or playroom with the following: welded-link chains with “quick links” to aid in adjusting chain lengths; two-by-fours, tubing, and rods of wood, metal, or plastic to create spreader bars; duct tape for bondage (over material only please, to avoid pulling off hair and skin); keyed locks (safer than combo locks which may take too long to undo in an emergency sitch, though not if you’re the type to lose things, like keys); single- or double-ended snap hooks, snap shackles (or “panic snaps”), and carabiners for securing D-rings to other things; eyebolts (not flimsy screw eyes) to anchor chain ends; block and tackle devices for suspension; and miles of natural filament rope for bondage masterpieces.

[More important safety info below the movie clip]!

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

But please, whatever you do, don’t buy cable ties as wrist and ankle restraints like kink “expert” Christian Grey does in the first book of Fifty Shades and in the freaking movie – not only is that bush league, it’s dangerous. The only thing you should be using cable ties for is organizing all your rope.

If your hardware store doesn’t have the high quality and durable materials you’re looking for, try boating or outdoor adventure stores instead.

150 Shades of Grey: A Beginner’s Guide to Kink is on sale now! It contains more information on all the bolded terms above (plus so much more!).

 



10 Simple Steps to “Fiftyize” Your Love Life

February 10, 2015

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Here’s a nifty little 10-step program for introducing BDSM into the bedroom, inspired by our book, 150 Shades of Play: A Beginner’s Guide to Kink:

 

1. Talk Dirty to Him

Bringing up BDSM with your partner can be shocking and awkward. A great way to test a fantasy is to incorporate it into dirty talk. Whisper in your partner’s ear, ‘What would you think if I did this to you? I would find it so sexy.’

 

2. Safety First

Physically and emotionally, kink can be heavy, so it’s great for long-term couples who already have built up trust. Still, if there’s going to be bondage and a little struggle, have a safeword other than ‘no.’ It can be ‘red,’ ‘banana’—something you normally wouldn’t say during sex.

 

3. See No More

S&M is about ceding control, so a good entry point is bringing a blindfold to bed and seeing how you like it. One night, one of you can be the boss; the next night you switch it up. Kink isn’t just sex—it shows you’re really interested in turning each other on and asking each other about your fantasies.

 

4. Cuff Love

We’re all about working up to things gently. Padded, velcro handcuffs are familiar and easy to use. They’re a way to establish if you might like to move on to more kinky things, like rope ties.

 

5. Dress the Part

There’s a whole style to kink. Bring in textures like leather, latex, garters, and high heels. Anything you wouldn’t normally wear in bed.

6. Light Biting

When you’re really turned on, pain can feel a lot like pleasure. You don’t have to get a punishing spanking from a Christian Grey–type to get a kick out of pain—sometimes a nibble on the nipple, one single well-timed spank, or a little hair-pulling is all it takes to heighten the sexual tension.

 

7. The Sound of Music

Music helps drown out the world around you and lets you focus on the pleasure at hand. Try Nine Inch Nails, Muse, Radiohead, The Brazilian Girls, Massive Attack, Marilyn Manson, Prince, Peaches, The Cure, or Kings of Leon.

 

8. Put a Ring on It

150 Shades of Play tells you about all sorts of S&M, including tamakeri, the Japanese porn fetish of getting kicked in the balls. Of course, if your partner wants you to kick him in the balls, that’s probably not the best first step. Start out with a vibrating ‘love’ ring for his manhood—it’s a little something for both of you.

 

9. Light My Candle

BDSM temperature play is a scale from ice to candle wax. But be careful to use only plain white candles; scented candles burn too hot. Blow the candle out, test the wax on your hand first, and when it hits the skin, massage it in. Some new candles even melt into massage oil.
 

10. Toys and Girls

Handing over the controls of your sex toy to your partner suddenly seems a lot more kinky than doing it on your own. Sex toy design has gotten so much better in the last 10 years; it’s a lot more wireless. LELO makes a great, wireless bullet vibrator your partner can use from the other side of the room, or even while you’re taking a bath, as it’s completely waterproof! Other wireless vibrators can be controlled by a cell phone as a way of spicing up a long-term relationship.

 

This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com.

For more inspired ideas about kinking things up, check out 150 Shades of Play, available from Amazon.com in both paperback and e-book versions! 



The Top 5 Writing Lessons of “Fifty Shades of Grey”

February 6, 2015

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According to Wikipedia, the Fifty Shades of Grey series “has sold over 100 million copies worldwide and been translated into 52 languages, and set a record in the United Kingdom as the fastest-selling paperback of all time.” Not only has it introduced many people to the world of kink, it’s given them a lesson in how not to write. And if a lack of literary merit didn’t slow down sales, well, at least people can learn about the elements of style while being turned on by the elements of sadomasochism.

1. Avoid repetition of words and phrases. 

When Ana first meets Christian Grey, she thinks she spots a “ghost of a smile” in his expression. That’s a nice, descriptive way of putting it — it’s easy for the reader to imagine. The problem is, James uses the same exact phrasing only a few pages later, for the same character. And that’s not the last we hear the term “ghost of a smile,” either — it pops up a few more times in the first book. Using something so specific again and again just comes across as lazy.

 

2. Use adverbs sparingly. 

Anastasia Steele never met an adverb she didn’t like, especially when it’s modifying the way she or another character speaks: “I mumble almost inarticulately”; “I murmur apologetically”; “he murmurs softly.” (For painfully excessive use of the word “murmur” throughout Fifty, see rule #1).

 

3. Don’t use substitutes for the verb “said.”

The Fifty Shades characters rarely just “say” something, they whisper it, they breathe it, they moan it, they mumble it, they murmur it, ad nauseum (see rule  #2, and then rule #1). One of Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules on Writing is this: 

Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue. The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But “said” is far less intrusive than “grumbled,” “gasped,” “cautioned,” “lied.” I once noticed Mary McCarthy ending a line of dialogue with “she asseverated” and had to stop reading and go to the dictionary.

What he said.

4. Be accurate. 

There is such a thing as creative license, but E.L. James’s should be revoked. Like driving, creative license is not a right, but a privilege, and should be used responsibly and with the utmost care. For example, the author creatively personifies Ana’s internal struggles over various situations as two polar-opposite people living in her head: a sex-loving, open-minded, free-spirited, back-flipping “Inner Goddess” and a careful, cautious, judgmental worrier called her “Subconscious.” Cute, but what Alanis Morissette did to the word “ironic,” E.L. does to the word “subconscious.” To quote Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” If it were truly Ana’s subconscious guiding her, Ana would not be aware of her — that’s what the whole “sub” part of that word means: not conscious! Similarly, there are a ton of British anachronisms in a story about American characters living in American cities with nary a funny Mancunian sidekick to rub off on them. James even includes an apology at the end of the third book for including a scene so preposterous that it defies all logic and law — that’s when you know you’ve abused your creative license.

 

5. Don’t worry about the rules of writing.

E.L. James didn’t, and look where that got her: laughing all the way to the bank! The most important thing is just sitting down and actually writing. As long as you do that — ideally with passion and conviction — then there’s a chance (albeit small) that you can ignore rules 1 through 4 above and still be a success.

If you liked Fifty Shades (despite the writing), you’ll love 150 Shades of Play, our how-to companion piece to the popular trilogy! 

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How to Use a Flogger Like Christian Grey

February 5, 2015

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The following is from our very own naughty dictionary, 150 SHADES OF PLAY: A Beginner’s Guide to Kink. Bolded words signify individual entries that appear elsewhere in the A-to-Z section of the book. Anything with a tie icon

 indicates an activity or prop mentioned in the Fifty Shades series (symbolic of the famous woven tie Christian Grey uses to restrain Anastasia Steele). The idea being: look up something you’re interested in and, from there, make it a choose-your-own-adventure book by following any bolded words that pique your interest to their own dedicated entry. Or just start at A and don’t stop ‘til you get to Z—or ‘til you’re compelled to try something out with your partner, whichever comes first!:

F

 floggers

The pom pom of the BDSM world. (“Give me a W! Give me an H! Give me an I! Give me a P!”) A popular flagellation tool, a flogger consists of a fairly stout handle and several “tails” of equal length (from one- to three-feet long) made of leather, suede, nylon, pleather, rubber, or even ribbon. Depending on the number of tails, their length, their material, and whether they have knots or beads at their ends, the sensation a flogger provides can be anywhere from soft to holy-fucking-shit.

Beginners should go with a well-made, small, light-impact flogger: they’ll evoke more giggles than actual cries of pain. Avoid heavy-leather, braided, beaded, or knotted tails in the beginning. As with most BDSM equipment, you don’t want to scrimp: A cheaply made flogger won’t be balanced correctly (making it harder and heavier to wield), its tails won’t land in the same spot (what you want), and/or the edges of the tails will be sharp (what you don’t want). Try companies that specialize in making floggers, like Bare Leatherworks—with their Midsize Cowhide Flogger, the handle feels great, you can give your partner a good whack without it hurting them, and it makes your victim’s butt jiggle, too! For the kind of posh flogger you might find in the Red Room of Pain, there’s LELO’s Sensua Suede Whip (available also in red!).

To make sure you’ve got good aim, practice on inanimate objects first. Work on your different strokes: twirling, backhand, infinity symbol. Don’t graduate to animate objects—that have of course given you their consent—until you’ve got the eye and aim of a national darts champion. The ends of the tails should be hitting only the safe zones: lower buttocks, thighs, and upper back (not the spine or neck!). As a beginner, it’s a good idea to protect areas you don’t want to hit with clothing, a towel, blanket, or pillow, just in case you accidentally let the tails “wrap” around the body beyond these safe zones—the epitome of poor form. (Another good reason to have your bottom lying down if you’re a beginner.)

See flagellation for more important safety info. A.k.a. cats. Mini-floggers for genitorture are called flails, pussywhips (ha!), or ballwhips.

For more on other kinky endeavors and accoutrements for newbies, pick up a copy 150 SHADES OF PLAY, on sale now at Amazon, in paperback or e-book!



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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