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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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5 Ways to Look at Your Partner In a New Way

November 20, 2014

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by Leslie Saul for YourTango  |  photo via flickr

Anyone who’s been in a long-term relationship at least once in their lives knows what I’m talking about when I bring up the dreaded relationship rut. When you first start dating someone, they seem to be all you think about. You may find yourself daydreaming or having trouble sleeping at night. Maybe your phone battery even dies more quickly because you’re constantly checking it to see if they’ve texted or called. It’s like you’re walking on air, in love, and you’ve never felt more energized or excited than you do when you get a glimpse of him or her.

This stage of the relationship is called the “romantic love” stage, better known as the “honeymoon” phase. You spend a ton of time learning about your new flame and going on dreamy dates to get to know each other better. You probably have a few “Pinterest-perfect” moments, and give each other small tokens of affection to show you’ve been thinking about each other. You really want these newfound feelings to last forever, but you are soon disappointed when you find out they won’t.

You’re not alone though! The “romantic love” stage of a relationship usually does not last any longer than 18 months. This may vary some with how quickly you rush into the relationship. For example, if you move in together right away, you might just become disillusioned with your new love a lot more quickly than if you’d taken things slower.

It is entirely normal for a relationship to enter a “rut” once the “honeymoon” phase passes, for a number of reasons:

  • Getting too comfortable
  • Routine becomes boring
  • Experiencing a dry spell
  • Dampening of desire

The Truth About Relationship Ruts

Ruts are easiest to get into when you live together, whether you are married or not. They are especially easy to bump into when you have children, as they require so very much of each partner’s time and attention. It is also possible for a couple that is still in the dating stage—you don’t live together, you aren’t engaged, you are serious” but you aren’t ready for that next step—to enter into a relationship rut.

Thanks to our culture’s unrealistic portrayal of love in fairy tales, movies, books, and television shows, many men and women assume that bumping into a relationship barrier (like an over-done routine, lack of gratitude, boring sex life, or lack of communication) means that the relationship is doomed.

They take it as a sign that things have run their course and the person they are with is just not “the one.” Sometimes, they end the relationship without ever broaching the topic with their partner. This is NOT the course of action you should be taking if you’re in a relationship rut; instead, you need to recognize it for what it is, talk to your partner about your feelings, and come up with some solutions to turn it into something positive that will strengthen your relationship.

If you don’t talk to you partner about your boredom, lack of desire, or feelings of being unappreciated, they will start to fester. As they do, you will become hypercritical of your relationship and focus on your partner’s negative traits, rather than their positive ones. This is one of the quickest routes from rut to break up, which is probably not what you want if you’re reading this article. Right? So talk to your partner; they very well could be feeling the same things that you are.

If so, try incorporating some of these tips into your daily lives and see where they take you. Not all relationship ruts originate from the same source (boredom, not spending enough time together, not showing each other enough appreciation), and each and every one may not be effective—but one of them is bound to be.

Try sitting down with your partner and talking about which ideas you two think would be most effective for renewing your relationship … then, get going!

1. Renogatiate with your partner.

Do you remember the conversations you used to have in the beginning of your relationship? The ones where you laid out your boundaries, got to know each other’s deeper thoughts and selves, and maybe even made goals for the future together? The things you learned then may not apply anymore now, as you and your partner have grown and changed over the course of your relationship.

Therefore, it is important to take the time to have these conversations every so often as your relationship progresses, as you grow and change as individuals. Try thinking of the situation as a time of renegotiation with your partner.

2. Give each another some space.

When you first started dating your partner, you weren’t around them 24/7. You had time to focus on your own passions and they had time to focus on theirs. Effectively, you were more resistant to burn out and quite possibly more interesting as individuals. There might be some truth to the old clichĂ© “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” after all. Why not take advantage of that to better yourself and strengthen your bond at the same time?

3. Have sex.

Even if it’s just a quickie, an intimate interaction can reinforce the bond that you share and remind your partner of your attraction to them. It’s a simple way to show that you care, but it cannot fix your problems all on its own.

If the belief that your sex life is boring and contributing to your rut, try something novel together—making love in a new place or position, role playing, or incorporating toys. Just make sure that you’re both comfortable. The vulnerability that trying something new affords will leave you feeling closer than ever, with a newfound trust.

4. Shake up the routine.

If you do the same thing every day after work, especially if your after-work routine mostly includes passive pastimes like watching television, adding some variability can work wonders. Try going for a walk around your neighborhood after dinner if you don’t usually get out of the house. If one partner usually cooks and the other cleans up, try switching roles. The change doesn’t have to be drastic, it just has to be different enough to allow you to see one another in a different light.

5. Try something new together.

This can be as big or as small as you’d like it to be. Bonus points if it’s something that betters you both as individuals in the long run—like a cooking class or a new fitness routine.

If you have any anti-relationship rut tips of your own, please feel free to share them. These are, by far, not the only ways to overcome one; they are merely suggestions. Failing to plan is planning to fail and taking no action will surely lead to a lack of closeness and distance between you and your love. Leave your relationship rut in the dust by talking it out and deciding on a few small habits to change.

This article originally appeared on YourTango

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5 Phrases Women Need to Say More

November 13, 2014

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by Ms Brenda Della Casa for YourTango  |  photo via Wikimedia Commons
Never walk away muttering to yourself again.

Anyone who has ever walked away from an exchange mumbling the things they “should have said” knows the crushing defeat that comes with not reaching deep into one’s vocabulary and putting together that one punchline phrase that would embolden a boundary, silence a bully or crush an inner critic. Thanks to many stumbles (and plenty of practice), I’ve found five phrases that never fail in those trickier situations that too often leave us at a loss for words.

1. “That’s not going to work for me.”
We’re all told that compromising is a good thing, and it is. UNLESS it’s your health or value system. Take, for example, the time I dated a guy who told me “we can just use condoms” when I demanded he have an STD test (uh, no), or the time I had to explain to my boss that missing my girlfriend’s wedding in order to help him catch up on work he should have done the week before was not going to happen. Now, if you’re like me and abhor confrontation, don’t fret. It’s a fallacy that one has to be pushy to push back. A gentle-yet-firm, “That’s not going to work for me” supported by a brief explanation and an alternative solution will usually do the trick. Those who respect you will respect your honesty and boundary-setting. Those who don’t? Why would you worry about them?

2. “It’s OK for me to feel this way.”

I once spent an entire year feeling bad about a breakup. The first six months were spent crying over the loss of the relationship, and the next six months were spent punishing myself for the time I “wasted” crying. Uh, is there anything worse than feeling bad about feeling bad? Talk about a double-whammy. While it’s not always verbalized, the truth is strong people wallow, worry, cry, and get stressed, too. The good news is that there is often a breakthrough in those breakdown moments, and stress often leads to brainstorming new ideas as to how to deal with life as we know it. It’s when we are hiding under-the-covers and chasing our tail for a prolonged period of time that’s concerning (and if that is happening, reaching out for professional help is also a sign of strength).

3. “Do not speak to me like that.”
Newsflash: Bullies don’t just hang out by the jungle gym. They’re everywhere: online, in the supermarket parking lot, and sitting in powerful positions in the corner office. Worse, they’re bringing stress that far exceeds handing over your lunch money. I once had a boss who loved to belittle me. Whether it was my opting for heels over boots in winter or my latest “pedestrian” blog post, it felt as though she was taking notes to send to God to prove I was a total failure as a human being. I spent two years dreading her presence while trying to kill her with kindness, but nothing worked. Finally, after enjoying a full-blown panic attack in the company kitchen, I realized that it was time to take a stand.

Just as she began to dissect my outfit, I looked her square in the eye and found the courage to hit back with a powerful phrase that stopped her mid-sentence: “Do not speak to me like that.” The look of shock on her face was all I needed to know that I had just shifted our dynamic forever. I walked away and she never picked on me again. Since then, the phrase has worked no less than a dozen times to stop a drama before it starts. Bottom Line: Brutal bosses, passive aggressive colleagues, jealous frenemies and nagging neighbors who can’t say something nicely should not be allowed to say anything at all until they can do so like a human being.

4. “This is not about me.”
In my late twenties, I found myself in a relationship with an anomaly. I dated the only man on earth who was never at fault for anything, not even cheating on me. In fact, he did just about everything he could to convince me his sleeping with someone else was my fault for not supporting his career enough (say what?). His teflon-don approach to life and love was annoying to most of the outside world, but for me, it was utterly devastating. I wasted too much time trying to make sense of his nonsense instead of realizing that, while accountability is an essential component in all healthy relationships (including the one with yourself), sometimes you don’t need to take half of the blame—or any of it, for that matter. I finally accepted that his issues were his–and would remain his– regardless of who he was with and left. It was the best decision of my adult life. The next time you’re dealing with someone who refuses to compromise, communicate, or otherwise resists a respectful and healthy exchange, say, “This is not about me,” and remove yourself from the situation. They may not like it, but taking the words of someone who is struggling to find a lifeline in their current chaos would be a dire mistake.

5. “I am happy for you!”
Listen closely: Happiness begets happiness. Sure, it’s a bit of a zinger when your best friend meets the love of her life while you’re still swiping right or your  colleague drops twenty pounds while you’re struggling to get motivated. But understanding that someone else achieving their goals doesn’t mean there’s one less achievement available to you will make life a whole lot easier. The next time you find yourself with a desire to rain on someone’s parade (even internally), smile and tell them how thrilled you are for them and be inspired by their joy. They’ll not only appreciate your generous statement, they may even be more inclined to help you down your own path to happiness.

Brenda Della Casa is the Author of Cinderella Was a Liar, The Managing Editor of Preston Bailey, A Huffington Post Blogger and the Founder of BDC Life In Style. She is usually found in the gym hitting the speed bag to Eminem, having a wine-down with friends or writing with her beloved Chihuahua, Tony Che Montana, by her side.

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This article originally appeared on YourTango: 5 Phrases Every Smart Woman Needs In Her Vocabulary, STAT



7 Ways to Fight the “Mommy Problem” from Within Your Relationship

November 12, 2014

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photo via Wikimedia Commons

We loved Heather Havrilesky’s “Mommy Problem” article in the Times this past weekend, about how “the culture demands that every mother be all in, all the time.” And we’re not alone, clearly: We’ve lost count of the number of our friends who have given it the “yep” response in their Facebook feed. Responding in Jezebel, Tracy Moore writes:

It’s still strangely odd to me when someone says, “What’re you up to lately, just being a mom?” Yup, JUST BEING A MOM. Just MOMMING IT UP. As if people can’t reconcile that being a person is a complex interrelated set of roles that are on and off at any given moment and often overlap, and that this is true for everyone ALL THE TIME, not just women! It’s almost always said to me by men, by the way, who are almost never pigeonholed in this way. They are men, and people, who happen to be dads at various moments when they are actually doing dad stuff.

We wish we could change this culture in one single blog post. We wish we could change men’s attitudes in one single blog post. We wish we could fix the Mommy Problem in one single blog post. But in the absence of a Feminist Fairy Godmother to grant us all these wishes, we’d like to offer this advice instead: While we wait for the culture to change (and do everything we can to change it, of course, along the way), here are seven small ways you can fight the Mommy Problem in your own relationship and help erase the contradictory caricature of ideal mothers as “sexy but sexless,” as Havrilesky writes. After all, moms are sexual creatures, too.

1. Insist on Coparenting

At least whenever possible. Nurturing, cuddling, tickling, boo-boo Band-Aiding, dinner-making, homework-helping, party-planning, cleaning — these are all parental responsibilities that can and should be shared by fathers. (Similarly, mothers should feel free to mow the lawn.) Of course, some delineation is necessary and often enjoyable, but living as if mothers possess something in their DNA that makes them uniquely — i.e. solely — qualified for caretaking is dangerous retro Mad Men b.s. Coparenting will help you feel less like you’ve given up your entire identity for your kids, while enriching your partner’s experience with and connection to the kids (not to mention setting a good example for them of what gender equality is all about). Plus, a dad who can change a diaper in 20 seconds flat is HOT!

2. Don’t Let Your Partner Call You “Mommy”

When you two are talking with the kids, that’s totally fine. But when it’s just the two of you having an adult conversation, or even when the two of you are having a one-on-one conversation in front of the kids, call each other by your names. “Let’s thank Mommy for this awesome dinner” is okay. “Hey Mommy, where’d you put the car keys” is not. After all, you are a multidimensional person, and not actually the mother of your partner. (However, if you as a couple would like to use “Mommy” or “Daddy” in a kinky way in the bedroom, that’s totally up to you! We won’t judge.)

3. Make Dates with Your Partner

It’s an oldie but a goodie. With so much on your plates as parents, it’s easy to put the kids to bed and then crash on the couch together, night after night, in front of mindless TV for an hour or two to unwind. And we’re not suggesting you deny yourself this simple pleasure entirely. But you have to give yourselves the opportunity — regularly — to remember why you had kids together in the first place, why you fell in love in the first place: because you enjoyed their company and wanted to have sex with them for the rest of your life! Going out just the two of you, reminiscing about the past, not talking about potty training and after school activities, can help you reconnect to this truth. And we’re not talking about going to the same restaurant and ordering the same dish every Tuesday at 8pm — these dates, at least occasionally, need to be new and novel for both of you, in order to help maintain the spark.

4. Get a Lock for Your Bedroom Door

You don’t have to keep it locked all night, if that freaks out you, or your kids, but at least latch the door for fifteen (or so) minutes while you’re getting busy. It’s good for your kids to know that you as parents need and deserve, not necessarily sex, but quality alone time, at least when they’re old enough to be self-sufficient for the length of a quickie. Play music, or a white noise machine, to help drown out any noise from the other side of the door.

5. Have Morning Sex

Set your alarm ten minutes early for a reason other than your offspring. It’s a good way to do something for yourself before you and/or your partner pack lunches and backpacks and drive the kids to school. It’s kind of like wearing really raunchy underwear and not telling anyone.

6. Play with Power Roles in the Bedroom

Be the boss in the bedroom, and then let your partner be the boss the next day. Be demanding, and then be meek. Ask for exactly what you want and need… without saying please. Say please and beg a lot. Then realize that you can shrug off these roles as easily as a pair of underwear.

7. Treat Yourself to a Decent Vibrator

We get it — sometimes after a day of being groped by kids, the last thing you want is to roll around in bed with your partner. But there are other ways to find a grownup kind of release, remember. Take five minutes of me time with your favorite LELO pleasure object while the kids are watching a show. Because one of the best things about vibrators is that they allow you to be completely selfish for once!

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7 Tips for Determining Who Pays on a Date

October 31, 2014

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photo via Flickr

Dates may be cheap but they ain’t never free. So who coughs up?

  1. Whoever did the asking pays for the date. This is 2014, people, it’s so last century to assume the man always gets it.
  2. However, if you’ve been asked out, you should always assume you’ll be going dutch to avoid disappointment. Bring cash so you don’t end up washing dishes.
  3. When the check comes, the one who was asked out should offer to go halvsies — and try to sound like you mean it.
  4. If you end up sharing the bill, split it evenly, even if one of you got lobster. Exact breakdowns are for roomies, siblings, and other people with no plans to get naked.
  5. In a battle of the Amexes, defer to who did the asking (perhaps it’s the miles).
  6. If your date absolutely insists on getting the whole thing, this is your excuse to extend the date: offer to buy cocktails or coffee at the bar across the street, or insist the next date’s on you.
  7. Though we’d like to believe that everyone knows better by now, we should note that no matter how much your date spends on dinner, you do not owe them a thing in the booty department — not even a kiss.

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The 10 Saddest Things About Being Single

October 24, 2014

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by Shireen Dadkhah for YourTango.com  |  photo via flickr

Trust me, you don’t understand what it means to be lonely.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve watched my friends pair off. Temporarily and fleetingly in high school, longer and more lasting in college, and now, permanently. Throughout it all, I’ve remained single. Too shy, too insecure, too…whatever. I got used to my role as the Single One—I was even okay with it. As an introvert, I not only like my alone time, I need it. But, somewhere along the line, I stopped just being single and started being lonely. Most days I’m both. And try as my paired up friends might, they don’t seem to fully understand what it’s like to watch everyone around you fall in love. They don’t understand what it means to be lonely. So let me tell you.

1. You are nobody’s first priority. Between boyfriends and girlfriends and spouses and kids and church, there’s always someone before you on the priority list. I don’t have that one person I come home to at the end of the day, with whom I share all the mundane details of my life. So I parse them out between friends and family, sometimes oversharing because I just need someone to validate my existence. I’m not saying it’s wrong that I’m not the top priority (of course family should come first). But for the perpetually alone sometimes it’d be nice to be first. Just once. Just for a day.

2. Physical touch is a thing for other people. When you’re not part of a couple and you’re living alone, physical touch goes out the window. And not just sexy, intimate touches. I’m talking mundane, everyday, almost-no thought-put-into-them touches. Last week, I realized it had been months since I’d been touched by another person. For as much as I value and need alone time, nothing is more isolating than realizing no one has touched you in over a month. Nothing.

3. Jealousy is green and ugly and real. I don’t want to be a jealous person. I don’t like being a jealous person. But when the loneliness is overwhelming and all-consuming, I can’t help it. I can’t help but be jealous of the fact that other people have someone to come home to—that they have the occasional unthinking brush of hands and take so much for granted.

4. There’s physical pain associated with being lonely. It’s not something you know until you’ve experienced it, and it’s hard to describe. But it actually hurts to be lonely. It’s an ache in your chest, a heaviness that you can’t shake, a longing that only the touch of another person can soothe.

5. Being the third wheel sucks. No matter how much I like my friends’ significant other (and really, they’re great!), I don’t want to be the third or fifth wheel. A little part of me dies every time I have to plaster a smile on my face and joke to the waiter that the bill is going to be split, “Two, two, and me. Just me.”

6. Friendship isn’t enough. This one is hard. I have an outstandingly good group of friends and family, but as much as I want them to be (and as much they wish they could be), they aren’t enough. I’ve tried really hard to make them enough, but it’s like forcing a puzzle piece into a spot it doesn’t belong. You can push and push and push, but it’s never going to quite sit right.

7. Everyone is part of a couple. Or maybe it just seems that way when you’re not. But from my point of view, everywhere I look, I see couples. Even events are geared towards couples. Have you ever tried cooking for one? It’s not pretty.

8. The grass isn’t greener. Stop telling me how you’d love to have some peace and quiet or a night where no one touches you. Because that’s not what I’m talking about. There is a profound, bone-deep difference between “alone time” and being lonely. Comparing the two or romanticizing something I consider painful undermines my feelings and makes me hate you a tiny bit.

9. This isn’t a “lifestyle” choice. Plenty of folks choose to be single. Nobody chooses to be lonely. That’s part of the problem. I didn’t ask for this. I don’t want this. But it’s not something I can fix on my own.

10. No one gets it. It’s kind of like the Dead Dad’s Club. (Please lower your pitchforks and allow me to explain.) Until you lose your dad, you don’t know what it’s like. You can sympathize and you can think, “Oh, that’s really sh*tty,” but you can’t really empathize. And it’s true for loneliness, too. Unless you’ve experienced it—unless you know what true, deep, painful loneliness is like—you don’t get it. And, well, that just makes things all the more lonely, doesn’t it?

This post originally appeared on YourTango