Em & Lo: Sex. Love. And Everything in Between. » How To http://www.emandlo.com Your daily dose of advice, news, and stories about sex, love, and other important stuff. No yoga mat required. Mon, 24 Nov 2014 14:31:27 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.3.1 5 Ways to Look at Your Partner In a New Way http://www.emandlo.com/2014/11/5-ways-to-look-at-your-partner-in-a-new-way/ http://www.emandlo.com/2014/11/5-ways-to-look-at-your-partner-in-a-new-way/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 20:39:04 +0000 emandlo http://www.emandlo.com/?p=30839
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 cliché “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 http://www.emandlo.com/2014/11/5-phrases-women-need-to-say-more/ http://www.emandlo.com/2014/11/5-phrases-women-need-to-say-more/#comments Thu, 13 Nov 2014 15:41:54 +0000 emandlo http://www.emandlo.com/?p=30758

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

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7 Ways to Fight the “Mommy Problem” from Within Your Relationship http://www.emandlo.com/2014/11/how-to-fight-the-mommy-problem-in-your-own-bedroom/ http://www.emandlo.com/2014/11/how-to-fight-the-mommy-problem-in-your-own-bedroom/#comments Wed, 12 Nov 2014 17:00:53 +0000 emandlo http://www.emandlo.com/?p=30728
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 http://www.emandlo.com/2014/10/7-tips-for-determining-who-pays-on-a-date/ http://www.emandlo.com/2014/10/7-tips-for-determining-who-pays-on-a-date/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 15:03:39 +0000 emandlo http://www.emandlo.com/?p=30584 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 http://www.emandlo.com/2014/10/the-10-saddest-things-about-being-single/ http://www.emandlo.com/2014/10/the-10-saddest-things-about-being-single/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 15:26:11 +0000 emandlo http://www.emandlo.com/?p=30499

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

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10 Reasons Why a Dirty House Is Good for Your Marriage http://www.emandlo.com/2014/10/10-reasons-why-a-dirty-house-is-good-for-your-marriage/ http://www.emandlo.com/2014/10/10-reasons-why-a-dirty-house-is-good-for-your-marriage/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 11:00:40 +0000 emandlo http://www.emandlo.com/?p=30288
photo via flickr

For the record, we both love a tidy house. We love a clean, well-lighted place in which to read a book or work on a hilarious and/or enlightening post for this blog. Dirty, messy houses can be annoying, stressful, and, yes, smelly. But sometimes, it simply can’t be helped. And when it can’t, stressing about your messy house just makes a bad day worse. So here, to make your bad day just a little bit better, we offer up ten reasons why your dirty house might just be good for your marriage.

And just to clarify: When we say that a dirty house is “good for your marriage,” we mean that it’s good for any long-term cohabitation situation. But you try fitting that into a snappy article headline!

1. You Avoid Chore Imbalance Resentment

There’s something incredibly peaceful and almost zen-like about falling asleep in an immaculate and pristine bedroom. Unless, of course, you cleaned the entire house yourself and have done every day since you said “I do” and your spouse never so much as puts their socks in the laundry basket or comments on how nice the place looks. That sort of resentment can keep you up all night, and in all the wrong ways!

2. You Have Time and Energy Left Over for Each Other

Cleaning is hard labor, even harder, often, than convincing your three-year-old to eat green vegetables. (There’s a reason, after all, that cleaning services often cost way more than childcare!) And climbing into bed after a day of office work followed by a few hours of cleaning — or after a day of cleaning on your so-called “day off” — can feel like the finish line in a race you never signed up for. If you instead skip the cleaning and leave all the dirty dishes in the sink, even occasionally, you might just feel like knocking boots… or even simply having a conversation about something more meaningful than deciding which show to watch.

3. You Feel Young and Reckless

Remember the kind of squalor you lived in during college or your early twenties? (If you’re the kind of person who baked cookies and owned a dusting cloth in college, then this article is probably not for you!) Letting your house return to that state sometimes can be freeing. You’ll feel like you’re embracing life and what’s important in it — namely, people over dust bunnies. And that can be pretty sexy.

4. You Can Have Messy Kitchen Sex

What’s more fun: Lying back on your immaculate and empty kitchen table for some by-the-book sex because you know you’re supposed to do it outside the bedroom sometimes… or pushing aside dirty dishes and pushing silverware to the floor and having screw-it-we’ll-clean-up-later sex?

5. It’s a Bonding Experience

Marriage can sometimes devolve into a kind of ping-pong game where you take it in turns being annoyed at each other for tiny, domestic infractions — like forgetting to remove muddy shoes before entering the house, or forgetting to pay a bill, or forgetting to put the wet laundry into the dryer. But if you agree, together, to let the house go for a day or a week or whatever, this messy state of affairs will mask all the other stuff you normally get annoyed at.

6. You Realize Some Things Can Wait

Living with a messy house gives you perspective. You’ll realize that the earth does not stop spinning on its axis simply because  you left a pile of unfolded laundry in the middle of the TV room, or you didn’t empty the trash and the house smells like tuna casserole the next morning. Life goes on, and on your deathbed, you will definitely not think, “I wish I’d emptied the trash cans more often.” This kind of revelation can do wonders for the way you treat your spouse.

7. You Gain a New Appreciation for What You Each Do

Taking some time off from domestic chores will make you each realize how much you do around the house. Even if you feel like you do, say, 90% of the household chores, we’re pretty sure there’s a lot your spouse does that you simply don’t notice anymore. (And vice versa, of course!)

8. You Can Stay in the Moment

A clean house can be just as stressful as a messy one. Imagine this: You’re sitting in your supposedly spotless kitchen, trying to listen to your spouse tell you about their day, and you suddenly notice a dust bunny you missed earlier, or a glass you forgot to put in the dishwasher before turning it on, or a pile of newspapers you forgot to put out, and — hold everything — tomorrow is trash pickup day. You find yourself multitasking, finishing these little tasks, and only half-listening to the love of your life. Hey, how about you sit down and really listen, instead? Sure, sometimes you can show love by making your love nest cozy and clean — but other times, it’s more important to sit down and simply be there.

9. You Might Lose Your Cellphone or the TV Remote

And then think of all the meaningful conversations you’ll be forced to have!

10. You Won’t Invite Friends Over

When you’ve been with someone a long time, it’s really easy to over-schedule your social life — to plan dinner parties and football-watching parties and book clubs and playdates and Tupperware-style sex toy parties and… well, you get the idea. But when your abode is verging on squalid, shame makes you hole up together and enjoy each other’s company.  Let’s hope you still have something to say to each other besides, “Have you seen the remote?”

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How to Make Masturbation Feel More Intimate http://www.emandlo.com/2014/10/how-to-make-masturbation-feel-more-intimate/ http://www.emandlo.com/2014/10/how-to-make-masturbation-feel-more-intimate/#comments Fri, 10 Oct 2014 11:00:14 +0000 emandlo http://www.emandlo.com/?p=30274
photo via flickr

We often hear women complain that masturbation just doesn’t do it for them, simply because there’s no man or woman attached to the end of the sex toy. In other words, they want masturbation to provide not just sex, but also intimacy. So, how do you make masturbation feel more intimate?

Okay, first things first: You are masturbating, right? Because if you’re not, then our job is simple: You’ve got to start self-loving! Every time you feel the itch, scratch it! (Not literally, of course, unless that’s your thing.) The better you get at masturbation, more natural it will feel, and the more comfortable you will feel pleasuring yourself. And there is a kind of intimacy to this level of comfort with your own body and your own desire.

But if you want to turn the intimacy up to eleven, then you have to treat masturbation like sex, rather than treating it like brushing your teeth (or like scratching an itch). Sure, you could just grab your vibe, place it where it counts, and let it do its thing. And sure, you might even climax that way. But there are more intense experiences to be had if you seduce yourself first: take a long bubble bath with a glass of wine, dim the lights, play some sultry tunes. You know, everything that you’d do if you were about to have romantic anniversary sex with the love of your life.

And don’t neglect your fantasy life. Vibrators are so powerful these days, so freakin’ reliable, that it’s easy to get lazy about fantasizing and just let the mechanics take over. After all, a work-horse like the Hitachi Magic Wand can sometimes get the job done whether you’re in the mood for it or not! But that’s no excuse not to get in the mood. That’s where the romance novels et al come in:  Spend some quality time with a romance novel/graphic novel/erotica collection/episode of Masters of Sex/porno/whatever your favorite turn-on is.

Also, if you’ve always relied on a toy, maybe try experimenting with just your right hand and some lube — that might help things feel a little more, well, personal. Or treat yourself to a subtle, pebble-like vibrator that sits in the palm of your hand and complements your masturbation session, rather than taking charge of it completely. We can’t think of a better reason to splurge on a proper, grownup pleasure object by Lelo!

If you have a partner and your masturbation sessions are simply an extracurricular addition to your sex life (perhaps you’re long-distance, for example) maybe your partner would be willing to provide some fantasy material for you. (How could they object? We think that everyone, men especially, secretly wants to be objectified!) Ask your partner to write you a love and/or lust letter. Look at a photo of your partner, scantily clad.

If you’re currently single, then use photographs of people you once slept with and recall fondly, or people you’d like to sleep with (Face — or, hell, even celebrities! There are no rules in your fantasy life.

And write your own dirty letter, too — it doesn’t have to be addressed to anyone specific. In fact, you don’t ever have to show it to anyone at all. But writing down everything you wish that someone was doing to you right now, and everything you wish you could do to that person, will help get you in the mood. Especially if you imagine someone specific reading it (or, what the hell, imagine the letter getting into the wrong hands if that turns you on!). Then stash the letter in your night-stand for those special alone moments.

Remember, the better you get at masturbation, the more intimate it will feel. And the more intimate your masturbation sessions, the more likely you are to demand more from your real, live, human partners. And the less likely you are to take crap from someone, just because they turn you on. And there you were thinking masturbation was just a way to scratch an itch! It’s actually revolutionary, therapeutic… and, yes, intimate, when you do it right.

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How to Tell If Your Partner Is Emotionally Abusing You http://www.emandlo.com/2014/10/how-to-tell-if-your-partner-is-emotionally-abusing-you/ http://www.emandlo.com/2014/10/how-to-tell-if-your-partner-is-emotionally-abusing-you/#comments Tue, 07 Oct 2014 17:50:23 +0000 emandlo http://www.emandlo.com/?p=30281
by YourTango  |  photo via flickr

Is it possible that you are being abused and not even know it? Abuse is not always as obvious as being hit or shoved, called degrading names or cussed out. In fact, it can very well be underhanded or subtle. You may find yourself feeling confused about the relationship, off balance or like you are “walking on eggshells” all the time. This is the kind of abuse that often sneaks up on you as you become more entrenched in the relationship. I am talking here about psychological abuse, which is also known as mental or emotional abuse.

Psychological abuse occurs when a person in the relationship tries to control information available to another person with intent to manipulate that person’s sense of reality or their view of what is acceptable and not acceptable. Psychological abuse often contains strong emotionally manipulative content and threats designed to force the victim to comply with the abuser’s wishes. All abuse takes a severe toll on self-esteem. The abused person starts feeling helpless and possibly even hopeless. In addition, most mental abusers are adept at convincing the victim that the abuse is his/her fault. Somehow, the victim is responsible for what happened.

A more sophisticated form of psychological abuse is often referred to as “gaslighting.” This happens when false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory, perception, and sanity. Examples may range simply from the abuser denying that previous abusive incidents ever occurred to staging bizarre events with the intention of confusing the victim. I listened to a client tell me that her husband denied an affair after his she found a racy email to another woman on his computer and confronted him. The husband vehemently denied this and when so far as to send an email to his tech guy asking how his account could have been hacked and to fix the problem!

Read the full article at YourTango:  21 Signs Emotional Abuse Is Happening In Your Relationship

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Top 10 Tips for Erotic Spanking http://www.emandlo.com/2014/10/top-10-tips-for-erotic-spanking/ http://www.emandlo.com/2014/10/top-10-tips-for-erotic-spanking/#comments Fri, 03 Oct 2014 10:37:30 +0000 emandlo http://www.emandlo.com/?p=30090 photo via Flickr

Hand-to-bum contact, if you can pull it off without cracking up (heh, we said crack), is a great way to add some kinky flavor to your next sesh. It’s intimate, it’s saucy, and — when compared to, say, a whip or a flogger — it’s safe for newbies to try out. Also, one study found that it can actually bring couples closer. Now that’s something we can get behind (sorry…). Try a few spanks during a particularly passionate bout of intercourse, or make spanking the main goal. If you’re keen on the latter, then follow these important guidelines:

  1. 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.
  2. Remove all your bracelets and rings.
  3. Start with a bum massage to warm things up.
  4. When it comes to actually spanking, start slowly and build up intensity gradually with your partner’s permission, varying your pressure and strokes. You may even want to begin over jeans or underwear first. Keep checking in with your partner to make sure the pain is pleasant — you’re going for a rosie glow, not an imposed inability to sit down for three days.
  5. 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.
  6. Follow each love pat with a short massage, too, to spread out the pain and keep things nice and warm.
  7. A woman might like particular attention paid at the intersection of bum crack and crease, with the vibrations reverberating throughout the vulva, but definitely steer clear of his family jewels.
  8. Remember that, because of your close proximity to your partner, spanking is especially great for pleasantly diddling their front side while patting their backside.
  9. If you don’t want your hand to get numb, let a paddle do the work. It’s easy to control the aim and the force (way easier than whips, which are too dangerous for dabblers). Made-for-play paddles are available at any sex toy shop. However, there’s really no need to invest in a pricey paddle when you’ve got a variety of household items that’ll do the job: a wide plastic spatula, a rubber-soled slipper, and, of course, a ping pong paddle.
  10. Need spanking inspiration? Check out Naughty Spanking Stories from A to Z by Rachel Kramer Bussel (there’s even a volume two if you can’t get enough spanking!).

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10 Worst Things About Married Sex http://www.emandlo.com/2014/09/10-worst-things-about-married-sex/ http://www.emandlo.com/2014/09/10-worst-things-about-married-sex/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 11:00:28 +0000 emandlo http://www.emandlo.com/?p=30096
Before Midnight

Before all the married people out there take offense, we should note that we are both married, and happily so. We’re not curmudgeons; we already listed the 10 Best Things About Married Sex – and for the record, those ten things were way easier to come up with! – but we believe firmly in looking at both sides of the picture (not in a Fox-News-climate-change-denier-”scientists” way, but in a realistic way). Also, the stuff below is just plain true, at least sometimes. In reality, though, there’s no contest: we’ll take married sex every time. So consider the list below a warning not about how bad married sex is, but about how bad it can get if you don’t pay a little attention.

1. It’s Sex with the Same Person… For the Rest of Your Life

We suppose we may as well get this one out of the way with first, seeing as, for many people, this is the only thing you need to know about married sex. Even if you’re in an open relationship and get to throw other people into the mix, you’re still sleeping with one person — your spouse — over and over and over again. All the chemistry and communication in the world can’t match the occasional boredom this will cause.

2. It’s Easy to Go On Autopilot

As we noted in our list of superlatives about married sex, marriage means having an advanced degree in each other’s bodies. It’s great to know each other’s sweet spots so well, but this also means that it’s all too easy to check out during sex and go on autopilot. You get lazy about paying attention to the way your partner’s body responds to something, and you get lazy about staying in the moment. Sure, it’s great not to have to concentrate so hard during sex, but it’s not so great when you find yourself thinking about what you’d like to eat for dinner.

3. You Rely On Old Routines

When you find something that works in bed, it’s easy to turn to it again and again and again. For example, if you’ve figured out how to have simultaneous orgasms in bed, then it takes a team effort to agree to try something else that might not have such a happy ending, at least not the first (or first hundred) times. When you first start sleeping with someone, every sex session feels like an opportunity to learn more about your partner, but with married sex, it’s easy to plateau and not realize it (or simply not care).

4. You Put Off Trying New Things

Remember Scarlett O’Hara’s famous quote at the end of Gone with the Wind?  Well, when you’re married, tomorrow is always another day. And you can find yourself putting things off endlessly because you figure, hey, we’ll be having sex for decades, there’ll be time later. Time later to try a new position, time later to try something kinky, time later to work on living out that fantasy together.

5. You Hold Old Grudges

The longer you’ve been with someone, the more things they’ve likely done over the years to annoy you. Perhaps it’s the way they spray the mirror with toothpaste every time they brush their teeth, or the way they load the dishwasher, or the way they sneak glances at their phone during mealtimes. Big or small, these grudges can pop up when you least expect them — and being reminded of one of them right before, or even during sex can seriously spoil the occasion.

6. You Know Each Other Too Well

We’re constantly saying that communication is the key to good sex, but the problem with all that communication is that it develops a real bond. Don’t get us wrong, bonding with your spouse is pretty awesome — that’s the essence of modern marriage, after all. But intimacy can be at odds with eroticism in the bedroom. Desire requires some kind of distance, which can mean that the closer you get to your partner, the harder it is to step back and truly desire them. We burp, we fart, we might even poop when the other person is in the room. We ask each other to check our bodies for tick bites, or apply ointment to a hard-to-reach mole that the dermatologist removed. Having someone around to check your butt crack for tick bites is one of the many advantages of marriage — who else is going to do that for you, after all? — but these things do tend to eat away at the mystery, which can lead to sex that feels companionable rather than steamy. Comfort sex like this, at the right time, can be just what the doctor ordered — but it’s hard to transition from comfort sex into, say, Japanese rope bondage or roleplaying doctor and nurse. It’s too easy, in this mode, to resort to laughter rather than taking the kinky scenario seriously — you’ll be more likely to crack each other up than turn each other on. Of course, cracking each other up in bed is one of the benefits of married sex, but it’s nice to get kinky every now and then, too.

7. Everything Is a Quickie

If you can climax quickly together, sometimes it’s hard to see the point in taking the scenic route instead, especially when sex ends up at the very bottom of your to-do list — after taking the kids to dance class, packing their school lunches, watching some awesome new show on Netflix, etc, etc. So the quickie ends up becoming your new baseline. Which can sometimes feel like you’re nothing more than a human masturbatory aid for your spouse.

8. You Have No New Material

Unless you commit to learning new things together (er, may we politely suggest one of our books?) or decide to open your marriage, once you stop sleeping with other people, there are no new partners to bring new ideas to the table (or, rather, to the bedroom). So your repertoire is now permanently limited to the things you two knew when you first met. Which is a very good reason to keep reading EMandLO.com daily!

9. You’re Not Always Particularly Attracted to Each Other

It’s simply not possible to be hot and heavy for your partner, every day, til death (or divorce) do you part. Attraction between spouses waxes and wanes over the years, and this is totally normal. You might find yourself stuck for months in one of these valleys and wondering if you’ll ever desire your partner again — and then, suddenly, you do. But when you’re stuck there, having sex with your mate can feel a lot like homework (or worse).

10. You Take the Sex for Granted

One of the great things about getting married is that you’ll never again have to stay out til three a.m. drinking vodka-Red Bulls and hoping that your creative dance moves will get you laid. Sex is right there waiting for you two, even when you’re both sitting on the couch in sweats. Besides, the level of obsessive primping and polishing you do at the beginning of a relationship cannot realistically be maintained 24/7 over a lifetime together, when kids/illness/aging happens. So it’s easy to take married sex for granted, and stop trying to impress each other, which only exacerbates the lack of mystery. And, of course, the more often you take married sex for granted, the more likely you are to turn around one day and find yourself suddenly no longer able to take it for granted after all.

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