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Comment of the Week: 6 Rules of the Pre-Relationship Fuck-Buddy Couple

April 1, 2015

2 Comments

Reader Arielle wrote a nice response to the post How Often Do Fuck Buddies Become Girlfriends?, basically outlining the 6 rules of having a fuck buddy who you might want to turn into a partner some day:

All of my relationships have been fuck buddies that turned into relationships. ¬†Twice I’ve gotten my heart broken because the guy was really emotionally damaged, and it didn’t turn into a relationship.

My recommendations:

1) Go with the flow. ¬†Don’t try to control the direction of everything, and be wary if he’s trying to control it. If he’s trying to set arbitrary rules or limit how much he sees you or the situations you do together, tell him to chill out or get out.

2) Don’t limit the affection. ¬†Be affectionate, sweet, caring, everything that you would be to your close friends. ¬†If you start to feel resentful that you’re not getting more from him, that’s a red flag, and you need to discuss it with him (in person, not text) or pull back. ¬†Don’t let his issues with relationships prevent you from expressing your emotions, expressing romantic feelings, being affectionate, being yourself. ¬†If you feel nervous or shy in his presence or lose your confidence, you need to get over it asap: fuck buddy situations are abusive to anyone who can’t speak their mind, and a guy will lose respect for you and himself if he knows you’re letting him use you. ¬†You need to make it clear that you have a great time with him and would regret not getting to know him better. ¬†If he asks for more, give him a reason for why this arrangement temporarily works right now for you: ¬†you just got out of a relationship, you’re focused on school and just want to have fun, etc.

3) Don’t let your life revolve around him. ¬†If he’s not your boyfriend, then you have to continue to flirt with other guys, talk to other people, plan your living and job situation as if you are single. ¬†Don’t personally rely on his plans in any important way unless you’ve made a commitment. ¬†Don’t let him have all your weekends or time. ¬†You are single unless specifically stated otherwise. ¬†Don’t let him be your only fun thing going on: you have to stay emotionally healthy. ¬†Try not to think too much about him outside of the time you’re seeing him. ¬†Travel on weekend trips without him.

4) Limit last minute sex dates. ¬†Make him plan to see you, and think of fun and interesting things to do. ¬†Cook with him, share music ¬†with him, etc. ¬†If he gets concerned that it’s too much like “boyfriend-girlfriend”, say “Are you enjoying yourself? I don’t want you to feel pressured. I just want to have fun and this was fun.”

5) Make sure you’re always having fun. ¬†If he stops being fun, or isn’t there for you when you need it, then pull out and say, sorry man.

6) Make sure you guys talk like friends in between, and are physically exclusive. ¬†Don’t get an STD from this ish.

The pros of fuck buddy first are that a) you make sure you have awesome chemistry before committing; b) you make sure you guys have great sex before committing; ¬†c) you can get to know who he is/what his apartment looks like, his real self, etc. before you commit to someone that is basically a stranger. ¬†It’s more natural and less contrived.

The cons: Obviously, he might actually not want a relationship.  You might have sex with someone that has a lot of issues and get your feelings hurt. He might not put as much effort in, or feel he owes you anything.

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What Men Really Think About Dating Older Women

March 31, 2015

1 Comment

Advice from three of our guy friends. This week a straight woman asks, “What do men in general think about dating older women, or cougars?”

Straight Married Guy (Jim):¬†The cougar seems like a largely positive stereotype and I’m all for it.¬† However, the importance of not dressing like you just chalked your first ID cannot be overstated.¬† That makes me sad.

Straight Single Guy (Tyler Barnett):¬†The cougar is a bit of an anomaly to me. On the one hand, cougars have experience, confidence and generally pleasing physical attributes, all of which are very attractive characteristics. On the flip side, they can be difficult to please and tend to try too hard. Personally, I find confidence attractive, but a truly attractive woman doesn‚Äôt have to try so hard to be sexy. So cougars aren’t generally my thing. But every now and again I’ll run into that mature woman who looks me in the eyes like she‚Äôs ready to pounce‚Ķand I hope she does. I think the trick to the sexy cougar is subtlety. If you can pull off a look 20 years below your age without appearing like it took you 20 years in the mirror to accomplish, you have¬† mastered cougar purrfection. Grrr baby, very grrr.

Gay Single Guy (Jay Dyckman):

“I am Cougar, hear me roar,
In years too big to ignore‚Ķ‚ÄĚ

If it isn‚Äôt already, this should be the anthem for the beloved cougar.¬† Prowl on, ladies! Honestly, what‚Äôs the big deal?¬† OK, so maybe it is a sexual desire fueled largely out of a denial that one is rapidly aging off this mortal coil. We‚Äôre all headed there anyway, aren‚Äôt we?¬† Why not grab a little nubile ass on the way out? The fact that, all these years later, we are still referring to older women as cougars, tells us that (1) we’re very attached to weird monikers for sexually-active women (see MILF); and (2) this country still has a problem with casual sex as it relates to women.

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Our ‚Äúwise guys‚ÄĚ are a rotating group of contributors, some of whom wish to remain anonymous and some of whom like the attention. This week’s Straight Married Guy is Jim from New York, our Gay Guy is Jay Dyckman, an LA copywriter, and our Single Straight Guy is Tyler Barnett, owner of the LA PR firm Barnett Ellman. To ask the guys your own question, click here.



Your Call: Why Did He Break Up with Me?

March 30, 2015

3 Comments

The “beyond my control” breakup scene in the film Dangerous Liasons

We get a lot of questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to respond to a reader. Make your call on the letter below by leaving your thoughts in the comments section. 

Dear Em & Lo,

I’ve been in a 15-year relationship with a man that I love. We had broken up many times in between but we always came back to one another. We have a connection. I recently found out that I am sick and he left me right before I was to have surgery. He said he didn’t want to leave me but he felt that we were just not right for each other anymore. We disagreed on several family related issues but he never vocalized that he would leave me because of them. He even used to tell me that I would get over the issues when we got married. I then found out that he has been seeing this new girl and that she is supposedly the right one for him to start his life with and get married to. He claims he really likes her but she is not even his type. He says she is a family person like him. It’s only been four months since we broke up. He tells me he still loves me but that he has to move on in life. I don’t understand what is going on. Any advice would be so great right now.¬†

– Sick & Single

What do you think S&S should do? Leave your suggestions for her in the comments section below. 

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Why You Have to Tell Your Partner If You Have HPV

March 27, 2015

2 Comments


 photo via flickr

Many experts, including doctors, will tell women that they don’t need to inform their male partners if they have HPV. The reason given is that 80% of sexually-active adults have or will acquire HPV — in other words, basically everyone — and also, the virus is much less likely to harm a guy’s health.

Our own medical expert, Dr. Kate, happens to disagree, and you can read her professional explanation here. And our man-parts doctor also has something to say about men and HPV — it’s not guaranteed smooth sailing.

And we happen to disagree too! Here’s our laywomen’s response to why you should fess up if you have HPV:

Everyone has the right to know what they’re getting into when they’re getting into bed with you. It doesn’t matter how pervasive an STD is, how inconsequential it might turn out to be, or how likely it is that you’ll eventually get it (or that you already have it) — everyone deserves to know the truth. So if you know you’ve got something, you’ve got to come clean (as it were). Fucking is not a right, it’s a privilege, and you’ve got to earn that privilege via honest communication about your bod and where it’s been. We’re pretty sure any one of the New York Times ethicists would have our back on this.

If more people fessed up to their sexual health status, then we’d all know a little more about the pervasive STDs that affect us — and probably not be so freaked out. Knowledge is power, and power is sexy. The more we all talk about it, the more it will become clear that it’s not only dirty, promiscuous, evil people who get STDs (such a tired yet stubborn cliche) — many totally cool, super nice and very good-looking people get sexually transmitted infections, too.

Unfortunately, honest communication isn’t always the quickest route to sex or even love. So people get scared into concealing an STD out of fear of loneliness (or horniness). Don’t fall into this trap: Even though it doesn’t feel like it when you first get diagnosed with something, you will have sex again. You will fall in love and you’ll probably get married, have a couple kids, the whole nine.

And please, if any of you happen to be on the receiving end of a conversation like this, be cool about it. Honest Abes should be rewarded for their behavior — not with unprotected genital-to-genital contact, natch, but at least with a polite, considerate, and sympathetic response. Of course, it’s your right to walk away (just don’t run). But know this: Many STDs are either curable, or at least manageable. So if you choose to turn your back, you could be turning it on your one true soulmate and walking into a future of eternal solitude.

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In Defense of Sex Toys, Feminism and Trolls

March 25, 2015

2 Comments

For the most part, we tend to ignore the trolls. But every once in a while, outlandish claims need to be addressed to ensure that reality-based facts win over fear, insecurity and hate. In response to a post about a woman whose inability to orgasm without a sex toy was hurting her boyfriend’s feelings, one commenter recently made some particularly ridiculous, utterly unhelpful statements — we break them down, one by one, below (without his, shall we say, colorful language).

Claim: Sex toys make women loose.
Reality:¬†It’s pretty much the opposite.¬†The vagina is not a cheap sock that goes limp with repeated use. It expands and contracts with arousal. The perineal muscles which surround it help maintain its integrity. So the more pleasure the area receives, with say a sex toy, the more workout those muscles get, the stronger they’ll be, and thus the more supportive they are of the area, the tighter they can contract, and the more responsive they become to stimulation. Win-win-win!

Claim: Men don’t want to be with women who use sex toys.
Reality: Smart people know that women who use sex toys are comfortable with their own sexuality, better understand how their bodies are built and work, know what they like, and are more successfully orgasmic — all things that make for better partner-sex. Men who are comfortable with their own sexuality will use sex toys with their partners for variety and fun without feeling threatened. Which is not to say that dangling a toy with “realistic” aesthetic details but “unrealistic” proportions in front of one’s self-conscious male partner is polite — in fact, it’s the epitome of insensitive rudeness. But a woman who uses her favorite toy, discretely if feelings require it, while finding some other accessory she and her partner can¬†both enjoy can only improve their sex life.

Claim: Your vulva/vagina is your male partner’s property. AND:¬†Men only like women for their genitals.
Reality: Do we even have to address this? It’s so tiresome, so transparent. We get it. You long for a time when men ruled the world, and women were their sex slaves. And now it kind of sucks that you have to deal with this upwardly mobile class of people who now have rights and power, often more power than you. And so, in a desperate attempt to slow down the inevitable rise of this group, you try to take them down a peg or two by insulting them. Are you twelve? It’s been quite a while, at least in this country, since women were married off as property. Yes, human rights are actually a good thing. Please acknowledge all the happy, well-adjusted grown-up men around you who interact, work, fall in love and/or have sex with women they view, value and respect as equal human beings. Both men and women are multi-dimensional — it’s not all about intercourse.

Claim: Sex toys make it harder for women to reach orgasm.
Reality: Many women require clitoral stimulation in order to reach orgasm. Unfortunately, it’s another of Mother Nature’s cruel jokes that the jackhammering many men prefer during intercourse avoids contact with the clitoris altogether. Add to that the great variability among women with how their genitals operate and respond to stimuli; the atrocious state of sexual education in this country; the pervasiveness of male-centric, unrealistic porn; the still-rampant sexism in our country which shames women’s sexuality and limits their sexual agency¬†(Exhibit A: your comment)¬†– and it’s a miracle women can orgasm at all! They need all the help they can get; sex toys offer that help. And often times, once a sex toy can finally get them to their happy place, they’re better equipped to experiment with other ways to find satisfaction, both alone and with a partner.

Dear Commenter, we condemn the straight woman (or women) who hurt, belittled or shamed you. They are not representative of our entire gender. Just as they should not speak ill or dismissively of the male member (as we’re assuming they did), neither should you speak so ill of women’s genitals. Both men and women, gay or straight or transgendered, are so much more than the sum of their sexual body parts. The more we all start thinking about sex with our heads instead of our junk, with our hearts instead of our hatred, the better we’ll all get along, both in and out of the bedroom. Here’s hoping you find someone who can love you for you, and vice versa.


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The Amount of Sexual Attention Testicles Should Be Given

March 24, 2015

1 Comment

photo via flickr
Advice from three of our guy friends. This week they answer the following: Should I pay more attention to my boyfriend’s balls?

Straight Single Guy (Mark): Well, at least don’t forget about them.¬† Getting past the generic notion that everyone’s preferences are different, and thus communication with your partner is key — absolutely true of course — I’d imagine that some guys rather enjoy the attention there, others could take it or leave it, and still others might even be quite averse to any focus there.¬† It could even vary from session to session depending on the mood.¬† I’d probably most equate it to nipples for gals — certainly an erotic component of the sensual buffet that shouldn’t be completely neglected by any means, but bottom line, they’re not the feature attraction.¬† Pay attention to them to the extent that they’re a complementary ingredient to an exquisite main course, and accordingly, season to, um, taste.

Straight Married Guy (Figleaf): I’m sure it’s not what you meant, but if you don’t pay attention, you can accidentally hurt him.¬† Which brings up the most important thing about paying attention to his balls: even if you’re careful, he still might flinch until he’s sure you won’t hurt them.¬† The great news is the skin covering balls is marvelously sensitive.¬† And responsive!¬† Most women have had partners who can’t get enough of using a light touch to crinkle their nipples…and then to soften them again by cupping or mouthing to warm them back up again.¬† You can do much the same thing to crinkle his balls and then relax them again.¬† It won’t hurt him, the combination of sensations will feel good to him, and you may find it just as fascinating.¬† Final hint?¬† It feels wonderful to have one’s balls lightly tickled or scratched during orgasm.

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10 Questions to Ask Each Other Before Getting Married

March 24, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

2.

a. What are your feelings on masturbation?

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

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

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

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

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

4. Will we air our dirty laundry?

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

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

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

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

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

7. How do you feel about my exes?

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

8. Will we talk about our fantasies?

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

9. How do you feel about adultery?

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

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

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

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Your Call: I Was Bi, But Now I’m Not Attracted to Men. What Happened?

March 23, 2015

3 Comments


photo via Wikimedia Commons

We get a lot of advice questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to advise a reader. Leave your suggestions in the comments section below. 

Submit Your Own Question to EMandLO.comTry Our New
*PRIVATE*
Advice Service!

 

Dear Em & Lo,

I’m a 21 year old woman who realized she was bisexual about a year ago, but recently my sexual desire for men has disappeared. My sex drive is fine, and my attraction to women is still there, but I don’t feel anything for men any more.

I’ve asked my mother and some friends, and they said it could be because I’ve been heavily depressed, but I’ve been clinically depressed for years and it hasn’t affected me that way at all. And, as I said, I’m still attracted to women — in fact my attraction to women has increased.

Was I just a lesbian all along? Do all bisexuals go through phases? I’ve been like this for weeks, and I’m worried I’ll never love men again.

– Bye-Bi Birdie

What’s your advice for Bye-Bi Birdie? Leave your thoughts in the feedback section below.

 

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

March 20, 2015

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

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

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

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

1. Will your friendship survive?

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

The worst-case?

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

2. What do you hope to gain?

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

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

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

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

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

4. Is there a real attraction?

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

5. How serious is this other relationship?

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

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

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

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

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

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10 Easy Ways to Be More Romantic

March 20, 2015

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photo via Flickr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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