Co-Habiting

Rule #51- Sleeping it Off

via perumalism, Till Krech

I’ve decided to examine this seemingly agreed-upon idea that states that one should never go to bed angry. That the key to a happy well-rounded relationship is that all pending drama be resolved before one’s head hits the pillow.

The only problem with this seemingly good advice is that switching off your angry button just before bed can be easier said than done — in which case, we are told to just sleep it off. For example, some of us can never fall asleep when they are cross (because we obsessively replay the fight in our heads until sleep is impossible) and the fact that when you go to bed angry there is a very large possibility that you will also wake up angry (if not angrier, because you were deprived of half the night’s sleep due to a loop of possible arguments you forgot to make the night before, and find yourself completely entrenched in your position by morning).

So, is sleeping it off really the best way of cooling off after a fight, or is talking things through before bed the better strategy?

1. The arguments got really heated, moreover you are really tired because it’s been a shitty long day, you didn’t have time to eat dinner and your usually wonderful other half has pissed you off. What could be a better end to this catastrophically long day?

You decide to go to bed and you wake up in the morning, and you partner looks all refreshed but you still feel like crap. Just because you both went to sleep “to cool the argument off” doesn’t mean it’s over, and even if one of you feels better in the morning, it doesn’t necessarily mean you both slept off last night’s hot tempers.

The fact that you went to bed doesn’t actually mean the argument is over, and it doesn’t mean you both feel better about the things you’d argued about. You know yourself and hopefully your partner as well, so think about it before you call it a night. Maybe you had better talk things through so you can go to bed semi-calm and not go to work the next day with an argument hangover.

2. Maybe the reason you picked a fight in the first place was because you were so pissed off after your long disgusting day and were just taking it out on your SO? If this is the case, maybe it would better to get some sleep rather than talk it out, because maybe after a few hours of slumber you might decide that the fact he forgot to pick up milk (even though you won’t be able to make a coffee in the morning to nurse your dire caffeine addiction) isn’t the end of the world and you can pick one up on the go.

That said, if it’s a much bigger fight than just blowing off steam at each other, sleep is probably not going to make one iota of difference, so it’s probably best NOT to put off any serious conversations until the morning.

3. Also, it’s quite likely your partner doesn’t realize you are probably just half mad at him and half really really tired. Not to mention they are probably all confused as to why you went all mental on them over something that small. This is why it’s important to be sensitive to each other: perhaps you should decide beforehand that if one of you comes home exceptionally pissed off from work, you tell the other person you just need some quiet time and then go into the other room and just watch some telly while binge eating biscuits (or something like that). Just tell your partner what you need after a rough day (in advance if possible), i.e. food/a hug/space. That way you guys can be more attentive to each other’s needs and preempt some unnecessary fighting.

4. If you do decide to go to bed, try not to be all passive aggressive about the whole thing, maybe avoid saying things like “I just can’t stand to look at you right now so I’m going to sleep.” Try something more along the lines of: “I’m just really tired and can’t think straight, so maybe we should talk about this after we’ve both had some sleep.”

5. Physical contact helps soften your temper (no, I don’t mean sex). Try cuddling, or holding hands, or some forms of contact that will help bridge the void you’ve created that runs down the middle of the bed.

6. If you had a fight, finished the fight, and are still all wired up on the one hand, but really physically and mentally exhausted on the other, maybe try and do something fun to wind down. Share a tub of ice-cream, watch and episode of some TV show you both like. You know, something fun and PG-13.

Bottom line is this, it doesn’t matter when you talk things threw as long as you do. Get to know each other, when it’s important to talk, and when it’s better to just back off and cool down (possibly for eight hours with your eyes shut).

Rule #50- People Don’t Change

via christopher, russavia, wiki commons

Change is a tough issue to tackle when it comes to relationships. I think we, as humans, need to believe that people have the capacity to change, to better themselves, but when it comes to the way we see partners or potential partners, the belief that change is possible usually comes with a few caveats, namely — if you kick off a relationship by betting on the possibility that your partner will change in some way, you may be getting yourself into a sticky situation.

I’m not saying people can’t change, I’m just saying that they probably won’t. Are you dating someone new? Are you considering reconnecting with that one particular ex that you just can’t shake the feeling was “the one that got a way,” a missed opportunity?

It’s probably best to start off by asking yourself: What’s changed? Why is this time any different, why are you any different? If you couldn’t make it work the first time around, why will it work now? Is your new boyfriend a serial monogamist who switches girlfriends every six months and it’s never his fault? Is he incapable of holding down a job, or deciding on a career? Can he not stick with any one city, or degree program, or plan for more than a couple of years? These things are too important to be overlooked, as they could very well point to an inability to stick with a relationship.

Why are you any different?

1. First of all you need to ask yourself why you are any different, or more specifically why the relationship is any different from any other aspect of your partner’s life. If he/she can’t hold down a steady job, or they move around every couple of years, what’s to say they aren’t going to get up and leave you too?

It’s important to ask yourself why this relationship is any different from anything else your partner is incapable of following through with…  It’s vital to notice not only how the person you are dating interacts with you, but how they treat all of their commitments: they may be the most wonderful, sweet, and giving person, but if he or she can’t live up to the other obligations they have going on, it’s very likely that at some point in the future, their commitment to you will also prove to be too much for them. So make sure you don’t end up missing important warning signs.

2. Rule #2 goes out to all those people who think they can change the person they are dating! You can’t! That just doesn’t happen outside the realm of chick flicks.

Start seeing your relationship for what it is now, and not what it has the potential to become if only he gets a steady job, or ends his porn addiction, or stops lazing around, or stops being selfish or uncommunicative, or stops blaming others for his shortcomings. Because if you don’t, well, you might be in for a rude awakening six months, or ten years down the line. But more importantly than that, you should like, respect and admire the person you are with for who they are, and not for who they will become if only they start or stop doing something.

If you need a project, take up knitting, not relationships, because at least knitting doesn’t have the built-in  danger of blowing up in your face.

3. If the person you are dating has a bunch of dirty habits that you can’t stand (or even just one) they are most  likely going to keep at it (yes, I’m talking about anything from smoking too much pot, to being a selfish jerk, to cheating on you). Either dump them or learn to live with it.

No, I’m not completely cynical, and I do believe there is the possibility that they will try and work on it for you. But that means that for starters you can’t fall into the beginning-of-relationship-trap of pretending that it doesn’t bother you. Moreover, you have also got to accept that he may just might continue forever to bite his toenails in bed, and that’s that (or do that other thing that drives you completely insane).

4. Thinking of reconciling with an old flame? First ask yourself this, where are you at? Are you still the same person you were when you two first dated? Because if the answer is yes, and the break-up was also your fault (as you know, it takes two to tango), you may be unhappy to discover that history has the nasty habit of repeating itself. Also, maybe they haven’t changed, but you have — maybe that starry-eyed person you used to be doesn’t exist anymore.

Ok, so maybe you are still the same person, just a little bit older and wiser, and just maybe this relationship isn’t the right fit for you anymore. But I will say this, just keep humming this as your new mantra because it will save you a lot of time, tears and anger: “people don’t change.” I do realize that this is probably the hardest truth about humanity for people to accept because it appears to negate lofty ideas about change and redemption.

Be it a part of their personality, a worldview, or behavioral pattern, people tend to treat all aspects of their lives in the same manner. So stop looking at your relationship as separate from all other things in your someone’s life, because it aint! It’s just another part of who they are.

The truth is, you will be much better off if you learn to accept your partner for who they are and not for what you wish that one day they will be. Because entering a relationship with a person as they are, and not as they might, should or will be, is always the safer bet.

Rule #49- Phone a Friend

via c. kennedy garrett, carelessly growing away from you

Ages ago I wrote a post  on why you shouldn’t overshare every little personal detail about your relationship with your friends. But it hadn’t occurred to me then that the reverse is also true: undersharing can be just as big a problem as oversharing.

Because there are those of us out there who are too shy/embarrassed, or for whatever other reason don’t talk about things that probably should be talked about.

In these cases, it’s usually postmortem that things start coming out.

Suddenly, after a break-up, you decide it’s alright to start talking about those problems you were incapable of voicing while you two were still and item. You start telling your friends about all the crap you went through during the relationship, and all the red flags you were too blind to see.

So, why SHOULD you talk to people about your relationship issues?

1. They are your friends, and have a vested interest in your well-being! (One would hope).

They care about what you’re going through and usually want to help. Even if they can’t offer you any productive advice, sometimes it’s great to just have someone take the time to listen.

Moreover, sometimes, just saying things out loud makes us see them differently and think about them in a new light.

2. They too have relationship experience! You don’t have to take their advice, but sometimes people can bring up points that are worth mulling over. New angles that hadn’t even occurred to us.

Maybe they went through exactly the same thing a few years ago and have some great input. Maybe they were too embarrassed to tell you about something similar that happened to them earlier because they thought YOU wouldn’t understand.

3. You know that feeling you get when you’re in love with someone, that you’re the only two people in the world?! (The bad kind, where you think no one else has ever gone though this, and no-one can possibly ever understand you?!). Well you ain’t! And it helps to know someone else has been exactly where you are, and got through it.

4. Your love-goggles might be on so firmly that you can’t  see the situation for what it is!

That’s why it’s important to introduce the person you are dating to your friends and family, they might be able to point out things you are too giddy with love (and hormones) to notice.

Sometimes, the people around us are just a little bit more objective, and can offer you an outsider’s opinion. Trust me, they aren’t trying to sabotage your relationship, they just care (unless of course they are, and then you might be better off with a therapist’s opinion).

5. If you’re scared to tell your friends about what’s going on in your relationship, you either have to find new friends that you trust not to judge you, or ask yourself why you’re afraid to tell them what’s going on.

If you’re too scared to hear the truth from someone else, then maybe you should be asking yourself if this person you are dating is good for you.

If you’ve found yourself at the point that you feel you need to hide what goes on behind closed doors from those people in your life that care about you most, maybe the relationship is what needs reconsidering. 

That said. Don’t forget that they are just that, not a part of the relationship, and you should take their advice with a pinch of good sense.

6. That said, take other people’s advice! If you’ve asked for it, and everyone has told you to dump your cabbage head girlfriend/boyfriend, they probably didn’t all have a secret meeting behind your back to gang up on you, they probably just see something that you can’t. Don’t ignore them! 

At the end of the day we all need support, and sometimes support from the person you’re dating (even if they are the most wonderful, loving and caring person in the world) isn’t always what you need. Your friends and family have been there for you consistently through every good and bad thing in life. If you shut them out of your relationship you’re basically snubbing your emotional safety-net, and come on, everybody needs to know they have an emotional safety-net, just in case things don’t work out. 

Rule #48- Milestones

Stones

Every relationship is composed of hundreds of different little milestones.

The first time you kiss, your first fight, the first time you realize that you’re in love with this whole other person.

The first time they discoverer you spend most of your free time writing a dating blog. You know, those run-of-the-mill milestones that mark every relationship.

But what WE perceive as important events, might be slightly different to what the person we are dating sees as important. After all, you both come with a lot of relationship baggage, and one can’t assume all expectations align off the bat. 

So, in order to avoid monumental misunderstandings try: 

1. Not everybody has the same idea of what constitutes a milestone.

Some people like to celebrate every little thing, and others are less sentimental. If your girlfriend wants to have a romantic dinner to celebrate every month you two have been together (you started dating four years ago) LET HER. What’s the harm?

If you think it’s too much, talk about it and find a compromise that suits you both. Maybe suggest an evening at home with a bottle of wine. Usually the gesture is what counts.

2. Accept that the person you are dating might see certain things as a bigger deal than you. Meaning, that just because you don’t think the anniversary of the first time you kissed is important, but they do, humor them! That’s what relationships are all about, accepting someone else’s little quirks.

Moreover, they want to mark these things because the relationship is important to them! Not because they want to bankrupt you.

YOU are important to them! That’s just how some people like to show it.

Making fun of someone just because they wanted to do something nice to mark the anniversary of the first time they sent you a message on FaceBook is highly counter-productive to the relationship, they will just resent you for it. They only bought you the flowers because FOR THEM it was something worth remembering, and as their partner you should get on-bored.

Yes, no matter how silly it seems to you. Sometimes you’ve just got to bite the bullet because it’s important to someone who is important to you.

3. Talk about things ahead of time in order to avoid situations in which you were expected to have planed something and forgot/ didn’t know you were supposed to.

Didn’t think he was going to be devastated you didn’t book a spa day for your six month anniversary?! You should have talked about whether or not you were planning to celebrate it and how.

In no way is it an awkward conversation, it doesn’t take more than a few minutes, Just talk discuss it.

That said, that doesn’t mean you can’t surprise them with something nice. Just because they said they didn’t want to do anything doesn’t mean you can’t do something for them. Just don’t go OVER THE TOP. 

4. If a certain date/life event/anniversary of something is coming up, don’t just drop passive-aggressive hints! 

Be upfront and clear that you would like to do something special to mark it.

On the downside you might not be surprised by the giant muffin basket and card on your front doorstep. But on the upside, you won’t get disappointed either (and end up fighting).

5. Celebrating things is fun! If anniversaries are too mainstream for you, find some other important occasion in your joint life that is worth commemorating.

It’s basically just an excuse to take a couple of hours out of your day-to-day routine to remember why you kinda of like each other in the first place.

Rule #46- Keeping the Faith

Praying_couple_@_Shwedagon_(4361022275)

via Roger Price, Fæ

I think these days researchers categorize religious disagreements as “unresolvable conflicts.”  I’m not sure to what extent I agree with this statement. But there is definitely something to be discussed as far as relationships go.

Can we date someone seriously who has religious beliefs different from our own? Or is it a non-issue and I’m just old fashioned?

I most certainly can’t call myself religious  I’m probably traditional at best, but I honestly can’t see myself dating someone of a different religion. Not because I believe god will revoke my pass into heaven, but rather because tradition and faith are so fundamentally part of my personality that I have trouble imagining myself living with someone who has a whole different set of them.

I sometimes wonder if maybe I’ve got it all backwards.  Maybe it’s enough that he believes in democracy, and he respects my place as a modern working woman. Maybe all those strange traditions that my ancestors  passed down to me are only secondary to my liberal modern upbringing.

Or are they?

I mean, at the end of the day I love celebrating the holidays. I want to keep those old traditions alive even when I have saved up enough to finally own my own house (fingers crossed that too will happen someday. That is, when I give up teaching, and get a job that actually pays).

So can it work?

I’ve decide to bring in back-up. 

This section was written by a friend of the blogger’s, who is from a secular-but-traditional family and in a happy relationship with a person whose beliefs and religious affiliation differ from hers, and thinks she knows a thing or two about dealing with the “religion issue” — that sometimes painful wedge that exists between the two of you when it comes to matters of faith, culture and tradition.

Back to “Can it work?”: that’s a trick question. When you’re just dating a person, religion isn’t as likely to come up and be a real problem. But when you get more serious about someone and bring them home to meet your parents (and grandparents), you’re bound to start asking yourself the “religion question”, and your significant other might be too.

But this question can have many different answers. If your family’s so traditional and if you belong to such a tight-knit community that you know the two of you won’t be able to be together unless you elope or even cut ties with your loved ones, you might want to come to terms with the fact that your relationship has an expiration date (or, well, just elope).

Bear in mind that being in a relationship your parents are adamant about not accepting will put a heavy strain on you, on your relationship and on your partner, who will want to share your pain. It might prove very difficult to cope without your parents’ moral and financial support, your mother’s hugs and your father’s advice (and occasional proud gaze). Worst of all, should your partner decide not to stick around, you’ll be left all alone to nurse your heartbreak with a healthy dose of “I told you so’s.”

This also depends on your partner’s religious orientation: if he’s technically of your religion but an atheist or of another caste, your parents might eventually come ‘round. If one of his parents is of your religion, your parents might eventually warm to him. If he’s of a different religion but you both share the same values, outlook or philosophy of life, you may have a chance. If he’s of a different religion but of the same culture, or moved to your country at a young age, it may well work, even if he’s of a different religion (my boyfriend and I are an example of this). But if he’s a devout Catholic from Poland and you’ve been raised as a devout Sikh from the Punjab, it might not work out so well for the two of you – because of cultural and religious differences alike. (Remember how in My Big Fat Greek Weddingthe protagonists were both Christians, but one was Greek Orthodox while the other wasn’t? And even after the groom agreed to become Greek Orthodox, the bride’s father still felt betrayed, because the groom wasn’t culturally/ethnically Greek?)

If, on the other hand, your parents are less religious, or more open, there’s a chance that they’ll accept your partner with open arms, even if you have to deal with a rocky start in the first few weeks. If your parents raised you in a secular and liberal home and they still don’t accept your boyfriend, you should ask yourself if maybe the religious issue is not at the heart of their rejection. For example, they may be wary of accepting him because they believe the religious differences preclude the possibility of your building a happy and harmonious home together, and if you convince them that you share the same values, they’ll accept your partner. (Of course, it’s possible that they just think he’s a jerk.)

Or perhaps they think the religious differences belie even bigger cultural differences, in which case you have to ask yourself if these differences are surmountable. Or perhaps they worry about your legal status: will you be able to marry this man legally in your country, and will you be entitled to full rights as a married couple? Does your country have civil marriage? Does your religious denomination recognize mixed marriages? What will the status of your children be?

If you haven’t asked yourself these questions yet, you may find that they are crucial to figuring out if there’s a chance for the two of you – and they’re probably the questions running through your parents’ head, and the reason for their objection to your union.

Under what conditions can it work?

First of all, religion can be many things. It can be  a set of childhood memories of holidays or the name you were given by your parents, but not necessarily something that has had a real impact on you growing up.

Or it can be an integral part of your identity, be it because you want to keep your family’s traditions or because you yourself have a close connection to God. If you are a spiritual person and feel that you share a spiritual affinity with your significant other despite the religious differences, you’ll probably be fine. If religion means little to the both of you but you share the same world-view, you’ll be ok also. And if religion to you is an amalgam of traditions and rituals you want your children (and spouse) to be part of, you have to make sure your significant other is willing to respect that (bear in mind that you will probably have to respect and even keep his own traditions in return – are you willing to change your lifestyle and do that?).

If the question of conversion arises and it becomes clear that the relationship cannot proceed without it, ask yourselves which one of you should convert and why, and what it will require of you as individuals and a couple. If you ask him to convert, will your partner feel like you can’t accept him as he is, that you need him to change too much? Will it alienate and hurt him and tear the two of you apart? Will it turn you into Marta and him into the Baron Münchhausen (an analogy my boyfriend and I often use when discussing this hot topic)? If so, just let it go.

Sometimes the “religion issue” can interfere in the bedroom as well — sometimes being brought up in a particular faith will shape the way we think about sex. For example, you may be all for abstinence, while he might expect sex way before the wedding night. He may have had a wild past, while you may have been “saving yourself”. You may have been brought up in a strict community that segregates men and women, while he may have lost his virginity at 13. You may have been brought up to get married early, while he may be planning to keep his bachelor pad at least until his 35th birthday. You may be pro-choice while he may be pro-life. These are extreme examples, but many interfaith couples are bound to encounter the “grey areas” of having differing (sometimes conflicting) opinions about sex. This is best solved by talking about it. If you’re disappointed that he’s not on the same page as you are where sex is concerned, don’t hide it from him — he might not even have realized.

Basically, it will only work if the two of you learn to accept each other’s religious traditions AND world-view. You should be accepting, mature and strong enough, and have enough resolve, to stay together even if one or both of you become a bit more religious, or show more signs of wanting to keep religious traditions.

What can you do to make it work?

1. Read and learn about your partner’s religion (and culture!) and have him read about yours – not on Wikipedia. Real books and stuff. Even THE books (the Bible, Qur’an…). Ask your partner questions about his religion, surprise him with facts you read that he might not know, try to figure out how he sees his religion and try to see it through his eyes. Ignorance isn’t sexy, and won’t endear you to his family or community either.

2. Try to find the points your religions have in common, in spirit if not in practice.

3. Try to see his religion in a positive light — you might find that some traditions seem beautiful to you, and you might want to experience them yourself with his family (and someday, with yours).

4. Be frank with each other and tell each other what you will and won’t give up, and which traditions you insist on keeping. In other words: set limits, and respect each other’s limits.

5. Don’t ask each other to make major changes as an ultimatum for staying together.

6. Don’t badmouth each other’s religion, culture, parents and upbringing as a way of trying to deal with the differences between you. Don’t keep your significant other from keeping his/her traditions, don’t put obstacles in the way of their faith.

7. Don’t turn your discussions into a contest of which religion is better. If you can’t accept that the person closest to you doesn’t believe what you believe, you’re better off apart. (Especially when there are kids in the picture — don’t entice them to choose your religion over your spouse’s, and don’t make them choose one religion just to prove a point.)

8. Try not to antagonize your parents to the point of breaking contact, and definitely don’t put on dramatic and rebellious airs of the type you were notorious for when you were sixteen. Try to understand their point of view. You’re not Romeo and Juliet, and your parents are not evil. HOWEVER, don’t let them insult your partner or his religion, don’t let them stereotypify him. Stand up to them. Have them get to know your partner, and if that doesn’t help matters, just keep on standing up to them.

Be prepared for the possibility that like Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, your parents will conclude that that “on the other hand, there is no other hand” and never speak to you again. This is probably a very rare occurrence in real life (even in the most closed religious communities many parents sneak out to meet with their excommunicated children), unless you’re a pogrom-stricken Jew and decide to shack up with a village Cossack. Anyway, keep this in mind — any other reaction on your parents’ part will seem like a blessing in comparison…

9. Try to be understanding of your partner if they find the religious issue difficult to handle or fail to realize how significant religion is (or isn’t) to you. Try to explain things in a calm and composed manner.

10. Don’t turn religion into a weapon you can use against your partner, or a place to retreat to when you want to hide from them. Don’t hurt them deliberately by pushing them away.

11. Try to find out what your religion says about mixed marriages. Maybe talk to a clergyman or layperson your trust. Perhaps your religion allows intermarriage without conversion? There are several religions that do.

12. Never say never. Don’t assume tradition will never matter to you, and don’t tell your significant other as much (“I swear, I’ll never care about religion, it will never come between us!”). Sometimes when people start a family they want to pass certain traditions on to their children, so don’t deny that this is a possibility. Discuss it honestly, preferably before the time comes to pass traditions on.

Rule #44- Syncing Up

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First of all I would like to apologize for my somewhat long absence. I decided to take an impromptu holiday in Switzerland, Germany & France. I know, it’s a rough life I lead.

In between giant pretzels covered in cheese, cheap beer, and hot chocolate, my mind started wandering back to the lovely man I had left at home. We still aren’t at that stage of taking whirlwind holidays in Europe together.

But I still had to make sure to set aside some time to send him reassuring emails that I hadn’t allowed the temptation of French pastries to go to my head and cause me to forget about him.

The trip was amazing, but I don’t get much time off, and I used up all of it getting slightly buzzed on cheese. Which was a bit of a shame, because it meant that we didn’t get to spend almost any of it together when I got back.

I rationalized that although this was a shame, it wasn’t really my fault because I had bought the ticket before we had started dating.

That said, we are now at that stage where we have to start taking into account the other’s schedule when planning our week, which can get a little sticky, because we are both horrifically busy ALL the time.

So, here are some (hopefully) useful tips in schedule syncing:

1. Set aside some time over the weekend and discuss your upcoming week! 

Naturally, there are always things that will change midweek, but taking the time to go over your schedules is a good way to show you care about what’s going on in each other’s lives.

It also has the added benefit of insuring that you find the time to see each other over the week.

2. Which leads me to; make sure to MAKE TIME to see each other. 

If per chance you are dating someone who refuses to do this. Who only wants to ‘play things by ear’ (even if it means not seeing you at all “because things didn’t work out”), it’s about time you decide if this is someone who really has room in their life for you (or more importantly, if you have room in your life for someone who is selfish with their time). 

3. Even if you have a crazy busy insane week try and find a way to stay involved.

Even if you don’t have the time to go out, show up for a sleep over. Sometimes having a nice cuddle before falling asleep helps alleviate a little of the day’s stress. Also, try and ad some conversation into your night-time routine.

Whether it’s just to stay updated because you are genuinely interested in this other human being you are dating. Or whether it’s because knowing there is someone to listen to what a horrible day you had is why you even bother with dating in the first place.

4. Never EVER make big plans (like weekends away, holiday plans and so on) without talking about them. Not cool. 

Also, if possible, try phrasing things this way: “hey darl’n, so the guys all really want to go away on a spa retreat this weekend, I’m thinking of joining them.” As apposed to just announcing that you’re going.

You aren’t asking for permission, you are showing that you are taking their plans into consideration as well as yours (and not only because you need a ride to the airport).

5. If you have to cancel plans last minute (this really boils my blood when people do it), first of all, don’t. 

But if you really have to: A. make sure that you have a good reason. B. Make sure this isn’t something you do often (or expect a relationship termination letter heading your way). C. apologize profusely for it! 

When you cancel remember that you are also screwing up someone else’s plans! There are two of you in this relationship.

I’m the last person that will tell you that being in a relationship means you have to do EVERYTHING together. In fact, I’m quite for having your own lives and interests. But you should take the time to be interested in the person you’re dating. That means talking to them before booking a long weekend away with the girls. And making a conscious effort to set aside time during the week to see them.

Rule #40- The Sleep Barometer

via c. kennedy garrett

I’ve been developing this working theory for the last few years that a good night’s sleep is a great indicator of whether or not you’re happy in your relationship.

The way I see it, sleep is the ultimate form of vulnerability (I mean come on, you’re practically unconscious). It’s much easier for me to jump into bed with someone new, than fall asleep with them in it.

It takes me ages of knowing someone to feel comfortable enough to drift off into sweet slumber next to them. Otherwise I just find myself lying there, staring at the ceiling and counting the minutes till dawn.

So I sat down and tried to find some creative solutions to help myself get some shut-eye:

1. First of all, just because you had sex doesn’t mean you have to sleep over/have them sleep over. 

It’s all right to go home after.

But if you do leave, bear in mind that you need to do it elegantly. No lame excuses, people! Just be honest, “I have work in the morning, and it’s hard for me to fall asleep.”

2. If you do want to spend the night, try to make yourself feel comfortable. Sleep in your cozy pajamas, and not in that satin négligée you bought (because it may look sexy as hell, but it makes you sweat like you’re on fire).

Because I read before bed (at home, at least), my new trick is to wind down with an audio book. Basically, do whatever works for you to find your zen, and relax.

3. You DON’T HAVE to sleep on top of each other!

(I’m a big fan of snuggling, but not all the time).

4. After dating someone for a while, if I still spend the whole night tossing and turning, it usually means that there is something wrong. Not feeling safe and comfortable enough to relax properlyusually indicates to me a lot more than merely I’m going to have trouble concentrating at work in the morning.

This generally means that it might be about time to have one of those awkward conversations…

On the other hand, when you do you fall asleep in seconds with a grin on your face, and only wake up to playfully nudge your snoring boyfriend (and maybe snog him a little), you know things are going well.

Rule #39- Good Vibes

via c. kennedy garrett

via c. kennedy garrett

Well, we haven’t spoken about sex for three posts, so naturally I had to revert back to the topic (what can a girl do?).

So today we are going to be talking about sex toys. I know we’ve touched on the subject a couple of times, but I felt it was a discussion worth dedicating a post to…

Because sex toys are awesome!

While vibrating butt-plugs aren’t for everyone, sex toys are slowly becoming more and more commonplace, but our consumer knowledge of them might not be keeping up. 

On the one hand they still have a little taboo attached to them, but on the other hand, many people are buying them without the proper research. Moreover, the shops themselves really are no help because they don’t always list those important need to know facts on their products.

Be it if you’re shopping for yourself, to use with others, or as a gift for a friend, it’s about time we all become better buyers.

1. Research! I would suggest online shopping, mostly because websites tend to list what the toy is made of, its pros and cons, how to clean it, and other important stuff like if you need to use a condom with it, does it work on batteries, or do you plug it in, and of course, how to use it (A good sex-shop will list these things on the packaging).

Is it hypo-allergenic/latex free/non-porous/phthalate free/medical grade silicone?!

Don’t buy anything that doesn’t list these things!

2. Read product reviews, they are always a helpful tool. 

3. If you have more than one sexual partner, make sure you are using your toys with protection/cleaning them properly.

(You should probably clean and store them properly even if you are the only one using them…).

Also, to be fair, your significant other might not be too pleased that you used the item in question with someone else; sometimes it’s just a better idea to get some new equipment. 

4. It’s advisable to steer clear of items marked novelty  (unless you’re on the prowl for phallic bookends).

5. I try to live my life according to the motto: “if you don’t know where it’s been, don’t let it near your private parts…”

Only buy stuff from approved companies/licensed shops, in its original packaging. 

Rule #37- The Shift

via bugflickr

We’ve all gotten that awkward phone call from a close friend (that usually comes at an inconvenient hour of the night) telling you, in rather panicky voice, that they just got dumped. 

This is generally followed by a stammering rant about how ‘out of the blue’ the whole thing was, and how “things were going SO great before”…

Now, if there is one important lesson I have learned in life, it is that things are never just “out of the blue”.

We are all human, and as such, we are predictable. I don’t mean this in a mundane, condescending sort of way, but rather that most of our actions follow some sort of pattern. We are indeed creatures of habit, and even those people we classify as ‘unpredictable’ are predictably unpredictable.

So now that I’ve given a long convoluted introduction, let me explain.

Most people won’t just get up in the morning and decide to break off a relationship. There are signs, hints, changes in behavior; all of which, unfortunately, we tend to purposefully ignore — either that, or we are not paying enough attention to the other person.

I don’t for a second underestimate how strong denial/faith can be. I’m just saying that we can, and need, to train ourselves to be more perceptive of what’s going on in our relationships.

Rules for Paying Attention:

1. There are always signs.

I really wanted to emphasize that, because when you know someone well enough, you should be able to tell when somethings is wrong or has changed.

Their tone of voice, the amount of times they call or text you, how much sex you’re having. Some of these changes occur naturally with time, some are caused by stress or other factors.

You don’t need to over-analyze every tiny, little, minute shift in the relationship, but most of us don’t pay enough attention to these things — or to each other.

2. Be more attentive (also, to the little things). 

Changes in someone’s behavior might not mean they are about to dump you but they may very well indicate that something else is wrong (with work/family/their pet), and they probably need support, someone to talk to, or just the understanding that they are going through a rough time.

Just like we make time for work, the gym and our friends/family, It’s important to make time for just the two of you to talk, catch up, and stay in touch with what’s going on in each other’s lives.

Otherwise, you are likely to miss things. 

3. If you do think something is wrong, don’t sit around and wait for the other person to bring it up(or worse yet, ignore it).

It may be terrifying, but you need to bring it up. This is not a conversation you want to have hanging over your head. If your partner is unhappy, it’s better to ask, than spend the whole time worried sick that they are about to dump you.

Rule #32- Boundaries

via Paula Rey

I was walking to work a few days ago, listening to my audio-book and thoroughly engaged in my own little world, when a guy started chatting to me. I wasn’t in a very good mood, and didn’t want to prolong the conversation (it was really awkward, and he was acting very strangely). I politely apologized for having to rush off to a meeting, bid him a good day, and walked off towards my building.

I was just opening the door, when I noticed him out of the corner of my eye, dashing after me. He bounded up, red in the face, and very angry that I had walked off. Confused and a little upset, I tried to explain that I was late for a meeting and really did have to leave (but this just made him even crosser).

At this point, he was ranting on about something. I just stood, rooted to the spot, too shocked to react. After a few (very long minutes) of verbal abuse on his part, I opened the door, walked through it, and ran up the flight of stairs. When he realized what I did, he followed suit. Resulting in me hiding in the ladies’ room for half an hour (only agreeing to come out after a friend of mine, who had walked into the bathroom, went out and scouted the landing to make sure the coast was clear).

(Yes, I had to be rescued from the girls’ bathroom!)

Anyway, I’m fairly sure this lovely man didn’t even realize he had crossed the line, my line. (Yes, people tend to come in all shades of oblivious). 

We all have boundaries, physical and emotional; lines that we don’t like other people to cross!

For some reason, I was convinced I had posted on the topic a while back, but turns out I haven’t, so that’s what we will be talking about today!

Rules For How Not to Step Out of Bounds:

1. RESPECT each other’s boundaries! If your prince charming (trapped as a beast) asks you not to go into the west wing, then you stay out of the west wing!

We all have our own little things that bug us when it comes to personal space. Some people need more of it, and others less. But at the end of the day, the whole thing is a very subjective matter. Sometimes we just need to accept the oddities of our respective partners.

2. Boundaries slowly come down (both the physical and emotional ones); that is just the natural way of things in a relationship. DO NOT FORCE THEM! You shouldn’t corner someone into doing something they are not ready to do, or share something they are not ready to tell you (that just builds resentment and contempt).

I know the wait can be frustrating, but your relationship will be stronger for it. Just make sure they know you are there for them when they are ready to open up.

3. Make sure you make it clear where YOU draw the line. The other person probably doesn’t even know they crossed it! (Don’t expect people to guess these things, because they probably won’t, which will only upset you).

We don’t all have the same issues, some of us (like me) are more touchy about stuff, and it is really really easy to make me feel uncomfortable. And I do try to make an effort to make it known to other people what bothers me. (For example, I hate inviting people over, it’s my personal space and it takes me forever to agree to share it).

4. No, means NO, always!