Illustration by Kimberly Lopez.

Welcome to our weekly advice column, Dating Is Easy, covering all things love and dating. Dating Is Easy is spearheaded by writer Beca Grimm. If you’d like to submit a question, email her at info@ilymag.com or tweet your question to @becagrimm with the hashtag #askily. (Illustration by Kimberly Lopez.)


16: The Ideal Saturday Night | 02.17.17

A friend from college sent me a self-identified drunken Facebook message:

Hey, got a question for your dating advice column if you’re interested, about dating chefs/cooks and the work week struggle. I graduated college and then fell back in love with cooking after moving to New Orleans, and have been cooking and moving up in professional kitchens ever since. Next year, I hope to make sous chef. I’m incredibly driven and focused in my craft and have concrete plans. I try to be open and honest with potential partners about the reality of my career path, long hours, high stress, and the desire for a reasonable amount of cool off alone time post work. Often, a romantic partner comes in and I have moved up to the place where I can kill her and her friends with food, send them a 40oz steak and kill them with pasta. Cooking is my life, but the majority of people I’m attracted to tend to be more into academia or the arts and that’s great (all of the things I love), but they don’t really seem to understand what I do. So when I can’t get a Saturday night off, it comes off as me not caring enough to make time, when in reality it’s because the things that make me a diligent boyfriend make me a good cook and it’s impossible for me to explain why I do what I do to anyone else who is not in it. How do I reconcile my passion with a serious love interest that I am currently working towards without being work heavy? We connect on art and books but I don’t want her to think I’m some silly line cook without a plan. I don’t know. I’m kinda drunk, I think  if I revised this a bit there would actually be a good talk to be had.

First of all, I am super into the phrase “diligent boyfriend.”

Secondly, yeahhh. Jobs with nontraditional hours–chefs, bartender, security guards, musicians, make-up artists, camera techs, THERE ARE A LOT–come with a subtle perk: excellent partner screening.

Lots of these jobs with bizarre-o hours are also pretty romanticized. Who hasn’t dreamed about a lover giving them multiple orgasms in a spotless, industrial kitchen then filling their belly with some world-class quiche? (Maybe not the quiche part, but.)

I hear this type of complaint most often from musicians. The idea of dating a rock star is universally hot, not to mention the potential to smug it up with a babely musician on your arm post-show. But, the reality! These jobs entail late, often long hours. That’s a very difficult pill for some partners to swallow.

You say you’re often attracted to people in academia or the arts. Great! It’s good to know nuances of your attraction patterns and “type,” but I think we need to dig a little deeper than the superficial surface here. Although tougher to tell from a LinkedIn profile, what you may need more than a foxy creative is a person who values their independence. Someone who understands that your job is more than that, it’s a career–a passion. And as such, you owe it time and energy, an expenditure not reflective of your feelings towards a relationship. Ideally, relationships should be a symbiotic support system, professional ventures included.

A friend going through a divorce some years ago shared advice he says he wished he hadn’t ignored: “Set up shop with someone who has the same idea of an ideal Saturday night.” He loved to go dancing and meet new people, open to the night ending with a skinny-dip in the Atlantic. She preferred tweaking pie recipes while rocking loungewear and draining bottles of Publix BOGO wine. Neither of these nights are bad or wrong inherently, but perhaps paired together they are both.

In your case, it’s less important to focus on Saturday night preferences so much Saturday mornings. Find someone who doesn’t need the Saturday night, someone who is secure enough on their own to share joy and growth in the moments outside of that.


15: When An Ex’s Friend Reaches Out | 02.10.17

A local friend emailed:

Roughly half a decade ago, I dated a dude who went MIA on me. He had a kind roommate, who actually brought me one of my cherished jackets when said dude dodged all of my texts. Since that time, the roommate has followed me on social media and never done much other than share a tweet of my work. At most I’ve said thanks for reading and carried on.

Recently, though, I moved, and he reached out to my professional email (something I don’t remember sharing) that his cousin also moved to the same city and needs some people to hang. I’m kind of unnerved by the move [of him reaching out], namely because any iteration of contact raises the demons of ex past, but also because we’ve never held a conversation outside of that relationship eons ago. If I was single, I’d definitely hit the family member up, but I’m not. What’s the politest, but firmest, way to disengage?

It isn’t immediately obvious to me what relationship status has to do with your disinterest in this person’s request. I get that you only know him through who sounds to be quite the asshole ex, but this person went out of his way to help reunite you with a favorite jacket. Anyone who’s ever lost a particularly loved item to a breakup–a phenom my friend poetically calls “lost in the fire”–knows the unexpected joy and ensuing gratitude should it float back into their possession, hopefully unscathed and double-hopefully without necessitating any interaction with the associated, loathsome ex.

This person clearly values your professional achievements and considers you a kind, good-to-know person in what’s a new city for his family member, another person he presumably likes. His request, I seriously doubt, is rooted romantic motivation–either for his family member or himself. Setting up people you know with each other for the sole reason to help a new denizen adjust to their new city is a toothless crime.

Plus, since moving to Atlanta myself two and a half years ago, I’ve learned people in other cities don’t usually know many folks living here. I’ve had mad distant connections pop up since touching down in the A, asking similar favors. I typically indulge them because I was new once, too, and because there’s an 89% chance that I and the person I’m grabbing drinks or coffee with will never hang out again–not because we hate each other (though we might), but because people tend to curate their own tribe, as opposed to absorbing another’s. Usually, taking on such a request involves one hour of your time, about $6 for a beer, and a little emotional energy to feign enthusiasm in conversation for the duration of the hang. Nothing too painful. Plus, it never hurts to make a good impression on a new person who might end up being actually quite cool.

All this being said! You don’t want to meet up with this dude’s family member, which is fine. Polite deflection is possible. Instead of letting this guy put y’all in email touch or whatever, explain you’re really quite busy finding your own footing in the city at the moment but here’s some recommendations of spots you’ve discovered and love. Send some links and make suggestions, then quietly log roll out of those obligation feelings.

Remember, most adults get that other adults have a lot of shit going on so we naturally can’t invent time for people or meetings that simply aren’t a priority (blunt, but true). This person, who, like you said, isn’t exactly a friend, so he should understand that and be thankful for the time you took to email him back.


14: Get Political  | 02.03.17

Isidora tweeted to us:

Remember how typically we avoided topics like politics on the first date? Given the cultural climate, has that changed now?

Gotta roll out a resounding “hell yes” here. Frankly, I’ve brought up politics on early dates for years, but you’re right: that is especially important to do now.

A large part of relational compatibility rests on sharing fundamental moral values. If you’re a bleeding heart liberal and want to simply outsource fucking to a hopped-up Libertarian, you have my hesitant blessing. (I tend to side with the “Sex Lives” verdict, that to fuck someone, in a way, is rewarding them for behavior–good or incredibly bad. In this political climate, to hate-fuck is pretty unproductive. Plus, who can imagine a ban-supporting Republican skilled in the art of missionary-style, eye contact-heavy vaginal orgasm?)

Nine years ago, I linked up with this hella babely metal-head skater. We had all the standard fun 20-year-olds living by a beach have, running wild at house parties littered with half-pipes, sneaking off to hook up behind outdoor couches. Sometimes my dude would get sloshy enough to climb so incredibly high on oak trees that he’d need help getting down. Occasionally he’d light things on fire. All signs, in my head, pointed to the suggestion we would align politically. But when I purchased Plan B following a raucous drunken evening involving no-condom sex a month into our stint, the harsh, sober light of day cut through my delusions. He was genuinely upset, asserting that if I had gotten pregnant, we would “I don’t know. We’d keep it.”

Luckily we never had to cross that road, but holy hell, was his latent Protestant convictions helpful to unveil.

Assuming you’re a human with a heartbeat and life matters to you, I can’t imagine remaining politically indifferent–especially today. Politics have transcended the snore-fest of local zoning and threaten the division of families–dictatorship over bodies and futures–percolating hate. It has less to do with bumper stickers and more to do with a moral core.

You may be hard-pressed to find someone with identical concerns–fervent on environmentalism, moderate on abortion, medium-rare on immigration–but establishing a common compassionate brain space is a totally respectable non-negotiable.

Ask about politics as early as possible. We’re all building our own mini armies to fight a larger good fight. Make sure you’re surrounding yourself with passionate soldiers who give the same damns as you.


13: Tips To Up The Sex Drive | 01.27.17

An Atlanta woman who’s been living with her boyfriend for two years reached out:

Hey Beca, I can’t orgasm from penetration, only clitoris stimulation. Any tips? Also, I’m finding myself not interested in sex lately. My sex drive is WAY lower than it used to be. Any tips, certain food, exercises I should be doing/eating to rev “her” up again?

I’m so glad you asked! It’s a never-ending bummer to hear from hetero, cis female friends of mine re: never getting off from vaginal penetration but also never looking for other ways to come. Lots of women can’t orgasm from plain penis-in-the-vagina action—in fact there’s a pretty heated back-and-forth among researchers about whether orgasms via vaginal penetration are even real.

So, it’s a common woe, and could certainly be a factor into dragging your sex drive down.

Another popular culprit: hormonal birth control. I was on the pill from 18 to 24, but towards the end of my run, its hormones made my depression and anxiety spike. Coupled with those dark downs, it murdered my sex drive. Switching to the hormone-free, copper IUD was a major game changer.

Considering you’re in a cohabiting, monogamous long-term relationship (LTR), I think it’s worth addressing with your partner. This is what they call it “spicing it up.”

Does he know vaginal penetration won’t get you off? Nudge him to show a little more love to your clit. I highly recommend this wallet-friendly vibrator from TENGA. It’s battery-powered, therefore less awkward to incorporate into partner use. For starters, ask your boyfriend to fuck you from behind while you handle the vibe yourself. That way you can control your orgasm while dude gets a pretty spectacular view. Over time, you can explore how this whole clitoral orgasm happens, together.

Heighten some senses by shutting others off. Try playing around with blindfolds and see what wakes up in the wake of losing sight. Earplugs sound mad kinky but they’re an easy (i.e., no Babeland visit necessary) option to make you concentrate on breath, centering awareness as arousal builds.

It’s not for everyone, but I’d be remiss to not mention how awesome it is to smoke some weed with a partner pre-coitus. Being stoned intensifies sense of touch by a bazillion (just make sure you don’t get so high you go to self-conscious outer space. Vibrators can get hella awkward to finagle on Saturn).

Some say delicious everyday foods and drinks like sweet potatoes and red wine boost libido–along with the cliche oysters, which, OK, moneybags–but I don’t know how much I buy that. A writer I like a lot, Kat Kinsman, recently tweeted: “1. If you need aphrodisiac foods to put you in the mood, you’re eating with the wrong date. 2. Bone before dinner.” Not to say you shouldn’t be outsourcing sexual satisfaction outside your relationship, but maybe look at the relationship and make sure this slow sex drive isn’t a symptom of something larger.

I believe people go through seasons in their lives. At times, creativity surges and productivity is less of a to-do item and more like breathing. Other times, you may feel like a resident of some mundane black lodge, desperate for the skeleton of a new idea. Sex drives are the same! How you feel right now is very unlikely permanent.

Keep in mind: just because you don’t come doesn’t mean it’s not fun—and it’s very OK to come alone.


12: Should I Even Try For A Long Distance Thing? | 01.19.17

A friend texted:

so, I’ve had something with a guy/good friend of mine for years. On and off, mostly kept between us. We’ve dated other ppl, but when things would end we’d seem to come back to one another. In the past few months though, it’s felt different, almost as if we’ve been letting each other fall for each other. (Or at least I’m falling; although you can tell he’s feeling something deeper.) I’ve known him for years but I now feel like I know him in a different way…I guess this is when the question comes in. I’m moving to California. End of next month. Right when I feel like we’re finally getting (or we’re giving us) a chance. Do I leave us here in NYC, or do I try? And what if I want to try more than he does?

Once, I was sitting at the stoplight at Moreland and Memorial, a hugely busy intersection in East Atlanta. Dusk had begun to settle into the city’s blackened curves when Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” came on. My windows were down and fellow drivers were held captive at the light, so it was cruel for me to crank the volume, but I did anyway–its creepy mixture of nostalgia and defeat were fitting. After all, I was on a Hail Mary mission fresh from a breakup I wanted to undo.

Boiled down details: Everything was great till I made a mistake. Dude couldn’t handle said mistake, and was itching to leave the city. We split and he accepted a job offer thousands of miles away.

But I wasn’t done. Hours before I sobbed over the phone to my sister. An ever-cautious person, her words carried much more weight: “You have to try.”

We sat in silence on his back porch the first time I told him I loved him, a week after our breakup became official. Buzzing insects in the new spring air made me feel claustrophobic. I filled our tiny box further with a string of half-baked ideas; how I could move or we give it a year or I stay with friends till something stuck, till something made sense. I didn’t have the answers but I accepted a kernel of foundation–how I felt.

I don’t wish what I felt that night on most anyone–how my gut felt scooped clean, the warmth of his dog’s head resting in my lap a final time, and the porch light sizzling out as he left me to find my car in the dark–when he told me didn’t feel the same.

Crossing Moreland alone again, that feeling started to round out and mellow. He didn’t react how I wanted but it left me certain I didn’t skip a step. I tried. And so I knew.

I urge you to do the same. Time is fleeting, people move, things change. Though I know you’re enjoying this carefree time of affection, we both know that isn’t going to last. Will your feelings? For me, I believed they would–past all the hard shit. If you believe the same for yours, I say fucking say something. It’s scary and you surely won’t have the answers to the winding list of ensuing questions (who visits first? How often? How will anyone afford this? Who will eventually have to move?), sure. However, then you will know.

Clarity is a gift that’s foolish to expect. But it’s even more foolish to expect if you don’t ask.


11:  Gay Porn For the Straight Guy | 01.13.17

i’m a straight dude. my bona fides are solid – never made out with, hooked up with, or dated a guy, and i have no interest in doing any of the above. but when it comes to porn, my proclivities run about 60:40 gay porn to straight porn. two questions: is this ok, and is there a good time to bring this up with a partner? Thanks!

Then added:

did you watch “insecure?” i’ve been thinking about this since the scene where molly breaks up with the guy she’s dating who’s perfect, but he slept with another dude in college. can’t get past it.

And finally:

fun fact: a college girlfriend, my brand new therapist, and you are the only folks who know that about me so far.

Oh, this is definitely OK. In fact, lots of straight dudes are into gay porn. A recent study showed 21 percent of straight men interviewed watched it within the past six months.

And I did watch Insecure. I know exactly what you’re talking about and it still boils my blood.

Society is growing to understand gender and sexuality as fluid spectrum, but unfortunately we tend to be more understanding with cisgender women. I don’t think that will always be the case, but I understand your sensitivity as it pertains to dating right now.

As for a good time to bring up to a partner, why do you want to tell your partner? Are you telling her so you two can explore watching some of this porn together? Could be a fun way to spice up foreplay or actual sex between the two of you. In this case, I’d say you kinda gotta vibe it out. Maybe wait till you’re exclusive. Or maybe just till you’ve had sex enough there’s been a weird noise and you both laughed it off. Basically, wait till you feel comfortable with her. Since you don’t have a lot of experience disclosing this preference, be gentle with yourself and make sure you feel safe.

But if you prefer to keep watching gay porn a solo activity, you don’t need to tell anybody—not out of shame, but out of lack of necessity. I never really elaborate on my masturbation practice to partners because it’s my time. (Unless huffed à la dirty talk, which usually means I just talk about thinking of them while doing so. Whether or not that’s true, meh.) As a recovering Catholic, I get the compulsive urge to confess anything that remotely feels sinful. However, you’re not doing anything wrong–at all.

If a partner reacts to your vulnerable disclosure like Molly did on Insecure, stop fucking them. For a partner to internalize that information and make it personal is hugely indicative of their own lack of self-confidence. Frankly, she should find such self-awareness and confidence a major turn-on! It’s cool when people have the guts to explore the depths of their sexuality then talk about it with a partner. It can help build trust and, on top of that, some seriously good boning.


10: Post-Sex Sleepovers | 01.06.17

A close friend in Atlanta emailed:

It’s been a minute since I’ve dated (long-term relationship refugee here) and I’m wondering, what’s the protocol for sleepovers post-hookup on a first or second date? I’ve historically always assumed sex led to sleep, but some of my girlfriends have told me otherwise. I tried asking a some recent co-conquests if it was cool if I slept over and they’ve all seemed startled and said something along the lines of “omg duh,” but then I don’t see them after sweet morning coffee and kisses. Is the question giving the wrong impression? How do I make sure I’m not overstaying my welcome without leaving dudes with the idea that I’m tryna bounce?

Gruff as it may sound, it’s best to assume people hope for your swift post-coital exit–unless one or both of you are supremely sloshed (not uncommon on early, nerve-stuffed dates).

Most men hear, “Is it cool if I sleep over?” as, “Are you a nice guy?” Whether or not they want you to sleep over or if they are in fact a nice guy, 98 percent of men will concede. This fact alone keeps me from almost never staying at dates’ homes on first or second dates. The pressure to say yes can render the gesture empty. Who the hell says no, kicking a sex-panion from the ruffled bed to a darkened street corner to await a Lyft Line full of fellow discarded sex-panions?

What does the invite to stay over mean to you? Does it assuage any deep-residing guilt you may feel for fucking what might be essentially a stranger? “They wanna cuddle all night, which means there’s likely feelings so sleeping with them is OK.” Hey, no shame. We’ve all been there, or at least I have.

Don’t go straight from someone cumming to someone leaving. That’s plain bad manners. Stick around some to chat but then make moves to bounce.

In a less romantic sense, most everyone prefers to sleep in their own bed (see our 07 installment). If those wacky lingering post-coital feelings of attraction and closeness persist past morning, you can always broach the sleepover possibility later. Kind of like how people used to consider actually sleeping with someone: maybe wait? Make sure you even like them before you’re trapped to feign adoration over their 6 AM dog breath.

At the end of the hungover Saturday, all men–or people, TBH–want to feel “good.” Not just orgasm-good. We all want to be the seductive sex bandit with a French press, morning oral sex and pours to spare.

But “good” can also mean flipping the Lyft bill–sans the Line qualifier. That’s real class.


09: To Be Or Not To Be With Your Partner On NYE | 12.31.16

A pal in New York–who wanted to be kept anonymous–emailed:

It’s not that I hate my boyfriend’s friends, it’s that their idea of a good time is vastly different than mine, and after doing it last year I don’t want to go to their dumb cocaine-fueled party again this year. I’d rather stay in or do something with my own friends, but there seems to be a lot of pressure around spending New Year’s together, and you know, kissing at midnight and all. I know it’s important to him to see his friends, but how do I get out of joining without harming our relationship?

Everyone knows New Year’s is the most landfill of holidays yet it has the annoying tendency to keep happening. There’s pressure to look smokin’ in sparkles (harder than it sounds), dance your ass off, kiss your sweetie or an attractive alternative, etc. If your NYE sucks, so will the next year!! It’s science. The expectations themselves are more of a headache than the next day’s hangover.

It sounds like being together New Year’s Eve–at least part of it–is important to your partner. However, it also sounds like last year’s go was what most people would consider…not the best. Especially not to you, sweet anonymous friend, because I know you and know you battled with addiction in the past. That facet of your personality alone, I’d wager, would help your partner understand why you may opt for alternative plans. But setting that aside, this scenario still begs for compromise.

I didn’t spend last NYE with my then-partner. I bought tickets to a Coathangers show and went with other friends while homeboy was drinking at a bar next-door. As such, I shared my first kiss of 2016 with a platonic pal still reeling from a truly vile breakup. But as soon as the show ended? I trotted next-door to see my sweetie and kiss him a million more times. Everyone was fine with this arrangement.

That being said, my then-dude wasn’t supremely jazzed on New Year’s and didn’t much mind skipping the traditional kiss with me (who knows if he kissed his companion, a man who ended up ironically linking with the friend I kissed. They’re still together. We are not. Life is weird, yo).

Assuming your boyfriend honors this stress-summoning, surge-rate extravaganza of a holiday, surely he can balance his own enthusiasm with nodding to your discomfort. Like you said, it’s not that you don’t like his friends; you just don’t want to greet the new year after this horrid one in a midst of tight-jawed ding-dongs railing around someone’s apartment.

If there’s an option to party nearby, I say go that route. That way, around 11 you can head your boyfriend’s way. You can toast whatever sparkly stuff is handy, skip the sniff, smooch your babe, then retire back to your own friends. It’s an option that honors your relationship as well as your autonomy–and hell, if you’re gonna spend the night laying a blueprint for the year to come, that’s not a bad one.


08: ‘Tis The Season To Break Up | 12.23.2016

A good friend G-Chatted:

As I’m having some “maybe this isnt the best fit” thoughts: Is it completely savage to break up with someone around the holidays?

OK, here is where I go public as savage myself: I am a firm believer in ending things as soon as you are totally sure, regardless of holidays.

I ended my last serious relationship on my partner’s 30th birthday. Yeah, that sounds super shitty and for both of us, it really was. It was, like most breakups, remarkably complicated, difficult, and painful. We ended the conversation that ended the relationship with copious sobbing and snotty noses. It sucked! And yes, it sucked even more because he was celebrating a milestone birthday. The piñata I bought for his party (which I obviously got uninvited to) sat in my car trunk for months untouched, full of his favorite candy.

However, the relationship wasn’t working. He was on the brink of graduation, with so many career options outside of the city we lived. I was house-hunting in said city. There were other aspects, too, but those two conflicting truths made it impossible to ignore our short timeline.

Breaking up — when you know that’s what needs to happen — is an urgent matter anchored in respect. Short-term, waiting till after the holiday ~joviality~ seems appealing. Save yourself the grief of explaining a missing partner from parties, go to their mom house’s for the big turkey dinner, have someone to kiss on New Year’s Eve. I get it! Bridget Jones is the patron saint of Single During the Holidays for a reason: it’s hard!

Plainly, when you already have your mind made up, but put off pulling the trigger, you are lying. You’re lying to everyone at the party, your partner’s mom, and most importantly, your partner.

Things could be different if you’re leaning towards splitting with someone and they’re stuck in a tough life spot. Maybe they lost their job or a close friend got a horrible health diagnosis.

But we are talking about enduring a calendar here, dictating your and another human’s individual paths forward. You are not protecting someone from hurt by procrastinating till December 26 or they day they turn 30.0027397260273973. That pain has the power to sear much more fiercely should they ever figure that out. And trust, they would.


07: Your Bed Vs. My Bed | 12.16.2016

A friend in Brooklyn emailed:

Hey B-

Love this new column yr doing. (also, picked up yr zines. they’re GREAT) Finally thought of a good Q for you.

I believe self-love is something important to have for yourself, but it’s also important/hot whenever whoever you’re dating also has it. This manifests itself in many ways, but the most immediately apparent is in people’s mattresses. How comfortable your mattress is, and the amount of pillows you keep, can be a direct indicator of how much you love yourself.

Unfortunately, how much you care for someone else doesn’t always line up with how much they care for themselves. Lately I’m feeling guilty because I’m seeing someone who’s sleeping situation is less-than-idle. It’s a twin mattress with two paper-thin pillows, lofted so high that neither of us can sit upright without hitting our heads on the ceiling when we’re chasing rainbows in the dark. To remedy this, I keep setting our dates closer to my apartment than hers. Am I being a classic, chauvinist, prick in not planning with a little more parity? She has to wake up considerably earlier than I do, and her work’s closer to her place than mine, but I love my big comfy bed (and waking up in my own apartment.)

NBD if this doesn’t make the cut- you’ve been cranking out bangers.

One love,

D

D! I agree self-love is important. Like you, I let my own manifest by way of building up a dope-ass bedding situation. I acquired a pillow-top mattress last year, added an egg crate on top of that, Egyptian cotton sheets, fluffy new pillows, a serious duvet, etc. That’s because I fucking love beds and laying around. I’m actually typing from a bed right now (a friend’s because I’m traveling, but you get the point).

But! I wasn’t always this way and other people still haven’t caught up to the elective bed-ridden lifestyle. When I started seeing someone a few weeks ago, I mentioned how eating nachos in bed on a stony Saturday morning is one of my most pure forms of joy. Although he didn’t openly resent this disclosure, he didn’t exactly share it. For him, self-love didn’t include bedding, which is probably why he is a 33-year-old man sleeping on jersey-knit sheets. Instead, he has the most gorgeous couch I’ve ever seen while I rock a crumbling $50 joint that smelled like cigarettes for the first two years I had it. Priorities differ.

Until last year, I rode out a $100 mattress I bought when I was 19. Towards the end of its decade-long run, it sounded like bad cartoon sound effects–and that’s when I was just existing; checking my phone, reaching for a glass of water or cat, and so on. When I had sex in it, it sounded like B-roll audio for a haunted house married with a tripping, teenage student John Cage. It was very bad, especially for my roommates, I imagine.

There’s theories about whosoever house you stay at more has more power in the relationship. For a variety of reasons, I’m not sold on that. But, I do believe trying to keep where you stay fairly even is plain good manners. I don’t know anyone who’d prefer to not wake up in their own apartment.

Even when I was seeing a dude with a truly dope loft full of beautiful plants, records, La Croix, weed, and a luxe AF bed (PLUS a pool downstairs. The hottest commodity in Atlanta summers), I still resented having to swing by my semi-close apartment before going to work. So even in pretty ideal circumstances, I wasn’t stoked.

Presumably, regardless of your advanced bed game, your partner feels the same.

The fact you prefer your apartment and bed doesn’t make you any of those bad things listed, it just makes you the status quo. As such, you still owe your partner–assuming you like this person–equality in where you stay. If you two end up gelling into something more serious, though, there’s no rule that says you can’t start slowly implementing thicker pillows or whoops, you accidentally ordered two sets of sheet on Prime and hey, why don’t they just keep this extra set as an early Christmas present? No one’s going to get mad at presents.

As for the low-slung ceiling? Well, surely there’s some creative positions that remain almost entirely horizontal. Spooning sex? Actually pretty fucking great when done well. But do research! I have faith in you and the Internet.


06: First Date Sex Y/N | 12.09.16

A good friend asked:

Do we still not sleep with dudes on the first date? Is that old adage still true? Recently I’ve been on three first dates where the dudes seemed pumped (before, during and after me sleeping over) and then texting fizzled to no second date. Did I send weird vibes by hopping in bed?

I think sleeping with someone on the first date should be done on a 900% case-by-case basis. I don’t believe in having rules for that, so I’d call that adage—as a universal rule—outdated.

Dating can be so fun! So can sex! If you vibe with another human and things lead to a consensual interest in boning, there is nothing inherently wrong about that. The introduction of sex early into knowing someone, however, can sometimes turn the new bond’s path if you don’t talk about it.

First off, why are you going out with these dudes? Is it because you want a relationship? Or to plain get laid? Some amorphous combo of the two?

I’m not saying to approach initial encounters like an interview. Once over afternoon drinks with a guy I met through Bumble, he mentioned in passing that he wanted to have kids. And if that didn’t work, then he’d adopt. I appreciated his candor and straightforwardness—even though it was kinda a lot—because he was demonstrating introspection and vulnerability. It’s helpful to have both when going out on dates. And then I knew he probably wasn’t just shooting for a blow job in the parking lot.

It’s good to pay attention to details. What’s the conversation like on these dates before the sex part? And the activities? Where do you meet? Who pays? How many locations are involved? What’s the sobriety level?

Details like these can help reveal a date’s intentions. If he asked you to pick the spot, is listening, kind to wait staff, gives you a buck for the jukebox, that’s dope. If some dude is bemoaning an ex, pushing shots, or not asking any questions about you, that’s not. Whether or not it’s going to end in scheduling a second date or just sex, it’s vital to make sure respect is there.

Frankly, I like to lead with a little summary of what’s up with me. “I just got out of something serious and want to get outside my immediate social bubble.” “I’ve been working too much and need a dance partner.” “I’m at a good spot in my career and life and want to meet other ambitious people.” “I’ve been single for years and never happier.”

Taking the first leap leaves a natural opening for them to fill you in on their status. Again, there’s no need to get into the nitty gritty. First dates should be treated like the first side of your greatest hits album: hit the highlights, make room for a few face-melting guitar solos, but don’t go too deep on those B-sides even you now question. And listen to theirs, too.

They could and might shirk off your graceful opening. From there, you have to decide whether or not you’d be OK fucking this person then never hearing back. And the sex might suck! Are you the kind of person who doesn’t necessitate emotional attachment in order to…attach in other ways? Some people are, some people aren’t. Others—like myself—experience temperamental seasons in which it’s easier to handle casual sex like that.

But just as you’re paying attention to details about them, they’re absorbing your vibe. What are you giving off? Are you really vamping it up and getting handsy under the bar? Do you neglect to mention all the bad-ass professional success you’ve pulled off this year and how dope it’d be to hike with someone on the weekends? You’re communicating a lot, even if it’s not explicitly verbal.

Before sleeping with someone, you have to be OK with worst-case scenario and judging from what you asked, that sounds like them never reaching out again. So, are you?

Keep in mind you also have the autonomy to go home and masturbate. Then you get complete control over your orgasm, don’t have to sweat bediquette with a new human, and can fall asleep blissfully alone in your own bed after eating nachos with no expectation to share. I’m not exaggerating when I say how goddamned empowering it can be to leave a lukewarm or even pretty good first date to retire home and do all that without help from anyone.

Sex, dating, and relationships are hinged on cruel chance. It’s part of this flaming, lolling dice game of life. Is it worth it to you this time—and every time after that—to roll?


05: Messaging Etiquette | 12.02.16

Someone asked:

Here’s my query. I’m very selective in the people that I choose to be friends with on Facebook. Most of them are really good and talented people who I know directly through work or school, while others are friends of friends, so there’s a level of trust. With respect to the females who live in my city (the ones who aren’t married or in a relationship), there are a few whom I find very smart, talented, and attractive. I would like to get to know them better other than reading their Facebook posts.

I’m also on OKCupid and Tinder. While I go through the profiles as I’m swiping left and/or right, I notice that some of those female Facebook friends are also on OKCupid and Tinder. And then there are the friends of friends who are also on Tinder. (Since Tinder is Facebook-driven, it indicates the mutual friends on Facebook we share.)

My questions is kind of two-fold. With respect to those Facebook friends who I find on OKCupid and Tinder, should I reach out to them about hanging out in a more subtle way than outright saying, “Hey, I saw your profile on OKC and Tinder! Let’s go out!” Or if there’s someone on Tinder who shares a friend(s) with me on Facebook, should I mention this to my Facebook friend and ask for an introduction?

My gut feeling tells me that I shouldn’t do either and respect their privacy. Most often especially on OKCupid, I avoid clicking on their profiles. But there are times I ask myself, “What if I did try? Should I take a chance on something that leads to a possible connection?” Again, the likelihood is that I probably won’t pursue this avenue. Does this make sense? Or am I overthinking this?

Your gut feeling is correct. If you see someone you vaguely know on OKCupid or Tinder, all that means is they’re single or otherwise looking—not necessarily interested/open to ~whatever~. It isn’t a bat signal for advances from whoever happens to see them on there. Sorry, if I’m being too subtle. I mean “you.” This doesn’t mean they’re into you.

Avenues like OKCupid and Tinder exist for a very specific reason entirely outside of Facebook. It’s very easy to see if interest is mutual on Tinder via matching. And with OKCupid, should you see someone you vaguely know and want to approach about more possibilities, it’s appropriate to exclusively message them through that channel.

So I have a lot of experiences with this type of interaction.

I met Alex* twice through two separate, former short-term flames. He was pretty foxy and one of said flames even used to tease me for crushing on him. We ran into each other at shows, but never really talked until we matched on Tinder after I became super single. Over tequila in a loud dive bar, I ribbed him: “So why did you never ask me out before Tinder?”

Although we ended up not really vibing in many other arenas, his explanation was pretty solid: “It’s easier to talk with someone if you know they’re open to talking.”

It’s true that having “safe” infrastructures like Tinder, specifically, makes a connection easier. It’s kind of like middle school; asking your friend to ask your crush if they’d reject you or nah. It removes the chance of getting turned down. If you swipe right and they’re Just Not That Into You®, you never have to know for sure thus keeping your fragile ego intact.

Say Alex did approach me at an opening and ask about getting drinks but I snubbed him, that’d surely make for an awkward interaction and possible future weirdness. It’s a risk.

And frankly, the major reason I could tease Alex in the first place is because I wanted him to ask me out. If I hadn’t, I would have been perfectly OK in him absolutely never advancing our barely-there connection. I’ve run into plenty of babe-quaintances on Tinder on whom I swiped right but that was the end—as in, their interest wasn’t reciprocated. And that’s OK! I certainly didn’t fire up Messenger or corner them at a house party after. These apps are now so omnipresent the fact alone you’re both using the apps is not evidence enough to warrant more.

CREEP OUT: The man below and I didn’t match on Tinder, but since he recognized me otherwise, he translated my being on the app to interest specifically in him. If I was interested, I would have swiped right, bro. This is not how to do it.

fullsizerender

But, I’m getting off track here. Continue admiring strong women from afar on Facebook and should one happen to surface via a dating app, say hi on that channel. That’s easy with OKC and yes, with Tinder, it could mean waiting—perhaps for forever because they didn’t swipe right.

Don’t forget one of the hottest qualities in human beings is respect. Show that, and if someone really does have interest in you, trust that you’ll find out. Eventually.


04: Long-distance relationships | 11.25.16

Someone asked:

I live in New York and I’m in a serious relationship with someone who lives in India. What should we do?

Oof. Long-distance sucks enough by definition, add a crazy time difference and, uh, entirely different continents and that’s one tough situation.

I truly believe, for long-distance relationships to work, you need two things:

  1. A solid foundation
  2. An agreement the “long-distance” part won’t be forever

Create a plan with your partner for when and how you’ll start living in the same place. Doesn’t have to be New York or India or even particularly soon, but it has to be some place at some point.

When I first moved to Atlanta a couple years ago, I quickly sparked and started something with a man about six hours south. The relationship rooted itself in the excitement of seeing someone sparingly. He arrived to my shitty apartment with flamboyant bouquets and treated me to fancy-ass dinners I could never afford on my own. When I stayed in his gorgeous old house, we took long soaks in his cast iron bathtub. Our time together was always short but defined by the leisure aspect of it. It was vacation and therefore not really representative of what day-to-day life together would look like. And neither of us had interests in moving. He had a good, well-paying job in my college town. I’d only just landed in Atlanta and wanted to get a grasp on this feisty city. It fizzled after just a few months, to no one’s shock, frankly.

Without an arrangement for one of both people to move, long-distance relationships are difficult to sustain healthily.

Though of course there are exceptions. A close friend of mine who lives here has been seeing someone who lives in Florida for years. Since they have some flexibility in their jobs and can work remotely, they have rotating schedules of bunking at his house or hers on occasion but otherwise, from what I can tell, they value and take advantage of the inherent independence of such an arrangement. However, this is a unique arrangement—one that takes heaps of communication and trust and other advanced human skills. As far as I know, neither have plans to move. Perma-long-distance isn’t for everyone. Plus, this specific instance doesn’t involve tons of distance; more like a five-hour drive north or south.

Most people eventually aim to share a home or at least a city with their long-term partner. That’s normal. Assuming you fall into this camp, I’d advise you two to have a very calm, pointed conversation about what you both want for the future. Is it important for them to stay in India? You in New York? What are some individual and shared long-term goals? How does the relationship factor into those? How do you prioritize the relationship (or not) versus other life aspects like career, family, friends, etc.?

Next, develop an intention with a deadline. Perhaps they move to New York after school (I’m guessing pretty hard here since I don’t know many specifics) or you both move to Chicago by this time next year. An agreed plan doubles as a little pinpoint of light at the end of a tunnel. As time passes and you near that deadline, the light will grow, making the distance much easier to navigate in interim.

It’s scary to have conversations like that because you don’t know what you’ll discover. It hurts to learn your partner may be more focused on their professional life rather than romantic one, but it’s essential for everyone to be in the loop. Approach big deals like this one together. Hear out your partner. Be honest about what you want and need, too. Above all else, prepare yourself for the hard work of compromise. It’s very unlikely everything will work out in such a way you don’t have to change anything on your end.

Regardless of distance, compromise comes up in every relationship. So in a way, it’s advantageous your long-distance relationship brings it to the forefront early on. Welcome the challenge and refine communication. Your relationship—and you as a singular person—will be much better for it.


03: Polyamory vs. monogamy | 11.18.16

A friend emailed:

Do you think that people are mostly monogamous or mostly not? This question is a recurring one among some artist friends.

I think although monogamy remains king of Western culture, Americans are increasingly considering polyamory. It’s evolving past far-left, ~free love~ California counterculture and trickling into more conventional East Coast circles.

About a year ago, I visited a moderated discussion in a fancy Atlanta neighborhood on the topic. Prior, I had a vague familiarity based on anecdotes from raver and hippie friends. These attendees could have fallen in either broad sub-cultural group but many looked downright normal, sitting upright in sweater vests and baseball caps.

I consider polyamory a totally noble idea. It realizes an ability to shed such immediate reactions like jealousy and prioritize your partner’s happiness–which, by the way, is called “compersion,” a beautiful concept in which you get psyched for your partners’ other romantic endeavors. That, to me, is next-level human behavior.

Remember, 40-50% of marriages in the U.S. end in divorce. In a way, the perpetuation of monogamy may be seen like trying the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results; in this case, lasting marriages.

Polyamory today barely looks like the hush-hush, debaucherous swingers’ parties of the 1960s–unless that’s what you want. In which case, surely you can find that. The internet has been amazing for de-mystifying this type of lifestyle and helping people in the community find each other. After all, that’s how I found the meeting. Then there’s even more resources like Feeld and 3nder to help couples and individuals find opportunities to connect.

As a society, we’re growing more open-minded to alternative approaches. I think polyamory and other less traditional relationship models are gaining popularity while losing its stigma, which is pretty fucking cool. Most aspects of life are not one-size-fits-all, love and sex included. I’m not sure how the practice of polyamory will develop over time, but I like the idea that people are feeling more comfortable trying new ways of seeing the world.

Regardless of popularity, I support exploring whatever tactics necessary for helping strengthen your relationship(s) as long as no one gets hurt. It may not be for you and your partner, but maybe it is. Seriously, say it aloud: comperrrrrrsion. Have you ever heard a more graceful word?


02: Dating & Social Media | 11.11.16

A person I kinda-sorta know Facebook messaged:

Is something wrong with how I view dating if I’ve grown distant from the idea of being with someone? I mean I just really want to have someone that I can share something special with, but getting older coupled with my own share of disappointments in the dating world has made me feel…bitter? That might be too harsh a word for describing my mental state, but the seed of the concept certainly is there. I suppose something about living in a world so connected, and only seeing the “happy” social media aspects of others lives can cast a negative light over your own day that seems to drag on forever, or a phone that never rings, or that feeling that you are on a small rock in the middle of a wide ocean, and it becomes overwhelming to think about. So yea, I don’t know, and I saw your post, and felt maybe you might know. Anyway, thanks.

First, I’d like to direct attention back to this smug 2014 study which confirmed what us single folks already suspected: many couples who post ceaselessly to social media are…kind of trying to convince themselves of their own relationship satisfaction. So keep that in mind! There’s countless additional studies that reveal a correlation between social media use and inciting FOMO and overall unhappiness, though we won’t get into those here.

What couple do you know broadcasts the trying times? The time someone made someone else feel insecure? The time someone didn’t text someone else back and maybe didn’t even come home one night (or a few)? The time someone forgot the thing and made someone else cry so hard they had to lay down?

Like other aspects of life, most people reserve social media presences for capturing the good stuff. By definition, those accounts do not capture a realistic scope. It’s lopsided.

You waste energy when you compare your life to those around you, especially when you know only a small sliver of those other lives. But, I know it’s hard to not indulge here and there, often triggering a wave of sickness.

Personally, I’m an unsubscribe zealot on the book of faces. Not because I’m not happy for others—I am! You live that life with your two beautiful Swedish-Filipino children and hot blonde husband and backyard beehive and I will proudly display my annual Christmas card from y’all and continuing loving the shit out of everyone in the photo—but because I’m a fallible human. It’s totally natural to get hung-up or jealous or like you said, bitter. Those are biological reactions everyone, regardless of relationship status, is familiar with.

But because you’re a human, you should empower yourself with strength in responding—which sounds the same but is different. Reactions happen without warning or consent. Responses happen when you hold yourself accountable and take charge of your life again.

Unsubscribing is only a small part of the response. Take joy in the single life. Focus on how great it is that you can be spontaneous. A colleague randomly stumbled upon a plus-one to The Jesus and Mary Chain and the show is tonight and they asked you? Dope. Go. Focus on how you can pick what’s for dinner. Every. Single. Night. Focus on how you can eat said dinner in bed—watching endless stretches of HGTV, 10 Things I Hate About You, literally whatever TF you want. Focus on how you get to spend your money on your own backyard beehive or adopting a cat you fell in love with or crates of Topo Chico. Focus on how you ain’t gotta share that Topo.

Being single is a special time that, for many, is finite. That isn’t a good or a bad thing so much as it is a fairly common truth.


01: Ghosting & Cats | 11.03.2016

A pal emailed:

I just read that ghosting blog because I am in the midst of being a ghostee and it sucks. Only it wasn’t 4 months for me. More like 2 weeks of texting through Tinder, then getting her number, then hanging out twice. Really I’ve only known her about three weeks. But I told her I thought she was super rad and wanted to get to know her. I told her how it’s been awhile since I’ve found someone I wanted to get to know. Anyway, I should have taken the hint when she wasn’t very responsive. But she did say she wanted to hang out more. She went on a trip to New York to see friends and family and I sent her a text while she was there asking her to check out a bar with me when she got home. She replied with “Hey I’ll text you when i have free time. I’m pretty busy with friends and family,” and that was 6 days ago and the last text in our box. I want to message her and see what’s up and why she bailed on me. My friends say I shouldn’t worry about it and after reading your blog is making me feel less inclined to do so. So, thanks for writing this! It’s awesome! I just wanted to let you know that. But also at the same time I want to text her. I’m torn!

Of course you want to text her!

My cats are obsessed with closed doors. (They’re both technically man cats, but who cares because they’re fixed so really they’re just cats, but actually it may be relevant to add this detail.) They seriously don’t give a shit about a room till the door is closed, then suddenly it’s, “WHOA HOLY MOLY I’M GONNA BAT AT THIS OBNOXIOUS BLOCKADE TILL I CAN GAIN ENTRY AND IMMEDIATELY UNDERSTAND TRUE HAPPINESS.”

So I open the door, to allow my fur children to follow their quests for inner peace. But the outcome is always the same: disinterest. And should I close them in the room, on the other side of said obnoxious blockade, desperation for escape sets in.

This girl is a closed door. Sure, maybe true happiness does lie on the other side but she’s already made her disinterest clear. Sorry. When you want to see someone again, you’ll find a way. Even if she is traveling and otherwise busy AF, humans are amazing in our ability to invent time to do the things (and people) we want. She isn’t doing that.

Ghosting is a pretty apt indication of immaturity. It insinuates that if you ignore a problem—in this case, you—long enough, it disappears. Even if reaching out somehow sparked this nascent fling anew, it’d be with this openly, petty adult who is still grappling with the concept of object permanence. I think you’re best off trotting along back to normal. Or hell, even take the energy you’ve been spending wondering and drafting and use it to advance a skill or hobby, thus making you even more badass. Spite is a hell of a motivator. Nothing hotter than a cool-headed, talented person too busy being badass to sweat the silent treatment.

You and I and the cats all know what’s on the other side of the closed door. Keep batting at it—texting her—if you want, but it won’t change that.