Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Van Halen Knows...But How Do You?

Our brains can be so pesky when it comes to making decisions that are really matters of the heart.  Not only am I trying to divide between what I feel and what I think I should feel, but I'm also attempting to treat things with a bit of logic.  For example, when you're dating someone new, it's never divorced from recent experiences.  If you have a habit of dating hard-drinking, philandering musicians and are totally stoked on a new guy who earns a regular income and is gloriously free of tattoos and groupies, you could be stepping into the trap of denial or you could really be breaking free of your pattern.  Herewith, some bumbling tips on how to get some perspective and find out what (and who) you really want by sifting out the noise and listening to your gut.

As we dive into our thirties, there's an increasing pressure to pair off for relaxed movie nights, couples dinners, and regular sex.  Even in my twenties, deciding to leave my boyfriend was a terrifying prospect; the night before I broke the news, I went to a keg party and observed my future dating pool of overgrown boys with frosted tips, no depth, and disproportionate egos.  I drank way too much as I admitted that this crew of supposed young men weren't the bottom of the barrel, but that girls were lining up to date them.  Resigned to my fate despite my very real misgivings, I told my boyfriend that I just wasn't there with him anymore.  This was an easy call, as I see myself as someone would rather go it alone than be with someone they weren't crazy about.  My mother's advice on this was that you should never put yourself on a dating pedestal; if you really care about someone, you know that they deserve to be with someone who feels as strongly about them as they do about you.  This brings me to my first tip: Listen to your mother, father, older coworker, or anyone wise and experienced.  Do not listen to people who say bonehead things about "just finding someone who will be a good [father]" or "passion is fleeting and it's commitment that's important."  Aspire to being truly happy because chances are that if you're reading this, you're not the kind of boring, frigid, unimaginative person that settles.  Move at your own pace and if your goals and timing are different than the majority, so be it.

My second points seems obvious to me, so please bear with me as I possibly insult your emotional intelligence.   Keep your friends close.  If you're in a relationship, stay connected with your single friends and engage in social activities separate from your partner.  It's much easier to make time for one-on-one bonding, wild nights out, and uncoupled weekend adventures when you're single.  As a single person, try not to get too reliant on one friend that you do almost everything with.  This person is your platonic life partner and if they couple up, you could end up giving their mate's friend mediocre head just because it seems like the thing to do.  

There are lots of things that I don't say out loud to anyone, or even write down.  These thoughts are often disgustingly superficial or just weird, like not wanting to date someone who doesn't have a degree or wondering if the guy I'm seeing is just my male counterpart and I'm really just masturbating.  Okay, I've said similar things out loud, but my friends are often very understanding as I'm probably just putting into words their own strange hangups and worries.  Anyways, my point is that you need to be as honest with yourself as possible if you're going to see clearly.  If this means writing down a list of pros and cons that includes embarrassing items like "has a cottage, "amazing tits," or "good in bed but not mind blowing," get 'er done.  Then burn it, goddamit, because you're a judgmental, shallow prick.

The last element of recognizing the "background" for  your feelings is to compare this relationship to previous ones.  I find that reflecting on past events is useful in terms of recognizing the things that you are potentially projecting onto your current situation.  This is especially useful if you have the tendency to seek out drama, pursue partners who are unattainable, or close yourself off emotionally to avoid getting hurt.  You'd think that my attraction to charismatic drug dealers with Attention Deficit Disorder would have been apparent before a trip out west that was somewhat of an "August R., This is Your Sex Life!" opened my eyes, but that's what it took.  Despite being stimulating, inspired individuals, I could finally see that I'd never be as important to them as I discovered that I wanted to be, and that I'd probably been choosing them just for that reason.

My next suggestion is fun and a little scary.  Introduced to me by a friend who visits a holistic healer, it's called muscle testing and may or may not be as accurate as a Magic 8 Ball.  Here's the basic idea from an article I found:

Kineseology: The Tool for Testing  

The easy way to try this is to get a friend to help you out.  Raise your dominant arm to a 90 degree angle at your side and have your friend ask you a couple of yes or no questions that they already know the answer to.  Questions you answer truthfully should result in your arm staying rigid; focus on keeping your arm rigid.  Try answering a question with a dishonest answer and your arm strength should falter.  I've found this uncannily accurate, but in the worst case scenario, it acts like a coin toss.  You know when you flip a coin to make a decision, then end up just doing what you wanted to do all along?  I bet you eanie-meanie-miney-do!

So, if you're not sure about how you feel, listen to that upward lilt in your voice when your friends ask you if you're super into your most recent GOM; chances are good that an uprise in pitch means that you're lying.  Listen to your wise, hopefully experienced elders and don't "should" yourself into thinking you need to partner off.  Have a network of friends who make your life awesome with or without a partner.  Get honest with yourself about outside influences so that you can figure out what your instincts are telling you.  Listen to "When It's Love" by Van Halen, followed by a great deal of Fiona Apple.

These are just guidelines in case you need to decide between two lovers, your GOM is antsy for a verdict on your future, or you wonder if you need to break from your current partner.  With any luck, you have all the time in the world.

Monday, 23 July 2012

The Silent Release

This title is designed to titillate you before revealing the true nature of this entry.  The Silent Release is one of the many gas-releasing strategies performed in order to maintain one's aura of dignity while socializing and especially dating.  One friend describes an ex-girlfriend who would cough to cover up the sound of her farts with a cough, while he chose to exercise a degree of control with the Silent Release.  My personal favourite is the Drink of Water, where you find an excuse to leave the room so that you can release that pent-up gas.  Finally, there's the practiced Face of Disgust that you can execute in a crowd, providing a deflection of responsibility for the gas cloud enveloping your locale.

Whether you begin your courtship executing The Drink of Water, The Silent Release, The Cough & Fart, the Face of Disgust, or just plain holding it in, there comes a time in the relationship when that bomb must be dropped.  This stink bomb is really a truth bomb, and the word is out; you're a human being that sweats, pees, poops, burps and farts. 

I've recently learned that agreeing to official girlfriend status means that my boyfriend can now release toxic, mind-boggling farts in my presence.  Even in confined quarters, agreeing to be a couple means that I am saddled with his bodily functions and he mine.  Early on, he'd mentioned that he understood me to be human and potentially gross.  "I have sisters," he explained, which did not stop me from leaving the room to drop bombs.  In contrast, I've been on a date with a man that I'd known for years who chastised me for covering my mouth, burping, and excusing myself.  Although we were at a pub drinking multiple beers, he couldn't believe that I wouldn't hide my disgusting beer burps from him, maintaining the illusion that I was made purely of sugar, spice, and everything nice rather than guts, onion rings, and beer.

Barring outside factors such as medical conditions, the comfort level of baring all and bearing all rests in finding a common ground.  Based on conversations with my friends, we have most long-term couples weighing in that conversations don't stop because someone has to pee; however, doing a #2 with the door open is completely off limits.  If you're worried about the scent-retentive quality of sheets, you will be mortified to know that farting while asleep, well...it happens.  If you don't think you do, it's because you're asleep, so don't lose future sleep over an accidental slip.

Overall, we're looking at a window of three months to two years before bodily functions become a fact rather than a theory.  Just like most aspects of self-acceptance, this number appears to decrease with age, with the noted exception of one over-thirty man who seemed very uncomfortable with the whole topic.  Both over-thirty men that I asked were pretty adamant that their partner not engage in any kind of expulsions, lending credence to the theory that younger men are becoming more accepting of their partners'  "gross" aspects. 

Space also plays a big part in how freewheeling you are about lettin' 'er rip.  One couple described how trysting in a bachelor apartment during the early days of their romance sped up the comfort process, while another friend was avoiding moving in with her boyfriend expressly because her apartment was so close to his that she never had to use his bathroom.  I advised her that lighting a match and encouraging your mate to avoid the washroom for a few minutes is certainly above board, and certainly preferred to an unhappy surprise.  I didn't want to scare her, but my research shows that within a month, she'll be peeing while he is in the shower and vice versa; nature waits for no cohabitant.

As mentioned earlier, having siblings often loosens the stigma attached to bodily functions.  Dutch ovens, tickle fights designed to provoke urination, and mealtime taunts aimed at causing a sibling to snort out their beverage are all normal bonding behaviours.  I regret that I did not interview any same-sex couples and cannot answer whether they engage in forming the urine-joining "Y" shape whilst peeing outdoors, but my guess is that no, they do not.  Wish you didn't know that was "a thing"?  Yeah, me, too.

Apologies also go out to the queef, the quaff, or the quiff, the vaginal fart that happens when air is trapped in the vagina and escapes, for not mentioning her sooner.  Fortunately, it's all good news; everyone does it, men know what it is, and it doesn't bother them.  In fact, you'll be pleased to know that some women q---f on a very regular basis, making your sporadic slips perhaps a little more bearable.  As for farts, my sources confirm that those often happen during orgasm, and even "just mean [I'm] having a good time."  Bravo to a male friend who has had a woman fart in his face twice during oral and proudly went back for more.  That relaxing, out-of-body moment at climax is exactly the time that one tends to lose control.

If you're dating a traditional man or woman, pull a Miranda and hit the lobby when you're on vacation; they're not going to change their mind about being totally grossed out by your doings.  Two bathrooms would be preferable if you ever move in together (but, like, don't if you're not of the same traditional mind).  Landed a modern honey who's already let one fly in front of you?  Laugh off your next queef or fart in the sack and get back to enjoying yourself.  Excuse your burps at the pub (I'm making a stand!  Take me somewhere nice and I promise to behave) , close the door when you go the washroom, and avail yourself of matches and air freshener.  Resign yourself to the fact that there will be times when you must flee the scene of their grievous infringements of your preference for non-toxic air and thank your lucky butt that you, my friend, are basking in the too-warm glow of acceptance.  Now if only they can get past your ex calling, your clothes that never make the laundry basket, your overbearing mother, your inability to manage your finances, your erratic work schedule...one step at a time.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

When You're Dating a Non-Smoker, Smoking = Cheating

Although there's been some speculation about my sexual orientation (hey, sometimes guys really suck...ok, often), I'm pretty sure picking up a mix CD with a very large vagina on the front and not noticing for days is indicative that I have little interest in other women's bits and/or Vagina Blindness. I was also distracted by the headline, "Don't be a Pussy!  Get Fucked!"

Grabbed this awesome mix at a Summer Jam swap party and finally put it on while enjoying a game of Scrabble with my boyfriend.  How awkward was it when the song "Cigarette Duet" by Princess Chelsea came on?  Pretty darn awkward, as it encapsulates the feelings of both parties in an average smoker, non-smoker relationship.  If your partner isn't the best at communicating how they feel about your smoking habit, or you need help expressing your feelings about it, give it a listen and be prepared to feel uncomfortably exposed.

Princess Chelsea Cigarette Duet

When I started seeing my former GOM and now boyfriend (see previous post for GOM definition), I decided it was time to really cut back on my cig-a-day habit.  I wanted to avoid having my issue become personal for him in case things went somewhere, and I wanted to make sure that while I was avoiding smoking in his presence, I wasn't secretly resentful that he was keeping me from enjoying a relaxing puff.

I was doing really well with cutting back, barely feeling like having a smoke even in social smoking situations.  One camping weekend of chain smoking later, my body is convinced that I should be lighting up whenever someone else does.  I was proud of myself for exercising some degree of control; now I'm having to fight the urge to smoke in front of him in groups where others are smoking.  He knows that I smoke when he's not around...but when he is, it definitely feels like cheating to both of us.  Illogical though it may be, the non-smoker is often left feeling like you're choosing between them and some disgusting, expensive, unattractive habit.

If you're hiding it, if you're showering afterwards, if you're deleting photos off Facebook, if you're sneaking off at parties to grab an illicit smoke, there's no denying it; you're cheating.  There is little difference between this secret or ashamed smoking behaviour and jumping into bed with someone who isn't your partner.  For Sex and The City fans, you'll note that the writers equated the two  when Carrie Bradshaw was both smoking and fucking her ex behind Aidan's back.

 Recognizing you have a problem is the first step; now you need to decide what you're going to do about it.  You can ask your partner to accept you and your bad habits.  You can quit or cut back.  Better yet, you can lie to yourself and work out some sort of an agreement where you don't smoke when they're around and hinder your ability to really be comfortable and totally yourself.

Whatever you choose, don't let it percolate.  You want this non-smoker in your life?  Do what it takes to show your GOM or partner that you want them.  Non-smokers, you may have been a smoker at one point; please be compassionate and think about how you don't like getting nagged about how your hair is in the drain, you throw your dirty clothes on the floor, you leave the seat up, you eat tuna out of the can, or you spend money like it's going out of style.  A raging orgasm is better than a cigarette any day, and although it's more socially acceptable behaviour to have a cigarette on your break than a good pounding, it may not be like that for long.

Breakups 101 for Online Dating

A male friend called today to solicit advice, flattering me by calling me "someone who knows something about everything."*  If I know one thing, it's that flattery always works on me.  A second would be that I love to apply my vast dating experience to new scenarios, preferably related to sex, sex and more sex.

The problem with his current GOM (Girl of the Moment or Guy of the Moment, Augustspeak for someone you're dating but you haven't defined your relationship with) is not the sex.  After a sexual drought, this woman was breathing new life into a beleaguered and deflated ego.  However, her personality simply wasn't inspiring him, and she'd become smitten quite quickly.

The facts are that they met online, started hooking up almost immediately, and had a date to see a show tomorrow.  If I were dating this charming, well-mannered man, I'd be planning my outfit and looking forward to being taken out by a man who knows how to show a girl a good time.  Instead, he's concocting an excuse to drop by her place tonight and give her the ol' "I'm just not that into you."  

Fellas, do not let a woman get excited for a date, all dressed up, eschew other plans, or even possibly commute to meet you when you know that you're about to break it off.  In the scenario where you cannot negotiate a way to break the news in person, do it over the phone.  It's not ideal, but I've done it and the man appreciated that I was considerate enough to save him a thirty minute drive to see me.

I'm all about honesty, so I firmly believe that you need to be as clear as possible when telling someone that it's over.  He may say that her personality is bland to me, but to her, he'll say "I find you really attractive and you have a great personality.  I'm just not experiencing the kind of connection I need in order to take this further."  Being honest and concise about your reasoning may seem like the more difficult option, but it avoids confusion about whether the other person still has a chance with you and doesn't leave them guessing about what they may have done wrong.  Ditch any excuses about the place you are in your life, work, how soon it is after your last breakup, and anything else that doesn't require balls.

There you have it.  When you meet online and hook up right away, this kind of breakup is perfectly acceptable behaviour.  You are not expected to be friends; you weren't before and hopefully don't have any existing social connections, anyways.  The only exception would be if you're desperate for a squash partner and really gel as people; broadly, I mean if you really share common interests and have a lot to talk about without flirting, drinking, or fucking.  The friendship should also be worth possible future awkwardness as you both move onto other people (or don't, which is categorically the worst).  Want to know all about internet dating, creating the perfect group dynamic, ordering the perfect amount of oysters, dealing with your friends' dietary restrictions, and how to survive and thrive in the big city?  I'll try to enlighten you with my very private and very public musings, advice, and confessions on August Say Whaaat!?!