14 Tips to Get Your Partner to Open Up about Sex

14 TIPS TO GET YOUR PARTNER TO OPEN UP ABOUT SEX

Christopher Villa

Do you want your partner or spouse to open up and talk about sex, their interests and the things they want to try in bed? Well, here’s the right way!

Are you having a hard time talking about sex with your partner?

Sometimes, talking about sex is always an awkward moment, especially if you’re in a new relationship.

And at other times, you could be in a seasoned relationship and still feel uncomfortable discussing sex because you’re afraid you may be judged.

If you want to take an initiate to talk about sex, but your partner seems too embarrassed to discuss their ideas and thoughts with you, fret not.

14 tips to get your partner to open up and talk about sex

You can turn even the most prudish of lovers with locked up secrets into a serial confessor using these 14 tips on how you can get your lover to start talking about sex.

Start slow, and take a few baby steps using these tips.

And before you know it, you’ll feel closer to your partner.

And your sex life will feel more awesome and fresh with every passing day!

#1 Past experiences. Don’t confess about your past experiences, especially if your partner doesn’t know just how sexually liberated and active you’ve been before you met your lover. Surprisingly, most partners prefer to stay in the dark instead of hearing their partner’s confession about their kinky past.

If you’re sure your partner would be able to handle your past, slip a few details now and then and watch how they react to it over a couple of weeks.

But if you want your partner to open up about sex talk, let your lover know that you’ve had partners before, and that you’re open to trying new things if it could make both your sex lives more interesting and fascinating!

#2 Avoid the serious talk. ‘We need to talk about sex’ is the last thing you should say if you want to broach the topic of sex and sexual fantasies. Well, that’s unless one of you say something that offends the other.

The best time to talk about sex is when both of you are in bed. The second best time to talk about it is when both of you are just fooling around or relaxing around the house. The third best time to talk about it is when the opportune moment crops up, either because of something a friend said or something you saw on the telly or in a magazine *or in Lovepanky!*

#3 Speak in third person. If you’re feeling terribly awkward about the impending sexual conversation, talk about a *friend of yours* who likes a particular fantasy or has indulged in a particular sexual act.

It’s easier to talk in third person, and if your partner likes the idea, you can always smile sheepishly and confess that you were talking about yourself!

#4 Naughty questions. Want to explore sexual ideas and fantasies without feeling awkward about it? There’s no better way to do that than by using our list of dirty questions. Try them, and you’ll see just how much both of you can learn about each other’s sexual interests in under an hour!

#5 Don’t push it. Don’t go overboard while trying to please your partner, or to prove that you love their idea even if you don’t. Just because your partner enjoys something doesn’t mean they expect you to enjoy the same things. Sometimes, it takes a compromise between sexual interests. And at other times, it has to be a complete no-no.

Talk to your partner about your sexual interests, or hear theirs out. Take some time for the ideas to sink in, and if it’s something you just can’t do, be frank and tell your lover about it *without making them feel judged!*

#6 Delay penetration. What do you do when you get into bed to make love? Do you rush into the act because you find your lover irresistible? Well, stop and take it slow the next few times you’re in bed with them.

Taking it slow in bed, and talking about things either of you enjoy can be a revelation that can make your sex life a lot more interesting. Take time to explore each other, talk about things both of you enjoy and try new things that feel good in bed.

#7 Start the conversation with a confession. But don’t go overboard just yet. If you’ve been trying to ask your partner what they enjoy, and your partner just blushes coyly or pretends like they’re interested in nothing but the missionary, don’t push them on.

Instead, make a small and calculated confession. Brush the surface of something you enjoy and tell your partner about it. And see how your boyfriend or girlfriend reacts to your little confession. Taking it slow can help your partner test their own boundaries without assuming you’re a sexual deviant!

#8 Talk dirty in bed. Dirty talk kicks butt, especially when both of you are completely comfortable to explore each other’s sexual minds without feeling inhibited by it.

If you want your partner to open up to you and talk about the things they enjoy sexually, just start talking about something naughty or dirty while having sex with each other. One thing would lead to another, and before you know it, you’ll unleash a wildcat. And oh yes, the sex will blow your mind too!

#9 Don’t clam up. Don’t judge your partner. Just because your partner says they’ve fantasized about having a threesome or that they like the idea of public flashing doesn’t make them a bad person. All of us have our own sexual fantasies, and as tame as yours may seem to you, there’s a big chance you’ll shock many with your own imagination!

If your partner trusts you enough to share their deepest, darkest fantasies with you, the least you can do is let your partner know you accept them for who they are. On the other hand, if you clam up and appear shocked or annoyed, your partner may feel ashamed and never ever open up to you again!

#10 That annoying feeling. If something your partner says bothers you or pricks you hard, sit down with your partner. Calmly and cautiously, tell them how you feel, all the while reassuring them that you’re not judging them but just trying to understand their sexual side better.

On the other hand, if your partner’s sex talk or sexual fantasies arouse or interest you, ask your partner to elaborate so you can add your own dark experiences and interests into the conversation.

#11 Sex suggestions aren’t criticisms. Understand this well, and remember it. If your partner tells you something in bed that offends you, even for a moment, you need to realize that your partner is revealing it to you only to make both your sex lives better. And your partner isn’t saying it just to hurt you or make you feel humiliated in bed.

Accept criticisms in bed gracefully, or even laugh about it. But make sure you remember it so your partner can feel comfortable enough to share their secrets with you in future too.

#12 The right time. Don’t say the wrong things at the wrong time. If your partner talks dirty or shares a fantasy that you don’t particularly appreciate while having sex, don’t stop the to-and-fro midway and stare at your partner with a shocked expression. And talking about something embarrassing or awkward immediately after having sex isn’t advisable either.

If you really want to go into details about a particular fantasy of your lover’s, talk to them about it a while after they mention it, so they don’t feel judged or insulted by your question.

#13 Be open to the conversation. Ask open ended questions when you’re talking about sex secrets with your husband or wife, and try to see things from their perspective before making judgments.

Discuss things both of you enjoy, and take baby steps into the world of exploring sexual fantasies and dirty ideas together. If it works and something makes both of you super horny, well, good for you guys! And if it doesn’t excite you or your partner, move on, there are enough sexual ideas to set your sexual passion on fire! And it all starts with communication.

#14 Don’t be a prude. Look, if you want to talk about sex and kinky ideas, you might as well throw prudishness out of the window, and prepare yourself for a wild ride of sexual exploration. Reveal your fantasies, get kinky and start by telling the truth about the things you enjoy and the new things you want to try in bed.

Holding your sexual thoughts close to your heart and expecting sex to magically get better with each passing day as the infatuation wears off is like asking for a miracle every time you have sex.

Open your mind, and explore the world of sexual fantasies and dark desires together. And as kinky or as naughty as you may think an idea is, believe me, it’s all been said and done by someone else before!

Use these 14 tips to get your partner to open up and talk about sex effortlessly. And most importantly, you have to remember that we live in a world full of sexual fantasies and deviant thoughts. And as freaky as you think you are, your fantasy isn’t as unique or shocking as you think. So don’t be ashamed. You’re never alone!

10 Tips to Help You Open Up About Your Kinky Side

10 TIPS TO HELP YOU OPEN UP ABOUT YOUR KINKY SIDE

Team Lovepanky

Telling your partner about an unusual thing that turns you on may be disconcerting. But it doesn’t have to be, when you’ve got these tips on hand!

Before you start spinning all those negative thoughts in your head, take a deep breath. A kink isn’t the end of the world – far from it. In fact, it may even bring you closer together. When you’ve got trust in your relationship, you can be pretty sure that your partner won’t just pack up and leave once he or she knows about your particular kink. On the contrary, opening up about something that you find difficult to talk about may even strengthen your relationship!

How to open up about your kinky side

When you’re at your wit’s end when it comes to telling your partner about what turns you on, these 10 tips will help you out!

#1 Change your frame of mind. Try to focus on the positive aspects of telling your partner about your kink. Don’t think about a kinky confession as something that is going to tear you two apart. Instead, think about it as something fun and exciting that you two could explore together. Imagine if you heard a really good band – you’d want to share that experience with your partner, wouldn’t you?

If you approach your kink as something that you’re ashamed of, it will be cast in a negative light. Your partner may even wonder why you seem so negative about it… does it go deeper than they think? But by showing it in a positive, friendly light, you reinforce the fact that it really isn’t a big deal. It’s just something that happens to be a part of your personality… the personality of the person that they like and love.

#2 Practice what you’re going to say. Stand in front of a mirror and rehearse your words. Obviously, you aren’t going to be declaring your kink in front of an audience, but practice helps. Not only will it relax you, but it will also show you that really, in the scope of things, this isn’t that big of a deal. A lot of times we work ourselves up for nothing.

Try to think of the questions that they might ask – however outlandish. Doing this will reduce the amount of fear and uncertainty you feel, because you’ll feel as though you’re prepared for anything that they throw at you.

#3 Set aside some time in a private location. Atmosphere matters. Don’t spring your kink on your beloved in the middle of a crowded dining room or before he or she runs off to work. Instead, a cozy, romantic evening at home can be the perfect time to explore your sexuality and explain what really makes you tick. A good, full discussion of your sexual future may take up to two or three hours. It’s better to schedule more time than to be cut short and let your partner leave with unfinished thoughts weighing upon their mind.

#4 Be as specific as you can be. Once you let the floodgates loose, you may start tripping over your words or trying to rush through things. You may take a quick “affirmative” from your partner, and end the conversation prematurely. You may take a quick “negative” from your partner and then try to play it all off as a joke. Don’t do this!

Here’s the thing. You’ve spent a lot of time thinking about your kink, right? Well, your kink is going to be as much of your partner’s sex life as it is a part of yours, and they’ve had absolutely no time to think about it. Their mind is going to be racing. Don’t let their mind race off on a journey alone. You have to be very specific about what you do or don’t need.

Make sure that you discuss the difference between a kink and a fetish. Kinks are just things that, to put it delicately, rev up your engine. They don’t always need to be involved in your sex life – it’s just more fulfilling if they are sometimes. A fetish is something that has to be involved in your sex life all the time – and that’s usually considered unhealthy. Many inexperienced partners, when confronted with a kink, may worry that it’s a fetish! Make sure that you specify!

#5 Don’t get too defensive. Some people have preconceived notions about kinks. Society places a lot of ideas in a person’s head about the “proper” ways to have sex. Don’t be discouraged if your partner initially laughs or thinks it’s funny. They may not realize just how you feel. Getting defensive will only make the situation worse!

But by the same token, don’t be afraid to defend yourself if your value as a person is questioned. “That sounds weird!” is a somewhat understandable comment for someone inexperienced to make. “You are weird!” is not. Don’t let anyone shame you regarding your kink. As long as it isn’t hurting anyone, there’s nothing to be ashamed of!

#6 Give them room to ask questions. A one-sided conversation isn’t a conversation at all… it’s just a speech. Ask your partner to ask any questions that they have and don’t treat any question as stupid or silly. Everyone comes from different backgrounds, and what may seem perfectly ordinary to you may be something that they simply haven’t experienced before.

#7 Test the waters a step at a time. Remember that you can’t just throw someone into a kink that you’ve had your whole life and expect them to swim in the deep end. Test out the waters slowly at first, and always let your partner know exactly what you’re doing – no one wants something unexpected sprung on them in the heat of the moment, even if it may seem more passionate that way!

Introduce it to them in small stages, and discuss it with them beforehand. “Maybe next time we could…” is a good way to start this conversation. And be open to them saying that they need some time or if they have any suggestions to make them feel more comfortable.

#8 Make your partner feel comfortable. After you have tested out your kink, you need to discuss it with your partner. Don’t just assume that because you’re on the path that you wanted to be on, that everything is OK – there could be a lot going on in the undercurrents.

Find out if there was anything that made them uncomfortable or anything that intrigued them. Let them know how much you appreciate them by being on board with you, and that you know how lucky you are to have a loving partner.

Everyone deserves a healthy sex life, but that doesn’t mean that a partner owes it to you to do these things – they do it because they love you. This is especially true if your kink is something that your partner just isn’t into at all.

#9 Don’t forget to reciprocate. Usually, opening up a discussion about kinks will also lead to your partner opening up about their own sexual needs! If it doesn’t, make sure that you’ve made it clear to your partner that you want to know what will make them happy, too.

But don’t be surprised or confused if your partner doesn’t have a kink. It can be easy for people with kinks to assume that everyone has one and that they are just hiding them. Some people really don’t have any kinks and that’s fine, too.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that they don’t have a preference. A person without a kink likely prefers “vanilla” sexual experiences – so those shouldn’t be neglected in the bedroom either.

#10 Know when to let it go. Some partners can’t deal with some kinks. And you know what? That’s OK. It’s certainly not ideal, but it’s your partner’s prerogative to decide what they find fulfilling in their sex life. You can’t change how a person is or what makes them uncomfortable.

Of course, if your partner demeans or belittles you regarding your kink, you would know that they aren’t the right person for you after all. You’ve just dodged a bullet, and it’s good that you did it as early as possible. But if your partner and you simply can’t see eye to eye regarding your sexual needs, then it may just not have been meant to be.

Revealing your kink to your partner can be scary – but hiding it is even worse. The last thing you want to do is create a strong relationship built on a lie, however slight that lie may be. Sex is an important part of any healthy relationship, and dishonesty about what interests and excites you in bed will only make it harder for both, you and your partner, in the long term. 

Time With Our Children

TIME WITH OUR CHILDREN

A primary school teacher asked her pupils to write an essay on ‘A wish you want from God?’ At the end of the day, the teacher collected all the essays written by her pupils. She took them to her house, sat down and started marking.

While marking the essays, she sees a strange essay written by one of her pupils. That essay made her very emotional. Her husband came and sat beside her and saw her crying.

The husband asked her, “What happened? What’s making you cry?”

She answered, “Read this. It is an essay written by one of my pupils.”

The pupil had written: “Oh God, make me a television. I want to live like the TV in my house. In my house, the TV is very valuable. All of my family members sit around it. They are very interested in it. When the TV is talking, my parents listen to it very happily. They don’t shout at the TV. They don’t quarrel with the TV. They don’t slap the TV. So I want to become a TV. The TV is the center of attraction in my house. I want to receive the same special care that the TV receives from my parents.

“Even when it is not working, the TV has a lot of value. When my dad and mom come home, they immediately sit in front of the TV, switch it on and spend hours watching it. The TV is stealing the time of my dad and my mom. If I become a TV, then they will spend their time with me.

“While watching the TV, my parents laugh a lot and they smile many times. But I want my parents to laugh and smile with me also. So please God make me a TV.

“And last but not the least, if I become a TV, surely I can make my parents happy and entertain them. Lord I won’t ask you for anything more. I just want to live like a TV. Please turn me to a TV.”

The husband completed reading the essay and said, “My God, poor kid. He feels lonely. He does not receive enough love and care from his parents. His parents are horrible!”

The eyes of the primary school teacher filled with tears. She looked at her husband and said, “Our son wrote that essay!”

What do you think of this boy’s essay?

How to Fight if Your Marriage Matters

HOW TO FIGHT IF YOUR MARRIAGE MATTERS

Kyle Benson

Tough marriage conflicts can turn into a perfect storm.

They can flood the streets of love with the sewage of personal attacks. From what I’ve learned, beating up a loved one is never a fair fight. You know their deepest vulnerabilities, their most important values. This gives you the power to structure what you say in a way that cuts them down with a machete of words.

Have you ever wondered why we do this? Why we intentionally hurt the one we love? Have you ever wondered why we shut down and become “emotionally unavailable” to our partners when they confront us on something that could improve our marriage?

The problem with intense conversations is that they confront the beliefs we hold about our relationship, ourselves, and our partners.

So when something threatens to contradict the beliefs we hold about how things are, our bodies flood with chemicals that increase our heart rate. Our bodies prime to run away or fight and defend our point.

This Happens in Three Stages

Stage 1: We feel shocked by our partner’s comments, actions, or lack thereof. Maybe they are blaming us or accusing us of doing something we didn’t. Either way, our bodies become tense as we experience something we didn’t expect.

Stage 2: We can’t calm down. As our insides flood, we become anxious. We feel as if our life is at stake. The more flooded we feel, the more likely we turn into a reptile. Emotionally flooded people and reptiles have two characteristics: they lack a sense of humor, and they eat each other.

Our heart rate skyrockets and our automatic instinctive reactive emotions take control of our thoughts and actions. The notion of “choosing” is erroneous because the section of our brain that chooses, our neocortex, is no longer in control. The idea of fighting fair is abandoned because reptiles never fight fair.

As we are emotionally hijacked, we become deaf to any positive things our partner may be saying. The narrator of our minds may take on a negative story of us. We blame our partners for the problem. We find flaws in everything they say or do.

And we tell them so.

Stage 3: Emotional Shutdown
If we continue to become flooded without resolve, we eventually become numb to our hurt. It becomes so overwhelming that we block it out completely. According to John Gottman’s research, men tend to become emotionally hijacked easier and stay flooded longer. Since we struggle to soothe ourselves and calm down, we withdraw and go ice-cold to protect ourselves.

From my own experiences, doing so has brought a sense of relief in the heat of a fight. The only problem is that shutting down only makes my partner’s heart rate increase, causing them to flood more. This only escalates the conflict.

Emotional flooding is a major reason why humans suck at tough relationship conversations. In fact, John Gottman’s research indicates that repeated flooding in marriages is a predictor of divorce. Flooding again and again, changes The Story of Us causing us to start to see our partners in a negative light. That light guides us towards the path of betrayal or singlehood.

So how can we not lose it during relationship conflicts? Here are the six steps I use and teach my clients:

The Marriage Conflicts Peace Treaty

Step 1: Awareness. I become aware that I feel like I am under attack by my partner. Sometimes I use the Instant Heart Rate Iphone App to notice how elevated my heart rate is. During emotional flooding, our heart rate can jump up to 20 or 30 beats per minute. My average heart rate is 65 BPM,1 so if my heart rate jumps to the 80’s while I am sitting down and having a conversation, I know my body feels like it is in a war zone.

You can also feel this in your body. You’ll feel overwhelmed. Anxious. You might desire to attack your partner. Be aware of how your body feels.

Step 2: Assert my Flooding. Once I have the awareness I am flooded, I tell my partner that we have to stop talking because I feel like I am going to start attacking her. This isn’t easy to do, but it prevents me from eating her vulnerabilities alive. You can say things like, “I’m losing it.” “I’m flooded and want to attack you.” “I’m getting upset.”

Step 3: Schedule a time to continue the conversation. This is vital if my partner brought up the argument. When I first learned to assert my flooding, I would get the space I need, but I would avoid the conversation next time I saw my partner. Over the following weeks, she would stew over her unresolved problem and tension between us would increase until we fought about it again.

Committing to your partner to continue the conversation allows them to calm down and realize that you can’t control your emotions in the present moment. But they know when you can, you want to solve the problem at hand.

Step 4: Non-negotiated distance. It’s your responsibility to calm yourself down and take care of your flooded state. This is non-negotiable with your partner. You need your space, otherwise your words and actions are going to nuke the love right out of the relationship. John Gottman’s research states that we should take a 20 minute break and emotionally distance ourselves from the conflict.

I go on a 25-minute walk while listening to my favorite songs. Other people play video games or find challenging tasks that consumes their cognitive awareness.

During this time, it’s vital that you think good thoughts about your partner. It’s very easy to stay in your defensive state and stew over feeling righteous, replaying wounding words your partner said, or allow yourself to feel like a victim. The problem is this only escalates flooding. Instead, ask yourself what is good and true about your significant other. Focusing on the good will not only soothe your emotions, you’ll also realize that they are not out to eat you alive!

Step 5: Note triggers. Ask yourself what caused yourself to turn into a reptile. Was it a word your partner said? A way your partner moved? By noting the triggers that cause your flooding, you can help them learn how to discuss uncomfortable topics without drowning you in your own emotions.

FYI – If you know your partner’s triggers, it’s your responsibility to not be a dick. Don’t push those buttons.

Step 6: Soothe each other. Before you bring up the topic of discussion, talk with your partner about what caused you to flood. Thank them for allowing you to take space to keep the relationship intact.

“I’m thankful you let me stop before I said things I regretted.”
“I felt triggered when you mentioned that you needed more space. I think I fear being abandoned by you.”

Battling and becoming aware of our instinctual reactions that cause a perfect storm in love is not easy, but the more times you practice the six steps above, the easier it will become. The healthier and happier your relationship will become. Remember, when emotions become tense, love becomes nonsense. If you want your marriage to last, give it the space it needs to breathe when the fire gets too hot.

  1. For reference. The average 30 year old man’s heart rate is 76. It’s 82 for women of the same age. 

Meaning of Safe Words & How to Use Them When You’re Playing Rough

MEANING OF SAFE WORDS & HOW TO USE THEM WHEN YOU’RE PLAYING ROUGH

Natasha Ivanovic

You know people use safe words but haven’t tried it yourself. Why do you even need a safe word? We’re going to share the meaning of safe words.

If you’re like me when I was younger, then you may not completely understand the meaning of safe words or how to use it. That’s okay because that’s why I’m here.

Up until a couple of years ago, I never used a safe word. I didn’t actually know they existed. In my head, I thought that when you said “stop” it meant to stop. Or when you push someone off of you and say “ouch” that’s a decent sign that what just happened caused you negative pain. I was so vanilla back then. I knew very little about the BDSM community and that’s actually where the whole concept of a safe word originated.

The meaning of safe words

A safe word is a word that you and your partner choose pre-sex, that either partner can use when they feel that the experience is becoming too much. The minute you say the safe word, all sexual activity stops. The dominant partner stops what they’re doing to their partner. It’s basically like a sexual time-out.

Having a safe word provides the submissive partner the opportunity to express to their partner if the pain becomes uncomfortable. Of course, if you’re dominant, you may not exactly know the strength you have. When you’re in the power position, you can get carried away. It happens to everyone.

But now, the concept of a safe word has reached past the BDSM community, making its way into mainstream culture as many couples now have a safe word for when they’re in the bedroom. You don’t have to be tied to a bed or having wax poured on your back in order to know when you’ve had enough.

The great part of a safe word is that it allows you to have fun and explore your sexual boundaries while giving you the opportunity to stop at any time. You basically create an exit that gets you out of the situation. Plus, by using a safe word, you’re free to say whatever you want, even if it’s “that hurt” or “stop.” Because your safe word is usually something non-sexual that you would never use in the bedroom.

But do safe words actually work in real life?

Listen, there are some instances where using a safe word will be difficult. For example, if your partner has gagged you, you’re not going to be able to speak properly. Though, just because you cannot verbalize your safe word, doesn’t mean you cannot create a gesture which means stop. Many people found different ways to show their safe word when unable to say it.

Now, if you’re not into BDSM, that’s cool. You can still use it effectively for consent. During sex, sometimes it can get a little rough. For many people, instead of saying stop, they feel uncomfortable and just wait until it’s over.

I understand why people do that, they feel bad saying something. But with a safe word, you’re nicely telling your partner the boundaries in a way which doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable. You don’t need to explain anything, you simply say your safe word. They stop. So, yes, a safe word actually does work in real life.

How do you choose your safe word?

Now that you know the meaning of safe words and the reason they exist, you may be curious how to find a safe word. Well, there are a couple things to consider when thinking of a safe word.

#1 Use one word. You don’t need a safe word that’s going to be two or three words long. You need one short and strong word that indicates to your partner that they’re going too far. It’s easier not only for you, but also for your partner. You want them to be able to clearly hear and understand the word.

#2 It can be a random word. You do not want your safe word to be something that can be used in the bedroom. In other words, don’t make your safe word “yes” or “no” or “spank me.” Choose a word that no one would hear in a sexual encounter and something that sounds so out of place, your partner notices it right away.

#3 Make sure it’s easy to pronounce. If you cannot say it properly while you’re jogging, then you shouldn’t use it as a safe word. Remember, you want your safe word to be easily audible as that’s the whole point. Make sure you can clearly say it.

#4 Tell your partner the word. You cannot just have a safe word and not tell your partner the word. You need to tell them the word. Make sure they understand what they need to do once they hear the word. Does it mean that they completely stop? Does it mean they continue but be gentler? You decide and then tell them.

#5 Use a common safe word. There are a couple common safe words that many people use which seem to do the trick. These words follow the suggestions above. So, they’re quite effective at what they’re supposed to do.

The most common safe words to use

Not feeling inspired to choose a safe word? Don’t worry, here are some of the most common safe words people use during sex.

#1 The traffic light system. This is an easy way to alert your partner of what they need to do. You say ‘red’ to stop, ‘yellow’ for your partner to slow down, and ‘green’ for them to keep going. All three words are short and sweet to say, plus, everyone can relate to them easily.

#2 Safe word. This is a great safe word when you simply don’t like any of the other safe words, but, can’t come up with your own. Safe word is pretty dull, and well, it’s very clear as to why you’re saying it.

#3 Apple. Well, it’s a pretty unsexy word, in general. So, that’s probably why it’s so popular. If your partner hears ‘apple’ during sex, they should know it’s meant for them to stop.

#4 Vanilla. This is associated with having vanilla, non-kinky sex. If you say vanilla, it’s a cute association that you want your partner to ease up on you and take a gentler route.

#5 Pineapple. I guess this is truly a word you’d never use in the bedroom… unless you’re into pineapples. If so, don’t use this as your safe word. But, pineapple is actually an extremely popular safe word as it’s highly unlikely that they’ll mix it up with anything else.

#6 Unicorn. Yeah, you were probably getting used to all the fruit safe words, but don’t get too comfortable just yet! Unicorn is another common safe word. I guess the odds of you seeing one during sex is pretty rare.

#7 Banana. Unless you refer to your partner’s penis as a banana, I’m pretty sure this is a good a safe word to use.

See, the meaning of safe words doesn’t have to sound serious. You can have fun choosing one and use it in a way that doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable when telling your partner that you’d like to stop.

6 Things to Remember When Your Heart is Breaking

6 THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN YOUR HEART IS BREAKING

Angel Chernoff

It’s a dull, subdued sensation when your heart is breaking, like the muffled sound of a distant gunshot. It doesn’t physically pierce your skin or tear you to pieces, but the sensation is physically present – the paralyzing discomfort of realizing that something you took for granted is leaving for good.

Although it’s hard to accept at first, this is actually a good sign, having a broken heart. It means you have loved something, you have tried for something, and you have let life teach you.

Life will attempt to break you down sometimes; nothing and no one can completely protect you from this reality. Remaining alone and hiding from the world won’t either, for endless, stagnant solitude will also break you with unhealthy nostalgia and yearning.

You have to stand back up and put yourself out there again. Your heart is stronger than you realize. I’ve been there and I’ve seen heartbreak through to the other side. It takes time, effort and patience.

Deep heartbreak is kind of like being lost in the woods – every direction leads to nowhere at first. When you are standing in a forest of darkness, you cannot see any light that could ever lead you home. But if you wait for the sun to rise again, and listen when someone assures you that they themselves have stood in that same dark place, and have since moved forward with their life, oftentimes this will bring the hope that’s needed.

It’s so hard to give you advice when you’ve got a broken heart, but some words can heal, and this is my attempt to give you hope. You are stronger than you know!

Please remember…

1. The person you liked or loved in the past, who treated you like dirt repeatedly, has nothing intellectually or spiritually to offer you in the present moment, but more headaches and heartache.

2. When you don’t get what you want, sometimes it’s necessary preparation, and other times it’s necessary protection. But the time is never wasted. It’s a step on your journey. Someday you’re going look back on this time in your life as such an important time of grieving and growing. You will see that you were in mourning and your heart was breaking, but your life was changing.

3. Some chapters in our lives have to close without closure. There’s no point in losing yourself by trying to hold on to what’s not meant to stay. Remember this, and always keep two simple questions in mind: What opportunities do I have right now? What’s one small, positive step forward I can take today?

4. One of the hardest lessons to learn: You cannot change other people. Every interaction, rejection and heartbreaking lesson is an opportunity to change yourself only. And there is great freedom and piece of mind to be found in this awareness.

5. It’s always better to be alone than to be in bad company. And when you do decide to give someone a chance, do so because you’re truly better off with this person. Don’t do it just for the sake of not being alone.

6. Be determined to be positive. Understand that the greater part of your misery or unhappiness from this point forward is determined not by your circumstances, but by your attitude.

And of course, if you’re struggling with any of this, know that you are not alone. Many of us are right there with you, working hard to feel better, think more clearly, and get our lives back on track.

I’ve Never Given Birth – But I’ve Done My Share of ‘Parenting’

I’VE NEVER GIVEN BIRTH – BUT I’VE DONE MY SHARE OF ‘PARENTING’

Angely Mercado

In communities like the one I grew up in, nannies are a rarity, but a ‘village’ of neighbors and relatives can be counted on to pitch in with child care.

At 27, I’ve never given birth and I’ve never been pregnant. But I like to joke that I have “children.” I didn’t intend to spend my preteen and teenage years helping to raise several of my neighbors’ children. But somehow, children always found me.

My first baby was J, whose mother moved into the apartment next to ours when I was in elementary school in Ridgewood, Queens. I helped her clean her apartment some Saturdays, and she’d help me bake brownies. We watched ’90s telenovelas together – it was J’s mother, and not my own, who explained the plotline of “La Usurpadora” to me.

When I was 11 she told my family that she was pregnant. My mom explained that the situation behind our neighbor’s pregnancy was complicated, and that she would need our support. So I looked at sonograms, helped her carry heavy bags, and painted the baby’s room. My siblings and I pitched in to organize and set up the baby shower. And right after J was born, I slept on my neighbor’s couch, getting up at 2 a.m. to help fix his bottle and feed him. I almost fell asleep at school that first week, but I liked helping out. J was tiny and warm and he smelled like milk, and I loved sitting in my neighbor’s living room, rocking him to sleep. I used to wonder what kind of job he’d want in the future, if he’d look like his mom, or if he’d be tall.

My neighbor fainted when she went into labor and broke her leg, so she was put on bed rest to help her recover. During this period, she struggled with severe mood swings. I didn’t know what postpartum depression was at the time; all I knew was that after someone had a baby, they became sad and tired and would sometimes wear the same house dress for over a week.

I couldn’t comfort my neighbor like her relatives or my mom could, and I certainly couldn’t understand why having a baby seemed to have made her so stressed out and unhappy. But I could help her care for her son. I was excited to finally meet J. I talked to him while I changed his diapers, I marveled at how tiny his toes were, and I practically cried when he started trying to gurgle responses to my questions.

I was there when J started learning how to walk and talk, and I was there when he started drawing recognizable pictures of things like airplanes and cars. I pushed J in his stroller while I followed his mom around grocery shopping, at doctors’ appointments, and on beach trips. My house name, Anga, was one of the first names J learned to pronounce. When he learned to read, J and I would help each other pick picture books. J liked anything to do with airplanes and animals so I always made sure to help him find those in the piles of books his mom had in her bedroom closet. I’d walk him to activities when his mom couldn’t and, as my parents often babysat J too, he was around pretty often.

But his early grade-school years were hard. J had trouble behaving, and I often had to mediate between him and his mother. I was still just a high schooler myself, but J and his mom had always felt like family. I wanted to do anything I could to make sure they would be O.K., even though I was really frustrated with his behavior, too.

“I don’t want to do laundry,” I remember him yelling at his mom. “I’m not going to the laundromat.”

I handed him his sneakers and walked with him to the laundromat. He complained and cried the whole time but I just kept handing him clothing to sort. Some days he’d refuse to get ready for school, or to leave the front steps of our building. My parents and I would help get J to school, convince him to do some chores, and talk to him about listening to his mom.

When I was in college, I’d drop J off at summer camp before heading to my summer class or summer job. On days when I was too busy to drop J off, a family friend whose daughters attended the same camp would take him. But his mom would tell me that he’d cry whenever I wasn’t there.

“The other girls are nice too, walking with them isn’t so bad,” I told him.

“Yeah, but I want to walk with you, not them,” he said.

J eventually started getting help for some of his behavioral issues, which made hanging out with him and his mom easier. As he transitioned into middle school, I didn’t have to watch him as often, but we’d go for walks sometimes and we’d hang out on my old block and talk about comic books and fan fiction.

I think of J as my “first baby,” but he wasn’t the only one. After I started high school, my nephews were born, and I graduated from one kid to a set of three. Whenever I felt overwhelmed, I’d remember what I did with J and it helped me through my auntie shifts with diaper explosions, middle-of-the-night bottles of milk, and the terrible twos. I’d take my nephews to the park, help watch them when my brother and sister-in-law ran errands, and I’d get them to finally go to sleep by telling bedtime story after bedtime story.

As I started meeting more people outside my community, I learned that affluent people didn’t always rely on neighbors and relatives and would hire nannies or babysitters. Most people from working-class communities don’t have nannies. But they have people like me.

Around that time, I learned that my mom had also helped care for her nieces and nephews, and the children of close friends, before having her own kids. My dad, who grew up as the middle child of 13 on a mountainside in Puerto Rico, practically raised his last two siblings. His older sister was taken out of school to help raise him. My maternal grandmother helped raise a lot of my mom’s younger cousins. She also helped raise me, and I helped take care of her for a while after she had a stroke when I was in high school. I’ve just carried on the tradition of “adopting” kids and and keeping them safe.

When I finally moved out of my parents’ home, I made sure to find an apartment in the same neighborhood so that I could still visit my nephews and still stop by to visit J and his mom. My nephews are in middle school now and tell me about their crushes and the teachers they like. They come over to my apartment and we sing Bad Bunny lyrics, make snacks, or go hang out on their front steps.

J is a teen now. He’s taller than me, really tan, and has a headful of beautiful curly hair. He likes video games and anime T-shirts.

“Were you my main babysitter?” he asked me a few months ago. “I remember seeing you around all the time.”

We were both sitting on my bed hanging out and catching up.

“I was always there,” I reminded him. I had missed seeing him around thanks to my crazy schedule when I was freelancing and working two jobs.

J watched the Fourth of July fireworks from our rooftop with me and my family this year. We talked about anime series that we both liked, and he told me about school and asked me about freelancing. We compared classic series and he nagged me about not finishing season three of “Attack on Titan.” We walked around after the fireworks and looked at stupid memes on his phone. It felt like hanging around a much younger brother again.

“How’s high school?” I asked him.

He rolled his eyes and then laughed.

“It’s not so bad actually.”

“At least it doesn’t suck as much as middle school,” I told him.

He asked to hang out again, and I told him I’d shoot him a text and that we’d go get lunch soon. We’ve messaged a few times, and if I go for too long without hearing from him, I reach out again or stop by to visit J and his mom. I’m proud that J is growing up and learning how to be comfortable with himself. And I like to think that hearing him out and doing my best to be patient helped him grow up to be the teenager he is today.

I’m still part of J’s village. And he’s part of mine.

The 3 Key Non-Conflict Ingredients for Constructive Conflict

THE 3 KEY NON-CONFLICT INGREDIENTS FOR CONSTRUCTIVE CONFLICT

Kyle Benson

My partner took me out to celebrate my birthday over dinner and surprised me with axe throwing.

As my partner hit the bulls-eye and smiled at me, I thought to myself how she was, without a doubt, my best friend.

I’m sure you’re aware of the cliche, “Marry your best friend.”

Just like other cliches, there’s a reason it’s around.

Hint: because it’s TRUE.

There are three parts of a strong friendship based on longitudinal research of emotionally connected couples:1

One: Up To Date Love Maps

A love map is when a partner asks open-ended questions to get to know their partner better, creating a map of their partner’s inner world.

During dating, partners do this frequently. They ask questions about work, family, and each other’s likes and dislikes. Successful couples continue to ask these seemingly “basic” questions throughout life, especially around life transitions such as a new job, moving, having a kid, etc.

These love maps help us see what makes our partner unique, and in turn, feel seen by our partners.

For example, before surprising me with axe throwing, my partner began teasing me that she bought us tickets to a concert knowing fully well that I do not find concerts pleasurable.

I felt very unseen in that moment . I started thinking, If she actually bought us concert tickets, then she doesn’t really know me. I feared that she had a bad love map of my inner world.

But when she surprised me with axe throwing, something I do enjoy, I felt known. I remember thinking, What a great surprise and a fun way for us to spend time together.

When couples do not continue to update their intimate knowledge throughout time, it’s easy to feel emotionally distant and for each partner’s satisfaction to decline over time.

So go update your love map of your partner by asking an open-ended question. For ideas, click here.

Two: Frequent Expressions of Affection, Appreciation, and Admiration

When observing 3,000 couples interact during an “events of the day” conversation and a conflict conversation, Dr. Gottman and his colleagues noticed that emotionally connected couples had a habit of looking for what their partner does right and pointing it out.

Even as simple as, “I really appreciate you cooking dinner tonight. It was delicious!”

Couples with high levels of admiration speak positively about their partners to others. These emotionally connected couples are also verbally and physically affectionate with each other.

Couples who struggle with this area of the relationship tend to have a habit of noticing and pointing out the negatives in their partner’s behavior or character. Oftentimes, this leads to escalating conflict or avoidance of one another.

Have you developed the habit of being affectionate, appreciative, and admiring in your relationship? This is often one area that all the couples I work with benefit from by adding it back into their relationship.

Three: Respond to Bids For Connection by Turning Towards Your Partner

Every day, partners make hundreds of bids for connection. Even unhappy couples. These bids can be as indirect and as small as a sigh or as big and direct as “I need a hug right now.”

Whenever a bid is expressed, partners have the choice to connect with their partner’s bid.

Attachment theory indicates that how available, responsive, and engaged partners are, influence how secure the attachment bond between partners is.

At its basic level, when we make bids for connection we are asking the question “A.R.E. you there for me?”

When that answer is yes, we relax and focus on other things or being playful.

When that answer is no, we struggle. We wonder if we can trust our partner. Insecurity seeps in.

Ironically, after watching 900 clips of couples having conflict conversations, Drs. John and Julie Gottman came to the conclusion that most often couples fight about “nothing.”

Often it is less about the topic and more about “Can I trust you to be there for me?” “Will you seek to understand me?” “Can I count on you?” “Will you work with me to build a better relationship?”

Trust is built moment to moment when we connect with our partners. We know they can count on us and we can count on them.

These three ingredients mix together like concrete and are the foundation by which a relationship succeeds or breaks apart.

Couples who continue to build these three aspects of friendship within their relationship have been proven in observational studies to have a better time navigating conflict. After all, if you are close friends, it’s easier to feel like intimate allies in life and come together when things are difficult.

These traits of friendship provide partners with the ability to see their relationship for all of the great things it is – their shared humor, their affection, and the presence of positive aspects necessary to have healthy and constructive conflict.

This in turn enables them to transform their problems into material for constructing a stronger relationship, brick by brick.

Not only do these aspects assist with conflict, but they’re also shown to be the basis on which romance, passion, and good sex happen.

Getting to continuously know your partner, expressing all of the things you admire and appreciate, and consistently responding to their bids for attention strengthen the foundation of your romantic relationship.

My Dream of Motherhood Was Eclipsed by Widowhood

MY DREAM OF MOTHERHOOD WAS ECLIPSED BY WIDOWHOOD

Katie Hawkins-Gaar

The writer with her husband

Surprisingly, grieving the death of a spouse mirrors the emotional landmines of new parenthood.

“We were adopting a baby.”

That’s the first thing I blurted out after my husband, Jamie, was pronounced dead. Although I was surrounded by emergency room staff, I was met with silence. No one knew what to say.

I didn’t know what to say, either. I sat stunned, holding Jamie’s lifeless hand, trying to wrap my head around how much had shattered in that moment.

Jamie and I began our journey into parenthood in October 2016, once we finally settled on an adoption agency. Over the next few months, we completed background checks, got letters of recommendation from friends and family, passed the in-home case worker visit, started reading parenting books and made some hefty agency payments.

Our next big hurdle was recording a series of videos — self interviews, testimonials from others and miscellaneous footage of our daily lives — that aimed to show prospective birth parents how well-rounded our lives were and how well-suited we were to raising a child. We recorded our final video on Jan. 31, 2017. It was a chilly Tuesday night, as we played volleyball with spirit, if not skill, for the camera.

Four days later, Jamie died. He was 32. He collapsed while running a half marathon, not far from the finish line where I was standing. The autopsy revealed that he had fibromuscular dysplasia of atrioventricular node arteries — in simpler terms, a rare and difficult-to-detect disease that can lead to sudden cardiac death.

I fully expected that 2017 would be the year I became a mother, not a widow. I envisioned witnessing our baby’s first breaths, not my husband’s final gasp. I anticipated soothing our crying child, not wiping away my own endless tears.

It’s now been almost three years since that fateful race. Plenty has changed since then. I’m 34, two years older than Jamie will ever be. I quit my full-time job and doubled down on my dreams of becoming a writer. I’ve done lots of solo traveling and have found solace in nature. I’m in a relationship with a wonderful and patient man, who’s teaching me what it means to love again.

One thing that’s remained consistent over that time is the reassurance I’ve received from other widows and widowers who have come before me, about both Jamie’s death and my thwarted dream of parenthood. They’ve told me what’s normal, what to expect, and what they were going through when they marked the same amount of time post-loss as I had.

My friend Stephanie reassured me that things won’t always feel so hopeless. My mother reminded me how she made sense of the world after my dad died. And I’ve learned so much from the wonderfully wise Nation, who taught me that grief never really goes away, but you learn how to live with it.

Navigating widowhood shares a surprising number of similarities with figuring out parenthood — or, at least, what I expected the experience would be like. Of course, there’s the important distinction that parenting means welcoming life instead of contending with death. But new widows and parents both obsessively count the days, weeks and months since their lives dramatically changed. They eagerly look for other people who are going through the same thing they’re experiencing. They gently tell each other that things will get easier — just after you make it past the next milestone.

There were plenty of moments where the present I was experiencing seemed cruelly juxtaposed with the future I had imagined. Just before his death, Jamie and I excitedly began to clean out closets to make room for a new member of our family. Now, I was faced with the difficult task of emptying Jamie’s closet and donating his belongings. Our would-be nursery remained a guest room, and our house — suddenly home to just me and my dog — felt bigger than ever.

In online groups and in-person meetups, I’ve noticed that widows introduce ourselves to each other by sharing how long it’s been since our partners died. That information offers valuable context. Just like caring for an infant is different from parenting a preschooler, there’s a vast difference in navigating grief at six months versus six years.

Those of us who have lost partners know that the first months of widowhood are a blur; it’s a struggle to digest our new reality. Four months out, for many of us, is when the loneliness becomes unbearable and we daydream about someday dating again. All the progress we thought we’d made falls apart around the one-year mark. And year two, nearly every widow I’ve met laments, is the toughest to face.

“Is this at all what parenthood feels like?” I asked in an online support group, wondering if my theory was sound.

The widows who are now solo parents — women and men doing an incredible job at a seemingly impossible task — shared how similar the extremes can feel. In both cases, you experience a significant shift in your identity. You have no idea what you’re doing, and worry how your early choices will affect the future. You face the reality that life will never be the same again.

In parenthood and widowhood, as in life, there are endless ups and downs. Amid the joys of parenting, there’s plenty of exhaustion and despair. Likewise, the heaviness of grief contains surprising moments of lightness. As parents and widows, your heart is broken wide open — you love deeper than you ever thought possible, and you find gratitude in the smallest moments. And whether you’re caring for a newborn or grieving a new death, you find yourself acutely aware of how fragile life truly is.

As one mother and young widow told me, “When my husband died, I gave birth to death.”

These days, I’m uncertain whether I want to become a mom, either biologically or through adoption. Sometimes, it feels like my uncertainty is rooted in fear. Other times, I’m unsure due to a lack of closure. I haven’t been able to mourn the loss of my hypothetical baby the way I’ve been able to mourn the death of my husband.

Many times, it simply seems pointless to head down this path once more. I allowed myself to be hopeful before. Why would I do it again?

Lately, though, I’ve had moments when I dare to dream again, and allow myself to imagine becoming a parent. Although it’s a surefire way to make me cry, I’ll occasionally watch our adoption footage, remembering how giddy Jamie and I once were. My favorite videos, the ones that make me cry the most, are of Jamie answering the agency’s pre-written questions, like what skills would make me a good mom.

“I think her ability to persevere, and to work harder than anybody else, is a skill that will benefit our kid,” said Jamie, chuckling at himself as he started to tear up. “I think she’s amazing. Her ability to persevere is incredible, and our child is going to benefit from that as well.”

When we recorded those videos, we had no idea they would one day become pep talks that kept me going. Widowhood, like parenthood, teaches you that you can’t control the way things turn out. I don’t know whether I’ll ever become a mom, but I’m grateful for the chance to even reconsider it.

How to Find the Perfect Man (or Woman)

HOW TO FIND THE PERFECT MAN (OR WOMAN)

Marc Chernoff

This morning, over coffee, one of my good friends spilled her guts to me about all of her failed attempts to find the perfect man.  Although her story is about her unique personal experiences, I couldn’t help but feel like I had heard the same story told by others in completely different circumstances a hundred times before.

It’s a heartbreaking tale about the endless quest for perfection that so many of us are on…

The Perfect Woman

Once upon a time, an intelligent, attractive, self-sufficient woman in her mid-thirties decided she wanted to settle down and find a husband.  So she journeyed out into the world to search for the perfect man.

She met him in New York City at a bar in a fancy hotel lobby.  He was handsome and well-spoken.  In fact, she had a hard time keeping her eyes off of him.  He intrigued her.  It was the curves of his cheek bones, the confidence in his voice, and the comfort of his warm, steady hands.  But after only a short time, she broke things off.  “We just didn’t share the same religious views,” she said.  So she continued on her journey.

She met him again in Austin a few months later.  This time, he was an entrepreneur who owned a small, successful record label that assisted local musicians with booking gigs and promoting their music.  And she learned, during an unforgettable night, that not only did they share the same religious views, but he could also make her laugh for hours on end.  “But I just wasn’t that physically attracted to him,” she said.  So she continued on her journey.

She met him again in Miami at a beachside café.  He was a sports medicine doctor for the Miami Dolphins, but he easily could have been an underwear model for Calvin Klein.  For a little while, she was certain he was the one!  And all of her friends loved him too.  “He’s the perfect catch,” they told her.  “But we didn’t hang in the same social circles, and his high-profile job consumed way too much of his time and attention,” she said.  So she cut things off and continued on her journey.

Finally, at a corporate business conference in San Diego, she met the perfect man.  He possessed every quality she had been searching for.  Intelligent, handsome, spiritual, similar social circles, and a strong emotional and physical connection—absolutely perfect!  She was ready to spend the rest of her life with him.  “But unfortunately, he was looking for the ‘perfect’ woman,” she said.

Everything We’ve Ever Hoped For

As human beings, we often chase hypothetical, static states of perfection.  We do so when we are searching for the perfect house, job, friend, or lover.

The problem, of course, is that perfection doesn’t exist in a static state.  Because life is a continual journey, constantly evolving and changing.  What is here today is not exactly the same tomorrow.

That perfect house, job, friend, or lover will eventually fade to a state of imperfection.  Thus, the closest we can get to perfection is the experience itself—the snapshot of a single moment or vision held forever in our minds—never evolving, never growing.  And that’s not really what we want.  We want something real!  And when it’s real, it won’t ever be perfect.  But if we’re willing to work at it and open up, it could be everything we’ve ever hoped for.

That Imperfect Man (or Woman)

The truth is, when it comes to finding the “perfect man” or “perfect woman” or “perfect relationship,” the journey starts with letting the fantasy of “perfect” GO!  In the real world, you don’t love and appreciate someone because they’re perfect, you love and appreciate them in spite of the fact that they are not.  Likewise, your goal shouldn’t be to create a perfect life, but to live an imperfect life in radical amazement.

And when an intimate relationship gets difficult, it’s not an immediate sign that you’re doing it wrong.  Intimate relationships are intricate, and are often toughest when you’re doing them right—when you’re dedicating time, having the hard conversations, compromising, and making daily sacrifices.  Resisting the tough moments—the real moments—and seeing them as immediate evidence that something is wrong, or that you’re with the wrong person, only exacerbates the difficulties.  By contrast, viewing difficulties in a relationship as normal and necessary will give you and your partner the best chance to thrive together in the long run.

Again, there is no “perfect.”  To say that one waits a lifetime for their perfect soulmate to come around is an absolute paradox.  People eventually get tired of waiting, so they take a chance on someone, and by the powers of love, compromise and commitment they become soulmates, which takes nearly a lifetime to perfect.

This concept truly relates to almost everything in life too.  With a little patience and an open mind, over time, I bet that imperfect house evolves into a comfortable home.  That imperfect job evolves into a rewarding career.  That imperfect friend evolves into a steady shoulder to lean on.  And… that imperfect man or woman evolves into a “perfect” lifelong companion.

Now, it’s your turn…

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think of this short essay.

What resonated?  Any other thoughts on perfectionism’s harmful role in relationships?

I’d love to hear from YOU.  🙂