Is it Better to be Madonna or The Whore? Um, I Choose Neither…Or, Both?

There’s a famous scene from Analyze This, in which Robert DeNiro’s character explains to his therapist (Billy Crystal) that he could never have his wife perform fellatio on him because as he put it, “that’s the mouth she kisses my kids goodnight with.” Therefore, to have that need fulfilled, and arguably any other seemingly “whorish” sexual acts done to him, he had need of a mistress. I’ve had occasion recently to reflect upon a few of my more memorable emotionally involved relationships—those relationships that weren’t “for entertainment purposes only.” Many of you know from reading my prior blog entries, I am quite open sexually and believe that women have the absolute right to have our sexual desires met, or exceeded, often…However, it would appear that on review of some of my more “connected” relationships I have been cast as Madonna. I recently discussed—let’s be honest, I was bitching about my plight—with a close friend of mine and she told me that I should be “thankful” as she lamented somehow always ending up The Whore. I think we’re both screwed…and only one of us literally.

Some background is probably helpful. The Madonna-Whore Complex states that men categorize women based on the men’s own beliefs about sex and sexual behaviors. If the men are closed-minded or otherwise repressed sexually, then women who express themselves in a sexually open manner are cast as whores who will never “ascend” to the ranks of wife material for that man. Conversely, a woman who is otherwise a “total package” or wife material is not taken on journeys to “Freakland” in the bedroom, or anywhere else for that matter, by the man because that would make her a whore. So, when faced with these men, and unfortunately, I’m beginning to realize they are plentiful amongst us, what is a smart, driven, focused woman with a healthy to ravenous sexual appetite to do?

I have no effin’ clue. But back to my friend and me. I am Madonna. Apparently, in a relationship I end up with plain vanilla sex (although I’d prefer Rocky Road, Chunky Monkey, and Cherry Garcia—all at once or in rotation) and when the relationship ends there will be no “friends with benefits” because I’m too much of a “good woman” to put in the category of having detached sex. However, they cannot see their lives without me in it, so they want us to be platonic friends (oh, but they’re not completely cool with me having sex with others). As my Office Husband and I say, ‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?!!!’ And,* sigh.* As in marriage, it would seem to me that a woman who is both a total package and a sexual creature would be the jackpot—I mean aren’t we told that men want a “lady in the streets and a freak in the sheets?” Yeah, that’s what we’re told, but quite frankly, it’s bullshit.

Men want a freak in the streets and a lady at home—and both in the sheets, so long as she isn’t embodied in the same woman. My friend has the opposite issue. She is The Whore. She has emotional relationships with men and when those relationships end the guys want to continue their sexual relationship but want no emotional attachment. Problem for us both…she wants to get married and I don’t…so you see how this feels like a cruel joke is being played on us?

Now, I am quite self-aware, I would be remiss not to have taken inventory of my sexual performance to determine if my guys choose not to continue our sexual relationship because I’m not great in bed. I’ve conducted surveys, that ain’t it! No, seriously, it’s not.
Anyway, guys, it’s 2020, you’re going to have to find a way to come to grips with women who can seamlessly traverse the terrain between demure flower and sex goddess. Sisters (and brothers too), I would love to hear your thoughts, as this is one area in which I am completely stumped as to what needs to happen so that we can have robust sex and deep emotional connection with the same man, because I can tell you one thing, I ain’t changing. I guess this means that in the interim I need a “hubby total package dude” AND a Boy Toy (á la my tried and true Frankenstein model). Hmmm, actually I might warm to that idea…well, heading to the freezer with my spoon, Cherry Garcia awaits…or will it be Chunky Monkey? Actually, I prefer not to choose. What say you?

Online Dating Drama: What to Do When He Won’t Take Down His Profile

The way we date has changed so much in the past decade or so thanks to online matchmaking and social networking sites. Just when we were getting the hang of the regular dating etiquette and rules (Is he flirting? Do I call him first or let him call me? How do I know if we’re exclusive?), along comes an entirely new world of profiles, “poking,” status updates, ”winking” and more. And while the benefits of online dating can’t be ignored (expanding your dating pool to millions of men you might never have met on your own, scientific compatibility matching, just to name a couple) it can seem daunting to learn a whole new way of relating to the opposite sex through cyberspace. The good news is,  you don’t have to.

Of course it’s important to learn the new guidelines for communication and safety when dating onlinebut the fundamental principles of online dating for single women seeking men (“understand him better, love yourself more”) still apply whether you meet a guy at your church social gathering or on Just because you connect in a modern way doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t expect old-fashioned respect, commitment and fidelity once you take your relationship offline and into the real world.

A question posted recently in the Loveawake Facebook community illustrates the  confusion we can sometimes experience about the rules of a relationship that starts online.

Nikki B asks: Very important question about online dating. You are in a long term relationship with someone you met at local singles site. He tells you that he’s committed and at the same time talks to other girls on the dating site he met you. And you know he’s doing it behind your back and telling you he’s not talking to any other girls (i.e. lying). You’ve had discussions about asking him to remove his profile, he refused. Is this a red flag? What can be done in this situation?

Nikki, the short answer to your question is: YES. This is a red flag. His behavior is more than a red flag, actually – it’s a deal-breaker.

When you begin online dating, of course it’s healthy and smart to connect with multiple people. I encourage every (online or traditional) dater I coach to casually date a few worthy prospects before establishing a commitment. It helps you discover what you’re looking for in a partner and learn what makes you compatible. However, once you find someone special and decide together to commit to a monogamous relationship, both partners should cease contact with anyone else they were seeing. Not only is it respectful to do so, but it’s crucial to ensure your new relationship grows and thrives.

As for your respective online dating profiles? They should be willingly removed from the site or disabled. Keeping an active account (which allows for email communication and online chatting with other members) is deceptive, rude and indicates the attitude “I’m in a relationship but keeping my options open until something better comes along.”  A strong relationship cannot be built when one (or both) partners have one foot out the door.

Nikki, you mention in your question that  he says he’s committed to you. However, his behavior shows you he’s anything but. If he lies to you about communicating with other women online, he’s surely capable of lying to you about seeing other women in person behind your back. You ask what can be done in this situation? Well, if you’re familiar with Loveawake blog, you know that the only person’s actions we have control over are our own. That means you can’t make him take down his profile any more than you can make him respect you and make him want to be faithful. You can, however, end this relationship and open yourself to the possibilty of meeting a man — online or elsewhere — who will cherish you and want to be with you and only you.

All my best to you and please post an update in our Facebook community.

Want your burning dating or relationship question answered next week? Post yours on the Loveawake Facebook page Monday-Wednesdays… We answer the one with the most “likes” in my blog every week.

Why Is He Trying To Make Me Jealous?

Some women believe that men try to push their buttons. The truth however, it’s exactly the opposite. If you’re wondering “Why is he trying to make me jealous?” – then this article should help you understand him better.

And I will also explain what to do if he is trying to make you jealous.

relationship advice why does he want to make me jealous Why Is He Trying To Make Me Jealous?   The Secret Psychology

Does he know your triggers?

Jealousy is a complex emotion that encompasses feelings ranging from suspicion to rage to fear – and even humiliation. Jealousy is most typically aroused when a person perceives a threat to a valued relationship from a third party.

And the threat may be real or imagined.

Jealousy is very strongly related to Envy.

Jealousy is one of the most POWERFUL of emotions. It comes from fear, a deep fear that connects to:

  • the fear of being alone
  • the fear of being replaced
  • the fear of being rejected…

Jealousy is like jet fuel for starting the fires of passion. It may not be healthy, but it sure does get things hot and heavy.

One of the most important things to remember is:

“If you have a man who is intentionally threatening the security of your relationship with jealousy on a regular basis, you must dump him fast.” – Carlos Cavallo

Absolutely, definitely, with haste. You cannot allow a man like this to create that kind of emotional turmoil.

Over a long enough period of time, this behavior will undermine your happiness and self-esteem. It will erode your self-worth. And you can even develop possible life-threatening illness.

I have known at least two people that have died from emotional and physical complications from this kind of unhealthy relationship. So please believe me when I tell you to be on your guard if you think he’s doing this on purpose and on a regular basis.

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A healthy relationship must be built on a foundation of consistent, healthy, stable love.

The fact is, if you suspect he’s trying to make you jealous, and you do feel jealous, then yes he is trying to make you jealous on purpose.

Now let’s get right into the reasons why he is trying to make you jealous…

Reason # 1: He’s Testing You

What is “testing”? It’s when we push someone’s buttons to see if they’re putting on an act.

It’s a tool for the chooser to evaluate the pursuer in romantic courtship.

And before we get started here, let’s get one thing out of the way:

You test men in your relationships.

You know you do. All women do. Because you need to know if a guy is faking his confidence or is he for real!

In the words of an anonymous woman:

“Women test men when we don’t know who you really are or when your words and actions have been incongruent — when they don’t line up and something seems fishy or ‘off’ about you.”

And right you are for testing him!

Because you know that no matter what he says to you, his actions always speak the truth.

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We test people in our relationships because it’s instinctual. It’s not a game, it’s simply the way to get to the very vital truth: “Is he sincere? Or is he unreliable?”

This came from a time when we had to know we could rely on the people in our “tribe.”  Back in the early days, the caveman days, your survival depended on your mate.

Sure, these days you can just get divorced, but back then it was possibly the worst situation imaginable. Alone without protection and a provider? It could even be fatal.

The truth is that most men don’t test women on purpose.

(If you haven’t seen it, you should definitely read my article on why men test women here…)

But sometimes he will test you by trying to stir up your jealousy.  He’s doing this because he wants to figure out how he should think about you.

  •  Girlfriend?
  •  Booty call?
  •  Wife material?
  •  Cool friend to hang out with…?

Ultimately he wants to know how you handle your emotions. Because jealousy is one of the strongest emotions, and one that women fall victim to very easily. And jealousy will bring out your true colors when you experience it!

If you’re insecure, you will probably act out when he tests you by making you jealous.

This might be as small as the silent treatment or as big as a huge shouting match in the middle of a crowded restaurant.

And every woman has had her share of embarrassing outbursts that she wishes she could take back.

Hey, guys do too! We just forget about them faster.

So what do you do if you think he’s testing you?

The first most important thing is to always stay in control. If you let jealousy push you into insecure or needy behavior, you will freak him out and he will probably disappear.

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If a guy is using jealousy to manipulate you, you should have some question about his maturity.

Sometimes we use jealousy in relationships to prove that we still have some hold over our partner. That they still care about us and the connection is still there. That’s essentially what’s going on with jealousy.

Don’t get caught up in being emotionally reactive to a man who is using Jealousy on you like this. We’ll come back to this again in a bit.

Reason # 2: He’s an immature game-player…

I happen to know for a fact that most women think this is what most guys are doing when we act in ways that confuse you. However, the truth is that most guys don’t have the social strategy to pull off that kind of game playing.

Men are not as sharp as women when it comes to this kind of social gameplay. Men prefer peace and quiet to drama and emotionality. *(I’m guessing you’ve probably experienced this yourself by now.)

I’ve seen other articles and experts who claimed that men get bored and like to stir things up by creating jealous drama. This is completely wrong. Men don’t do this.

In fact, teenage boys don’t even do this.

If a man is using jealousy for game playing, you’ll know it right off the bat. Your radar will tell you immediately.

And you should get rid of this kind of guy immediately.

Reason # 3: He wants to know he’s still got IT…

Sure, men can fall victim to insecurity. It happens all the time for both genders.

He wants to know that he is valuable. He’s a good relationship “catch.”  And one way to show this is of course to prove his virility by attracting another woman.

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Let’s be real here:

Men are always going to have the desire to be desired by many women.

(This doesn’t mean that he’s going to cheat on you with every one of these women.)

Women on the other hand can simply enjoy the desire of one man. Provided that desire is sincere.

So sometimes a guy will create some jealousy unintentionally in the process of proving to himself that he’s still got the goods when it comes to attracting women.

No one wants to ever believe that they are undesirable to others romantically…

The easy way to short-circuit this is simply for YOU to give him the attention he wants from another woman.

Do it convincingly and enthusiastically and I guarantee he will shift his attention right back to you.

Reason # 4: He’s a narcissist and a player…

Some guys are just out to validate their egos and their sense of self. He may not even be aware that he’s making you jealous on some level. He just wants the validation.

Guys who are only looking for good fun in the bedroom can also fit into this category. No matter what you may want to think about him, as long as he doesn’t misrepresent himself as wanting a relationship, he can do what he wants.

Remember, don’t blame the guy that told you up front that he didn’t want a relationship. Instead, listen to what he says, and watch what he does.

Again, this diagnosis of narcissism is not that common. No matter how much you read about it in magazines and on news sites, narcissism is relatively rare.

Insecurities, on the other hand, is everywhere you look.

Reason # 5: He’s clueless…

There are a lot of guys out there who simply don’t recognize the emotional impact of their actions. A guy might talk to a girl for a while and be genuinely enjoying her company. He might not even desire her.

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But over there in the corner stands his girlfriend. Furious with him for abandoning her and paying all that attention to another woman.

From his point of view, he just wanted to talk. He may even have wondered why his girlfriend didn’t come join him in the conversation. He also doesn’t even see it as being “disrespectful.”

His cluelessness is simply that. A guy who doesn’t have very good emotional intelligence.

You can usually tell if a guy has malicious intentions when it comes to this sort of thing. If he seems genuinely bewildered by your reaction to the whole thing, he probably doesn’t understand. He’s just clueless.

In which case all you have to do is explain it to him.

Most of the time, guys don’t actually try to make you jealous. It’s simply an act of complete simple-mindedness.

Reason # 6: He’s trying to end it…

Frequently we don’t want to say the most direct thing. Sometimes we want to break up, but we guys don’t know how to say it.

If you’re dating this guy and you’ve been with him a while, and he’s pulling these jealousy tactics on you, he might want out of your relationship.

Men very often don’t want to face the music when it comes to breaking up with a woman. If he’s been with you for a while and it would be too weird for him to ghost you or disappear, he may have to come up with another way.

Sometimes that’s through starting an argument with you that he can use as an excuse to end the relationship.

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Even better, it starts out with you being the one who has to come to him with the issue. That makes him look delightfully innocent – in a weird way.

Then, through the course of the conversation, while you justify the weirdness that you’re experiencing, he gets to make you the villain. And uses this opportunity to argue and to tell you: “I don’t think we should see each other anymore.”

You’ll probably witness him using jealousy to trigger the “end game” when you’re with a very immature guy.

And the truth is that many women use this exact same ploy to get out of a relationship as well.

Reason # 7: He’s trying to get a reaction from you…

The most common situation where a guy tries to make you jealous is when he wants to see if you have feelings for him.

A perfect example of this would be a guy who is friends with you, you’ve never dated him, and you start seeing someone else. You may not have realized he was interested in you, because he never said anything.

why men try to make girlfriends jealous Why Is He Trying To Make Me Jealous?   The Secret Psychology

He gets to you…

And to be perfectly honest, he’s being kind of a wuss. He should have asked you out at some point before. But he may not have wanted to ruin the friendship.

So here you are dating your guy, and now your friend is suddenly seeing a new woman himself.

  • He might start to talk about his relationship with her in graphic detail…
  • You might get the impression that this woman doesn’t even exist –  he’s made her up
  • He might flaunt her in front of you to try and get a reaction out of you
  • He might drop hints about same someone –  or sleeping with someone
  • He might even ask you to meet her (talk about awkward)
  • He drops too much information on you during a conversation. He’s explicit and uncensored…
  • He asks you for an opinion that suddenly makes you jealous –  and makes you ask, Why did you ask me that?
  • He’s very obvious in faking his own happiness

What are you supposed to do?

Well, this leads us into the next section – which are:

Steps For Handling A Guy Who Is Trying To Make You Jealous


The best thing you can do is not get jealous.

In fact, for every single reason I’ve given you here, the best reaction is to not give him a reaction.


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Stay calm…

Because if he gets a reaction, you’re reinforcing his behavior. You may have heard this when it comes to raising your kids – and it’s equally true training your man.

And no, I’m not comparing men to children – even if they can act that way sometimes. But the principle holds true.

If you give him the reaction he’s hoping for, he’ll keep trying to make you jealous.

You’ll also know he’s trying to get a reaction from you when he gets angry because you won’t get jealous. If his scheme isn’t working, he’ll get pissed.

And you’ll also notice that he’s paying close attention to your reaction. If it didn’t matter to him, he just go on his way and do his own thing.

Remember what I said earlier: Jealousy is the most potent form of love emotion.

If you can get someone to feel jealous, you can emotionally manipulate them. or at the very least, get them to react in ways that suit you.


Whatever the case may be, make sure you understand your feelings for him first.

If you don’t like him, and you don’t feel attracted to him, then you shouldn’t feel jealous. You’ll probably just feel a little weird and creeped out by his behavior.

On the other hand, if you find yourself suddenly responding to his scarcity, check in with yourself and see if you have the history of chasing men you can’t have.

Maybe you actually like this guy. Maybe he was even justified in making you feel jealous to recognize it.

Just make sure you know how you feel first! This way you won’t let your feelings (especially the reactive ones) push you into a situation you don’t want.


The one guaranteed way to keep this situation as uncomfortable as it possibly can be is to not face it.

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Show him your hand…

There comes a point when you must sit down with him and talk to him about what he’s doing. Yes, you may have to confront his behavior and point it out to him. Otherwise you run the risk of him trying these silly little games all the time until he gets an emotional response.

Again, if you really do like him, then you should stop him before he makes a mistake with his unsophisticated attempts to get you emotional about him.

Simply explain what you’re seeing. Tell him how you feel as gently as you can, whether you are interested in him or not. But you have to tell him how his behavior will work against his goal of winning your heart.

There are a bunch of reasons why he’s trying to make you feel jealous. None of them mean that you SHOULD feel jealous.

Ultimately, he’s doing this because he still feels an emotional connection to you, and that means there may be a chance to reclaim the lost love.

How do you get him back?

One way to do it is to know the “bounce back” Passion Phrase. This one phrase can help put you back in his arms again – IF you know it.

You can find out about this passion phrase – and many more – by reading this special report…

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Is Your Ego Killing You?

Being narcissistic isn’t just bad for social relationships. Having an ego could kill you.

In a study released earlier some time ago, researchers found that certain types of narcissism can lead to higher risks for cardiovascular disease and heart attacks, and could make it more difficult to survive other diseases such as cancer or diabetes.

“We generally see narcissism as a personality trait that’s bad for others but not narcissists,” the study’s co-author Sara Konrath said in a USA Today story.

An assistant research professor at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, Konrath told the USA Today the study was a way of “getting under their skin to see if there are physical consequences.”

And it seems, according to researchers’ results, that men are more negatively affected by narcissism than women.

A 40-plus question survey was given to 106 college-aged students — 79 women and 27 men, with an average age of around 20. The survey measured five areas of narcissism and also measured cortisol levels in saliva of the students.

While some of the components of narcissism can be healthy, the fragile views narcissists have of themselves can actually lead to increased stress levels, defensive actions and aggression.

There is no doubt we all need to have at least some self-esteem, but too much of a good thing obviously can be bad for a variety of reasons.

I’ve never considered myself a narcissist, but do people actually admit to that? I’ve seen my fair share of folks who appear to have narcissistic traits, and I’ve always wondered what led them to that point.

You know the people I’m thinking of … the ones who constantly have to one-up you on every story, experience or item you have — their cars are better, their food is better, their clothing is better, their dog is better.

These days, though, either narcissists are on the rise or social media sites like Facebook are bringing out the worst of the worst of us all. There certainly are varying degrees of narcissism, and it truly can be a severe disorder.

Anymore, I look at the pictures and messages friends post on Facebook and wonder why anybody cares to know some of those things, or why people even broadcast to such large audiences about simple, inane things with their family, their job and their life.

Nine times out of 10, I consider leaving a snarky comment on a post where a self-absorbed Facebook friend explains to the world about a new work project or that a child used a toilet. But that’s probably fodder for another column, eh?

On some level, however, we all are narcissists, and people were narcissists before the Internet was even an idea. Some careers even lend themselves to allowing people to become narcissists — television and movie actors, television reporters and anchors, and professional athletes.

Many celebrities build brands around their narcissism and profit from it.

While it is healthy to be proud of your accomplishments and tell them to close family and friends, there is a fine line between sharing good news and making one’s self the focal point of every situation.

Step away from the mirror and tell somebody besides yourself how much you appreciate them before your ego kills you.

If Growing Up Means Not Enjoying Life, Count Me Out.

At about four weeks shy of my 29th birthday, I never imagined I’d still be considered “young and idealistic.”

But that’s exactly what a friend called me in an e-mail where I listed some “dream” jobs of mine — you know, places you’d just love to work for, but know you’re way past your prime or out of your league.

I was a bit taken aback by the remark, but am almost certain it was meant to be sarcastic.

Still, part of me took the comment as though I am too young to know what life is about.

This isn’t the first time I’ve felt that someone older than I was attempting to school me on life. And I’m certain it won’t be the last.

I’m not sure how seniority somehow automatically gives a person the upper hand about the inner workings of life, but I’m almost positive nobody has the answers to life.

In the interest of not sounding cocky, I must admit that I do respect many folks who have a few (or several) years on me in life. But let’s face it, age doesn’t necessarily give somebody the answers.

In fact, rarely do I consider age a factor in determining who I consider a role model. But I find that many folks older than I am refuse to acknowledge that anybody younger than them could not only be more successful, but offer a better insight into something.

It’s sort of reverse age discrimination. Just because I haven’t yet cracked 30 doesn’t mean I’m some blow-off.

People scoff at my obsession with Mario Bros. (the game and collectibles), my love of cartoons, ‘90s sitcoms and Disney movies. They poke fun of my childlike love of Christmas, amusement parks and mini-golf.

But I wouldn’t change my outlook on any of those things. And when I’m 40, 50 or older, I hope to still keep my child-like side alive.

It balances well with the rest of who I am.

I consider myself extremely successful in life — I’ve got a very rewarding career, which has offered me chances I never dreamed imaginable; my volunteer work allows me to come in contact with cancer survivors and their families who have shown me that it is vital to appreciate the finer points of life in order to have a fulfilling life; and I’m surrounded by loving family and friends.

These are experiences that I never would trade in to follow the life someone older than me thinks I should live.

During a conversation with a man who is nearing retirement, he said how he plans to volunteer with organizations upon leaving work. In doing so, he told me how I, some day, also will venture to seeing how important it is to help others. It was then I informed him that for two consecutive years, I have spent more than 1,000 hours each year volunteering for the American Cancer Society.

Saying he was shocked was an understatement. Here was this man — probably between 55 and 60 with a great career — and had just recently understood the value of volunteering. He spent so much of his life looking out only for himself and realizing how very unrewarding that was. So when I told him how much I not only love my career but also my volunteer work, he really had no idea how to reply.

I’m not saying that, at 28, I have all of the answers to a successful life — nobody does. I’m also not expecting everybody to marvel over my accomplishments.

But there’s something to be said for being able to acknowledge that — barring anything completely stupid or illegal — no matter what our age, youthful idealism isn’t such a bad thing…especially when tempered by the notion of helping others outside ourselves.

In fact, a outlook like that could create one incredibly beautiful world.

Romance: Too Much to Ask For?

I think that’s one of my least favorite phrases in the English language.  It declares defeat before you’ve even tried to succeed.  And very rarely, if ever, do we manage not to hope.  Even in the most terrible situations, or when the odds are truly stacked against us—we hope.

Unfortunately, many of us are surrounded by cynicism and negativity.  We turn on the television, pick up the newspaper, or even when we read a book, everything points in one direction—the world is a bad place.  If you expect too much out of it, you’re bound to be disappointed.

Don’t get your hopes up.

Unfortunately, the same idea exists when talking about relationships, romance, and love.  Even if you’re just talking about what you hope to find in a potential boyfriend, people do not hesitate to shoot you down before you have a chance to even daydream a little about what he might look like and where you’ll meet.

Seemingly innocent statements like, “I want to find a nice guy, who treats me well and has a nice sense of humor,” is often met by rebuttals of “Good luck with that, honey,” “Keep dreaming,” and the ever cryptic, “That’s what every woman says she wants—but girls never actually go after nice guys.”

So not only will I never find that nice, well-mannered guy who can crack a joke, but I’m also a liar for saying that that’s what I want in the first place.

No wonder no one knows what the hell they want.  As soon as you express your opinion, everyone tells you that you’re wrong.

Romance, it seems, is simply unattainable. The very idea that a guy, or a girl, would admire you from afar, strike up the courage to ask you out, and the two of you would get together and develop a healthy, long lasting relationship just doesn’t seem to hold weight anymore.  It belongs in Fairy Tales and books—sometimes to me it feels as if it’s gained a kind of mythical status unto itself.

I think that’s due to our somewhat jaded culture, fed by reality shows filled with trashy people doing terrible things to one another; using sex as nothing more than a tool for pleasure and manipulation.  In conjunction with a media that finds glory in divorces and break-ups, one can’t help but just feel sad…and it makes you think, well, maybe that’s just how it is.

And if you don’t accept that, you’ll have no one else but yourself to blame.

I’m young.  I’m a college aged girl who is still financially dependent on her folks.  I’m supposed to be wide-eyed and naïve.  My rose colored glasses ought to be intact at least until my first year of grad school.

Yet, I dread the idea of a relationship; because in my mind it encompasses all things negative.  A loss of freedom, a loss of self, stress, worry, fear, rejection, disappointment…

But when you vocalize these fears and worries that have been so graciously bestowed upon you by seemingly everything you see and everyone you talk to (I do enjoy the frequent relationship horror stories some are so eager to share), people either agree with you, or are very very angry with you.  “How could you say that?  It’s not that bad!  Don’t you want to find a boyfriend?  Or have a big white wedding?  And make lots and lots of babies?”

And yet when you tell them of your hopes and dreams, what you’d maybe like to find in a future spouse, they shake their head and pity you like you’re some kind of fool.  I don’t understand.  I’m supposed to fall in love without romance, with and marry a man who might have a good sense of humor but doesn’t treat me well?

That is the message I feel as though has been communicated to me since I started dating.  Find a guy.  Date for a while.  Move in together.  Get married.  Have kids.  But don’t get your hopes up.  Not for anything special.

Because that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

And when you demand more than that, you’re foolish, you’re unrealistic, and you are bound to be disappointed.  After all, who knows how many husbands you turned away on your mystic quest to find romance and true love?

So…what the hell is a girl supposed to do?

On one hand, I dread relationships because of how they are made out to be so very often; shallow, painful, a mere shell of what the famous love stories and poems make them out to be.  And on the other hand,

I can’t help but hold onto this perhaps foolish hope that someday, I will find someone good, someone kind, someone who I might just want to share my life with, for however long that may be.

It’s a conflict that I think a lot of people my age are facing right now as they are constantly witnessing failed marriages juxtaposed side by side with an entire television line up of wedding shows on TLC.

What the hell am I supposed to want?

There are no simple solutions.  I can think of only one right now.

Even though it might get me absolutely nowhere, I’m going to do my damnedest to pursue my ideal.  Not just of love, but of life.  Everyone has this notion that what’s best for most is best for all, or what’s enough for most is enough for all.  That’s simply not true.

And by thinking that there’s something wrong with us because we want more, because we might want a romance, or god forbid, a life on our own—that is how we truly set ourselves up for disappointment and failure.

I’m determined to not lose my faith in romance, or in love, or in the idea that there is so much more in life than either of those things.  I’m not going to compromise.  I’d rather be alone than compromise my ideals, my hopes, and my dreams. Perhaps that’s foolish, or naïve, or idealistic, but I’d much rather look at life with a sense of magic and wonder than simply go through the motions.

I understand you have to work for what you want.  And I plan on doing that.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect a fairy tale out of life, I don’t expect a soul mate, or a prince or anything like that—but I do expect great things.  It’s not so black and white—I just want something more than what they’re selling on television and movies.

I want something real.  I want something meaningful.  From both love and life.  And I think, if we all raise our standards in others, and in ourselves we might just find that.
It might not be easy, it might not even be possible—but in my mind, it’s worth it.

Romance isn’t too much to ask for.  We just don’t feel like we should ask.

Hey, Workaholic: Are You Destroying Your Relationships?

Are you like me and feel as if work sometimes consumes your life?

Whether you’re replying to e-mails at midnight after working 15 hours that day, taking and making work phone calls on weekends, or checking in with co-workers on sick or vacation days, sometimes it feels as though we’re married to our job.

The average American works 1,880 a year; meaning that half of us work more than 22 percent of the year. And that only accounts for paid hours.

As much as we love — and are addicted to — our work, spending all of that time focusing on our job means that less time is spent on creating, maintaining and building relationships.

Marriages suffer, friendships grow apart and suddenly your life is nothing more than a version of the movie “Groundhog Day.”

I know this firsthand as someone who is extremely passionate about my work. I rarely work a seven- or eight- hour day. Over the last two months, I feel as though I’ve spent more time working than anything else. So much so that I rarely have seen friends, and when I do get home, I fall asleep only to do it all over again the next day.

Some take working to the extreme by having multiple jobs or moving away from family and friends just for a job. But in these tough economic times, can you really blame them? Still, talk about making work a priority over family and friends!

Even if we love our jobs and are passionate about what we do, we owe it to ourselves to have a work/life balance that involves more than just a weekend home every now and then or a once-in-a-blue-moon night out with friends.

In an AOL Jobs story earlier this year, an Australian nurse said almost everyone on their deathbed regretted working too much.

“This came from every male patient that I nursed,” nurse Bronnie Ware wrote in a blog post.

“They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”

As much as I dedicate myself to work, regretting working too much at the end of my life is one thing I do not want to do. Having a job you love no doubt is important, but does that outweigh wasting your life away from family and friends?

Growing up, I remember my father arriving late to various events — baseball games, school projects — I was involved with. Sometimes, he didn’t make it at all.

At a young age, I always took it personal — that he was putting work in front of his family. While I still do not agree with his decision, I understand that, in his mind, he was doing the right thing by providing for his family.

But him choosing work over family is something I’ll never forget.

He has even missed or been late for holiday gatherings. And work always is to blame.

While I’m not (yet, at least) a father, I have constantly reminded myself that I will do better than my father did at scheduling work around my child’s events.

As if missing out on time spent with family and friends is enough to make one rethink their work life, a study found that working too much can double the risk of depression.

There already have been studies detailing how too much work increases the risk for heart attacks and how our diets and sleep schedules are thrown off because of work.

There no doubt are economic reasons why people choose to work more often than not. While that might be a great plan in the short term to help pay bills, provide for the family, etc., it can have a devastating effect on relationships as life moves on.

And at the end of your work day, you must ask yourself, “Is overworking really worth missing out on family, friends and life?”

If you care about a truly quality life, you know the right answer to that question. Find that work/life balance and turn off the work phone and e-mail when you’re not working.

Work always will be there. Quality moments with family and friends won’t.

Falling Out of Love | blog

Your heart races, your palms sweat; being together is almost unbearable. The way your body feels is indescribable. You can’t sleep, you won’t eat, and all you do is think about your relationship day and night. Sounds like you’re falling in love.

Wrong! The same emotional and physical manifestations that you feel falling in love are also felt when you’re falling out of love! But…wait!

How do I want my life to be? What do I want now?

Can a person who has “fallen in love” ever  really “fall out of it?” The answer is an unfortunate yes. We’re not talking crushes or just thinking that you are in love. We’re talking the real deal. It seems almost impossible that the same person whom you deeply and sincerely loved can become the guy for whom you no longer have feelings. Falling out of love can be a long slow process or an overnight occurrence but the result is the undeniable – you just don’t feel the same .

What causes this turn-about? Sometimes you realize that you made a mistake in choosing the relationship. The man you fell in love with may no longer be the man he was when you met him. He may have changed in ways that you hadn’t anticipated.

Or maybe it is you who have changed. What you wanted in the past is no longer what you want now. You have grown but he hasn’t grown along with you. He’s content with the status quo and you’re not.

Perhaps he has done something that completely turned off your feelings. Addiction, alcohol, no financial support are all issues that can crush love especially if there is no hope for a positive change.

The reasons for falling out of love are as varied as falling in love. The click is no longer there and as sad as it makes you feel, you know the relationship is over. What can you do about it? The first thing to do is to be practical and ask yourself some serious questions.

  • How do I want my life to be? What do I want now?
  • Am I willing to stay in a relationship that has nothing left for me?
  • Am I doing this for financial reasons? (e.g. rent, shared expenses, etc.)
  • Am I staying for the sex? (e.g. an available partner, familiarity)
  • Can I pretend “forever?”
  • Is being in a relationship, any relationship, worth it just to be “part of a couple?”

And finally, when you have established that there is absolutely nothing at all left to salvage for you ask yourself –

  • How can I end this without causing major hurt to the person I once truly  loved?

Be honest and open with yourself. Jot down why you want to leave and what you plan to do once you’re away from the relationship. Make absolutely sure you’re just “not in a rut.” Relationship ruts can be fixed, lack of love can’t.

Tell him. You owe it to him to let him know that you’re ending the relationship; that’s only fair. But be kind. You don’t want to hurt him any more than is necessary. You once loved him, keep that in mind. You’re not heartless.

Don’t be surprised. He may have fallen out of love with you! Discuss what his feelings are too. Be adult. You may be able to at least be on good terms after everything is over. Don’t discount friendship. A good male friend can be a positive in your life.

After you have left the relationship you may feel happier than you have in a long while. Take the opportunity to enjoy your freedom.

Songs, novels, poetry all attempt to teach us about falling in love. Falling out of love is something we learn on our own.

Playing Sports with Your Partner

I’m really competitive…Scratch that. I’m overly competitive. My friends don’t even like playing Scrabble with me. I’ve played sports since I could crawl. In fact, when I was a baby, my mom entered me into a crawling race, which I won, because in the middle of the race, I got up and started walking. I ended up getting disqualified for cheating at the mere age of eight months.

When my boyfriend, M.J. (no, not Michael Jordan), suggested we play basketball together, I laughed. Piece of cake, I thought. I imagined myself walking out on the court, dribbling the ball with ease, maneuvering around him, and making each shot with no effort at all. I underestimated the whole scenario though. First of all, I air-balled at least five times before we actually started a real game against each other, and watched in horror as M.J. made every shot.

He looked at me, with a half-smile like, “You didn’t expect me to be good, did ya?”

No, I didn’t. I knew he played sports growing up, but as we started playing our game, he made three-pointers, dribbled quickly in between his legs, and at times I thought he was going to dunk it.

I finally asked, “Did you play basketball in high school or something?”

To which he replied, “Yeah, varsity, and I played in a league in college and when I went to grad school.”

Now I knew why he wanted to play basketball with me. He was showing off, I thought.

Mr. Hot Shot with all the moves. He even started taking it easy on me since it was clear that I had no skills whatsoever. He wouldn’t block me when I tried to shoot or even really tried to get the ball from me.

After each ball bounced off the rim, I got more annoyed and more agitated when he made a shot. I wanted to be happy for him, but I found myself getting upset because I was losing. I hate losing. I especially hated losing to someone that I didn’t expect to be any good.

This is supposed to be fun, right?

We were playing in a public park and a couple of kids were playing on the court next to us, and when I say kids, I mean 5-year-olds. They were better than me and I found no humor in the fact that I sucked.

I had to hide the fact that I was upset. Here I was on a beautiful day in the park, playing basketball with my boyfriend, and all I could focus on was the fact that I kept getting worse and kept falling further behind in points.

It made me wonder; if one is competitive should he or she play sports with their partner? In my experience, yes. Being competitive isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it can be good if the competitiveness isn’t mean-spirited. Of course, I wanted to win, but I started to enjoy watching my boyfriend show me something he is good at doing. We even started to joke during our little match and it got more playful and less serious. It became clear that I wouldn’t win, so why get upset?

I know some couples who just can’t do anything competitive with each other. It brings out the worst in each person and before you know it they’ve broken up over a game of Monopoly.

Competition doesn’t have to be bad, though. In fact, competition in certain ways can be healthy and can bring couples closer together if they compete within the game itself, not against each other. It’s about the game, not about your partner and whether or not he or she is better than you at something. Instead of competing for the glory, compete for something that you both can enjoy with each other at the end of a game. Whether it’s dinner, beer, ice-cream or even the winner having choice of the next flick for movie night, you can both experience pleasure together.

If your competition of choice is sports, you’re also getting the chance to do something healthy with your partner, which is a win-win. It can also enhance your sex life. According to a study at Penn State, researchers found that when women anticipate competition they get a surge of testosterone, which boosts the libido. The same goes for men. Think about that for a moment; both of you win.

Where competition begins to get tricky is when each partner is trying to one-up each other. And, that can carry into other aspects of your relationship, whether it’s who makes more money or who can cook a steak better. Constantly trying to outdo your partner only causes tension and tension is no relationship’s friend.

Fortunately, my boyfriend didn’t make fun of me too much after my display of zero basketball talent. Instead, post-game (I am too ashamed to share the score results), M.J. gave me a shooting lesson. Being open enough to have my boyfriend teach me how to get better at something he just beat me in also brought us closer. There is something extremely sexy about someone who is good at something and as his partner, I want to be supportive of him. We have to accept that each of us have strengths and weaknesses and competition can showcase those traits.

Lucky for me though, I know one competition I won’t lose. When M.J. and I tee it up on the course, he’ll get a taste of what it feels like to get beat by a girl.

Is Lasting Love a Thing of the Past?

Last week my parents celebrated a major milestone that fewer and fewer couples seem to be reaching: Their 30th wedding anniversary.

That kind of milestone is no small feat — especially in an era of the 55-hour Britney Spears wedding and the train wreck that became Kim Kardashian’s $10 million nuptials. Her marriage lasted a whole 72 days before she filed for divorce from Kris Humphries.

Every day, though, millions of average folks file for divorce that never make headlines on “Entertainment Tonight.” Fifty percent of marriages, as the oft-quoted statistic indicates, end in divorce.

So what it is that’s allowed my parents to keep their romance going after all of these years?

Like most couples, my parents have had their fair share of fights, blow ups and meltdowns. They grew closer as their own parents died. And when their kids graduated from high school, their marriage was practically reborn, since they were no longer tied to a schedule based around kid-related events.

My parents were 25 when they married and — much to my surprise when I later discovered this — only knew one another for just a few months before becoming engaged and later tying the knot.

One day after their 30th wedding anniversary, I celebrated my 29th birthday — though my father always has enjoyed telling people I was born a day after they were married.

When I turned 25, it was then I realized my life would be completely different from my parents. After college, I focused on finding a job within my career field and wanting a life surrounded by friends. Marriage wasn’t on my radar. It still isn’t on my radar.

I’m not alone, either, as many of my friends have focused their lives on careers, friends, established family, and haven’t given a second thought to tying the knot in the foreseeable future.

One need look no further than the headlines of any newspaper to see reasons why my generation isn’t concerned with marriage. Along with the scarcity of available jobs is the uncertainty of earning a decent wage. For many people my age, it has been difficult to support ourselves. The thought of adding a partner, kids, a house and everything that comes along with that isn’t practical, and sometimes can be a down right frightening prospect.

Sometimes, buying cat food and litter are enough to empty a wallet. I shudder to think of diapers and formula costs.

But even beyond financially supporting a family are a plethora of emotional issues. Generation Y-ers are more independent than their Baby Boomer parents. We like to be free and make decisions that affect just us. Sure, it might seem selfish, but it’s a different world.

That said, Gen Y-ers still are getting hitched — and half of them remain married. Those who find love and begin families are finding it difficult to provide for their family in these uncertain economic times.

For many Baby Boomers, times also were tough. But somehow, my parents made sure we had everything we needed growing up. They still make sure my brother and I are taken care of, and I’m certain always will. It’s what parents do, right?

Growing up, we never went on lavish vacations — trips to Erie, Pa., or amusement parks within a few hours were pretty standard. Sure, as a pre-teen, I grew frustrated when other classmates spent summers at beaches, Disney and all sorts of seemingly exotic places. Then all around me, the parents of classmates and friends begin divorcing.

I recall sitting in a room in middle school with maybe 20 other kids, realizing that I was the only one with parents who still were married. Talk about being a minority!

I’ve probably not told my parents this, but I’m happy … and surprised … their marriage has lasted this long, especially after seeing several of my friends marry and then divorce all within the last several years.

If nothing else, my parents taught me to never give up. That is a lesson lost among Gen Y-ers who fall in love, and rush ahead with blinders on. As soon as the marriage sours, the relationship ends. Given that knowledge, would my parents have been together for my birth one year after their marriage?

It’s hard to know how much societal norms and generational differences affect marriages and other relationships. I think the the baby boomers forged ahead more readily and stuck to their choices, good or bad, once they made big life decisions like who to marry or when to have kids and how many. My generation tends to delay the decisions in the first place, and maybe in some cases, we deliberately make choices different from our parents.

But 30 years together as a couple is remarkable, no matter what generation they grew up in. And while I don’t know if that kind of long-term relationship is in the cards for me, I appreciate and admire not only how they’ve kept their romance alive for so long, but also the hard work and determination that it took them to survive and prosper together.