Jill Dodd, former model, and designer behind the successful global brand ROXY, used to be a “pleasure wife” for one of the richest men in the world. She says, “On the surface it’s shocking, but once you understand the background it all makes sense.” Dodd also survived two abuse-filled marriages but has now been in a healthy marriage of 20 years. Dodd believes it’s important to consider how someone’s upbringing, past exposure to abuse, and emotional capabilities might influence her decisions. From the outside, you might think it’s obvious and simple to avoid pursuing a relationship with someone who is abusive. But it’s not clear for everyone.
Says Dodd: “I grew up in an oversexualized world where women are valued for their beauty instead of being valued for who they are on the inside.” There are plenty of eye-opening facts to know about domestic violence, according to experts, including the fact that it doesn’t have to be physical: Abuse comes in emotional and sexual forms as well.
Low self-esteem isn’t the sole or even primary reason someone becomes a victim, say women who’ve suffered abuse. Other factors include the ability to set boundaries, the resolve to say “no,” and a person’s relationship to authority figures. Dodd says, “If cruelty and bad behavior are familiar to you, you may feel comfortable being stomped over. You just don’t understand any other way, you don’t know how to set healthy boundaries.”
“The pressure of fixing abusive relationships is often placed squarely on the victim’s shoulders, with the world still asking why victims don’t make better choices. How can you put up with that? Why do you stay? The truth is, domestic violence doesn’t always end when victims make good choices,” says Lizbeth Meredith, author of Pieces of Me: Rescuing my Kidnapped Daughters.
Meredith, a former domestic violence advocate, and juvenile probation supervisor is a survivor of domestic abuse. In an email, she wrote, “I left my husband after being strangled in front of my two little girls. I embraced poverty. I stayed in a shelter. I didn’t ever go back to him. I got orders of protection. And yet, the intimidation continued. When I got my bachelors degree and a terrific job at the same domestic violence agency I’d fled to, I didn’t kick up a fuss when I didn’t get child support. I colored in the lines, and four long tortuous years after I left my husband, he took our daughters while on a visitation and fled to another country (Greece). I learned that recovery is not about simply leaving, it’s about long-term safety, self-discovery, accepting the support of others, and learning how I got in the mess to begin with, and letting others know what red flags exist in relationships that I might steer clear of.”
When someone hears about the horrors of domestic abuse, it makes sense to suggest an escape thinking it will end the pain. Unfortunately, many women say it’s more complicated than that. Just read this incredible tale of learning from domestic abuse. On average, a woman will leave and come back to an abusive relationship seven times before she is permanently gone, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline as reported by CNN. This statistic alone is a reason to stop assuming women in abusive relationships can and should “just leave.”
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“It’s rarely a once and done situation,” says Meredith. “There are so many reasons victims will leave and come back. The leaving takes planning. The leaving takes a support system. It takes determination to maintain the leaving.” Elizabeth Babcock, psychotherapist, and community advocate says, “Abusers often threaten their targets with financial, personal, and/or public ruin. They threaten to take and alienate the kids. They threaten whatever they believe will keep the target frozen in place and it often works.
Abusive relationships are often steeped in deception from many influences—society, the partner and even the self. Babcock says, “Targets of abuse often rationalize their experience by convincing themselves that their partners don’t realize the harm they’re doing. I have worked with numerous abusers and every one has admitted to me that they are fully aware that they are hurting their partners; they do it purposefully because it gives them the control in the relationship that they want.” Dodd backs up this eye-opening information. She says, “You tend to justify bad behavior if you’re used to it.” Here are nine more signs that your partner may not be the right one.
People unfamiliar with abusive relationships may underestimate the emotional complexity that healing can encompass. Dodd says, “Even if the acts that were done to them weren’t their fault, victims live with a residue of shame.” Dodd, who reports therapy and writing her book as cathartic experiences, said, “I’m healed to a good degree but I’m not completely healed.” This is where good friends can play an important role in your relationships.
Isolation and loss of control are just two signs of an emotionally abusive partner. Many signs are silent and the journey to discovering them is hard. Survivor and domestic violence advocate Melissa Sachs says, “It took me almost five years to get out of my own head, my own pain, to finally see, to actually believe what I was seeing, to accept what I knew to be true, and even more time after that to leave for good.
Babcock told Reader’s Digest, “Targets of abuse don’t necessarily start with low self-esteem, but they go through an incremental brainwashing process in the relationship in which they become accustomed to accepting more and more damaging behavior from the partner. Living in these conditions over time has emotional and medical repercussions that take years to sort out once the target is out of the relationship. The process of personal rebuilding is a long one, complicated by the fact that most targets don’t leave until they absolutely have to, meaning they are as emotionally exhausted as they could possibly be at a time when they have to take on the massive project of rebuilding their lives, quite possibly while fearing for their continued safety.”
One common myth of domestic violence is that it primarily occurs in low-income families. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Katie Ray-Jones, CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, told Cosmopolitan.com: “We receive over 22,000 calls a month. We hear from every socioeconomic class, every race, every education level, every geographic region. We’ve had doctors who have called us, women who call us and say they live in mansions and their husbands work on Wall Street and they don’t know how to get out because they don’t have the financial means to leave and they can’t talk about it to anyone because it’s the big secret in their social arena. One day we were having high call volume and I hopped on the line and there was a doctoral student calling me, and all she kept saying was, ‘How could I be so dumb? I’m working on a Ph.D.’ Domestic violence doesn’t say, ‘OK, you have a Ph.D., I’m not going to touch you.”
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While domestic violence affects all socioeconomic classes, access to resources plays a big role in getting out. Dodd says, “If you have your own money you can always get out.” While this is helpful to keep in mind and strive for, achieving financial stability doesn’t’ always come easy—it can depend on education, job status, and employability, and it can take years to achieve. Victims become more vulnerable if they are linked to their abuser financially.
The Family Financial Education team at the University of Washington has done extensive research highlight the challenges survivors of domestic abuse face. In one brief, they noted that economic abuse is in it of itself a form of abuse that often goes unacknowledged. Meredith says, “When I left and took my girls I embraced poverty—I enrolled in the food stamps, stayed in the shelter. I thought that would be the end of the abuse.” In her case, it wasn’t. This fact alone deserves cultural recognition. To more resources on economic empowerment for survivors of abuse, go here.
“You are not alone” is a cliché that gets tossed around. The reality is that sometimes we do have to go through things by ourselves but relief can be found in the knowledge that other survivors are out there. We might encounter other women who relate through reading books by survivors, participating in discussions in support groups or coming across helpful information social media. Melissa Sachs recently posted a quote on her Instagram account that says, “If I hadn’t been validated by other survivors, I may have stayed.” Sachs connected with other survivors on social media, finding solace in reading stories she could relate to. She says, “It helped me stop feeling so devastated.”
Jill Dodd cried for years. She says, “I cried so much I could not cry anymore. I wallowed in self-pity. Why God? Why did this happen? It wasn’t until I stopped crying and started searching for answers to slowly heal.” Of course, this is easier said than done but therapy, support groups and seeking out like-minded survivors who may understand can help. More resources can be found here.
Want to help a friend or family member who may be experiencing abuse? Visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline here.
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America is in the throes of a #metoo revolution this year as more women are opting to speak up about the harassment they have experienced with male authority figures at work, their assault experiences, and their ultimate fear of shaming, loss of employment and vengeful retribution. How seemingly fit and ironic that figures who once were as horrific and overpowering as a zombie on The Walking Dead show, are finally having their masks stripped by those women who are reporting they were tormented in October, the month of Halloween.
When hearing women and men’s stories in my therapy practice Center for Love and Sex, I am called upon again and again to help clients and their partners deal with past sexual boundary crossings, sexless marriages, and non-erotic routines, many of which played important roles in dissatisfied sexual relationships. This blog is for women as they prepare to head out in the dating world. This process can be so awkward, disheartening and downright embarrassing they seek help at CLS for support and guidance on taking those first steps back into sexual relationships.
For women who are beginning to date after a divorce, there are unique desires, concerns, and questions they have regarding their return to sexuality with a new partner(s).
Here are some guidelines to avoid tricks (both internally and externally) and discover some treats in the dating world:
1) Work on some mantras that you practice each day that complement what you find attractive about yourself. Body shaming and misogyny is unfortunately still alive and well in America, and in order to keep your Sex Esteem® strong you need to practice (just like lifting weights) that you’re beautiful, you’re sexy, you have gorgeous eyes, you’re smart, funny, exciting. You get the idea. Chase those internal ghosts from your headspace!
2) If you get the ‘why bother’s and plop down to watch another season of Girlfriends Guide to Divorce, ask yourself the magic wand wish question: If I had a magic wand what would I really want for myself in a relationship?
While no relationship is perfect (and some as we know are emotionally dead or downright abusive), you’re entitled to explore yourself and other people through new relationships. I challenge single clients to ask themselves what they want since so many are focused on how they aren’t (fill in the blank) enough for someone else. And by the way, I’m not saying wait for the one person who matches you on all your online profile qualities (research has shown that people don’t always partner with the person they thought they were looking for based on these characteristics). I’m just saying give yourself permission to do a personal inquiry and not wrap yourself up like a costumed mummy.
3) If you’ve had a long hiatus from your sexual pleasure (because, I know, the sexless marriage/relationship thing is real), begin by awakening your body with self-pleasuring. If it’s dancing that gets your groove back on, throw on some music or go out dancing with friends. Sign up for a social dance class that gets you moving with a partner without any expectations of romance, just some embodied fun.
Give yourself time to get to know yourself again, your erotic triggers, the best way to stroke yourself, what music turns you on and perhaps an erotic story to begin fantasizing again like an erotic person if that’s your thing. To learn more about erotic triggers, watch my filmed Sex Esteem® webshow at where else? The Museum of Sex, NYC.
Either by yourself or with a trusted friend, head out to a sex-toy shop to have a look- see on the latest gadgets that might bring you from a simmer to a boil. And if there are some longstanding issues that have kept you from enjoying sex, I encourage you to seek out a Certified Sex Therapist to do some healing work.
4) Online/off-line question.
So if the last time you dated, the only dating site was Match you’re in for a whole new world of apps and sites to explore. Get some fine photos of yourself close up, doing something you love doing like painting, cycling or hiking, both alone or with a friend who brings you joy (your eyes will shine). Remember that most people swipe right initially for looks and may swipe left for some arbitrary detail like what baseball team you love. So imagine online as a big, huge bar and you walk in. Who do you notice and what will someone notice about you. And before you accuse me of being superficial or shallow, remember visual cues are a primary erotic trigger for many people and it’s what can open a door. So whether it’s your smile, your eyes, or the way someone leans on the bar, or the a blazer they’re wearing, keep in mind of your energy and the confidence you bring as you notice others as well.
If you’re one of those people that prefers IRL (in real life) to URL (sites) begin by exploring clubs (health clubs, dance clubs, cycling clubs), free meet-ups, a yoga studio or a place of worship to meet new folks. Anthropologist Helen Fisher has written that those people you see in your ‘hood and routine on a regular basis, are the folks you’re more likely to strike up a conversation with (but you have to be there to begin it). Dress like you’re going to a fun party, it’ll pique someone’s gaze to come over and since you’re announcing I am approachable and open to some fun.
5) When you finally line up a date, if they’re from an online site or app, set up the date at public places like restaurants, local bar or a café. Besides finding out if you’re attracted to one another, you want to feel safe and able to have control over the pacing of the physicality. Always let a friend know where you’ll be and with whom as a backup safety practice, (you can always text the friend if you’re wanting to end the date early because you’re feeling uncomfortable by having her call you with an “emergency”), and to let her know if you’re changing venues. While many folks might think of this advice as overly cautious or a tip to give a young adult, I find that when you’re meeting folks online, you really have very little context for who they are.
6) Bring your A game to the date. Do NOT I repeat, do NOT talk about your divorce or ex on the first date. And try to pivot the conversation if your date veers that way as well. It’s a bit too ‘ghoulish’ as if you’re digging up skeletons of your past life. At these early stages, bring up topics that bring you joy, or excitement and passion so your energy is positive. The most attractive thing in a person is their confidence.
If you need to invest in your own energy by catching up on the latest news, a magazine article or an interesting movie/show, challenge yourself to immerse yourself in what excited you and what others might find intriguing. Ask your partner what they find most compelling about their field, or what baseball team they’re backing in the World Series. If your date is going off on a monologue, try to cut in gently and talk about yourself without waiting to be asked a question. You might then choose not to have a next date with them but at least you’re practicing yourconversation repartee.
7) If after several dates (you decide the number of dates, there is NO rule by the way) you decide you’d like to get between the sheets, figure out which particular sexual activities you’d be open for and then schedule a talk with your new partner BEFORE you head to the bedroom, or shower, or kitchen (no pressure, but you never know where folks like to get their groove on).
That’s right, you actually have to talk to this partner of what you’d be interested in exploring sexually, ask about their testing history, and what if any infections they’ve had and treated in the past. If you need an update on STI’s, a refresher on old and new barrier methods, or STI apps get yourself immersed by reading:
8) Lastly, enjoy your treat of pleasure this Halloween either with yourself or with a new partner in your dating journey.
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When the word “infertility” rears its worrisome head, most people first think about female infertility.
However, males are responsible for 20–30 percent of cases of infertility and “contribute to 50 percent of cases overall.”
Men and women tend to respond to the experience of infertility differently: historically, women have thought that men deal with the issue easier, but in reality, men are simply less likely to open up about their emotions.
Finding out that you are infertile can be a devastating experience. A man might feel less male and as if they have failed. Some men believe that their masculinity is wrapped up in their ability to give their partner a child, and so feeling that they have lost that ability can produce strong negative emotions.
Firstly, it is worth defining infertility. The World Health Organization (WHO) define it as “the inability of a sexually active, non-contracepting couple to achieve pregnancy in 1 year.”
In the majority of cases, male infertility is due to abnormal sperm. Sometimes there are low numbers of sperm, while sometimes there are none at all. Or, the sperm may not be great swimmers or be deformed in some way.
These issues can be caused in a number of ways, including:
The list goes on. But often, there is no well-defined reason for the defective sperm. And in many cases, despite healthy sperm and no obvious issues with the partner’s reproductive health, conception remains difficult to achieve.
In some cases, it is impossible for a man to impregnate a woman, but this is relatively uncommon. In most situations, there is still a chance. If you have been trying for a particularly long time, it might feel as though there is no hope — but, generally, there is.
If you haven’t been to see an infertility specialist yet, you should consider it. They can pin down where the problem might lie and give general tips and advice. Talking with an expert also helps you to realize that you are not alone.
Also, there are options. For instance, many couples now conceive through in vitro fertilization (IVF). In fact, in the past 30 years, 1 million IVF babies have been born in the United States. It is vital to remember that there are other roads to be taken as you go through this troubling time.
The remainder of this article offers tips to deal with the emotional and practical side of infertility.
First and foremost, find out what’s going on. If you just think that you are infertile, or making a baby hasn’t happened despite a year or so of trying, it’s time to get checked. There is no point beginning a journey into sorrow without knowing if it’s even justified.
Go to an expert, and get your sperm tested. Ask questions. Read as much as you can. Understand what your particular issue is, and what that means for your chances of conception.
One of the toughest parts of dealing with male infertility is not knowing how long it will last. Making plans where possible can help you to feel that you are still in charge.
Set targets and limits. With your partner, discuss what procedures you are prepared to go for, and what emotional and financial levels you can both handle. Pregnancy is often the result of repeated efforts, whether through natural intercourse or fertility treatment. It will help no one if you both end up as financially ruined, dessicated emotional husks.
Consider all options. Talk through all the options — adoption, IVF, or donor sperm. Understanding and talking about potential avenues will help should you face any setbacks further down the road — and if one thing doesn’t work, you’ll know what you’re trying next.
There are some scientifically proven ways to improve sperm quality. Often, the simple act of taking back some control can go a long way to help deal with infertility; it fights off that creeping sense of helplessness.
The following list is by no means exhaustive but provides some simple (and scientifically supported) measures that can be taken to give your sperm the best chance of meeting and greeting an egg.
Eat right. In short, lay off meat products and stock up on veg. Understanding the exact impacts of overall food intake is difficult, but a diet including lean meats, vegetables, legumes, and grains seems to improve sperm motility.
Maintain the right weight. There are fairly strong links between being overweight and male infertility.
Reduce stress. No, I’m not kidding, even though it sounds like a joke. Infertility is stressing you out, which, in turn, might be making infertility worse. And sadly, the evidence says that it’s probably true. The section on coping strategies below offers some advice on minimizing the impact of stress…and breathe.
Get active. Although the link between physical fitness and sperm quality has not been definitively proven, being physically active will prevent obesity, which is certainly linked. Exercise also helps to relieve stress, so it’s worth getting sweaty. According to one study, bicycling for just 5 hours per week could do the trick.
It’s worth noting that there are a host of companies that offer “magic” pills and supplements to turn your sperm into tiny athletes, but, as I’m sure you are already aware, evidence for these types of products is lacking.
There are also some behaviors to avoid in order to improve sperm health:
According to traditional stereotypes, men don’t like to talk about their problems. Although this stereotype does often hold true, it is not the case for everyone. As clichéd and trite as it might sound, “a problem shared is a problem halved.”
Keep communication channels open. You don’t have to broadcast it far and wide, but speak with someone: a doctor, a nurse, a friend, a counselor, a support group — anyone. It will ease your burden, and they might offer a new perspective.
If any of the following signs crop up regularly, it is important to talk with a doctor or counselor who is trained in infertility:
It’s easy to let stress build up until you crack. Some people handle it better than others, but everyone can let it get the better of them sometimes.
It is therefore important to find ways to loosen the stopcock every once in a while. The following coping strategies may help to keep your mind on the straight and narrow.
Keep moving. It doesn’t matter what you do — be it weight lifting, running, swimming, or basketball — whatever it is, get sweaty a couple of times each week. Exercise has repeatedly been shown to help reduce stress. Moving about costs nothing, so take advantage.
Relax. Men, in general, are less likely to get a massage than women, but times are changing. Even if a massage isn’t something that you’d normally consider, it is a really good way to de-stress. Meditation and yoga are other good options.
For instance, a huge meta-analysis published in JAMA in 2014 concluded that:
Sure, “moderate” doesn’t sound amazing, but in the context of a JAMA review, it means that a genuine, statistically significant effect was measured. So, if added alongside other coping mechanisms, it could really help.
Write. Not everyone is a natural author, and most people haven’t tried writing anything substantial since they were at school. However, no one is telling you that it needs to be published anywhere. The simple act of writing out your thoughts can help you to work through how you are feeling, and to start the process of dealing with it.
Whether you choose to write it and immediately set fire to it or keep it stored away for a future you to discover makes no difference. It is the act of writing itself that is important.
And this isn’t just another one of those wishy-washy interventions; “writing therapy” is a real thing. Otherwise known as written disclosure therapy, it is not used particularly widely, but there is some evidence to suggest that it can have positive effects on psychological well-being and even reduce blood pressure.
Cry. Again, the male stereotype dictates that we should never shed a tear — at least not when anyone is looking. But nowadays, plenty of men are prepared to cry every now and again. And, if you are in private and you know that you will not be disturbed, open the floodgates. It’s a genuine cathartic release.
Dr. Judith Orloff, who is a psychiatrist at the University of California, Los Angeles with 20 years of clinical experience, writes, “Typically, after crying, our breathing and heart rate decrease, and we enter into a calmer biological and emotional state.”
Laugh. You can’t force it, and it may feel like the last thing on earth that you want to do — but it can help. It counts as exercise and stress relief at the same time. Put on a movie that you know will tickle you, or hang out with your friends for a bit. Don’t hide away in a darkened corner.
Infertility affects people in a range of different ways — both physically and emotionally. However you are dealing with it, it is important to remember that you are not alone and that there is help available. Keep active, talk, and treat your mind and body well.
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Into my late 20s, I found myself in a sexless marriage. After a passionate beginning, I had lost my libido. Gone. No sexual desire or even a fluttering in my genitals.
Feeling broken, I sought out ways to be fixed to look and act like I am supposed to: turned on, sexy, and wanting sex with my loving husband. I went to gynecologists, therapists and a variety of medical doctors who, maybe, hopefully, could point me towards a cure. Having an answer would mean I was fixable, that I could get back to normal.
But the answers I got — the answers of a science solely based on men — were not what I wanted to hear. “It’s normal for women to lose interest in sex in a committed relationship.” “Some pain during sex is normal.” “You’re fine medically and maybe you just don’t have a libido.”
Feeling dejected, I shut down, pulling away from my husband. In this tender place where we both needed each other’s support and love, our mutual silence tore us apart through shame, resentment and fear.
It was not until five years after my divorce — the inevitable next step from having lost the physical and emotional connection that had bound us in the first place — that I learned the truth that liberated my sexuality and paved the way for a fulfilling and nourishing sex life.
The truth that female sexuality runs differently than a man’s. And that is OK.
It was this insight and the advice to embrace it that helped me not only learn to enjoy sex, but also how to deepen sexual and emotional intimacy in a romantic relationship.
Although there are women who face legitimate difficulties with certain aspects of sex (e.g., lubrication, pain, orgasm), more often than not there is nothing wrong with women’s bodies. With the dearth of information pertaining to women’s arousal and its complexity, it’s easy for women to decide, erroneously, that they might be broken.
Female libido is simply different. A woman’s openness and desire for sex is highly dependent on her body’s arousal, or the process of getting turned on.
And that process is responsive (as opposed to spontaneous) to multi-level stimulation (physical, mental, psychological and emotional) as well as to the level of safety she feels around not being obligated to do something against her desire. When a woman is stimulated in the way that feels good to her and is on her terms (e.g., where she feels safe that her body, emotions and speed will be honored) and when she is paid attention to in a loving and caring way, she can become aroused. When she becomes aroused, her desire for sex emerges.
Her arousal is also non-linear. It’s undulating and wavering. It’s OK to have down times. Like a wave cresting then falling and building itself back up again, her arousal’s ups and downs are not signs of her brokenness, but of her body’s cyclical nature. It’s OK to experience a wide range of emotions during sex — from sadness and anguish to erotic bliss. In the end, her arousal has the potential to go high and long, if allowed to go at its natural pace.
When a woman honors her arousal process, it creates a virtuous cycle: When she feels safe to enjoy the stimulation and gets filled up on it, she becomes aroused. At which point, her desire emerges and becomes spontaneous as she becomes wanting, willing — and physically able — to share it with her partner. Her body wants sex, and fueled by desire, she is able to let herself go into deeper play, engagement and surrender (and orgasm) with her partner.
As a sex coach who works with women and couples around female sexual desire, I also see the vicious cycle play out in my clients.
It’s almost predictable: Pressured to meet her male partner’s arousal curve, the woman goes into penetration sex before she is fully aroused and she ends up not enjoying it, she often doesn’t speak up or is not met in her requests and she grows resentful; she wants less of any kind of sexual stimulation, she doesn’t speak up in fear of hurting her partner’s feelings but withdraws nevertheless; he starts demanding more sex or ends up withdrawing in his own shame. As the disconnect grows, the trust and the connection diminishes between the couple, further reducing her desire for sex and often increasing his demands.
This vicious cycle poisons the relationship with shame, fear and lack of trust, undercutting the intimacy and care the couple deeply need to connect sexually.
This pattern can be interrupted when couples understand the differences in sexual arousal and learn to approach these differences with curiosity, compassion and opportunity — not only to meet each other’s needs, but to expand what’s possible in sex with more play, nourishment and connection that her higher arousal brings about.
One couple I worked with, a man and a woman in their early 40s, struggled with mismatched libidos and finger pointing. She accused him of being obsessed with sex. He accused her of not wanting him at all. That’s is hardly the case today. In understanding and working with their different arousal patterns, they learned to expand her arousal and how to ride the waves of the experience. To this day, she prefers sex in the mornings almost every day.
This is the advice that I wished I’d known when I was married. Understanding my own arousal and its needs reframed all the times I felt guilty about needing time for my body to become aroused or broken not being able to reach orgasm (which I never could in my marriage). It helped me see how asking for slower touch was my way to attune to what my body needed and activate the senses. It explained why I wasn’t just turned on in my relationship.
It helped me see how I didn’t know how to come forward vulnerably and ask my husband for what I needed — building intimacy in the process — and instead I pulled away and went silent.
It explained why sex was painful for me, and how I allowed penetration before my body was ready (and before the cervix tilts upward as the vagina and uterus become engorged and push it up). It explained why I didn’t enjoy sexual touch right off the bat (sexual touch for women becomes pleasurable as arousal rises). And it helped me access self-compassion for all those times I felt broken and inadequate and retreated in shame.
Most critically, it helped me find what does work for my body and sexuality and access the kind of turn-on that nourishes and fulfills me — feeds sexual connection in my romantic relationship. The turn on that feels energizing and freeing — and deeply nourishing.
What we often see in the movies — a woman’s spontaneous desire to jump into sex — is also what we often experience at the start of a relationship. Neither are fake. What contributes to women’s high sexual desire in the beginning of a relationship is precisely that she is being stimulated by her wooing partner with attention, emotional connection, and goal-less physical touch such as spontaneous kissing, make-outs and cuddles — and that sets off her desire.
It takes the same kind of activities to spark a woman’s sexual desire in a long-term committed relationship: explorative touch that doesn’t obligate her to sex, spontaneous connection, dedicated time alone with each other, and the emotional safety that lets her know that it’s OK to be exactly how she is.
When a woman understands her own body and its arousal and honors it with approval, she can access the magic her body and sex can provide. When a couple can see challenges around sexual desire as an opportunity for discovery, growth and expansion, they can access the deeper intimacy of fulfilling, nourishing and orgasmically-blissful sexual connection.
Join my free online live call and Q&A “Understanding Female Libido: What Couples Need to Know to Have Radically Fulfilling Sex” on November 15, 2017 at 5pm PST/8pm EST. On this call geared towards women, men and couples, you’ll learn about the female arousal curve, what helps stoke arousal and what kills it, and what women and their partners can do to create more spontaneous sexual desire. Check out various free training videos on my YouTube channel.
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When 25-year-old Antara Telang lost her right leg in a freak accident seven years ago and her doctors recommended getting a prosthetic leg, she had many questions. Would she be able to bathe while wearing her prosthetic leg? Would she be able to dance?
Her plastic surgeon who performed her amputation could only give her recovery-related information like how long it might take her to walk again and what brand of prosthetics she could consider using.
Telang, her friends and her family began to look for someone who had undergone an amputation, who might help Telang figure out what everyday life was going to be like. Her mother managed to contact a woman in her mid-thirties who had also had her leg amputated. As Telang recovered in hospital after her surgery, the woman came to meet her and demonstrated how her prosthetic leg worked. Telang remembers that meeting as an important part of her recovery because up till then she had not been able to visualise how her body would look and function without a leg.
“It was comforting to see someone with my condition in the flesh,” she said.
Six weeks after her surgery, Telang went to a prosthetic facility to get a new leg. The process involves a prosthetist, who is essentially a medical technician, examining the patient and then assembling various components of the prosthetic limb as per the patient’s needs. Once the prosthetic is made and fitted, prosthetists and physiotherapists help patients learn to use the limb.
Three months after her accident and one month after her first fitting with a prosthetist, Telang was able to walk with support. However, the prosthetists were unable to answer many of her questions about day-to-day life with a prosthetic limb.
For three years after her accident, Telang continued to go to college and carried on with daily activities thinking that she had to navigate life with disability on her own. Then, she found out about a Whatsapp group whose members are all women amputees.
The group was created in 2013 with by Sneha Kale, Darshana Deshmukh and Manasi Joshi, who had never met each other but who had the same prosthetist and connected over Facebook. The group now has 14 members – women from Mumbai, other parts of Maharashtra and Bangalore.
Telang also met Kale through her prosthetist. As Telang had discovered, living with a physical disability in a world that mostly made for able-bodied people can be traumatic. For women, the experience of living with a physical disability is also qualitatively different from that of men. Women with physical disabilities have to deal with complications that may come with marriage, menstruation and pregnancy – problems that prosthetists, who are almost always men, find themselves ill-equipped to handle. Women amputees often look for advice rooted in experience and that is what some of them have found on this WhatsApp group.
According to Joshi, who has a prosthetic left leg and is an international para-badminton champion, the conversation on the group ranges from basic doubts regarding which brand of prosthetic to use to more tricky ones about how to deal with relationships and marriage. In fact, said Joshi, the group was formed because the three initial members wanted to discuss how they should go about creating profiles on matrimonial websites and whether they should specify that they are disabled.
Geeta Salunkhe is from a village in Jalgaon district in Maharashtra and had her leg amputated below the knee when she was fourteen months old. She said that she had grown up without being conscious of her disability. She had been especially fond of playing kho-kho and kabaddi as a child. She finished college with a diploma in computer engineering.
However, when her parents wanted her to get married, she found that offers for arranged marriage did not come her way. It was then that she became acutely aware that she was perceived as being different from other women and that there was still stigma attached to her physical disability.
According to Hema Subhash, founder of One Step At A Time, a support group in Bangalore for both men and women with amputations and orthopaedic disabilities, the idea of a disabled woman finding a partner is one that the world still finds astonishing. Subhash, who is also a member of the WhatsApp group, said that people still think that a woman is supposed to be the caregiver in a relationship. That a disabled woman would require care and demand it from a male partner does not fit popular ideas of relationships. A disabled man may be seen as someone to care for and may find a partner more easily.
Subhash recalled when a taxi driver, upon finding out that she is married, had asked her how much she had to pay her husband’s family.
Even the fiercely independent Salunkhe has been inspired by the women on the WhatsApp group who are confident, financially independent and in relationships.
“When men turn me down now, I am thankful because I know that these men are no good,” she said. “And I turn down the men who are considered prospective grooms for me because I don’t think they are good enough or qualified enough for me.”
The women also help each other build confidence in their bodies. They share stories and photographs of themselves doing things that others in the group may not have considered because of their disabilities – going for a trek, swimming or wearing skirts or shorts which reveal their prosthetic legs.
Subash reveals that a frequent point of discussion on the group is shoes. People using prosthetic legs cannot wear heels or sandals with split-toes. They often tell each when they find suitable and nice-looking footwear.
The women also help each other negotiate uncomfortable situations. Joshi recalled when an autorickshaw driver who she had called for a ride referred to her as langdi – a derogatory word for lame – without realising that she was still on the phone line. She immediately messaged the group asking them what she should do when she saw the driver. With her friends’ encouragement, she confronted him making it clear that it was wrong of him to insult her, even though he denied doing so.
This informal group finds support and positivity to deal with their disabilities by sharing the big and little things.
“Darshana recently got married,” said Joshi. “She had put mehendi on her prosthetic leg and had sent us photos of it. It was quite beautiful.”
“Technology can be a great leveller”, affirms Ruchir Falodia, Social Media Manager, TATA CLiQ. Out of the many qualities that define Ruchir as a person, one that stands out is that he is an autodidact – a self-taught coder and lover of technology.
Ruchir’s story is one that humanises technology – it has always played the role of a supportive friend who would look beyond his visual impairment. A top ranker through school and college, Ruchir would scan course books and convert them to a format which could be read out to him (in the absence of e-books for school). He also developed a lot of his work ethos on the philosophy of Open Source software, having contributed to various open source projects. The access provided by Open Source, where users could take a source code, modify it and distribute their own versions of the program, attracted him because of the even footing it gave everyone.
That is why I like being in programming. Nobody cares if you are in a wheelchair. Whatever be your physical disability, you are equal with every other developer. If your code works, good. If it doesn’t, you’ll be told so.
Motivated by the objectivity that technology provided, Ruchir made it his career. Despite having earned degree in computer engineering and an MBA, friends and family feared his visual impairment would prove difficult to overcome in a work setting. But Ruchir, who doesn’t like quotas or the ‘special’ tag he is often labelled with, used technology to prove that differently abled persons can work on an equal footing.
As he delved deeper into the tech space, Ruchir realised that he sought to explore the human side of technology. A fan of Agatha Christie and other crime novels, he wanted to express himself through storytelling and steered his career towards branding and marketing – which he sees as another way to tell stories.
Ruchir, then, migrated to Mumbai for the next phase in his career. It was in the Maximum City that his belief in technology being the great leveller was reinforced. “The city’s infrastructure is a challenging one, Uber helped me navigate the city” says Ruchir. By using the VoiceOver features, Ruchir could call an Uber wherever he was and move around easily. He reached out to Uber to see if together they could spread the message of accessible technology. This partnership resulted in a video that captures the essence of Ruchir’s story: The World in Voices.
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It was important for Ruchir to get rid of the sympathetic lens through which others saw him. His story serves as a message of reassurance to other differently abled persons and abolishes some of the fears, doubts and prejudices present in families, friends, employers or colleagues.
To know more about Ruchir’s journey, see here.
This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Uber and not by the Scroll editorial team.
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Every few months, Maira Martelo, 44, and Jessica Swint, 18, get together to have a meal or get their nails done.
They talk about relationships, peer pressure, work and college. They share what’s going on in each other’s lives and discuss how to handle particular situations. They support and learn from each other.
They tell funny stories and laugh.
“It’s always a blast,” Swint said.
She and Martelo met in 2016 at Generation WOW, an annual Jacksonville conference that matches girls and women for year-long mentorships and will take place again Wednesday, Nov. 1. Since then, their relationship has evolved from mentor and mentee to trusted friends. They have made their bond permanent.
“As we age, we take many things for granted. My relationship with Jessica has allowed me to realize my own personal and professional growth,” said Martelo, community mobilization director for the Jacksonville Public Education Fund. “Sharing your life story, successes and challenges with someone younger keeps you grounded — it reminds you of your own journey, and hopefully it will inspire others to defy the odds.”
Swint, a freshman at Jacksonville University, said mentors provide an added layer of support and perspective, beyond family and friends.
“She is always encouraging me and pushing me to be the best I can be,” she said. “You have someone who truly cares about you, your future, and your overall well-being. It’s like they’re always looking over your shoulder to make sure that you’re doing OK.”
EMPOWERING TEEN GIRLS
Generation WOW began five years ago as an outgrowth of Generation W, a Jacksonville women’s leadership conference and educational platform founded by Donna Orender, former president of the Women’s National Basketball Association.
The WOW iniative focuses on empowering and uplifting teen girls, Orender said.
“It’s an opportunity for our strong, powerful women leaders to reach out to the next generation. These relationships make all the difference to young girls,” she said.
Among the activities at the Wednesday event is each mentor writing a “letter to my younger self,” while each mentee writes a “letter to my future self.”
“They work side by side,” Orender said. “They engage in meaningful and impactful ways that connect us and not divide us.”
The foundation of the subsequent mentor-mentee relationship is a Kickstarter-funded book of positive messages called WOWsdom and a corresponding curriculum, “Girl’s Guide to the Positive and the Possible.” In addition, the program includes volunteer and scholarship opportunities, motivational speakers and clubs at six Duval County schools that focus on extracurricular activities and service projects.
“What is really exciting is that it has kept growing and expanding,” Orender said. ‘They hear about it and say, ‘I want to be a part of this.’ ”
Martelo learned about Generation WOW when Orender became a board member of the Public Education Fund.
“I must admit that I was a little skeptical … but decided to go last year for the first time,” she said. “Since the minute I arrived I realized how powerful the initiative could be not only for the young girls but for their mentors.”
At the 2016 event’s walk, she met Swint, then a senior at Terry Parker High School. Their mentor-mentee relationship began then and continued beyond her graduation.
“My new unofficial goal is to help Jessica be successful in college,” Martelo said. “I’m already connecting her with other mentors at her college that can open other doors for her.”
Also, she looks for ways to connect Swint “to experiences that can benefit her,” such as the Public Education Fund’s Student Voice Event in January. There, Swint talked publicly about her high school journey.
“She is very determined and gracious in the way she conducts herself. I love how upbeat she is and her positive outlook of life,” she said. “Jessica and I shared not only being women of color, but also a similar faith and determination to always look for the silver inning in any circumstance.”
Swint said she got involved at Generation WOW as a way to volunteer and meet people. She wanted “to be above average and not afraid to step outside my comfort zone,” she said.
She also wanted a mentor.
“I thought how cool would it be to have someone who is in the same place that I want to be some day … to be able to get positive advice from another adult in my life who could help to steer me in the right direction,” she said.
And it was cool, she said, when she wound up with “the best mentor ever.”
“Ms. Maira has helped me with so much this year through her kind words, optimistic spirit and resilience to never quit at life. She has been such a blessing,” she said. “I love having a mentor and wouldn’t trade mine for the world.”
Martelo had mentors of her own and relishes being one herself.
“I am who I am because others ahead of me have shared their journeys,” she said.
Beth Reese Cravey: (904) 359-4109
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If you’ve experienced any form of abuse, it’s common to feel lonely and uneasy around people you’re close to. On top of dealing with the physical effects of domestic violence, abuse victims often feel embarrassed, hopeless, anxious, and unable to trust. While it’s hard to do, telling someone about the abuse can help you get out of the dangerous environment and start recovering.
Even if you feel alone, the stats show you’re far from it: One in three women and one in four men have been victims of domestic violence in their lifetime, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. And women between the ages of 18 and 24 are the ones most commonly abused.
“Abuse of many kinds — sexual, physical, emotional — can occur at various times in our lives, across a range of relationships,” says Dr. Michael Friedman, PhD, a clinical psychologist in New York. “Part of what abusers do is make us feel like we are responsible for the abuse, as if we somehow consented to be hurt. Most people who are willing to be abusive are not willing to take responsibility, so blaming the victim is part of the abuse.”
If you’re not sure if you’re experiencing some form of abuse, do a gut check. Is your relationship making you feel sad, scared, or uncomfortable? “Abuse may begin with behaviors that can easily be dismissed or downplayed such as name-calling, threats, possessiveness, or distrust,” according to the NCADV. “However, violence and control always intensifies over time with an abuser, despite the apologies.”
To get out of an abusive situation, Dr. Friedman suggests ending contact with your abuser. “Feel entitled to block someone on social media, phones, email — whatever is necessary to keep them away.” But the best way to take away the abuser’s power and gain control of your experience is to speak out about what’s happening. This way you can get the help you need, be it counseling or a restraining order.
Admitting you’ve been abused might feel terrifying, but preparing what you’re going to say first can help. “You can rehearse in your head or even practice when you’re alone,” suggests Dr. Friedman. “By practicing, we start to reduce the fear that we may face, and ultimately build confidence.”
Then tell someone you trust and keep talking until you get help. Your family members and friends may be great people to confide in, but this depends on your situation. If you’re being bullied at school, for example, a friend in class might not be the best person to turn to. In this case, seek out a teacher, a counselor, a school nurse, or a doctor.
There may be times where the person you confide in questions your experience or doesn’t believe you. “Thank them for their time and walk away, then choose someone else and don’t attempt to go back to that person,” says Annette Oltmans and Johanna Tropiano, co-founders of The MEND Project. Their organization works to help abuse survivors avoid what they call double abuse: the experience victims have when they’re minimized, blamed, ostracized, or not believed when they report their abuse to their support system.
It may seem shocking to have your experience questioned by someone you trust, but sometimes it’s hard for people to process the difficult news. They might feel personally threatened by your accusation, especially if the abuse was happening under their nose and they did not realize. But you can’t let this reaction discourage you. “Trust your own voice, and don’t let this wrong individual stop you from seeking the support you need,” Oltmans and Tropiano say. They recommend finding an advocate to accompany you when you report your abuser to local authorities or consider calling a non-profit or governmental agency in the largest city near you to get support.
You may also feel comfortable talking to a licensed social worker, therapist, or physician. In most states, they’re mandated by law to report abuse to the proper authorities, like child protective services if you’re under 18, within 36 hours. It’s not their job to believe you or investigate your claims. “These individuals are bound by law to report your abuse and maintain your confidentiality,” Oltmans and Tropiano say.
The most important thing to remember is that none of this is your fault. “And realize that speaking up in itself is a courageous act of self-love,” says Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT, author of Codependency for Dummies and Conquering Shame and Codependency: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You. “Each time we do this we grow more self-esteem. If nothing happens or we’re not believed, that doesn’t detract from the act of courage in speaking up.”
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If you made a point of spending your 20s learning as much as possible, then you’ll likely be steeped in all sorts of wisdom by the time your turn 30. Or, at the very least, you’ll be well on your way. After a decade of radical changes, and trying new things, your 30th birthday can feel like slightly magical, mystical, and life-changing moment in time.
And, well, it kind of is. “By 30, you are generally out of school, in the workforce, and shifting into a new phase in your life,” says relationship therapist Rhonda Milrad, LCSW, founder of online relationship community, Relationup. “For the most part, you have moved out of the ‘carefree years,’ and life is starting to become more serious.”
Your life is changing, but so is your brain — quite literally. “This shift in maturity is not just happening because of sociological situations. It also coincides with the brain maturing and finishing its growth. By 25 or so, the prefrontal cortex is fully developed and it is this part of the brain that helps inhibit impulses and plans and organizes behavior to reach a goal,” Milrad says.
Of course, you won’t instantly grow up the night the clock strikes midnight, marking your 30th birthday. But you will have spent the past five or so years learning and growing and changing, and picking up some pretty solid life advice along the way. Here, some incredibly useful, important, and eye-opening things you should know and do by 30.
No matter what you do, you’ll never be perfect. And that’s more than OK. “There’s a disparaging myth that circulates every now and then that we women have to have everything together,” says licensed psychologist Jisun (Sunny) Fisher, PhD. But that’s just not the case, even though you’re officially an adult.
While you may have felt awkward in your teens and 20s, your 30s are the perfect time to let all that go and fully appreciate yourself. “Learn and accept what makes you unique and rock it,” life coach Leannah Lumauig tells Bustle. “If you’ve got a goofy laugh, let it rip. If you’re insecure about your looks, do what you can to build confidence without losing your essence.” Your 30-year-old self will thank you.
By 30, you’ll want to be getting better at managing your work/life balance, and staying in touch with the people and things that matter most. As certified professional coach Nicole Karslake says, “Don’t get so caught up in climbing the corporate ladder that you forget to call mom.”
If you’re on a mission to win everyone over, give yourself permission to stop. “Once you accept that you can’t hit a home run with everyone, you free yourself from other people’s expectations and can aggressively ‘do you,'” Jules Dahbura, CEO and founder of Deco Miami Cosmetics, tells Bustle.
As Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, board chair and president of the Charles Schwab Foundation says, you should “start contributing 10 percent of your income to a retirement account. If you’re in your 20s and you put aside at least 10 percent you should have a relatively comfortable retirement by age 65.” So if you haven’t already, go get on that, OK?
Whether you’re getting fired, or getting out of an unhealthy relationship, it’s always smart to have money set aside to see you through. “Be sure to set aside enough cash to cover your essential expenses for three to six months,” Schwab-Pomerantz says. That should cover you, until you get back on your feet.
If you aren’t happy with your current situation, whether you’re 20, 30, or 60, remember that you’re never stuck. “You are not stuck in your relationship, your job, or in your living situation,” says Milrad. “You have the ability to make a change (even if it is hard or unpleasant). You just have to be brave enough to break free from situations that you need to change.”
While it may be uncomfortable, all ladies should get used to asking for what they want — whether it’s a raise at work, a change in their relationship, etc. “Don’t sit around a wait for the world to drop what you want on your lap,” Milrad says. “Take the risk, go out and get it, and be prepared to cope with disappointment. And if it doesn’t work out, then muster up the fortitude to make it happen through different means.”
As you go through career changes and big moves in your 20s, remember how important it is to stay connected with people you care about. “Their support and companionship become essential as life becomes more complicated and you face celebrations and hardships,” Milrad says.
You can’t be everything to everyone, all the time. So get used to occasionally letting people down. “Sometimes, you have to disappoint people in order to pursue your dreams — your parent(s), your partner, your friends, and even your mentors,” Milrad says. “You can stay steady and tolerate their reaction, knowing that in the end, both of you will survive.”
As you get older, always keep in mind what a healthy relationship looks like. And never be afraid to leave the ones that aren’t what you want. “By staying in an unhealthy relationship you are sending the message that it is OK for you to be treated poorly,” says counselor Christine Fuchs, LMHC. “Surround yourself with people who love and support you and know that you deserve to be happy.”
We all have great intentions when it comes to getting sh*t done. But it’s important to remember, as you get further into your career, that nothing good ever came from multi-tasking. As Jess Botte, founder and head coach of JBeWell Fitness Solutions says, “You would be blown away by your productivity if you gave up jumping from task to task and stuck to a list/calendar system for getting things done.”
If you have an unhealthy relationship with dieting and/or working out, it’s important to reign all that in ASAP. “Consistency is the key to change,” says Botte. By finding an exercise routine and nutrition plan that feels right, and then sticking with it, you’ll be putting yourself on the right track for life.
This one can be tough, especially for younger woman. And yet, there is nothing more powerful than the word no. “My best advice to women under 30 is, ‘No is a complete sentence,'” says Susan Wilder, MD, a family physician with LifeScape Premier. “This means pace yourself, breathe, say ‘no’ without guilt, and practice self-care/self-love/self-respect.”
The handier you can become as you get older, the more self-reliant — and totally badass — you’ll be. “A woman should know how to do minor repairs of all kinds; she should have a toolbox with the essentials and know how to use it,” says psychic and spiritual counselor, Davida Rappaport. Fixing a leaky sink? Changing your own oil? Check and check.
Do you keep track of all things related to your health? If not, it’s more than time to start. “By the time a woman is 30, she should know how her body works and schedule her regular dental and medical exams and make time to get her annual physical exam, including mammograms and pap smears,” says Rappaport. “She should also know what type of birth control works for her.”
Once you hit 30, do your best to own your life. As business coach April Wier says, “Take full responsibility for your self at this point in your life. Other people may have hurt you and screwed you up, but don’t use that as an excuse for not doing all you can now to move yourself forward.” While it’s difficult — and may sometimes require therapy — it’s important to learn how move on.
“Make peace with your past, especially your mother or father, and do your best to heal from within,” says spiritual life coach Angela Lenhardt, in an email to Bustle. This is another way to take responsibility and move on, and a way to stay fully present.
By 30, you should have a pretty solid self-care routine, all in the name of maintaining good physical and mental health. This’ll include getting enough sleep and practicing good sleep hygiene, keeping that previously mentioned work/life balance, and making sure everyone in your life adds to it only in a positive way.
While this doesn’t have to be your number one priority, if you don’t want it to be, your late 20s and early 30s are the prime time for skincare. “Making time for sleep and exercise, and always wearing sunscreen are going to ensure amazing skin for all women,” says Dr. Sonam Yadav, medical director at JUVERNE.
“Thirty is a great time for women to start embracing their sexual desires,” Tara Struyk, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Kinkly, tells Bustle. “This means exploring their own bodies, accepting their fantasies and quirks, and talking openly and honestly with their sexual partners.”
Thirty is a time for big changes, so go ahead and let ’em happen. “Give yourself permission to grow, mess up, and forgive yourself,” Dr. Frowsa Booker-Drew tells Bustle. “Life is messy. It is in the challenging times that we grow and that growth changes us.”
If you can reach 30 knowing how to whip up a signature dish, your life will be better as a result. “Not only are there nutritional benefits, cooking has been proven to increase creativity, encourage single-task focusing after a technology-ridden day, develop cultural appreciation, and also is a fantastic bonding exercise with partners,” Jenn Nicken, founder & CEO of The Chef & The Dish, tells Bustle. So get some groceries and get to it.
Traveling, living, and eating alone — this is the stuff of nightmares for people in their teens and 20s. So hopefully, by the time you hit 30, you can fully appreciate the art of being alone. As life and wellness coach Melody Pourmoradi CEC, AADP says, “It is a sure sign that you are comfortable in your own skin and enjoy your own company.”
While there are plenty of “rules” out there when it comes to fashion, most women realize by age 30 that it’s all totally made up. So go ahead and do you, fashion-wise. As career coach and success strategist Carlota Zimmerman says, “[A 30 year-old-woman] should be able to wear what pleases her … If she likes it, her confidence will make anything look good.”
If you can travel alone at some point in your life, definitely do it. “Some of the best trips I’ve taken in my life were by myself, and I met men and women around the world who changed my life, and whom I wouldn’t have been able to, if I was with friends,” Zimmerman says.
When you’re young, it’s tempting to look to others for encouragement and advice, as well as help with making decisions. But once you get older, it’s so nice to realize you can just do it all anyway, without “permission.” As Lenhardt says, “Don’t allow other people’s opinions of how you should live your life keep you ‘back’ from following your own heart and mission.”
“Don’t wait for someone to come along and sweep you off your feet,” Lenhardt says. “Learn how to become dependent on yourself, and become your own best friend.” That way, no matter what happens, you’ll always be OK.
It can be tempting to shrink into the background and follow the rules. But that’s not always the right choice, especially when it comes to your career. “As soon as I realized that the rules were not designed to make an equal playing field, but rather, maintain the status quo, I started to rise,” says Elizabeth Giorgi, founder and CEO of Mighteor. Do you want to take a different path, or try something new at work? Go for it.
Sure, sometimes it’s personal. But oftentimes, when someone does or says something rude, or makes a decision that feels hurtful, it has nothing to do with you. “A woman should know, as early as possible, not to take other people’s choices personally,” says spiritual empath Tracee Dunblazier.
This skill can take a minute or two to hone, but the more you can trust your gut going forward in life, the better. “Learning to listen to your bodies bio-rhythms, instincts, and inner voice expressed through the things you like and dislike is invaluable,” Dunblazier says. This’ll keep you out of trouble, away from toxic people and situations, and on the way to living a healthier life.
When you’re young, it can feel like your current friends will be your friends forever. And in some cases, that’s true. But not always. “[There’s a] difference between your oldest friend and your best friend,” says life coach Samantha Siffring. If he or she is no longer serving you, it’s OK to let them go.
I know… it’s so tempting to stay home and give into your inner introvert. But do try to show up in life. “Go to the birthday party … go to the wedding,” Siffring says. “Even if (especially if) you don’t feel like it, moments like these are how real connections with other people are built, and following through on your commitments makes you feel unstoppable.”
You know that negative voice inside your head? Remember, it isn’t always right. “It is something we all have that tries to keep us safe and stuck in our comfort zones, AKA not creating an exciting life we love and chasing our dreams,” Siffring says. So if your self talk isn’t suiting you, feel free to ignore it. Or change it up to something more positive.
As a mature woman of 30, you’ll realize that your life is what you make it, and that often has a lot to do with who you surround yourself with and who you let in. “We can decide who gets our attention, time, and help,” says life coach Cheryl Lacey Donovan, in an email to Bustle. “We are in charge of our own lives and our surroundings. We must learn to carefully select the people who are a part of our lives and avoid the ones who are negative and destroy our dreams.”
If you’re approaching 30, keep these words of wisdom in mind, and make the most of your new decade.
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The young women of today are living in what I’d like to call “The Dating Revolution.” They’re learning to raise their standards in what they want from a romantic partner and consequential long-term relationship, and they’re learning how to quickly recognize when a relationship is worth their time or when it’s time to find someone else. In today’s day and age, young women are not standing for nonsense; they’re demanding what they want. Thanks to the popular advice given by celebrities Steve Harvey and Oprah Winfrey, they understand why previous relationships didn’t last, and what to expect in future relationships. However, that doesn’t mean heartbreaks are a thing of the past.
According to Swiss philosopher and founder of School of Life Alain de Boton, men and women search for dating partners who are familiar to them, rather than who they really need. If a guy is loyal, patient and kind, but a girl’s parents are emotionally abusive, she might, unfortunately, find him unattractive and unworthy of her time, because she is not accustomed to that kind of person. Boton explains in “How to Choose a Partner Wisely,” that what attracts men to women, and vice versa, are the qualities they know to be within their own parents.
In addition to raising your standards when looking for a romantic partner, as many women are realizing they must do to find “the one,” this particular note is useful. Boton states that in order to more skillfully choose the right partner, you need to figure out the type of partner you seek by listing the qualities you find attractive versus those you find unattractive. Being aware of who you are and the qualities you seek will aid in finding the most suitable person and healthy relationship.
I personally was unaware of the factors that go into my choice of who I’d like to have a relationship with. Some guys—though very caring—were boring, while others acted harsh, but I still adored their gentler side. So making a list of the appealing versus unappealing qualities of my own potential partner gave greater insight as to why I usually broke up with the nice guys and tried to make it work with the mean ones.
I’d also heard that women go for the romantic qualities missing in their own fathers. This means if a father is constantly unfaithful to his wife, for instance, causing her much distress in their marriage, their daughter may search for a man who is more loving and loyal. In my past experiences, this has proven to be true, and it’s important; being aware of the characteristics you seek in a relationship, and how it’s a result of your father’s attitude in a romantic relationship, helps decide whether those characteristics are worth seeking or compromising on.
However, numerous sources, as well Boton’s The School of Life videos, warn against always wanting to be in a relationship, arguing that you can’t be happy with someone else unless you’re happy by yourself. And it makes sense: Two people can’t be happy together if they’re already perpetually unhappy by themselves. Why should a romance change that? Madison Moore, author of “You Should Enjoy Being Single Before You Get Into a Relationship,” puts it best. She says “you don’t love yourself enough to be alone,” if you constantly feel the need to be with someone. “It means you’re afraid to be alone. It might even mean that you don’t really, truly love yourself.”
I am all about loving myself before loving anyone else. Like many other women, I have had my fair share of disappointments when a relationship didn’t work out. From high school to college, I’d spend hours crying and eating ice cream, complaining to friends over the phone and deliberating on why me and my significant other couldn’t be together regardless of the reason. It took some time before I finally learned to recognize my own self worth both when entering a new relationship and when I was in an unhappy one. Now, instead of trying to make someone something they’re not, or waiting for a situation to suddenly change, I accept that the person isn’t for me and move on, because as Moore goes on to say, “We shouldn’t put our entire self-confidence and self-worth in the hands of other people, because loving yourself is the hardest kind of love there is.”
Yet, it’s not just about knowing when to let go. Being happily single involves taking care of yourself in other ways too. Actively pursuing your own goals, spending time with friends and family and regularly practicing the hobbies you enjoy all make up who you are, and therefore contribute to a healthy and successful romantic relationship. Jennifer Kind, author at Meet Mindful offers “8 Tips to Feeling Happily Single While You’re Single,” an article which further discusses how to know who you are and find bliss when not committed to anyone. She begins by advising single people to accept their current relationship status, then moves on to falling in love with yourself and finally considering being in a relationship when the time is right. To Kind, being single is a wonderful learning experience despite the emphasis our culture places on being in a relationship. It is also the prerequisite to being in a happy and loving relationship.
Once you’ve learned to be happily single, you should know what to look for in a guy, and remember to let the relationship go if it’s making you unhappy. Guys who have good relationships with their mothers, and are pursuing their own career goals, usually know how to treat a girl with respect, love and kindness, as well as give her appropriate space. In addition, being mindful of the guy’s emotional needs (because yes, they’re there), and avoiding asking for anything at the onset of the relationship, as this can be quite unladylike if not on that level yet, enable his greater appreciation for you and contribute to a more valuable relationship.
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I live with my boyfriend of five years. We have a two-year-old child. He takes care of all the bills and takes care of us well, except for one thing: I really want us to formalise our relationship with a wedding and some traditional ceremonies, but he keeps saying that he is not ‘ready’. He won’t tell me whether that means financially ready or otherwise. How do I make him walk me down the aisle? I have been dreaming about my big day forever.
Five years is a long time without being asked a hand in marriage. It’s not a surprise that he is dating another woman and he is planning to marry her. Have a serious conversation with him. After his response, you will be able to know the way forward. If he tells you that he is not ready to marry you, you will have two choices 1. Hang in there and hope that he comes back to his senses. 2. Break up with him. If you choose number one, you will end up regretting, disappointed and eventually find yourself in the dating scene scared and bitter. So make a good decision. Sarah K Jane
It sounds like you are pressing your man to formalise your relationship or move it to the next level which is marriage. Please note, if your man loves you and I guess he does from the evidence you are giving, he will not hesitate to settle down with you. Give him time to make formal arrangements. You do not need to sound too nagging because this will only push him away. Juma Felix
Planning for a wedding is never a walk in the park. That is what could be scaring him. How about suggesting to him that you exchange vows at the Attorney General’s office? But for now, don’t push your fantasies on him as long as he is responsible. Marvin Chris
This man should not continue wasting your time. Maybe it’s time for a serious conversation about the next step that the two of you need to take. If this man won’t put a ring on your finger because he can’t see the value in you as a woman and in the relationship you’ve built, then it is my opinion that you move on. Janet Kagai
The answer is simple, never ever force a man to marry you. Many women who have forced this issue gained a husband but lost the man completely. Which means you gain a title in society but you kill your bond with your man. Apart from your longing to be married, if you can confidently state that you are happy in your relationship, then that should be enough until the day your man willingly asks you to marry him. There are plenty of wives who gained a wedding but no longer have a man who is physically there and yet they say they have a husband. Many regret rushing into marriage. Do not subscribe to that statistic. When he is ready, let him propose at his own timing.
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