My Guy’s Friends Are My Friends and I Hate It



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by Nazia Tariq | 1:32 p.m. | October 15th 2014

The early stage of a new relationship is always the best. Everything is exciting and fresh and feels great – even the things one may generally find annoying, like snoring, is cute in the beginning. Then the relationship grows, and suddenly, you have to get chummy with your man's college buddies, basketball teammates, or whoever else he goes out with on Friday night boozefests.

Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.netMost men have a wolfpack – a group of friends that are inseparable and enduring. A guy without a group of core friends would leave me questioning a lot of things, so I've learned to accept it as a fact of a dude's life. Dating a guy with a tight group of bros usually means being friends with his buddies who have been there for him through frat parties, Southeast Asia backpacking, and whatever bromantic escapades they've been through which turned them into bros for life.

There are some distinctive characters in almost all wolfpacks, and it takes us girls all of the love we have for our man to deal with them. Who are they?

The guy who is always single. He may claim to be 'in a relationship' from time to time. He will show photos of hot dates, but they will most likely be snaps of him hovering over the really drunk girl at the bar. He is usually the guy who drinks 'til he has to be sent home. He will say the most inappropriate things and get all touchy, while hitting incessantly on all your friends. When he speaks there will be a rain of spit accompanied by the smell of tequila and tobacco. This is the guy who also claims to have all the connections, money and power to fix things and help in every complex situation – but when it comes to doing, he's nowhere to be found. The most annoying thing about him is that he insists on being super close to all of your man's ex-girlfriends, and never fails to mention how you're the best among them all, like that makes any difference to you. Whenever he's around, you protect your friends and yourself and set your patience meter to high. You sometimes feel duty-bound to set him up and point him towards the direction of proper dating avenues so that he'd quit distributing his calling card to your single gal pals.

The one who likes to earn social currency. This one always takes photos when everyone hangs out. He Credit: Tom Robinson, http://www.tomrobinsonphotography.com/may not participate in conversations but he'll be everywhere at once. His Facebook is usually full of albums of people he has been out with. He goes everywhere the gang is going whether he's invited or not, and the next day, there's an album on Facebook and he's tagging everyone from the party so they feel obligated to invite him the next time. That strategy does not always work. He may or may not have a girlfriend, but he's mostly checking out all the girls, saying inane things to your man such as 'Dude, did Emma get a boob job? Her knockers sure look huge!' He does it in front on his girlfriend too, and sadly she usually has something to add to it. This one is harmless, though, and the best thing is you sometimes get some good pictures of you and your man from this guy.

The pansy. All the others make fun of him and order him around. He takes it like the doormat he is, and is always a good sport about it. He will open doors for everyone, light your cigarettes, get everyone's drinks from the bar, but he will never pick up the tab. You may be left wondering if this guy is a friend or someone they keep around for entertainment. He really doesn't do anything with his life and is always a phone call away, 24/7. He is always at their beck and call you almost wonder if he’s secretly in love with your guy, but then he just doesn't dress well enough as to send your gaydar ringing. He usually never has an original opinion and agrees with what everyone says, even as he squirms visibly every time he has to nod his head in agreement to whatever is being talked about.

The introvert. He's the quiet one who is always calm and collected. He's nice but he doesn't share much. He usually has a girlfriend he's been dating forever but you rarely see them being affectionate. He laughs at the right jokes and behaves like a gentleman, but he just doesn't contribute to conversations. You don't quite know if you should trust him or if he's just observing everyone and mocking them in his head. When this guy is not dating someone, you rarely see him with a girl, except at the very end of the night, when he's going home he's got a girl wrapped around him. He is the token geek in the pack.

The ‘girl’ friend. The first thing you notice about her is that she's pretty. She is also accomplished, usually single, and has probably slept with almost all of the pack. You can never really know for sure because no one talks about it, but you can sense it with your womanly instincts. Your man swears there has never been anything between them and the girl friend, but every Credit: Patil Makarand, http://black-and-whitephotos.blogspot.comtime you see her with any of the guys, you can't help but wonder. You hate her the most because you like her so much. She gives great advice and is a super fun company although sometimes she becomes the scene-stealing fifth wheel, especially in photos. If she's around, it's almost impossible to have a photo taken with your man without her doing something silly at the back and photo-bombing. You keep this one close because the alternative would just be much worse. You secretly suspect her of having an Ashley Madison account and being its queen.

While those five characters would be the most common ones, there are others who may also fill in for one of the major players. There is the guy who is married and who may even have kids. He's the one who insists that the answer to all problems is to get married and have kids because it's the 'best thing to do', yet he looks ten years older than his age and him and his wife are most of the time struggling to smile. Then there's the perfect couple: always together, always smiling, looking perfect. That's all there is to them. They seldom make appearances and you never know when you will see them next.

When I'm with my man, I adapt to his world and surroundings, more often than I'd like to. I make room for people who, under different circumstances, I would rather kick in the shin or not pay any attention at all. Sometimes, accommodating these people feels natural and ends up being fun. Sometimes I hate it, sometimes I tolerate it. When I'm with my gaggle, I could only wonder what my man goes through.

Christian-Atheist Dating: It Can Work



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by LR Green | 2:30 p.m. | October 9th 2014

You’ve met a nice guy and he’s everything you’ve been looking for in a potential partner, except for one thing: he’s an atheist. And you’re not. Before kicking this fine specimen of manhood to the curb, why not take some advice from someone who’s been in your shoes?

Photo Credit: patheos.comWhile my fine specimen and I didn’t manage to make it into the sunset, the reasons for our eventual split had absolutely nothing to do with his religion or lack thereof. Being an atheist is just one facet of a person and it was those other facets that got us into problems. Therefore, as a Christian woman, if I met another atheist, I wouldn’t hesitate to date him based on that one criterion and neither should you. However, there are some hints to make your ‘God/no God’ relationship work.

If you disagree on something as fundamental as to whether or not there is a God, surely it’s all downhill from there, right? Wrong. As someone who’s dated on both sides of that particular divide, I can tell you I’ve had more issues over what flavor of Christianity I practice, than the fact I practice at all. The atheist I dated, and the ones I’ve talked to tend to have a ‘live and let live’ philosophy rather than a ‘let’s convert all the believers’ stance.

I found that dating an atheist is not conflict-filled and the discussions I have had over the existence of a higher power have only strengthened my personal belief rather than destroy it. I found that a major pro, either not discussing religion at all or being able to discuss it in a reasonable, rational way, rather than having an impassioned argument over whose religion is right.

My Christianity is personal and thus is not discussed with everyone, but for some of the more evangelical sects, this might not be possible. As devoted as you are to your God, so are most atheists to their ‘no God’. Just as most atheists are of the ‘live and let live’ mindset, so must you be if you are a Christian dating an atheist.

The agreement I reached with my atheist was simple: I wouldn’t try to convince him there is a God, if he wouldn’t try to convince me there isn’t. It's a tricky, unholy situation, but it could work. If such a divide is not for you, then dating an atheist might not be for you, ever.

But you are about to go on a date with a really hot atheist and so naturally, you want to make it work. How?

I can’t give you all the answers as every relationship is different but I can give you some tips on what worked for me with my Richard Dawkins-loving, atheist ex-lover. And I hate even calling him that as it makes it sound as if that was all there was to him, and that’s my first tip. As I stated above, we are made up of many different characteristics and beliefs and being an atheist is just part of that. If you can’t get beyond his beliefs or lack thereof, then the going is going to be a bit rough. My first bit of advice is to agree to disagree and move on. With my ‘friend’, some things were just non-negotiable. He knew I’d be saying grace before I ate and I knew he wouldn’t. He respected me enough not to begin eating until I was done praying and I respected him enough to accept the fact he wouldn’t be bowing his head to join me praying.

Photo from stevelikestocurse.com

This was part of the give and take in our relationship and actually all relationships. No two people look at the world the same way and wouldn’t it be boring if we did? Therefore, my second tip to you is to learn the art of compromise.

It is no secret that dating an atheist as a Christian can be a challenge, but it can be rewarding as well. If you're feeling extra-adventurous, maybe you could expand your horizons and date a Jew, Muslim, or a Hindu.

Normally, I wouldn't bother with what non-believers  have to say about their lack of faith or just about anything else, really. Having been in a relationship with an atheist made me re-assess my dating options. Mostly, though, I just learned how to turn the other cheek any time a discussion of ours touches upon anything remotely concerning religion. But if you're the kind who can't even stand to be in the same room as a heathen, then it might be best to stick dating with your fellow believers. As for atheists, there is also a special place for them. And no, it is not hell.

Why There Should Be More Big Handsome Men (BHM) Dating Sites



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by Patricio | 5:59 p.m. | October 2nd 2014

Image courtesy of  sattva at FreeDigitalPhotos.netThere have been articles going around about fat men being better lovers than their chiseled counterparts. I must have seen this in my Facebook timeline at least five times in the past week alone. The article was posted mostly by women who have a certain preference for love handles-having hombres, no-abs males, single guy friends who are known to be beer aficionados, and some opinionated gay guys who beg to disagree. You might have heard of it? If you haven't, read on.

A study was conducted by researchers from a Turkish university that concluded that generously proportioned males take longer to orgasm as a result of having higher doses of the female hormone estradiol in their body – something that fit, gym jocks have less of, perhaps as a result of testosterone surge while pumping iron. Body Mass Index (BMI) plays a major role in the research and according the university's scholars, males with higher BMI – basically, guys whose measure of body fat is higher relative to their weight and height – tend to last longer during intercourse than those with finely sculpted torsos. Suddenly, it doesn't seem very wise to only date fitness buffs.

An entire category of dating is devoted to big beautiful women (BBW) and to the shock of no one, it's a dating niche that is massively popular and is still gaining popularity. There are plenty of BBW dating sites and the user base of these sites are quite large. BBW dating is a niche that is well taken care of and we understand completely why – some men just really tend to prefer their women bigger, or at the very least, not disturbingly thin.

There is of course another subcategory of dating for big guys who date fellow big guys, a niche which is actually quite huge in gay circles. Bear dating is a separate universe all on its own and that group is known to be a little exclusivist. 'Bears' can be quite cliquish as they prefer to date and hang around with fellow bears. Mostly, they are left alone and like other well-established cliques, they  have many places they can go, whether online or offline. Big Handsome Men dating sites, on the other hand, also exist but they are far less prominent and much lesser in number than BBW or Bear dating sites.

BBW Cupid is one of the top places to go when looking for big-beautiful fun. The site is commendable for putting together a community of people looking to date singles with oversized personalities. It is one of the most popular and one of the best big-beautiful sites – user-friendly features, reasonable membership fees, and respectable number of users. There are BHM there too but you kind of get the feeling that such sites cater more towards men who are looking for voluptuous ladies.

Even without science and scholarly research to back them up, the fact is that there has always been a market for big men, and sites dedicated to Big Handsome Men dating ought to increase and get the kind of exposure it deserves. Maybe the big dating networks such as Cupid Media and FriendFinder could put up more BHM-oriented sites and address ladies' needs for chunky male companions. What could separate these types of BHM sites from the usual ones is that they will cater to females who may not necessarily be big themselves.

 

Photo from medicinenet.com

It's not a very novel idea, but given that that BHM dating market is not as saturated as other niches, the possibilities for growth and popularity are endless.

There is a perfectly scientific explanation as to why and how males with higher female hormones are better in the art of love-making, but the long and short of it is that heavy men could last an average of 7.3 minutes while fit guys come shorter at only 1.8 minutes. In even plainer terms, heavy men are less likely to have premature ejaculation than lean guys. It doesn't sound like much, and for those who have strict preference for toned men, this finding is probably not going to persuade them to change preference, but for those who have been championing the cause of large dating, this is newsworthy indeed.

Beauty is Skin Deep: The Truth Behind the Platitude



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by Jalyn Giraldo | 2:44 p.m. | September 24th 2014

Photo Credit: hebrewessence.comI got a big wake-up call when I got back into the dating world a few years ago after a divorce. My friend told me that it was not the same old world that it was when I was out there dating. I was confused. Apparently, my friend was trying to tell me nicely that I was not going to find a lot in the way of quality guys because I didn't pass the beauty yardstick test. I was confused because I do not see myself as ugly. I'm overweight but not exactly bound to my bed and unable to breathe when I move. I carry myself with dignity and grace and I always wear flattering clothes and not sweats or pajamas to Wal-Mart.

Truth be told, though, I know what she meant. Physical beauty does wonders for one's dating and love life. Men and even women are called shallow when they're upfront about wanting a good-looking person on their arm to wear as an accessory or as long-term mate. I talked to a few of my friends about it and oddly got very different responses.

Humans, when in a loving relationship or entertaining the idea of one, nearly always give a brief thought to what their kids would look like. The truth is that initial attraction is not going to be based on the fact that you are quite the mathematician or that you've read the bibliography of Fyodor Dostoyevsky. If you have crooked or missing teeth and pimples and just generally look unkempt, you have got to work hard to make excellent first impressions on dates, if you have plans of ever propagating your gene pool.

Inner beauty is something that will later come into play, but without the outer sheen, you do not stand as much chance of getting more than a booty call and a promise of a phone call that might just never come.

There are many ways to enhance your physical appearance – the true selling point of your genes. Some will argue that you can't fix ugly, but you could transcend the first date-last date phenomenon you may have been experiencing all your life due to lack of allure. These are some little things that might increase your chances of standing out above the rest of average-lookers:

 

  • Learn a little about applying makeup. Attempting to look good is not going to work in your favor if you apply it like a circus clown in drag.
  • Wear clothing that accentuates your body type; there are a million websites out there that detail what will compliment your shape and work in your favor. Avoid clothing that is too tight and not appropriate to your age.
  • Hair is not designed to be ten feet tall and stiff as a board, so women, pay attention. If you are going to wake up next to some guy repeatedly, please know that men do not want their eye poked out by hair sprayed tangles. Keep a nice natural hairstyle and it will look just as nice when you wake up and smile at the partner next to you.
  • Make sure your teeth are as white and clean as you can and carry breath mints.

 

If you thought that you are immune to these shallow thoughts, I ask you to consider the last time you were on a date. Did you really choose him because you knew he had valuable insights on the mating habits of the South American jaguar and because he subscribes AND reads The New Yorker, or because he really had a well put together demeanor, had nice prominent glutes, and his dimple just kept flashing as he spoke? Really, go on and analyze it for awhile. If he had looked like an overgrown baboon with a comb-over that passed for hair, would you really have been quite as enamored?

Well-meaning people who are in the business of spouting feel-good sayings would always say that 'beauty is skin deep' or that 'inner beauty is all that matters'. In all likelihood, these are people who are all inner beauty themselves. Some of them could be friends who want to empower you, help you through your self-esteem issues, and that is fine; they are good people to surround yourself with. Although I wouldn't dismiss the value of having a great attitude, an aptitude for nuclear physics, and an above average vocabulary, the truth is that there will be times when you would want to be admired not for your brain but for your rack. As an average-looking person, there is only so much you can do to improve your physical features that would not involve frequent trips to the cosmetic surgeon or dermatologist's clinic or hoping to be reincarnated as Scarlett Johansson. But sometimes, exerting great efforts at polishing your exterior is essential. If and when you get accused of shallowness for valuing outer beauty, reason that you're only thinking about your kids.

Lessons Learned from Britney Spears' Presence on Tinder



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by Patricio | 9:44 a.m. | September 16th 2014

Britney Spears was/is on Tinder.

Britney Spears on Tinder

Although her account was created by Jimmy Fallon for The Tonight Show, with a hilarious profile that says, 'This better work, bitch', just for kicks and not to actually help her find a replacement for her recently dumped boyfriend, can you wrap your head around the fact that as you you're using Tinder, the odds of you being swiped right by the legendary Miss Spears, previously a crazy fantasy, has just become a reality?

If you happen to like Britney, will you now raise the hours you spend on Tinder from only four hours to six hours a day in hopes of chancing upon the Toxic singer whose love life, as is it is well known, like yours and mine, can also be complicated, messy and imperfect? Will you hold it against her or will you be anticipating her presence in the massively popular flirting app? Did your own hopes of finding romance just plummeted upon finding out that even Britney Spears – pop music icon, possessor of about 15 talents, and lingerie line owner – has to resort to seemingly innocuous apps for dates?

You have so many questions and that is alright.

The account was probably terminated the minute the episode rolled credits. If she is still on it, however, you may guess that she swipes left more than she does right (as is her right). Britney Spears on Tinder is probably so earth shattering an event and so groundbreaking a celebrity move, you probably hyperventilated when you first heard of it. But to be honest, there is not a lot she can do to shock the general public. Of the many stunts she has pulled, being on Tinder definitely doesn't even count. And besides, it's all just for good, TV-viewing fun. But imagine a parallel universe where Britney Spears, given her woeful dating history, resorts to Tinder to find a date. There, clearly, would be lessons to be learned from such an event happening.

There is absolutely no shame in looking to dating apps and websites for romance. I've been looking at dating sites and dating categories for quite some time and I've noticed that most of those who have tried online dating are still surprised that it actually works. That it still shocks a lot of people that something that is hugely patronized on the internet as a dating website has achieved a staggering amount of success is, in itself, shocking. Of course online dating works. If even the likes of Britney can find it in her heart to join Tinder, why shouldn't you, mere mortal?

Image courtesy of Tinder.comDisplay picture is king (or queen). You can not possibly hope to capture someone's heart or be the cause of fire on someone's loins with your meek-looking, unsexy DP, unless of course, you're Britney.

Carefully crafting a catchy profile shout out is a matter of extreme importance in the attainment of success while on Tinder or any dating app. If despite all efforts you fail at coming up with a DP that screams 'Player' instead of 'Loser', try to win people over with your wit. If you can't dazzle people with your throbbing pecs or biceps, amaze them with your Wildean intellect. For instance, if Britney were to make her own Tinder profile, it would probably say, 'It's Britney, bitch.' Take a cue from the Spears catalogue of outrageous shout-outs, and make your online profiles (dating profiles more importantly) the center of everyone's attention.

The smallest of gestures can mean either disaster or success when dating through an app or a website. If you happened to be on Tinder at the same time that Britney was on it, and she appeared on your swipees AND you swiped left and she swiped right on you, you would spend the rest of your waking hours wishing you were never born a fool who makes such a monumental mistake. Dating and hooking up success on Tinder was previously documented here. If there's one valuable lesson to be learned from being on such a straightforward dating app as Tinder, it is to swipe wisely.

Dating apps are your friends. You can choose to suffer anxieties as a result of being unpopular in your social networks, mope at the lack of likes and retweets and favorites, but in apps such as Tinder, for as long as you remember what you're in there for – to flirt – you won't have to suffer a nervous breakdown.

If you're a put-on-a-show kind of person, you would know that creating a dating app profile shouldn't take the backseat. These are lessons you probably already know, but they are worth reiterating, nonetheless. You really better work it.

I Kissed a Baby Daddy and I Liked It



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by Jalyn Giraldo | 10:57 a.m. | September 4th 2014

Society views a baby daddy in a very negative light. A baby daddy is seen as an unmarried man who usually does not have custody of his kids and often depicted as being averse to paying child support. In reality, a baby daddy is more a man that had a relationship go south and there was, unfortunately, an offspring involved. He is basically a single dad who did not get married. Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There is nothing I hate more than being stared at when I'm with my boyfriend, actually fiancé, out in public with his two kids on the weekend. I'm ten years younger than my fiancé who has two kids from a previous relationship. He's mostly seen as just as a baby daddy, but he really is so much more than that. My soon-to-be step-kids are 10 and 14 years younger than I am and people just refuse to face that I am willing to take on that responsibility willingly. My boyfriend tells me to ignore it all but it's tough when I feel that people choose to judge me because of it.

I have been told that he is an irresponsible man and that if he has two kids with a woman he never married, then he's just going to knock me up and, well, I will be left alone raising a kid and he'll skip out on child support. It doesn't matter a whit that I try to explain that he is giving the baby mama most of his paycheck -- they just have too much a negative view of unmarried fathers and no amount of defending can help that.

I want to clear up a few things about dating a baby daddy. There is surely a lot of men out there who do skip out on their responsibilities and ignore the fact that they threw DNA into a cocktail and produced spawns. Those guys are losers and they could all be shot at dawn in my opinion. But at the same time, there are men that do create life and marriage or long-term relationship with a woman they can't stand just doesn't happen to be on top of their priorities list, and that is fine.

See, I was one of those women who thought ill of single dads or "baby daddies", until I met one. Jim opened my eyes by being frank about his new lifestyle ever since becoming a dad. He says that his entire view on life has changed in the past 10 years. Those kids come first and if I want to be a part of his life, I need to remember this.

Baby Daddy Drama

He laid down the law for me when we began going out. The main point is that life is not easy on weekends for him because the kids come first. I got read the riot act before I even had a chance to protest. I was told not to seek his attention when they were demanding it. Kids get sick and they need to be prioritized and that's just how it is in the life of a baby daddy.

I was told that he loved my spontaneity but that it didn't matter when he has prior daddy commitments. I was taken aback and did not know how to respond at first. He wanted me to entertain the kids and be cool with them when I finally meet them. But at the same time, I was warned not to take a serious step forward on our relationship. When I did finally meet them, I was charmed until the youngest, a six year old, after eating too much cotton candy, threw up on while we were at the zoo. I saw this as the ultimate test to winning my boyfriend's heart. I handled it well and didn't throw up myself.

Throwing away the conventions of a normal relationship when you are 20 was hard for me, but I knew that I had to overcome my partying mentality and learn a new way with my soon-to-be husband. Do not get me started on the fact that I had to meet my fiance's ex and get along with her since he told her he is serious about me. I considered myself lucky because she isn't one of those crazy exes. She was candid in explaining my role in the kids' life, basically, that I would not be a Mom to them. I don't want to be, but I do want them to respect and love me too.

So don't knock someone down before you know their story. Not all baby daddies are child support-evading son of a guns and not all of them will seduce you and leave you with bastard children. Exercise caution when dealing with problems and time constraints which predictably come when dating a man with child. Baby daddy drama is an inevitability but if he's responsible enough and promises to use contraceptives religiously, there's no reason to dodge them completely.

Where to Take Your Introvert Date



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by Patricio | 5:15 p.m. | September 2nd 2014

One of the more compelling reasons to date an introvert is that you can enjoy silence like you've never enjoyed it before. Well, not really, but you have to admit that an overpowering amount of silence while on a date can be a welcome break if all the dates you've had are ones where you talk about your horoscope, your favorite Alfred Hitchcock movie, and your views on marriage. Sometimes, you just want to sit, hold on to your ankles and watch the world go by.

Image courtesy of biobreak.files.wordpress.com

Know, first of all, that introverts are not necessarily shy, mute or rude. Their exterior may not reveal much, which can be infuriating or charming depending on your own personality (which could influence how you deal with an introvert), but inside them is fire. Introverts can be a bundle of fun, just not in the typical, boisterous fashion usually exhibited by those who enjoy mosh pits. Due to the limited amount of effort they're willing to expend in socializing and talking about how queer the weather is lately, they are often generally perceived as mysterious loners. In truth, they actually love having meaningful conversations, but mostly with themselves, and if they're feeling generous, in the company of 2-3 trusted friends.

Introverts are often misunderstood as a result of not emitting as much noise as everyone else. They are known to charge internally and so their energy tends to be stored and kept burning within the confines of their own minds. Hating people is not a sign of introversion, but avoiding small talk definitely is. They are often asked to speak up, often asked 'What's wrong?', and as a result, are constantly having their nerves grated because their idea of a social setting is not like in the Oprah Winfrey Show where thoughts and feelings are discussed over an hour-long segment under the harsh glaring lights of television.Image courtesy of marcolm / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Being with an introvert, you discover the soothing effects of not speaking much. There is serenity, peace and an overall aura of calm. There is also awkwardness and in extreme cases, disaster. Sometimes, introvert-extrovert pairings work, such as in the case of precocious cancer couple Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters, and sometimes it doesn't, as in the case of Courteney Cox and David Arquette. 

1. Cinema

You will be surprised that typical dating activities such as going to a movie can produce the best results when dating an introvert. In the cinema, silence is gold. Bringing your introverted date to a movie, especially one with a two-hour running time, is ideal and one of the best ways to start a conversation. If a movie is interesting enough to be talked about – say, it has really graphic decapitation scenes or gratuitous nudity – maybe you'll be lucky enough to hear about what he/she has to say about it rather than reading about it later on his/her Twitter timeline, where your presence in the witnessing of said movie would be completely dwarfed by the greatness of the film. Also, cinemas are conducive to making out. Regardless of personality, it's almost always a win-win situation.

2. Bookstore

Being introverted doesn't often equate to being a bookworm, but bookworms, by the very nature of their hobby, have qualities inherent in an introvert. In any case, it's safe to bring a date to a bookstore because if nothing else, he/she might suspect you of being an intellectual even though all you ever read is Archie comics (not that there's fault to be found in that).

3. Art Gallery

Most art exhibits demand quiet introspection and appreciation (although loud proclamations often work for some), and dating in an art gallery or museum is sure to mask the conversation gaps you may have had earlier on your lunch or dinner date. But don't expect discussions about how illusionist or impressionist the pieces you just saw. Your introvert date would probably rather discuss the merits of Van Gogh in the comfort of his own blog or his Facebook wall which will be shared to his 97 friends.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net4. Coffee Shop

Unless your date is allergic to caffeine, a coffee shop is a great dating place for several reasons: caffeine jolts people to consciousness and activity and coffee is just universally considered a delicious and customizable beverage enjoyed by the entire human race. Maybe after a cup of Americano, she will snap out of her reverie and talk up a storm.

Before you test the waters of introvert-dating, assuming you're not an introvert yourself (or you are one but are infinitely less averse to talking), decide first if you're willing to captain a conversation, fill long and empty silences, and make decisions for two. An introvert is not incapable of making decisions but is merely less likely to verbalize it. If you happen to like someone who happens to be an introvert, cherish, and don't question, those little quiet times.

Far Away Does Not Mean Far Apart Emotionally



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by Jalyn Giraldo | 1:35 p.m. | August 27th 2014

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.netThere are times in a couple's life when the need to experience the dreaded long distance relationship (LDR) becomes inevitable. Ask any couple who have gone through it and how such an arrangement works, if it does work, or even what their experience was, and you will likely hear a lot of tales of woe and unfaithfulness and the deterioration of that relationship because maintaining it proved to be so hard.

I am not going to lie to you, it's not ideal and it's not easy. As a military spouse, I expect that at times in my marriage my husband will have to go far away from home and we will have to manage to keep our family running smooth, collaborate on bills while also keeping our romance and special love thriving despite the distance. We will have to learn new ways to keep that spark alive and find ways to ease the pain and lonely feelings that are going to plague us at some parts of the separation.

Karen, a friend of mine, tried to do a LDR when her boyfriend, a navy soldier, was deployed for six months. She was young and the relationship was only a year old when he left. With tears in both their eyes, they bid an emotional farewell and promised  to send each other letters and communicate online whenever possible, and that the relationship would make it. Sadly, this proved to be the case only for the first two months of the time apart. All started out well but when the mailman started showing up less frequently and the phone calls that had grown stagnant and dull were just no longer coming, they knew that something was wrong. He began being emotionally distant and she began an affair thinking that he was having one. He came home after awhile and told her about being in the field and unable to connect with her and she, in turn, told him she was pregnant.

The guidelines were not laid out, the planning on how to manage was not there and communication was non-existent before the relationship was thrown to different corners of the earth. This could have been avoided. So what are some solutions that can set a LDR into a successful and actually beneficial experience for a couple? How can a loving relationship survive when there are just words on the screen and a disembodied voice on the phone? More importantly, what about the loneliness and the urge for sexual gratification?

The physical act of holding hands and hearing "I love you" while someone looks in your eyes can feed the heart and bond you and your partner in loving closeness and intimacy. This all flies out the window when there is a monitor or a phone line between you, but that does not need to end the connection of intimacy. Thanks to Skype and similar video programs and hundreds of other social apps, there is the ability to do both. Granted, touching your hands together might feel strange when there is a monitor, but touching can be a spiritual or a mental rather than a physical experience. As long as you're both able to transcend the physical demands of intimacy, you should be fine. That and the ability to use your imagination in the most satisfying way.

Sexual gratification on the other hand is trickier, but manageable, and certainly can be done with a bit of imagination and technological know-how, basically through webcam and sexting. Phone sex and flirting sprinkled with a bit of role-playing can also enhance a sexually stagnating relationship. Then there are the more unconventional things that strong couples can work out on that would gratify each other's physical needs in a mutually agreeable and safe way. I will not beat around the bush about this but it is not for everyone and the make-or-break ratio of the primary relationship is quite high. 

Image courtesy of marin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Paul has to go on business meetings for his job as an executive in International Relations and his wife of four years knows that while he's gone, he entertains himself from sexual loneliness. She, on the other hand, has informed him that she has a boyfriend in town that keeps her “occupied” when he's gone. Both have opened up the communication and are honest about their agreed upon dalliances with others in a non-threatening, trusting way. They have no children yet and have discussed that at a later time when they do reproduce, this arrangement might not work. But for now, such recourse helps to keep their loving relationship flowing and healthy through the distance.

Having to be separated from each other is stressful, but it is not insurmountable if a relationship is strong and built on trust. The ability to articulate certain needs that must be fulfilled soothes the kind of wound caused by great distance.

It's Taboo, But How Do You Do?



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by Jalyn Giraldo | 11:11 a.m. | August 19th 2014

Oh my, you see him across the room and he catches your eye and you just feel the warmth spread through your lower half and just want to melt right there. He looks straight ahead again and you see a tear roll down his cheek. Oh good, he's emotional too. Hot and emotional. He stands up and walks down the center of the room carrying flowers. Wow. Then he passes you without looking at you and lays the flowers in the casket. Reality slaps you back to realize exactly where you are in an instant and you feel ashamed. People are here to grieve and you are thinking fireworks in your mind with some random guy.

"I'm sorry for your loss. Want to make out?" 

Is it really wrong, though? People meet every day and no one knows where that crush will begin, or even if it will go further, unless you give it a shot. Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.netSome places are just not socially appropriate to flirt in or initiate a romance. Funerals are for grieving and a certain decorum of respect is required, but what if there is a real possibility of never seeing that someone again? The idea may seem laughable to think of going up to someone and say, "Sorry for your loss, but would you like to go out sometime?" The impossible cannot become the possible without dropping a few social etiquette rules once in awhile.

Conversely, my parents had a friend named Amy, who met her husband at a wedding and they have been blissfully married twenty years this summer. How is a wedding inappropriate? Aren't weddings all about the loving atmosphere, where you bless the happy couple, and then dance and drink alcohol with other people? Certain relationships can begin at a wedding reception, either in the throes of inebriation for a quick fling or for the long-term. However, in this case, Amy's dream man was the groom on his wedding day. That one did have to wait a few years while a marriage sadly disintegrated, but without that first connection, it would not have ever been a dream come true for them to be with each other.

Working it at the workplace

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.netI had my turn on the inappropriate roller coaster ride. In my early thirties, a recent divorcee, I obtained a job in an HVAC warehouse with 8 co-workers that were all male. My mind gave way to many imaginative thoughts when I should be concentrating on the latest rating for high efficiency units. One co-worker, in particular, set my internal thermometer rising frequently and despite the taboo of inter-office relations, we began flirting and sending naughty text messages and had a brief but fulfilling fling. It certainly made work interesting and we were fortunate that there was no bad feelings in the relationship to make our professional relationship unbearable.

When rules are put in place to protect people from the harsher effects of relationships, it can an adrenaline charged rush to go against the norm and attempt to beat the odds. The office policies of today are designed to diminish the real pressures of sexual advances in the workplace, but also to avoid having to maintain a working relationship with someone when a personal relationship goes south. While not a policy that is strictly adhered to, it involves having the maturity to handle when a relationship or fling is over.

Flirtatious Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous has an unwritten secret step known as the "13th Step", that is documented in the literature briefly, but not officially designated by number, nor included in the standard rules of the twelve-step program. That "step" recommends that anyone entering sobriety should avoid relationships or sexual couplings for the first year. Having been around the program myself, I know that in the social aspects of your club meetings, you will get asked if you have been 13th stepped yet which means that someone more seasoned is taking advantage of the new and vulnerable members. There are many successful relationships that have blossomed in a shared desire to stay sober, but it is considered taboo and truly depends on having a sense of what it means to your path to recovery.

Not everyone will have that romantic, electric-charged story of meeting on a romantic cruise or tropical sandy white beach. Some of the best success stories begin with a location that does not scream "happily ever after." If we all waited around for that perfect setting, we will have missed something that could have the potential to escalate our heartbeats into dizzying heights of joy and endorphin-based euphoria. Your dreamy-eyed love of a lifetime could be waiting in the grocery check-out, sitting two seats away during church or even waiting his or her turn at the unemployment office. Circumstance and location are not the obstacles to pay mind to, but the possibility of finding that person at the right time that you are meant to, wherever in the universe it may happen.

Social Media Flirting Versus Dating Website Flirting



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by Andy Jones | 4:52 p.m. | August 13th 2014

Sometimes you have to stop and ask, “How did people meet one another before the internet?” No matter how shy you are, what your social circle is like, or even where you live, you can now use the web to meet new friends and, in some cases, maybe even more. When it comes to flirting, the internet offers an unlimited amount of options to reach out to those that you are interested in. Most notably, people either choose dating websites or social media to message those that they think are cute or would like to get to know better. However, it’s important to note that there is a big difference between flirting on a dating website and flirting on social media. Here are some things to keep in mind when using either platform.

Image courtesy of Boians Cho Joo Young / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Do You Want To Pay To Play?

One of the first decisions that you’ll have to think about when looking to flirt with someone is whether or not you want to pay to do so. Over one billion people around the world have Facebook, and sites like Twitter and Instagram are continuing to grow in popularity. Luckily for those on a budget out there, it doesn’t cost any money to use these services, which means they can easily message anyone that they want without having to pay a price to do it. That being said, most social media sites aren’t dependent upon dating, so you certainly run the risk of looking like a massive creeper if you message someone who isn’t interested in you – but we’ll talk more about that later.

If you don’t mind paying a few bucks a month, then dating websites are the way to go when it comes to finding people to flirt with. The thing is, many people can’t determine whether or not paying for a dating website is worth it, especially if they try and flirt with people and get no love in return.

Another option for those wanting to try dating websites is to use a free service. But before you jump at the chance, keep in mind that these sites come with caution. Because anyone can hop on these free sites, you are likely to come across a lot of internet trolls and probably quite a few fake profiles. Along with that, the quality of people that you might meet likely won’t be as good as it is for someone who is willing to pay for an online site. This isn’t to say that you can’t still meet some attractive and certainly flirt-worthy people on free dating sites; but if you grow tiresome of the limited amount of options, don’t forget that you can pay a bit and open yourself up to an entirely new world of people.

A Friend Of A Friend, Of A Friend

Image courtesy of Master isolated images at FreeDigitalPhotos.netSo maybe you’ve decided that you still want to use social media as a way to flirt and hook up with people. That’s not a problem. However, you’ll likely want to check to see what mutual friends the two of you have before you say anything crazy. If you do happen to write someone and he/she is friends with someone that you both know, you can bet that he/she’ll ask them more information about you. If you aren’t sure of what the person might say, your efforts might be shot down before you even get a chance to get in the game.

Luckily, online dating is the complete opposite. Everyone is there for a reason. Whether that reason is to date, flirt, hook up, or simply get attention from others, that’s up to them. But the point is, dating sites draw people in with the intention of knowing that they’ll get hit up with messages from others who want to flirt. The only weird part with messaging someone through online dating is that you might come across someone you know or, even worse, a family member.

So what’s a good approach?

The thing with making an initial message to flirt is that both social media and dating websites can be approached in the same way. For example, if you are on social media and see someone you want to hit up, you can start by liking a few of their photos, or posting or even commenting on them. With online dating, it works the same way. You can easily check out a few photos or read over the profile (although it may seem like nobody ever does this), and then message the person with some of the details that they have. Not only will this show that you actually read their profile, but you can also find something that you may have in common and it’ll help break the ice.

Whether you are looking to get your flirt on or take it to the next level, the internet is a great place to do it. But before you decide to go on Facebook or Instagram and start chatting up everyone you know, be cautious of how that might get around. That said, online dating websites are a place where people come with one thing in mind, which makes it free game to get your flirt on.

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