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Matchmaking Chronicles: Interview with Matchmaker Julie Ferman



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by Patricio | 3:53 p.m. | March 13th 2015

Matchmaking dates back to as early as 1600 and single people's dating and relationship needs since then haven't changed much hundreds of years later. In the library of Cupid, we asked fellow professional cupids about their process, their most memorable matchmaking moments, and why matchmakers still matter. They also serve some really practical advice for those who are seeking eternal romantic bliss.

Last week, we featured Michele Fields.

Image courtesy of Julie Ferman20,000 clients. 1,100 marriages. 23 years. If these numbers are not enough, allow us to explain: Julie Ferman Associates have 20,000 Southern California clients, is responsible for 1,100 marriages, and has 23 years of matchmaking experience. This week we interview its founder, Los Angeles-based personal matchmaker and dating coach Julie Ferman.

Matchmaking seems like one of the most exciting professions there is. Have you always seen yourself as a professional cupid? What made you decide to become one?

I’ve always been obsessed with romance, dating and love. My earliest memory is sitting at the end of my driveway, on my little blue tricycle, all dolled up, waiting for…. The Prince. I found the search for my real prince not so easy, so I enlisted help. I joined the local video dating service in 1990 in St. Louis, my home town. It was a fun adventure, and as fate would have it I ended up marrying the guy who sold me that membership, the owner of the agency. I asked him out initially and the engagement was what he calls “a conversation that got out of control”.

Who are the best candidates for a matchmaking service? Why do you think certain people turn to matchmaking to find a partner?

The matchmaking clients we’ve been most successful with are those who are thoroughly desirable – nice looking, presentable, accomplished, but also open-minded and realistic, with a sense of humor and a joie de vivre. In fact, the people who are most likely to “do well” in dating, to begin with.

Is there a specific trait that prevents someone from being successfully paired? Do you have some requirements for your clients?

Whenever someone is overly picky or fussy, hypercritical by nature, tending to see what’s wrong versus what’s right or lovely in another person – this is usually a recipe for failure with matchmaking. This type of person’s relationships often fail too, as who wants to be picked apart every day? I ask my coaching and matchmaking clients to practice noticing what’s nice and lovely in other people and in circumstances in general. Being positive and open is something we can indeed learn.

For you, what type of man/woman is the hardest to match?

A woman who’s hypercritical or overly focused on superficial, less than critical elements, and who vetoes the very men who are indeed interested in her – the men she actually has “a shot at” – this is the type of woman I tend to avoid taking on as a matchmaking client, as her criteria is often not in line with reality. A man who shoots out of his league – targeting women who are typically not interested or attracted, or a man who insists on dating women who are more than 10 years his junior. Both are too tough a search and usually end up with disappointment. I don’t like to set my client up (or myself up) for disappointment, so I’m very selective and careful about who I invite to become a matchmaking client. 

Julie Ferman with fellow dating coach Marni Battista (Image courtesy of Julie Ferman)

In what ways is professional matchmaking more effective than online dating?

I am very often able to get my Client out on Date Number One, Two and Three with the type of person who would likely “veto” him/her online or at a party. I’m able to “pitch” the client with my hearty recommendation. Great people “miss” each other all the time out there in the world. Matchmakers are here to make sure that doesn’t happen.

How have dating apps such as Tinder changed the matchmaking industry?

Occasionally I’ll hear of a relationship that started on Tinder, but mostly I’d say the applications have HURT dating, as it leads people to judge superficially, quickly, to dismiss lots and lots of people who might actually be a lovely fit, if looked at more closely. It furthers the tendency to objectify and categorize quickly based on looks. On the other hand, it might give some people who tend to shoot out of their league a dose of reality.

Are women better matchmakers than men? Are there differences between how men and women pair up two people?

I’d say that women are typically better suited to the profession, as we tend to be more relationship-oriented. But I know some great male matchmakers – they often have a more direct approach and can get away with saying things that women might be chastised for saying.

Any unforgettable matchmaking anecdote you would like to share?

I’ve had 1,158 marriages that I know about, since 1990. My favorite was getting both a father AND his son married. I got to attend both weddings, and the dad gave me a generous gift. That was magical.

How does being a cupid-for-hire affect your own love life? Do you apply the same rules and matching techniques to your own dating habits?

Yes, indeed. I’m much nicer to my husband and tend to apologize often. We both practice the art of communication and turning toward each other when times get rough. We see what it’s like out there and we’d rather take good care of each other than try to find a suitable match out there in the jungle.

Is matchmaking as fun as it looks or is the stress level equal to that of a neurosurgeon? Would you recommend professional matchmaking as a career option?

A matchmaker has to be a jack-of-all-trades; both a business professional/entrepreneur and a service-oriented coach. Efficient and productive and also caring and sensitive. We need to be very, very good at managing our boundaries and our time, otherwise it easily becomes an 80-hour a week job. When I do EVERYTHING well, it’s fun. When anything falls apart, it’s not fun at all. It’s definitely a juggling act, and you have to love yourself first, so you can stay sane for the other people in your life, both clients and friends/family.

If there’s one piece of advice you’d have for singles who are looking for a partner, what would it be?

Place yourself strategically where you can be found, by registering with your local matchmakers. Don’t know how to find them? Register with us and we’ll help you get connected. Also, develop your Romance Marketing Plan – email me at Julie@JulieFerman.com and we’ll send you a template. And one other thing… practice looking for what’s right versus what might be lacking or missing in the people who are around you, especially the people who are approaching you, expressing interest. Practice loving yourself and practice kindness all day long. Kindness is sexy.


To find out more about Julie Ferman's services:

Visit her site - www.julieferman.com

Like Julie Ferman Associates on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/JulieFermanAssociates

Follow @julieferman on Twitter - https://twitter.com/julieferman


Check Cupid's Library's blog every week as we feature more matchmakers.

Essential Survival Guide for Victims of Domestic Abuse



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by Michael James | noon | March 9th 2015

All relationships might seem to begin with love and trust, but when the relationship becomes an abusive one – marked by physical or emotional violence, or both – you as a victim are left with pain and hopelessness. If you find yourself trapped in such an abusive relationship or feel that you are in danger of being abused by a partner, read on.

Use this guide to protect yourself from further maltreatment. The resources here can help you break free from the vicious cycle of violence and lead you to a safer, happier life.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Safety Precautions

As a victim of domestic violence, you may feel like the situation is a big, black hole from which there is no escape. Do not let yourself believe this. There is always something you can do to improve your situation.

These measures will help you become more in control, less vulnerable and feel safer – whether you are still in an abusive relationship or have already stepped out of one.

While still in an abusive relationship

If you are reading this and are continuing to interact with your abusive partner, then you must set up the following precautions.

1. Keep a list of people you can contact. Abusers are manipulative predators that want you to think that you cannot live without them. They want to twist your perception, and will try to turn you against your friends, family and other people who may genuinely care about you. Also include contacts from your local domestic violence help program. Make sure this list is available at home, at your place of work and on your person so that whenever there is danger of an attack, you can use the list to call for help.

2. Make sure these contacts are readily available in case you call/notify them for help. Do the people in your emergency contact list know that they are in the list? It is very important that you let them know that you may call at any time to ask for help, or rescue you from a physical attack or emotional lashing. You must get their assurance that they will be there for you when you call or message them – because if they cannot commit to this very important responsibility, then you should find another contact. The best emergency contacts are those that live near you, have the physical and transportation means to reach you, and are not so busy that they cannot be contacted for long stretches of time.

3. Identify safe areas in your house. Safe areas are rooms with windows or doors going outside the house so you can run for help, telephones so you can call 911 or your local police hotline, inside locks to keep your abuser at a safe distance, and free from weapons. If your abuser begins to attack you, run to your safe area and either try to escape or call for help.

4. Set up a help code word or phrase. There are times when you will want to call for help, but you fear the repercussions if your abuser finds out about your plea, like hurting you or your children. A help code word or phrase with your emergency contact list (see tip #1 of this section) will let them know that you need immediate assistance without alerting your abuser. Choose a word that can be used in normal conversation, but distinctive enough for your contact list to remember.

5. Prepare an escape plan. If and when you decide to leave your abuser, you need to have everything ready to go. Duplicate the car key and hide it in an easily accessible location. Pack a bag with some clothes, cash, important documents and your list of emergency contacts – ask a good friend to keep it in their house where it would be safe. If you have children, practice your escape plan with them.

'This is where the blow may hit, but not where it hurts' photo courtesy of LMAP, used under a Creative Commons licence

When already out of an abusive relationship

You cannot let your guard down even when you are no longer living with or interacting with your abuser. Your abuser will likely try to come back to your life, and it is very important that you put up strong barriers to protect yourself and your loved ones.

1. Consider relocating away from your abuser. A great way to restart anew is to put great distance between you and your abuser. This lessens the likelihood of contact, and lets you break away from the old habits that enabled your erratic relationship. You may choose to relocate to a new neighborhood, city, state or even country. You might think twice about relocating due to the hassles such as your children having to transfer schools, and having to find a new job and home, but relocating can be worth all that so you can have a fresh start.

2. Keep your new residence a secret. Your abuser might try to track you down and pull you back into the relationship by using manipulation or violent threats. This is why you should not divulge your new residence to anyone who might reveal your location. Make sure to get an unlisted phone number and a post office box for mail rather than your home address. You should also look into applying to your state’s address confidentiality program, which forwards mail to your home without divulging your address. Your ex-partner might try to find you through your old service providers like your bank and credit card, so cancel them and subscribe to new ones, preferably to a different provider.

3. Change up your routine. It is critical that you change up your routine, especially if you choose to stay in the same area as your abuser. Your abuser can try to re-establish contact by stalking you in your favorite coffee shop, gym or mall. Simple things like choosing a new route going home and doing errand runs on different days will help decrease the chances that you will encounter your abuser.

4. Consider getting a restraining order – but do not be complacent. A restraining order or protective order is designed to punish your abusers should they try to approach you or stalk you, but will not prevent your abuser from finding you in the first place. Restraining orders can be an invaluable tool to deter abusers, but you should not think of it as a bodyguard that will keep you absolutely out of harm’s way. If you choose to get a restraining order, learn everything you can on how the restraining order is enforced in your area. Some areas are lax with restraining orders so that the police will only give a citation to a stalker-abuser. US residents can get more information on restraining orders by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or their state’s Domestic Violence Coalition.

5. Use a corded phone whenever possible. Phone conversations can be tapped, so try to always use a corded phone -- it offers superior privacy and is harder to tap compared to your cordless or mobile phone. Given your vulnerable state, it is very important to protect your plans and conversations.

6. Replace your old mobile number and purchase a prepaid one. If you cannot afford to change numbers or buy a new mobile phone, your local domestic violence shelter or support group might be able to provide you one.

7. Make sure your phone settings and apps do not divulge personal information. Check your phone settings or any apps that might reveal your current location, residential or work address and contact details. Turn off any settings that might divulge personal information that an abuser might use to find you.

8. Create a new email. Your abuser will likely know your old email address and may try to get – if not already have – the password to it. A new email is safer to use, in general. Safeguard this new email address and reveal it to only the people you trust. Create dummy email accounts for registration purposes, and keep one real email for your personal contacts, emergency correspondence, and conversations with friends and local help groups.

9. Memorize all your computer and device passwords. Do not write them down and create ones that are very hard to guess – avoid using birthdays, nicknames and other publicly known facts about you.

10. Be careful about public computers and devices. Avoid opening your email in a public computer or someone else’s devices. Also, make sure to delete the history or use a browser that does not record your session such as Google Chrome’s Incognito setting.

Image courtesy of Alexander C. Kafka (used under a Creative Commons licence)

 

Personal Safety Plan

1. Legal guidelines. These are the questions you need to ask, and points to consider when seeking legal help.

Questions to ask your lawyer or legal advocate:

  • Am I eligible to file a restraining order?
  • Should I file a restraining order?
  • How do I file the restraining order?
  • What is the difference between a temporary restraining order and an injunction?
  • What other legal measures can help protect me from my abuser?
  • How do I avail these protections?
  • What should I do if my abuser violates the restraining order?
  • What will happen to my abuser if he or she violates the restraining order?

2. Workplace safety. Abusers can also try to hound you in your workplace. Whether you are the victim, or a colleague or boss of the victim, here are guidelines to help you deal with abusers that show up and cause trouble in the office.

As a person dealing with abuser

  • Know your employee rights and legal protections, and approach your human resources director or manager for help in enforcing them.
  • Is your abuser stalking you? Then, depending on your state, you could be protected by anti-stalking laws. Some states even have stringent anti-cyberstalking laws to prevent online harassment.
  • Did the abuser threaten to hit or actually hit you? That is grounds for your filing of assault and battery.
  • Consult with an employment lawyer. While the above guidelines can protect you after the abuser has begun stalking or threatening you, it does not prevent such incidents from happening again. Be proactive and talk to your office lawyer to obtain appropriate legal advice on how you can be better protected in your workplace.
  • Speak up. You may be embarrassed to be revealing about your abusive relationship, but no one can help you unless they know your situation. Let your abuser know that you will not tolerate his abusive behavior and stalking in the workplace.
  • Document the abuse. Record instances of abusive or stalking behavior in the workplace, as well as threatening or inappropriate language. Take note of the time, date and details. If the behavior has caused a negative impact on business performance, such as reduced productivity for you, disrupted operations or destruction of property, then you can make a stronger case for your employer to take action. Evidence will convince the higher-ups that the abuser is not only harassing you but also damaging the business.

As the colleague of someone dealing with domestic violence

  • Offer emotional support and backup. When your see that a colleague is being harassed or stalked, you may feel it is dangerous to get involved. But know that it could as easily happen to you – would you want your colleagues to ignore your situation? Be understanding and seek to build the confidence of your abused co-workers. Also, by providing them support – such as warning the abuser that shows up in the workplace that he can be reported to management – you can discourage future incidents from happening again.
  • Report to HR and management. Your colleague may be fearful or embarrassed about reporting a workplace stalker, even thinking they may lose their job, but you can tip your HR and manager about the ongoing harassment.

As the manager/senior of someone dealing with domestic violence

  • Listen, be understanding and provide support. This might seem obvious, but some managers and seniors may opt to take a hands-off approach to domestic violence victims, thinking it is not in their place to intervene. But managers and seniors have every right to protect their employees, especially if the abuse occurs at work or affects the work of the victim.  Do not turn a blind eye – by doing nothing, you somehow effectively assist the abuser in creating a hazardous workplace environment for your employee. Your best approach is to talk to your abused employee, understand the situation, assure them of your support, and then work with them to prevent any attempts at workplace harassment or stalking.
  • Be proactive in protecting your employee. Alert your security personnel of a potential abuser entering and disrupting the office premises. Abusers might stalk or harass a victim even in their place of work, so send a picture and name of the abuser to the security.

 Image courtesey of dualdflipflop (used under a Creative Commons licence)

Helpline and Support Directory

Never think you are alone. This directory will help you find help and encouragement from government agencies and support groups for domestic abuse victims:

United States

Emergency helplines

  • 911
    • They will respond immediately if you are in danger of being hurt or have already been hurt by your abuser
    • Call: 911

National hotlines

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline
    • The only center in the US that provides information regarding 5,000 local and nationwide shelters and service providers for victims, and their friends and family.
    • Has access to translators for other languages.
    • Call: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY for the deaf)
  • Dating violence hotline
    • Call: 1-866-331-9474
  • Sexual assault hotline
    • Call: 1-800-656-4673
  • National Sexual Assault Hotlines
  • National Organization for Victim Assistance
    • Call: (800)-TRY-NOVA
  • State Coalition List
    • Lists the phone numbers for the state offices of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
    • Offices help you find local support or a shelter, and free or low-cost legal services.
    • Visit: http://www.ncadv.org/learn/state-coalitions

Legal services

  • American Bar Association, Domestic Violence Resources
  • Womenslaw.org
    • Provides legal information and support to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault
    • Contains a state-by-state directory of domestic violence shelters in the US
    • Visit www.womenslaw.org
  • Safe Horizon (New York City)
    • Free legal advice and aid for domestic violence victims in New York City
    • For domestic violence
      • Call: 800-621-HOPE (4673)
    • For crime victims
      • Call: 866-689-HELP (4357)
  • For rape, sexual assault and incest
    • Call: 212-227-3000 or 866-689-HELP &4357)
    • TDD Phone number for all hotlines: 866-604-5350
  • Email help@safehorizon.org
  • Visit www.safehorizon.org

 

Americans living overseas

Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Line – organization dedicated to assisting American women living overseas and victims of domestic violence. Provides outreach, safety planning, and other support services and information

 

International

  • Canada
    • Canadian National Clearinghouse on Family Violence – the national resource center for all Canadians seeking information and help regarding partner abuse, and other family abuse
      • Call (613)-957-2938
      • Call TTY toll-free: 1-800-561-5643
      • Call toll-free: 1-800-257-1291
    • National Domestic Violence Hotline
      • Call: 1-800-363-9010
  • United Kingdom
  • Europe
    • Women Against Violence Europe
      • Provides refuges, hotlines, education and counseling help throughout Europe
      • Call: 01-5482720
      • Visit www.wave-network.org
  • Australia
    • Call 1800RESPECT at 1800-737-732
    • Call 1800-200-526 – confidential national helpline
  • Asia
    • Philippines
      • Arugaan ng Kalakasan
        • Non-government organization providing services for battered women and other victims of domestic violence
        • Call (02)-921-8013, (02)928-7774, (02)-430-4227
    • China
    • India
      • International Foundation For Crime Prevention and Victim Care
      • Call: +91-44-43111143
      • Visit: www.pcvconline.org
    • Indonesia
      • Mitra Perempuan Women’s Crisis Centre
      • Call: (6221)-837-90010
    • Japan
      • Asia-Japan Women’s Resource Center
      • Provides information sharing, education and training and fights for women’s rights. Helps women become more equipped with necessary skills and knowledge.
      • Call: +81-3-3780-5245
      • Email: ajwrc@ajwrc.org
      • Visit: www.ajwrc.org

 

Further Reading Resources

Domestic violence: Finding Safety & Support

Break the Silence Handbook

Matchmaking Chronicles: Interview with Matchmaker Michele Fields



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by Patricio | 6 p.m. | March 6th 2015

Through most of our life, we have been led to believe that matches should be made in heaven. We have been led to think that the bow-wielding love genius we call Cupid, whose stellar archery skills and eye for compatibility have brought thousands of couples together. But we may have been deceived.  

Some perfect matches are, in fact, made on earth. The 'perfect match' could be made without the aid of a bow and arrow, but it could never come to be by randomly pairing singles' profiles. Professional matchmaking requires skill, smarts and passion. Heaven is that special place where couples go when these professional cupids make a perfect concoction.  

In the next few weeks, Cupid's Library will be featuring some of the most accomplished women matchmakers whose candor in this series of interviews fuels their insights on matchmaking, dating and relationships.

Image courtesy of Michele Fields

This week, we start with Denver-based matchmaker Michele Fields.

Experienced, direct and informative. These are the qualities that Michele wants Bon Jour Matchmaking to be known for. With 26 years of experience, it is hard to fault this formula.

Matchmaking seems like one of the most exciting professions there is. Have you always seen yourself as a professional cupid? What made you decide to become one?

When I was young and dated people, I always thought of other women they would make a better match with. It came naturally to me. In 1989 the only service in Denver was Great Expectations and I didn’t like their structure. I felt that I could be a more personal, efficient and less expensive alternative.

What are the most important factors to consider when creating a match? 

I take into account 6-7 factors which the client has pointed out during the interview are the most important to them. My service is collaborative which is what makes it so successful. We decide together who the best matches are based on tons of information which include several photos.

Who are the best candidates for a matchmaking service? Why do you think certain people turn to matchmaking to find a partner?

The best candidates are people with open minds and open hearts who are willing to listen to my coaching and the feedback that I share with them. People who can trust my process and have patience for the right person to come along.

Is there a specific trait that prevents someone from being successfully paired? Do you have some requirements for your clients? 

People who don’t listen to me. I know my clients and what resonates with them and what doesn’t, so my advice is based on what will be the most successful actions. If they are closed-minded and narrow and/or impatient, they will not be successful with me. Yes, all singles who I accept must fit in with the current clientele and agree with and understand the philosophy of Bon Jour Matchmaking Service.

For you, what type of man/woman is the hardest to match?  People who are too narrow and want perfection. 

They are not perfect but they insist on perfection in a mate.

In what ways is professional matchmaking more effective than online dating? Image courtesy of Michele Fields

If you engage a real matchmaker you should work with someone who knows each and every client, coaches, gives you feedback, and gets in the middle when things start to fall apart. Online, there is no one to do any of that.

How have dating apps such as Tinder changed the matchmaking industry? 

Just made it that much more superficial.

How does being a cupid-for-hire affect your own love life? Do you apply the same rules and matching techniques to your own dating habits? 

As a woman it has affected me profoundly on a personal level after 26 years! My self-image has taken a big hit listening to men berate women who they perceive are not “perfect”. I stopped dating five years ago as I see how little appreciation men have for more mature women.

Is matchmaking as fun as it looks or is the stress level equal to that of a neurosurgeon? Would you recommend professional matchmaking as a career option? 

You are dealing with people on such a personal level -- their egos, their self esteem, their hopes and dreams. It is a difficult profession to do long-term and that’s probably why so many services pop up and disappear in short order. To go 26 years with 300+ marriages is a huge accomplishment in this field. Also, when things don’t work out for someone, they tend to take it out on the “messenger”. Each person is responsible for their success with a matchmaker and in relationships. When it fails it is not always the fault of the service.

How much do you charge for your service? Are there significant differences in rate? Some matchmakers are more expensive than others, but differences in fees aside, what makes your services special?

I do not have flat fees. After 26 years working with singles, I’ve decided to evaluate each individual’s situation and offer their own personal fee that fits their situation and how much I feel I can do for them. That and a million other things mentioned above are what make Bon Jour Matchmaking Service sooooo special!

Image courtesy of Michele Fields

If there’s one piece of advice you’d have for singles who are looking for a partner, what would it be? 

If you are genuinely looking for a lifetime partner keep your eyes on the prize. Focus on what is important in a marriage, not how gorgeous they are, or whether they ski at your level. Compatible morals and values are the most important, activities and interests can be cultivated and are not what is going to get you through a lifetime of trials and tribulations.


To find out more about Michele Field's services:

Visit her website - Bon Jour Matchmaking

Like Bon Jour Matchmaking on Facebook – Bon Jour Matchmaking

 

Check Cupid's Library's blog every week as we feature more women matchmakers.

The Love of My Life Has Manic Depression



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by Mary J. | noon | February 19th 2015

Image courtesy of Naypong / FreeDigitalPhotos.netEvery girl who is looking for her Prince Charming always envisions a tall, dark and handsome man. Few descriptions of this person ever describe his mental condition; however, psychology tells us that if a person is tall, dark and handsome, the halo effect that we ascribe to him will automatically include intelligence, wit and mental stability. [Note: If you are not familiar with the halo effect, it simply means that a person with one good quality is seen to have many good qualities.]

Few, if any women will ever achieve this perfect vision in their real lives. I have yet to meet the perfect woman on this earth, and since women are naturally better than men, smiley emoticon, we can assume that there is no such thing as a perfect man. Once I got over needing to have a cartoon as my life partner, I found the love of my life in a package much different than the Disney caricature.

I met my husband at an AA meeting. His depressive state had caused him to use alcohol as a sort of self-medication. In many ways he was the most in need of help, but he always had the kindest words of encouragement for everyone in the group. I asked around to see if his behavior changed just to get me on a date. Everyone said that this was his true personality, so I ended up asking him out!

After six months of dating, I knew that this was the man that I was going to marry. He said that he knew from the second he saw me walk into the AA group, which is quite a romantic thing to say. He says very romantic things, which is another reason why I had to lock it down!

We both wanted kids; we definitely had to agree on this point in order to get married. We decided that our various challenges would serve as a good example for our children. If they came out healthy, they would have no excuses. Both of us are very driven, and we wanted our children to be inspired by us and be driven in life as well.

Part of the reason why I married him was that he let me know exactly how debilitating his condition was. With his doctor's permission, he actually went off of his medication for a while in order to show me exactly what a worst case scenario would be like. I chose him only after experiencing that episode firsthand.

Manic depression is described as a group set of behaviors that fluctuate wildly without any external provocation from extremely manic highs to extremely depressed lows. My husband's manic depression was not diagnosed precisely, as in many cases. However, our doctors and my gut say that it was partly from genetics and partly from a lack of nutrition early in his childhood. It certainly did not help that he grew up in a mildly abusive household in which no one really knew how to vent frustration in a proper way.

Image courtesy of photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.netMy husband, the true love of my life, deals on a day-to-day basis with manic depression. Before we go into the reasons why this is difficult, we must go first into the character traits that made me want to marry him despite his mental disorder.

The spirit that I saw in this man as he dealt with his manic depression was unshakable. The number one reason that he is my husband now is that no matter how he felt biologically that day, his service to other people never wavered. He gave the same to everyone whether he was feeling well that day or not. It was then that I learned the true nature of the spirit and that our bodies are truly just vessels for a much higher energy.

This is not to say that our marriage is without its problems, of course. The process that my husband must go through in order to overcome his mental weaknesses takes quite a toll on me, his main source of daily support. At times, I am his mental punching bag. It can be difficult to try to explain to my best friends that my husband truly does not mean to make me cry at family occasions and during holidays. Ex-boyfriends have physically confronted my husband about some of the things that he has said about me in public because of his manic depression. Some of the things that he says while depressed are the exact same things that physically abusive husbands say to their wives.

Even as you read this, you are likely saying to yourself that I am letting love blind me and that I may even be in some physical danger. Believe me, this social pressure is an incredibly difficult ship to navigate, because while a manic depressive person is depressed, the things that they say resemble abuse. If a so-called mentally healthy person said the same things, it would be abuse.

This is exactly why I would like to focus on the difference between dating someone with a mental disorder and someone who has the potential to abuse you and possibly end your life.

If you are dating someone with a true mental disorder, then that person should first be aware himself of his problem. If he has not sought out medical attention and given himself the potential for stability through medication or through a daily routine, then that person is not ready for you to date. For instance, if you are dating a mentally ill person who believes that he can get off his medication whenever he wants, this can be a dangerous situation. Leave it alone.

Secondly, a person with a mental disorder will also understand the social ramifications of his actions. My husband never made excuses for his behavior in front of people – he immediately returned to his doctor and worked out a medical program that would increase his stability. I did not have to cajole him to do this; he is well aware that the person he is when depressed does not deserve a caring wife. Abusive people say that they will change and do nothing.

Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee / FreeDigitalPhotos.netThird, understand that dating or marrying a person with a mental disorder places you in a situation that many people simply will not understand. You may have to explain yourself over and over again to people who love you. You cannot become frustrated with this, as that frustration will creep back into your relationship and affect it negatively. As women, we always prefer to be the ones with the freedom to emote; however, if you are planning on a serious life with a person who has a mental disorder, this is simply one of the sacrifices that love would call on you to make. Your partner will need your mental stability in order for the relationship to work.

Most importantly, you must be able to separate the mental illness from the person who is suffering from it. This is perhaps the biggest lesson that my relationship with my husband has taught me – the physical body is a slave to nerve endings and neurons and blood chemicals. The spirit, however, is completely separate. It is truly difficult to explain, but if you cannot fall in love with the spirit of a person through the noise of biology that a mental disorder creates, then you should immediately let that person go. The relationship will not go well for either of you.

My husband and I set up physical boundaries as well. It is agreed among our entire family that if my husband ever hits me for any reason, I am to immediately leave. We have this in writing. It is not a legal contract, but it is an agreement that is known to my entire family as well as his. The bottom line is this: there are ways to overcome the difficulties that mental disorders bring to a relationship. True love will always find a way.

Your medical history is not the first thing you share when going on first dates, but in Illness Dating sites, talking about a common disease won't be so strange. Check our list of dating sites and resuscitate your need for a healthy romantic relationship. 

7 Reasons You Should Sleep Around While You’re Young



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by Molly Lanscombe | 5:23 a.m. | January 23rd 2015

Image courtesy of adamr / FreeDigitalPhotos.netI have been very fortunate to sleep around extensively while still young. I have slept with most of the continental United States, plus many cities in Alaska and Hawaii. Okay, okay, so some of that isn’t true but, there are other ways to expand your horizons when you’re young other than traveling the world. I’m a firm believer in the idea that sleeping around is an excellent way to spend your time and that you’ll probably never look back and regret many of those nights – unless you spend the night with a Greek guy who got all his ‘moves’ from bad porn films. Slapping my boobs? No. Just no. A friend once told me that you shouldn’t even consider settling down until your number was at at least 50. I think that might have been some of the best advice I ever received.

Let me explain.

1. Sleeping around helps you chill out

I’m not talking about a post-coital buzz here (although that should never be underrated), but the fact that regular sex really does help you approach life with a more relaxed attitude. As well as  being a physical release for any pent-up tension – nothing makes you forget a shitty day at work better than a hook-up. Additionally, all my friends who are doing that cringe-y thing of trying to make it work with every guy they ever date no matter how unsuitable – they are the ones who aren’t sleeping around. If you’re too busy having a little casual – but responsible – fun, then you’re not crying into your pillow about why Mr (or Miss) Meh hasn’t texted you for three days. Better to have two or three hook-ups on rotation until you meet someone worth investing a little more in.

2. Sleeping around makes you feel sexier

Let’s face it, if you’re having regular sex you feel good about yourself. Even though, rationally we know you don’t have to be sexy to get laid whenever you want – just ask Mick Jagger – but it sure does feel sexy, powerful and confident to have regular sex.

3. Sleeping around helps you pick up some valuable new skills.

When you sleep around, you acquire some valuable skills. You can figure out how to make the best of a small situation, how to talk dirty, how to phone and book a cab at the same time you’re having sex. These are useful life skills.

Also, I can proudly say that I’ve been told several times that I give the very best blow jobs. I attribute this to both years of studying Cosmo’s sex tips way before it was legal for me to be performing such activities and, later, to performing a lot of them on a lot of different guys. You can also spot guys a mile off who haven’t had that much experience and haven’t yet expanded their skill set. I feel like Federer playing against a sports club amateur. It’s frustrating. Do your future lovers a favour and put in the hard graft now, while you’re young.  

4. Sleeping around gives you some excellent stories and some valuable ‘wank bank’ material

Some of my best stories revolve around hook-ups I’ve had. Ahh, those two young athletes who made me feel like a goddess and then fixed my aircon – which had been broken for weeks – afterwards. That guy who insisted on having 'Step Up' on in the background every time. That dude who turned out to live in a hammock in a tree. Aaah, good times. Some funny, some odd, some so sexy I keep re-playing them in my head like a well-worn VHS. It’s good to have fun stories to look back on, just in case all the future holds is blended meals and card games.

5. Sleeping around lets you experiment 

When you have a long-term partner, it can be difficult to try out new things without it seeming like a lame attempt to ‘spice up’ your relationship. Unless you’re into spanking, role play, peeing on each other, etc, from the start, it can be kind of awkward and could potentially destroy your relationship entirely if you start doing it after a year or so. Sleeping around when you’re young gives you the chance to try out all this stuff for size and see if it floats your boat. Nobody needs to know you cried when that guy peed on you. The important thing is you found out it was as awful as it sounds and you moved on.

6. Sleeping around is fun

Sometimes people will look down on your hedonistic lifestyle. I say ‘screw them’. If you’re safe and responsible and everyone involved is happy, then it’s all good. Anybody who has a judgment about that is very likely to be quite uptight and very jealous. It’s fun not to be uptight. It’s fun to have sex.

Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee / FreeDigitalPhotos.net7. We’re never guaranteed old age, so let’s enjoy life’s experiences now!

I never quite understand the people who hold back and restrain themselves when it comes to matters such as this. I know a lot of people who don’t sleep with people despite them both being free and single and both wanting to. Let go of any odd moral beliefs you have about this being sinful – come on, we’re not in the Victorian times anymore – and embrace your youth. Your body is the best it’ll ever be, you have more opportunities now than you’ll likely ever have. Who knows what will happen tomorrow? You might meet the love of your life, the earth might get wiped out by a zombie apocalypse. Seize the moment and do it now.

Are you convinced by the power of great, frequent hook-ups yet? Cupid's Library's list of Casual Dating sites might aid in your decision to make the most of your testosterone-addled youth.

About A Boy Toy: Benefits And Tips To Becoming Cougar Bait



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by Jesse Quinn | 6 a.m. | December 26th 2014

Cougars are sultry goddesses offering refined pleasures that defy comparison. Youthful girls simply cannot compete with the erotic skills of these mature ladies. This is why a guy perpetually seeking improved sexual experiences would be wise to set himself up as a boy toy.

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.netA boy toy is a youthful man that is available for fulfilling the sexual needs of a well-to-do older woman. He presents himself in the most gentlemanly manner possible, and does everything to accentuate his boyish charm. Being relatively young is important, especially for any boy that wants to be a cub.

Hunting for MILFs (Mother I'd Like to F***) has gone completely mainstream. Stifler's mom in 'American Pie' normalized the concept of cougars for teenagers everywhere. After a generation, the notion of boyish men sleeping with older women has been accepted as a normal state of affairs. Eva Longoria’s affair with John the gardener in 'Desperate Housewives' may have dispelled the stigma once and for all.

An assortment of juicy privileges await the cougar bait. He is showered with endless sexual favors, romantic gestures and sweet surprises. He is spoiled in the bedroom and outside of it. He gains a lot of personal understanding of female pleasure, and he can hone his methods to deliver earth-shaking orgasms to future partners.

And as if you needed more proof to set yourself up as an object of a MILF's lust, this list of benefits might strengthen your resolve to become a good boy toy:

1. Cougars are not timid about anything sexual, and they are certainly not intimidated by kinks and fetishes. In fact, MILFs just love to get down and dirty. These women might even have fantasies their husbands refuse to fulfill, so they look to open-minded cubs instead. They have the experience to do unimaginable things behind closed doors. Most younger girls are hesitant to embrace the slutty side of their nature, while most cougars want to be treated like filthy whores whenever given the opportunity.

2. MILFs are not manipulative like their immature schoolgirl counterparts. They know their deepest desires very well, and this innate personal understanding allows them to unearth new levels of pleasure. Their schedule is timed to the second, so promptness can be expected with every encounter. They don’t have time to make their date wait for hours while they get ready. A cougar will be all dolled up when her boy toy arrives, and she will be ready to pounce.

3. The rewards extend far beyond the bedroom. These feisty femme fatales have a tendency to spoil their fresh-faced boys. Cougars have an undeniable reputation for being sugar mamas, and they often go straight to the purse while in a state of afterglow.

4. The enterprising cub learns sexual skills that will improve his approach as a lover for life. These moms love instructing their cubs through the process. The guidance extends to thrusting methods, oral techniques, and foreplay. To enjoy the full effects, call her “Mrs.”

5. MILFs offer elegance and luxury. They have a real wardrobe with endless dresses and lingerie. Their make-up exudes sophistication, and they know all their best colors already.

6. Enjoy an open night schedule! MILFs have kids to entertain and husbands to handle. This means a boy toy is free to roam the night looking for raunchy escapades. If he returns to his woman’s abode courteously and promptly, no questions will be asked. This is a great way to get the best of both worlds.

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.netAs terrific as it is being a boy toy, there are a few potential downsides to keep in mind. Most boy toys find ways to enjoy all aspects of the arrangement. Primarily, MILFs have a day-time schedule, and they may have families. Being stealthy is a crucial asset for any boy toy that does not want to have an unfortunate rendezvous with an angry husband. Another potential problem is a fear of being objectified, although most cubs love being fawned over.

When looking for a willing MILF, there are a few key traits to look out for. Horny cougars are easy to spot, but only if you know the signs. Follow these tips and techniques to be ensnared by the next sexy mama you see.

1. Look for signs of a cougar on the prowl. She will usually be combining high levels of glamorousness with revealing garments. Her eye will be the first thing you notice. If the piercing gaze of a huntress failed to meet your stare, then there is no hope; however, a fleeting glance is all it takes to know this woman wants some action. The other signs to identify include jewelry and sports cars.

2. Set yourself up as the perfect prey. Be spotlessly clean and borderline metro-sexual. A cub must be well-dressed and hip. A clean shaven jaw line is an absolute must. Manscaping must be handled with expertise and precision. Remember, tattoos and piercings are ill advised. They create the persona of a bad boy, which only appeals to young girls; meanwhile, these MILFs are looking for a good boy to be obedient and chaste. Don’t wear sunglasses. MILFs want to see the innocence in your eyes. One final note: Be fit, but not overly muscular. A chiseled body may make you look too old for her tastes, so stay trim.

3. Pay no attention to the wedding ring. It is insignificant when determining if a lady is game. This holds especially true with cougars. They flaunt the sparkling diamond on their ring finger as an invitation for a fling on the side. This is a win-win situation on all grounds. You get a refined piece of ass to start, and the bling indicates that you will be receiving some of her husband's hard earned income. In the meantime, she gets a good lay that has been elusive in her relationship for years. Everybody is happy, except maybe the cuckolded husband. There are even dating sites that specialize in affairs.

4. Don't expect to dominate them because this will backfire. Act a little shy to really woo a MILF. Make her feel like she is taking your innocence. The meek will be devoured and ravaged. Play the part by feigning nervousness. Avoid going overboard into downright virginal territory, but imply that you are eager for something you cannot find in girls your own age. Ask a MILF to show you the way, and she will guide you to a place that surpasses your wildest fantasies and rawest desires.

5. Give these babes something to fuss over. Do your best to be immaculately coiffed, but always leave a minor detail unattended. Effective examples include a missed button or an errant cowlick. She'll promptly attend to the problem, and taking care of her cub will make her flustered and hot.

6. Emphasize an open day schedule. If they have a family at home, the only chance for a romp is in the morning and early afternoon. In a similar vein, it is wise to know how to not leave a trace. A masterful vanishing act is necessary for secretly scoring with a busy broad.

7. Be intellectual! MILFs love boys that are wise beyond their years. This allows them to feel like the guy is effortlessly bridging the gap. Listen to classy music. Avoid hip-hop, rock, and electronic music; instead, make the switch to classical music when in public. Carry books, especially classic literature and bestsellers. Don’t touch the romance novels! Those are reserved for her, and you might gleam some of her secrets if you pry. She may not forgive this infraction.

8. Ask for scolding, and even punishment. This will turn her on immensely, and it will give her the direct power to mold you into a better boy toy. Request spankings if you feel like you deserve them. Her eyes will well with tears as she smacks your boyish butt, and so will yours.

9. Use proper grammar with every correspondence. Don’t abbreviate any text messages, and keep slang to a minimum. You don’t have to be Shakespearean, although it wouldn’t hurt; just use full sentences and polite formalities.

10. Do not treat them like antiques. If you accidentally treat her with overly cautious regard, she will be offended. Never say anything to them that makes them feel out of touch. Be willing to get rough! It will be appreciated. Trust me, you will not break them.

11. Deliver in bed! Seriously, this needs to be reiterated over and over again. A boy toy needs to know how to make sex the single best thing his cougar has ever experienced. He must go out of his way to lavish her with attention, affection and a good pounding. The goal is to make her come repeatedly. As a boy toy, she should be able to play with you as long as she wants.

All boy toys get reciprocal benefits from pleasing their women, but the advantageous results are maximized when the woman is at least a few years his superior. This kind of pairing is truly the most erotic in all of human nature. A widespread consensus exists declaring that men reach their peak of sexual prowess around the age of 18; meanwhile, women achieve their maximum climax after 30. The numbers simply show that young men are destined to be with older women if they want to know the meaning of real pleasure. Being a boy toy comes with endless perks, and the fun is always enhanced when you belong to a confident cougar.

Do you have a love story related to cougar dating? Don't just keep it to yourself. Contact us to write for the Cupid's Library community and help share knowledge for the benefit of all. We are waiting to share your story!

Enjoy this article? Do not forget to check out Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Sugar Baby Lifestyle (But Were Afraid to Ask) as well.

Ready to hustle as a full-fledged cub? Let this hefty list of cougar dating sites serve as your training ground for cougar-prowling. Happy hunting!

Christmas May Come But Once A Year, But That Doesn’t Mean You Have To



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by Molly Lanscombe | 10:07 a.m. | December 12th 2014

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.netI don’t want a lot for Christmas, there is just one thing I need… regular, reliable sex to get me though the festive season. In short, a festive fuck buddy.

Christmas is a warm and fussy time of year; the fairy lights viewed through a mulled wine haze, the soppy films at the cinemas… not to mention the mistletoe and midnight kisses as the ball drops on New Year’s Eve. When you’re in a relationship, the whole world becomes your ‘Love, Actually’ at Christmas. When you’re single, however, you start to know what it feels like to be that crazy pigeon lady in ‘Home Alone 2: Lost in New York’.

But, more than goopy films and that constant urge to snuggle under blankets with someone, the thing that amplifies Christmas loneliness the most is… family. At Christmas, we’re often forced to spend far too much time with drunk, judgmental relatives with prehistoric views (“are you courting yet?” was a question I received from my granddad every time I saw him from around the age of 10) than anyone should have to endure. Okay, so a Christmas fuck buddy would be the absolute worst person to introduce to your family or to even mention to them – can you imagine the horror on your Aunt Gerty’s face as you explain the concept? – but, it would lessen the chiseling away at your soul and self-esteem that each concerned comment causes. “Shouldn’t you be thinking about settling down soon?” “You don’t want to leave it too late…”. Yeah, thanks nan – things are a little more complicated than they were back when you met your partner at a tea dance and stuck with them for life. Yeah, the thought of a hot, sweaty sex session that evening really eases the stress of all the interrogations you have to endure during the day.

Boyfriends are great and all but, at short notice, a fuck buddy is a brilliant substitute. Sometimes they even turn out to be an even better substitute – especially as far as not having to bother about what kind of cologne he wants when you’re doing your Christmas shopping, or having to fend off questions about when you’re going to start having grandkids.

No, I’m convinced a fuck buddy is exactly what I’d like to find under my Christmas tree this year  – preferably I’ll unwrap him before Christmas, actually – because Christmas Eve is not a night to be alone in bed. Nobody wants to be dodging mistletoe when they could be making the most of every sprig.

A friend with benefits is a year-round treat, of course, but during the holidays their value goes up tenfold. Let me explain:

1. You have someone to take to all those Christmas parties. Depending on what sort of party you’re headed to, you probably won’t introduce your fuck buddy as that but, for all those random house parties you end up at, it’s always good to have someone to chat with when you only vaguely recognize three people other than the host – and a great excuse for slinking off early. Only the meanest of friends would hold it against you that you ditched the party to hook up with a hottie.

2. You have someone to kiss at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Never underestimate how shitty that moment is when you don’t. It’s hard to look cool, casual and unfazed while you’re surrounded by a sea of snoggers.

3. You have all the Christmas warm and fuzzy feelings, but without the hassle and expense of buying Christmas presents. Buying watches or wallets at Christmas is tedious. Instead, your Christmas present to each other is just more filth. Which is, of course, the best present of all.

4. Christmas morning sex. It’s really the best, if only for the puns ‘let me unwrap you’, ‘my, what a big package’, ‘this year, I’ve been naughty’, ‘I want you in my chimney’. Actually – scrub that last one.

5. Getting to feel smug and dirty and secretive despite saying ‘no’ when your family asks if you’re seeing anyone.

6. Human hot water bottle.

7. Calorie-burning. You’re probably hitting the mince pies a little harder than you should, so it makes sense you work out a little more to compensate. An hour of sex burns off one slice of stollen. Maybe.

8. Sex is an excellent mood booster, and you need to stockpile all the endorphins you can get when you have to deal with your brother’s bratty and over-excited toddler all day.

9. You can go to bars all party season safe in the knowledge that, whatever happens, you’ve got a booty call secured.

10. The thought of a hot hook up planned afterwards really lessens the horror of the office party.

Last year, Santa granted my Christmas wish. I had a festive hook-up throughout the entire season of joy and goodwill to all men. Boy, did I feel some goodwill to all men. T’was indeed the season to be jolly. You can say what you want about committed relationships, but they don’t give you the same kind of glow that something a little more illicit does. That festive fuzzy glow is really complemented by post-orgasmic smugness; I thoroughly recommend the combo. Seriously, the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future could have saved themselves a big task if they’d just sent a hot hookup for Ebenezer Scrooge. The man clearly just needed to get laid. I suspect the results would have been identical.

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My festive hookup was a DJ which, FYI, is perfect for getting into clubs, staying late and then going home for the private after party – wink, wink. Instead of feeling like a loser on Boxing Day, when my relatives interrogated me about my carelessness with regard to not yet being married while I ate my turkey leftovers, I took it all in my stride, knowing I had something better than long-term commitment; I had an evening of up-all-night fun ahead of me. I felt young and sexy rather than spinster-y and panicked.

But, like eggnog, festive fuck buddies are a brilliant addition to your festive plans, but can be deceptively dangerous if you’re not cautious. While they seem like innocent fun that you just want to keep going back for more of, you may find yourself very drunk and making poor decisions before you know it. Okay, the similie is tenuous, to say the least, but you get my point.

The problems generally tend to focus around blurred lines; either yours, theirs, or someone who spots you together – for example, if you bump into your mother while you’re out together in the supermarket shopping for post-sex snacks on a Christmas Sunday afternoon. This may or may not have happened to me. It’s awkward and, you’ll probably find yourself having to pretend to your mum that you’re dating. Your mum won’t let this grain of hope for the fact she may be able to marry you off in the near future go.That is but one of the unavoidable scenarios of having a holiday or any sort of casual dating 'relationship'.

It’s also very possible that all the Christmas fuzziness (and large amounts of alcohol) gives you a serious case of rose-tinted specs, and you’ll start to believe everything in life is a Hollywood movie and that your unconventional relationship is probably the start of something really magical. But, when January comes – with all its lack of money, diets and back to work realness – you might remember why your relationship never developed into anything beyond the bedroom. Then you’re left with the bitterness of an awkward parting just before February, which already sucks due to Valentine’s Day, which I refer to by its unofficial name, the Annual Day for Couple Smugness.

The other fear is that they’ll start to like you more than you do them – they aren’t immune to Christmas fuzziness and booze – nor your obvious charms and irresistibility, either. It’s always tricky explaining to somebody that, while you like them, you much prefer their bedroom skills than their personality. If you are faced with this difficult situation, please word it a little differently than this.

No, keep your festive fling as part of your Christmas ritual; like an advent calendar, bad jumpers and changing your ring tone to Wham’s Last Christmas. A festive fuck buddy has a short shelf life. They’re a Christmas crutch to lean on (lean on, straddle, whatever...) but, when the decorations come down, you should, bid your hookup adieu, too. Remember, a festive fuck buddy is just for Christmas, not for life. A holiday from real life, a sexual vacation and a little end of year treat to yourself. And if you haven't got yourself one, it is never too late to shop for one. Remember not to overindulge once New Year comes.

How Women Can Deal With Online Dating Harassment



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by Patricio | 6 a.m. | November 27th 2014

It is uncertain if the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz is an OkCupid user himself or if he just happened to read this Atlantic article about women getting harassed on dating websites, and decided to post it on his Facebook page. It is more likely that he simply felt strongly for women minorities who are getting maligned on the big and formidable dating site which then compelled him to share it.

Harassment of women has been happening since the beginning of time, and more specifically in the case of the Dominicans, during the days of Rafael Trujillo, a dictator who harassed (beautiful) women (at least according to Oscar Wao) in the Dominican Republic. It was easy for dictators, but not so for the commoners.

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.netBut things have changed. Dictator or not, badly behaving men can get away with harassing women much easier nowadays than it was for men in the 1930s, 40s or 50s who had to suffer the indignity of displeasing women in real life. No matter how it's done, it seems that propositioning women will never go out of fashion. Whereas before, harassers were constrained to performing acts of perversion in person, now they can do it in a vast array of electronic platforms without working a sweat.

Vile messages of ill intent – mostly sexual in nature – can be sent through otherwise innocuous dating sites and apps. Creating a new Facebook profile, for the sole purpose of showcasing one's viciousness in the single guy's favorite app Tinder, is easy. Making and maintaining a shady online dating persona to send lewd messages to women can be done swiftly if and when the mood for such an activity strikes. Evidently, technology is owed our thanks. 

But it's not technology's fault that it's being used to perpetuate a cycle of abuse. The internet is in fact a wonderful place to find romance. Many dating sites have shared countless success stories of strangers meeting the love (and lay) of their lives. It warms the heart reading about couples tell tales of their love affairs that started from a seemingly harmless 'hi' or an innocent 'wink' which in most dating sites you can do with no limits. It brings tears to the eyes when girls meet their prince charming on sites such as atheistpersonals.com or any of the innumerable general dating sites. Countless times, the internet has acted as an electronic cupid to romance-seeking singles.

Also countless? Unsolicited dick pics that are being sent to unwitting, hapless women looking for romance in the web, haplessly victimized by the deluge of photos of phallus. That women don't find snapshots of penises arousing is very puzzling to exactly two sets of people: straight men who like their dicks, and in particular, straight men who are not freaked out and do not tremble with disgust at the site of their own, or other guys', penis, and most gay men. It can only be assumed that men bombard women with pictures of their other selves to prove this inherent disinterest wrong ('Penises are beautiful and I'm sending a picture of mine so you can change your mind').

Dating sites have become breeding grounds for harassers and it seems that there's little that site moderators and victims – mostly women – can do from blocking them off. A woman who chooses to be rid of online harassment has these options:

1. Be vigilant always and install an internal pervert detector.
2. Never attempt to find love online.

But this is just not fair. Surely, there are better ways to avoid online maniacs than resorting to these useless and impractical options?

On certain dating sites, men outnumber women, so it's not surprising that not a lot of men also get harassed or get the same threatening, wicked attitude towards their reluctance to engage in very specific use of their mouth, or any of their body parts. A large number of single men visiting online dating sites ought to be good news for women as it means a variety of mates to choose from that would increase their chances of finding the right one amid the cornucopia. But the huge number of men also means a huge number of potential predators who would send you messages so filthy you would want to wash your smartphone with soap after use.

It's simply unimaginable that guys would get the same treatment from the opposite sex. Inconceivable to imagine a straight male complaining about getting so much attention from women in OkCupid. To imagine a guy feeling violated over being asked to send a photograph of his manhood is to imagine the impossible. What is easy to imagine is a guy deciding which filter to use when mass-sending his you-know-what.

In case of dating site freak outs, what's a girl to do?

Unfortunately, taser guns and pepper sprays won't be able to protect them from offensive images and verbal assaults issued by horny, aggressive, and aggressively horny men in FriendFinder.com. If you're a woman, there is no telling when or if a guy you just met, whose last name you do not even know, and who probably parades around in the online dating world under telling nicknames as cupidboi4u or 69thusiast is the kind of guy who would unleash a torrent of profanity when turned down or ignored.

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A woman may never be able to completely prevent being subject to deranged suitors' attacks but they can definitely remove them from the face of the dating site, if not of the earth.

It's such an obvious course of action but it's so often neglected. Amateur female online daters too unnerved at the sight of a crude message might have to collect herself first before she can muster the nerve to look for the Report Abuse page. But sometimes the shock is too great for this to even occur to her. Sometimes, she may not even bother.

Ditch General Sites, Go Niche

Women can also avoid the dirty prose bros in major dating sites by going to niche sites that cater to their specific interests. A devout Christian lady looking to find a God-fearing, bible-quoting Christian man would be probably be better off signing up for Christian dating sites and feel safer around her kin. Someone who wishes to find herself in fetish dating communities, but still wants to be respected, could opt for any number of fetish dating sites that cater to people like her. If one is into farmers, a farmers and/or cowboys dating site is where one could meet a nice young country boy that could be taken home to momma.

Although questionable behavior is not unheard of in these sites, and strictly sticking to these niche sites is not likely going to solve the pervasive problem of perversion in online dating, there is probably a much smaller likelihood of bumping into guys who would bring up the topic of your cup size in place of the usual greetings. And at least there is an element of surprise.

Sassy Support Group Sites

If feeling defeated, she can also find solace from sites (and apps) that expose the worst in online dating. If threatening guys with an expose won't do the trick, knowing that one is in the company of women who have experienced the same things, might. Sites such as Tinder Lines might never erase the oppressive image of genitalia from your mind, but knowing that someone else is getting much more offensive messages just might ease the pain.

To be fair, not all women are always in their best behavior when they use dating sites. They can also be terribly shady which incurs the ire of men who feel entitled to their affection and attention. Guys have to make the first move always and what they're doing when they go berserk at inattentive women who dare deflect their advances is arguably just a very normal way that a man takes care of his ego, the very ego that he puts out there in the world for all the millions of women of Match.com to tear to pieces.

As the means of harassment develop, so will the brand of cruelty. Perhaps it is human nature to want to do things that no other sane human would want to even think about, perhaps there should be an internet penal/penile code for men who would but that would be so hard to do.

A guy on the prowl should know that there are dating sites where he can act out his severest fantasies (but still within the bounds of acceptable social conduct) and not be perceived as a sociopath. He should also bear in mind that if this keeps happening, women just might stay away from online dating sites. Forever. And that would be a mortifying state for the future of online dating and he wouldn't want that. To borrow a line from a Junot Diaz short story, this is how you lose her.

BDSM: The Beginner's Guide



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by Carmen Volterra | 6 a.m. | November 6th 2014

Image courtesy of adamr / FreeDigitalPhotos.netThere's a lot more to BDSM than just Fifty Shades of Grey, especially if you're looking for a compatible partner in the crazy world of dating. But what if you're a beginner who doesn't quite know the... ropes? Consider this a newbie's guide.

Understand the Lingo

First things first: there's no universal agreement on what 'BDSM' stands for. Depending on who you ask, the letters can stand for bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism or masochism. Since all of these terms are prominent concepts in a typical fetish community, there's simply no telling which ones were the originals.

Bondage is the art of immobilization, though you may be surprised to learn that it doesn't have to involve whips and chains. Bondage play can come in everything from ribbons to ropes.

Discipline is the art of giving and receiving punishment, often in the context of dominance and submission. One partner takes control of the scene; the other concedes it.

Sadism and masochism are often misunderstood by the general public. Though they usually refer to an exchange of pain, they can also be applied to erotic contexts in the form of extreme pleasure or orgasm denial. Simply put, sadism and masochism are about finding satisfaction within extremes.

Know Your Kinks

Did anything intrigue you from the previous section? Well, they're only the tip of the iceberg. Before you go tumbling down the rabbit hole, however, it's important to know thyself. You don't want to misrepresent your interests in the world of fetish dating.

Here are just a few questions to ponder as you take your journey:

 

- Are you dominant or submissive? Do you enjoy taking control in the bedroom or ceding it to your partner? Or maybe you're a switch, someone who likes both.

- What are your biggest fantasies? What's the common denominator in all of them? For example, if you dream of role-playing, are you most excited by the scenes, the characters or the costumes?

- What are you looking for in a partner? Do you dream of a gentle hand or a leather-clad giant? There are no wrong answers here; the most important thing is that you're honest with yourself and your sexual needs. If you don't know what you want, you can't go out and find it.

 

Set Boundaries

Rules are extremely important in certain scenarios. When you're traveling to the edge with a partner, you need to have complete faith and trust that they won't let you fall.

Safewords are the most common precaution. Like the name implies, they're conversational shorthands that end the scene immediately when spoken aloud. Most people choose something unusual for their safeword so it won't accidentally slip out during intense play; "purple monkey" or "Mr. Tibbles" is unlikely to be screamed in the height of passion.

Other couples use a numbered or colored system to denote their comfort levels. For example, "yellow" might mean "slow down, this is getting intense" while "red" means "stop right this minute, I'm not comfortable with this any longer."

If you're setting up a specific scene, you might want to run through it verbally before anyone gets tied up. Ask questions like, "Is it okay if I pull your hair?" or "Should I wait for permission before I move my hands?"

Image courtesy of adamr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You should also take the time to establish a list of no-nos with a potential partner. This is especially important when meeting or dating someone for the first time; you need to make clear exactly what is and isn't acceptable in your relationship. If you don't like to be scratched, say so right away. If you hate humiliation, warn them not to go there so they won't offend you in the middle of a scene. A simple conversation about limits can save you both time and frustration in the long run.

Never Stop Communicating

Last but certainly not least, you should understand that an interest in bondage, fetish and other kinks and alternative dating situations will never be stagnant. As you experiment with different things, your tastes will refine, evolve and even change completely. This is completely normal! But make sure that you always communicate your new needs to your partner and are willing to listen if their needs change as well.

This is just a quick guide to getting what you want out of it. Dating is tricky enough, but it can be especially difficult if you're imagining that nice girl across the cafe table all dolled up in latex. So use these tips and tricks to ensure that you're both on the same page when it comes to sex.

Oh, and don't rely on Fifty Shades of Grey for your education. Just don't do it.

Now that you know the basics, you're ready to get your kink on. You can begin with this list of fetish dating sites which comes with reviews, recommendations and warnings.

Top 10 Tips for Transgender Dating



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by Carmen Volterra | 7 a.m. | October 30th 2014

Whether you're dating a transwoman or becoming a transman yourself, there are a few unspoken rules in the world of transgender dating. Here are just 10 tips for keeping your foot firmly out of your mouth. 
 
Image courtesy of photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net1. Be Honest 

Don't misrepresent yourself either online or in person. If you're pre-op, say so. If your breasts are actually body foam, bring up cross-dressing over coffee and see how your partner reacts. You don't have to give away all your secrets on the first date, but the longer you wait to share certain truths, the harder they'll be to swallow.
 
2. Know the Lingo 

Not every transwoman is a drag queen. Not every transman considers himself gay. Before you take your first steps in alternative dating, make sure you understand all the terminology that goes with it. For example, if you don't know what "cissexual" means or what the acronyms BA, GCS or HRT stand for, it's time to do some research before you embarrass yourself in front of that beautiful VGV TG.
 
3. Avoid Inflammatory Language 

In the same vein as the above, nothing will turn people off faster than a dating profile declaring its interest in "sexy shemales" or "hot trannies." Transpeople aren't objects, and unless you're on a seriously kinky website, most will resent being treated as such. Stay as courteous and respectful as you would on any other dating platform.
 
4. Talk About Kinks 

Not every transwoman likes to be spanked while listening to Pink Floyd's The Wall, but if you catch that lucky lady, you're going to be pretty embarrassed if you don't know anything but the missionary position. Discuss your kinks before heading into the bedroom. Again, you don't have to share everything right away, but it's a good idea to make sure you're sexually compatible before attempting actual sex.
 
5. Don't Ask About the Plumbing 

This applies to both cispeople and transpeople who are dating someone like them. Don't ask about genitalia! It implies that you don't care how smart, funny or interesting they are; you're only interested in what they keep in their pants. Don't talk about parts unless they bring it up first or show interest in the topic. It's an important exchange to have, certainly, but it's one that can wait until the second or third date when you're more comfortable with each other and open to the idea of an actual relationship.
 
6. Date from the Right Circles 

Heterosexual couples may be able to find love in the produce section, but it's a little more difficult for transpeople. Whether you're trans yourself or just interested in dating that way, you might want to stick to alternative dating websites or gay-friendly places in your neighborhood. That way you'll be able to pick from a pool of LGBT singles instead of just catching someone's eye over the oranges and hoping fervently that they're not a bigot.
 
7. Allow for Some Uncertainty

Transwomen weren't raised as women, so they might be a little sensitive or insecure in their femininity. They might also go in the opposite direction and be very brash and aggressive. When dating a transwoman, the key is to be open and accepting no matter where they are on the path of self-acceptance. Let them figure things out for themselves. Your role is just a supportive one in their journey.
 
8. Apologize for Your Mistakes 

It's easy to mix up terms and pronouns even if you're transgender yourself. The important thing is that you don't linger on or try to justify your gaffe. For example, if you call your date "gay" but they consider themselves heterosexual in the wrong body, don't get into a 30-minute argument about terminology. Apologize, respect their label and move on. You could be doing something romantic instead of squabbling about semantics.

 

Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
 
9. Don't Treat Them As An "Other" 

The first time you introduce your date as "my transgender girlfriend" will also be the last. For the most part, transpeople are looking for the same kinds of relationships as cispeople, and that means not treating them as exotic commodities or a topic of gossip among your friends. Stop those Victor/Victoria jokes before they even begin. Punch your buddy in the face if he starts to ask about genitalia. Your date will see it as gallant.
 
10. Stay Safe 

It's a dangerous world out there, especially for transpeople who meet online. Take precautions while looking for The One. Meet in a public place for your first date; have a friend awaiting your call at a certain hour; don't go anywhere with someone if they make you uncomfortable. Look out for red flags in their language, too. Some transpeople have yet to accept themselves, so if you notice any alarming or self-loathing phrases, get out before you wind up in The Silence of the Lambs.

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