Maintaining a Successful Long Distance Relationship

I haven’t written about this topic in a while.  It is that time again when school is almost done for the year, and most students go back home for the summer.  That means many of you could be experiencing the whole long distance thing with your boyfriend or girlfriend this summer as well.  I read this post by Julie, on Hugstronger, and wanted to share it on my blog.  I thought it might help to read about it from someone who has gone through it.  Here is her advice:

I’ve had almost eight years to sort out long-distance relationships. During that time, I’ve spent countless nights scouring the Internet for sources telling me what to do, how to cope and how to make myself feel like I wasn’t putting my life on hold.

I was practically living on my computer, and I felt utterly defeated when my one link to my partner couldn’t even help me figure out how to deal.

Unfortunately, Google and Wikipedia don’t have all the answers.

Recently though, I’ve realized that I don’t struggle with being in an LDR like I used to. It’s been a long time since I’ve appealed to the Internet, asking questions like, “How do you have a life when you’re in a long-distance relationship?”

What changed? Well, time and experience definitely helped. I’ve learned a lot about myself, and in turn, I’ve learned how to make my life in an LDR better.

I have three tips that will absolutely make being in an LDR easier:

Tip 1: You Are Not Alone

I recall too many evenings spent sitting around on my computer, waiting for my partner to wake up or come home, just so that I could say a quick “hello-goodbye.” Being in college can get lonely at times, and being in an LDR, on top of it, can make that loneliness even more astute.

It can be difficult for others who aren’t in LDRs to understand the rationale behind your decision to stay with your partner despite the distance, and that lack of understanding makes it feel like your friends aren’t a support system.

You do know at least one other person who’s in a LDR though: your partner. I encourage you to talk to them. Open up about what you’re struggling with. Chances are they’re going to relate.

Don’t write your non-LDR friends off though. Just because they haven’t experienced what you’re going through doesn’t mean they can’t listen.

Tip 2: Live In The Present

Living alone this year (as opposed to on campus) definitely taught me to value time with myself. It also meant that I couldn’t just run back to my room between classes for a quick Skype chat with my partner. This lack of constant Internet connections has helped me realized that it’s good to be alone sometimes, to not constantly be connected to my partner.

Sure, we text now and then during the day, but I’ve been refraining from constant texting. I want the people I’m spending time with in the here and now to have my complete attention, and I’ve found that texting during those interactions takes my mind away from what’s happening in the moment.

It’s easy to feel like you have to be available for the other person at all times because you can’t make up for it by being there in person. Try to remember that you’re still living your life right now. It’s important to nurture yourself and the relationships with the people around you, too.

Tip 3: Have Open Communication

This is a big one. Since you’re so far away from one another, it’s easy to stop sharing the daily details of your lives. I’ve noticed that once this happens, it’s easy to feel like you’re not a part of each others’ lives.

There have been times where I’ve felt like I didn’t really know my partner—what he was doing every day, who he talked to, what funny little things happened to him. Those little things make up life, and when we forget to share them with one another, we soon feel less connected.

Share the big stuff, too. If you have something on your mind (and this goes for every relationship) let your partner know. The healthiest relationships I’ve seen (and have been in) included people who realized this and did their best to be open and honest with one another.

About Julie

Julie is a college senior attending Humboldt State University, and every day she feels lucky to have the opportunity to be living amongst the beautiful trees and waters of Northern California.  She will be graduating in May of 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in English for secondary education, after which time she plans to move back to Europe to live with her partner, teach English, and write.

Puppy Love

There is a reason that a dog is a man’s best friend.  Puppies and even older dogs love people like no other.  I think it’s a good idea to analyze why puppies can be so therapeutic.  Maybe we can learn about love from analyzing how a puppy loves its owner.

1. Perseverance- a puppy doesn’t give up trying to win your love.  Even if you are trying to ignore it, a puppy will keep putting his nose in your hand to get your attention.  You can try to push him away, but he will continue to try to get you play with him.  Loving another  human being takes perseverance.  You need to really work at love to make it last.  A lot of people give up when a relationship becomes hard.  You aren’t always going to get along and your relationship may go through rough patches.  However, if you keep coming back to work things out, you find that most rough patches end.  Don’t give up too quickly and run to someone new because you think it will be easier.  Unless you have constant conflict, most of the time it is worth it to stay and work things out.

2.  Unconditional Love- a puppy loves you no matter what.  He doesn’t care whether your hair is messed up or you’ve gained a couple of pounds.  They love you for you.  They don’t judge you on how you look.  However, if you treat a dog badly, over time, they will withdraw from you.  It is possible to destroy their trust, although, they do still love you and want your love in return.  Dogs will also forgive you if you start treating them well again.  Loving humans should be more like this.  Love someone for who they are and try not to criticize or change them.  Although, be aware that it isn’t fair to take advantage of someone’s unconditional love.  If you are hurting someone or doing things to break trust, you can cause your boyfriend or girlfriend’s to pull away from you.   They do deserve better.  It would be wise for them to leave the relationship if they are being abused.  If a dog doesn’t deserve to be treated badly, your boyfriend or girlfriend certainly doesn’t.  Don’t think you can can do whatever you want to someone and expect them stay even if they do still love you.

3.  Loyalty-  a puppy is loyal to its owner.  It learns quickly who feeds and takes care of it.  A dog may learn to be nice and love other people they get to know well, but they will attack people who are out to harm their owners.  Loyalty is a huge virtue to find in someone because it builds trust and love in a relationship.  It is good to defend your partner when others are putting them down or attacking them in some way.  Stand up for the person you love and support them emotionally at all times.  A dog also isn’t going to leave its owner and go sleep on a neighbor’s porch.  Learn from dogs and know that cheating is never a good thing in a healthy relationship.

4.  Affection-  a puppy can be very affectionate.  It usually isn’t shy about showing it’s love to its owner.  Puppies will try to climb on you and lick your face constantly.  There is never any doubt they love you.  Not every human is so demonstrative with their affection.  You don’t have constantly be touching your partner to show them love, but every once in a while it is good to show signs of affection.  A 20 second hug will release feel good endorphins.  Sometimes holding hands or cuddling on the couch can be just what a person needs to feel how much you love them.  Also, dogs don’t show affection as a way to get sex.  Affection is not a tool to be used to get what you want out of the situation.  If you are only touching your partner as a prelude to sex, then try to find times to touch them just to show them you care, not because you’re trying to get something from them.

5.  Fun- a puppy is fun to be with.  It will remind you to let go of your worries and just relax for a bit.  A puppy can be stressful at times to take care of, but most of the time they make you laugh at the funny things they do.  They are entertaining.  Human relationships can be stressful at times to maintain.  However, it is important to bring an element of fun to your relationship.  It isn’t your job to get your partner to relax, but you can set a good example by making time to do something fun together.  Finding the time to have fun will defuse the stress built up over school, work and never having any money.  The reason a lot of people cheat is because their relationship isn’t fun any more and they find someone else who makes them laugh.  Find ways to make your partner laugh and your relationship will be healthier.

Relationships with puppies, dogs or any pets are not perfect.  However, animals do have a special way of showing love.  I think all of us could learn a little more from them to improve our own relationships.

Love is Love

I’m wearing a wristband from the Human Rights Awareness week that says “Love is Love”.   I like this quote because it is basically saying that love is not bound by culture, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or any other thing we humans use to separate one another.   I heard a student say last night that it is human nature to want to categorize and put each other into groups.   I don’t mind being part of a group.  What I do mind is people believing I shouldn’t talk to, be friends with, date, have sex with or marry someone outside of that group.

I don’t really write on my blog about my personal beliefs too often.   This blog is about helping students and anyone else who may read it deal with relationship or sexual issues.   However, in today’s post I want to share my perspective on love and relationships.  I’m of the mind set “live and let live”.   I have my own beliefs about things, but I don’t like to impose those beliefs onto others.  If what you’re doing makes you happy and it isn’t hurting me in any way, then it really isn’t my business.   Some people think as a counselor it is my job to tell people what to do.  It is not.  It is my job to listen to people’s stories and try to understand where they are coming from.  I then try to offer my knowledge on the subject to help a person understand why certain things may be happening in their life.  I may ask questions or offer speculations based on past experience.  It is then up to the person in my office to use that information to make their own decisions about things.  Unless I think someone may hurt themselves or someone else, I usually don’t tell people what to do with their lives.

Like I said, my main job is to listen.  I have heard hundreds of personal stories.  I have been given a gift of being able to put myself inside those stories and feel, in a way, how those people felt.  It has really given me a unique perspective on life.  I feel like I experience a lot of things second hand that I myself may never live through.  Kind of like reading a book or watching a movie.  I can get caught up in someone’s story.  Because of this I feel like I have been in all types of relationships.  I have seen love cross all kinds of lines and cause people do things way outside of their character.  Love is an enormously powerful emotion.  This is why it bothers me when people want to put restrictions on it.  In my mind the only restriction is to protect yourself from someone who is trying to hurt you.  You may still love them, but you don’t deserve to be hurt by someone emotionally, physically or sexually.  That is the only line I draw.

I have watched all different types of couples in love.  Never once have I seen a couple and determined how much they were able to love each other by their skin color, sexual orientation, gender, age, religious faith or cultural background.  If you’re black does that mean you would have the best relationship with another black person?   Maybe, but maybe not.  Maybe you would relate or get along better with someone of a different racial background.  When people say a man loving another man isn’t “right”, I wonder what does that mean?  Right?  When I think of love being “right” I think of it as not being hateful.  My love isn’t “right” if I am being mean to the person.  Or if I’m ignoring their needs.  Or if I’m impatient with them.  Or if I hold a grudge against them.  Those aren’t “right” ways to love someone.

However, saying that two men loving each other isn’t right.  Or that an Asian man can’t love an Irish woman.   Or that there is no way a person could fall in love with both a man or woman (meaning they are bisexual).  Or a Christian shouldn’t love someone Jewish.  Really?  Who am I to make those claims?  I get to choose who I want to love and that is it.  I don’t get to choose for anyone else or define for them what love is.  America is supposed to be the land of the free.  You should be free to love whoever you want.  Why does anyone else care?  I’m not sure how to answer that question.

I do agree that crossing certain boundaries isn’t always the best or right decision for everyone.  It may not be good for you to marry someone outside of your culture or religion.  Your religion or cultural background may be a huge part of your life and you want to share that with the person you marry.  That is great and you should follow through with that decision.  However, don’t think everyone else feels the same way.  You may not “get” how a woman can be attracted to another woman.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t right for those who are.  What may seem strange or different for you, may be normal or good for someone else.  You get to determine what works for you.   I don’t believe you can put a boundary on love for other people, it just doesn’t work that way.

If you don’t understand or are afraid of something, then ask.  Educate yourself.  Listen to someone’s story and really hear what they are saying.  I get that privilege every day.  It has helped me to become a very accepting person.  I know people who write to prisoners who have committed serious crimes and are never getting out of prison.  Yet they fall in love anyway.  I don’t think I could do that, but who am I to think that it can’t or shouldn’t happen to someone else?  Different isn’t wrong, it’s just different.

My point is to try to be open to possibilities.  Try to accept that love is beyond some boundaries that you may not be comfortable with.  Again, you may not be able to love someone who is very different from you, but that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t happen.  Work to be more tolerant and kind to others and accept love in whatever form it may take.  I’ll get off my soapbox now.  Thanks for reading.

I Can’t Live Without You

Sometimes when you break up with someone it can feel like you are physically going through withdrawal without them in your life.  You can be super intelligent, pretty independent and otherwise emotionally stable and still have trouble with a break up.  Even if that person wasn’t very good for you.  Why does this happen?

Well in the scientific world there is this chemical called, oxytocin, which is released during orgasm.  Even cuddling and affection can release this chemical which supposed to help bond the relationship.  It is the same chemical that causes mothers and their babies to bond.  The more time you spend cuddling and having sex with someone, the more emotionally bonded you will feel.

This is a good thing for long term relationships because it helps the couple want to put in the effort to make the relationship work.  Oxytocin tends to bring out feelings of contentment, lessens anxiety, and can increase trust in a person.  This is why a break up can seem catastrophic.  Even if this person has emotionally hurt you, if you’re still having sex with them, you may still feel very bonded.  It then becomes easy to see why you might freak out if your boyfriend or girlfriend tries to leave you.  Your friends and family are quick to encourage you to move on, but you still feel like you’d do anything to get this person back.

You aren’t crazy, you just feel less anxiety initially when that person texts or Facebook messages you after you break up.  You feel calm and think all is right with the world.  However, tension and conflict can quickly increase again because the chemical oxytocin isn’t a miracle worker.  It won’t fix the problem or conflict, but it makes it hard for people to walk away from each other even when there is a ton of drama and conflict involved.

This is also why friends with benefits doesn’t always fly.  If you start having sex with someone often even though your intention is to keep it casual, your brain and heart could get mixed signals.  You may feel you really miss this person once they stop sleeping with you.  This is because you accidentally bonded with them.  If they were able to find someone else to “bond” with then you can feel like you were abandoned out in the cold.  Your head says you have no right to be upset because you knew the rules about keeping it casual.  However, your emotions didn’t quite get that message because oxytocin got in the way!

It is also true that men and women feel the effects of oxytocin in different degrees.  It is said that men’s levels of oxytocin rise 3-5 times higher during orgasm.  However, women’s rise even more plus continue to rise during subsequent orgasms.  Women also have more oxytocin neural receptors in their brain, so the effect can be more intense.  Women may feel somewhat down after casual sex.  This happens because of increased levels of oxytocin due to orgasm makes them want to stay bonded with the person, but there is no one to cuddle with afterwards.  One study implied women may also have more addictive relationship patterns because they feel love and loss in relationships more intensely due to increased oxytocin.

Does this mean women can’t have casual sex?  No, but it does mean you want to be informed about what can happen.  Be aware that it may be easier for women to become attached during casual sex.  Be firm with your boundaries and be smart about the risks you want to take.  It is also true that not all men and women are alike.  Some men may produce more oxytocin than normal, some women may produce less.  Know yourself and learn from your past relationships.  If you play, sometimes you’ll pay.  Sometimes you may feel a little sad.  Sometimes it’s worth it.  Other times it isn’t.

Also, be aware that break ups take some time to get over for this reason plus other complicating factors I’ve discussed in other posts.  If you hug your partner at least 20 seconds a day you will feel more bonded.  That is about how long it takes for the chemical to be released in your system.  If you’ve had that in your life for awhile and then suddenly it’s gone, it is going to hurt.  You will feel some withdrawal symptoms.  Give yourself some time to adjust and don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for a hug instead of advice when you are going through a break up.  A hug may help a whole lot more than them telling you to just get over it.

If you want to read more about oxytocin, this article in Psychology Today may be helpful to you.

50 Ways To Scatter Sunshine

I am reblogging this from Jaclyn Rae’s blog because I’ve been working with a lot of students going through a hard time.  The crazy thing is, one of best ways to feel better is to do something nice for yourself or someone else.  If you scatter some sunshine, you can’t help but get some on yourself!!

“It took us so long to realize that a purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.” — Kurt Vonnegut.

1. Send a hand-written thank you card to someone.

2. Give a compliment about your waiter/waitress to his or her manager.

3. Hold open a door for someone.

4. Have a conversation with a homeless person.

5. Compliment a co-worker.

6. Pay for the person behind you in the Starbucks drive-thru.

7. Clean out your clothes and donate to a local non-profit.

8. Send flowers to someone anonymously.

9. Leave an encouraging note in a library book.

10. Ask an elderly person about their childhood.

11. Be a courteous driver.

12. Mentor an at-risk child.

13. Mow a neighbor’s lawn.

14. Donate blood.

15. Introduce yourself to a new coworker/classmate/church member.

16. Share inspirational quotes.

17. Write letters of appreciation to organizations that serve your community.

18. Leave happy post-its for strangers to find.

19. Smile.

20. Appreciate the people who support you.

21. Treat everyone the same– from your best friend to your mom to postal worker.

22. Release your expectations of other people. Allow them to be who they are.

23. Be genuine.

24. Forget yourself.

25. Delight in every day.

26. Flatter people.

27. Tell people how much you like them.

28. Share your lunch.

29. Fill a parking meter.

30. Volunteer somewhere. Anywhere.

31. Seek forgiveness.

32. Do your best.

33. Love yourself.

34. Dream big.

35. Tell someone why you love them.

36. Check in on someone who is lonely.

37. Stay curious.

38. Adopt a pet from the humane society.

39. Tell your boss that he/she does a great job.

40. Renew an old friendship.

41. Donate toys/books to a hospital.

42. Give someone a sheet of brightly colored stickers.

43. Make eye contact.

44. Take someone’s picture and send it to them.

45. Don’t think about other people’s definitions of success, beauty or happiness.

46. Create spaces for others to enjoy.

47. Make beautiful art.

48. Send unexpected gifts.

49. Be enthusiastic.

50. Love your life and everyone in it.

I Feel Too Fat To Date

I torture myself a lot by watching shows like 20/20, Dateline & 48 Hours Mystery.  I don’t know why, but they always suck me in.  Last Friday, 20/20 did a show on cosmetic surgery.  I try not to think about all the women and yes, men too, putting themselves through so much pain because they don’t like the way they look. However, the reality is that too many people pay big bucks to change some physical aspect of themselves to feel better.

I, of course, work with college students.  Many of whom would love to get cosmetic surgery but can’t afford it.  It is very sad to me that so many people hate so many things about themselves.  This week is also National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.  Another issue that greatly affects a lot of college students.  Many students believe they don’t deserve to eat a dessert or any food at all because they already think they are too fat.  They only see the people who are thinner than they are instead of being aware of all the different shapes and sizes around them.  Where did these messages of hate start?

Unfortunately hating yourself has been going on for a while now.  Too often my students will tell me they watched their moms diet and heard their moms put themselves down for being fat.  Even if their moms didn’t focus their negative energy on their child, the message still gets sent.  Then there are the students whose parents did focus on their weight.  This is the hardest to overcome.  When you’ve been told by your parents all your life that you aren’t good enough, there is no easy road to believing you are beautiful just the way you are.

The battle to love yourself is hard enough.  Just think about how hard it is to then believe someone else could love you?  I have many students who either have random sex with anyone available because they don’t think they deserve better.  Or I have students who don’t date at all because of their extreme fear of being rejected for how much they weigh.

The key is to learn to love yourself.  However, when I see a show on 20/20 about all the beautiful actresses having all sorts of expensive procedures to look even more beautiful, how can I convince some young college student to love themselves just as they are?  I’m not blaming Hollywood or everyone’s parents.  I just think the messages young people receive today aren’t always the most positive.  Yet we expect them not to fall into the eating disorder or cosmetic surgery trap.

Where is it written that you have to be a size 0 to be attractive and get someone to like you?  I know my female students see other women in relationships that are not exactly smaller than they are.  However, they still mistakenly believe they don’t deserve love.  They aren’t good enough.  No one would find them attractive.  Their eyes tell them one thing, but their brain tells them another.  If they can’t afford to have cosmetic procedures done then often they resort to some sort of disordered eating to try to look better.

Yet how come I can’t find anyone who has an eating disorder that is happy?  How come you can lose 20 pounds, but it still isn’t good enough?  Trust me, if you want to find fault with yourself,  you’ll be able to.  I know a lot of people who think they will feel better once they are 115 pounds.  Only to get to that weight and still think their stomach or their butt is too big.  Happiness is not found in a certain size.  You may feel a little better, but if your brain is used to negatively picking yourself apart, it isn’t so easy to change.

What happens is that your brain can still trick your eyes.  You may look better but your brain will still find something wrong.  A lot of women who have lost weight and look good still “feel” fat.  This is why eating disorders are about more than becoming thin.  It is more often about being sensitive to other people around them and being overly concerned with meeting the expectations of those people.  You also don’t have to be in the middle of full-blown eating disorder to have some of these tendencies and ways of thinking.  A lot of students I see struggle with their body image and eating habits, but are not considered anorexic or bulimic.

Even if you don’t have an eating disorder, most people with low self-esteem and poor body image need to seek some sort of counseling to develop better self-confidence.  It can be hard to fix your self-esteem without help because of how the brain can trick you into thinking or feeling things that aren’t true.  Most people who work on their self-confidence also need to work through some issues from their past and learn the steps to fighting intrusive negative thoughts.  Some people have been struggling with their self-esteem for years, so just imagine how entrenched some of those negative thoughts and feelings are?  Don’t beat yourself up when you don’t feel better overnight. It takes time.

If your confidence is keeping you from getting into or staying in a relationship, don’t give up.  Self-confidence is a long process.  It’s a balance between learning to accept things about yourself and choosing some things to work on and change.  Not everything can and should be changed.  Learning to accept yourself is more than half the battle.  The other part is having the courage to change some things about yourself that are possible.  The biggest thing most people have to change is their thought process, not their weight amazing enough.  Although, this seems simple, it is a complex process and is like learning a new language.  It takes time and effort, but it is very worth it.

Eating disorders and body image issues are serious.  If you want to know more about eating disorders, please click on the links below.

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders

National Eating Disorders Association

Reach Out

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

In a Relationship with Alcohol

Drinking in a relationship isn’t always an issue.  Sometimes both people drink responsibly and there aren’t any problems.  When it does become a problem is when one person drinks a lot more than their partner.  It can be very frustrating when the one you love loves to drink and party with their friends every weekend.

I’ve worked with several students who started out in a relationship with both of them drinking a lot at first.  Unfortunately, we all know drinking is very common in college.  You may have even met your boyfriend or girlfriend at a party while drinking.  However, as the relationship progresses and you look towards graduation some students start to feel like their relationship is pulling apart.  I’ve had students tell me they feel like they are moving past the party scene in their lives, but don’t think their boyfriend or girlfriend is.  Every weekend is still devoted to going out to a party and drinking until their partner passes out.  Then they have to take care of them and get them home safe.

This can cause a lot of stress on the relationship.  Most people know that you can’t change someone else.  But what if you change and your partner doesn’t?  What do you do?  You love them.  When you spend time together during the week not drinking you are convinced this is the person you want to spend the rest of your life with.  But when it comes to them being drunk on Friday and Saturday night again, you aren’t so sure.  It also doesn’t help that arguments start a lot more frequently when one or both people have been drinking.  Then Sunday is spent waiting for them to stop feeling hung over so you can talk about what happened over the weekend.

It is the same old discussion over and over.  They either tell you to get over it and you do, or they realize you are about to walk out on them and they apologize.  They may even agree to drink less or spend one night on the weekend with you alone not drinking.  This may happen a couple of times but as soon as their friends call and persuade them to come to the next party, you are pushed to second place again.  Trust me, it isn’t an easy place to be in a relationship.

The choices aren’t easy.  They never are.  I’m not accusing your boyfriend or girlfriend of being an alcoholic.  But anyone who has grown up with an alcoholic knows the excuses and the repeat pattern of behaviors.  It also happens in relationships well before couples get married.  Often in college it is hard to tell who will be the ones who go on to drink heavily for the rest of their lives and who will stop partying once they graduate and get a full time job.  A lot of young couples in college are hoping their boyfriend or girlfriend is going to be in the latter category.

You may be one of those people hoping your partner may change once college is over so you continue to give them a chance when they put alcohol before you now.  It is hard to know what the future will bring.  For some of you, waiting may pay off.  Your partner may grow up, mature and alcohol won’t be an issue.  For some of you, waiting is going to only make things worse.  You will continue to grow more resentful.  Unless you decide to love them as is and accept the drinking.  Just know they won’t be able to stop because you want them to.  They will need some internal motivation to want to stop on their own.  Some people do grow out of the college party mode and others don’t.

Time will tell.   No one knows what’s going to happen in the future.  However, some patterns become very predictable.  If your partner loves to party and has a huge group of friends who condone that lifestyle, it may be harder for them to settle down.  Unfortunately lots of people continue to drink heavily even when they get into a career and have a family.  Especially if they have someone who is always there to help them clean up their messes.

I know you can love someone so much that you just want to make it work any way you can.  There are truly selfless people out there that handle being second best to alcohol or friends.  Just ask Gene Simmons of the band, KISS.  His wife put up with A LOT for many years.  She finally put her foot down and Gene has changed his ways.  Gene is also in his 60’s and she has been living with him cheating and drinking for almost 30 years.  It can be done, but know that you don’t have to always put someone else first.  There is nothing wrong with admitting that you can’t be with someone who puts alcohol or their friends first.  You do deserve someone who can give you what you need.

It is one of the toughest decisions you will make.  It won’t be easy to know what the best option is.  I know I’ve said this before, but your level of pain tolerance is what is going to ultimately decide for you.  Either your boyfriend or girlfriend does settle down, or they will put you through a lot of pain.  When the pain becomes too much then you’ll know when the relationship has crossed the line of no return.  It really sucks to be put in this position.  You also aren’t stupid for trying to make it work.  The person you love is in there, they just also love alcohol.  Unfortunately things like alcohol and drugs make people blind to priorities.  Only you know whether it is worth it to wait it out or not.  Also know that it isn’t a waste of time to wait.  Whatever happens you will survive it, and this relationship will go on to shape who you become.  Hopefully no matter what, you come out stronger and smarter.  Hang in there!

Does a Higher Education Keep Women From Getting Married?

I read an article in the NY Times titled The M.R.S and the Ph. D. by Stephanie Coontz.  The myth used to be that the higher a woman’s education, the less likely she was able to find a husband.  This may have been true 60 years ago, but it is no longer true today.

Women were often forced to choose between education and marriage.  Seventy-five percent of women who graduated from college before 1900 remained single.  Even in 1950 the percentage of single educated women was higher than for non-educated women.  It is true that some women chose to stay single, but it was also due to the prejudices of men.  It was not seen as a positive trait for a woman to be independent and assertive.

The article went on to say that post WWII dating manuals advised women to play dumb to catch a man.  At that time forty percent of educated women admitted to doing so.  Education and intelligence has moved up in rank in desirable traits men look for in a woman from number 11 in 1939 to number 4 in 2008.  Good cook and housekeeper moved down from number 7 to number 13 in the same time period.

This tells me that men are looking for different things in women today than they were in the past.  Education for women is far more valued today and men are less intimidated by a wife who has more education than he does.  Almost thirty percent of wives today have a higher education than their husbands.  It is also true that men are more willing to help around the house and with the children.  This has led to far more satisfying marriages because women report that having a helpful husband is a very desirable trait.  Men also report feeling less pressure to make more money and enjoy sharing the financial burden.

The article states that today women earn almost 60% of all bachelor’s degrees and more than half of master’s and Ph.D.’s.  This could be because a lot of jobs that are done by a majority of women are teaching, nursing and social work; which require a higher education.  A lot of women are also entering the business and engineering world as well.

In other good news, sexuality researchers Pepper Schwartz and Virginia Rutter report that educated women also get better sex.  They are more likely to receive and as well as give oral sex, to use a greater variety of sexual positions and experience orgasm regularly.  The article also states that some men are still threatened by a woman’s education and achievements.  However, these men tend to measure success in materialistic ways and feel powerful being the main breadwinner.  It may not be so bad to scare off this type of insecure man.  Those traits in a man usually lead to less marital bliss.

This may be a good time to reject the idea that an ideal man is smarter, richer and more powerful.  The article states that the most important predictor of marital satisfaction for a woman is not how much she looks up to her husband, but how sensitive he is to her emotional needs and how willing he is to help out around the house and with the kids.  Those traits are easier to find in an unassuming male than someone who needs to be the center of attention.

Overall, marriage rates have dropped since 1980, but they have dropped less for educated women.  Also, college educated women are less likely to divorce once they do get married.  Even for women who stay single, those who are more educated are more likely to live the longest, healthiest lives of all groups according to a study in 2002.  Whether you marry or not, education is still very helpful if you want to live a satisfying life.

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

I Have to Wax What? Where?

Body hair…we all have it, but it seems like when women are getting ready for that first date or a special night out body hair is public enemy #1.  Why all the pressure to wax, tweeze and shave?  Since when are women supposed to be hairless on every part of their body?  Especially the parts that aren’t exposed?

I blame magazines like Cosmopolitan, Maxim, and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, as well as internet pornography.  The images of women are either airbrushed to look like the women have no body hair or the body hair has been ripped out in some form or fashion.  In order to wear some of the clothes, underwear or swimsuits, models often have to remove copious amounts of body hair.  Same for the women appearing in pornographic movies.  Although, to be fair, this happens to guy models and porn stars as well (see Steve Carell below).  I guess if I was going to be paid a lot of money to model, I’d sacrifice my body hair.  However, many women are paying lots of money to have this done even though they aren’t going on the next Swimsuit cover.  This has given both men and women the illusion that women either don’t or shouldn’t have body hair.

So, what’s a girl to do when she thinks she may be exposing any of those hairier body parts?  She makes an appointment for a wax or other type of painful hair removal.  Unfortunately, most women feel the pressure to look similar to the women on magazine covers.  A lot of young women are paying a lot of money for hair removal from their face, legs and even their arms.  They also pay a lot of money to remove hair from other more sensitive areas.  It is very, very painful, yet many women do it because they want to feel accepted.  They don’t want to be rejected by a guy who may be expecting what he has seen on magazine covers and on the internet.

Men also have pressure to wax or remove hair from their bodies as well.  It may not be as much as women but a lot of men feel their chest and especially their back should be free of hair.  If you’ve ever seen the 40 Year Old Virgin, then you’ve seen Steve Carell go through the process of waxing of his chest hair.  You know it isn’t a pretty procedure, yet guys feel they have to look a certain way to be accepted as well.

I obviously preach being yourself.  However, I’m very aware  of the pressures to fit in.  I’m not a big fan of pain, but I know what it is like to want to look good for someone else.   I really think it is up to you how far you want to go when it comes to personal hygiene.  I can’t say that removing all your body hair is wrong.  It may make you feel better about yourself.  If all that pain is really worth it to you, then go for it.  Just know that not all guys think having all your body hair waxed off is sexy.  Just like some women don’t mind a man with a hairy chest.

When it comes down to it, you fall in love with a person…body hair and all.  You may feel like you have to go the extra mile to impress someone at first, but hopefully you don’t have to go to such extreme lengths to keep them.  We are all human.  I think it is unrealistic to expect people to look and be perfect all the time.  It just isn’t possible.  I also don’t think it is healthy to compare yourself to this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit models.  Comparisons usually leave people feeling bad about themselves.  Try to focus on all the great things you have to offer and try not to fight fate so much.  It may be worth it to learn to accept parts of yourself, body hair and all, instead of trying to change everything to imitate some unrealistic ideal.   If you want to imitate something, try watching young children just be themselves.  Remember how it was to not be so overly self conscious?  Work to get some of that back, because I think it would be great if we were all a little more like that!!