Why Am I Still Alone?

Do you believe we send out vibes to others around us?  I do.  I believe our moods and how we see ourselves affects how others interact with us.  If I believe there is something wrong with me, I’m probably going to believe other people think the same thing.  If I don’t like myself, I’m more likely to think others will reject me too.  It may make me afraid of dating or getting close to someone.  If I’m shooting off this vibe of “Please don’t look at me, I’m gross”, do you think that is going to attract the opposite sex?  No, they most likely will be put off by my nonverbal cues of insecurity.

If you haven’t dated a lot in high school or college it is easy to start thinking there is something wrong with you.  I work with students who are depressed because they haven’t been in a serious relationship yet.  When someone feels depressed it is hard enough to get out of bed, so it is no surprise that it is also hard to put on a smile, act friendly and send out a positive vibe to all those potential single people out there to date.  It is one of those crazy cycles.  Like how can I get work experience unless I have a job, and I can’t get a job because I don’t have any work experience.  The same is true for single people who may feel depressed.  It is hard for others be attracted to them because of their mood and because people aren’t attracted to them, their mood becomes worse.

The longer this cycle goes on the more depressed people feel and the more fear they have that no one will ever want them.  The fear comes from not feeling good enough.  The fear may have started in the past from hearing people tell you that you are stupid, or fat, or ugly.  It is hard to believe someone would see something different in you if this is what you have been told in your past.  Or if you have been sexually abused, you may be afraid that if anyone found out they would never want to be with you.  Many people have demons inside of their heads telling them they don’t deserve to be loved.  It only reinforces the fear of being in a relationship with someone.  The truth is everyone deserves to be loved, but it can be hard to believe it for yourself.

So which comes first?  The chicken or the egg?  Do you need to get into a relationship first to feel good about yourself?  Or do you need to feel good about yourself to find a someone to date?  It does happen that a depressed person meets someone who sees through all their negativity and loves them in spite of it.  This can be a huge confidence booster to find someone who sees how beautiful you are even with all your flaws.  This relationship may help you to learn to love yourself.

However, I do believe YOU have more control over learning to love yourself even while you are single.  You can get away from anyone else, but you can’t escape yourself.  Others may not always be there for you, so its very valuable to learn to be there for yourself.  You can start by deciding whether you want to work on accepting yourself for who you are, or if there are things you want to work on changing to feel more confident.  It takes time, but you can learn to diminish those negative voices.  I encourage students look over a list of positive characteristics and mark which ones sometimes describe them.  Most students are amazed at how many great qualities they already have, but don’t give themselves credit for.  I then ask students to focus on those characteristics several times a day.  You have to put positive in, to get positive out.  It’s easier said than done.  Changing your thought process is hard, but over time it can have a big impact on how you see yourself.

I also encourage students who are afraid of being alone to take the initiative to reach out to others.  Start somewhere easy like being friendly to strangers.  Practice when you are out at Wal-Mart and greet the person who checks you out.  Be friendly to gas station attendants, waiters and waitresses, and other random strangers.  See how they react to you and you may find that a lot of them respond positively to the attention.  This will encourage you and hopefully give you more confidence without much risk.  Again,it helps to start somewhere less intimidating.  When you feel a little more brave, then look for someone to say hi to while walking across campus.  Ask someone in your class how they are doing.  Have a goal of making at least one person smile each day by giving them a genuine compliment.

The best way to meet others is to show interest.  Start by just being nice and ask them something about their self.  Don’t start by asking a complete stranger on a date.  That will be too hard to do if you’ve never done it.  Build your way up to that by just being friendly and trying to make other people feel good around you.  As you build confidence, then start to notice people you may be attracted to.  Be friendlier to them and see how they react.  Again, if they show interest by continuing the conversation, then find more opportunities to talk to them.  If they don’t show interest (give you one word answers, don’t ask you anything back or ignore you), then simply move on to the next person.  Don’t be afraid of the rejection.  It is normal and doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you.  Not everyone is going to click with you and that is okay.  The more people you interact with, the better chance of finding someone you do click with.  It does take time and practice.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help!  You may need someone to encourage you to not give up or keep you accountable to your goals.  Tell someone you trust about your fears so they can help you fight them.  The only way to defeat fear is to face it head on.  It takes work to be a more positive and initiate conversations with others, but it may be worth it to chase the FEAR of dating away.

Alcohol Makes Me More Social

Many students tell me they don’t feel comfortable in social situations without engaging in some type of extracurricular activity.  Some claim they want to have the “college experience”.  Others say that parties are boring unless they get completely wasted.   Then there are the students who started smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol back in high school and can’t imagine changing that pattern in college.  Most studies would say that students use these extracurricular activities to lower their inhibitions and be more social.   Because we all know college is about socialization.  Many students who admitted to using alcohol or marijuana as a freshman in college stated they used it to feel more confident when meeting new people.  What happens is this becomes a way of life and everyone around you now sees you as someone who drinks or smokes at every party.

I have counseled some students who are now labeled, “the party girl or guy” in their circle of friends.  They have considered slowing down or even stopping their drinking or smoking habits, but feel obligated to keep their status with their friends.  It isn’t so easy to go to a party and say no to the drugs or alcohol offered.  Especially if you never have declined these activities in the past.

It can be intimidating to reinvent yourself.  To have to explain to your girlfriend or boyfriend why you are making  a change.  Your friends may even feel like you are trying to blow them off or that you starting to look down on them.  So the pressure to stay in the same situation is intense.  Only you know why you do what you do.  If you know you don’t need alcohol or weed to relax and have a good time, be courageous and show others they can do the same.  Sometimes it only takes one person to say no before others will have courage to do the same.

Confidence is the key to saying no.  If you’re single and going to parties to find someone to date, be self assured enough to know that you don’t need alcohol or marijuana to be outgoing and social.  There are students who go to parties and stay sober, or at least don’t get completely wasted.  They are able to meet people and have fun anyway.  There are many reasons you can use to say no.  One, you may not want to spend the money on it.  Two, you know it is illegal (underage drinking and smoking marijuana) and you don’t want to risk having it on your record when applying for a job in the future.  Three, you can say you don’t enjoy it anymore and that you would rather not suffer from hangovers in the morning.  Four, you can say it is interfering with your grades and you want to be able to stay off of academic probation.  Five, you can admit that it changes your personality and you don’t like the choices you make under the influence.

Other students may not be bold enough or want to say no to everything.  There are other ways to cut back on alcohol at parties.  You can sip your drink and then go to the bathroom to pour most of it down the drain.  If you have a glass you can fill it with water or pop.  No one will notice what you’re drinking after a couple of hours.  You can also switch back and forth between non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks to slow down the amount you consume.  You can opt of out drinking games or refuse shots and just drink beer.  You can eat a big meal before going out to slow down how fast your body absorbs the alcohol.  You can also volunteer to be the designated driver for others at the party.  As for marijuana you can share the love and pass it on to the next person.

We all have things we don’t like about ourselves.  Alcohol and weed may help you to numb out those things or make you not care for the moment that they exist.  But they do exist and instead of ignoring things you may not like about yourself or your life, you may just want to work on  making positive changes.  If you don’t like that you are shy or nervous around others, work on those things to improve your confidence in social situations.  This means exposing yourself to social situations when you are sober and feeling anxious.  This is the only true way to develop that confidence and get rid of the fear you feel.  If you have a hard time relaxing and letting go of the stress of classes, you can find ways to learn to relax without the help of alcohol or drugs.

It is worth it to figure out how to be yourself in social situations.  You want someone to meet you and like you for who you are all the time, not only when you are drunk or high.  You can also learn how to drink or smoke less and still have fun.  This will help you find and stay in healthier relationships, as well cope with stress in better ways.  The point is to still go to parties and have fun, but without needing to be completely wasted to feel comfortable in your own skin while doing it.  If you want to build your confidence and self-esteem it is more beneficial to cut back on the use of drugs and alcohol instead of using them as a crutch.

For more information please see these websites below:

http://collegedrinkingprevention.gov

http://niaaa.nih.gov

http://marijuanaaddictiontreatment.org

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

Is Being Gay a Choice?

It’s not easy being gay.  In a world where heterosexuality is the norm and homosexuality has often been seen as wrong or disgusting, the LGBT community has worked tirelessly to declare that sexual preference is not a “preference” at all.  There are several studies linking genetics as part of the biological reason some people are born gay.  Some people still want to argue nurture vs. nature, however most of those people are straight.

Lately there has been more debate about this in the public due to the actress Cynthia Nixon, who states there’s more than one way to be gay.   Actress Cynthia Nixon, whom we know as Miranda Hobbes on Sex and the City, has always been a peculiar case study for the LGBT community: she was happily in a relationship with a man for 15 years (they even had two kids together), but she’s been in a relationship with a woman since 2004.  Though her sexual orientation seemed to have made a switch, she has said in the past that she didn’t feel like she was necessarily lying to herself or hiding anything.  “I’d been with men all my life, and I’d never fallen in love with a woman,” she told The Daily Telegraph in 2007.  “But when I did, it didn’t seem so strange. I’m just a woman in love with another woman.”  

Many gay activists call her midlife switch in sexual orientation disingenuous, and Nixon chose to defend her relationship by controversially stating that for her, homosexuality is a choice. She explained to the New York Times Magazine:


“I gave a speech recently, an empowerment speech to a gay audience, and it included the line ‘I’ve been straight and I’ve been gay, and gay is better.’ And they tried to get me to change it, because they said it implies that homosexuality can be a choice. And for me, it is a choice. I understand that for many people it’s not, but for me it’s a choice, and you don’t get to define my gayness for me. A certain section of our community is very concerned that it not be seen as a choice, because if it’s a choice, then we could opt out. I say it doesn’t matter if we flew here or we swam here, it matters that we are here and we are one group and let us stop trying to make a litmus test for who is considered gay and who is not.”

Cynthia Nixon also refuses to call herself bisexual.  She genuinely states that she was straight before, but she’s gay now. Political blogger and gay activist John Aravosis called her out on the supposed misnomer of her sexual orientation: “It’s not a ‘choice,’ unless you consider my opting to date a guy with brown hair versus a guy with blonde hair a ‘choice.’ It’s only a choice among flavors I already like.  And if you like both flavors, men and women, you’re bisexual, you’re not gay, so please don’t tell people that you are gay, and that gay people can ‘choose’ their sexual orientation, i.e., will it out of nowhere.  Because they can’t.”

My opinion is that I can’t judge what Cynthia Nixon feels or believes.  All I know it isn’t how other people feel or believe.  Maybe some people are able to choose to be attracted to the same sex after many years of being attracted to the opposite sex.  I’m not sure, Cynthia Nixon is the only one I’ve read about or talked to that claims this.  So, I do think this is very rare.  I do know that until recently a lot of LGBT people felt they needed to hide their sexuality.  A lot of them worked hard to deny certain parts of themselves.  They fell in line with their family or cultural beliefs and got married and started a family.  However, inside they still knew they were living a lie.  Some of those people finally came out and are now in same sex relationships.  They would not define themselves as bisexual or say that they chose to become gay later in life due to stresses in their marriage. They’ve known for a very long time they were gay, and only chose to live their life out as a gay person publicly later in life.

It is true that some people in the LGBT community realized they were gay when they were very young.  Others were ignorant of the fact until they were in their teens or twenties.  This still doesn’t prove it is a choice.  All I know is what people tell me about their experiences.  I don’t know too many gay people who would willingly choose to upset their families, lose friends, give up certain hobbies or sports, be discriminated against, always feeling out new situations and jobs to see how receptive others are to them being gay before coming out publicly.  It isn’t easy.  If you talk to anyone who has been through it, you would know there are a lot of times they wish they could choose to be straight.  Just read Ty’s blog post, If I Had A Choice for confirmation.

If I’m going to believe anyone, I’m going to believe the people who are actually going through the experience of coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.  They are the ones who can tell me what they know and what they feel.  I can’t judge for them.  They all tell me they know they were born this way.  I know I didn’t choose to be straight.  I can remember crushes on boys in kindergarten.  I don’t think I really knew why, it just happened that way.  It was most likely stamped in my genetic code.  So why would I think someone who is gay would have a different experience?  They just like to rebel against society?  I don’t think so. 

I hope LGBT people continue to speak up and fight for their rights.  The more people see it and start to become aware and more educated, the less controversial this whole issue will be.  At least that is my hope.  I give them my support and hope I can encourage them in any way I can.  Live and let live.  Love people for who they are, not who they are attracted to sexually, because at the end of the day does that even really matter???

Things I Love About Being Single

I know Valentine’s Day can be rough if you are single.  I went through many single Valentine’s Day’s in my life.  It kinda sucks to have love thrown in your face when you don’t have it.   I wanted to write a post to encourage all the single guys and gals out there, but then I came across Catherine’s post.  I thought it was so great I wanted to use it on my own blog.  Catherine was gracious enough to let me.  She wrote this post over a year ago and titled it Things I Love About Being Single on her blog, Simply Solo.  I hope her positive message about being single will help you through those rough moments you may be having in your own single life, especially around Valentine’s Day.

 

While being single definitely has its downsides (I can’t tell you how much I miss having someone to say goodnight to every night and there’s nothing like having a date for every work function or wedding imaginable), there are some definite positives to being single that I’m starting to realize. And please, someone remind me of this list when Christmas and Valentine’s Day roll around and I’m alone, OK?

Here are the top things I love about being single:

  1. Going to bed whenever I want, and getting up whenever I want. There’s no one to share the bed and interrupt my beauty sleep. And, there is definitely no one to wake me up with their endless snoring, at which point I have to kick them (semi-softly), which definitely interrupts a girl’s sleeping patterns.
  2. I can flirt with anything that walks. Sometimes, you just gotta flirt. And when you’ve been with the same guy since you were 18, sometimes you just gotta flirt A LOT. Just to make sure you’ve still got it. Definitely can’t do that in a relationship.
  3. Opportunity to reconnect with old friends and family. It’s amazing the relationships that you put to the side (and you may not even notice it) when you are in a relationship. I’ve loved taking the time to reconnect with those people – and have learned my lesson that I will never become disconnected from them again.
  4. Time, time, time. Time to do whatever the hell I want. Like learn how to cook, start a blog, read book after book and actually use the gym membership I’ve had for a million years. Um, for the record, I haven’t really learned to cook and the gym hasn’t seen me in quite a while, but that’s neither here nor there.
  5. No one to judge my ice cream intake. Maybe this one is a little specific to me, but there’s nothing better than eating a bowl of ice cream for dinner. Being single allows me that luxury. I can eat all the ice cream in the world, and there is no one to judge me as I stand in the kitchen after a long day’s work with a spoon, freezer door wide open, taking just one bite (maybe two or three) of Cookies and Cream. Maybe not so good once I go through a gallon in a week, but liberating none the less.
  6. Similar to the above, no one to judge my toilet paper usage. My ex used to be amazed at the amount of toilet paper I would use weekly. I’m not sure where it all goes, but I guess I like to keep a pretty clean behind. Sometimes, I find myself using a million squares and laughing literally out loud because of how amazing it feels to use all the toilet paper in the world, and no one will ever know. Until they read this blog.
  7. No more annoying conversations about what to eat tonight. You know the ones, where you say, “What would you like to eat tonight?” And he says, “Oh, I could do anything, whatever you want.” You: “What about Chinese?” Him: “Um, no, not feeling Chinese.” You: “Thought you said you could eat anything?! What about that pizza place down the road?” Him: “No, I’m not really feeling that either. Maybe we should make something here?” You: “Ugh, I don’t feel like cooking. Maybe I’ll just eat cereal.” These conversations are like my personal hell. Make a decision and eat. It’s not that serious.
  8. I can watch whatever the hell I want on TV. And that means, endless hours of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Food Network Challenge galore, Bachelorette every Monday night and whatever else I find that seems vaguely interesting. And there is no one to steal my remote control – cause it’s my house!
  9. Walk around naked. And not get smacked on the butt or hear lewd comments when doing so. Sometimes, walking around naked when you are living with a guy is like walking around naked next to a construction site. While I appreciate the recognition, sometimes you just wanna walk around naked for no good reason and have no one address it. You can do that as a single girl (just be sure the curtains are closed!).
  10. Do nothing. Literally, do nothing. Don’t shower, leave the house, get out of my PJs, etc., for a whole weekend if I want. And there is no one to annoyingly remind me of how nice a day it is outside, or how I really should get some fresh air, or gosh, you are really starting to stink – think you’ll shower today? If I want to stay home and be a total bum, it’s my prerogative.
  11. Things are exactly as I left them. And I mean that to say, I don’t come home to a mess that I didn’t create, or food that has mysteriously disappeared from the fridge. And speaking of food in the fridge, I can buy all the Weight Watchers ice cream sandwiches I want, and not worry about someone eating three of them because one is just not enough, never mind that those tiny portions and low fat vanilla imitation ice cream cost an arm and a leg. They are all mine.
  12. No one to ruin my mood. You know how when you are in a relationship, and sometimes you are in such a good mood, but your boyfriend/girlfriend had a shitty day and they somehow ruin your day too? Not like they meant to, but somehow they brought down your entire mood? Now, I own my moods. Good or bad. And, when I’m in a bad mood, I don’t have to answer someone a million times when they ask what’s wrong, did they do something wrong, what am I thinking? It’s just me, with my crappy mood, all evening long. Eating Weight Watchers ice cream and using absurd amounts of toilet paper.
  13. No one to criticize my driving. I’m a terrible driver. Probably among the worst. However, I can live with myself, and even find it humorous sometimes. I crack myself up sometimes when I jump an obvious curb, and I know how ridiculous it is that I’m a 25 year old woman who doesn’t know how to parallel park. But, I can live with myself, and I don’t have to hear anyone else’s commentary about my driving if I don’t want to.
  14. I can have guy friends again. Not that I was ever forbidden from having guy friends, but sometimes when you are in a relationship, it’s hard to keep guy friends around. Your partner will often think something is going on, even if it’s not, and sometimes guy friends come with awkward situations. Now, I can be friends with whoever I want, and not worry what anyone thinks of it.
  15. Getting to know new people. While there’s definitely something to be said for knowing one person so much that you love them for everything they are and possibly can be, there is this amazing feeling you get when you meet someone new. The initial conversations, learning of their background, laughing, telling stories and connecting with another human being that you weren’t connected with before can be so much fun. For example, last night I literally spent more than four hours on the phone with a guy I just met (the Chef – you’ll hear more about him soon. Our first date is tomorrow. But after four hours on the phone, it almost feels like a second date). You can’t connect in this way with new people with you are in a relationship.
  16. No obligatory sex. You may think this is a weird one to include on the list, but we’ve all done it. We’ve all had sex when we weren’t really in the mood. Your partner is really in the mood. You are absolutely not, had a rough day and are just not feeling it. Maybe you literally “have a headache.” But, you have sex with them. You do it because, well, they asked, and they made dinner last night, maybe tomorrow’s their birthday, and well, you would want them to do it for you too if the tables were turned. A single girl does not need to worry one bit about this conundrum.
  17.  First kisses. There’s nothing like a first kiss. Really, there’s nothing like the first 20 kisses with a new partner (assuming they are a good kisser!). I plan to enjoy these – fully.
  18. No one to answer to. I can go where I want, when I want. I can stay out late, go to bed early, talk on the phone till late in the night, drop by a friend’s house to just say hello and because I don’t have any plans. I can do all these things, and not really report to anyone what time I’ll be home, or if I’ll be seeing them for dinner. While there are times that I wonder if I were to get kidnapped if anyone would notice, I definitely think overall this is a plus to being single.
  19. Crushed velvet purple curtains. Yes, you heard that right. I have crushed velvet purple curtains in my bedroom. And I absolutely love them. No guy in his right mind would want those in his bedroom, but as a single girl I can adorn my space with whatever the hell I want. Including a picture of butterflies above my bed. Because that’s how I roll.

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!!

“58 Happy Customers Served” – Mark

I’ve been watching the show Whitney on NBC.  It’s a new sitcom this year.  Whitney is the main character and Alex is her boyfriend.  They have the usual friend side kicks every episode.  In this episode, Alex’s friend, Mark, goes with Whitney’s friend, Roxanne, to donate blood.  The nurse needs Roxanne to fill out a questionnaire first and asks how many sexual partners she has had.  She tries to cover the sheet so Mark doesn’t see her number.  However, when the other nurse comes out with a questionnaire for Mark he blurts out, “58 happy customers served” before he is even asked the question.

Images courtesy of NBC/Whitney

Are guys sexually insecure?  That is a good question.  I can’t speak for the whole male population, but generally speaking I think a lot of guys are sexually insecure.  Later in the same episode Mark accidentally tells Roxanne the number again and it is in the 60’s.  She confronts him about changing the number.  He finally admits to her his real number is 7.  She is surprised the number is actually low because he talks a big game when it comes to sex.  She asks him why he lied.  He admits he was embarrassed to say that he feels sex should be shared with someone special.

Why do guys talk a big game, especially in front of their buddies?  If you are tuned into the media like teenagers and young adults tend to be, then you know how both men and women are portrayed.  Sex is everywhere in the media.  They don’t show men who choose to wait to have sex until they are in a serious relationship and it is unheard of to see someone, man or woman, waiting until they are married.  Like Mark said, he was embarrassed to admit that sex means something to him.  That isn’t what is seen as “normal” for guys.  Instead, you see Jersey Shore, and everyone is having sex with different people all the time.  It makes it seem like it’s a great thing for guys to have sex with as many women as possible.  Go out, party, get drunk and have sex.  The pressure to feel like you fit into that kind of lifestyle can be pretty intense.  Some guys are confident enough to keep their sex life private.  However, sometimes friends and peers can be pretty hard on guys who are more quiet or reserved about their sex life.

Guys also have an issue with wanting to date a woman who has a lower number when it comes to sex partners.  They might not care if they are having a one night stand, but when it comes to getting serious, the double standard still exists.  Guys have told me they can be really insecure if their girlfriend’s number passes a certain limit set in their head.  It comes down to competition.  The more men their girlfriend has slept with, the more men they have to compete with.  Many guys have admitted they don’t want to think of competing with the 9 other guys their girlfriend previously had sex with.  Even though their own number may be higher.  Other guys have also admitted it has been difficult to continue dating a girl who’s number is higher than their own.  Not all guys feel this way, but sometimes the greater the perceived competition, the greater the insecurity.

I can sympathize with the pressure guys are under.  No one wants to be thought of as incompetent.  It is hard to get through high school or college and not feel inadequate if you aren’t out conquering sexually.  I think there are a lot of guys out their trying to break down the double standards, but it isn’t easy.  It is usually done behind the scenes because the media doesn’t really emulate responsible and respectful behavior.  To all the guys out there respectful and responsible, I say THANK YOU.  I hope you feel confident about your choice and that you find a great women who appreciates you for it.

Remember, there is more to you than just the number of sex partners you’ve had.  (Same goes for you women out there!)  It is a good idea to stop thinking of sex as a competition.  Instead, start to think of it as pleasurable experience you have with someone you are attracted to and hopefully care about.   It is about you and the other person.  Leave the past out of the bedroom and focus on being in the moment.  This may help lessen that insecurity you may feel due to the numbers game.

It isn’t easy to develop confidence over night, but it starts with accepting yourself.  You don’t always need to change to please others.  Try to drown out the voices of the media and others around you who try to tell you you’re missing out because you aren’t bagging a different female every night.  Sometimes it starts with accepting that you might be different or not fit the “norm” of society.  However, in this case I think that is a good thing.  I like the character, Mark,  a lot more now that he stopped trying to be something he wasn’t.  I’m glad he was able to admit he isn’t really an disrespectful idiot, even though he thought it was more acceptable to be this way.  He is much better off just being himself.

Plus, if you saw the whole episode, you know that both Roxanne and Mark are worried the blood bank is going to call them to say they can’t accept their blood because of STD’s.  It may be hard to admit your number is low, but trust me, it is a lot harder to tell your partner that you’ve contracted an STD.  No matter what, always use protection when engaging in any type of sexual activity.  It is true that the higher your number, the more at risk you become of contracting an STD.  So be smart and be safe!

Is it Possible to Really Trust Someone?

Trust…what does this word even mean?  According to dictionary.com, the word trust means the following:

1.  reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.
2.  confident expectation of something; hope.
3.  confidence in the certainty of future payment for property or goods received; credit: to sell merchandise on trust.
4.  a person on whom or thing on which one relies: God is my trust.
5.  the condition of one to whom something has been entrusted.
 

Of these definitions, I like the second one the most.  Confident expectation of something; hope.  If you trust someone, you are hoping they won’t let you down.  You expect them to be there for you.  You rely on them.

It seems totally stupid to give someone the benefit of the doubt.  It’s sad to me that in order to protect yourself, you have to make others work to earn your trust.  You can’t just blindly give someone the benefit of the doubt, or you may live to really regret it.  I’m a person who used to trust people pretty easily.  I’d been hurt by friends growing up, but never seriously betrayed.  However, I eventually came across a couple of people who really did a number on me emotionally because of all their lies.  I started to believe there was something wrong with me that I got so taken advantage of.  Now, after working with so many people the last decade, I can see it happens to many of us at some point.

So what do you do after you’ve been hurt so bad?  Let’s say you’ve just been cheated on.  The person you loved and trusted has betrayed you in one of the worst ways.  How do you get past that?  How do you trust again?  These are difficult questions to answer even though I get asked these questions often.  I would say you can look at it two different ways.

In one way you realize you have no control.  There are people out there who will lie just to get what they want.  This isn’t your fault and doesn’t make you a stupid person.  Some people are so patient about it.  They do take the time to win your trust, and then they flip on you.  There is no way to guarantee that someone you start to trust won’t betray you.  We all have to take this risk when we let people into our lives.  When it happens it will be devastating and you will feel very hurt.  You will have to grieve the loss of the person you thought you loved and come to terms with the fact that you may never know what was true and what wasn’t in the relationship.

In another way you do have control.  After you’ve grieved the loss it’s time to take charge and figure out what you could have done differently.  You can’t change the past, but you can use it to be smarter in the future.  Take this time to look back with your 20/20 vision and analyze what happened.   Don’t blame yourself or put yourself down.  Be practical about it, and look for the little signs you missed.  Note those things that you had an instinct about, but ignored at the time.  These are what I call red flags.  If you choose to be honest with yourself about things you missed, you will be more likely to dodge that bullet in the future.  I no longer wish that I hadn’t met those few people who really lied me.  I’m now thankful for all that they taught me.  They kept me from making bigger mistakes in the future, and I learned to trust my judgment again.

I hate cliches’, but I do believe that “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”.  Also, smarter, if you are willing to deal with the issues.  Some people I see tell me they keep meeting the same kind of people and get hurt over and over again.  I believe this usually happens because they didn’t take the time to really grieve the loss or look at what happened in the relationship in-depth.  Instead they chose to circumvent the grief by jumping into a new relationship right away and pushed away thoughts from the past instead of analyzing what happened.

I know it sucks to cry over someone who really hurt you.  You feel they don’t deserve your tears.  However, you do deserve to let yourself feel hurt no matter what the circumstances.  You gave them your heart when you trusted them and now it’s going to hurt that they are gone.  It’s okay to be sad and angry.  Deal with those feelings instead of trying to ignore them.  I also know it doesn’t do any good to dwell in the past, but figuring out what happened isn’t dwelling.  It is using the information from the past in order to prevent it from repeating itself.  Instead of trying to forget about it, try to force yourself to look at what happened so you can learn from it.  It won’t be easy, but it may save you from a lot of pain in the future.

If you are going to be in relationships with others, you are going to have to learn to trust.  You have to learn to trust your own judgment and trust that not everyone is out to get you.  You can’t be in a great relationship if you don’t have trust.  Trust is about confidence.  Confidence in yourself as well as others.  It doesn’t do you or your partner any good if you always have to check up on them or fear that they are always going to leave you .  The more confident you are and the more trust you have in your partner, the less control you have to have in the relationship.  Relationships require you to  give up some control.  If you need 100% control over your life, then stay single!  Letting others in is a risk.  Usually it is well worth it.  Just be smart about who you let in.  Again, try to learn from the past if you do get burned, and don’t give your heart too easily just to avoid loneliness.  If you take your time, you will find there still are a few trustworthy souls out there.

Not Making It To The Finish Line

Sometimes people think sex is just easy.  A+B=C right?  Well sometimes our own insecurities and expectations can mess things up when it comes to sex.  Especially when it comes to having an orgasm.  I’ve met with quite a few people over the years who are concerned about the fact that they aren’t able to have an orgasm during sex.

You may be thinking this just happens to women, but it can often happen to guys as well.  The reason for this isn’t so easy to figure out all the time either.  Here are few different reasons I’ve come across that keep people from “finishing”.  I’m sure there are more, but these are the most common in my book.

1.  Body image issues.  If you aren’t comfortable with yourself and your body, the chances of you having an orgasm go down.  The reason is anxiety over body issues keeps you from relaxing and enjoying the sexual experience.  Your brain is the number one sex organ.  If it is preoccupied with how you look, or what’s going to happen next, or wondering if your doing it right, then it can’t focus on feeling good in the moment and letting the body take over.  Hopefully you’re choosing to have sex with someone who cares about you and is attracted to you no matter what you look like naked.  Try to see yourself through their eyes and remember they chose to be in this moment with you.  Visualize yourself having sex without anxiety and being proud of who you are.  Then it may be easier to actually make that happen when you do have sex.

2.  Performance anxiety.  Again, this one is similar to the first one in that your insecurity is messing up your brain.  If you are over thinking every move you are making and wondering if the other person is having a good time, then you won’t be able to relax and enjoy the moment.  Sex isn’t rocket science, but everyone is different.  If you really want to please your partner, ask them what they enjoy.  They will hopefully be happy that you want to please them and you’ll have a better chance of getting it right.

Sometimes number two can happen when you’re having casual sex and don’t feel comfortable with the person.  My suggestion is to wait until you meet someone you care about and can let your guard down around.  Sometimes number two can happen when you are in a relationship with someone you really care about.  Casual sex may be easier for you because you don’t care as much about what the other person thinks.  My suggestion is to be open with your partner.  Let them know you are feeling a little intimidated.  Talking about it, even though it’s awkward, can help you feel more realistic about your expectations and lower your anxiety.

3.  Religious conflicts.  If you’ve been brought up in a very strict, religious environment it can be hard to let go of those messages later in life.  You may feel guilty over some of your sexual thoughts and having sex can bring on even worse guilt.  This can keep you from relaxing and connecting with your partner during sex.  It may help to talk over this conflict with your partner or a professional who can help you determine whether you want to let go of certain beliefs from your past or wait to have sex.  Some of those beliefs can be deeply imbedded and even if you feel like you’ve decided to be more liberal as an adult, it can be hard to get rid of the thought that you are doing something sinful.  Figuring out what you want to believe about sex before having sex can be very helpful.  If you are still not able to have an orgasm, seek out a professional that can teach you some thought replacement techniques.

4.  Emotional disconnection.  You may be having a hard time responding sexually to your partner because of past hurts that have destroyed your emotional connection.  Even guys can be turned off sexually when feelings are hurt too often in a relationship.  You may feel like you are pulling away mentally and emotionally, so it is hard to be connected physically during sex.  Do your best to repair the emotional damage.  Figure out if you can forgive this person for things that have happened in the past.  If you can’t, it may be time to leave the relationship.  You deserve to get the most out of a relationship and if you can’t connect to your partner during sex, it may be a sign that there are deeper issues to deal with.

5.  No physical attraction.  I’m not sure why you want to have sex with someone you don’t feel attracted to, but it happens.  You may be in this situation because you don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings.  If the sexual spark isn’t there, you may not be able to cross the finish line.  This person should be your friend, not someone you are having sex with.  If you’ve tried and there isn’t success, then it is time to call a spade a spade.

6.  Too much internet pornography.  This one can happen if you get so used to using fantasy and visual images when you masturbate.  You can actually desensitize yourself sexually.  Which means you will need more and more visual stimulation to orgasm.  You may find that you can’t actually have an orgasm during sex without the help of pornography.  It can also increase your expectations of what sex should be like and the reality of sex with your partner may be somewhat of letdown.  If you think this is the problem, try to back yourself off from using pornography and masturbate less for awhile.  Try to visualize having sex with your partner and being able to cross that finish line.  This may help you reach orgasm with only the visual stimulation of your actual partner.

7.  Past abuse (sexual, physical or emotional).  Past abuse can really mess up your perspective on how you feel about yourself and how you feel about sex.  Abuse crosses boundaries and sex is the most sacred boundary you have.  Many people who have been abused either feel they have no boundaries and let everyone in or they put up too many to keep everyone away.  With sex this means you either let anyone and everyone take advantage of you, but you don’t open yourself up to receive any pleasure.  Or you don’t let anyone touch you and are afraid of being that vulnerable with anyone.  If you’ve been abused in the past and you know this affecting your current sex life (or you know you’re avoiding sex because of past abuse) it is recommended that you seek professional help to work though it.  You can move past it and not let it continue to take away from your present and your future happiness.  It isn’t easy, but it is certainly possible.

Sex is complicated.  It can be hard to be vulnerable enough to experience an orgasm with another person.  It happens to a lot of people and there are ways to fix it.  Be honest and open with yourself and then with your partner.  If you can’t talk about sex, then maybe that is sign that you shouldn’t be having it yet.  Be smart and be safe.  Always use protection and get tested for STD’s regularly!