How To Stay Friends With An Ex

e-mayl

My boyfriend of nearly two years broke up with me two weeks ago. Tomorrow, he is running of to Panama city for some spring break fun with a new girl. This is totally unlike him, so I am assuming it’s his way of coping with the pain – though he is flat out denying there is pain. In my logic, I thought, if he’s moving on, should I? We’ve both decided that we will stay friends. Though I am trying to get him to do friend activities, he is seemingly distant and cold. Again, very un like him. I’m wondering, in your personal and professional opinion, can we be friends with our exs? how much time in between should it take to attempt a friendship?

-L

Hey, L. I don’t have any professional advice to offer, but I can speak from my personal experiences with break ups.

Ending a relationship is in many ways losing someone, especially when you’ve been together for a few years as you had. The grief of break-ups, for me, feels not quite as strong as death, but more then falling out with a friend. As such, there are lots of emotions flowing, and that sometimes translates into strange or irrational behavior.

I think your assumption about him coping is probably right, even if he is denying it. In past break ups, I found myself feeling unwanted & missing their presence in my life. Amongst the slew of my sadness, there was peace in feeling like I’d be able to find the same happiness with someone else. Call it “rebounding”. Running off on this trip to Panama may be your ex’s way of doing that. I wouldn’t worry about his coldness for now, he’s probably just upset and needs some time.
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5 Tips for Relationship WIN

1: Respect


Mutual respect is one of the most important foundations for a strong, healthy relationship. Respect means seeing each other as equals, treating them with dignity–even in conflict, empathizing with their needs, trusting them, and giving validation. This should be afforded to both partners.

2: Communicate

I CAN’T SAY THIS ENOUGH! Communicate about what you’re experiencing and what you need. Listen as your partner does the same. A calm, rational approach to communication can eliminate a shitload of fighting and drama. Practice non-threatening behavior, negotiation, and fairness. Keep each other on the same page and create an open environment to talk about issues as they come up.

3: Moderation

I see a tendency in younger relationships to become isolated from the world once you have a relationship. The two spend every hour together and many sacrifice fulfillment in other parts of their lives because it has been replaced by a new love. Alternatively, try to keep a level head. Don’t cut off your friends and family–your partner isn’t going anywhere! Having a strong support system in life comes from a myriad of people you love, not just a single one. Moving at a steady, healthy pace will help you to savor each milestone of increasing intimacy and connection. There is no rush.

4: Support

Provide support for each other’s ambitions, goals, endeavors, and day to day challenges. This is an important form of validation and generates positive esteem cycles in your relationship. Being a supportive lover helps to ward off (though won’t eliminate) negative emotions like jealousy and entitlement.

5: Enjoy

Have FUN! Relationships can bring love, wonder, and new learning experiences into your life for you to enjoy. Savor them! No relationship will be without challenge, however. There will be struggle, there will be conflict. Take time to work through rough periods, but overall, your take away from relationships should be primarily positive. If you are more frequently hurt, confused, or upset, reflect upon whether or not this is the relationship for you.

What tips do YOU have for strong, healthy relationships? Check out what others have to say & leave yours below :)

ADVICE: Too Late to Stop Having Sex?

I get email:

After 5 months of being with my boyfriend we finally decided to have sex. It was totally on a whim..I was planning on waiting a lot longer. At the time I figured, I love him and want to make this commitment…now, i’m not so sure I made the right choice. I guess my question is, since we have already had sex, could “waiting” still be an option or would it be a little far fetched? I am also worried on how or if I should even bring this up to him.

-AJ

Hey AJ!

Good news! Waiting is ALWAYS an option. In every encounter, you always have the right to say no–whether it’s before or even during sex. Having sex does not open any flood gate, so if you’re not ready and you’re questioning yourself, as it seems you are, then it’s perfectly OK to say no. It doesn’t make you a bad partner, and if your boyfriend loves and respects you, he will honor and respect your needs in the relationship.

You mentioned that you don’t know if you should bring it up to him. As a general rule of thumb, if you need something, it’s always good to bring it up with him. Now, as to how to do so: my recommendation is usually for people to bring up issues in bed *outside* of bed. So, next time you’re hanging out, maybe when you’re being a little affectionate with each other and you’re both in a good mood, tell him that there’s something you want to talk about. Here’s an example scenario:


You: Hey, do you mind if we talk about something for a sec that has been bothering me?
Him: Sure, what’s up?
You: You know how we had sex last week? I felt like I was ready to do it, but afterward I realized…maybe I’m not as ready as I thought.
Him: What do you mean?
You: I love you and I want to make this commitment to you, but I think maybe it’s too much for me at this point. The time might come, but I’m not quite there yet.
Him: Okay, I understand. How can I meet you where you’re at?
You: Well, do you think we could wait a little longer? I’d be much more comfortable with that.

Of course, this template isn’t exactly how it’s going to play out! This is just an example of how to get started and some directions you could go. Of the most importance is to be honest and gentle. Remember, you’re doing this to take care of yourself, and you have every right to do so. If he appears upset, remind him that you’re just trying to communicate your needs to make your relationship stronger. Make sure that he knows it’s about you and it’s not an attack on him, if necessary. Lastly, don’t let him (or anyone else for that matter!) make you feel bad about your choice or pressure you into having sex any way. It’s your body, use it however you want to.

Good luck. <3

ADVICE: My girlfriend is too fat!

I get email [paraphrased]:

I have recently began to date a fantastic girl. I’m very confused, because I like her for who she is, like, I love this girl, and I want to stay with her forever. It’s just…I wish she was thinner. I know, I know, that sounds like such a douche bag thing to want, and I feel horrible about it. She’s not even obese, just a little rounded, which isn’t wrong by any means. Just, as far as sexuality goes, I wish she was a little thinner, just as a turn on type thing and stuff…Thanks for any help you can give.

First off, thanks for acknowledging that not accepting your partner’s natural form is not fair. You are way ahead of the game. However, if it makes you feel any better, it’s probably not entirely your fault for holding her to such standards. While you have fortunately acknowledged it, many others often fail to recognize that this “unnatural beauty bombardment” is not only detrimental to women, it hurts relationships and women’s partners too.

To me, the reality is, you cannot ask your girlfriend to lose weight. In particular, because you just started dating AND she’s healthy. To many, it will come off as douchebaggy and uncalled for. Not only that, but such a request has the power to destroy a person’s self confidence, and sometimes, their trust in you. It’s normal for women to have curves and a little bit more body fat than men. People with a little extra weight tend to live longer and healthy sized women (note, the spectrum of healthy is much broader than we perceive) have healthier babies. I would like to add, in response to some legitimately concerned comments, that dealing with an unhealthy partner is a different story that I’m not going to get into in this post.

That said, the fact remains that you still feel an impediment in your attraction to her. As much as I’d like to believe love is blind, I don’t. In my experience, there needs to be SOME kind of physical attraction for any physical relationship to work. The rest of your email indicates that you obviously find her attractive, she’s just not your “perfect 10″ because of the weight issue. Perhaps it might be helpful for you to:

1) Start at the root of the problem: begin questioning your own perceptions of weight and beauty to understand why you feel the way you do. What are you comparing her to? Is it pornography? Is it reality TV? Surround yourself with more positive/realistic images and continue questioning yourself. You have clearly already started that, which I think is awesome! Many props to you. But it takes time, skepticism, and persistence before you will really start to see beauty in more forms than just being thin–so don’t beat yourself up over it.

2) Take theory out into the real world: focus on what you do like when you’re getting off with her. Enjoy the rest of her body and allow yourself to embrace the “soul connection” you have with her when you have sex.

While working out with a partner is always a fun activity, I think that asking her to work out with you for the sake of her losing weight is a bit extreme in this case; again, mostly because you just started dating, but also because she’s not unhealthy/self esteem stuff. So, other than being sensitive, opening your mind to other kinds of beauty, and continuing to focus on the positive you see in her, I personally don’t know of much more that could really help you. It’s not a black and white issue, but you sound like you’re on the right path. In short, it is my opinion that if you want to stay with her, you’ll have to look past it, and these are some of the means that might help you do so. Best of luck!

The comment section is open to readers who have their own input. Should anyone else like to give advice, please remember that this is a sex and body positive space. :)

Why Do People Cheat Within Relationships?

Well, if that isn’t a loaded question to consider over my morning cup of tea, I don’t know what is. I get a lot of email from heart-broken and lonely individuals asking, “Why, oh why did they cheat on me? What did I do wrong?” Here, have a hug. And some chocolate. Actually, give me back the chocolate, eating feelings is a bad habit.

There are some evolutionary reasons that we could delve into for cheating, and while that stuff is great to know, it doesn’t soothe an aching heart, nor does it help us to evolve socially. There are lots of detailed and intricate reasons to be dissected – but I’m going to save that for a later post.

Let me start by saying that by my definition, I have cheated once and have been cheated on once. Fairly limited, I know, so most of my speculation comes from my friends’ relationships as well. (I kind of feel bad for my friends, they’re like my lab experiments sometimes-ha!) I am asserting no facts here, just my own opinion.

There are three main reasons I have pinned for cheating:

1. Unhappiness – When one person is unhappy, and the lines of communication are not open to work on things, the individual does not feel fulfilled. The unhappy cheater is seeking out fulfillment that they’re not getting in the relationship elsewhere. This can be emotional fulfillment or sexual. Usually people get in more trouble/feel more guilty about a sexual affair than an emotional one. Go figure… Also, this reason for cheating tends to end relationships more than the others.
2. Opportunity – This is also known as thinking with one’s vagina or penis. Regard for the cheater’s partner goes out the door because a sexual/emotional encounter presents itself. Assuming you have made a monogamous commitment to each other, opportunistic sexual encounters may be telling of the cheater’s actual investment in you. Or maybe it’s not telling, the opportunistic cheater is sometimes genuinely sorry that their hormones took hold of them.
3. Apathy – Many of us have probably seen one of those relationships that is hard to watch because one person CLEARLY cares more than the other. The apathetic cheater is not invested in the relationship at all, even though they might say they are. These people often get labeled as “users” because they use people for personal gain. Examples: she doesn’t like YOU, should likes your car; he doesn’t care about YOU, he likes that being ‘in a relationship’ with a hottie gives him status with his friends.



Moral of the story? People can be hurtful meany heads, and thats why we’ve got to look out for ourselves. Looking out for ourselves means communicating openly and approaching relationships rationally. Yes, I did just try to advocate rational emotion.

And with that facepalm, let me know what you think about cheaters. Don’t forget your experiences – there are numerous folks who quietly read & benefit from your comments, just like YouTube. :)