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How To Make Sure Your Match Isn’t A Catfish When They Don’t Have Social Media

Once upon a time, I paid $5 for an online background check to confirm someone I matched with on Bumble who did not have any social media accounts was who they claimed they were. Spoiler alert: They weren’t. Hello, and welcome to my TED Talk. When someone says they don’t have any social media accounts, they’re lying it’s time to put on your FBI hat and do literally everything you can (…within reason) to prove they’re really real. 

Sure, there are a million legit reasons why someone might not use social media, and TBH, they’re living my dream. But who wants to get catfished, kittenfished, or lied to? Not you, if you’re reading this right now. Try these six expert-backed ways to confirm your match’s identity when they don’t use Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter like the rest of the universe.

1. Try A Reverse Image Search

Step 1: Screenshot a photo from your match’s dating app profile. Step 2: Put my thing down, flip it and reverse search it.

“Conduct a ‘reverse image search’ to see if the photo is associated with any fake online accounts, alternative names, or other profiles and personalities that just don’t add up,” says Edward J. Ajaeb, private investigator based in Washington, DC and founder of licensed private detective agency Nighthawk Strategies. All you have to do is upload any photo of them to a site like Google Images, Bing, or TinEye and see what comes up.

“These search engines will scour the web for any visually similar images,” he explains, noting that “not every image on the web is indexed, so oftentimes you’ll find zero results.” But if there are 10 identical images and they all link out to articles about a celeb or feature another person’s name? Sorry, but they’re 100% using someone else’s photo.

2. Reverse Search Their Email Address

Let me preface this by saying I don’t know how you’re going to get your match’s email address if you can’t even find their Instagram. BUT if for some reason you happen to stumble upon it, throw it into a search engine. Licensed marriage and family therapist Caroline Madden, PhD’s clients have lucked out doing this in the past. “You can see if they’ve responded to comments online somewhere,” says Madden. After testing out this method and searching for my work email, I pulled up my website, social media profiles, and a bunch of author profiles. 10/10 highly recommend seeing what comes up for you, too.

3. Google Their Basic Information

It’s one thing to not have a TikTok or an Instagram. It’s another story to not have *ANY* presence on the internet. Like, not even a trace. That’s sus. So search for any basic biographical info they’ve already shared with you to see if they pop up anywhere on the WWW.

“Try searching his or her name along with their employer, school, or other notable details in Google,” says Ajaeb. He says combinations like this could bring up the “Meet The Team” page on their employer’s website or prove they played a sport or were on an honor roll at the school… or not. May the odds be ever in your favor.

4. Ask To Meet Virtually

According to Ajaeb, it’s always a smart idea to video chat with a match before meeting IRL.“A simple FaceTime call could help to verify that the person is who they say they are and helps to break the ice before any in-person encounter.” Plus, he adds, “the COVID-19 pandemic is a great reason to set up a socially distanced virtual meeting with your match before agreeing to meet in person.”

Personally, I just ask for the person’s Snapchat right out the gate because real-time video chatting with a stranger can be high pressure and awkward AF. But if you don’t use Snap, ask to FaceTime instead. If they reject your offer to video chat every time you ask, take a page out of Nev’s playbook and run.

5. Trust Your Gut

If something feels off, it probably is. Clinical psychologist Dr. Sabrina Romanoff says your gut instinct is your first line of defense, so trust it and use it to your advantage. “It’s important to listen to your instincts above any identity verification screening processes,” she says. “The unconscious is an infallible guide and compass when it comes to providing alerts to danger or hazard. You are your best tool in discerning the intentions and authenticity of others.” She warns if you experience strong feelings of doubt or concern about your match, don’t brush them off. “Listen to the cues your body is providing and do not settle on the artificial authentication of a search engine,” she adds. I mean, Google knows all, but your sixth sense might offer a lot more valuable insight.

6. Ask Your Match For More Information

If you’d rather not spend hours on the internet digging for dirt on some random human, skip the BS and just go straight to the source. Ajaeb says if/when something seems odd, don’t be afraid to ask your match what you want to know. “Digging up information on individuals with little to no social media presence can be challenging, since there’s a lack of information for proper cross-referencing,” he says. “Online dating should be a fun, but safe, experience for all parties involved. It’s important to keep communication open, ask questions, trust your instincts, and be patient during your online dating endeavors.” And if you don’t get a good vibe from them, NBD. Just keep swiping until you find a real person with an Instagram account who can DM you quality memes all day.

Images: Charles Deluvio / Unsplash; GIPHY (4); @betchesluvthis / Twitter

Here’s How Sexual Dry Spells Can Impact Your Wellbeing

Growing metaphorical cobwebs down there isn’t the only thing that happens during sexual dry spells. Not having sex for a decent period of time can 100% affect you one way or another, as many are learning during this pandemic, especially if you’re perpetually thirsty (hi, me). Yes, you can get super ~frustrated~ but what exactly could going without sex for a period of time do to your mental, emotional, and/or physical wellbeing? We spoke with a therapist and a sexpert to explain wtf could happen to us when we experience a dry spell. 

The Potential Benefits

Surprise! Although it definitely doesn’t feel like it at times, there are actually a lot of perks associated with dry spells. According to sexpert for sexual wellness brand and retailer Lovers, Marla Renee Stewart, MA, abstaining from sex means you can “focus more on yourself, experiment with self-pleasure, pick up a new hobby, use your sexual energy for other things (sexual transmutation), try out all your seduction techniques, and flirt with anyone you want.” More time to cry try that Pinterest dinner recipe you’ve had saved since last July or sext your crush until it’s time to bring things IRL? Doesn’t sound so bad when you look at the glass half full. 

Ultimately, Stewart says that the impact of sexual dry spells depends on the person’s state of mind. “If they think it’s a bad thing and getting frustrated with not being able to have sex, then it will impact them negatively,” she says. “However, if they look at it as a learning opportunity to learn more about their body, gain more awareness of themselves, and actually appreciate the dry spell, they will learn that being celibate might not be such a bad thing.” It’s basically all about perception. Time to start looking on the bright side instead of wallowing in your thirst, friends.

The Potential Cons

K, so the good news here is that no matter how much you may say it, you won’t die from not getting laid. In fact, nothing physically damaging is likely to happen either. Yay for no actual cobwebs! However, “while sex is not considered a biological need (meaning we won’t die if we don’t ever have sex), it is a drive and going without sex can have negative effects,” says sex-positive therapist Erica Zajac, LCSW. “Since connection and touch are needs for psychological well-being, going for long periods of time without touch or connection (social isolation) can affect a person’s health.” Ugh, yep. The skin hunger is real AF. 

They say the first things you might notice include increased stress and frustration. “The lack of dopamine and serotonin can lead to depression and anxiety,” adds Stewart. Cool. Great. Sex-starved sad squad, represent!

Stewart also says that you might experience constant cravings to touch and the desire to self-soothe with “bad” habits. Zajac notes these side effects “have been very prevalent during COVID and would be during any time where physical contact has to be restricted in any way.” I personally can vouch for this. Life is a hell of a lot happier and more bearable when you’re having sex… well, at least for me. 

So, yeah. In conclusion, the good news is great news and the bad news really isn’t even that bad. Dry spells might suck and feel sh*tty in the meantime, but nothing too detrimental will really happen to you, so try not to stress too much (because stress is the real killer here).

Tips For Managing A Dry Spell

Singles, people in LDRs, and anyone affected by low libido or just not having sex for whatever reason during the pandemic right now, listen up! Here are a bunch of ways to healthily manage your dry spell. 

First off, Zajac says, “it would be good to increase or start masturbating and to get touch in other ways if it’s safe enough to do so; for example, getting a full body massage. It’s obviously not the same as sex, but it can help relieve some of the physical tension.” So treat yo’self to some new sex toys and use them as ~personal massagers~ whenever tf you feel frustrated. Stewart recommends trying app-connected toys to enhance solo play, like the Connexion Series collection by SVAKOM. “Series’ 5 sex toys are timely for our current situation, featuring long-distance remote app control and the ability to sync with adult video sites so that the toys vibrate and thrust along with the videos,” she explains. The future is now, friends.

Some other tips? You can also find other non-sexual ways to achieve pleasure, like by doing any of your favorite things that make you feel good. Journal your thoughts and frustrations, especially when you find yourself super thirsty. Oh, and definitely focus on self-care. We all could use more of that right now, but especially those missing sex or any sort of physical connection. 

“The best thing I can recommend to help ease the mental and emotional distress of sex is to lean into it,” says Zajac. “What I mean is to accept that this is the current situation (hopefully it won’t be a permanent one) but focusing on something you can’t control usually only leads to higher stress levels, frustration, and anger. While these emotions are very understandable, they’re not helpful to you physically or mentally.”

The key is finding the solution that works best for YOU until you get laid again… which you hopefully will! Until then, do what you gotta to avoid those metaphorical cobwebs from taking over your life. Oh, and don’t forget to check in on your friends who are doubling down on social distancing and not having sex during the pandemic. Send them all the thoughts and prayers.

Images: Pexels, GIPHY (4)

5 Adult Content Creators Share How OnlyFans Helped Them During The Pandemic

Raise your hand if you’ve considered starting an OnlyFans account during the pandemic *raises hand*. Hello, and welcome to my TED Talk. From the Bella Thorne scandal (read: privileged celeb scam that appropriated and harmed real sex workers who actually make their living through the platform) to paramedic Lauren Kwei who was outed by the New York Post, online sex work has been a major topic of conversation over the last year or so. Although sex work has always been possible, platforms like OF have definitely made it more accessible to SWers and non-SWers alike during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

You probably already know how OnlyFans can help pay the bills, because uh… it’s literally a job, but there are so many other reasons that folks might join. I interviewed five adult content creators to discuss how using a site like OF has helped them during the pandemic. 

Oh, and before you drop your toxic thoughts in the comments section: Sex work is real work, and sex workers deserve the same rights and access to protection that all other working humans have. But we live in a world of judgy, power-hungry assholes who crave control over others and are full of hate and sexual shame, so here we are! I digress. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is if you’re a troll, GTFO.

Political Activism

Charyn Pfeuffer is an industry icon and absolute badass human who has written about sex, dating, and relationships for more than two decades (!!!). Then when the pandemic struck, she began calling, chatting, sexting, and swapping photos and videos with clients as a paid companion and confidante. But her work doesn’t stop there.

“One of the more satisfying surprises of doing online sex work during the pandemic has been working with Trump supporters seeking domination and humiliation,” says Pfeuffer. “As a super liberal human, I’ve been more than happy to craft degrading scenarios, then reallocate a portion of the money earned to ACLU, Planned Parenthood, BLM organizations, and during the election, Democrat candidates in swing states. It’s been a therapeutic outlet in which to channel my rage for Trump and the GOP.”

Folks, this is what a modern day hero looks like. (She notes that she can’t take credit for the idea, as a friend of hers pegs old white men and gives the money to BLM causes, but STILL. As she calls it, this “gives a whole new meaning to F*ck The Patriarchy.”) 

Her activism doesn’t stop there, though. Pfeuffer also used her platform to encourage people to vote during the 2020 presidential election. “If people sent me a photo of their postmarked ballot, I sent them a free photo of my tits,” she says. “I got hundreds of responses from men, and to my delight, couples. Between this and making donations, online sex work made it possible to do some political good.” Charyn, on behalf of the entire United States of America, we thank you for your service.

Starting A Business

Before COVID hit, Rylee Rabbit was constantly on the go, modeling or hosting events in a different city every week. Then things changed. “When cities were shutting down and travel options closed, like many others, the outlook for my income looked doomed,” Rabbit recalls. But since people were bored at home with nothing to do, OF traffic increased and content creators cashed in. Literally.

“For a lot of models on OnlyFans, it really became a money maker and took a turn for the best,” Rylee recalls. Thanks to staying home more often and making her own schedule, she ended up hiring people to manage tasks she was handling on her own, formed an LLC, set up payroll, and is currently debt-free (!) with plans to buy a house in a few months (!!). Boss moves.

“It seemed like having a financial program and plan for retirement would never happen before OnlyFans came along,” she says. “Now, in one of the biggest economic downturns of our time, my income is surpassing people I looked up to on a financial level. OnlyFans has expanded my brand on another level and made it easy for me to finally say that I’m successful.”

A Creative Outlet

Laurin, aka Another Bi Gemini, started an OnlyFans account in May 2020. “I wanted to create one because I wanted to express my sexuality in a new way that felt empowering and liberating,” she says. “I was going through a divorce in the middle of a global pandemic just wanted an expressive outlet that was fully mine to create.”

She recalls she was super hesitant at first because she was newly divorced, is queer, a mental health therapist, and a mom. And because of the f*cked up stigma toward sex workers that’s polluted the air we breathe, she was also worried about what people would think of her. Ultimately though, she said “f*ck it” and put herself first, and it was 100% worth it. “Now I’m enjoying making the content so much that it doesn’t matter,” she says. “I’m going to keep making content because it’s become a creative outlet and a form of self-love.” 

Community Building

ThatBadTeacher is an elementary school teacher working from home by day and an OnlyFans content creator by night. “A few years ago, I discovered the BDSM/kink lifestyle and it completely changed my world,” she says. “Since then, I’ve been working on sharing everything I’ve learned about it outside of my school hours.” Instagram had been her platform of choice but the new trash (read: harmful) terms of service as of December 2020 make it so much harder for sex educators and content creators, like her, to publish content or do their jobs virtually without facing shadowbans or actual bans. So she made the switch over to OF and has been having the time of her life ever since. “Not only am I able to freely express this huge part of myself, I’m able to create a community of supportive like minded individuals and be an outlet for them as well,” she says. “So far, my experiences with users have been nothing but respectful, supportive, and kind. I’ve even received a few tips and extra financial support through there, which is honestly just touching considering how everyone’s jobs seem to hang in the balance, including mine.”

Self-Empowerment

Talia* created an OnlyFans account after she was laid off in March. She never publicly posted about her account and has since stopped creating content, but she privately sent her link to folks who fetishized her weight on Tinder. “It’s an amazing outlet and I did really enjoy it,” she says. “You fully control the content you post regularly and charge for what you feel necessary. It also inspires a lot of confidence knowing that people are willing to pay for photos of someone like me, who has, in my opinion, never been a typical ‘pretty girl.’ It was fun!”

From finding self-love to supporting important movements like BLM, sites like OnlyFans can offer way more value to its users aside from making money and paying the bills. Seems like the only potential con to using these platforms is dealing with the stigma toward it. I’m hoping the stories of these badass content creators can help to remove some of it and showcase that they deserve respect and praise for the hard work they put in to bring us pleasure during this sh*t show of a year (and always). Oh, and one more time for good measure – raise your hand (or drop a comment) if you’re still debating starting an OF account. *raises both hands*

*Name changed to preserve anonymity.

IMAGES: Pexels

14 Sex Toys To Gift Yourself This Holiday Season

Navigating relationships and sex drives in 2020 has been a total trip. Virtual and IRL dating has been wild AF, the thirst has been realer than ever, and living in general has basically felt like riding a roller coaster without a seatbelt. Especially with COVID-19 cases on the rise again, it’s time to do what’s safest by continuing to f*ck ourselves. Literally.

With the holidays right around the corner, you owe it to yourself to gift yourself one (or all) of these 14 awesome sex toys. Because let’s face it, we all deserve (read: need) them and the stress reliever that comes along with masturbation right now.

1. Sweet Vibes Charmed

As one of my personal favorites, I’m naturally putting it at the top of the list. Charmed is a powerful wand vibe that has a fun little fin on the head for pinpointed pleasure. Slip the tip in between your lips (please appreciate this rhyme) to stimulate the clit directly. If you’re on the more ~sensitive~ side, use the smooth back of the ball to please yourself. With four super powerful vibration settings to choose from, I promise you’re gonna have a good time.

2. Honey Birdette Bullet

This bullet vibe hits the spot every time. It’s small enough to hide in your nightstand and powerful enough to please TF out of you with five intensities and patterns. Oh, and it’s waterproof, making it a perfect toy to slip into your bathrobe and sneak into the shower with you.

3. We-Vibe & Womanizer Golden Moments Kit

If you’re a toy fan, you might already know about the Womanizer. If you’re into toys and in a relationship (nearby or LDR), you probably already know about the app controlled We-Vibe. If you don’t know about either, now’s your chance to buy both at a discount! This limited edition kit combines clit suction Womanizer Premium and dual stimulating We-Vibe Chorus to offer you $100+ off the OG prices of buying both toys separately. It’s basically the perfect gift for yourself… and your partner, if you decide to share.

4. Vibease Bluetooth Erotica Responsive Panty Vibrator

Do you like audiobooks? What about vibrators? Now what if I told you we could combine those two things to give you the most satisfying reading experience known to humankind? Introducing: the Vibease Bluetooth responsive panty vibe. Slip into a good book and masturbation sesh at the same time with this vibe that fits in your panties and vibrates according to what you’re listening to (via Bluetooth). Yes, really. This gives erotica a whole new meaning. 

5. Desire Remote Control Butt Plug

Prostate owners, get you one of these remote controlled butt plugs. Actually, if you don’t have a prostate, you should get one, too. This silky smooth silicone plug has a flared base (which is IMPORTANT so it doesn’t get lost in your body) and is designed with a dented tip in an effort to maximize P-spot stimulation. It also boasts 8 modes and 12 intensities so your booty can experience all the sensations.

6. Zumio X, S, or E

Zumio is another masterpiece of a toy that I’ve been obsessed with for a while. Its SpiroTip™ technology doesn’t vibrate, but rotates in teeny tiny circles that please your sensitive parts with ease. There are three Zumio models to pick from: X, S, or E. You can read more on their website about each of their intensities, but TL;DR: X has a long stem and medium tip, S has a shorter stem and large tip, and E has a curved, rigid stem and precision tip. Plus, they’re offering a free special gift (25-page self-pleasure guide) with purchases this holiday season. 

7. CalExotics Shameless Seducer

CalExotics’ Shameless Seducer is one of the more expensive products on the list, but that’s because it offers a LOT of stimulation. It’s penetrative, self-thrusting, and *very* unapologetic to whichever hole you’re using it on. It’s basically in the shape of a classic rabbit vibe, but it offers seven vibe patterns, four thrusting modes, and an additional flickering teaser that mimics a tongue. It’s wild. You’ve been warned. 

8. CalExotics My Pod

If you’re a tech fan, you’re going to love My Pod. This toy is self-cleaning. Did you hear that? SELF-CLEANING. That means when you’re lazy AF after you’re done playing with this vibrator, you can literally throw it back in its pod and it’ll cleanse itself. No more forcing yourself to get up from bed and wash it in the bathroom. A miracle.

9. Unbound Puff

Where are all my clit suction toy lovers out there? I can’t see or hear you, but wherever you are, trust that the Puff is for you. As one reviewer in the comments writes, “Puff the magic dragon” is “LIFE CHANGING.” It’s a compact suction vibe with five different settings that’s waterproof and quiet (which is perfect for anyone living in close quarters during quarantine). 

10. Emojibator Fruit Basket

Buy yourself a fruit basket this holiday season! But not just any fruit basket… one that vibrates. LOL. Emojibator bundled a bunch of their super cute and fun veggie- and fruit-shaped toys to give us the gift of ~sexual vitamins~ this year. With 10 vibration settings and the funniest sh*t to potentially put on your kitchen table, you can’t go wrong buying this. It comes with an eggplant, banana, chili pepper, and a pickle. Absolutely amazing, and if nothing else, funny AF home decor.

11. Organic Loven Rianne S Heart Vibe

The Rianne S Heart Vibe brings “love yourself” to another level. This 10-speed vibe is rechargeable, made of medical-grade silicone, and packed discreetly but designed beautifully so you’ll probably want to showcase it on your bookshelf or nightstand. Want the gift that keeps on giving? You can also subscribe to one of Organic Loven’s adult subscription boxes full of goodies like toys, condoms, books, and more.

12. Le Wand Arch

Arch is from Le Wand’s Stainless Steel Collection, and it’s absolutely beautiful. Not only is it a gorgeous product, but it’s also perfect for those who crave G-spot stimulation with its special curvature and girth. Bonus: throw this in the fridge to chill it up a bit before sliding it in. You’re welcome. 

13. Satisfyer Love Triangle

Satisfyer is a staple brand in my toy box(es) for good reason. Their products are always made with body-friendly silicone and pack super strong stimulation abilities. The Love Triangle is a clit suction toy that syncs with an app and combines Satisfyer’s award-winning air-pulse tech with deep vibes to please us in allll the ways. It also comes with a hygienic cap so you can keep the toy safe from allergens and dust and crap when you’re not using it. 

14. b-Vibe Anal Training & Education Set

If you’re a butt play beginner, get yourself b-Vibe’s anal training set. This kit comes with products and training guides that everyone needs to kick off their anal journey as safely, knowledgeably, and pleasurably as possible. If nothing else, you’d be giving yourself the gift of booty education this holiday season. You’ve already baked all the different breads. Why not learn something else? 

Happy holidays, friends! Well, maybe not happy, because, you know… 2020. But may your holiday season be as pleasurable as possible. These toys can definitely help.

Betches may receive a portion of revenue if you click a link and purchase a product or service. The links are independently placed and do not influence editorial content.

IMAGES: Pexels, GIPHY, Sweet Vibes, Honey Birdette, Lovers, Lovehoney (2), Zumio, CalExotics (2), Unbound, Emojibator, Organic Loven, Le Wand, Satisfyer, b-Vibe

So Will There *Really* Be A Pandemic Baby Boom?

We’re officially nine months into the pandemic. Couples have been quarantined together all day every day this whole time. It takes nine months to birth a baby. Are you picking up what I’m putting down? As soon as the first lockdown hit came the jokes that there would be a huge baby boom. So given that we’ve been in quarantine for as long as a gestation period, you’d think that everyone is about to start popping out kids any minute now. Right? Actually, maybe not. Allow us to explain the many reasons why there’s probably not going to be a mid-pandemic baby boom anytime soon.

People Are Having Less Sex

I lived with my ex for most of the pandemic, and my single friends and friends in LDRs were jealous that we were having sex all the time—except we, uhh, definitely weren’t. Like, at all. So this idea that ~couples must be banging nonstop since they’re locked at home together 24/7~ is a very fair and popular assumption, but the truth is that’s just not the case.

And I’m not just using my own experience as empirical evidence here—science backs me up. “Although we might imagine that more time with our partners might result in more sex, we’ve seen the opposite in our 2020 Relationship Health Report, with people reporting a 15% drop in sex since before the pandemic,” explains Briony Leo, psychologist and head of coaching at relationship coaching and self-care app Relish

It’s not just couples feeling the effects of quarantine, either. Singles are having less sex, too. “Experts like those interviewed in the journal Nature say that the effects of a crisis on people’s sex lives is very individual, and depends on the nature of the crisis it is and how long it lasts,” explains Julie Graves, MD, MPH, PhD, associate director of clinical services at sexual health company Nurx. “COVID is unique in that for single people, it makes it both risky and logistically difficult to meet sex partners. There’s anxiety that you could get COVID from a partner, plus there are fewer social events where you can connect with potential partners.” I mean, none of this surprises me. The risk of dying or getting others sick definitely isn’t worth getting laid, IMHO. 

Libidos Have Been All Over The Place

If you’re just not feeling sexy right now, you’re not alone. Our sex drives are drastically impacted during times of economic recession or global depression (like in a pandemic). “Research tells us that stress does impact our sexual activity,” explains Leo, noting that the more stressed we are, the less sex we want to have. TBH, same.

Another study found that half their respondents had seen a change in their sexual activity since COVID, with factors such as having children at home, depressive symptoms, and loneliness shown to predict a decrease in sex and a decrease in bonding behaviors like holding hands, cuddling and hugging,” says Leo. She adds that although some people experience spikes in libido during stressful times and use sex as a “stress management tool,” stress generally seems to shut down our sex drives to help us focus on coping and getting through (read: surviving) hard times. 

Relationship Satisfaction Is Low, Too

Another win for the single people: turns out everyone quarantining with their partner is probably not living in bliss rn, either. That’s because not only does stress impact libido, but research shows it impacts relationship satisfaction, too. “We’re also having less sex simply because we’re arguing more with our partners or finding them more annoying,” Leo says. Wonderful! But I mean, not surprising considering you’re bound to get irritated by your S.O. at some point if you’re stuck together 24/7 (if you’re abiding by the recommended guidelines and staying TF inside like you should be).

Couples Are Heavily Focused On Pregnancy Prevention

For most couples who are making it through this sh*t show of a year (first off, congrats), their baby making plans have largely been put on hold. “Researchers at the Brookings Institution have forecast that there could be half a million fewer babies born in America next year,” says Dr. Graves. That’s 500,000 fewer babies! Why? Well, there are a few factors at play. 

Leo claims that uncertainty is a main factor in couples’ decisions to put off baby making. “Many people are putting off becoming pregnant during COVID, due to understandable concerns about the stability of their employment, accessing hospital care during this time, and even giving birth without loved ones present due to COVID restrictions,” she explains. “A lack of certainty about what will happen in the next year has resulted in many people putting big plans like this on hold.” 

Obviously, some couples are becoming pregnant in 2020 (looking @ you, every celebrity), but the majority of couples are being extra cautious about having babies right now. “Nurx saw a 50% increase in requests for birth control prescriptions when the pandemic hit in March, and we’ve experienced sustained growth all year,” says Dr. Graves. People obviously take birth control for other reasons than not wanting to have a child, but she notes that “the big jump seen in birth control demand suggests that couples are still having sex but taking pregnancy prevention seriously.” To drive that point home even harder, she adds that the company has also seen a 40% increase in demand for the morning after pill. People are really saying “no babies this year” loud and clear. 

In summary, everyone’s focused on work, health, relationships, politics, social justice, and literally just staying alive—all things that can impact a person’s libido and overall relationship happiness. So having babies is low on the priority list right now.

Okay, But What About A POST-Pandemic Baby Boom?

After this dumpster fire of a pandemic is over, people will (probably) be happier and having more sex. So can we expect to see a post-pandemic baby boom? Sounds like another decent assumption, but probably not. “Experts interviewed in the Atlantic don’t seem to think there will be a baby boom, but that birth rates should return to pre-pandemic levels,” says Dr. Graves. 

However (!), Relish’s report might hint toward the opposite. “In our report, we did find that of the couples who had made it through the pandemic without breaking up , 40% were actually happier in their relationship now as compared to pre-COVID. This tells us that, once things settle down, there may be more couples taking that step towards starting a family,” says Leo. She believes that due to the reduced amount of stress, isolated, uncertainty, financial insecurity, and all that other fun stuff, people are probably going to be celebrating by having *a lot* more sex (which could lead to *a lot* more babies).

I mean, let’s look at what happened after WWII. “We can look to history for other phenomena, such as the ‘Baby Boom’ where families who had put off having children during the Second World War started families (with the average age of first time mothers decreasing from 22 to 20 during this time),” Leo adds. “A major part of this was the perception of safety and that this was the right time to start a family, so we may see some parallels with COVID and when the world is ‘safe’ again people will make this decision.” 

So, yeah. It’s a hard “maybe” to a potential post-pandemic baby boom and a hard “absolutely not” during quarantine. In other words, we’re basically left with one big looming question mark with everything until this pandemic ends, but I guess it’s safe to say we won’t be seeing a ton of babies being born any time soon. Will we even be alive to see the end of COVID? Who knows! I mean, who TF wants to have a baby ever during a pandemic when our own lives are in danger anyway?

Images: Alekon Pictures / Unsplash; Giphy (5)

The Best & Worst Cities For Dating During The Pandemic

Happy cuffing season! Buckle up for what’s bound to be the wildest one yet. On top of the normal desire to settle down with someone when the only thing colder than the weather outside is the other side of your (read: my) bed, the thirst is realer than ever after months of social distancing and quarantining. But surprise! We’re still in a pandemic. Deal with it. 

If you’ve been feeling like your city is just really not cut out for pandemic dating (hi, New York), there is new data out that can determine whether or not you’re right. Apartment List recently revamped their list of the best and worst metros for dating to better reflect our current reality with COVID-19. They ranked the top 40 U.S. metros where people are having the most success dating based on the following factors: percentage of singles in the area, outdoor recreation satisfaction, and overall dating scene satisfaction. Without further ado, let’s rip on the list explore the results.

Here’s are the top 10 cities on the list:

  1. Austin, TX
  2. Boston, MA
  3. Virginia Beach, VA
  4. Miami, FL
  5. Las Vegas, NV
  6. San Antonio, TX
  7. San Diego, CA
  8. Houston, TX
  9. Detroit, MI
  10. Milwaukee, WI

K, so there’s a lot to process here. Let’s kick off this recap by highlighting that Texas is the best spot for dating right now, with three metros dominating the top 10. Austin actually earned the #1 spot in 2020 AND in 2019 pre-pandemic times (anyone remember those days? No? Me neither). Apparently this state is ideal for socially distanced dating with its beautiful weather and abundance of outdoor date spots, like drive-in theaters, parks, and picnic spots. It clearly wins high satisfaction scores for the dating scene, outdoor dating, and overall dating. I’d say congrats, but Texas also wins #1 state with the most COVID-19 cases (officially clocking in over 1.2 million cases) so uhhh… yeah. I know Texans are ~satisfied~ right now, but maybe like, don’t keep dating IRL and opt for a more virtual dating scene instead? Just a thought. You know, because lives depend on it or whatever.

Boston comes in hot at spot #2 and the highest dating satisfaction score (42%) on the list. To fact check this data like the suspicious Scorpio ~reliable journalist~ I am, I asked my friend Emily who lives in Boston what dating there is like right now.

“A lot of guys are totally cool with doing COVID-safe dates, and luckily in Boston there are a million things to do safely outside (New England winter quickly changing that),” she confirms. “A lot of the bars set up patios on the street and I’d say especially in the North End (romantic Little Italy) they had a ton of outdoor places with romantic vibes. There’s also a bunch of parks where you can find a good spot and bring a bottle of wine and makeshift cheese board.” With an estimated 43,709 active cases in Boston right now, I’d put the emphasis here on outdoor dating. Apartment List, your data checks out, at least according to my one friend. Good job.

Totally understandable that beachy towns like Virginia Beach and Miami also rank high. Imagine having beautiful weather, beaches, and other outdoor date spots right nearby? Sign me TF up. Well, actually don’t because I’m very anti-social and anti-dating right now after a recent ugly breakup (and also COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Miami). But have fun, everyone else.

Oh, then there’s random AF Detroit and Milwaukee. And party central Vegas. Congrats to you all.  

Now for the “worst” cities on the list… AKA the bottom 10 out of 40:

  1. Sacramento, CA
  2. Charlotte, NC
  3. Baltimore, MD
  4. San Jose, CA
  5. Kansas City, MO
  6. St. Louis, MO
  7. Riverside, CA
  8. Hartford, CT
  9. Cleveland, OH
  10. Jacksonville, FL

TBH I’m genuinely shocked that Cali cities rank on the bottom of the list. Like, why, with all those beautiful beaches and people with active lifestyles who actually enjoy being outdoors? According to this report, these cities have low dating scene and outdoor satisfaction scores. Confused, but okay.

Hartford is another not-so-great city for dating, even though one of my best friends recently just met her ideal partner in CT, so don’t abandon hope, Connecticutians (??). Cleveland scored, as the study calls it, a “measly” 7% dating satisfaction score and ranks second to last on the list, saved by its 60% outdoor dating satisfaction score. And the winner of the worst city on the list, Jacksonville, got a whopping 14.8% satisfaction score. It’s what Florida deserves, amirite?

And a biased honorable mention because I’m from here: I’m sad that NYC falls in the middle of the list with a dating satisfaction score of 23%. But I mean… it makes sense if you think that most of NYC’s date spots are inside and we can’t (read: shouldn’t, if you’re a considerate person) chill inside public spaces right now. So the best clubs, rooftop bars, restaurants, and coffee shops are basically off-limits. And people are fleeing the city because NyC iS dEaD (according to rich people who probably never spent time below midtown anyway).

Anyway, that’s the tea on the dating hot (or not) spots during the pandemic. As COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country, if you’re going to date, please make sure you’re following your state’s health and safety guidelines by meeting outside, practicing physical distancing, and wearing a mask. If you don’t, every single city is going to become the worst city to date because uhhh… we won’t be able to leave our homes at all. Oh, and our lives literally depend on it. 

Images: Pexels, GIPHY (2), Apartment List

7 Myths About Sex Drives That Are 100% Wrong

If you read a lot of sex related content on the internet (which, hi, you should), then you’ve probably noticed that libidos have been a hot topic during this pandemic. Why? Because everyone’s sex drives have been on a wild roller coaster for the last few months and they have questions about it (patience—answers below). It turns out that libidos are way more complex than we thought, but the good news is there’s no better time to clear up harmful misconceptions surrounding them than right TF now. So let’s smash some myths and reduce some stigma about sex drives with a little help from a few sex educators.

1. It’s Personal If Your Partner Doesn’t Want To Have Sex

It’s hard not to feel unwanted when your partner doesn’t want to bang you. Trust me. I’m guilty of unconsciously falling for this one, and the assumption has blessed me with a fair (read: unfair) share of stress and anxiety in my romantic relationships. But it turns out that sometimes our partners just aren’t in the mood, and it’s really NBD. “I mean, it could be personal if your partner isn’t into having sex with you, but there are a lot of other reasons, and it’s best to communicate before taking that rejection personally,” says Tara Struyk, cofounder of sexuality publication Kinkly and sex toy store Kinkly Shop. She notes that disinterest in sex can pop up as a result of stress, depression, taking medication, health problems, or just an urge for some time away from having sex. In other words, it’s (probably) not personal.

“When you make that about you, it makes people feel really bad about themselves and puts extra stress and pressure around your sex life, which is unlikely to make it better,” adds Struyk. So cut it out. If your partner isn’t into sex with you right now, she recommends asking them what’s up and how you can help. A little help can go a long way sometimes (if you know what I mean). 

2. Your Libido Stays The Same Forever

Wrong. “We often treat ‘sex drive’ as though it’s something we should all experience at a sustained level over the course of our lifetime, but the reality is that sexual desire (I prefer this term) varies from person to person and fluctuates significantly over time,” says Jess O’Reilly, resident sexologist at personal lubricant brand ASTROGLIDE. Your libido actually changes on a daily basis and is constantly affected by approximately 2,927,593 things. Some of those factors include hormones, meds, what you’ve been eating and drinking, how stressed you are, how much sleep you’ve been getting… basically every possible factor. Cool. 

Anyway, like we were saying before, if you’ve felt like your sex drive has ~come~ and gone in waves during these hard times of riots, injustices, and health crises, you’re not alone. It’ll come back when we’re all less stressed (hopefully sooner than later).

3. Wetness Is A Sign Of Arousal

“This myth is damaging for so many reasons, as we generally associate the physical symptoms of arousal with the emotional and mental desire to have sex,” explains Caitlin V., M.P.H., clinical sexologist for vegan-friendly condom and lubricant company Royal. “In truth, can experience arousal non-concordance, which means that their subjective experience of arousal doesn’t match their body’s physical expression of arousal.” So basically, this means your body and brain are doing two separate things, so you can be dry as a desert but horny AF or super wet and barely turned on. “This is especially true for women, who may experience high levels of pleasure and arousal while not experiencing vaginal lubrication and associated wetness,” she adds. 

The solution? Handy dandy (water-based) lube! It’ll help reduce friction, improve sensation, and maybe even inspire an orgasm or two. Oh, and an important reminder from V.: “Whatever you do, please never shame your partner or yourself for not showing the signs of arousal. Not getting wet or not being hard is a huge source of shame for many people, all perpetuated by this harmful myth.”

 4. There’s A Normal Libido Level

News flash: Nope. There’s no sex drive level that we should all be striving to achieve. My unprofessional advice? If your daily libido isn’t disrupting your happiness, health, or wellbeing, then everything’s good. Now for the professional advice. Natalina Slaughter, MA, therapist and sex educator of Slaughterhouse Education, says that her clients regularly ask if they’re masturbating too much (so if you’ve ever wondered the same, you’re not alone). “I think they expect for me to say a specific number or ‘if you masturbate up to fives times a week, that’s normal, but six is just too much,’ but it’s not that black and white,” she says. “It’s going to be unique to each person because human sexuality is very diverse. The metric for ‘normal’ or healthy I use is not hurting yourself or others and not interfering with other parts of your life in a negative way. That’s it.” K, so I’m basically a therapist. Now accepting clients. 

5. Women Have Lower Sex Drives Than Men

First off, I hate that this is a thing people believe, but alas, here we are. “The idea that women aren’t interested in sex is a pervasive one, and it totally isn’t true,” says Struyk. “There are definitely individual differences in sex drives, but these don’t fall along gendered lines as much as people think they do. The only difference is that women may be shamed for their appetites, while the same level of interest is considered normal and healthy for men.” Love a good double standard (and by love I obviously mean hate). Struyk shares her opinion so perfectly that I’m gonna let her speak for me on this one: “Screw that! If you’re into sex, go ahead and own it!” Preach! The sexual revolution is now, my friends. 

6. Drinking Alcohol Increases Your Sex Drive

“Many people think of alcohol as a great way to loosen up if they’re feeling nervous before a sexual encounter, but it can actually produce an opposite effect. Alcohol dehydrates and can inhibit the natural process of lubrication,” says Dominnique Karetsos, sexual wellness advisor for MysteryVibe. Shout out to those of you reflecting on nights spent pregaming for hookups right now after reading that. It’s fine. Let it sink in. 

Moving forward, skip the shots and try better (healthier! safer!) ways to help you feel more comfortable and confident in the bedroom. According to Karetsos, some of these include communicating with your partner before and during sex, doing research, and experimenting with your preferences. She also reminds that “it’s so important that any sexual activity is done with consent and authentic intention. If you’re feeling the need to ‘loosen up,’ think about why that is.” Hint: Probably because it’s a poor decision.

7. Low Sex Drive Is Always A Problem Or Dysfunction

If you’ve learned anything from this article by now, I hope it’s that “normal” sex drives come in all shapes and sizes. “Some people simply don’t want to have sex,” says O’Reilly. “While some identify as asexual, others experience sexual attraction but simply don’t enjoy sex.” You get the point. “When you have a partner who wants sex more often than you do, they may be inclined to label your lower desire levels as problematic, but it’s not your job to increase your desire to meet your partner’s needs,” she reminds. “Compatibility is cultivated by finding common ground—not through pathologizing the range of human experience and desire.”

Now go spread the word by sharing this article with someone. The people need to know the truth.

Images: Claudia van ZylUnsplash; GIPHY (7)

How TF Can You Date While Social Distancing?

Hey, remember last July when we were actually able to enjoy life go out and meet new people at beach bars during the day, then local bars at night? Same. Now, thanks (but no thanks) to COVID-19, the chances of meeting anyone this year are super low, especially if you’re trying to score a summer fling. So how are you supposed to ~find love~ while social distancing in summer 2020? Don’t be discouraged. Dating is still a thing, but just a bit different.

“In the face of the current pandemic, an emphasis should be placed on ‘physical distancing’ rather than ‘social distancing,’” says Dr. Tali Elfassy, PhD, epidemiologist and public health expert of The Meet Group’s Safer Dating Advisory Board. “In fact, during this time, we may all require more (not less) social support, and that, of course, includes love.” Preach. Now go try these five tips to find a boo this summer that are definitely safer than dating IRL, effective, and worth a shot until we can date normally again.

1. Use Dating Apps

To literally nobody’s surprise (I hope), dating apps are the best way to find a relationship this summer. “Dating apps, especially those that offer live video capabilities, are the safest way to make new connections this summer while physically distancing,” confirms Dr. Elfassy. “I highly recommend using them as a way to vet potential partners and therefore reduce the number of potentially unnecessary in-person encounters.” So yeah, apps like Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, and Ship are gonna be where you’ll actually “meet” anyone right now. Then once you’ve met that person you’re maybe into, you can take it from there with the next few steps.

2. Video Chat

“We can’t beat around the bush and pretend that having dates via Zoom is ideal, but this is a new normal, and we need to accept that,” says Gigi Engle, certified sex coach and author of All The F*cking Mistakes: A Guide to Sex, Love, and Life. Hitting us with the hard truth right out the gate… harsh, but fair. To make the most out of a potentially awkward scenario, she suggests fully leaning into the experience by lighting some candles and throwing on a relaxing playlist. “Make an effort to turn your home into a romantic destination, because that’s what we need right now,” she adds. If you want to keep things more casual, head to my favorite room in your home instead: the place with the food. Engle recommends planning a cooking date together via Zoom. “Make the same dish and get to know each other from your kitchens. It’s cute and fun.”

3. Go On Physically Distanced Dates

Sick of video chats? We have good news. As certain states are entering late phases of re-opening, you can actually grab drinks with your date… as long as you stay six feet apart and respect each other’s boundaries. “In these uncertain times, it’s crucial for both you and your potential partner to value your health and safety,” says Dr. Elfassy. She explains that this means asking each other questions like whether or not you’ve recently experienced COVID-19 symptoms or been in contact with someone who has, checking state and local regulations, and all that other fun stuff. 

“If both parties are comfortable meeting in person, I recommend keeping first dates outside and in public where COVID-19 is less transmittable,” she adds. “Have a physically distanced picnic in a park or take a walk. If you must go inside or cannot properly physically distance, be sure to wear a mask or other face covering.” If you’re gonna do it, be safe about it, OK? Remember we’re still in a damn pandemic. Don’t risk anyone’s lives just because you’re thirsty.

4. Prioritize Open Communication

Let’s face it. 2020 has been wild for all of us, and if you disagree, you’re lying. Being honest and upfront with potential partners about how we’re feeling, what we want, and what we need can go a long way, especially when it comes to building a solid foundation for your relationship. “ has slowed things down and given us a unique opportunity to embrace getting to know one another emotionally and on a more connected level,” says Engle. “Be really clear about your intentions and what you’re looking for. We have better opportunities to really look for people we can connect with, if that’s what . There are really no rules on how to make love work right now. We all just have to go with the flow.”

And if you’re feeling weird about the whole ~virtual dating~ thing, join the club. “This is a strange time for everyone, and we’re all just looking for intimacy and closeness,” reminds Engle. So just say how you feel because if you don’t, ignoring the discomfort can potentially make things worse. “This is a great time to embrace the real you and all your awkwardness. What’s the worst that could happen? They don’t video call you again? You’ll be fine. If you can’t be yourself with someone, what’s the point?”

Open communication extends to the actual dates, too. Jordana Abraham, Betches co-founder and co-host of the U Up? podcast, says, “as things open up and people start to go on dates IRL, it’s important to be super clear about what you’re comfortable with (wearing a mask the whole date, eating inside vs. outside at restaurants, not doing anything physical) so that the person is on the same page as you from the start. Everyone has different standards for what they consider ‘safe’ dating so I’d casually bring up what you’re okay with before actually going on the date.”

5. Love Yourself First

This may be the last tip on the list, and it may sound cheesy AF, but it’s actually really great advice, so listen up. The most guaranteed way to find love this summer is by loving your damn self. I mean, it’s easier said than done which is why I’m in therapy, but still. “Embracing self-love can take many different forms,” says Engle. “It doesn’t need to be a quick ‘lay the vibrator on the clit for a one-and-done’ situation. Take luxurious baths, eat French chocolates, and read erotic literature to get in the mood.” But it definitely can be a vibrator type situation (if you want it to be). Masturbating rules for self-care and so many other reasons. “When you know what brings you pleasure, you begin to cultivate the tools you need to relay those desires to a partner,” Engle adds. You owe it to yourself and your future partner(s) to practice loving yourself during this wild time. 

So, there we have it. Finding love IS still possible this summer despite the world being an actual dumpster fire. And if all else fails, at least we have trusty option #5.

Images: Toa Heftiba / Unsplash, GIPHY (5)