We Should Totally Meet Up This Summer! Unless Something Better Comes Up At the Last Minute, Of Course

Hey, girlie! Are you vaccinated yet? With the world opening back up, we obviously need to meetup and discuss how we’re going to spend our hot girl summer!! I’m thinking mules, margs, and mojitos. Maybe men—tbd.

What’s your availability like? Me, I just have so many moving parts to my life, it’s tough to pin down a date in advance, y’know? I think sharing my weekend schedule will just be easier for everyone:

Friday

Is Friday even really a weekday? I don’t think so, but—work, ugh—I’m not available until at least cocktail hour. But what even is “cocktail hour”? I can guarantee my conception of it isn’t the same as yours and I’ll use that to my advantage to cancel on you!

5 p.m. – I’ll finally respond to your text about meeting up for cocktail hour at Phil’s Dive, close to your apartment—silly, I’m not journeying across town! You come here, to my neighborhood bar that’s three times as expensive. Mojitos!! Let’s say, 6-ish?

6:37 p.m. – I’ll text you to say I can’t make it because I have an unexpected errand. But really, it climbed to 89° (hot girl summer!!), Marissa invited me to her jacuzzi, and her really hot, emotionally unavailable neighbor could possibly be there. Maybe. I’d invite you, but Marissa thinks you’re kind of boring, hates your taste in wines, and doesn’t actually know we’re still friends. :/ Plus, you’re hotter than me and I don’t want competition. 

How about lunch, say, 1-ish on Saturday?

11:14 p.m. – You’ll receive a barrage of half-intelligible text messages such as “omyjjgg”, “u should be here”, “i miss u”, and “fuuuuxxxx”. You will have no idea what, exactly, the reason is for these texts, but you’ll have the odd feeling these messages were meant for my ex. And you will be 100% correct because I will have struck out with Neighbor Guy and needed an ego boost, stat.

Saturday

I feel like Saturday morning just doesn’t exist and breakfast, brunch, and lunch run until 10 p.m. It doesn’t matter if businesses agree with me—it’s just how it is.

2:31 p.m. – I’ll shoot you a text message explaining I just woke up and will have to push our lunch to 4 or 5. When even is the “lunch hour,” anyway? What if you work nights? Then your lunch hour would be, like, 7. I will not acknowledge we had lunch plans for 1 p.m., let alone that I missed them. 1-ish means any time after 1, after all.

3:52 p.m. – Marissa’s hot neighbor will text me asking if I’m free that night. I’ll have no memory of giving him my number, so only “Hot Neighbor” will pop up. I’ll text Marissa to confirm it’s him. Plot-twist: it is!!

This will lead me to make plans with Marissa for a makeover montage. In the end, I will look highly f*ckable but won’t text you any of this. Not even a cute dress pic. But if I had texted a pic, I’d tell you I looked like sh*t even though I’d know I really, really did not. <3

5:22 p.m. – Hot Neighbor Guy and I will playfully banter about where to grab dinner—it’s dinnertime somewhere, right?! I’ll want burritos, but he’ll say nowhere around here has a decent burrito. Traditionalists, ugh!!

7:06 p.m. – “Sorry, today’s been crazy. Connect at the end of the weekend?” will light up your iPhone screen.

10:15 p.m. – After a romantic bar crawl—we’re both fully vaccinated! Safety first!—I’ll go back to Hot Neighbor-Guy’s place. He’ll make us margs!! So sweet!!

12:47 a.m. – You will receive a solitary “fuuuuxxxx”.

Sunday

n/a, am sleeping at Hot Neighbor-Guy’s until 4 p.m. and then brunching. Recovery day!! And then Sunday scaries. 🙁

Monday

9:17 a.m. – You texted me on Sunday, but that’s still the weekend so I’m just getting back to you now—you know I always get back to you on the first business day, lol! I guess we just have different definitions of when the weekend ends…..soOoOoOo….maybe next weekend we can get together? If you think that means the weekend that starts in 5 days, I definitely meant the one in 5 days and one week, of course. Love ya, girlie!!

Image: MATTIA /Stocksy.com

A Professional Dominatrix Explains Everything You’ve Ever Wondered About BDSM

For me (and pretty much every other vanilla girl out there), it started with Fifty Shades. As soon as Ana tripped over the threshold of Christian’s office, the world was captivated by Mr. Grey and the world of Bondage, Discipline, Sadism, and Masochism (BDSM). Of course, it quickly became clear that their arrangement wasn’t a good representation of this lifestyle—in fact, it’s totally problematic. Still, as the coronavirus pandemic stripped me of happy hours and overpriced dinners, I dug out the dusty trilogy to revisit its scandalous world. This time, however, I found myself more interested in what the series got wrong, as opposed to the shoddy dialogue and unrealistic fact that Ana has a mind-bending orgasm while losing her virginity.

So, after a lot of wine-induced Googling, I found Mistress Rogue, a professional dominatrix (“dom” for short) whose brain I could pick regarding the series, her work, and what it means to be a part of the lifestyle. When I asked her about Christian Grey, her response summed up the entire community’s thoughts: “Oh, my God. Can you put that? That’s my quote,” she tells Betches. “It’s absolutely not accurate.”

While Fifty Shades might have completely missed the mark about what it means to be a dom (something most of us knew and ignorantly ignored), it turns out that the truth about the BDSM lifestyle is even more fascinating than the fiction. I asked Mistress Rogue all the questions you’ve had about BDSM so you don’t have to go down a Google rabbit hole.

What Does A Professional Dom Do?

According to Merriam Webster, a dominatrix is “a woman who physically or psychologically dominates her partner in a sadomasochistic encounter,” which is pretty much exactly what the job entails. While the profession isn’t only limited to women (men can be doms too), the gist of it is these pros are paid or agree to control someone, whether it’s for a short session or for a lifetime. Sometimes the control is mental, sometimes it’s physical, and yeah, sometimes it’s sexual. Sessions can involve anything from chains and whips to diapers and dog kennels, and sometimes, they don’t take place in person but revolve around money or diet control (where the dom says what you can or can’t buy, eat, or do).

Mistress Rogue, who has been been a professional, full-time dominatrix for three years, spent over 10 years learning about the lifestyle and immersing herself in the world of BDSM. She trained under Mistress Mercy, who is the Headmistress for the Miami-based Goddess Girls (a group with whom Rogue still collaborates), and she’s the founder and Head Mistress of The Dom House, a company home to multiple male and female doms (as well as a few apprentices and submissives). Now, she has a fully loaded dungeon in St. Petersburg, Florida where she caters to a wide variety of male, female, and nonbinary clients.

Why Do People Practice BDSM?

There are lots of reasons people incorporate dominance and submission into their lives, the biggest of which is the endorphin rush. While it might seem like BDSM is all about physical acts, it’s actually very psychological. The goal of a session is for the sub to reach “subspace”, which is a euphoric, meditative state. On the flip side, doms (including Mistress Rogue) experience the converse and aim to reach “domspace”.

While you might think, Well, I’ll just get a whip and tell my boyfriend to go to town, that’s actually not what it’s about. Not only can it be hard to figure out what exactly you like, but it can be even trickier to learn your limits, especially in the space of your relationship. This is where the pros come in. Almost like a form of therapy, “submission is about letting go,” Rogue says. “You don’t have to be in control. It’s a very healing act and some people just need it.”

What Are The Most Common BDSM Fetishes?

“Spanking,” she says. “Everyone wants to get spanked and everyone wants to get blindfolded and gagged and paddled.” It makes sense. Long before Christian and Ana visited the Red Room of Pain, spanking and hair pulling were among the more common practices seen even in vanilla sex. Chances are, Mistress Rogue probably has more whip choices beyond the joke one you got for your birthday.

Another popular demand she gets revolves around foot fetishes. Though it’s an arousal point she didn’t quite understand when she started out, she’s now a big fan. “Foot fetishes are very much about true submission. You walk all over things all day long, and then you get someone to worship at your feet beneath you. It’s the true core of submission.”

As for what she won’t do? “Roman showers,” she admits, after a pregnant pause. This act is a very extreme fetish where the dom vomits on the sub. “It’s just because it’s painful for me,” Rogue says. “I don’t like vomiting.” Luckily, there are plenty of types of play she does like to partake in, like rigger, suspension, heavy impact, and strap worship. She also loves any situation that involves wearing her latex catsuit (pro tip: use lube when putting on latex. Her suggestion is ID Millennium).

What Happens At A Professional Dom Session?

Images: Austin Zeli

Prior to visiting a professional, you’ll most likely fill out an intake form that outlines everything you do and don’t want to do (and are and aren’t okay with). When it comes time to actually have your session, you’ll be told how to address the dom, what to do upon entering, and any notes involving your appearance (no matter what, please shower!). Normally, there will first be a meet-and-greet component where you’ll once again go over what’s going to happen and review the usage of safe words. “Sometimes, advanced sessions have no safe words, but that’s something they consent to,” Rogue says. First-timers will absolutely use stop and go words, the most common of which is the standard traffic light system (green is go, yellow is slow down, and red is stop immediately).

Then comes the “performance”, as Rogue calls it. Part of the dom’s duty is to create the experience, which she takes a lot of pride in planning. Basically, Rogue sets up different time blocks of what they’ll do, and sometimes includes breaks depending on how intense each unique session is. “It’s not like you finish in ten minutes and leave,” she says. Once the performance is over, one of the most crucial components of BDSM takes place: the aftercare. “It’s like when you watch a movie, and as you leave the theater you talk about it. What you liked, what you didn’t like, what you want to experience next,” she explains. This is hugely important for emotional wellbeing—not only in BDSM, but in all sexual acts. 

“Imagine in a vanilla world, you have sex with your partner and you want to cuddle after, but they just get up and leave without saying a word. If you don’t know how to navigate it properly, you can feel used and broken,” she says. This is why consent and communication are the backbones of BDSM play. In addition to cuddling, chatting, or hugging, Rogue will also give her subs water and clean them up, because sometimes there are fluids like tears, sweat, or blood (consensual bleeding, of course) and this cleansing afterward is crucial to the bond.  

Here’s What Everyone Gets Wrong About Sex Work

Image: Austin Zeli

It’s important to note that professional dominatrixes don’t have intercourse with their paying subs. Rogue says that some guys go into the session assuming she’s offering intercourse, an idea she quickly shuts down. “Yes, I am providing a service, but this is on my terms. It’s not about what they want; it’s about what I want. Professional dominatrixes do not have sex with clients. Ever. Period.” That being said, it’s still considered sex work.I was surprised to learn that during the first year,” she says. “I was like: ‘No, I don’t have sex with them.’ But it’s still sex work and there’s nothing wrong with that.” There’s a lot of discussion surrounding sex workers’ rights in the mainstream media right now, and a push to decriminalize sex work, which is exciting to see, especially for Rogue, since it’s not just the legality of the work, but the stigma surrounding it that sex workers are grappling with. One of the biggest misconceptions Rogue personally takes offense to is the notion that it’s easy to be a dominatrix or sex worker in general. 

“I work a lot on what I do. Preparing for sessions. Planning sessions. Buying equipment for specific sessions. Keeping my overall image. There’s so much that goes into this. No one wakes up and the next morning can be like, ‘Oh, I’m a dominatrix. Come to my dungeon.’ That does not exist.” As for what the general public gets wrong about dominatrixes, it’s that they “hurt and abuse” people.

Everybody in the BDSM lifestyle asks for consent for everything,” she says. And when she says everything, she means it. Even before engaging in socially acceptable touching like hugging or shaking hands, she always gets verbal or written consent. “It’s very easy to get a bad reputation in the community, so you have to be careful,” Rogue admits. In general, however, “the public doesn’t understand that there are so many ways to make other people feel incredible without the sex part.”

How Is Dom Work Different During Coronavirus?

Because their work is all about interacting with people on an intimate level, it makes sense that the pandemic could cause some challenges for sex workers. “At the very beginning, when everything shut down and people were quarantined, everyone was staying home,” she says. “We had this emergency situation where I wasn’t seeing anybody because I was, you know, freaking out—and understandably so. And a lot of the time, I see people I’ve never seen before. They book online and it’s just a stranger.”

Once restrictions started to ease up a bit after a month or two, Rogue started seeing an influx of visitors again. “They had no jobs, were stuck at home, and completely desperate for some thrill.” So when the demand started coming back, how was she able to take on subs amidst coronavirus? “Even without the pandemic, I utilize a lot of safety measures. Before and after I see someone, we sanitize everything. I use gloves, I use masks, and I even keep my distance. You don’t actually need to touch someone personally with your hands to be able to deliver domination.” Think canes and riding crops, people!

When the pandemic started hitting harder, however, Rogue had to shift to a new model as business severely slowed (and stayed) down. That’s when she transitioned to virtual work. “While OnlyFans is really popular for vanilla and regular sex work, my OnlyFans is a little different. I have it set up for submissive or slave BDSM people who want to serve online. They have the opportunity to see what I’m doing or see me play with others. There are a lot of ways this can be done.”

Since she started offering more online options, she’s seen an overwhelming amount of demand from people who want to participate in BDSM sessions from the comfort of their homes—something she finds incredibly rewarding. She views her OnlyFans as a virtual dungeon, and she has subs complete tasks just like a regular session. “I can tell them what to do, they can get custom videos, request content, tip, or just talk to me,” she says. “Since it’s all online, anything goes.”

Okay, I Want To Incorporate BDSM Into My Life

Images: Jason Perrone; Austin Zeli

Whether you’ve always been interested in it or were titillated by Fifty Shades, there’s a good chance you’ll find something rewarding in a BDSM experience. As for how to incorporate it into your lifestyle, Rogue highly suggests seeing a professional, whether or not you’re in a relationship. “Some pros see couples and will coach and teach you,” she says, which will help you navigate not only the physical components but the mental as well. “Some of it is dangerous and that’s why people go to a professional,” she continues. “We know what we’re doing and can keep you safe.”

If you’re ready to dive in, it’s important to do your research and find someone who knows what they’re doing. “There are fake doms out there, usually men, who are looking to take advantage of women,” she notes. But how, exactly, do you find someone who’s not skeezy? “A dom with a good reputation will have at least some social media set up,” Rogue says. “Avoid sketchy ads, look for a good website, and consider how they talk to you. If they don’t want to negotiate in terms of the things you want to do, run.” Before visiting—and especially if you’re going alone—be sure to share your location with someone as an extra precaution. When going in, make sure they have a safe place, and if something feels off, don’t move forward. BDSM is all about speaking your limits, and finding your pro is no exception. 

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what you look like or what you do for a living. “All I care about is your behavior, your manners, and your ability to follow instructions,” Rogue says“A lot of people are scared of seeing a dominatrix, but we can be nice. And for anyone who’s very interested but is scared of committing, remember: I will not hurt you if you don’t want me to.” But chances are by the end of your session, you’ll be begging for more…

Images: Jason Perrone; Austin Zeli

A Guide To Cleaning Your Closet So It’s Not Filled With Useless Sh*t

With a lot of us being stuck at home for the foreseeable future, what better time to get ahead on spring cleaning? Or, since spring is basically canceled this year… cleaning. When it comes to cleaning out your closet, mental discipline is key. Start by preparing yourself to say goodbye to a lot of crap. You might think you don’t have a ton of useless stuff, but trust me, you do.

Cleansing is a process that you should take one season at a time, and it’s best to focus on the task at hand—so begin by storing your fall/winter wardrobe away because it’s almost shorts season. (Although whether or not we will be able to spend extended time outside in our shorts is another question, but let’s be hopeful here.) When storing large fall/winter items, one tip I recommend is using large, clear and flat sweater boxes that can be slid under your bed and out of the way. They are great for bulky sweaters and larger winter items.

Rubbermaid Cleverstore Clear 16 QT Pack of 6 Stackable Plastic Storage Containers with Durable Latching Clear Lids

Rubbermaid Cleverstore Clear 16 QT Pack of 6 Stackable Plastic Storage Containers with Durable Latching Clear Lids

When assessing your warm weather wardrobe, categorize each item of clothing into toss, donate, or keep piles. Allow yourself one SMALL drawer for the clothes that you just refuse to let go of, even though you know you’re not ever going to wear them, or you’re delusional enough to think you just might. (And when I say small, I mean SMALL, so choose wisely my friends.)

Toss

Tossing clothing is easier said than done, but acceptance is key to a successful closet. If an item is stained, has holes, or is hanging on by a literal thread, toss it. Get rid of it, sayonara. There’s no point in having a damaged piece of clothing taking up precious real estate in your closet.  Also toss tube tops, tiny sunglasses, and wedge sneakers. You’ll thank me later.

Donate

Choosing what to donate takes a more diplomatic approach. Now that you’ve gotten rid of your pit stained T-shirts, I recommend asking yourself these questions and then ACTUALLY being honest with your answer.  

1. Have I worn this in the last three months? If yes, keep. If no, Donate.

2. Does it fit me comfortably? If yes, keep. If no, Donate.  

Donate all “goal weight” and “fat clothes”. You are PERFECT as you are, at the size you are right now.  Share the love and let someone else have that dress that used to fit in college, and rock the dress that fits your fabulous self now.  

Note: If you have a piece that you absolutely love but doesn’t fit, a good tailor is key, but also expensive. You want it to be worth the repair price, so only alter pieces that have true staying power. 

3. Can I create at least three outfits to wear this item with? If yes, keep. If no, Donate.  

My favorite quote when considering what to keep versus give away is: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” It might be helpful for you to keep that in mind as you go through everything.

Keep

You should love and utilize every piece in your wardrobe. The easiest way to organize your “keep” pile is to separate between what to keep in a drawer and what to hang. Denim, T-shirts, and sweaters should be folded and put in drawers. Sweaters lose shape on the hanger, and can pull, so they are safer folded; store in order of knit weight and color (darks on bottom, lights on top).  

Fold your denim into thirds, separate by style and store by wash, dark wash at the bottom to light wash on top.  

folded jeans

Hang the remainder of your wardrobe and organize it by category (dresses, jackets, tops, bottoms, etc), color (light to dark), and material (keep like fabrics together within each category). Use felt hangers—they save space and are easier on your garments. Once that’s organized, arrange each category by sleeve length, going from short to long, left to right, with the hanger facing towards you like a question mark. This makes it easier to “read” your wardrobe. 

The end goal is to have a functional, cohesive and thoughtful wardrobe so you can worry about spring fever (too soon?) and not your closet.

Joey Clark is a native of Tucson AZ.  In April of 2017, Clark focused all of her energy on opening her own boutique in Philadelphia, as the culmination of a decade in the industry. Through Kin Boutique, Clark has created a retail experience focused on inclusivity and community. Her strategy is to invest in everyday, staple items and fill in with lower priced trends. She believes in loving every piece in your wardrobe regardless of the size of your waist or your wallet. For more information visit www.shop-kin.com or @shopkinboutique on Instagram.

Images: Sarah Brown / Unsplash; Elena Mitusova / Shutterstock.com

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.

Should You Wait To Have Sex With The Person You’re Dating?

There are certain age-old questions we all must contend with at one point or another: What is the meaning of life? What is my calling? How long should I wait before sleeping with the new person I’m dating? OK, so the third one may not be quite as existential as the others, but it’s one that has boggled the minds of many a lost soul dater in this day and age. Countless books have been written on the subject, and people like Patti Stanger have made careers out of telling people, most often women, that they shouldn’t get into bed before being monogamous with a partner. But *Oprah voice* what is the truth? There’s no hard and fast rule (despite what the Three Dates Truthers tell you), but there are various factors to consider on both sides. I’ve compiled the arguments for and against waiting to have sex with the new person in your life so you can decide for yourself.

The Case For Waiting

Before you jump down my throat, many experts cite science when arguing that it’s best to wait before jumping into bed with someone. Dr. Nancy Lee, a clinical psychologist and author of Don’t Sleep with Him Yet: A Badass Guide to Dating in 10 Empowering Steps, points to brain chemistry to support her book’s thesis: “Waiting to sleep together allows for attraction-promoting mystery and eroticism to build in a relationship.” Building eroticism kind of sounds like the opposite of what you’d expect to happen when you wait, but she explains, “When we experience a powerful attraction to a dating partner, our brains release an amphetamine-like chemical, phenethylamine (PEA), which is known as the ‘love drug’ because it causes a temporary state of euphoria.” But, she says, “if you sleep with someone right away, you don’t give the spell-casting PEA time to synthesize—not only preempting that ‘can’t stop thinking about her/him’ feeling, but also derailing much of the romance in a relationship as well.”
In other words, sleeping together too soon impedes the process of attachment and bonding, which is aided by the chemicals in our bodies. I’m not usually one to argue with science, so I’ll take their word for it, I guess, but this seems a little… much. Is sleeping with someone really going to tank your relationship because of your brain chemicals (and not because the person you’re seeing just wanted to hit it and quit it all along)? Really, the idea is to take sufficient time to assess the relationship and build trust with your partner before taking things to the next level.

The Case For Doing Whatever The F*ck You Want

Of course, we can’t always reduce human behavior to a formula when every relationship and individual in one is so different. Those who eschew rules about waiting for sex have a problem with the fear-based beliefs that allow such rules to be born in the first place, like the idea that men are wild stallions who must be tamed and trained and women who refuse to do so will end up trampled and abandoned. Ideas like these lead us to create rules that provide some semblance of order, but are these fears really warranted? Andrea Syrtash, co-author of It’s Okay to Sleep with Him on the First Date: And Every Other Rule of Dating, Debunked, thinks not: “A recent survey of 1,000 18- to 35-year-old women found that over 83 percent felt that men will lose interest and respect if you hook up with them too soon. But 70 percent of men said that’s not true—if they’re interested, it doesn’t matter. Getting naked won’t affect if he calls the next day.”

It’s true that men and women are different, but according to experts like Syrtash, subscribing to the notion that biology equals destiny reinforces antiquated gender roles and potentially keeps us from taking risks in love that might very well pay off. While it seems indisputable may feel like every guy is a f*ckboy, that’s not actually the case.

So when is the appropriate time to have sex? One of the more enduring rules states that you should wait until the third date. However, one recent study found that the average was closer to eight dates. Ultimately, only you can know when you’re ready to sleep with someone new. There are compelling reasons to wait or to dive right in. On the one hand, rules allow us to feel safe and help to create order in what can often be a chaotic dating world. On the other hand, reinforcing old-fashioned stereotypes about sex is… well… not very 2020.

Rules are never one-size-fits-all, and these rules are no different. Being true to yourself and your desires is the most important factor of all. Whatever camp you find yourself in, it comes down to trust, both of yourself and the partner in question, whether that takes one date or one hundred. As long as you’re doing what feels right to you and not in response to pressure or some sense of obligation, there’s no wrong answer. You do you (or him/her/them).

Images: Toa Heftiba / Unsplash; Giphy (2)

5 Ways To Fight Seasonal Depression This Winter

Every year in early November I feel personally attacked by a little thing called Daylight Saving Time. Though it’s said that it was put in place to reduce the use of electricity by extending daylight hours, the effects can feel anything but sunny for late risers like myself who are lucky to see eight hours of actual sunlight. If you tend to feel more sluggish and sadder during this time of the year, you may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder or SAD, a type of depression that usually happens in the fall and/or winter and is more likely to affect women over the age of 20, according to Dr. Jenny Taitz, clinical psychologist and author of How To Be Single And Happy. Dr. Taitz and I discussed some strategies to combat SAD and help you to feel your best, even when the weather and amount of light are literally the worst.

1. Find The Light

It’s not just you—there’s a science behind why you feel so sh*tty during the fall and winter months. According to Dr. Taitz, “Shorter days and reduced daylight can impact the brain and lead to feeling more lethargic, sad, and hopeless.” One of the best ways to target the problem is to seek out natural sunlight whenever possible, even with a short walk around the block. Another effective method is to purchase a light box designed specifically to treat people with SAD. The light emitted from the boxes mimics natural sunlight and produces effects in the brain that aid emotional regulation. Dr. Taitz notes that in many cases your doctor may be able to prescribe a light box that’s covered by insurance, but adds that there is a specific protocol to follow when using a light box, so it’s best to consult with your physician rather than treating yourself.

2. Watch Your Diet

If you’re anything like me, you may find yourself craving sweets and carbs every day more so than usual during this time of the year. This is because people with SAD tend to eat more foods that are rich in carbohydrates. As much as it pains me to type this, it’s a good idea to cut down on the carbs and stick to a diet rich in fruits and vegetables in order to combat depression. Studies have also found a link between SAD and low levels of vitamin D, so another useful strategy is taking vitamin D supplements or eating foods that are rich in vitamin D like eggs, salmon, and wild mushrooms.

3. Resist The Urge To Retreat

Because you aren’t feeling your best, you may feel tempted to stay at home and watch Schitt’s Creek until the next iteration of Daylight Saving Time retreat into yourself. To the extent you’re able, fight this urge and stick to a regular routine of seeing friends and family or doing something else you normally love to do. Dr. Taitz works with patients to create an “antidepressant schedule” consisting of things like plans with friends or a workout class that keeps them active and engaged. We are social creatures and being around other people helps to counteract the isolation and loneliness that SAD breeds.

4. Keep It Moving

Because our energy is lower during this time of year, it can be hard to summon the strength to get out of bed, let alone make it to a barre class. However, exercising not only boosts mood and focuses the mind, it also helps to maintain your circadian rhythm, which, when disrupted, is thought to bring about SAD symptoms. Ideally, if you can work out outside, you’ll not only get the benefits of exercise, you’ll also be exposed to natural light. If that’s not possible, then just stick to any routine that gets you moving.

5. Seek Professional Help

Depending on the severity of your symptoms, doing any of the above may feel downright impossible. If that’s the case, it’s time to seek help from a professional who can diagnose you and help you come up with a treatment plan. Dr. Taitz suggests cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which teaches you to notice your thought patterns: “I always encourage people to see emotional setbacks as opportunities rather than stuck points—rally your courage and problem solve,” she says. Many people suffering from SAD find that certain antidepressants can work wonders on symptoms. A doctor can tell you which medicine may be right for you and how long to take it, as antidepressants may take time to kick in and should generally not be stopped cold turkey.

If you’re feeling less than stellar this time of year, know you’re far from alone. SAD is treatable and you don’t have to spend the next few months in a dark hole. What other coping strategies do you use to combat SAD during the winter months? Let me know in the comments.

Images: Joshua Rawson-Harris / Unsplash; Giphy (5)

The Right Way To Tell Your BF You Want To Get Engaged, Like, Yesterday
Whether you love it or hate it, engagement season is upon us. I mean, it’s always kind of happening, but now, with the holidays approaching, I have a feeling everyone you know is going to get engaged every Sunday from now until the end of 2019. If you are in a long-term relationship, this time of year might have you thinking about your own future with your significant other. Of course, not all couples are ready to take the next step at precisely the same time. While you may feel ready for marriage, your partner may be moving at a speed akin to ABC’s progress in casting a diverse Bachelor. Perhaps you’re at the point where you’re considering giving your partner an ultimatum, like Katie did with Schwartz on Vanderpump Rules. Ultimatums, like Katie, are often thought of as manipulative and coercive, and they certainly can be. But can marriage ultimatums ever work and, if so, under what circumstances? There are a couple of factors you’ll want to consider before you bust out the “…or I’m done” statements.

Think About Why You Want To Get Married

Before you can even consider an ultimatum, you need to think critically about why you’re so focused on a timeline. It’s natural to have moments of insecurity in even the healthiest relationships, but if you’re feeling this way often, it’s worth exploring more deeply. Are you so focused on marriage because you’re fighting constantly and want assurance that your partner isn’t going to leave you? Are you anxious about marriage because all of your close friends are getting married and you don’t want to get left behind? If your desire for marriage is coming from a place of insecurity rather than security, it’s probably best to hold off until you feel secure and focus on mending the underlying fractures in the relationship with open communication. Many people get caught up in the notion of marriage as a magic Band-Aid for all of a relationship’s problems when, in reality, it is the great revealer of a couple’s strength and the first of many important and difficult conversations. Once the party and honeymoon are over, you’re left with a life commitment to your partner. If the foundation isn’t solid to begin with, time and challenges are only going to erode things further.

Does Your Partner Really Need An Ultimatum?

Ultimatums get a bad rap for a reason. Almost no one wants to be told what to do (or at least, be made to feel that way). In most cases an ultimatum won’t be effective, and will ultimately be harmful, because it provokes feelings of stubbornness and resistance by forcing the recipient to make a choice. It’s important to talk openly with your partner and understand what’s driving the lack of forward momentum before you can assess whether or not an ultimatum is appropriate. Try something like, “I’ve noticed that we haven’t really discussed taking the next step and getting engaged. Why do you think that is?” If your conversations reveal that your partner is someone who simply needs an extra nudge, an ultimatum might make sense. If, however, your partner prefers to do things on his or her own terms, you may push him or her further away or set yourself up for a lifetime of resentment even if you do ultimately get that engagement ring. So no pressure!

Deal In Facts

If you feel confident that your relationship is on solid ground and that your partner will be receptive, it’s essential that you approach the conversation (yes, it’s a conversation) in the right way. One way of doing that is to stick to objective facts rather than subjective feelings whenever possible. For example, saying something like, “Since we’ve been together for of years and I’d like to start a family by , I’d like to talk with you about getting engaged” is a lot more likely to elicit a favorable response than “What are you waiting for, Todd?! My eggs are dying by the minute!” When your thoughts are presented reasonably, it’ll be easier for your partner to see things as you see them and not feel attacked in the process.

Make It A Dialogue

An ultimatum is more likely to be effective if it’s framed as a conversation rather than an outright demand. Threats have no place in a healthy and functional relationship (a reality many of our beloved VPR cast mates need to be reminded of), and if you’re used to making threats to get what you want, you’re probably not ready for marriage. You may have heard of the idea in conflict resolution of employing “I” statements instead of “you” statements. It might sound like a middle school conflict mediation tactic, but it’s a useful tool when giving an ultimatum. Instead of demanding a proposal by , contextualize the issue in terms of your own life plans. You can say something like, “I love you, but if you don’t want to get married in the foreseeable future, I need to know so I can figure out my next steps.” This way, you’re empowering your partner to engage with you without imposing your will, but still honoring yourself and your goals without relinquishing your agency in the relationship either. This two-way dialogue can also extend to the time frame as well. If you’d ideally like a proposal in the next few months, but your significant other would prefer to wait another year, perhaps you can meet in the middle and compromise on a 6-month window. This way, both parties feel heard and as if each is part of the decision-making process and, therefore, more likely to commit to the agreed-upon time frame.

Stick To Your Guns

If you do decide that you need to issue an ultimatum to your partner, you need to be prepared to walk away if you don’t end up getting what you want. Practically speaking, if you decide with your partner that you’ll get engaged by the end of the year, but that doesn’t happen and you stay anyway, you lose credibility. The relationship may suffer as well. If you’re not willing to move on, the ultimatum becomes nothing more than a manipulation tactic, fostering an unhealthy and toxic relationship dynamic.
More importantly, you deserve to find someone who will give you what you want. If your partner can’t respect a reasonable timeline, it may be best to stop wasting months or years of your life and free yourself up for a person who can commit. If you can’t see yourself actually leaving in the event your partner doesn’t follow through, then you absolutely should refrain, not give an ultimatum, and ask yourself why you’re afraid to be alone.
Ultimatums are like fireworks. When handled with care, they can have an illuminating and satisfying effect. But when deployed incorrectly and carelessly, they can blow up in your face. Of course, marriage is not the end goal for many couples in long-term relationships, nor should it be. If you’re happy with the progression of your relationship, continue with what feels right to you and try to quiet the background noise. It’s so easy to get caught up in others’ expectations, whether real or perceived, but you need to move at the pace that feels right for you and your relationship, whether or not it leads to a proposal. Marriage is wonderful, but it’s an incredible commitment and you should not move forward with it until you and your partner are both prepared to light your cash on fire ready.
Images: Zelle Duda / Unsplash; Giphy (5)
The Most Whack Dating Advice Of 2019

It’s no secret that dating in this day and age is one long waking nightmare challenging. Keeping the faith can be hard when you find yourself being ghosted by yet another f*ckboy whose overconfidence is in direct proportion to his staggering mediocrity. So when you get to the point where you’re looking for outside advice, the hope is that it will be hopeful and/or helpful. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case, and we feel it’s our sworn duty here at Betches to expose the advice that is egregiously awful. Read on for the worst dating advice of 2019.

1. Asinine Astrological Assumptions

I have to start by saying that I love astrology and use my sign to justify the worst parts of my personality many of my decisions. Gotta love Scorpio season! That said, astrology, and especially sun signs, cannot be used to make generalizations about an entire population. But that didn’t stop our friends at Refinery29 from doing exactly that with a piece describing what all Tauruses are like in bed. The article claims that because Tauruses are more in touch with their sense of smell, “if you smell bad, you’re not going to get it on with a Taurus.” Wouldn’t we all agree that smelling good is a prerequisite for… all of us? The article goes on to advise the reader to moisturize, of all things, “because Tauruses might be turned off by dry or leathery skin.” I guess now I can blame the dry (see what I did there?) spell I had for the better part of 2013 on my eczema. Lastly, the reader is urged to cook “a meal…(especially while wearing lingerie).” Okay, so in order to bag a bull I need to wear perfume, moisturize, and cook dinner in my lingerie. In other words, advice I could have gotten from any remotely heterosexual male of any astrological sign. Grool.

2. To Catch A Curator

On the heels of Jennifer Lawrence’s recent marriage to Cooke Maroney, Elle is now advising its readers to date Curators. If you’re wondering WTF that means, a Curator is described as “he kind of guy you can discuss post-humanism with over pizza, who comments on the decor while ordering you a cab but letting you split the bill.” Hot. Personally, this just sounds like a cheaper and slightly more pretentious version of every tool I’ve ever dated. To make matters worse, their “sensitivity” does not save them from their inevitable fate as trash: “A Curator may still ghost you, but it’s probably because he’s doing something legitimately interesting with his time, like scouting in the foothills of the Himalayas.” So it’s okay for a guy to bail on you in the name of “art”? GTFO.

3. Moonlight As Your Crush’s Personal Assistant

When you do come across someone you don’t immediately hate on sight like, it may be difficult to summon the courage to let them know. I don’t profess to be a professional pickup artist, but I’m pretty sure that the following advice from Glamour on how to tell your crush you like them might leave the person on the receiving end wondering if you’re vying for a spot on their payroll:

“5. Notice when their glass is empty, and always offer to fill it up or get them another.

  1. Offer to hold their purse/bag/coat/cup.
  2. Remember what their drink is without having to ask. Order it for them.
  3. Offer to drive them to the airport.
  4. Assume they want coffee and bring them one. Learn how they take it first.”

Don’t get me wrong. Thoughtfulness is next to godliness in my book, but you should not have to go out of your way to do someone’s chores to get them to like you. I legitimately had to check the date this article was published. Surely, the 1950s? Nope, 2019.

4. Link Up On LinkedIn

Cosmo is known for some pretty ridiculous sex and dating advice, and we’ve certainly covered them here before, but this latest nugget of dating wisdom deserves mention. Let’s start with the title: “LinkedIn Is The Best Platform To Slide Back Into Your Ex’s DMs.” As a threshold matter, it’s rarely advisable to reconnect with an ex. If it didn’t work out the first dozen times, attempting to reconnect, regardless of the platform, starts to look like the living embodiment of the definition of insanity. It’s also really transparent. Unless you work in the same industry as your ex and could credibly network with them for a job opportunity, testing the waters with a LinkedIn message when you could just as easily text them with the number you already have is hardly subtle, and frankly, kind of bizarre. If you’re using LinkedIn because, like the author of the article, “you’re probably blocked on everything else,” perhaps you ought to take some time to work on yourself instead of trolling for men on a professional networking platform. Just a thought.

5. Settle Into Settling

If you are lucky enough to find someone you’re serious about, you may have doubts about whether he or she is “the one” and what it means to settle. Earlier this year, Refinery29 published a piece that I hoped would upend the false notion that comfort and security equal “settling” and that one must pursue a relationship that thrives on “butterflies” and insecurity. Instead, the article seems to promote settling for a connection completely devoid of any spark in order to avoid being alone: “I didn’t settle for the first person that came along, but I am so glad that in my 30s I’m not out there looking for someone, going on dates with strangers, and so on.” While your perfect mate may not end up being who you thought they’d be, a baseline level of connection should not be compromised out of fear. A relationship will never be exciting all of the time, but it should always be fulfilling. If the premise of the article is to be believed, we can all give up this dating game altogether and bring blowup dolls with us to dinner. So inspiring!

Advice, however well-intentioned, is usually subjective and not universally applicable. As we’ve seen today, it can sometimes be downright dumb. Do what works for and feels right to you and leave the rest where you found it. Any other gems I missed? Please sound off in the comments!

Images: Hian Oliveira / Unsplash; Giphy (5)

Mercury Is Back To Normal: Weekly Horoscopes November 18-22

Amazing news, everyone. You’ve (almost) survived another Mercury retrograde. Or maybe you didn’t. But either way, Mercury is out of retrograde this Wednesday, meaning it is officially time to assess the damage. Say some sh*t that came out harsher than you intended? (Yes.) Misinterpret a text and fly off the handle over nothing? (Always.) Get mad at your roommate for breathing weird in the common spaces? (Do you even need to ask?) This is the week to make amends. Until the next time Mercury goes into retrograde and wrecks your life, that is.

Aries

Cuffing season is in high gear, Aries, and it’s time to figure out whose dried-out face you’re going to be staring at all winter. You’re on the hunt for the person who will share your bed through the long, cold nights and won’t shame you for not shaving your legs between Christmas and Easter. If you already have that special someone in your life, take time to do a check in and make sure things haven’t gotten stale. You’re going to be spending a lot more time together now that the temperature has dropped below 50 degrees.

Taurus

raise the roof

Take a look at your partnerships: romantic, platonic, and professional. Are they in a rut? Are things going unsaid? Now that Mercury is out of retrograde you have the perfect opportunity to clear up any lingering misunderstandings and get back to dynamic duo mode. Or, in the case of your coworkers, “adult professionals who enjoy each other’s company from 9am to 5pm” mode.

Gemini

Did you get your old Adderall prescription back? Because you’re focused as f*ck this week, Gemini. Use this energy to bring an important task across the finish line, whether it be redecorating your apartment, something to do with work, or finally finishing that novel. This week you’ll magically find the focus and motivation to finish whatever you set your mind to, so choose a task and start accomplishing things.

Cancer

thinking

When was the last time you assessed your romantic situation, Cancer? Every second of every day? Cool. Same. Now that Mercury is done being a little bitch, it’s time to make sure that any pent-up resentments that have built up between you and your partner are released for good. Single Cancers should be aware that they’re going to attract whatever they put out this week, so make sure you’re giving off “stable professional with a savings account” over “35-year-old with 17 roommates whose never had an STD check.”

Leo

Bust out the coasters your aunt sent you three birthdays ago, because you’re in the mood to entertain, Leo! The end of Mercury retrograde means you’re ready to jazz up chez Leo, and what better way to do that than a little dinner party? Whether it be a full blown friendsgiving, or just sharing a bottle of wine with the girls, find a way to bring the people you love into your space this week. Just remind them to take their f*cking shoes off first.

Virgo

hoe

This week you’re embracing your sensuality and letting the world see your sexy self, Virgo. In other words, you’re in the mood to hoe it up, and we mean that in the most feminist way possible. Bust out the thigh high boots, bodysuit, that one bra that makes your boobs look amazing and take yourself for a night on the town. Whether you’re doing it to impress a random stranger (good), a significant other (great), or your own damn self (even better), you will love the confidence (and the thirst traps) that come of it.

Libra

Congratulations, Libra! You’re at the beginning of a seven week motivation explosion. Whether you want to use your newfound ability to get sh*t done to finish up some lingering 2019 goals, or get a jump on 2020, this week is the start of a whole new you. And yes, this does count as a reason to celebrate by buying yourself one of the premium cocktails at happy hour.

Scorpio

Stassi Birthday

Your season is coming to a close and it’s time to go out with a bang. Luckily, going out with a bang is kind of Scorpio’s thing. Stop chilling on the couch and get out into the world and no, the fact that it is dark at 5pm is not a reason to stay indoors. Take advantage of all the shady shenanigans you can now, while “it’s my birthday month!” still works as an excuse.

Sagittarius

You’re in the mood to keep it low-key this week, so set your phone to Do Not Disturb and get cozy. Will you use your alone time to actually finish a book this year? Or maybe you’ll tackle that 5+ hour Crock Pot recipe you’ve been meaning to try. Or maybe you’ll just veg out on the couch and binge-watch Netflix and put things in your cart that you have no intention to buy. The world is your oyster!

Capricorn

king of the world

Great news, Capricorn! You’re in the middle of a lucky streak, both professionally and personally. Everything you touch turns to gold, and every selfie you take is magically fire. It’s just one of those weeks. The only thing you need to decide now is where you want to focus these magical powers. And try not to let it get to your head (too much).

Aquarius

It’s time to earn that holiday bonus, Aquarius. The year is coming to a close, but this week you have exactly enough energy to end it on a high note. For the next month, focus your attention on advancing in your career, and you could be starting 2020 with a whole new job title. PRO TIP: Holiday parties with an open bar totally count as networking opportunities.

Pisces

goals

What do you want to accomplish by the end of the 2010s? This is the week to map that out and put it into action, Pisces. The end of Mercury retrograde has given you newfound clarity about wtf is going on in your life, and where you want it to go. Before holiday travel plans take over, set aside some time to write down your 2020 vision. That way you won’t find yourself scribbling your resolutions on the back of a napkin between layovers.

Images: Giphy (12)