Okay yes, we’re still talking about this. But this one has been a real journey and honestly, those of us who have committed to 3-hour, back-to-back, Greg Grippo-focused episodes of The Bachelorette have been through a lot, and the least we could do is learn a lesson at the end of all this. In case you need a reminder (you don’t), recently millions of people watched as Greg Grippo, one of three contestants remaining on season 17 of The Bachelorette, had an intense emotional meltdown when the lead, Katie Thurston, was unwilling to communicate her love to him in a way that felt reciprocal. He said, “You fill a hole in my heart.” She said, “Nice face.” I’m paraphrasing—a little. A meltdown ensued, an unexpected and painful (for all of us) breakup followed, and Bachelor Nation took to the streets (social media and podcasts, primarily), to debate: Team Katie? Team Greg? Was Greg gaslighting or having a justified emotional response? Was Katie cold and withholding? The answer, I think, is yes. Both things, all things. Whatever reaction you had to those horribly uncomfortable breakup scenes likely held some truth, because ending relationships is complicated and messy and usually pretty gross. For the record, as a Master’s-level Counselor with professional experience in relational communication, there are some specific examples of gaslighting behaviors in their interactions and I bet if we got to watch back any of our own breakups, we’d see some gaslighting there too. Humans with big emotions, especially about love and intimacy, will do some wild things to get what they want, including using tactics to confuse and manipulate each other.
Let’s be clear about one thing, though. While we might not all agree on the level of gaslighting Greg Grippo engaged in here, he most definitely wrote us a playbook for Emotional Manipulation 101. He relies on the narrative that being with Katie is the only thing that’s made him happy in the two years since his dad died. His family and friends then come in to reinforce this, telling Katie that he just hasn’t been himself, but now that she’s here, the Greg they know is back. Yikes.
I believe them. I believe that Greg is finding joy in this process and that he is genuinely feeling lighter and happier. I don’t think he’s acting (ahem, cue the Meryl Streep moment). I think he’s coming out of very regular, grief-induced depression because he’s had time to heal and now he’s on a TV show with a bunch of dudes he likes to hang with and a cute girl he likes to make out with, mostly in the rain. (In the desert. It’s fine.) But to frame his happiness as solely dependent on Katie is setting a fertile ground for a relationship built on emotional responsibility and caretaking. It’s so much to take on. And it’s manipulative.
And this, my friends, is a lesson we can all learn. If watching Greg and Katie in these final scenes together felt just a little too familiar, then it’s likely you have experienced emotional manipulation. You’ve probably even done it. Honestly, who hasn’t at some point? A little silent treatment here and there can be pretty passively impactful. Or maybe using the old “Well if you don’t know why I’m upset, I’m not going to tell you!” technique when you can’t articulate the reason for your feelings, you just know you’re having them and someone needs to pay attention ASAP! Storming out of the room during an argument without telling your partner you plan to return? We’ve all done it. These are all forms of emotional manipulation we see Greg use. They aren’t healthy modes of relational communication, but we’ve all done them, haven’t we? We’re all human here. If these are your primary methods of communicating during conflict, then maybe the lesson for you here is to practice something new. Maybe begin practicing expressing your emotions directly and clearly. Maybe examine why it might not feel like you can? We could all probably work on this more, and maybe GG was sent here to inspire us. Get to work!
Or, hear me out, maybe you watched all this go down and had an even stronger reaction. Maybe you were like me and the familiarity was TOO specific. Maybe, like me, you’ve lived it over and over again. Honestly, any moment of the GG drama could have been picked from any of my previous relationships. This is because I have spent a lifetime choosing partners out of a compulsion to be with highly emotional people who depend on me for emotional caretaking. I have been “Caught in the Grip(po)” of this compulsive cycle without ever even knowing why or how until recently.
It turns out, I have a thing called Love Avoidance. It develops through some specific childhood trauma related to family enmeshment and it manifests into issues with intimacy. There is a range for Love Avoidance, but mine happens to be severe. Unlike avoidant attachment, which people seem to be more familiar with, a Love Avoidant craves intimacy. We don’t run from it—we seek it out. But because in childhood we took on some kind of overly mature role protecting or nurturing our families, we think we can only be loved by people if they need us to manage their emotions or they depend on us to take care of their emotional needs. Like, a lot. In fact, we take this role with so much determination that we become absolutely suffocated by it. Intimacy feels like drowning. Maybe even dying. It’s called Engulfment and we engage in all kinds of avoidant behaviors to find relief from it, but because it’s a cycle, we continue the compulsive behavior of choosing people who need emotional caretaking because they will let us. And then we all end up in the cycle again. It’s pretty torturous for everyone involved.
The good news, for people who experience some level of Love Avoidance, is that you can recover. The first step is the most difficult one because it requires some brutal honesty about our choices and patterns. But it’s just possible that Greg Grippo can help.
Do you constantly choose a partner with high emotional needs? Are you drawn to the Greg Grippo in the room, someone who needs constant reassurance and/or attention? The person whose eyes seem to be masking something intense and mysterious? Do you always pick partners who have an emotional connection or response to every single thing that happens? Do you feel constantly drained in your relationships but still choose people who just need and take so much from you? Do I sound like a 2am infomercial trying to convince you to buy my self-help program DVD box set? Yes. I do. And I’m sorry, but this could be really important if it’s the first time you’re hearing it!
Before my recovery, I would have been obsessed with Greg. It would have become a full-blown TV crush by the end of the season. From night one, I would have chosen him. He would have had his emotional meltdown and shown his propensity for emotional manipulation, and I still would have chosen him. I would have taken care of all of his emotions and he would have let me until we destroyed each other. We don’t get “Caught in the Grip(po)” over and over again because of “fate” or “true love.” We do it out of compulsion. It took a series of devastating losses (and a lot of therapy) for me to recognize these patterns in my own life. Maybe watching Katie Thurston making a different choice this season will be the start for you.
Image: Craig Sjodin / ABC
Maybe you’ve been thinking about it for a while. Maybe you just got out of a stagnant relationship and you’re dying to try something new. Maybe you’re newly out as bi and you want to explore your options. Maybe you’re in an open relationship and want to test the waters on your own through a courtship with a cute couple.
You probably also know the stories. The aggressive unicorn hunters, the couples opening up their relationships for the wrong reasons, the gross boyfriend who just wants to have two women catering to his pleasure. You’re probably not in any way interested in getting caught in the crossfire of these types of threesomes situations. Neither am I—and I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to.
The reality is that yes, there are a lot of bad actors among couples looking to invite a third into the bedroom, however, good experiences absolutely exist and, as long as you know what you’re doing and what you’re looking for, aren’t hard to come by. Trust me, I’ve had them!
To help me help you, I spoke with two other threesome connoisseurs and good friends, Instagram personality and actor James Rose and comedian and host of The Manwhore Podcast, Billy Procida, about their experiences being a third. Together, we came up with these tips.
Figure Out What You Want First
The first step in finagling your very first ménage à trois is to figure out exactly what kind of setup you’re looking to get into. “I always think it’s great to set up some expectations beforehand and make sure everyone knows what the hope is—if all goes well”, adds Procida. Are you in it simply for sexual intimacy? Or are you looking for emotional intimacy as well? Ideally, do you hope to find a couple with whom you can have an ongoing relationship or just a casual one-time experience? I’m a firm believer in being as upfront as possible about what you want (I’m a Sagittarius) especially when it comes to relationships, as it will save you time and energy.
This may change as you journey further into the experience, and that’s okay, but take your temperature now and see what you’re actually comfortable with and excited about.
Determine Your Boundaries And Practice Enforcing Them
Boundary-setting can be intimidating when you have to do it with just one person, so it may seem daunting to prepare for it with a couple, but it doesn’t have to be. Making sure you know exactly what your boundaries are—your hard limits and your soft limits from positions to where you’re comfortable meeting up—just as much as your desires will help you in your experience.
Once you know what they are, practice saying them out loud. Getting comfortable with the words coming out of your mouth can help infinitely when the time comes. You can also practice setting boundaries over text, a perfectly valid way to set your boundaries ahead of time!
If you’re going to hop on the apps, you can mention some of your hard limits in your bio to save yourself the trouble, however, you can’t trust 100 percent that your matches will read them, so you may want to reference your bio and ask if they’ve had a chance to read it. In some apps like Feeld, an app marketed to folks looking for threesomes and other non-monogamous situations, there are sections for desires and boundaries that you can fill out.
Look For Red Flags And Green Flags
Some of the couples you’ll want to avoid will be obvious if you know what to look for. There are also a few things that, in our experiences, constitute a good sign. We all agree that we feel more comfortable and have had better experiences with couples who are more established and have more experience. If you’re new to the experience, it’s best to avoid couples who are inexperienced and whose relationship in any way seems fragile. “Look out for the couples that passive-aggressively fight in front of you,” Procida recommends.
Another red flag that Rose points out is if they themselves from the start only feel attraction, sexual or romantic, for only one of the individuals in the couple, it would feel unethical for them to continue pursuing that relationship just for the relationship with the partner they’re attracted to.
Something else to look for if you’re on the apps is a couple with a shared or connected profile, and definitely one that has pictures of both partners.
Keep Communication Open With ALL Partners
Something to avoid is forming an unbalanced relationship with each of the partners in the couple. Unless previously discussed and negotiated, avoid developing a stronger emotional or sexual connection with just one of them. While their relationship issues are their problem, doing so could create feelings of imbalance in the threesome relationship. If you find that one of the partners is attempting to do this, that’s also a red flag. “Couples should find the addition of a third person something that can bring them closer together, not something that they use to work out their relationship issues”, says Rose.
Rose also advises that, if you end up catching feelings (especially stronger feelings for one of the partners) it’s best to be upfront about it with yourself and with the couple. “I will usually journal or talk it out with myself to establish what I’m feeling, what needs to be addressed, and how this will impact my relationship with the couple,” they say.
Feelings don’t have to be a dealbreaker to continue the ongoing relationship, but it does require ongoing communication, boundary-setting, and emotional awareness.
“The cool part about being a third for a couple is that they are welcoming you into an already (ideally!) healthy relationship, and you get to enjoy some of the most pleasurable aspects of it,” says Rose. Partners who have been doing this for a while are comfortable with communication and oftentimes you end up with a lot of their attention placed on you and your pleasure.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want in the moment. It’s not awkward, just remember how ridiculous sex is,” Procida reminds us.
Threesomes won’t—and shouldn’t—look like a porn set, so don’t feel pressured to perform in any particular way. Remember to go with the flow, be present, and remember to communicate what you want!
Images: Omar Lopez / Unsplash
About five weeks ago, I left school to head back to my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. As I speed-packed my whole room up, I tried to come up with a list of positives about this situation. The one silver lining I could think of was that we would be removed from f*ckboys. In fact, maybe f*ckboys would spend this time recovering, and just like nature, they too could begin the process of healing. They are the virus.
Fast forward five weeks and I swear to God, every fifth text I get from one of my friends is bitching about f*ckboys. Some have even gone as far as to pitch their stories to me as ideas for another article (and while I appreciate the help, I sadly have enough content from my day-to-day interactions). It seems like f*ckboys have taken quarantine not as a time to better themselves, but as a time to strengthen their ability to be the absolute worst.
Not to rip off Carrie Bradshaw, but all of these stories had me thinking, have the f*ckboys gotten stronger and bolder in the Q? Or, have they been like this all along and we are just now beginning to notice it?
Like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the Five F*ckboys of Quarantine have come riding in on pale horses, ushering in a new period of sh*ttiness in dating. But I would never dream of leaving you unprepared for navigating f*ckboys in these trying times, so here’s my guide to the five f*ckboys of quarantine.
The Ghost: Quarantine Edition
Definition: We all know what ghosting is, so you shouldn’t really need an explanation. The CDC is learning more about COVID-19 every day, and your f*ckboy expert (me) had the privilege of learning first-hand about how much of a blow to the ego it is to get ghosted while social distancing. Ghosting right now should be a felony—like, honestly it might be on par with murder. Here’s the thing, even f*ckboys know this, so ghosting in quarantine looks a little bit different than in real life.
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How to spot them: Unlike a guy who ghosts you like, in normal conditions, this guy is more of a flake than a straight-up Ghost. We all need attention, he just likes to float around and get this attention from different girls. Babes, I’m sorry to say this: but he isn’t too busy, he isn’t “bad at Snapchat,” and he certainly just “didn’t see your text.” Like all of us, he has nowhere else to go and nothing else to do. You know you’re being ghosted (quarantine edition) if:
⭐︎ Your snap is left on delivered or open for 20+ hours—he got the notification and is waiting for you to get the hint.
⭐︎Every few days, he comes back around. We call this haunting. You’ll exchange a few vague snaps back and forth. It’s because he wants to keep his options open. (I fall for this often, please be better than me.)
⭐︎If/when quarantine ends, he’ll probably try to resume his normal schedule of contacting you, as if he wasn’t shady for the entirety of this crisis, especially if you were talking before.
How to deal with them: As smart, self-sufficient, and socially distant betches, we have no time for being ghosted. As hot as he is, and as much as you enjoy texting him, all you’re doing by trying to keep the Snap streak alive is hurting yourself. It’s sad but very, very true. You’re locked inside and there’s no reason to make yourself more miserable than necessary. If you think you’re stuck in this pattern but can’t tell, stop initiating conversations and see what happens. You may not get the answer you want, but at least you know not to waste your precious emotional energy.
Definition: Quarantine has given us all a little bit of time to think about our behavior—even I have recently come to question some of the actions I have taken over the last few months. As someone prone to overthinking in normal circumstances, I know that the combination of stress + a lot of time alone can lead to regret and the urgent desire to make amends for past behavior. Adding in the fact that we are almost all drinking alone right now means that even f*ckboys (whom we previously thought incapable of remorse) want to repair what they have already broken. Enter: The Boomerang.
How to spot them: You know the guy who fell off the face of the planet and killed your Snap streak, but continues to watch your Insta story? This is him. All of a sudden, Mr. Disappeared-Into-Thin-Air is back, and more interested than ever—but don’t get used to his presence. You’ll know he’s a Boomerang if:
⭐︎ He sends you a text that says, “How’s your quarantine…” followed by one that says “I probably owe you an explanation” or any variation of that.
⭐︎ While initially it seemed like he was all in and willing to give round two a ton of effort (i.e., FaceTime dates, responding to you right away, ensuring that he is definitely not Snapchatting other girls), this behavior will change after a few days.
⭐︎ After about a week, the slow fade you’re familiar with may start, and this is how we know the cycle of ghosting is beginning yet again.
How to deal with them: Boomerangs are meant for mind games, and they absolutely aren’t meant to be around for a long time—that’s, like, the whole point of them. If this guy is someone who completely f*cked you over in the past, and you’re looking to start a little drama or you need some excitement, literally ask him why he ghosted you. Show him the receipts. Go the whole nine f*cking yards (and please send me screenshots). If he ghosted you and you didn’t really care, enjoy some light flirting, but as soon as you start developing feelings or this goes too far, send him on his way.
The Fake Boyfriend
Definition: As excited as I am for all of the rom-coms about our time in quarantine to be made next winter, we have to remember that our daydreams about meeting a boy over Ship in quarantine and falling in love are fiction. As lovely as it may be to have a pen pal or two while you’re stuck in the Q, there’s a slim chance that your new love connection will survive more than a week in the real world.
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How to spot them: A Fake Boyfriend goes way too deep way too soon, and maybe this is because we legit have no choice but to get to know each other for our personality but also, like, maybe not? You know you’ve got yourself a Fake Boyfriend if:
⭐︎ Like a Boomerang, he jumps right in with the FaceTime dates, virtual happy hours, and, if he happens to be quarantined at home, you may even be ~lucky~ enough to meet his family. However, all of this will probably happen at a way faster rate than normal, because like, what else is there to do?
⭐︎ He ensures you that you’re the only girl who is getting the girlfriend treatment, and there’s a chance he’s not lying, but you never know.
⭐︎ We are nowhere near this yet, but as soon as quarantine ends, you’ll get an “I’m just not ready for anything serious right now” text. Shocker.
How to deal with them: Listen, none of us are in the position to be rejecting attention right now, especially if you’re as bored as I am. However, I don’t advise investing a lot of emotional energy in a fake boyfriend. Talking is fun, especially in times like these, but don’t put too high of a premium on his behavior. If this does happen to be a guy you think you can have a real connection with and you grow to really like, maybe try to go out together one or two times once we are allowed to, like, be around each other again and see if your relationship can withstand the test of human interaction.
The One Who Doesn’t Understand Social Distancing
Definition: We always knew that some f*ckboys were not as smart as the rest of us, but this guy takes the cake. He may acknowledge the severity of the situation, but he without a doubt thinks he is immune to COVID, is treating this as an extended vacation, and “is really excited about being back with the boys” when he returns home. Dude, no.
How to spot them: On the surface, you can tell he might be, like, kinda trying to practice effective social distancing. He sure is all about it on Insta stories, which we love to see. However, he doesn’t fully understand that now is not the time to drink with your friends in person, even from six feet away in your backyard, and especially not if you are doing this with a different group of people every night. Example behaviors are:
⭐︎ Posting a picture of him holding a Corona on his story, because he is really witty, and captions it, “day four of quarantine.” As a bonus, this picture got posted on April 15th which is, like, five weeks after your state enacted stay at home orders.
⭐︎ Even more bonus points if the previous slide on his story is a picture of him and his bros, and they definitely are less than six feet apart.
⭐︎ When he starts to talk to you it might just seem like the normal quarantine flirting… until he asks you to come over… and is serious… and doesn’t get the problem with the request.
How to deal with them: In the immortal words of Meghan Trainor, “My name is no, my sign is no, my number is no, you need to let it go.” Every time he invites you over, respond with an emphatic no and send a link explaining the benefits of social distancing. If this behavior continues, you may want to explain to him—very slowly—why he is part of the problem and how social distancing works. IDC how good the sex is, if you’re reading this you are way too smart to put yourself at risk over (admit it) a mediocre-looking f*ckboy.
The Aspiring Influencer
Definition: I get it, when the only other people you interact with are your siblings it’s easy to think like you really have your sh*t together, but this doesn’t make you an influencer. I honestly thought that only basic girls (myself included—I’m not not wearing a tie-dye set rn) and the boys who take mirror selfies at the gym would fall into internet traps during quarantine, but I was wrong. Guys who seemed relatively normal before this started are acting like they think they’re influencers. And, if there’s one thing our society does not need right now, it’s a ton of frat guys with Dad bods promoting their TikTok-inspired SoundCloud remixes.
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How to spot them: It starts with that Bill Clinton record challenge exposing their super basic music tastes, maybe they even do a push-up challenge (not complaining about that one), but all of a sudden their social media usage has spiraled out of control. Weird, he didn’t post a picture of you together from your last date party because he “doesn’t really use social media,” but all of a sudden he is the most active user you follow. You’ve got an Aspiring Influencer on your hands if:
⭐︎ He started posting lame oversexualized attempts at doing TikTok dances and challenges. Guys, if any of you see this, I need you to know that it’s an app made for 15-year-olds. Please stop thrusting your hips and commenting on underaged girls throwing it back. It’s creepy and problematic. Thanks.
⭐︎ He genuinely thinks his vlog-style Snapchat story bitching about how he doesn’t have lukewarm beer/Vat/or pot at home is the height of comedy. However, these posts would only be funny if he was being sarcastic and that’s just not something that’s in reach of his mental capacity.
⭐︎ He’s posting more thirst traps than a girl who got really hot after a breakup. No shade, I just want to know where these guys’ ability to look normal/hot in pictures was when I was trying to show their instas to my friends and the best option I had was a picture of them from 2017 holding a fish.
How to deal with them: These f*ckboys are blatantly on the hunt for attention in these trying times, and, honestly, aren’t we all? While they are ultimately pretty harmless and funny to sh*t-talk with your friends, if you’re talking to an Aspiring Influencer, know that they are likely talking to other girls and that this new persona they have adopted will probably live on past quarantine. There’s really no harm in continuing to talk to them, but just remember that their ability to be genuine is comparable to their ability to do the Renegade dance: abysmal.
These behaviors could all be adapted to the real world. However, the constant ability for f*ckboys to surprise us just confirmed what we already knew: the devil works hard, but f*ckboys work harder… that is, when it comes to screwing girls over.
In any other situation, I would advise against engaging with f*ckboys. However, these are not usual times and we all deserve a little bit of excitement and drama in our lives. Especially when we have run out of trashy dating shows to live vicariously through. As always, I am here to empower and validate your actions while still providing you with the information that will help you make smarter choices when it comes to f*ckboys.
Everyone is super #stressed right now, and honestly, we don’t need the added hassle of toxic d*ck. Have fun, but remember to avoid the f*ckboys who make you feel sh*tty. Just because your ex is hitting you up doesn’t mean that you’ll feel good after talking to him. And of course, under NO circumstances am I giving you permission to violate social distancing in order to see a f*ckboy!
Images: Thom Holmes / Unsplash
Some events in life are just inherently awkward, like when you say goodbye to someone and end up walking in the same direction, or when your ex is on the bike next to you in spin class. Some events, however, get a bad rap for being awkward when they really don’t need to be. For instance, having the “what are we?” talk shouldn’t be awkward at all. In fact, it should really just confirm what you both already know: that the situation you’re in is either working or it isn’t. Tbh, I didn’t come up with this brilliant theory; I stole it from my friend’s therapist when she was struggling with a potential boyfriend who ended up being a f*ckboy in disguise. My friend was seeing this guy for like six weeks and genuinely had no idea if their relationship would evolve or if it would stay in this weird limbo for another six weeks. So, to get her answer, my
stupid dear friend wanted to just straight-up ask him if he wanted to be her boyfriend.
While I applaud the bravery and directness, the problem with this approach is you’re setting yourself up to be really disappointed in someone you really liked while also giving him all the power. Not to mention, you’re putting him in a potentially uncomfortable situation. So the therapist said, “If you’re asking him if he wants to be your boyfriend because you are so unsure where his head is at, then you already have your answer.” Like, damn.
If you’re in a similar position and feeling unsure about where things stand and need answers, by all means, don’t force yourself to just wait until his desires and intentions become more clear. However, simply ambushing someone with a DTR talk is equally not the move. So, what the actual f*ck do you do? Luckily, I have been through enough versions of this to have exhausted every option, so here’s how to handle it.
Look, if you really want to date the guy who isn’t giving you any indication that he wants anything more than what you’ve been doing for the last few weeks, you may have to face the music and just end it. Now, I’m not saying to end things with a great guy who really likes you because he won’t introduce you to his parents within three weeks of meeting you. I am saying that if you’ve been seeing a guy for at least, like, a month, and find that you haven’t moved forward at all (only seeing each other about once a week, haven’t met any of his friends, he never comes to your place, etc.) then it seems like he may want to keep things where they are in terms of seriousness. Even without explicitly saying it, you should be able to pick up on some cues based on his actions.
We’ve all heard the phrase “trust your instincts,” so if you are feeling like you two aren’t on the same page about what you want from each other, you probably aren’t. It’s unlikely that a person who isn’t giving you much will totally surprise you and end up wanting something more serious—especially when he’s consistently given you nothing but “let’s keep this casual” vibes. Ending a hookup should not be awkward; in fact, it should be kind of a relief—at least for you, since you don’t feel like hanging out with this clown anymore. Because you definitely don’t owe him sh*t, don’t feel compelled to make the talk a long, drawn-out conversation. Just remember your key points and get on with it.
Chances are, after only a few weeks, you don’t really have a good sense of who this person is, so there is a possibility that he will come around and end up on the same page as you. If you are a patient person, this could be a good route for you. Like I said, there’s no specific amount of time that has to go by before doing something, but if your thoughts on the matter are between unsure and “this isn’t happening,” that’s probably when you should make some sort of move. Like the underdog of The Hunger Games Plutarch Heavensbee once said, “It’s all about moves and countermoves.” Even though he was referring to the government subtly and slowly staging a murder of Jennifer Lawrence, the same can be said of dating.
I wouldn’t suggest waiting around and hoping he changes his mind one day because that could obviously end really badly, but if you feel hopeful that at some point in the near future, things will change, by all means, don’t ruin a good thing. When enough time has gone by that you do feel confident that you both think of each other with the same title, the conversation will happen naturally and will be whatever the opposite of awkward is. For instance, after dating my college boyfriend for two months, he texted me one night and said “I just called you my girlfriend to one of my friends. We’re dating, right?” *slow clap*
Ask What’s Going On
Tbh, I prefer a more assertive approach to getting sh*t done, but if you don’t want to scare this person off, starting the discussion with a question is a good call. When I say “scare this person off,” I don’t mean of you, the hot queen who’s taking matters into her own hands, I mean of commitment. In my opinion, if the person is worth dating, he is probably worth waiting for if all he really needs is a little bit of time. On the other hand, if he says something like, “I really like hanging out with you and I’d like to keep doing that, but I know I don’t want to be in a committed relationship any time soon,” feel free to drop his ass. Both types of responses warrant the “What do you want out of this” question, because neither type of guy (the one who needs more time and the one who wants to keep hooking up) will initiate the conversation. Let’s face it, no guy who doesn’t currently, at this moment want to be in a relationship with you will DTR first, because there’s no point. If you force his hand, so to say, then you’ll at least get some clarity and the next move is yours. If you get the response that suits you, you can keep doing what you’re doing and let some time go by, and if you get the f*ck boy response, you can walk away.
At the end of the day, there’s no perfect way to have The Talk, so trust how you’re feeling about it and do whatever you feel makes the most sense. The takeaway lesson is that this doesn’t have to be an earth-shattering conversation that is really awkward and/or upsetting. Of course, if the outcome of said conversation makes you feel some sort of way that isn’t queen-like, that’s completely okay because we all know that men are disappointing in their nature, but the conversation itself should be easy as long as you know what you want from it.
Images: Giphy (3); Unsplash
Hi, my name is Arianna Margulis aka @butlikemaybe, and I have been the worst at dating, so you don’t have to be. In my new book, But Like Maybe Don’t? I own up to all of my mistakes, so you can cringe, laugh, and most of all, relate. And with Valentine’s Day coming up, I couldn’t help but admittedly think of all the different types of girl I’ve been over the years on this glorious holiday. Don’t be like me.
1. The IG Perfect Boyfriend Girl
Her relationship is on the rocks, but she can’t and won’t let you know. Sporting her new Michael Kors watch and heart-shaped bouquet of roses, she’s ready to tell the world how HE DID GOOD. Still, nobody will be surprised when they break up less than two weeks later.
2. Still Believes The Flowers Might Come Girl
She stares at the door. She believes somehow he Googled her office address or secretly asked her best friend for it (even though he’s never even met any of her friends). “It’s only 5pm, there’s definitely still time,” she says every hour on the hour, while her hope slowly deflates like a balloon. Nobody has the heart to tell her.
3. Bitter Hallmark Holiday Girl
She rolls her eyes as she enters the candy aisle of CVS. She hopes you choke on your heart-shaped lollipop. Talks a lot about “society” and “capitalism,” but if a giant teddy bear showed up on her doorstep with a box of chocolates, you know she would post that sh*t on her Instagram story right away.
4. Lives For Galentine’s Sh*t Girl
She’s got tickets to the latest rom-com. A dinner reservation at 5pm because that’s all that was left. She can’t wait to post pictures saying how happy she is to finally #loveherself. Secretly, she’s hoping the Instagram likes on the picture of her naked ring finger with an ironic caption will make her feel better about the fact that all her friends had plans with their actual significant others on Valentine’s Day.
5. Too-Soon Girl
Very excited about her new relationship. Too excited. Couldn’t resist the urge to show everyone how happy she is, and sadly the jerk she’s dating will merely pretend he didn’t see it.
6. What Are We? Girl
She’s been dating someone for about a month. They text every day, but he hasn’t said anything yet about the big day. Valentine’s Day is on a Friday this year, so they’ll probably hang out anyway. Does she mention it? Would it ruin things? Does he secretly want to mention it too? Does she get him a gift?! The stress of it will cause insomnia, hair loss, and breakouts.
7. Ice Cream Sorrows Girl
She has given up on love. You can find her drowning her pain in $60 worth of bodega goodies, not answering any texts, and blacking out her windows until tomorrow, when it’s all over.
8. Who Cares Let’s Drink Girl
Valentine’s Day is on a Friday this year. So um who the f*ck cares, let’s drink.
For more of my relatable dating advice, pick up a copy of my new book, But Like Maybe Don’t?, out now!
You’ve probably been there: a couple of vodka sodas deep, contemplating leaving the bar, when you get that familiar “wyd?” text. Or maybe you’re alone on your couch watching your favorite Netflix show and scrolling through memes, when you come across a meme you know your ex would find hilarious… so then you’re the one who’s tempted to send that “wyd?” text. When it comes to the question of hooking up with your ex, the answer that immediately comes to mind is “no”. Or to be more precise, “hell no!” Whether you’re asking your friends for advice, talking to your therapist, or doing your nightly internet search for the very specific problems that only affect you, the general consensus seems to be that it’s best to steer clear of hooking up with an ex. Which is totally valid, considering they’re your ex for a reason. While I never advocate for backsliding, dating is not black and white—one could even say that when it comes to relationships there are, well, 50 shades of grey (sorry, couldn’t resist).
Like pretty much every girl ever, I hooked up with an ex. Let’s call him Jake, because that’s his name. (Sorry dude, but you have a really common name, I’m not changing it). Jake and I reconnected, aka Jake slid into my DMs. We broke up forever ago and stayed friends, meaning that I don’t currently have a Voodoo doll of him and didn’t burn all his pictures. Curious enough, I went, and four drinks and some serious eye contact later, we were “reconnecting’” in the backseat of his car. I’ll stop the story there, because, like, TMI. In the wake of judgmental stares and a barrage of “No, tell me you didn’t!” from friends, I figured that I could A) turn this hookup into an article and fulfill my lifelong dream of being Carrie Bradshaw, B) make my friends calm the F down, and C) do my part to eliminate the shame that is associated with hooking up with an ex. I researched, and then researched again (bravo, Jake), and discovered that hooking up with an ex doesn’t always have to be a negative thing. While a majority of the time the case for sleeping with an ex can be made to be a horrible-no-good-very-bad idea, I dared to wonder, could there be an upside? And if you’re going to do it, is there a healthy way to go about it, rather than shadily sneaking off from the bar and not telling your friends where you’re going? In order to answer that question, I spoke with dating expert Judge Lauren Lake of Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court, about the right way to hook up with your ex.
First things first, a big disclaimer: If your ex was a toxic, abusive, and/or a negative influence in your life, then do not go back to them in any way. You should keep that door locked, fly to a foreign country, and throw that key into the bottom of an ocean. Lake echoes this: “If you feel like the person will be able to manipulate you or play on your emotions, stay away. You should only interact with exes when there is mutual respect,” she says. This so-called “mutual respect” between exes may seem like a myth, but if you have experienced it and are considering diving back into those familiar waters, read on for some advice.
Be Realistic With Expectations
please present the signed permission slip from your therapist before approaching me romantically
— cranky beth (@marybethbarone) October 3, 2019
First and foremost, you should be honest with yourself. Figure out why you have the sudden urge to slide back into your ex’s DMs or to answer that “I miss you” text. Go ahead and check all that apply: Are you bored? Lonely? Horny? Do you actually miss them? Actually miss their genitalia? There are no wrong answers, but it’s important to know yourself. According to Lauren Lake, “Hookups with exes are common. Sometimes it’s about unresolved feelings and sometimes it’s just about missing the physical connection.”
With that foundation set, you then need to be realistic about what you’re expecting from these (probably) two minutes of passion. Do you want to rekindle the relationship and get back together? If that’s the case, then I highly suggest that you communicate this to your ex beforehand, because sex will not fix a broken relationship. Lake advises, “If things are heating up, it’s best to pause and make sure you are on the same page. If not, one person may think it is the first step to getting back together, or that it may be an ongoing hookup, while the other may have no intentions to ever hookup again.” To put it bluntly, just because your ex has sex with you doesn’t necessarily mean that they will want to get back together—they probably just wanted to have sex. Sorry, but it’s true. Best to save yourself the back-and-forth and figure that sh*t out beforehand.
On the flip side, if you’re just a human with urges and want someone that feels familiar, comfortable, and who knows what you like, then sex with your ex can be a positive thing. If both of you are on the same page of your soap opera romance, then you can relieve any pressures about pursuing an emotional connection and just enjoy your carnal lovemaking (no details pls). Lake puts it best: “Just because the relationship went bad, doesn’t mean the sex did.” She’s got a point.
But, before you book an Uber to their place, remember that communication is always key. It’s pretty much impossible to have a one-night stand with someone that you have a history with, typically because a one-night stand does not come with an entire matching bedroom set (i.e. your past and baggage). “Since you’ve already had a relationship with the person, it wouldn’t be a one-night stand, but it could be a one-more night stand,” says Judge Lauren Lake. So like, just be clear as to why you want this and what you want out of it.
Caution: Mixing Business With Pleasure
Me and my ex communicating like…. https://t.co/8ysg6N9ZT7
— Ruby ✨ (@Rubyyyyy23) August 19, 2019
Once you’ve established your intentions, at least within your own mind, you should then consider the implications of jumping back into old roles. This mainly applies to those of us who would like to explore a strictly physical reunion. If you want to avoid any mixed signals or catching feelings, then it would be wise to avoid slipping back into the original dynamics of your relationship, like going on dates. Groundbreaking, I know. Sure, you can go to their place for a glass of boxed wine or a casual night of “Netflix and chill” (do the kids still do this?), but be wary of going out to dinner, a movie, the bowling alley (I don’t know what you do in your free time). Basically, don’t do things that can, by any measure, be considered a formal date. I know that going out to brunch the morning after and letting your ex pay sounds tempting (and like a good way to save money), but if you do that, you risk blurring the lines of what is just a hookup and what is the beginning of a relationship. Do you know what they call two people who go out for a night on the town and then have sex later? A couple. Sorry, but you’re dating.
It can be easy for both of you to revert to how you were when you were in a relationship, holding hands and packing on the acceptable amount of PDA. But if you’re just looking for a casual hookup, then this isn’t the foreplay you should be doing. Lake explains, “‘Playing house’ for a few days may allow you to feel the euphoria of the honeymoon phase in your relationship without remembering all the problems and issues that drove you apart. You may begin to feel attached again, only to realize later that the relationship still doesn’t serve you.” Even if you aren’t planning on continuing this pattern, having a one, two, three day, whatever-it-may-be relationship with your ex isn’t any better than getting back together and breaking up again. You’re still doing it, just not officially, leaving more room for confusion and (ugh gross) feelings.
Well, Is there An Upside?
Ultimately only you can decide if hooking up with your ex is a good idea or not. Every relationship is different, and what may be right for you may be totally wrong for your friend’s roommate’s cousin or whoever. That said, if you and your ex parted ways mutually, respectfully, and otherwise amicably, then getting with an ex can be fun and something to chat about at brunch with your friends appropriately named Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda. Judge Lauren Lake says, “The upside would be that you already know one another, care for one another, and have mutual respect. All of these things can lead to an enhanced sexual experience, and the opportunity to experience the connection again, even if it’s just for one night.” In other words, it doesn’t have to be an automatic no… just be smart about it.
So there we have it. Go ahead and take the shame out of going back for seconds and feel free to engage in a super-hot moment in the backseat with someone that knows you (emotionally and physically-wink, wink), respects you, and has the same intentions. Provided they do respect you and have the same intentions. When all that is accounted for, hooking up with an ex can be great, and possibly worth a standing ‘O’vation.
When contemplating your next move, just ask yourself, is the box of condoms half empty or half full?
Images: Sky Cinema / Shutterstock.com; @marybethbarone, @Rubyyyyy23, / Twitter, Giphy (2)
Back when I suggested writing this story to my editor, I was in week three of a sex cleanse. I’ve never been a fan of cleanses because, even though they’re allegedly good for me, they always leave me feeling a little unsatisfied. Honestly, what inspired my sex cleanse is the gorgeous guy I’m seeing, who can be… difficult. Let’s just say he’s definitely given me a few reasons to walk away, but honestly, in my optimistic mind where the KY bottle is always half full, his pros outweigh his cons, which is why I always ended up back in bed with him. The problem? After the sex, like right after, I would be on cloud f*cking nine, but then the next day/week/month would come and we’d speak about as much as two neighbors on the subway do. In other words, we would not speak at all. It felt like I was back in seventh grade when my crush would ignore me…except now it felt a little worse because we aren’t 13 years old, and getting ignored by someone who was just inside you feels pretty sh*tty.
And why feel sh*tty when I could feel like Princess Margaret in the White House? If you don’t get that reference, watch The Crown, like, yesterday, but the important thing to know is that Princess Margaret lived her best life without the lure of multiple orgasms dragging her down, and I decided that’s what I needed to do. So per my sex cleanse, I would stay in and binge The Sopranos instead of venturing out into dangerous territory (aka the Upper East Side), where Monsieur Best-I’ve-Ever-Had lives. I also swore off other sources of both toxic and non-toxic d*ck.
Because I am a loyal member of Domino’s Piece of the Pie Rewards program, cleanses are obviously not really part of my lifestyle, so I was a little fuzzy on the rules, but two things I knew I needed were an expiration date and a goal. For the length of time my cleanse would last, I gave it a month, because I’m a #strongindependentwoman. And as for the goal, I wanted to prove to myself that I’m not as hooked on sex as my tall drink of water would have me believe. And to explain the science behind what I was doing, I asked author of Don’t Sleep with Him Yet clinical psychologist Dr. Nancy F. Lee, PhD to help me out.
I learned a lot from my cleanse and want to share those lessons. First and foremost, practicing willpower and just an ounce of self-control feels really good! Secondly, not doing something that feels really good for a second and really horrible for much longer (like, I don’t know, drugs?) is always a good thing. I mean, sex is cool, but have you ever made a bold decision and it ended up paying off?
“If you find yourself regretting and/or resenting sexual encounters, which both reflect confusion and can be considered detrimental to your emotional wellbeing, by all means, do an all-out sex cleanse,” Lee says. It’s my personal opinion that unless you’re Samantha Jones, it’s impossible to not get even slightly emotionally invested in someone you’re sleeping with—especially if it happens almost on the regular. I’m not saying all women f*ck a dude a once and spend the next day writing their wedding vows, but I have never slept with the same person a few times and not started liking him at least a little bit. That’s where I’m at: I’m sleeping with this person who is annoyingly amazing in bed and I like him. As Shakespeare would say, I’m in a pickle.
In my opinion, the benefits of a sex cleanse are many, but first, you feel at least slightly more in charge of yourself. For me, that’s really important since I usually feel very much at the whim of whoever I’m dating at the time—mostly because I hardly ever click with someone who’s into me, so when I do find myself finally crushing on someone, I can’t help but hold on a little. (By the way, I’m using the term “dating” generously here.) Even though my bed felt a little lonely over the last few weeks, it was nice knowing that I was actually happy about getting a good night’s sleep in lieu of pretending that I’m REM cycling through my bedroom door slamming shut and my entire bed shifting in place when he comes back from the bathroom at 4am. Lee says, “It’s worth doing an all-out sex cleanse until you develop insight and clarity regarding what it is you truly want.”
Most importantly, even if you’re really casual about sex and don’t limit yourself to only sleeping with people who call you their girlfriend (hi, hello), deciding you’re taking a break from something that stresses you out is never a bad thing. Even if you’re just along for the (literal) ride, sex isn’t like playing tennis in that once you’re done, you just carry on with your day and don’t think about it again. So taking a little timeout is perfectly fine and may even be good for you! Lee adds, “If, for whatever reason you and an partner simply want to take a ‘break’ from sleeping together for a while, there’s an exciting way to enjoy a whole new form of ‘sensually focused sex’ that is guaranteed to heat things up!” Like with my favorite vibrator.
Look, no cleanse is meant to last forever, so I ended mine when most people end theirs: when you need to put something of substance back in your body after a long enough time without it. Gross? Sorry, but it’s been a few weeks and all of these puns are just falling into my lap. In all seriousness, the point of a cleanse is to rid yourself (mind and/or body) of anything toxic that came its way, so when you feel like you’re back in a sound place, that’s the right time to end the cleanse. Everyone will go on different cleanses (except juice cleanses because those are a bunch of lies) for different reasons, but all of them will teach you some valuable lessons and that is the damn truth.
Sadly, before this article went to press, yours truly was in serious need of some Vitamin D and broke the cleanse with, you guessed it, the same guy who inspired me to embark on said cleanse in the first place! Ya hate to see it. Generally, when you break your word to yourself, you don’t feel great. If you can’t even rely on yourself to keep it together, who can you rely on? But honestly, I feel better than I did before I went on the cleanse because I am going into this clear-headed as opposed to d*ckmatized.
Even though I am clearly a weak bitch, I did learn a lot from my cleanse and would definitely recommend it to those stronger than myself.
Images: Giphy (2); Unsplash
At some point during every relationship that I’ve been in—whether it was a serious, long-term thing or a casual hookup—I’ve wondered when it’s time to throw in the towel. Even though nearly every guy I’ve dated hasn’t really followed the “treat others how you want to be treated” rule, I’ve always stayed because I was hopeful things would change. Instead, I get a hefty serving of B.S., and it always makes me wish I had ended whatever the hell this was much sooner.
As you may be able to guess from my very depressing yet relatable intro, I’m currently in a situation (can’t even call it a relationship) with someone who is giving me whiplash like never before. Long story short, he likes me a lot and wants to keep seeing me, but due to some lie he told me, he can’t commit. In hindsight, he obviously said all that crap so that he could keep hooking up with me without ever having to take me on a date or get anywhere below surface level. After realizing this, all I have to say is *Amy Dunne voice* no f*ckin’ way. So to all of the people in similarly absurd situations, here are four signs that it’s time to walk away so that you can stop letting these clowns mess with your head and heart.
1. They Aren’t Consistent
One day he’s Noah Calhoun and the next he’s Cal from Titanic. Look, I don’t expect anyone to treat me like a queen every second of every day, but I do expect general decency at the very least. (You would think that would not be a lot to ask for…) If the person you’re dating is being really great sometimes and really horrible sometimes, f*ck them (not literally). There’s also this taboo that says we can’t call people/guys out for being complete asshats because it makes us look needy. Ummmmm no. If someone is treating you in such a way that makes you feel sad, angry, etc., say something. If you already have and nothing’s changed, send them a thank you for finally letting you know they’re trash so that you can find someone better.
I know it’s hard to just walk away, especially when you really like the person, but if someone is completely cool with treating you as if you don’t matter, that should be enough to convince you they ain’t worth sh*t.
2. They Are Shady
Have you ever agreed that you’re exclusive, but then they’re still very much on dating apps? Omg, same! Contrary to how I may be making myself seem, I have actually never been the type to go through someone’s phone. However, if he’s on his phone and I’m in the vicinity, I will 100% steal a glance when he thinks I’m not paying attention. If you do this too, you may have noticed they always have like, eight notifications on each app, right? If you’re a bad bitch, you’ve called them out and then they probably said something like, “Oh, it always says that I have a ton of notifications because I never check it.” Yeah, that’s probably a lie. He/she is definitely still checking and talking to other people. Sorry if I just burst your rose-colored bubble, but someone had to tell you, so just be glad it wasn’t his side piece.
3. They Won’t Commit
I mean, this should be obvious, but I’ve fallen victim to this crap so many times that I feel like I need a therapist to tell me why I keep doing this to myself. Actually, I know why and I’m sure you do too, because you do the same thing. I’ll keep this example to men because that’s what I’m going through right now, but obviously the scenario isn’t gender-specific. Ok: A guy will tell you he can’t be in a relationship right now because but he likes you a lot and wants to keep hanging out. The problem is you don’t want to stop hanging out with this person, because you like it. So you begrudgingly say you’ll keep hanging out because you secretly hope that after a few months of getting to know you, they’ll change their mind and want to date you.
Yeah, that’s not going to happen. If someone straight-up says they doesn’t want to date you, believe them. If the statement goes something like this: “I like you, but” ignore everything after “but” because it doesn’t matter. There are also tons of people who do want to date you, so why try to convince someone who clearly has no taste?
4. They Act Like Everything Is Fine When It Isn’t
I absolutely, passionately hate when something is clearly wrong/different/up and he acts like everything is fine. Am I really expected to believe that everything is fine after a literal week of silence when we normally talk all day everyday? Sorry (not really) to all of the people who assume we are too stupid to notice this stuff, but you are stupid for thinking this is totally acceptable behavior. If they’re telling you that nothing is up as they completely change the way they treat you, they aren’t worth your time.
The important thing to remember is that you can’t control how someone will treat you, but you can control how you react to their nonsense. If you are getting bad vibes from a romantic interest, your best move is to talk to them about it, and if the talk goes nowhere, walk the f*ck away. Because the more time you waste with people who don’t want the same thing as you, the longer you delay finding someone who does.
Images: Everton Vila / Unsplash; Giphy (2)