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
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).
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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)
Seeking out a therapist to help with any number of mental health issues is something every functioning adult should know how to do. But, unfortunately, a lot of us don’t even know where to start when it comes to checking in with a feelings doctor, where to find one, or how and when to make an appointment. And it makes sense. Once you get over the stigma (that shouldn’t exist) of seeing a mental health professional, finding one isn’t exactly easy. And if you’re already feeling intimidated about going to a psychiatrist, psychologist, counselor, etc., the daunting process of finding the right one for you could turn you off completely. So that’s why I wanted to break the process of how to find a therapist down.
In the words of the coolest president ever, Barack Obama, “Too many Americans who struggle with mental health illnesses are still suffering in silence rather than seeking help, and we need to see it that men and women who would never hesitate to go see a doctor if they had a broken arm or came down with the flu, that they have that same attitude when it comes to their mental health.” Well said, you BAMF. So whether you just want to talk through some stress at work (because Tracy is driving you up a damn wall) or need to revisit the eating disorder your school bully prompted at age 8, or whatever other reason, here’s how to find a therapist in your area.
What Type Of Therapist Do You Need?
Knowing what you’re actually looking for in a therapist is the first step. According to WebMD:
Psychiatrists: “Doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of mental or psychiatric illnesses. They have medical training and are licensed to prescribe drugs. They are also trained in psychotherapy, or ‘talk’ therapy, which aims to change a person’s behaviors or thought patterns.”
Psychologists: “Doctoral degree (PhD or PsyD) experts in psychology. They study the human mind and human behavior and are also trained in counseling, psychotherapy, and psychological testing—which can help uncover emotional problems you may not realize you have.”
In other words, psychiatrists have medical training and can prescribe medication. Psychologists can’t prescribe you stuff. You might not need to see a psychiatrist, depending on what you’re going for.
Mental Health Counselor: Intimidated by a psychologist or psychiatrist? There are other options out there. Mental health counselors usually hold at least a master’s degree and can help guide you through a sh*tty job or relationship. (Just make sure the person you’re seeing is licensed and ask about their education.) They’re also required by state law to have at least 3,000 hours of post-master’s experience related to counseling, so it isn’t just, say, someone like me with no formal schooling giving you life advice that may or may not be terrible.
Social Worker: Yeah, so, social workers aren’t just the people who come to take people’s kids away when CPS gets called, as Law & Order: SVU help people copemay have led you to believe. They can also with issues in their lives, including—you guessed it—mental health issues.
There are also addiction counselors, religious counselors, family and marriage counselors, and more. Basically, no matter what type of professional you choose, make sure they have state licensing, postgraduate degree(s), clinical experience, and see if they have any published articles. That way you know they’re legit.
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Take Names And Make Lists
Some insurance may cover a few sessions with a therapist, but many won’t. But, either way, your insurance should have a list of accepted providers that you can look through which should help narrow down your search from just Googling “how to find a therapist in my area”. You can find that list of providers by either going online and logging in (if your insurance company has an online portal, which most should, given that it’s 2019), or by calling them and asking for it. You can also call area universities’ psychology and psychiatry departments and ask around. Ask for referrals from friends and family, if you’re comfortable; don’t forget to put feelers out to area hospitals and clinics, who know a ton of these people. The most important thing, though, is not to try and bargain hunt for a therapist via Craigsist or street flyers. (I don’t know if people actually do that, I’m just saying.) Also, even though it seems tempting, don’t just choose the cheapest person. Treat your mental health like you’d treat the health of any other body part. You wouldn’t go to some back-alley, part-time doctor with an online degree for a broken leg, would you? Probs not. So don’t do that with your therapist, either.
Know What To Expect
Once you’ve narrowed down who you want to see and when you want to see them, it’s helpful to know what exactly to expect during that first meeting. Are you going to have a miraculous breakthrough and never need therapy ever again? Probably not—and that’s fine (and also kind of the point of therapy anyway). Therapists of all kinds may employ different tactics depending on your issues. There are three common types of treatment your therapist may use:
CBT: CBT, or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, is, according to Real Simple,”the most research-backed treatment for anxiety disorders and depression. It’s based partly on the idea that distorted thinking is a main cause of mental distress.” So basically, if you’re heading to see a therapist because you’re feeling down and generally depressed, a therapist using CBT will ask you about certain situations then identify the negative/sh*tty thoughts you have about yourself. If you’re thinking, “I don’t have a boyfriend because I’m fat/have adult acne” your therapist will pinpoint those thoughts and help you flip them into something like “I don’t have a boyfriend because I’M A STRONG INDEPENDENT WOMAN WHO ISN’T AFRAID TO INHALE PIZZA.” (I paraphrase; I am not a doctor.) If you’re dealing with anxiety, a therapist using CBT usually uses exposure therapy, i.e. making you do or face the thing you hate/are scared of.
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ACT: According to Real Simple, “If your therapist recommends Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) … you’ll likely learn various mindfulness techniques and exercises. ACT patients are taught to notice and accept challenging thoughts and feelings.” So instead of focusing on the anxiety/pain/substance you’re abusing, a therapist treating you with ACT therapy will have you use mental focus and exercises to accept that you think that way and adjust your actions accordingly.
DBT: DBT aka Dialectical Behavior Therapy is “an in-depth treatment that combines CBT with other approaches and addresses suicidal and self-harm behaviors, borderline personality disorders, eating disorders, and substance abuse problems,” according to Real Simple. This is obviously for more serious cases, but it works to have you focus on your specific problem—say, an eating disorder—then understand how your personal experiences have shaped/influenced you acting that particular way. Obviously, it’s a lot more in-depth and science-y than that, but this is me, your friendly Betches writer, trying to explain it to you, k?
More than likely, your therapist will use one of the above if you’re dealing with depression and/or anxiety. Of course, they’ll also be a sounding board for anything else going on.
After your visit, be sure to ask yourself how you feel. Are your comfortable with your therapist? Do you feel like they’re really listening? Are they asking lots of questions? Are they giving really good or really sh*tty advice? It’s important to know that finding a therapist is a lot like dating or looking for a job—you might not click with the first one you see. And that’s okay! It’s super important to have good chemistry with your therapist and feel like you can trust them. If you don’t like the first person you visit, don’t write off therapy altogether. Go back to the drawing board and find a different one.
No matter who you choose on your therapy journey, recognize that the most important part of this whole thing is you and how you feel. We’re rooting for you, we’re all rooting for you!
Images: Verne Ho / Unsplash; dietstartstomorrow / Instagram