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    The Best At-Home Valentine’s Day Plans

    No matter if you’re newly dating, recently single, have been in an LTR relationship for a decade, or if the longest relationship you’ve ever had is with your work wife, Valentine’s Day is historically stressful. Pricey menus, overbooked restaurants, or the shame of being single? No, thank you. And don’t get me started on that awkward phase when you just started seeing each other and aren’t sure if you’re at the buying-presents level or if you should keep it casual (for reference, I started dating my boyfriend around Valentine’s Day years ago. He got me a nice bracelet, and I got him a joke golf ball holder that looked like a pile of poop).It’s true: Valentine’s Day can kind of suck. But not this year! We’ve dealt with a hellish 10+ months and a crazy increase in stress, so we all deserve a little extra love on February 14. No matter what your relationship status says on Facebook, here are the best at-home plans to make your Valentine’s Day stress-free, enjoyable, and special. Overpriced restaurant menus and depressing nights alone need not apply.

    Order a hosting box to upgrade your night in
    If you’re looking to make your night special but don’t have the time (or energy) to figure out how, why not order everything you need straight to your door? Pass the Salt elevates your night in by delivering a box based on your needs and your night. Complete with seasonal cocktail fixings, tablescape accents, conversation-starters to help you reconnect, a playlist to set the mood, and an on-theme movie night rec in case your date night turns into movie night (it always does, right?). The best part? Pass the Salt works with small artisan brands and family-run companies, so not only will your date night in be filled with unique accents and interesting pieces that no one else has, but you’ll feel good about what you buy. Your significant other will be so impressed! 

     
    Have a picnic
    Because what’s more worthy of a romantic holiday than a picnic? If it’s warm where you live, enjoy the weather by spreading a picnic blanket in the backyard or nearby park, and enjoy dinner (and a bottle of wine) sitting under the stars. And if you live by a beach, lake, or forest? Even better. If it’s too cold outside, DIY your own picnic by lying a blanket on the floor in the living room. Make it extra cozy with a lit fire or candles, and enjoy a romantic evening that will feel more special than your average night in. If you’re long-distance, mail your partner candles, order pizza on Postmates (for both of you), and send over a Zoom link so you can have the same experience together from miles away.
     
    Relive one of your favorite trips
    After almost a year of staying at home, Valentine’s Day might feel like just another milestone cooped up at home. The answer? Bring vacation to you. If you had a magnifique trip to France a couple of years ago, look through pictures, play French music, and cook some croque monsieurs. If you were planning on taking a beach trip this year that got canceled, make some piña coladas and put on a sundress. You can also recreate the trip you’ve always wanted to take together: make sushi if you’ve both been dreaming of visiting Japan, or set up a DIY poker table to transport yourselves to Las Vegas. And if you’re in different locations this year, reminiscing about experiences and reliving happy memories will make your Facetime date feel more special. 
     
    Recreate your favorite restaurant or hotel at home
    Do you miss fancy date nights out? Get takeout from your favorite date-night restaurant (bonus points for supporting local businesses), or mix it up by ordering a few different kinds of food for a buffet of all your favorites (eggplant parmesan and spicy tuna rolls? Yes, please!). Light candles and get out a nice table cloth to create a romantic atmosphere. Make it extra special by dressing up in nice clothes or even just spritzing on your nice perfume. You’ll feel like you’re at a fancy restaurant, but without the expensive prices and sometimes weird food (who likes escargot, like really?). Oh, and if you miss romantic sleepovers at hotels, change your sheets, hang up fancy robes in the closet, and leave all distractions outside of the bedroom. 

    Create your own spa experience
    Breakups are never easy, especially when the month of love comes along to remind you. The fix? Put all your energy and love into self-care with an at-home spa experience. First, set the atmosphere. Dim the lights, light candles, diffuse essential oils, turn on relaxing music, and put on a cozy robe. Stock up on all the luxurious products you love, whether it’s a CBD bath bomb or a high-quality hair mask, and get ready for a full day of pampering. Take a bath, indulge in dry brushing or exfoliating, give yourself a facial massage for relaxation and de-puffing, and finish off with a manicure or pedicure in your favorite color. End the night with a glass of champagne or a cup of tea.

    Have breakfast in bed
    Sure, breakfast in bed is typically for mornings, but why not make it a nighttime thing? Breakfast for dinner is always fun (scrambled eggs, anyone?), and eating it in bed (with a mimosa or two) will feel like you’re at a luxurious hotel or on vacation. Trust me, you’ll be thrilled you don’t have to go out for date night when you’re relaxing in pajamas, eating pancakes, and bingeing Sex and the City for five hours straight (without anyone telling you to change the channel). 

    Do all your favorite traditions for yourself
    If you love typically love Valentine’s Day, carry on with all the same traditions. But this year, dedicate the traditions to the most worthy relationship: the one you have with yourself. Buy yourself your favorite flowers, indulge in a fancy box of chocolates, or treat yo’ self to that splurge item you’ve been wanting. Write yourself a love letter, cook your favorite meal, and light some candles for some romantic NSFW time (thank god you don’t need two people to orgasm, am I right?). While it may sound cheesy and feel silly, spending the money, time, and energy on yourself that you would normally spend on someone else will remind you that self-love is truly the best kind.

    DIY a wine and paint night
    Wine and painting classes are all the rage these days, so why not recreate them from the comfort of your own home? Order some cheap canvases and paint supplies online, look up a Youtube video for step-by-step painting, and pour a couple of glasses of wine for your friends. You’ll have a lot of fun, get your creativity on, and maybe even come away with new portraits to hang up in your homes (or you’ll laugh at how bad they turned out, but either way, it will be a great time). 

    Host a tasting
    Since you can’t take a girl’s trip to Napa Valley this year, bring Napa Valley to you. Host a simple wine tasting by sampling a few local wines (#supportlocalbusinesses), or get more detailed with cheese or chocolate pairings. Don’t forget an Insta-worthy cheese board, which is always a crowd-pleaser. And if you want to step up your game, create cards for the titles or origins of each wine, the different notes in each sample, and what foods they pair well with (so bougie). If beer or whiskey is more your friend group’s style, sample a few different types for a DIY flight. Pair with pretzels and beer cheese or takeout from your favorite brewery. This is your important reminder that a box of chocolates pairs well with just about any alcohol. 

    Bring the sports bar to you
    If your group of friends is more the “screw Valentine’s Day” type, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have fun on February 14. Forget the fancy foods and elegant wine; opt for something a little more casual and enjoyable by turning your home into your favorite local sports bar (every friend group has one). Turn on a pre-recorded game, ESPN Sports Center, or any past-season highlights to set the scene. Grab some beers and make (or order) all of your favorite bar appetizers like wings, pizza, or onion rings. If the night breaks out into a game of good old-fashioned beer pong, we’d call you genius. Loungewear attire required. 

    Have a party for one
    Because you don’t need to have company over to have a dinner party, plan a special night in for just you. Hang up string lights, make some mini appetizers, pop the nice champagne, turn on jazz music, and dress up in your favorite dinner-party attire. Why should you dress up your home (and your OOTD) just for other people? After all, celebrating yourself is the best possible occasion to bring out the nice silverware. Oh, and if your idea of a “party” looks more like beer kegs and loud music, why not throw one at home for yourself? A beer keg might be excessive (no judgment, either way), but pour yourself a cold beer, turn on the playlist that makes you want to dance, and snack on your favorite party food. Rager for one, please!

    Movie marathon
    For a special night at home, don’t settle for the same Netflix show you watch every night (Bridgerton can wait until tomorrow). Switch it up by planning a special movie marathon. Watch as many movies as you can get through of your favorite franchise like Harry Potter or Star Wars, or pick a genre you love (’80s teen movies or historical dramas are both classic choices). Get all your favorite movie snacks, put your phone away, and snuggle up in your coziest sweats for a movie marathon. The best part about being solo with no one else to disturb you is that you can fantasize about Mr. Darcy, John Cusack, or Gal Gadot all night long (whatever tickles your fancy). 
     
    Create a self-love night
    Not to sound like a broken record, but the most worthy kind of love is self-love, whether it’s Valentine’s Day or not. Spend February 14 getting to know yourself, wooing yourself, caring for yourself, and prioritizing yourself. Plan out a schedule in advance of all the things you want to do to practice self-love. For example, revisit a childhood hobby, make a playlist of all your favorite songs, create a vision board, make a list of what you love most about yourself, cook an indulgent meal you love, and watch your favorite movie. For some more reflective self-love, try journaling prompts dedicated to getting to know yourself better, or squeeze in as many activities as you can from our Self-Love Challenge. 

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    You Don’t Need a Better Half—and This Is Why

    We’ve all seen it, whether in someone else or in ourselves: a woman (or man) falls in love and, somewhere along the way, forgets themselves and fades into half a person. Someway, somehow, the wants and needs of another human being becomes more important than their own. They disappear into themselves or, more accurately, disappears into the new romance, not to return until the initial sense of magic fades.Falling head-over-heels in love is an exhilarating and exciting feeling, one that’s all too easy to get caught up in whenever we’re lucky enough to recognize the sensation. But while love and partnership can be amazing if you want to have those things, they should never come at the cost of your own sense of self.
    We are a generation raised on the words: “You complete me.” Romantic movies and media have shaped the way we regard and celebrate love. We see the language everywhere: Other half, better half, soulmate. In this world, love is seen not just as a wonderful part of life, but an achievement necessary to reach a level of full, complete humanity.

    We are a generation raised on the words: You complete me.

    Frankly, I hate this idea. You don’t need a “better half” because you are not half of a person. You are a whole person. A healthy relationship isn’t made of two broken, incomplete halves becoming one. It’s made of two wholes, both fully formed with their own plans and dreams and ideas, choosing to navigate the world together. And here’s the kicker: holding on to yourself after falling in love won’t just make you happier down the line—it will also make you a better, more honest partner.
    I’ll be the first to confirm that staying in a successful, working marriage is more difficult work than any job I’ve ever had. The people my husband and I were when we married five years ago are not the people we are now, and we’ve had growing pains as our new goals and plans shifted us together in some ways, and apart in others.

    Holding on to yourself after falling in love won’t just make you happier down the line—it will also make you a better, more honest partner.

    Long-term commitment is never easy, and it’s compounded by the fact that, in the early stages of a relationship, we work really hard to make it look like it is. In those magical first few months and years when your partner can do no wrong, we ignore personality traits that will bother us later (and disguise our own bad habits that will later reemerge), put our own goals on hold to make more time for our partners, and generally change ourselves in ways that make for really blissful short-term relationships and really difficult long-term ones.
    Remaining fearlessly ourselves: the good, the bad, the trying-to-untangle-headphones-while-you’re-in-a-rush ugly, might scare off more than a few potential partners who never would have worked out anyway. It might make the initial phases of dating scarier and more vulnerable, and it might make it seem more difficult to find someone special in the first place. But then you can rest easy knowing that the ones who stick around are the ones who are truly compatible with the real you.

    Source: Polina Tankilevitch | Pexels

    Some things to remember:

    1. Remember your goals
    While it’s natural for your goals to fluctuate and change as you re-envision a shared future with someone else, remember that it’s OK (and necessary) to have goals that extend outside of your relationship. You owe it to yourself not to get complacent after settling down.

    2. Make family and friends a priority
    When you start a new relationship, it’s too easy to leave your family and friends in the dust. As you start seeing someone new, double your effort to maintain connections with loved ones. Ask yourself, “Am I saying ‘no’ to them more than ‘yes’?”

    3. Have your own hobbies
    You don’t need to have everything in common with your partner. I will repeat: you don’t need to have everything in common with your partner. You might like reading while he or she prefers video games. You might be an outdoor person while he or she likes staying inside. Sure, these things can help you determine if you’re truly compatible or not, but it’s perfectly healthy for aspects of your lives and interests to exist independently from one another. It’s far more important to be honest and supportive of each other than it is for you to both like camping. I promise.

    Do you change at all when you start a relationship or is this a non-issue? Start a discussion in the comments! More

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    What Is Your Attachment Style and How Is It Affecting Your Relationships?

    Picture this: after the 1,000th swipe on Tinder, you meet someone who seems to have some potential. They’re a good conversationalist, consider themselves a dog person, and want to go on a real date in a well-lit public spot (so you know they’re not a serial killer). After getting to know them more, they mention future plans like traveling together or meeting their sister when she comes into town. The romantic montage is basically forming itself! But then they stop responding and before you know it, it’s been weeks without even a text.Or perhaps you’ve been the one making future plans and do feel genuinely interested, but then realize it’s moving too fast and ghost before you get in any deeper. Maybe the situation that rings a bell for you is more like being in relationship after relationship, each with jealousy issues or a lack of intimacy. Whatever your dating life looks like and whichever rom-com it resembles least, there is probably one root cause of your problems.
    “Love,” or even “relationship,” does not look the same to all of us. We each have a specific type of attachment that determines how we love and how we accept love. Sounds nice, right? But the problem is that all the different types end up swimming (or drowning) in the dating pool together, and somehow, we still wonder why relationships don’t work out. Knowing your attachment style (and dating accordingly) can not only change your relationships, but can change your life.

    What is an attachment style?
    The Attachment Theory is an area of psychology that describes emotional attachment in relationships (not just romantic relationships, but connection between all people). While there are categories and lots of online quizzes, it’s different than Enneagram or Myers-Briggs because it takes into account childhood and past experiences, which determine how we interact with others in the present. The theory comes from two researchers, John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth, who found that the way infants get their needs met by their parents significantly contributes to their nature of attachment in relationships for the rest of their lives (crazy, right!?). 
    If you’re currently racking your brain to remember what infancy was like, don’t stress. There are quizzes for that (I like this one). While its origins are focused on the parent-child relationship, I also think that any relationship can affect your attachment style, whether it was a sibling relationship, friendship, or a romantic relationship. Your attachment style doesn’t explain everything about your relationships, but it may explain why you gravitate toward certain people and which problems consistently come up in your love life.

    The Four Styles of Attachment

    Secure

    So you have a secure attachment type? Lucky you. You’re comfortable displaying affection to loved ones, and you feel confident in both your romantic relationships and friendships. You have probably been able to accept rejection and move on, labeling it as a matter of incompatibility instead of a fault. You easily depending on people, whether it’s a romantic partner, a best friend, or your sister, and find it easy to get emotionally close to others. When conflict does come up (because it always does), you don’t shut down or react with anxiety. FYI, being the secure type doesn’t mean you haven’t faced hardships or trauma in your life, but it does mean that your emotions were validated and needs were met in your past, which made a strong, lasting impression.

    Anxious Attachment 

    If you can imagine from the name, the anxious attachment type means you feel anxiety in your relationships (self-explanatory, right?). You’re probably living in fear that your relationship will end, or your partner doesn’t care about you anymore, or maybe you don’t like being alone. Anxious types also have trouble trusting people (even people they’re close to), but rely on exterior validation. Think of Gigi from He’s Just Not That Into You: she calls 10 times in a row, focuses more on what the guy thinks of her than what she thinks of him, and feels devastated by every breakup and rejection (side note: no shame in Gigi’s game. We’ve all been Gigi, TBH). But traits of the anxious attachment can also be controlling or manipulative too, like regularly snooping through your partner’s phone or putting your friends down so you feel better about yourself. 

    Avoidant Attachment

    The avoidant attachment type can be represented in another rom-com cliché: the heroine who is completely closed off to love (until the right person comes along, of course: Amanda Woods from The Holiday, Sara from Hitch, Julianne from My Best Friend’s Wedding… need I say more?). Avoidant types are independent, not very emotional, and typically commitment-phobic. You get cold feet often or might be a serial ghoster. You want to be alone when you’re feeling down, and prefer not to talk about your emotions with others (even those close to you). In romantic relationships, you might feel like your partner is trying to control you, or want to leave when you feel yourself getting too attached. Even in heated situations, you’re able to turn off your emotions and not react. Your go-to response during tough conversations might be “I don’t care,” “fine,” or “whatever.” 

    Anxious-Avoidant Attachment

    Anxious-avoidant attachment types are a combination of the previous two types (again, self-explanatory). You might be afraid of commitment, but can also lash out and feel anxious about anyone who gets close to you. You probably suppress emotions (or choose not to share with loved ones), but can have emotional outbursts when under stress or if emotions build up. You probably want to be close to someone, but don’t believe that the other person wants to be close to you. In other words, it’s not that you avoid intimacy because you don’t want it (like avoidant attachment types); you avoid intimacy because you think whoever gets close will hurt you.

    How your attachment style affects your relationships
    Opposites don’t always attract; we’re more likely drawn to people that are the same type. A relationship that’s avoidant or anxious on both sides replicates the patterns you’re used to, or maybe you think those behaviors are normal in relationships. You might even define love with anxious attachment tendencies, or feel less safe if someone isn’t as emotionally avoidant as you are (vulnerability is hard!).
    Not only does your attachment style affect your relationships, but your relationships can affect your attachment style. If you were in a toxic relationship, it might have made you untrusting, overly cautious, or insecure. Likewise, a bad friendship may have left you unable to be vulnerable in future ones. So while it’s possible to change your attachment style by being in relationships with people that help you feel safe and secure, work must be done on your own to change your adjustment style and attract secure relationships to you.

    How to change your attachment style
    If you’re feeling both seen and doomed to a life of less-than-great relationships, don’t stress. Even if you’ve had the same attachment style for as long as you can remember, it does not mean you’re destined to keep it. The mind adapts when new ways of thinking are acknowledged and practiced. If you’re an anxious type, prioritize self-love and surround yourself with people who lift you up. If you’re more of an avoidant type, challenge yourself to open up more. Call your mom to vent after a tough day at work, tell a personal story on a first date, ask friends for advice, and become curious instead of judgmental about everyone you meet. Also, seek out secure friendships, coworkers, and partners; they’ll help you learn trust, vulnerability, or even love. For any attachment style, therapy can also be helpful.
    In the end, unlearning attachment styles must start with self-compassion. Even if your attachment style isn’t serving you now, you only adapted it because it served you at some point in your life. When you were younger, your attachment style kept you safe, prevented you from getting hurt, and helped you prioritize your emotional wellbeing. But as an adult, your attachment style might not be serving you and could even be preventing you from forming healthy, meaningful, and fulfilling relationships. Appreciate what your attachment style has done for you, feel empathy for the little girl it was trying to protect, and then choose to change.

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    10 Ways to Up Your Dating Game in 2021

    Dating is always tough to navigate: what do you text back, who pays the check, and why is it so hard to meet normal people!? But dating during lockdown is a whole new set of difficulties: the old rules of dating no longer apply, our go-to date spots are closed, and we totally forgot how to do our makeup (nope, just me?). But lockdown or not, you deserve a fulfilling life, fun ways to meet new people, and to actually enjoy dating (because no one should have Charlotte’s dating exhaustion). 

    We all say it every year, but 2021 can truly be the year you reach all of your goals (#newyearnewme, right?). No matter what’s going on in the world, this year can be a golden opportunity if you’re looking for love (or, you know, just looking to go on dates that don’t suck). Here are 10 ways to not only date in 2021, but to totally up your dating game, achieve a fulfilling love life, and find a happy relationship (no matter how serious you’re looking for). Read on for romantic success by 2022:

    1. Appreciate how dating is different now
    Maybe you’re getting Zoom-date fatigue, or maybe you’ve kept your dating life on hold since the stay-at-home order hit. However, a global pandemic and social distancing restrictions don’t have to harm your love life. In fact, they could even be beneficial. For example, dating during a pandemic means focusing on an emotional connection first, since the physical connection and new-relationship excitement isn’t possible. You can get to know who someone is without spending time and energy doing the actual dating. Slower connections are a new kind of intimacy (plus it’s more foreplay, you know?), unsexy topics like who pays the bill is off the table (literally), and staying at home is an opportunity to get to know each other with fewer distractions. In other words, 2021 brings a lot of potential for your love life–not in spite of the pandemic, but because of it. 

    2. Keep all options open
    Many of us have this idea that we need a movie-worthy meet-cute when finding a soulmate. But closing yourself off to any meeting that isn’t locking eyes across a crowded bar or running into a long-forgotten high school sweetheart from back home (Hallmark Channel style) limits your chances. And during a lockdown? Your chances are next to nothing. Despite what Hollywood has us believe, we can meet worthwhile people anywhere. You could meet your ideal partner over a Zoom meeting, at an online singles event, in an elevator, at the park walking your dog, or yes, on a dating app. The more options you keep open, the higher your chances of meeting people that you’ll enjoy being around. Instead of a “meet-cute,” try to find the dating apps or methods that feel right for you, and be open to any possibility.

    Source: @ashbegash

    3. Be ready for “the talk”
    No, not the “seeing other people” talk, or even the STD talk (although I urge you to have those conversations as well). I’m talking about the global pandemic talk. It may be awkward, but being on the same page about COVID safety and social distancing practices is crucial to make dating safe and enjoyable. Make sure you’re connecting with people who are taking the same safety precautions that you are and be open and honest about what you’re comfortable with. If an in-person date is on the table, let them know exactly how you’re staying safe, and what you expect from them to feel safe being together.
    As weird as the conversation might feel, one of the good things about dating in a pandemic is that you have to be more intentional and selective about who you spend your time with. Having an open and honest dialogue not only keeps you safe and worry-free, but lays the foundation for a trustworthy relationship. 

    4. Forget prerequisites
    Many of us have extensive prerequisite checklists before even considering going on a first date. Maybe you want someone who is exactly like you, whether it’s interests, religion, or background. Maybe you’re not looking twice at people who have a certain dating history, are over a certain age, or own a cat (because you’re way more of a dog person). 
    While shared values are crucial and compatibility is often determined by similarities, try getting to know someone before making assumptions based on your prerequisites. The only “prerequisites” you need are your non-negotiable values, like kindness, integrity, and humor. Otherwise, base opinions on how you feel, not off of a checklist. Pay attention to the person in front of you, and try not to project a narrative or assign meaning to traits before you even know the person. Ask questions, and genuinely care about why someone is the way they are before determining whether or not they are for you.

    Source: @missenocha

    5. Cut it off with the “maybes,” already!
    Do you have an ex that has been hanging around for years, or a f*ckboy that’s been messing with your head? What about those people you text when you’re feeling lonely or bored, or who you think you might be interested in someday (keyword: might)? I call these people the “maybes:” the exes, previous dates, and “it’s complicated” relationships that didn’t work out the first time around, but you keep their number in your phone “just in case,” or are hoping something will change.
    There’s a lot of reasons we stick around with people we know are not good for us. Maybe they’re a security blanket, maybe we’re lonely, or maybe we’re seeking external approval. But no matter the reason the wrong person is in your life, as soon as you realize they’re not the one for you, that should be the end of it, not the beginning of the end. Now, if you have a friend with benefits (you don’t have feelings for) or love flirty-texting that hot coworker, you do you, girl. But those people you go to out of loneliness, comfortability, or insecurity? They’re just holding you back. Know what you deserve, be honest with yourself, and don’t settle. Bonus tip: unfollow on social media. Just do it!

    7. Visualize your best self
    Dating highlights our biggest insecurities: we overanalyze what we say over text or Tinder, try on 15 different outfits (even if the date is just on Zoom), and maybe even expect the worst and prepare to be ghosted or for the date to go bad. Sound familiar? To cure pre-date anxieties, try visualizing the best version of yourself. Are you confident, comfortable, or friendly? How would the most confident you act on this date? What would you wear? Would you even care about what you wear? Remind yourself that you are the catch that your date is trying to impress, not the other way around. Even if you don’t feel confident or calm, the simple act of visualizing your best self can help you relax, and enjoy the date instead of getting in your head.

    Source: @missalexlarosa

    6. Remember that “no” is not a dirty word
    In fact, it’s one of the most important words in your dating vocabulary. Especially as women, we’re taught to be likable and easy-going on dates, and we focus more on how to be liked than whether or not we actually like them (but more on that below). You know what we should vow to end in 2021? Going on dates we’re not excited about, texting back people we don’t like, or not vocalizing what we want and need in our relationships to protect other people’s egos. Overall, let’s work on saying “no” when we want to say no. Compromise and empathy are crucial in relationships, but so is respect for each other’s wants and needs. Communicating what you don’t want should be just as easy as what you do. If it’s not, this person doesn’t respect you or care about you as much as they say they do. Thank you, next.

    7. Use alone time to your advantage
    While 2020 was a lonely year for many of us, being alone has allowed us to turn inward, explore our truest desires, and get to know ourselves better. When we know ourselves and what we want, our dating lives become more fulfilling, successful, and fun. Think about it: we’ve grown a lot, started new hobbies or hustles, and got to know our likes and dislikes in 2020. Even an abundance of alone time can be invested to understand what we want out of a partner. Plus, scary times make people crave connection, and hitting pause on all normalcy helps you let go of the habits, traits, or dating rules that are no longer serving you. Not only have you been subconsciously preparing yourself for a more successful dating life, but any potential partners have too.

    8. Ditch outdated rules
    Let me go on a quick tangent about a few outdated dating rules that we really should ditch, like, yesterday. To start, my least favorite of all dating rules are “don’t kiss on the first date” and the “three-date rule.” Let’s just throw out any rules that imply that what you want to do with your body, and when you want to do it, is not up to you. Make your own rules based on comfortability and what you’re feeling. 
    Next up: playing hard to get or waiting for the other person to make the first move. Besides outdated gender roles, these “rules” come from the idea that whoever cares less in the relationship is the one who has the most power. But should love be about power? It’s OK to care; we’re supposed to care about each other. So what does it matter if you “come on too strong” or “care more?” Be true to your feelings and what you want. Oh, and making the first move can save us a lot of time wondering if they like us back. It’s 2021: we’re starting side hustles, prioritizing our health, and smashing glass ceilings. Ain’t nobody got time to wait around for a phone call. 

    Source: @cmcoving

    9. Focus on finding out what you want
    Dating is supposed to be about finding what you want, not becoming what someone else wants. Some people will like you and some people won’t. Whether or not someone wants to pursue a relationship or a second date with you has nothing to do with how likable you are, but has to do with compatibility. And I think we can all agree there are many people we wouldn’t mind being incompatible with. Prioritize what you want in a partner by making a list of non-negotiable qualities or values you want, and stop yourself from getting caught up in what a relationship or person could be. Instead, ask yourself if you genuinely enjoy each person you’re talking to, and whether or not they deserve you. 

    10. Know that dating is supposed to be enjoyable (and stop if it isn’t)
    Repeat after me: dating should be fun. It should not feel forced, boring, painful, or sad. If it’s not enjoyable, you’re either putting too much pressure on each date, feeling self-conscious about dating, or focusing on the wrong things. Remember that dating is not intended to have only one outcome. Every experience–whether it’s a Zoom date, Tinder conversation, or a few months of dating–brings you closer to clarity.
    The purpose of going on dates, talking to new people, and opening yourself up to meet someone new is not to feed your ego, affirm insecurities, or to find a soulmate ASAP. The purpose is to collect information that will bring you closer to a happy, fulfilling life, and to have a good time along the way. Bottom line: it should be fun meeting new people, whether or not a second date follows (yes, really!). If it’s not, take a break from dating to reflect on what you’re really looking for in your dating life.
     
    How are you updating your dating game this year? More

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    How to Keep Your Sex Life Alive During a Dry Spell

    Through most of quarantine, I’ve kept my social distance. In fact, I’ve kept too much of a distance because I’ve not had nearly as much sex as I’d like. This era of contact isolation precautions has led me into a season of what I affectionately call: vaginal depression. Vaginal depression is what happens when you’re not getting any. Signs and symptoms include not feeling particularly sexy, unable to get aroused by any of the recurring penises in your phone, and/or overgrown pubic hair that’s grown into something oddly similar to a bush.Yeah, I think most of us have experienced vaginal depression at least once in our lives. I was on a slow downward spiral into my vaginal woes when I decided to take charge of my sexless life and do something about it. Here’s what rebalanced my hormones, turned me on, and made my vagina happy. 

    1. Take a trip down memory lane
    When I was going through my imagination searching for “inspiration” for my “me time,” I really thought about what was it that I enjoyed by the sex I was most inspired by. Often times, sex is a lot of kiss here, touch there, rub this, lick that, and then someone moans and before you know it, sex is over. What I realized when I thought back on some intimate moments is that I enjoyed being rubbed sensually and often. I enjoyed lovers who were vocal and complimented me before, during, and after sex. I love a good performance review, honey! Seriously, taking the time to think about what actually turned me on about the experiences that came to mind helped me to learn more about what I really like, what actually turns me on, and what types of partners I need to ensure I’m involving myself with. 

    2. Get hands-on
    Alright, people with vaginas! Now is the time to pull out those toys, those fingers, a mirror, and whatever you feel you need. When you’re in a sexless era, it could be the perfect time to explore your body a little bit more. It’s great to let your lover do some exploration, but don’t cheat yourself out of a good time. When you’re sans partner, you can use that time to get to know your body a bit better and not just in a sexual sense. I attended an event recently that focused on sex and sensuality. To my surprise, many women were not familiar with their own anatomy. Some didn’t know the difference between their vulva and vagina. Can you find your labia minora? Where is your clitoris? Our private area shouldn’t be this thing we tuck away until it’s someone else’s turn to have their way with it. We aren’t Barbie dolls; our private area isn’t some nebulous plastic region that we birth babies out of. It’s a beautiful part of our bodies that we should learn more about. 

    3. Turn yourself on
    Hey, like I said before when I go through bouts of vaginal depression, I feel anything other than sexy. I don’t feel ugly, but I don’t feel sexy and sensual as much as I usually do. Vaginal depression can rob even the sexiest, most confident of us from feeling our best, so it’s important to be intentional about turning ourselves on. Take a trip to a local sex store (online or in-person) to see what toys, gidgets, and gadgets pique your curiosity or make you feel good. My go-to thing to do is to buy cute lingerie or underwear. I feel so sexy when I look delicious. Toss out the period panties for a spell and throw on some lace undies. Don’t be so practical with your desires. Try things you never thought you would. Maybe you’re into whips, chains, and other things that excite you (word to Rihanna), but you just don’t know it. Buy some new toys (I personally recommend a glass dildo, but that’s neither here nor there). See if you’d like to incorporate feathers, massage oils, or ball gags into your sex sesh.

    4. Reevaluate your partners
    Ok, so this may be a lot harder, but after thinking on what you enjoy and what you may need from your sexual partner or experience, it may be time to reflect on what type of people you’re actually having sex with. Do you want to make love or just make out? Do you want meaningless sex, or do you need something a little more intimate? Going at sex alone is important, but sharing your sexual self with someone should come with some level of consideration, especially if you’re opening yourself up to some new experiences. Are your current partner(s) able to satisfy you in the way you want? Are they willing to learn and explore with you? Do you think they’ll kink shame you out of a good time? All of these are questions worth asking. 

    What I learned is that your “dry season” doesn’t have to be a season of vaginal depression like it has been. You can enjoy your sex life with or without a partner. In some ways, your sex life may be better without a partner because it’ll give you time to focus on yourself, your desires, and your needs. Sex isn’t a performance, but it’s an experience. Don’t allow your dry season to leave you hot and bothered. You can have just as much fun by yourself. Now, pull out your vibrator, your mirror, and get to work. More