Self Care/ Self Date

I’ve noticed that the older I get, the more I enjoy my own company. Even if I am in a relationship. And for some reason, I have found that some people think this is a bad idea. “What do you mean, you want to spend time alone? You have someone in your life now!” But why does that mean I can’t enjoy my own personal time and space? Many blogs, articles and therapists will tell you that while you are in the dating pool of single life, that it is also important to show yourself love and date yourself. Go out on your own, buy yourself gifts, give yourself the attention you would want from a partner. I argue that, that same attention should be done when you are in a relationship, too.

Remember, all the things you would do on a Saturday when you were single? Perhaps they have changed now that you are with someone, but they don’t need to. Just because you have now become a “WE” doesn’t mean you have to lose the “ME”. A few days ago, I took myself out to lunch, got a pedicure, did some shopping and bought myself some flowers. And the whole time I thought, “Why don’t I do this more often?” Sometimes we feel guilty not spending time with our partner. As if to say, that we should only want to do things together as a couple. But you have to remember, that you had a flourishing life before your significant other came into it.

It is important to note that this potential solo time or self date, is something that can also help your relationship. Have you ever thought that maybe your partner shares some of your interests out of love, but maybe doesn’t want to engage in them all of the time? Believe it or not, this can be a good thing. It allows you to enjoy the things you love, without your partner growing resentful in an effort to appease you. Not to mention, time apart can be a good thing. Maybe there is a movie you really want to see that he could care less about. Our a restaurant you know she wouldn’t like. Take yourself out on a date and enjoy that time on your own.

I recently came across a TikTok by a woman who took the suggestion of going to a bar alone, in an attempt to find a guy who would be interested that she was out solo. She mentioned that she was disappointed because it didn’t work. I’ve done this often when I was single but took a different attitude. If you find someone, great. But how nice is it to enjoy living in your own space? Appreciating a great meal or a delicious cocktail?

The same can be said about solo dating while in a relationship. Go back to the things you enjoy doing on your own, but do it without guilt. The key of course is to let your partner understand the importance of this alone time. Never use it as a tactic in a fight. But rather explain that it is a key way to stay in touch with the person that you are who had her own desires and passions before you met them. You aren’t running away from the relationship, you are just taking care of yourself. And by doing so, you are being a better partner.

Yours, Mine…Ours?

When they say sharing is caring, what exactly do they mean? Of course I am all for sharing…to a certain extent. As an only child, I admit my selfish streak, still runs pretty thick. I am funny about sharing my food, booze has a special section on my side of the bar and by all means, keep your mouth off my toothbrush. But when it comes to most relationships, one of the most common topics of sharing comes in the form of money and bills. For a lot of couples, the conversation can be a tricky one. And for years, money has been one of the top causes of divorce. So how do you bring up the topic of what’s yours, mine and ours?

Be Honest

It seems simple, but it is probably the hardest thing to do. But you have to be honest with your partner about your role and their role in sharing financial responsibility. There may come a time where full transparency is needed, and that is where you both look at your finances together to come up with a plan. Also, be sure to state the expenses you are willing to share and those you are not. I would never expect my partner to take care of any of my personal cosmetic expenses like hair or nails, nor would I ask him to contribute. But kudos to you men who do like to spoil us like that.

Set Up a Money Date

I came across a cool TikTok by a couple who once a month sit down and discuss their money goals and their spending. It’s a great way to keep each other accountable and on track with your finances. This is also a great time to discuss any long term goals like retirement or upcoming vacations. Any individual or joint savings can also be discussed at this time. It’s important to know that planning for the future doesn’t have to be scary. Especially when you have a solid partner to plan your future with.

What’s Yours is Yours

Perhaps the most controversial topic related to money is the old idea of what’s yours is mine and what’s mine is ours. If you think about it, this worked really well for our parents and grandparents generation, but not so much any more. Where the workforce and upper management are increasingly ran by women, the times have changed where we depend on a male breadwinner. With that said, there needs to be a vocal approach to what each person brings in and where the responsibility lies for household needs. Now, I am not saying that sharing all assets right down the middle doesn’t work. Some couples have joint accounts and find great success in doing so. So keep in mind that every couple and every household is different.

Talk to a Financial Advisor

There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Sure your parents will give you great advice, but why not speak to someone who does this kind of work for a living? A financial advisor will be able to give you clear insight, tips and perhaps even ways to save you money, both as an individual and as a couple. Though an initial consultation may not be free, think of the fountain of knowledge you will gain by speaking to a professional.

At the end of the day, some of the best conversations to have in a relationship start as difficult ones. But with a plan, open communication and a united front, you and your partner will be able to tackle the topic of money head on and with confidence.

Setting Relationship Goals

With the start of each new year, we are quick to create goals for self improvement. But what about goals if you are in a relationship or building towards a relationship? Recently I spoke to my fiancé about setting weekly goals. Tasks that we want to accomplish for ourselves in the upcoming week. Then I thought of the importance of doing the same as a couple.

We went to a local restaurant and brainstormed on not only things we wanted to accomplish that week, but also things for the upcoming few months. It was great to bounce ideas off of each other. But there is also something to be said about setting clear goals within your relationship. So here are few questions to sit and discuss with your partner broken down to one week, three months and six month goals.

And if you do try this with your partner, please tell me how it helped.

Happy Goal Setting!

One Week Goals:

  • What is something that you have been putting off that I can help you with?
  • What is something new we can try this week?
  • What did you learn this week that helped you either personally or professionally?
  • When did I make you feel most loved?

Three Month Goals:

  • What has made you the most proud?
  • What do you need more of from me?
  • How can I motivate you?
  • How is our intimacy and what would you change?

Six Month Goals:

  • What are you afraid to tell me?
  • What does the next six month look like for us?
  • How much closer to your own dreams do you feel and how can I help?
  • How are we better than where we were six months ago?

Full Griswold…or “How to Not Let the Holidays Ruin Your Relationship.”

On a recent episode of our podcast “Break Bottles, Not Hearts” http://www.anchor.fm/desiree-simone1, we talked about the stress the holidays bring not only on ourselves but our relationships. Whether it’s your parents, siblings, work colleagues or your significant other, this time of year has a tendency to make us go “Full Griswold.”

Much like the lovable dad, Clark Griswold in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” we have the greatest of intentions when it comes to making a memorable holiday for the ones we love. But outside forces, sometimes far from our own control, conspire against us. So what do you do when this happens, and how can you prevent it from ruining this magical time of year?

  • Back away from the Turkey!: Or as I like to call it “A Reset”. One of the first stress factors during the holidays is the additional people in your personal space. Many of us do not have the luxury of a large home, so you are literally on top of each other. No wonder you want to punch your drunk cousin in the face. When this happens, back away. Simply remove yourself from the space. Take a walk, go for a drive, visit your local bar. Remove yourself for a time from the situation and try to remember, they won’t be there forever.
  • Taboo or Not Taboo: There are usually a few things that every family knows you can’t just bring up in conversation. From the cousin who always brings his “friend” to the political topic of the day, you may find some comfort in enforcing a Taboo Rule. Meaning, these are what we will not discuss in order for us all to enjoy a good meal. And if some people have a hard time obeying this rule, simply ignore them. Or in my case, be incredibly sarcastic. It’ll really pisses them off.
  • Keep it Small: Though you love your family and all 20 cousins, sometimes you don’t need to see them all. If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that a small gathering can be just as much fun, and less stress, than a big one. So even though borders are opening, your home can remain somewhat close. Keep your entertaining minimal to keep your fun at a maximum.
  • Just Say No: Ok, I will admit, this is a hard one for me. But when the time and the occasion call for it, “No” is a perfectly good response. “Can we bring the pasta salad?” No Shelia, you add raisins to it! “Will it be ok if we come two days earlier?” How about, No! You have 48 hours in my home and that includes entering and exiting. “Would you mind if…” No Karen! To whatever you are going to ask me. Sometimes in the interest of family and sanity, you have to put your foot down and say “No”. It doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you someone who wants to protect their piece.
  • Let the Classics remain the Classics: I was dating a guy a few years ago and I had this wonderful idea of making the most perfect Christmas for his family and mine. I had this insane notion because I grew up with such amazing memories around the holidays. But it wasn’t until I became an adult in a pseduo-healthy relationship, did I realize that those memories were the work of holiday geniuses far stronger than me. Women who had years of “Better Homes and Garden” conditioning that I could never live up to, who cleverly hid their stress under petticoats and Cognac. In other words, the age old idea of the “Picture Perfect Christmas” is just that…old. Let it die along with the pressures of feeling like you have to live up to your mother, his mother or your grandmothers expectations. It’s great to pass on those traditions that bring nostalgia, but I’m here to tell you that anxiety, shouldn’t be one of them.

At the end of the day, may your days be merry and bright. And may all your holidays end with wine!

The Sunken Place

I was 12 years old when I wrote my first suicide note and 31 when I wrote my last one. Yea, that happened. Both 12 year old me and 31 year old me had very different pain, that they tried desperately to hide from the world. Until, in their opinion, it was too much to bear. To say I have had to battle depression and anxiety, is an understatement. It is a battle I deal with to this day. And one I don’t often share.

I also never ever shared it with any of my previous partners. Until my fiancee. We had been together for about four months when I had an anxiety attack that I cleverly concealed with shots of tequila. What can I say? (Patron is a coping mechanism.) But then I thought “If I love this man, he has to see this part of me.” He had to see and understand my past pain and traumas. So I sat him down and told him everything. I put a ridiculous amount of pressure on myself both personally and professionally and sometimes, it’s too much.

I can’t please everyone but I also want so badly to do so.

Sometimes I cry, for no reason. Sometimes I am unkind for no reason.

Sometimes I need help, but I am ashamed to ask.

This was all new to me, but also important. I needed him to see this side of me and to know what to do when I would find myself in The Sunken Place. Sometimes it’s a memory or social media or something in my environment that causes me to spiral. But more often than not, it comes out of no where. It creeps in and I don’t know what to do. And I need a safety net.

I needed to tell him because I needed him to know that sometimes when I’m trying to be strong for him, I am trying so hard to be strong for myself. And sometimes, it’s too hard to do that silently. When I had another anxiety attack I told him “Somethings wrong. I don’t feel happy and I don’t want to hurt myself, But I am scared and I don’t know what to do.” He asked what he could do and I cried and said “Just hold me.”

It may be the hardest thing in the world to open up to your partner and tell them what you need. And it may seem like you feel you have failed when you show your vulnerable side. But that is bullshit! They are your partner for a reason. They love the beautiful and the not so beautiful. You should never be afraid to ask for help. You should never be afraid to say “I can’t carry this alone.” And most importantly, never be afraid to say you aren’t happy and you just need to be held.

There is strength in admitting you need help. And there is love in the people who give it to you.

can you be friends with your ex?

I know! This is a highly loaded question. Mainly because I feel as if people have very strong feelings about the topic. And as well they should. Full disclosure- this is also a hot button topic between my fiancee and I. In truth, there should be no reason to be friends with an ex. For whatever reason, the relationship has failed/ended. So why keep a friendship after dating has ran its course?

So let’s look at this from both sides. I’m the kind of person that when we are done, we are sooooo DONE! I’ve deleted your contact, photos, songs that remind me of you. That’s it. For some people, that is the only way to heal and move on. But there are a few cases where before a relationship developed, there was a friendship. And no, I don’t mean a FWB kind of thing. I mean a “call me when you need a ride home from a creepy date.” or a “my family member died.” kind of friendship. I can think of two such men who fit this description.

Yes, there may have been a romantic past, but it doesn’t change the fact that we have genuinely been there for each other, years after said relationship was over. I mean, if it can happen in TV sitcoms, why can’t it work in real life?

On the flip side, I also understand that things change when sex is involved. And more importantly once you have had an intimate connection what is to say it won’t come back again. My fiance’s argument goes back to the “Can you be friends with the opposite sex?”. Meaning, it is hard for a man to be friends with a woman and not have some desire to be with her. As he put it, if given the opportunity, men would cross the line of friendship to gain something more. I would also like to argue that the same could be done vice versa. I have had male friends that once they became single, I made a move on. But we both wanted to keep the friendship rather than lose it.

So who wins the argument? Can you really be friends with your ex? I say it boils down to a few factors. First, communicating with your partner about the nature of your relationship/friendship. I can’t say in a perfect world that your man and your ex will watch football together, but your man does need to know that the friendship is not a threat.

Next, is time. For me, my two male friends are people I have known for over 20 years and the time we were together was almost 20 years ago. If there is a good amount of time between when you were dating, compared to your current relationship, this may make having the friendship a bit more palatable. And finally, the importance of the friendship vs the relationship. If it is a true friend, he or she may understand that out of respect to your partner, your friendship may need to take a back seat. It may help to avoid temptation, but it may also help in showing your partner your priority.

In the end, having the difficult conversation about your ex’s role in your life, is the best way to start. By all means, don’t bully your partner in seeing your point. But rather with any argument, step back and listen to their concerns. At the end of the day, choose love, over everything else!

Would You rather? Couples edition

During quarantine, I like much of the world, became obsessed with ways to pass the time. I am happy to report that I made only one loaf of bread. My fiancee and I did find ways to entertain ourselves by playing games. Whether it was board games or video games, it may the time stuck at home a bit bearable. I will also admit, that I come from a family that enjoys playing games and finds great joy in being competitive. There may or may not have been a Spades game circa ’78 where my mother and uncle didn’t talk for weeks.

Recently, getting into a normal routine post quarantine, I found myself missing the times my fiancee and I would play games. And it made me think of something fun that we could do. And then I remembered one of my favorite kids games… “Would You Rather.” I’m not gonna bore you with some concept of rules because it’s quite simple. You’re given two choices and you pick which one you’d rather do. And since I have a sex and dating blog, it only makes sense that my questions were a bit more adult in nature.

So if you are dying for a fun night in with your significant other, trying using the below questions. Feel free to let me know how you did. Oh, and for extra fun, make it a drinking game. If you wouldn’t do either question, take a shot!

Play on!

  1. Would you rather loudly orgasm every time you coughed, or cum every time you sneezed?
  2. Would you rather sleep with someone on the first date, or wait three months?
  3. Would you rather have unbelievable sex that lasts ten minutes or average sex that lasts an hour?
  4. Would you rather have sex with the lights on or off?
  5. Would you rather have sex on the kitchen table or in the shower?
  6. Would you rather accidentally send a naughty pic to your boss or your mom?
  7. Would you rather say your ex’s name during sex or your partner’s best friends name?
  8. Would you rather wrestle naked with your partner in jello or pudding?
  9. Would you rather use hot wax or ice cubes?
  10. Would you rather nipple sized fingers or finger sized nipples?
  11. Would you rather french kiss Betty White or Miley Cyrus?
  12. Would you rather walk in on your parents having sex or them walking in on you?
  13. Would you rather sweat a lot during sex or have horrible dry mouth?
  14. Would you rather pay for sex, or have someone pay you?
  15. Would you rather have your partner sleep with your best friend, or your enemy?
  16. Would you rather have a one night stand with someone who was super hot, or someone who was great in bed?
  17. Would you rather your partner be an ex-porn star or your sibling be an ex porn star?
  18. Would you rather be someone who cums too quickly or someone who never cums?
  19. Would you rather have sex with Rihanna or watch her have sex with your partner?
  20. Would you rather have sex with someone who was a biter or screamer?

Do I make the cut?

In the world of dating and dating advice, more often then not, you will find countless lists of what a woman wants in a man. Certain requirements that she desires in a perfect mate. I myself have made many of these lists. I actually wrote one that had 100 (you read that correct) 100 things I was looking for in my “Dream Man.” I also wrote that list my freshmen year of college. Over the years, the list has changed and thankfully, got shorter. It focuses on characteristics that I want in a partner with whom I want to build a future with. But it recently occurred to me, that maybe men have a similar list. And if so, would I make it on my partner’s list?

One of the first things to consider when making a list in hopes to find said qualities in a partner, is to ask yourself if those are qualities that you possess. In other words, if you want him to be someone who is close with their family, are you in fact, close with your family? And if you had to do a deep dive into your own soul, what are the ten things that you bring to a relationship? Or better yet, what are the ten things you need to do better in a relationship?

Another point to consider is why a particular item on your list is important? Is a man who is financially stable important to you, because you need to be better with handling money? And if that is the case, wouldn’t that be a point that your partner would address on his own list? “I like a woman who has poor credit and a minor addiction to shoes.” Ok, maybe not as dramatic, but you get the picture. If an item on your list is an important quality you are looking for, is it something that you can match or are an equal to?

At the end of the day, we want to look at our lists and think that we are asking for our truest desires. But take a moment and think about your own self with an honest and critical eye. Do you have all of the things that your partner dreams of? If not, maybe re-examine your list again. At the very least, narrow it down from 100 to maybe 30 things. There’s no way he can be kind, loving, between 6’0 and 6’4 and speak French. That’s just asking for too much.

Can you have friends of the opposite sex?

Let me just jump right into this. Yes, but with conditions. Steve Harvey recently made news with his comments on the topic of having friends of the opposite sex. His thoughts, which are very valid come from the idea that a man has a woman as a friend when he puts her in the category of knowing he will never sleep with her. Meaning, we ain’t gonna bump uglies, then we can be cool. But if I have the chance, I’m taking the opportunity. And for this, some men find it hard to have a woman who is genuinely a friend.

Women however see a different point. We can see a guy as an actual friend and it has nothing to do with attraction or sexual chemistry. Yes, we can put you in the Friend Zone and yes, we can go from doing the nasty to being buds. It’s a transition that comes easy for us because we see that friendship connection more important than sex. This can confuse your male partner and in many cases, make them feel threatened. I’m here to argue that it shouldn’t.

So I, like many women, who over the years, always had more guy friends than girlfriends. Now at the moment, I am closer to my girls, but I have a handful of guys that if I needed to call in an emergency, have my back. Some of those I have had zero physical or romantic connection to. Some, we have had a past of intimacy. But years have passed, I’m engaged, or they are happily married with kids, there is no bond more than an actual friendship. Here’s how I have always seen this dynamic. It’s one thing to have those friends to hang out with over drinks or bond at a sporting event, but what about the person you call when you have a death in the family or you’re going through something like a divorce? In moments like that, a genuine friendship is so important, and one that should be bigger than what may have happened years prior in or out of the bedroom.

This is where the “conditions” come in. I think in order to have a strong relationship to the opposite sex, while you are in fact in a relationship, it’s important to be honest with your partner about the history of the friendship. Do I think they need to know all of the dirty details? No. But should they know in all honesty that there was some sort of physical past? Yes. But why? If it ever comes out that this little fact was never mentioned, your partner will inevitably feel as if it was hidden on purpose, when you may not see it that way. This is the tricky part of having friends of the opposite sex. What do you divulge to your partner?

At the end of the day, you have a friendship that may have been years in existence before your time with your significant other. If it is a real solid friendship, like the one you can call on if your mom passes or your baby is born, then I think those healthy friendships are indeed safe and valuable. Remember, if it ever feels like you’re hiding information or details, or if you have to proceed with caution, that’s never good. Treat both your friendship and relationship with open respect, and both should be able to live in harmony.

Dear future relationship me…

First, take a moment and breathe. You have so much constantly on your heart and in your mind that you forget to find peace in the here and now.

Right…now that we got that hippy crap out of the way. Let’s get down to it. Your past is in the past. Every now and then, the memories of old loves, lost pain and regret will rear their head in your current relationship. But it is how you address them, which will make you and your partner stronger.

Because a previous relationship didn’t work, does not mean you are a failure. (Feel free to read that part over again…and often) What the past gives us is a wonderful gift. It’s called “perspective”. Learn from the mistakes, repeat the things that work and honor how far you have come. You are now in a better place.

Dear Me…listen to your partner. You can not preach how he does not listen to you, if you are failing at doing the one thing you shame him for. Listening means more than hearing what he says. It also means listening to what he doesn’t say. In the moments of deep silence and concern, listen to his needs. He may need that silence. He may need your support. He may also just need to fart. There is a lot to learn in the silence, and there is nothing wrong with listening to it.

Finally, Dear Me…be honest…with yourself. If you feel anxious, express it. If you demand more, require it. If you need space, ask for it. If you desire intimacy, nurture it. You are already leaps and bounds ahead from where you came from. You have the scars and love to prove it. But never forget that the work in a healthy relationship first starts with you. So be honest and true to your own needs and emotions. Never doubt them, silence them or ignore them.

And in the future, if you could be a little kinder to yourself, that would be great too.

Love,

Desiree