Being a ‘Good Girl’ In a Hookup Culture

I’ve always been one of the ‘good girls’.

Even my attempts to be a bad girl have come off horribly flawed. Kind of like Sandra Dee in ‘Grease’ turning into ‘Bad Sandy’ – Nobody ever bought it.

My anger comes off more like an angry kitten mewling than a lion roaring. I can’t be mean. I don’t know how to hit others below the belt. I don’t know how to let my inhibitions carry me away to do and say things totally out of my element.

After many, many years… I’m okay with this.

In high school, all my friends were losing their virginity and telling me about it. I didn’t want anything to do with any of that mess, but I had a serious boyfriend and felt pressured so I eventually caved to the pressures of teenage boy lust. I didn’t know what else to do after that so I ended up married to him. Then, we ended up divorced.

Throughout my twenties, my friends would hook up randomly with guys we met when we went out dancing. I picked them up from their walks of shame and took them back to their cars and heard the sordid details over breakfast at Denny’s.

I relived the glory of their one night stand stories with them. I held them in my arms as they cried when the guy didn’t call them a week later. I went with them to buy pregnancy tests when they were late and scared.

I was the “support friend” and I was damn good at it.

However, I never had a shortage of men wanting to date me, either. Most of them were all about hooking up and I knew it. I knew when they would try to kiss me on the first date (Ladies, just so you are aware – If he leans in for a kiss on the first date, he’s going to go after more the second date).

This ended up being the majority of guys I dated. Lots of one-and-done dates. We would go somewhere and then he’d lean in for the kiss and I would never call him again — Or, more often than not, upon hearing that I didn’t kiss on the first date, they would never call me again. It is amazing how much this simple rule saved my ass.

Don’t kiss on the first date if you don’t want your heart broken. You want to make sure the guy is really for real, make him wait three dates. Actually, I hate the whole phrase “make him wait” anyway. Is it really making him wait? In reality, shouldn’t you want to know someone before exchanging saliva with them. Is that so bad?

Meanwhile, my friend was making out on the dance floor with the hottie she had just met. Welcome to Herpes, may I take your order?

You can only live like this for so long before you start getting really irritated with having to pull your friend off a guy at a club after closing time at 3 a.m.

“But I’m going to Jake’s house!”
“No, you’re not.”
“Yes, I am. He’s soooo sweet. And look at him…”
“You don’t know Jake.”
“Yes, I do! We’ve been talking for an hour.”
“Jake could be a serial killer.”
“Oh, he is not! Stop it.”
“Come on, let’s go…”
“Stop being a prude!

And there you have it. The word that follows around girls like me.


At first, it hurts. But when you think about it, your alternative is to be a “whore” or a “slut”. So…Which would you rather be? Pick your poison, ladies.

I was only concerned about the well-being of my friends and that was the label cast upon me, repeatedly. Not once did I look at them and tell them to stop being “sluts”. Quite contrarily, I would still pick them up when some drunk asshole refused to take them home. I would still talk to them for hours when some guy they thought for sure was the real thing never called them.

One of my best friends was always being passionate and going with the moment. She slept with men on the first date continuously. She slept with anyone she wanted to and told me she felt free. I always thought she was happier than I was and probably had more fun so I really envied her carefree life. But it should have been obvious with who was drying whose tears more often.

I remained guarded and always seemed to end up in long term relationships. Maybe because I didn’t give in to short term guys.

I wasn’t a prude. It had nothing to do with being overtly religious. It just had to do with the fact that I held the sexual act in high regard, and almost as a sacred ritual. It wasn’t to be dispensed cheaply. I was very passionate, but believed in keeping it under wraps. The few men who knew this side of me believed they were receiving something special that not just any man could have and our sexual relationship was one to be cherished.

Because of my philosophy, I’ve ended up in a relationship with a really good man. He was being actively pursued by quite a few women, but he wasn’t into the hookup scene. He was polite, holding doors for me and didn’t move in to kiss me once. In fact, I made the first move and kissed him. And I realized something — By the way he treated me, it also made him seem as if he were the man not just any woman could have. So I wanted him more.

It’s such a simple philosophy, but one that has led me into the arms of a really good man while still watching friends painfully struggle their way through painful hookups and short-lived relationships with jerks.

It’s a mistake I see them make over and over again and I am powerless to tell them what I see them doing wrong. They will take it the wrong way, call me a prude or tell me that the lifestyle they live with no strings attached makes them feel powerful or free.

I’ve seen a friend change, though. She finally realized she was sick and tired of men who were not as committed as she was, tired of having short, passionate flings, and so she changed the behavior and has since attracted a good, steady man who treats her well. It’s not an easy thing to admit, but going with the flow with your sexuality with wild abandon is anything but “freeing”. I’ve got to say it — Being free is worse than being cheap. Especially when you realize how much value you actually have. We are worth so much more than that.

There is a reason behind clubs, brands, etc. having velvet ropes and an air of “exclusivity” – It means not everyone qualifies. Not everyone is deserving. When you start looking at yourself and your personal brand, you will realize if you want to raise your value, you must make yourself more exclusive.

Being a ‘Good Girl’ is far from being boring. I promise you the best sex you will ever have is the sex in a committed relationship with someone committed to pleasing you because they believe you are something special and want to make you happy.

The best sex is when you know every line of their body and are in love with their mind and soul, as well. The best sex is felt through a soul connection with someone else who knows their worth and value and chooses to share it with you because they love you. You can have wild sex, gentle sex, rough sex, slow sex, etc. with someone you know intimately, too. And the best part of it all is knowing they will be there when you wake up, again and again.

I know this should all be common sense, but we so seldom follow it. Hookup Culture has become a thing and I think it’s time we deconstruct and discourage something that only benefits people who just want to use your body with no attention to the soul attached and treats human beings as disposable.

With all that said, I don’t judge women who do it. I don’t think less of them. Especially when their aim is not to find a good man, nor romance or true love. If “free” sexuality is more important than a serious connection, that is definitely their prerogative. But how many times have I comforted the woman who claimed to be free, yet cried when her heart got involved?

I do judge casual sex. I believe it is for the person who is broken. It’s for the person who has not yet discovered their own worth. It’s for the people who do not realize the beauty of their own soul or the worth of the body it resides in. Casual sex is a void to get lost in, temporarily allowing yourself the illusion of closeness and intimacy. Just for one night.

It’s fooling yourself. As human beings, we long for personal contact and to be touched, loved and cherished. Then, we are surprised when we let someone close to us to use our bodies, that we feel empty days, weeks, even years later.

When you can mitigate this need for closeness and call it out for what it is — Loneliness –It becomes easier to navigate a pool of users and abusers and to find the real and genuine. Somewhere out there is someone looking for someone exactly like you. But you won’t know it if you are wasting your time and trashing your own reputation spending time with people who base their entire lives on impulse rather than understanding and forging deeper emotional bonds. If you want to be daring, be different, be unique — Ditch the casual hookups. Demand better for yourself.

Be the man or woman not just anyone can have and watch your existence transform into something beyond your expectations.

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The Age Gap Romance

It’s the one that’s not supposed to work out. The relationship people are whispering about. The one a few extremely opinionated individuals may refer to as “gross”. The soul-shaking love you have found yourself in without care to what others are whispering about you behind your backs. And frankly, you really don’t give a damn.

Being either party in a relationship where one partner is older than the other by a great enough margin, May-December romances, as they are often called, proposes challenges that can make or break the relationship.

Some couples seem to find joy in their age differences as they do not identify with peers of their own age groups. Some feel like very young souls and others feel like old souls. Some feel like young, old souls given the chance to breathe life again in this world.

Whatever you feel, who you find love with is not always your choice. Love can sometimes fall upon us as if it were predestined. We meet someone, think to ourselves they are too old or too young, and before you know it, we are head over heels in romantic love. Damnit. We just can’t help ourselves.

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The Judgments

We see the shocked looks when we introduce our partner to our family and friends and eventually, someone brave will always ask, “He’s lovely – But how old is he?” or they’ll make some sly joke about how they thought your date was your younger brother.

While you want to scream obscenities at the person, smile and cut to the chase. They want to know how far apart in age you are. Just state – “I know! We’re ten years apart, but we get along so well we don’t even notice the age difference. We’re not the first couple to have an age gap and we won’t be the last.”

One of the best ways I’ve seen to deflect the scrutiny over a May-December romance is through humor. Learn to laugh about the age difference and nothing can hurt you. When he’s got to go home from being out with friends, he can tell them he’s got to go give the baby her bottle. Tell your friends you have to get going because Joe needs to change his Depends. Age is nothing but a number so make the most of laughing about it.

Wave it off as no big deal. Eventually, seeing you together enough, they’ll forget the age difference, too, and begin to know you as a couple. Not that couple where one is robbing the cradle and the other is robbing the grave. They don’t see it now, but someday they will see that the two of you just make sense together.

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Maturity levels and age gap love

While love conquers all rationality during the first few months of dating, there are some realities which are either the greatest gifts or biggest burdens of age gap love. Society often browbeats us with these formulas:

Older woman = Bad
Older man = Good
Younger woman = Good
Younger man = Bad

It’s hard to argue against — one of the most vilified dating categories is older women. Dating an older woman may come with dealing with hormonal changes, mid-life self esteem struggles as looks start taking a backseat to the things she has yet to complete in life, etc. These are normal changes a lot of women go through, so why are they spoken about as if they are romantic relationship napalm?

Women, themselves, don’t like to admit they face these changes, even as they are happening. However, there is a flip-side. Younger women are also going through changes in their young 20s to 30s. They can often be emotionally unstable and not know what they want out of life. The changes they are going through during this time can make them about as stable as quicksand. The man they thought they wanted early on may become tiresome to them as the years go by.

An older woman may be more self-assured and have more of an idea of what she wants from life. She may be more grounded in realizing where she is headed. Not only that, being at her sexual peak around the same time she is realizing that life doesn’t last forever may be exhilarating. This is a woman ready to climb mountains, travel to exotic destinations and enjoy every second of life. A more mature younger man can find a self-assured woman past the turbulence of younger adulthood completely intoxicating. Moving to women from girls, he may find all his needs met much more satisfactorily. A young-spirited older man may find he likes the unpredictability, the struggle to gain confidence or the wild spirit of a younger woman.

On the other hand, maybe they found the true diamond in the rough – The young woman who knows what she wants early on with an unusually mature spirit and outlook on life or the older woman in great health and spirit who retains her youthful charm?

Ask any woman who hasn’t dated a younger man what she thinks and most will immediately point out the immaturity of younger men. Some want to party, stay out late, hang out with the boys, play video games, etc. This can be unappealing to a mature woman unless she is in just the right phase of life. For some women, they missed out on this. They married too young or they were too busy with their schooling or career. Maybe they are young at heart and these youthful pursuits will never grow old to them.

Older men can come with the same challenges. Maybe they act like old men. Maybe they are grouchy and in bed at 8:00. Maybe they have a list of health ailments longer than Nicki Minaj’s weave. Older men can know what they want out of life to the point of becoming dogged about it and obsessive about their career pursuits. Sometimes their ambitions squeeze out the time for love and romance a younger woman might crave.

An individual’s own specific personality traits indicate what type of relationship is best for them. We often seek out what we lack in ourselves or critical components missing from our lives in a partner. In this regard, age may have no bearing on providing us with what we’ve been looking for.

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The Kid Issue

It has to be brought up. For most couples, even if they both enter into the relationship saying they do not want children, sometimes Mother Nature has a few tricks up her sleeve. The woman who never wanted kids may experience a hormonal overdrive in her late 30’s and early 40’s where panic sets in. Suddenly, she begins looking at babies in new ways. She begins to have flashes of a motherhood she never experienced in her subconscious. Sometimes the feelings become so powerful, it feels like an all-out panic. Our very genetic coding programs us to procreate and continue our species. When looked at, this way, these feelings are hardly surprising.

Men may also feel strong urges towards fatherhood. Warm memories of their childhood may flood them with a desperate fear of missing out. They may want their own son or daughter to teach the ways of life and carry on their legacy.

These issues are not specific to May-December couples. Every relationship must have “The Great Kid Talk” at some point and nobody should be afraid to state what they want or what they may want later. Especially when ticking biological clocks are involved. Women only have so many child-bearing years. Men have been known to sometimes be able to father children to advanced ages in life. Then again, do you want to father children whom you may never seen grow up at the age of seventy?

The only difference with May-December couples is that this issue may be much more urgent because of sheer biological factors neither of you can control. Don’t be afraid to breach this conversation head-on. Not doing so and passing the point where children can’t be conceived will surely breed lifelong resentment if one partner wants a child.

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When you can accept the age difference, but it’s awkward for others

Romance is mostly selfish. You choose your partner based on who you want to choose and nothing anyone else says is going to tell you otherwise. And this is okay. Until a woman brings her 23 year-old boyfriend home to meet her 17 year-old daughter, who is completely disgusted. As they get more serious and end up married, tongues wag that maybe he should have just waited a few more years and married the daughter. People will truly say some horrible things that are none of their business when they see situations that they do not understand. And imagine how the daughter feels when her step-dad picks her up from school and everyone thinks it’s her boyfriend?

The ones the age difference will hurt the most are any kids by either party in the relationship. They will face jokes from their peers and may even have to face the frustration of someone barely older than they are telling them what to do when their parents’ partner becomes their step-parent.

When this is a factor, it is important that the primary parent be the one to bark orders and do most of the disciplining. This may be unfortunate, but it is part of the territory when there is an age difference. You can demand kids respect your partner, but it may not happen overnight. Don’t put your partner under further stress or scrutiny by forcing them to parent a child close in age to them. Not only is it stressful for the child, but it’s equally stressful for your partner. If you ever want the two of them to develop a relationship, it’s important not to push them into roles that make everyone uncomfortable, right away. Respect must come first – And then parenting can follow.

There could also exist the situation in which you are dating someone as old or older than your parents. The only thing you can do is wait out the storm and see if they come around to liking your significant other. They may be embarrassed by the situation and that is okay. It’s their right. Maybe it angers you that they don’t seem to care about your happiness, but understand that their reaction is purely because of their own concerns for how it looks, maybe they worry about grandchildren, worry your partner will die before you and you’ll be lonely, etc. and not an appreciation for what the relationship is or how happy it makes you. With time, they may come around.

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But do these relationships last?

Of course they do! We could compile a long list of celebrity couples with age gaps, but thought the better of it. Because…Hollywood. We all know how long most Hollywood couples last. However, I know many real life couples who have stood the test of time. One being my own parents. Despite a ten year age gap, they have had a successful loving relationship for over 25 years of marriage.

It can happen with a lot of humor, a lot of love and the understanding that love is boundless, timeless and can’t be confined to make the rest of the world happy. Just because they don’t understand your love does not mean it isn’t love. When the world misunderstands something that happens so naturally and beautifully between two consenting adults, maybe it’s the world that needs to change. Keep making each other happy and despite all odds and obstacles, you will be together in the end.

How To Make Long Distance Love Last

Does absence make the heart grow fonder or does absence make the heart start to wander?

You may have heard dismal statistics on long distance relationships showing long distance love as a doomed endeavor headed for a disastrous falling out when love in proximity knocks the far away lover out of mind.

We took a look at the statistics on long distance relationships as the basis of this article, but quickly threw them out the window because it’s nearly impossible to create a conclusion from a proper sampling. You can ask how many people from a certain group have been in long distance relationships. You can ask how many of those relationships lasted. However, when other factors are added in, it’s impossible to prove that the uncoupling happened because of anything to do with distance being a factor.

Instead of focusing on whether or not long distance relationships do, in fact, last — What the hell do people in successful long distance relationships do to keep the passion alive over the miles?

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Communicate respectfully

Whether your love is sitting next to you on the couch or 5,000 miles away in another country, communication is the most vital part of any relationship. In the beginning of a particularly intense romantic connection, you may feel like you are in a long distance relationship with your phone. You talk every single night. Sometimes constantly throughout the day. You text. You FaceTime. You Skype. Snapchat. WhatsApp. Messenger. Talk on the phone. To be perfectly honest, always being attached to your phone can get obnoxious. At first, you started saying, “Be right back. Gotta pee.” Now, you take your phone into the restroom with you. After a while, you start feeling too connected to your phone and communication starts to drift off.

On the other hand, a communication void starts to cause all kinds of problems a couple who live close to each other may not have. The distance feels most apparent when the two of you are off doing other things in your normal, daily lives. You may find yourself pausing many times throughout the day to think, “What is he doing, right now, at this very moment?” Then your mind starts to wander…and sometimes it goes to some pretty dark places. This is part of the beast that is long distance dating.

Too much communication can be bothersome and make someone feel leashed to technology when they are longing to live life. Too little means one or both of you may start living in your heads, going crazy, wondering what the other is doing, who they are with, etc.

Be respectful of each other’s real life time. Realize that work, school and responsibilities of daily life are most important. All these things are means to an end.

If he keeps up good work performance, maybe he can get that transfer to her town.
If she finishes school and gets her degree, they can finally be together.

Don’t interfere with your partner’s daily life. You are part of their reality, but these other things are their focus right now, so in the end, they get to be with you. Communicate respectfully, openly, but realize their life needs focus, too.

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Live in each other’s environments

You come back home after a night out with your mates to call your love and she’s steaming mad because you were gone too long and she doesn’t know who you were with. Even when you tell her, she begins to doubt you. The distance begins to take a toll. You may begin thinking, “If she only knew me…Really knew me. She would see how painfully boring I am.”

These kinds of misunderstandings can happen for many reasons. You’ve got to make sure you communicate with your partner the same as you would if they lived nearby. Be transparent. Tell them where you are going and with whom and don’t lie about it. Make sure you let them know they are the only one for you and that you will be thinking about them the whole time. But also have fun! You can’t get caught up in pining for a long distance love to the point where you stop living.

The key is to make sure you get regular visits with your love in your home environment. As many as possible. They need to come to your space and see how you live. You need to go to where they live and do the same. They need to experience some of your daily routine so they can see who you are and how they add a piece to the puzzle of your life. Let them see the real you. Even if it’s the you who leaves dirty dishes in the sink or the you who has all the books on your shelf alphabetized by author and title.

Trust begins to be built by seeing one in their environment and getting used to the humdrum of their daily life. If they are at your house and your phone is not ringing off the hook with other potential dates and they see the simple life you lead, it will be easier for your partner to calm their jealous anxiety and go about their daily life, too.

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Give Physical Reminders of You

A sweatshirt soaked in your cologne, a bottle of your perfume so he can make his pillow smell like you, jewelry that conveys your promise, flowers sent as a surprise, a pine-scented candle to burn that reminds you of the time you went hiking together, when you are talking to him and he mentions how hungry he is and how good pizza sounds, have one sent to his house. All the modern technology just means you have the potential to be an amazing long distance partner from wherever you are, now. Whenever you leave your partner after a physical visit, leave them something behind that makes you feel closer to them.

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Don’t expect the world to stop for your romance

The real pushback you may be getting about this relationship is from your friends, your parents, your co-workers, your classmates, etc. You may be telling them all about this wonderful person you met and they say they are really happy with you…Until you tell them she lives in China and you are in Montana. Then, they look at you like you are crazy and start telling you how many beautiful women there are near you.

It’s okay because they don’t get it. Not everyone will. In fact, some will be downright unsupportive of your romance so sometimes it’s best to keep it quiet until things become very serious.

Also, keep things respectful with them. When you are out with your friends, they are going to be annoyed if you spend the whole night texting your girlfriend or on the phone with her. When it gets to the point you are ready to introduce your long distance love to your friends, do so carefully. Don’t make your friends hate you by putting them on the back-burner for your romance or not being present when with them.

Also, make sure you are present in all you do in your everyday life. Do not let your work or schoolwork slip because your long distance communications get out of control.

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Whatever you do, don’t get passive aggressive and keep it positive

If he doesn’t text at the time he was supposed to, don’t ignore him when he does text in retaliation. If she doesn’t call you back in 15 minutes like she promised, don’t be mad when she calls you back two hours later. Stuff happens. Relying on technology is hard. Expecting everyday life to revolve around your daily phone call is unrealistic. Don’t play the game of who called who last. Just do it. Just call. Don’t worry about who cares more than who. The quickest way to kill a long distance romance is to play these kinds of games and then say things like, “Oh. I thought you didn’t care anymore” or “Just figured you’d forgotten me.”

Making a long distance relationship go the long haul is hard enough, but if your partner begins to associate you with feelings of guilt, they will start disassociating with you and leaning towards things which make them happy.

Hearing from you must be a joy, not a burden. If every time they get off the phone, they feel relief. If every conversation with you is negative or makes them feel worse than they did before talking with you, they will begin to drift away from you.

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Make plans to be together…Permanently

This is one thing that must be said for long distance relationships. They only work if you both look at it as a temporary obstruction to your love. If your attitude is more “Let’s see if this works out…” Chances are, it may not.

Long distance relationships work because two people were very committed to the relationship’s success. Part of that success is making plans for how the two of you can actually be together and will accept the sometimes-painful realities that come with making the jump towards living near each other.

It’s going to mean someone may have to leave a job they love, move from a place they love, give up their friends, their family and everything they ever knew to start a life with the other person.

At the beginning of the relationship, when infatuation is in full force, you truly believe time nor distance will come between you. Thinking about these realities is way too hard and sometimes the very process of uprooting your life can seem daunting and impossible. It can be done, but must be done with a back-up plan in mind.

Sometimes things don’t work out and you can find yourself stuck in the new locale with nobody on your side and no friends to lean on. Life is a learning experience, though, so don’t be afraid to take the plunge if you know this person is someone you can’t stand not being without anymore. Be cautious, be wise, and then take that step and be brave. If it doesn’t work out, you’ve gotten to see more of the world and have new experiences to add to the amazing story of your life.



Surviving a Sociopath

If you are feeling lost, hurt, desperate, devastated, stunned, horrified, terrified, and like the world has been turned upside down, this is for you.

From the moment we have been born, we were taught this is a safe world by all public programming. If we had good parents, they made us feel safe. If they didn’t, sometimes our teachers did, someone did. Our morning cartoons showed everything was bright, colorful and happy.

It’s hard to believe, with this beautiful world we have been raised in, there are rapists, murderers, pedophiles, or evil people who exist. What is even more sad is that our view of the world is largely shaped by who we are. If you are a genuinely good person, you initially tend to think other people are good, too. You may think the world is full of wonderful people and the bad are few and far between.

The model we have grown accustomed to is that in which there is a bad guy…and a bunch of good people. In the end, a good guy steps in to lead the good people and they defeat the bad guy. It’s the same story over repeated. The bad guy always gets his come-uppance in the end.

Real life is far different.

In reality, sometimes the bad guys win. Sometimes they step in with their sociopathic stares and rip your life to shreds while you can only stand by and helplessly watch. Others around you look at you and say, “Why are you doing nothing? Why did you do nothing? Stand up for yourself!”

But when you stand up for yourself, the sociopath uses your aggression against you and claims you bullied them.

So here you are.

You’ve faced the worst of the worst at the hands of someone else or you have faced tragedy, by its own accord, which has brought you to your knees. Whatever happened to you, it was completely unfair. You didn’t deserve this. Even worse, the sociopath will dig deep into your life and find any crack to exploit in order to show that maybe, just maybe, you did deserve this. Forget all their misdeeds, their transgressions (Oh, and they are many). They have their laser focus on yours.

They are determined to tear you apart. They are going to find every last shred of confidence you have and obliterate it. They will ruthlessly cut the bond of every friendship you ever had. They will not stop until you break down and, even then, they will keep on going. They will smile if they hear they have pushed you to the point of taking your own life. They would even attend your funeral to pretend they really care.

This is what we are dealing with. This is the type of sadistic evil which exists on this planet. Thankfully, most people will never know until they have crossed paths with one of these people.

They are Sociopaths. And they are the closest you will ever get to meeting the devil in human form.

Realize you are not alone

If you’ve had the unfortunate experience of having a run-in with a sociopath, you need to know that you are not alone, first and foremost. That’s why this article exists. That’s why there are many articles across the Internet on the same topic. Sociopaths aren’t some psychobabble boogeyman. They are real and their affects on the lives of their victims can be horrific, even tragic.

Whatever is happening, right now, get through it

I know it feels like this is IT. The end of it all. They are actively destroying you, your reputation, everything you love about yourself, but realize this is only temporary. How many scandals do you remember in the national news? We live in an era so hungry for drama that yesterday’s drama is forgotten next week. I know it feels like this damage is forever, but it’s not. Hang in there. Survive.

Ditch anyone involved who watches this happen and does nothing

These people are NOT your friends. Do not befriend those who will not defend people who are actively being hurt. You will be sickened to realize many people will defend the abuser because they are weak and afraid to stand up for themselves. Do not associate with cowards. They will turn on you in a heartbeat whenever someone they perceive as more powerful is in the vicinity. They might seem like nice people, but cowards never make good friends. Cut ties with them permanently. I know it sounds harsh and some of them WILL come back and try to make you feel bad for cutting them off, but they know why. Let them go.

Realize you are NOT a Coward

They may be exasperated with you for not fighting back and may even act disgusted with you for your lack of “bravery”. But here is the thing — As said earlier, you cannot win when fighting with a sociopath. You have a conscience, a very precious gift. They do not. They will stoop to any level to hurt you. If you do the same, you will feel horrible about it and they will exploit your kindness to make you feel bad for defending yourself. You are not a coward — You are SMART to walk away and realize there is no sense in engaging sociopaths. They’re not worth it. You are. The only reason they, and all their followers, want to see a fight is because they thrive on drama and discontentment. Don’t be discouraged. What other people say about you is none of your business. Refuse to care. Focus on taking care of yourself.

Seek validation

Find people who know your struggle, what you are going through and are on your side. Let them talk. Let them assure you that you are the one in the right. Be careful of speaking yourself. Because some truly evil sociopaths will use others to gain your trust and then exploit you for information which they will then report back to the sociopath. (Of course, if you’re very cheeky, supply them with some false information to see if it comes back to you!) Trust your gut. Receive the validation, but tread carefully.

Find the Truth-Seekers

The friends you do want are the ones who have such a great relationship with the truth, they want nothing to do with people who come to them with gossip. Truth seekers will always ask for the other side of the story. They will not accept half-truths. They will examine everything brought to them with detachment because they know what truth looks like. They also know someone who barely talked to them before coming forward with damning information likely has ulterior motives. These people are smart, cautious and probably aren’t buying the sociopath’s bull.

Take care of #1

That’s you! In this period of stress, grief, pain, mourning and suffering, take care of yourself. Treat yourself to the small things that make you happy. Buy your favorite food, watch your favorite movies, read books, play sports, pamper yourself, give yourself a spa day, go get your hair done, do whatever you usually do to relieve stress. You’ve just been through some crappy times. You deserve it!

Roll with the Relapses

Some days you are going to feel strong. Others will feel like you can’t even get out of bed. Acknowledge that some days are going to be like this. Lift yourself off the floor and keep putting one foot in front of the other. If you can afford the downtime, go with it. Treat yourself, as earlier suggested. Get in the car and go on a day trip. Go through the motions. Do what you have to do. Keep waiting it out and that day will come when you feel alive again. Just don’t quit.

Cut All Ties

This not only means people. In many cases, you will have to look at all ways in which this person is able to get to you. Get away from them no matter what the cost. The hardest thing about all this is that we often have to abandon friends we didn’t want to abandon, places we loved going, social media connections, etc. Seal yourself off from this person through any means necessary and don’t feel bad about it for a second. This is a key art of self preservation. You don’t need them. They need you. They need your reactions to their drama. They need your reactions for entertainment. They, however, are expendable to you. Change your phone number, if needed. Block them from social media accounts. Delete social media accounts. Do what you have to do.

Don’t Look Back

Once you have distanced yourself from this person, do not ever go back. They may try to “talk” to you. Anyone who has talked to a sociopath can tell you they have no interest in apologizing. Though they may apologize for you – “I’m sorry YOU misunderstood ME” or “I’m sorry YOU were offended”. Don’t be fooled. These are not apologies. They want to talk to you about how you (supposedly) hurt them. They want an opportunity to pluck your strings and play a song called ‘Guilt’. They want you to feel bad. Don’t. You owe them nothing. Not a single second of your time. You don’t owe them a phone call. You don’t owe them a text. You don’t owe them coffee, lunch, dinner — NOTHING. Keep on walking.

Reclaim Your Life

When you successfully cut ties, you will start feeling relief. Because they aren’t there judging your life anymore. They aren’t there looking for ways they can exploit or hurt you. You can move on. You can breathe again. Now is the time when you rebuild. Make your life better than it was. Consider it a “purge” of horrible people. You should be left with truth-seekers and genuine people. Don’t be sad or feel defeated. You won.

Here’s the thing about sociopaths — They have little capacity to feel guilt, regret, or remorse and this transfers to all their emotions. It means they don’t feel the full depth of joy like you can. Wrap yourself in it and realize all the gifts you have they will never possess because good always stays away from evil.

Sociopaths will never have anything good in their life. Anything good won’t want to be near them or associate with them. If you are thinking of sociopaths you know that have loads of money or material possessions, just realize none of these things will ever bring them joy. Because they have the inability, at their core, to feel it. This is where you are different from them. Even though it feels like you are going through hell, please look at this as a way to reset you on the journey you were meant to be on.

This is not your end. This is your beginning.

Feel free to leave your story of survival in the comments for all those going through this painful experience. Nobody should go through this feeling alone.

Single For the Season: An Extremely Sardonic Take on Being Single For the Holidays

Oh yay.

Welcome to the holiday season. And it starts off with a bang! First will come Halloween. Where you will be invited to Halloween parties with couples in their oh-so-cute couples costumes. Meanwhile, you get to debate whether to dress genuinely scary or to be a slutty pineapple. If you are a woman, of course. If you are a male, you probably just plan on buying a t-shirt that says “This is my costume” and proudly being lame.

Next will come Thanksgiving, where you will go and listen to all your relatives tell you morale-boosting things like:
“Your clock is ticking…”
“You’re no spring chicken…”
“I know a really nice girl…”
“I was just reading this article that said you should really be married by 30, sooo…”
Only to be saved by your drunk uncle, Larry, who tells them to shut up and tells you to enjoy the single life, while his wife glares at him from across the table.

After all this abuse, Christmas will roll around and you’ll get to meet the new girlfriends and boyfriends of all your cousins as they bring them to meet the family. All this after you woke up alone (Or if you’re really lucky Uncle Larry is snoring on your couch because your Aunt kicked him out again).

It’s no wonder everyone drinks on New Year’s.

This isn’t going to be one of those pick-me-up articles telling you that you will find someone and aren’t destined to live your life with twenty cats, thinking about drinking Windex to end it all.


Let’s roll with the punches. You can’t reason your way out of this situation so the only thing you can do is learn to laugh about it. Consider this your handy dandy guide to getting through the holidays single and loving every minute of it. Because good relationship possibilities are usually attracted to happy people. So let’s be deliriously happy.

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Photo by Gratisography on

How to get through Halloween

  1. Make your own couples costume. A blow up doll would be happy to be your date and wear the other half of your couples’ costume. And she won’t complain that it’s too cold or that her Halloween hooker heels are making her feet hurt.
  2. Show your love for the season. Carve some pumpkins! Maybe with middle fingers on them. Put them on your doorstep. People should get the hint. Or use this season to advertise! You may be the first person to ever get a date with a hot, single mom by carving the words ‘I’m Single’ onto a pumpkin!
  3. Eat a whole can of beans and go on one of those haunted hayrides with all the canoodling couples. Bonus points if you can make someone jump off before the ride is over.
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Photo by Pixabay on

How to get through Thanksgiving

  1. Bake a thoughtful batch of chocolate Ex-Lax brownies to offer to any relative who starts asking you about your relationship, financial, or career status. “Have a brownie, Aunt Carolyn! Fresh-baked!”
  2. Prevent the questions before they even start – As soon as you walk in, go straight to the kitchen without saying ‘hello’ to anyone and start talking to the turkey in the oven, “It will all be over soon, little buddy! Just let the heat overcome you…” This is effective because it stops anyone from even asking you why nobody has snagged you yet. Bonus points if you include other food items into the conversation.
  3. After everything everyone says around the dinner table, say, “See, that’s where you’re wrong…” Have a ridiculous rebuttal to everything. Start asking married couples who ask you about your relationship status, “So, how is your marriage?”
man in santa claus costume
Photo by bruce mars on

How to get through Christmas

  1. Collect a large bucket of rocks. Wrap them individually in boxes addressed to yourself. Show up at the family gathering and put all the boxes under the tree. Watch everyone be confounded when you seem to be getting the most presents. Unwrap each one kissing your new rock while practically crying in thankfulness.
  2. Wear onesie PJs. Stop periodically, mid conversation, and make that face toddlers make while crapping their pants. Move on as if nothing happened.
  3. Buy your new niece or nephew the loudest, noisiest toy you can find or if they are a little older, one with a million pieces to it. [Note: At least this is how I’m assuming my single relatives got through the season with my kids – laughing about how I must be tearing out my hair over the noisy toy or the vacuum-clogging nightmare that was the craft kit of 10,000 beads]

How to get through New Year’s

  1. Ah, yes. The article was finished. And then I was reminded that I forgot New Year’s. So there will be one and only one suggestion – Do what everyone else does: Make plans to change stuff you won’t follow through on and drink! Or just go to bed early, wake up to a new year and hope the same crap doesn’t happen next year.

As you see, this article has been absolutely useless in helping you through the nightmare of being single for the season. BUT…laughter is good for the soul and there is an underlying tip in all this blatant ridiculousness to help you get through it.

Your sense of humor will help you get through absolutely everything.

If you think too much about the hardships of being single or the ache of loneliness, it’s going to get you nowhere but depressed. The best thing to do is laugh. Don’t watch ‘The Family Man’ this Christmas. Instead, watch ‘A Christmas Story’ or watch the Griswolds’ escapades with Christmas lights. Watch Kevin defeat the bad guys in ‘Home Alone’. No sad Christmas movies for you!

On Thanksgiving, redirect the conversation away from that which depresses you and find something you’re happy about to alter the course of conversation. You’re going to get through this.

Look for the joy. Look for the laughter. There is something funny in just about everything. And when you do find someone to bring back to the family, maybe they’ll have some funny stories to tell about the time you had a conversation with the family dinner. Whatever you’re going through this year, just get through it.

If you start feeling the creep of sadness, imagine yourself doing the crazy things listed above. It will bring a small smile to your face. When they ask why you are smiling, just say, “Oh, nothing. I am just really happy right now. No reason” and keep on smiling. It makes them wonder what you’re up to.

beautiful brunette business casual
Photo by Yuliya Shabliy on

10 Ways Narcissism is Destroying Our Culture

“Narcissism” is quite the buzzword these days, pushed to the forefront of discussion because of social media’s rampant popularity.

Where taking photos of yourself, by yourself, would typically have been considered weird before the advent of social media…It has now become normal behavior.

Being a culture valuing self-expression and individuality, the United States is often viewed by people inside and outside the country as one of the most narcissistic countries in the world. We aren’t talking self-absorbed from a nationalist perspective, but individually self-absorbed.

So who is narcissistic? We all are. What you are about to read will be uncomfortable. Because unless you live under a rock, many of us participate in or have exhibited some inherent narcissistic traits which could be contributing to cultural decline.

Being self-obsessed in everyday life may gain a few eye rolls, but the impacts of narcissism on a culture are vast and harmful.

1)  Increase in Road Rage

what-if-i-told-you-youre-not-stuck-intraffic-you-674345How dare there be traffic impeding us to and from work?
How dare other people be on the road when I need to be on it?
Yellow light? Not for me! I’m in a hurry and don’t have time to stop for this nonsense! “My turn signal is on not because I’m ASKING to get over, I’m telling you I’M GETTING OVER! We can crash if you want!” (Yes, this meme actually exists).

Road rage incidents are increasing. AAA reports 80% of all drivers admit to exhibiting some form of road rage. When behind the wheel, we tend to de-personalize and forget other drivers are people too. You are safe in a mobile shelter, protected by steel, fiberglass, aluminum, etc. That bodybuilder twice your size who just cut you off can’t touch you. The middle fingers fly, the horns honk and it’s every bit just like an argument on social media.

More than ever before, the road is becoming a dangerous place because we can’t accept we have to share the road with everyone else.

2)  Identity Politics

Identity politics, by definition, are “Politics in which groups of people having a particular racial, religious, ethnic, social, or cultural identity tend to promote their own specific interests or concerns without regard to the interests or concerns of any larger political group” [Merriam Webster]

Our various social justice causes have separated America into tribes, incorporating narcissistic principles because identity groups no longer promote the good of the whole; Identity groups only promote the good of individuals within the particular identity group.

While intentions may be good and attractive because of the human instincts towards tribalism, forming tribes within tribes within a nation only leads to a sense of disconnect with rational objectives of the nation. We end up caring more about our subgroup’s specific needs than worrying about the bigger issues of the nation as a whole.

Neither political party is immune to identity factions forming within their own parties. Most popular are identity groups focused on social justice issues, as they are easy to understand and promote.

The politics of personal identity have formed new religions where the center of worship is our political party. We defend our ideologies because they are true to us without care to the harm they are doing in turning countrymen against countrymen. What is more narcissistic than this viewpoint?

3)  Ending of Marriages

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Photo by Vera Arsic on

Approximately 40 to 50% of marriages end in divorce. Observance shows the reason for many divorces often happens when one party in the marriage thinks they can do better than their partner. You won’t find many admitting it, but it’s a known phenomenon; A divorce becomes nasty and suddenly the couple who were so in love before are now telling the world their ex-spouse is evil.

Shows like ‘The Bachelor’ glamorize dating. Disney movies glamorize one perfect man who will show up and whisk a woman away to a life of excess. In particular, women file for divorce more than men, showing the appeal of staying married may be less for women.

The reasons behind this phenomenon are staggering. Women are the biggest consumers in the country. They are targeted more by advertisers, buy more products, read more books, watch more TV and movies than men. This means women are absorbing more fictionalized, possibly unrealistic expectations of marriage than men on a daily basis.

They are also more prone to consuming self-help literature which largely focuses on ‘eliminating the negative’ – A great concept, but one which causes a dilemma forcing couples to walk away from each other rather than to work out marital problems.Not to mention women who leave bad marriages are portrayed by the media as glamorous, “finding themselves”, strong, confident, powerful, etc.

Some marriages truly are too bad to be saved. But so many times, one party or both just have highly inflated senses of self. They can do better. They deserve better. Their partner’s habits are annoying. But they are faultless. Ask anyone who got away from one of these narcissists and they will usually say they are much better off.

4)  Shallow Friendships

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In the age of social media, how many social media friendships do you have? How many of your social media friends would show up to care for you or run errands for you if you were sick? Who could you count on to give you some of their time if you were in dire need? Who would you call and talk to if you had a problem and needed an ear?

If your answers are, “Not many”, you aren’t alone. Lots of people are surrounded by  acquaintances but very few true friends. In this age of narcissism, some people feel the need to appear popular on social media. You will know them by their party photos, surrounded by “friends”, the constant posts on social media trying to portray the image of a perfect life, and the subsequently disappointed memes about friendship and how nobody is ever there for them when they really need them. If you only have more Facebook time with friends than face time, it’s easier to develop very shallow ideas on what friendship really is.

Interpersonal relationships are giving way to a shallow 2D image of our life on social media where we pretend to live a certain way and friends ‘follow’ and are asked to believe it’s the truth.

5)  Declining Work Ethic

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“I can’t find anyone worth a damn!” is the lament of many a business owner. They’re not being facetious. Work ethic has also changed in modern times. Our forefathers worked hard to build nations that would last and legacies to be proud of. Now, legacies exist on their own merit, but younger generations don’t have the excitement that came with building brick and mortar businesses from the ground up.

They are stepping into career fields already built by their grandparents’ parents. Their struggle is to maintain and so they lose the principles of foundation and giving their everything to achieve a dream. In an online age, buying locally is losing steam as the Internet has driven the market to all corners of the world where people can buy easily at the click of a button.

Narcissism is found in the entitlement exhibited frequently in the modern workplace. Young college graduates may often walk in the door and expect to be paid just as much as their peers who have seniority in the company. Some get spoiled on over-education, remaining in school for multiple secondary degrees to contribute to making them look good and lose out on real world experience. The companies who succeed are those who find a way to get their employees out of themselves and to feel like they are part of a team, all working towards a bigger picture and an exciting future together, rather than isolated wage slaves waiting for 5:00 to roll around.

A company culture focused on the success of the whole is a successful company.

6)  Rise In Drug & Alcohol Abuse

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Photo by Pixabay on

Drug & alcohol abuse is ultimately selfish, even though the multiple causes can sometimes be understandable. We can make some excuse for drug users because life is hard. We have overcomplicated society to the point where a lot of people have difficulties functioning in this new world we have created. Look at all the hoops you have to jump through just to own a car and be able to drive.

We have complicated relationships. We have complicated family life. We have complicated the process of getting a job. Everything in this world has become overly convoluted and complex. With the rise of stress, anxiety and frustration, many turn to substances to cope. Sometimes these turn into addictions. Sometimes because they partake in these substances so much, the ‘high’ wears off. It’s no longer doing the trick and they escalate to stronger substances, illegal substances…Before they know it, they are full-blown addicts who begin to struggle with life.

The problem is – We ALL have these struggles. However many people won’t turn to drugs & alcohol because they are aware of the bigger impacts on themselves, on society and on their loved ones. They put others first and refuse to fall prey to addiction.

Inevitably, when drug use escalates, the individual starts losing the capacity to hold down a normal job. As the addiction spirals out of control and they lose their income, even people who were once wonderful people may turn to criminal acts to collect enough to keep their fix going. Not only are they harming their loved ones, but they begin to harm society and innocent people. Some get behind the wheel where their narcissistic impulse contributes to tragedy.

7)  The End of Role Models

photo of father and daughter running at the park
Photo by Josh Willink on

Ask someone in their 80’s who they looked up to as a child. They typically have quite a few answers. Ask a child today and they have a hard time coming up with a single answer. Some will name musicians…or maybe a famous ‘YouTuber’, but not many kids have role models based on morals and principles. How many are left?

Witch hunts have become the norm again where stories, true or false, can be circulated, working people up into a frenzy of emotion over the latest topic du jour. Everyone is so quick to accept a story of wrongdoing without even the slightest questioning of whether or not it is true.

The people we should be able to admire, we aren’t allowed to – Because they have a dirty side and it must be drug out for all to see. We want everyone depraved. We want them all to fall. We want them to come down to a level lower than us so we feel better about ourselves. We have a narcissistic need to see the beautiful and wealthy hurt. We make people famous only to destroy them. We don’t want role models. We want drama and chaos in this new world.

The “role models” don’t have it all figured out. Who do they think they are telling us how to live? We are just as smart and worthy as these people. We are our own role models. The self esteem movement says we should love ourselves above all. So we stop looking outside ourselves to others in a gesture of respect and humility. We honor our own greatness instead.

8)  More Education & More Arrogance

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Photo by Pixabay on

Getting a degree used to be a special thing. Now, everyone has one. “College for all” has become a rallying cry. But does ‘college for all’ really contribute anything to the whole? Does an overly educated society really make us any greater? Does our heightened sense of self importance really make us destined for something bigger?

A long time ago, having a PhD meant something. Now it usually just means you have a larger loan to pay off. Still, colleges push graduates to keep coming back for more. Along with handing out diplomas, it can sometimes seem they are handing out ego, as well, putting college graduates in a real moment of despair when they get out into the so-called real world searching for a job.

As a whole, our society has begun to denigrate some jobs and professions as being for “losers”. Trades became laughed at as positions of lower stature. Yet, some trade jobs can make vastly more than the PhDs who frequent the businesses of tradesmen.

We now have entire generations who think they are “too good” to do certain lines of work vital to functioning as a society. Not all of these collegiate scholars are particularly bright and their IQs aren’t any greater than someone without a college degree, but they have ‘classed’ themselves out of necessary societal occupations. They all want to be known and paid for being thinkers, but won’t raise a finger to be a “do’er”.

As a result of an overeducated society, we have become a society of snobs who look down on people for not having an education while well-paying trade jobs suffer shortages.

9)  Obsession with Appearances

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Social media is one of the single biggest advertising streams on the planet. Not just for  products you can buy. It also allows people to advertise their life in exchange for admiration, respect, the envy of others and the appearance of “having it all”.

Every day, we scroll our news feeds and hear about our friends’ new jobs, latest vacations, the fun night out they just had, their newly done hair, their new motorcycle, the new RV they bought, their new house, their children’s achievements, their own successes… Cumulatively, all these successes in your face at once can make you feel like a real failure.

Subconsciously, social media has awakened the narcissist in each of us. Each person’s Facebook page is their own little reality TV show. If they are the type of person who desires being envied, they’ll fill it with the highlight reel of their days. Anyone who dares be open about a problem in their life risks the title of “negative”. Everyone on social media is conflicted. Many of them don’t want you to be more successful than they are, but at the same time, they don’t want to hear you “whine”.

People will go into debt buying things just to impress others. While this is nothing new, social media has now given them a platform to show off what they bought.

This obsession with appearance and showing off on social media has meant less time with our friends. In days of the past, friends would call you to say, “Hey! I got a new boat! Let’s go out in it this weekend!” Now they just post photos of it on Facebook and photos of themselves enjoying it.

10)  Overall Dissatisfaction With Life

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Photo by Pixabay on

Studies are beginning to show that happiness levels in the United States have fallen to dismal levels. This last example of how narcissism is destroying our culture is, perhaps, the summary of this entire article.

Our country’s basis in narcissistic pursuits of wealth, fame, beauty, etc. are only making us more unhappy. We want recognition, fame, glory, rewards, envy and as a result, we become angry.

Because we are angry, we are more aggressive and engage in political fighting and road rage. Politics and other people are easy to blame for our emptiness and overall dissatisfaction with life. The constant anger drives our inability to cope to drugs and alcohol. Drugs, alcohol, sex abuses, etc. have led to the destruction of many a role model. So we drift in a sea of faces without anyone to admire. Our jealousy prevents from admiring anyone anyway. We turn to ourselves. Our friendships become shallow because we are taught virtue is in being competitive instead of supportive.

Because we don’t know everything, we go to college so we can become “scholarly” and claim that we do know everything. We make ourselves our own heroes. We refuse to settle for mediocre jobs or a mediocre life. We refuse to settle for mediocre spouses, as well.

This is the United States, today.

Living in a happier culture, such as that of Japan, you would notice a large difference. They don’t necessarily have more than we do. But they have humility. The attitude is very much “Me last”. When you have a culture like this, you have a country where everyone cares for each other and honor exists.

As we know from American platitudes, our cultural platitudes revolve more around “Be yourself” and “Me first” with heavy influence on baseless self love. As a result, everyone is looking out for number one, leading to a culture of greed and corruption.

Maybe our culture can start making a change by living for the good of the whole rather than the good of the individual. It could make all the difference. There is a lot to be said about the beauty of humility. She is a protected class heading for extinction.

7 Ways To Beat Autumn Blues

Here it comes! The end of Daylight Savings Time.

Fall has its obvious drawbacks – The adjustment of falling back an hour to standard time wreaking havoc on our sleep schedule, mornings and evenings getting downright cold, making it harder and harder to venture out of your nice, warm bed.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) may also kick into gear as well as general sadness about the holidays approaching, our unfulfilled expectations for them, or possible fear of the inevitable weight gain in the season of comfort foods.

At the same time, if you’re lucky enough to live somewhere where the leaves are changing, you get to experience a really beautiful time of year. It’s the time for warm drinks, fuzzy sweaters, deliciously cool air, cuddling, football, Halloween fun, pumpkin everything, crackling fires and an overall harmony to life. IF you can rise above that mild sadness in your gut making you feel really anxious, right now.

The good thing is, If you’re struggling with the former and having a hard time appreciating the latter as your body and mind struggle with the change, here are some tips to help you out:


  1.  Check your thermostat

    Years ago, when the chill entered the air, it also seemed to enter my bones rendering me unable to even want to get out from under the covers so I ended up falling back asleep, making me late to just about everything.

    In essence, kind of ruining my day. A change was needed fast! I hate sleeping with the heat on because I wake up feeling dried out, dehydrated and sweaty, but a friend gave me a great suggestion.

    Set your thermostat on a program cycle where it kicks on at a certain time to regulate the house to a certain temperature. Set it to come on right before you want to get up every morning. The warm air blasting early in the morning will make you want to get out of bed, if nothing else just to turn the heat down, but it will be warm enough to get up, get moving and to start your day.

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  2. Acknowledge it’s a busy time of year and stop spreading yourself thin

    It’s school season again so you may be dealing with the stresses of college or, if you’re a parent, trying to keep kids on track with their multiple school schedules, assignments, sports, etc.

    The wild abandon of summer is over. Fall is the time people really start focusing on what’s important again. New jobs may be commencing. Many move in the summer so there may be the adjustments of a new home or a new community. We tend to think of spring as the time of beginnings, but autumn is the real season of new beginnings.

    Relax, Overachiever. It’s okay to admit you don’t have your sh*t together.
    None of us 100% do.
    Just acknowledge this is one of the crazy times of year and take it a day at a time. And stop volunteering all your time when you feel like you’re pulling your hair out.

    Image from ‘The Family Stone’, 20th Century Fox
  3. Work out the dread of the holidays ahead of time

    Yes, for some people, it’s really that bad. The thought of the impending holidays makes them anxious…months in advance. Instead of focusing on the dread you feel, think about why you feel the dread and how you can combat it early so that you can enjoy the positive aspects of the holidays.

    Maybe you dread the holidays because you lost a family member and the loss is felt most strongly during the holiday season. Maybe it will be your first holiday without someone. It could be a divorce or death. Whatever the case, give yourself permission to grieve ahead of time. You don’t want to be blindsided with intense emotion on the holiday. Reflect happily on the good times and get any negative or sad emotions out beforehand.

    It’s also possible your dread is because getting together with your family means  fighting, horrible comments about your weight, job/lack of, degree, relationship status, child status, appearance, hobbies, politics, etc. – Well, I see a future ‘Smarter Loving’ article coming to help you through all this. But for now, take a good look at who is criticizing you. Maybe they are Harvard Law scholars, but they are horrible people if they use the holidays as the time to criticize your life choices instead of joining in the spirit of togetherness.

    Money issues can also suck all the life and joy out of the holidays for anyone. Maybe you’re dreading the holidays because you just lost a job and don’t have two pennies to rub together and all you can think about are people buying you gifts…and sitting there with tears in your eyes thanking them, feeling like a jerk. It gets worse if you have kids and can’t afford gifts. But as it’s been said many times – Holidays are about more than the material. Look for the life lessons and make it a learning experience.

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    Photo by Inna Lesyk on
  4. Stop focusing on all the things you wish you had

    Duh, right? This is applicable all year long. However, in the fall, traditional emphasis on the season sometimes fills us with longing. Possibly for someone to share the supposed “joy” with. We might be third-wheeling it with our best friend and his new girlfriend watching them canoodle on the stupid hay ride they insisted you go on with them (What…Did they need an audience?) feeling like the biggest loser on the planet. Meanwhile, coming home to turn on the TV means hearing blaring jewelry commercials about how it’s the season of love. Barf.

    The holidays scream out from the television, movies, social media, etc. that this is the time for family and we have no close family and nowhere to go on the holidays.

    For so many, this is the Season of Loneliness. Make a resolution to yourself that you’ll work on yourself. If you don’t have a love, maybe you’ll find one or learn contentment in solitude. If you don’t have a family, you’ll be more outgoing and create a family of friends. Define why you wanted all these things to begin with, if it still applies and use this new season to make your first steps towards them.

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  5. Get walking

    Seriously, it’s getting cold. Too damn cold to do anything. Where is there to go? What is there to do? You just don’t feel well. You must be coming down with something…and you’re saying this every day.

    Maybe it’s the time to revamp your diet, your exercise and your lifestyle. Fall is a great time for taking long walks. Get out and breathe in some of the crisp, fall air and you’ll see why all those other “normal” people out there rave so much about fall. You will come back inside feeling invigorated and full of energy. The fall air is healing in so many ways. This is coming from someone lazier than you could ever be, I promise.

    A word to the wise, though, this is a time of year that may bring new issues for allergy sufferers. If you’re feeling crappy, this could be another underlying reason why.

    It’s also easy to fall into rapid weight gain in fall. It’s the time for sweets, eating carbs, total crap, and stepping on the scale and panicking. Care for your body every day. It’s also when cold and flu season starts its gentle ramp up. Prepare yourself now with great nutrition and exercise to lessen the severity in the coming months.

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  6. Get more sunlight!

    Researchers have found that much of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) has to do with the declining exposure to natural sunlight in the winter months. If you work an office job between 8-5, getting sunlight is almost a joke. Your lunch breaks will become of vital importance. Actually, you can kill two birds with one stone. If you can get out and walk on your lunch break, do it! You will get in your sunlight and your exercise.

    You’re extremely lucky if you were able to get an office with windows that allow you some sunlight exposure during the day. My old boss got a chuckle out of me when I moved my desk right next to the window so I could work while getting loads of beneficial Vitamin D. He laughed, but I was happy…and a happy employee is a productive one.

    If getting out during working hours is an impossible scenario for you, it may be wise to invest in a light therapy lamp and some Vitamin D3.

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  7. Socialize, Damnit

    Yes, Wednesday Addams. I’m talking to you. Because I’m one of you. I can sulk by myself for days, but I’m changing, evolving and doing better because I’m just not happy being my moody, grumpy self anymore. Yeah, being the slightly gothic chick who hung back in the shadows hating on the happy people used to be my look, too. But now my former existence seems so…buzzkill. I’ve made friends with some happy people.

    Yeah, we don’t always see eye-to-eye. They see the world as this wonderful, beautiful place and I look around in fear of absolutely everything and see too much grief and horror in the world. I wonder how the hell they do it. But I’m learning. I’m learning for my own survival.

    Being alone is not good for you. Your health and happiness decline when you are locked in the cell of your own head, overthinking everything, watching everyone else blissfully unaware of all there is out there to fear. Take the hand of some positive people. Let them show you their light. You can still wear all black if you want to, but your heart can be bathed in sunshine. Get out there. Talk. Jump in. Find your tribe. Spend these cooler months discovering the world before the summer comes around again to melt your eyeliner.


14 Ways To Be More Positive

Has life got you down in the dumps? It happens to everyone. If you’re watching people walking around in bubbles of sickeningly happy optimism while you still seem to be stuck at ground zero getting constantly pummeled by difficulties, please read on. Most people have been exactly where you are and have felt exactly the way you feel. It’s time to look at what these happy people do…and how we can join their ranks.

1)  Keep a Journal

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Photo by Negative Space on

I’m a little crazy in that I have a planner for tracking important dates, events, workflow, and a record of what I did every day. Then, I have my journal for more personal things, like venting when I’ve had a particularly rough day. Some people like to keep gratitude journals of all the things in life they are grateful for.

It’s up to you as to what kind of journal you keep. In the end, the one you will stick to is the best. For me, gratitude journaling didn’t work as well. I found myself writing about the same thing every day and always end up abandoning the journal all together, after a while.

Planners can be great because they keep you organized NOW. Things you need to remember to do this week, next week and in the short term. Personal journals do wonders keeping track of what was going on in your life and how you are feeling. When I went through a bad relationship, it was wonderful to be able to read entries where I was suffering and details of the bad relationship. It kept my mind and memory straight…and was a great source of comfort and self-soothing when I just needed to let out all my anger and frustration. Best of all, it helped me to decide to leave a relationship that was bad for me after reading how unhappy I was.

2)  Find friends who have the same goal of being more positive

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Nobody is perfect. The best friends you will find are your friends who are still working on themselves and committed to being a better person, too. It’s great to have friends in the same phase of life as yourself.

Maybe they are sick and tired of being sick and tired, too, and want to excel, succeed and do better. I heard some wisdom once that for every negative person you eliminate from your life, someone positive will come along to replace them. In my life, it’s proven true.

I recently had a very negative person who was very jealous try to launch an all-out smear campaign against my name. I lost friends in droves. People I thought knew me well were swayed against me. Only a few people bothered to ask for the truth. In those people, I found true friendship. I traded the negative, fake friends for a handful of real ones and have honestly never felt so content. It was like a huge weight was lifted off me when certain very angry, negative and manipulative people were gone from my life.

Examine your circle and cut ties. It may be the best thing you ever do even though cutting ties may feel like a period of complete hell.

3)  Listen to music that soothes your soul

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Photo by bruce mars on

You will know it when you find it. Some music speaks to people differently. Soothing music is great when you need to relax and refresh yourself. Smooth jazz, chill out music, sometimes even just disgustingly happy pop music…and hey, maybe even heavy metal for those days where you have some anger floating around your soul needing release.

Music is so healing and can help through anything you’re going through. I guarantee you there is a song for everything that ails you. Start Googling ‘Best friend break up music’, ‘bad day at work music’, ‘music to relieve anxiety’ – I promise you it’s all out there.

4)  Start your day off right

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If you dig into positive and motivational literature, you will often find it repeated it over and over – How you start your day is EVERYTHING. Some people swear by getting up earlier for many reasons. They feel like they have more time during daylight hours, it’s more peaceful and quiet, etc. Think of it this way, if you get up earlier, you have the rest of the day ahead of you. Waking up early gives you time to manifest your day. You get to think about all the things you will accomplish that day.

Waking up earlier gives you more clean slate time. You get to enjoy the hours where the day is still fresh. Nothing bad has happened yet. You have a whole day ahead of you and can think of how you’re going to make it a great one. You have extra time for all those things you normally don’t have time for – Exercise, meditation, eating a healthy breakfast, etc.

5)  Exercise

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Photo by The Lazy Artist Gallery on

Don’t roll your eyes at me! I know every list includes exercise and it doesn’t make you feel any better to read it if you’re not doing it. Not to mention you probably have a million excuses as to why you can’t. You just don’t feel like it, you don’t have any work out clothes (this is my personal go-to excuse), you’re worried you’re too unhealthy to work out, you don’t have time, you don’t have anywhere to work out, you don’t have a gym membership, you don’t have anyone to work out with, etc.

I recently had a girlfriend ask me to start walking with her on her lunch breaks. After the first time we walked about a mile and a half, we texted each other afterwards marveling about how GOOD we felt and how much more energy we had. We felt like we were dying on the walk, being slightly out of shape, but it made our whole day better.

Even if it’s just walking, get moving. I once lived somewhere I didn’t really feel safe walking so I would walk laps through my house. I called it my ‘Redneck treadmill’ – and I lost 20 lbs without a gym membership or ever leaving my house. I have lots of friends into yoga, as well, who claim it has been exactly what they needed.

6)  Meditation

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Here’s another groaner. “Sorry, I’m not a frickin’ Buddhist,” a friend told me when I confessed how much meditation had helped me. Well, neither am I.

I know the image of meditation makes a lot of people laugh. You immediately may conjure thoughts of someone sitting cross-legged humming to themselves and looking ridiculous. Force those thoughts from your mind. Seriously. Meditation doesn’t have to be weird. You can meditate whatever your faith and don’t feel stupid. A lot of “cool” people meditate.

I downloaded one of the most amazing apps that has made such a difference in my life. Click on those underlined words and thank me later. The app has a timer where you can take time out of your day to meditate…Or, if you’re like me and have no idea how to shut off your brain to meditate – They have wonderful guided meditations for just about any circumstance. Even ones for headaches!

Meditation is fantastic for sufferers of anxiety, high blood pressure, etc. It really does help slow your mind down and resolve racing thoughts. It takes some practice, but it’s enormously healing.

7)  Sleep your way to sanity

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Sleep is the time in which your body heals itself. If you’re not sleeping well, you’re not going to be feeling well. Your mind needs the shut off time, your body needs the shut off time. These are the magic hours in which your body and mind literally renew and reset. Don’t underestimate the power of Zzzzzs.

8)  Clean and create a comfortable space to live in

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If you have children, you probably feel like your life revolves around cleaning. A clean house can seriously refresh your outlook. The condition of the space you live in often has a huge impact on your mental health. A messy, cluttered space means a messy, cluttered mind. A dirty space means a…well, not a dirty mind, but certainly leads to a depressed one!

It’s often the last thing we feel like doing, but if life has you down having a little control over making your environment beautiful helps.

Say, you are out of work and sitting there every day sending out résumés and waiting on that callback that could change your life – This is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Think about it – When that life-changing job finally arrives, you may not have this kind of time again. Think about how good it will feel when you finally land that job to come home to a beautiful living space. Maybe you are working around the clock and just can’t get to it. Hire a housekeeper! Don’t underestimate the power of a clean house.

Start with your bedroom and move outward. The first thing you see every morning is your bedroom. Who wants to open their eyes to piles of laundry? Then tackle the dishes in your kitchen sink and make sure the area where you eat is clean. Have you ever cleaned the house and found yourself disappointed later? Likely not.

9)  Love yourself

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Cliché much? How does one “love” herself/himself? (Stop with the dirty mind). Does this involve all that stuff about looking in the mirror and talking to yourself? Absolutely not. Beginning to understand self love is actually quite easy. Here is how you do it:  Think of something you hate to do. Tomorrow, when you wake up, what would you be so happy if someone just did for you?

Do all the things for yourself TODAY you would be thankful if you woke up tomorrow and found them done and taken off your plate. It’s a wonderful feeling to wake up the next morning and know your past self cared about your future self enough to make your life easier today. Then, pay it forward to the next day’s future self.

This thinking of yourself in past/future tense sounds a little nuts, at first, but as you start practicing it, you will have this beautiful epiphany that doing what you dread now to ease the length of dread, depression, worry, etc. in your life will transform your entire existence. You will be loving yourself out of depression because your past self cared enough to stand up and tackle the hard things for your future self’s happiness. Yes, it sounds like some ‘Matrix‘, ‘Inception‘, ‘Dr. Who‘, time travel craziness. But just try it! You will begin to love yourself for your caring and productivity. It will transform who you are.

10)  Nutrition

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The way you eat can have a huge reflection on the way you feel. You can’t continue putting regular gasoline into a diesel engine and expecting it to perform optimally. It takes a lot of experimenting and treating your body like a science experiment, but you will eventually find the optimal diet for you. Notice which foods give you energy, which foods make you feel good, which foods degrade your health, which foods tend to cause illness, etc.

Before you discount the power of food, think of coffee. Coffee is proven to give us energy. Alcohol is proven to get us drunk. The salicylic acid in Tylenol is proven to relieve our headaches. Every substance that enters your body has the power to impact your body, mind and health in some way. Pay attention to what your body is telling you.

On a personal note, I found eating roasted garlic has been fantastic for healing anxiety. I might smell weird, but I’m more confident and have a general overall sense of well-being. I also notice drinking beet juice gives me energy and clarity of thought. Find what works to make you feel your best. The more you can help yourself physically, the better off you will feel mentally.

11)  Keep the Good, Discard the Bad

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Compliment files are a great idea. This is where you write down or copy/paste from e-mails, letters, social media comments, etc. when someone says something really kind about you and save them for the not-so-great days. It’s often easy to become discouraged with others putting us down. Once, I had an ex-boyfriend tell me, “You’re the kindest person I’ve ever known — And that makes you the classiest person I’ve ever known. I think kindness is all in how you treat other people and I’ve never met anyone as kind or as classy as you.”

Compliments like this shape our lives more than we are even aware, at the time. However, we may not always remember the compliment if we don’t make a conscious ability to remember. We may become so embarrassed or flustered at receiving the compliment that we become more focused on how to respond rather than filing this very important information into our subconscious.

This is an outstanding practice for anyone who works a job in which they face a daily barrage of insults. It helps you to define who you really are so other people’s realities do not become enmeshed with your own.

12)  Learn to Self Soothe

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How do you de-stress? Some people listen to music, some have a glass of wine, some work out, some sing, some dance, some cuddle with their pets, some watch movies or TV shows to take their mind off things, some Google articles on whatever is troubling them, some write, some read, some turn to their journals, some turn to a friend, and some have learned what is almost an art form – Self therapy.

You can literally talk yourself through almost any problem if you try. Sometimes you will even find you were the one who overreacted in a situation or were wrong. Learning to self soothe will help you be more positive because you will be able to rationalize your way into more positive thinking. You will learn which thoughts are irrational, which should be ignored, and what should be taken from an experience for your growth and well-being. You will also learn there are times when you can do nothing to make the situation any better, except to soothe yourself through self care like relaxing in front of a fire, treating yourself, a hot bath, etc.

13)  Encourage Others

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I was once involved in a fitness program which not only focused on exercise and nutrition; One of the most important parts of the program was an aspect which they called the Universal Law of Reciprocation. It encouraged that if you give back to others, the universe will give back to you in reciprocation. It was an interesting theory and may or may not be completely true, but I did notice that during my time in this program – I was the most positive I’ve ever been in my entire life.

Every day, you must do three kind things for others. That was the modus operandi I was following back then and it worked. Making other people happy will bring you immeasurable happiness.

If you are in a really dark place and dwelling in bitterness, you will find this difficult to do. Jealousy grows in the dark like a fungus. You must learn to stop viewing everyone else as your competition and view them as someone equal to you that deserves good things to happen to them. Fill your soul with light and be kind to your fellow humans. You’ll be pleasantly shocked how things will begin to go in your favor.

14)  Get back to nature

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Photo by Abhiram Prakash on

Sunlight is such a powerful force for creating positivity. Our society now seems to spend much of our time on electronics and less outside in nature. There is something to be said for the beauty of nature, the power it has over us, and its contribution to better mental health. Not to mention, new research has shown that walking barefoot on the earth actually may be good for our health.

Spending time every day in the outdoors can make us realize that life is much bigger than us, bigger than our problems and full of possibilities and promise.

Why Does My Wife Always Think I’m Cheating?

“Where were you last night?”
“Where were you really?”
“Are you sure?”
“Were there women there?”

Every Saturday morning after your Friday poker night with the guys, this is what you wake up to the next day. Or if you are really lucky, you’ll get it as soon as you walk in the door that night.

“Why does she always think I am cheating?”

It can be frustrating if you are an upstanding, good man who is going to do exactly what he says he’s going to do – Play poker, try to take all his friends’ money and then come home and cuddle up next to her. Truly, that’s all you want out of life on a Friday night. Why is it so hard for her to see this?

Did you cheat on her in the past?

Cheating leaves residual scars. If you’ve cheated once, no matter how badly you feel about it and how much you wish you could go back and erase the whole incident – It’s something you may never live down. She may always have what you could do, what you did do in the back of her mind.

What to do: Be where you say you will be. As difficult as it is, if the relationship is that important to you, allow her full access to your phone if she really needs to see it (Yeah, this sucks and is a violation of privacy, but if you have nothing to feel guilty about – Do it!) If you’re the letter-writing type, write her a detailed letter explaining why you will never cheat again and what you learned from it. Tell her the exact reasons you don’t feel the need to cheat again. This is a woman who’s taken a big leap in trusting you again.

In this situation, there is very little you can do but thank your lucky stars she forgave you and move forward covering your tracks at all times until the years erase the pain.

Was she with a past cheater?

How much fun is it being punished for something you didn’t do? Being with someone who has faced cheating, abuse and a nightmare violation of trust can be a challenge. It may require a huge heart willing to love someone through the trauma and help them  heal. In the end, it can be worth it, but not without helping her work through her pain.

What to do: Hold her and tell her you are not him. Explain to her you are a simple man who prefers not to live lies and a man who believes in vows, loyalty and fidelity. Express sympathy for what she went through in the situation, calmly, while expressing why you feel it’s not fair to make you walk in another man’s shoes.

Do the friends she surrounds herself with, the movies, TV shows and books she reads make her think ALL men are destined to cheat?

You might feel like you have no chance here. Her friend’s husband cheated. So now you must be a cheater, too. She watches TV shows where everyone is cheating on everyone else. Her favorite movie is ‘Gone Girl’. Everything she watches revolves around men being cheating, lying scum. How could you possibly be an exception? In her mind, it’s not IF you will cheat. She’s wondering WHEN.

What to do: Watch those movies and TV shows with her. Act just as shocked as she does. “Wow! I can’t believe someone would do that to their wife!” Get upset with her that her friend’s husband did such a thing. Let her know you think guys who cheat are scum, too. It doesn’t matter if you thought Brad was a cool guy…Don’t side with Brad. Ever! Lest you want to be seen as being cut from the same cloth of infidelity he came from.

How does she feel about herself? Is she happy with her appearance?

Most women are not totally happy with their appearance. If they were totally happy, cosmetics companies, plastic surgeons, diet programs, etc. would not be so popular, right? Maybe she feels like crap about herself, looks at you, and genuinely thinks you could probably do better. These are the sick places a woman’s mind will roam when unhappy with her own body or looks.

What to do: Make her feel beautiful. Tell her constantly she is the most beautiful woman you know. Compliment specific things about her appearance so she knows you’re not full of it. Tell her why you fell in love with her and mean it. In our appearance-obsessed society, there are some couples where one partner is not conventionally seen as attractive as the other. “Why the hell is she with him?” may be asserted by others without realizing the damaging effect this can have on the self worth of the people actually in the relationship.

Are you too flirtatious with other women?

I’ve seen some guys ask, “Dude, why does she always think I’m cheating?” when two seconds before they were chatting it up with a gorgeous redhead, flashing that smile…The one his wife thinks is so devastating.

She thinks you’re a catch. She thinks you are truly something special. Otherwise, she wouldn’t get upset when you’re surrounded by a bevy of women hanging onto your every word. Some people are natural flirts and can’t help it and maybe this is you…and that’s fine. It may be part of your charm and charisma that follows you and it might be a near impossible personality trait to change. However, you can check the way you talk to other women. If you’re leaning too far in, making constant eye contact and not inviting your wife into the conversation, it can make even the most secure woman a little  uncomfortable.

What to do: Make it clear to your partner you are just talking. Invite her into the conversation. Find a parallel between a woman you are speaking with and your wife, right away. If she mentions a TV show, mention your wife loves it, too. She likes dancing?
“Oh, you love salsa dancing? My wife is one of the best! Baby, come here and meet Susan.” If your wife is nowhere in sight, make sure you mention her kindly. Nobody can mistake a man for being flirtatious when he’s speaking fondly of his wife. Interestingly enough, you will increase your respect with women when you speak flattering words about your partner.

Do you have a problem telling white lies and small lies that just don’t add up?

There are many people who have problems with pathological lying. Some people say things without thought as to why they are even lying. How many times has she caught you in a lie? If you lie to her about the small things, in her mind it is only a matter of time before you start lying about the bigger things.

What to do: Honesty is the best policy. Tell the truth. Even when it’s painful. You will never have a good relationship if you have a problem with lying. If it’s pathological and you know you have a serious problem, seek professional help.

Are you consistent?

Trust is built by always being where you say you are going to be, when you are going to be there and who you are going to be with. It’s built by having respectable boundaries with other women. It’s built by not sending texts or private messaging others with anything you would not want your wife to see. If you are secretive about your phone, vague about where you are going, what you’re doing and who is there or lie about any of this – even once – You run the risk of permanently damaging trust.

What to do: If you want to earn someone’s trust, be trustworthy. Be who they expect you to be and don’t do things that would embarrass or humiliate them. Live so if someone told an outright lie about you, nobody would dare believe it.


If you have gone through all this and still can’t find any reason why she may not trust you, it’s very possible that she may have some undiagnosed psychological cause the both of you may need to uncover with a qualified therapist.

The most important thing to remember is not to lose patience with your wife. Even thought it’s obnoxious, annoying and may make you less attracted to her because jealousy is such an ugly quality – It’s always worth it to first examine yourself to see if there is anything you may not have thought about that’s setting off the behavior.

You can’t change your partner – But you can change you if you are doing something that triggers a certain behavior in your spouse that drives you crazy.

There are certain things about your partner which you can’t and shouldn’t change and certain agreements the two of you may never agree upon. The important thing is not to hinge an entire relationship upon one disagreement. If you agree on a hundred things, but she doesn’t like the way you flirt with women – You’d probably be wise to work on fixing that one thing. If the thought of not flirting or being completely honest with your spouse seems impossible or like something you couldn’t do, there are some extreme self-evaluations that need to take place.

We’d like to think jealousy is always an irrational emotion from an angry woman, but very often, there is a cause of her jealousy. Where there is a cause, there is a solution.

I Was Sexually Assaulted; And It Was Partly My Fault

A good 15 years ago, I was sexually assaulted by a co-worker.

I’ve rarely talked about it, but not for the reasons you might think. Not because there was “rape shame” or anything like that but because if I did talk about it, people would hate me for what I have to say about the experience.

In essence, I believe at least 50% of what happened was my fault and I accept full responsibility. I am a victim, but I am not a victim.

In today’s social climate, this opinion is abhorrent to feminists the world over. I get that. How dare I say a sexual assault was my fault? Did I cause the guy and his friend to do what they did? Was I responsible for their disgusting behavior? Absolutely not. I refuse to take the blame for their part of this pain.

Here is what I am responsible for:

I am responsible for going out with a group of co-workers and mistaking them for friends. I thought the female co-workers would look out for me. They didn’t.

I am responsible for thinking my male co-workers were more upstanding than they were. They were not.

I am responsible for over-consuming alcohol and allowing people to buy me drinks when I could not be positive of their intentions. The intentions weren’t good.

I am responsible for being scantily dressed. Yes, I dressed up “for myself” to make myself feel beautiful and sexy and I fully agree, men need to be honorable and do better. But I was naive in my thinking that nobody would mistake my intentions for dressing the way I was dressed.

One of the ones who assaulted me whispered, “You’ve been teasing me all night in that skirt!” as if it were my fault. Looking back, I will partially accept blame. I dressed a certain way and got treated a certain way. Nobody ever wants to hear or acknowledge this, but the fact remains.

I am responsible for allowing myself to be pulled into a car with a male co-worker and his friends thinking their intentions were honorable in driving me back to their house for the after party. They were not.

I am responsible for my stupidity, my naiveté and my belief that all people are basically good people. They are not.

Today, we are told it’s 100% the fault of the man and we have done nothing wrong. We are taught about the way all men should behave. I fully agree, but the truth is that they don’t all behave this way. The sadder truth is this; We will never be able to stop things that have been occurring since the dawn of man. The even sadder truth is that in the hysteria of blaming men, we lose stressing important lessons that could save more women from assault.

We can teach our sons to do better for women. We can teach them to be kind, be gentle, to be caring. We can teach them the best we can, but nobody knows what causes some men to stray off the path of righteousness. Bad mothers sometimes raise good men. Good mothers sometimes raise rapists and murderers.

We can march and storm the streets. We can campaign to our heart’s content. We can scream injustice from the rooftops. It does nothing. It still won’t stop a man overcome with lust and devoid of conscience. But we can do our best.

The only way we can stop these things from happening is the answer a lot of feminists are deeply uncomfortable with – We must change ourselves.

Living in a “Me”-centric society, this idea is angering to many. Why should we have to change? This is victim-blaming! Why can’t men just start being better people?

Because it’s not reality. It’s not the way the world works. In many aspects of society, we must learn we can’t control other people…and in some aspects, we shouldn’t. The only real control we have is over ourselves.

Know the difference between preventable sexual assault and non-preventable sexual assault
Yes, there is a difference. Yes, we can sometimes STOP sexual assault before it happens, but it means admitting some hard truths about our own behaviors. If we don’t admit the truth about our behaviors and how they could contribute to an assault, we open the door to be victimized repeatedly. There is nothing more powerful than realizing the ways you could stop this from happening and applying these things to your own life.

In the case of non-preventable sexual assault, they come from situations where you have little to no control or social pressures force you into situations where you are with someone you should be able to trust like a teacher, a counselor, a coach, religious clergy, a parent, family, etc. Arguably, I should have been able to trust my co-workers.

In some situations, we can’t help being forced to interact with someone alone. These are the victims my heart breaks for. They are the ones who will deal with lifelong trust issues, PTSD, etc. For many of us, we can find comfort that we can prevent many assaults by checking our own actions.

Know your friends
If you are not sure you can 100% trust your friends, don’t put them in charge of your inebriated self.

Be aware of who you are inebriated around
I’m not saying don’t drink – ever, but when you consume drugs and alcohol, you are altering your mental state. Who can you trust fully in this inebriated state?
Think about it.

Dress for how you want to be treated
What used to be common sense is now a controversial opinion. Yes, we know men should do better. But some don’t. This is the difference between perpetual victimization and being street smart. If you want to dress provocatively, it’s also worth noting you should be with people you trust, watch what you drink and try not to be alone. Wearing some things attracts attention…and sometimes it’s attention from people whose attention you may not want focused on you.

Don’t be alone
In truth, many sexual assaults could have been prevented. Most of the time it’s because of whom we have chosen to surround ourselves with or because we have let our guard down and thought we would be safe walking through a deserted parking lot just to get to our car quickly…Yes, the ‘buddy system’ sounds corny. The truth is – It works.

Don’t give out too much information
The Internet makes it all too easy to find out information about anyone, these days. Safeguard your personal details carefully. Fifteen years ago, we were told not to ever post our real name online. Now sites like Facebook and Google almost require it just to get an account. If you associate with strangers online under your real name, they can have your address in a matter of seconds. Some sites give the names of people close to you. Some people even have photos of their children on prominent display. Alarmist? Maybe. But can you ever be too careful?

Sometimes women end up giving their address out to complete strangers who claim interest in an item they are selling online. Just a few clicks away is that person’s profile, often photos of them, their house, their children, their possessions, their lives. Never has it been more easy for criminals to fully case a target before making a move.

There is no victim-blaming here. Believe me, the hardest thing I ever did was have to sit down and reason out how I could stop this from happening to myself ever again. There is comfort in the acknowledgment horrible things can be prevented if we are willing to examine our own actions and behaviors and how they might contribute to the unspeakable. This coming from someone who was careless and learned her lesson well.

Ladies, I’m not saying we can’t be sexy and dress to express ourselves. But do it in packs. Do it with women you know will have your back. Don’t dress yourself in a meat dress like Lady Gaga and wander into a pack of wolves, alone, thinking you will walk out the other side unscathed. Know your surroundings, know who you’re with and be careful. Prevention is something that should be discussed much more than it is.