Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Couples therapy

I watched my parents relationship cycle between hot and cold for two decades.
They either loved one another passionately or ignored one another... or worse.
Their reality taught me a few things about relationships but namely one glaring truth.

They are not easy.

And while we'd like to say, "It's different this time!" and "You know he's the one when it comes EASY," the reality of the situation is that the beginning is what comes with ease.

But over time, issues arise.
There's conflicting views on hot topics, the idea that creating boundaries is necessary, but that you each have your own idea of what they should be.
And eventually there's the realization that you've allowed a whole person into your life, not just the parts you so easily fell in love with.

So what's a couple to do when their relationship-love-cycle is hovering mostly over unhappiness?

If the conflicts seem too great, or the good times are only a memory, many couples agree to therapy in an attempt to find the happiness they once shared when things were easy.

But I wonder...

Is therapy the answer?

Or is it just evidence of two people who aren't committed enough to leave a failing relationship?

Friday, May 22, 2009

What to do for HER birthday

With the entirety of the Odd Couple celebrating birthdays next week, it's only natural that we discuss some ways to woo your woman on her special day.

1. Give her a reason to dress up.
While you don't need to lay a new gown out on the bed for her to put on, it's always nice to have a reason to skip the jeans and put on something a little sexier. So take her somewhere you've never been before, preferably a place that is a little more glamorous.

2. Homemade greetings rather than Hallmark has-beens.
Sure, you'll "love her forever" and want her to "enjoy her special day" but creating your own little note will bring a bigger smile to her face than ol' Hallmark any day.

3. Take her where SHE wants to go.
For me, this means an amusement park, where I can bring in the big 2-7 while on a roller coaster or at the tippy top of a ferris wheel. But it's different for every woman, so don't assume she wants something unless you ASK HER first.

Men: What have YOU done for your lady's birthday in the past that went over really well (or not so much;)

And ladies: What were some of the best/worst birthdays you've celebrated???

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What To Do for the Boyfriend's Birthday

So my Toughguy's B'day is approaching.
It's been a while since I've been in a relationship, and even longer since I've had a boy's birthday to worry about. I wonder what the etiquette is ... why hasn't anyone made some kind of handbook you can follow? Especially for when you're dating the "I don't care, whatever, don't make a big deal about me" species of man.

Which I hear is rather common.

Do I throw him a bash? Shower him with gifts, or just make the man a meal?

Do I have to dress sexy and be nice all day?

I was thinking of renting a bouncy castle full of bosommy bikini-clad bimbos and mud-slinging monkeys ... but this really should be a gift for him, not me.

What do other people do?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Different guys, same name

I've never dated a John.
John is my brother's name. It is also the name of my grandfather and 2 cousins (and a 2nd cousin and a great uncle).
I just can't see fireworks happening if every time I say a guy's name, I think of a family reunion.

Looking back, there's been three Michaels, three Ryans and three Jameses ... that's kinda gross too. I mean, if your dating history reads like a Foreman family tree, things can get real confusing.

I used to just refer to them with whatever nickname my father gave them ... like "I Wanna Jetski," "Keebler Elf," "Dope Boy," or for his 'favorite' "That Boy."
But unfortunately, most of those couldn't be said to the guy's face. So I like to give each one their own pet name. But that doesn't always stick.
Fido and Fetch never really cared for theirs ...

Are there "names" that you date repeatedly? Or maybe ones you steer away from?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Who is this whale and where is my girlfriend??

How do you tell your girlfriend she's getting fat? (Without making her want to kill you OR herself.)
Is there even a way?
I've had guy friends ask me this and there's never really been a good answer.

Suggestions I usually give that they should use:
Suggest you go to the gym together.
Plan to hike (or another fun active date) a couple times a week.
Cook healthy meals together.

Suggestions I want to give that they shouldn't use:
"Honey I miss your neck, could you get rid of a couple extra chins?"
"You have the arms of a jumbo jet, but you're not going anywhere!"
"Can I use your rolls to file my bills?"

No matter what you say, the person is going to be hurt and offended. Except... most of us are prone to gaining "comfort weight" when in a relationship. You got the prize, right? They'll love you no matter what, right?
Maybe, maybe not.
Maybe YOU won't be so happy with so much "extra you" rolling around in the shower, inadvertently cleaning the slippery tile walls with your spongy hull.
Don't drop the soap, Titanic ... you'll never be able to get back up.

I gotta tell you, I've stacked on at least 10 lbs. of "comfort" .... which is, in fact, more comfortable to sit on, but harder to lift off the couch. And before I have to use Andre the Giant's shoe horn to get me into my Toyota, maybe I need a kick in the gelatinous mass that is my money maker ....

Maybe it IS OK to let your lover know there's starting to be "more to love" ... for their own good. For their happiness and health. Not because you just got done drooling over the Olsen twins ... which really, only dogs drool over bones that have no meat (right before they bury them in the backyard) ... but because you love them, and think that they would want the push be heathly.

But try the first three suggestions first ... and of course, I'd love to hear some others ...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Flipping my switch

Top Turn Offs
1. Bad Breath
Sure, halitosis happens, but there is an entire industry geared at creating fresh pearly whites. If someone can't bother to pop an Altoid in their mouth, they might be lacking motivation in other areas as well.

2. Lacking patience
If your date is grumbling about the long line at the movie theater, or rolling their eyes when they're stopped at a red light, then their mood will affect your night, and not in a good way.

3. Ill-fitting clothing
We're not all super models, but that doesn't mean there aren't clothes out there that will flatter your figure. Throw out the jeans from sophomore year and buy a pair that fit. We don't want to see what color socks you're wearing (or underwear for that matter;)

4. Not-eating-carbs!
Nothing ruins a date at Olive Garden faster than asking for a menu without pasta.

5. A wandering eye
Yes, there are a million fish in the sea, and at least half of them are attractive. But that doesn't mean you have to LOOK.

Top Turn Ons

1. Confidence
A guy who exudes confidence in spite of his protruding belly is much more attractive than the guy with a six pack who stresses about carbs.

2. A smile
Extra points if you can laugh about something others might stress about.

3. A good vocabulary
Tell her she's stunning instead of "pretty" and use words like "svelte" instead of "skinny" after all that hard work at the gym.

4. Integrity
Nothing is more attractive than the married guy who ACTS MARRIED even when his wife isn't around.

5. Decisiveness
Knowing what you want and how you want it is the ultimate in sexiness, whether it's just plans for dinner or plans for the future.

What are YOUR turn ons/offs?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Little Girl Dreams

Unlike Chrissie, I didn't play "house" when I was a wee chick. I'd play "explorer" in the woods ... making trails and discovering plants and animals in the wilderness ... or "indians" with my brother – we'd build wigwams and make bows and arrows out of the big weeping willow tree in the backyard. So early thoughts on marriage or having children were vacant from my leaf and dirt covered head.

But I was not immune to pre-adolescent crushes. Oh no – as tough as I was, I was oh so smitten as a tyke. We didn't go to the same elementary school ... which was devastating at first. I wished and wished with all of my little girl heart that that would change.

Then it came true. When I got to 4th grade his family moved and we were finally in the same school. Because, you know, going to a different school is like being in a different universe (as home and school is your entire world as a child).

So we were aquainted again in elementary school ...
We went to the same high school ...
Even the same college ...
My little girl wish had come true ...

... But in all that wishing and little girl hoping, it never occured to me to wish that he'd turn out straight.

So, little ones wish away, it just might come true.
But be specific ... or the joke will be on you.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Growing up

I wanted to be a single mom.


Growing up, I didn't play "house" the way normal little girls did.

While they cooked meals in their plastic kitchens waiting for their husbands to return home with monopoly money, I raised a Popple and a Nosey Bear all by myself.

My little girl dreams were that one day I'd be a mom at the very same time my sister would be a mom and we'd raise those kids together, without men at all.

I dreamt that we'd live together in an extra large raised ranch and that somehow we'd share the same name. We'd be "Sis and Sis" and change our last name to "Burtingain" simply because it sounded good.

And looking back, I realize my dreams for adulthood never fit the standard plan.

Married by 26.
Kids by 28.
Finished by 30?

At the time you could say my alternative plans were based on childhood immaturity. We didn't have any brother's to play the "man of the house," and neither my sister nor myself wanted to don a fake mustache and pretend to be "Dad."

But regardless of our reasons, now it seems that those little girl dreams were wise beyond their years.

Perhaps it was the "finished by 30" thing that terrified me into fantasies of single-motherhood and raising popples rather than real children.

Or maybe it was an all-too-early realization that you can't really count on anyone to be there besides yourself.

And maybe your family
However out-of-the-ordinary they can sometimes seem.

Because I knew no matter how many furry-big-nosed babies I'd pop(ple) out, my sister would be there to help me.

There was no Mr. and Mrs.

Just Sis and Sis.

What were YOUR little-kid dreams?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Top 10 Reasons He’s Not The Guy For You

(According to Chrissie Lynn)

1. He’s too jealous.
I’m not talking about the guy who doesn’t want you flirting shamelessly with everyone in the room. I’m talking about the guy who is jealous of your lasting friendships, your time spent away from him, or how much you love your job. If he can’t be happy to see YOU happy, then he’s just not the one.

2. He flirts with your friends.
If he’s new to the social circle and no one from the outside can tell who he’s actually with, then he’s not yours either.

3. He won’t commit… in public
If he’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde depending on the company, then don’t believe anything he says to you privately. While some guys aren’t too fond of PDAs, if he’s pretending you're “just buddies” when his are around, he’s not taking your relationship seriously.

4. He thinks you’re someone you’re not.
Whether he thinks you’re a crazy sex goddess or a virtuous virgin, giving him the wrong idea early could set the two of you up for disaster in the future. The right guy wants to see who you really are, not how well you fit his idea of perfection.

5. He’s not proud of you.
If you strive for success only to be met with indifference when you accomplish something you’ve fought hard for, then kick him to the curb. The right guy wants to see you succeed and wants to motivate you, he’s not more interested in what’s for dinner than what your goals are.

6. He disappears when things aren’t perfect.
Sure, it’s easier to run away when things aren’t going well, but you want a guy who will be there in the great and the not-so-great times. If he’s MIA with his cell phone turned off every time there’s a problem, then he’s showing you how little you can rely on him.

7. He insults other women.
If he thinks she’s a “ho” and she’s a “b*tch” and he hasn’t talked to his own mother in 20 years, then run far, far away. His relationships with other women indicate the kind of partner he is, and will be in the future. If he wants a personal maid or plaything, he’s not the guy for you.

8. He’s “never really been single.”
If his past is a string of quick, monogamous relationships that never went anywhere, find out WHY. Maybe those women were put off when they realized he was so easy to please, ANY WOMAN could do it.

9. He's too much your opposite.
If you need constant snuggles and he's Mr. Aloof, it's only a matter of time before one of you feels overwhelmed or neglected.

10. He's the guy you've dated "off and on for years."
If he's the guy for you, he's not the guy you've left repeatedly. Bad habits are hard to break and men can be no different.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I'm a text machine

I'm a texter.

I actually get a little annoyed when I text someone a question, then they have the NERVE to phone me with a reply.

I'm awkward on the phone. I hate leaving voice mails. As soon as I say "hi" I immediately sound like a tool. And not a cool tool like a jackhammer ... more like the little allen wrench that comes with your Ikea bookcase. You know — the one you lose immediately after assembly.

I like face-to-face conversations, don't get me wrong. I even muster up the occasional interesting contribution. And, then there are the far off friends that check in every now and again ... which is appreciated ... unlike the crook in my neck that sets in halfway through the chat.

My boyfriend doesn't have texting on his phone. Not just, "he hates texting" ... which he does, calling it, and I quote "the constant abbreviation and degradation of the English language ... I hate that it is being bastardized for convenience."
(To which I replied "I happen to like both bastards and convenience.")
... but his phone plan won't allow him to receive or send them. So ... if I want to say "Hi, Toughguy" ... or, "I'll meet you in 20 minutes" ... or "we're out of scotch"... I have to CALL him. And have a conversation. EVERY time.

Horrifying. And you know my voicemail messages are retarded. "Uh ... hi, this is Sten ... just calling to say I'm a allen wrench and we should hang out later so you can make fun of me for stating who I am, even though we see eachother every day and you know what my voice sounds like. Uhh... bye! Um call me back, uh if you want ... oh crap hell dammit." click.

Now, on the other hand, I do like that he calls me. I like hearing his voice on the phone in the middle of a bad day. I like that I even know what his "phone voice" sounds like. There is something nice about a man taking the time to pick up the phone and call you.
I just wish I didn't have to take the time ... all the time.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Top 10 reasons he's not the guy for you (from my personal experience)

#1 You don't really have anything to talk about.
Maybe the sex is great, but you can't hold a conversation to save your life. I once dated a guy for a while, but there never was much to say. We went to two out-of-town weddings together and I dreaded both car rides. Roadway signs never seemed so fascinating as when I was stuck in the car with that guy ...

#2 There's no passion.
Maybe the conversation is OK, but staying with him is like a 8 year old's sleepover (not the Michael Jackson variety) I had a boy once for 6 months... the last two of which we were just buddies hanging out. If one or both of you are lacking that desire, there's a problem.

#3 He doesn't look at you like you're the prettiest girl in the room anymore.
I was once out with a guy and he leaned in close like he was going to kiss me or whisper something sweet ... then he told me I should think about trimming my nose hairs. We didn't last long after that.

#4 You don't see eye-to-eye on what's important.
You don't have to agree about everything, in fact, it can be fun getting into a heated debate — but you really should agree on what matters most to you. (Religion, children, politics, board games ...)

#5 He doesn't make or keep plans with you.
I once dated a guy that made it really difficult to find times to see each other, then, often, when we made plans, he'd cancel. He was still seeing his "ex."

#6 He's got that wandering eye.
There's something exciting about nabbing the most charismatic guy in the room ... but not if he's being charismatic with every one but you.

#7 You can't open up to each other.
I've dating a few guys that I like a lot, but never felt comfortable confiding in, or even discussing how I felt about them (mushy OR mad). If you're in a relationship, you should feel like you can tell them anything.

#8 You both constantly keep track of "who owes who."
Whether it's money or favors, you should do something for some one because you want to, not because you want something in return. On the other hand, don't take advantage of each other.

#9 You don't make each other laugh.
I dated a guy for 2 years that didn't think I was funny. That was horrible. Go for the one that makes you smile, and that you make smile. Then you'll be smiling together.

#10 He tries to change you.
We're all fixer-uppers, true, but how can you be happy with some one if you're hiding who you really are and what you really want?
I smoke. I drink scotch. I love comic books, video games and bad superhero movies. Sometimes I fart and I wear high heels to walk in the park. I am ridiculous, silly and sometimes rude. I laugh at my own jokes and am a terrible loser. And finally, after 14 years of dating, I'm happy about all of that, hopefully he is too.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Delete confirmation

If you’ve read any piece of writing geared at how to mend your broken heart post-breakup, there is one steadfast rule you will repeatedly find.


You’re supposed to say goodbye to your former love and practice a life of no contact because it's impossible to get over him/her if they are still igniting all 5 of your senses.

And I’m sure, many, many years ago, NC wasn’t that hard for most people. It meant not answering the phone and hoping no one would show up on your doorstep with flowers and yet another, “I’m sorry.”

But what are the brokenhearted supposed to do now that technology has made NC so much more difficult?

You can’t just leave the land-line off the hook anymore.

Now you have to delete their number from your phone, call up Verizon and ask that they block all incoming text messages, delete them on Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, change the privacy settings on your blog so they can no longer send apologetic comments for the world to see and you’ll have to ask your Gmail account to kindly move their textual advances into the TRASH, please.

And then… After a magnum of wine and a glance at your relationship scrapbook you’ll have to TRUST YOURSELF not to call them. Or Facebook them. Or Myspace, email, twitter, blogg-er, AIM them.

Instead of just taking the phone off the hook and locking the front door, you’ll have to remove yourself from the technological triggers that turn a normal, confident person into a blubbering mess of shorthand confined to 140 characters or less.

Because it’s hard enough to forget a former love, but their status updates make it harder still.