Love & Learn

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    What really turns women on? Is it really all those qualities we're fed as being attractive? You know the usual suspects: a wide-toothed grin, captivating eyes, a sparky sense of humor, bulging muscles, smarts, the ability to look jaw-droppingly handsome in a crisp, collared shirt. Those are the obvious things that get us hot and bothered, right? Sure. But maybe not exclusively ...

    Because while those may be what makes a man sexy on the surface, it's a different ball game once he's your husband. As I settle into life as an "old" -- okay, older -- 30-something married lady, I've opened my eyes to a new kind of turn-on which has very little to do with my husband resembling a rom-com's dashing lead and more to do with him resembling ... a dad.

    More specifically, my husband changed his very first diaper recently. And I have to tell you, it was oddly ... hot.

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    Before my husband slipped an engagement ring on my finger and popped the question, I knew I wasn't going to take his last name. My reasoning was two-fold: One, there are no boys in my family, and two, I just didn't like the idea of getting rid of the name I've always had -- it sort of seemed like I was erasing my old self.

    Here's my thing, though: I didn't take my husband's last name but I didn't keep mine, either. I hyphenated.

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    You know the old adage "once a cheater, always a cheater"? People use it all the time without a lot of thought. Well now it looks like they may have been right all along.

    In a recent survey of 484 unmarried 18- to 34-year-olds, people who say they cheated in one relationship are three-and-a-half times more likely to report being unfaithful again in another relationship. In other words, they tend to be repeat offenders. But here's what's even scarier: They aren't the only ones who get in a bad rut in that scenario.

    People who were cheated on are also more likely to be betrayed again in their next relationship. And believe me, I can relate. So why does this happen -- and what can those of us who have been there do to break the cycle?

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    As someone who writes about sex and love for a living, I have heard a lot of advice on how to keep the passion alive over the years. One of the first things almost every sex expert will say is that you should continue to masturbate. It seems counter-intuitive, right?

    If you are pleasing yourself, why would you need someone else? Au contraire, they say. In this case, it's more about the feelings masturbation conjures. If you have a little pleasure, so they say, you will want more.

    I say: It's hooey.

    Why? Because the fact is, when you satisfy yourself, you ARE satisfied. Full stop. This is a lesson I learned the hard way.

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    When I had my first serious boyfriend, I remember how obsessed I was with "I love you." When was he going to say it? What would happen if I blurted it out first? How would I react when he finally said it to me? I remember how desperately I wanted to hear those three words.

    When he did tell me he loved me, it was the single best day of my teenage life. And later, the day he said "It's over" was one of the worst.

    Little did I know that even better times were yet to come ...

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    If you feel like you're pulling teeth with two thumbs and no anesthesia every time you try to get your guy to talk about his feelings, well, you wouldn't be alone. Plenty of men find they can't, because they're cut off from their emotions. Society still tells guys, from the time they are very little, to deny their feelings or better yet, not have them at all. Unfortunately, women are simultaneously being primed by society to believe that men should fulfill them emotionally.

    So little girl and little boy grow up, get married, and become frustrated with each other. Amiright? 

    Sigh. We're here to help you recognize when your man is having a hard time getting in touch with his "feminine side" (see what a sexist world we live in?). Patti Henry, therapist and author of The Emotionally Unavailable Man, writes that there are various behaviors suggesting a man is emotionally shut down. Here are 16 signs your guy is emotionally unavailable.

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    So, you've met your soul mate and you're ready to live happily ever after. And then, ye gods! You have the worst week -- a week filled with conflict and misunderstanding. What happened? Were you wrong about each other? Is your relationship doomed?

    It is, so long as you keep seeing yourselves as fated. A new study shows that people tend to either see their relationship one of two ways. Either they think they're soul mates, or they see their relationship as a process: "Our love is a journey, look how far we’ve come." Guess which couples struggle more with conflict?

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    I've been to a lot of kids' birthday parties. While I've had fun at some, most were a form of low-grade torture, and I'm sure many other parents would agree (my husband flinches every time he hears another party's on our calendar). So, in the hopes of alleviating widespread party guest misery, we decided to poll party planning experts on guests' pet peeves. Here are ten dos and dont's at a kid's birthday party, from the instant you send off your invites to the end of the festivities.

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    Eloping isn't always something couples plan for, exactly. A wedding, yes. Eloping? That's something you do at the last minute, usually. And there are many reasons why a couple might elope. You could reach a budget crunch when your finances suddenly change. Maybe the stress of planning a wedding is just too much for you. Or maybe one of you is injured or becomes ill. Whatever the reason, ditching a big wedding for a super-intimate one needs to be done very carefully, especially if you've already send out invitations or a save-the-date.

    We spoke with sisters Lizzie and Anna Post, authors of Emily Post's Wedding Etiquette, and their mother Tricia Post of the Emily Post Institute for advice on the most considerate way to elope.

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    Technology has, in many ways, improved our love lives beyond our wildest imaginings. There are vibrators that plug into USB ports that memorize sequences and the way you like it. There is vibrating underwear that your lover can manipulate from afar. Of course, that's not all. 

    Internet dating is now so mainstream that what was once stigmatized as being for losers who couldn't find love without help is now pretty normal. And yet even with all these improvements to our love lives and prospects, the truth is not everyone is handling technology in the right way when it comes to love.

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